Menu Story


Most Americans eat “3 squares a day.” That’s the way we were brought up.


When we were a family of four, I had a job and Carol did the cooking. On weekends — after the kids were a certain age — everybody would get involved in cooking special meals, often with recipes from Julia Child or James Beard.

Kids moved away to college and each became the cook in his living arrangement — rather than clean bathrooms.

Carol and I moved to San Francisco and she had a swell full time job with benefits… and a commute. I was eventually managing partner of a bookstore, could walk to work and had the time and interest to do the menu planning, shopping and cooking. That worked out fine. And then we retired and moved to Reno and we were both around the house all the time. I wanted to continue doing the menu planning and cooking… but Carol wanted to cook too and our ideas about what to cook and eat didn’t often coincide. We made weekly menus, but often diverged from those along the path of least resistance, and meals were more often thrown together than carefully planned and executed.

In the wonderful weather months (most, in Reno) the Big Green Egg often ruled — steaks, sausages, chicken, fish and so on, but this last winter some new things came upon the horizon… expanded take-out options at certain restaurants. And we began hearing and reading about companies that wanted to sell food subscriptions complete with measured ingredients and recipes. And all of a sudden Blue Apron and Hello Fresh were here in Reno.

We were having dinner out with another couple at LIBERTY, one of our favorite downtown restaurants, and they told us they tried Blue Apron, and liked it.

**You cook incredible meals from scratch with perfectly portioned ingredients and step-by-step recipes.
We send you higher quality food at a better value by cutting out the middle man and delivering ingredients at their freshest.
Blue Apron’s uniquely integrated model means better ingredients, better pricing and a better planet for us all.**

That sounds good, but I like to shop for myself, especially the fresh things… how do I know where the food comes from?

chalkboard on men’s room wall at LIBERTY

Then I got this email from LIBERTY, Mark Estee’s Food and Wine Exchange in Reno. They now do Custom Grocery Baskets. I know and love their food, and know where it comes from.

I looked at the list; Carol and I made selections and I called McKenzie.

I told her that it’s probably too much food for us for a week, maybe every other week. Fine with her.

I was very excited. I picked up the food on Wednesday and made a new menu to spread it out over the next several days, bearing in mind that if we wanted to order for the next week, we would need to notify McKenzie on Friday.

first LIBERTY grocery basket…
Fresh pasta + tomato sauce, cheese
Meal of Chicken Breast + vegetable
New England Clam Chowder
Chicken Caesar Salad
Knife and Fork Cauliflower
8 meatballs in tomato sauce
1 lb (4) fresh Italian Sausage
Sliced Country Bread
1 dozen chocolate chip cookies

So here’s the way our menu looked that week.

March 27, 2017
mon – grilled lamb steak… not good as chops sez i, C sez she’’ll do next in crockpot
tues – m lunch silver chopsticks , dinner lamb hash
wed – m lunch heated LO from Silver Chopsticks, picked up first LIBERTY grocery basket… dinner Chicken Caesar Salad [not enuf for 2… C took half the chicken and all the greens, the dressing, croutons and grated cheese and added sliced endive.
I took half the chicken and added steamed broccoli, cubed pineapple and cantaloupe, bits of fresh curd cheese and some white beans. Dressed with Blue Cheese dressing. Both versions Yummy]
thu – spostabe nasty day – fresh pasta + tomato sauce, grated cheese, 4 meatballs — the pasta is bucatini… this is a good dinner and plenty of it… at least one more meal. The flavor of the pasta sauce and meatballs is just exceptional.
fri – Lunch at Campo East, some really bland lasagna. White on white. dinner of clam chowder + sweet n sour cabbage from Time Life ItalyORDER BOX FOR NEXT WEEK — See letter below
sat – Final Four – Salmon Tartare over cauliflower salad from LO grilled King Salmon — Jacques
sunMeal of sliced Chicken Breast over kale n cauliflower w sliced potato cooked in chicken broth

April 3, 2017
mon4 meatballs in tomato sauce + mashed potato + Sweet & Sour cabbage
tues – grilled fresh Italian Sausage + Knife and Fork Cauliflower, potato pancakes
wed – m lunch – made LO chicken and kale into soup… dinner spaghetti w Emeril sauce, sausage out of casing
thu – lunch at Silver Chopsticks m wanted to grill, but very windy so we settled for LO — m-salmon tartare, c-spaghetti w sausage
fri – C – baby back ribs in slo cooker
sat – Karaoke [potluck there]
sun – M – Zuppa Toscana in slo-cooker

We were supposed to order on Friday for next week. McKenzie said it would be ok to skip a week, buy we had other plans as noted in the letter below:

from Marcus Rector

To: McKenzie Loye Cc: Carol Rector
Re: custom Grocery Basket

Dear McKenzie,
We love the Liberty food, that’s why we ordered the Custom Grocery Basket.

