Food & Cooking

Gotta’ love the “Clicklist”….

There has been a lot of talk about this new Walmart convenience feature they call “Walmart Pickup Grocery” that allows customers to shop on-line for their groceries and then go to Walmart at an appointed time and pick them up. You apparently just go to a designated pick-up location, stay in your car and a Walmart employee brings your ordered groceries out and puts them in your car and you pay the employee for the groceries. Not being a Walmart grocery shopper I didn’t give the whole idea a whole lot of thought. Then a short time back I heard that Kroger, the grocery franchise I use, was starting to offer a similar service at some of its locations. The information again registered but still I gave it little thought at the time.

But here recently, given my COPD condition and the fact that I do live alone, I began feeling a more urgent concern about how I was going to get my groceries when it became much harder for me to get around. I have pretty much always assumed I would probably have to hire someone to come in at least weekly and do my shopping for me. And of course nothing is free so I was wondering what I would have to pay for a service like that. It’s disconcerting and frustrating to think that they’ll surely come a time when you can’t even do your own grocery shopping.

Then more recently one of my sisters mentioned in casual conversation that one of her daughter’s had begun using the grocery pickup service at her local Kroger store in the town where they lived. My sister also noted to me that even though they are offering the service, it’s only at certain stores. So I told her I would have to check it out and see if any store close to me was offering it. Turns out the local store I used wasn’t offering the service but another Kroger only a little over a mile away was so that was good to know.

Now I already had an on-line account with Kroger because the pharmacy I use for all my medication needs is the Kroger pharmacy located at the store where I do all my grocery shopping. And while on the subject I can’t say enough good things about them. I really like the pharmacy and their friendly staff. Anyway, as is quite normal these days you can go on-line and set up an an account with Kroger and then you are able to track all your medication needs and transactions on-line for your pharmacy.

So… a few days ago I thought I would take a look on the Internet and see if I could learn more about Kroger’s grocery shopping service which they call “Clicklist”. I signed on to my Kroger account and noticed a tab at the top of the page that read “Order On Line” so I clicked on the tab and was immediately taken to the Kroger store closest to me which offered the service. Well, as I looked over their website I was a bit taken back after clicking on one of the site’s menu items titled “My Recent Purchases” because it appeared to contain every item I had purchased at least over the past 6 months. The “screen capture” below (click to enlarge for a much better resolution) shows a portion of the webpage I am referring to along with several of the items I typically purchase….

Then I realized they were getting and tracking my shopping habits through my Kroger Savers Card which they scan each time I shop to apply any current savings on the specific item I have purchased that day. That gave me a bit of a eerie feeling to know they knew that much about me. Since virtually every item I normally purchased was listed in the “My Recent Purchases” section, that mean’t if I were shopping I could finish selecting my weekly grocery items in a few short minutes, submit my order and be done. So, that’s exactly what I did. I had to see if this service could satisfy my needs due to my health issues and facilitate my future mobility issues.

I made an appointment for the next morning to pick up my order between 9 and 10 AM and then submitted my order. Shortly thereafter I got a confirming email. Then the following morning I drove to the store and went to the designated pick-up area and parked. There was a sign posted there giving you a specific phone number to call. When you called that number you let them know you were there and give them the number of the parking slot you were parked in which was also posted on the sign along with the phone number. In a short time they came out with your groceries on a cart, you paid by credit card, in my case they then put the groceries in my trunk as requested (no tipping by the way) and that was it…. I headed back to the house.

Should note at this point that this service is not free. At the store I am using, for your first three orders there is no charge for the service. After that, each time you use the “Clicklist” service there is a $4.95 charge and as previously noted, there is no tipping the grocery clerk who brings out the groceries and loads your car.

After arriving back home I unloaded the car and checked out my groceries. I was completely pleased. It was as though I had done the shopping myself. Had even ordered ¾ lb. of shaved smoked turkey from the Deli and it was perfectly cut and packaged.

Finally I should note with regard to purchasing of fresh beef, I am quite particular and for this type of service the purchasing of beef was my biggest concern. Having someone one else pick my beef selections was a bit unnerving. I noticed while doing the on-line shopping that their sirloin tip roasts were on sale and since it’s pretty hard to screw up on a roast I ordered one. The one they chose for me is shown in the adjacent photo (click on image to enlarge). The choice wasn’t all that bad although I’m not sure it is the one I would have chosen but obviously without the selections in front of me it is hard to say. At any rate I cooked the roast yesterday and it was really good.

