Thursday, November 18, 2021

Who doesn't love filled pasta?

 I love filled pasta dishes.  The fact that filled pastas are usually filled with cheese probably has something to do with that.  And then if you add beef, well, that just makes everything better. So I couldn't resist a recipe called Beef and Cheese Manicotti from the Food Network.

You have to cook the manicotti first and right out of the pot some of my manicotti were already broken.  But whatever, they taste the same.  While they were cooking I sautéed the onion and beef.

Making the filling is not complicated but then you have to get it into the manicotti.  There was no hint on how to do that.  Last time I made manicotti I tried the pastry bag made out of a zip top bag technique.  That didn't work for me.  But I am not very good with a pastry bag so if you have any skill in that area you might want to give that a try.  I just used a tablespoon and carefully pushed the filling in until it was halfway full and then did the same thing form the other side.  I packed them as full as I could and had a little sticking out the ends and had plenty of filling.  So don't skimp.  A few more manicotti broke during this stage.  

Then I had to get them in the pan.  I thought that would be the easy part but it was a really tight fit.  I had less than half in the pan when I realized I was going to have trouble.  I thought about moving them around like some sort of pasta puzzle but I decided to just push on.  In the end I had to cut on in half and just cram it in wherever I could.  But, as I kept reminding myself, it would all taste the same.  

Some cheese on top (more cheese, I love it) and in the oven it goes.  Half an hour later you have beautiful manicotti.  I don't really know how you can go wrong with pasta and cheese and this case is no different.  It is very tasty.  If you like ricotta cheese you can't help but like this.  And it is very filling.  It makes a good hardy meal.  The only thing I might do differently is add a little crushed red pepper to the cheese filling next time.  But I like some sort of hot pepper element in just about everything I eat so that might just be me and my unnatural love of heat.  

I think pasta is a great way to go when you are unsure what to make for dinner.  This one is a little more work than just boiling some pasta and heating up some store bought sauce (which is also tasty by the way) but I do think the extra work is worth it.  I like manicotti and I can find no reason to go looking for a different recipe than this,

Friday, November 12, 2021

The Friday 56



* Grab a book, any book.

* Go to page 56.  Or 56% on your ereader. 

* Find a snippet, short and sweet.

* Post it and add the url to your post at Freda's Voice.

My book this week is The Low, Low Woods by Dani and Tamra Bonvillain

A graphic novel about a town called Shudder-to-Think where there are strange creatures in the woods and all the women have lost time.  Well, I mean, what do you expect when you live in a place called Shudder-to-Think?  Then two young women decide to figure out what is going on.

You can see my review here.

My Friday 56:

All I can say is this: humanity has always had witches and witches have always had potions, and yet the fucked-up bullshit never ceases.  You do the math.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Give back on Veteran's Day


Veteran's Day is a time to celebrate, honor, thank and remember all those who have served in the armed forces.  Below are a few ways to give back.

Wounded Warrior Project

Paralyzed Veterans of America

K9's for Warriors

Gary Sinise Foundation

Semper Fi Fund

Thursday, October 28, 2021

International Animation Day

 October 28th is International Animation Day!

To celebrate I'm going to share a couple of animated movies I have watched recently.  Oddly enough, neither one has any dialogue.

The first is The Red Turtle by Michael Dudok de Wit

A Man is washed ashore on a deserted island where, during his attempts to escape, he meets a red sea turtle.  

First off, the animation is beautiful.  Nice soft tones and lovely hues.  It is able to convey the fury of the sea, the desolation of the island and all of the emotions of the characters without any words being spoken.  It was a beautiful film to watch.  The story has some fantasy elements in it that you just have to except without explanation.  But mostly it is about life and many things that most people can relate to.  I'm sure there is symbolism and metaphor here that I missed.  I'm sure that if you Google it you will get a lot of interpretations.  To me it had to do with The Man finding what he needed while he was looking for something else; and about finding peace and salvation in unexpected ways.  This is also a story about love and the cycle of life.  I'm sure there are those who would disagree with some of my interpretations.  But that is another lovely thing about the film.  Everyone will see something different.  I think some people will be put off by the fantasy elements and say that the film makes no sense.  And it is slow, so I don't think young children will enjoy it.  It is not what I expected it to be but I am very glad I watched it.

