Current Events

Well, I got good news and bad news...so to speak.

The Good News - I will now have more time to cook and blog (hopefully). I accepted a transfer to a smaller store within my company. While it means that I have to travel a little further, I will be working less hours overall. That means more quality time with family and friends.

The Bad News - Less Hours=Less Pay, plus my days off are now Thursday and Friday. Ah well - life is a big compromise sometimes...

Last night I drove to Nelsonville to see the Asylum Street Spankers perform at Stuart's Opera House. I love the Spanker's music - it cuts across a lot of different styles plus it's funny. For those of you who haven't heard of the glorious Spankers, here is a little taste from their kid's album, Mommy Says No.

You Only Love Me For My Lunchbox - Asylum Street Spankers

When I was growing up, November was the birthday month in my family. Me, my mom and my dad were all November babies - the lone exception was my brother who was born in October. The 23rd would have been my father's 85th birthday if he were still with us. My dad loved Thanksgiving. Once every seven years or so, his birthday fell on Turkey Day and he was in hog heaven. You have to admit - that would be the rockin-est birthday dinner ever.

My father could not cook at all. He was from a generation that did not teach their men to cook. When
I was about eight, my mom was hospitalized for a week and my dad was in charge of feeding us kids. He asked us what we wanted and we said "Tomato soup!!"

So Dad got the can of Campbell's out of the cupboard and looked at it.
"How do I make it?" he asked me.

"The instructions are on the side, Dad." I said.

He studied the can for a moment. "How about McDonald's?"


Problem solved. We ate out the entire week.

The one thing I remember my dad actually cooking was soft boiled eggs. I was impressed. It required boiling water and a timer. Like my dad, they were not refined in any way. No egg cups or toast soldiers.

A Tasty Mess! I used to eat these all the time in college.

His recipe was this:

1) Butter two or three slices of bread liberally on one side. Tear into pieces and mound on plate.

2) Make three minute eggs. Crack open on top of buttered bread.

3) Mix up. Salt and pepper liberally.

4) Eat quick before it gets cold.

I woke up this morning cold and hungry. So I made a big plate of soft boiled eggs on buttered bread and though about my dad.

Me (age 2.5) and my Dad


Nazareth Restaurant and Deli

A couple months ago, the hubby and I were looking for some place to eat a quick dinner, and since we were near Cleveland and 161. I asked to stop in at Nazareth Deli. Becke from Columbus Foodie had recommended the restaurant a while back. I am always interested in trying new places - especially if they come highly recommended. So the hubby agreed.

We were seated and started looking at the menu. The gal who sat us forgot to tell our waitress we were there. We ended up waiting about 10 minutes before we flagged someone down to place our order. Not an auspicious start to our dinner... I order several appetizers: hummus ($3.95 for a full serving), falafel ($2.75 for three patties) plus the "Special Maza Plate" ($5.50 for a whole serving) . I figured if dinner took as long to come as it did to get noticed, I had better have some fortification.

Yummy - burnt falafel

The appetizers came pretty fast, but they were disappointment. The falafel was overcooked to the point where the outside was almost black, the hummus portion was extremely small for the price, but the item that took the cake was the Maza Plate.

Special Maza Plate

The "Special" consisted of 7 Kalamata olives, a couple of chopped up sweet pickles, a few peices of feta, some cucumber, some pickled eggplant and hot sauce. $5.50? Give me a break!

My hubby ordered the Super Gyro and fries for his main dinner and I ordered the lentils and rice with spicy grilled chicken - a dish that had been recommended by Becke. I also asked for tabbouleh as my side salad.

The food came quickly. The gyro was certainly large and the fries were pretty decent - nothing to write home about, but adequate. The gyro sauce was really runny though and didn't stay on the sandwich. At the end of the meal, Tony had a huge puddle of sauce in the bottom of his basket. Speaking with the waitress, I learned that the sauce was made on site - a definite plus -but that the owner insisted that it be thinned to a milk-like consistency to help control costs. A false economy if you ask me, since most of the sauce served with our meal ended up being wasted in the end.

The lentils and rice with chicken was good. It was very homey. I did a little research online and found out that lentils and rice is a down home staple in the Middle East. The chicken was not bad - white meat, spicy, but a little on the dry side. I think that thighs would have been a better choice. For $8.75, I don't think it was worth what I received.

The tabbouleh was ok - it lacked the traditional lemon based vinaigrette that you find in most versions of this salad and was replaced with the watered down gyro sauce instead. Also, I like a little more bulgar a general rule and flat leaf parsley instead of the curly type.

We declined dessert.

Overall, I don't think we will be returning to the Nazareth Deli anytime soon. The gyro was ok - I like the Gyro Shop on Henderson better. The lentils and rice, while very tasty, will be something that I will attempt to recreate at home. I might be tempted to return if I was in the area and didn't have any other prospects for dining, but considering that MiMi's (MiLi's) cafe and Smackies is right around the corner, I kinda doubt it.

