Food Hoarding – What a Mouse in My Pantry Revealed

I do hope this makes you chuckle. The fervor with which I attacked this problem was legendary and all consuming.

In a previous post, I shared that I have a problem with hoarding food. Not in the gross “Hoarders” TV show way of hiding it or stockpiling it (well, maybe stockpiling a little bit), or anything weird like that. I am not a “prepper” for Pete’s sake. I just HAVE to have my fridge and pantry full to bursting.

The Hoarding in my Past

As I look at my past, I apparently have hoarding in my genetic code. My Great Grandmother, “Granny”, was notorious for swiping each and every single-use jelly packet, syrup cup, and honey cup on the table at any dining establishment. They were all unceremoniously dumped into her handbag. And if the purloined condiments came in little glass jars, she was even MORE delighted with her score. She had an entire collection of them at her home. I can understand her obsession and her hoarding. She lived through the Great Depression as a young adult.

In all honesty, I did something similar when I was in college. When you are 17, and broke, and living in the dorms, a date night to Pizza Hut, of all places, was a big deal. I used to take the parmesan container from the table, and replace it with an empty one, taking the full one back to the dorm to use on whatever I happened to be cooking in my hot pot. Is this really hoarding, or just plain stealing?

Present Day Hoarding

I’d like to say, and believe, that a lot of the hoarding happened by accident. And honestly, some of it did. If you have been following along, you know that we moved 2 years ago to a smaller house that needed MAJOR renovation and repair.  It was pure coincidence that we ended up closing on the sale of our old house and the purchase of the new house on the same damn day. If I NEEDED to do that, you know it never would have happened. We honestly thought we’d be living in the old house while we began the renovations on the new one.

Well…THAT didn’t happen, and I ended up living in utter chaos for more than a year. I had no kitchen cabinets, so I had open shelving in several rooms of the house where I stored cookware, dishes, comestibles, and anything else you would normally find in an actual functioning kitchen. Before I tore out the cabinets, drawers were pulled from the kitchen and I continued to use them for storage on shelves. I couldn’t find a single fucking thing. See those pics above? THAT was my life for nearly a year.

A look at the kitchen under construction. And I promise to get back to live online cooking eventually.

When I was preparing to make a meal, if I couldn’t find an ingredient, I simply went to the store and bought what I needed (privilege of the middle class – yes, I know). Of course, I’d come home and then find what I needed. Too late! I already bought it. I guess I have 2 now…and the hoarding of ingredients began.

Then, dear friends of ours moved away from Vegas, and they dropped off several boxes of pantry items. I did give away more than half of the donations to a young friend who indicated that she needed it. And I gave away even more to a struggling family, but I kept some of it for myself…of course. And the hoarding of ingredients got worse.

Cleaning Reveals More than Expected

The other day I was in the pantry looking for something and found the telltale indications that I had a mouse in my pantry. Teeth marks on a bag of dried apricots (now destined for friend Kim’s chickens along with anything else the mouse got into) and a few little mouse turds. Then I got to thinking, “If that son of a bitch sampled one bag, you know he didn’t stop there.” I found it strange that the mouse went after ‘Nilla wafers, but didn’t touch my cereal, and didn’t touch ANY of the pasta or noodles or any of the Asian ingredients, like nori, dashi, or spring roll wrappers. Everything came out of the pantry. Literally everything got dusted, wiped down, inspected for predation, and expired dates, and then it was all reorganized.

When Friend Christine moved, she handed off some pantry items and they were labeled with painter’s tape. Now I do the same. Because it isn’t as sticky, it’s easy to remove or move it to another container.

Bins and airtight containers were purchased, washed, and filled. There was no fucking way that skeevy little vermin was getting at MY hoard of food! As I was attacking this task with gusto, I “found” things. Duplicates, triplicates, and quadruplicates of things. I must have been sleep-shopping, or fugue shopping when I ended up with some of this stuff in my cart! Here is a list of SOME of the weird shit I found while trying to exorcise the mouse:

  • 3 quart sized bottles of apple cider vinegar with the “mother” – only one open *
  • 4 bottles of Sherry vinegar – 3 of them open**
  • 13 additional bottles of other assorted vinegars **
  • An entire 16” cube bin full of different dried Asian noodles
  • 14 bottles, of varying sizes, of olive oil **
  • 10 cans of assorted beans – and I only really like cannellini beans (there were 5 of those)***
  • 3 large bottles of Red Boat fish sauce*
  • At least 4 different soy sauces
  • Expired apple cider, cranberry juice, and V8 – tossed ***
  • 3 small jars of cornichons***
  • 7  jars of mustard**
  • And the list goes on…

*“I can’t find it, so I’ll buy another” and found it when I got home.

