Cabbage check — May 25, 2022

Cabbage check

I tried an egg roll.

As you might remember, a few weeks ago I broke the news that I had never eaten an egg roll. Indeed, I had avoided egg rolls because I thought they contained scrambled eggs. And who would want to eat a scrambled egg wrapped in deep-fried flour?

Anyway, I had the hankering for fried rice and sweet and sour chicken (sans sauce), the only Chinese fare of which I partake (with one notable exception – keep reading), so I swung by a Chinese place that offers takeout from the buffet. When I spied the egg rolls, I said to myself, “Self, why the expletive not?” And I added one egg roll to my takeout box.

I had concerns that the egg roll would taste horribly, so I decided to get it out of the way first. I also had concerns it would contain an onion aka my nemesis. Luckily, I did not detect onions. In fact, I enjoyed the first bite, so I took another one. I tasted either chicken or pork and vegetables. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t the best food I’d ever eaten, either, but not everything can be as good as soup beans.

Then I took the third bite. That’s when I tasted the cabbage. That’s when my association with the egg roll came to an end.

When I shared this saga with my sisters, they opened their mouths to protest after I arrived at this part of the story. After all, they’ve seen me feast on cooked cabbage. But that’s different. I don’t eat any other form of cabbage or food that features cabbage. No cabbage rolls. No coleslaw. No sauerkraut.

Stop rolling your eyes. I have told you people repeatedly that I’m a picky eater.

By the way, I have another food update. I also recently shared the breaking news that doughnuts make me high. No, I have not tried a chocolate glazed doughnut to see if that phenomenon continues to hold true, but my lunch at the Chinese buffet reminded me that I can eat Chinese doughnuts. You know, the kind that seem like canned biscuits that are deep fried and rolled in sugar.

Now, I’m not saying that’s how they’re made in the restaurants. Hence, the word “seem.” I’m just saying that’s how they taste. They’re light and almost like air. If air tasted sweet and was full of dozens and dozens of carbs.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

What’s in a name? — May 4, 2022

What’s in a name?

Monday, April 25, 2022, will go down in history as the day I learned egg rolls do not contain eggs.

I can hear the guffaws from the smart expletives who were apparently born knowing this. To you know-it-alls, I ask, “What was I supposed to think? Egg is in the name!” After all, chocolate chip cookies contain chocolate chips. Orange juice contains oranges that have been squeezed into juice. Bean dip contains beans that, along with other ingredients, have been turned into a delicious dip.

But apparently, egg rolls have been getting by with false advertising all these years.

I learned this historic truth from a friend/coworker who shared the ingredients of a hillbilly egg roll she had during Hillbilly Days. When I inquired about the whereabouts of the egg, she gently explained, well, you know what she explained.

Obviously, I have never eaten an egg roll. Honestly, the thought of eating one repulsed me. I like deviled eggs and sometimes I’ll eat hardboiled eggs. Otherwise, I’m not much of an eater of eggs. So, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of eating a scrambled egg that had been deep-fried in flour.

Yep. That’s what I imagined an egg roll to be.

I repeat, “What was I supposed to think? Egg is in the name!”

Speaking of eggs … my sister and I almost came to blows whilst making cookies last Christmas when she claimed fried eggs and scrambled eggs taste the same. Granted, I have never eaten a fried egg and have rarely eaten scrambled eggs, so maybe she’s right. Still, I maintained that if they taste the same, then why are diners given the option of scrambled or fried?

Anyway, after learning the historic truth about egg rolls, I wondered why a foodstuff that does not contain eggs has the word egg in its name. Thus, I consulted our friends at Wikipedia. Here’s what they have to say on the matter … “it is unclear how the word ‘egg’ appeared in the name, since the predominant flavor in American egg rolls is cabbage, not eggs. A 1979 article in The Washington Post speculated two possible theories: 1) that the Chinese word for ‘egg’ sounds very similar to the Chinese word for ‘spring,’ and 2) that Chinese chefs in the South relied on using actual eggs when trying to make the thin noodle skin from flour and water.”

In other words, who knows?

So, now that I know the truth, do I plan to sample an egg roll? As picky as I am, I’ll take that on an egg roll by egg roll basis.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

A doughnut or a dough-not? — April 27, 2022

A doughnut or a dough-not?

As I’ve mentioned before, to the dismay of many, I do not eat peanut butter or drink coffee. Well, dear readers, get ready to once again be dismayed. Thanks to a conversation I had this week, I remembered another popular foodstuff I avoid – doughnuts.

Unlike peanut butter, which I have loathed since our first encounter, I spent years enjoying doughnuts. (I also drank coffee from childhood into adulthood.)

