Thursday, February 28, 2013

I'm so usually level headed....

But oops... maybe not tonight!

I was driving out of my development tonight and nearly collided with a delivery person...  I texted my friend who got the delivery so I would know where it came from...  I'm usually very forgiving, but this kid nearly hit me... roaring in and out of the development with out care of the posted speed limits <and certainly not with care of other drivers on the road> I'm a bit ticked by it.

I called to speak to a manager...  I was totally brushed off.  In a way that infuriated me... 'Oh, I'm sorry, but it was OK - you didn't get hit...'  Um.. OK - I didn't get hit, but no mention of how irresponsible this driver was???  I got a bit ticked and decided that I will go to websites like Yahoo...Yelp and review... (and will do to any other web site that I can leave a review) because I will say - I'm not looking for anything...just to point out that these teenager delivery kids need to be careful on a delivery... and trust me... I've had them deliver with no issue and have over tipped these kids... HOWEVER... when I called tonight - and asked for the manager... this John brushed me off completely.  His entire attitude was 'seriously, you didn't get hit, so why are you calling?"

Tough for me... as food quality is just as important as customer service... and this John  FAILED completely at customer service.  A simple.. OK, I'll talk to my delivery guys would have sufficed... but he felt the need to try and make ME think I was in the wrong. SERIOUSLY? I did express to John that because of HIS attitude (not even the delivery guy) I will not be ordering from Marinos... (and I do via work and personally as I live in Amityville)..

If I were reviewing "food" only... I'd give 4 stars...they have great specials and their food is really good... However... I have to throw customer service into my review...

And I've just had a delivery experience - and Manager experience - that makes me think 2 stars are more than plenty... frankly - 1 is generous.

my yelp review... "I order from Marinos a lot...through work and personal...and love the food.. but tonight, a neighbor ordered for delivery...and I nearly got my car hit by the delivery person - roaring in and out of the development like speed limits and speed bumps were not a concern.... My car certainly was not.  I called the store and spoke to the manager John who was so flip and not concerned... He totally turned me off from Marinos.  No "I'm sorry" (which was all I was looking for) no acknowledgement of a wrong doing... just ... eh.. OK. Kids will be kids.

I'm sorry to miss Marions food... but their customer service lacks so much that I will go to another pizza place who I know takes their customer service seriously. Had the Manger John even just said "I'm sorry" .. there would have been no issue... But he felt the need to defend his delivery person... and OK.. but had I been hit.. The delivery guy, and the store would have been liable.  John didn't think so... maybe he needs to brush up on law.. but either way, he wanted me to think that wasn't true.  OK. What ever.  I know better...but regardless - the employee was wrong... the manager was completely wrong and apparently Marions doesn't care.

Check out my blog... I'm spreading it around with this horrible service so that no one else nearly gets in an accident for an errant delivery person...

Until Next Time...
EAT... (but NOT at Marinos)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rav-i-oli...making Ravioli...

Hi Friends!

I have the old Scout song in my head... I remember my brothers coming home from camp or some scout related thing singing:

"Ravioli, I like ravioli.
Ravioli, It's the best for me.
Have I got it on my chin?
Yes, you have it on your chin.
On my chin?
On your chin. OH-h-h-h."

So as I write this blog...I have that in my head...(actually, and I'd bet I have my mom <who was a scout leader for years> to thank for the fact that I know these lyrics in french better than the American ones!)... but my version is a touch different...

"Ravioli, making Ravioli
Ravioli, making it from scratch
Cranking out the dough so long
make sure your arm is strong
Strong to crank,
all night long.Oh-h-h-h."

Oh I crack me up!

So Saturday night I had the pleasure to join my cooking Meet Up group for a very hands on look at Italian food (and after my horrible experience in NC last weekend...I was craving some hands on Italian food!).  The event was called "Appetite...A Hunger for Italy" which happens to be the name of the novel that our hostess for the evening wrote.  Elena* Bertozzi opened up her home to us and taught us how to make amazing Ravioli!
*pronounced Ellen-a

Elena's book ... I got a signed hard copy and have started reading!

