Z is for Zucchini

I like to imagine that I love all vegetables equally and that vegetables are things I eat. I think the sad truth became glaringly clear when I decided to become a vegetarian – I either found a new love for them, or I realized I have always and will always hate them no matter how old I am or how much I feel my pallet has changed.

Zucchini is in a borderline category for me. I hated it when I was growing up, but I’ve found a new place for it in my eating adventures, even if I don’t love it like other things I eat. It becomes such a mushy mess when it’s cooked and unless it’s seasoned really well, or buried in something, I don’t necessarily enjoy it.

My very first job as a teenager was at a family burger place about ten minutes from my house. Not really close enough to walk, but I had a pretty great Dad who would pick me up at ten thirty on the nights I worked. They had amazing shakes and some pretty fabulous burgers. The other thing they were known for was their fried zucchini. I never tried it when I was working there because “eww, I don’t like zucchini,” but I went to a Greek restaurant a few months ago with a friend and she ordered some. I ended up having one of hers and realized they were pretty freaking awesome. I could have eaten her whole order, but decided to stick with just the one since I’m not a complete pig, thank you very much!

I’ve been back to that original hamburger joint in the last few years and it is just as fabulous as it was when I was working there. Sadly, not all things are as good as they were when I was growing up, like McDonald’s and Wendy’s. Those places used to be fantastic places to eat; or at least, that’s what my memories of childhood tell me. Anyway, I didn’t realize I liked fried zucchini when I visited a few years ago, so I’m thinking I need to go back and try it. Fried zucchini and a Raspberry Oreo Shake – now that’s my kind of dinner!


As this is my last A to Z post, I thought I would let you all know how much I’ve enjoyed this unplanned food adventure. I feel like I’ve opened up a whole new world of fabulous memories that centered around food, memories I didn’t even know I had. Thank you all for joining me and for the amazing posts I’ve read along the way. I’m looking forward to next year.

Thanks again to the hosts for all the work they put into it. It was an amazing adventure!

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Y is for Yogurt

I’ve always really loved yogurt. It was always a somewhat healthy food that felt like you were cheating and actually eating a dessert. The funny thing is, I always got the fruit kind thinking it was healthier than the ones that had “cheesecake” or “cream” somewhere in the name. It probably isn’t even close to true, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little deception with yourself about food.

I don’t remember when my mom started buying it when I was a kid, but I do remember it was always that thing I could grab from the fridge that was ready to go and it would usually fill me up for a meal. That was when I was a kid, though. Now, it fills me up for like an hour before I have to eat something else.

My favorite way to eat yogurt is with granola. I found this amazing granola at Trader Joe’s that is only $3, which is pretty inexpensive for granola, and I love taking a handful and throwing it in a bowl with the yogurt. I tend to like all the odd fruit flavors, like blackberry and pomegranate. I actually found some pumpkin Greek yogurt last year. It was a bit too bitter for me, but given how much I love pumpkin, I will most likely eat it again. They didn’t have it in the standard yogurt, which made me a bit sad.

I’ve pretty much been somewhere in the back of the room when it comes to Greek yogurt. It isn’t my favorite kind of yogurt and I’m a little shocked at how much it has shown up recently. Every brand seems to have a Greek variety now. I suppose it has its place in certain things, but to just eat it plain is not what I think of as yummy.

The other thing I don’t really like is chunks of fruit in yogurt. If you hadn’t already figured it out in how much I’ve covered in my food posts, I have a thing for chunks in food that should be creamy and soft. I will also not eat food if there is a weird texture going on, and sometimes those chunks of fruit fall into the “weird texture” category (I’m looking at you strawberry!).

I would love to hear your yogurt stories in the comments.

Flash Fiction – Jack’s House

The house had been passed down through the generations and was finally given to Regina on her eighth birthday. The story was that a great-great grandfather made it for his daughter, a replica of the mansion they lived in. It had three stories and covered the entire top of Regina’s dresser after her mother and father helped her carry it upstairs.

It was fully furnished with handmade tables, chairs, and couches; everything a house needed for its occupants. Regina could have spent hours staring at the tiny furnishings and the hand-sewn curtains on the windows, but her party was still in progress downstairs, so she reluctantly left, biding her time until she could run back upstairs and explore the new addition to her room.

When it was revealed, Regina was so excited about the house itself, that she didn’t notice it already had an occupant. He, too, was handmade and was the only thing, other than the furnishings, that had survived through the years.

