CLOSING TIME ~ OUT OF TIME DESIGNS

….COMBINING LIFE AND ART


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Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! And Save The ‘Bishops Hat’ For Me…

We all love Thanksgiving; the abundance of food, having the family and friends get together, the food, the football game, all that turkey! Damn! What am I going to do with the leftover turkey THIS year. Well folks, I have an idea that might get rid of all those darn bones you were going to make soup with but never got around to actually doing.

This might not be for those who don’t really want to know much about our food-those who just prefer to eat it and then fall into food coma nirvana. But chances are if you cooked the beast you wouldn’t mind making some money from it also.  I found this site by  surfing to find dancing turkey skeletons; I didn’t find that but did find a place that sold turkey skeletons. Curious I checked it out and found a picked clean set of bones will set you back $349-just about what I usually put out for the meal itself. This site is really interesting but not for those easily grossed out.  I noticed that they will also buy skulls if you have some to sell, not just turkey skulls but all kinds. I imagine they do a brisk business with the mob underworld.

                                                         After reading up on all the different bones I could buy I then found this site that gives you tips on how to clean the bones and arrange the skeleton.

When I was a little kid I never thought about what mom and grandma had to do with all that left-over carcass.  It was just fun to have an excuse to stuff myself silly.  But as an adult in hard economic times if I could turn this into a money-maker, well hey, why not? However, this year for once I will not be doing the cooking, my granddaughter has taken over hosting Turkey Day, so perhaps I will have to resort to thievery and steal the bones on the pretext of soup making…

*Bishops Hat-the fatty turkey tail that some people (my late grandfather) considered a delicacy

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O’Charleys – Part Deux

So back in April I posted about my dinner at O’Charley’s Eastgate how it left something to be desired-mainly the appetizer which wasn’t brought out until after the dinner. If you read the post you also saw that the manager and our waitress were right on top of the situation and we went away willing to give  it another try.

Last night Date Guy and I went back. As neither of us had lunch we were hungry and went early. Being friday afternoon/evening and Happy Hour the place was crowded!  We were seated within 10 minutes and our waitress Deanne was right on top of our drink order. After looking at the menu I saw what I wanted and it wasn’t on the menu. Here I’ll explain…what was on the menu was a Chicken Bacon Bleu on Ciabbata Roll.  Ok all of that sounded good but I had chicken the previous two nights and wanted a burger.  I asked Deanna if the kitchen could substitute a hambuger making it a Burger Bacon Bleu, and sure enough they did without blinking an eye.  Date Guy had steak the previous two nights so he opted for chicken.

We both enjoyed our meals and as the picture shows my burger was wonderful ( the fries were great as well).  Date Guy is not too expressive but he did enjoy his chicken and pasta (and happy hour draft).  Our waitress checked on us often enough to show she cared but not so often as to annoy us.  I have to say a kind word for all the staff here:

We were sitting by the bar and three blond bimbos (sorry- I call it as I see it) were leaving when they spied someone they knew at the bar.  They descended like colorful parrots and proceeded to hog the aisle between the bar and the row of tables where we were seated.  Totally oblivious to the wait staff and other patrons also trying to leave they stood and talked for half an hour or more.  Meanwhile, the staff was trying to carry trays of food, drink jugs and plain just get by them.  These gals must have had tunnel vision because the staff was clearly having a hard time navigating that tiny space but they weren’t going to budge until they were ready. At one point another gal joined them!  Kudos to the staff for not “accidently” spilling a drink jug on them (this is why I was never a waitress!) They didn’t even say that  it was creating a fire hazard, they just kept on working as best as they could under the circumstances. Hats off to you guys!

So our return trip to O’Charley”s was a success; the food was good, the staff has always been great and I will certainly return again.


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Remaking A Childhood Favorite…

As a child I had a terrible sweet tooth, oh hell who am I kidding? I have a terrible sweet tooth!  However, I also have far too many pounds that are testament to a long and sordid history with food.  I, of course, don’t want to blame myself so instead I blame my Grandpa Meiners who doted on me as the first grandchild and the apple of his eye.  He came from a background of deprivation as did many from then. His and my grammas story would make a good post for another day. Suffice it to say they raised a family during The Great Depression and were not able to give their children many of the “niceties” of life.  So when I came along two decades later he lavished on me everything he could.  What stands out in my mind the most was of course food!  The Easter baskets he gave me as a kid in the 1950’s were wondrous to behold and the start of my lifelong love/hate relationship with food.