As we were working our way through the meals, we learned a thing or two: We like to eat good food, but equally important, we like to cook. Warming up food — no matter how good — for meals is just not what we have ever done — except for leftovers. So preparing your meals felt like leftovers for a whole week.

The idea of picking meals from a list, with no shopping or cooking seemed appealing to these old folks, but it turned out we were eliminating some pleasure from each day. Not only that, since we were eating Liberty food every day, we didn’t want or need to go to your restaurant, and we like to go to your restaurant; it’s a nice environment and we are always greeted with joy and respect.

That said, we wish to decline future Grocery Baskets. Thank you for your understanding, and we will see you soon at your place.

Best Regards,

I guess the phrase in vogue is: “What’s the take-away?” What did we learn? We reinforced the notion that we both like to cook, and we haven’t yet found a shortcut unfettered planning and preparing our main meals. Oh, excellent prepared foods are available at Liberty, and even Raley’s, but not suitable to us for a steady diet. But we can be liberal about working those foods into our weekly menus.



WEDNESDAY July 20 at Hotel Boston

I’m up at 7:45 and walk outside to catch the morning. Cool and fresh.

Our hotel is undergoing a name change. When I reserved our room it was Best Western University Hotel, Boston. Now, the sign says Hotel Boston. I’m surprised that name wasn’t already taken. In any case, it seems like a Best Western, two stories with surface parking and a Hotel Bkfst. I love that. I don’t want to DINE at breakfast, just give me coffee, some juice and something to get me started.

Another neat thing. Our hotel has a Front Porch. Nice place to sit on this perfect July morning and read USA Today. Our front porch has benches, tables and chairs — the only place to sit, since our room has only one chair. Why do they do that? We asked for another chair, but there is no such thing.


relaxing on our front porch while I call UBER for a meet-up with our lunch date


Dewey and Hope and Carol and Marcus… outside Seasons 52 we experienced glaring sun and some brisk breeze

Today is our trip’s *reason d’etre*. Giants visit Fenway Park to play my beloved Red Sox. The Giants fall into the category of:

 “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

My job took me to San Francisco, and the Red Sox chose not to go with me. They’re still the team I grew up with, and still beloved, though three time zones away and hard to keep in touch with. [Same deal for the Patriots.]

We’re meeting Hope and Dewey for lunch — speaking of the team we grew up with — Hope and Carol founded The Preschool Experience and were partners for 20 years. When the time came, they sold the business and Carol followed me to SF… lucky for me.

We met Hope n Dewey at Seasons 52 in Chestnut hill for lunch. It’s a restaurant created for upscale shopping centers; menu, food, decor and ambiance all reflect that and I must say that my scallops were superb.


Some very fine sea scallops, and in the background, C’s grilled shrimp and salad. the portions are large compared to SF

UBERed to the hotel to hang out on the porch with Eric. We discussed plans for getting to Fenway Park and dinner.

How do you get to Fenway Park? On the T… always. Since our hotel is on Commonwealth Ave, and a piece of the Green Line runs right down the middle of Comm Ave, that’s a no brainer. As we walked on Comm Ave to the T stop, we picked up Clipper Cards at a corner store. $2.50 each, round trip.

Nice ride. This part of Comm Ave is lined with low rise  apartment buildings and “Corner Stores” and people are sprawled across the occasional front stoop watching the trains go by  as we watch them.

We could have ridden into Kenmore Square, but chose to get off at BU East. We had scouted a place to eat on the street leading from there to Fenway; Mai Mai, nice little Asian Fusion joint, flooded with light and inviting smells.


I’m looking at the sign from our table inside.


HUMANELY RAISED… nice to know that, also a really nice chalk drawing

The signs give a sense of the place. We were looking for an early bite before the game… something nicer than the street fare outside Fenway — although that Fenway street fare is better than any ballpark food I’ve encountered.


My potsticker nestled in a bed of hummus.