Indeed, one of my aunts is something of an expert when it comes to preparing doughnuts. She frequently made them for my cousins, my siblings, and me when we were wee lads and lasses growing up on and/or near the Goff Estate.

What’s more, one day in elementary school I, a lifelong cheapskate, agreed to go halfsies with a classmate and purchase a jelly doughnut. That was a big deal for me because I had never eaten a jelly doughnut.

And I didn’t eat one that day, either. When we cut into the doughnut, we discovered it was a glazed doughnut sans jelly. As you might be able to infer, I have not let go of that disappointment. Sometimes I wonder if my life would have turned out differently if I had gotten to eat one-half a jelly doughnut that day. Or if I had asked for a refund upon learning the doughnut was free of jelly. You never know. That could have been the turning point in my life.

Anyway, my sisters and I learned to make doughnuts and for years we would legit jump up at dern-near any hour of the day and whip up a platter of doughnuts. Then, for some reason I can’t recall, we stopped making them.

Maybe it was because we could more readily and easily purchase tasty doughnuts at the stores. And purchase them we did. As an adult, I discovered that jelly doughnuts left a bad aftertaste. This discovery elated me. So, I stuck to glazed or chocolate glazed.

But at some point a dozen or so years ago (it’s not like I noted the date in my journal), I realized that doughnuts made me feel, well, high. You might be saying to yourself, “Self, what’s wrong with that?” Nothing. Unless you’re feeling high at work.

Once I studied on the matter, I further realized this doughnut high had been occurring for some time. And it was always followed by a migraine.

Oh, there’s more. I also remembered that I had developed my first doughnut-induced migraine in college. Of course, that was a certain type of microwavable yeast doughnut that I swore off after it caused the second headache. These glazed – chocolate or plain – doughnuts hadn’t started bothering me until a dozen or so years ago.

What changed?

If I knew the answer to that question, I would be penning articles for medical journals.

All I know is that when I tell people I don’t eat doughnuts, I detect their disappointment. It’s as if they just cut into a plain doughnut…

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Coffee break — March 30, 2022

Coffee break

I don’t drink coffee.

Most people react to this statement with disbelief. They stare at me with widened eyes and open mouths before peppering me with such questions as “Why not?” and “What’s wrong with you?”

There’s not enough bandwidth or time to properly answer that last question. As for coffee, unlike my aversion to peanut butter – another admission that folks struggle to understand – I don’t have anything against coffee. In fact, I enjoyed a cup a day for 20 years or so.

If memory serves, I started drinking coffee around age 11. By Goff Estate standards, that defined me as a late bloomer. I grew up in a family of coffee addicts who still drink the stuff all day. They’ve drunk it for so long that they’re immune to its caffeinated effects. Indeed, my mom and oldest sister have fallen asleep whilst drinking coffee.

At any time of the day, you’re likely to hear my mom, my sisters, or my nieces ask, “Whose turn is it to make a pot?” They go through coffee pots like they’re paper plates. Once, when Mother’s coffee pot started misbehaving, I said, “You’ve only had it for little more than a year and a half. Oh, wait, I guess that’s the life expectancy for a coffee pot around here.”

Of course, a single cup of instant coffee is not out of the question, either. Some people don’t care for what my late father referred to as boiled coffee. During my coffee-drinking days, I couldn’t tell the difference between instant and what he called percolated coffee. It all tasted the same to me.

Even back then, though, I wasn’t interested in anything like espresso or zucchini spiced mocha latte. And I’ll never grasp the concept of iced coffee. At the Goff Estate, iced coffee means you’ve talked so much that your previously-warm coffee needs “hottened up.”

Anyway, in adulthood, I finally sought help for my migraines. During a consultation with my doctor, he advised me to rid my life of caffeine. I complied, curbing my intake of chocolate, switching to caffeine free soda (that didn’t last), and quitting coffee.

If this change in lifestyle resulted in night tremors or hallucinations, I don’t remember them. Nor did I look at a cup of coffee with regret and longing.

Fast forward a decade or so later. Whilst making shortbread cookies one Christmas, my taste buds recalled that I had savored coffee with those cookies. Suddenly, I decided that one cup wouldn’t hurt. I poured some coffee and nibbled on a cookie as I waited on it to cool. As soon as I was sure it would not burn my tongue, I put the cup to my mouth, experienced my first sip of coffee in years and immediately said, “Yuck.”

It tasted terribly bitter and dern-near ruined the cookie. It also reminded me that when it comes to coffee, I’m not missing a thing.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

The struggle is no longer real — March 23, 2022

The struggle is no longer real

For years I have shared my struggles in this here space. My struggles, that is, with prepping potatoes for mashing, baking, and/or cooking.

