Archive for the ‘Other Fun Reads’ Category

This weekend I grabbed dinner with a friend at Zaytinya.  Zaytinya is one of my go to restaurants; the food is always reliably good and it is chic without being stuffy.  The special list never disappoints and this weekend was no exception.  On the special list that night was a delightful dish of shredded lamb in phyllo dough served with a feta yogurt sauce–it was really remarkable.

But this is not about the food or the atmosphere or even the specials.  Once again, I feel the need to discuss my favorite topic–service.

My kind of waitress

My kind of waitress

Let me state upfront I am very “New England” in some ways.  I am not a chit chatter or a small talker with strangers.  I always acknowledge people and say my pleases and thank yous, but I am not one to idly banter about the weather or what not.  It simply is not the way of my people or how I do.  Also, my father has been in food service his whole life–as a bartender and a server and now as a store manager at Starbucks–so I really “get” food service.  I am not a snob, nor do I think folks in food service are below me…they are me.

Our waitress was capable and our food arrived promptly.  Our drinks never waited too long for a refill, though she could have been a  bit swifter. The thing that bothered me? Her extreme eagerness.

I know, I know.  I am a  huge bitch, but really? Do I need an in depth recitation of 6 dishes on the menu she likes? Do I need to laugh about how our names are similar?  Not really.  It didn’t bother me that much and it certainly did not ruin an awesome meal, but I found it mildly intrusive.  My friend pointed out that servers need to hustle and make an impression since they are working for tips.  It is a very valid point, but if you are competent, friendly, and attentive, you are a good server.  I am not looking for a new friend.

This seems to happen a lot, the overly familiar server.  I have been called “hun”; the only place I find this acceptable is at a dinner and someone named Flo is slinging my coffee.  The greeting “hey guys” also kind of irks me in a nicer restaurant.  But most annoying?  Those servers who sit down and talk to you.  It has happened more than once and frankly, I damn near want to push them off the chair every time it happens.

So what say you? Am I off base? A huge bitch? On to something?  I want to hear your thoughts on service and what is the appropriate level of interaction.

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Hey food people, this is Chris and if you think this post is funny or you just want to compliment me on my shirt, you can normally find me at Surviving Myself.

Lexa asked me to guest blog here today and I consider it quite the honor, so in order to uphold her love of sharing all things food with you, I have decided to share two of my most famous recipes today. Now I must warn you, what follows is not for amateurs. I am a professional and have spent years perfecting these, so make no mistake about it, should you try and replicate them, you will fail at least 37 times before you get it just right.

I know that sounds depressing, but life is difficult my friends, just ask the guy in WHAM! who wasn’t George Michael.

Without further ado, I present to you, Chris’ Recipes Of Brilliant Fun Good Time Happy:

Grilled Cheesegrilled-cheese

1. Get wasted at a bar.
2. Yell at someone (a friend or someone you don’t know) about something that doesn’t really matter, like how tight you prefer your shoelaces to be.
3. Stumble home.
4. Turn on Sportscenter. Yell at TV and/or pet.
5. Put butter on two pieces of bread, with cheese in between.
6. Place on heated skillet.
7. Avoid passing out while waiting for it to finish by drunk texting your friends that they suck.
8. Eat grilled cheese.
Pasta with Special Red Sauce

1. Search entire apartment for something better.
2. Curse yourself for being lazy and not going grocery shopping.
3. Boil water in a pot.
4. Add pasta even if it’s spilled out into the cabinet, it is still Okay.
5. Pull jar of Prego out of cabinet.
6. Laugh about “Prego Lego” joke you make in your head.
7. Drain pasta and yell when it burns your face, then pour sauce onto pasta.
8. Eat Pasta with Special Red Sauce.
I know that right now you’re shaking your head and thinking that you cannot possibly make these items, but I believe in you. I know that you can and I challenge you to try.

Oh, and I should add to make sure you call and apologize after Step #7 in the first one, otherwise you won’t have many friends left to share these culinary delights with.

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Now, I am a fairly honest girl and I feel the need to be upfront about something: I don’t particularly care for the holidays.

It is an unpopular stance, for sure. I tire of the crowds and the forced cheer. Christmas music makes my ears bleed. My family lives in Florida now, and palm trees with holiday lights is just all kinds of messed up. I am a New England girl and if I have to do Christmas, I want to be under a blanket, drinking coffee and Bailey’s, as I open my gifts.

