Cooking Up Memories

This is a story, all about how, my life got flipped, turned…oh wait, that isn’t my story (but bonus points for you if you kept singing along). This week’s post is all about how food makes so many memories in our lives. Todd’s birthday was a few weeks back, and I started thinking about his past few birthdays and how we celebrated. Last year, we had a big, Star Wars themed birthday party for him, and then we spent a couple nights in Castle Rock exploring their downtown area, specifically, trying their restaurants.  We ate at Yolanda’s Tacos (which is the restaurant that made the tacos for our wedding), and Guadalajara Family Mexican Restaurant. That lead to a conversation about our trip to Breckenridge last October, and the amazing crepes we had from the Crepes A La Cart, this, by the way, was the only place we ate twice on that trip. Food has an amazing power to trigger so many memories.

I’ve written before about my mom and the stroganoff recipe I learned from her, and how she wasn’t an amazing chef.  But so much of my time with her, was spent in the kitchen. I would make the dips for family get togethers, while she prepared the main dishes.  Todd’s family gave him a canister with the mix for his grandmother’s cookie recipe after she passed away. That canister sits in our kitchen as a reminder of where my husband comes from, and a woman whom he loved so very much.  Every time I eat a really good slice of pizza, I will think of my Uncle Keith who passed away in 2017, and the amazing pizza he used to make at the restaurants he worked at over the years in Berkeley.

Food can transport you back to another place and time.  I was at the grocery store a couple weeks ago, and I saw a bag of shrimp chips. I bought a bag and opened it as soon as I got in the car.  As I took my first bite of the pink, fried chip, I was instantly back at my church in the 90s with my friends. My church was primarily Laotian, and because of that, I got to spend many years eating Laotian and Thai food in the homes of my friends and their families.  For Todd, anytime anyone mentions (or he just thinks of) Chico’s Tacos in El Paso, Texas, he instantly tells me about the time his best friend Ray, and himself drove all the way from Alamosa, Colorado to El Paso to get some Chico’s Tacos.

The thing is, the food isn’t the memory, but rather a catalyst to the memory.  In any context, when I see a mango margarita, I will think of my friend Sara drinking one while she sat on my kitchen floor and I cooked her dinner.  I am almost 40 years old, and every time I see a package of Reese’s Pieces, I think of my grandfather and his house in San Francisco in the 80s. For Todd, when he thinks of lasagna, he is reminded of the Christmas holidays with his family and his mom’s lasagna recipe.  And the stuffing…oh the stuffing! Todd and me both spoke many times about how our mother’s made the best stuffing, only to realize this past year that it is basically the same stuffing recipe, from the Pepperidge Farm bag…but with WAY more butter!

Part of the reason we started this blog was because of these memories. Our love of food comes from these stories.  We would love to hear your memories and which food triggers their memories.

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Sushi & Salmon

The past few weeks have been a bit of a blur. On Sunday, March 3rd, I was getting ready to post something about something, and then before I went to do my final edit, I got on Facebook…and that is when I saw it, a post from my friend, Elaine, that her husband, Rex, my friend of 19 years, had had a stroke and was in the hospital. I dropped my phone, and began to panic.  Rex was in California, and I am in Colorado. I contemplated how I could get to the Bay Area as quickly as possible. But avalanches on I-70 and responsibilities kept me in Colorado Springs. The next day, I couldn’t speak, my words had left me, they were in California I assume. Poor Todd, the 4th was his birthday and I couldn’t speak. I managed to get one of my nephews to make a run to King Soopers to get him a $5 chocolate cake and some candles, but even that took everything I had.  The next day, the doctors in California confirmed that Rex had no brain activity. The next few days were filled with emotions, talks of organ donation, tears, regret, stories, and more tears. On March 10th, I said good-bye to my Rex over a video call, and I am so incredibly grateful that Elaine and Churma gave me that chance to say goodbye, and he was taken off the machines. He saved lives through the gift of organ donation. And, just like that, my Rex was gone.

Now you may read this and think, “Come on, it really took you a month to write something???” And the answer is 100% yes. The loss of Rex has left the world a little darker, a little less flavorful. I have struggled with my grief and my guilt. Rex was many things in my life, but most importantly, he was my friend. He gave me two very large gifts in my life. First, he gave me a standard of what a man was supposed to be and how I was to be treated.  He loved me, unconditionally and completely, he taught me what a man that was my age, from my neighborhood, was supposed look like at his core. If I hadn’t had his example, I probably would of settled for one of the guys that came before Todd, the guys that didn’t love me as much as my friend, as much as my Rexy Poo.

