Since the great pandemic started, restaurant food delivery (and takeout) really has been a friend to those who are slightly, or maybe even unabashedly, kitchen-challenged. But don’t sleep because it also became a new found habit for those eager to make at least one of the family’s three squares into somebody else’s responsibility.
I have to admit that GrubHub took my order a few more times than I care to admit. After all, we wait on our restaurant delivery like we wait on the Amazon truck…full of hope that we’ve made the right choice and that it’s been handled correctly.
So to this end, it’s only right that we say, “Job well done!” Yes, the restaurant delivery industry did us a solid, so “Thank you and job well done” to those in the industrial kitchens around the nation making our meals and to those behind the wheel bringing those meals to us. Not since Meals on Wheels has delivery been this appreciated. In some cases, the service has been essential and in other cases it’s a luxury, which had the added bonus of keeping our country running in a time when life was slowed to a grinding halt.
Aren’t you glad you live in an era where food trucks are not just serving your everyday hotdogs and hamburgers but gourmet versions of anything under the sun? The Gypsy Queen Food Truck is one such example of excellence on wheels. In fact, the Gypsy Queen Truckstaurant was recently named Best Food Truck” in Baltimore Magazine’s Best of Readers Poll 2020.
We caught up with them a while ago at a food festival and since they were open to share, we asked about their menu offerings. By the way, I got the Korean BBQ wrap, that you’ll see in the video above. My tongue still remembers how amazing it was. When in Baltimore, seek them out…you wont regret it.
Want to know more about Gypsy Queen Truckstaurant and Gypsy Queen Cafe? See their website for more info.
Election Day is coming up on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 and boy oh boy is this going to be a nail-biter. Local and national elections will take place all across the United States and although it’s been a very divisive year, party lines don’t have to divide friends and family. Besides, nothing helps civil discourse like food and fellowship and who can be bitter when sweets are in the belly? So throw yourself an election party and get the popcorn ready for a night to remember.
Election Day Menu Ideas
Muhammara: This is a savory Middle-Eastern walnut and roasted red pepper dip). Serve it with blue corn chips. (Shown above in the slideshow)
Hamburgers with all the fixings or turkey burger sliders:: For a more sophisticated taste, use gouda and sautéed onions)
Iced tea: With lemon or without, it’s simple and delicious. Plus since we’re dealing with a historical night, tea is a throwback to that rowdy party thrown in Boston, back in December of 1773.
Cranberry Apple Sangria: Normally reserved for Thanksgiving/Christmas this a perfect drink for the non-tea drinkers. It’s also a non-alcoholic recipe.
Election Dessert Fun
For those who boldly declare their party vote loud and proud, they can show it off with their sweets of choice…
M&M’s-Set aside two bowls of blue and red M&M’s. (But if your guest wants to keep their voting anonymity…provide a bowl of white M&M’s to instill the patriotic freedom of privacy.)
Cream cheese frosted cupcakes: Cupcakes are a winner no matter the party choice but for kicks, provide cherries, blueberries and strawberries to top off the cupcakes. (Again, for anonymity, go all or nothing with the toppings)
Okay MCCN family, we want to know…what would your Election Day menu be? Leave your thoughts in the be in the comments section below.
Have you ever happened across a place so cool that you had to stop to investigate? If not, here’s one to put on your travel list. Just look for The Cow! That’s right and it won’t be too hard to find because The Cow is a window-serve ice cream shop with two life-sized cows that welcome you as your driving down Main St. in Reisterstown, MD.
Once you have spotted the cows, pull over and explore this sweet retreat. The variety is so vast that you’ll probably just stand there for a moment looking over the menu saying, “Oh that sounds good!” Frozen custard is king at The Cow and it’s so fresh that you’ll wonder if the decorative cows are secretly pumping out real milk.
It’s a lovely spot that’s worth the drive from neighboring Pennsylvania, Baltimore, and D.C. And here’s another winning point for the establishment…you don’t have to sit in the car to eat your brownie sundae, pineapple chocolate chip Italian ice or banana split. There are cute little sitting areas with benches, fit for a fine ice cream social, where you can gather or social distance to savor your treat. It’s all so very quaint and neighborly.
Here’s a simple question that may or may not cause controversy at your holiday dinner: “What if you did not do a traditional Christmas meal?” Do you think the earth would drain of its nearly three-fourths water content? Would Mount Vesuvius erupt again? Or more to the point would the people seated at your Christmas table have to be rushed to the Emergency Room stat, if you decided not to cook a Christmas ham, turkey or carrot cake this holiday season.
Of course, 2 out of 3 of these possibilities are definitely not happening but even if the shock of a non-traditional Christmas meal did somehow send your guests into a medical shock, it might still be worth it for your sanity. Sometimes traditions are just that—those ritual things we do over and over again. Sure some traditions are great and we don’t want to abandon them, but seriously, there are others that can be reconsidered or dusted off when appropriate.
