the LightLife Burger

I had planned veggie burgers for dinner a week ago. On Tuesday I went shopping at our nearby Stater Bros. supermarket and discovered they were out of the Beyond Meat burger in the fresh meat department. I had noticed that they had been missing at WinCo recently as well. The sausages were there, but not the burger. It seems that Beyond Meat has a supply problem, which, I suppose, is a Good Thing because it means that there is demand for their product. But that didn’t help me with Wednesday dinner.

LightLife BurgerI went up the street to Sprouts, which had both the Beyond Meat burger and the LightLife burger in the meat department’s freezer case. I had recently made chili with the LightLife Ground, and it was quite good so I decided to try the burger as well. It was fine that the burgers were frozen since they would have more than twenty-four hours to thaw out in the fridge.

On Wednesday I cooked the burgers using the grill pan on our stovetop and served them with my homemade sourdough bread for the buns, which I also lightly grilled. Excellent! Both Terry and I agreed that the LightLife was really indistinguishable from they Beyond Burger. Trying the two in a blindfolded taste test would be strictly a coin flip.

That was a great discovery. And I understand that the Impossible Whopper is rolling out nationwide tomorrow, August 8. I’ll be trying it soon.


another new toaster oven – really?

I really had no desire to buy yet another kitchen appliance. I figured we were in good shape as far that went. But when I went to unplug our toaster oven the other day, I noticed that the cord was hot. I mentioned that to Terry, and she said that she had noticed the same thing. She also pointed out that the toast was burning around the edges, even on the light toast setting. I had noticed that as well, but I figured it was operator error. Guess not.

It really hasn’t been that long since we replaced our toaster oven, less than two years, but here we are again. My brother, who is a retired firefighter, told us then that when the cord is hot, to waste no time. He said, in essence, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, do not wait for the next sale. Replace it now.

Toaster OvenThe most recent toaster oven had a convection setting. But that was well before we got our new stove with its convection oven. This time around we opted for a smaller model without the convection capability, but with toast, bake, and broil. We’re trading in Hamilton Beach for Black and Decker. Our new toaster oven takes up considerably less counter space, which is a nice bonus, given that counter space is at a premium in our kitchen.

It’s not something we wanted to do, but when my brother speaks about fire safety we listen.


vegetarian chili

LightLife GroundI continue my quest to try plant-based alternatives to meats. Sprouts Farmers Market market recently added a couple of LightLife products in addition to their Beyond Meat line. I bought a package of their Ground product and used it to make chili. I sautéed it with chili con carne seasoning and then added crushed tomatoes, black beans, and tomato sauce. I seasoned it with cumin, coriander, garlic, freshly ground pepper, and minced onion.

It was good. Really good. I’ve made a similar chili with Morningstar Grillers Crumbles and this was far superior.

The food industry is making great strides in this realm. I anxiously await the arrival of the Impossible Burger at Burger King here in Southern California.


how did I miss that?

It occurred to me that I had not seen a copy of our favorite cooking magazine, Cooking Light, for a while. I did some checking online and I discovered that the magazine published its final issue in December of last year.

Say what?

Cooking Light final coverTime Inc. sold its magazine business to Meredith Corporation (think Better Homes and Gardens) and Meredith started cutting back. The fine folks there decided that readers of Cooking Light would do just fine with their own Eating Well.

The thing is that Terry and I, though subscribers, never received that farewell issue of Cooking Light. We would have noticed. Big Time. For sure. It would have struck me like a lightning bolt had I actually pulled that issue out of our mailbox. I checked with Terry just in case I had missed something . She agreed that I hadn’t .

Nor did Meredith even have the courtesy to ask us if we’d like to complete our subscription term with issues of Eating Well.

There aren’t that many good cooking magazines out there, and we’ve lost one of the best.


regrets and KitchenAid stand mixers

quoteNo, absolutely nothing
No, I regret nothing
—Édith Piaf

quoteRegrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
—Paul Anka as sung by Frank Sinatra

Several weeks ago I gave a speech at Toastmasters about regrets. At the end of the speech I made clear that I was very happy with most aspects of my life and my varied career choices. I said I was certainly very happy with my life and marriage today. But in the body of the speech I wanted to make clear that while my complaints are few, I am not of the “I have no regrets” philosophy. I listed several.

