Silly’s A Portland Taste Adventure

July 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Posted in Food and Drink, FRIENDS, NEAT STUFF | Leave a comment
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Friday night, after checking out the Congress Street portion of Portland’s 1st Friday ArtWalk, we walked over to Silly’s on Washington street. It was not a walk for the faint of heart. If I had known how far away it was from High street (where my car was parked in a parking garage that charged by the hour $$$!), I would have gone back for my car and driven there. Seriously, it was like 2 sweaty, hot, hungry miles from where we were. However, the food, friends, and funky atmosphere made it all worthwhile! Each table has a Silly’s lunchbox on it – the plastic kind that held your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in first grade. Inside are menus and extra napkins and games you can play while you wait for your food. I was too busy talking to play any but I did spy an Uno deck in there. The walls are covered in framed photos of people posing with Silly’s bumper stickers taken in different states and countries. The rest of the decor is funky and quirky and totally lives up to the restaurant’s name. The food was AWESOME! The menu has countless options so you can add to or alter the available menu options anyway you like. I had a “gut buster” burger with guacamole and it came with homemade sweet potato fries. I also ordered a side of fried pickles. I wanted to try the sliced variety since the last ones I tried were pickle spears. They come with this pink horseradish sauce that is out of this world! I ended up dipping my sweet potato fries and bites of my burger in it too. Sitting here thinking about it, my mouth is totally watering – no lie. They also have homemade shakes that you can customize with about 60 different ingredient choices. My daughter ordered a chocolate caramel BACON shake. She loved it and the extra mound of bacon at the bottom was soooo good. I want to try making bacon soaked in chocolate sauce at home sometime. It sounds bizarro but was AMAZING. Seriously. No lie. I would go back just for that. So, if you find yourself hungry in Portland, you gotta give Silly’s a try. I can’t wait to go back!


Food Poisoning vs. Botulism

June 22, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Posted in CLEANING, COOKING, Food and Drink, health, sick | 3 Comments
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While doing a search for food safety, I found a very interesting bit of information. Check this out….


Food Poisoning — This occurs when you ingest food or water that contains bacteria, parasites, viruses, or toxins made by these germs. Most cases of food poisoning are from common bacteria such as Staphylococcus, Salmonella, or E. coli. (It can affect just one person or a group of people who all ate the same contaminated food.) Symptoms from the most common types of food poisoning usually start within 2 – 6 hours of ingesting. Symptoms can include stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, weakness, and serious dehydration.

Botulism — This is is an extremely dangerous form of food poisoning that is the result of ingesting food contaminated with C. botulinun, which is a nerve toxin (scared yet?). How can you tell if you’ve contracted botulism instead of ordinary food poisoning? Botulism causes an impairment of the muscular system. As a result, many people affected with botulism will have trouble speaking clearly, their breathing will become difficult and they may complain of having double vision or other visual problems.(GET TO THE ER!)

While eating meat is quite a bit more likely to cause food poisoning than eating vegetables, the actual muscle of an animal that is consumed is actually very safe as long as it doesn’t have the skin. That is the reason that you can feel safe eating rare steak, but would never eat rare chicken. It is the skin that is the breeding ground for most bacteria. Cutting through the skin during preparation spreads the dangerous bacteria.  The skin actually acts to protect meat from the bacteria that is crawling all over it, but once the meat is sliced, the bacteria races in to invade. (Which is why hand washing is so important. Beware that studies show that long fingernails carry and transmit lots of extra bacteria too, ladies.) After using a chopping board to cut meat, DO NOT use it again until it has been thoroughly cleaned.  NEVER, EVER allow your raw meat to touch  any other food, for that matter. (Beware of hand towels during prep too. Once you’ve used that towel during meat prep, throw it in the wash with some bleach to avoid cross-contamination.)


What’s A Starbucks Girl To Do?

June 8, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Posted in coffee, Food and Drink, JUST DUMB, Starbucks, Travel | Leave a comment
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So….when times are tough and the day has beaten the life outta me, I turn the wheel and my faithful minivan/mom-mobile heads to the closest source of quality caffeine – Starbucks.


The downside of living in a town (actually it might really be considered a “village” since the population is so small – one of these days I really should find out) instead of a city, is that there are no coffee shops nearby. The closest Starbucks location is a rest stop on hwy 95. Since Maine is classier than those people “running on Dunkin'” over in Massachusetts, all of OUR rest stops have a Starbucks inside. (I tell you, no state was longer to drive across on my last roadtrip than MA. ONLY mcD’s and Skunkin’ Dunkin’ for what felt like a thousand miles!)