The stuffing of the potstickers was not unlike the formed uncased sausage of my dinner at Fairstead Kitchen, but this sausage was formed by the potsticker itself. YUM

All we need to do now is walk a couple of blocks to Fenway around a corner and up Mountfort Street, a small street that I had parked on many times. We found ourselves in a conundrum.  We stood on the corner of Mountfort at Beacon Street as it rises to the bridge going over the Mass Pike. Beacon is four lanes wide with a center median and no crosswalk. We had crossed at this corner before… 25 years ago. Carol balked — not so much at crossing 4 lanes of traffic, as going down the steep slope where Mountfort continues. Gimpy knee after all the SF hills. Alternatively, we could walk down to Kenmore Square and back up Brookline Ave to Fenway, at least six times farther.

eats_1-fenway map

While we were contemplating the traffic, Eric told a story about how his friend’s daughters abused their UBER privileges in a Boston suburb. The last couple blocks of their walk to high school was up a steep hill. There were times when they would summon UBER for that last bit of their journey.

I whipped out my iPhone and before I had completed my location, an UBER car came charging out of the very parking lot across Beacon. In a New York minute we were standing on the Lansdowne Street in the midst of the food scene outside Fenway.

We presented our precious tickets, found an elevator and were soon admiring Fenway Farms.

In the spring of 2015, Fenway Farms was planted, a rooftop garden on the third base side of the ballpark, above Yawkey Way. Produce and herbs grown in “Fenway Farms,” presented by Stop & Shop, Dole, Sage Fruit, and Fenway Park concessionaire Aramark, will be used in food products prepared at the ballpark this season, including the restaurant in the EMC Club.

Fenway Farms is sited on a 5,000 square foot roof above the Red Sox Front Offices. Previously an underutilized black rubber membrane roof, the space will now be used much more productively with an estimated 4,000 lbs of produce harvested annually.

Fenway Park is such a story. I was a witness to some of it. From 1970 to 1992 my kids and I — sometimes Carol — would grab the Riverside Line of the T and could be in Fenway in 20 minutes. Those were the days when you could walk up and buy tickets at the box office.

The park is located along Lansdowne Street and Yawkey Way in the Kenmore Square area of Boston. The area includes many buildings of similar height and architecture and thus it blends in with its surroundings. When pitcher Roger Clemens arrived in Boston for the first time in 1984, he took a taxi from Logan Airport and was sure the driver had misunderstood his directions when he announced their arrival at the park. Clemens recalled telling the driver “No, Fenway Park, it’s a baseball stadium … this is a warehouse.” Only when the driver told Clemens to look up and he saw the light towers did he realize he was in the right place.[46]

Fenway Park is one of the two remaining classic parks still in use in major league baseball (the other being Wrigley Field), and both have a significant number of obstructed view seats, due to pillars supporting the upper deck. These are sold as such, and are a reminder of the architectural limitations of older ballparks. [wikipedia]

We moved to San Francisco in 1991 and lost track of Fenway for a while until 1999 when:

Red Sox announced plans for a new Fenway Park to be built near the existing structure. It was to have seated 44,130 and would have been a modernized replica of the current Fenway Park, with the same field dimensions except for a shorter right field and reduced foul territory. Some sections of the existing ballpark were to be preserved (mainly the original Green Monster and the third base side of the park) as part of the overall new layout…. The proposal was highly controversial, and several groups (such as “Save Fenway Park”) formed in an attempt to block the move.[35] Discussion took place for several years regarding the new stadium proposal. One plan involved building a “Sports Megaplex” in South Boston, where a new Fenway would be located next to a new stadium for the New England Patriots. The Patriots ultimately built Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, their home throughout most of their history, which ended the Megaplex proposal. The Red Sox and the city of Boston failed to reach an agreement on building the new stadium, and in 2005, the Red Sox ownership group announced that the team would stay at Fenway Park indefinitely. The stadium has since been renovated, and will remain usable until as late as 2061.[wikipedia]

Here we are, way up top in an area only recently built as one of the final steps in the “completion” of Fenway Park. We’re in the “Giants Section” and looking down on the 37 feet high Green Monster, and when we look to our right and the press box, most of the seats we see up top didn’t exist back in the day.


Looking down on the Monster, an odd perspective.


Almost none of these seats existed, back in the day

Straight ahead of us, we have the beautiful “Moon over Bud.”


And here is our own private concession area with it’s own view of the landmark CITGO sign.


Avoid the crowds, sit in the sky… pop down the steps to your very own beer stand.

But what about the game??? The game was good — especially for Sox fans — as there was lots of action and scoring. Red Sox prevailed 11-7


Fenway is still incredible — even moreso with the very cool and imaginative additions.

