Wednesday, April 1, 2020

School Lunch

"School Lunch" by our friend John Henry, sometime in the '70s
I work from home, so lunch isn't my forte. Work-from-homers tend to just grab leftovers out of the fridge, or a quick snack.  Now that the kids are out of school because of the virus, I've become keenly aware of how ill-prepared I am to cook/create lunch for my girl here at home.

Our school district serves both breakfast and lunch.  The meals are free to ALL kids.  It's not based on parents' income; it's available to all.  Again, since we're all confined to home, the district has set up drive through stations for us to pick up meals for our kids. Each kid receives a package that contains breakfast and lunch for FIVE days.  Can you believe that?  I was so curious, I had to check it out.

On Monday, we went over to one of the elementary schools here in our neighborhood.  We drove up and the ladies placed the packages in our backseat and off we went.  I thought they were going to be packaging up meals from the district's central kitchens.  I was very skeptical because the school "bag lunches" have never impressed. Let's face it: school lunch has never been a fan favorite, right?  As we began investigating the contents, I became amazed. Look at this:

No central kitchen bag lunch here!  The items pictured are from a company called "Bake Crafters." In a nutshell, the kids did in fact receive all the provisions for 5 days of breakfast and lunch. Some examples are: turkey sub, turkey & cheese croissant, ham sub, chicken biscuit, waffle sandwich with chicken sausage, fresh cucumber, grape tomatoes, broccoli, squash and carrots, each with a packet of ranch; yogurt, juice, cinnamon roll, chicken sausage egg croissant...just to name a few.  They also included a day-by-day sample menu plan with instructions for heating particular items.

For their handling of this situation, I must give hearty applause to Richland School District 1. They found a healthy, convenient and (actually) tasty way to give our kids an alternative to what they would normally be eating during their school day.  Now, if we could just iron out the bugs with our "e-Learning" system...

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Take-out Taco Tuesday

It's a weird time of isolation, "social distancing" (I hate this term, btw) and the prohibition of dining in a restaurant or bar.  Covid-19 would have killed all our restaurants, had our local govt not allowed take out and delivery business. They're still hurting, but hopefully we all can keep them afloat with our take out business. It's a good time to be working for BiteSquad or Door Dash.  I've considered it myself.  I bet those guys are raking it in right now. 

As I posted last week, many franchise restaurants are offering freebies to drive business their way, but I think it's also truly a good faith gesture.

Today, Taco Bell is offering a FREE Dorito taco.  This is today only.  While I think I could have just driven up and asked for the free taco, I have a problem not paying for something.

Viv wanted to try this Dorito taco, so we headed that way. I ordered her something called a "Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze" and mentioned that my daughter would like to try the Dorito taco.  The guy taking the order said, "And nothing for you?"  I replied, "Well, I want one, but no."  To this he responded, "but, it's one per person, Dorito, soft taco or crunchy taco."  So, he threw in a crunchy beef freebie for the old mom.

Vivian's take on the Dorito taco?  She loved it.  Apparently, the shell really does taste like the nacho flavored chip.  I must also point out that this child turns 14 in April, and this was her first foray into the world of Taco Bell. I'm sure the novelty of it all made it a really good taco!

Point I'm making, if you want to grab this cool offer, just swing by your neighborhood Taco Bell.  You don't need a coupon but remember it's only for today (March 31). Too bad they don't accept tips; I would have loved to drop some cash on the employees who were working. Instead, we just gave them a sincere thank you and now, I hope I'm giving them some positive free advertising.  Even if you miss out on today's giveaway, remember TB next time you need a quick pickup for dinner, lunch on the road, or just to satisfy a taco craving.

Follow directions, wash your hands, don't go out unless you really need to (like picking up tacos) and stay healthy, everyone.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Quarantine Survival

I'm ashamed that I have not written since November.  No good excuse. Just let life get in the way and neglected any creative outlet.

Well, now COVID-19 enters the picture.  Suddenly, we ALL have plenty of time for creativity, laundry, feeling guilty for not being at work, cooking, eating.  Here in SC, we just learned yesterday that our kids are now being kept out of school until the end of April.  OMG, it's getting scary now. 

I've been watching all the programs and services that are popping up to help people.  This Friday, I'm going to try out a new one for Seniors (my parents). Kits for 5 meals for each parent, for FREE. Even if the meals aren't their cup of tea, I'm sure we could use the components to turn it into something they will like. 

Our school district offers free breakfast & lunch to ALL kids, all school year.  Now, even with our school lock down, we can drive thru and pick up a week's worth of meals for the kids. At first, my mind equated this with the kids on "free lunch" but then I realized, "hey, now all our kids get free lunch."  I know the obvious is to make sure kids who need meals can get them, but I imagine it's also to make sure the district's current supply doesn't go bad. So, don't feel guilty about getting your kid's normal share of school-provided meals.  Plus, I've heard that the employees who are making this happen are happy to see people come and receive it. 