As you might recall, I cannot peel potatoes – or anything for that matter – with a knife. Please don’t tell me I could if I practiced. I’ve, in the words of my late father, peeled away too many potatoes in my day practicing.

Anyway, years ago, I purchased a Rotato, a potato-peeling gadget that changed my life. It was a messy gadget, though, and hard to clean. Thankfully, I ran across a vegetable peeler in a store.

Ahh. Talk about a life changer.

I now have four peelers. Why do I have four? Well, you never know when you’ll get the urge to peel something and the other three peelers might be dirty.

Although the peelers solved one problem, they didn’t solve another one. That is, when preparing mashed potatoes, I still need to dice said potatoes.

Here’s the biggest issue for me when it comes to dicing potatoes: I would really prefer if the diced particles of potato were uniform in size.

As you might imagine, that preference means it takes me dozens of minutes to prep potatoes for mashing.

Thankfully, somehow I came into possession of a gadget that legit chops and dices vegetables.

Unfortunately, it was not a life changer. Sure, the diced particles of potato appeared, more or less, to be uniform. But it took just as long to dice them via the gadget as it did with a knife. What’s more, the gadget was messy and hard to clean.

Thus, I resumed dicing potatoes with a knife.

Woe was me.

Then, one day a few weeks ago, I wasn’t feeling my best. So, of course, I turned to my comfort food – mashed potatoes. I didn’t feel up to dicing or even peeling. I had purchased smallish potatoes, so I dumped them into the pan, peelings and all, and poured water on them. (I am not a fan of potato peelings or, as my late father referred to them, potato jackets, either. But like I said, I wasn’t feeling well.)

You know what? The potatoes cooked up, as we say at the Goff Estate, and they were a breeze to mash. What a learning experience. From then on, I haven’t bothered with dicing. After peeling potatoes, I’ve cut them into pieces about the size of the aforementioned smallish potatoes, dumped them into the pan, and poured water over them.

The potatoes have continued to cook up and I have continued to add butter and heavy cream (a tip I learned from my bestie) to create scrumptious mashed potatoes.

There have been no lumps. No issues. No drama. No struggles.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

As the story goes — December 1, 2021

As the story goes

Don’t you hate when you find a recipe online or otherwise, only to find that the recipe sharer has also shared a seemingly never-ending backstory that’s sorta connected to said recipe?

Yeah, about that…

I tried two new recipes at Thanksgiving: cranberry sauce and vanilla pie.

Here’s the backstory on the cranberry sauce. I had tried the Thanksgiving staple twice during my lifetime. I’ll be nice and say I wasn’t a fan. But I had cranberries leftover from cranberry balsamic chicken – it was pretty good – so I thought I’d whip up some cranberry sauce for the person at the table who enjoys the dish.

When I searched for a recipe, I found a lot of backstories as well as recipes containing orange zest. I don’t do orange zest. I don’t like the taste and the process of extracting the zest makes my knuckles bleed. Thankfully, I stumbled across a paleo recipe on cookeatpaleo.com that features three ingredients – cranberries, orange juice, and honey.

Now, if you’re like me, you might be saying to yourself, “Self, what the expletive is paleo?”

According to our friends at the Wikipedia, “The Paleolithic diet, paleo diet, caveman diet, or stone-age diet is a modern fad diet consisting of foods thought by its proponents to mirror those eaten by humans during the Paleolithic era.”

Wikipedia further notes that adherents of the paleo diet avoid processed foods. This recipe (see below) calls for fresh orange juice but I’m not the type of gal who’s going to squeeze her own orange juice. Regardless, as promised, the cranberry sauce was super easy to make. It also tasted wonderful. I ate it warm, straight from the bowl.

I also ate the vanilla pudding, which filled the pie, warm and straight from the bowl. My bestie supplied that recipe. I don’t know why I hadn’t considered making a vanilla pie before this point of my lifetime. After all, I love the homemade vanilla pudding that goes in banana pudding. I love it so much that sometimes I make it without the benefit of nanners and wafers.

The vanilla pie recipe calls for a meringue, but I’m not the type of gal who makes meringue – or her own pie shells – so you’re on your own there. You should also know that I don’t think the vanilla pie qualifies for inclusion in the paleo diet.

Cranberry sauce

12 ounces fresh cranberries

¾ cup (fresh) orange juice

½ cup honey (or maple syrup)

Combine cranberries, orange juice, and honey in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, until berries pop and sauce thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Cool completely and refrigerate. Serve at room temperature.