The game was fun and exciting and the crowd stayed to the end. The Fenway crowd is fervent, but sophisticated and polite. Us guys in our Giants gear were greeted with respect and often with the quip, “See you in October.” We stood and sang *Sweet Caroline” in the 8th inning stretch.

We were concerned about the crush getting out, but no worries… just follow the guy in front of you and don’t try to hurry, everybody moving at the same pace. The elevator left us in close sight of doors to the street and we shuffled down to Kenmore Square. We crossed Kenmore Square to the other side where it was less crowded and traffic moved west toward our hotel. An EZ UBER home.

Tomorrow – Kicking around Boston and Harvard Square


eats goes east


I’m not a big fan of the red-eye — and when I was working I wouldn’t take them — not worth a damn the next day. But… happily retired, I have grown fond of the jetBlue non-stop Reno JFK. Staggering through the next day is not so bad, when all you’re seeking is pleasure. Both RNO-JFK and JFK-BOS flights FULL but on time. There’s a little over an hour wait at JFK… I call it “safe time.”

Eric and Alison drove down from their Portland manse to pick us up at Boston Logan Airport. “Text us when you arrive JFK. We leave then, get to Logan by the time you walk out the door from baggage.” (We beat ‘em by about 10 minutes.)

They took us to our hotel, out on Commonwealth Ave where we checked in and left the bags and the car. There’s no need for a car in Boston.

I bravely pulled out my iPhone and clicked on the app UBER, my first time. It swept around, showed my location on a map, and asked that I verify where I am, by address. Where do I want to go?   (Faneuil Hall Marketplace) Then it says, “3 minutes” and displays a driver’s name (Ahmed) , car (Toyota Camray), and the first 4 digits of license plate. On my iPhone screen I can see UBER cars in the vicinity and one is headed for me.

Car drives up. We get in and are driven to FHM. When we get out, we say “Thank You” and he (or she) says “Thank you,” and drives away. No cash. No tips. A short time later, I get an email receipt showing cost of the trip and asking me to rate the driver, one to five stars.

We found ourselves at the end of North Market Street and started walking.


We’re looking around and remembering… I was Project Architect for FHM from about 1970 until North Market Building (the final of three phases) opened in August 1977. My last visit here was in 2012. Things have changed, but not much. Good Bones.


Surveying the scene. Not much has changed in 40 years. Good Bones


We stopped at Anthem Kitchen & Bar at the Faneuil Hall end of South Market Building to cool our heels a bit and get our bearings.

There are plenty of places to eat at the Marketplace, but I felt like this was my day in my place and suggested Regina Pizzaria in the North End. They have a  branch in the Quincy Market Building, but the original store in the North End is the real deal. My FHM team and I walked there for lunch from time to time during construction of the Markets.


We took the long way through Waterfront Park, where seasonal flowers led the way. Alison was looking at her phone for directions, Carol had a tourist map and I was going by instinct. My instinct told me it seemed farther than it was 40 years ago.

But the pizza and the place haven’t changed much. There’s still the line outside — at 3pm on Tuesday — and there’s no waiting list, just get in line. When the guy has an opening, he comes out and says, “first four, come on in.”

The place is just as crowded and smells just as good, and the pizza — it tastes as good as it looks. YUM.

We UBERed back to the hotel to move in and get settled. Eric and Alison took their car and stuff to Alison’s cousin in Belmont where they’re staying.

Fairstead Kitchen sits in a lively block of Brookline’s version of Beacon Street. Their acknowledgement of our Open Table Reservation stated;

“We are a small neighborhood restaurant with only 9 tables. Please ensure a valid phone number is left where we may reach you… To be fair to all diners, if we are unable to reach you, the reservation may be cancelled.”

Not a problem. On this fine evening, the outdoor dining easily doubled the size of the restaurant for our 7 O’Clock reservation.


Fairstead has a short, but very interesting menu. It is definitely a food place, and yet the beer, wine and cocktails lists take up 3 pages of the 4-page menu. And the beers are listed by style, which guides the patron and saves the staff a lot of explaining.

I can describe my food: sausage, grilled with casing removed, served with vegetables, greens and a lovely sauce. And another small plate of roasted cauliflower. I guess if you asked me my favorite foods, I would say, “any kind of sausage; any preparation of cauliflower. And a nice cold draft Lager.


This was our first real meal of the trip and I didn’t make notes of everybody’s food, suffice to say we were each very pleased with our food and amazed by the poise and knowledge of the young woman serving us — this place and the meal fit the evening and the evening  was in a fit with the whole outside, it seemed.

