Posts filed under ‘Food’

Best Fortune Cookie EVER!

Best fortune ever!Is this not the best fortune for a quilter to find in her cookie? It’s  been stuck on my bulletin board for probably a decade; I even photocopied it once or twice in case it ever got lost.  

OK, so it says “rags.” “Scraps” would have been much better, but it has the word QUILT on it!

Perhaps my dinner partners will recall where I was and who they were, because it’s been so long ago and there have been so many wonderful meals with students over the years that I can’t remember. The food was great, the company even better, and the memento of the evening was the quilty fortune. 

Mom really enjoyed the party.When my mother turned 70 I made her a photo-transfer quilt. If you have a copy of Creating Scrapbook Quilts, you’ll see it on the cover. They story of how I pulled off the surprise quilt and the surprise birthday party is on page 41. The best picture of her being surprised is this one. (She had a pretty good time at the party.)

I bring this up because I had her surprise party at a Chinese restaurant and mail-ordered special fortune cookies for the event. (Yes, you can do that!) I think there were four different messages in the custom cookies, but I can only remember two: “You’re going to kiss an old lady.” and “There’s a little piece of rice stuck on your upper lip.”

What's your fortune?You can also make your own digital fortune cookie image here. Just type in what you want it to say.

And your fortune would be…..what?

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August 23, 2010 at 2:57 am 10 comments

Mutant Fruit

The cherries are here! The cherries are here! It’s really summer and I bought a big bag.

I gently wiggled my fingers around a suitable handful and carefully took them out of the bag. I ran them under cold water, plopped them in a bowl, and wouldn’t you know the first one I chose was a DOUBLE! I haven’t had a double cherry in years. It’s like finding a four-leaf clover except that you can eat it. And, frankly that whole four-leaf-clover thing is way over rated. Who has time to even LOOK for those?!

Twin cherries are like finding  a double yolk. It’s like getting the “baby” green pepper inside of the big one, or discovering an extra few mini sections of a navel orange inside the Mama orange.  FREE FOOD! 

The next blind grab into the bowl of cherries yielded ANOTHER TWIN. I called Steve over. First he was impressed that I still remembered how to forage for food at a grocery store, having given up cooking so long ago. Then he got that “she’s gone overboard again” look when I started rummaging through the rest of the bag to see how many more cherry pairs there were.

Lots. I have just about an entire bag of mutant fruit!

So I’m thinking that these have got to be genetically engineered. What’s next, triplets? In ten years will one stem hold FIVE cherries? That’s just not right. What started out as a happy thing has really got me worried.

First, while it’s fun to get twin cherries, they’re hard to wash. There’s that crevice to consider. Who knows what kind of dirt is hiding in there?

Second, I know this is a family blog, but at just the right angle I can’t help thinking that they look like little rear ends. Sorry.

Third, how are you supposed to eat them? There’s a huge controversy about the best way to eat an Oreo cookie, after all. Do you bite down as is, or twist the two cookie halves apart and scrape the frosting off with your teeth?(Top teeth or bottom teeth?!) Or do you just dunk? If double cherries are going to be the norm, we’re going to have to come up with a national plan, get those think tank guys on this. Are we supposed to risk possibly choking and pop them both in our mouths at the same time? Or are we supposed to twist them apart and eat them one at a time? Which one should I eat first, the one with the stem or the one without?

As you can see, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. And, I can tell you that after the 42nd pair the whole double thing gets old. The novelty has just about worn right off. Sadly, looking at the 82 pits in the bowl, I’m worried about something else now.


If you thought this was amusing, you’ll want to join my NEW Facebook page. I’m not sure why, but I have a Fan Page, except that it’s not called that any more. I think it’s  a “Like” page. So, if you like me here, it shouldn’t be a stretch to “like me” over there as well. I think you can get there from here.  If you don’t like me (over there) I don’t know what I’ll do. But, I suppose I’ll get by. After all, life isn’t always a bowl of cherries. (That new Facebook page again is:!/pages/Ami-Simms/104075532958422?ref=ts)

July 1, 2010 at 11:35 am 32 comments

Take a Bao

It’s “Take Your Quilt to Lunch Month!”