The second is The Shaun the Sheep Movie by Mark Burton

Shaun decides to have a day away from the farm and leads all his sheep friends into the Big City only to get more adventure than he bargained for.

Shaun the Sheep is stop-action animation.  This one would be good for a young audience.  There is a lot of silly and goofy action.  But as an adult watching this I still had a lot of fun.  Although Shaun gets into all sorts of mischief you can't help but root for him as he tries to avoid the dog, Bitzer.  The characters, as well as the plot, are a little silly and goofy but the animation still does a great job of telling the story without the use of words.  There is a surprising amount of emotion in those little sheep faces.  Shaun might not always make the wisest choices but in the end he learns a little something and does the right thing.  It is hard not to get attached to these quirky characters.  This is another one I am really glad I saw.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Trip (and next three trips too) Movie Review

The Trip

The Trip to Italy

The Trip to Spain


The Trip to Greece with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon

All of these films are about Steve and Rob being asked to go on a tour of the restaurants in these various places in order to write about them, and the trip as a whole, for various publications.

Don't be misled.  These are not movies about food.  Although they are in restaurants a lot of the time there is not a lot of conversation about the food.  Sometimes you don't even know what they are eating, never mind what they think about what they are eating.  The movies are about Rob and Steve and their friendship?  The question is because at times they don't even seem to like each other and most of the time they are trying to outdo the other.  Although some times the banter between them can be funny just as often the conversation is rather annoying as they do impressions of the same actors doing the same lines over and over through all four movies.  The plot barely changes through the films either.  There are slight variations in the personal lives of the two men or sometimes they are following in the footsteps of someone or other on the trip, but it is mostly all the same.  They sit in restaurants acting like fools with behavior that would get them kicked out of most places (but no one seems to notice) as they try to prove to each other that they are more famous, more successful and better at impressions than the other.  I did learn some interesting facts along the way and the scenery was beautiful.  And I did watch all four so I guess that says something,  But unless you are die hard Steve Coogan or Rob Brydon fans (or are really into Sean Connery and Michael Caine impressions) than I think these flims with quickly become tedious.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

National Mole Day

 October 23rd is National Mole Day!

Now when I saw that it was National Mole Day I was excited I thought it was about the animal the mole.  I think moles are cute and interesting.  I was ready to put up mole pictures and list some mole facts.  But this Mole Day is to celebrate something else.  Apparently the mole is also a unit of measure in chemistry.

Not that I have anything against chemistry, but that was a little less exciting to me.  But I decided to take it as an opportunity to learn something.  So I looked up the definition of mole. says:

noun Chemistry,

The basic unit in the International System of Units (SI), representing the amount of a substance expressed in grams containing as many atoms, molecules, or ions as the number of atoms in 12 grams of carbon-12 (which is Avogadro's number, or 6.022 X 10 to the 23rd power) 

I still didn't know what a mole was.

From the National Mole Day Foundation website (after some more stuff I didn't really understand) I got:

In general, one mole of any substance contains Avogadro's Number of molecules or atoms of the substance.

That was a little more helpful  I'm still uncertain why that is something you would need to know.  I guess I should have paid more attention in chemistry class.  I did a little more looking and I think one of the reason's this is helpful is that it helps people talk about and compare really large numbers.  There is more to it but my mind was having trouble by then so I had to give it up for now. 

You can find more info here if you are interested.

And here is a picture of a mole.  Because I had my heart set on it.

Friday, October 22, 2021

The Friday 56



* Grab a book, any book.

* Go to page 56.  Or 56% on your ereader. 

* Find a snippet, short and sweet.

* Post it and add the url to your post at Freda's Voice.

My book this week is The Nobody People by Bob Proehl.  

It is about people with special abilities who have been living in secret and have decided to let the world know that they exist.

