I like to make homemade salsa using my little chopper. *An aside… I found my stick blender attachment, hiding behind the counter door divider above my stove. I had looked for it several months ago and wondered where I would have put it. As I was moving something recently, it fell over from behind the divider. It was just visually hidden.
I like the Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes from Hunts, but you can’t buy these, in any brand, that do not begin to put in a bunch of sugar.
Here are some of the things that I will put in my homemade salsa:
Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
Bell Pepper (Red, Yellow or Green)
Salsa Ranchera (Herdez)
Freshly ground pepper
Roasted Garlic (or garlic powder)
Dry Basil (fresh if I have it)
I would prefer it to be chunky, but with this blender, it is almost smooth.
I bought a can of Herdez Salsa Ranchera Medium, but it is still pretty hot. *Shown is the hot version.
This has become my favorite cheese. I bought it at Whole Foods in Raleigh several months ago, and have since bought several rounds, even giving some to relatives & friends. I think it is best served at room temperature, on crackers. It has a tangy flavor.
I came across the Mary’s Gone Crackers in a Fresh Market and like the Original crackers especially. The goat cheese and these crackers go well together!
I have not been using balsamic vinegar for a while, but I want to remember a brand that I liked. It is “Sclafani Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.” You can take tomatoes, that do not have that good tomato flavor, and halve them and pour some balsamic vinegar over them… Then bake them in the oven, and the vinegar reduces to a sweet syrup and the tomatoes are delicious as a side.
I don’t have any pictures of the 1971 Pontiac Lemans that my mother bought me as a present for my Senior Year at Swansboro High School. It was blue with a white textured vinyl top. It had a 350 hp engine with an automatic transmission.
I drove the car my Senior year, but had to give it up my Freshman year at Carolina.
I was just thinking of what I might have for supper tonight, and wasn’t sure if I had any meat thawed. I really don’t like to freeze meat, because I am always bad about planning ahead to thaw it out so that it will be ready for cooking when I come home at night.
But, then I began to run through the check list of what was already prepared:
One final helping of Chorizo, Chickpea & Kale soup (lots of Smoked Paprika in this one)
About a pint of home made salsa (fire roasted tomatoes, green bell pepper, cilantro, Vidalia onion, cumin seed, lime juice, agave nectar, Equal, turmeric, salt, ground pepper, hot sauce)
I’ve got some home made Thousand Island Dressing, which would go good on some cauliflower & Campari tomatoes.
I also bought some more Capricio de Cabra cheese and some sliced Jewish Rye bread. This cheese is better when it is served at room temperature.
Several months ago, Deborah Savage and I went to the Famous Toastery, in Southern Pines for breakfast. She had a coupon. It was a good breakfast experience. I think I had a couple of eggs, probably over medium, bacon, hash browns and an English Muffin, with coffee.
Yesterday morning, I got up thinking that I wanted to have a special breakfast somewhere, other than the Rainbow. The trip up to Southern Pines only took about 30 minutes. *The traffic flow through Spring Lake has changed for the better.
The Famous Toastery was already busy by the time I made it there. I had forgotten that it was Mother’s Day, which a waitress, at the end of my meal, mentioned.
I ordered coffee and water… two eggs over medium, bacon, hash browns, and an English Muffin. The coffee is strong. The eggs had a little runny white. There were about 3 strips of bacon, and a couple of slices were burnt black with just a little brown, but still getting over my late Spring bout of flu, I could not tell if the burnt bacon tasted more like charcoal. The hash browns are chunky, whole skin, potatoes, with a mild seasoning. The catchup was almost out, but went well with the potatoes. I added a little Texas Pete hot sauce to my potatoes… which poured out more quickly than it does from the narrow mouthed bottle.
Before my meal arrived, a waitress brought me a mildly sweet block of cornbread, with a small plastic cup of apple butter. I tried the cornbread with my egg yolks, and later had a small spoonful of the apple butter. Both delicious. I also had some Blackberry jam with part of my English Muffin. This is the same brand of jam that Cracker Barrel uses.
