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Quick Bites

November 18, 2014

So, I got an email this week, reminding me that my blog’s domain was about to expire and I needed to renew. I was confused for a moment – I have a blog?

If I had a nickel for every post I wrote that starts with “I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted….” I would probably be a semi-wealthy woman. Well, I’d have twenty bucks at least. My point: I go on hiatus a lot. It happens. No apologies this time, just a new post to amuse and delight you.

Ohio is still the same: cold, snowy, not all that exciting. I had a great summer working on a fundraiser event with some of the folks from the Cleveland Indians – lots of visits to Progressive Field and the Indians Executive Offices meeting and greeting. I never did meet any players or managers, but I have a feeling that’s going to change when I head out to Goodyear AZ for Indians Spring Training next March! I hope to bring home autographed baseballs from Mike Aviles (he and I share a hometown – Middletown, NY), Michael Brantley (Dr. Smoooooooooth), and Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber (#CyKluber). I am headed out there to organize some fundraising events for my company, which runs a camp for autistic children there. My job is a good job and it makes me happy, for lots of reasons.

Here’s a smattering of a few things going on in my world lately, made or experienced by me:

Flemish Carbonnade. I was watching an episode of “Diners Drive-Ins and Dives” (shut up) and my buddy Guy Fieri was visiting Cincinnati, specifically the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. One of the places he visited was “A Taste of Belgium”, which, as you might surmise, is a Belgian restaurant. Anyway, the chef prepared a traditional Flemish carbonnade – a beef stew made with Belgian ale and spices. Looked great, so I looked up a recipe on Saveur, and made it myself. It was quite good, what with all the warm spices, fresh herbs, and the flavor from the ale. I used Saison 1858, a farmhouse-style ale brewed by Brasserie Du Bocq. I am completely ignorant about Belgian beers, so I bought what I found at my store, not knowing what to look for. Saison 1858 might have been a little too hoppy, because the stew had a bitterness to it that I couldn’t really correct. I would definitely make it again, but I am hoping to get some suggestions on a less-hoppy Belgian-style ale to use. Help?

Carbonnade Collage

Vegetable Samosas. I’m always on the lookout for good vegetarian recipes, and recipes that can be portioned and frozen. This recipe from Cooking Light fit both categories. I made a bunch, along with fresh cilantro-mint chutney (also freezes well), and threw them in the freezer. It’s been nice having a quick Indian snack or dinner at the ready – I just pulled out how many I want, pop them in the oven for a few minutes, and acaraja! Almost as good as takeout.

Samosa Collage



Price Chopper Rebrands; Changes Name to “Olive Garden”. Well, that’s what it seems like. My opinion on the whole debacle is simple: ridiculous. I don’t have anything against a re-brand, but they chose the lamest name and their logo looks to me like it came from Olive Garden’s reject pile. And all these “conversations” PC execs are having with the public, taking questions and answering them with scripted canned responses? Methinks Jerry Golub doth protest too much. Ain’t nobody gonna call Price Chopper anything but Price Chopper, ever. It was easier for Hannaford, I think, when they rebranded/renamed, because they hadn’t been in the ALB market all that long at the time, and people hadn’t had the Shop n Save name burned into their brain by endless Can-Can Sale television ads that haven’t been updated in 15 years. Eh, I could go on, but I won’t. I’ll let you enjoy some commentary from one of my favorite #518 Tweeters:

Also, if one more person mentions Wegman’s, I will cut a bitch.

Why the hell have I not been out reviewing local restaurants? Because Bob & actually don’t go out to dinner all that much, and when we do we mostly go to our small local pubs for burgers and the like. Nothing exciting. Though – we do really enjoy the grub at Doogan’s, an Irish-type bar/restaurant. Good burgers, excellent Reuben sandwiches, and a decent beer selection. I’ve found a couple really nice brews there: Ithaca Flower Power and Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale. Good stuff. Last time we went there, we brought Bob’s dad and stepmom, and Bob’s dad ordered a Reuben sandwich served on two potato pancakes instead of bread. It was weird. Also: the servers wear t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase, “HOW YOU DOOGAN?”

Ohio, y’all.

We also like the food at Panini’s, a local chain that does burgers, etc. as well as what they call “Overstuffed Sandwiches”. Good lord those things are too big for a normal human to eat. We’ve never ordered one of those. What we do like to order is their burgers – and it was through them that we discovered Cleveland’s own Orlando Baking Company and their delightful pretzel buns. So good.