WEDNESDAY — Lunch with friends in Newton, Fenway Park and Red Sox v Giants

Grilling and Dancing in the Rain

As summer is with us, I grill very often and its always for pleasure… grilling isn’t a hurry-up kind of cooking.

So here I am, Mahi Mahi on the counter, coming to room temperature and the skies start to darken. I’ve been down this road once before, it only takes a few drops of rain to sizzle out a burgeoning fire.

BUT WAIT!! I have an umbrella. It was bought to shield the sun while lounging in a chair, but it ought to work for the rain — I’ve seen people with umbrellas in the rain.

So, I rolled the umbrella over to the Big Green Egg and hoisted it. And none too soon, sprinkles started right away.


I’m not wet.


Here is where I started…

The charcoal bucket is in the dry and I’m ready to light the wax briquette that in turn starts the Natural hardwood charcoal.


The fire is lighted, but it will be a while before it’s ready to cook.

I relaxed the umbrella a bit… it gives plenty of protection and doesn’t splatter as it does when it’s taut.


The cool thing about grilling is there is plenty of time while the fire gets itself ready, to do the food prep (and have a drink if you’re so inclined)

What we have here is a red bell pepper, some spring onions and sliced sweet onions, Mahi Mahi fillet and blanched asparagus.


So I took all that stuff out to the EGG.

The silver container now is the grill tools, gloves, etc. Rain or no, it’s way easier to grill at this time of year than in the winter. In the winter, you have to keep the food in the warm indoors until you put it on the fire.


WooHoo… looks great. Nearly ready to come off, waiting for the fish to come up to temps… it’s pretty thick.


Everything is ready.


We are served.


AND… we allowed for future meals.

A final comment, which I want to make public… or as public as eatsforone gets… I was particularly eager to grill today — rain or no — because a couple of days ago we received this letter:


If the lily livered briquette zealot coward had asked — and Downwind knows my address — I would have explained that I use organic 100% natural oak and hickory hardwood lump charcoal for my grilling. It’s more expensive, but well worth it. And as for the threats, the HOA requires “covered grills.” That’s it. The rest of Downwind’s diatribe is — how do you say — bull hockey, and I wouldn’t want that on my grill. And Downwind didn’t mention that in the only park in Sierra Canyon, there are two uncovered charcoal grills, and they are used at least weekly for parties in the good weather… I wish the zealot were downwind of THAT.
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The meal was great, and now we’ll be grilling more often.

First Farmers Market

…of the Season here in Reno  One of the best days of the year.

Marcus, Eric, Brian and families have a swell app for our smart phones called *What’s App?* It allows us to text and send pictures to one another internationally. Of course it’s free.

In the middle of the night last night, Carol’s and my phones dinged. The next morning we read and C responded while I had a walk….

Know what I love even more than my iPhone? My rotisserie oven. Tonight it’s got a guinea hen in it.
Look out Sparks… here comes another part for the grill.
Off to the first Farmers Mkt
Let me know what stuff they have. In ME there’s not much more than salad greens & the very beginning of asparagus.
Since local means 100 miles, we get lots from central CA, hope for corn, green beans and artichokes.
Love 2 kno wht’s from eNVy


Brian sent a picture of his rotisserie oven and the unfortunate Guinea hen


Carol at the last booth in the row. Is that Bernie???


Inside, we got 4 variaities of green beans: yellow, green, Romano and haricot vert. We passed on the Brentwood corn


Lattin Farm, Fernley NV


Wix Farm, Reno. Don’t remember this one before.


Our haul. Pretty slim pickin’s, but each week we’ll see more and more and more.



In these days of the internet and skaty-eight-b’zillion recipe blogs and sites, what’s a home cook and sometime blogger to do?

I like and trust the “old” recipes and believe that anything from the internet is untrustworthy unless it comes from a site with an editor (Epicurious, NYT, etc). Blog and magazine recipes tend to involve twists and turns and sauces and rubs, etc (*chicken wings 21 ways*) I respect and revere real cookbook authors/writers — James Beard, Madher Jaffrey, Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Martha Stewart, and so on — many of my favorite recipes come from them. That said, there are new, innovative writers and recipes; but that’s another story.

And so… (drumroll)
These are the first of a number of recipes that I have cooked lately and have decided are good-to-go, as is. They are worthy of bearing the appellation T T T [Tasty Tried and True]. They may or may not have appeared on *eats…* but they have been hanging around my recipe files for some time.