I suppose this is a rather lengthy post but I just thought that someone in the same boat as I am with regard to lack of future mobility that had never considered this new service being offered by so grocers might like a bit of a review from an old person who had actually tried it. I did like the service and there is no doubt that I will use it a number of times in the future. The only roadblock I foresee is if something were to happen to my ability to drive a car. 🙁

It’s a “no-no” to mess with my nuts….

Well I guess no matter how old you get, life continues to spring new experiences and surprises on you. Such has been the case with me this past week.

I have always been an almond lover. I do enjoy a sundry of other nuts but almonds are the tops. Now some years back I got on the “Blue Diamond Roasted Salted Almonds” kick which I purchase at my local supermarket. They’re a bit pricey but when something is that good you usually can overlook such things. I’ve posted a photograph of one of the cans just to the right.

I try to make it a point not to gorge myself on the little critters, therefore I exert restraint by only eating maybe 10-15 at a time when visiting my stored supply, which by the way comes in a little can holding some 6.0 ounces of almonds. Usually I find myself purchasing a new can about every two or three weeks unless I lose all measure of restraint.

Now the cans themselves come with a plastic lid on top and when you remove the plastic lid the new cans are sealed with a thin tin cover which ensures the almonds stay fresh which has a tab on it as can be noted in the photograph on the left. You have to pull on the tab and the tin cover will peel off. The furnished plastic lid is then what you use to maintain the freshness of the nuts in the can.

So, there I was this past Sunday just finishing off the few left in a previous can with my lunch and then deciding that I should go ahead and open up the new can and grab a few more, just for good measure. So I pulled my new can out of its little storage place and removed the plastic lid in anticipation of removing the tin foil seal. But there was not tin foil seal on the can. And furthermore, when I looked into the can there were only about half the almonds remaining in the can that there should have been. The photograph below can best attest to the traumatic experience to which I was subjected to when opening that can….

Oh I think we all know what happened to my nuts at this point. Some really clever, nut grabber opened the can, grabbed a bunch of nuts and then by putting the plastic lid back on the can, no one would know anything was wrong. In all this time of buying these almonds I have never removed the plastic lid to see if the tin seal had been removed and someone had pilfered the nuts. Well…. you can bet your sweet bippy I will from now on!

I took my nuts back to the supermarket this morning and they let me swap out for a new can, no questions asked. The store supervisor seemed to know exactly what had happened which led me to believe I’m not the first one to have ever had problems with someone messing with their nuts! 🙂

The Week in Photography….

I don’t get in as much photography as I use to unfortunately. Goodness, even that statement implies I’m doing at least some but no, not really. If a subject is just begging to be captured in a photo, happens to fall into my lap so to speak and the camera is handy I may actually get up off my ass and try my luck at taking some measure of a photograph, but nothing like I use to do.

Last week while sitting on my patio a very large grasshopper made his appearance on one of my landscape timbers right in front of me. A rather handsome specimen I thought, assuming that you even like grasshoppers, so I begrudgingly got out of my chair to go get my camera with little hope the grasshopper would even be there when I returned. But alas, upon my return there he was and he seemed quite willing to strut his stuff for the camera….

Grasshopper 01(Click to Enlarge)

Grasshopper 02(Click to Enlarge)

Then this past weekend when supper time rolled around I declared it “chicken night”. I decided to cook up a small batch of my extra crispy, extra greasy, famous chicken wings. Not normally being one associated with the many food photographers that seem to inhabit our planet, I just could not help myself when I took a look at my famous chicken wings lying on that plate so off I went in pursuit of the camera. A few minutes later the photographic deed was done and then it was time to express my sincerest condolences to those chicken wings and put them out of their misery!

Big Bro’s Extra Crispy Chicken Wings(Click to Enlarge)

And there you have it, this week in photography as seen through the eyes of a very lazy photographer. Not impressed? Well, I’m not sure I am either but sometimes you just have to give it your best shot (no pun intended) and move on with some hope better times lie ahead. 🙂

What’s wrong with this picture?

A couple of weekends ago I went over to visit with my older sister and her husband. Now during my visit she happen to mention that our younger sister had come over to her office one day that week and picked up a bag of home grown tomatoes. You see a couple or three years ago they began planting a vegetable garden in a small area of their backyard and began raising a few different types of veggies and my sister, whose quite the cook, even started canning a lot of them.

And I should mention that according to un-named sources, the little foot-tapping country ditty posted below is what she plays the whole time she is in the kitchen canning…

(“Homegrown Tomatoes” – Guy Clark)

Below are just a couple of photographs my sister has posted on her Facebook page this summer showing off their harvest and some of her canning projects….

Sisters Home Grown Tomatoes(Click on photograph to Enlarge)

I then mentioned to her while we were sitting there talking that I would like to get a few home grown tomatoes myself if they could spare them. My brother-in-law almost immediately got up and went out to their garden to apparently harvest me a few of those scrumptious tomatoes.