Yi-lan at Ba Doy OwFor those of you in and around Flint, Michigan, Ba Doy Ow is offering a special treat if you bring a quilt in to their wonderful restaurant during the month of January. Why? Because when I blogged about Ba Doy Ow before a bunch of quilters showed up. Yi-lan,  the owner and chef , wants to thank you. (I’m also trying to get her interested in quilting!)

Big or little, show your quilt to the folks behind the counter, listen to their praise for your talent, and get a free BAO! 

A  free what?! A bao (pronounced BOW, as in “take a bow”) is a tasty, doughy, round thing with either something sweet or something savory inside. Like everything else at Ba Doy Ow it is steamed. Yum! And good for you, too!

(Flavor Tip: Peel the paper off the bottom before you eat it. The paper won’t hurt you, but there are other ways to get fiber in your diet.)

Sweet bao fillings include Red Bean, Custard, Sweet Taro, and Lotus Nut. The savory fillings are Bar-B-Q pork, Spinach, Mushroom, and Leek.

Spinach and mushroom baoI had a Spinach and Mushroom bao this time. See my steamed dumplings in the background? (Yes, I often photograph my food.)

Ba Doy Ow is on Linden Road, north of Genesee Valley Center on the east side of the street. Here’s a handy map.

Enjoy! And maybe I’ll see you there! Yes, I really DO eat here. A lot.

I will warn you, it will take you a LONG time to order unless you’ve eaten Taiwanese food before. Everybody is good at explaining what all the things are, but if you’re too timid to ask, just get a #1 combo. You’ll still have to pick the kind of dumpling you want and decide if you want a Coke or one of the 35 different teas they have.

In the interest of full disclosure, nobody paid me to write this. It was entirely my idea to blog about Ba Doy Ow. Yi-lan did give me a free bao for the photo, and  once I took a bite out of it I had to destroy the rest of the evidence along with the dumplings and pork rice I purchased.

If you don’t quilt, just say that I sent you and you’ll get a free bao. Unless you mispronounce my name. Then the deal’s off.

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January 6, 2010 at 11:23 pm 18 comments

Ba Doy Ow (That New Taiwanese Place)

Ba Doy Ow We have a new restaurant here in Flint that is absolutely fabulous. It only took me about six weeks to be able to say the name without stumbling, but you may be more linguistically agile than I am. Say it just the way it sounds: Ba (rhymes with “la”) Doy (rhymes with “boy”) Ow (like you just stubbed your toe). Translation? “I’m Hungry!”

Eat at Ba Doy Ow and you won’t be hungry for long, even if you can’t say it right. Most often we just refer to it as “That New Taiwanese Place.” It’s right here on Linden Road north of Genesee Valley Center and I am learning that Taiwanese food is not very much like Chinese food. EVERYTHING is steamed, except for the soft drinks and the 35 different kinds of tea.  No egg roll, no fried rice, and no sweet and sour pork. You won’t miss them, trust me. And it’s HEALTHY food!

If you’ve ever had dim sum, little mouthfuls in a soft noodle covering, you’re getting warmer, but again at Ba Doy Ow, nothing is fried, everything is steamed.

Yi-Lan is the young owner and chef.  Tiffany joins her behind the counter most weekday mornings through lunch. They are both happy to explain the menu (multiple times without making you feel like an idiot) and they set the tone for one of the most friendly and welcoming establishments in Flint.

What should you order? Whatever is on special is a good bet. I’ve never had anything I didn’t like, plus it includes a tea or a soft drink. I’ve tried the rice and pork, bar-b-q noodles, steamed cabbage, bok choy, broccoli and garlic sauce, and more.

