Tag Archives: Food

Free Grandparent Advice


My five-year old granddaughter, Sophia, called me tonight and said, “Grandpa, you’re the best person in our whole family.”

I sat up and raised my eyebrows a bit because Sophia doesn’t usually dish compliments easily. So I figured she either wanted something or she had a high fever and was a bit delirious. I cautiously thanked her, told her I loved her, and she asked if I wanted to speak to her Mom. I said okay.
When my daughter got on the phone I asked her where that came from. She said they were in the kitchen and Sophia just said it. When my daughter asked her why she felt that way she said, “because grandpa always gives me chocolate chip cookies.”



Its like I always say, if you’re going to show up, you have to show out.

Sometimes it’s fun being the man. Even if it only lasts five minutes and requires a chocolate chip cookie payoff.


No Raw Cookie Dough?

So the FDA has announced that it’s no longer safe to eat raw cookie dough or batter. The FDA, that bastion of all things right. The organization that consistently allows things to come on the market and then pulls it after they find there may be a bit of a problem associated with it. These are the people  who are trying to mess with my ability to enjoy life. Because really, has anyone ever told you that it was safe to eat cookie dough? Of course not. We just did it anyway. We lived dangerously. We chose the wild side.


It seems that it’s not just raw eggs that can cause you to get sick but flour can also harbor E. Coli. Okay, thanks for the heads up. FDA. I’ll take your warnings under advisement. By the way, when you found red coloring No. 3 caused cancer you banned it from cosmetics in 1990. Nice move. I’m just a little confused on why you allow it to remain in our foods. I’m sure there’s some logic you can provide for that along with other questionable decisions you’ve made in the past.

Apparently General Mills recalled all types of flour at the end of last year because of this contamination, however I can tell you without hesitation that since that time, cookie dough has passed my lips on several occasions with no problems.  The FDA claims that since December, 38 people in 20 states have become sick with diarrhea and stomach cramps that can last up to a week. That’s roughly five people a month. I don’t know about you, but I like my chances. It’s safer than getting in a car, that’s for sure. I wonder what would happen if I pushed the envelope and drove while eating cookie dough at the same time. Do you think it’s against the law? Do you think the FDA works with local law enforcement? Because if you cramp up while driving, well, that could create a messy situation.


Oh yeah, the FDA also suggested that we not give children cookie dough to play with. Come on, let’s get serious. Does the FDA  think we’re all savages without an ounce of common sense in our bodies? I mean, I love kids, but cookie dough should be revered and kept in a place of respect. We don’t play with cookie dough. We eat it. What was the FDA thinking?


So based on my findings, or should I say the FDA’s, the risk for getting sick because of this flour thing is very small. Heck, we all sometimes get a stomach virus without going near cookie dough or cake batter. If we do get it because of that, at least we derived an afternoon of enjoyment in the process. So I’ll take my chances.  Because anyone who has licked a cake batter bowl or enjoyed a taste of cookie dough understands that this is one of life’s great pleasures. But I know there are some of you out there who don’t condone this practice and I respect your opinion. Just do me one favor…

Please pass the cookie dough before you leave.

P.S. I wonder what’s going to happen to all that cookie dough ice cream.





Watermelon and Peach Caprese

We’re big fans of summer fruit so when my wife found this recipe we had to try it. It’s great for lunch or a light dinner and really simple to make. All you need is seedless watermelon, two large yellow peaches, a ball of fresh mozzarella, olive oil, balsamic glaze, kosher salt and fresh basil leafs.


Slice the watermelon into wedges or circles, about a half-inch thick. Slice two peaches into rounds, and then thinly slice the mozzarella.
On a plate, arrange a slice of watermelon, peach, mozzarella and a basil leaf. Repeat to make a taller stack and add one more slice of watermelon on top. Drizzle the stack with olive oil and balsamic glaze. Sprinkle a bit of kosher salt and top it off with another piece of basil.
Prep time, 20 minutes. Makes four servings.




A Post About Animal Crackers?

I wanted full disclosure from the beginning so I made sure anyone who read the title of this post could walk away from it without wasting their time because, really, who wants to read about animal crackers, especially from someone who should have outgrown them fifty years ago.

And yet, you’re still her. Imagine my surprise. Well, since you decided to visit and stay for a few moments, I promise not to make this too long.


Yes, I admit I like animal crackers. I don’t know why and I never tried figuring it out. I like the shapes, the taste and how they make me feel when I eat them. Handfuls at a time. They’re addictive.

Without giving you a history of them, (who wants to endure that), here are just a handful of facts.

There have been somewhere around 53 different animals that have been used since the cracker/cookie was first created in England in 1902, however only the bear, elephant, lion and tiger has made it through the entire lifetime of the cracker.


About six thousand miles of string are used annually on Animal Cracker boxes

Every hour, Nabisco’s factory, located in Fair Lawn, N.J. makes 300,000 of these cookies ending up with over 40 million boxes a year.

The current cookie count with respect to different animals is around 19.

If you put a box in front of me, I will pretend I’m 7 years old and eat the entire package…and that’s a fact.

Thank you for spending a few minutes with me in deep thought. You may now return to your regularly scheduled broadcast channels.

