Saturday, July 31, 2010

2010 Summer Food Tour: The Great BBQ Debate

The Summer Food Tour started and ended because of barbeque. The idea developed after reading articles about the great barbeque to be found across the state of Texas. Charting our course to Houston, we discovered we could intercept several of the mentioned establishments with minimum distance out of our way.

On the outgoing trail, we strayed off course to Taylor, Texas and enjoyed a sample from Mueller’s Market. We found the beef ribs the most memorable.

Going home we started for Llano, Texas for Coopers BBQ but made a change and landed in Lockheart, Texas. Here, Kunz's and Smitty's, markets are battling it out.  We stopped to perform our own taste test. Both are well worth the visit.

Smitty’s is located in the middle of town in their original building. Kunez’s is in a new, larger building out on the highway. Both have pits heated with open fires that have you dripping with persperation in the first moments you enter. This is easily overlooked as you inhale the wonderful aromas of smoke and grilling meat.

We bought a cross section of the menu from each to sample. After finding a cool, shade tree in the local park we took our time and gave close attention to the comparison study.

If you are in Lockheart, Texas stop by one or the other at meal time, you won’t be disappointed.

Friday, July 30, 2010

2010 Summer Food Tour: El Tiempo Cantina

2010 Summer Food Tour explained.

A family member who recently spent time in Houston recommended El Tiempo Cantina. We checked it against our reviews and found it was, indeed, worth a visit.

The recommended entrée is the mixed grill. A variety of sizzling meats delivered to the table on a small grill. The meat selection included quail, sausage, ribs, chicken breast, pork, shrimp, roasted jalapenos, skirt steak, peppers and onions. Each diner received their own serving of seasoned rice, beans, tortillas, pico de gallo, cheese and sour cream. The menu recommended this meal for two although it fed all three of us with some to take for lunch the next day.

A restaurant definately worth mentioning.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

2010 Summer Food Tour: The Hobbit Cafe

2010 Summer Food Tour explained.

We spent Saturday afternoon in a cool, dark theatre. Two hours later we were ready for our second meal so fired up and began searching for something in the area of the theatre. The Hobbit Café drew immediate interest because the three of us are huge LOTR (Lord of the Rings) fans. We felt lucky, the café was very close to the theatre and deserved a look just because of the name but we were thrilled to find the food just as worthy.

We almost missed the turn as the 60’s renovated bungalow was tucked behind another restaurant. The décor was current and vintage LOTR memorabilia. It also thrilled us to know The Hobbit Café was voted the best vegetarian friendly restaurant in Houston. We did indulge beginning with the black bean nachos. I had the Smog sandwich with a choice between the slim or the classic. This comes with avocado unlimited and shaved carrots as the side. We ended by sharing a piece of the mousse cake; decadent and very delicious. I’ve attached some of the pictures that decorated the walls. It was an entertaining dining experience and a must for any other LOTR fans. Sorry, they don’t have a website.

Smog Sandwich                                             
Bilbo Baggins 


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

2010 Summer Food Tour: Breakfast

The 2010 Summer Food Tour explained.

Saturday morning we consulted Yelp and decided on a downtown restaurant.  Unfortunately, it was this weekend they closed for remodeling.  Fortunately, one of Houston's finest was parked across the street so we pulled along side and asked for his breakfast recommendation. 

"The best one is The Breakfast Klub," he said, "but there will be a line so you might try Harry's."

A line!?!  A restaurant with a line is surely worth mentioning so we plugged the address into our trusty Garmon and headed over to The Breakfast Klub.  There was indeed a line, snaking under three awnings and anchored by fans and a misting system to keep the potential patrons cool in the sweltering heat.  We plugged in the address for Harry's and was NOT disappointed.

Let me take a moment to sing the praises of our Garmon GPS.  Where Yelp was a treasure trove from which to choose the right eating establishment the Garmon provided the directions to get us there.  Both invaluable in the success of this food tour.

We didn't leave without making our way to the Breakfast Klub, early on Sunday.  There was still a line, only about 15 minutes, but worth the wait.

Harry's is American, Mediterranean and Latin fusion, "The Globe On your Fork." Great coffee, freshed squeezed orange juice and a menu deep in unique flavors.  I had the Larissa Plate the first time and a blueberry waffle the second time.  Wonderful!

The Breakfast Klub has an ethnic flare and their two speciaities are waffles with wings and katfish and grits.  My son enjoyed the waffles and wings and I enjoyed the french toast, highly recommended by a Yelp reviewer.  They had an extensive coffee/expresso bar with four different blends of coffee available with the bottomless koffee kup.

Both restaurants are a thumbs up!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

2010 Summer Food Tour: Bombay Pizza Co.

The Texas food tour was a culinary success. With the help of Yelp, a wonderful traveling tool, we found places that MUST be mentioned.