Now at this point perhaps some of you are thinking well what a nice brother I must be for showing off my sister and brother-in-laws veggie horn-of-plenty on my blog. And obviously how proud I must be of them… right? Well no, that’s not exactly the point I wanted to make.

As I was leaving my sister handed me a small plastic zip-lock bag noting that they hoped I enjoyed my tomatoes. My brother-in-law noted that a couple of them were still a little green so I might want to give them a day or two to ripen a little more. I then thanked them of course and left.

Needless to say as reflected in the photograph below, I was a little taken back by my sister and brother-in-laws generosity when checking out my presumed tomato bonanza. Oh, and in case you’re curious, the quarter seen in the photograph was put there just to put a perspective of the sheer volume of the vegie bounty that was shared with me.

My Tomato Bounty(Click to Enlarge)

I need to remember to do something really special for my sister on “National Sibling’s Day” next year. You know what I mean….? 🙁

Senior Moment #43

Buttering ToastAs many of my peers are aware, those classic ‘senior moments’ can come at anytime. They seem to lurk everywhere and spring out to grab us when we least expect it!

Such was the case yesterday morning as I walked up the hallway on the way to the kitchen to fix my ritual breakfast which always consists of one solitary piece of toast with of course, butter. Now I ask you, whose thinking about having a senior moment for something as simple as that?

So… I take a small plate from the cabinet for the toast and a butter knife from the silverware drawer, setting them next to the toaster as always. I then get the butter carton from the refrigerator, scoop the ritual amount of butter from the carton onto the knife, lay the knife on the plate and return the butter carton to the refrigerator. As I wait for the toast to pop out of the toaster, I walk to the patio door and take a look or two outside and then casually walk back to the kitchen. As I gaze out the kitchen window I suddenly come to the stark realization that I have been waiting a while now for my piece of toast to pop out of the toaster. As I look over to see what’s going on with the toaster it only takes a split second to understand. There is no bread in the toaster. The toaster sits idle. I never got my loaf of bread out of the cabinet and put a slice in the toaster!

That my dear friends for those who may not know is a classic senior moment! And for me it is number 43 since I have been counting for several years now!

A brief glance into my life as a fish monger….

Pure Food Fish Market(The Pure Food Fish Market – Click to Enlarge)

It’s that time of year again – time to go get a part time job delivering newspapers, order my fresh Alaskan Halibut from my favorite fish market and then continue with my paper route until I get that Halibut order paid off. But… if you are a Halibut lover I doubt little explanation beyond that will be necessary.

Tis true, one of my favorite fish, Alaskan Halibut, are back in season and available from my favorite fish market. I order my Halibut from the Pure Food Fish Market, a fish market located in the Pike Place Market which is a public market overlooking the Elliot Bay waterfront in Seattle, Washington. The Pike Place Market opened in 1907 and is the oldest operating public farmer’s market in the United States and the area is also one of Seattle’s most popular tourist destinations. The photo above is of the subject fish market by the way.

Monday I got an email from the fish market informing me that they were having a 2-day sale on fresh Alaskan Halibut with 25% off. Now how, I ask you, is anyone going to ignore that little tidbit of information? I placed my order at around 9:30am by email with the Seattle market and just a little over 24 hours later at around 11:30am here in central Arkansas my brief life as a fishmonger began….

Halibut 01(Halibut Shipping Container – Click to Enlarge)

Halibut 02(Chilled Halibut Container – Click to Enlarge)

Halibut 03(Fresh Alaskan Halibut Whole Slabs – Click to Enlarge)

Halibut 04(Fresh Alaskan Halibut Portioned and Bagged – Click to Enlarge)

Well there you have it! If you’re a Halibut lover it’s really too bad you live so far away so I can’t share… heh, heh, heh. 😀

Bon appétit!

Movie Review – “Eat Drink Man Woman” (1994)

Anthony BourdainFriday evening I was quite surprised to see Anthony Bourdain, the well known food critic, standing in as host on the Turner Classic Movies channel. As it turns out, they were showing several classic film selections that had plots centered around chefs and their associated culinary techniques. I was 99.9% sure I wouldn’t be sticking around for the main feature, especially when they said it would be a Taiwanese movie with subtitles. I just don’t do well with subtitled movies. Foreign films are fine but all too often the subtitles interfere with the flow of the movie. The movie’s title was even a little bit screwy, “Eat Drink Man Woman”. That’s it – does that make any sense?