It reminds me a little of the X-Men actually.  There are good and bad people with abilities.  There are people who accept them and those that don't.  And questions about how and when it if okay for them to use their abilities.  It is pretty interesting so far and I think something more sinister is going to happen but I'm only about half way through the book so I will have to wait and see.

My 56:

Owen Curry isn't a bomb.  He's just a monster, the kind you can find anywhere.  The thing that's in him, that Avi is actually hunting, can't be questioned any more than he could interview an IED or an atom bomb.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

International Sloth Day

 October 20th is International Sloth Day!!

We are not talking about the deadly sin.  We are talking about the adorable slow moving animal.

Did you know?

1. Sloths can live up to 30 years.

2. Green algae grows on a sloth's fur

3. Sloths are related to armadillos and anteaters.

4. A sloth's head can turn 270 degrees.

5. A sloth can hold its breath for 40 minutes.

6. It takes 30 days for a sloth to digest a leaf.

7. Ancient sloths could get as big as an elephant.

Pygmy sloths are also endangered.  

Here are some places you can go to help:

The Sloth Conservation Foundation

Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica

The Sloth Institute of Costa Rica

World Wildlife

Monday, October 18, 2021

The Low, Low Woods (GN) review


The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado and artist Dani

(from the back of the book) 

Shutter-to-think, Pennsylvania, has been on fire for years.  The woods are full of rabbits with human eyes, a deer woman who stalks hungry girls, and swaths of skinless men.  And the people of Shudder-to-think?  Well, they're not doing so well either.

When El and Octavia wake up in a movie theater with no memory of the last few hours of their lives, the two teenage dirtbags embark on a horrifying journey to uncover the truth about the strange town that they call home.

I have to admit that the illustrations are not my favorite style.  The faces are often indistinct and the backgrounds kind of fade away like they were not quite finished.  But I think the style goes with the story being told here and I don't think a different style would have worked as well.  The story is dark and creepy.  There are skinless men crawling out of the ground and deer/human creatures in the forest.  The women of the town all have lost time.  But for some reason no one seems to be asking any questions.  (Or leaving town for that matter.)  Until two girls wake up in the movie theater with no idea what has happened for the last few hours.  They decide to find out what is happening.  I was hoping for some kind of investigation or something, a process by which they figure things out. But that didn't happen.  They just happen to ask the right question and everything is explained.  It was just too sudden of a revelation for me.  All these people living with the mystery for years when all it took was one question.  And then there are all the little story points that come up and go nowhere.  I was left with a few questions.  But since I had trouble working up an emotional attachment to any of the characters it is easy to just let the questions drop.  

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Super Simple Fish

 Somewhere in life I got the idea that cooking fish was a difficult process.  I don't know where I got the idea but it stuck with me for a long time in life.  And I wasn't sure I wanted to cook fish enough to actually put the time and effort into learning how.  So almost all of the fish (and, in fact, all seafood) I ate was cooked by someone else.  But then I got married.  And not only was he a seafood lover, he was a seafood cooker as well.  My new husband finally managed to convince me that cooking fish was no harder than cooking anything else.  Nowadays I cook seafood on a regular basis.  One of the fish I tend to cook a lot of is tilapia.  And in my search for a recipe for tilapia I came across this one simply called Pan-Fried Tilapia from Delish.

I already had everything I needed except for the fish itself and it said the total time to prepare this fish was only 25 minutes.  It sounded perfect.  And it turned out to be pretty close.

All you do is mix flour with a couple of spices, season the fish with salt and pepper, and then dip the fish in the flour mixture.  Then you put it in a pan that you have heated some oil in, leave it there for a couple of minutes, turn it over, leave it there for a couple of minutes, and you are done.  And you have four tasty fillets of tilapia.  

I served it just as is with some asparagus.  But I also made some really good fish sandwiches with it.

The only issue I had (and a slight one) is that even after all the fish has been covered in the flour mixture there is a lot left over.  The second time I made this I used half the flour (but the same amount of everything else) and still had plenty to cover my fish. 