Nazareth Restaurant & Deli on Urbanspoon


Randazzo Run

A long while back, Gail sent me this report on one of her favorite place of all time - Randazzo's. She has been talking about this place since I met her about ten years ago.

I will admit to being very tardy with posting her report - these pictures are from about a year ago - but better late than never. If you are near the Detroit area, this could be worth a visit.

Randazzo Report by Gail

My first house was in Livonia Michigan - 11 years, second house was in Plymouth, Michigan - 16 years. My Mom lived in Garden City, about 10 miles away. Every time I went to my mothers I had to pass the corner of Warren and Newburgh roads. On the Northwest corner was a large, treed lot.

One day I noticed some building going on and decided to make an effort to notice what was going on with that corner. The lot was cleared, a building went up then the sign went up on the side of the building "Joe Randazzos". What is a Joe Randazzo's I wondered. The next time I went to my Mom's I made a point to leave much earlier than I needed to so I would have time to investigate.

On the way in to the store I grabbed a cart, I didn't anticipate buying anything, but you never know. As I walked the store I noticed the prices and nearly swallowed my tonsils. The entire store was produce. Produce at prices so much lower than the grocery where I shopped that I began to wonder what was wrong with it.

I grew up on a farm, and on that farm we grew potatoes, (EIEIO,- oops got sidetracked there for a minute). When we took our potatoes to the processor they were all dumped into a multi-tiered machine, each tier having different size holes in its board. When they turned on the machine, potatoes would drop through the holes by size. The potatoes that would not drop through the holes rolled off the end of the machine through a chute and into baskets. Those were the ones we kept, the nonconformist sizes that just wouldn't settle for average, the rest we sold.

Well I noticed that the potatoes were many different sizes in one bag and realized that these were the naughty non-conformist potatoes. The green peppers had black streaks (normal), or were curved or warped in some way. WOW non-conformist Green and Red peppers too. At that time they were 7 for $1.00 as were the curved cucumbers etc.

Well I went completely crazy and filled my basket to overflowing with various lettuces, fruits, veges and herbs. Going through the back and outside I discovered they were selling trees, rose bushes, flowers by the flat, etc. Also priced irresistibly well. I further loaded my cart. When I got to the check out, shaking in my shoes hoping my check book balance would handle the excesses, I discovered I had spent a little over $20.00. I decided "I LOVE RANDAZZO'S".

Now living in Ohio it is a bit too far away to go to every week but when we go for holidays or to visit relatives I do a RANDAZZO run. If I have room in my car I go completely nuts and buy for Rosie and Debbie too and seldom spend over $30. I've tried to get Rosie & Debbie to make a trip to MI to do a Randazzo run with me but we seldom get a common day off. I'm sending these pictures to you Rosie, so you'll see what you are missing and we'll make a greater effort to go.

We need one of these here!!!!

As always, Love & Joy; With a Gail Twist


Book Review: The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry

I love a good adventure story. I love putting myself into the shoes of the protagonist - filleting fish, breaking sauces and struggling with the local lingo...

What kind of adventure story is this you ask?

It a tale of a American gal in London who, finding herself without a viable means of support, runs off to Paris to attend the Cordon Blue cooking school. There is love, intrigue, passion, pain, suffering, great food and best of all - its a true story .

Yup - It's for real! Kathleen Harris takes the reader along for the ride as her story unfolds in The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears in Paris at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School (Penguin Books).

After my last book review experience, I was a little reluctant to plunge into another book - even if this was a autobiography, one of my favorite things in the whole world. So consequently, the paperback sat on my nightstand for about two months before I worked up the nerve to dive in.

I am really sorry I waited that long. Kathleen has a nice clean writing style. Her story moves along without getting bogged down in self-pity or false modesty. I love the way she talks about her fellow students, her professors and the shopkeepers she meets during her tenure in Paris. My envy was aroused by her descriptions shopping for food in Paris - the wine shop near on of her apartments where the owner chats with her and makes recommendations to go with her dinners, the bakeries where she picked up fresh bread every day and the other small shops that clustered along a street close to her house.

However, her description of the Parisian branch of the Cordon Blue made me quake in my shoes. The description of her struggles with puff pastry was enough to give me a case of the nerves. I think if you plan on attending culinary school, you should read this book first. True - you may not have to master French to attend the school of your choice - however, the books gives you a very good look at the types of curriculum that you would be following. Personally, I know that I would crap out during the sauces - my Hollandaise usually breaks.

And just in case you like interactive storytelling, Kathleen also includes recipes, so you can eat along with the story. I personally would like to try the rabbit in mustard sauce since I recently located a source for fresh rabbit.

So my recommendation is to grab a copy of The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry. It will make a good read while you are curled up on the couch this winter drinking you hot tea and dreaming of your own personal rebirth.