The Big DumpTruck

Throwing Little Thought Pebbles at Your Windshield Since 1996

Tag: food

Restaurant Review

Okay, I’m not a restaurant reviewer , but I had a good experience last night, so I’m giving it a shot.

Last night Tom and I were looking for a restaurant that didn’t have an hour wait. (Good luck, at 6:30 the Saturday night before Mother’s Day.) While turning around in a gas station we spotted a little place called Prelude behind a Dunkin Donuts. “They have a spoon and fork on the sign! Let’s go!” (I am a sucker for giant flatware.)

The lobster fettuccini was the best meal I’ve had in ages. Huge chunks of lobster and fresh fettuccine. the portion looked small but I couldn’t finish all the pasta. We shared a sweet potato bread pudding for dessert. I asked that dessert to marry me, but ate it up before it could give me an answer..

Prelude, in Methuen, is owned by Tommy Grella, a finalist on Food Network’s “Next Food Network Star” (http://m.yelp.com/biz/prelude-methuen/). He’s a charming guy, I can see how he made it to the finals.

When he asked how we’d heard of the place, he was probably expecting me to mention TV or a magazine article, not “we saw your sign from the gas station”. He laughed and complemented my honestly. More people should do that, damn it.

Make reservations if you’re going on a weekend, as the place is tiny. And consider bringing me with you. Please.

Hope for Parents of a Fussy Eater

Hi, my name is Jody and I am the parent of a recovering fussy eater.

For years, my son would only eat one or two foods. Those foods would change over the years: where once he would only eat chicken fingers, he switched over to pasta with red sauce and never wanted chicken fingers ever again. He basically loved beige foods: chicken nuggets/fingers, french fries, dinner rolls, apple sauce, bananas, green grapes, dry Cheerios, toaster waffles, pancakes. All beige/yellow. All carbs (excepts, I guess, for the chicken, but really, processed chicken is probably more a carb than a protein.)

The boy was breast-fed (for 11 months), made the transition to solid foods at the normal time. He’d eat anything. Green goo, orange goo…it was all good. He loved his rice cereal mixed with apple sauce. To the point where he had it for breakfast every day for about 4-5 years, until he made the switch to toaster waffles, where he stayed until they discontinued his favorite brand a few years ago.

When he was being fussy, we worried and took him to the doctor. He was off the charts for height and weight (but in proportion) for his age, ate a ton of fruit, and only had red sauce (tomatoes) on his pasta, so the doctor declared he was actually a pretty healthy eater, all things considered. So he told us not to stress about it, because making food a source of stress is never a healthy thing to do. So we didn’t.

My son didn’t like hamburgers or meatballs until he was about 10. Then he loved them. He suddenly started loving salad with Italian dressing. No creamy dressings. Nothing creamy. In general, he rejected all dairy as something he didn’t like. We later learned he’s lactose intolerant, but seriously, when we went out for ice cream he would pick sorbet because that’s what he wanted.

I remember going to Disney with him when he was four, and planning every meal around whether or not the restaurant could serve pasta marinara. Any restaurant that has ANY kind of pasta dish can usually pull it off. Disney is the greatest place to take people with food allergies, etc., because they go so far above and beyond to make sure there’s something for you to eat. I will ALWAYS remember we went to the buffet at Crystal Palace and they only had mac and cheese on the buffet. Our server went down Main Street to Tony’s Town Hall restaurant to fetch my son a plate of pasta with sauce. (My friends, THIS is why Disney rocks my world.)

We had heard people say their kids outgrew being fussy eaters, but when you live with one for 10+ years, you start to think maybe they just meants small changes; and quite frankly, those were welcome. He added steak to his list of okay foods, which opened up a LOT of restaurants. Hell, even adding burgers did that.

But then something happened last spring. He was 12, and we were again at Disney, traveling with my sister’s family. My sister’s kids were always bottomless pits for trying new things. My BIL had a hard time understanding why we couldn’t just force my son to eat new things. He never lived with a fussy child so I suppose I shouldn’t have expected him to understand.  Prior to the trip my son and I talked about the restaurants we’d be visiting, and my son declared he’d use this trip to “try new things”. I thought that was a great idea.

What happened during that trip was that I had to start a log of all the new foods he’d tried, because nobody could believe it. Sushi (he loved), scallops (he loved), bison (he loved), etc. etc.  There was NOTHING he wouldn’t try. We were all floored. And then it continued. He went on a trip with his father and tried pot roast and lamp chops – loved both. He continued the trend by ordering things even I thought he wouldn’t like. Trout at Longhorn Steakhouse. On another trip this past January, he ended up trying 4 different kinds of new fish (flounder, mahi-mahi, smoked salmon). He’s since ordered mahi-mahi at the local Mexican place. He orders these dishes and cleans his plate. Last Saturday we went to a Tapas place in Waltham and he tried everything – including a cold crab and mango salad, a shrimp and lobster ravioli, ceviche, duck, an onion and potato omelette and goat cheese. He loved almost everything he tried. He’s starting to freak me out! He orders his burgers (previously plain only, not even ketchup on them) with onions, pickles and mustard! He’s also become quite the expensive date compared to the days of chicken fingers and ziti with marinara sauce. But my God, the options for restaurants!

