Wednesday, December 23, 2015

That oh so irksome home budget!



Unlike our officials in Congress, where the spending goes on 24/7 and with wild and uncaring abandon, I quickly learned the truth about personal finances; that there's gonna be no bailout for me should I get into trouble....

Home budgets are a little like living healthy life styles. You want them to stay lean and mean and be ever so frugal. (It's all basically an exercise in another form of restraint, I realized as I took in my enlarged torso)! Just like my stomach, my wallet always wants to possess all it sees. (For me, a great afternoon would be sitting at my computer shopping the net. I wanna buy until I drop)!

That was then, and now is now. I'm older, a little more wiser and was fully aware of the need to create a budget and then hold to it come hell and high water... (and usually both will pay me a visit at some point during the coming year). So, I got down to business and threw a few figures down on paper. That's also about the time the serious drinking commenced. Just kidding, my beer budget went out the window along with my frequent forays to local restaurants, early on in the process. A fixed income will do that to ya. There's always way to little coming in and a flood going out.

Interestingly, a budget can quickly be divided into to major categories; fix expenses that must be paid and two other categories that you might have at least a little control over. For me personally, I divided them up as follows:

Fixed and no control – Mortgage, Home owner fees, phone, insurance, Internet and TV!
Some control – Electric and water/trash bills!
Flexible and therefore cuttable – Groceries, entertainment, discretionary spending on junk you don't really need.

Very quickly, I came to realize that the largest elephant in the room was my enormous grocery bill. At $400 plus per month for one person, it seemed kinda high and was the one area in my life I felt I could make some inroads into. So, I merely listed the other items on a piece of paper, knowing the amounts of some and estimating the others... leaving the grocery column blank to see if there was anything left.

For me, I came to the realization that for month to month living, I would have to forego shopping the net or going to the local strip malls for the foreseeable future. If I just had to buy something (like socks), that money would have to come from my meager savings. A somewhat sobering thought. But, if I could manage that, I'd have about $300 to spend on food! So, at least I had a goal! Now it was time to take a hard look at what I had been buying to see where that area could be trimmed down by a hundred dollars or so...
Item A

Fortunately, I like to keep fairly detailed records of exactly what I purchase. I employ a self made 'form' that helps me to stay on track whenever I get to the local store i n my area. (See item A). I took that information for an entire month and entered it into a data file so that I might break stuff up into categories and thereby derive a percentage for each. My categories were common sense; meats, dairy, breads, etc. I thought that by looking at my expenditures in this fashion, I might spot opportunities where I could cut back a little. Below is a simplified pie chart that made it very clear to me on some areas I might want to consider cutting back on. Gee, pop and snacks might be one area. And, all those TV dinners? Maybe I could cut some of these out and buy a few more vegetables... just saying...

The bottom line to all this budget thing is the fact that they can help a person like myself to see not only where the money was going, but also how I might be able to improve my life in the bargain. Now, if I could just get the government to go along with a similar concept....


Monday, December 21, 2015

Critique: Banquet's Chicken Parmesan entree!


I had thought that by now I would have covered just about all the buck a meal offering from the Banquet folks. Well, I was wrong! This meal offers a chicken breast languidly swimming in a sea of Rigatoni pasta!

When I purchased this dollar meal, I did so because I'm fond of chicken and pasta. The only visual that gave me some pause, however, was the message on the front of that package that declared that the meal was 'now made with 100% natural chicken breast with rib meat!' There was just so much that was wrong there. I mean, it begged a number of questions! Was the meat somehow NOT NATURAL before? And, how much was not a hundred percent? Then again, the concept of 'rib meat' also gave me some pause. I had the mental image of a line of Chinese workers meticulously scrapping the ribs of a chicken carcass with tiny little knives... The thought made my sphincter clinch up! So many mysteries and so little time...

That said, the directions were typical Banquet. If you are a slug and don't like to move much, these meals are for you. Directions: Take out of box, stab the plastic foil with a knife... nuke for a few, stir the contents and then nuke for another two minutes. Gosh! Even I could figure that out!