That doesn’t mean I won’t alter a recipe somewhat as I cook depending on what I have on hand or my mood or the weather or whatever, but if I want — and I usually do in this day and age — I can cook them straight, flat, as written.

In most cases, they came from somewhere — a book, magazine, the TV, newspaper or my head — and have been cooked and adjusted and re-written until Carol and I love ‘em.

and another T: Toss

I’ve recently posted a couple:
K-Paul’s Cajun Meatloaf TTT
The Perfect Steak TTT

More are to come:
Grilled Chicken Thighs
Bourbon Baked Beans
Fish Chowder
Bi-Rite beans n chard
cuban black beans
Basic Cooked Rice
my bean vegetable soup
Cajun Catfish
Beer Butt Chicken
and more…

The way we cook now; simpler times

We still cook every day. And after 2 1/2 years in Reno, we’ve learned to live with each other. Carol and I each do our own breakfast and lunch, but we’ve learned to (often) share the cooking of dinner. When I grill, she will do sides, when she cooks the entrée I will do the vegetable or salad. Agreeing in advance on “What’s for dinner?” helps.

And, to a great extent, we’ve reverted to simple, often-used recipes. Oh, Carol still reads her women’s cooking magazines and peruses Epicurious, Food 52 and the like on her iPad, but what ends up being cooked is basic and good — most often from books or my recipe files.

When there is a question, out comes the well worn copy of Julia Child’s “The French Chef Cookbook” from 1968… autographed in 1976 at the opening of Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

So here’s some stuff we’ve cooked lately, and where it came from (breakfasts are all mine, C does yogurt and fruit most often).


Carbonnade de Boeuf a la Provencale accompanied by Bonnie Doon Cigare D (Central Coast Red Wine) from The French Chef Cookbook. Basically, a beef, potato and onion stew baked with Parmesan on top. We probably do it twice a year in cold weather. If we do it for the two of us, there’s always leftovers, if we cook for more, it’s long gone. It’s rather elegant in a way, and the leftovers are fabulous.

latkes with candied carrots and sausage slices

Latkes: “Potato Pancakes w/Apple Sauce & Sour Cream” (Kartoffelpuffer mit Apfelmus) from the Time Life Foods of the World Series, 1968 German Cookbook.
This is Carol’s old standby recipe tailored to goodness.
Actually, I prepped the potatoes and onions… C saw it and said, “That’s a lot!” Well, yeah. So we ate 3 or 4 each and had maybe 8 left over… I ate for breakfast twice, and there was still some left for another dinner.

Thin Sliced Brussels Sprouts With Mustard-Caper Butter, Virginia Ham slice and baked potato.

SF Chronicle 11.3.04: Brussels Sprouts With Mustard-Caper Butter
Adapted from “Local Flavors,” by Deborah Madison (Broadway Books, 2002). I modified by slicing the Brussels sprouts very thin and made BRUSSELS SPROUTS IVa: Thin Sliced Brussels Sprouts With Mustard-Caper Butter
Recipes left from SF call for things such as salt-packed capers and green garlic. Not in Reno, so just substitute what you have. I subbed chopped garlic for green garlic and regular capers for the salt packed. Still an EXCELLENT dish. C sez we might even try slipping it to Brian.
Used the Japanese slicer with the “batch box” to slice the Brussels. Perfect. Cooked in the Wendell Wok.

Dole Carrot Ginger soup, melon, steamed broccoli, sliced fresh curd cheese

Sometimes I like soup for breakfast on a cool morning. Not too much, and it has to be creamy. This is Dole Carrot Ginger soup from a box. I get about three servings from one box. Put it in a small bowl and tuck it in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Yum.

fruit and vegetable breakfast

The Usual melon, vegetable and fresh curd cheese. This time with some steamed broccoli and white beans tossed with a vinaigrette and served in a new bowl I bought at the Dollar Store.

Wine-Braised Chicken Legs with Root Vegetables ingredients

Wine-Braised Chicken Legs with Root Vegetables
Bi Rite Market Cookbook
Eat Good Food

“This take on coq au vin has it all: tender, moist chicken, flavorful root veggies and an incredibly rich sauce;to top it off, it’s a one-pot meal. If it’s your pleasure, duck legs are a great substitute for the chicken legs.”

browned legs and Kungfu Girl Riesling

This recipe is why I bought the book. As with the Carbonnade, we cook this a couple times a year. I made it with three chicken legs… 1 3/4 pounds from Reno Provisions . These are trimmed to perfect serving pieces. Beautiful. Kung Fu Girl Riesling, a wine that the RGJ claims is “best value of 2014” was used for the cooking. [We discovered it months ago.]