Nevertheless, I guess at that moment I was just too lazy to hit the remote so I continued to stare at the television as the movie began. In the opening scenes an older Taiwanese man was preparing a dinner apparently for his family and it showed in detail his food preparation. I almost immediately became engrossed in his food preparation and cooking techniques. And that was it, for the next 120 minutes or so I watched one of the best movies I have seen in a long time.

5-Star Post MasterEat Drink Man Woman - 1994 - 1

In short, it revolves around a widowed man who lives with his three grown daughters who are all pursuing their separate lives but are not married and still live at home. Every Sunday it is a ritual that they all gather for dinner and as it were, break bread together. The father, who himself works as a chef at an upscale restaurant, spends each Sunday preparing dinner for himself and his daughters. It’s all about family drama, leaving the nest and getting married and of course the Sunday dinner. The movie was over before I actually realized I had hardly moved a muscle during the whole film, so for me that’s being entertained. And the subtitles were exceptionally well done I might add.

The film received “Best Foreign Film” nominations from both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes although it didn’t win. Nevertheless, it was definitely a keeper in my opinion….. 😀

Fresh Shrimp

I suppose you could call it a ‘sin of indulgence’ but boy I surely would have to confess that I did indeed indulge myself last night at dinner time!

It was a simple dinner with regards to preparation. There was one big handful of Tostitos, a finely salt & peppered boiled egg and the main entry consisting of a very large platter of some forty (yes, that’s with a ‘4’ and a ‘0’) chilled and delectable cocktail shrimp.

The shame of it all… 😀

Bar-B-Q from the fast lane….

Like many other folks, I love BBQ and a few weeks ago I was doing my weekly shopping at my local grocery, Kroger’s, when I spied a large display of Corky’s Bar-B-Q selling for $12.99 a side. As ribs go that price sounded pretty good. And Corky’s BBQ is fairly well known, especially in the QVC circles.

Now, believe it or not I have never purchased any BBQ from a grocery store – I’m talking about the raw, uncooked BBQ of course. Just lazy I guess because even though I absolutely love the stuff it takes forever to cook it – or so I’ve heard and read. I’m one of those instant gratification people I suppose when it comes to cooking. I think forty-five minutes or so is about my threshold for waiting for something to cook. Anyway, I picked up one of the packages and began to read that this brand was pre-cooked pork BBQ and if you prepared it on a grill it would be ready in 18-25 minutes. Now….that’s more my style!

Well I couldn’t help myself – especially at what seemed to be a pretty good price so I purchased a package. The following week at some point I decided it was time to “pig-out” on my BBQ (no pun intended). It was quite a generous portion. I had to actually cut the side in-half so that it would fit on my grill since you weren’t suppose to cook it over direct heat. And indeed after having meticulously followed the cooking instructions in about 20 minutes it was time to eat. And once again I couldn’t help myself so I had to take a photo of the pre-devoured ribs.

Corky’s Packaged Barbeque Ribs(Click on photo to enlarge)

As it turns out, the ribs looked a whole lot better than they tasted. They just weren’t those good old “fall-off-the-bone” ribs one fantasizes over. One of my sister’s and her husband eat them quite regularly and really enjoy them. I have to say I may have been over-expecting but that is just one man’s opinion….

Life goes on….

Not much going on in my little world as of late worth sharing I suppose. Been spending time of late creating some CD labels for some of my music CD’s and working on creating a new greeting card or two. Has been too cold to contemplate much else.

I suppose it is worth mentioning since I have posted before about my cereal problems in the past, Puffed Wheat in particular, that Kroger has now, for whatever reason, restored Kroger brand Puffed Wheat to its rightful place on their shelves once more.

Kroger Puffed Wheat

I certainly would like to take some credit for that action but alas, cannot do so with any sense of fact. I will assume it was a joint victory attributed to all the Puffed Wheat lovers in this world!

The last couple of days I have been down a bit in my lower back and so for most of yesterday I confined myself to the couch and a heating pad. And I have to say that I, by chance, watched one of the most entertaining movies that I have watched in some time. The title of the movie was “The Banger Sisters” starring Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon. Absolutely hilarious and therapeutic to say the least. And without Geoffrey Rush’s character, well it just wouldn’t have been the same!

The Banger Sisters - Movie Poster

In short Goldie and Susan were best pals when they were young and were major groupies when it came to rock bands, even having left their mark on the likes of Jim Morrison. The plot basically centers round them reuniting some twenty years later, one of them still a “free spirit” and the other a lawyer’s wife of some sophistication with two daughters.

I have always been a huge fan of Goldie Hawn and she was 100% Goldie in this movie. I had quite honestly never heard of it, apparently released in 2002, but it has easily gotten Five Stars from me.