There were plenty of waitresses, many very young, mostly girls or young women.
At the end of my meal, one waitress asked if I wanted her to take my bill to the register… but first she needed to take some dishes to the back. In the brief time, while she was taking the dirty dishes back, another young waitress took my bill and credit card to be paid.
The first, slightly older waitress came back and I told her that another waitress had taken my bill up to be paid. She remained and we began to converse. This is where I mentioned the large number of waitresses, and she reminded me that this was Mother’s Day. I do not recall all that we talked about, but the conversation did linger, and when the receipt, to be signed was returned to me, I gave a fairly generous tip.
I did enjoy my visit to the Famous Toastery in Southern Pines again, and hope to return again, hopefully with Deborah, and maybe Russ.
2 teaspoons finely diced onion (I use red onion but yellow or white would work just fine)
1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic (about half of a small clove)
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce (optional)
Mount Olive Pickle Company offers several No Sugar (Splenda) items, including Relish, Bread & Butter Pickles and Sweet Gherkins. I normally have several of these in my cupboard. That is because I have found a few times, or groceries, that there were no Splenda versions available. As often as I have bought a jar of relish, when I went to my refrigerator this morning, there was no opened jar, and looking about my pantry, there was none there either. But, there were Bread & Butter Pickle slices sweetened with Splenda. I opened the jar, put what I estimated would equal two tablespoons of relish into my little chopper and viola… sweet pickle relish (without the sugar). I used the chopper to also make my finely diced onion (Vidalia). I did not have fresh garlic, so I used a small portion of garlic powder. I also had no regular Texas Pete or Tabasco Sauce, so I opened a specialty bottle of hot sauce. I had some chipotle flavored hot sauces, but did not want to add that to the thousand island dressing.
I am just beginning to feel better after what may be a late spring bout of the flu. So, I mixed the ingredients and tried a teaspoon for taste. The color and texture appears to be about right, but my taste buds could barely identify the sweetness, let alone the nuance of flavors that should exist. But, I have faith that this will be an excellent, easy to fix, recipe to make when I am planning to make some more Pastrami Reuben Sandwiches at home.
Now, for my two cents regarding where the name Thousand Island came from… I am guessing that because of the relish bits that permeate this creamy dressing, that someone might have said, “It reminds me of the thousand islands around here.”
I’ve put my jar of homemade Thousand Island Dressing in my fridge and plan to use a little on some cauliflower and Campari tomatoes for a lunch salad about an hour from now.
I have been religiously visiting the Harris Teeter Hot / Salad Bar for week day lunches for the last several of months. I did this because they have many vegetable selections that are not fried… asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, green beans, etc. I have eaten pork, chicken, shrimp, salmon, meatballs, etc. and sometime just the salad bar. I have had no problem with this until yesterday.
Here were some of the items that I added to my “hamburger” sized carry out box: garden peas, wild rice, cauliflower, salmon, steamed carrots & broccoli, green beans, red & yellow bell pepper, sugar snap peas, quinoa, raw onion, bean salad, shredded parmesan cheese, bacon bits. I think this was everything that I included in the small box.
I paid for the carry out and went to my car to eat. I did not have any drink, and do not usually. I started to eat, and listen to the radio. I soon noted that my throat was beginning to close up, and there seemed to be a reaction forcing the food back up… not throwing up, but as if gas might be filling me up. *I stopped eating and began to wonder if I shouldn’t go inside to get some water to drink. The reaction began to subside, but I decided to close the box and take it back to my office to try again. That way I could fix a drink (lemonade mix from WalMart) in case the problem occurred again.
Sure enough, as I began to eat, some salmon, some bell pepper, a green bean, the allergic reaction began to occur again. I stopped eating, and decided to throw the remainder into my trash can.
After a few minutes I decided to call the Harris Teeter to give them a “heads up” that there might be a problem. I think the Manager’s name was Brian. He offered to pay for my meal, but I said, “That’s not why I called. Just wanted to give you a head up, in case someone else reports something similar, you will know.”
