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FL Heat

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  1. Chili, if you're willing to make a few sacrifices and alterations, is really points-friendly. It's also South Beach friendly. Rather than using fatty cuts, try ground white chicken, veal, pork, turkey, sirloin, or any combination of them. Add bell peppers, extra onion, extra beans, top it with fresh tomato slices. Use a minimum of oil when you sweat the onions at the beginning. I make a big pot of chili once a week and divvy it up for lunches, for quick dinners, and for freezer fare. I freeze it in individual portion sizes in the inexpensive plastic containers for quick reheating. It's not earth-shattering, but it's a staple in our house. Have a great time traveling! Diana
  2. Shrimp chips? I was going out on a limb buying the stuff I needed to make cucumber kim chee (kim chi?) for my boyfriend, who loves the stuff and asks for it all the time at a Korean restaurant we like. The woman at the market was very nice and helpful. She said they were out of laksa but to come back next week and she'd have some for me. Diana
  3. FL Heat

    Dinner! 2004

    I made a roulade. Errrr, 5 of them? Roulades? I don't know, this was my first go at it without a recipe and explicit instructions, and the boyfriend said the flavors were phenomenal (there's a reason we've been together 5 years), but the meat wasn't quite as tender as he expected for such a thin cut of meat. The meat market sells very thinly sliced top round, so I spread pesto in those, baked them, added some tomato sauce, and was very pleased with the result. I will use one less garlic clove in the pesto next time, though. <burp> Diana
  4. I'm almost embarrassingly sheltered, and have never heard of many of the foods you've mentioned. . .but I hope that you & Ms Congee are pleased with the knowledge that you've convinced at least one timid soul to take a trip to her local Asian market tomorrow. There's really no excuse for never going before, except that I didn't know what to buy, but I shall make a list from your blog and smile and be pleasant and attempt to cook something with new foodstuffs! Diana
  5. I asked my Papaw about "raddah gravy" when I was about 10 (I heard one of the other old men on the porch talking about it). Papaw said only heathens ate it, because only heathens needed it When I turned heathen, there was a restaurant in my college town that made the *best* red eye gravy I've ever had. Some of the other sorority sisters thought I was a little nuts, but there were a couple who'd order it with me. Diana
  6. FL Heat

    Grilling Corn

    We (okay, *I*) shuck & silk the corn, then just coat the kernels with a bit of oil and set it on the grill. The grill-tender turns the corn when kernels on one side start to brown a little bit, and they're done in 10 minutes or so. I don't even like butter or salt on mine, just the sweet, juicy, smoky flavors of the corn kernels exploding. . .'scuse me for a moment, won't you? Any recipe you have for corn chowder, try with grilled corn. Diana
  7. My trip to the Carolinas for business at the beginning of October has just been cancelled. I was seriously going to schedule it around this event, since I don't know anyone from EGullet and would love to dine someplace this fantastic. Work sucks. Diana
  8. FL Heat