Second, he taught me about sushi and salmon. To be clear, I do not like sushi or salmon, never have, and most likely, never will. But, because of Rex, I have tried countless kinds of sushi, and salmon prepared in every way imaginable. One day, we were at work, talking about food, which was a normal conversation for us, and I mentioned that I hated salmon, that I had tried it before, but I didn’t like it. Rex told me, “You just haven’t had it cooked the right way”…that was the end of the conversation. About a week later, Rex and Paul, another good friend we worked with, came to me and told me about a big dinner we were going to have that weekend at Paul’s apartment, I was told to bring some good bread. I showed up for dinner, and when I walked in, I saw salmon…lots of salmon, cooked in every conceivable way. I handed Rex the bread, and he handed me a plate with a bite of every type of salmon. He told me that he wanted me to just try each one, just a bite…and he was my Rex, so I tried a bite…and surprise, I don’t like salmon. Sushi is another thing Rex tried to get me to learn to like sushi. Every time we went out to eat to a place that served sushi, Rex would pick a roll for me to try, and I would try it, normally with the promise of a sake bomb to follow.  On one particular sushi outing, Rex and Paul were having a competition on who could eat the oddest sushi roll, Paul won the competition with a roll that contained monkfish liver. I tried about 6 or 7 different rolls that day, and several sake bombs. I still do not like sushi, but once again, if Rex asked, I tried it.

I trusted Rex, blind trust, I would try any food he asked because I knew he would never make me do something that would hurt me. I didn’t realize this while he was alive, but now these are the stories that come to mind when I think of Rex. Today these stories make me cry, but I have faith that one day these stories will make me smile again, which is what he would want. He wanted me to try new things, and because of Rex and our friends, I did, and for that I am forever grateful. Rex loved good food, good whiskey (and beer and wine), and he loved his friends & his family. He was a wonderful man, with a beautiful soul. I will miss him for the rest of my life, and the next time I am faced with a new food or drink to try, I will, I will try it for my Rex.

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Frugal February – Part 4

Even in Frugal February, one might feel the urge to splurge…kind of like the need for speed, but with money! We have been very well behaved this month! We stuck to our guns about eating out less, taking out lunches to work, taking snacks to work, and we finally cut the cord with cable.  This past week, a friend of ours was having a little birthday celebration in honor of her 30th birthday (Happy Birthday Melissa!), so we used the rare night out as an impromptu date night. We were heading downtown, so we decided to try Fat Sully’s Pizza on Tejon in downtown Colorado Springs. It had been on our list to try since before it opened in Colorado Springs and we had been hearing so many good things about Fat Sully’s Pizza from our friends who had tried it, it seemed like perfect timing! We expected to spend around $30 for our date night dinner, and we were WRONG!!! Our bill was $20 and some change (before tip…always tip your servers!). We each got a slice, with one meat topping, an order of their Garlic “Not”, and an iced tea for Todd, I drank water.  The pizza slices were good, and the slices were HUGE! The problem I normally have with pizza is the sauce, my mid-30s brought me heartburn when I eat tomato based sauces…and the part of me that is convinced I am Italian, is just heart-sick over it! I, personally, rarely eat pizza because of it, and when I do, I normally request they go easy on the sauce. But this time I didn’t, I guess I was feeling kind of rebellious! Thankfully, the sauce was good, and not overly acidic, and there was no heartburn! Woo hoo! Happy dance! Fat Sully’s Pizza ranks high on my best pizza list. However, even with the really good pizza, the best part of the meal was the garlic bread…I was in fat kid heaven! The butter! The garlic! The parmesan cheese! And, of course, the bread…which was more of a pizza crust with all this deliciousness on top.  I ended up letting Todd finish my slice, which he was perfectly okay with doing, and I tried to finish the bread. I failed, but I went down swinging! That was the BEST garlic bread I’ve ever had. And to give you a point of reference for how much I love garlic bread, I’m going to tell you a little story…back home in the Bay Area in Northern California, you can buy a Colombo sourdough bread garlic bread in the grocery stores. I grew up eating it, it was my absolute favorite. On one of my trips back to the Bay, I discovered a Colombo bread stand in one of the terminals at the Oakland Airport…I purchased TEN loaves of this garlic bread to bring home with me, and I was limited to only 10 loaves because it was all I could carry. I have a deep love of garlic bread, and it is not lightly that I state that the Garlic “Not” from Fat Sully’s Pizza is the best garlic bread I’ve had. Also, just a side note…I may not have the official name 100% correct, so please feel free to comment if I got it wrong!