Bao, cabbage, and shumaiOn the far right of my tray you’re looking at a Red Bean Bau. A “bau” is something yummy in the middle of a soft covering. For sweet centers (red bean, taro)the outside of a bao is made of rice flour dough. Smaller baos have savory centers (mushroom, spinach, bar-b-q pork) and the outside is more noodle-like.  In the middle of my tray is steamed cabbage. On the right are shumai, open faced dumplings with meat or vegetables inside. I’m on a chicken shumai kick right now, alternating every once in a while with shrimp.

BaDoyOw dumplingYou’ll alway find steamed dumplings on the menu at Ba Doy Ow. You can get them in combination plates or 10 at a time like I do. Choices are pork and cucumber, pork and leek, pork and mushroom, pork and celery, pork and Nappa cabbage, and vegetables, or chicken.

Are you getting hungry? I am! How about lunch? Join me on Wednesday, October 7th for a quick STEAMED bite to eat. I’ll be at Ba Doy Ow at about noon. Here’s a little map.  See you there!

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October 3, 2009 at 2:55 pm 5 comments

The Farmers’ Market

Flint Farmer's MarketLast week we re-discovered the Flint Farmers’ Market. What a blast!

It was a beautiful late summer day, the sun was out, and the parking lot was FULL!

I bought tomatoes for some authentic Italian bruschetta:  diced tomatoes, 5 cloves of garlic, salt, fresh basil, olive oil all dumped on  a hot-out-of-the-oven pizza dough. Not that I cook any more, but I just had a taste for it.  (We ate the entire thing in one sitting.)

Fresh peachesWe also picked up an avocado, and three pounds of fresh strawberries for $5. The perfume of all those ripe strawberries on the way home was almost more than I could stand, but I did wait until we got home to dive in.

I had a juicy peach every morning for breakfast all week, leaning over the sink, so the juice wouldn’t run down my arm. The “Peach Lady” picked them in various stages of ripeness for me. Small ones right away, large ones later. That’s taking care of your customers.

The best ribs (and chicken too).I haven’t had great ribs since the PX Bar-B-Q closed. Ribs used to be a New Year’s Eve tradition, and about the only time we ever ate ribs. I don’t know how that tradition got started, but half the city of Flint was at the PX picking up take-out orders on New Year’s Eve. My nose led me to the best ribs I’ve had in a decade with just the right mixture of sweet and tang. My mouth is watering again. Thank goodness they do chicken too.

I think I’m up for a repeat visit. See you later…

PS: Flint’s Farmers Market was just named “most loved” in national online contest. Way to go, Flint!

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September 19, 2009 at 8:27 am 12 comments

Punch Cards

great stuff, great staffApple Tree Quilts in Flushing, Michigan has the right idea. It’s a blast to go in there because they have great stuff and great staff.  How many other folks would pose for a photograph knowing it would wind up in one of my lectures? (Email them at

Apple Pickin' CardThey also have punch cards. I lose about one punch card for every one they start for me, which is probably par for the course when it comes to punch cards. That might even be why merchants offer them; what do I know.  But, if and when the lost punch cards show up, they’ll combine them for me. 

The punch card for Apple Tree Quilts is themed. I like that too. It’s an apple tree and  it’s called an Apple Pickin’ Card. I got another one today. I put it in my wallet this time. Or my coat pocket. Wait, it might be in the bag…

We’ve been going to the same Chinese buffet for about 12 years, way more times a week than I’d like to admit. They have punch cards too but I’m not as impressed. Not nearly. 

Too many punch cards bad for pocketbook.

Every time Steve and eat there we each get one punch. One for each meal. But they insist on punching TWO separate punch cards. We come in together, we sit at the same table, we go to the buffet tables together, our meals are on the same bill, and yet we each get the equivalent of a punch, but on TWO cards. This makes me crazy!

They won’t put both punches on the SAME card. Everybody else does that.  And they won’t combine the cards. Argh! We can’t keep track of the dumb punch cards any better than the ones for Apple Tree Quilts and so we keep getting new punch cards, and losing those. Over a decade of dining and we’ve gotten maybe three free meals!