**Some were gifts.

***But they were on sale!

In all fairness, most of the things I am hoarding are shelf stable with LONG expiration dates. Now, however, I am making it my mission to cook with ALL of this stuff because I can now actually FIND it! It only took two and a half years…

As for the mouse? I figured out how it was getting in. My pantry used to house my washing machine, and the mouse was coming up through the old drainpipe. I fixed that shit! I put one of the sealed bottles of soy sauce upside down in the hole. No more signs of the mouse.

Originally, I was looking for a discarded cap that would be the same size. Then I thought something with weight to it, so the mouse couldn’t move it, would be a better choice. Voila! Upside down bottle wedged into the drainpipe hole.

Relationship Status? Complicated – Part 4 – Addiction

Experience has taught me I have an addictive personality. I find a new hobby and do it to excess and then abruptly stop, moving on to the next new thing. Sewing? Yup. Papercrafts? Yup. Cross-stitch? Yup. Projects are started and I go gangbusters on it until I am bored or distracted and then I move on to something else. It took me over a year to refinish a piece of furniture. There is a project piece currently in my back yard that I am “working on”. I started it last summer. I keep telling myself and The Hubs it will get finished as soon as the weather is stable, and I can work outside. The truth is I lost my steam and moved on to something else. Those are just examples of how my addictive personality reveals itself.


I have an addictive personality. My Dad was an addict too. I bet my Mom is to a certain extent as well. Cocaine was removed from my roster in 1987. I began smoking at 15. I’ve stopped smoking at least a dozen times in my life, the most recent being 1 November of last year. Every hour of every day I want a cigarette and it has been 6 months of not smoking. Unlike other people who can be “social smokers”, I cannot. I am either all in, or all out. In my dreams I am smoking, and laughing, like an old school cigarette commercial. And then there is THIS ad…

I stopped smoking and then what happened? I replaced smoking with food and promptly gained 15 pounds. In other words, I substituted one addiction for another. (Moment of truth – I keep asking myself, which is worse for my cardiovascular health, carrying around the equivalent of a 15 lb bowling ball all day, every day, or smoking…?). The only hobby that has remained and morphed into something solid is cooking. Why? Because it feeds my addiction.

Having the abundance to eat whatever and whenever I want makes it so easy to feed my addiction. That’s a real problem there. Think about it. I know I have an addiction. I can financially support that addiction. My addiction is socially acceptable, unlike the drugs of my past, and doesn’t harm anyone…anyone except me. My addiction supports small businesses, and grocery stores, and farmers’ markets. No one gives me side-eye when I drive thru Popeye’s to get some fried chicken, like they did when I was snorting lines in the ladies’ room. No one feigns a cough when I grab a couple of tacos from a food truck like they did when I smoked near them.  Food is a perfectly normal and accepted vice. As long as I keep my shit together and stay at a “socially accepted size”, no one cares.

Several years ago, I was diagnosed as, and I quote, “borderline bipolar”. I suffer from depression and then I have manic mood swings that I can’t control. They prescribed meds and all of them made me feel like a zombie. There was no depression, but I didn’t feel happiness either. I felt nothing. Except hunger. So I stopped taking them. I eat my feelings. I know I do and still, I can’t stop myself. Addiction. Happy? Have a cookie! Sad? Have some chips. Bored? What’s in the cabinet? Angry? Excited? Anxious? Let’s see what’s in the fridge! It seems food solves all the problems…for a while, just like the cocaine did. And then I can’t zip my jeans.


Dining out can be a real challenge for me. I want to try at least half the menu in most places. We can afford it, why not? Then the leftovers come home, and I find myself in the middle of the night, after The Hubs is in bed, noshing on leftovers by myself. They say if you drink alone, or hide your drinking, you might be an alcoholic, but what if you eat alone or sneak food, or eat all the leftovers? What does that make you?

When I am at my lowest, food gets shoved in my face in a fog. Am I hungry? Probably not. Sometimes I don’t even realize I am actually eating until the dishes are piled in the sink, or the trash bin is full of empty containers. There are only two brownies in that big container, let’s get rid of that. Just a handful of tater tots in that bowl in the fridge, let’s make some room. That ice cream container is taking up too much space in the freezer! Let me get rid of that. Why is this large container in here with only a small amount of fried rice? Let’s fix that.

Did I even taste the food? Who knows? I tell myself that I am not wasting food. I convince myself that I am cleaning out the fridge, eating things that no one else wants (hello there are only two people in my house…), or making room for new leftovers. The lies I tell myself about food are astounding! It’s disgusting. I am disgusted and ashamed of myself. Does that stop me? Do I do it again? Of course I do because I have an addiction!

It’s more than the act of chewing that I want. And no, gum will not suffice. You don’t swallow gum. I eat until my belly is beyond full. I eat to the point of being uncomfortable, and I unbutton the fly of my jeans. Hell, I go upstairs and put my pajamas on. It doesn’t matter what time of the day. Sometimes I fall into a carb coma on the couch. When I wake, I am disgusted with myself.