I fixed some sausage soup for dinner. I used hot country sausage, with some left-over Kielbasa, and added onion, potato, garganzo beans and a little kale. To this I added a large amount of smoked Paprika. This was delicious! I noted that I continued to cough a dry cough for the rest of the night and into this morning.
ADDENDUM: I’ve been coughing that dry cough all day and it is now 4:36 pm. Maybe it was some disinfectant or cleaner that had gotten on some of the food. As I said, it wasn’t like food poisoning, but an allergic reaction.
ADDENDUM-ADDENDUM: Oddly enough, the cough continued and then it became the flu. Aches, chills, coughing until my stomach muscles were sore, etc. I stayed out of work for two days. Perhaps the allergic reaction weakened me so that I caught the flu. Just odd. I don’t think I’ve ever had one thing morph into another like this. *I am now thinking that it was probably some cleaner or other chemical that was on the food, and not the food itself.
So, I had such a good experience with Reuben sandwiches during my short vacation, that I bought the fixin’s at Harris Teeter and attempted to make this at home.
I looked online to see what the ingredients were and they are basically as follows:
Swiss Cheese (Baby)
Thousand Island Dressing
Butter or Margarine
I bought a cheap can of sauerkraut at HT, got the pastrami & baby swiss from their deli, sliced thin (for sandwiches), and had the baker slice a fresh loaf of rye bread. Heat a skillet up on the stove top.
Construct the sandwich… spread the Thousand Island dressing on both of the insides of the rye bread. Put the cheese on top of one and the sauerkraut on the other. Place the pastrami on one and fold the other slice on top to make the sandwich. Then butter the outside of one, or both of the bread slices. I tried buttering the top slice, while the other was frying in the skillet, and buttering both before placing one side in the skillet. *Your preference as to how you do this. You need a wide spatula in order to turn the sandwich over once one side has heated through.
I think the Thousand Island Dressing “turns” the sauerkraut, as a little sugar/sweetner turns vinegar. The two go good together.
My first attempt was a wonderful success! I forgot to add one of the chilled dill pickles that I had also purchased during my first attempt. *I make a messy sandwich, but delicious. I thought of making french fries, but decided against that, but later made some coleslaw (cabbage, carrot, onion, mayo, mustard, celery seed, ground pepper, salt, sweetner, dry tarragon) that was a good alternative. I wouldn’t have thought of the coleslaw, but when I couldn’t get fries at Groucho’s in Florence and they had coleslaw, it was a better option than fries… although, if I were out at a restaurant, I would probably order fries several times, rather than slaw.
Unfortunately, I was called in to work on Thursday morning because the hard drive on the main web server had filled up. I was willing to come in, but had said I expected to be reimbursed by the department since I would not want to work and then have to rush to Lynchburg, VA to spend the night at the Quality Inn. Lynchburg was not the end point of my vacation, but a mid-point. I wanted to stop at Sticks & Stones Pizza in Greensboro for an early lunch, and then drive on to High Bridge Trail State Park, east of Appomattox, to see the High Bridge trestle.
I came in about 9 am and worked for about an hour and a half, and then it was about another 20 minutes to get back home, so that I could leave. That meant that I was leaving Fayetteville about 11 am, so the two hours trip to Greensboro would put me having a late lunch at Sticks & Stones.
I got to Sticks & Stones around 12:30 pm, and there were a couple of parking places in front of the restaurant. I walked in and there were customers at several tables, but the place was not packed.
I was directed to a table and asked for water to drink. I looked through the menu, but already knew that I wanted a “To Be the One” and added jalapenos & onions. I also ordered a spinach salad, which had a pimento cheese dressing. I checked work on my phone while I waited.
The pizza arrived and was delicious. I sifted some hot pepper flakes and some cheese on most slices. I ate the whole pizza. The salad was good, but I probably wouldn’t order it again.