I have explained that we are good customers. We don’t hog the crab legs. We don’t eat for three hours solid to “get our money’s worth.”  We are polite to the staff and other diners. We respect the sneeze shield, unlike some patrons who reach under there like they plan on crawling in with the Pepper Shrimp. We tip. We keep coming back. We feel like idiots.

Administering a “loyalty program” that makes your customers angry and/or feeling stupid is a fairly bad marketing plan. We should just eat elsewhere. But it’s so convenient. And, if given enough time I’m sure I could make them see the light.

I have a plan. The next time we go there I’m going to make Steve go in first and get seated. Then I’ll come in and pretend I don’t know him.  I’ll snag the table right next to his. Instead of talking face to face, we’ll pass notes back and forth. We’ll linger over the fried rice and exchange news of the day, as if we just happened to bump into each other. When it’s time for the bills, we’ll get two! First he’ll pay and (get punched) and stuff the punch card behind the little Budda statue on the counter. Then I’ll come up to pay, just another diner, totally unrelated to the cute guy that just left. I’ll create a small diversion, perhaps by “accindentally” knocking over the pencil holder filled with rice. While the owner is cleaning that up, I’ll retrieve Steve’s punch card and present it for my dinner! HA! I will not be denied.

I just KNOW it will work. Look at what my fortune says:

Full steam ahead!

I’m going to do that the very next time we eat there.  Make that the very next time we eat there after that! Look what I just found!

Will wonders never cease?!

Now, can someone translate the “punches?”

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January 30, 2009 at 6:07 am 11 comments

I Hope It’s NOT In There!

‘It’s in there!’ You remember the Prego spaghetti sauce tag-line, right?

I’m an adventurous eater and I’ve tasted my share of strange foods, the most odd (don’t worry there’s no photo) was in Italy many years ago. I ordered “calamaretti.” Little calamari. Squid. The whole squid, heads and legs, each one about the size of my thumb from the knuckle up. I was in for a treat.

So here comes my plate of calamaretti. I note that they are batter dipped and fried. Well most of them were batter dipped. Let me clarify: PARTS of them were battered. Apparently their little black eyeballs somehow repelled the batter and remained uncovered, staring at me. I ate them anyway and they were delicious, but the bottom line is that I might be a picky eater, but I have a wide comfort range.

This brings me to a recent meal at the Michigan (and maybe elsewhere)chain, Salvatore Scallopini.  They have a marinara to dip your bread in as you wait for your food that is to die for. And, so far (maybe not after this blog) they allow us to call ahead and ask them to put in a loaf of the “good” bread just for us. That’s the bread they usually serve on Sunday, the bread that is the perfect combination of soft inside and crusty outside. They bake a loaf just for us. (Why they don’t serve this bread every day is a mystery to me.) But back to my story.

The waitress brings out the nightly specials and at the top of the list is Penne Palamino.  I’ve lived in Italy for a year at a time and I’ve never heard of this particular sauce. Its name, however reminded both Steve and I of our honeymoon in Quebec.  It was there in Quebec, at one of the snooty restaurants we ate at that we saw this explanation under something on the menu that was all in French :  “Meat from a neighing animal.” Thinking this must be a poor translation, we asked the waiter. He confirmed, intoning, “Yez, Madam, zat eez correct. Orse.” (The ‘H’ was silent.) Eeeew!

So back to the Palamino Sauce. I’m sorry, but this is a bad name for pasta sauce. I don’t care if they made it up or it it’s a real dish. And I’m not that great a speller so I don’t care if the horse with the very similar name is but one letter off (palomino, not palamino).  I understand and celebrate the notion that other cultures eat differently that we do, but there it was on the menu. In Flint, Michigan. Where nobody serves Orse. Not good. Especially since I didn’t have my camera on me. (You know I photograph things that make you wonder, “What Were They THINKING!” And so do a lot of other people.)

Pass me the calamaretti…

January 23, 2009 at 7:37 am 10 comments

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