Vanilla pie filling

4 egg yolks

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup cornstarch or ½ cup all purpose flour

3 cups milk

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

1 tablespoon butter

Combine sugar and cornstarch, gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir two more minutes. Remove from heat. Slightly beat egg yolks. Gradually stir egg yolks into one cup of filling. Pour mixture back into hot filling. Bring to gentle boil. Cook and stir for two more minutes. Remove from heat and add in vanilla and butter. Pour into pie shell.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Hold that thought — November 3, 2021

Hold that thought

As you might expect from women of a certain age, my friends and I have been talking a lot about Capri Sun late

Although I can’t recall why, I’m the person who first introduced the subject into conversation. For some reason, I felt the need to tell my pals that I never mastered the fine art of opening pouches of Capri Sun.

Indeed, if not for my best friend, I would have died of thirst during my grade school years. You see, she stuck the straw into the pouch for me because no matter how hard I tried, I could not puncture that gosh-dern pouch. I’m not sure what I did for refreshment on days when she was absent from school. I guess I lapsed into dehydration.

Anyway, if I expected my friends to make sport of my failure, I was surprised. They never mastered the fine art of (correctly) opening a Capri Sun, either. One shared that her attempts result in the straw puncturing both sides of the pouch. Another said that when she does manage to open a Capri Sun, the juice squirts everywhere.

Feeling vindicated, I also shared with one friend that I struggle to use can openers. That’s why I am in favor of legislation requiring all cans to feature pull tabs. This friend said she could use manual openers but not the electric kind. That reminded me of a grudge I’ve nursed for decades.

I will not name names (in print), but dozens of years ago, I packed some sort of canned food for lunch. In the breakroom, my coworkers directed me to an electric contraption they called a can opener. I had never seen anything like that. It looked like something out of The Jetsons. I couldn’t figure out where to put the can or how to turn on the gosh-darn thing.  

My coworkers laughed and laughed and joked that my mommy must have always opened cans for me. Actually, it was my job to retrieve cans from the lazy Susan and open them with the can opener that doubled as the bottle opener or the can opener with two little rotating wheels. Not that I ever became proficient at using the openers, but I performed the task capably enough. I still do.

Anyway, my friend also said that she cannot open small cartons of milk. Oh, I can do that with ease. Not that I drink milk from a carton. Once, during my aforementioned grade school days, I drank milk from a carton. I did not like the taste and dozens of years later, I still refuse to entertain the notion of drinking milk from a carton.

Yes, I can even hold a grudge against cartons of milk.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Lock it up — October 20, 2021

Lock it up

Last week, I shared what, if not for my quick reflexes, could have been a smoothie-making accident. At story’s end, I promised to explain what happened when I attempted to remove the base from the blender and, later, clean the contraption.

Here goes.

I could not remove the base from the blender. That surprised me because, earlier, when I took the blender apart to see if it worked, the base removed with ease. But once my less than smooth smoothie had been prepared, the base would not budge from the rest of the blender.

No matter how much effort I expended, that gosh darn base refused to move a millimeter. Knowing I needed to apply some traction, I pressed one foot against a cabinet, held the blender in my hands, and tried to turn it.

It didn’t work.

At that point, just when I decided to give up, my tired eyes rested on the base. It featured two icons – one represented locked, the other unlocked.

You know where this is going.

I picked up the base, turned it in the direction of the unlocked icon and, voilà, the base was no longer attached to the blender at large.

My problems were not behind me. Once I emptied the less than smooth smoothie from the jar, I had to clean the jar and my nemesis, the blade. (You might remember from part one that the blade literally rose in the air and twirled around my kitchen when I took the blender apart to see if it worked, and then pressed the on button whilst it was apart. Spoiler alert: It worked.)

It might not come as a surprise that I couldn’t separate the bottom cover – where the blade lives – from the jar. I checked. There were no icons. I cleaned it the best I could and then took it to the Goff Estate.

As soon as I walked in with the jar, the snickering began. They hurled such remarks as “Isn’t that an important part of the blender?” my way.

When I explained my predicament, my sister, Pam, with smugness dripping from her every pore, reached out her hands.

She couldn’t pry it loose, either.

Ha!

She gave it to my niece who quickly solved my problem with a turn of her hands. I returned the still-borrowed jar to my home, cleaned it, and made another less than smooth smoothie.

About those less than smooth smoothies … I think they taste fine, but they are a tad thick. My niece has seen them and agrees. As we discussed this at the Estate, my siblings pipped up, admonishing me for not including milk in my smoothie recipes.

As you might recall, before I started my smoothie-making endeavor, these same siblings assumed I planned to make peanut butter smoothies. No one said a word about milk. No one offered advice. But now they’re smoothie-making experts?

