supper or dinner?

dinner platesWhat’s that meal we eat on weeknight evenings? I say “dinner.” It’s what I said when I was growing up. “Mom, what’s for dinner?” But somewhere in the back of my mind I think I knew it was really supper. Maybe my dad used the term; I’m not sure. On Sunday in the mid-afternoon we had dinner. My mother made a roast, we had sides, and my Grandma Christie often joined us.

The folks at Wide Open Eats published an interesting essay on the subject. They point out that from an etymological standpoint dinner is the main meal of the day, whatever time it is served, while supper is by definition the evening meal.

No doubt you have your own perspective on this critical issue.


Coming to My Senses

Coming to My SensesComing to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook
Alice Waters
Clarkson Potter (September 5, 2017), 310 pages
Kindle edition $12.99, Amazon paperback $11.59

I was intrigued when I first saw the review of this book and I added it to my stack of Kindle samples. I finally got around to reading it.

Waters spends a lot of time talking about her childhood and elementary and high school years, but the book starts to get interesting when she arrives at college. She and her best friend started out at UC Santa Barbara, but they found that school boring and transferred to Berkeley. She fit right in to the counterculture and was there as the free speech movement began.

She took an unauthorized, self-directed junior year abroad in France which had a profound influence on her thinking about food. Back in Berkley she slowly evolved the idea of opening a restaurant, even though she had no training in the culinary profession or in business. She recruited friends who shared her vision and who were skilled in their own fields, though not in the restaurant world. Somehow the passion and drive made it all work and Chez Panisse has been a renowned restaurant since 1971.

The writing is not always engaging, but if you enjoy things culinary you might appreciate this book.


real whipped cream

Terry and I had a good Thanksgiving. We were joined by Terry’s sister Julie who drove up from El Cajon with Laura, long part of the family, who would have been Julie’s mother-in-law had it not been for a fatal car accident decades earlier. With Terry recovering from her knee-replacement surgery we chose not to cook but rather ordered a take-out pack from Hometown Buffet.

whipping creamThe package included two pies, a pumpkin pie that we enjoyed here and a cherry pie that we took out to my brother’s house later in the day. I made the decision, without really telling anyone, that we would have fresh homemade whipped cream. The day before Thanksgiving I made a dinner that called for heavy cream in the recipe, so instead of buying a small single-use carton of cream I bought a large one.

I put the cream in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer bowl, threw in a little sugar, attached the wire whisk and turned the mixer on high. I had a few moments of panic when the cream did not become whipped, but I kept my Kitchen Aid running, kicked it up higher, and soon, voilà!, I had whipped cream.

Terry, Julie, and Laura were surprised and pleased. I was happy with my accomplishment. It made for a nice touch on an already fine Thanksgiving.


hot sauces

hot saucesTerry and I are big fans of hot sauce. We always have a bottle of Cholula and a bottle of Tapatio on hand for when we have Mexican dishes. I generally feel that Cholula has a richer, more full-bodied taste than Tapatio, but it’s nice to have both.

Typically we never kept Louisiana-style hot sauce among our supply of condiments, but I bought a bottle at one point for a recipe I was fixing so we’ve had it on hand. Now it’s not as if I’m unfamiliar with Louisiana hot sauce. Both Popeye’s Chicken and Waba Grill make it available and I know it’s much hotter than Mexican hot sauce.

I had, however, never juxtaposed the two kinds of hot sauce in my mind until recently. One evening we were having leftovers that were sort of bland so I put all three bottles on the table. It really hit home the reality that Louisiana hot sauce is a lot hotter than Mexican.

What I learned: I really enjoy Louisiana hot sauce on my leftovers.


Sprouts isn’t perfect

I love Sprouts market. They have a great service deli, quality produce, a huge bulk foods section, quality vitamins, and a variety of interesting offerings in their grocery and frozen food sections.

Sprouts does, however, have its faults.

Sprouts TunaI enjoyed the brand-name frozen food offerings they had but they were a tad on the expensive side. I was happy when they offered a selection of house-brand frozen meals. I bought three. Big disappointment. I found all three virtually inedible. A message posted to their web site resulted only in a minimal apology with no offer of compensation.

Then there was the house-brand tuna. I had purchased two cans. I knew something was amiss when I saw that Terry had put one empty can directly in the recycle toter outside rather than just tossing it in our kitchen recycle bin. She said the smell was overwhelming and she had to get rid of the can. A number of weeks later I found the tuna in the other can dry, dense, and barely edible.

Sprouts has a lot going for it. But sometimes they don’t seem concerned about quality.


our new Indian restaurant

It’s not very often that something new and noteworthy happens on the culinary scene here in Hemet, so when it does it’s worth noting.

On the east side of town, the opposite side from which we live, there is a 7-Eleven store and gas station. That same building also hosts two storefronts. One of them was a burger place that moved to a less congested location in the central part of town. Later in that spot there was a soul food restaurant. The food was quite good, but apparently it didn’t get enough business to survive.

Taste of India buffet plateRecently my brother, who lives on that side of town, told me that there was a sign on the storefront that read, “Coming Soon: Taste of India.” We anxiously awaited the restaurant’s opening. The Chamber of Commerce sent out a notice about the ribbon cutting on a Friday and the next day my brother sent me a text saying that it was open.

We tried it recently and were delighted. Previously we had to drive half an hour to a very congested area for Indian food. No more. They have both a full menu and a buffet. The buffet was excellent and although they didn’t have my favorite, Chicken Tikka Masala, the Tandoori Chicken was great and they had a chicken dish that I didn’t recognize which was quite tasty. The owner took the time to speak with us in spite of how busy it was when we were there. Never mind the fact that they use paper plates and plastic utensils. Terry and I are more than pleased.


more on immigrants and food

I hope you saw my blog entry on immigrants and food. If not, please do take a look.

There’s more on television on this topic. PBS has a new program called No Passport Required. It is hosted by chef Marcus Samuelsson. Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia, adopted, and raised in Sweden. He immigrated to the United States where he has become a successful restaurateur, cookbook author, and television personality.

No Passport RequiredThe program is similar to the show Eden Eats, about which I wrote, in that Samuelsson visits a different city in each episode. Unlike that program, however, Samuelsson visits a single ethnic group in each city, and No Passport Required is a full hour rather than half an hour. This gives him time to delve in-depth into each immigrant community.

Well worth watching.

Another PBS program, related to immigrants though not necessarily food, is “Ellis Island” on the Great Performances series. Composer Peter Boyer combines orchestral music, photography, and the spoken word to provide a moving portrayal of immigrants coming to the United States in the early part of the twentieth century. Boyer says he did not have the immigrant situation of 2018 in mind when composing this work, but he certainly sees the relevance.

The program aired on television at the end of June. You can to stream it or watch on demand until July 27.

Make sure you have a Kleenex within reach at the conclusion.