At this juncture, I normally skew off tangent and bemoan all a meals short comings. I've had few Banquet offerings that I was very impressed with. well...this was one of those very few that actually had a lot of stuff going for it! The calories were a modest 320, the sodium only 630 milligrams (an unheard of amount in other meals) and even the cholesterol and saturated fats were low! and the biggest kicker? It actually tasted pretty darn good! Mein gott! I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! 

The bottom line is to go out and grab this meal up before the people at Banquet realize what they've done!


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Winter, winter dark and blue!

This post was written back in November and had lost a lot of its intended meaning as the temps were hitting the sixty degree mark with regularity....

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A little taste of spring!

Sure, it's late December and months and months of winters await. Well, here was a little bit of video of a snow that occurred some years ago in April!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Just another McDonald's Egg McMuffin!


On one not very memorable morning, I got up early to go get my oil changed at a service location which I found was closing. I had arrived there about twenty minutes before they were due to open and decided to use that time by getting something quick to eat at McDonald's!

At 7:45 AM on a Tuesday in late December, the Golden Arches was pretty busy with a lot of commuter traffic. The drive through line was crowded, although the inside of the store was sparse; there being just a couple of tables occupied by old people like myself. I had plenty of time and so, wisely elected to park and head inside where I could see there was not a soul at the order counter.

'Now this is what it's supposed to be like', I thought to myself as I stepped right up and ordered an Egg McMuffin and a small coffee from a young lady who was no more awake than I was. Fifteen seconds later, I had my food and angled (toddled?) on over to a small table in an otherwise deserted venue. (And, yes, there was a smile on my face)!

After I had myself seated, I opened up the paper wrapped around my McMuffin and dug in. The taste was excellent, if a little on the brief side. After all, you don't get much food for four dollars and change anymore. But, I was happy as the calories came in at only about 300, thereby granting me the opportunity for a more robust lunch later on in the day. I sat and ate like a contented cow might chew his cud. And, before I knew it, I was down to the last bite or two! 'Damn', I thought. Good food is a lot like great sex. We can never seem to get enough of something that, once found, don't last all that long!

A few minutes later, I checked my cell phone and saw that it was almost 8AM, the time when the Mobile One place was due to open. Hurriedly, dumped the now empty tray, grabbed my coffee and departed. After navigating through the line of cars still waiting for the drive through, I jumped into my Jeep and headed back to the oil change dealership.

Forsyth Mobile One closing, but will reopen soon!


The Mobile 1 Complete Auto Repair service located off Coy Blvd in Forsyth Missouri will be closing down on December 30th, according to Dennis Renteria.

I had occasion to get my oil changed at the Mobile One facility this date, only to learn from the owner that he intends to close down that location, but will reopen in a nearby facility sometime in January 2016! According to a statement by Mr. Renteria, many good changes will be in the works as he works to get the new location ready for business.

As soon as I have additional details, I plan to post them here and at www.taneyservices.com!

Update: Jan 24, 2016 - I have not heard that this business has reopened which leave the folks in Forsyth only one other option; Carl's Auto Repair at 150 State Highway H, Forsyth, MO 65653 and I'm not even sure about those folks.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Don's Barber Shop in Forsyth MO!


If you've ever made your way over to the Forsyth Missouri Post Office, you've probably passed by Don's Barber Shop! A quaint establishment where Don Carr has been cutting men's hair for many years.

I stopped there to get my hair trimmed recently and found Bob to be a nice gentleman and profession barber. I was walk in traffic and he took care of me right away, although he does also take appointments. He offers regular men's haircuts and will do facial shaves by appointment!

The shop is located at 173 Shadowrock Drive in Forsyth and Don can be reached at 417-294-1984. His hours, at the time of this post, were T-F 8-5PM with Saturday hours being 8 to 12PM.

A medical situational heads up!


A particularly dangerous super bug, dubbed the "phantom menace" by scientists, is on the rise in the United States, according to a report Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This super bug's strains belong to the family of bacteria known as CRE (Carbapenium Resistant Enteriobacterace), which are difficult to treat because they are often resistant to most antibiotics and can spread this resistance to other bacteria via little packets of genes known as plasmids. They are often deadly, too, in some instances killing up to 50 percent of patients who become infected, according to the CDC. Health officials have called CRE among the country's most urgent public health threats.

