The Last Harvest

Yesterday was the last tomato harvest of the home-grown tomato season at the Diner. Look how pathetic they are compared to Home Grown Tomatoes. So sad. But I can’t complain, considering the harvest started about four months ago.

Oh well, we will savor the last few tomatoes sitting on the counter waiting to be eaten, and look forward to using the homegrown tomatoes in the freezer for Art’s Special Sauce (I’ll let you know how that goes.)

The next planting season is just five and a half months away!


Fork it Over for Kids

I went to Fork It Over for Kids, a fund-raiser at the Kroc Center this past weekend to see Sam the Cooking Guy for a research project – more on that next month. I left with a new appreciation for Sam the Cooking Guy, and having experienced my new favorite dessert – cinnamon chocolate apple wedges. Ohhhhh! They were “to die” for!

First, Sam the Cooking Guy - Sam is from San Diego, he has a cooking show (obviously), and cooks with short cuts which isn’t a bad thing but not the way I cook at the Diner. Anyway, Sam mingled with the crowd, especially the kids, during the mingling hour (there were no cocktails, so I hesitate to call it the “cocktail hour”). When it came time for Sam to “do his thing,” some demos of his recipe on stage, he was personable, humorous, scattered (he admitted it), and unapologetic about his cooking.

I would say Sam does, what I call, “guy” cooking. “What is the shortest path to something that will taste great, but is not so great for me” seemed to be his motto. The first thing he fixed was what he called a Canadian favorite – French fries with cheese curds and brown gravy over the top. Do you see what I mean?!

Anyway, Sam was very funny, with the audience roaring with laughter a few times at Sam’s expense which he was very okay with. Sam acknowledged his wife is a better cook, and he mostly loves the camera. And when a young lady asked when he started cooking he responded, “When I got a cooking show.” His path is interesting, and all about timing – it has to do with September 11, 2001, worth looking up.

Now on to the cinnamon chocolate apple wedges. There were a number of businesses at Fork It Over for Kids serving food, one of them was Edible Arrangements. When I asked the hostess what she was sampling, she responded and said they tasted like Julian Apple Pie, but better! How could that be, I thought. She was right!

The cinnamon chocolate apple wedges were Granny Smith apple wedges dipped generously in dark chocolate and sprinkled on one side with cinnamon. They were so delicious, I snuck back for seconds! They are not cheap, but worth replicating at home (or a Diner). I think I might have to develop a Holly’s Diner version!


Pine Freeze Maker

Look what arrived at the Diner last week! Daddy’s Pine Freeze Maker! Anna stopped by, and after reading Root Beer Freeze recently she pulled the infamous wooden spoon from her utensil draw and brought it by the Diner.

I knew the Pine Freeze Maker was still in her kitchen drawer, but I was so surprised she brought it to the Diner! I’m thinking of mounting it on the wall, not as a “what not to do,” but as a “remember when.”

Next time you’re at the Diner, see if Root Beer Freezes are on the menu. I promise to use a metal spoon!


Diner Drivin' Part 3

HH and I took a little road trip yesterday, close to home yet another stop on the Triple D Highway. Although HH and I have both been to El Indio before, it has been a few years, and never together, yet certainly a stop we wanted to make. So yesterday we hit the road, for 20 minutes, and viola! El Indio Restaurant in San Diego.

El Indio is a San Diego institution, it’s been around longer than I have, and longer than HH for that matter! I have some friends who have moved from way from San Diego, but a detour to El Indio is always a treasured stop when they visit. And if you want the perfect tortilla chips for your next party – it has to be El Indio, as far as I’m concerned. It’s the paprika on the chip that makes them so unique.

HH had a carnitas torta (amazing bread), I had the beef flautas (so scrumptious), and we brought home two (2) bags of tortilla chips (the best)! The chips are big and crispy with salt, paprika and a hint of lime – they’re calling my name right now!

El Indio is a must stop for locals and visitors, transplants or natives. Keep in mind El Indio has stood the test of time, the changing San Diego landscape, and the infinite number of chain taco shops that have popped up everywhere – this one’s an original.


