Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How to survive a kitchen remodel during the Holidays

Face it, you can't. I thought I had it together and was capable of hosting Thanksgiving at my house this year, but when I faced my kitchen with no counter tops, no sink or running water, not even a microwave. Pictures are the week before Thanksgiving.  Justin took a
I lost it. Any Southern gentility was long forgotten. I was beyond angry, disappointed, unhappy and spewing cuss words that would make a trucker proud.
Not exactly one my finer moments. Fast forward a short two weeks and there is progress. I had hopes of having Christmas Eve dinner with my family. I tentatively made the invitations to my loved ones, with the contingency, that should Justin/Justin fall behind again, we would make alternate plans. I was beginning to think I was going to have to buy Justin a Christmas gift at the rate he was going.
The Friday before the Eve, Justin was at the house and finishing up the installation of the two windows, and he hung the new dining room chandelier as a "gift" to me. (umm, I think not, dear, you owed me 140 dollars in a drawer pull allowance, but I'm not going to ruin my karma before Christmas and quibble with you.)
Christmas Eve was lovely. I planned momma's best company dish. The famous fish and yellow rice dish that she learned from Celma Mastry. I had a deal with a man and a truck...LOL the CRAB man at SeaHags hooked me up with 6 lbs. of fresh Black Gulf grouper for Christmas Eve. I had to meet him after dark in a parking lot. I'm not kidding. Contraband grouper? Aw, back in the day there were packages of flat square "grouper" that could put you in jail for a long long time. Now, it is the fresh grouper that is prized. I'll have to share that special recipe on another day. It is a keeper!
The kitchen turned out lovely. My guests oohed and aahed over our choices. There are refaced cherry cabinets, bull nosed granite counter tops, deep double stainless sinks, lovely modern pulls, scratch and dent appliances that match in stainless steel, all of them, microwave, refrigerator/freezer, dishwasher and ceramic top convection oven. A wicked strong ceiling fan, it will blow you away. The new Kraus faucet is phenomenal, great pressure and a breeze to use. My sink came from Overstock.com, the plumber looked it up in his showroom and said it would cost $785 to purchase, I bought it for $345  including the drains, stoppers, wire racks to protect the bottom of the sink, a colander and cutting board. What a steal. The new nickel plated chandelier over the sink is a stunning and the cherry wood blinds echo the crown molding around the upper cabinets.

I cleaned, I purged, I splurged. It is complete. It is truly the kitchen of my dreams and I can't wait to create some lovely meals in such a pretty kitchen. It is a breeze to clean, completely reorganized and easy to work in. It truly was worth the aggravation and angst.

Next up, the bathroom.....as it is, we are short a finished floor, without wallcoverings, no mirror and a "excuse the pun" crappy toilet. We have made our choices and they will debut on the blog at a later date. I can't wait to show you the steal of a deal we got on that sink!!

Barbecue Nirvana at Smokin J's

I have found the most heavenly barbecue brisket ever.

Smokin' J's BBQ (727) 329-8624 South Pasadena / Gulfport 5145 Gulfport Blvd S Gulfport, FL 33707 smknjsbbq.com

Seriously, we have always had a wonderful meals from this little restaurant. Nice folks serving authentic barbecue with great sides. Food is always good and the portions are ample. There is no skimping on the flavor or portion.

Smokin' J's BBQ on Urbanspoon
We have eaten inside at the picnic tables and have ordered take out more times than our cardiologist would like to hear. The brisket is phenomenal. It is lean, tender, smoky delectable beef.

 I can attest to the smoked sausage as a favorite take home. The smoked whole chickens are always moist and flavored beautifully with an even bronzed skin. The smoked wings ROCK! Hot is HOT! The sauces are deeply flavored and are thick with molasses sweetness. The hot barbecue sauce is not for the tender tongue. It packs a punch of heat that is aggressive. I love it.

There is a good number of sides that complement the smoked meats nicely.  The coleslaw is sweet and a bit sloppy.

The mac and cheese is decadently cheesy.  The jalapeno corn muffin has a touch of sweetness and some sweet heat.  The potato salad stands above the norm.

My husband will never deviate from his pulled pork sandwich on the soft white bun.  It is enough to make two sandwiches.  He inhales it.

Truthfully, this is the finest kind of barbecue, smoked with care, and served with equal panache.  You can call ahead, order and get your food quickly from the side take-out window.  There is indoor seating, not a huge number of tables, but adequate seating to sit and have a beer or two with your food.  The Family pack is a good choice and very economical for the generous amount of food.  There is delivery available.
Please don't pass by Smokin J's on Gulfport Blvd., look for the split rail fence, the Stars and Stripes flying proudly, pull in, look around, set a spell, breathe deep and order away.  You will be very very happy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Raucous Cody's Original Roadhouse

Cody's Original Roadhouse
4360 Park Street North
St Petersburg FL  33710

This place was rocking and rolling!
Walked in on a Wednesday night and it was packed.  Hostess was quickly handling the heavy traffic load, going in and coming out.  The half hour wait was tolerable with the cold beer and strong vodka and tonic.  
Cody's Original Roadhouse on Urbanspoon
The Marines were there, with a Toys for Tots Drive.  It was nice to see this effort being made for the less fortunate kids in our area.  It was so busy there I could easily see management denying the Toys for Tots Drive for the inconvenience factor alone, but they did not.  Very Cool, Cody's.

