Sunday, October 26, 2014

Costco and Fleming's for the Win

I'm going to brag about my Dad's 95 birthday dinner, which we held at Fleming's Steakhouse.

I had decided on Fleming's and was reading on-line reviews for ordering suggestions.  One reviewer mentioned that Costco carries Flemings gift cards at $80 for $100.  I figured there had to be a catch. I imagined only being able to use one, or not being able to use the card for alcohol.

I did not have any problems using multiple cards.

Fleming's served my Costco birthday cake, which I had pre-ordered, and brought over that afternoon. I had special candles. Fleming's first presented the cake with candles, then cut and served it at the table.

At my request, Fleming's printed menus without prices, even printing children's menus, which I didn't expect.  

I was so proud of the little girls, who behaved with great sophistication, only having to safari to the ladies room three times.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lentils, Carolyn Kizer, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and William Butler Yeats

Because of my new found respect for quinoa, while looking 
without success in my West Nashville Costco for quinoa, I stumbled upon a product, new to me - Lentil Trio. Since I figured lentils are healthy in the same way as quinoa (18 grams of protein per cup), I decided lentils could be substituted for quinoa; lentils would be another weapon in my effort to infuse more complex carbohydrates into our diet.   

The three color lentils at Costco are beautiful, and I thought, mistakenly, that beautiful raw lentils might result in beautiful cooked lentils.  Lentils, as you probably know, look like mud when cooked. A tip - tri-colored lentils look just like any other lentils once cooked - like mud.

Here's Mud Soup by poet Carolyn Kizer who passed away last week at the age of 89.  If you've ever spent the day with a recipe from the New York Times and been disappointed in the result, this poem is for you.

"Mud Soup"
by Carolyn Kizer

Had the ham bone, had the lentils,
Got to meat store for the salt pork,
Got to grocery for the celery.
Had the onions, had the garlic,
Borrowed carrots from the neighbor.
Had the spices, had the parsley.
One big kettle I had not got;
Borrowed pot and lid from landlord.
Dice the pork and chop the celery,
Chop the onions, chop the carrots,
Chop the tender index finger.
Put the kettle on the burner,
Drop the lentils into kettle:
Two quarts water, two cups lentils.
Afternoon is wearing on.
Sauté pork and add the veggies,
Add the garlic, cook ten minutes,
Add to lentils, add to ham bone;
Add the bayleaf, cloves in cheesecloth,
Add the cayenne! Got no cayenne!
Got paprika, salt and pepper.
Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer.
Did I say that this is summer?
Simmer, summer, summer, simmer.
Mop the floor and suck the finger.
Mop the brow with old potholder.
Time is up! Discard the cheesecloth.
Force the mixture thru the foodmill
(having first discarded ham bone).
Add the lean meat from the ham bone;
Reheat soup and chop the parsley.
Now that sweating night has fallen,
Try at last the finished product:
Tastes like mud, the finished product.
Looks like mud, the finished product.
Consistency of mud the dinner.
(Was it lentils, Claiborne, me?)
Flush the dinner down disposall,
Say to hell with ham bone, lentils,
New York Times's recipe.
Purchase Campbell's. Just add water.
Concentrate on poetry:
By the shores of Gitche Gumee
You can bet the banks were muddy,
Not like Isle of Innisfree.

Here's a tiny bit of The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow which she referenced.

On the shores of Gitche Gumee,
Of the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood Nokomis, the old woman,
Pointing with her finger westward,
O'er the water pointing westward,
To the purple clouds of sunset.

And, here's The Lake Isle of Innisfree by William Butler Yeats, the final poem Carolyn Kizer references in Mud Soup:

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

don't believe all lentil recipes have to taste like mud, and, if I figure out one that doesn't, I'll post it.

Friday, October 10, 2014

West Nashville Costco Gas Pumps Certified Accurate

In all of my...mumble...mumble..."many" years of driving, I had never actually seen the state regulators in action at a gas pump.  

The Department of Transportation in each state tests the calibration of gas pumps to make sure they are accurate. I think regulators check both the measurement of the gallons and the octane, and I always wondered how that was done and why I had never run into anyone doing it.

This morning I ran into these regulators at West Nashville Costco. The testing truck was pretty snazzy. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Costco Quinoa Salad in the Costco Deli Section

Two things make me a quinoa fan - Alzheimer's research and the quinoa salad at Costco. I'm going to talk about Alzheimer's research first, so, if you would rather skip that, go directly to the last paragraph.

Last week, an article was published in Aging, a respected research periodical, in which UCLA researchers announced the results of a study showing for the first time a reversal of memory loss. If you haven't been following this issue, memory loss is almost impossible to stop and has been completely impossible to reverse. For the first time, the UCLA program showed an ability to reverse symptoms. What did they do? Everything they could to improve the test subjects' health.

Most scientific studies focus on one variable, manipulate that and document any changes. The UCLA study changed everything, from adding vitamins to encouraging tooth flossing, to adding an hour of exercise 4-6 times per week.  Among these changes was a dietary reduction in simple carbohydrates.  An article about the study specifically mentioned that test subjects substituting quinoa for rice.

I had been equating quinoa with brown rice or couscous, but after hearing about the UCLA study, I did some resesrch and discovered that quinoa is more of a seed or nut than a refined grain like rice. One cup of quinoa has 26 grams of protein compared to 5 grams in a cup of brown rice or 8 grams in a cup of couscous.  Based on this, I've become convinced that quinoa is worth substituting for rice in most recipes. For some time, we've believed that complex carbohydrates are better than simple carbohydrates. Now, a possible connection with brain health makes complex carbohydrates even more attractive.

The Costco Quinoa Salad includes cucumber and red pepper, which add crunchiness, tomatoes, brown rice, and mung beans.  The vinaigrette dressing tastes about half vinegar/lemon juice to half oil; the oil is soybean.  The quinoa salad is $4.99 a pound and sold in two pound packages.