And yes, since you asked, the pizza out here is still very disappointing.

I’ve actually enjoyed a bit of the local culture. We’ve visited the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (meh), the Great Lakes Science Center (come visit – we bought a membership), a few Indians games (bought Bob club seats for his birthday and it was awesome), the Greater Cleveland Aquarium (sorta lame), the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton (zzzzzzzzzzz), the McKinley National Memorial (also in Canton, kinda cool, designed to resemble the National Mall), the Western Reserve Historical Society (they have an incredible antique car and aircraft exhibit – even met a museum docent who is a train enthusiast and we talked at length about ALCO and Schenectady), and Cleveland’s Little Italy (great food, and a GREAT Italian bakery – Corbo’s. Need to go back). So, I’ve been around a bit. Even visited Cincinnati (aka “Porkopolis”) for a couple days. Still TONS to see. Top of my list these days: A Christmas Story House, Playhouse Square, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Orchestra.

I better get busy.

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Going Over the Side of a Building

July 10, 2014

Since I know there are many people who would throw me over the edge of a building if given the chance, I thought I’d make it easy for them and do it myself! 

First, a quick bit of background, for those just joining us. Bob and I have settled in quite well here in NE Ohio, including me finally landing an amazing job. I’m the new Events Manager for Hattie Larlham, a non-profit organization that provides care to children and adults with developmental disabilities. I work in the Development department, and I am officially a professional fundraiser, tasked with raising money through events. I am truly honored to work for an organization that does such meaningful work, and it’s wonderful to actually look forward to going to the office every day!

One of those events we’ve got going on now is called “Over the Edge”, where individual fundraisers work to raise enough money to earn a spot to rappell down the side of the PNC Bank building in Akron, OH. Funds raised support the work of Hattie Larlham. If I can raise $1500 before the event on August 30, I will be one of those lucky (?) people who will strap on a harness and a helmet, and make my way down a very scary-looking building. I’m looking at this as a way to be more adventurous, and to step waaaaaay outside my comfort zone to experience new things. Perhaps skydiving is next. But I’ll start with rappelling.

So, here’s where you come in.

I’m asking you – my loyal readers – if you’d be willing to help me achieve my goal of raising $1500, by donating to my fundraising page. Any amount – large or small – will help me reach my goal, and will support the incredible work done by Hattie Larlham. Want to know more about what Hattie does before donating? Click here

Want to just jump on over to my page and make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.

I’m also working on putting together a little fundraiser with my sister Kristen, who is an independent rep with Premier Designs, a direct sales jewelry company. She has offered to donate 25% of any sales made through me to help my efforts. If you’re familiar with Premier Designs, you know their jewelry is trendy, nice, and high quality. More on that little endeavor coming soon (we’re trying to figure out how people can view their catalog online). 

Thanks in advance for your generous donation. August 30 is only 7 weeks away, and I’ve only raised $200 so far. I’m quickly running out of time to reach my goal – please consider giving me a “shove” so I can get over the edge.

There’s a very good chance this whole thing will be live streamed – so you can actually witness my descent. I’ll keep you posted about that as well. But, I don’t go over unless I raise the $$$.

Here’s a funny little aside, courtesy of Bob: I was excitedly telling him of my plans to go down the side of a 22-story building on August 30, the day before our anniversary. He helpfully told me, “I guess I’ll hold off on making dinner reservations, then.” 



This Firecracker’s a Dud

June 23, 2014

Firecracker Red Label BackRecently, Heinen’s was running a special on wine, and I was intrigued. Mostly by the price, because I’m a cheapskate.


Memorable, yes. Delicious, not so much.

On first pour, I could detect a familiar scent, but couldn’t quote put my finger on it. It was not a typical fruity red aroma, so I was puzzled for a bit. Until the next night, after I’d made waffles for dinner. That aroma was pancake syrup! That’s an aroma that does not belong in red wine. Upon a re-read of the label, I now see the “maple notes”. This was definitely not maple. This was good ol’ Aunt Jemima.

Thick and syrupy, with an overwhelming pancake syrup aroma and flavor. Blech. Now I know why Heinen’s was trying to unload the stuff at a quarter of its original retail price. It’s awful. There should never be “natural flavors” or “caramel color” added to wine. Just terrible. Who is the winemaker? Willy Wonka?

It made me say, “WOW! This is awful”.