So let’s deal with the Christmas meal. The Thanksgiving meal is so steeped in tradition and may be too much of an uphill battle. After all, we do love experiencing that turkey coma at least once a year. But Christmas…yes Christmas may have a little more leeway.
Find what feels right for you, when it comes to cooking. Live on the edge! (By the way this advice only concerns cooking, your author is quite conservative). Although cooking is simply a functional to-do item for many, don’t let that stop you from having fun in the kitchen. Think of it as experimentation and think of the kitchen as your lab where you can be the mad scientist you’ve always wanted to be. Although there are many wonderful traditions and recipes to follow. Your are not limited. my friend! So go on! Braise, broil, bake, barbecue, or grill because these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to achieving your gastronomic feats.
Considering Your Options…
Whatever you do it should feel good to your soul as well. So explore different cuisines and determine what spices make you happy. Determine what textures make your mouth feel alive. Maybe you’ll discover that flan really could replace your cheesecake or Peruvian chicken is more than capable of being the main bird on the table.
And here’s another thought…what if there was no main bird on the table? Think seafood! A well known-custom among Italian-Americans is the feast of the seven fishes. Our Italian American brothers and sisters won’t mind if you get in on that. The feast is usually done on Christmas Eve and includes seafood like anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, baccalà (dried salt cod), smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams. If this seems like a lot, stop hyperventilating, just do your own version.
Include the seafood you want to make and maybe your version will be four instead of seven. And here’s a way to make things easier on yourself, see if a few select guest wouldn’t mind bringing a seafood dish as well? The menu may also include pasta, vegetables and baked goods.
Are you feeling the nontraditional thrill of it all? It can be as upscale as you want or as down-home as you want. Just make it fun and memorable. Admit it…this could be fun! Whatever meat you settle on—even if it’s a traditional turkey or ham—you can still achieve your goal with sides. Put your hands together, rub them back and forth and let out your most diabolical laugh, we’re entering mad scientist mode. Don’t worry, no harm no foul, you are just about to shake it up with all the possibilities of sides.
For the sides, you can go small by tossing out the regular rice and incorporating cauliflower rice. or you can go a little more dramatic by replacing your mashed potatoes and gravy with French Pommes Duchesse. These are piped potatoes that deliver a fancy schmancy side for your holiday meal. For a more down home potato side dish, look no further than to Denmark for their Braendende Kaerlighed. It’s a twist on mashed potatoes with some bacon and onions incorporated in the mix.
Traditions around the world
One more thing, and this is a great one! Christmas makes you want to feel all warm and cozy, and what better way to achieve that than with a stew? The French often includes beef stew with their Christmas dinner, but they are not the only ones. Head over to the great continent of Africa and you’ll find that a hearty African beef stew, is a staple for Christmas in many West African countries like Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana.
African beef stew is made with loads of tomatoes, spices and lots of oil to cut down the acidity of the tomatoes. You can use different cuts of beef (about 1 -2 lbs) and a scotch bonnet pepper is optional. Different countries have different interpretations with some using nuts, yams and even seafood along with the beef. It’s usually served with rice. Find your recipe and try it.
Sides, desserts, meat—it’s all open for negotiation to renovate and reinvigorate your Christmas meal and your joie de vivre. Take a chance and have fun! And no matter how it turns out, you can always say, “Remember that time when we did that non-traditional Christmas meal? It was awesome!!!”
Streaming is making us all winners because in the midst of the craziness of busy schedules or extremely long quarantines, we can discover some pretty decent television programming. So when my sister told me about the History Channel’s The Food that Built America, which aired its first episode in August of 2019, I was both amazed and intrigued.
The stories about the familial struggles of the Kelloggs brothers as well as the surprising story of C.W. Post are high drama and the stuff of soap opera writers. C.W. Post daughter, Marjorie Merriweather Post, also had a surprising story, which reminds us that there are truly hidden figures in American history, whose stories should be discovered by the ensuing generations as a source of inspiration and useful entrepreneurial lessons.
Twentieth century moguls, Marjorie Merriweather Post and Frank C. Mars..
Oh my goodness…the ingenuity of it all is mind-blowing. You can’t look at the program without really understanding that the innovations they created still directly affects our standard of living.today. Take Clarence Birdseye for instance…this man was a freaking frozen food genius. And tilt me over with a spoon because, I never equated the name Birdseye with a family name, which is the case for a lot of these food companies.
Season 1 of The Food that Built America is amazing and you will probably find yourself indignant at some of these giants of industries because wheeling and dealing, lying, cheating, and out and out stealing are a just par for the course in America’s food industries’ history. Some stories are truly heartbreaking; nonetheless, I can’t wait for season 2, which will be increased from 3 episodes to 18. Thank you History Channel!