I do like the food, though…even if it tends to get a tad abundant. I have managed to hold out thus far and avoid an eggnog shake, but I cannot wait to finally have one. Look! I can see a bit of a silver lining.

Also, though the pressure can be overwhelming at times, I do like giving gifts as well. I especially like giving gifts to you.

I managed to get my hands on two Giftscriptions and nothing would make me happier to give them to you. The winners can use these for themselves (greedy bastards) or pass them on as a gift to someone moderately special this holiday season. Some of the subscriptions that tickle my fancy are for Food and Wine and Cooking Light.

Same rules as always apply–you have to be comfortable giving me your address and your real name should you win. The contest closes at 6 pm tomorrow (Wednesday, 12/10).

You can’t win if you don’t play. So, below, please pipe up. Tell me what you like about the holidays. Conversely, I would love it if someone validated me and confessed their hatred of this time of year. Confess a secret.  Confess someone else’s secret. Share your favorite color or your favorite movie; just say something. This is a safe space. Make your voice heard.

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I have ideas!

Last year’s gift guide is still darn swell, but I am a font of ideas… I know you needed more. I don’t own any of these items, but they are all things I would happily receive. I like gifts. I know you like giving them. This year it is a tad more organized so you can parcel out your love by price point. I know this is a little long, but when it comes to gift giving, I think we can agree options are important.

Here is a bunch of ideas for that foody/wino/glutton in your life…hold on to your credit cards.

Booty Call (under $25)

“Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients”, by Ina Garten: I don’t own this, but wish I did. Ina Garten is one of the few folks on the Food Network whom I really admire; her recipes aren’t fussy or stuffy, just good stuff everyone should be making.

Fleur de Sal: The only thing better than salt is salt from the French. Every good cook knows the importance of salt and this is perfect for dusting on cookies or sprinkling on some olive oil before dipping in a piece of crusty, warm bread.

Tartlet Pan: As humans, we are inherently greedy; we want everything to ourselves. With these individual tart molds, you can help your favorite baker indulge all their greedy friends. Make sure to get a tartlet pan with removable bottoms…you don’t want the receiver of you gift cursing you every time they try to pry out their perfect pastries. If you skimp and don’t go for the removable bottoms, cursing is certain to happen.

Gingerbread Muffins Pan: Well, these are just nifty! I would like every muffin shaped like a gingerbread man…or any kind of man for that matter.

Girlfriend/Boyfriend ($25-50)

“Baking: From My Home to Yours”, by Dorie Greenspan: Dorie Greenspan is considered the queen of baking. Her recipes are thorough, direct, and always garner great results. This is an essential for any baker.

Dorothy Apron: Who said a woman in the kitchen isn’t sexy? This sure does help, though. This is hot. End of story.

8-Year Balsamic Vinegar of Modena: Yes, I know $35 seems a lot to spend on vinegar. Guess what? Some people think spending $50 on a video game is just as ridiculous. True foodies will appreciate this. Scout’s honor.

Le Creuset Enameled Steel Stockpots: Holy Christ, these are on sale for $49.95. I cannot stress what a steal these are and how you should order one right now. Seriously, go, RIGHT NOW.

Spouse ($50-100)

Beer Bottle Cap Sterling Silver Bracelet: For the beer-drinking lady in your life. This is probably my favorite thing on the list. I don’t need this one bit, but I really want it.

The Ex Voodoo Knife Set: Look, we all have some anger at the holidays. Please, I implore you, just stab this kitschy knife holder, not your pervy Uncle Eddie.

Party Beverage Server: Every good host has plenty of wine on hand and it should always be the proper temperature.

Canvas Picnic Backpack: Have someone in your life who is romantic, yet also practical? This is the perfect little gift for the Don Juan or Seductress in your life. I’d rather drink a beer on the hood of the car, but hey, some people like to keep it classy.

Mistress/Gigolo ($100 plus)

15-Bottle Dual-Zone Electric Wine Cellar: Once again, booze is important. Have I not made this clear? One should always have 15 bottles on had, something I fal at on a regular basis.

Bialetti Mukka Express Electric Cappuccino Maker: It barely takes up any space. It brews perfect coffee. It is not an exceedingly ridiculous price. The coffee lover in your life will thank you.

Vera Wang “Illusion” High Ball Glasses: Yes, I know Vera Wang glasses are over the top. But, if you are spending this much on someone, you clearly have money to burn. These are super sleek. I love them.

iGourmet Luxury Treasures: $399…I know. But this is the perfect gift for someone you need to keep silent.

