Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Super Bowl Sunday

Sandra and I have made a tradition of watching the Super Bowl and having some special snacks.

This tradition goes back to (I think) 1986 when a friend of ours named Michael was temporarily living in what is now the kids' room (the lease on his apartment expired and he was still trying to find a new place).

On Super Bowl Sunday morning that year, I was watching television and saw somebody preparing a snack dish. It was basically a steak, cheese, and onions sandwich. However, instead of serving it on a torpedo roll, the cook hollowed out a round bread boule and put the cooked ingredients into it. Cheese was added to the top (and I think there was some tomato sauce or something else which didn't appeal to me), and then the bread was cooked in the oven. The resulting "sandwich" was then cut up and served to people.

Sandra and I thought this was a great idea (without the sauce, of course), and I went to the store and got the ingredients. Later that day, we watched the Super Bowl while eating a pretty nice steak sandwich.

Ever since then, we made a habit of watching the Super Bowl and the steak sandwich was a part of it most years.

Of course, we've added different snacks over the years, including nachos, "Macho Dip" (described in a separate post, chicken wings, and lots of other snacks.

Now, my wife and I aren't avid football fans. I used to insist that I watched the Super Bowl for the advertisements, and to some extent, I guess that's true. However, with the Patriots once again being in the game for the fourth time since the 2001 season, I'll also be rooting for New England.

So... what's on the menu for Sunday?

Well, to tell you the truth, we really haven't decided.

We made the "Super Bowl Steak Sandwich" a couple of weeks ago when the kids were still around, since Sandra and I agree that it's too much for just the two of us to handle (the kids will both be in school this weekend).

Normally, I'd make chicken wings (or pick up those newfangled Hot Wings at Kentucky Fried Chicken—yum!), but Weight Watcher ranks them at three points EACH. Sandra would prefer something less intrusive, point-wise.

Macho Dip (refer to link above) is a possibility. The big problem is making "just enough" for game day without leftovers. We do have some leftover "verde" (green) enchilada sauce from a meal earlier this week, so this is a real possibility if I remember to get some cans of Campbell's cheese soup and a bag of Tostito's "scoops" chips for dipping.

We have some nice shrimp in the freezer, so Shrimp New Orleans is probably in the works. If Sandra feels like it, we can even add garlic knots as well to dip into the sauce.

I might be able to convince Sandra to let me make some Potato Skins. The recipe is quite simple: bake some potatoes, cut them in half and scoop out some of the insides with a spoon. (At this point, the potato shells can be frozen for later use... if you want to have them ready in advance.) Cook the scooped out and empty potato skins for twenty minutes—turn the skins upside down after the first ten minutes—at about 400 to 450°F. Add shredded cheese, bacon, and some green onions and broil until the cheese is bubbly. Yum!

Other possibilities:

  • Celery and carrots with ranch or blue cheese dressing

  • Tacquitos—we make a dipping sauce with ranch dressing, some chili powder, and hot sauce.

  • Nachos, if we haven't overdosed on Mexican...!

  • Shrimp cocktail (again, if we don't overdose on shrimp!)

Bon Appetit!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Foodie Sites for NH

I am an avid blogger. While this may be the only blog that I write, I tend to read and keep up with many blogs that span the range of my interests, from computer and technical information to food and even local sports (Hooray, Red Sox!).

There are a few places that I frequent to keep tabs on the food scene, and a few of them specialize in the New Hampshire region where I live. I'd like to share some of these sites. Note that this isn't meant to be comprehensive; it's just a list of some places I like to visit.

Modesty, of course, precludes me from listing this site. Besides, if you're reading this, I don't really need to suggest it to you!

First and foremost, there is Chowhound's New England board which is a place where you can go for "tips on dining, eating, and food shopping in ME, NH, VT, RI, MA, and CT" (there is a Boston board as well, as well as for regions all around the country and elsewhere). This is a place where people can post questions, make reviews, get recommendations, and talk about food in the New England area. If you visit there regularly, you will probably find people who share interests with yourself. I, for one, have found a few people that share my love for Asian cuisine, and have come to trust their recommendations.