I was so excited to start the process, that I totally forgot to take pictures of the dough making process...but it was so simple!  While it was measured by weight, it was equal parts of AP flour and Semolina, a touch of salt and three eggs with an egg yolk for good measure.  Put that all in the food processor until it comes together and forms a ball ... then let it go one minute more.  Take out, wrap in plastic and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

(I remember 20+ years ago trying to make pasta after seeing it done on a PBS cooking show...a mound of flour, a well, eggs and mixing it...hence why I never tried to make pasta again - too messy! Now.. honestly there is no reason that I can't make it fresh when ever I want!)

Once the dough was done and resting, we started on the fillings...the first was Spinach and Swiss Chard sauteed and then mixed in the processor with ricotta (again..forgot a pic..) but the second was Peas and ricotta mixed with smoked salmon. 

I was really unsure if I'd like this, as while I love salmon, I'm not a fan of the strong flavor and texture of smoked salmon.  However, after one of the pickiest eaters I know tried it - I had to.  I really found it to be quite delicious!  The smoked salmon was a very nice compliment to the sweet peas with out being over powering...and with it being processed together, the texture was not an issue.  I'd make this again!

Once the fillings were done...on to making the sheets of pasta.  Elena had a pasta maker clamped to her work bench, and on the biggest setting, we just fed the pasta through a couple of times...letting the machine do the 'kneeding' of the dough.

Starting out...running it through a few times
Ready to start getting smaller and thinner!
Completed sheet of pasta
Once we had the sheet long enough to fill the mold, fill the mold we did...

Filling with the Peas and Salmon
Folding over the pasta and pressing to seal

Out comes the finished product!
We made three different sauces for the Ravioli...One was a simple Sage and Brown Butter sauce... Just a lump of butter...let it melt with sprigs of sage... a simple but delicious sauce!
Just pull out the sage and coat the pasta!
Another was the sun dried tomatoes, braised in red wine and tomato sauce added in...the two different types of tomatoes really added a depth of flavor to this sauce - and I'll be using this trick in the future!

Before the tomato sauce was added 
Adding sauce made from good, sweet Italian canned tomatoes
 And what I think was my favorite... a Walnut kind of pesto sauce...
This is a friend making more of this sauce, but the first
batch is in the small green bowl to the top left.
This sauce started with grinding up garlic with salt to make a garlic paste...then slowly adding walnuts and a piece of ripped up crusty bread...keep grinding (a mortar and pestle is best!)... then add some parsley and milk...keep grinding... add more milk until you get a consistency you like.

We cooked the Ravioli just about seven minutes until the pasta was cooked (and floating)...

and then tossed it in the sauce of choice... here is the walnut one!
At this point, my phone was on the speakers playing Pandora's blend of Italian music for mood, so no further pictures were taken...although I did want to share how pretty this one was...  Elena put leaves of Italian parsley into the dough and then fed it through the pasta maker... 
How Gorgeous is that!
So my friends, the moral of this story is...take a cooking class!  Whether you know how to cook, like to cook, can't cook or just want a fun night out - what a fun night it was.  You learn about food, the process, different ways to do something (like making free form ravioli if you don't have a mold!) and new recipes to try.

I'm already researching recipes on different fillings for some ravioli so I can make something different for Dave.  Braised short ribs... and maybe a seafood one for me.  Hey, do you think I can use my Madeline cookie mold to make ravioli? 
I think this will make cool looking Made-olie's!
I bet I shocked some of you with two posts in two days!  I'm pretty shocked my self, but I did promise to blog more... and hey - so long as someone is reading... I'll keep writing...

Someone is reading, right??

Until Next Time...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Girls Weekend - Baby baby horses and Crock Pot Sauce...

Hello Friends!

Its been a busy few weeks for me...How about you?  The day after my fantastic Valentine's Day at White Castle...I left at 6am to pick up my Mom and Step mom for a 10 hour road trip to Thurmond, North Carolina. Why?  Cause that's where my baby sister Amanda lives and works.  Along with my sister Kris and my niece Rachel went to spend President's weekend visiting Amanda, her baby, Trinity...and the other 40+ horses on Double Tail Farm where Amanda works.

