A Fun Lunch at a New Place

I got the text close to midnight. “Can you take Carter and me somewhere for lunch tomorrow? Everyone else has something to do.”

So I decided that if this was happening, we would go somewhere different, not just run up the road for the same old, same old.

Carter likes Texas Roadhouse, but they don’t open for lunch. So I’m thinking steak for Carter. Mallory likes lemonade. (I don’t think she’s ever had an entire glass of soda – just doesn’t like it. Never did.)

And after some hunting I found a place – no steak, but lots of barbecue and their speciality was hand-squeezed lemonade. Perfect.

And none of us  had been there before.

None of us had heard of it before.

Carter was a little hesitant. He had had barbecue once and didn’t really like it, but Mallory was ready for an adventure so the ladies won.

As we walked up to the door, the smell of barbecue wafted in the air – reminding me of long ago camping trips. As Mallory said, “Good marketing.”

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The place reminded me of barbecue restaurants out west. Where you order at a counter and then find a seat. One thing different from some bbq places is you order the meat by ounce – though they do have pulled pork/chicken sandwiches, too. Sides are extra.

We got our food and found a place to sit. Here’s Mallory loving her lemonade. She said it was the best lemonade she had ever had.  Even Carter who doesn’t like lemonade, thought it was good.IMG_9266

As was the pulled pork, the french fries, the mac and cheese, the broccoli salad AND my pulled pork sandwich. The meat was beyond tender. Carter had been concerned about the sauce – but you add that yourself, so it wasn’t a problem. Not only did he like the meat, he finished my sandwich. We were all much impressed.

You also get a complementary ice cream cone.

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Here they are figuring out the machine.

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Success

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Here I am in front of the Pig Up and Go Sign.IMG_9270

I highly recommend this place – some say it is the best or at least second best bbq place around. But I’ll warn you – it is expensive so be prepared. But the food is delicious and  the staff very patiently answered our questions and were quite friendly.

I’m sure the place gets busy Friday nights or over the weekend – and even though it was just semi-busy when we were there, a parking place was difficult to find. The restaurant is in a strip mall, next to many other restaurants and was extremely crowded.

And totally not sure where the dinosaur came from. He just sort of wobbled down the street, not advertising anything, so we weren’t sure what this was all about, but hey, it added to the fun.

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An Afternoon in Oak Park

DSC_0265Recently when Mallory and I have been together, we’ve ended up talking about books and writing. So about three weeks ago, while waiting for our cheese and pepperoni at California Pizza Kitchen, she listed some of the classics she’s been reading lately and in the process mentioned Ernest Hemingway.

“Not a super good role model,” I told her. “He married a lot of women and drank a lot of alcohol.”

“I know, but I’d like to read one of his books. Maybe like The Old Man and the Sea.”

“A story of a Cuban fisherman fighting a marlin,” I told her. “I read it on a flight from Chicago to New York, so it’s not too long.  But wait, how would you like to visit his house and learn more about him? Maybe over spring break?”

So that’s what we did. We arrived at lunchtime, parked the car and then wandered around in the Hemingway Historic District. (A place well known to me because coincidentally it’s where I get my taxes done which has nothing to do with our trip nor anything to do with Hemingway.)

We looked around for a place to eat and found a small cafe, cozy and filled with a group of ladies celebrating “Margaret’s” birthday. We chose the salad bar and talked about the quaintness of the restaurant. Afterwards we wandered up to a bookstore that was quite proud of the fact that it was started by women, owned by a woman and only women worked there. Which didn’t necessarily make me anymore anxious to browse, but I will say the woman behind the counter was friendly, kind and helpful.

I mentioned to her that we were thinking of getting a cupcake at a bakery across the street, but she told us that we shouldn’t because they use “oil.” Instead we should go to the one down the street that used cream and butter. “Down under the tracks,” she told us.

So we walked “down under the tracks” and out the other side – but they didn’t have cupcakes, just cookies and pies. We each got a cookie and then meandered back up the street, enjoying the cityscape.

