Showing posts with label events and exploration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label events and exploration. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

strawberry pickin

So, it has been a bit since I have done a post like this, but I really wanted to share with you all our family's experience picking strawberries this summer. We found a small organic farm here in Memphis, tucked away in a suburban neighborhood (of all places). After driving to a part of town that neither I (a native Memphian) or my husband (a transplant) have ventured to before, we easily found Windermere Farms.

The great thing was they were open til 6pm so we went one evening after my hubs got off work. We were given a couple of boxes and were let loose in the fields. The kids quickly spotted the red berries and were excited to help pick some fruit. They were also excited to take a few bites on some straight from the vine. (Probably should have given a couple of extra bucks for the berries that were eaten on site.) Anyway, for a big box that you are allowed to heap full with fresh organic berries you only pay $16!

Plus, it was great to show the kids. They not only running through the fields and picking berries, but there was also a couple of homemade seesaws they took advantage of too. It was a wonderful way to spend sunset before we went home to cook dinner. And of course, there were fresh strawberries for dessert.

We put the rest in the fridge and ate on them for a week. After that, I made a big batch of homemade strawberry honey jam. We have been enjoying that in PB&J sammies at lunch and on croissants at breakfast. My sister-in-law recently came for a visit and gobbled up some of the jam too. We have already gone through one jar and started another one!

Most of all it was a great experience as a family. We had a wonderful time getting outside and getting some fresh goodies together. I look forward to returning for pick your own blueberries and blackberries in the near future. We may even venture to another local orchard to pick our own peaches. Just think of the preserves I can put up. We will be tasting summer all year long.

Speaking of taste, I should mention these berries were delicious. The kids would ask for bowl after bowl as we splashed in the sprinklers in our backyard. The were juicy, tart, and sweet. Summer in its most perfect form. I am kicking myself for not making some strawberry shortcake before we ate our way through them.

So, if you get a chance take your family out to Windermere Organic Farm and pick your own berries. It is good, clean, and tasty family fun!

Friday, April 1, 2011

can't we all just get along

As I have told you all many times before, when the carnivore and I first started dating a hundred years ago, we did not know how to make dinner work every night. So, our solution - eat out - a lot! Now, as this blog is proof of, you can certainly make meals for both vegetarians and carnivores work without much hassle at home, we do still indulge in the occasional night on the town (that is when we can con the grandparents into watching the baby).

But, as we have navigated the restaurant waters for years there are a few pieces of advice I wanted to share with you on eating together too. These are things that may or may not be obvious. Let's dive in:

1) Mexican and Italian are great, seafood places not so much. Asian is also good. In fact, most ethnic foods are an excellent choice. The carnivore can scarf down carnitas, while the veghead can eat cheese enchiladas. Or he can have spaghetti and meatballs while you get fettucine alfredo. You catch my drift. These places have lots of options for all kinds of diets. However, for some reason seafood places just don't. There are sides for sure - but who wants a dinner of hush puppies and slaw? Just steer clear - trust me.

2) Don't be scared of the steakhouse. I know it sounds nuts, but I love going to steakhouses with the carnivore, and vice versa. He gets his meat on, while I stuff myself with rich sides and huge salads. Oh, and the fancy cocktails are fun too. We actually ring in the new year every year this way. The carnivore also likes that I am a relatively cheap date. (Same holds true at hibachi places by the way.)

3) Ask how they make things / what is in it. Don't assume, especially in the South that your veggies will be meat free. Ask the waiter if the salad comes with bacon bits. Ask if the soup if chicken broth based. Ask is your green beans were sauteed in ham hock. Just ask. It is better to know before the dish arrives at your table and you have to send it back. Or worse - you get a belly ache from unknown meat products.

4) Look at the menu before you go if you can. The carnivore is really good at doing this for me. I actually think its really sweet. And almost everywhere has a menu online these days. You can even find apps on your phone that will let you know if there are a few veg-friendly dishes. So use these tools!

5) Be specific in what you order. My carnivore is always asking for veggies to be left out, while I am always asking for the meat to be removed. We often make a joke with our waitress - "no veggies / all meat for him, please, and all veggies / no meat for me!" Make it as easy on them as you can, but be specific. Tell them you are a vegetarian. Really, they don't want to get your order wrong any more then you want a plate piled with high with meat you can't eat.

6) Go local when you can. They are more likely to accommodate special orders. The carnivore and I love finding new local joints for several reasons. We like supporting our small businesses. We love when they use fresh and local produce. And best of all, they are really wonderful at accommodating diet restrictions. Unlike large chains, even when something isn't on the menu, their chefs are always happy to switch something out or change something around for our tastes.

7) Its okay to just order sides, but don't expect us to live on baked potatoes and salads alone. Look, let's face it, sometimes us vegetarians are going to be stuck ordering sides. Its just a fact of life. And one, we really don't mind most of the time. Just don't take us to several places in a row where we have very few options. Its just not fun - or fair - or even necessary with all the great options out there these days.