One regret that I did not mention, but which I should have, is giving my KitchenAid tilt-head stand mixer to my sister-in-law Julie, Terry’s sister. I had owned the mixer since 1977, when my parents bought it for me before I headed off to open up the new B. Dalton Bookseller in Laredo, Texas. It was about 2003 or 2004, I suppose, when I saw the larger capacity KitchenAid bowl-lift mixer on sale at our new Lowe’s in Gilroy and decided that I had to have it.

KitchenAid stand mixerWhat I failed to take into account was the fact that in 1986 Hobart Corporation, those folks that make the industrial-grade mixers for pizzerias and bakeries, sold KitchenAid to Whirlpool. The mixer I bought was not nearly as well made or sturdy as the one I gave to Julie.

The bowl-lift mixer has performed well over the years, nonetheless. However, last week it came to the end of its useful life. It still mixes, but no longer kneads dough. It just sits there making a high-pitched squeaking noise that sends Tasha outside. With our new oven and the bread baking I am doing once again, kneading dough is a central mission for my KitchenAid.

I ought not complain given that the mixer has lasted fifteen-plus years. But the KitchenAid I gave Julie is still going strong, as far as I know, and she makes good use of it. She would not be willing, nor would I even consider asking her, to give it back. So Terry and I had to begin the quest for a replacement.

We went to our local Bed Bath & Beyond, but they didn’t have want we wanted. We came home and pulled up Amazon (of course). We settled on a 5-quart tilt-head Artisan model. It is not without reason, after all, that that is the model you often see on Food Network.

It is scheduled to arrive today. I am looking forward to a long and productive relationship. And I will, of course, keep you updated.


another new appliance

It wasn’t our intent to go on an appliance buying binge. Really it wasn’t.

Our oven gave out. The cost to repair it was fully one-third the cost of getting a new stove. So we got a new stove and we have been delighted.

The refrigerator that came with the house was nine years old and gave out six months after our arrival in 2015. The thermostat quit, which meant it was running all the time. Replacement part not available. So we bought a new side-by side.

The new refrigerator was a pain in the rear from the beginning. The bracket that held one of the baskets in the freezer came out from the refrigerator wall, so whenever we tried to pull it out it would fall off of its rails. One of the two crisper drawers on the refrigerator side never opened smoothly. The ice dispenser misbehaved from the very beginning and replacing the control panel did nothing to fix that. Then, finally, the ice maker got out of whack. Either it was leaking, or, as my brother suggested, the valve was not shutting off in time and it was overflowing.

refrigeratorEnough, we said.

We went to our locally-owned appliance shop and explained our plight. The only side-by-sides were Frigidaire, same as what we had. So we checked out the top-bottom models and decided we liked the Whirlpool version. It had more storage space. In the freezer we can stack our frozen lunches horizontally rather than vertically, making it much easier to make a selection at lunch time. The ice maker is well behaved. And we can see what we have in the deli drawer without even having to open it.

It was more money than we planned to spend, but it was worth it. We haven’t done a kitchen remodel, but with our new stove and new refrigerator we don’t need one. We’re pleased with what we have.


vegetarian improvisation

Generally when I cook I pull out a recipe – usually from my Living Cookbook database. I may not follow the recipe exactly, I generally don’t follow the recipe exactly, but I have it there. Sometimes, though, I don’t feel like selecting a recipe and I don’t feel like shopping for ingredients.

macaroni and cheeseI was in that kind of mood last week. Add to that the fact that I’m still supposed to be avoiding red meat and I ended up doing some vegetarian improvisation. On Thursday I made my own macaroni and cheese. I cooked the shells, threw them in a casserole dish along with two remaining slices of pepper jack, added shredded cheddar, and  topped it all with panko drizzled with garlic butter. I baked it for fifteen minutes. It turned out well.

For Friday dinner, we had some spinach and mushrooms in the fridge that needed to be used before they went bad. I cooked a cup brown rice, threw in the spinach along with mushrooms which I had sliced, added to that shredded cheddar and there was dinner.

Not elegant or fancy, but nutritious, easy, and inexpensive. As the tagline from the old Smooth Jazz TV program (I hate smooth jazz!)  used to say, “Life is like jazz. It’s best when you improvise.”