Friday, September 30, 2011

Cock 'n Bull on Rosewood

I've been meaning to post this for a week or two, so here I am finally sharing these thoughts with you.  The Cock 'n Bull started out in the basement of the building next to the Amoco on Rosewood.  Right from the start, they offered a unique and interesting menu.  I have heard tales of the Friday night Fish 'n Chips, which apparently sell out so you have to get there early.  I've never made it!  And, Cock 'n Bull is the official soccer HQ of Columbia.  If you even kind of like the game, this is the place to come and watch it.  And drink lots of good beer and eat good pub food.  Now, they are in an old house on the corner of Rosewood and S. Edisto.  

The feel is very familiar, comfortable and cozy in this old house.  Great atmosphere and the owners are local Rosewood neighbors, so it's cool that they really know their customers.

Recently, Neil and I were able to rendez-vous for lunch.  As you probably know, we are avid supporters of local businesses, especially restaurants.  So, heading over to yet another great joint right in our neigborhood was a quick and easy choice.  

As we entered from the side door, we were heartily greeted by Rod, the owner.  I've tried many dishes on their menu, but am still navigating through it so I've been trying to order something different each time.  Today, I chose the Shrimp Po' Boy & the housemade pub chips.  The Mister decided on the Duck Wrap with a side of lima beans.  (I know, right?  But, it is one of the sides they offer!)

Neil's dish first:  
Look at that arm; I am married to Iron Man!

it was a huge wrap, packed with roasted duck.  Neil commented that the sandwich was quite good but could have benefited from a little additional seasoning.  The limas were awesome.  Sorry I don't have more details; I was preoccupied with my order and didn't quiz him too much.  

My dish:  
I loved the presentation of this sandwich so much!  Using a whole romaine leaf impressed me and made the Po' Boy look very attractive.  The tomatoes were also placed on the side of the roll, so the beautiful red color was visible and included in each bite.  The shrimp were plump and perfectly cooked.  Frying shrimp can easily hit overcooked in a heartbeat if you're not careful.  These were just right.  The pub chips were also noteworthy because it was evident they were fresh cut and they were actually cooked as "raw fries" or floppy, as Neil calls them.  One of his pet peeves is places that claim to serve raw fries, but they are fried beyond recognition.  He tells me a true "raw" fry is supposed to be "floppy."  So, here the Cock 'n Bull totally delivers!

As we were finishing up, Rod came to our table to ask how our lunch was.  We chatted about our kids, who all go to the same school, and the Youth YMCA soccer that has just gotten rolling for the Fall.  If you appreciate being welcomed and known in a local establishment, Cock 'n Bull fits that bill.  They are simply nice people, cooking good food, serving up a million awesome beers from all over the Earth and diggin' on some soccer.  Two thumbs up...check it out for yourself.

Cock n' Bull Pub-Grille on Urbanspoon

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Blades of Glory

Recently I made a video in my kitchen and someone commented about my knives being in the background.  I love my knives.  

In my opinion, it's virtually impossible to cook without a good knife. Thanks to the kindness of others, I have seven.

When Neil and I got married, my cousin and his wife gave us a Global vegetable knife.  I'd never heard of Global, but I instantly fell in love with this knife.  Globals are forged as a single unit.  They have divets in the grips so they are very easy to hold and control.  That vegetable knife started it all.  So, when birthdays or holidays rolled around, Neil would give me another knife to make our collection.  I can't remember the names of all of them.  I don't really need to call them by name anyway, I just need them.

My two favorites are the Santoku and the newest addition which is a serrated blade.  

I can chop herbs in no time, filet meat, peel an apple, and I've been known to be a champ at hacking off a corner of my fingernail (thank you fake nail inventor!) or stabbing myself in the palm too.  Yeah, I can be a little overzealous sometimes!

If you're struggling with mediocre or crummy knives, I highly recommend that you try Global.  They aren't cheap, but I promise, they are worth every cent.  Just be careful, when they first come out of the package, they can slice you to ribbons.  The suckers are sharp!

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

See Jane. See Jane run. Run, Jane, run.