8) Finally, don't read every vegetarian thing on the menu aloud. I know you are just trying to be helpful, but the truth is - we can read - and make decisions on what we want to eat. This is a personal pet peeve of mine. It never fails that when I go out with a group someone, usually a well intentioned person, tries to help me scour the menu for things I can eat. Truthfully, I am better at this than most meateters so I don't need the help. Also, we don't read all the meat dishes to you. Its kinda condescending - like how you might mention to a kid that they have hot dogs on a menu. So, just let us figure it out - please!

Hope these tips helps!

P.S. Please forgive the quality of this photo. It was taken with my iPhone on our last date night.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

phillie phanatic

The carnivore and I recently went on a trip to the east coast. We got to hang out with our family and friends in Maryland, Delaware, D.C., and Pennsylvania. In each place we had a great time and great food. We sampled everything from Boog's bar-b-que sandwich at Camden Yards in Baltimore (well, the carnivore did) to lavender ice cream on the boardwalk at Rehoboth's famous Udder Delight Ice Cream House (well, I did) to a classic big breakfast at Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington (which had fake sausage that was so good even the carnivore was fooled). But, our biggest accomplishment was in Philadelphia. In the city of brotherly love we managed to find a cheese steak for both of us. Can you believe it?

Now, for the carnivore this wasn't much of a challenge. Cheese steaks are all over Philly. There are the famous places, like Pat's and Geno's (for the record the carnivore is a fan of Pat's), and little dives all over the city. The carnivore found this one near his sister's house at at small spot called Chubby's. He ordered his with American cheese, not the traditional whiz. He also asked for his without - i.e. without veggies - go figure.

The bigger challenge was finding a cheese steak for me, the lone vegetarian in the family, in this meat haven. Luckily there is a tiny place my sister-in-law found for me called Govinda's To Go that caters just to people like me. All the creations have the traditional taste but use mock meat. And let me just say, it was amazing! Not only did I not have to get laughed out of line at one of the traditional places, but I also didn't have to settle for just veggies and cheese. There were real "steak" bits in my sesame roll.
To top things off we also tried another Philly traditional food - water ice. We ordered our water ice with soft serve at the recommendation of my sister-in-law and her boyfriend (who both ordered theirs this way, one with vanilla ice cream like mine and one with chocolate). The carnivore had the lime, while I had the strawberry, like our tour guides. I have to tell you I sampled both, and I definitely won. Lesson learned for the carnivore - listen to the locals.

Like I said, we had a wonderful trip, some incredible food, and even got to hang out with some pretty cool folks (the phillie phanatic included - and yes that overly excited girl is me). So, if you are a mixed diet family traveling around the east coast (or anywhere for that matter), take time to find the places that serve up the traditional dishes for all members of your family. If I can find a vegetarian cheese steak, it can be done. I promise.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

a bushel and a peck

The carnivore and I are trying hard to eat more locally grown products. To do this we not only planting herbs and tomatoes in our own yard, we are also hitting up the local farmers' markets. Occasionally, however, we are lucky enough to go straight to the source. Early this summer we had a chance to pick our own strawberries. It was a fun experience that helped us get more connected with our food. Not to mention we came away with the sweetest berries you can imagine. So, when we saw a notice in the local paper that we could pick our own peaches at a local orchard (Jones Orchard in Millington, TN) we hopped at the chance.The orchard was just a short drive outside of the city. And while we had no idea where we were going it was pretty easy to spot once we found this sign -With directions from a helpful young man we headed a bit further down the dirt road and ended up in the orchard. Well, the first part of the orchard. This part had white peaches.
A bit further down the road we also found red and yellow peaches. The trees were heavy with fruit. Picking was pretty easy (just a bit hot - but that is Memphis this time of year).
So, we got our bushel bucket and picked a few of each variety. We by no means filled it up, but we got plenty for the two of us (and they only cost a bit more than four bucks).
It was great to have the carnivore around to reach the little gems that were hiding up high.I was able to pick a few of the low lying beauties myself even if I am vertically challenged. (FYI - if two short people do go, they have a handy gettin' stick to help you shake the fruit from the trees).On our way out, we stopped by the farm's roadside stand where, of course they had pre-picked peaches, but they had so many other offerings.All in all it was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. We came home with lots of local goodies. And, the peaches were amazing. I loved getting to try the different varieties. I used many in fresh juice drinks and we grilled a few, but they would have been divine in a pie or a cake, if we hadn't just had both recently...not that the carnivore would have minded!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

take me out to the ball game

Memphis has its own minor league baseball team and the carnivore and I love going to cheer on the Redbirds. Plus any excuse to have some ballpark food and a few beers in the middle of a hot, humid summer day is a good thing. The carnivore and I always find lots to enjoy there. In fact AutoZone Park was recently named one of PETA's "Top Ten Vegetarian-Friendly Minor League Ballparks."
Our first stop is usually the watering hole. They have a large selection of beers on draft and other adult beverages. My favorite lately is the Blue Moon on tap, complete with an orange slice.Then before we head to our seats we stop for a snack. There are some healthy snacks, like turkey wraps, fruit cups, popcorn or pretzels. We honestly have never tried these, but they look just fine.
And of course there are peanuts and crackerjacks. In fact, there are a variety of hot roasted flavored nuts to choose from. We liked the cinnamon sugar pecans.
Later on, we go back to concessions for more. The carnivore can pick from hot dogs, corn dogs, buffalo chicken fingers, or even pizza. But why choose any of those when there are the world famous Rendezvous bar-b-que nachos, complete with sausage and cheese?
I stick to the cheese fries and veggie dogs myself. My only complaint really is I can't get cheese on my veggie dog. (Note to Redbirds - please change this!) But, all of the other fixins are available. And I have heard rumors of a black bean burger in the season ticket holder section.