We will definitely return to Fat Sully’s Pizza to try the other items on the menu, specifically, we have heard that the chicken wings were really good. But for now, we were very happy with our low cost date night, really good pizza, and some amazing garlic bread! You don’t have to have ton of money to treat yourselves to a night out, just do a little research and see what options are out there. A lot of restaurants offer happy hours, weekly specials, or special tasting nights.  Make sure to join the mailing lists for your favorite restaurants and like their Facebook & Instagram pages. Deals will pop up all the time, you just have to know where to look!

https://www.facebook.com/FatSullysPizza//

What was the best deal you found this week???

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Super Bowl Sunday

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! In our house Sunday equals football and food! With the end of football season fast approaching, so is Super Bowl Sunday. And Super Bowl Sunday is basically a holiday, at least when it comes to the food. The combination of the food, the commercials, the halftime show, and of course, the football game itself, makes Super Bowl Sunday a family affair. Todd and myself are big football fans, and obviously big food fans as well. We like to go all out for Super Bowl Sunday, try new recipes, and create a big, tasty spread. Last year, we made a bunch of different recipes, and tried a different dish each quarter.
This year, money is pretty tight, and we are on a very strict budget, and there is not much wiggle room in the budget for a big spread. So instead of picking 5 or 6 different recipes to prepare, we decided that we would make just one dish this year. We had several to pick from, I mean, my Pinterest appetizer board is full of strong Super Bowl party worthy contenders. Between the toasted ravioli, the french dip crescents, the cheesy pesto bread, and more, we had so many options. We decided on a beef enchilada dip recipe I found on Pinterest. All we needed was ground beef, enchilada sauce, cheese, an onion, garlic, and tortilla chips. It is a simple recipe, that fit into our budget. Todd made it the other night, it was quick and easy. He used a little more cheese than the recipe called for because…well, it’s cheese, and sometimes a recipe is just a suggestion. Other than the amount of cheese, Todd followed the recipe (which is a miracle in itself), and we sat down on our couch with some of this delicious dip on a Friday night, and the fat kid happy dance soon followed. We were very happy with the way it came out, it was hearty and cheesy. It is definitely a recipe we will make again. If you are tight on a money, but need a dish to bring to a Super Bowl party, or any other Sunday Funday you have planned, this is a yummy, affordable option.

Here is a link to the recipe on a website called Add A Pinch:

Beef Enchilada Dip Recipe

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Burger Time

As I type the title of this blog, the lyrics from MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” rolled through my head. I mean, I’m from the Oak town, and a good burger makes me say “Oh my Lord!” When we go out on our foodie adventures, we are always on the hunt for an excellent burger. Todd has talked endlessly about wanting to make a trip to Bobby’s Burger Palace in Las Vegas or Michael Symon’s B Spot Burgers in Cleveland. Everyone has a their favorite burger place. When we asked our friends, we got all kinds of answers. In Colorado Springs, a long time favorite was Conway’s Red Top, before it closed. We heard about a place called Blake’s Lotaburger in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a place called Hinkles in Madison, Indiana, and a place called St. John’s Bar & Grill in Sunnyvale, California. Most burger lovers will ramble on and on, affectionately about their burger mecca.

My favorite burger is from Nation’s Giant Burgers back home in the Bay Area in Northern California. They are just simple burgers, no crazy toppings, no fancy buns, just a huge, juicy burger. I always chose to get mine topped with mayo, lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, and bacon. Todd’s favorite burger spot is Bingo Burger. He is a lover of green chiles, and they mix the Pueblo green chiles into the meat mixture. It doesn’t hurt that Bingo Burger is a Colorado owned business, and they use locally-sourced ingredients. When Todd and myself started dating, his sister, Brenda, told us about a place on the westside of Colorado Springs to try for a good burger. We did, and we loved it! It was called The Dive, in an old converted house near Old Colorado City. Sadly The Dive closed in 2018, and now we must find a new burger spot, so feel free to send us your recommendations!

