Posted tagged ‘food’

Pea Soup

November 15, 2018

Today I am cooking pea soup in our crock pot. This is one of Mary’s favorite meals. She will usually eat a whole soup bowl without any nagging on my part. When I was a kid, my mother would make pea soup and I hated it. I guess when I came to adulthood my tastes had changed.

And it so easy to make. Prep time is about 20-30 minutes. Cook time about 4-5 hours.

Here are the ingredients:

So we have:

  • 4 Carrots
  • 2 Celery stalks
  • 1 bag of dry split peas (usually found in the grains section)
  • 1 Medium onion
  • 8 oz. Diced ham. (Our super market sells packages of 8 oz., just the right size.)
  • 48 oz. Chicken stock (We prefer the low-salt variety)

Peel and chop the carrots. Wash and chop the celery and onion. Add to the crock pot.

Then wash the split peas in a colander. Add to the crock pot.

Finally, add the diced ham. Add the chicken stock with enough fluid to cover everything in the pot.

Cover and cook on high for about 4-5 hours. Good idea to stir once or twice during the cooking. Don’t forget to plug it in. (I’ve done that once or twice.)

I use plastic crock pot liners to help in the clean up later on. Available in the plastic bag aisle of the grocery store.

Done. Take a nap.

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot

February 14, 2016

After the movie last night, we decided to have dinner. There are many good choices in the area around the AMC theater in Torrance. So we decided to try something different.

We decided to try the “Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot“.  So here’s how this works. At each table, there is a hot plate located in the center of the table. On the hot plate is placed a bowl of soup broth.

First thing that one orders (after you order your beer or wine) is the broth. There are three varieties. Normal, Spicy or a bowl with both the normal and spicy separated by a divider (see picture).


We decided to do the libra choice. I wanted the spicy and Paula wanted the bland. Then one chooses the meat, vegetable and/or fish. We decided for a lamb/beef combo and vegetable combo (kale and other green stuff).

So you either order stuff ala carte or pay one “All you can eat” price. We did the ala carte because we weren’t quite sure how filling every thing was going to be.

So here’s how this works. You take a portion of meat or veg and pick it up an drop into the soup. Let it simmer for a bit, then fish it out with either the soup ladle or your chop sticks. Then eat it.

They give you a soup bowl so you can eat or drink some of the soup. The food was tasty and service was good. Somehow, I think this would work better with four or more people. But we were satisfied.

Oh,  by the way, either bring a bib or don’t wear anything that isn’t washable. You will get soup on your shirt.

Sausage Lasagna

February 17, 2015

2015-02-17 13.30.44Tuesday evening is we have Mike and his family over for dinner. That means that on Monday morning Paula and I are scratching our heads figuring out what to serve. Yesterday, we decided to do Lasagna. We hadn’t done that in a while. Sometimes we do a baked zitti sort of dish. Same ingredients except using zitti instead of lasagna noodles. Sometimes, I do the cooking, sometime Paula. Lasagna is my dish, so I do the cooking this time.

So without further ado, here is my recipe for baked lasagna.


2 jars of pasta sauce. We tend to like the various “Paul Newman” sauces. Today we used a jar of his “Sockaroonie” and jar of tomato basil. Choose what you like. I guess I’m too lazy to bother doing my own sauce from scratch. So sue me.

1 medium onion, diced

2-3 cloves garlic, diced

3 Tbsp Olive oil

1 12 oz package of ground sausage meat. There are usually several variations available at the market. One of these days I will try making with the hot spicy sausage variant.

1 15 oz container of ricotta cheese (we usually get the “light” variety made with skim milk)

1 egg

1 package of grated mozzarella cheese. I think it is the 2 c size. (ditto on the “Light” variety)

1 package of lasagna noodles. Here’s the thing that annoys me. The one pound package gives you more pasta than you can use to fill a 9″x13″ pan. 1/2 the package is not enough. So I count out about 15-16 pieces of lasagna pasta and save the rest for later.


  1. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Occasionally, I’ve seen suggestions on how to do no-boil lasagna. Don’t do it. It sucks. Boil the pasta. No shortcuts. Drain in a colander.
  2. Saute’ the onions and garlic in a large skillet. When the onions and garlic are translucent, add the sausage meat. Cook until the sausage is cooked through.
  3. Add one of the jars of sauce and stir.
  4. In a medium size bowl, mix the egg and the ricotta. The egg makes for a texture that is easier to spread onto the noodles.
  5. Now for the putting all together part. Spray a 9″x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray.
  6. Put a layer of sauce (from the other jar that didn’t go into the meat). then add a layer of noodles.
  7. Add a layer of the meat sauce and then add a layer of about 1/2 the ricotta mixture.
  8. Put down the second layer of noodles and repeat with the second half of the meat sauce. Add the rest of the ricotta.
  9. Another layer of noodles. Now add a layer of the sauce without the meat. Add a layer of the mozzarella.
  10. Now put down the final layer of noodles. Add the rest of the sauce. Add the rest of the mozzarella.

