our new wine strategy

When we lived in Gilroy we had it easy when it came to wine. We had a BevMo in town which always had a good selection of wines. And we would order wine from our favorite winery, Navarro. They all sat properly chilled in the wine cooler which we included in our remodeled kitchen.

Wine RackHere in Hemet we have nothing like a BevMo, and financial constraints no longer allow us to order from Navarro. There is a BevMo about thirty minutes away, but we stopped going there when I found my scotch was cheaper at Smart & Final here in town and they settled a class action lawsuit in which they were found to be manipulating prices in their “buy one, get the second for one cent” sales.

Then Terry discovered the new Total Wines, in the same city as BevMo a half hour south of us. She was amazed at the selection. We were both wearying of the limited rotation we had with our supermarket and Smart & Final, and we agreed that we could visit Total Wines every couple of weeks to stock up. We found a wine rack on Amazon which Terry, with the proper amount of snarling and swearing, put together.

It’s good new plan and I think it will work.


look at the %$#@! ingredient list!

I know better. I really do. Sometimes I just have a brain lapse.

Tropicana LabelI was recently looking for something different for my morning juice. I wanted a change from my standard orange/peach/mango, as much as I enjoy it. I looked at a couple of products and settled on Tropicana Pineapple Mango with Lime. Sounded good. And after all no artificial sweeteners and no artificial flavors is a Good Thing, right?

Why I didn’t look at the ingredients until I got home I have no idea. My only excuse was that the store was really busy and I wanted to get my groceries and get home. I did look at the label when I got home. Are you freaking kidding me? Sugar is the number two ingredient after water? Well, sugar is not an artificial sweetener.

Lesson learned. Next time I’ll look at the %$#@! ingredient list while I’m in the store.

Tropicana Ingredients


our local dining scene

Several months ago the last restaurant here in Hemet to serve a range of American cuisine in a pleasant sit-down environment closed. That was The Anchor. It is now the Mexican restaurant El Patron, which rose from the ashes, you might say, their previous location having burned to the ground. While many in the community are delighted about the opening, I am also sad about the loss. I remember the Anchor growing up.

The Anchor restaurant signI have thought a lot recently about how the dining scene here in Hemet has changed from when I was growing up. Today we have a nice Thai restaurant for dinner, as well as a very nice Italian place. But we no longer have a go-out-for-a-nice-dinner restaurant that serves American cuisine.

It was very different when I was growing up. In addition to the Anchor, there was G’s Steak House (where I worked as a dishwasher for about two evenings), The Quarter Horse, The Stables (yes, two horse motifs), Reimer’s, and finally the estimable Embers restaurant.

It was a much smaller town with a wider range of choices. I know the demographics are very different today than they were in the 1960’s, but the fact that we don’t have such a restaurant today makes me scratch my head a bit. And makes me a little sad.


sticking with what works

I had long thought of El Pollo Loco strictly in terms of chicken pieces with tortillas and salsa. El Pollo LocoBut recently I had noticed television ads that mentioned their chipotle avocado burrito. That sounded interesting to me. The other day after Toastmasters I wanted to grab something quick so I went through the drive through and got one.

I was disappointed. There was definitely avocado, but no chipotle flavor of any Chipoltekind that I could detect. It would have been just as easy to have driven another block to the Chipotle Mexican Grill and have gotten a burrito I would have known that I really would have liked. Since it was well after the lunch hour there wouldn’t have been a line, and it would have been only two dollars more than El Pollo Loco. And that’s only because I have to have my guacamole in my burrito. Without, it would have been about the same price.

Sometimes it’s best simply to stick with what works.


a taste of the Eastern Sierra

The family here in town usually gets together for breakfast on Saturday morning. The routine is that my brother, Brian, or my sister-in-law, Bobbie, will call and tell us where everyone is meeting and when. If I don’t hear anything by 11:00 a.m. I will call them.

SchatsThe later happened on a recent Saturday. I called at 11:00. They were in Bishop. They had made a trip to Nevada to see Bobbie’s sister and had forgotten to tell us. Now I could have gotten angry, but Brian asked me if we wanted anything from Schat’s Bakery. Now how could I be angry with an offer like that?

If you’re not familiar with it, Schat’s is a very famous, highly regarded, very busy bakery in downtown Bishop. The town of Bishop in the middle of the Owens valley at the base of the Eastern Sierras.

Terry and I love that part of the world. We have only been there together twice. The first time I was sick and we had to cut our trip short. The second time we had a full agenda and covered the entire length of the Owens Valley, from Mammoth Lakes in the north to Lone Pine and Whitney Portal in the south. It was a marvelous trip.

I told Brian to bring us some Danish pastries and a loaf of Schat’s famous Sheepherder’s Bread. Brian and Bobbie delivered them to us Saturday evening.

It was such a delight to have a taste of the Eastern Sierra here at home.


the coffee chronicles

I wrote last April about my ill-fated encounter with coffee. Still, I never totally abandoned the thought that I might in some way want to enjoy a little coffee now and again.

MelittaSome weeks back I bought the smallest jar of instant coffee I could find to see if that were the case. I found I was enjoying my instant coffee, and I knew that I would enjoy drip ground coffee even more. One of my problems last time around was that I had difficulty finding a single-cup cone locally. This time I did the simple thing: I ordered it from Amazon. It showed up right away. I also ordered a reusable filter. At the store I made sure the coffee I bought was ground and not whole beans (another mistake from last time around) along with a supply of filters that held me until the reusable one showed up from an Amazon third-party vendor.

I bought a coffee measure at our local Kitchen Collection store, making sure that I had my blinders on, locating what I needed and getting out of the store as quickly as possible (after paying, of course).

I’ve figured out the right level of coffee to scoop into the measure and am now enjoying a cup or two of coffee each weekday morning.


disappearing cooking shows

Rachael Ray had a new program on Food Network. It was called Rachael Ray’s 3 in the Bag. It aired beginning in January. Being the foodie that I am, and being the Food Network groupie that I am, I have no clue as to how I missed it. But I did. Then Food Network started re-running the series this month.

Rachael Ray’s 3 in the Bag is based on the same premise as Rachael’s earlier programs, 30-minute Meals and A Week in a Day. The idea is that you want to be efficient and make the best possible use of your time while making optimal use of the ingredients you have. In the current program the concept is that one bag of groceries can give you the ingredients for three meals, once you throw in a few staples from your pantry. I watched the first two episodes and she did some interesting recipes, one of which I saved.

Then Food Network dropped it. It just disappeared from its Thursday afternoon time slot.

Meanwhile, over at PBS I was just getting back into Sara Moulton. I had enjoyed the first season of her Weeknight Meals several years ago. Our Bay Area PBS station was broadcasting reruns of the current season on Sunday afternoon. I watched one episode, and then it too disappeared from the schedule. It’s still showing on one of the station’s secondary digital channels, but our cable system doesn’t provide those.

I think the fact that I’m obsessing about lost cooking shows is an indicator that I really need to find a new job soon.