So here I am six and a half decades later still trying to resolve the issue of comfort foods when I saw a post on spontaneous tomato about Thai Ice Tea popsicles.  I never really “got” the idea of lumps in my drink so I don’t care for it, but it got me thinking about my favorite popsicles as a kid.  I absolutely loved Creamsicles and could eat them to sickness (which I often did).  But now with my need to have a healthier diet I have become a fan of greek-style yogurt. So I decided to experiment a bit, perhaps the longer I played with my food the less of it I would eat!

I don’t have exact measurements here-just whatever works for the size container you have.  But very simple greek yogurt and frozen concentrated orange juice.  Yes, I know that I could use fresh squeezed but geez Louise I can’t change everything all at once!  If you want fresh squeezed go ahead, after all the idea is for you to make what you like.  I find though that I don’t need to add any sugar/sweetner since the concentrate already has enough. Mix it to taste with the greek yogurt ( I keep the honey yogurt on hand) to the proportions you want. The fun part is tasting to see if you got it right.  That’s it! Then you just spoon it into your popsicle holder thingy and you’re set.  I like the holders Allison has because when they drip you have a built-in straw, but I found my bunny ears for a buck.  Besides in some small way it reminds me of the gigantic (solid!) rabbits grandpa would stuff in those Easter baskets!

So have fun, play with your food and find new healthy ways of eating.  After all Paula Deen isn’t the only one who needs to watch her diet!


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“Today’s Special Is…”

Bob knew that he and the night manager at the restaurant weren’t that different;  both had anger to spare.  Sometimes it was the slow burn, other times it was as fast as a match on a hot grill.  People would say of the manager that it was “that time of the month”, but Bob wasn’t sexist about it, he knew it went much deeper than that.  This woman was consumed with wrath at the whole world and Bob in particular.   However, years of jail, rehab and anger management classes taught Bob how to usefully channel his anger.

He was fortunate to land this job; many potential employers would not even return his calls.  So he swallowed the insults, bad hours and downright harassment, after all the economy is in a slump, right?  In his spare time (what little was left to him) he would develop new recipes as a way of letting off steam, thanking his lucky stars that he had the job of cook while in rehab.  If he could only make his dishes a hit the other managers might take notice. He might even get relief from the nightly assaults.  After all how patient could one man be?

The other managers realized the strain Bob was under but were powerless to do anything; all decisions were made by corporate headquarters after a managers meeting.  Whenever Bob presented a new idea she always shot it down. Bob decided he needed to make an extra effort to win over this obstacle to advancement.  He stayed late one night to see if he could make the night manager see his side of things.  As he poured over his spices and herbs he became aware of her voice yelling at yet another employee.  “Great”, he thought, “…now I’ll have double work tomorrow after this one quits!”  He had scheduled a meeting in the morning with the other managers, hoping to impress them with the new menu.  It looked like he would be thwarted once again.  His anger rose up at the injustice and frustration .

Just then the manager burst in on his thoughts, berating him for being on company time.  He assured her that this was all on his dime and asked if she would like him to prepare her a late night snack.  That seemed to calm her down somewhat and she started to chat with him about his project.  He was so happy to talk about his love of all things culinary, before he knew it he had poured out his heart and his recipes.  Realizing too late that this was just what she was after his anger flared like a grease fire.  Exercising every bit of his knowledge from the past few years he got it under control. He then told the manager about one recipe he had held back; this one would become his favorite dish.  He then set about preparing it for the presentation the next day.

Morning arrived and the managers were treated to a lovely table setting; Bob was smiling as though he didn’t  have a care in the world. In the center of all the samples was the piece de resistance.  Glancing around nervously, the staff waited for her to show up, but Bob explained there was no need to worry, the night manager had been there last night while he was preparing the dish. In fact, she had even helped him with some of the key ingredients.  Happily sampling the many choices arrayed, all agreed the favorite was the one Bob graciously named in honor of the night manager.