After lunch, I drove diagonally across the street to a small neighborhood market. I had been in once before and knew they had a large selection of craft beers. I was put off by the high prices, which, even if I liked the taste of beer, would have made me think twice. I didn’t buy any beer for later.
I checked my phone for directions and headed north east toward High Bridge Trail State Park, east of Appomattox, VA. The trip was going well, when I came to a detour. The detour was caused by flooding caused by the recent rains. The detour added about another 45 minutes to my trip. Getting late in the day, and still 39 miles from the State Park, I finally decided to reroute to Lynchburg and to skip this facet of my vacation. You can’t take almost 3 hours out of your day and still think you are going to get everything done that was originally planned.
I got into Lynchburg and found the Quality Inn easily. The clerk was friendly and told me that Wards Road had many eating establishments, and was just around the corner from the motel. I did a quick check of my room and headed out to look for a place to eat.
I had originally intended to eat at an Indian Cuisine Restaurant, Milan, which I had found online. As I had read over their menu, the night before the trip, I wasn’t pleased with what I might want to eat and looked at other restaurants.
One other restaurant that I had noted was called “Famous Anthonys”. I ended up finding Famous Anthonys and stopped in for dinner.
The songs playing were from my younger days, including several “Beach Music” favorites and some songs from the days I spent in Portsmouth, VA. I looked over the menu and decided to have a “Surf and Turf” special. I thought briefly about ordering the steak as medium, or “pink on the inside” but then when the waitress came, forgot to make that note. [ ANTHONY’S FAMOUS SURF & TURF PLATTER Five golden fried shrimp teamed with Black Angus steak and topped with grilled mushrooms and onions 10.99 ]
My food arrived, and I laughed to myself when I saw the steak. It was a thinly sliced portion, and it was “well done”… very, very “well done.” The salad was good. The fried shrimp were good. The steak was good, but dry, and would have been better, less well done. The baked potato had good flavor, and I, as usual now pick the skin off, eating less of the white flesh that can turn easily to sugar (from starch).
I noted that most of the people, couples were older, as myself. I did enjoy my meal. It was comfort food.
As I left, I drove about the parking lot, and noted that the Milan Restaurant was in one corner of this strip mall. I then headed down Wards Road and in the general direction of where I thought downtown Lynchburg was located.
I think I turned onto Fort Road (Street) and passed a City Ball Park, and eventually made it to the old downtown section. The downtown was comprised of a large number of old buildings, some with dates which were in the late 1800s. I do not recall how many streets I rode up and down, but loved the old look n feel.
I found the Quality Inn without a problem. I don’t recall what I did, but seems that I watched TV into the night, reviewing what Conroy had done to the web server so that it would not fill up with redundant files during replication. *A change had been made, not intentional by me, which caused multiple copies of “assets” to be copied to each web instance. This caused the server’s storage to fill up.
I showered the next morning. The shower had strong pressure and the shower head was adjustable.
Before I left, I took my cooler to the ice machine and got a couple of scoops of ice, keeping the flimsy plastic insert. I also checked the Continental Breakfast, and took an small apple for later in the day. I tried to pour some orange juice, but there was too much water and I poured it out. I don’t recall if I found the Raspberry tea bag in the common area, or if it was included in my room, but I made a cup of hot Raspberry tea, adding some sweetner.
I found Famous Anthonys again, having seen that they also served breakfast. I ordered the Country Ham and Pancakes breakfast, with sugar free syrup. A couple of eggs, over medium, coffee and water.
The pancakes were gigantic, three of them, each filling up the dinner plate. The country ham was sliced thin, and was well cooked, like the steak had been prepared the night before. The ham was dry, but had good flavor. I pulled off a little of the top pancake and used it to sop up the egg yolk. I had part of the top pancake with some syrup. The coffee was strong and good.
After breakfast, I headed down Wards Road to Fort, and to downtown again. I rode back and forth down the open streets. Church Street was partially closed due to some street construction. Early morning in downtown was comfortable. I made it eventually to the waterfront. Not able to see much, but the one fountain. I took pictures of the downtown skyline.