Fortunately there is a backside access to our rest stops so that the locals don’t have to take the hwy (and pay the tolls) to get there. The first time I found my way there, I did a little happy dance of joy!


Recently, all of our rest stops have been getting a little added flair. One has a giant metal moose sculpture, another has a large metal sculpture of another example of Maine wildlife. Up until recently, the Grey location was without such decorations. Someone apparently thought this should be remedied. Unfortunately, the latest addition leaves something to be desired.


Instead of an impressive artistic rendering of a majestic animal, WE got a pair of fiberglass deer that look like they,d be right at home on a put-put golf course. Or possibly a backwoods grandma’s trailer park lawn. Seriously – I suspect they were purchased from Walmart’s lawn and garden section. They are SO sad.

And last week, they put up a little plaque in front of them.

I decided to get a closer look to see if maybe their true purpose was to educate the public on the local deer population or some other informative tidbit. Unfortunately, even the plaque was disappointing. It instructs the observer to look but don’t touch the deer. I guess in addition to their being cheap looking, they are fragile as well.

Welcome to Gray, y’all!

Johnny, swallow your lead like a good boy…

June 24, 2008 at 10:33 am | Posted in Food and Drink | 1 Comment

As per usual, Dr. Mercola is full of info that makes me want to throw out half the food in my pantry. He starts out by saying that 90 percent of the average American household's food budget is spent on pre-prepared foods. THEN he starts THE LIST….

The list is from Msn Health & Fitness and it listed 12 Food Additives to Avoid. Here is an abbreviated version of the list…

1. Sodium Nitrate (deli meats,bacon) causes cancer

2. BHA & BHT  (Butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydrozyttoluene found in everything from cereal to potato chips and chewing gum) causes cancer

3. Propyl Gallate (another preservative in everything) causes cancer

4. MSG aka Monosodium Glutamate (an amino acid used as a taste enhancer) causes headaches, nausea, and nerve cell damage in infant mice

5. Trans Fats (hellloooo heart attack!)

6. Aspartame (aka Equal or Nutrasweet) neurological problems, dizziness, hallucinations

7.Acesulfame-K (relatively new artificial sweetener found in baked goods, chewing gum, and gelatin desserts) There is a general concern that testing on this product has been scant, and some studies show the additive may cause cancer in rats

8. Food Colorings Blue 1, 2; Red 3; Green 3; Yellow 6 The Blues caused cancer in mice, The Red caused thyroid tumors in rats, The Green caused bladder cancer and last but not least, the Yellow caused tumors in the adrenal gland and kidneys (Talk about eating your rainbow!)

9. Olestra caused diarrhea, cramps, bloating, gas and malabsorbtion of vitamins from vegatables, etc.

10. Potassium Bromate (found in flour, bread, rolls) causes cancer

11. White Sugar (the devil white powder)

12. Sodium Chloride – too much can cause high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure

And then there was more info on Food Colorings…'s so nice that Britain protects its children. Too bad the FDA here couldn't care less…

New Study Confirms What Astute Parents Have Known for Years

The issue of whether or not food additives such as artificial colors contribute to behavioral problems in children has been disputed for many years. Fortunately, this may soon change.

A carefully designed randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the journal The Lancet last year may have finally shifted the tide (for a free PDF of the full study see this link).

It concluded that a variety of common food dyes, and the preservative sodium benzoate – found in many soft drinks, fruit juices and salad dressings – do cause some children to become measurably more hyperactive and distractible.

The seven ingredients tested in the study included:

  • Sodium benzoate (E211)
  • Sunset yellow (E110)
  • Quinoline yellow (E104)
  • Carmoisine (E122)
  • Tartrazine (E102)
  • Ponceau 4R (E124)
  • Allura red AC (E129)

The results of this study have already prompted the British Food Standards Agency (FSA) to issue an immediate advisory to parents, warning them to limit their children's intake of additives if they notice an effect on behavior.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the U.S. has not issued any similar warnings.

The worst behavioral responses from the additives were seen in the three-year-olds, compared to the older children in the study. But even within each age group, some children responded very strongly, and others not at all, indicating there are individual differences in how well your body can tolerate the assault of artificial additives. One theory is that the additives may trigger a release of histamines in certain sensitive kids.

Food Colors May be as Damaging as Lead in Gasoline on Children’s Brains

Another recent article, published in the British magazine The Independent on April 5 2008, reported that artificial food colors (but not the preservative sodium benzoate) are now set to be removed from hundreds of products in the UK because the results of the study mentioned above also indicate that the E-numbers do as much damage to children's brains as lead in gasoline, resulting in a significant reduction in IQ.