The other day I was in the grocery store and somehow ended up in the chip aisle. Lay’s were on sale $1.99 each if you bought 4 or more. One bag was $4.79. I convinced myself I was saving money buying 4 when all I really wanted was to try the Dill Pickle Flavor. I eat potato chips until the bag is empty. For the record, it doesn’t matter what size the bag is. Five ounces or 500 ounces, once that bag is open, I will not stop until it is empty. Once the bag is open, I eat mindlessly until they are gone because those chips sing a siren song that I cannot ignore. They are my personal kryptonite. If the bag stays closed, I can resist them…for a short bit of time.

I remember as a kid the rare package of real Oreos would magically appear at the house. My sisters and I would eat them with milk virtually all in one sitting, afraid we wouldn’t get our fair share. Worried if we would get them again. I KNOW I am going to get potato chips again, so WHY the fuck do I eat them all at once? Because I am a glutton. And then I am disgusted with myself over this behavior. What do I do? I eat even more! I already blew my diet for the day, so who gives a shit?! Then I can’t zip my jeans and feel even worse about myself…and it starts all over again. It’s a vicious circle.

Does my past experience with scarcity color my actions now? Probably. I can remember the first time I self-medicated with food. We were sitting around the table having baked ziti for dinner. I can see the kitchen of the trailer as clear as day in my mind and I can tell you what position at the table I was seated. The phone rang. There was a death in the family. Everyone else sat stunned and stopped eating, I took the entire pan of baked ziti and began eating directly from the pan. I can’t remember the year, but I am guessing it was 1975 or ’76. I was 10 or 11.

Next? Culinary School and how I learned to really cook.

Relationship Status? Complicated Part 3 – Toxic Comfort

The differing ways people look at food tell me a lot about who they are and sometimes how they grew up. Do they look at food as fuel, comfort, or something else? In my experience people who think of food only as fuel have probably never been in a state of want. Because of my personal experience, and having been in a state of want, I think of food in a much more complicated fashion and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Safety – Comfort

When you are hungry – truly hungry – food takes on a whole different meaning. Have you ever looked in your fridge and saw empty shelves? Or gone into your pantry or cupboard and not find anything to eat? No one should ever have to experience that. I have. I have looked in the fridge and saw nothing but condiments and I’ve looked in the cupboards and saw nothing to make an entire meal.

The first time it happens, there is a certain low-level panic that starts to bubble up in your throat and wants to come out as a scream, but you don’t let it. You shove it down inside as if it was edible. You chew on that panic until it all but consumes you. Then you move on. It becomes less panic inducing each time until it feels normal. But is it normal? What is normal? Normal is a setting on the dryer; it shouldn’t be a feeling of hunger or panic.

Even now, as an adult, in an upper middle-class bracket, I start to get a little edgy if I can see the shelves in my fridge. I KNOW where my next meal is coming from. We can afford groceries and I KNOW I don’t have to hoard food, but this little part in my core is still afraid of empty shelves. I feel safe when I have a lot of food in the house. Food is comfort for me. Not fuel, comfort. A full fridge means I am safe. It means I don’t have to panic. But I do. I joke, telling myself and others that I am prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse. But I am not kidding. Not really. I am ready. And I still panic a little. Every now and then.

Then I feel absurd and clean out the fridge, like I am doing this morning. Organizing everything. Checking dates on condiments and tossing stuff out that I simply “had to have” and yet let spoil or go to waste. Because a full fridge meant wealth. Stability. Safety. Comfort.

Wealth – Status

I have a confession to make. In a way, it’s embarrassing, in a way it’s prideful. I have three fridges. Yes, three. And an upright freezer. And they are all full. There is one just for drinks. The one in my kitchen is the primary and has the most food. The one in the garage is the “overflow” fridge. There are two legs of prosciutto, a bag of limes, and extra produce. Who the fuck has two legs of prosciutto?

Occasionally, I use the overflow fridge to cure bacon or fish before it goes on the smoker. Frequently I store pots of stock for a couple of days until I am ready to skim fat off and can it. The freezer is similarly full. One drawer each for chicken, beef, pork, and fish. And shelves with phyllo, puff pastry, wonton wrappers, the bowl for my ice cream maker, and leftovers that are waiting for mealtime. The leftovers don’t always get eaten. Sometimes they are forgotten and become freezer burnt and must be tossed out.

Obviously, having the space and the funds to fill that food storage space, is a luxury and I know it. It’s the definition of “an embarrassment of riches”. I am acutely aware that I have more than most. It is baldly transparent to me that I should be ashamed to have such abundance, but it makes me feel safe. It makes me feel like I have finally achieved some level of status, never mind the wealth. Because a full fridge meant wealth. Stability. Safety. Comfort.


Additionally, sadly, I use food as a reward, an excuse, and a celebration. For myself and for my son when he was growing up.

