All I Wanted was a Salad

DH and I went to lunch today, and my only intent was to get whatever the restaurant’s special was and a small side salad from the salad bar.

Simple, right?

No, no, moosebreath. Apparently, at this particular establishment, getting a salad from the salad bar is a gigantic nut-roll complete with multiple prices.

“I want the salad and half sandwich, no bread.”

“Ma’am, you can’t have the salad bar with that. You see, it’s a special, and you can only get the side salad.”

“I don’t want the side salad. I want the salad bar.”

“You can’t get that.”

“Okay. I’ll get this other lunch special that comes with two vegetables, but I don’t want the vegs–just a small salad from the salad bar.”

“You have to get the two vegetables, and the salad will be $3.99 extra.”

“Really? That much? How much if I just get the salad bar?”


“Um, no.”

“Let me check on the salad price.”

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

“You can get the chicken, and the salad will be $1.59 instead of $5.99.”

“Okay, I’ll take that.”

I’ve now heard four different prices for the same salad bar. I get up and go to get my salad, and guess what? The lettuce is mostly brown.



When I get back to the table, DH tells me that the server has come back asking what kind of salad dressing I want. He tells her that I have gone to the salad bar.

When she brings his “side salad,” there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between his salad and mine.

So I ask you–What is the deal with the pricing on the salad bar? I honestly don’t get it.

To top it off, when she brought our bill to us, she threw it on the table. Oh yes, that’s the way to do it! Also, we got a bill for a fish basket, grilled chicken, and turnip greens, obviously intended for the table next to us.

They paid for ours. We were going to try to correct the error, but the server never looked our way again.

We paid for our fish and chicken that was the bill of the other table and left. I figure since the other table paid for ours and we paid for theirs, it came out even for the restaurant, but we never did find out the actual price charged for the salad.

Who knew that salad could be so complicated?


How To Cook a Big Ole Ham

Now I’ve cooked hams more or less successfully for years, but last year my sister hauled her leftover ham to the beach after Christmas, and DH loved it. We enjoyed this ham because we were staying together at a beach house just after Christmas.

Since he liked it so much, he had me ask her how she made it. Here is her professional recipe:

Rub the ham with a mixture of mustard and brown sugar.

Cover the ham with pineapple slices.

Put cherries in the pineapple slices.

Stick cloves in the ham.

I asked her how long to cook it.

Start it at 450 for an hour; then, turn it down to about 225.

“So, how long do I cook it?”

“Until it smells done.”

Until it smells done?

And that is how to cook a big ole ham.

Here is my overcooked version this year.

Almost Done

We are in the final stretch, heading for the the big day which for us is tomorrow. The presents are wrapped and bagged just waiting for the correct recipients to open them.

Elf Yourself is done, and now we are hoping the download comes through in time for the grandgirls.

Neighbor gifts have been delivered and received. I love them all.

Stockings need to be stuffed, food needs to be cooked, and then the cornucopia of fun, food, and gift opening can commence.

Even as I write, DH is working on his almost famous 7-layer yummy dip. We do not believe in a calorically-challenged food fest for this holiday.

Tomorrow’s food lineup will include meat wrapped cheese, aforementioned 7-layer dip, neighbor provided cream cheese and jalapeño raspberry mix served up on a Santa plate, deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, baked ham, English peas, green bean casserole, cheese ball, and the pièce de résistance–dressing.

Seriously, all the other menu items pale in comparison to the dressing. Oh. My. Gosh. Cornbread, biscuits, sausage, onions, sage, broth=awesomeness. What makes it even better? My daughter makes it now instead of me. Oh yeah.

Before the tearing into the presents, DH will read from Luke 2 about the birth of Jesus, the absolute reason for the season.

After the gift opening frenzy, the cleanup of the gift debris must take place. We are not neat present openers. We are rip-the-paper-off-and-throw-it-on-the-floor openers.

I always try to instigate some vestige of control in the opening of the gifts, but it always falls into a mêlée of paper ripping frenzy. *sigh* 😀

In the end, it really doesn’t matter how the day unfolds. Everyone is always happy and full.

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas. We certainly will.



Golden Eagle Syrup & My Daddy

My daddy has been dead a very long time. Since 1990, so how long is that? Wow, that’s 21 years. I can hardly believe it.

In those 21 years, I’ve had a jar of Golden Eagle Syrup in my cabinet for most of that time. I’m not sure if I have any right this minute, but if I don’t, I’ll go buy some.

Why? Because it reminds me of Daddy. That’s why.

Daddy would take his knife, cut off two or three or four pieces of margarine (back when we thought that was better than butter), open the jar of Golden Eagle and pour a big glob of the topaz glaze on top.

Next, he would take his fork and mash the tines into the oleo repeatedly, swirl the broken up oleo and syrup together, and end up with an opaque mixture perfect for dipping Mother’s homemade biscuits into.