I like this recipe because it is quick and easy and also because just the light dredging in the flour mixture mixture imparts a lot of flavor without having to put a heavy breading or batter on your fish.

Monday, October 4, 2021

National Vodka Day!

 October 4th is National Vodka Day!

Not sure how to celebrate?  You can't go wrong will a classic vodka martini.  Or a simple but delicious vodka tonic.

Vodka also pairs well with fruit juice of just about any kind.  Me? I just pour as much vodka as I want into a glass and add as much of whatever juice as I feel like.  But if you want to follow a recipe and be all technical with it...

If you add vodka to orange juice you get a Screwdriver.  

With cranberry juice it is a Cape Codder.

With grapefruit juice it is a Greyhound.  If you put a salt rim on it it is called a Salty Dog.  You can make this one with gin too.  But that is another day.

If you use both cranberry and grapefruit juices you have a Sea Breeze

If you use both cranberry and pineapple juices you get a Bay Breeze.

If you use both cranberry and orange juices you end up with a Madras.

Of course you can combine it with other things too.  I would suggest you try a Moscow Mule.  It combines vodka with ginger beer.  Traditionally served in a copper mug it will taste just as good if you don't have one.  

Of course the Bloody Mary is always good and it gives you permission to drink vodka before noon.  I just buy Bloody Mary mix and add vodka.  But that's because I'm lazy.  If you are not you can make your own.

I also like a White Russian.  If you like Kalua you probably will too.  It is a nice creamy, coffee flavored drink.

And a Cosmopolitan is always nice too.  Again with the cranberry juice but with some orange liquor to change it up a bit.

No matter how you celebrate National Vodka Day please drink responsibly.  

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Institute Review


The Institute by Stephen King

Children with telepathy or telekinesis are being kidnaped and taken to the Institute where the staff run tests and do experiments on them.  

I have read some reviews of this novel and it seems in most cases people either loved or hated it.  I'm more in the middle.  There are some very interesting ideas presented but there were points that I was not a fan of.  The characters you are introduced to first are, to me, the most interesting and well developed characters in the book.  But then they are dropped completely for a very long time.  Until you almost have to look back in the book to remind yourself who these people are when they reappear.  Then the story becomes about the kidnapped kids and what happens to them at the institute.  And the plot slows down to a crawl.  And I got a little bored waiting for it to go somewhere.  And when I did  find out the reason for the Institute I was a little confused why they would have chosen this convoluted, overly complicated and morally ambiguous plan to achieve their goals. Some of the characters were a little too simplified too.  One of the employees is afraid of a situation that was solved by a simple Google search.  The head of the institute is self-righteous and self-important to such extremes that by the end of the book she becomes slightly absurd.  Toward the end, when things start to happen, I did start to root for Luke and the other children and feel I was starting to get involved with the characters a little bit.  But it was too long in coming to redeem the book completely.  A lot of reviews also mention that King included some politics.  I remember that, but at the time I read it without a thought.  It didn't seem like a big deal to me and I don't think that should stop you from reading the book if you are interested.  I wouldn't say I would recommend this to someone as a good introduction to King but if you are already a Stephen King fan I do think it is still worth a read.

Friday, September 24, 2021

The Friday 56



* Grab a book, any book.

* Go to page 56.  Or 56% on your ereader. 

* Find a snippet, short and sweet.

* Post it and add the url to your post at Freda's Voice.

My book this week is Radio Free Albemuth by Philip K. Dick.  A book that was published posthumously in which Dick made himself  character where his friend starts getting messages from a mysterious unseen force called Valis.

My 56:

"You go along with them," I said, "and maybe your body lives, but your soul dies."

Which poses quite a dilemma for our hero.  As it has for countless other people.  What are you willing to give up to survive?

Sunday, September 12, 2021

I Love Noodles!

 I love noodles (especially Asian noodles) and peanut sauce.  So I was very happy when I found this recipe for Asian Peanut Noodles with Chicken on Skinny Taste.