  • “Get an A in Math and we’ll go for ice cream.”
  • “If you behave in the store, you can have a candy bar.”
  • “Wow! You did a great job on that project kiddo. Let’s have a celebration dinner. Where do you want to go?”
  • “I got the job! Let’s go out to eat.”
  • “It’s too hot to cook, let’s go out to eat.”
  • Or the most ironic one… “I lost 10 pounds! I’m going to get some fried chicken!”

You will notice that all the above involve going somewhere to eat. Not using the abundance of my fridge, freezer, and pantry. Because having the income to celebrate meant we didn’t have to do it at home.

The Offspring and I had “The See’s Ritual” when we went to the mall. At See’s Candy Store, you can go in any time of day, and they will give you a free sample of their choosing. When we went to the mall, if he behaved, we would go to See’s. He would get a free piece of candy, and because I felt guilty for walking in just for free candy, I would buy him a Scotch Mallow for later. How fucking toxic is that?

I rewarded good behavior with something unhealthy and celebrated it as a good thing! WTF?! C’mon, admit it. You’ve done the same thing. We all do. The one thing I have never done, is used meals as a punishment. “Behave or go to bed with no supper,” is cruel in my mind. To be fair, I have said, “This is not a restaurant. This is what’s for dinner. You can eat this or not. Your choice.”

Oh yes, and speaking of mealtimes, I am also a member of the “clean the plate club”. You know, “Eat everything on your plate. There are starving children in China!” I tried NOT to do that to my son. I have the rule that you must TRY everything on your plate, but you don’t have to finish it. It’s weird that I was able to exorcise THAT demon in a fashion, but still used food as a reward…

Comfort – Safety – Addiction

The reason certain foods are called “comfort food” is multi-faceted. You want to eat it because it makes you feel good, and you reach for comfort food when you are feeling low. Comfort foods recall memories of safety, happiness, family, and well…comfort.  But when reaching for food becomes the norm and not the exception, and you are self-medicating with food to make yourself feel better, you have a problem. You may have an addiction. I know I do.  More on that in the next installment.

My Most Enjoyed Food of 2022

If you follow me at all on social media, you know I take a lot of pics of my food. Not all dishes are created equal. Some are miserable (and I don’t post those pics), some are just ok (and most of those don’t get posted either), then there are the REALLY good and the mind blowing. That is what I am sharing here. A recap of the most interesting or surprising or delicious things I ate in 2022. Frankly, there wasn’t a ton of that going on. I stuck to tried and true places, except when I was traveling, and a lot of this food is from out of town.

I sit down at the computer every day with the best of intentions of writing you something informative or fun or thought provoking and then I get distracted…The smart person in my brain knows that those who make “to do” lists accomplish more each day than those who don’t, so yesterday I sat down and made a list that included writing this for you (and me quite frankly). Enjoy this list of fantastic food in no particular order

Birthday Surf & Turf

The Lobster en Croute and a beautiful piece of wagyu made up the surf & turf for my Birthday dinner at Carversteak. Chef Dan Ontiveros always hits it out of the park. And this picture and the cover picture of the post say it all!

Surf & Turf at Carversteak, Las Vegas
My Birthday dinner consisted of beautifully prepared dishes by Dan Ontiveros and staff, including this fabulous version of surf & turf.

Coastal Margherita

On our spring trip to Portland, we hit up a bunch of breweries and a cool tiki bar (The Alibi). While we were there The Hubs gets a text from Chris Decker at Metro Pizza telling us we HAD to go to Apizza Scholls. When Chris says you HAVE to go, you go. And we are so glad we did! This was literally a life changing pizza for the Hubs because he normally hates anchovies on his pie. He is now a convert.

Coastal Margherita at Apizza Scholls
This pie is actually half & half – Coastal Margherita and Pepperoni & Mushroom. With Owner Brian Spangler

Farmhouse Tart at Pine Dining

The Pine Dining series was fantastic all the way around. They were single weekend events with outrageous menus and fabulous food. This dish was the one I embarrassed myself over and asked Chef Nicole Brisson if there were leftovers could I take them home…and there were, and I did. Flaky pastry filled with sausage, fontina, and walnuts. In case you are wondering, it reheated beautifully.

Farmhouse Tart by Chef Nicole Brisson
Farmhouse Tart by Chef Nicole Brisson with sausage, fontina, and walnuts.

Bratislavan Food Specialty Halusky

Whenever we travel overseas, we attempt to try as much local food as possible and “eat like the locals”. We try all the local beer we can, and while at the bars ask the folks there where we should eat. In Bratislava we were told the national dish is Halusky (hal-oosh-key). They are little potato dumplings, somewhat like a cross between gnocchi and spaetzle, covered in a decadent sour cream sauce loaded with a local sheep’s milk cheese and topped with bacon & green onion. Incredibly rich and this plate was more than enough for The Hubs & I.

Creamy, rich, and decadent are three words I would used to describe this dish. I really need to learn how to make it!