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Interestingly, the town’s couples were transforming the fence under the bridge into a Pont des Arts bridge – with padlocks signed and dated by the couples. Didn’t have quite the same effect as a bridge over the Seine River in Paris, but it’s an attempt. (And the bridge railing in Paris has been removed because the padlocks had reached a weight of 48 tons and there were fears that the whole bridge would topple over and hit a boat below. Look up the pictures on the internet – interesting.)

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Last time I was here, you went to the museum first where there were several pictures and exhibits of Hemingway’s books, but that is temporarily closed s they are putting a new museum behind the house so everything is in one place. (Before the two locations were separated by a few blocks.)

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The area is filled with sprawling Victorian houses and you can imagine life in the late 1800s and early 1900s and the upper middle class sat on their porches on warm summer nights.

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Get it? The Old Man and the Sea … the Young Girl and the Sign.DSC_0267

More about the inside of the house … and what we learned in my next post.

A Cold and a Book

For the past two weeks I have had a strange cold. The first day I had chills, the second and third day I had a sore throat and my symptoms moved on from there. But they never left my throat which remained crazily messed up – causing me hours of crazy coughing (and anyone who knows me well, knows once I start crazily coughing, I cough forever). And because of the coughing, I lost my voice … and my energy. (No runny noses in this weird disease.)

So for days, I lethargically wandered around, wishing I had my usual pep. I wrote, finishing a few assignments, but that’s about it. I lost my appetite – mainly because my throat was so coated with cough drops and cough syrup I no longer had taste buds.

You would think me being me, I would’ve curled up in a chair and read one of the dozens of books I have around the house – but no, that didn’t happen either. I would read two or three pages and decide I wasn’t interested in the story.

OnHitler.jpge day, in desperation, I got in the car and headed for Barnes and Noble, determined to find a book that would hold my interest more than 10 seconds.

Alas, I had only been at the bookstore five minutes when one of my coughing spells hit me and I knew I’d have to leave. I grabbed the first book I saw that looked somewhat interesting, quickly purchased it and left.

The book was On Hitler’s Mountain by Irmgard A. Hunt.

An absolutely fascinating book. Irmgard tells the true story of being a young girl growing up in Bavaria on Hitler’s Mountain, right below the Eagle’s Nest/Obersalzberg. Her family were Nazis and totally bought into Hitler’s promises that Germany would be the greatest nation. They were naively unaware of his real purpose and had no idea that Jews were being killed.

When she was three, her family hiked up the mountain one day because they heard Hitler would come out to greet his admirers. That was the day he put her on his lap – a moment of glory for her parents.

But things began to happen. Her grandfather never did like what as going on. Her father joined Hitler’s army and lost his life and instead of the country getting better, slowly things got worse.

Irmgard, a good writer, takes you right there into her unique childhood where she attended school with the children of Hitler’s right hand men. She talks of Hitler’s policies slowly changing what they were learning in the classroom, of people starving, of being allowed to go up to the homes on the mountain (after the war was over) and take what they wanted. She also talks about the difficulties after the war.

Through it all, “beneath the bravado, I remained a committed Lutheran.” She goes on to say how her faith brought her solace and hope.”

I’ve read many books about World War II – stories of Jewish families who escaped, stories of Germans who helped the Jews, stories of people who were part of underground rescue missions. This was different. This was the story of a girl who was just there because that’s where her family lived.

Ms. Hunt now lives in the US and works on environmental issues.

The book was good and I am better.

New Food – a Bunch of Snacks

New foods are exciting – especially when you’re not real sure exactly what that new food is … like when all the packing is in Japanese.  Thanks to my daughter-in-law, Cindy, for providing us with this intriguing treat.

Mallory quickly looked up a Japanese translator site and set to figuring out what we were eating. (And if anyone reading this knows Japanese, feel free to correct our translation.) From our calculations, the label said something about seas and the little guys at the bottom are pirates.