The lead author, Professor Stevenson, and his three colleagues have stated:  

"The position in relation to AFCs [Artificial Food Colors] is analogous to the state of knowledge about lead and IQ that was being evaluated in the early 1980s … Needleman [a researcher] found the difference in IQ between high and low lead groups was 5.5 IQ points … This is very close to the sizes obtained in our study of food additives."

Officials at the British FSA are advising the food industry to voluntarily remove the six food dyes named in the study by the end of 2009, and replace them with natural alternatives if possible.

True to form, the food industry claims the additives are used in a mere “handful” of products, but the website has already identified more than 1,000 food products that contain them – most of which are targeted at children.

BEWARE — Already Banned Food Additives Still Found in Children’s Medicines

Another thing you need to be aware of, as a parent, is that when an ingredient is banned for use in food, it is not automatically banned for use in other areas such as medicine.

According to an expose’ by the British Food Commission last year, food additives that have already been banned for use in food and beverages are still used in a majority of pediatric over-the-counter medicines.

Their survey found that ALL BUT ONE medicine out of 41 contained an additive that had been banned.

The additives found in these drugs included:

The justification for using these toxic compounds is what you'd typically expect from an over-the-counter pharmaceutical trade group: Unlike foods, additives in medicines are used in small quantities and are only taken for a short time.

JACKSON Slide Show!

March 12, 2008 at 10:17 pm | Posted in Food and Drink | Leave a comment

YUM, Yum…and yummier still

January 16, 2008 at 9:26 pm | Posted in Food and Drink | Leave a comment

I’m sitting at my art desk happy as a clam (are clams really happy and how can we be sure??) because I’m doing some google research (the most fun kind!) while writing an article and then I got a little sidetracked (the typical outcome when ‘researching’) and I realized that I would share my happiness.

For WHY am I happy you may ask? Well, I will TELL you!

Cocoamix I’m sipping my equal exchange hot cocoa which is the best stuff i’ve ever tasted, bar none. Sometimes I still experiment with other brands, just to be SURE i’m drinking the best, yummiest, most chocolate-iest best stuff. And oh yes. I AM.

Tiramisu Also, I am now all stocked up on tiramisu and walnut chocolate chip cookies thanks to the good folks at Big Lots. I’ve been packing in the liquor drenched carbs since November and will likely continue to do so until they run out. Although— I just found a place that sells them online (YAY!!) AND i found a recipe that looks promising.

So, I’m doing my civic duty and sharing my joy with y’all. (I don’t know why but I just really love the word "y’all". I think I’m secretly a hick. It’s possible. I did realllly like that movie, Sweet Home Alabama…..Who knows?)

My Internal Teenage Self is SO disgusted…

November 26, 2007 at 11:49 am | Posted in Food and Drink | 1 Comment

Friday and Saturday were STRESS days….getting ready for the "family dinner" on Saturday. I cooked for a couple hours Friday night to get a jump start on things and then finished up the cleaning and cooking on Saturday. In theory, this dinner was to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary but it was at OUR HOUSE because we are behind in taking our turn to host the monthly family dinner. Nov2407dinner_4

By Sunday I could take a deep breath and let it out completely….no more stress. I swear, my digestive system shut down for the whole week leading up to that dinner. And I could barely stand up because my back and shoulders are so spasmed…. To say that I ‘internalize‘ stress would be the understatement of the year. But Today is one of the best days of the week because it is the day I go to the chiropracter….snap crackle pop and then the massage therapist tries to get the spasms to shrink to a more managable size. (Her and I joke that I have extra bones in my shoulders because the muscles are hard as rocks and don’t untwist even after an hour of poking, prodding, and excrutiating pain.)

One upside to giving a dinner party at my place is that I could use my ‘new’ vintage dishes. I used my ‘fancy’ dish set with the silver rims that were given to us at our engagement party. I hated them at first because they were so girly (and therefore "not me") but over the years they have kind of grown on me and now I sorta like them because I’m going thru this pink phase for some reason. I am trying to fill my house with vintage items that are pink, robin’s egg blue, and red. I know, weird sounding combo but just looking at them brings a smile to my face. I’m sure if I sat in a therapist chair for a few dozen hours I could figure out why they trigger happy chemicals for me but for now I’m happy to say that they make me happy. Weird how certain colors do that. (for years my favorite color was french country yellow and now i can barely stand it. go figure.)