Next is Seacoast Online, which carries information on the New Hampshire Seacoast region, including parts of Maine and Massachusetts. You can find articles from Portsmouth Herald and some other locally-driven newspapers here. Since I love visiting Portsmouth and the seacoast region, I find this a great place for information. Their "Entertainment" site has a section on Food & Wine and a section on Dining (restaurant reviews). One thing to be aware about is that there is advertising from different restaurants on this site, so they may not print "bad" reviews about advertisers.

On television, the TV Diner (on New England Cable News) and Phantom Gourmet (on Boston's TV38) give reviews and recipes from restaurants in New England. These are pretty good sites for getting pointers to local restaurants. Billy Costa used to be the host of Phantom Gourmet, but now hosts TV Diner after the Phantom moved from NECN to TV38. Both sites are useful.

I have always been a fan of a site dedicated to... Portsmouth, NH. I already mentioned my love of Portsmouth, and this site is probably the most encyclopedic about the region. As far as foodies are concerned, it maintains a list of restaurants along with a short description of each.

If you ever travel to Manchester (and more recently, Nashua), you have probably seen a free newspaper called The Hippo, which is a weekly guide to the Merrimack Valley in NH. There are weekly articles on Local news, Pop culture, Living (including Food, Wine, Beer... and a "Grazing Guide"), Music and Arts. I would imagine that it's audience is people between 21 and 65, including tourists. The publishers also put out a daily paper, The Manchester Express, which is also available as a PDF online.

There are also actual blogs that I read daily, but none of them (that I am aware of) are from people in my area. However, they are interesting in their own right, since food is not always a regional topic. I'll save them for another blog entry.

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A new take on Food Porn

A pair of chicken wings that wish to remain anonymousAs I was traveling during the recent holidays, I went to a local Panera Bread to have a warm cup of tea, a few sourdough rolls, and to use their free wireless Internet (WiFi) to catch up on things happening. (By the way, their bread is always fresh, their wireless is easy to use, and their tea is delightful! Patronize them!)

I have a "folder of bookmarks" that I can open all at once into separate tabs within Firefox, and soon the dozen or so sites I regularly read were being loaded into my browser.

Well, almost.

Imagine my surprise when THIS VERY SITE did not appear. Instead, I got a message that my site was blocked. I couldn't imagine why this was, but I followed their "if you think this site has been blocked in error..." link, and found that the site was listed as "Pornographic." I filled in their feedback form and asked the people who ran the watch-dog site (with admittedly with a less than flattering comment) to re-rate the site. They must get scores of such requests, and I was a bit disappointed to find that it could take a few days or longer to get a site re-rated.

Note: Although Panera Bread apparently runs requests for web sites through an Internet filter, I do not mean any ill to that company for doing so. In our litigious society, it is possible for a place to be sued or forced out of business simply for "making available" illegal content. So, it's understandable that they would do something like this. It's their Internet they are providing; they can filter it any way they want!

My request to the watch-dog company with the Internet filter was sent out around noon on December 27. On December 29, I received an email stating that my site was being reclassified as "Web Communications," which is what I guess a blog is, rather than my suggested "Restaurants and Dining" listing—there wasn't a listing for "Food and Thoughts." That was actually pretty quick turn-around, and I'm happy this was settled.

But I got to thinking. In what universe could this site be labeled pornographic? I have no pictures of nudes (other than a penguin who wasn't wearing any pants to explain my holiday absense!), and I really don't talk much about "pornographic topics."

Well, I think I may have figured it out. My recent article on chicken wings mentioned a restaurant chain that has decent wings. The name of the chain is an intentional play on a slang term for a woman's anatomy.

Now, I've seen this restaurant chain bill itself as a "family restaurant," although I wouldn't go as far as making that description myself. However, mentioning the name of the chain five times managed to trigger some software into making a decision that my blog is a den of depravity.

Alternatively, perhaps somebody may have decided that this particular chain doesn't need "free advertising" from a person like me and reported me to the guardians of our morals on the Internet! If I managed to offend somebody, then I'm sorry. However, since that person, should he or she really exist, would probably never connect to my site again, I think my apology will be falling on deaf ears.

Of course, the use of the "porn" and "pornography" terms in this particular article may cause the entire situation to repeat.

Sometimes, you can't win.