NYC Cupcake Tour

I love desserts. I could go to dinner and be perfectly happy ordering an appetizer and dessert and if you want to skip the app, that would be fine with me. So when one of our daughters gave us a cupcake tour in New York City as a gift, my happy face had a happy face.

The tour happened in and around Greenwich Village and included six stops. Not every stop involved a cupcake, which was fine with me. You want to have a cupcake tour and throw in a few different kinds of desserts? That’s like asking me if it’s okay to take me on an ice cream tour and include pies, cakes and a chocolate stop. How is that even a serious question?

The walking tour was supposed to last two-hour but it ran over about thirty minutes and involved walking about a mile and a half.

The first stop was a little store called Baked by Melissa. These were not your typical cupcakes but rather the top of a mini cupcake. They were all very different and priced at one dollar each. Melissa’s is just off Union Square in case you’re ever in the neighborhood. Our sample was a seasonal creation called a Lemon Cuparoon and it was very good.

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Our second stop was a gelato/sorbet place called Amorino. They don’t just serve gelato in a cup as many places do, they create a work of art, as seen by the photo below. Their gelato is served like a flower and it’s impressive to watch them make it, especially when they incorporate more than one flavor. Our sample today was a seasonal mango sorbet and I have to say I’ve never tasted sorbet like this. It was made with all natural ingredients and felt like I was biting into a fresh mango both in texture and taste. It really was very good and the best sorbet I’ve ever tasted.

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Our third stop was my favorite. The front of Molly’s Cupcakes looks like a school bus and the tables inside were classroom desks. But the real attraction was the cupcake itself. If you are ever in New York, Chicago or Iowa City, I’d suggest you walk off your plane and find this place. The cupcakes were that good. We were able to choose our own full size cupcake and frosting and add toppings from the toppings bar if we wanted a little kick. My wife had a carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting and said it was the best she ever had. I went old school with a vanilla cupcake and chocolate frosting. When I was done I asked if I could work there for free. I didn’t want to finish the tour or go home that night. I wanted to stay and close the place down; sweep the floors, clean the tables, wash the tins, whatever it took.  I was prepared to endure a sugar coma and if that’s the way it ended for me, the smile on my face as they carried me out would be enough for people to understand. Here’s a taste of Molly’s..

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IMG_1534IMG_1537Our next stop was another little place called Bisous Ciao Macaron. It should be noted that these are not macaroon’s, those coconut cookies, but the French Macaron which is a little piece of heaven in a small dessert sandwich. We sampled a chocolate macaron which was just the right amount of sweet and so delicious. Bisous Ciao also served some other delights which you can see below. Great little place in the village that you should try if you’re ever there.

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At this point the sugar was definitely kicking in, so what did we do? We went to a tiny little place called Milk and Cookies, of course. Most of these places are very small and this place was no exception, unless you’re describing the cookies. They were big and they were very good. Our sample, if you can call it that was a very large oatmeal, sea salt and toffee cookie. It was excellent but I could only eat a piece. Why? Because I had to buy a chocolate chip cookie and sample that also. And yes, you are reading the photo correctly; they are 29.50 for a baker’s dozen. And yes, people were buying them like crazy. That’s our tour guide, Mallory, in front of the store.

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Our final stop was, unfortunately our least favorite. Magnolia’s Bakery has been credited with starting the cupcake craze back in the late 90’s based on its inclusion into the popular show, Sex  and the City. Bus tours and a near cult following were a result but for us, the sample of a red velvet mini cupcake was not up to par with the rest of the stops. It tasted dry and kind of stale.


Some sights along the way included the snake man and the giant bubble man in Washington Square Park.

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Of course after all those sweet, we were in desperate need of some real food so we hiked over to Little Italy and had an early dinner outside at La Mela. That enormous dish which could have easily fed two people was red snapper with rigatoni and a side of the best broccoli, (no joke), I’ve ever had. Must have been the roasted garlic. IMG_1556 IMG_1557

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It was a fun day, even though we walked over ten miles, according to our tracker. There are so many food tours in the city, if you’re so inclined to try one. We walked from midtown, down to Union Square, did the tour, walked to Little Italy and Canal Street and then back to midtown. The Village has a very different feel than midtown and you never know when you’ll run into a little club like Cafe Wha?, where Bob Dylan first played in New York and people like Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, Springsteen, Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor also performed and honed their skills.



Hope you enjoyed our little tour. Stay hungry and now you can go and have a cupcake… or two.

The Best Beach Reads

IMG_1480                                                                  Sunset at Belmar, NJ

I always bring one or two books to the beach even though I rarely read more than one or two pages. It’s crazy, I know. For someone who enjoys reading, the beach is the perfect place to relax and get into a book. Except it’s not. Why? Because it’s also one of the more interesting people watching places you’ll ever find and I find my attention to human interaction is much more entertaining than the pages in front of me.

As an example, we got to the beach last Tuesday at roughly 10:00. It’s a good time; not many people there yet and you have the opportunity to pick your spot. So I sit and enjoy the ocean for a bit, take a walk down to check out the water, realize it’s still only the end of June and head back to my chair. Fifty-eight degree temps just don’t interest me anymore. So I pull out a book and begin to read, just as the show begins.

