Friday, September 30, 2011

Deli-Issues

There is a commercial on TV that begins with two inmates escaping from prison who then proceed to have a string of bad luck and poor service—getting haircuts, buying clothes, taking public transportation. The final scene shows them running back to prison. It’s an ad for Car Max and it’s as clever as it rings true. Especially at the deli.

I love a good sandwich, and lately I’ve been bringing sandwiches for lunch. They’re easy, portable, and healthy—especially when I top them with lettuce for crunch, onion for zing, tomato slices because my mom is still supplying them, and sometimes a sprinkle of sliced olives on top. But the toppings are the easy part; getting the meat is the hard part—even at my new favorite supermarket.

In full disclosure I did cop an attitude once on a young man who seemed clearly inconvenienced to have to open a new prosciutto for me and incapable of getting it tissue paper thin. Aside from that time I have been nothing but pleasant to anyone who helps me. (And subsequent to that visit, I have been nice to him.) Everyone is nice in return.

But pleasant is not really what I’m after. I’m looking for someone who understands that when I want a third of a pound, it means .33 on the scale. And when I ask for a half pound, and the scales shows .67—it’s not a little over, so no, it’s not okay. It’s closer to ¾ of a pound, and I ordered only ½ a pound. Those are decimals, people, not ounces.

I want not to feel bad when I order only a quarter pound of roasted turkey. I live alone. Especially when I’m buying two types of meat, I don’t need a lot each. And as far as I’m aware, there is no deli minimum, so do your job. If all I want is three slices, you should do it without the sigh. And stop trying to get away with thick slices so you have to cut fewer of them. When I say sliced thin, and you show me something thick enough to dice on a salad, I’m going to say no, thinner, please. And now I know that I should ask to see the second slice, too--because that half pound of ham in my fridge seems more like shoe leather than deli meat.

I know there are worse things in life than a bad sandwich, but that's not really the point. These days it's hard to find good customer service --any way you slice it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Photo Journal: Back Bay Getaway



Lord & Taylor

Stephanie's on Newbury


John Hancock tower, behind Boston Public Libraray


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Falling Fast

Finally, when I walked out of school last Thursday, after a bit of a downpour that washed away a string of sticky days, there was a chill in the air that felt like fall and that led me straight to the store for a Yankee Candle pumpkin spice tart. Now I'm a New Englander, not an idiot, so I know that I am bound to feel 80 degrees again at least once between now and...say... Thanksgiving, but these past few days have been dreamy. My windows have been open, I've been lounging in long pants and long sleeve t-shirts with a throw blanket close by, and (as I mentioned yesterday) my crock pot saw the light of day. I even unearthed my fall decorations. I didn't go as far as to put pumpkin and turkey stuff out, but the few (tasteful) things I have are out of the basement and ready to go--once those 80 degree days pass and/or October 1 comes along.

As much as I love summer, I love fall, too. And when fall comes around after a few months of sunbathing and sweating and alternately hiding in air conditioning, I realize how much I love the change of seasons. I even wonder if I could ever live elsewhere. Which means I love New England, too.

Monday, September 19, 2011

[Heart] Note...to Ben & Jerry's

As if we needed any more to love about Ben & Jerry's--their mission statement, their livable wage commitment...and...um...helllo?! Chubby Hubby?--they've delivered anyway. I got my latest "Chunk Mail" today introducing their newest flavor, homage to the classic SNL skit with Alec Baldwin: Schweddy Balls. Now that is good humor...well, it's Ben & Jerry's, but you know what I mean. If you haven't seen the brilliant skit, I urge you to check it out; they provide a link to it if you click on my Schweddy Balls link above.  (Well, not my Schweddy Balls, but my link.)

And by all means, share the love! If you have a Scoop Shop nearby, go in and order a couple scoops of Schweddy balls! Seems that would be much more fun than slipping a pint in your supermarket cart, no?

