Twice-baked potatoes are a favorite of ours. Since my Cuisinart died, though, I have been making an easier variety that I call “smashed potatoes.”
I use four very small Yukon gold potatoes since it’s just the two of us. I bake them in the microwave, and since they are small it takes only a few minutes.
While the potatoes cool enough to handle, I line a baking sheet with parchment. I chop a couple of green onions, cube a quarter cup of butter (or a bit more), get out bacon bits and shaved Parmesan cheese.
After setting the oven to preheat to 400 degrees, I smash each potato as flat as I can (on the parchment covered baking sheet) and top with the prepped ingredients in the order I listed. The potatoes bake a second time for about 20 minutes in that hot oven.
I did this operation early this morning as the weather forecaster is promising 106 degrees today. The potatoes can be eaten for lunch with leftovers stored away for another meal tomorrow.
We retired ladies picked our lunch spot for December a few weeks ago. A Mexican restaurant that had gotten good Yelp reviews, in a neighborhood near my church. Perhaps a bit sketchy, but nothing too unsafe. We are an adventuresome group, willing to try locally owned eateries. Because one of the retirees only has Mondays available (we joke about this since we are retired), our lunch dates must be on Mondays.
To our dismay, upon arrival at this month’s choice, we find the restaurant is closed on Mondays. There were a few street-walkers in the parking lot, but otherwise, closed up for the day. Actually there are many places closed on Mondays in Fresno. It must be a slow day for eating out. The street-walking business never seems to be closed.
We quickly gathered our five wits, and since we had chosen Mexican, decided on another really good, locally owned Mexican restaurant owned by a local family. It was a bit of a drive, but we were assured good food and an open door!
I ordered a short rib burrito, sans rice, which was excellent. Everyone’s food was tasty and service was very fast. The restaurant is located in a shopping center near a major hospital and other medical offices so it gets lots of lunch time business. People who have a short amount of time to eat before getting back to their job. We retired ladies had all afternoon so we sat and chatted and made plans for our next lunch. The food will be Asian and we checked to make sure the place is open on Mondays.
We have added a new member to our group, Jeri, there on the far right. She was an art teacher at the inner city high school where we all worked for those many years.
On Thursday, before the world turned upside down, our retired lunch group met at a small mediterranean restaurant for our holiday get-together. Two of the group’s husbands had recommended this place, and we found their recommendations spot-on.
It’a a tiny little place, tucked into the corner of a very old strip mall, one of the first in Fresno, out on the north end of town. Times and businesses have moved on out farther, leaving this place behind. It’s not where you go to be seen, or to eat the newest menu item. But, the place is clean, the food outstanding, and the prices are a good deal.
The food runs the gamut from Persian to Mexican. They are currently taking orders for Christmas tamales. A big urn of hot tea sits out for everyone to partake of as they come in out of the cold. Hamburgers, salads, sandwiches share the menu with things like the Persian burger, for which the place is famous. A bowl of chicken cilantro soup was my choice for lunch, and it was delicious. I would like to return some time for that burger, though.
Before we left, after spending three hours sitting and talking about our lives, the owner graciously took our photo, outside, under the restaurant sign, which you will notice, he cut off. The restaurant is Express Grill.
All of us are retired from the large inner city school.
Today was a “ladies who lunch” date with a few of my friends who worked together at that inner city high school for 21 years. We tried a small, local sandwich shop this time that people had told us was very good. We picked it as it was located near to one ladies’ hair appointment at 2:30. Eating so close let us talk right up to time of her appointment. That’s right! We talked for almost three hours. Surprised? You really shouldn’t be. Our lives are very interesting and we love to catch up on all the activities we have each been involved in since the last “ladies who lunch.”
One of the lunch ladies was at the Red Heart Ball that I wrote about earlier this week. In discussing the evening she mentioned that another friend had been concerned that I looked bored at one point in the evening. Gladys’s response was, “Delaine? Bored? Never.”
She’s right. I am never bored. Although I wasn’t spending a lot of time talking at the party, I was watching all the people. As you may remember, there were over 700 in attendance. Lots to watch. Terry was running around, taking photos, and I wanted to keep track of all that was happening in the room so that I could guide him to certain people.
One of the young ladies at my table was wanting to dance but none of the young men were asking her. I had made note of this and so when I could locate Terry, I maneuvered through the crowd to tell him he really should go dance with her. While I hold the camera, he does, and they both have a terrific time. Then it was back to more picture taking.
Terry dancing with our table mate.