When Jack heard Regina leave with her mother, exclaiming her joy once again in tones only an eight-year-old could appreciate, he smiled slightly to himself and set to the business of exploring the new dwelling his home had been placed in.

He jumped up and glanced down to make sure he wasn’t too disheveled. It wouldn’t do to meet his new neighbors looking all wrinkled and dusty. His gray slacks were a little worse for wear and he spent some time running his hands down his long legs in order to rid himself of the dust that had settled. He did the same with his not-entirely-white long sleeved shirt and gray vest, adjusting and buttoning as needed. When he felt ready, he walked down the long, curved stairway in the front hall and opened the front door.

Standing in the doorway, he surveyed his new neighborhood. The colors never changed much through the years, always pinks and purples or variations of the two. There was a huge canopy bed lining one wall, and everything in the room was tidy and neat, unlike some rooms he’d occupied. Regina had more toys than he was used to seeing, though, and he continued to glance around, noticing his new neighbors, although some of them were pretending not to notice him, oddly enough. In that moment, he decided not to wait for his first party like he normally did.

It looks like this neighborhood could use a little livening up, he whispered to himself.

Having made his decision to plan the party for that very night, he turned to head back inside, but his eye was caught by something in his peripheral. Turning towards it, he realized he was staring at one of his new neighbors. His breath caught in his throat and he felt a yearning deep inside his heart swell up in his chest. She was the most beautiful creature he had ever beheld.

Her long blond hair was kept in pristine order, brushed to a gleaming shine, and it poured down her head and over her shoulders. She was a tiny thing, but not so tiny she wouldn’t be a perfect match for his long, lean frame. She was wearing a blue dress that hung on her body, with lace that stretched to her fingertips. And such tiny fingers they were. He was mesmerized.

He finally realized he was staring and glanced quickly up to her face. She was staring back at him and a slight flush had spread across her face. He smiled and nodded his head, hoping she would be at his party so they could be formally introduced. He had every intention of making her his, no matter what it took. She smiled back and her hand lifted in a dainty wave.

Oh, yes, he told himself and headed back inside to prepare for the evening.

**

Regina made things quite a bit easier for him when she came into the room later in the evening. She hurried through her preparations for bed and once she was in her pajamas, she ran over to her dresser and started opening the doors and windows in the house. She pulled down a few of the dolls she had stowed away on a shelf and started placing them inside, not really playing yet because she knew it was already passed her bedtime.

She finally noticed Jack laying on a bed in a room upstairs and she let out a loud scream of joy. She pulled him out of the house and held him up. “Well aren’t you just handsome.”

She grabbed Lacey, her favorite doll of all, in her other hand and held her up so she was facing him. “Lacey, meet… hmmm. I don’t know his name, but isn’t he lovely? I think you two are going to get along splendidly.”

She was placing them inside the house, on the couch in the front room when she heard her mother calling.

Regina? Are you ready for bed?” Just as she finished the sentence she walked into the room to perform their nightly bedtime ritual.

Yes, Mama.” Regina walked over to her bed and laid down as her mother walked over to her bedside. When she started to pull the covers up over her, Regina asked, “Mama, did you know there was a man doll in the house?”

I completely forgot about him! His name is Jack.”

Oh! That’s a nice name. Lacey is going to love him!”

Well, if you ask me, Jack is more of a ladies man.”

What’s that mean?”

Her mother sat down next to her on the bed and leaned over to brush her hair to the side.

It means he likes lots of women and has a hard time loving just one.”

Regina looked at her mother thoughtfully. “Well, do you know what I think?”

What’s that my darling?”

I think Jack finally found the woman he’s going to settle down with. I’m going to make sure of it!”

Her mother laughed and kissed her on the forehead. “Well, I hope you’re right, Love. You sleep tight now. Sweet dreams.”

Goodnight, Mama.”

Regina closed her eyes as her mother softly walked to the door, turned off the lights, and closed the door with a soft click.

Jack and Lacey sat on the couch staring at each other, both slightly uncomfortable at what Regina had said to her mom.

Well, I’m going to…”

Are you going to…”

They both started talking at the same time and stopped, waiting for the other to start again. Lacey finally laughed, easing some of the tension that was spiraling around the room.

In a soft voice that ran shivers down Jack’s spine, Lacey said, “I’m going to go get ready for the party I hear you’re hosting tonight.”