Mortadella Agnolotti

Chef Oscar Amador at EDO and Anima is a marvel! Pal Gemini invited me to lunch at Anima and we shared these agnolotti. They were so good I was speechless for a moment. I am sure my eyes rolled back in my head and a groan escaped my lips. Gemini laughed aloud because she had never seen me speechless over a dish before.

Mortadella Agnolotti at Anima by EDO
Mortadella is my fave cold cut, and this just put it over the top!

Tony’s in San Francisco

While we do have an outpost of Tony Gemignani’s here in Vegas (Pizza Rock), when my sister-in-law Gretchen says “go to Tony’s”, you go. I have only had coccoli twice and both times they were revelatory for me. If you are unfamiliar, they are like salty beignets. The ones at Tony’s were served with thinly sliced “Italian Beef” and horseradish. I was supposed to be sharing them and had to stop myself from hogging all of them. The salad is pictured just to prove I do eat healthy-ish food now & then.

Coccoli at Tony's in San Francisco
Both the beef and the coccoli were amazing. Add horseradish and giardiniera and you have a hands down winner.

Fried Food

I love fried food and I love all the fish (except catfish), but I have a special love for anchovies. These ones were whole, coated in cornmeal, and lightly fried at the Hog Island Oyster Bar in the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The Hubs even liked them and as mentioned before, he is NOT a fan of anchovies. The aioli was the perfect accompaniment and we scarfed them down in a flash!

Fried Anchovies at Hog Island Oyster Bar
Fried Anchovies at Hog Island Oyster Bar

“The Crime Scene”

In February I went on a real vacation entirely by myself. I took a cruise with Virgin Voyages* and it was superb. We all know that the food on cruise ships is notoriously mediocre at best. That is NOT the case on The Scarlet Lady! Each meal was much better than any mass market cruise line’s meals and the Test Kitchen was the showstopper for the entire cruise. This menu changes regularly, so you may not ever see this when you travel with Virgin Voyages, but it was superb. I nicknamed it “The Crime Scene” because of the splashes of beet juice, but it was a perfectly cooked venison loin with a Vietnamese salted caramel sauce and pickled blueberries.

venison on board the Scarlet Lady
Venison loin “crime scene” on board Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady.

*when you are ready to try Virgin Voyages for your next trip, give me a call and I will happily help you book it.

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HELP! I Need to Bring an Appetizer to the Party!

Who doesn’t love a party? It’s a mad dash for the rest of the year and there are TONS of parties. Let’s face it, we all love to be included, but when the word “potluck” comes out of someone’s mouth, you are never sure what to bring. Here, let me help you with a couple of links to easy crowd-pleasing recipes and a few of “no recipe” recipes for easy appetizers and dips. When clicking on my links, scroll to the bottom of the blog post to get to the recipe. I haven’t updated them all with the “jump to recipe” button.

Three Party Favorite Dips and Some Nuts

This Buffalo Bleu Cheese Dip is one of my most requested recipes. What’s great about it? You can use leftovers. You can make it ahead. It heats up equally well in the oven or in the microwave.

Bleu Cheese Walnut Dip – this doesn’t sound like it should work, but it is truly amazing. What’s great about it? You can make it ahead of time. It heats equally well in the oven or the microwave. You can eat it with fruit instead of crackers or crostini, so you feel a little healthier.

Really pressed for time on the day of the party? Make Deez Nuts NOW and have them ready to go! What’s great about them? You can make them up to 3 weeks in advance and store at room temp. They are everything you want in a snack – sweet, spicy, crunchy, salty. Put them in little half pint Mason jars and give them out as host/hostess gifts or hog them all to yourself.

The South has it right when it comes to Pimento Cheese. What’s great about it? Making it ahead of time only improves the flavor. You can make it as mild or as spicy as your crowd will enjoy. Packed in little Mason jars it makes a fun little host/hostess gift.

“No Recipe” Options

Photo by Sheri Silver on Unsplash
Pigs in Blanket – Photo from

I chose these because you can make them all ahead of time and reheat at the party, or serve at room temp.

