*Tall Food


What is it about the restaurants that serve you tall food? I really thought that this “high rise” food presentation was over by now. If restaurants are going to stack up their food this way, then they ought to have their menu read like this:

The Amazing Burger: “four delicious 8-ounce burgers interspersed with jalapenos, bacon, cheddar cheese, provolone cheese, fried onion rings, lettuce, tomato slices, more bacon, peppers, pickles, roast beef, more cheese, BBQ sauce, more roast beef, and a fried chicken breast, all on a warm bun. Height: 15 inches.”

That way you’d know that you are going to have to eat this sucker with a knife and fork.

The Crankee Yankee and I went out to eat last night at a new place in our town, and while the food was excellent, the height of the entrees was, well—tall. As I like to get a taste of everything in one bite, it’s a real challenge when you are served a scaled down Lady Liberty of a sandwich.

I ordered a pulled pork sandwich that came with cheddar cheese, coleslaw, onion strings and pickles on a seriously large pretzel bun. It was about 5″ tall. There was only one way to eat it—I had to deconstruct it. It all was delicious, but I had to spear each of the different ingredients and eat them separately. FYI, the Crankee Yankee fared better with a blue cheese burger with mashed garlic potatoes on the side. Both were really good, but just—tall.

I realize that those who run this nice new restaurant want to make a name for themselves and serve wonderful food so that people will come back again and again. However, they really should warn folks about the height of their food.

Seriously, do they really think that most people can unhinge their jaws like a king cobra in order to bite into an edible Empire State building of food? We were sitting in a great spot where we could watch the chefs make the food. When everything was plated, they put it up on the counter under the lights. This way we got to see a lot of entrees; most of them tall and large.

For example, their nacho appetizer was roughly the size of a small dingy belonging to the Carnival Cruise line. The fish and chips entree featured a fried fish fillet roughly the size of one of the Celtics players’ sneakers. Some of the salads were piled up on a small, teetering plate that came close to touching the lights.

So, yes, the food was great (if tall), and we will definitely go there again. However, we will know next time to wear our hard hats while eating in the “deconstruction” area.




The Breakfast Mug

The Crankee Yankee and I have discovered and fallen in love with the Breakfast Mug. What is it? Only the best and easiest to prepare breakfast EVER. Ever since we discovered “mug cakes” (literally, a cake in a mug; just check the net—there are loads of recipes out there, and they are easy-peasy to make), we have kept watch for more food to “mug.”

As the Crankee Yankee gets up far earlier than I do, his standard breakfast “go to” is a tablespoon of peanut butter and a cup of coffee. Not good, especially when he is outside in the cold working in the back yard.

We both love *oatmeal, which is a fabulous way to start your day; it is filling and delicious, and you can add all sorts of healthy items to it. I had heard of “refrigerator oatmeal” and read some of the recipes.

Here’s the one I use, and you can use your own imagination to make different versions of it:


  • a shallow mug or small plastic container with a lid
  • 1/4 cup of oatmeal (your choice)
  • 1/4 cup of water or milk (we like almond or almond coconut)
  • add a squirt of agave or maple syrup or brown sugar or honey for sweetness
  • add your favorite fruits, nuts, jam, etc.; you don’t need a lot
  • Put the lid on it, and stash it in the refrigerator overnight (or for a few hours)
  • In the morning, remove the lid, put the container into the microwave and bake for about two minutes. Remove and add more milk if you like and enjoy!


Stir the ingredients, and now comes the fun part; adding fruit, nuts, peanut butter, etc. Here are a couple of combinations we’ve tried and loved:

The Peanut Butter Bomb

One tablespoon of peanut butter

Half a banana, sliced

Sprinkle of cinnamon

The Decadent Peanut Butter Bomb

One tablespoon of peanut butter

Two small squares of dark chocolate

A small handful of walnuts

The Dried Fruit Delight

2-3 dried apricots, chopped

2-3 dates, chopped

a sprinkle of flax seed

The Fresh Fruit Delight

5-6 fresh raspberries

5-6 fresh blackberries or blueberries

Sprinkle of chopped coconut

You can make up any combination you like. We have been enjoying these every morning and not only are they delicious, but they’re wonderful for you. Best of all, you can prepare them the night before. In the morning, just heat and eat and enjoy your coffee.

This is a great breakfast and easy as can be: in fact, you can be barely awake and still have a great breakfast. Just keep one eye open so you don’t spill your coffee.

