Tag Archives: french fries

School Lunch Reprise: Observations and Ideas

Gentle Readers, what do you remember about school lunch? My brother and I often reminisce less than fondly about the smell of bloaty peas that seemed to permeate our cafeteria, with a hint of green cleaner. The world has changed, and while schools often promote the concept of healthy eating, it’s a high nugget environment.

Easy to use lunchbox food.

Easy to use lunchbox food.

Last week I had the opportunity to do some on the ground research courtesy of The Practical Cooks Junior. I went to eat lunch with both of them, two separate yet similar experiences. First observation, every kid who got school lunch chose nuggets and fries, only the fruit varied. Second observation, almost every kid ate the fruit, sometimes first.

Sliced oranges (shown with dried cranberries and bananas) make a great side dish for garlicky pasta.

Sliced oranges (shown with dried cranberries and bananas) make a great side dish for garlicky pasta.

The Jrs pack their lunch, their choice, and as vegetarians, a smart one. The “crushers” (essentially chunky fruit juice) and “squishers” (yogurt in a tube) were big hits. Reminded me of the days of Froot Rollups. Food marketing matters. Kids still sit in judgment of one another’s lunch, and in turn, the judged rarely cares if they like what they’re eating.

Don't overlook the afterschool snack!

Don’t overlook the afterschool snack!

I saw cookies eaten first, but a lot of whole fruit consumed as well. And I saw fries greatly ignored, and who could blame them. A floppy fry is abysmal.Conclusion, bad food is bad, and kids are not fooled by that.

World's Largest Fortune Cookie: Tao in Las Vegas

World’s Largest Fortune Cookie: Tao in Las Vegas

Here are some lunchbox faves from TPCs Jr:

  • bagel with cream cheese
  • nuts — walnuts and pecans lead the pack
  • clementines — these are like kid crack, a favorite classroom snack as well, they’ll go through 2 or 3 of them
  • phoney baloney — the traditional sandwich with cheese is still a favorite
  • fruit cup with 100% juice — these always were and still are fun, and less cloying with the rise of fruit juice as the medium
  • fortune cookies — I have no issue with a lunch box treat, and this is a great way to surprise them. The fortunes always get read, and perhaps they can learn a little Chinese in the process.

The Jrs are still young enough that I am allowed to sit with them at the table and it be a cool thing, which is probably why peer pressure around food is not in full swing either. So while there’s still time, keep pushing those whole foods. They will get eaten!

Bagels are Sandwiches Too!

Bagels are Sandwiches Too!

What’s your school cafeteria memory? Post a comment in the box below! It’s wide open and waiting for you.

Send your hot tea, strokes of brilliance, and kitchen confessions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Friday: Smoked Salmon Salad, A Recipe of Sorts.

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Filed under On the Table, Snacks

First Time Fast Foodies

Gentle Readers, this past week marked a first that caused a bit of a firestorm. As part of a series of holiday meet and greets, The Practical Cooks Junior and I met with some old friends at the most convenient and recognizable of spots off the highway, McDonald’s. What’s remarkable about that? TPC’s Jr have never been to one.

First McDonald's Fries: Response, Whatevs.

First McDonald’s Fries: Response, Whatevs.

I’m waiting for you to wake up from a dead faint. Are you back with us? Great. We had sundaes at an in-museum McD’s this past summer on our trip to Washington, D.C., and we’ve stopped at a Wendy’s here and there. But never at the freestanding Golden Arches. TPC’s Jr have never consumed a Happy Meal, and they just tried the famous fries for the first time.

More Tweeting Than Eating

More Tweeting Than Eating

Survey says: my sweet potato fries are better. Not going to McDonald’s was not some extremist stance I attempted, nor do I have a burning desire for a McRib or a McNugget. I like my Fried full on and pure, no halfway for me, so our junk food has looked more like this.

Fried okra from the State Farmers Market food cart. It is a family favorite.

Fried okra from the State Farmers Market food cart. It is a family favorite.

When they became vegetarians, there was even less reason to go to fast food places. But it happened, and they were not blown away in any direction. It was just a place. I will openly admit that while I have no judgment about a Big Mac craving or the love of fries, fast food joints are not my first choice for dining. We are spoiled in knowing more than one chef on a first-name basis, and a load of talented home cooks, and we can cook most things to our taste at home. With so much food and food knowledge around us, we barely have time to eat all the things we want to try.

My idea of a McRib (from the kitchen of G2B Gastropub)

My idea of a McRib (from the kitchen of G2B Gastropub)

I’m incredibly proud to be raising kids who are brave enough to try new things (including the homemade pepper jelly and wine jelly we were handed at the McD’s), who are also confident enough to like what they like. The Youngest would live on bread and fruit if permitted, with a side of spinach. The Eldest has a deep love of chocolate-covered cherries, all legumes, and eggs. They both stand their ground when adults they respect challenge them about their vegetarian beliefs.

Afterschool snack requested by the Juniors: goat cheese with pepper jelly and wine jelly.