And before you get some work done, don’t forget to pop by So Good and see what I am eating this week.

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I had been trying incredibly hard to be a good kitty. I hadn’t had a cigarette since Halloween and was quite proud of myself.

As we headed over to Friday’s Blogger Happy Hour, I looked at Arjewtino and informed him I would not be smoking. He looked at me, laughed, and said, “We’ll see…”

Fast forward about two and a half hours. I am standing on the sidewalk, sans jacket, talking to Arjewtino. I looked over at my hand and yell, “Holy shit, I am smoking!”

I am a weak soul. I am sorry you all had to see my personal failure.

But, it seems, that was the only failure of the night. The evening was a resounding success and I am so pleased with the turnout. I am sorry I couldn’t spend more time with all of you…the place was packed and my voice was horse from screaming but it was worth it.

My two cohosts, the aforementioned Arjewtino in a dashing suit, and Roosh, who doesn’t need a suit to get noticed by the ladies, and I had a great time and were so happy to meet you all.


To all of you that came out, thank you.  Especially if this was your first happy hour, I want to give you an extra special slap on the ass for being brave and showing your face. I know it isn’t easy, but I hope we made it a little easier for you.

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Final Call

So, it is a week away, that holiday that we shall not speak of.

The panicked talk of coworkers and desperate emails I have received tell me y’all are a little nervous.

There is nothing to fear, my little lambs. With enough wine and Papa John’s on your speed dial, everything will be fine. Isn’t Thanksgiving about gluttony, football and lazy afternoon naps anyway? At least that is the way it is in my world. In this perfect universe, the good times roll, the boys always call, you always get the promotion you rightfully deserve and the turkey is always moist. Stop stressing so much. Even a perfect meal won’t make your mom refrain from asking for grandbabies, so you might as well let go of some of the stress.

But just in case, here are a few final thoughts…

Don’t know where to start? Check out last week’s epic Thanksgiving post

Scared to carve the turkey? No worries, watch this:

Not into my cornbread stuffing? A friend had a ton of success with this sourdough mushroom stuffing this weekend. (He added bacon, because apparently, that is the thing to do…)

Don’t want your cranberry out of a can (which is WRONG)? This cranberry sauce made with port could almost make me turn my nose to my beloved canned jelly.

Absolutely HAVE to have marshmallows on your sweet potatoes? Fine. If you must, these looks pretty good.

Your family insisting on the classics? Well, nothing is more classic than a green bean casserole.

Still don’t know what to serve that pesky vegetarian? This vegetable and cheese strata looks tasty and can be prepared the day ahead.

Wanna feel toasty while getting toasty? Mulled wine will make the day much more manageable.

Want something pumpkin that isn’t pie? Mmmmm…pumpkin whoopie pies!

Don’t want a pie at all this Thanksgiving? This Apple Cranberry Bourbon Cake from the always AMAZING Joy the Baker looks like the bee’s knees.

And this is all I have to give. I am tapped out. Taking any and all questions below. Also, tell me below what you are grateful for. I have always hated this exercise, but more and more I realize how much I have and that I am a lucky girl. Take a minute and remind yourself.

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The Thanksgiving Post

15 Days! Holy Christ on a Muffin. The biggest food day of the year is just 15 days away. Time to convert to a Saltines and Coke Zero diet in an effort to clear the maximum amount of space in your stomach for the big day.

Ironically, I have never posted about turkey here. I have roasted it a zillion times, but never snapped a photo. This is a pretty awesome looking, traditional recipe to follow. I tend to make a compound butter (loads of room temperature butter, lemon zest, fresh sage and thyme and salt and pepper) and rub it under and over the skin. I stuff the cavity (make sure you take out the giblets!) with an apple, a lemon, an onion and a handful of fresh herbs. Every family has some sort of traditional recipe; do whatever your little heart desires.

So, here is the rest…every Thanksgiving worthy recipe I have churned out in these here parts. Fire up your printers. Now, I don’t think I need to convince you about any of these, but just in case…I have pleaded my case.


Apple Butternut Soup: Because the meal should start with something homey.

Harvest Salad: Because there has to be something green.


Cornbread Stuffing with Caramelized Onions: Because you are a Southerner at heart.

Bourbon Sweet Potatoes: Because bourbon makes Aunt Mildred a little more tolerable.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Balsamic, Pine Nuts and Parmesan: Because cheese can make even the most avid sprout hater a true believer.

Brussel Sprout Hash: Because hash just isn’t for corned beef.