In a recent ProMed report out of India, most infections occurred when a patient got transferred to a rehab after suffering a medical problem. They then contract CRE from a careless healthcare worker who fails to wash their hands properly and thus transmit the bacteria. The patient then gets worst and is sent back to the hospital when another 'hand off' occurs and so the process continues. As, you might gather form this, most of those affected are elderly. But, this may not be the case for long. [A personal opinion - A copy of the ProMed report is available here]

Monday, December 7, 2015

No wonder I have few friends left!

'Seriously man', a friend confided to me, while squinting at my latest post on his iPad. 'Who wants to look at what the hell you ate for breakfast'?

I didn't have a really good answer to that question, and so I sat quietly at the bar next to a man with a scowl on his wrinkled face. I could tell his he wasn't finished lambasting me.

'I mean, we all get it that you like to eat', he intoned piously while glancing at my ample waistline. 'But, for Christ sake, why can't you post something a little more interesting? I mean who the hell cares about a plate of eggs, corn, potatoes and some ripped up bread'?

I turned my head slowly to face him more squarely. 'Well, you forgot to mention the gravy. That was pretty good, yes'?

Taking a last gulp of beer the 'friend' got up in a huff and left the bar. I sat there and looked quietly at my beer....

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Left over steak, an egg and whatever~!


I had cooked up a sirloin steak the day before but had not eaten all of it, sooo the next day I exhumed what had become a piece of cold and gray looking meat from the fridge. I held it up to my bloodshot eyes for a closer inspection and then sighed. It was a Sunday morning, I was hungover and not even Portnoy would have found this cold slab of beef very interesting...

I had to face facts! Resurrecting a day old sirloin would more than likely tax even the most powerful priest. I looked again at that listless piece of beef. There was absolutely none of the 'moist tenderness' that I had enjoyed just 24 hours before.
The day before!

Well, never you mind, I thought sourly. I tossed the meat onto a plate and placed it into my microwave. (Even if I had little hope of a holy beef redemption, I felt I could at least heat that sucker up a little).

That done, I then focused on the three other breakfast courses; an egg, 1/2 baked potato (baked the day before) and a piece of bread, that was soon to be toast! Since I was using a convection cooking top, I knew from past experience that the egg and toast would cook about the same time (4 min). I set the Duxtop Induction unit to level two, sprayed a bit of Pam into a stainless steel frying pan and then added the egg (sunny side up) with a dash of water. This was covered with a lid and I then moved over to the toaster and nonchalantly sent my Lilly white slice of bread and brown slab of meat into my convection oven where it could both toast my brad and reheat my steak.The potato was nuked in the microwave for a couple of minutes.

 A couple minutes later, I nuked the steak remnant on high for about 80 seconds. (Just enough to warm it without drying it even more than it already was). I then assembled the meal you see above.

Epilogue: Why did I even post this nonsense? Well, my doctor told me that writing about stuff that no one would be interested in would help me come to better terms with my useless existence. And, you know what? It helped!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mini pan convection oven Chicken legs!



I recently purchased a set of oven pans, mini oven pans as it turned out and planned to use them to roast a couple of chicken legs!

OK, so if you are a single person like myself and want to roast just a couple of chicken legs in your oven, then quite possibly the OvenStuff Non-Stick 6-Piece Toaster Oven Baking Pan Set  might be the right choice for you. (Personally, I could think of better ways to waste $17, but that's just me). I was game, however, to try and use these munchkin sized pans to roast up some chicken legs in my newly acquired convection oven! (In point of fact, I had purchased them and was now stuck with them)!

In addition, I had also purchased a Taylor Precision Products Digital Cooking Thermometer/Timer from Amazon.com. When it arrived, it seemed to work, (although one of the magnets in the back fell out and had to be re-glued into place). Ahem. But, I figured it would help notify me when the chicken legs reached a safe minimum eating temperature of 165ºF. Thusly, I assembled everything as shown and cranked up the Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven with Element IQ convection oven to 450 degrees set for 35 minutes!

