Grease stains, Ice cream cones and Walmart – Oh MY.

A couple months ago, I was in a pickle.  I’d put a pair of pants up for sale on eBay before noticing they had a subtle grease spot on one of the legs.  What can I say, I’VE BEEN DISTRACTED.  As luck would have it, the pants sold and I was left in a quandary.  I couldn’t sell misrepresented merchandise, but I didn’t want to forgo the sale if I could help it.  So I looked online, searching for a sure-fire way to get that grease out.  Trust me when I say there are a lot of questionable suggestions out there.  Everything from talcum powder to WD-40 to Cheez Whiz is supposed to remove grease.  But I needed foolproof.  I didn’t have time to spare, and I didn’t want to further damage the pants in the process.  Several websites spoke glowingly of a product I’d never heard of before.

Dawn Power Dissolver.

Dawn Power Dissolver is a spray cleaner made to remove caked-on crap from dishes, but people online raved about it taking grease off ovens and more importantly, OUT OF CLOTHES.  I wasn’t optimistic, but figured it was worth a shot.  It wasn’t expensive.  And if it worked…  OOooh!!  So I googled the stuff, trying to find someplace to buy it.  The only store w/in miles?  Walmart.

I don’t normally shop at Walmart.  Apart from what it’s done to local economies, I hate the parking lot.  Nowhere else on earth (apart from Christmas Tree Shops) are pedestrians put at greater risk.  But I needed THAT SPRAY.  I told myself I’d just be quick – in and out, then home.  But being at the Walmart here (versus the old one in Philly) was sort of a novel experience.  Whereas the Philly Walmart offers rock-bottom prices in filthy surroundings with hordes of half-dressed shoppers, the store here is ginormous.  It’s new and super clean.  And, perhaps b/c of the cooler climate, the clientele here wear more clothes.  I may hate Walmart, but I love bargains.  So after I’d picked up a bottle of spray, I got a cart and tooled around the NASCAR-sized arena.  I bought a new mop.  Some hamburger buns.  And then I remembered my older daughter wanted ice cream cones.  She’d been asking for them for a week, I’d kept forgetting.  I found them, helpfully located at the end of the frozen foods aisle.  They had several boxes, I reached for some at eye-height, feeling joyful as I put those Joy Cones into the cart and proceeded to checkout.

I returned home to launder the pants.  The Dawn Power Dissolver worked WONDERS! removing the grease stain completely w/ no ill effects whatsoever.  My daughter enjoyed her ice cream cones, whilst I mopped happily and my husband grilled burgers for our buns.  We all sang Kumbayah and .. and… AND!

The first part of my story is completely true.  Dawn Power Dissolver IS the best grease removing spray in the world.  I sprayed it on those pants, waited 10 minutes and then washed them.  The stain came out like magic, I marveled at my good fortune, and everyone was happy.  As for everything else..  ALL LIES.  The mop broke the first time I used it, the burger buns were stale – but the biggest kicker were those cones.

Does this look like the face of a happy child?

She is, after all, holding a box of JOY.  You’d think she’d be a bit thrilled.  But no.  And why?  B/c Walmart and the Joy Cone Company played a terrible trick on me.  Oh yes they did!  And here is the rest of my story.  (ALL TRUE.)

Look at the package.

Pretty, right?  Attractively colored, sure to please.  Placed at eye-height, just where I’d grab it and stick it in my cart.  It’s a box of ice cream cones, for pete’s sake, what the heck could be wrong?!  BUT IF YOU LOOK CLOSELY..

You will see each and every one of those 60 (yes, 60) cones is actually .. smaller than the size of my THUMB.

Here is one of the cones beside our (quite average sized) ice cream scoop.

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Although my husband was simply overjoyed by these shrimpy JOY cones, thinking they would restrict our daughters’ consumption of ice cream significantly, my daughters & I were not amused. AT ALL.

Those tiny ice cream cones might look cute, and charming, and if they were sturdy, they indeed might hold something other than the two drops of air inside.  They might even hold – gasp – a spoonful of ice cream!  We could have stood round scooping a good cup or two total of ice cream into all 60, placed them in a bowl or on a tray and eaten the whole lot of them, whilst chuckling heartily at the hilarity of it all, snapping pictures, and wondering when we were going to do it all again.  Instead, when I tried spooning the barest wisp of ice cream into a single one of these cones, it left the damn thing in crumbs.  Each of those petite ice cream cones is a ruse, a mere TEASE.  You cannot get ice cream into any of them, without smashing them into smithereens, unless your ice cream is soup.  Whereas most people would chalk all of this up to experience, WHHHOOOPSIE, I bought some tiny ding-dong cones, MY BAD>, I am not one of them.  REMEMBER?? I am a crazy woman having to sell greasy pants on ebay to get by !!!!!! That dollar or two I spent on that box of worthless ice cream cones – and believe me, they are completely worthless, was TOO FREAKING MUCH.  I do not like being had.  Joy Cones, FOR SHAME.  And here’s an idea for you.