Now, before you get the wrong impression, this isn’t a post about bathing suits. That would take too much time and my eyes still haven’t recovered from the abuse they took that particular day. No, this is more about people. In no particular order, this is what kept me entertained most of the day…

I enjoy watching families, especially the Mom who walks around like she’s on a mission to find the perfect spot, holding her sunglasses and towel while her children and husband trudge along twenty yards behind, lugging half the contents of their home, only to realize there’s not enough room to spread out and create their own beach zip code. I especially like when she seems to decide on a spot and just as everyone puts everything down and drops to the sand exhausted, she decides on another location. Yeah, those little interactions and comments are fun to watch and hear.

Then there was the guy who sat behind and off to the side of us with his girlfriend who forgot where he was and thought it was his day to conduct a seminar on healthy living, diet and exercise. He thought he had an audience of one, his significant other, but didn’t realize that he forgot to tone down the volume on his voice and that anyone within a twenty yard radius had to listen to him preach to the young lady he was with about how she should be going to the gym at least six days a week, the system cleansing formula he uses and what she should and should not be eating. This went on, no lie, for almost a half hour, non stop. The young lady didn’t say a word or ask a question. She just silently got up after he took a pause and went into the water. I was tempted to follow her because I was afraid she would decide that the option of continuing to swim out as far as she could was better than going to back to more of that monotone, nails on a chalkboard torture.

In front of us was a group of six teens, four girls and two boys. Three of the girls sat together and one of the boys sat next to them. The other boy interacted with those four and the last girl but this last girl sat with her back to the other three girls, and the water. She sat with her legs pulled up to her chest and a sketch book on her lap. She never moved from that position until she left three hours later without saying goodbye to the other four teens. She spoke to one of the boys, who I guessed was her boyfriend, but to no one else, even though all of their towels touched.

To my right was a group of four college age girls who brought their hula hoops with them. Between laying on a blanket and swimming, they would practice their hoop routines. My guess is they are part of some competition team based on some of their moves but you don’t usually do something like that with so many people around you, especially when the stray hoop lands on someone’s head, which it did, and was bound to happen. On the other hand, if you’re looking for attention…

Of course, there is always the group who decides to plop down three feet in front of you, opening their chairs and umbrellas and blocking your view of the ocean, even though there are plenty of other spaces. These people are always in the water and almost never in their chairs but remain clueless about beach etiquette.

And yes, there is such a thing as beach etiquette.

There are other things I enjoy. I love watching the gulls tear into bags of chips and food left open and unattended and the bewildered look on the faces of the owners when they arrive back to find lunch has already been served. Or watching people fight with umbrellas that get turned inside out on windy days or even those who think they can purchase four, soft serve ice cream cones on a sunny,  90 degree day and walk a hundred yards back to their chairs without it turning into a puddle of mess.

Maybe one day I’ll bring a book and actually get though a paragraph or two while sitting on the beach. Maybe. But I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.

The stories around me always seem to be much more interesting.

Inside The Mind Of A Second Grader

As many of you know, I do some substitute teaching for elementary school grades. Today I had a second grade class that was given an assignment to complete over the weekend. They had to make a list of the top four things they would change if given the opportunity.

UnknownThe following is a list of the top suggestions as voted on by eighteen second grade students. After compiling this list, the students were then allowed to cast two votes each for the selection they thought should win. Those votes are in parentheses.

Welcome to the mind of a second grader.

1. Must be at least four years old to be president. (4)

2. Must be at least 6 years old to vote. (1)

3. Allowed to eat candy every day. (7)

4. Treat everyone fairly. (1)

5. Will be paid 100.00 dollars on a daily basis. (6)

6. No smoking (4)

7. Recycle (1)

8. Eat pizza every day (2)

9. Have fun (4)

10. No bad words (5)

11. No littering (1)

12. No Healthy Eating (0)



The top vote getter was eating candy everyday followed closely by being paid 100.00 dollars on a daily basis. So clearly money and candy are big priorities for second graders who at least understand the concept of not being able to have one without the other. Though how far 100.00 dollars goes based on the price of candy these days is wide open for discussion.

I thought it was interesting that you could be president at 4 but not allowed to vote until 6. Sort of cuts down on your constituency, don’t you think?

I’m heartened by the interest in not smoking or use of bad words but surprised by only one vote for treating people fairly. But then, maybe they understand the concept of being president at four and how that relates to politics and a lack of fairness to the general playground population.

I also like that having fun had some votes but disappointed there were only two votes for eating pizza everyday since that would have been close to the top of my list.

No healthy eating? I don’t even know where to go with that or what might have been in the mind of the individual who offered this up but at least it didn’t get any votes, not even from the one who suggested it. Although I do wonder what side of the extreme food chain, his or her eating habits currently fall.

Finally, recycling and no littering seem to be bringing up the rear which makes me wonder if they have any interest or concept of the environment. Then again, how much can you expect from little candy eating, capitalist politicians?

So what would have been your two top votes on this list? Anything you would have added?

Is your mind really that much different from a second grader?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.