I’m not saying this will happen to every fussy eater; my son may have be a statistical aberration. But his father is now officially fussier than he is, and food is no longer the biggest issue in our house. It’s really a different world now.

Weight Loss Plans I Just Invented

Okay, I could sell these diet plans and make a bunch of those little piles of cash that you see in cartoons, you know the little bundles that thieves are always pulling out of wall safes? Okay, those.

Now these weight loss plans have not been verified as safe or effective by anyone, including me, doctors, or the lady who has to re-fold the shirts after I pull some out and hold them up to see if they have long sleeves or not.

Plan 1: Laptop Fat Melt
I’m pretty sure that I’m rendering the fat off my legs with this laptop. Even through the laptop lap pads I’m using (YES! TWO OF THEM AT ONCE!) it’s still pretty damned warm. I like to think of this as George Foreman Grilling myself. Of course, this should only remove fat from your thighs and not from any of the rest of you so be prepared to have people stare at your new Popeye-like calves.

Plan 2: The Airplane Diet
This plan is only as expensive as the destinations you choose. So you start at an airport near your home and find a flight that will cover at least one meal, preferably two. Then you fly and only eat the food they serve on the plane. Except that food is so gross that nobody wants to eat it. Voila, weight loss. The key would be to just keep picking up new flights in each place you land so that you never eat any meals that aren’t served on a plane. You could very well die of starvation, so please use this plan under the supervision of a qualified travel agent.

Plan 3: Pica has a Purpose
For you gals who’ve been pregnant, remember when they warned you about pica? Ya, I guess pregnancy triggers pica in a lot of people. Also kids between the ages of 1 and 6 tend to get pica, and you know most of THEM are pretty thin! So according to Google health people with pica (or on the Jody Pica Diet) may eat

  • Animal feces
  • Clay
  • Dirt
  • Hairballs
  • Ice
  • Paint
  • Sand

I’m going out on a limb and recommending you stay away from any kind of feces. Look, we want to lose weight, not get thrown in a mental hospital.

I know they tell you to consult with a doctor before starting any kind of diet. I’d like to point out that if you consult with a doctor before beginning any of these diets, I’d rather not have my name mentioned. Ever. I’ve never seen you before in my life. Get out of here, you knuckleheads.

First Weekend of Summer

This weather makes me want to nap. A lot. Had to get up early for a 9am appointment and ran two errands but now the rest of the day is free. Except for the need to get groceries, but who wants to do that. I’m sure I can make a meal out of items found around the house. I can pretend I’m on Iron Chef, or that show they used to have where you would hand a chef $10 worth of stuff you bought at the store and they would have to make a meal out of it. My $10 worth of food could be made up of canned goods. What can I make out of baked beans, canned yams and chicken noodle soup. Mmmmmm, that’s good eatin’!

Cities, Here We Come

Junior plays in the City Championship for Little League Baseball tonight. I think it would be REALLY cool if they won. I mean, who doesn’t go into these things hoping for a win. I’ve never been on a team that won a championship. Thinking back to my Lassie League days, I was on the team that got stuck with all the strays. There was one girl who quite literally could not figure out how to swing the bat. What’s weird is that I can totally see the faces of some of these girls in my head, and we’re talking about not seeing them for 30+ years. Just as long as you don’t ask me their names, we’ll be good, I think.

Thanks to everyone who donated to Junior’s Jimmy Fund fundraising efforts, whether in person or on the Jimmy Fund website. You people rock, seriously. North Leominster Little League had 4 teams playing in the tournament (at various levels) at raised a total of $15,000. I think that’s very cool. I should not be hitting you up for anything here in the foreseeable future. Wait, no, I think I’ll start accepting pastry donations. Please, help support the, uh, American Pastry Association, with your kind contributions of pie, cake, danish, brownies and cookies. The APA is a fine and worthy cause, and, um, fresh, homemade pastry (or one of those big danish rings from the Dutch Kitchen) is greatly appreciated. Remember our motto – The APA: Fill Our Your Piehole!

Fish Stick Night

It’s fish stick night at Chez Dump. I can’t tell you the last time I had fish sticks. But we’re having them tonight, and I think that’s great. I’m trying to remember what we would have had in elementary school to go with them. I’d call my sister to ask but I don’t think she’s home right now. Okay, I know she isn’t. So maybe some fruit cup? I don’t think we have any fruit cup in the house, but I have some blueberries we bought yesterday. That’s a little classy to try to recreate the school cafeteria experience. I just realized that what we need is tater tots, and we don’t have any.