*From “Everyday Foods” here are the reasons why oatmeal is so good for you:

  1. Oats contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fibers form a viscous gel that helps to lower cholesterol and stabilize blood glucose levels. The insoluble fiber in oats helps provide a “moving” experience by curtailing constipation and improving intestinal health. What a delicious way to make your heart and colon smile.
  2. Oats make an easy, balanced breakfast. One cup of cooked oatmeal contains about 150 calories, four grams of fiber (about half soluble and half insoluble), and six grams of protein. To boost protein further, my favorite way to eat oatmeal is with a swirl of almond butter nestled within. This powerful combo will keep you away from that mid-morning visit to the vending machine.
  3. Oats provide important mineralsNutrient-rich oatmeal contains thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, selenium, and iron.
  4. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but check with manufacturers to ensure that their products are not made using the same equipment as other potentially contaminating grains. (Always purchase gluten-free products from reputable companies and read food labels carefully.)
  5. Oats could help you control your weight by keeping you feeling fuller longer. Sadly, carbs are often shunned and feared by those looking to drop a few pounds, yet choosing whole grains could squash hunger and simultaneously provide that pleasant “ahhhh” feeling carb-lovers crave. But, as with any other food, be mindful of portion sizes.


I love cooking shows, especially the contest shows like “Chopped.” I thought I knew a lot about food, but these shows have opened my eyes to many different cuisines as well as foods I had never heard of.

They usually mention “pairings,” as in “things that go well with other things,” like coffee and doughnuts. Which got me thinking about “pairings” I’ve enjoyed over the years, such as some of my own favorites:

  • Macaroni and cheese with a side of sliced raw red peppers
  • Egg salad with crackers
  • Tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich
  • Apple pie with sharp cheese
  • Wheat toast with smushed fresh avocado, topped with salt and pepper
  • Wheat toast with cream cheese and apple jelly
  • *String cheese with red grapes
  • Cut-up Pink Lady apples spread with Teddie peanut butter
  • Spinach salad with toasted garlic naans

…and so on.

For me the whole idea of “pairings” is to enjoy sweet with salty, hot with cold, spicy with mild, etc.

Then there are the frankly bizarre ingredients used in some of the Chopped episodes. For those who don’t follow the show, the basic premise to the competition is this: you get a basket of four ingredients to be used for an appetizer, another basket for an entree, and one more basket for a dessert. Generally, there are 30 minutes allotted to make each dish.

Some of the strangest things/pairings I’ve seen on the show to date are:

  • chocolate-covered crickets
  • goat brains
  • durian (surely the world’s stinkiest fruit)
  • emu eggs
  • squid ink
  • pickled pig lips
  • sheep tongue
  • eel
  • haggis (look up the ingredients—just don’t eat anything first!)

So there you are; pairings from the sublime (for me, anyway) to the ridiculous. By all means, watch some of the shows; they are nothing if not entertaining! And do try out some of my pairings, too; they are pretty good. Feel free to tell me some of yours, too!

*When I say “string cheese,” I don’t mean those gloopy processed faux mozzerella sticks, I mean real Armenian string cheese, made from sheep’s milk. It comes in a salty thick braid, bristling with tiny black mahleb and nigella seeds.

Half the fun of eating it is pulling it apart into chewy strings, and enjoying the light crunch of the seeds.


Doo-Daubs and Tiddly Bits

Ever notice how, all of a sudden, the refrigerator seems to be filled with a strange buffet of leftovers?  That’s when it’s time to either clean out or eat up all the doo-daubs and tiddly bits. It can be anything from a tiny container of leftover brussels sprouts and bacon, some mixed fruit, half a hotdog, a forgotten half can of Rotel, three olives on a small plate along with a piece of unidentified something, or, far back in a corner; a green and black ‘science project’ in Tupperware.

The Crankee Yankee and I try to eat up the tiddly bits before they become science projects, but sometimes we miss the mark. I said on our wedding day 14 years ago, “never ask me to smell this or taste that.” And yet, we do it all the time….where did the romance go?

My mother used the ‘minimalist’ approach to leftovers; they went from a pan from which people helped themselves, then the rest was relegated to a plastic container, then down to a few mouthfuls in a recycled jam jar. You knew, just looking in the ‘fridge, what was on the “eat or throw away” chopping block.

For me, cleaning out and maintaining the refrigerator is a close encounter of the “ewww” kind. I start off with the best intentions; I remove every single thing in the refrigerator, clean the insides thoroughly, replace the old stained paper towels lining the meat/cheese and vegetable drawers, and so on. I clean off bottles of sauces, dressings, etc., which includes unclogging the Siracha sauce, ketchup and mustard so that you don’t get a hardened plug followed by a flood when you use it.

I keep all the drinks, condiments, leftovers and so on in their space, and if I do put a half can or jar of something in there, I affix a label with the date on it. Oh, yes, it all starts well, but as we know, sooner or later, chaos comes again. The trick is to be vigilant and proactive. Whenever possible, I try to incorporate leftovers and tiddly bits into a meal. That little container of broccoli from dinner a few nights ago? Great added to an omelette with cheese. In fact, stuff all the vegetables you can into eggs. That lonely soft taco left over from Taco Tuesday? Cut it in half as a garnish for dinner that night. You get the general idea.

I almost wish I had a magic wand that I could sweep over food so it could beep out a warning: “WARNING: this half bottle of chicken stock has begun to move to the Dark Side.” But failing that, I just need to keep vigilant….and yes, the Crankee Yankee and I still ask each other to smell things.