One of the nice things about this dish is that one can do all of the prep work early and then just put in the oven when your guests are due to arrive. Indeed, tonight I won’t even be there since I will be at a Shrine club meeting. Lasagna tastes better as leftovers anyway. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Serves 6-8.

Shepherd’s Pie

March 19, 2014

Last night was our weekly family dinner night. In honor of St Patrick we had Shepherd’s Pie, not corned beef. I despise corned beef. And seeing as it was my turn to cook, we decided to do Shepherd’s pie.
 So hear is my recipe. It’s mostly in my head. It is not one of those meals that I need to work from a written recipe. There are many variations of shepherd’s pie to be found on the internet. This is just my variation on the theme.

 1.5lb ground beef
 2 c Fresh mushrooms
 1 med onion, chopped
 1/2 of a 16oz. bag of frozen peas and carrots. Generic store brand is fine.
 2 bags instant mashed potatoes (I use the “just add water” variation for about 4-6 servings)
 1 c shredded cheddar cheese
 1 jar brown gravy (12 oz. Heinz or equivalent) Some recipes suggest using cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup. My preference is the gravy.
 1/2 tsp ground pepper
 1 tsp salt
 Sauté the onions and mushrooms in a couple teaspoons of olive oil. Then set aside. [Last night we skipped the onions because Theresa is sensitive to onions.]
 Brown the ground beef. After the ground beef is cooked, drain the fat. Add the mushrooms, onion, peas and carrots and the gravy. Add the salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes. You might not need the whole jar of gravy. Judge for yourself how “soupy” you want it to be.
 Pour the ground beef mixture into 7×13 casserole dish.
 Prepare the mashed potatoes as directed on the package. Spread the mash potatoes on top of the ground beef.
 Sprinkle the cheddar on top.
 Bake in 350 oven for about 20 minutes (cheese should be melted and gravy bubbling on the edges.)
 Variations: Some folks use either green beans or corn. Not my preference though.
 Also, best served with Guinness beer and Irish Whiskey.

 Jonathan seemed to like the concoction. Though, I think he mostly liked the mashed potato part, less so for the hamburger.
 – Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Octoberfest – Los Angeles Style

October 14, 2013

We meant to do this last year but never got around to it. So yesterday afternoon we went to the Octoberfest at Alpine Village in Torrance. This has been an annual affair for the last forty some years in Torrance. During the months of September and October, Alpine Village puts on Octoberfest on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons.

The Sunday afternoon affair is a little bit more family friendly. People bring their entire family from infants to grand parents. The rest of the year Alpine Village runs a restaurant and gift shop. But on the weekends they move to the huge tent. My guess would be that it is the size of a couple football fields.

Get your tickets on line. This will save you waiting in the long line to get in. They encourage appointing someone the designated driver. I was selected for the job yesterday. They put a green wrist strap on you. This gets you all the soda and spring water you can drink for free. People are encouraged to come wearing lederhosen or Bavarian Dirndl dresses.

So we loaded Mary K and Paula into the Jeep and picked up Mike up in RPV. And off we went. We had some sausage and bratwurst for lunch along with the usual sides like sauerkraut and potato salad. Tables are rugged picnic tables capable of supporting a tuba player in addition to the food and beer. So Mike lines up for the beer while Paula, Mary K and I line up for food. Lots of fun;

Here are some pictures:

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South Bay Greek Festival

July 13, 2013

Today we all went up to Redondo Beach to attend the South Bay Greek Festival at St Stephen’s Greek Orthodox Church. We arranged to meet Theresa and Jonathan for the festivities, This is an annual affair that has been running since 1964, See

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If you missed it, you still have time. It runs through tomorrow (Sunday 7/14). Costs $2 ($1 for seniors) to get in or free if you print the coupon on the website..

I’d say that 80% of the fair is food related, That’s not a bad thing. The smell is awesome. There is just about any greek food you can imagine. Non-food items include jewelry, boutique stuff, t shirts, etc.

I started the day with a cup of greek coffee. Strong, sweet and hot. Then we got a sampler of appetizers, a plate of Loukoumathes (think donut holes only better) and a plate of lamb chops, sausage and french fries.  Then we got a few glasses of wine to wash it down with. Alas, it was California wine. I had a tasty Merlot.

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Here’s Jonathan munching on a french fry and some pita bread. Sitting at the table like a big boy.