This is a fine step-by-step recipe of assembly. Served with Bonny Doon “The Heart Has it’s Rieslings”

The authors of the Bi Rite Market Cookbook start with an essay on “Creating Community Through Food.” Here, they explain their philosophy and family:

buy it with thought
cook it with care
use less wheat & meat
buy local foods
serve just enough
use what is left
Don’t waste it.

That was written in 1914, and as is noted on the sign, it’s still a go-by.

dover sole and asparagus

Pan Fried Dover Sole.
No recipe. Just flour it and saute in butter. C does a really fine job with pan fried fish and I’m happy to let her do it. When she suggested asparagus to go with, I said, “Just don’t broil the asparagus, the buds tend to get all burnt.” So she went for The French Chef Cookbook and cooked it in water just like Julia always did it. Perfect.

fish for breakfast, a favorite

So I’ll end with my breakfast of the LO Sole with vegetables and a side of melon. I put the thin fillets on a plate with the vegetables and stuck it in the Breville countertop convection oven for 10 minutes at 250°F. YUM.

Rhythm of the EGG



My Big Green Egg (EGG) can be seen from the walkway passing by our rear courtyard. When I’m out cooking, passersby often kibitz… “What’s for dinner? What kind of BBQ is that? Do you like it?” and so on. Some recognize it and it’s “I’ve been meaning to get one of those.” To that I say, “Well… go for it!”




I brought my little ol’ Webber Q gas grill from San Francisco. Didn’t get much kibitzing about that.


One of the many reasons for moving from San Francisco to Reno was the Big Green Egg. Carol’s brother Mark (and Jannie) cooked for us several times on their EGG at their home in Jackson, Ohio. They made us promise to get an EGG when we had room for one — not a hard promise to make… or realize.

The first few times cooking on the EGG I was not patient — Tim Carter, of Carter Bros. ACE Hardware warned me of this when he assembled my EGG. By now, I have developed a nice and easy routine, as I will demonstrate. It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking a steak for five or six minutes or a rack of ribs for three hours, the first steps are the same, and they take one hour. We usually eat dinner about 7pm, so for anything but a “low and slow” meal, that means I light the fire a little before 6pm.

this picture was taken after a “low and slow” fire, so there’s not much charcoal left


Sometime during the afternoon, I walk out and open up the EGG, remove the grate and stir the extinguished charcoal from the last meal. The ashes fall into the ash area under the fire pit and I form the charcoal around the edges, so the new charcoal will fill the center and top.

A note on charcoal. I was instructed to use only natural lump charcoal. This is made from 100% hardwood, burns hot and clean, and there are no by-products. At the end of cooking, the fire is extinguished by closing the dampers and cutting off the air supply. I’ve found the Big Green Egg brand of charcoal the best. I’ve tried other brands that are less expensive, but they’re not as good. Besides, we’re talking about 50 cents a pound difference, and I add about a pound per fire.

I light the fire with SAFE-LITE Fire Starter Squares, blocks of compressed sawdust coated with natural paraffin wax.

The fire will be ready in an hour, so now I’ll continue my prep.

today I’m grilling a yellow tomato, a peach, a leftover baked potato, a thick piece of halibut – skin on – and Romano beans

The halibut is marinating in equal parts of soy sauce, white wine and lime juice. The fruits and vegetables have been tossed with olive oil, the beans were steamed for 5 minutes beforehand.

Plenty of time to relax now, have a glass of Scotch, some cheese and crackers and watch some Giants on the TV.

The wait is over and the food is on the grill.

The temperature is holding at about 350. I set the timer for the halibut at six minutes a side. I’ll take off the vegetables when they are ready… they will hold.

meanwhile, this is what I’m looking at beyond the EGG

food cooks, about to be turned

vegetables are done, they’ll go into a warm oven

I mentioned the halibut is thick… took almost 15 minutes to reach 135°F, but it turned out nice and juicy. Too bad I wasn’t artful about cutting it for the plate.

halibut, potato, Romano beans, tomato… peach for dessert

The EGG and the live fire and the time and the outdoors bring a rhythm and pleasure to such a meal.