So this time I came really close to following the recipe.  But.  Well, I never really use chicken breast for anything so I used thighs.  Also I used regular peanut butter.  So basically I changed everything that made it healthier so it wasn't so 'skinny' anymore.  But it was tasty.

There is a little prep work.  You need to cut the chicken into strips, grate some ginger, crush or mince some garlic and chop some peanuts.  But there isn't that much to do.  I shredded my own carrots because I had some in the fridge but you can buy some already shredded to save time if you want.  

The recipe says to boil the water for the noodles but it also says cook them according to the package directions.  Well, the package said to put them in really hot tap water.  So I did.  But they did not seem to be getting as soft as I wanted them so I did add boiling water to the bowl to help them along and that seemed to work.  The next hiccup I ran into was with the garlic.  Now, I know you are supposed to read the recipe all the way though before you start to cook.  But I didn't.  So when it said in the ingredients list to mince two cloves of garlic for the peanut sauce, I did,  But the directions say to add three cloves of crushed garlic.  I went with the two minced.  And the ingredients list for the chicken said four cloves.  And then it said to put the garlic in with the chicken strips.  So I put it all in with the chicken.  So when later it said to put two cloves in with the vegetables I thought that might be too much garlic so I didn't.  But maybe the intention was that half go in with the chicken and half with the veggies?  I might do it that way next time.  But what I did worked just fine. 

I chose to mix the veggies in with everything else.  I just found it easier that way.  I think it would have been a prettier dish if I put them on top.  But it certainly didn't hurt the flavor.  I will hold onto this recipe and make it again.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Take a Sail on a Tall Ship

 Do you live in Boson or are you going to be in Boston?  Then I suggest you look into a cruise on a tall ship.  

My husband and I were going to take a vacation.  We had all sorts of plans.  Things did not really work out on any of then.  Travel is still a little difficult and some things are still closed so we decided to stay home and do some local things.  I was actually looking at something else when I happened upon Liberty Fleet of Tall Ships.  

We had a choice of two ships.  I picked the bigger one.  The Liberty Clipper.  Just because.  I took the sunset cruise but there are other options available.  The tickets were $45 dollars each but I would suggest you get the weather coverage.  If they have to cancel the cruise due to weather you will get your money back.  If you do not have the weather coverage you will get a credit and be able to reschedule but sometimes (lets says for tourists that need to go home) that might not be an option.  Luckily I did not have need of it because it was a beautiful night.

There are bathrooms on board.  I never used them so I can't tell you what they are like but one of them is down a steep stairwell.  We were warned about it before getting on the boat but still as soon as we stepped on the boat a girl asked where the bathroom was and promptly fell down the stairs.  She was fine.  But I decided if I had to go I would use the other one.  They also have a cash bar on board.  I got a beer for $6.  I don't know what the hard liquor cost but you can buy drink tickets ahead of time for $6 so it might be the same price.

They will ask you to help them raise the sails.  You don't have to.  Not everybody can even.  But.  If it is anything like my cruise the guy will be telling people to line up and grab the rope and no one will.  I think partly people are not sure what he is asking of them and partly no one wants to be the first.  Go on.  Be the first.  That's all everyone else needs.  Someone has to be the first and everyone else will follow.  I had to be the first on my ship.  (Well, on my side of my ship.  I don't know what was going on on the other side of the ship.)  I don't know how much help I was in actually raising the sails.  But I do know we were not going anywhere until somebody grabbed that rope and was willing to help.  So, go ahead, be that someone.  And yell when they tell you to yell.  (If you can.  I was busy pulling sometimes and really couldn't.)  Participate.  It adds to the fun.

We didn't really go anywhere.  It wasn't a tour.  No one pointed out the sights and told you about them or gave you the history of anything.  We just sailed around the harbor for two hours.  But there were some beautiful sights and just being out there on the water was a really nice time.  I would suggest you bring a jacket, even if the weather is good when you take off.  It gets windy out on the water and I was glad I had one with me.  

It is something I will do again.  Maybe next time I'll take the I'll take the Cocktails, Rum and City Lights Cruise.  Who doesn't like rum on the high seas?