The three 'clueless' chicken legs, by way of preparation; were washed, patted dry and then coated with just a dab of olive oil. They were then lightly sprinkled each with a combination of hot spices! [Hey! I like my chicken like I like my women... but I won't go there in this post]. Thusly anointed, they were hooked to the temperature probe, shoved into the 425 degree preheated oven, and roasted for the recommended 35 minutes! (Who exactly recommended that period of time has been since lost to me)!

Chicken now a roasting, I then sat back, eyed the Taylor display closely and cracked open a beer while plopped down on a nearby stool. Inside the oven, I could hear the fan softly whirring. Time passed, I opened another beer... the wonderful smell of cooking chicken now filled my kitchen. Then, that Taylor thing began to ding after only 28 minutes! I was suspicious and continued cooking for about 32 minutes. and, guess what? The chicken was not done! So much for digital thermometer technology. Like the pan purchase, I felt I'd also been a little bit screwed with the Taylor thermometer!

This whole mess was rectified by placing the legs into a Microwave set on high for another few minutes. After they were allowed to cool, they tasted fabulous!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A convection oven baked potato!



Baking a potato in my new oven seemed like a real snap. My only concern was the amount of power required to do it! I wondered, also, if a potato made in this manner would taste better or the same had I used a much cheaper (power wise) microwave for a mere 5 minutes??

A medium Russet potato with the short instructions:
Wash it!
Pierce it numerous times with knife!
Add oil and salt!

Directions: Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes for medium to large potatoes. Turn potatoes over halfway through the baking time to ensure even crispness and avoid darkening on one side. Remove from oven when baking time ends and cut or squish top of potato open. Garnish with desired condiments, sauces, butter, sour cream or spices.

I took a 340 gram Russet, washed, pierced it, oiled it and then salted it as directed and placed it into the oven set at 365ºF for 45 minutes. I used the lower temperature setting as a precaution against overcooking. I knew I could always nuke it for a few minutes if needed.

The potato came out perfect, and the power used was only .35 kWh! Not all that bad, assuming I don't use this device every day!

Monday, November 30, 2015

A perfect salad mix?

What is it with me and salads? I've posted quite a few lettuce related articles over the past years and sometimes wonder what the attraction is? The thing is, I feel that a good salad mix with an oil and vinegar dressing is good for the cellular engine that we call us! Of all the grocery items I purchase during an average week, produce veggies stand with a unique crowd! Raw meats, fish and produce are non processed foods, and as such have a low cellular carcinogenic impact over time. And, foods like this make them cells very happy!

December marks the start of the cold season!


While the title was meant as a double entrendre, December is a time of year when colds and the flu often make a big jump in the number of individuals affected! The reasons for this are numerous, but most hinge on the fact that the Holidays bring a lot more people together into closer proximity than at any other times of the year!

As the fever of the season sets upon us all, there is a felt and urgent need to get out and shop for Christmas gifts, to hit those office parties and to get together with loved ones. With more people moving about and bumping into each other, there are many more chances for those bad germs to spread! Add in the stress that the Holidays naturally bring, add in a touch of really cold weather and voila! You have the perfect recipe for getting those sniffles, aches and red noses that only colds can bring!

How can you avoid it all? Well, I suppose you could lock yourself away until March, but in general that's not a viable option. For most of us, we'll have to just shoulder through the gauntlet with a hope, aspirin and a prayer! But wait! There are some common sense things you can do to lessen your chances of falling ill, and here they are;

  1. Wash those hands! If everyone would only do that numerous times a day, there would be a lot less illness going around!
  2. Went you're out and about, stay alert! If you're in a crowed venue and you see someone that looks ill, then vacate the premises pronto, even if it's your dear old uncle Ned!
  3. Avoid crowded shopping malls by going on-line or by at least choosing times when those germ pits are less crowded.
  4. Say no to office parties! I know that's hard to do, but do you really wants to mix with highly stressed out co-workers who've just returned from a local malls, loaded with rhino virus?
  5. Buy a can of Lysol and actually use it on door knobs, counter surfaces and such. Flu viruses can last for a long long time on certain 'fomites' – i.e. any object that can support a virus.
  6. Plan ahead and do your grocery shopping, bank visits and such during off times. Early morning is really good as people who are already sick really hate to get out of bed early in the day.
  7. Get a flu shot! Duh! (No, you can't get sick from the shot and yes, people actually do die from not taking this simple precaution).
  8. Exercise, limit you intake of alcohol and eat well – Gee, I'm beginning to sound like someones mother!
  9. Stay well hydrated – Drink 8 cups of water a day, at the very least!
  10. Finally, if you do still manage to get yourself sick, do everyone else a favor and stay home!