I hope to remedy that problem soon.

Junior’s baseball team is on a horrible downward spiral. I don’t think they are going to win a spot in the tournament playoffs, but hey, at least they’re getting a chance to play.

Corporate America 1, Jody 0

I lost another battle that I didn’t know I was in. You know the tune – Jody likes something, and the company that produces it decides to pull it from the market. We’ve talked about it here before, how food staples like Raspberry Kool-Aid and Primavera flavor Chicken Tonight simmer sauce left a hole in my heart that nothing can replace.

Last night we learned that Chili’s is not going to have the Caribbean Chicken Salad on the menu any more. Nor will they have Junior’s favorite dish, the basil pasta (which wasn’t on the menu under that name but you could order it as a vegetarian entree). The reason? They are cutting out menu items that require them to have an ingredient for just that one dish. (I’m probably explaining this wrong). So the salad is gone because they won’t be carrying mandarin oranges, pineapple chunks or honey-lime dressing (used only for that dish), and they are doing away with mozzarella sticks which means they won’t need to carry the marinara sauce, which is needed for the basil pasta. Oh, and the onion (blossom, or whatever they call it) will be gone too.

I know they offer pasta on the kids menu, so I’m having a hard time picturing them removing one of the few kid’s items, but someone made a decision somewhere. But how hard is it to keep a can/jar of sauce on hand for the kids? Or for the vegetarians, for that matter. Not much else on the menu that doesn’t involve meat.

Things that I’m glad about

On a day like this, I’m very very happy I’m not made out of chocolate.

Because I’d melt? No, just because I hate to be covered with ants.

Product That Probably Won’t Sell

I like Junior – he’s a funny kid. I don’t know what I’d do if I was stuck with a kid who didn’t have a good sense of humor. And by good, I mean one that amuses me, personally.

This may not translate as well as I’d like, because it was part of a larger conversation, and you have to know about the kinds of snacks that parents buy for their kids these days. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Fruit Roll-ups or Froot-by-the-Foot this is going to whoosh past you, granny.

I admitted publicly that I like pudding skin. Mr. Dump started to propose a method of exposing as many sides of the pudding as possible so that you could get a LOT of pudding skin out of one cup of pudding. And then Junior suggested Pudding Skin by the Foot. Well, that did it for me. The concept of a long strip of pudding skin that you unfold to eat brought me to tears.

But looking back, I don’t think I’d buy it. Because part of the beauty of the whole fruit roll-up product is that it doesn’t require refrigeration. If you leave pudding skin out, you’ll really have pudding jerky, and I don’t know if I’m ready for that.

“Good Old Mom, She’s the Salt of the Earth”

Yesterday was Mother’s Day here in the United States. (Hey, I have at least one international reader that will admit to it, so let me just pretend I’m I web sensation the world over, would you?) I got my mother’s day present earlier (some high quality headphones for my iPod to do a better job of blocking out stray conversations at work) and certainly wasn’t expecting anything on Sunday.

But Junior wrote me a poem (I will share it tomorrow, because I don’t remember it verbatim and I want to make sure I don’t miss a thing) and gave me a little pot with seeds planted in it. I believe the flowers will be marigolds, but he was calling it something else, so we’ll see.

We packed up and headed out to Newport to meet up with my brother-in-law and his wife who were up here taking their belated honeymoon. And my new sister-in-law presented me with my “other” Mothers Day Present: salt. I got salt for mother’s day! I’ll bet nobody else out there can say that!!! I got salt hand-carried all the way from Houston! And I’m beside myself thrilled!

You see, we eat at Bertucci’s a lot, and they have Cefalu Sea Salt grinders on the table, and I love this salt more than many many things in my life. Every time we go there (a couple of times a month) I threaten to steal the salt off the table, because we have never been able to find it for sale anywhere. Apparently, Mr. Dump wrote down the name and phone number of the import company and did a ton of footwork to try to track it down. The company would only sell it by the case but apparently there’s a liquor store chain in Houston that carries it, and he somehow convinced my SIL to wait in line for 40 minutes (!) to buy me 5 shakers of Cefalu salt (she also bought one for herself). And they gave it to me yesterday and I was bouncing with happiness! No longer do I need to fight the urge to steal!

This is darned tasty salt. It’s hard to explain how salt can taste good, but it just tastes, well, salty. It’s 100x better than anything you pour out of a round box into a shaker, and you grind it yourself with the built in grinder-top. The bottle says it’s imported from Sicily, 100% natural, made only by the Sea and the Sun. Maybe it’s the sun that makes it extra good. I recommend that you all go to Bertucci’s and try some.

So yes, I got salt for mother’s day. And I couldn’t be happier.