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Showing posts from July, 2020

The Take-Out Lifestyle: Toco Hill Dunkin Donuts

I needed something simple and fast for breakfast. The Dunkin Donuts at Toco Hill fit the bill. They don't have a drive-thru window so I had to go inside. The seating area was forlorn. A few people were politely in line. I ordered my coffee and bagel with cream cheese; a couple of minutes later they were ready to go. I took them to my car to enjoy and appreciate.

The Take-Out Lifestyle: Sprig

I needed dinner after my trip. Sprig seemed like the perfect place. I entered an order before I left to pick up after I arrived. I arrived to a beautiful summer evening. The bugs buzzed in the park. The porch was filled with people enjoying their evening. picked up my food at the kitchen door thanks to a very helpful staff member. I enjoyed two of my favorites: grits fries with tomato sauce and a large house salad. Tasty as always and very comforting. Thanks for being here, Sprig!

Delta First Class Domestic

I needed to visit Atlanta and flew from a Omaha. An upgrade put me in first class. This was the service: almonds, cookies, water, sanitizer, napkin. The crew was extremely gracious. The passengers were considerate. I am so grateful to be able to take this trip.

Ribeye Steak

Ribeye steak grilled over charcoal. Carrot souffle and Italian braid bread on the side. Quite a bit for which to be grateful...

Banana Cream Pie

A deal on bananas inspired me to make a banana cream pie. I blind-baked a crust, then coated the inside with chocolate ganache. I lined the bottom with sliced bananas. I made a vanilla pudding and poured it over the bananas. I made a meringue and spread it over the top. I put the pie into the oven to finish it off, giving the meringue this beautiful caramel color. The result was great---very rich but not overwhelming. This pie took a fair amount of effort but was a very satisfying use of my time. Thank you, Super Saver, for the deal on ripe bananas!

Pot Roast

I was in the mood for beef. But I wanted more than just a slab of protein. I wanted a complete hearty meal with lots of savory and just the right amount of natural carbohydrates and starches. Pot roast really fills that bill. And given the strong prices for beef these days, it makes great use of a less expensive cut. This pot made three meals worth of tastiness and I am grateful for this bounty.

Raising My Spice Game

I found a special at the store on ripe bananas, a clear call for a loaf of banana bread. I used two tablespoons of cocoa powder as is my usual custom. But I decided to try a different set of spices: fresh ground nutmeg, cardamom, and ginger. The result was very good and distinctly different. Good cooking does not have to be expensive.

Steak au Poivre Dinner

I very much enjoyed my steak dinner: steak au poivre, home fried potatoes, corn-on-the-cob. Summer is a special time every year, even more so now. I am grateful for this harvest.

Cherry Apple Pie

I had one bag of cherries but a really full pie requires too. Laziness kicked in and I decided to make up the deficit with some apples, a traditional pairing. The result was very enjoyable. The apples, being more subtle, help to highlight the cherries. All in all, a great breakfast.

Lincoln NE: Topper Popper

Popcorn seems to be a Lincoln favorite---several establishments around town sell popcorn. I paid a recent visit to Topper Popper, a cute place at Holdredge and Cotner. They sell ice cream but I concentrated on the popcorn. I brought my huge bag back to the car and enjoyed. The popcorn was fresh and tasty, a real treat to go with a beautiful Nebraska sunset. Thanks, Topper Popper!


Risotto makes a dinner that is both comforting and distinctive. I added a few mushrooms for variety. Risotto requires careful attention while cooking but doesn't require too much practice to achieve good results. I am grateful for this delicious meal.

Italian Braid Loaf

I made a tasty Italian braid loaf coated with sesame seeds. This batch used all-purpose flour so it came out with slightly less texture than one made with bread flour. My only regret was that I didn't have any olives to make it into an olive loaf.

Steak Dinner

I grilled a steak outside. I added carrot souffle, fresh corn, and some bread. A wonderful, satisfying mean for which I am grateful.

Cherry Pie

I found a great deal on sweet cherries and decided to indulge in a cherry pie. An hour-and-a-half later, I had de-pitted two bags of cherries. The result tasted great but a little runny. I used three tablespoons of tapioca powder to tighten up the juices, clearly not enough. But still very tasty.

On The Road: Gates BBQ

My road trip gave me a chance to try one of Gates' suburban locations. I found a BBQ palace, very comfortable and with a wonderfully gracious staff. The setup is similar to the original location: order at the steam table, take your tray to the dining room to eat. Everything and everyone was well spaced out during my visit. With a lot of driving behind me and more ahead, ribs satisfied me. The meat was tender and flavorful. Gates sauce is a great highlight. I finished my meal and left refreshed and renewed for the road.