I wanted to drive up to Lexington, VA before I started down Interstate 81 and eventually Johnson City, TN. Why Lexington? There is Washington & Lee University in Lexington, as well as, VMI. Washington & Lee uses Ingeniux CMS for their web site. I had contacted their webmaster by email some time ago asking for insights into using Ingeniux. I had gotten an almost immediate positive response, but had never heard any further from him. Not sure if he lost my email address, or if he became busy, or if there was some other reason for not following up with some Ingeniux insights, as he originally had proffered. *I have sent another email just recently, but have not seen a reply, and the email did not bounce back.
It was amazing to me that the first step on my journey out of town, was taking a back road. I was not using my GPS and passed the fork, which was to King Road, but quickly recognized my error and turned around a short distance later. I wound up small country roads, using my GPS several times.
I think it was somewhere before Buena Vista, VA that I passed a farm that had a bee hive that they had made into a mail box. I thought that very creative for someone who keeps bees. *Of course, I guess it could be really stupid if they did not keep bees;-)
On the way out of Buena Vista, I passed a house along the road which was made to look like a large coffee pot. It was well built, with the pot being metallic and rounded, and the back end squared off. All of this had the back drop of a sheer stone wall. *I just saw a short video of this house, and smoke comes out of the spout, as if it were steaming hot drink;-)
I came into Lexington and part of the road was under contruction. I had also used the Street View from Google Maps a few days before to see where Washington & Lee University was located. I came through town, and eventually turned right by a ball field. Don’t recall if it was a soccer field, or perhaps lacrosse. I wound through the campus, coming in the “back way” and then past the Law complex.
I came back through town. I don’t recall if I found the Visitor Center first, or came through the VMI campus first, but it looked exactly as it had on Street View. The Visitor Center hostess was personable and listened attentively as I told her about my vacation delay the day before.
I headed down Interstate 81 and planned to have lunch in Roanoke. I arrived in downtown Roanoke at lunch time, but realized that I didn’t want the hassle of finding a parking spot and fighting the crowd. I checked my phone for a Macados Restaurant. I had planned on checking out Macados in Lexington, but after realizing it was a local chain, thought about visiting another location. Salem, VA is an adjacent neighborhood to Roanoke, so I followed my GPS to the Macados in Salem.
No parking on the front side of Macados, but I saw that there was a side street and apparently parking in the rear. The street behind Macados was partially closed, road work going on. I travelled a circuitous route around Roanoke College and found my way behind Macados. I turned into the parking area which was full. I found an empty space near the street and pulled in, but as I got out of my car, I saw a sign on the wall of the nearby building that this parking was for Faculty & Staff of Roanoke College. I got back into my car and made the loop through the parking area again. No vacancies. I saw a couple of young guys walking out to the parking area. I hesitated briefly and then turned in again for another go around. The young guys had made it to their vehicle and were pulling out, leaving me with a space to park.
I walked in the patio area of Macados and in a side door. I walked up front, the place was filled and loud. I waited at the front and the hostess finally came around the corner. I followed her to a two person table. I could see through a large plate window to the outside patio. There were people in the booths.
My waitress came and I asked for unsweet tea. I mentioned to the waitress that I thought I had seen a Reuben sandwich on the menu, but couldn’t find it. She said she thought it was on the menu, but didn’t know where. By the time she had returned with my tea, I had found the Reuben at the bottom of the menu.
I ordered the Pastrami Reuben sandwich with an order of fries. [ Pastrami Reuben $8.75 hot pastrami, melted swiss, sauerkraut, and 1000 island dressing on grilled rye. ]
When the sandwich arrived, it was cut in two. There was a grand portion of pastrami in each half, with sauerkraut. The cheese was melted, and I guess there was Thousand Island dressing. The rye bread was good. The fries were large cut, and the ketchup was thick and sweet in a little plastic cup. I sprinkled a good portion of black pepper and some salt on the fries. There was also a chilled dill pickle spear.