Friday, August 27, 2021

The Friday 56


Grab a book, any book.

Turn to page 56 or 56% on your ereader. If you have to improvise that is okay.

* Find a snippet, short and sweet.

*Post it and add the url to your post at Freda's Voice.

 Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen 

There is a new librarian is Cynthis Rothschild's school.  But there is something not quite right about him.  In fact, he's a demon.  And only Cyn seems to notice.  Now she has to not only save her school musical, Sweeney Todd, but her entire school.

My 56:

Before I can chicken out, I knock on the door and step inside.  The teacher turns to look at me, eyebrows raised.

Ok, so not the most exciting snippet.  But there is a lot more excitement in the book.  I promise.  It's a fun book.  You can read my review here.



Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Tomorrow War Movie Review

The Tomorrow War
with Chris Pratt

The Earth is invaded by aliens.  The Earth is losing a battle that could mean the complete eradication of the Human Race.  The few remaining humans go to the past to ask for help.

I am aware that you have to suspend your disbelief for science fiction and fantasy movies.  I am okay with that.  But for this one I had to suspend my sense of logic and I couldn't quite do it so I had a few problems with this one.  The first thing was mentioned in some synopsis's and is revealed very early in the film so I am not giving anything away so I will mention it to explain my issue.  So, the human race is being wiped out by alien invaders.  The remaining humans have found a way to send people 30 years into the past.  You can give the human race a 30 year warning about the war but the plan they come up with is to ferry people from the past into the future to fight the war.  Everyday people, teachers, hair dressers, lawyers, bus drivers, who know nothing of combat or guns are sent to the future to fight a war that the united militaries of the world couldn't win.  That is the best you can come up with?  Okay.  So I'll give them that.  And then you have really scary aliens and just a little humor and big fight scenes and those average humans stepping up and it's lots of sci-fi fun.  And then there some more stuff that can only happen if our hero is really stupid.  So that annoys me.  But then we go back to the action and get to see more of J.K. Simmons whos character is my favorite part of the movie.  Overall it is entertaining if you don't think about it.  But I found myself a little disappointed by a lackluster script.

Friday, August 13, 2021

The Friday 56


* Grab a book, any book.

Turn to page 56 or 56% on your ereader. If you have to improvise that is okay.

* Find a snippet, short and sweet.

*Post it and add the url to your post at Freda's Voice.


My book this week is Particulate Matter by Felicia Luna Lemus

My 56:

I should probably stop scowling at people so often.

It was not hard to pick my 56.  That sentence is all that is on page 56.  The book is about a year in Lemus's life where LA is burning and she is away from her spouse taking care of the house they used to share.  It is told with few words.  Sometimes just one word per page.  You can read the whole thing in less than half an hour.  It has the feel of poetry about it and it does manage to evoke emotions even with the limited text.  

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Fighting Food Waste, And Getting Some Good Deals

I play a lot of games on my phone.  Which means I watch a lot of adds on my phone.  One of those adds was for an app called Too Good To Go.  It is all about fighting food waste.  I would like to say that is why I was interested.  But it isn't.  I was interested because I could get some good deals on all sorts of food.

The idea is all sorts of businesses that sell food - cafes, markets, restaurants - have food that does not sell and will soon have to be thrown out.  So instead of throwing it out, the businesses would rather sell it at a discount.  They put some goodies together for you and you get say, $12 of food for $5.  Different places have different prices and different amounts of food.  The trick is you never really know what you are going to get.  You may have an idea.  If you go to a pizza place you will probably get pizza.  But what kind of pizza is a mystery.  This is the part my husband does not get.  He does not understand buying something when you don't really know what it is you are paying for.  I think that is part of the fun.  Of course, sometimes you might be disappointed, or get something you don't really like.  But thems the risks.

The other catch is that you have a limited window in which to pick it up.  Some of the times are not the most convenient.  But that's understandable.  You don't want to sell it on Too Good To Go while there is still a chance someone will buy it at full price.  For two of my orders the place was actually closed when I went to pick up my food.  One of them hung my food on the door and the other one had their front grate pulled half way down but the guy inside saw me and brought my food out to me.  

