Tag Archives: Food

Great breakfast sandwich

I made breakfast sandwiches for Mrs. Poolman and myself this morning. We call them “Westerns” for a reason I cannot remember. These used to be a favorite late-night snack for my brother and me when we were still living at home in high school and college. I haven’t made them very often since then. I don’t know why.

The "Western Sandwiches" are a little messy.

The “Western Sandwiches” are a little messy.

–Saute some chopped onion and sweet pepper (green, red or both.) Scramble eggs into the veggie mixture.

–Fry some deli-style ham. We used to use “chipped ham,” but that is tough to get outside of Pittsburgh.

–Slather a little mayonaise onto toast and pile on the eggs and ham.

It’s not very healthy, but it is very good. Yum!

They are playing with my brand loyalties, and I don’t like it.

I just hate it when a company gets me hooked on one of their products and then snatches it away. It’s happened to me twice in the past two weeks, and I am annoyed.

I love paper towels. That sounds strange, but I am somewhat of a connoisseur of the Bountys, Brawnys and Vivas. Ever since I was a child I have had a chronically drippy nose. Rather than carrying a cloth handkerchief, I carry a paper towel. It has to be strong enough to withstand the nasal explosion, but also soft enough not scratch up my face. I settled on the Publix Premium brand of paper towel as the best compromise of material and price. They have disappeared off the shelf. I’m not too upset about that, because I can always move up to Bounty for a few cents more. But my quest for breakfast bars is much more frustrating.

Several years ago, when I was trying the South Beach Diet, I got into the habit of eating the South Beach breakfast bars for breakfast. My typical breakfast at my desk was a banana (loaded with potassium) and two SB Breakfast Bars. The cranberry almond was fantastic. The maple flavor and the cinnamon-raisin were also good. The next thing I know, the company (Kraft, I think.) stopped making them. Nabisco Snack Well's Cinnamon Raisin Cereal BarI discovered that the Nabisco SnackWell bars weren’t too bad, and the cinnamon raisin flavor was almost an exact match. Guess what? Now Nabisco has discontinued that product line. Grrrr. I’ve switched to the Kashi brand. They don’t hold a candle to the other brands. Now that I’ve switched to them it will be their kiss of death.  I figure they have about six months before they are discontinued too.

A plate of spaghetti on a winter day

Our Sunday was all about running some errands, doing stuff around the house, a movie and making a big pot of spaghetti.

spaghetti 1

I make a decent spaghetti sauce, at least Mrs. P thinks so. When we were growing up in Wheeling, West Virginia, there was a neighborhood Italian restaurant, Figarettis. It was a classic Italian family restaurant. (I believe they are still in business but in a new location.) The family’s children went to school with us. Their sauce was so good, my mother was always trying to duplicate it. Her recipe is the basis for mine. The one unusual ingredient in the Figaretti sauce was anise. That’s the spice with a little liquorice taste you usually encounter in Italian sausage. I’m not a big liquorice fan, but just a hint of underlying flavor in the sauce makes a tremendous difference.

I start with Ragu, Prego or whatever other pre-made sauce is on sale and then go from there. I add a ton of garlic, and additional spices. The “secret ingredient” is sugar. It takes a little of the bite from the tomato sauce. Here is the basic recipe for a beginner.

BASIC SPAGHETTI

Brown a pound of ground beef and a pound of some Italian sausage together.  (Slice open the sausages and brown it along with the ground beef.)

Drain the fat

Add one jar of Ragu or Prego meatless spaghetti sauce, and a good handful of chopped onions and sliced mushrooms, as you will.

The key is in the spices.  Add…

  • At least two garlic cloves, either sliced thin or minced. Feel free to add more.
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Crushed hot pepper, as you wish.
  • A small amount of Anise, if you have it.
  • Salt to taste.

Simmer for about an hour (Or longer. The longer the better.).  When it is almost done, taste. If it is bitter, add a little sugar.  It will take the tang off the tomatoes and bring out the other flavors.

Enjoy!