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After lunch, we headed over to the kids’ section, where they had set up a moon walk and slide for kids to play on. Jonathan wasn’t quite up to doing the slide, but he got inside the moon walk and bounced around with all the other kids. He had a blast.

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While we were at the kids section, we ran into Theresa’s cousin Eric and family. Finally, after bouncing around we went and got a plate of Greek desserts (BaklavaThiples, and the like). I got another cup of Greek coffee.

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Then we all went home and had a nap.



San Diego Zoo

March 23, 2013

Mike had Friday off yesterday and he had invited Paula and me to join them for a trip to the San Diego Zoo.

We left San Pedro at about 8:30AM with Mike, Theresa and Jonathan in Mike’s Honda. He’s going to be needing a mini-van sooner rather than later. Paula was in the back seat making silly with Jonathan.

We made decent time down the 405 and the 5 to San Diego. Arrived at about 10:30AM. Paula says “too bad you didn’t bring your HP placard”. But says I “but I did, it’s in my pack in the trunk”. So we found an HP parking space and avoided parking in the back forty.

The SD zoo is a wonderful place. They have animals that I had never heard of. In addition of course to the usual stuff like elephants and tigers and bears.

Theresa brought her real camera. I just had my trusty iPhone. Here are some of my pictures.

Camel resting (it seems the animals are always resting).



Elephant getting a Pedi. One of the other elephant handlers was feeding the elephant at the other end to encourage cooperation.

Pretty red flower. That’s all I know.

Paula with a polar bear. The real (live) polar bears were not available for the photo shoot.

Black and White and Red all over.

Panda (always popular)


Jonathan at our afternoon break. He was having a great time playing with the empty iced coffee containers.

Finally, we got to closing. Mike and I were waiting at the exit, while Paula and Theresa went through the gift shops. I was dumbfounded that neither of them bought anything.

Then we did dinner at Harar Ethiopian Restaurant. A nice little bistro on the Boulevard. Friday night was buffet night. The good news was that we got to try most everything. The bad news was I had no idea what I was eating. But it was all good. Here is a picture of Theresa’s plate. (Roberta told us about this place).

After a fine dinner, we stopped at McD’s for an iced coffee for Mike and bottles of water for Paula and me. Then home and to bed.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:San Diego, CA

Biscuits and Gravy

February 24, 2013

Well today we were at a breakfast put on by our OES chapter here in San Pedro. Nothing unusual here, Many lodges and chapters have breakfasts to raise money for their activities.

I am writing for my friends in New England who probably have not enjoyed one particular delicacy served at the breakfast. I am of course writing about “Biscuits and Country Gravy”. Biscuits and Gravy is a dish probably better known in the south. I was first introduced to it when I was working for Raytheon in Memphis, TN many years ago.

First off, it is absolutely not good for you, but it tastes SO good. It is loaded with sausage grease, artery clogging, cholesterol raising fat.

At any rate, it is very easy to make. First the biscuits. You of course can make them from scratch, but for me that’a a bit much. Either get the Pillsbury refrigerator biscuits at the grocery or use the recipe on a box of Bisquick. Either way is pretty easy.

Next comes the gravy or “country gravy” as it is often called. Get a pound of sausage meat and fry it up in a frying pan. There might even be a recipe for country gravy on the package. No matter this isn’t rocket science.

So fry up the sausage. Once it is browned, turn off the heat. Remove the sausage meat with a slotted spoon or drain with a colander. Reserve the sausage meat and return the grease to the pan. Add about a 1/4 cup of flour to the grease. Stir constantly over low heat while slowly adding about 2 cups of milk. Add a little extra milk if you want a thinner consistency.

If you want a gravy with considerable more “kick”, try using spicy sausage meat.

Add the sausage to the mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Slice the biscuits in half on a plate and add the gravy on top. Enjoy.

Here’s a pointer to the wikipedia article on the subject.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:San Pedro, CA

Five Months Gone

January 14, 2013

Okay, it’s been 5 months now that we’ve been in California. Time for an update. As you know, we are living with Paula’s mother in her three bedroom condo. So far so good. WW-III has not broken out yet. More on this later.

First thing that I’ve noticed is that everything out here seems to cost more. Here’s a few examples. I bought gasoline this morning. I paid $3.75 per gallon and I thought that was a pretty good price considering. Two months ago I saw one gas station charging $4.75. Food is expensive too. Large of Skippy Peanut Butter was $6.50 and I paid $4.00 back in MA. Movie prices seem to be competitive. Last movie we saw (Lincoln) was $5 for Senior ticket.

I always look forward to the times that we can go out without Mary K in tow. Tonight while Mary K is off to her historical society meeting (often called the hysterical society) we will be going to the movies. We’ll be seeing “Silver Linings Playbook”. We watched to Golden Globes last night. We have a lot of movies to see before the Oscars. Some were added to our Netflix queue, some still playing in theaters.