  • Get the tub of Spinach Dip from Costco. Add a can of drained chopped artichoke hearts, 3 minced cloves of garlic and a healthy handful of parmesan cheese. (Yes, all of those ingredients are already in there, but it’s a little bland and lacking oomph!) Mix it all together. Take a round loaf of bread, make a hole in the middle to create a bowl. Dump the dip in (it won’t all fit – you’ll have a snack for yourself or try the simple app idea below), wrap in foil, bake at 350 until hot. Serve with Pita Chips. Can be warmed in the microwave.
  • Use the leftovers from above – roll out a sheet of puff pastry, smear the leftovers on it. Roll up starting on a long side into a “cigar”. Wrap in parchment or plastic wrap. Put in the freezer for 20 minutes until everything is firm. Slice ½” pieces, place cut side down on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 until puffed and golden.
  • Take a wheel of brie (4-6 oz) wrap it in puff pastry from the freezer section (Phyllo also works here if you have that on hand). Using small cookie cutters, cut shapes from the scraps, put on top of the brie. Brush it all with a beaten egg. Bake at 400 until golden brown. DO NOT CUT until completely cool. Serve at room temp with crackers, crostini, sliced apples or pears.
  • There is no such thing as too much cheese at a party! Cut a wheel of brie horizontally in half. Smear 3 Tbsp of jam on the inside. Raspberry, apricot, fig all work well here. Top with some chopped walnuts. Put the top back on, cut side up, and bake at 400 for about 7 minutes just to warm everything through, but not make it ooze. Serve with same dippers as above. DO NOT microwave.
  • It’s not a party without pigs in a blanket! But don’t be boring about it. Take a sheet of puff pastry, roll it out and smear it with Dijon mustard (or your fave mustard). Cut into thin strips (1/2” x 2”) and wrap around Hillshire Farms Little Smokies. Put on an ungreased cookie sheet seam side down. Bake at 400 until golden. Make them ahead and store in an airtight container in the fridge and bake at the event or bake at home and reheat until hot. DO NOT microwave.
  • Take pitted dates and wrap them in bacon. Bake, seam side down, at 375 until bacon is crispy. Cheap, thin cut bacon works fine here because you want the crispiness of the fat. If you want to get fancy and have the time, stuff an almond and/or goat cheese in the date first.
  • Pretty much anything wrapped in bacon is a good thing! Try sautéed chicken livers (check out Rumaki recipes online) or whole water chestnuts.
  • If you find a nice cantaloupe, slice it, and wrap the slices in thinly sliced Prosciutto or Jamon de Serrano. This also works great with fresh figs when they are in season for a summer party.

Happy Holidays and You’re Welcome!

10 Years of Sharing This Blog

Moment of Truth – I started writing this blog on the actual anniversary (6 June) and I am just now getting around to publishing it…yeah, it’s like that.

About a dozen years ago I met author Vicki Pettersson completely by chance at Borders bookstore. I was buying her newly released first book and she was at the checkout as well. She shared with me that I was the first reader she ever saw buy her book. Kind of like a musician hearing their song on the radio for the first time. I am not sure who was giddier, me or her. As luck would have it, I learned that she came into my life at just the right time. After several meetings I mentioned that I was thinking of starting a blog, but I was worried that I didn’t have anything of value to say or share. She looked me square in the face and said, “Does that stop anyone else? You have a voice. Use it!” So, 10 years ago last month, this blog was born. Thank you, Vicki, for the kick in the pants.

I Over-Shared…a lot

In 10 years’ time I have shared a lot. I’ve shared recipes (that link will take you to the recipe archive on the site with ALL the recipes). My travels to Europe, Egypt, and many other places have been shared in words and photos, and sometimes a video or two. Sometimes when I share that kind of stuff, I feel I am bragging. Like, “Hey! Look what I am doing/eating/experiencing that you aren’t.” And then someone will thank me for sharing and I feel validated and less like a douchey braggart. Upon the death of Anthony Bourdain, I shared my own personal struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts. In 10 years, I may have over shared. I started out just talking about food, and inadvertently ended up sharing parts of my life, and heart, and soul with all of you, because my life revolves around food. The making of it, the eating of it, the sharing of it, and so on. To those of you who have been following along since the beginning, I thank you for sticking with me. To those who EVER read my words, I am truly grateful.

10 Years? Time Means Nothing

When I first started, my intention was to write something weekly. And for a while I did that, but even someone who talks as much as I do runs out of valuable things to say after 10 years. I didn’t want to blather on about nothing, and sometimes silence is golden. Moment of Truth: I have had writer’s block (or content fatigue or thought constipation – take your pick) since my Dad died, so the golden silence stretched into months at a time. I wanted this content to be more than masturbatory self-promotion, I wanted you to really enjoy reading it. It’s hard to come up with fresh, valid content ALL. THE. FUCKING. TIME.

And Then COVID Happened

Sister Nancy inspired me to do a set of online cooking classes during the shutdown after I told her about the SecretBurger cook along events that were going on here in Vegas. For a while that was exciting, and now those live cooking classes with my sister have dried up too, for a variety of reasons (primarily the one below). I didn’t want to regurgitate the same shit you see from everyone else, and I truly felt (feel) I have nothing original to say or share right now…but wait, let me catch you up!