An absent-minded priest and a moist turkey

We’re in the middle of a very nice four-day Thanksgiving weekend, at least for me, that is. This is Mrs. Poolman’s year to work the Thanksgiving holiday and to be off for Christmas. She was at the hospital  on Thursday and today (Saturday.)

With Mrs. P taking care of babies and both our children doing the day-side of the holiday with their husband’s and girlfriend’s families, I had a quiet day to myself.  I went to 9 o’clock Mass where I was scheduled to lector. That is usually an adventure, especially when Monsignor C is celebrating. I really like the Monsignor. He is a 70+ year old Irishman with a dry sense of humor. We get along very well. However, he tends to change things and not tell the other members of his team. On Thursday, we couldn’t find any copy of a “Prayers of the Faithful” for that date. When I asked Monsignor about it, he said, “Oh, they are in a special booklet. I’ll have to give them to you at the altar.”

Oh, great, that meant a “cold read.” That’s not usually a problem unless there are some difficult names in the petitions for the deceased, sick, etc. Then Monsignor decided to skip the Creed, which is normally my cue to go to the podium to read the Prayers. As it turned out, as I walked up to the altar, our other priest, Father John, met me half way and handed me the booklet. No problem, after all.

Actually, I have been doing the lectoring long enough that I can roll with the action pretty well. Just about everything that can go wrong has done so for me at one time or another. I do become a little concerned about some of our younger lectors, many of whom are some of my former CCD students who I have recruited and coached. They are significantly less confident about handling some of Monsignor’s curve-balls.

I spent the rest of the day hanging out, working on some photos from a friend’s daughter’s wedding I shot a couple of weeks ago and finishing preps for the Thanksgiving meal. My main responsibility was the turkey. At Mrs. P’s suggestion, I tried a radically different roasting technique. I have cooked holiday turkeys more times than I can count. Usually, I roast it covered with foil at 325 for about 4-5 hours,, uncovering for the last hour and periodically basting. I may never do that again. Here is a great method that produced a fantastic, very moist bird.

1. Prepare the bird as usual, seasoning it and placing an apple, celery and a bay leaf in the cavity.

2. Place in a covered roasting pan and put it into a cold oven.

3. Turn the oven to 450 degrees and when it pre-heats to that temperature (about 15 minutes) set your timer for one hour.

4. When the timer goes off, turn the oven off and just let it sit for five hours. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN!

I was a skeptic. I didn’t think it would work, but it sure did. Our turkey was a little over 15 pounds. You might need to adjust a little for a larger bird. I really don’t know. The key was the white meat was very moist, which I can’t say is always the case with my more traditional roasting technique.

Another advantage of this technique is that it would work very well to cook overnight.

The rest of the family came over in the evening and Mrs. P got home around 7:30 pm. So our holiday dinner was at 8:30 pm, but it was a great one anyway.

On the road again…

Mrs. Poolman and I are off for our annual (more or less) driving trip to Pittsburgh and other northern locations. We will have visited my father and youngest sister (and family) in Pittsburgh and then head over to Mechanicsburg (near Harrisburg) to meet up with my brother and his gang. We’ll be spending the Memorial Day weekend at their new beach house in Stone Harbor, NJ.

Fortunately, we’ll have a lot of activity at our Savannah house. Poolboy and GF have moved in for the week to care for house, pool and pets, and Writer Princess (daughter) will be in and out frequently.

So far the trip has gone very well. We left Sunday morning and broke the 11 hour drive into two days. We can and have done it in one day, but Mrs. P tends to get cranky on long trips.

“After eight hours in the car, just cut my throat and put me out of my misery.”

Not a lot of subtlety there.

Our overnight at a Holiday Inn in Beckley, WV was very nice. It was a new or, at least, remodeled hotel, and we were upgraded to a suite. Don’t you know that only happens when all you are looking for is just a bed for the night? Oh well.

We have spent the last couple of days visiting with family. I did take Mrs. P to lunch at two Pittsburgh traditions. Yesterday, we took Dad and my brother in law to Primanti Brothers. This is a famous sandwich shop that started in Pittsburgh’s “strip district” and has expanded to a number of suburban locations. You can always spot a Primanti Brothers sandwich. The French fries are on the sandwich, not on the side.