I am Jane.

Ok, if you actually know me personally, you will probably be amused by what I'm about to tell you.  Over my life, I've chosen various types of exercise.  Walking, dancing, aerobics, machines, Tae Bo, "Walking away the pounds," water aerobics, yoga.  I've pretty much dabbled in it all.  

Except. One.Thing.

I hate running.  I've never understood why anyone wants to run, let alone those psychos who claim to "enjoy" running.  Really?  Freak.  Basically, I only run if I'm being chased and thankfully, I've made it 43 years without that being the case.  Until now.

A few years ago, my sister was a super compliant Weight Watcher and lost a bunch of weight.  In the midst of that, she decided she wanted to learn to run.  More power to ya, you weirdo!  But, I said, whatever, good luck.  I attended her first 5K and the Governor's Cup and was proud of her, to be sure.  I just had no desire to ever join her...ever.  Well, since she started running, we've both gotten married and had babies.  You know, when that happens, lots of things, um, change.

So, about a week and a half ago, she emails me and sez:  "I'm going to start the program I used to learn to run.  Are you interested? It might be fun to "train virtually" together."  I looked in the mirror and emailed her back, "Ok, sure, I'll try it."  So, I'm on week 2 of the "Couch to 5K" training plan.  This is a combo of walking and running designed to gradually ramp you up to more running endurance while preventing newbie over-doing-it injuries.  To date, I've managed to stick to the program without falling out in the middle of the street, no lung explosions or whole body versions of "lock jaw" upon returning home.  And, nobody has had to chase me to make me do this.
Yep, these are my feet. Fleet-footed I am.

What is happening to me?  Am I morphing into one of those freaks?  Nah, I just want something to change.  At least, I think (and hope) that's it.  

So what does this have to do with food?  Well, on the days that I run, I'm flippin' STARVING.  I've now determined that I need high protein to satisfy this jogger hunger.  The other day, I had tomato-basil soup and Caesar salad and still could have chowed down for another half hour.  Today, the Neilix made me some beef and black bean tacos.  Two of those bad boys and I'm not dreaming of pulling a chair up to a buffet table.  Maybe one day when I can run for a really long time I'll talk myself into spending the $30 to try out Cowboy for a big ol' meat fix!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I love coupons!

Yes, I love coupons.  In fact, Southern Savers has forever changed my life.  Getting a rock bottom deal is such a rush.  I wonder why it took me so long to understand this stuff.  

Recently I told you guys about Pillsbury's new Grands! Biscuit sandwiches.  I want to try these out because my Kindergartener is becoming bored with my breakfast offerings.  I mean, this morning the child rejected a piece of peanut butter toast because "it has too much peanut butter on it."  What?? Who are you?  You eat peanut butter with a spoon.  You have actually asked me to give you a bowl of peanut butter before.  And today, there's "too much."

Anyway, Publix has the Grands! sandwiches on sale 2/$5.00.  There is also a $1 Publix coupon that you can stack with another $1 manufacturer's coupon, making these little babies $0.50 per box.  But, Publix's sales run Wed-Tues, so tomorrow, this deal will probably be gone.  If you're interested in trying them for this ridiculously low price, print a coupon, head to Publix and get the store coupon in the Yellow Advantage pamphlet from the kiosk at the front door.  

Hopefully the wunderkind will dive into a bacon and egg biscuit tomorrow morning and squeal with delight. I just hope there's not "too much" of anything that might prompt a rejection.  Get your coupons and go try them out.  For $0.50 I'll try anything!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Checked out Henry's last night

You probably know the's that old vintage gas station building on Devine Street.  It had a pretty good run as Tiffany's bakery and cafe, then I think it's been two other restaurants since then.  Well, now it's Henry's.  Neil asked me last night if I'd heard anything about it and I realized I had heard absolutely nothing.  So, we took a left on Sims Ave and headed that way.