Amanda and Trinity...
 Surprisingly, the ride, while long - was smooth and relatively easy.  We made it to Amanda's house just after she left for work - so of course, we went to the farm instead.

Amanda is on the night baby watch (and has been for a few months) - two of the pregnant horses are close to having their babies.  I'm super sure there are technical horse terms for that..."dropping a foul" ?? but every time I think of that, I see in my head a baby horse being dropped on its head.  I'd prefer that image never cross my mind (though aren't you glad I put that picture in your head??) 

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  There is lots more to talk about before we get to the wagon rides, horse rides and all and all good fun on the farm.

We arrived about 4:30pm or so - and after getting a tour of the barns...meeting my niece Horse Trinity...

Isn't she gorgeous?!?
We left to shop, get settled in and pick up some dinner (while waiting for Kristy and Rachel to arrive).  Amanda really wanted to see us and visit...(as when she gets home at 7am, she goes right to bed!) - so we picked up some "Italian" <I use this term very loosely, as to not insult the Italians for the food we ate...more below>  food and had a barn picnic. 

Yes.   I said Barn Picnic.

As Kristy said to Amanda... "This is love right here..."  as I'm sure you can imagine eating dinner standing around a feed bin, surrounded by all the lovely sights, sounds and smells of a horse farm and about a zillion barn cats wanting in on the meal isn't the most pleasant thing in the world ... but we had fun with it!

Preparing the 'table'...a food bin covered in a sheet!

Barn Picnic.  Can you tell by Kristy's face how much fun it is! =)
But I have to tell you - I'll Barn Picnic any day of the week before I eat the so-called 'italian' food that Mazzini's in Elkin served.  Ellen did give fair warning that it wasn't the best Italian food... and I'd beg to differ to call it Italian food at all.... Though aside from not having Veal Parm (um.. Italian? what??) and forgetting my Manicotti and Ellen's meatballs all together...I was the "lucky" one to then get stuck eating Amanda's Mozzarella sticks appetizer for my dinner.  You can't really mess up a Mozzarella Stick.  Except if you put it with canned tomato sauce with no seasoning.  I'm not even sure I'd call it tomato sauce at this point.  Thank God they forgot my Manicotti!  That's all I'll say about that - other than I'll never go back and never eat there again.

Next day - we had a late breakfast before going to the farm for a wagon ride.  I had to do it...order the Heart Attack on a plate - but I hardly ever eat this stuff...and it was so freaking delicious!   Yes, my friends...buttery grits and biscuits and sausage gravy.  (Yup..I barely looked at the can get eggs anywhere!).

Bet you can guess how well that sat, as we bumped around on a wagon pulled by two beautiful Belgians, huh?

Poor Amanda on about Three hours of sleep - but she was a trooper!  She helped hitch up Juniper and Susie for our ride...



Amanda driving...this is something new she's learning!

Rachel and Grandma

Kristy, Rachel and GranE
I became totally fascinated with one particular horse in the barn...Glory - on of the pregnant horses.  She is gorgeous...and HUGE.  The biggest horse I've ever seen in my life.  I'm not kidding... Amanda is 6'1 and while next to Trinity (who is still a large horse) - you can see Amanda's head over the horse.  If Amanda is standing on the other side of Glory ... can't see Manda. By a few feet.  Huge.

This is my big, mit of a man hand next to the horse's head. 
I've never felt so dainty in my life. Her head is as long as I am from head to stomach! 
 Anyhow - the next day (no babies born that night...we were all disappointed) Amanda took Trinity out for a run, romp and ride... and got Rachel and Ellen to ride!  It was a fun, funny day!
Trin first out of her stall... shaking things loose!

Manda.."how much she trusts her horse"...while grooming

Rachel getting ready!

Rachel's first Trinity Ride!

Ellen's too!
All the while we were playing with the horses on the farm... Back at Amanda's house, the slow cooker was working its magic!  You had to know I wasn't going to NOT cook while I was there, right??  Especially after we ate that horrible Italian food and my baby sister didn't know any better that it was worse than crap.  I had to remind her what tomato sauce really tasted like. 