I’m sure these experts would have noticed the unlocked icon, too.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Smooth operator — October 13, 2021

Smooth operator

If I hadn’t fallen to the floor and covered my major arteries, you could be reading a story with a catchy headline like “Raccoon woman injured in freak smoothie accident.”

This near-tragedy almost happened because I needed to add more fruit to my diet. After all, it is so hard to find good, reasonably-priced berries this time of year.

Someone suggested smoothies. I conferred with someone else, who patiently explained that I couldn’t simply dump berries or other fruit into a blender and call it good. I would need to include yogurt, nuts, spinach, etc., to keep from lapsing into a coma.

As I didn’t want to lapse into a coma, I added nuts and yogurt to my shopping list and asked my mom if I could borrow her blender. When I shared my plans to make smoothies with my family, both my sisters assumed I intended to get a head start on my holiday baking.

Firstly, I have never participated in the making of peanut butter smoothies. Secondly, I abhor peanut butter. Thirdly, that would be one heck of a head start.

Anyway, as I transported the blender through the Goff Estate, I noticed that a part was missing from the lid. My brother and a sister advised me to affix duct tape to said lid to prevent ingredients from splattering around the kitchen.

A few nights later, I decided the time had arrived. I dumped walnuts, fat- and flavor-free yogurt, and mixed berries into the blender. I affixed duct tape to the lid, plugged the blender in, turned it on, and pressed the smoothie button.

Although it made a noise, nothing noteworthy happened.

I turned the blender off and on a few times. Still nothing noteworthy happened.

Then, I removed the jar, aka the thing with the handle, from the base. Most of the ingredients had packed into the jar. There were but few nuts around the blade. So, I hardly thought once about turning on the blender with the blade exposed.

I was super pumped to see that the blender worked. Indeed, the blade literally started rising in the air and twirling around the kitchen.

That’s when I fell to the floor and covered my major arteries.

Seriously, if my reflexes had been a tad slower, my life could have been made into a horror movie titled “When small appliances attack!”

The blender didn’t decapitate me, though. And as there were but few nuts around the blade, I had minimal cleanup. Then I put the blender back together. This time, something noteworthy happened when I pressed smoothie.

That first night, the taste could only be described as adequate, but it improved over time. I’m not sure if one should eat leftover smoothie or eat a smoothie with a spoon, but you live your life and I’ll live mine.

Anyway, the fun continued when I tried to remove the base from the blender and, later, clean the contraption. Tune in next week for part two of as the blender blade turns.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Constant craving — October 6, 2021

Constant craving

I eat goat cheese.

Yeah, I know that might seem like contradictory behavior from someone who’s so cheap she’s been known to crawl around on public floors to pick up change. But I splurged a few months ago on some goat cheese at the Trader Joe’s – a store that’s not nearly as expensive as I was led to believe – and I’ve been hooked since.

For those of you who’ve never sampled goat cheese, don’t expect me – a writer – to be able to describe the taste. Just know that it’s good. And not cheap.

When I finished off the TJ’s goat cheese and crackers, I headed to the Food City. After I located a container of goat cheese, I made my way to the cracker aisle in search of a cracker boasting no taste.

You can only imagine my happiness when I located Crav’n Flavor brand water crackers in said cracker aisle. Firstly, if you’re looking for crackers with no taste, look no further than water crackers. Secondly, I had never heard of this Crav’n brand, but the water crackers appeared to be on sale. I dern-near knocked the Food City associate down as I grabbed two boxes.

I could not have been more pleased with the goat cheese and water crackers. I hoped the water crackers weren’t priced outrageously the next time they made their way onto my shopping list. I would have to crawl around on a lot of floors to pay for the regularly priced goat cheese and outrageously priced water crackers.

Nevertheless, I went on with my life. In fact, I decided to make a cheesecake. (I like cheese.) But I needed graham crackers for the crust. As I don’t keep the item on-hand, I asked my family members if I could bum a cracker…or sleeve of crackers. My brother offered a sleeve but added that it wasn’t a brand name.

That seemed like an odd thing to say to me, a known proponent of store brands, but I decided he must have heard about the goat cheese. Anyway, when he brought me the graham crackers, I immediately noticed they were in a Crav’n box!

That’s right!

As it turns out, Crav’n is a Food City store brand!

I’ve since learned that the water crackers weren’t on sale. They’re always inexpensive. I’ve also seen Crav’n cookies and crackers at the Super Dollar. According to Food City’s website, the Crav’n brand includes frozen appetizers and snack rolls. I have not seen those products with my own eyes, though, so we’ll have to take the website’s word.

One can only hope Crav’n offers goat cheese, too.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.