Word travels fast.”

It’s a small world where we live.” Her winsome smile beguiled him, making it hard to think.

He stood, leaning over to offer her his hand. As she stood, he leaned in and whispered, “The world is as big as you wish.”

She looked into his startling blue eyes and smiled. “I’ll see you in a few hours, Jack. It was so lovely to meet you.”

The pleasure, I can assure you, was all mine.”

He led her to the door with one hand loosely hovering at the small of her back.

**

It was the same every time. He awoke to an empty house, but the minute he needed something, it was there. He didn’t know if it was just the house that had been created with magic flowing through it, but he took advantage, no matter where it was coming from. There were drinks laid out, the pool was filled with water, and music was playing through the house when he opened up the front door to a multitude of new neighbors.

They all walked around in awe, at first, not quite sure what to make of the new addition to their life and home, but soon they were happily enjoying what was offered. Jack basked in the glow of laughter and voices raised in the excitement of enjoying the company of friends.

He spent most of the time with Lacey by his side and even stole a kiss by the pool as the party was winding down. His head exploded in stars and he thought he would die of complete happiness, but when he opened his eyes, his happiness was standing before him, smiling shyly up at him.

They were inseparable after that first night, not just because Regina kept them together, but because they belonged to each other. Their love lit the whole house and the room around them and everyone else was made happier by the joy they shared.

It all came crashing down a few short months later when Regina took Lacey one day to go on a family outing. Jack was stunned that he was left behind, but happy for Lacey that she was going to experience something new. He paced the whole day and everyone in the room kept their distance, knowing he was suffering but not knowing what to say to make it better.

Jack heard Regina before she flew into the room, wailing and throwing herself on the bed. He was sick. Lacey wasn’t with her.

He waited for Regina to stop crying and when she did, she sat up quickly on the bed and looked his way.

Oh, Jack!” she cried as she ran over and grabbed him to her chest. “I’m so sorry. I accidentally left Lacey on the train and I screamed and screamed for Mama to go back for her, but she wouldn’t, Jack, she wouldn’t go back. And now Lacey is gone forever.”

The crying started all over again and Jack suffered his own pain while held firmly to Regina’s chest as it heaved up and down in agony. After a while, Regina’s mother quietly entered the room and held her daughter as she cried.

It’s okay, Reggie. I know she was your favorite, but she is just a doll. You have so many more!”

Jack didn’t think that would help, and he was right. Regina cried even louder, throwing herself on the bed in a not-quite-tantrum. She was eight years old, after all. Her mother sighed and sat down next to her, patting her back. Regina slowly calmed and finally slept and her mother pulled the covers over her, wiping her brow before walking out of the room.

As is true of eight year old girls, Regina’s grief didn’t last long. Jack, however, was undone. After that night, he never again ventured outside the house on his own. Regina tried helping him move on, but it was no use. Jack’s heart left with Lacey on the day she was taken away and it was still with her wherever she was.


Chuck Wendig threw up his X meets Y challenge this week and I was so excited! I loved this challenge when he did it in January. I tried a random number generator but ended up with something I wouldn’t even know how to write, so I decided to pick it instead. After reading through the choices, I settled on one I thought could make an interesting story. What you have is Toy Story meets The Great Gatsby in a little over 1,800 words. I hope you enjoyed it. I had a blast writing it!

X is for Xigua

I’m totally cheating again, but there’s no help for it. U and X were just really tough letters when it comes to food. But hey, at least I did some homework and found something rather than just not posting or posting something outside my theme, right?

Xigua is Chinese for watermelon. Don’t say I never taught you anything! It was a new thing I learned, so I might as well share it with all of you.

Watermelon is delicious. You can finally start buying them again, although, I think they are still a bit out of season because the one I bought over the weekend should have been fabulous but it was only just okay. I cut it up last night so we could all enjoy it with dinner.

It will always be the symbol of barbecues in the backyard for me, though. When we were growing up, we used to host huge family parties in our backyard and there was always watermelon. It was the kind with the black seeds that you had to spit out. As much as I loved the experience of biting into the melon and enjoying the sweet, succulent taste of it while searching with my tongue for seeds, I don’t miss the seeds at all. I haven’t bought a seeded watermelon in years.