    Dinner! 2004

    The general idea for dinner was finding a reason to make the chimichurri sauce that tejon featured in her blog. I sprinkled some chicken cutlets with my chili seasoning, cooked 'em til they were done. Had some red beans & tomatoes going in a saucepan, and made a little salad (it gave me a reason to put chimichurri into the dressing to see what would happen). Poured the chimichurri over the chicken, added a dollop to the beans. Perhaps it was chimichurri overkill, but it gave me plenty of reasons to eat it & keep saying, "chimichurrichimichurri". Oh, wow, green oil dripping down chicken looks sooooo appetizing. Whoops! Diana
  9. Could you do an orange curd, and swirl it through, for a dreamsicle-kindofthing? Or would the baking of the cake mess it up all kinds of ways? (I'm still new to anything more complicated than spooning ice cream out of a carton for dessert. The "Baking" section still frightens me a little.) Diana
  10. I want to try a mango/ginger one, after eating some stilton cheese that had mangoes & ginger in it. Maybe a gingersnap crust instead of a graham cracker one? My grandmother makes a peach cheesecake that's heavenly. I wonder if kiwi would work? How would you make a citrus cheesecake? Great googly-moogly, I didn't realize thoughts of cheesecake could make me drool this much! Diana
  11. I offered to pick up fast food for a friend a few months ago, she asked for something or another from Arby's. Seeing that HUGE drive-thru menu with what seemed like 8,000,000,000 different deli sandwiches/salads/roast beef sandwiches killed any desire I had to grab myself something to eat. I mean, I understand the theory behind trying to expand and offer new things. . .but when is enough ENOUGH? Then they start selling tacos, bring back pizza, offer fried rice? Soon the country will be one big Wal-Mart with a McDonald's drive-thru attached! Or not, and I'm overreacting. Diana
  12. A friend who works for a privately-owned bookstore recently helped them shut down a used bookstore. Did I want her to send me the cookbooks? Sure thing, I responded, expecting a dozen or so books. Nope. I have a dozen BOXES of used cookbooks now. Some are great, some aren't, and some are fun just for the kitsch value ("To be a good hostess, it's best that you start your evening with a cocktail. When your guests see that you are relaxed, they'll be able to relax as well.". . .from a book on how to host a buffet-style cocktail hour from the 60s). Diana Edited to say: I'll happily send a few your way, Judi, let me get through them and you'll probably find a box on your doorstep!
  13. The Humane Society of Pinellas does a lot of great work, and if she's in Clearwater, won't be too far from her at all. If she likes to par-tay, Ybor City in Tampa is your best bet for year-round, happening nightlife. Some of the bars on the beach in Clearwater are good, but if you don't like crowded, skip 'em during Spring Break (basically, the entire months of March & April are crowded everywhere in Clearwater. . .the snowbirds are still in residence in large numbers, plus partying college students. . .EVERYTHING is crowded). There are lots of places to just sit & enjoy drinks along the beach and all over Clearwater/Largo/St Pete. It'll depend on who her friends are and what kind of atmosphere she likes :) Diana
  14. Sometimes I read things here that make me breathe a sigh of relief (like finding out I'm not the only one who "groups" her items on the checkout belt). . .and then I come and read this and begin to think that I really AM a freak. . . I make a dinner menu for each week (or 10 days) and list, under each night, what ingredients I need to buy to make that dinner (okay, I write down ALL the items needed, then cross off what I already have). Then I write all those items down a sheet of paper. After that, I list what I know I need (milk, eggs, yogurt, etc). Then I go through my coupons (which are in a card file in order of the aisles in the grocery store) and write down items I'll be purchasing via coupons (toothpaste, toilet paper, zip-top bags, Haagen-Dazs. . . ) and each of THOSE items has a large "C" written next to it so I'll know I have a coupon for it. Then THAT unorganized list is re-written via the "grouping" method in order of the store. . . .and the unorganized list is broken down into different lists as well: Meat Market, Italian Market, Produce Market, Grocery Store, Costco. My favorite guy at the meat market just lets me hand him my list now. 4-thick cut pork chops; 3 lbs boneless chicken breast in 1 lb pkgs; 1 lb ground veal in 1/2 lb pkgs; roast for 8 people, please pkg what is best this week. . . To be fair, we're in our first house, we aren't rich, and we really watch the expenditure of money. The obsessing over the list keeps me from over-spending and buying silly things, leaving enough room for times like this past week, where we had to stock up for a possible hurricane on short notice. Diana
  15. They're kinda my snack o' choice when travelling. I prefer Peach Nehi to RC Cola, though. . . I hope that doesn't get me shot! My boyfriend thinks they're weird. Dad likes the banana one. Some friends from NY think they're disgusting (but then they made me try an egg cream, which I couldn't even swallow). Diana
  16. I have a Kenmore range with a glass ceramic cooktop. I love it, absolutely love it (no way to get gas into the kitchen). I don't keep anything heavy in the cabinets over the top of it, which helped lighten my fear of dropping anything on the cooktop & breaking it. Mine has a light on the "control panel" that says when the surface is hot. As a nice bonus, if I set a hot pan from the oven on one of the burners, the light turns on. I use Soft Scrub to keep mine clean. Most nights, I just spray it with a glass cleaner after I finish the dishes & wipe it down with a paper towel. When something burns on, that's when I use the Soft Scrub. It's just part of the dish-washing routine now. I've set down a cast iron skillet awfully hard on it more than once (accidentally, of course) and it didn't break. I've dropped lids on it, canned goods, and other normal kitchen things several times. No cracks, no chips. Normal use shouldn't cause it to break. Diana
  17. Before I make any nightlife recommendations, please, please forgive me, but I HAVE to ask. . . What age range is your friend? (See, Clearwater is a popular Spring Break/Summer beach place and also a haven for retirees. I'd hate to send a 21 year old bikini babe to a shuffleboard championship, you know?) The St Pete Times Dining Guide is a good place to start. Also, do a search for "Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks" (yes, sponge docks!). There are some great Greek restaurants nearby. If you want to give her a "going away" gift, can I recommend something that will be incredibly practical? A hurricane kit. Canned foods, some bottled water, a battery-powered radio, the other basics, all packed in a waterproof container. (and if she has pets, I can't recommend Advantage Pet Center enough as a boarding kennel) Diana