     Update: Week 47 (basically through the end of November 2015)
    Let's try and keep that red line on the floor through vigilance, frequent hand washing and making sure everyone you know gets their shot!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Investigating convection oven cooking!


It was getting about time for me to venture into the world of convection ovens! Newly relocated into my newest digs, a condo with a questionable oven, I decided to acquire a Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven with Element IQ! A table top unit that had garnered more than a few good reviews on Amazon.com.

In the coming weeks and months, I hope to put this unit to the test with a focus on seeing just how energy efficient it is! Stay tuned! One of my first tests will be a foil wrapped Hobo Meal!


Making stir fry meat more tender!


Stir fried meat can often be under cooked!
I like to make a stir fry combo fairly often for a hearty breakfast. Generally, my ingredients include a little oil, cubed stew beef, bell pepper, onion and oregano along with a splash of Worcestershire sauce. This combo generally takes only a few minutes in a skillet over medium high heat to prepare. My problem was that the cheap cuts of meat were generally still tough to chew after so short a cooking time and I wondered if the might be some sort of work around....

The answer, I thought might be to precook the meat and then store it in the fridge until it was ready to use. To that end, I took about 70 to 80 grams of cubed stew meat and placed it into a small ceramic pot over which I covered everything with water. This was brought a brief boil and then simmered for about thirty minutes. Once I thought the meat was tender, I drained off the water and placed the cooked meat in a small baggie in the fridge.
[Normally, the power used to accomplish this would add up over time, but since I made it using a Duxtop induction counter top, my cost was only a couple of cents]!

The next morning, I assembled my ingredients, prepared the stir fry as normal and thoroughly enjoyed the very fork tender meat!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A mini Thanksgiving meal!

  


A Thanksgiving meal that didn't bust the diet and yet was very satisfying? That was my objective for this effort. I decided on five ingredients for this meal; turkey, mashed potatoes, a slice of white bread, brown gravy, rice and cranberry sauce!

 Turkey, sliced

For the meat portion, I elected to purchase a package of pre-cooked Kentucky Legend sliced turkey! While it was a little on the pricey side, I knew I would use every bit of it up in sandwiches, later on.

Homemade mashed potatoes

My objective for making mashed potatoes was to see if a viable portion could be made from just one medium sized Russet. That in mind, I peeled the potato, cut it into equal chunks and simmered it in salted water for about 20 minutes. 

Lacking a legitimate potato masher, I used a potato ricer, reasoning it would make a decent substitute. And, amazingly, it did a stellar job! I then took a fork and mixed in about a tablespoon of melted butter and two tablespoons of shredded cheese. This was nuked in the microwave to melt it and voila! I was ready to eat it. The calories here for half a cup was about 95 with the butter and cheese! Next, I needed to make some gravy along with a side dish of 'Rice A Roni'!

White bread

When I was just knee high to a grasshopper, I can remember my grandfather tearing up a piece of bread and the ladling brown gravy over the top. If you've never tried this before, please do at least once in your lifetime.

Brown gravy

Making gravy from a mix is so simple even a person like myself can do it in a snap! Four tablespoons poured over the potatoes, bread and turkey equaled about 90 calories.

Rice A Roni

I had a small package of Rice A Roni that had been sitting in my cupboard for some time and decided that it might make a nice addition. This particular package advertised itself as being chicken flavored. I thought that would go nicely with the overall theme of the meal. 

For this prep, you need a large skillet mainly because your going to saute the vermicelli to a golden brown before adding in 2 1/2 cups of water and their 'special' seasoning mix. You briefly bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook it for about 15 to 20 minutes. A half cup will yield about 95 calories.