I have had mostly good experiences with this app.  The very first time I tried to order something I reserved it at 7:00 AM to pick up at 3:00 PM.  About five minutes later I got a message saying my order had been canceled because they wouldn't have enough food left over for me.  So I struck out the first time.  And the only other bad experience was I showed up and they were not expecting me and had nothing ready to give me.  They had to scramble around to put something together since I had already paid.  I have my doubts that I saved any food that day but at least I didn't leave empty handed.  

Some of the things I have gotten from this app include:

I made three trips to Savenor's Market.  The first time it was all produce and a loaf of bread.  The second time it was some produce, a loaf of bread, some fresh pasta and some BBQ pulled chicken.  The third time it was some produce, a loaf of bread, some soup and some yogurt.  The food was all tasty.  Some of the produce had to be used right away and was a little banged up.  For example the outer leaves of the Brussel sprouts had to be peeled off.  But I did use it all.

I went to Render Coffee and got six bagels for $3.29.

I went to Herrera's Mexican Grill and got a chicken burrito.  It was rather small and had a lot of beans but it was very tasty.

I went to Finagle a Bagel and got 17(!) bagels for $4.99.

I went to Red Apple Farm and got a bag of yummy apple cider donuts.  I think some of them were rejects because they were not donut shaped so they couldn't sell them but they taste great so I didn't care.

South End Food Emporium is where they were not expecting me and threw something together.  What I ended up with was a loaf of bread and a bottle of orange juice.  I will give them another try before I write them off.  The people working there seemed surprised there was nothing waiting for me.  So maybe it was just a miscommunication somewhere.

APM Coffee was where a bag was left hanging on the handle of the door.  I'm still not sure how I feel about that.  But the selection of breads and bagels I got were good.

At Otto pizza I got three rather large slices of pizza.  A margarita and two bacon, mashed potato and chives (it works).

The Daily  gave me a bag of pastries.  Apple turnovers and such.

I like this service.  It is obviously not for picky eater or people with food allergies.  But I have gotten some good deals and a lot of good food. I will keep using it.  And if I wasn't so lazy that I didn't want to leave the house after I got home for the day I would probably use it a whole lot more.  But 9:00 PM pick up times are too late for me.  Download it.  See what offers are in your area.  I'm sure you'll find something that interests you.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Well, I Sort of Followed the Directions

 So, I realized recently that I almost always just kind of, sort of, follow a recipe.  I usually start out planning to follow the recipe exactly but it just doesn't work out that way.  

Like when I was looking for a nice grain bowl or grain salad to make for lunch I found this recipe for Cranberry-Pecan Wheat Berry Salad from Taste of Home.  It looked good in the picture and the ingredients all sounded good.  So I started to make my shopping list.  Well, I didn't have any wheat berries.  I was going to put them on my list when I realized I had a whole bag of farro.  So why not just use what I had on hand.  How different could they be, really?  And then I got to walnut oil.  Walnut oil?  I didn't even know they sold bottles of walnut oil until I read this recipe so I was pretty sure I was never going to have a use for it again and I didn't want to buy a bottle of something that would just sit around forever.  So I used olive oil instead.  Everything else I did according to the recipe.  Although I will admit that some of the quantities were eyeballed.  

As with a lot of grain salads like this one there is not a lot of cooking to do.  You have to cook the grain but that is mostly just waiting. You combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl (All of which I had on hand except the walnut oil.  I like when that happens and I get to use what I have instead of having to buy a bunch of ingredients.)  There is sage and thyme in the dressing.  The recipe gives you the amount to use for either fresh or dried.  I used dried because I had them and I have a habit of only using a small amount of fresh herbs and having to throw away the rest.  Then there is a little bit of chopping to do.  And the rest is just mixing everything together.  So nothing too complicated or time consuming.  