  18. D L Jardine's Texas Champagne. Spicy, but not too much so, and a good tart bite from the vinegar. I use it when a dish I'm making that others might be eating calls for hot sauce. When it's just me & the boyfriend, Tabasco (the original) makes it taste like my daddy cooked it, since he uses it with. . . .everything. The boyfriend has learned to give dishes with spice a good sniff before digging in to gauge the level of Tabasco involved. I like Frank's Red Hot when making wings, and collect others for the labels. Well, not so much collect them as am gifted with them, since our friends have noticed my adoration for spicy foods. Diana
  19. Red wines. So next time someone orders a white that doesn't seem to really "go" with dinner, be merciful in your judgement! Diana
  20. If you're flying into Tampa/St Pete, come on down! The weather's fine, despite what we were led to believe. It's the rest of the state that's suffering now I hope you all in the rest of Florida are doing alright. Diana
  21. Well, should our power go out, I hope you have a good visit and that the beach is nice & cleaned up by the time you get here!! (I'm seeing that the airports in the area will be closed on Friday, so hopefully you're flying in after that!) D
  22. I tend to sit down with a cookbook once a week and pick out 2-4 new dishes, and then 3 or 4 standbys. Then I write exactly what I need to purchase for those dishes and make my list in order of the grocery store aisles. I have a dry-erase calendar hanging up on the refrigerator, and I write the meals for the week on it, with the most-perishable-items-dinner up first, and then through the week. The boyfriend can see at a glance what we're having, and I never have to wander into the kitchen and wonder what the heck I'm going to cook. It's time consuming, but it's developed into a ritual of sorts for me that's real important in my weight loss & working out, since it takes a lot of stress off me for the week ahead (or two weeks ahead, depending on what the grocery budget is). Kathleen Daelemans, the chef and author of Cooking Thin and Getting Thin and Loving Food (I think I did the EGullet Amazon link right!)recommends having what she calls "kit meals" handy. It's a package, basically, of everything you need to make a quick, healthy meal, all put together. So when your plans fall through for going out, you can grab the package and put something together. Things like fritattas (if you always have eggs), soups, pasta meals; or even cooking something ahead of time and freezing it in serving-sized portions (which is what I've done with several different kinds of soup). It's worked really, really well for me to have those to fall back on when I burn/ruin something or it just tastes awful. Diana
  23. Bleh. . .keep an eye on Tropical Storm Charley and I hope hope hope he doesn't interfere with your vacation Diana
  24. I don't know the exact point count, but some things I do with ground white meat turkey: Chili, with red or white beans (I'll get it going before we go to the gym, and it's good by the time we get back) Chop an onion and get it soft in a large pot, then 3-4 chopped cloves of garlic. Add 1 lb of turkey & cook until it's done; add a can of Ro-Tel Mexican Fiesta tomatoes, then a can of regular diced tomatoes, two cans of red or white beans (to up the fiber), cumin, oregano, black pepper, paprika, cayenne, and maybe a couple of jalapenos or a chipotle. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, go to the gym. I made chili often enough that I keep a special "chili mix" in a tin with the proportion of spices that I like. "Sloppy Joes" of a sort. . . Onion & green bell pepper in the pan, then garlic, then the turkey. Couple of splashes of red wine vinegar, some worchestershire sauce, a can of diced tomatoes, a tablespoon of brown sugar, salt & pepper, and two tablespoons of tomato paste. It's loosely based on a Rachel Ray recipe. We have ours in whole wheat wraps. Diana
  25. I'll put up what I can think of now. . . Oystercatchers has good word of mouth, but I've never dined there. During the peak season, apparently it's really difficult to get in for brunch, which is supposed to be one of the best in the area. You'll be here in "off" season, so reservations shouldn't be much problem. Right near Oystercatchers is Castaways. We've had one really great and two really miserable experiences there, so I can't recommend it. (The worst was when our reservation for 4 at 8 pm was seated at 9:00, while walk-ins were seated ahead of us. . .and then my boyfriend's steak arrived bloody rare, when ordered medium rare, and then didn't ever arrive back at the table when he sent it back. . .and my mom's seafood pasta dish had clumps of uncooked noodles. . .uck. We just won't ever go back.) Casual Clam is a low-brow place with great prices, no view, and friendly staff. We take everyone who visits us there, but, well, we only live a few blocks away If you want to make the drive to Ybor City (and it's really a cute place, if you go in the daytime--if you go at night, leave the kiddos at the hotel), try Columbia Restaurant. We've never had a bad experience there, even when in a group of 75 for a holiday party. And if you're looking for "local" flavor, the Spanish/Cuban food there is about as good as it gets. And now I feel like an idiot, I didn't realize they were at the St Pete Pier, too. Well, good, now we won't have to drive to Tampa to eat there. . . Again, this one's kinda in my part of town, so I can wholeheartedly recommend it. Athenian Gardens was my boyfriend's first foray into Greek food (other than feta cheese) and he loved it. Very family-friendly place, and located right down the road from Ally Oops' Super Scoops(2531 4th St N, St Petersburg, FL 33704), where you're very likely to see us if it's a Friday night, since we love their ice cream :) The restaurant reviewer in the St Pete Times is pretty laid-back, but usually accurate to our tastes & budget. I don't know the beach area that well, but I'll do some looking tomorrow and see what else I can find and what the folks I know think about the places. We don't tend to go near the beach much. . .it's easy to take for granted when it's just a few miles away. International Plaza/Bay Street is nice. . .it's kinda weird to think of your preferred mall as a destination, though. Bring mosquito repellent, as the rains here have made being outside near torture if you're bare-skinned. Diana
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