I know everyone has the best way to pick out a watermelon. I’ve probably tried them all. I never could tell what “hollow” was supposed to sound like when you knocked on it. They said if it sounded hollow, it was a good one, but it never worked for me.

I have my grandpa to thank for how I pick them out now. I heard it second hand, but he told my mom that you want to pick out the ugliest one and also the one that is heavy compared to its size. So, if you have a smaller watermelon but it’s heavier than others that are bigger, than you have yourself a good one. I’ve actually completely stopped looking at the outside and how ugly or not ugly it is and rely only on weight. Sometimes you get one that is really ripe and the only down side to those is you have to eat it all immediately.

What about you? How do you pick out your watermelon?

W is for Wine

I know I already kind of talked about wine in my post about grapes, but I did a little teaser about my trip to Windsor, California and to be honest, I can’t think of a better time to post about it. Besides, I had to switch things around and what I was originally going to post about for W is now going to be used on another letter.

I took a few winery tours on the trip, but I can’t remember a thing about what they told us and how wine is made. It was really interesting and I’m happy I went, but I was enjoying quite a bit (read a lot) of wine both on the tours and back at the hotel room and most of the information was lost. So, most of this post will be pictures.

I’m happy I found the pictures, though, because they are truly lovely.

One of the first places we went was the Jordan Winery. It was super cool to recognize the label, although up until that day, I’d never bought a bottle of Jordan wine because it’s on the more expensive side. One of our friends got us a private tour which included a tasting with different foods. It was pretty fabulous.

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On the second day, some of us paid a local guy to drive us around to a bunch of different wineries. He was a trooper, hanging out all day with ten women who were drinking wine and being loud and ridiculous. He took us to some places that most people probably wouldn’t have visited if they were trying to do a tour on their own. I remember some of the names, but not all.

We visited Kaz winery where for some reason, I remember their homemade mustard the most. They also allowed us to bottle our own wine and take it with us for $20. We went to Korbel, which is champaign, but I finally found out I like dry champaign. I also found my favorite champaign, which they don’t normally carry here, but every once in a while I can find it. It’s the Rouge Champaign which is a dark red and very dry. It’s delicious.

I don’t remember the names of the other places, but we visited four or five in one day and had a blast.

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If you enjoy wine and have never visited a winery, I would highly suggest it. Actually, I would suggest it even if you don’t like wine. It was simply beautiful, the scenery and the buildings!

I’m pretty sad that alcohol doesn’t really like me and I’ve made the decision to give it up. I think I will miss wine the most, although I can’t guarantee that I’ll never drink it again. I might have a glass here or there, just to inhale the scent of it and enjoy the taste of it. I just can’t enjoy it the way I used to.

What about you? Have you ever visited a winery?

Recipe – Tomato Basil Soup

As I was writing my post the other day, I was thinking it would be cool to post the recipe too, but then I talked myself out of it. I was too lazy to try and look up where I found the recipe and I figured it wouldn’t matter. Boy was I wrong! A few of you asked for the recipe and after looking for it and not finding it, I decided that the recipe is tweaked enough from the original that I could post it without linking to anything.

Not only that, there are a lot of recipes for this soup that are really similar. I’m assuming many people take recipes online and after a few times making it, add things and/or take things out to make it whatever they like. That’s what happened with this one.

So, here is my recipe:

1 28 Oz Can Crushed Tomatoes (I’m assuming you can use fresh tomatoes, but I’m too damn lazy)
1 Cup Chicken Broth (I’ve used Vegetable Broth)
1 1/2 Cup Spicy V8 Juice (You can use original, but I like the slight kick the spicy one gives it)
20 Fresh Basil Leaves
1 Cup Heavy Cream (I’ve used Coconut Milk)
1/2 Cup Butter
1 Tsp Garlic Poweder
1 Tsp Oregano
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Onion Powder

Put the basil leaves, crushed tomatoes, broth and juice into a blender and blend until the leaves are chopped. I put the basil leaves in first so they are near the blades. (I tried chopping the leaves with a knife once and it’s a huge pain.) Pour the mixture into a pan and stir in the seasonings. Boil on medium heat for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat or turn to really low and add the butter. Once it’s melted you can add the cream/milk. Once it’s all stirred you can serve and enjoy! (I make grilled cheese sandwiches while the soup is boiling and dip the sandwiches in the soup. It’s divine!)

Let me know if you have questions, but it’s an easy-peasy recipe and doesn’t take long at all.