Another awful selection? Firecracker’s White blend. Tastes like pineapple-flavored corn syrup, accented heavily with Sweet Tarts. Just terrible. I want my $8.00 back (that was for two bottles). Not a bargain at all.

Firecracker REd





Call a Greek a Greek

January 29, 2014
Now this is just getting stupid.

Now this is just getting stupid.

No, I’m not referring to my Greek friend. Or that ridiculous sour cream I saw an ad for recently. I am referring to the newest dustup in the Greek yogurt world.

Greek yogurt manufacturer Fage recently sued NY-based yogurt maker Chobani in the UK, demanding that Chobani refrain from calling their product “Greek Yogurt” because it’s made in the USA. A lower court ruled in Fage’s favor, and Chobani appealed the ruling. But an appeals court once again ruled against Chobani, upholding the lower court’s injunction against them using the term “Greek yogurt” to describe their US-made product.

Hold up. Something smells bad, and it isn’t the moldy yogurt that Chobani was selling recently.

See, Fage’s main complaint here is that if it’s not made in Greece, it can’t be called Greek yogurt. Much like sparkling wine not made in the Champagne region of France is not eligible to be called Champagne, and meatballs not served in an Ikea can’t be called Swedish*. The fact is, Chobani manufactures its products in its New Berlin, NY (and also Twin Falls, ID) and this is Fage’s complaint – it ain’t made in Greece.

BUT – remember a few years back, when Fage constructed a ginormous yogurt manufacturing plant in Johnstown, NY? You don’t recall? Read this to refresh your memory. Then, please understand that Fage makes just about all of the GREEK YOGURT that it sells in the United States…wait for it…IN THE UNITED STATES. From the FageUSA website:

Our U.S. facility, located in Johnstown, New York, which started commercial production in April 2008 and is the largest of our facilities in terms of production capacity, manufactures yogurt products for the U.S. market and the rest of the Americas. We have three facilities in Greece that serve all of our markets outside of the Americas and have the capacity to expand their production to accommodate expected increases in demand in the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and other international markets.

So I don’t understand their argument here, unless I am completely missing something. Why didn’t Chobani’s lawyers bring up the fact that Fage continues to call its product Greek when it’s made in NY? Should I call Chobani’s legal team? Should I go to law school?

*This may or may not be true. I’ve actually never set foot in an Ikea. But I do make some mean Swedish meatballs, courtesy of my Swedish mother-in-law.

Snow Rollers!

January 28, 2014

Freaking Cleveland just gets weirder every minute. Today I learned about another wacko thing around here: snow rollers.

There is this strange meteorological phenomenon known as “snow rollers” that seems to be part of the winter landscape in NE Ohio. Basically, strong winds scoop up a bunch of icy snow and blow/roll it into a hollow cylinder that resembles a jelly roll. Or one of the tires from the Flintstone’s car. Just freaking weird.

Conditions have to be just right, though: the ground must have a crusty layer of ice; the ice must then be covered by wet, loose snow; the wind must be strong enough to move the snow rollers; and there must be some sort of incline to the ground. Once the snow roll gets so big that the wind can’t move it anymore, they stop rolling. And the winds around here have been absolutely brutal, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some snow rollers around that are as big as cars.

Now, I haven’t seen any of these oddities with my own eyes, but I’m on the lookout now. I hope some form in my back yard, though, because it’s too damn cold to leave the house. I’m also hoping the wind picks up enough to blow some of the dog poop out there into my neighbor’s yard.

Here’s a photo of some rollers, from today’s Akron Beacon Journal:

Snow rollers spotted in Akron. Photo credit Akron Beacon Journal.

Have you seen any snow rollers? Share your photos with me, so I don’t have to go outside but can still pretend I’ve seen some.

Normal-Size Muffins are Anti-American?

January 15, 2014


So this is what Spain* thinks of us. JUMBO silicone muffin cups are called “American Muffin Cups”.

Luckily the baking cups themselves are Delicious!, because we gluttonous Americans will likely just eat the cups too, in the mad frenzy to shove the giant American muffins in our giant American faces.

*Lékué is a Spanish manufacturer of silicone bakeware and microwave cookware. I used to like the company.

Blame It on the Polar Vortex

January 8, 2014


There’s no bread, but I am grateful to the folks at Heinen’s for creating a sign with no spelling or grammar infractions only one spelling mistake.

Today’s temperature is sitting around 20 degrees. Feels like the beach.


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