The weather has been pleasant. We are in a sort of rainy season for SoCal. We are very happy to have no snow. I seem to be always fighting MaryK on the thermostat. I try to leave it at 72. Given a chance she will push it up to 78. I came home from lodge last week and the condo felt like a sauna. She is always complaining about the cold. Matter of fact, all of the locals here complain about the cold weather (ie. 48). This past sunday, the parking lot at church was almost empty. 45 was a bit too cold for many folks to leave their homes. The weather for the last few days has been clear and cold (45). We can see the mountains to the east of LA quite clearly. Usually all we can see is the refineries in San Pedro.

I still feel like a foreigner here. To Paula she has come home. She seems to be always meeting someone that she went to high school at San Pedro HS. Just yesterday, we were at the grocery store. At the meat counter, the lady who was waiting on us, said “Don’t I know you?”. Turns out the lady and Paula went to high school together.

We usually go to church most sundays. We go to Ocean View Baptist Church. I didn’t really get a say in the choice of churches. This is the church that Mike & Theresa and Mary K go to. It was the same church that Paula went to back before she moved East to meet me thirty-five years ago. It’s a bit conservative for my choice. I really miss Rev Katherine and First Congo in Billerica. I haven’t dared to bring up the issue of accepting LGBT into the church. i would probably be expelled as a heretic. Sigh.

One of the daily challenges of living with Mary K is keeping track of her stuff. She is constantly losing her cell phone, her address book, or her keys. Things either fall into the black hole of her purse or get buried under the pile of paper at her seat on the couch. I am constantly trying to show her how to do things on her phone from listening to voice mail or using speed dial.

A while ago, I loaded her phone with speed dial entries for myself, Paula and Mike. Then I wrote the numbers on a piece of tape attached to the rear of the phone. Once we asked her why she didn’t call, she said I couldn’t find your phone number. I explained as simply as I could. Push the number corresponding to who you are trying to reach and hold for 5 seconds. So she pushes the number on the tape. Argggggh!

It’s a takes a constant effort to keep track of her calendar. We try to get her to write her dates on the calendar on the kitchen. She’s getting better at it but room for improvement. We try to get her to leave her important things (phone, keys, address book) in the same place.

Her short term memory is very bad. We will tell her something that is going on one day and need to repeat several days in a row until it settles in. Not a problem on her long term memory. If I had a nickel for every time she has told us the story of her days as a public health nurse in Palos Verdes, I would be rich.

We have hit the road running in Blue Lodge and OES. I play the piano on occasion for OES and Lodge. Right now I am the fill-in. Last Friday, I was scheduled to play at Alpha Star Chapter in Lomita. Meeting was to start at 7:30pm. I started playing to warm up at about 7:10. However, the heat wasn’t working so they moved the meeting to banquet hall which was closer to the kitchen. Easiest $25 I ever made. Still had fun. Lodge is one place where I can get some peace and quiet away from Mary.

Paula tries to go with her for her doctor’s appointments to make sure that all of the relevant information gets to the doctor. We haven’t managed to convince her she should have a primary care doctor. “Why do I need that?” she says. I’m not sick. Except some times she is sick. Intestinal issues, colds come on and get serious if not attended to.

One last thing. Paula and I are taking Mary K to see “Shen Yun 2013” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion in LA. Birthday present. so to speak. I’ll do a review after the event.


– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:San Pedro

Day 10 Memphis

August 11, 2012

After we finished our pitiful breakfast at the “Americas Best Value Inn” we were off for the day.

First stop was the ATM at a local BofA. Then we headed off for Graceland on Elvis Presley Blvd. Things are hopping at Graceland this week. This is the 35th anniversary of Elvis’ death.

Graceland is one amazing money making operation. We did the tour through the mansion, then the cars (especially liked the pink 55 Caddy), then the airplanes. We bought a few postcards and other Elvis memorabilia. This week is Elvis week in honor of the 35th anniversary of his death. Here are a few pictures.

Then we had lunch at Marlowe’s Ribs. We found this joint using the “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” app. Paula had ribs and I had cajun chicken with a bottle of Guinness. Not the same as Ireland, but was okay. Here’s the picture.

Then we looking for the apartment complex where I lived in 1973 working for Raytheon. Found it. Back then it was nice, now it’s a dump.

After an afternoon rest, we headed up to Beale Street for an evening stroll. First we made a brief stop at riverside park for a picture of the mighty Mississippi.

Things were hopping on Beale Street on Saturday night. We had a drink at a bar then had dinner at the Blues City Cafe. Great steak.

Tomorrow we head for St. Louis.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Memphis, TN