As a child, I always thought this was pretty disgusting, and I couldn’t understand why he ate it. After all, biscuits were made for butter and jelly as far as I was concerned.

I’m pretty sure this was a holdover from his own childhood since the product was invented and produced down the road from where he grew up.

I do know that when I mix up this concoction my own self, I’m sitting at the kitchen table again with my daddy.

I don’t even particularly like the way it tastes–but I sure do like the way it makes me feel.

You Can Only Have One Thing

A recent autotopic that rolled through was “If you had a restaurant, what would you call it?” That’s easy.

You Can Only Have One Thing

It kills me when I go in a restaurant and they have a ton of things on their menu and hundreds more combos. Our local Chinese place has close to 200 items on their menu!

Really? I’m not sure you can keep fresh meat, vegetables, and fruit on hand for that many combos. Why would you want to try?

We have another joint that serves fish. Fried fish. Not broiled, sautéed, grilled, or sushied. Fried. Period. Now you can choose whole or filleted. Sides? Fries, baked potato, slaw, hushpuppies, onions. That’s it. Their only other items are fried shrimp, and chicken fingers for the kidlets.

They do so much business you can’t get in the parking lot. I’ll bet they turn a pretty hefty profit, too.

I said all that to say that I think the best way to make money in the restaurant biz is to follow the KISS philosophy–Keep It Simple Stupid.

What would I serve? Chili. Literally one dish, or bowl as it were.

Pot Luck Protocol

An Awesome Potluck Layout

Everybody has been to a potluck–even you. Have you ever been to one where a person shows up with a dish that might feed two people when there are 20 people there to eat?That kinda makes me crazy.

I mean, what are they thinking? Everybody knows, or should know, that when showing up at a potluck the food brought should equal about ten times more than you think can possibly be eaten. People will eat more at a potluck just because there is more food there.

Oh, and it had better be good food, too. Now I am just at the edge of the home-cooking generation. I’m as likely as not to bring KFC or Jack’s chicken fingers, but if you really want credit and max kudos, make something awesome from scratch. You just don’t get as much credit if it is store-bought or from a restaurant. Putting it on a plate from home won’t fool anybody, either.

Butter rolls are good. Awesome even. And no, I can’t make them, but I’ve had some. Oh my. That is some sugary, buttery lusciousness.

Scrumptious Fried Okra all the way from Scratch

Fried okra is excellent, too. Not the prepackaged, prebreaded kind. I’m talking cut it from the garden, cut it up your own self, dust it with cornmeal, and cook it in an iron skillet fried okra. Your Corning Ware dish will come home empty.

Your container coming home empty is the ultimate potluck compliment. Nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to bring a dish home with only a few spoonsful scooped out of it. Oh no. That will never do. In fact, that’s downright embarrassing. It’s almost better to bring nothing at all than to come home with a dish uneaten.

Homemade cornbread or Mexican cornbread is also good. Guaranteed to be scarfed down immediately.

Still Warm from the Oven Banana Pudding

The quintessential potluck dessert? Banana pudding still warm from the oven. If you want to be the star of the show, show up with enough of this memories-of-grandma treat and your name will be legend.

Whatever you bring, just be sure there’s enough.

Corner Kitchen in Asheville, NC

I’ve always heard that when traveling, you should always ask a local where to eat. I try to do that sometimes and usually get good recommendations. We really hit the jackpot when we were in Asheville, North Carolina.

We had decided to eat at Mellow Mushroom, but on impulse on the way out of the motel, I asked the dude at the front desk where he would recommend that we eat. He said, “Corner Kitchen.” Of course we had never heard of it.

Upon further inquiry, he told us that they only use fresh, seasonal, local ingredients. We had never eaten at such a place, so we decided to try it. He said most people have reservations, but since we were going early–5ish–we decided to try it.

We wandered around Biltmore land a bit before we spotted it. We walked in and told the lady we didn’t have reservations, and she said, “Can you eat in an hour and fifteen minutes?”

“Sure,” was our reply. What did we know? As it turned out, that meant no dessert, but we never order that anyway.

Somehow I accidentally saved this map search to my photos on my phone, so you can see where Corner Kitchen is.

I would have made photos of the food, but DH gets all weird about that sometimes, so I didn’t take any. The food was awesome, though.

We started with crab/corn chowder that was amazing, and we got a bread basket that had some pesto brushed bread that was quite tasty. DH had Jamaican jerk chicken that was good but spicy hot, black beans, guacamole, and fried plantains. I had meatloaf, collards, and cheese grits. The meatloaf was good but the sauce was a little sweet. The collards were not bitter at all. Impressive. The cheese grits were very delicious.

Overall, our experience at Corner Kitchen was quite excellent. You should check it out if you are ever in Asheville.