Cranberry sauce

What kind of Thanksgiving meal would it be if it lacked some cranberry sauce as a tart and tangy counterpoint to the entire offering? I prefer the canned jellied variety and if you find you have a hard time getting it out of the can, try this simple procedure. Remove the lid and then make a small puncture hole in the other end. Enlarge the hole with scissors and while holding the can over the plate, blow with your mouth into the hole while gently squeezing the can. Works like a charm. Note that each 1/2 inch slice will hit you with about 86 calories.

That was it! The whole deal came in at just over 530 calories, and so, was quite diet friendly as well as being very tasty! Note that I did not have any stuffing, as that ingredient literally does bulk up the caloric content very fast!

A Charlie's Thanksgiving in Forsyth MO!


It was November the 26th and a Thanksgiving fever had gripped the land! Everywhere I looked as I entered Charlie's Steak, Ribs and Ale located in Forsyth MO, I observed hungry patrons completely violating sensible dietary standards. And, I was about to join them!

On this day, Charlie's or C's as I like to refer to this venue, was offing a Turkey Meal for just $9.99! As you can see in the picture, it was a really full plate that contained an estimated gazillion calories. Fortunately, I had worn my sans a belt stretch waistline slacks just for that occasion.

Unfortunately,  when I arrived, I had lost my appetite - however I did sit with friends and watched them chow down on what looked to be a great feast!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Reagan had it right! Trust, but verify!

I trusted a priest
I fell to his feet
And he raised me up there
Then cut me off at the knees

I trusted the law
They didn’t help me at all
I wound up black, blue, screwed
In the back of his car..


Billy Idol's opening lyrics in his song 'Save Me Now', rings very true as America slowly turns a corner and becomes ever more secular and anarchistic in both mood and deed! True to his words, Obama stated that by the end of his term, youse guys won't even recognize the place!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A morning salad!


Over the years, my taste for salads has evolved quite a bit. I used to eat nothing but boring iceberg lettuce for a base, along with a smattering of vegetables and that like eating nothing nutritionally.

Now a days, I like to mix Romaine, spinach and Bib lettuce together sprinkled with some bell pepper, shredded cheese and sliced celery. On some days, (like this one), I'll splurge and add a small amount of sliced turkey. My dressing is an interesting mix of virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard! This is a low calorie, low salt and very low cholesterol way to start any day!

Old fashioned oats! The right mix.



I like to make oats for breakfast in cold weather for numerous reasons, not the least of which is the taste! But, I found that getting the mix of water to oats a bit of a challenge. Some days I'd do pretty well, while on other days, the oats were either too dry or too watery.

Rising to the challenge, I decided to try and discover just the right proportions for making a single serving of oats. I knew it might be a hit or miss deal, for a while, and so I kept a log.

First off, I started with the package directions which instruct you to bring a cup of water to a boil. Next, you add in a half cup measure of oats. Stir the oats and simmer them for five minutes, rest the oats for a couple of minutes and then enjoy. A cup of water? At least I had a starting point.

I wanted to get this deal as precisely right as possible and so I brought into play an Escali food scale set to record in gram weights. First, I placed an empty measuring cup on the scale and then hit the tare button to zero it out. Next, I filled the measuring cup to exactly the one cup mark and recorded that weight as 230 grams. That gave me a good starting point for half the ingredients. Now, all I had to do was to find just the right 'half a cup' amount of oats to suit my particular taste.

Date      Water      Oats      Cooking implement      Cook time      Results
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
11/24      230g      54g          Induction top                  5 min          Good!

As you can see, I quickly zeroed in on what I felt to be a winner on the first try! I then took a piece of paper, wrote down the amounts, and stuck that to the side of the oats carton. Note that should you desire, say two servings, you merely have to double the gram weights of each ingredient! Bon appétit!

Items used for this meal:

Best Choice old fashioned oats
Le Creuset #18 2 quart enameled cast iron pot with lid.
Duxtop induction cooking surface
Metal whisk

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A quiet Thanksgiving repast!


Lord, on this day of special thanks,
I pray you hear a simple man.
Lord, the world outside my door trembles.
On the brink of, I know not what.
Lord, please bring forth a true leader
who might heal the wounds of a troubled earth!

I'm fairly certain that on November the 26th, a large majority of Americans will be sitting down with loved ones to a royal feast as the nation celebrates the bounty that is the United States of America.