So I cleaned off the ancient cook stove in my kitchen (unusable currently due to expensive chimney issues) which basically is a landing strip for anything I carry into the kitchen (that needs to be put away but i’m not sure where – so any flat surface will do).

I organized the stuff that actually belongs on it into my spiffy vintage Robin Canisters. I think it turned out way cute….i’m biased though so that is just me.

And the11232407_049n I reorganized my overstuffed (again, with stuff that just needs to be put somewhere and I don’t know where) china cabinet to show off my ‘new’ vintage pink pyrex. I grew up hating the color pink (more ‘despising’ really) and now I want to bring home every stupid piece of junk that is pink whether I need it or not. So far I’m resisting pretty well the tacky (but ADORABLE) array of hello kitty merchandise and kitchy dollar store items…. but when it is FUNCTIONAL and pink, that tests the limits of my resistance and then it ends up in my cart. One of my pink pyrex pieces was sitting on a goodwill shelf marked 99 cents. If you have ever tried to purchase a piece of vintage pyrex, you know how ridiculously cheap this is. I squealed with delight and then looked suspiciously over my shoulder to see if there was anyone nearby who might be drawn over to see what fabulous deal I was finding and might try to bogart my treasure….because of course then I scoured ALL the dish area to see if there were other treasures lurking in some shadowy corner, just waiting for me to find them.

There were, of course. I found a bunch of pieces of dishes from a fabulous 50’s china pattern….my new love! (see picture above) They match my ‘good’ china in color AND my pink pyrex! JOY! RAPTURE! How sadly girly is it that I get so excited over dishes these days? My internal teenage self is completly disgusted with me. Oh well, the only possesion she really had was a clunky old pea green car coughing along on it’s last legs….so she has no real point of reference for how awesome my dishes are.



September 11, 2007 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Food and Drink | 1 Comment

So……. I was shopping the other day and had roasted peanuts on my grocery list.
I like to make thai food at home and roasted peanuts are a yummy, easy, and protein filled addition to thai dishes….So, out of habit, I’m checking out the ingredients on the bottles of peanuts. I’m thinking…."ah helloooo…..why is there a whole list of ingredients for something as simple as peanuts? Don’t they just put a bunch of peanuts in an oven and roast them and viola! roasted peanuts?"
But alas, no.
Not only were there a whole list of ingredients on these innocent looking (and healthy seeming!) nuts, but mixed in with those ingredients were powdered corn syrup (huh?) and monsodium glutamate. Yup, MSG. Now, I could understand a need for a list of several ingredients if this was some sort of mixed snack food with like tidbits of crackers or whatever in it but in a seeming single ingredient item, why is there all this other junk in there???
Now you may at this point be rolling your eyes at me and thinking that I am totally overreacting over a little MSG. In my case, I avoid it like the plague because it gives me migraines for DAYS. NOT FUN.
BUT wait, there’s more.
Lately I’ve been hearing more and more about how bad MSG and similar complex sodiums are for you. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard them referred to as neuro-toxins more than once. And today, I heard an even more disturbing update. Apparently, many of your organs have glutamate receptors. In other words, they ‘read’ this glutamate as an instruction to DO something. When you consume glutamate, it sits in your blood stream for quite a while and as you consume more and more, it doesn’t flush thru your system like normal food items. No, it sits and ACCUMULATES in your bloodstream, building up higher and higher. Then it goes bouncing around from organ to organ wrecking havoc!
Now for some people, their heart glutamate receptors are activated and their heart goes into spasms and starts beating irregularly (the news article noted that most heart attacks ‘coincidentally’ occur after a meal….hmmm…). For some people, the receptors elsewhere trigger diarreah. For others, the receptors in their lungs are activated and they have an asthma attack. Are you getting the picture here? Your body is reacting to the glutamate and thinking that the brain is instructing it to do stuff…..and then the organ goes haywire! Don’t even get me started on the glutamate receptors in the brain! Yikes!
So if you read labels avoid the stuff, you probably figure you are safe, right?
Ha HA! The food manufactureres would like you to THINK so.
But no……have you ever noticed that in the list of five kajillion ingredients are the words, "flavoring" and/or "artificial flavorings" ??? Like the tricky chemicals that are put into perfumes and purfumed products (like say, dishsoap or toilet paper…sheesh…) and listed under a vague "perfumes", the manufactueres can just put in the vague word ‘flavorings and they are covered. No regulations against being vague apparently.
Am I the only one frustrated by this??? ARRGGHHHHHH

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