But Wait! There’s More…

Earlier this year, I finally convinced my husband to sell The Big House and downsize to something smaller. We moved downtown to a pre-war home that needs a LOT of TLC. I could bore you with details, but let’s just say that I have spent the equivalent of a micro-nation’s GDP on plumbing since moving into this lovely storybook looking house. I have thought of documenting, in words and pics, the process of the remodel, but there are literally hundreds of blogs about that if you are truly interested. We are really enjoying living downtown and walking to many of our fave dining and drinking establishments. One of the reasons the cooking classes have dried up is that my kitchen is a fucking nightmare, complete with electric stove, exposed MDF cabinets with the laminate peeling off the edges, and crowded counters.  The only things I love in my kitchen right now are my new fridge and my Boos block commercial worktable that I have repurposed as an island. Once the kitchen remodel is complete, the classes will resume. I promise.

When you reach middle age, 10 years flies by in the blink of an eye. Some days it feels like I just started this writing project. But more than that, relationships change. My relationship with writing has changed. My relationships with people, places, and things have changed. The way I respond to events is different now, in part to aging. An event that in my teen years would have caused a messy snot filled girl cry, did not bother me at all recently. I seriously have no fucks left to give for bull shit. I have no space or time for people who irritate me like a rash. There is no room in my head space for those who make me feel shitty in any way.

Things Change…

The passing of 10 years has put me fully into middle age and heading toward senior citizenship. I find myself now, oddly, at a point in my life when I see old friends after a long absence, I ask about their health. Yes, really.  A dear friend of mine from high school blew through town recently on a road trip. We hadn’t seen each other in nearly 2 years (thanks COVID), but I know he has a heart condition and worries about his blood sugar. After a huge hug (he said it was the first hug in over a year), the first questions out of my mouth were, “How’s your heart?” and “How’s your blood sugar.” And it wasn’t weird. For us. For now. It just is who we are in middle age.

The bottom line is this, what started out as a way to communicate my love for food, has morphed into something else across 10 years. I do hope you keep reading, sharing, and enjoying this small bit of myself. To be fair, I share more on Instagram, so if you consistently want to see what I am doing, you should follow me there!

Food in the COVID Times

Why do we go out to eat? We have food at home! I know how to cook. If the size of my ass is any indication, I am pretty good at. So why do we go out to eat? I’ll tell you…

I Can Do Anything for 30 Days!

When this pandemic and self-quarantine situation started, I said – out loud mind you – “As long as I can get fresh produce, I have enough meat to last us at least 3 weeks.” I knew we wouldn’t be dining out, so I took stock of the chest freezer and did quick nonsense mental math about food to meal ratios and figured I was good. I knew we wouldn’t starve. I thought without dining out at least twice a week we’d save some cash. This was looking pretty good. I can do anything for 30 days! I’ve got this! Then 30 days stretched into 60 days. And even though I love to cook, I grew tired of cooking my own food. I really missed dining out.

And then came the ennui associated with being alone…All. Of. The. Time…and the boredom eating…and the crying. Thanks COVID, now I am a blubbering mess with tighter jeans and a freezer full of meat. Why the hell was I crying? I’ll tell you why – I was lonely. I missed my friends. And I missed the social interaction of eating with other people.

Balm For My Tortured Soul

Truthfully, with the closures of all the places we enjoy eating, and most of them not offering take-out, I honestly thought I’d be making all of my own food. And I did. I tried new things, learned a few vegetarian recipes (My son’s GF is a vegetarian and they join us for dinner each Sunday), and I cooked nearly every day. I made bread. I tackled things I don’t normally make, and we ate well. Trying new things aside, I quickly found myself bored with my own food. saved me from kitchen boredom. The cooking kits and “cook along” events with some of my favorite independent restaurants here in town were a balm for my tortured soul. I was able to “dine out” even though I had to cook it myself, but I got restaurant quality ingredients and expert instruction from the chef/owner of the resto, and we ate good food. Why did I love this so much? I’ll tell you why – it was like getting a one on one master class for the price of ingredients and my food boredom was cured, if only for one meal.

I Love to Be Pampered

I learned things, or remembered things I had forgotten, during this. James Beard Award Nominee (Best Chef Southwest) Chef James Trees deserves 1000 thanks for sharing his technique on how to make the perfect cacio e pepe. It only has like four ingredients and you’d think that would make it easy. And you’d be wrong. It’s one of my favorite dishes and mine was good, but not great. I couldn’t figure out why it always tasted better when I ordered in Esther’s Kitchen. I thought I was using all the same ingredients. Maybe it was one of those “it always tastes better when someone else makes it” things? NOPE! There is a technique to it that I wasn’t doing. You can watch the video HERE and I’ll let you figure out which step(s) I was skipping or skimping. Thank you, James, now mine is great too! But knowing how to make it won’t stop me from ordering it when I go out to eat, and do you know why? I’ll tell you why – there is something intimate and pampering about eating your favorite dish that someone else has made for you.

At Long Last, Food IN a Restaurant

Finally the restaurants slowly began opening. My very first meal outside my home was with pal Antonio Nunez at his The Stove for brunch. I sat alone at a high topped table and visited with Antonio between his duties as chef/owner. It was glorious. I’ll tell you why – it was the first meal in over two months that I didn’t have to cook or clean up after. Not doing dishes is another reason why we like to go out to eat.