Some citizens, maybe more than you'd think, will be working that day and night. No matter what the day or time of year, essential men and women working in an assortment of jobs like police officers, medial technicians and other commercial concerns (to name a few) will be reporting to work while others enjoy an extra day off..

In the rest of the world, some three billion human souls, I'm told, exist on less than $2 a day. You can bet that their grand 'turkey feast' will be much, much more muted... (For some finding any morsel to eat would be a celebration unto itself).

For my personal 'feast' on this 26th day of November, I plan to enjoy a very simple fare consisting of some sliced turkey, mashed potatoes, brown gravy and maybe a slice of white bread. (Could I afford more)? Sure, but I'd rather spend this Holiday thinking about our great Republic and thanking God Almighty for the chance to be born and raised in America!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Superior dijon? I don't think so!


The Dijon mustard container manufactured by Best Choice out of Canada doesn't work well for me. I think it could be re-engineered so that the mustard doesn't plop out in large chunks. Perhaps a complete redesign is in order.

For my money, I think I'll look at other brands, perhaps even the venerable Grey Poupon glass jar.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thanksgiving in Funkitville MO!



Not far from the town of Forsyth Missouri is a twin city known by the name of Funkitville. And while Forsyth sports some great eateries, her twin... well not so much! But being the adventurous sort, I decided to drive over there to see what they were offering for a Thanksgiving repast!

The Frote Mugster
WTF is that thing?

My first stop brought me to the venerable (or possibly venereal, as in the disease) Frote Mugster, a long running and maybe now a bit run down bar and restaurant where only those with excellent immune systems even dare to venture. I sat myself down at the bar and ordered up their 'Birdy Special', as the locals called it. The menu had informed me that I would be getting some meat and a baked potato all swimming in a nice pesto sauce. How International! I snapped a picture, observed something moving in the sauce and promptly left, still hungry.

Charles Steak It to Ya

Thinking I might have better luck elsewhere, I walked down the road to what I been told would be a more upscale restaurant called Charles Steak It to Ya. Upon entering, I noticed right off that most of the tables appeared to be non-grimy – a big plus. I got myself a booth in the back and ordered the 'Meaty Thanksgiving Special'. The menu promised I would get turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, French green beans and pearl onions in a white sauce. I want to tell you, just the thought got my gastric juices a running strong!

The reality, however, was something of a visual jolt! For one thing the turkey meat felt a bit hard to my fork. (I think 'rigor mortise' had set in before it was cooked). The potatoes were also very stiff and those green beans emitted a rather unpleasant odor. I nibbled at my plate for just a second before feigning intense stomach cramps. Then, I was off to the next venue with my stomach now positively growling.

The Long'n'hornie

Of the three eateries, the Long'n'hornie proved to be the real pick of the litter. Inside the restaurant, there were actual people sitting down and eating with no one running for the bathroom. Wow, I thought. I'd found a small piece of culinary heaven right there in Funkitville Missouri!

The menu description for the Thanksgiving meal informed me that I'd be getting a real 'leg up' food wise. I also noticed that all the 'normal' ingredients appeared to be in place; there was meat, corn, mashed regular and sweet potatoes, and even green beans that looked like green beans! I ordered this and stuffed my napkin up under my chin in drooling anticipation...

A few minutes later I was served and then ate heartily. (I swear, the sight of me gnawing on that big old turkey leg must have garnered a few stares, but I figured what the hell). After all, it was Thanksgiving! Well, I finished up with a clean plate and then wandered over to the checkout counter.

While I was waiting to pay, I asked one of the servers as to what exactly that brown lump on my plate was. It had a very nutty flavor that I hadn't experienced before. The server called over to the kitchen,' Hey George! Your dog is crapping in the food again!' I shrugged, paid my bill and left.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Critique: Banquet's Salisbury Steak Meal!

Banquet occasionally puts together a decent frozen meal. The key word here is occasionally. Other offerings are a culinary kiss of death, if you are older and are watching your salt intake! That said, let us venture forward!

Banquet's Salisbury Steak Meal, Now with Mac & Cheese caught my eye while perusing the offering in the frozen food isle at a local grocery. Gosh, it was only a buck and nine cents, a gold mine these days!Quickly, I grabbed one and went bravely onto the next isle..

