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Over and Done With

Finally finishing up this work day…and in turn, this work week. I just submitted the longest status report that I’ve ever written. It was hard to believe what a huge scope of work I did in just the last five days, but putting it all on paper in my report — as I do at the end of every week — made seeing believing. Thankfully, I’m no longer engaged in the stress-inducing, hair-pulling, faith-in-humanity-destroying concept of side work, so when I put the wraps on a week like this, it actually means that I’m done busting my ass for a day or two.

Tonight, Apple and I are going to Roy’s, mostly (okay, entirely) because we received a $20 coupon for their establishment in the mail this week. I like Roy’s, but it’s pricey and it’s located close to downtown, so on the two or three occasions per month when we go out to eat, I rarely choose to go there. But money talks, and so we’re walking to Roy’s. Okay, driving. But it’s the same meaning.

It’s the off season here in Florida, in a lousy economy to boot, so naturally most of the restaurants in town are scrounging for whatever business they can get. I have to be honest with you: I’m enjoying the spoils. In fact, in the last year I’ve noticed that we’ve been getting a lot of these hefty restaurant coupons in the mail, even for those out-of-control expensive chains like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. We also get them from local restaurants, who want to give us $20 off if we’ll just PLEASE GOD come in and eat there.

I think this is funny, in a way, because when the economy was booming, these same local joints basically said “fuck you” to us full-time residents, some even going so far as to stop taking carry-out orders from us working stiffs because they would rather serve their fancy-pants rich snowbirds in-house instead. Well, now a lot of those snowbirds have packed up and left, permanently, and many of us working stiffs don’t have the money to eat out as often as we used to, so what’cha gonna do? “Go out of business” was the answer for many local establishments, although I’m pleased to report that a number of really excellent places remain. In fact, this town is a far better place to grab a bite to eat now than it was at the time we first moved here, when the only kind of food you could find was fried grouper this, grilled grouper that. Now they even have Vietnamese.

Speaking of food, we’ve mostly been eating at home. If anything, actually, we’re spending more money on groceries now than we ever have, mostly because our extended stay in Thailand convinced us to start buying better quality (usually organic) produce, create more interesting and healthy meals, and just get a bit more creative with our cuisine. The results have been fantastic, and we have a whole bevy of stuff now that we can cook and enjoy at home. I’ve become a master of grilling fish, shrimp, steaks and all kinds of vegetables, while Apple has put together an array of international cuisine that includes Moroccan-style pork and couscous, Thai lad nah and spaghetti based on my grandmother’s classic Italian recipe. It’s actually gotten to the point where I don’t even miss going out to eat that much, which is saying a lot for me.

Of the “dinner at home” items I can prepare almost entirely myself, I’m perhaps proudest of my homemade pizzas. I don’t even deal with making crust; a pre-made crust from the supermarket is fine. I coat it with olive oil and then cover it with completely organic toppings, usually inclusive of pepperoni, mushrooms, finely-chopped onions and black olives. Ten minutes later it comes out of the oven and you’re drooling all over your shoes. Usually I’ll make one of those little personal-sized pizzas, eat two slices with a salad covered with flax seed and Italian dressing, and call it a meal. It’s fantastic.

Before.
Before.

After.
After.

We’ve also recently discovered this really delicious garlic naan sold under Whole Foods’ store brand, and we’re both addicted to it. This week, Whole Foods had a buy one, get one deal on this stuff, so Apple bought a bunch of it today. It tastes great if you toss it on the George Foreman grill and get it heated up, then serve it either as a side dish with whatever you’re having — particularly if there’s sauce involved — or wrap sandwich-type stuff in it and eat it that way.

Tasty garlic naan.
Tasty garlic naan.

As you might guess, Apple spent a lot of time studying the health benefits of various foods while we were in Thailand, as well as the often-undisclosed dangers of the chemical preservatives and other crap that goes into a lot of the stuff we eat here in the Western world. Honestly, I never thought I was going to be the type of guy who cared how much “high fructose corn syrup” was in his food. Until recently, I always thought people who harped on that were tiresome whiners who needed to just shut up and go eat a cabbage. But having done some study myself, I’ve gotten sucked into the whole “corn syrup is bad” cabal, and have joined Apple on our little “cut out the crap” experiment when it comes to our eating habits.

(And really, corn syrup is just shit as a sweetener. I used to think I hated Coke, but now I realize I just hated the janky corn syrup aftertaste.)

Anyway, time for us to get going. I’ll probably post yet more stuff here over the next two days, but in case I don’t, have a great weekend.

2 thoughts on “Over and Done With

  1. I love making pizza at home too. The Boboli small crusts are the perfect size. I’ve seen those packages of Naan – it it like a middle eastern bread? They look really good, and the notion of grilling them sounds yummy. Be great dipped in homemade soup, I bet.

    One of the few good things about this lousy economy is that restaurants (and other places) are seeing the light and becoming more customer friendly, which translates into some nice bargains for the consumer. We went to Carabbas last weekend and they have a very nice three course summer menu with lots of mix-and-match choices. Everything between’s $13-$16 (well, sirloin marsala was $18) and includes appetizer (personal size calamari was one of choices), entree, and a mini dessert.
    Still you can have a nice dinner for less than $40 for two. And your dad and I both brought home enough for lunch the next day. Aren’t we getting thrifty??

  2. I love those Boboli small crusts too — the size is indeed perfect. Yes, naan is like a Middle Eastern style flatbread. Now that you mention it, it would be really good with soup. They have a plain one and a garlic one, and the garlic one is so good you can just heat it and eat it as-is.

    Wow, that sounds like a great deal going a Carrabba’s. I love that place. Saw your tweet about it a couple weekends ago and wondered what the three-course deal was — sounds like the thing to get next time we go there. We had a pretty good meal at Roy’s last night (complete with the molten chocolate souffle for dessert) and with that coupon we had, the check (pre-tip) came to less than $40. If this is thrifty, I say thrifty rocks. It’s nice to see the restaurants (especially around here) starting to recognize that.

    I think we can live pretty well and avoid getting in over our heads by simply applying the “everything in moderation” maxim to…well, pretty much everything!

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