More Homemade Tacos

Ahhh, homemade tacos, one of my favorites. If you’ve visited Holly’s Diner before, you have heard all about them in Homemade Tacos, but last night was a little different.

After the incredible tacos HH and I had at the Squeeze Inn in August, and as we need the end of homegrown tomato season, I was inspired to serve homemade tacos last night – but I cooked EVERYTHING last night. Usually HH is recruited to cook the meat and the shells, but I had a new supplier for tortilla shells and thought I would try everything myself.

HH arrived at the Diner, happily surprised to see that tacos were on the menu, and even happier that he did not have to cook! Now this was my third attempt at frying the taco shells in, let’s say, 13 years since my very first attempt was back in 1996 – I have not been very successful. I also wanted to try to fix them as we had experienced at the Squeeze Inn in Sacramento a few weeks ago – lightly fried flat, removed from the oil, grated cheddar cheese sprinkled on the shells and meat placed inside, then folded and dipped back in the oil. I realized that I actually needed a deep pot to do this and a lot more oil - that just wasn’t going to happen.

You can see from the photos the finished shell.

And the taco plate at Holly’s Diner – delicious!


Football Season

I don’t know how many of you noticed, last night was the beginning of the 2009/2010 NFL season. In honor of that, the special at Holly’s Diner last night was a manly meal – meat and potatoes.

I knew HH would want to sit at the counter and watch the game, along with anyone else who stopped by, and knew a nice summer salad would not cut it. But I’m just not ready for a hunk of beef either. Some creativity was required for the first meal of the football season, although the Chargers don’t play until Monday night apparently last night was still quite important.

So last night’s featured manly meal was a chicken breast (it’s still meat!), marinated in a chipotle mayonnaise and seasonings, lightly pounded then butterflied. Next the chicken breast was stuffed with slices of ham, provolone cheese and fresh spinach leaves. The concoction was then pan fried in butter on both sides until brown, then placed in the oven (pan and all) for 20 minutes at 350ยบ. In the meantime, I cooked red potatoes, turning them into mashed potatoes (with the skins) – HH helped – and steamed mixed vegetables. I had to get SOME healthy things in there.

The manly meal was served at the counter, big screen on, football and meat and potatoes – what better way to start the season!


Classic Squeeze

I just read an article about putting the squeeze on citrus – more commonly known as a juicing. The author was writing about freshly squeezed oranges and the best way to get there. She tried four (4) different juicers ranging in price from $7 to $50, and identifying the yield amount.

The juicer that yielded the most juice was the glass citrus juicer for $7 –exactly like the one at the Diner, sans the chip in the side from use!

The author talked about the juicer Granny used, how easy it was to use, and more important, how easy it was to clean up. She talked about that this glass juicer is an “ageless friend.”

I have Nana’s juicer. I have had it for almost 20 years. It is what I use to juice a half box of lemons and limes during the summer to make lemonade and limeade all summer long. It is what I use in the winter when neighbors and family have more oranges than they can handle, and I benefit with fresh squeezed orange juice for days.

Nana’s juicer is a treasured piece of equipment at the Diner. When a neighbor asked me last winter if I had a juicer, I responded “yes.” Then I thought about Nana’s simple glass contraption and the elbow grease required to produce a glass of fabulously sweet, beautifully bright, fresh squeeze orange juice – totally worth it! What better way to have a glass of orange juice than exactly the way my grandmother did.


The Quest - Part II

Have you heard!? Julia is at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers List! With all the hullabaloo about the movie Julie & Julia, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (MTAOFC) has topped the New York Times Best Sellers List for the first time since it was published in 1961 – 48 years ago!

MTAOFC is the #1 book in the Advice category, AND My Life in France by Julia Child is the #1in the Paperback Non-Fiction category – Julie & Julia is #3 in the same category.

Well, this definitely means that the price of MTAOFC has increased substantially on my Quest, probably availability too. I’ll keep looking, although it may take a while longer than I thought.