Today, Dad had some doctor’s appointments so Mrs. P and I were on our own. We headed out to one my favorite spots from my high school and college years,  Danny’s Parkway Pizza. This sandwich shop and pizzeria on Route 88 near South Park, invented and perfected the “hot hoagie” (sub sandwich) long before Quiznos and Subway discovered the concept. It’s a “hole in the wall” place on a busy highway, but as expected, the hoagies were great. I wonder what happened to the drive in theater that used to be next door. 🙂

We had a very nice birthday dinner for my Dad (87) at my sister’s house. Mrs. P and I provided and cooked the steaks. Everyone had a good time and Dad seemed to enjoy it. But after the all-afternoon doctor’s visit and then a family dinner, he was pretty pooped.

Tomorrow, we head to Mechanicsburg and then on to Stone Harbor.

 

 

 

“Jersey Boys” and Bahama Breeze make a great evening!

We had a busy and very good weekend.

Mrs. Poolman and I headed down to Jacksonville for a quick overnight with her sister and brother-in-law, Bonnie and Rick, and to see the touring production of “Jersey Boys.” It was a lot of fun. Another couple, friends of Bonnie and Rick’s, also joined us. We started the evening with dinner at Jacksonville’s new “Bahama Breeze” restaurant. That is well on my want to becoming my favorite restaurant chain. It was really good! I had the grilled chicken with cilantro crema. Oh my! I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

I spent most of the dinner getting up and checking the Florida-Louisville “Elite Eight” game in the bar. Unfortunately, the Gators blew an 11 point lead in the last seven minutes to lose out on a trip to the Final Four. It was the only downer of the evening.

I have wanted to see the “Jersey Boys” for several years and have been on the look-out to find a touring group that would come close to Savannah. The show follows the story of the musical group, the Four Seasons (Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, etc.) I’ve been a Four Seasons fan since I was in high school. The production mixes drama scenes with many of the groups musical numbers. The music starts off a little slow as the show tells the story of the group’s early years. However, once they got their first hit in “Sherry,” their careers and the production took off.

This show is all about the music. The actor / singers did an excellent job. The actor who played Frankie Valli stole the show with his solo of “Can’t take my eyes off of you.”

If you like the music and have a chance to see the show, it’s definitely worth the price of a ticket.

A Friday evening flashback

Life has been both busy and slow at the same time. How can that happen?

This past weekend started out busy but then coasted to through to a quiet couple of days. On Friday evening, I helped out serving at the Knights of Columbus fish fry. Our daughter’s best friend, Norma, invited us to go over to her house afterwards for a small get-together and to eat some of those fish dinners. We’ve known Norma and her family since the girls were all middle-school age. Early on, our families had discovered an amazing coincidence. Both of our families had five children; we all grew up in the same town (Wheeling, West Virginia) at the same time; and we all attended the same parochial school, St. Vincent de Paul, in Elm Grove.

On Friday evening, I sat down with Norma’s mother and aunt and played “Do you remember…?” It was incredible what we both recalled. In addition to sharing the same school, we played in the same parks, went to the same movie theaters and swimming pools, attended the same church and shopped at the same stores. We even shared the same family physicians. It’s amazing that none of us can remember knowing one another back in the mid-60s when we were all at the same school together. The best we can figure out is that we must have alternated grades. Despite each family having five children, spread across roughly the same time frame, none of us were in the same class. As the evening wore down, I remembered one last detail of those years.

“Did your mom ever cook city chicken?”

“Oh my God! I haven’t thought about that in years! We had it all the time.”

City Chicken

City chicken is a dish apparently indigenous to western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio. It is simply cubed pork and veal, arranged on a wooden skewer and cooked like chicken. My recollection is my mom browned it in butter, made gravy and then finished the cooking by simmering the pieces in gravy. It was served with noodles. What a flashback! Now Mrs. Poolman is hot to trot to cook some city chicken and have the other families over for a 1960s dinner. Should be fun.