Corned Beef Hash & Eggs at The Stove in Henderson, NV
Perfectly runny eggs-over-easy top a mound of house made corned beef. Instead of cubed meat, it is shredded and wickedly tender. It was perfect for my first meal outside my home.

Friday night we went to Sparrow + Wolf for their third anniversary dinner. As always, Chef Brian Howard made me happy with his food. As always John Anthony and the front of the house made me happy with their service and attention to detail. Most important of all, we were with friends celebrating a birthday. We celebrate with food, whether it is at home or in a restaurant. We laughed, drank champagne, and left happy and full of food that we didn’t have to create. And we felt good about ourselves for doing it. I’ll tell you why – many of our friends (actual friends, not Facebook friends) are in the restaurant community. They have been out of work for months and we were thrilled to be able to support them upon reopening.

Enjoy these pics of our starting dishes and our lovely dessert. To see ALL of the wonderful food, go visit me on Facebook or Instagram.

So why do we go out to eat even when we have food at home? We do it for the socialization. We do it to relieve food boredom. We do it to get pampered with our favorite foods. We do it so we don’t have to do the dishes. We do it to support our friends and neighbors and our community. I have a list of places and dishes and cocktails that I can’t wait to revisit. Who wants to go with me?

As I sat down to edit this piece this morning, I realized yesterday was the 9th anniversary of this blog. I know I haven’t written as much as I did when I first started, and I have no more excuses. I am just out of fresh ideas. If you have a topic you’d like me to write about, let me know.

And in celebration of my 9 years of being on the web, I started a YouTube channel with all the Quarantine Kitchen videos from Facebook. Be sure to subscribe so you never miss one even if you can’t watch live. There are other fun nuggets there as well, like sabering a bottle of champagne in Egypt. Go check it out. And subscribe to Good for Spooning on everything, including this blog. Thanks!

The Best of 2019

2019 was decidedly NOT a year of eating dangerously or experimentally…

Toward the end of 2018, I went to the doctor to arrange for my knee replacement (Jan 2019) and she said to me, “Quit smoking. Quit drinking and lose 30 pounds.” I looked at her said, “SURELY not all at the same time!” I did quite smoking (for a while). I did have the surgery successfully, but then my weight ballooned up because of inactivity.

We went to Egypt, and once we got back home I started on a weight loss path (don’t call it a fucking “journey” a JOURNEY is a vacation and weight loss is no vacation – it’s WORK). Since then the Hubs and I have lost a combined 90 pounds and we feel great! No fake foods, no weird eliminations, nothing off limits. Just watching what we were eating, removing “hidden” calories, listening to our bodies tell us when were hungry or full, and voila! The weight came off!

Because of the dieting, watching portions, and tracking exactly what has been going into our mouths, we haven’t dined out as frequently. I’ve been cooking more at home, and we’ve been staying smart in our choices. So, this year’s “Best Of” list will be VERY abbreviated for a couple of reasons:

  • We didn’t venture into the dining scene that much
  • Cooking at home was all fresh, natural ingredients that contained no surprises
  • Nothing was particularly NEW or INSPIRING once we started dieting – with a few noted exceptions

Without further ado, these are the most interesting things I ate this past year

ALL the bread in Egypt – literally ALL of it.

For more detailed info, read this blog

Even small restos make their own bread in Egypt
Pita fresh from the gas fired oven

The Fesikh at the souk in Aswan.

It was the SINGLE most surprising and unusual thing I ate all year. Super salty – right up my alley – and with a metallic tingle that can only be described as akin to licking a 9 volt battery, but not in a weird way. Straight from the jar it was wildly complex, but when mixed with hummus and tahini, and served for lunch by Chef Hamdy, it was an altogether different dish.

Duck “Ramen” at EDO Tapas

One of the Secret Burger dining events we enjoyed in 2019 was made more enjoyable by being with dear friends on a “date night”. What made this dish so unique was there were no noodles in the “ramen”. The “noodles” were mushrooms and the broth was out of this world. EDO Tapas has a fantastic tapas menu perfect for sharing. Check them out!
(if you don’t know about Secret Burger…what exactly are you waiting for? click that link and find out!)

Duck Ramen at EDO Tapas
Photo Courtesy of Friend Gemini

I learned to love farro

This is one of those things that seems like a no brainer. I liked farro before, but now that we are making different choices in what we eat, using it as a base for a “bowl” instead of rice is something on regular rotation at our house. Top it with nearly anything and the wonderful nutty, chewiness of it shines like a beacon of healthfulness and flavor.

mage from

2020 will have more in store

Of course, with a new year already having begun, and some travels already in the bag, I am making a concerted effort to try new things and actually keep track of them! As I have stated in previous posts writer’s block sucks, and I find I am ALMOST breaking through the wall.

Happy New Year!