Afterschool snack requested by the Juniors: goat cheese with pepper jelly and wine jelly.

So the trip to McDonald’s passed like any other new experience, they chewed their fries thoughtfully and went right on with their lives, blissfully unaware of a milestone or any parenting fail on my part. What is your stance on fast food for you or your kids? Are you a fan, foe, or something in between?

Sweet Potato Fries Sprinkled with Garam Masala, Side of Spicy Mayo

Sweet Potato Fries Sprinkled with Garam Masala, Side of Spicy Mayo

Post a comment below, or Tweet at me with #fastfood as the tag. I look forward to hearing from you.

Send your ketchup packets, deep thoughts, and bright ideas to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Next up on Sunday, Weekly Menus: Hello 2013 Edition

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Filed under Fried, Kitchen Philosophy

Adventures in Eating: Geer Street Garden, The Pile (with Video)

Gentle Readers, sometimes, one just has to abandon all reason and order the largest thing on the menu. In the case of Geer Street Garden, the largest and most infamous is “The Pile.” If you are ever near Durham, go. It is awesome.

This mound of deliciousness is covered in bacon, fried chicken, jalepeños, and cheese, and comes with cheese sauce, gravy, and two additional dipping sauces. It is a meal in and of itself, for several people. And lo, it was good.

The Pile at Geer Street Garden

The Pile at Geer Street Garden

To fully sample the Geer Street Garden goods, the Practical Cook took the imminently practical step of going there, a lot. I’ve tried the pimento cheese burger (courtesy of the Eldest Practical Cook Junior), the banana pudding (love it), and the arugula salad (don’t judge, I’m kind of obsessed with it now).

I’m a burger fan, but not so much of In-N-Out (controversy!). I think Andy Magowan’s burgers are the best in Durham. There, I said it. If you disagree, point me to a better one and I’ll go eat it.

Pimento Cheese Burger at Geer Street Garden

Pimento Cheese Burger at Geer Street Garden

Full disclosure, I know Andy, from back in the day in Spanish class at UNC. He is awesome, but that is only more reason to try Geer Street Garden. It is like being in your own back yard, without the hassle and with a lot more beer on tap.

Beer and Hydration at Geer Street Garden

Beer and Hydration at Geer Street Garden

To sum it up:

Gazpacho: Good, liked the texture (not everyone did), but would appreciate more zip in the dish. Cilantro, juice from the pickled jalepeños jar, whatever works.

Gazpacho at Geer Street Garden

Gazpacho at Geer Street Garden

Fried Okra: Fantastic. Excellent frying work.

Hello Fried Okra, Welcome Home

Hello Fried Okra, Welcome Home

Veggie Sandwich: Perfection on Toast.

Deviled Eggs: Always the right choice as an appetizer.

Deviled Eggs at Geer Street Garden

Deviled Eggs at Geer Street Garden

Pimento Cheese: Big fan. Also approved by the Practical Cooks Junior.

Pimento Cheese and Toasted Bread

Pimento Cheese and Toasted Bread

Burgers: Yes, please. Favorite one in Durham.

Fries, Garlic: Again, I think these are the best in Durham, and possibly surrounding areas. Tyler’s are good when they are good, but I find them unreliable and often oversalted. Geer Street Garden fries have never let me down.

Geer Street Garlic Fries

Geer Street Garlic Fries

Arugula Salad: Yes, I do love salads, and I got this one with a different dressing (I don’t heart ranch), but now I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s an egg/fried chicken delivery system, and it rocks in the summer.

Banana Pudding: Not the most traditional rendition, but I really enjoy it. Soothing after so many fries.

The Blinding Light of Banana Pudding Goodness

The Blinding Light of Banana Pudding Goodness

Brownie Sundae: Good, but very sweet. I found that challenging after consuming so many savory items. That could be me. It was tasty, if you are a super-sweet dessert person.

Brownie Sundae, in Profile

Brownie Sundae, in Profile

The Cocktails: The watermelon cocktail has been a hit with all who have tried it.

Watermelon Cocktail at Geer Street Garden

Watermelon Cocktail at Geer Street Garden

The Beer: I’m partial to Allagash White, with orange slice, thank you very much. The Kolsch was also well-received.

The Pile: I can’t lie, I should have stopped, but just couldn’t. Each bite is a new taste adventure. I will order it again someday, when I have committed fellow eaters. Special thanks to my friend Dr. Shark for the able assist in consumption.

The Pile with Gravy and Cheese Sauce Applied

The Pile with Gravy and Cheese Sauce Applied

Thanks to all who came out for the festivities last night, it was fun and delicious. When you crave burgers and fries, you know who to call: 1-800-Practical-Cook.

Do you love cheese fries? Post a comment below and share your source, or send a Tweet!

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Up next time, Reader Poll. The Practical Cook Surveys the Gentle Readers to Determine the Blog’s Future Direction.

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Filed under Restaurant Reviews