I stopped at another table and visited with some other friends. Then it was time to draw the winning ticket for the Shelby car that was being given away that night. I didn’t have a ticket, but some of my friends did. None of them won. Some man in Claremont did get the phone call telling him he won the car. The tickets are sold all year long at auto shows around the country so the winner is usually someone from another part of the country. Next year’s car is a 1963 red Corvette, all original. Terry said he might buy a ticket for that one.
So, bored? Not then, not now, not ever.
When I was teaching, I had a go-to lunch that never failed me–a small can of tuna, a bottle of tea, and a container of applesauce. I could throw it all in a bag in the morning, not worry about refrigerating it and have a decent and quick lunch at my desk.
At home, now, my go-to lunch is a piece of American cheese wrapped up in a flour tortilla and zapped in the microwave for 25 seconds. Filling and comforting and very quick.
I keep both sets of these ingredients on hand at all times just for a day like today. Came home from church where I had spent about an hour and half hand lettering addresses on postcards to send to the 100 or so children who came to our Vacation Bible School a couple of weeks ago. I no longer teach at our church’s VBS due to the fact that it’s held in the evening. I am useless with children after 4 p.m. You can ask my grandchildren. They will tell that Grandma pretty much gives ups, gives in, and lets them do as they please after 4 p.m. Most parents would find that reprehensible for a church teacher, so I make no attempt to teach or even help out during the week of the actual event. I will, though, do follow-up work like addressing postcards.
I have a complaint, though, about the work. Oh, not the actual hand-lettering. That’s rather fun to practice my printing skills. These are elementary age children. You cannot use cursive writing with them. They need to be able to read their names on the cards when they arrive in the mail in the next day or so. Of course, as you may have heard by now, cursive is no longer taught in public schools because there is only time to teach answer-sheet -bubbling technique, so high school students can’t read cursive, either. The last few years I taught, I was always having students tell me they couldn’t read what I had written on the board. And I have beautiful teacher writing. Then students starting telling me they never read anything on the board of any of their classes because if you waited around long enough, the teacher would either tell you the information or give you a handout with it, or in our tech-savvy world, give you a URL to go find it. I got out in the nick of time.
But back to the those postcards. The complaint I had was with the handwriting of the parents who signed up their child for this experience. I could not read their writing on many of the forms. Here’s a suggestion: when you must fill out a form that you know someone will be using later on, use your best penmanship, whether cursive or printed. And should you take your lunch, be sure to write your name in legible print, on the bag, so people will know it’s your food and not eat it.
Today was Ladies Who Lunch at Batterup Pancakes, a small family-run restaurant in my neighborhood.
That’s my friend Gladys who brought Helen, my other friend, and me some of her first cherry tomatoes. I ate mine immediately while we caught up with one another and attempted to decide what to order at this breakfast specialty house.
Being noon, we all bypassed the breakfast offerings and went with salads and sandwiches. Since I am on the lookout for a good local hamburger, that was my selection. I was not disappointed and would return for another burger when the craving hits. We have three places in the bay area where we get excellent burgers and a beer. No beer at Batterup, unless you count root beer, which I had.
After lunch I swung by and picked up my csa boxes. Here is Week 7’s stone fruit offering:
Fresno’s Chinatown is a sad place. Many empty buildings, most crumbling and falling apart. Streets are empty of pedestrians. There are only a few cars with lots of empty parking spaces, which are free. This once thriving part of the city is now almost a ghost town. And yet…
There are many hole-in-the-wall restaurants that have excellent food. Today I met a friend of mine for lunch, parking right across from that Mexican Baptist Church I wrote about a couple of days ago. She pulled out her camera and started shooting. Delores and I love to take camera walks, and since I had just done this a few weeks ago with Terry, I was able to show her a number of places to get some interesting images. She was in the mood for peach cobbler and had heard there was a place in Chinatown that served it. I knew just the place.
We took a circuitous route that lead us by these buildings:
We ate at Salaam’s, a seafood restaurant that also has fried chicken which I ordered. Delores ordered prawns and cornbread. We were disappointed that there was no peach cobbler today. We’ll have to come back another day. The food and service were outstanding.
After our delicious lunch, we wandered around some more, heading down China Alley, where we passed these buildings:
The weather was perfect for walking. It was a good break for me as I have been so intent on working on the church’s 130-year history report. I was able to finish it today and will take the PDF to be printed tomorrow as well as uploaded to the church’s website. My next job will be to prepare the document to be sent to an ebook publisher. But first we will celebrate the church’s actual anniversary date on March 18. Maybe, after then, I’ll be able to have more lunch dates with friends.