Once I got home, the smallish meal went into the freezer. There it sat in lonely solitary as I ate up much more healthy choices. Then, one evening, I came up short. There wasn't much in the fridge and so I investigated the freezer compartment. Ah! There in a corner was my little Banquet meal a deal. Out it came and squinting at the small print I readied it for the microwave...

Preparing most Banquet offering are pretty simple; slit the film, nuke for 2 minutes, reseal and nuke for 2 more minutes. Here is what it saw after placing the plastic tray on my plate;

Welcome to the 21st Century, brave souls! Way back in the 70's, I think I saw this very same image on a NASA Apollo mission. Now, here in 2015, I was faced with the same sort of crap!

OK, at only 300 calories, this did fit into my diet plan. But, then I noticed that the sodium level was an astounding 1,110 mg! Ah, no wonder it tasted pretty good! It was the salt!

Well, lesson learned! Some of Banquets meal are not bad - others are best consumed by twenty somethings. I scored this one at an 8 for taste, but don't plan on buying it ever again!


Monday, November 16, 2015

Area eateries offer a Thanksgiving meal!

As of this post, Thanksgiving was just ten days away! So, on Thursday, November 26 many folks will be sitting down to reflect. Traditionally, that means a table full of all sorts of wondrous food. Thanksgiving is a time to feast and to reflect on the good fortune we all enjoy in the land of the free. However, for many reasons, not all of us have the opportunity or the time to go to all the fuss and bother of creating a multi course meal for ourselves or our loved ones! Thankfully, (for those of us who live in the small town of Forsyth Missouri), there are some really great alternatives!

A few Forsyth area restaurants will be open to help make your Thanksgiving the best it can be!  In this post, I'd like to mention a few that I'm aware of:

Charlie's Steak, Ribs and Ale - A very popular and upscale eatery that features a full service bar and plenty of seating space. Charlie's is offering a special Thanksgiving plate that will include; turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, stuffing and a roll! I'm assuming that there will also be plenty of gravy and butter to go with this wonderful feast! The cost is only $9.99  a plate and this  wonderful meal is being offered from 11AM to close (8PM). For those who want to enjoy a good breakfast, Charlie's will be open at 7AM! Charlie's is located at 139 Hwy Y in Forsyth and they can be reached at (417) 546-2011 for inquiries.
Charlie's



 







Frosted Mug
The Frosted Mug - A venerable location located on Hwy 160 will also offer a Thanksgiving meal experience that has become a Forsyth tradition over decades! The Mug is a down home dining eatery that features a full service bar and great food. I understand they have a great Thanksgiving meal, but currently have no idea (417) 546-4149.
The Longhorn Family Dining
how much it will cost. They can be reached at

The Longhorn - I eaten at the Longhorn over many years and have never been disappointed with the food or the clientele. This venue is a Forsyth favorite with fast service and great tasting food hallmarks! The eatery is located at 16039 US Hwy160 and can be reached at (417) 546-9751. I've been told they have a great meal for $9.99! Call them for the hours this meal will be available.

These kind folks who are giving up their Holiday in order to serve you, are very special people. Please make sure and tip them to the best of your ability!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Critique: Rigatoni & Italian Sausage with Meatballs!


In past posts, I've often hammered the Banquet brand, (and for good reason). This critique will not be along the sames lines. Yeah..

For lack of a better descriptor, I'll call these products from Banquet, Mini Meals. This particular meal deal was billed as a 'Rigatoni & Italian Sausage with Meatballs'! Oh yummy! As with most of Banquets $1 meals, I've generally found them best to consumed when you are also somewhat consumed with alcohol!

The directions were pretty easy, as is the case for most of the Banquet dollar offerings. Slit the film, nuke for 2 minutes, open the film and stir and the seal and nuke for 2 more minutes. I found I could even do that!

OK, for a pasta and meat meal deal, I do confess to have enjoyed the taste! And, lo and behold! The sodium was only 650 mg which nicely complimented the also low calorie count of 300! Likewise saturated fats were about 20% and so very livable.

Be still, my heart! But, I think I may just order this one again! Gave it a solid 8!