We were very pleasantly surprised by what we found.  First, as soon as we opened the door, we saw our long-time bartender buddy Hillary behind the bar.  The place was very clean looking and clean smelling.  I don't mean it smells like Pine Sol or anything but rather just good clean fresh air.  This is important to me.  There are several tables, bar seating and a pool table.  We opted to sit at the bar so we could talk to Hillary.  

It was Happy Hour, so we got good deals on our wine.  Next we checked out the menu.  It's really extensive and Hillary let us know that all their menu items are prepared fresh with the exception of the sweet potato fries and hushpuppies.  Freshly prepared chicken, hand pattied burgers, fresh cut fries.  It's all sounding good so far!  The appetizer that immediately caught my eye was the fried pickles. This is one heavenly little snack, in my opinion, especially if being made from scratch.  These are some of the best I've tasted.  Good, quality garlicky pickles with a nice crunchy crust.  Let me warn you though...this is a monster order!  We brought half of them home and I'm getting ready to crisp them up in the oven even as I type this now!

Next, we ordered dinner.  Neil decided to take the route of supermodels and beauty queens and ordered the "Hank Dog."  This is crazy!  But I tasted it and it's crazy good.  It's a cheese filled hot dog wrapped in bacon (you just have to experience this at least once) then topped with chili, cheese and jalapenos.  Holy cholesterol Batman, but it was awfully daggum good!  

I chose the buffalo chicken sandwich.  One of my pet peeves about ordering chicken in restaurants is when they serve me some gargantuan sized chicken breast that makes me have nightmares about the steroid ridden bird this thing must have come from.  This was a nice, neat, appropriately bun-size piece of chicken, freshly breaded and fried.  The chicken itself was perfectly cooked and juicy.  The buffalo sauce was their mild, but still had a nice little kick and good flavor.  And best of all, it's served with homemade blue cheese dressing.  Ummmmm...nice and rich and chunky...delicious.  

Both our sandwiches came with fresh cut fries.  I love fries this way because they actually taste like potato.  The only suggestion I have for them is that using the double fry method will yield more crispy fries.  Common issue when using fresh potatoes.  Just a suggestion.  

We were very pleased to find a cool new neighborhood bar that also has great bar food.  There are many things on their menu that I plan to try.  And, to my knowledge, they are the only place in town that has a food two of their giant burgers with fries and make it to the wall of fame.  Maybe we can get Adam from Travel Channel's Man versus Food to come check it out??

Henry's on Urbanspoon
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And the winner is...

Last night Neil and I went to Henry's (more on that later) to review the contest entries and to select a winner.  After many chuckles and serious deliberations, we have chosen our good friend Mike -aka- Scratch.  The way he dove-tailed onto Kelley's rapier wit was priceless and could not go unnoticed!  Congrats big fella...your cupcakes are on the way!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Free! Gratis! Complimentary! On the House!

It's contest time kiddos!  Your task is to amuse me and Neil and we will choose a winner based on how entertained we are.  "What can I win?" you may ask.  It's a packed-to-the-gills prize pack courtesy of Betty Crocker and MyBlogSpark.  You'll receive a mix of Betty Crocker's new FunDaMiddles cupcakes, decorative cupcake liners, a decorative oven mitt, cupcake notecards and a muffin tin.  You can go here for a coupon if you'd like to run out and try them right now.

So here's what you have to do.  Tell us what your favorite stuffed food is and why you love it so much.  I mean, anything from a stuffed zucchini to a stuffed crepe.  What makes it so good to you?  How did you discover it?  Anything you deem relevant...and make us laugh!  Submit your responses below in the comments section.  Make sure you tell me who you are and how to contact you (duh!).  We'll take entries until 5:00 on Friday, September 16th.  Good luck my food-lovin' friends!


