I’m too tired and busy this week to really write substantial posts, but since it’s been a few days, I’ll give you a quick glimpse of my sleepy mind. I got five hours of sleep last night. I jerked awake when my alarm went off, still thinking I was inside the dream I was having where I was at a conference in the world’s most ghetto hotel, and I was worried about the safety of the people I was with. I didn’t know what that means–I’m never very good at interpreting dreams–but I did know that I needed caffeine fast.
My friends Betty and Melanie, and my college roommate Sarah got me hooked on coffee in college. Back then, I slept whenever I wanted to and didn’t care if I was up until 4 in the morning, so I drank coffee at all hours of the day and night. Now, I’m hooked on caffeine and will actually get headaches if I don’t get it in the mornings. I am annoyed with myself for being addicted to it, but I don’t really care enough to do something about it. Ever since I got braces (stupid things), I am not supposed to drink coffee. But I do. Nothing starts my day off better, particularly when I can go to Starbucks and get my favorite–tall nonfat white mocha with peppermint. Ahhh.
Drinks are definitely my comfort food. When I’ve had a rough day, I sit on the couch and drink Diet Cokes until I forget about it. If it came from Sonic and has a little cherry in it, all the better My sisters and I celebrate good things with trips to Starbucks. When it’s too hot for coffee, I like their passion iced tea. I’ve even got my hubby drinking it. A little.
Anybody else out there do this? Have a food or drink that never fails to lift your spirits?
As usual, I’m thinking about food. I just finished my blueberry muffin breakfast and I’m already contemplating lunch and wondering if I can find an excuse to get myself to town this afternoon in time for Sonic’s Happy Hour. I got hooked on Sonic drinks during the Writing Project, and now that I don’t drive by it every day I feel deprived.
For the past seveal years, I have spent my summers watching the Food Network and cooking a lot. I had a great time watching Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis, Emeril, and Paula Deen, picking up tips, and picking out recipes to try on my very willing husband. I have even considered cooking as among my favorite activities, which was a surprise to me, since for the first 20 or so years of my life, I would have much rather been reading a book. My husband says I’m not bad in the kitchen either. At least, I’ve come a long way from that first year we were married, when my fried chicken ended up half burned and half raw, and the poor guy tried to eat it anyway.
But not so much this summer. I just don’t feel motivated. Maybe it’s because most of my favorite Food Network shows aren’t running as much as they used to. After she started this new talk show, Rachael Ray quit doing as many of her Food Network shows, like $40 a Day, which I loved. After she had this baby, Giada seems to have cut way back on her Everyday Italian. And I guess since I’m not tuning in for those two as much, maybe it just seems like there’s not as much Paula Deen in my life either. So I don’t have as much inspiration. Plus, every time I turn on the TV, it seems like there’s another dumb challenge or reality cooking contest on. It’s annoying. I don’t need competition on my food TV. I just need food.
But I miss cooking all the time. I really do love it–chopping veggies, reading cookbooks for fun, planning meals, tossing indredients while dancing to whatever music is playing (all right, so that part isn’t necessary, but it makes the process much more fun). I really want to stop eating out so much–although I’ll still be visiting Sonic for Happy Hour, thank you very much. So if anyone has any good ideas for tasty summer recipes, I am definitely open to the suggestions.
When I was a kid, the biggest treat was to go to the Bethel Dipper and have a scoop of vanilla soft serve. It was what my parents would promise me if I was very, very good. I had my first ice cream cone there, and I remember being fascinated that you could actually EAT the cone. What will they think of next. The Bethel Dipper is a tiny little box of a place with a walk-up window, kind of like Bruster’s but smaller and ancient; plus they also sell burgers. There’s no way to go inside and no place to sit down, so everyone just wanders around with melting milkshakes or hurries to a car and some air conditioning. Today is hot, and I could really use a scoop of soft serve. Sounds perfect.
The Bethel Dipper may have given me my first introduction to the amazing world of ice cream, but Graeter’s refined my taste and spoiled me forever. My friends Betty and Melanie introduced me to Graeter’s when I was visiting them in Covington, and it was one of the chief pleasures of my three years in Louisville. My husband and I were flat out broke, but when we needed a treat, we made a trip to Graeter’s. The manager of the store on Bardstown Road came to know us, and when we walked in he would start piling the black raspberry chip into a waffle cone. He got really irritated once when one of his employees asked us what we would like instead of remembering our usual. All their flavors were good, but black raspberry chip was the best one ever. The dark purple cream inevitably got all over our mouths, as good ice cream should, and made us feel like kids. It tasted fresh and sweet and creamy. I’m hungry just thinking about it.
Where I live now, there is no Graeter’s. However, we have a close substitute in Chaney’s Dairy Barn. Located in–you guessed it–a big red barn on the outskirts of town, their ice cream is rich and thick. My favorite there is the birthday cake, which has colored sprinkles throughout and isn’t too heavy like some places make it. They have nice milkshakes too. One of Chaney’s charms is that during the summer, they show movies projected on the side of the barn, and you can bring lawn chairs and blankets and watch a family flick outside.
These are my favorites, but I’m always on the lookout for something new. Anybody else have favorite ice cream flavors/stories/places that you would recommend?
I am not a popsicle person. I will occasionally flash back to my childhood and buy a box of Jello Pudding Pops, but most of the time I eat the vanilla ones and then throw the rest away. But yesterday Joe and I went to Nashville, because he had heard of this place called Los Paletas, apparently renowned for the best popsicles in the world. I wasn’t as excited as Joe was, but I agreed to try it out. Los Paletas is located on the ground floor of a mauve-colored building on 12th Avenue, and there’s no sign, so naturally we couldn’t find it. I was thinking they must have gone out of business, but this place really seemed to matter to my hsuband, so I popped into a neighborhood drum shop to ask for directions. The guy couldn’t figure out what I was talking about, which pretty much shot any faith I had in the fabulousness of these legendary popsicles, but when I said, “They sell popsicles?” his face lit up and he instantly pointed me down the block. The shop is completely nondescript. It’s just a counter with a freezer case in front of a chalkboard listing all the day’s flavors. They have the most creative assortment of popsicles imaginable–from the traditional strawberry and chocolate flavors all the way to cucumber and hibiscus. They must change flavors all the time, because they were missing a basil flavor I’d heard about, which had sounded disgusting, but I was assured it was delicious. I was a little apprehensive at the idea of weird popsicles, but again, Joe was thrilled with the possibilites, so I behaved myself.
Joe had a chocolate and banana pop, and I had a mango. To my surprise, the popsicles WERE amazing. I’m not the sort of person to wax poetic (or write a blog) about popsicles, but this was like nothing I’d ever tasted. My mango pop was sweet and just slightly spicy. It tasted like the real thing, not like a frozen juice box. Joe’s had small chunks of banana, and the flavors were artfully mixed in each bite. At $2.50 each, these popsicles aren’t cheap, but they are definitely worth it. I wanted to buy a dozen and take them home with me, even though they would have melted in the car. Now I can’t wait to go back and try other flavors. If you’re in the Nashville area, go by and try Los Paletas. And bring an extra back for me.