Then there is dessert, of course. They have everything from dippin dots to frozen lemonade. For the kid in you there is cotton candy. And, on a hot day there is nothing better than a soft serve ice cream cone.

It is a great way to spend a day. There is certainly plenty for carnivores or vegetarians to eat. And if you are lucky, when it gets dark you can even enjoy the fireworks show.

So, if you are ever in Memphis on a game day come stop by the best minor league stadium around and enjoy some good baseball grub.

Monday, June 15, 2009

breakfast nachos

As we were wrapping up our trip in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, the carnivore introduced me and our friends to yet another amazing restaurant that had found in the guide books or message boards or wherever he keeps finding these places. It was a little off the beaten path, but worth the walk. It has a long name, but we ended up just calling it the monkey place...
We went to the monkey place for breakfast (but it is open for other meals). We all started with drinks. A couple of my friends ordered fresh fruit drinks, but the ones that ordered the banana milkshakes won the taste test hands down. (Go figure - it is the monkey place, after all.)But, my coffee was good and came in the cutest little terracotta set.
The menu was extensive. Our group ordered everything from salad to crepes. It all looked yummy and fresh. And, several of the dishes came with super salty black beans.But, I think I ordered the best dish. It was something called chilaquiles. I can only really describe it as breakfast nachos, really good breakfast nachos. There was a layer of sauce that the menu said was made of red and green tomatoes and xcatic chili. This was topped with handmade tortilla chips, which was then topped with a creamy coriander sauce with onions. Finally, two eggs sunny side up and a couple of slices of avocado.
It was nothing short of amazing! It still has my head spinning of ways I can make nachos for breakfast now that I am back home...

Friday, June 12, 2009

when in mexico eat thai food

One of the reasons the carnivore and I love Playa Del Carmen so much is that it has really great Mexican food (which I could eat everyday and not get tired of) and since there are many Italian ex-pats here, there is also really good Italian food (the carnivores favorite food). But, there are also many other types of ethnic offerings. We like the Mayan food offered at Yaxche and even had our rehearsal dinner there. There are even Lebanese places and and Sushi bars. This time the carnivore and I decided to try another one of our favorite foods - Thai. We found a great little place called Babes.
It was decorated with lots of pin-up girl paraphenalia. No wonder it caught the carnivore's eye...
The carnivore order a few beers but I started the meal with what I can only describe as the world's biggest mango daquari.We then ordered some yummy apps. The carnivore had cicken satay and I had refreshing vegetarian spring rolls. And, as the menu stated - they were very fresh.For dinner the carnivore ordered the deep fried thai shrimp. I ordered the same thing in tofu form, but as the waitress informed me, "We are a Thai restaruant, but sometimes we are Mexican. We are out of tofu today." I was a little amused and a little bummed, but I ordered the veggie Pad Thai. The carnivore devoured his and mine was fine - just a tad sweet. I think I was still lusting for tofu.All in all it was excellent and fresh. The atmosphere was also fun. Plus, the next day, the carnivore stopped and got my some tofu while I was working from the beach. And, it was worth the wait. So, when in Mexico, eat some Thai food. You won't be dissapointed.

Monday, June 8, 2009

100% natural

Hello from Mexico! That's right, I am coming to you this week from my favorite place on the planet - Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. It also happens to be the place where the carnivore and I said our vows. So, I may not have a lot of cooking recipes this week, but there will be drink recipes coming and, like today, places we love to eat when we are here. Today, I bring you 100% natural.
We love this place mostly for breakfast. It has nice eggs dishes and fresh juices to start the day. But, before I can do any of that I have to have coffee! However, there is no splenda here to sweeten your cup, only natural brown sugar.
Now to breakfast itself. They have offering such as apple and cinnamon hotcakes and chocolate croissants, but we like a little more protein to start the day. The carnivore ordered an open face sandwich of eggs and ham on nutty brown bread (which he promptly made into a sandwich).I had eggs mexicanas which included spicy peppers, cheese, and onions with a side of buttery brown bread. It is also served with a side of refried beans - a wonderful addition early in the day.I also had an amazing juice drink which was a combination of guava, orange, and pineapple juices. Yum! The perfect cure for a hangover too...This place is a chain, so you can find it other places in Mexico. But, if you are in Playa, you can't go wrong stopping here to start your day.
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