Please tell me what I am supposed to do with the remaining 58 minuscule cones I still have in my possession.  B/c apart from the above, I cannot think of a single thing.

Thanksgiving is ALMOST HERE!

Hello everyone! I hope that you’re enjoying the crisp autumn weather, as the days grow shorter and snowflakes begin dotting the air. As our thoughts turn collectively to turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, I wanted to touch base for a quick run-down of Thanksgiving recipes.

The holidays can be especially hard for those on salt-restricted diets – but they don’t have to be. With a little preparation and ingenuity, these times can be the best – and healthiest – you’ve ever known.

So let’s talk TURKEY. When it comes to the bird, think fresh. Although most free range fresh turkeys are expensive, they’re worth it. Not only will you be getting a bird much lower in sodium, but the animals themselves are also treated much more humanely. WIN-WIN. Whole Foods Markets, as well as many food co-ops, farmer’s markets, and butcher shops are selling fresh birds like hot cakes this time of year. With a little leg work, it shouldn’t be terribly difficult to find one. If you haven’t or can’t purchase a fresh bird though, don’t despair! Most supermarkets have a whole array of options. In the past I’ve opted for kosher birds, which tend to be lower in sodium than the standard butterballs. But don’t limit yourself. Roast chicken is a healthy substitute, as are guinea hens, duck and quail. And many butcher shops have fresh birds that have not been treated with the broth/salt injections commonly afforded the processed birds.

Or, if you’d prefer skipping poultry altogether, I highly recommend this fabulous recipe for Roast Pork with Dried Plums.

Not to overlook vegetarians, I have recipes for several meat-free entrees that are sure to please. Vegetarian Holiday Loaf is adapted from a Vegetarian Times recipe of the same name. Vegetarian Lasagne, Zucchini Cakes, and meaty Gorgonzola Portobellos are all delicious, and there are a ton of other vegetarian entrees at THE DAILY DISH.

But – as usual – I’m getting ahead of myself! Why not start at the START with a delicious soup or salad! Soup makes any meal more memorable, and I have recipes for some serious stand-outs. Butternut Squash Soup will have your guests raving. As will the phenomenally gorgeous Beet Soup or Apple Butternut Soup. If greens are more your speed, try this tasty Warm Asparagus Salad or Simple Autumn Salad.

Now, let’s talk sides. No turkey dinner is complete without Cranberry Sauce and Stuffing! Baked apple slices are delicious with fowl, and are a sure hit with kids. Another idea is topping Mashed Sweets with some marshmallows, baking, and serving as an irresistible sweet potato casserole. Or you could try your sweet potatoes roasted, as in Fingers and Sweets. Creamy buttermilk mashed potatoes are FABBBULOUS, as are the always popular Twice-Baked Potatoes. Winter squash is also wonderful this time of year! For an extra showy and delicious meal, I highly recommend both Stuffed Acorn Squash, as well as Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallots.

Since most of us love some bread with our meal, try the simple rolls I made this summer with my daughters. Incredibly easy and delicious – and a great time even if you don’t have children of your own.

And what holiday meal is complete without DESSERT? Pumpkin pie is a must-have at our house. But there are some other absolutely delicious pies to consider as well – Squash and Pear Pie and Sweet Potato Pie are particularly popular this time of the year. I also highly recommend Pears in Wine, which look (and TASTE) divine but are supremely simple to make.

Finally, don’t forget beverages! I recommend a nice chilled white wine to complement the meal, but if you don’t drink alcohol, there’s no reason to feel deprived. Try some sweet milky Chai Tea with dinner or dessert.

Just remember, Thanksgiving is set aside as a day for giving thanks for all of our blessings, enjoying friends and family, and celebrating life. So don’t let your kitchen time stress you out so much you lose perspective. If things burn, flop or turn out just plain ugly, laugh and put your feet up, knowing you tried your best. There was always plenty of cursing around the kitchen while I was growing up, and my mom often sat simmering long after the meal was over. But there’s no reason to sweat the little things. So enjoy yourself, and enjoy a big satisfying meal without having to worry about the aftermath.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!