I recently saw the movie, Chef…

Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) suddenly quits his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman), he is left to figure out what’s next. Finding himself in Miami, he teams up with his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara), his friend (John Leguizamo) and his son (Emjay Anthony) to launch a food truck. [rotten tomatoes]

the chef (El Jefe) and Percy on the road

MY TAKE: Nice to be entertained with a fun story about chefs, critics and food. The characters are well drawn — there are times of pathos and disappointment and times of great fun and accomplishment… hard work and passion win in the end. Food porn abounds — chopping, slicing, roasting, tasting, presenting of food food food… The chef beautifully does a step-by-step cooking of a perfect grilled cheese sandwich at home for his son.

On a Saturday with Carol at Mah Jongg, I was compelled to make my own grilled cheese sandwich. I remembered a three-cheese grilled cheese sandwich using Cowgirl Creamery cheeses from a sunny summer day at the Hog Island Oyster Bar in San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Marketplace hard on the bay.

I have three good cheeses right here at home — not the same ones used at Hog Island, but they will go well together — and I have bread — not a dense country bread, but Oroweat Whole Grain, 12 Grain Bread… bread nonetheless — and I have butter and a skillet.

I don’t make grilled cheese sandwiches often because I’m a little cloudy on the technique. Chef Carl in the movie starts by browning two half-sandwiches then eases them together with a deft spatula move. I had always built a whole sandwich, browned it on one side then turned it to finish on the other. The turning was not always excellently accomplished.

So, here is my illustrated adventure…


three cheeses: blue, brie and havarti’ pickles and olives on the side; the fabulous Oroweat bread

These ingredients are from Raley’s… I normally get my cheese — cut from wheels — from Wedge, Reno’s premier cheese shop.

bread and cheese browning in skillet

I buttered both slices of bread, placed the cheese on the un-buttered side, and transferred the bread to the hot skillet.

here’s my sandwich just about finished

My spatula move in easing the sandwich halves together was not as deft as that of the Chef.

my sandwich served by me to me…

Not so pretty, but oh my, it was goooood, and gracious plenty for lunch. YUM

La Strada 2009 '10 '14

Nataliya after the wedding.

On one of my first visits to Reno — house hunting with Brian in June of 2009 — after a long day of scouting the town we needed a bite to eat, but not just any bite. He had done some research and declared La Strada in the El Dorado Hotel and Casino to be the best casino restaurant. Of course we went there to eat and ordered the four-course tasting menu with a few bucks extra for wine pairing. Excellent.

Neither of us knew at the time that the best restaurants in Reno are not necessarily in the casinos.

Fast forward to 2014. Brian and Nataliya have a home in Sparks and Nataliya is teaching a Biology course at Truckee Meadows Community College. Last week she got her first paycheck. WooHoo! Time for a celebration. Nataliya selected Sunday dinner. Brian checked out some of the best restaurants in Reno; Rapscallion Seafood House, Bricks, 4th Street Bistro… all are closed on Sunday. Why not go to La Strada? It’s a celebratory kind of place. We went there after their Reno wedding in June of 2010. OK then… dinner at seven.

As we ordered — I planned on the Rigatoni Fra Diavolo — Brian ordered the four-coarse tasting menu. Hey, that sounds good, I’ll have it too.

First course, a green salad featuring smoked salmon.

2014 First Course: Lovely salad featuring smoked salmon and fennel.

As we launched into the meal we talked about this being our third tasting menu including the one after their wedding in 2010. — And where could one get a four coarse tasting menu in San Francisco for $40? — I know I have pictures of the last one, but I didn’t take notes… in any case, maybe we can compare.

2010 First course — This salad appears to feature steak.

The courses seem to repeat themselves, but with different stars.

Second Course: white and red pasta.

2014 Second Course — the La Strada signature Wild Mushroom Stuffed Ravioli paired with Lasagna.

2010 Second Course — Lasagna and Ravioli, but with definitely different ingredients.

Third Course: surf and turf.

2014 Third Course — Osso Bucco on a bed of soft polenta, Salmon with a Crabmeat Glaze and Broccolini

2010 Third Course — Looks like a white fish, maybe Halibut and maybe a veal and mushroom companion. The carrot and asparagus are attractive.

And then — ta da… the Dessert Course

2014 Dessert Course — semifreddo, a semi-frozen ice cream cake

2010 The Wedding Cake — not from the kitchens of La Strada, but from an Austrian Bakery, Franz’s Backstube

As it turns out, we live quite near this bakery. Heads of the bride and groom previously eaten for good luck.

So… if you’re up for a celebration in Reno, we know a place.