**Another Fantastic Fable based on one of the Seven Deadly Sins (this time Wrath)

***Photo Credit: Amelia Speed


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“Comps”…It’s What’s For Dinner!

So today, Date Guy and I went to dinner at O’Charleys in Eastgate.  We had spent the afternoon at the Cincinnati Art Museum and were ravenous by the time we got to the restaurant.

We decided to have the 2 for $20 special (appetizer and two entrees).  We ordered the spinach dip/chip for our appetizer to share. We also told the waitress that we wanted rolls which she brought out hot and fresh – so far so good.  We were talking about the exhibits at the museum so when the food arrived we were surprised.  However, it was not the spinach dip, it was instead our entrees.  I inquired as to the whereabouts of the spinach dip which surprised Katie, our waitress.  The kitchen said it had been sent already, so apparently it went to the wrong table.  Katie went back to the kitchen to send another, but since our entree was there we went ahead and ate. Since the meal price included the appetizer we couldn’t really tell them to deduct it from the bill. It actually wasn’t busy so I am not sure what the problem was in the kitchen.  The manager, Tim, came out to apologize saying again that ‘the kitchen was working on it.’

I kept thinking that our spinach dip would be out soon but we were nearly finished and still no dip. Now I’m not too hard to please in a restaurant; just bring me food and let me eat it in peace….but I was a little frosted this time.  Once again Tim stopped at our table asking if we would like the chips and dip boxed up to take home, I said, yes please and he then said “Folks, I am very sorry this happened, I don’t know what was wrong in the kitchen but tonight your dinner is on me. No check, I hope that you will give us another try.”  Guy Friend started to protest in manly fashion that it wasn’t necessary, but Tim insisted and when Katie stopped by she said the same thing, she was sorry, no check, please give us another try.

Today, would have been a good day anyway-beautiful weather, a trip to a museum, company of Date Guy, but then to have the dinner comped was the icing on the cake.

As I said I’m not hard to please and I wasn’t going to make a fuss about this but it was gratifying to have the manager step in and take charge of an unpleasant situation.  Too many times management doesn’t care enough about customer relations and little things snowball into larger-than-it-should-be situations. I won’t let one small incident deter me; I will indeed give O’Charleys another chance (I probably would have even without the comped meal) and I am writing this to thank Katie and Tim for being courteous and pleasant while dealing with a problem they did not create.  And if you get the chance stop in O’Charleys-the food is really good.  And say hi to Tim and Katie.

P.S. Real names used (except for Date Guy)


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WTH! Cooking

So I cook with the same philosophy that I live life…wth!  I like soups and stews best as they lend themselves to the “what the hell” lifestyle…throw in whatever you have!   Once in awhile though I do follow a loose recipe or outline, and the following soup is one of those recipes that I fix often in the winter months.  It is a good dish to fix on mondays after you have made a large pork roast on sunday.  On occasion, since there is often only me, I will make the roast anyway and freeze the left-over meat for soup.  So here is my outline, notice I say outline, and not hard and fast recipe.  You can adjust this as you like.

3 14 oz cans of chicken stock

3 cans of water (using the stock cans to measure)

1 dollop (eyeball it) of chicken base (McCormick)

1 cup each chunky cut vegs- carrot, celery, mushrooms, and leeks

2 cups leftover pork roast-also cut into chunks

The leeks are something that gives it onion flavor without being overwhelming,  this is a delicate soup, full of flavor without hitting you over the head.  I don’t use big round onions much anymore and instead use scallions or leeks. Those are the things that look like scallions, or spring onions on steroids. It’s funny but most of the young kids at my grocery don’t have a clue what leeks are, and forget about parsnips, turnips and rutabaga! I can’t imagine what they eat!

I don’t add salt to this soup as the chicken base has some in it, and I taste as I go and adjust accordingly.  When I serve it I let people add salt and pepper to their taste.  Once in awhile I will add a little brown rice to the recipe if I have some leftover.  See what I mean, if you got it throw it in!  And there you have my WTH! Pork Soup Outline.  Pair it with a nice Asiago Cheese bread and some wine and you have a filling, comforting and easy winter meal!  Happy WTH! Wednesday!