Today I tried out the Betty Crocker FunDaMiddles that arrived the other day.  They are easy to make; just mix up the batter, add the filling and bake.  The sample they sent me is yellow cake with a creamy vanilla filling.  The cake turned out very nice, light and moist.  I had tasted the filling pre-baking and was kind of doubtful.  It was thick and reminded me of marshmallow fluff, which I am not a fan of.  I know, I know, most people love this gooey gunk, but not this girl.  However, the finished product surprised me.  The filling did in fact become creamy and tasty.  And, The Vivver gave the FunDaMiddles an enthusiastic two-thumbs up!
The package I received from BlogSpark & Betty Crocker

These are the cute decorated cupcakes liners they sent.
Gettin' it all mixed up!
Nicely golden browned.
Finished product
 As I told you a few days ago, all this great stuff was provided to me from the people at BlogSpark and Betty Crocker.  I'll be posting a giveaway soon for you to enter to win this same cool prize pack.  As a recap, it contains a FunDaMiddles mix, decorative cupcake papers, cupcake notecards, a cupcake motif oven mitt AND a non-stick muffin tin!  I appreciate the goodies and the opportunity to try out this new product.  It's sure to be a big hit with kids! 

Thanks again BlogSpark and Betty Crocker!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lunch at Travinia

So, my lunch at Travinia yesterday.  Our group was seated in the Wine Room.  The server we had did a great job handling a large party.  Everything seemed to time itself perfectly.  I wish I had caught his name.

I ordered the Pollo Isabella.  This was grilled chicken breast with sun-dried tomatoes, basil and goat cheese over baby spinach.  The presentation was delightful and I couldn't wait to try a bite.  The goat cheese was so creamy and had a bold flavor, which I like.  The chicken was nicely grilled and the combination of the basil, spinach and sauce was a lovely backdrop.  The only change I made was a little salt to pop the flavors.  You guys know how I feel about salt.  It enhances flavors!  Don't be afraid of it.  Just use it correctly.

Sorry this photo isn't very good; the room was kind of dark,

Some other dishes that my companions tried were the crab cakes, which looked like giant lumps of crab and not tons of bread and filler.  If I hadn't just met Staci, I would have asked her for a bite!  MP got a beautiful salad with chicken, mixed greens, & huge blackberriesEveryone enjoyed their complaints.  

Another thing I can say about this Travinia is when I've been there before at night, they had some awesome specials like tempura asparagus and a romaine wedge salad that was remarkable.  Even though this is a chain, I like Travinia.  Lexington needs more upscale restaurants so I think bringing Travinia to them was a welcome move.  

Travinia Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Blog News

You may remember awhile back that I told you about being chosen as one of the winners of Lexington Medical Center's contest.  They were looking for guest bloggers to feature on their Every Woman blog.  This is the video I submitted.  Apparently they liked it.

Yesterday, all the winners and the folks from LMC met for lunch, got to know each other and to discuss the project.  Wow!  What an incredible, exciting, stimulating luncheon this was!

First, we met at Travinia's in Lexington. I'll post a separate review of lunch for you.

Lexington's idea is to create a community blog for all the women (and men) in our area to share real life stories, experiences and information.  The ladies that I met yesterday are each fascinating people.  Our blogs are all completely different, covering a wide and eclectic array of subjects.  I think having so many points of view will make LMC's blog quite interesting.  As we move toward the debut of the blog, I'll keep you posted.  I'd love for all of you to check it out and check out the blogs of my new friends.  I'll post links as soon as I compile a list of them all.  I'd also like to take this moment to thank you for reading Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef).  This has become an important creative exercise for me and I love interacting with you all on one of my favorite subjects!  Thanks for reading and I hope you'll introduce your friends to the blog as well.  :-)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Giveaway coming soon!

Ok, I'm really excited!  The awesome people at BlogSpark contacted me about a product trial for Betty Crocker's new "Fun-da-Middles."  Today I arrived home to find a package with all kinds of goodies inside: a box of the Fun-da-Middles mix, cute cupcake papers, small cupcake note cards, a cupcake motif oven mitt and a 12 cup muffin pan.  
Check out all this cool stuff

So, here's the plan.  I'll make the cupcakes in the next couple of days and tell you guys what I think.  Then, I'm going to post some sort of challenge for you and whoever wins will receive the same package that I got today...absolutely free of course, courtesy of Betty Crocker and BlogSpark. In the meantime, if you'd like to go ahead and try it out yourself, click here for a coupon for $.85.   So, stay tuned!