Paducah KY: Doe's Eat Place

Doe's is located near the waterfront in downtown Paducah. The setting is ideal for outdoor dining on a wonderful summer evening. My server was wonderfully gracious and helpful. I started with this salad. The freshness of the ingredients came through in the flavor. I went with an Italian dressing, flavorful but not heavy. The steaks at Doe's are huge. This one was cooked to medium rare plus, a shade below medium. The flavor was excellent. Digging into a giant cut of beef was a lot of fun, too. And why stop with steak? This carrot cake was excellent: moist crumb, a cream cheese frosting that balanced sweetness and tartness, a great rib-sticking dessert.

Amish Baked Goods

I rarely pass up a chance to enjoy Amish baked goods. I paid a visit to the very nice Amish man who puts up a table in Vienna IL to sell the wonderful baked goods made by his wife. This fried pie (blueberry outside the wrapper, apple inside) was the best I've ever had. The crust was just the right thickness to enjoy without overwhelming the filling. The glaze was just sweet enough to offset the crust. The filling was very flavorful and fruity. I also tried a whoopie pie, an Amish classic. Chocolaty, creamy, delicious.

Herrin IL: Rob's Pit BBQ

Rob's is a new place with a long history in Southern Illinois. The owner operated Triple E BBQ for many years. He sold the restaurants and eventually decided to open a new place. He did so in the middle of the pandemic---we appreciate you! The staff was great and the restaurant has plenty of room to spread out. I ordered the brisket which was great---tender, juicy, good smoke flavor. The slaw was creamy with a bit of tang and excellent. The beans were good, too. Thank you for being here!

Herrin IL: The Country Cupboard

The Country Cupboard is a relatively new spot on the road between Marion and Carbondale. The decor is simple and fresh. The staff was extremely helpful and friendly. And based on my sample of food, this is the place to go for a great meal. Every part of this chocolate pie is homemade. That's meringue on top, something you don't see every day on a diner pie. The chocolate filling was rich, chocolaty, and creamy. The crust was flaky and delicious. Wow, what a snack. Thanks, folks!

A Hearty Dinner

I cooked a pot roast in the oven: meat, chicken stock, tomatoes. The pot was a little small so I cooked the carrots and potatoes separately. And I made cornbread to sop everything up. I haven't made pot roast in awhile; its flavor-to-effort ratio is very high. I am very grateful for such an enjoyable and healthy meal.

Vienna IL: Family Pizza

Family Pizza is a mainstay of Johnson County, Illinois. I remember when it opened, which must have been twenty years ago. Whenever I have been in the mood for pizza they have always satisfied. This pepperoni and mushroom pizza was a real treat. Pizza with onion rings you ask! No rules, I say! The onion rings were delicious with a fried chicken-style coating. I also enjoyed a small salad with Italian dressing. Thank you, Family Pizza!

The Take-Out Lifestyle: Bob Evans

Bob Evans is one of my reliable restaurants, exactly what you want in a chain. Although the dining room was open, I decided to call ahead to order a dinner to eat in my car. Service both on the phone and at pick-up were very courteous, helpful, and precise. Turkey and gravy is great comfort food and my meal was very satisfying. I managed to not spill any gravy on the car. Thanks, folks!

Vienna IL: El Tequila Mexican Restaurant

After a day of driving, I wanted an easy and tasty meal. El Tequila fit the bill. I would say that they metaphorically delivered the goods, but I in fact picked up my dinner. This enchilada with mole sauce was very enjoyable with a rich, almost buttery sauce. I am grateful for their good food and courteous service. The owners run several restaurants in the region; the Vienna location seemed to be very popular.

On The Road: McDonald's

I was well into my day of driving and needed a snack. I got off the highway and started to look. McDonald's line was much shorter than the alternatives so that is where I headed. I ordered fries, a chocolate shake, and a bottle of water. I ate only a little of the fries and shake but they gave me a great salt-sweet combination. Thank you, McDonald's staff, for being there!

On The Road: Lunch at Arthur Bryant

Arthur Bryant makes a great lunch stop on a road trip. The crowd was about ehat I would expect for a weekend lunch. The staff was very friendly and gracious. I am once again grateful for their hospitality. I went with a straight rib lunch. Given that I could eat quickly, I sat at a table and enjoyed. My meal was perfect, as always.

Carrot Souffle

Carrot souffle is one of the wonderful dishes to which I was introduced in Atlanta. This batch is the best I've made in awhile. I followed Emeril Lagasse's recipe with the addition of some ginger. The result was both delicate, thanks to the uplift from baking powder, and luscious with butter and eggs.

Porterhouse Steak Dinner

I have a few porterhouse steaks from Loeffel Meat Shoppe stashed in my freezer. I pulled one out, let it thaw, and put it on the grill. My classic steak dinner was served with home fries and tender steamed asparagus. This meal was summer on a plate and I am truly grateful.

Coffee Cake

Coffee cake is a good treat and a great breakfast item. I used my bundt pan to make a batch from the recipe in the King Arthur cookbook. That recipe includes some streusel embedded in the middle of the cake. Sour cream made it moist. The crumb is firm enough to survive dunking. I very much enjoyed and appreciate my coffee cake.