The beauty of a burger is that there are endless configurations. Different combinations of meat, different toppings, and different types of buns. You could have a burger made off 100% ground chuck, topped with pepper jack cheese, avocado, and tomato, on a sesame seed bun. Or you could have a burger made with bison meat, topped with lettuce and caramelized onions, on a potato roll. There are endless options!

Todd and myself decided to try a multitude of burgers, well not a multitude, but three different kinds of burgers to decide which we liked best. We tried an all ground beef patty, a 50/50 mixture with ground beef and ground pork, and a 50/50 mixture of ground beef and ground lamb. All the meat was from King Soopers, the ground lamb was organic, and the ground beef was 80/20. Each patty was seasoned the same way, with salt, pepper, and Old Market All-Purpose Seasoning from Savory Spice (located in downtown Colorado Springs). Each patty was also cooked in a cast iron skillet, and served on a buttered and toasted potato roll. And, since a burger is always a better as a cheeseburger, each burger had a small piece of Monterey Jack and Colby cheeses. Todd seasoned and shaped each burger. We did smaller than normal patties, just a little bigger than a slider. We tried each mixture and here is what we decided. Our least favorite was the all ground beef patty, it was good, but nothing spectacular. Second place, goes to the ground beef and ground pork mixture. Todd normally makes our burgers with this mixture, and it is more affordable than the beef & lamb mixture. The ground beef and ground pork mixture makes for a nice, juicy burger, with a lot of flavor. Our favorite of the three was the ground beef and ground lamb mixture. There was a boldness from the lamb, and a rich flavor that was unmatched by the other two. Even though it wasn’t as juicy, the flavor was amazing. Todd said that the ground beef and ground lamb was his hands down favorite, but next time he uses the ground lamb in a burger, he will try some different seasonings, maybe a little more Mediterranean flavors.

In the Low Class Foodies house, burgers are a beautiful thing, and we will honor them as such. After our little experiment, one thing we both agreed on, was that the only thing missing from these delicious burger bites, was bacon! Now we must decide which bacon is best on a burger…but that is for another post!

And just for a little fun…

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Sandy’s Restaurant – Colorado Springs Review

We love going out for breakfast, I mean LOVE going out for breakfast. Especially, a small, locally owned place, with good, hearty food, that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg! Sandy’s Restaurant in Colorado Springs, is that place for us. We have never been disappointed, and we love the cozy feel we get every time we go in. We have been in several times since we found Sandy’s a couple years ago, and it is our favorite breakfast spot close to home. Most of their menu is homemade, and it tastes as such. This last time we went in, on New Year’s Day, I tried something new, I got the Chili & Cheese omelet with hash browns. The omelet comes in two sizes, the full size has 6 eggs, and a small size. I got the small size, the waitress called it the half-size, so I assume it has 3 eggs, but don’t quote me. It was smothered in their homemade red chili and, of course, cheese! The hash browns were perfectly cooked, and golden brown. Todd got a create-your-own omelet with bacon, ham, sausage, cheese, and smothered in their green chili. He also substituted the hash browns with french toast. Every time we go to Sandy’s he gets something smothered in green chili, he describes it as having good flavor and mildly spicy (he likes spicy foods). He says it has just the right amount of heat for breakfast. The food is always good at Sandy’s, and the atmosphere is comforting and welcoming. We will most certainly be back, over and over again. If you are in the area, swing by and try them out. Sandy’s is open early, and open for breakfast and lunch. They are located at 6940 Space Village Avenue, near the Peterson AFB North gate.

As big supporters of local businesses, one of our favorite things about Sandy’s is that they have been a part of the local community in Colorado Springs since the 1970s. When their regulars walk in, the waitresses know them by name and know where they like to sit. I could hear the conversations between the people who worked there and their customers, and it sounded more like old friends than a business conversation. We happily recommend trying out Sandy’s if you are in the area. It can get busy, so it may be a bit of a wait, but it is certainly worth the wait. You can check out Sandy’s at their website at https://sandys-restaurant.business.site/ and you can find them on Facebook.

Check the gallery for more pictures from our New Year’s day breakfast!

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