Mary was our waitress, she was swift and efficient.  We asked for a double order of salad to start our meal with and she was quick to accommodate.
Rare New York Strip
First Cold Prime Rib
Dressing was a touch more watery than usual.  There were some huge chunks of red onion that ended up in the bowl and I'm glad we avoided them. Our dinners arrived very quickly.  My NY strip steak ordered "medium rare' came out rare.  Hubby's gargantuan prime rib was almost cold.  We asked for it to be heated and the perfect looking prime rib was whisked away.  It returned very fatty and still quite cool.  It was disappointing to say the least.  We refused to wait for a second re-fire of the meat.  He trimmed a bit away to eat and we brought the rest home to give to Charlie Brown (our resident eating machine). 
Second cold prime rib remains
 Alex, the manager, kindly gave Fred a complimentary piece of cheesecake for his dessert.   Fred two-fisted that dessert and refused to share.  And as you can tell, he enjoys his cold mug of beer.  All in all, I usually enjoy my meal at Cody's but I will avoid the restaurant when it is that busy.  Trying to turn tables as quickly as they could, the food suffered in execution.   When our boy, Tyler was alive, Cody's baked sweet potato with cinnamon butter was his very favorite meal.  So Cody's has a soft spot in my heart and I'll forgive them this rare unfortunate meal.

Good Times to be had at Good Times

It was a long time between visits to the Good Times restaurant.  Our recent visit was infinitely better than our first visit 28 years ago.

Good Times Continental Rstrnt

(727) 867-0774

1130 Pinellas Bayway S Map
Tierra VerdeFL 33715

Good Times Continental Rstrnt on Urbanspoon Why was it better?  BECAUSE we were better customers.  Our first visit so long ago was an unmitigated disaster of a date.   The food was probably just as great then as it was this night.  However, I can't remember the food, only the fight we had during dinner so long ago.  What a shame to allow a bad argument over a silly comment keep us from going back to the Good Times Continental Restaurant.

It was a blast of the past when we entered the restaurant.  There is a nice entrance and the lovely round bar area with a quick glimpse into the kitchen.  We were seated quickly as a walk-in table.  The restaurant was filled with tables of many ages.  The air in the room was celebratory.  Our host and hostess (Marie and Sid) were gracious and very charming.    There are lace curtains and wood paneling very reminiscent of your favorite aunt's dining room.  It is not a cutting edge kind of place.  It is a warm hug from the moment you walk in and to the moment you leave.

We started our meal with a few beers, Hacker Pschorr and a Pilsner.  The menu is definitely "old school"
European classics.  My husband chose the stuffed mushrooms.  They were delicious and hand's down the very best stuffed mushroom we have tried in a long time.  Flavorful and filled with tender meat and herbs.
I chose the escargots and they were fantastic.  Bubbly hot, garlic overload and the snails were a lovely texture, not the rubbery overcooked misfortunes we have encountered elsewhere.

Entrees come with a cup of housemade soup and either a small salad or the heavenly cucumbers topped with a mild sour cream sauce.  I can't show you the cups of soup from this evening.  We inhaled our soup.  It was a mushroom potato soup.  It was so very good.  (And those that have tried my homemade mushroom soup, know that I'm a tough critic).    The cucumber are sliced paper thin, salted, patted dry and dressed with the simple sour cream.  Do yourself a favor and order the cucumbers.  They are "that" good.

Fred chose the classic schnitzel for his entree.  He raved over the crisp coating and tender meat.  The lyonnaise potatoes were browned beautifully and just as delicious.  He couldn't finish plate and was plotting a breakfast of schnitzel and over easy egg in the morning.

I had the evening's special of Goulash with egg noodles.  It was incredibly good.  The meat was fork tender and packed with paprika flavor.  I ate every single morsel, each bite a revelation of savory meaty goodness.

Our plates were graced with a perfectly cooked butter stalk of broccoli and a bit of tomato and red onion.  
Dinners also have a good fresh rye bread served with foil wrapped pats of butter.   It was a lovely dinner.

Next time, we visit the Good Times we will share an appetizer, enjoy our entrees and leave room to have dessert.  We couldn't try any of the sweets we saw being served to other tables because we were just to full to try.  We agree this was a wonderful delightful supper.  Our server was swift and competent.  The prices were a bit over what we usually spend on a night out, but the quality of the food, charming service more than make up for the expense.  And yes, there will be a next time and it won't be a 28 year lull in between visits.  This meal certainly erased any hurtful memories and it has succeeded in reminding us that a.) we were meant to be together despite a rocky romance at the start,  b,) good food can satisfy and cure what ails you.

We enjoyed our night out immensely and the food was delectable.  A treasure hidden out on the island of Tierra Verde.  Two thumbs up!  

Restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday.  They only accept cash.  Be forewarned. They are closed for the holidays for the week between Christmas and New Years. Call ahead to confirm.  

  Notyourmomma's Kitchen Tampa Bay restaurants