It made for a very satisfyingly and filling lunch.  The very savory dressing matches well with the fruit so it has a nice balance.  The apple gives you a nice crunch for a nice texture against the chewy grain.  I think it was the sage and thyme in the dressing but there was something about it that made me think of Thanksgiving.  It reminded me of the stuffing my mother would always make.  

Sometimes when there is no meat or cheese in lunch I feel the lack of it.  But in this one I don't.  It was definitely a full meal.  I will keep the recipe on hand and maybe even use wheat berries next time.  Or barley or quinoa or whatever.  

Friday, July 16, 2021

Evil Librarian Book Review

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

(from the back of the book) Something about the new librarian isn't quite right.  Maybe it's his (literally) mesmerizing eyes.  Or the way students start acting like zombies after spending time with him.  Or the horns and giant bat-like wings that appear when he thinks no one is looking.  Um, yeah, Mr. Gabriel is a demon.  But only Cynthia Rothschild realizes that something is very wrong.  Worst of all, her best friend, Annie, has fallen completely under Mr. Gabriel's demonic spell.  Now, in addition to saving her beloved school musical (Sweeney Todd!) from technical disaster and avoiding making a  complete fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn must find a way to save Annie and the rest of the school from the evil librarian - before he steals away her BFF forever and leaves everyone else dead!

This is a fun book.  Yes, it is about a demon who is killing people and sucking out the souls of teenagers but it does not feel dark.  It is surprisingly light hearted for a book with so many demons in it.  I like that.  Cynthia is dealing with some big things (even aside from the demons) but she deals with them with humor and the help of her friends.  Nothing is ever taken too seriously.  I like the running dialog in Cynthia head and the way she is always telling her brain or her nerve endings to shut up.  I have to admit, I was over the whole, 'I can't think because Ryan is standing too close' thing.  But that is probably because I can't remember what it's like to be a teenage girl in love.  All of the characters are interesting, even the ones who are not much more than a cameo.  And I love the way the evil librarian is make you shiver creepy even when he is doing regular human things.  The book is fast reading because the action keeps the plot moving at a good pace.  Even when the book focused on the play there was never a lull.  In fact, the way the story shifts from the demons to Cynthia's crush, to her dedication to the play so the paranormal happenings are taking place in the middle of her regular life is part of the charm.  I really enjoyed reading this one and will visit the evil librarian series again.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Maybe I Should Get a Wok

So I wanted to try to make Drunken Noodles.  I love Drunken Noodles.  I do not own a wok and I have tried to make other dishes that tell you to make them in wok and I figure 'how much difference can it make' and it doesn't turn out well.  And I have also tried to make other rice noodle dishes that have not ended well.  But despite my past failures and the fact that I still don't own a wok I decided to try again. 

Spoiler Alert: it went much better this time.  

I used the recipe for Drunken Noodles (or Pad Kee Mao apparently) from The Woks of Life.

There are a million different recipes out there but this is one of the ones that told me to use Thai chilies instead of a chili paste or something.  And I just liked the looks of it.

I started to gather my ingredients.  I could not find rice noodles as wide as the ones I would usually get from the restaurants so I settled for ones that looked liked fettuccini.  I could not find Shaoxing Wine, so I got mirin.  And I used just regular basil, not holy or Thai.  And I'm sure I had more chicken than I was supposed to.  But whatever.

The directions for the noodles said to let them sit in really hot water.  So they were easy to cook.  Then there is a fair amount of chopping to do.  I added an extra Thai chili, because I like heat and well, I had to buy a box of like a hundred so why not.  

Then it is basically adding the ingredients to the wok (or in my case a skillet) when you are told to.  My skillet was just a little too small so stirring wasn't the easiest.  And I don't know if having a wok would help or if I got the noodles too soft before I added them to the pan or if I'm just a brute but I break up the noodles quite a bit in the process.  The finished product did not look exactly like the Drunken Noodles I have eaten before but it was pretty close.  Closer than I expected.  And much closer than my last rice noodle effort.  I was very pleased.  It got even better when I ate them.  They were just what I was hoping for.  I will make them again.  Maybe in a wok next time.