Tabouli and Pimento Loaf

During our recent stay in Seattle, we had several ethnic meals, including Indian, Italian, Mexican, Thai and Japanese. I learned several things about food in different cultures, one of which is that the word Curry can mean different things, depending upon culture. It can be a powdery spice, a past, a sauce or a main dish. I have a lot more to learn in that area because I found that the sauce was delicious and I’m ready for more experimentation as soon as possible.
It helps that Susie is slightly adventurous when it comes to trying new dishes but we have run into a snag when it comes to one party in our twosome eating oysters. We had Kumamoto oysters on the half shell at dinner one evening. Susie hates oysters regardless of preparation, presentation or species but I convinced her that Japanese oysters are not as slimy as their North American cousins so she gamely tried one. She managed to keep it down mumbling something about “still slimy, still slimy.” I offered to put a couple on the grill and cook them but to no avail. She also balked at much of the Sushi on our Japanese outing, refusing to try anything with seaweed wrapped around it.
That is why I was surprised at a dish she fixed after we returned to Indianapolis. It became the subject for my weekly newspaper column so rather than getting into it here, I will just cut and paste the column here for any of you folks who don’t have access to any of the newspapers that publish my weekly drivel.

Toubali and Pimento Loaf
Gastronomically speaking, It’s been a bad week around the Grindstaff ranch. It started with my sitting at the kitchen table staring at a bowl full of tabbouleh.
(I didn’t know it was tabbouleh and apparently, neither does Microsoft. As I sit here at my keyboard typing, Mr. Gates’ software insists that I’m spelling the word wrong but I’m not. Both Google and Webster tell me I’m right.)
“What is this?” I said, eyeing the lump of whiteish-gray stuff with multi-colored flecks of…, of…., of….. something.
“Tabouli.” My wife, Susie answered, pronouncing it in what I suppose is an Americanized version of the product’s name.
“I don’t believe I want any of this.” I said, trying to be polite. In truth, there was no way I Hell I was putting any of that in my mouth.
“Why not?”
“I don’t like the looks of it. What’s in the recipe?”
“Bulgur, onion, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, pars….”
“Wait a minute.” I interrupted. “Bulgur? What is Bulgur?”
“It’s a Middle Eastern grain, sort of like rice. You have to boil it.”
“Middle East???” You won’t eat American oysters but you’ll eat that stuff from some far off place?” Susie hates Oysters .
“Tabouli’s not slimy, Oysters are. Besides that, did you happen to remember that we just got home from Seattle? We haven’t been to the grocery yet. That’s all I could find.”
I had no idea why we had Bulgur in the first place but I wasn’t going to argue. “Then let’s go the grocery store. We can eat that stuff later.” I said, not feeling a bit guilty about this lie. That stuff was never crossing my lips.
I headed straight for the deli counter when we arrived. Our tomato plants were bearing almost ripened fruit and I could see myself having a big roast beef sandwich on Rye bread smeared with Mayo and topped with some fresh lettuce and a thick slice of red, juicy homegrown tomato.
I scanned the meat case looking for Roast Beef. There it was, Boar’s Head – 10.99 a pound. ‘10.99? It’s been a while since I bought Roast Beef.’ I thought. ‘Maybe turkey pastrami sounds better.’
Susie walked up as I was looking over the lunch meat selections for prices that I was more comfortable with. There’s one. 4.99 for Pimento Loaf. From somewhere deep in my memory bank, an unpleasant recollection of Pimento loaf struggled to get to the forefront of memories retained from my childhood but I couldn’t get it. I turned to Susie. “Do you like Pimento Loaf?” I said, putting the emphasis on the ‘PIE’.
“No. I won’t touch the stuff.”
“I don’t think I like it either.” Still, it was only 4.99 a pound.
“Look at this pie-mento loaf.” I told her. “Is it supposed to be that color? It looks a little bit too gray for me.”
“Who cares? We’re not going to buy it. Why in the world would you even think about it? You don’t like it and I already told you I won’t eat it, regardless of its color.” She paused to take a deep breath. “And another thing, it’s not PIE-mento loaf.”
“It’s not? What is it?”
“It’s PA-mento loaf. Pa. Pa. with a short ‘A’. Pa-mento loaf.”
“We always called it Pie-mento Loaf in Loogootee, Indiana.”
“Well, you’re in the big city now. Around here we call it Pa-mento Loaf.”
“Okay. Pa-mento it is.” I said, once again lying through my teeth, knowing full well that after 52 years of marriage, I had found yet another button I could push when the opportunity arose.
As is my custom, I like to learn all I can about the topic of my weekly drivel so I turned to the Internet to research the real skinny on Pimento Loaf. The search revealed that Pimento Loaf is also called Pickle and Pimento Loaf or just plain ‘P and P’ Loaf. This leads me to believe that the red and green things in the product are pickles and Pimentos.
Susie and I are not alone in not liking Pimento Loaf. The Google search also listed a website called ‘’ that had an entry called ’25 incredibly nasty lunch meat products’ with Pimento Loaf being at the top of the list. There were others as well; potted meat food product, Olive Loaf, Liver spread, Liver cheese, Head Cheese and Old Fashion Loaf. Remember that one? It contains the most vile sounding ingredient I have ever come across in my years of traveling around the United States – mechanically separated chicken parts. What in God’s name are they doing to these poor chickens, anyway?
There were also two others on the HolyTaco list that made Susie recoil in horror when I showed her the pictures, ‘Pork brains with milk gravy’ was one. The can contained a grossly unappetizing picture of what I supposed were Pork Brains. The other was a can chock full of ‘Tongues’ made by a fellow named Tom Piper. There was no indication as to what kind of tongues they were although it doesn’t really matter. Just like PIE-mento Loaf, Susie would never allow something like that to cross our threshold.