Like Betty Crocker on Facebook or follow on Twitter.

Wendy's Rant

Let me preface my rant with the acknowledgement that an adult working the drive thru window at Wendy's may have limited career options.  BUT, basic math and listening comprehension should be a prerequisite for anyone taking orders and handling cash.  I mean, right??

My mom and I pulled in for a drink.  Here's what I ordered.  Pay attention, it's complicated. I'd like one "value" tea, half sweet, half unsweet.  (The value menu is the $.99 stuff.)  I'd also like a "value" diet coke.  I'm told it's $2.16.  That adds up.  I drive around and hand the lady exactly $2.16.  That's two one dollar bills, one dime, one nickel and one penny.  She then hands me back a nickel.  "Didn't I give you 16?" I ask.  She replies, "no, you gave me 11."

>>Uhhh, shouldn't the computer have taken care of this anyway??

She hands me the drinks and dismisses me so off we went.  Now, let me tell you about the drinks.  My diet coke was NOT diet.  This is a major "make me go off on a senseless rant" kind of faux pas.  I am so sick of people not listening to my damn order!! I did get the value size, as ordered, however.  Here's photographic evidence.  Take a good look at the size of this drink, friends.  

Mom's "value" tea was about 12" high and as big around as a bread plate.  I'd show it to you but she just left and took it with her.  But it only cost $.99.  Or really $.95 if we deduct that nickel from her tea.   

Word of advice to this Wendy's owner:  internal audit!  No telling what is going in and out of that window.  Okay, I'm done.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Weekend in Asheville

Friday was my brother-in-law Darren's birthday, so the little fam trucked up to Asheville to celebrate with him.  My sister planned this dish for Friday night that she had actually gotten from our mom.  It's a pecan-crusted pork tenderloin.  In a word, fantastic.  It's pretty simple too.  So many simple dishes are, in fact, the best.  You slice the tenderloin into medallions, dip in maple syrup then chopped pecans and into the skillet.  We combined with roasted potatoes and green beans for a super supper.  
Medallions a-cookin'

Darren's party was great fun too.  Cooked hot dogs and brats on the grill and had my sister's newest surprise find.  She was at Sam's and one of the ladies had a stand to try a smoked brisket.  Now, my sister is probably the BIGGEST skeptic I know.  She tried it; she liked it; she bought it.  And I'm so glad she did.  It was a fully cooked smoked brisket that only needed to be heated 15 minutes per pound.  OMG this was some daggum good meat!  I made a sandwich with just mayo and it was superb.  Neil added some BBQ sauce to his and was pleased.  I think it would also be great on a foccacia with herbed mayo.  If you see this at Sam's, buy it.  You'll thank me.  Well, really you'll thank Katherine.

Since we had the Vivver with us, we swung through Hendersonville on the way home and hit up Stepp's orchard.  We picked a 1/2 bushel mixed with Fuji and Golden Delicious.  I love this orchard. It's family owned, they have wagons you can pull the kiddies around in and a corn maze.  Afterwards, we drove to Lake Lure and got Vivian in a mountain stream for a little creek hiking.  Now, we are up to our ears in beautiful NC apples.  Last night I made apple pie ice cream.  Today, a monster of an apple pie.  Then, when I get a second wind, apple turnovers to put in the freezer.  
My pie crusts don't look good, but taste is another matter!

Friday, September 2, 2011

New Product

Image from Pillsbury's website
The nice people at Blogspark emailed me some information about a new product.  Pillsbury is introducing Pillsbury Grands! Biscuit Sandwiches and Pillsbury Egg Scrambles.  I haven't tried these products yet, so this is for your information.  You can click here to get a $1.00 coupon to try them out!

The Pillsbury Doughboy teamed up with Grammy-winning American gospel duo Mary Mary and surprised morning commuters with an unexpected performance.  There is a video that you can check out here of their impromtu breakfast boogie. Kind of a Doughboy flash mob.  

Thanks again to Blogspark and Pillsbury for sharing this information.  If you try the products before I do, post your comments here for others to see.


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