So:  Crock Pot Tomato Sauce... easy for her to throw together and come home to lovely smells after a day (or night) in the barns.   Now - keep in mind... I made copious amounts of sauce, enough for two trays of baked ziti, 4 cutlets of chicken parm and lots of extras for re-heating.  I couldn't leave my sisters house with out stocking her freezer full of ready made, easy to heat up meals while she is on baby duty.

I started off by browning 2 pounds of chopped meat, with onions and garlic... Once brown, I transferred it into the crock pot.

I had basic seasonings to work with...just Salt, Pepper and Italian seasoning... I seasoned the meat as I went (all to taste!)
 After the Meat was browned, I sauteed more onions with garlic until translucent...
 Added in the tomato paste to cook... then added chicken stock and let simmer for a few minutes...
 Tossed the onions/tomato paste into the crock pot, with three cans of tomatoes...mixed, seasoned and let go on high heat for about 5 hours...
And while I don't have a picture of this process...I boiled the pasta in salted water until just under al dente ... drained, tossed with sauce and ricotta cheese...layered in a pan with more cheese and baked until golden and bubbling...
And this - my friends is what I filled my sisters fridge and freezer with.... Yes, I was channeling my "inner Italian grandmother" (OK, so I'm not Italian, but I really believe we all have a bit of an Italian grandma in us) - I needed to make sure she ate well!

It is now Sunday evening...Kristy and Rachel left for home...Amanda at work and Mom, Ellen and I will be leaving early tomorrow for the long drive home.  With plenty of ziti for dinner...we go back to the barn to have a farewell dinner with Amanda.  Though this time, its so cold we can't be out by the feed bins...but tucked into the itty bitty monitoring room with a space heater to eat ziti.  It really was a good time!
Yes..that is the door at my Mom's back...and Amanda's hand
is touching the back wall!  Tiny! 
All in all, it was a very nice weekend.  It was great to see my sister doing what she loves...I loved seeing the horses and have a very healthy respect for anyone who works with them!  And while I can't wait to go back and see Amanda, and the babies that will be born in the coming days and weeks... I will second Kristy's suggestion that the next girls weekend be someplace sans a barn... a spa maybe??

Until Next Time...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentines Day!!

Hello Friends!!!

Happy Valentines Day to all!  I have so much to say..l but first...

XOXOXO to my most amazing Husband for sending me flowers today... I love them..I love you.. Thank you!!
Now - let me tell you, its Valentine's day - and I never get my husband on a holiday - but I am lucky enough that my good friend asked me to join her and her friends for a tradition...

Valentines Day at White Castle.

Ah.. heard me...

Valentines Day... at White Castle!!

Drive past it - weeks before and you'll see the signs to "make you're reservation"...

They aren't kidding...

Make a reservation...

when you get there - you are seated by a hostess.. (Mary was our wonderful Lady of the Evening - and she was amazing!!)

They decorate!
Our Group... three tables long!
You are given a menu (granted, it is a WC menu...but none the less..)
The menu

Nothing you couldn't order from the regular menu.. just
jazzed up a bit for the holiday!


Your table is covered by a table cloth, and set with your reservation name... The whole restaurant is decorated and each table setting is changed and made fresh for the next guest.

Your waitress (Yes... a waitress) takes your order, from the regular menu of White Castle...and brings it to you.  And you can bring 'additions'... wine, desserts, what ever!

Go - Have fun with it!! 

The group I went with had desserts, wine and we all had a fun time!!
a slider mask... I brought it home with me!!

My Dinner.3 cheese burgers and Onion Rings... I ate 2 of them ...each! lol

Building a WC 'house of cards' ... Fantastic!!

Fantastic little Cupcakes for dessert..

Along with amazing Chocolate Covered Strawberries... My Favorite!!!
The setting...
The Group!
My New mask!!  I LOVE IT!!!  =) Though I wish there
was a slice of cheese on it!!

Until Next Time...