Last night, we saw a Burger King commercial about their efforts to help during this period of isolation.  They will give you 2 FREE Kids Meals.  All they ask is that you have "one item in your cart."  You order online or using the BK app, pay by Apple Pay or credit card then drive thru and pick it up.  I tried it out today. I ordered a cheeseburger combo meal and the 2 free kids meals on my phone. Drove about 2 miles and sure enough, they had the order all ready for me.  So, for $4.49, my daughter and I had lunch and I have another cheeseburger she can have later as a snack, or as lunch tomorrow. 

At this time, we all need some help.  People like myself are essentially put out of business for awhile.  Not many people to sell houses to when we're all asked to "self-quarantine" for the next undetermined number of weeks.


 My husband goes in to his office, but they are closed to walk-ins and are conducting all sales by phone.  I know this puts a tremendous burden on him both literally and emotionally. I hope he knows how much we appreciate him. We are surrounded by friends and neighbors who own cafes, work in retail, serve meals in restaurants, cut hair, or do nails who are essentially unemployed. And, no one really knows when the jobs will be available again.  Imagine the terror this is creating in so many households.  

So, friends, take advantage of the complimentary services that you find near you.  The people who are taking the time to do this certainly don't want their efforts to be in vain.  And, when you venture out into the world, pick up some extra coffee, toilet paper, or Easter candy to pass on to a neighbor  who may not be able to go out. There's a little something we can all do for each other.  

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving Eggs Benny

Today is the big day to think of, reflect about and declare our thankfulness. I'd like to think that I live every day in gratitude.  I try, but I know I'm not always successful. 

On this Thanksgiving 2019, I am thankful that I executed my most perfect Eggs Benedict to date. Perfect oval poached eggs.  Perfectly runny, yellow yolk.  Do you hear me?  It was PERFECT!  

Look at that shape! It's gorgeous. 
I mean, seriously.

The key to poaching eggs is all in your technique.  And, I've seen and read many techniques. Some make sense, some are way too complicated.  Here's what I do:

Place 1/2 cup white vinegar in a small bowl.  Crack one egg, obviously being careful to keep the egg yolk intact. Let it sit for 5 minutes.  Bring your water to a "just about to boil" stage.  Begin swirling the water with a spoon or whisk to create a little whirlpool.  Slip the egg and the vinegar gently into the vortex. Keep the swirl going.  Let the egg poach for 3 minutes.  Carefully remove with a slotted spoon and drain briefly on paper towels.  Gently blot the top to remove excess water.  There you have it; perfectly cooked and shaped poached egg!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Quick Weeknight Comfort Dinner

It happens to us all.  It's a Wednesday night, we all need to eat, and mom is tired and not feeling terribly creative.  For this reason, I keep a stash of go-to items so I can still whip up something filling, tasty and that constitutes a decent meal on the fly.

After spending some of my last week in the hospital (what an experience!) I am still dealing with a dull headache, fatigue and frustration as we try to get my meds straightened out.  So, this was one of those "call it in" nights.

Thanks to my beloved Aldi, I had cheese ravioli, jarred Alfredo sauce, regular pasta sauce, and pesto on hand. The ravioli takes a whopping 8 minutes. I warmed up the red sauce for the kid and for Neil and myself, I used the Alfredo with some pesto and extra parmesan mixed in.  I had sliced fresh mozzarella, my basil plant and made a reduction of balsamic vinegar.  Lastly, thanks to my buddies at Publix, there were garlic knots in the freezer. 

Result? It really hit the spot!  And, there's still some leftover ravioli that I can turn into a pasta salad tomorrow. I highly recommend this plan for your busy weeknights when cooking isn't really in the cards for you. I know it's not "real" cooking, but it was just the thing for a Wednesday night!  

Friday, August 30, 2019

Roasted edamame: Protein Zap in a Snap

We try to eat high protein as much as possible.  We are not those Atkins, Keto, or any other extremists, but we like lots of protein.  In the constant search for snacks and grab-n-go foods, I tried roasted edamame this week.  

For those of you who don't know, edamame are soybeans.  You can buy them frozen, either shelled or still in the pod.  You see the pods often served in Japanese restaurants as an appetizer.  The shelled ones are great in salads, or just warmed and eaten like butter beans.  But, roasting them transforms them into a nutty, crunchy snack.  Kind of like high protein popcorn. And, it's really simple.

Thaw the edamame and dry them well.  Then, toss with some olive oil, Kosher salt and pepper.  Spread them out on a pan and roast at 375.  I stirred them around every 10 minutes for about a half hour, but just keep going until they look good and roasty to you.  The longer they are in the oven, the crunchier they get.  That's it. Enjoy!

Thawed and patted dry with paper towels

Simply edamame, olive oil, salt & pepper

About a Tablespoon or so

Spread out; stir every 10 minutes

Crunchy, nutty, crispy; don't forget to add some salt while they are still hot


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