For those who are familiar with our last seven months at Weight Watchers I want to preempt the following blog by saying we made use of the excercise room and pool every night and ate two meals a day, supplemented with healthy snacks, in order to stay within guide lines. 

Our change in eating has "cleaned" our taste palettes.  It seems like the old standards use the same distributor, the same ingredients and produce the same tastes.  We began to wonder, "Where have all the unique restaurants gone?"  We began the hunt for those establishments that offer something other than what the distributor delivers; scouring for those eateries that make it fresh, add something different, up the bar for flavor.  What we want are those places that are worth mentioning.

Our first find was in downtown Houston.  The Bombay Pizza Co. is a fusion of Italian and Indian ingredients into wonderful, flavorful combinations.

The pizza crust was a combination of regular dough and sesame seed dough which made for a light and crispy, cracker consistency.  The sauce was listed as Bombay pizza sauce, red, but not the standard tomato flavor. 

We ordered the 16' Slumdog pizza for $19.00 along with a bowl of tomato basil soup and salad.  Check their website for the wonderful combinations of pizza.  This will be a definite repeat visit and if I lived there a frequent lunch stop.  I'm sorry we didn't have enough time to sample more of the menu.

What an interesting combination of ethnic cuisine.  Houston was the only location for Bombay Pizza we could find.  Do you have a favorite pizza worth mentioning?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Goal! 3 Tips on How to Get There

In an earlier blog I mentioned my family's turn toward healthier living. All three of us have done very well. I have reached my weight range where the hard work begins, maintenance. The backsliding tales are epidemic and I am not immune. My success on that subject is yet to be seen, but there are three specific items I’ve noticed that were essential to our weight loss success.

The most important element of our success has been making this journey together. A buddy in every situation is beneficial, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (NIV) Having the whole house eating the same way and working towards the same type of personal goal is an advantage beyond measure. Every member of every household would benefit from better nutrition and a healthier lifestyle.

1. Everyone in the house is on board, has their personal goal and is eating the same type of things.

The Weight Watchers concept that aided our success was the points system. To manage your weight you have to know what you are putting in your mouth, which means counting, something. It isn’t necessarily their point system but how the system steps you down in points gradually. I started with 24 points. Those first two weeks I felt as though I was getting enough to eat and yet still lost weight. Over a period of 20 weeks I gradually stepped down to 18 points. By the time I reached 18 I still felt as though I was getting enough to eat. I never hit the spot where I felt I was starving myself.

2. Slow, controlled weight loss. Slow and steady wins the race.

Learn about and embrace fruits and vegetables. The negative is they are “fresh” meaning they have a short shelf life. It is understandable, in a busy household, that you don’t purchase much fresh produce because it goes bad and you end up throwing away money. Changing how we viewed and used produce was essential to our success. Produce “fills” you up for less calories meaning you can eat A LOT and still feel full and lose weight. In the beginning decide to make more trips to the store and buy only what you’ll eat for two-three meals. As you adapt to a heavier consumption of produce your menus will begin to naturally include fresh items and you will be able to purchase more and get it used up.

3. Discover the wonderful, varied world of fresh produce. Gradually increase your purchase of fresh produce. Invest in frozen veggies.

There are many free programs with online features that can help you be successful. Find one that you are comfortable with, learn it and DO it. Every weight loss plan and piece of exercise equipment works if you use it. Getting the whole house involved keeps accountability close and everyone is interested in the conversation. Nothing rushed is fully enjoyed. Be satisfied with incremental weight loss it’s healthier and stays off longer. Be willing to learn about new and better foods to eat and have the courage to try them.

Don’t expect to cut the fat and sugar in a current recipe and like it. Expect to gradually move yourself away from your current menus into new and healthier menus. Here is an excellent place to start.  You CAN reach your goal.

Good luck and Godspeed.
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 NIV

Sunday, July 11, 2010

God's Map

While my son was away at a summer internship opportunity I sent encouragements to help him throuh his stressful,"nose to the grindstone" moments.  He was never far from my thoughts nor was the fact that his experience was but another mile along the journey God will map out for him.  Although I have edited out elements specific for him the message is the same for all of us Christians who have said, " yes" to the call.

If we are obedient to God's direction in our lives, He will ask of us things that are outside our comfort zone. If we embrace these tasks, we will grow in ways we never expected.

God bestows talents upon everyone that He will use for His purpose, if you allow. Your experiences add to, or grow, your gifts. With this in mind how are you being stretched?

You may be stretched environmentally by moving away from the comfort zone of your home and people who know you. You have to establish a new routine in a new place.

You may be stretched emotionally by being away from people who understand you. People, who share your humor, get your references and like you warts and all.

You may be stretched socially by having to interact with all types of personalities, in different situations, with different priorities and personal needs.

If you are obedient to God’s call, doing so in love and on His behalf you experience immeasurable growth.  Pray for wisdom, courage, patience and peace for this journey designed especially for you.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (KVJ)