The sandwich was delicious. The pickle good, and the fries excellent with the ketchup. I eventually got the attention of my waitress and asked for a refill on my tea, and another cup of ketchup.
This was an excellent meal! So good, that I ordered a Reuben sandwich at two other restaurants along my way, and even got the fixin’s to make a Pastrami Reuben at home. The Reuben at the East Village Grille, in Asheville, was almost as good. The fries were slightly different, but good. Part of the show while I ate lunch at the East Village Grille was provided by someone mowing the lawn along the edge of the Veteran’s Hospital across the street. The lawn comes to the street at a great angle, down from a fence that surrounds the facility grounds. I thought that anyone trying to mow this area would have to use a push mower, but the groundskeeper came in a green riding mower with a large glass enclosed cab, small wheels on the back, and the mowing unit on the front. He proceeded to mow the top and bottom horizontally, but then started from the left and mowed vertically, driving to the top, lowering the mowing unit and cutting as he came to the base. Amazing. Other diners were also making comments. Something that I would not want to do.
After lunch, I headed out of Salem, VA down Interstate 81 with the intent to stop in Abingdon, VA to see the Barter Theatre. Dr. Elton Hendricks and wife, Jerry, had told me about the Barter Theater prior to my trip.
I stopped for gas in Abingdon and asked a woman about the location of the nearest Food Lion. I had just seen a Food Lion 18 wheeler pass by. The Food Lion was a short distance back into Abington, and at the top of a hill.
I found Texas Tailgate Chili, and bought a can, talking with the checkout clerk about how close it was to the taste of Texas Pete Chili. I also bought a couple of 2 Liter bottles of Diet A&W Root Beer and some microwave poppable popcorn. I also bought a jar of Splenda sweetened pickles.
I’m not sure if the GPS went nuts, or not, but I traveled a circuitous route to get to and through Bristol, TN. I passed by the Speedway, and headed to Johnson City.
I came into Johnson City and passed Cootie Browns, which was eclectic and memorable from its exterior. I found the Red Roof Inn, which I had stayed at during two previous visits to the City. I asked the motel clerk about places to eat, that were unique to Johnson City. He suggested Cootie Browns and XXX. I checked out the menus for each, and decided that Cootie Browns appeared to be a little cheaper.
I backtracked to Cootie Browns and turned into the front parking area. There was a space, two in, and another by a post near the front door. I passed by the first empty space and then saw that the other parking space was for curb side orders. I backed up and pulled into the empty space. I walked into the gaudily painted restaurant. There was outdoor seating, but I asked to be seated inside.
I was seated facing the kitchen and the cash registers. The place was packed and busy, but I was seated at a table for four. It was brightly painted with various colors, I think in a spiral pattern.
My waitress was young and friendly. I ordered water. I ended up ordering the Jerk Chicken that had a sweet sauce and pineapple & maybe mango chunks. I had a baked potato with butter & sour cream, and an unsweet coleslaw, to which I added some sweetner, which made it good.
I did a quick tour around Johnson City, traveling past the VA Hospital, near the entrance to ETSU, and then back into old downtown JC. I really wasn’t interested in being in Johnson City.
My motel room did not have a microwave or refrigerator. So, no popcorn.
As stated earlier, I ate at East Village Grille for lunch in Asheville, but before that I stopped in Weaverville and at Mangum’s Gallery. I bought a mug there.
I traveled the back way up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and to the Cultural Arts Center. After leaving the Cultural Arts Center, it was still too early for lunch so I travelled into downtown Asheville.
Watt Family Innovation Center
Eggs Up Cafe
Note: I just noticed that the date on this posting was April 19, 2017, but I was on this vacation late into the month and in Johnson City, TN on April 29th, because I am about to throw away a Johnson City Press paper that I picked up at a restaurant that morning after staying at the Red Roof Inn the previous night.