Simplifying Delicious

 As you may know, I love to cook. I don't use exotic ingredients, but I love to slice and dice and season and saute and simmer and deglaze and reduce and layer flavor. By all accounts, I'm pretty good at it. But sometimes I want make delicious food that doesn't take three cutting boards and a saute pan and a stock pot, and that doesn't require a lot of active time--before and after. Sometimes the clean up is worse than the prep, and I happen not to have anyone to whom I can delegate dish duty. While I often share my culinary creations with others (food is love; I am my mother's daughter), it's only me in my tiny kitchen from start to finish, prep to clean up.

white chicken chili
So as I continue to tackle my culinary fears and brave some cooking firsts, I decided that I would simplify a little here and there. I will try to get some meals in my cooking repertoire that are as easy as they are tasty. Last Sunday I made white chicken chili using (and modifying a tiny bit) McCormick's. It rocked. And it only took twenty minutes. Easy and delicious? Check!

Could I do it again this weekend?

A decidedly fall feel in the air the last few days screamed CROCK POT and PORK (well, maybe it was my taste buds screaming pork) and a Sunday football game to watch (Go, Patriots!) said BARBECUE. Crock pot pulled pork sounded easy and delicious to me. Ten active minutes, and eight hours of tantalizing aroma later I'd find out for sure.


crock pot BBQ pulled pork slider
Wow.

Mission accomplished.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Next!

It happens every year: a day in September comes when I suddenly am over summer. Finis. Basta. Stick a fork in me, I’m done.

Today was that day when—standing in front of my classroom sweating, despite the fans selfishly pointed in my direction—I started to long for the crisp days of fall. There’s no AC in my school, just the body heat of teenagers making the high temps feel even worse. I’m hot. And I’m cranky when I’m hot. Nobody likes a cranky Joanne. Trust me.

So, Mother Nature, I’m ready when you are.  Bring me fall and I promise to be in a better mood.



 

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Love it, I Love it Not…Hungry Girl

You know how I feel about fat free, sugar free desserts: I’d rather eat an apple. Or take the full fat and real sugar version when available. Yet I know there are people who take painstaking measures to substitute when possible. This isn’t about berating the people who monitor what they eat in an effort to lose or maintain their weight. It’s about Hungry Girl’s claim that “it’s not diet food; it’s decadent!”

Sugar free hot cocoa with fat free whipped topping isn’t diet? Microwaving 12-15 cinnamon red hots with chunks of apple and topping it with low fat graham crackers and fat free whipped topping isn’t diet? Fat free sour cream and fat free cheddar cheese aren’t diet? Pu-lease.

Is it horrible that she has airtime on one of my favorite networks? No. There’s something for everyone—from sandwich lovers to grillers to down home southern cooks and frugal housewives. I just take issue with Food Network airing a promo that claims it’s not diet food.

If you can’t bring back Ellie Krieger, who made healthy and natural food, just call it what it is. ‘Cause it sure ain’t decadent.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

[Heart] Note...to After School Snacks...



that double as dinner.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Vacation Apprecation Day

There's a man, in his late thirties I estimate, who may be the most obnoxious, irritating man on earth--at least on my earth. He lives in my complex and has a son who visists on weekends. That he is divorced doesn't surprise me; that he was ever married, that anyone ever liked him long enough to procreate with him shocks me. He is the reason I decided--early in the summer--not to bother to try to relax by the pool on weekends.

But Labor Day weekend is the last weekend my pool is open, and it seemed like I should go out, as I do every year, at least for a little while, one last time.

As luck would have it, the uber-d**che, whose name I don't know but whose kid's name I do because was he shouts at least once a minute in an empty threat, was there.That is to say, I didn't get to relax...at all. He gave new meaning to LABOR DAY, because it felt like work not to turn around and tell him exactly what I think of him.  As much as he's an a**wipe, I didn't feel it was fair for his son to be subjected to a rant about his father that would no doubt be replete with expletives.

So I didn't stay long, needless to say, but I did walk away with a greater appreciation of summer vacation and all those days I was out at the pool by myself, maybe for just an hour or two--alone with my Kindle, a book, my journal--surrounded only by peace and quiet....

And that's how I'd rather end summer: grateful for what was good.
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