The first thing we tried was a piece of marshmallow candy which tasted like artificial marshmallow candy – in contrast to REAL marshmallow candy.  (Don’t even think about it.)  Mallory gave it a 4. I gave it a 2.DSC_0253Another package had a single piece of hard candy. The wrapping said lemon cola, so I tasted it and it tasted like …  lemon cola – so I said 5.

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Packet #4 was a myriad of little crystal-type candy, sort of hardened sugar – but we gave it a 5.

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Then there was the gum – which we didn’t taste. Mal decided to give that to her siblings.

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But then things got a little strange. We thought we were eating a bag of candy, but obviously we weren’t . Next was a little packet of crouton-type things that tasted like rice cakes. They came with a container of jam. We kind of liked these. Mallory gave them  seven out of 10.

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Our last packages had bread sticks which were kind of spicy. They were crispy and reminded is of cheetos, but not as good.

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Even though Mallory was translating this all – she wanted me to say that it was a loose translation.

And this was the gift that kept on giving … we kept all the wrappings and Mallory took them to school.

New Food – Pickled Quail’s Eggs

So in the past week two random people asked me when I was going to get back to my food blogging – the part where I eat some strange, some mediocre and some actually good food that I’ve never eaten before (or at least not eaten in the featured recipe).

(Actually, I’m thinking about doing some different things with my blogging – but more about that later.)

Anyhow, when the first person mentioned it and then a day later another person mentioned it, I figured I’d do it – especially since three other people have given me food to try and then write about.

Mallory was hanging out with me and she was game to experiment so our first adventure was eating a pickled quail’s egg.

The jar of Oma’s Choice quail eggs showed up on my desk shortly before I quit my job – a gift given to me by Carol Berry. (Thanks, Carol.) She is also interested in trying different things so when she saw the pickled eggs, she thought of me.

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I have had quail eggs before (blogged about them last year, but those were fresh quail eggs). When we opened the jar of pickled eggs, it smelled vinegary (which was to be expected).

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I’ve had pickled chicken eggs before – and when I first bit into the quail egg, I thought it had a similar taste, but then the hot spiciness kicked in … and I mean HOT. I felt like I had ordered the hot sauce at a Mexican restaurant which is something I would never do. And then my entire mouth started burning with the heat. Whoa!

Mallory’s take: She didn’t like the consistency, but she doesn’t like the consistency of regular eggs either, so you can’t blame that on the quail. She gave it a 4 out of a 10.

I’m not a big fan of overly spicy food, so I gave it a 2 out of a 10.

However, we did decide that if you cut it up into small slices, you could add them to a taco salad and they would be good. (Quails eggs look like miniature chicken eggs.)

So, thanks Carol! We enjoyed being adventurous.

The Best Birthday Ever Daisies, Daisies, Daisies (Part 2)

(By this time I had about six bunches of flowers.)

And my next clue was a puzzle.

So we head over to Barnes and Noble to find a table so I could intensely work.

(The puzzle was painted by Chloe, even though she tried to convince me that Phil Keoghan painted it.)

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So off to the frozen yogurt store we went and surprise – two more granddaughters waiting for me … with another bunch of flowers.

They had already concocted what I was suppose to eat BEFORE I received my next clue.

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Which read:

A group. A bouquet. A brush.

Have your driver take you to ….

Complete the task to get your next clue.

So off we went again.

But first here is a picture of the girls as they were preparing to go to their specified stations:IMG_6642.JPG

So off we went to Steve and Kelli’s house where a few more bouquets of flowers were waiting and the tables setup for painting!

Thanks so much to Ruth Wick for taking us step-by-step through the process … (And notice the halo around Jim’s head.)

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And our finished product …IMG_2887

Another clue this one telling me we were having Chinese for dinner

And of course, a beautiful birthday cake —

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Thanks to my family for giving me a very creative, cool and fun birthday. Love you all so much!

Thanks to Karen Kauffman for designing the “clue logo.”

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And thanks to the florist who grew my multitude of “daisies.” (Like 15 dozen or so.)

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And that’s why it was a memorable birthday – for sure.