Balsamic Carrots: Because you have never seen a bunny rabbit wearing glasses.

Roasted Yams: Because you know the difference between a yam and a sweet potato.

Sauteed Spinach with Raisins: Because Popeye wants you to.

Caramelized Shallots: Because an onion that tastes like candy is something to be thankful for.

Rustic Apple Sauce: Because it isn’t just for pork chops.


Apple Cake: Because it is autumn on a plate.

Pumpkin Cheesecake: Because I really cannot think of anything else that would make Thanksgiving more perfect.

Pear Blackberry Cobbler: Because this is so simple but tastes so good.

Pumpkin Apple Bread: Because topped with amaretto whip cream, it is a perfect way to end the day.

Pecan Pie Bars: Because the only thing that could make pecan pie better is if it is portable…with a shortbread crust.

Oh, and go to So Good and check out this week’s column…because I said so.

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Tina at Building a Family asks:

I’d love advice on how to cut down the traditional family thanksgiving dinner so it serves two without sacrificing the quality of the food. most one or two person thank giving recipes have turned out pretty pathetic taste wise. Reasonable amounts of left overs are acceptable but I don’t want to eat that dinner – no matter how fab for a month.

I am about to suggest something, Tina, that sort of makes me want to stab myself in the face. The reason I have this case of the stabbies is simple: I got this idea from Rachel Ray. Rachel Freaking Ray. You know how I feel about Ray Ray.

But here it is: just roast a turkey breast. Of course, if you are in to dark meat, you will miss out, but this seems like a perfect solution. It is smaller, yet still has skin to stuff herbs, some lemon zest, and butter under. There will still be some leftovers, but a manageable amount.

If you aren’t in to the turkey breast idea, how about cornish game hens? I know to many people that Thanksgiving means turkey, but truth be told, I feel like half the people I know don’t even like it. Buck tradition a little, roast everyone a hen, and be done with it.

As far as the other stuff goes, I say be brutal and make cuts as to what you are going to have for side dishes. For me, the mashed potatoes are always the first to find their way to the chopping block; I can eat those any time. But a Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce or cornbread stuffing? Unthinkable. Unclutter your table and make some tough choices.

Lastly, get out of the mindset that you need to make huge portions. Dice up and roast two sweet potatoes instead of making an elaborate casserole with 6. Make a quick stuffing with a few pieces of bread. Purchase a few rolls, loose, at the bakery instead of a whole package. Throw together a small, simple apple crisp with a crumble topping instead of a huge pie. It seems obvious, but us gluttonous Americans have a tendency to think more is more and we are not satisfied unless our bowls are overflowing. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

The next few weeks are going to be filled with Thanksgiving posts, so if you have questions pipe up.

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Irish Lebowski out did herself.

Do you see all this food? It was my bitch last night.

Also, there is no champagne left in France.  I drank it all.

My friend sassE has coined the term Obamover.

I have an Obamover of epic proportions.

Check me out at So Good today…and back to real business tomorrow.


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Last night, I couldn’t find my voter registration card. Shocking, seeing as I have quite the complex filing system:


For the first time this election cycle, I truly almost lost my mind.

The past few years I have grown increasingly disillusioned with politics. I sometimes feel disappointed with my lack of involvement this cycle, but its been a bit complicated for me, as I know it is for a lot of you. Sure, I gave some money, but 19-year-old Lemm would not be pleased with the 27-year-old woman who sits here now. She’d find her apathetic and a bit of a sell out, and maybe she is… Yet, when I couldn’t mind my card? And for about half an hour I thought there was a possibility I wouldn’t be able to vote? I was reminded that that 19-year-old girl still lives inside me, a girl who thinks maybe she can make a small difference.

I like that we don’t talk politics here, but just today I want to remind you to stand up and cast your ballot. Remember what is important to you and step inside that booth. Do it for you, do it for your family and friends, do it for that hidden, tiny slice of you that is still idealistic enough to think maybe, just maybe, you can help change the world.

Then go get some free stuff. Lord almighty, has this been a long election cycle and you deserve some treats.

Thanks to my wonderful friend EJ for compiling this list….

Starbucks: free tall coffee, all day

Ben and Jerry’s: free scoop, 5 – 8 PM

Krispy Kreme: free doughnut, all day

Chik Fil A: free chicken sandwich, all day

Books-a-Million: free cup of coffee, all day

California Tortilla: free taco, all day

Daily Grill: free appetizer, Happy Hour

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