No, it's not maggots. It's Tabouli

No, it’s not maggots. It’s Tabouli

I tried the Tabouli and did not care for it. The above picture is of the 2 week old leftovers. By the time you read this, the contents of the container will have been sent to the compost pile, the container will be washed and put away. I am now working on getting up the nerve to try canned Pork Brains with milk gravy. They say it’s quite good on scrambled eggs.

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What to do on a afternoon in Seattle.

Start your day with a 6 A.M. cup of strong Seattle coffee. One of my favorite parts about being here with my body still being on Indiana time. It’s no problem getting up at 5:30 and walking the 2 blocks to sip some hot coffee, read the paper and look out of the big plate glass windows to watch the world go by. It’s also good for the soul.

Zuka's tangletown coffee shop
Try the Taco truck for breakfast and share a burrito as big as your head with your spouse.

Please - no more pictures

Please – no more pictures

You haven’t seen the real Seattle until you’ve visited the Troll under the highway 99 bridge.

Hurry up. I don't like this. That eye is creepy.

Hurry up. I don’t like this. That eye is creepy.

Under the Highway 99 bridge spanning Lake Union.

Under the Highway 99 bridge spanning Lake Union.

An afternoon trip to Fremont to see the Vladimir Lenin statue is always fun. On this day, he had blood (fake) on his hands.,_Seattle
If we ever decide to move to Seattle, the Fremont area is where I want to live.

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Train travel for dummies – part 3

This piece started life as a blog post but as usual, when it came time to submit my weekly gibberish to the newspapers, I wasn’t ready with what I was working on and was not in the mood to finish it. I grabbed what I had written for part 3 of my weblog series, cleaned it up and removed some stuff about farts and scratching myself. If you read on, You will probably figure out where I did that.
There is so much more to say about train travel but I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to putting it on here. It’s not all fun; long periods of staring out the window wishing I had something to munch on. I also missed talking to strangers about their lives, something I always did on previous train trips. Now everyone, including myself, have their noses stuck in a cell phone, tablet or laptop watching a movie or paging through endless and mostly mindless Facebook posts. I’m afraid we are being turned into a nation of Mark Zuckerbergs and it bothers me, not for myself so much but for our grandchildren.

My wife, Susie and I along with my daughter and granddaughter recently undertook a train trip from Chicago to Seattle to see our newest granddaughter, Audrey Rose. That means that this week’s drivel is coming to you from my son’s backyard in Washington State’s Emerald City. Traveling cross country by train on one of AMTRAK’s western routes is no longer a common experience so in keeping with this column’s spirit of public service, I thought it would be nice to touch briefly on the subject for those of you who will not be taking to the tracks anytime soon.
If you do decide to try cross country train travel -and I highly recommend it – your first decision after choosing a destination is to decide whether to purchase a coach seat ticket or pay the extra cost of a sleeper berth. The latter will provide you with free meals as well as a seat and a bed in a private compartment while the former forces you to pay for your meals in the dining car or bring your own food, something that requires a fair amount of logistical planning.
Choosing a coach seat also means spending one or two nights in a chair in a very public train car. During the day, the seat is very comfortable with lots of legroom and big windows that allow you to watch the world go by. It can also be reconfigured to provide a bit of comfort for sleeping; there are built in leg rests and a footrest. The seat also reclines but in the end, it’s still a chair and not a bed. The coach car is also not private and it seems like someone is always moving up and down the aisles and the pneumatically operated doors between the cars make a lot of noise.
On the other hand, the beds in the sleeping cars, while also serving as seats during the days, are enclosed in tiny compartments, providing enough privacy to get your pajamas on. That is why, if you can afford it at all, I recommend reserving a sleeper berth when you are putting together a cross country train trip.
Having traveled by train before, I knew that when we made the reservations for our just completed trip from Chicago to Seattle but I still went with a Coach seat because of the cost. I justified the decision because we were splitting our trip into 2 segments, breaking up the 3 day, 2 night trip by getting off the train for 3 days a little over half way into the trip at Glacier National Park. I figured anyone could handle sleeping one night while sitting up. I wasn’t totally wrong but I wasn’t totally right either.
We tried to prepare for getting a good night’s rest in our seat, bringing blanket-like afghans and pillows. That was one small step for mankind but there was nothing we could do about the fact that it would also help immensely to be small in stature, supple and arthritis-free when trying to curl up in a reclining seat. Neither Susie nor I fit the bill in any of these categories.
An added difficulty is trying to get comfortable in a seat while another person is trying to do the same thing in the seat right next to you. Luckily, that person was my soulmate; thus eliminating the worry of accidentally touching a complete stranger in some inappropriate manner in the middle of the night. I can’t imagine what I would do if I had to sleep next to a stranger. The best solution, although still not ideal, is having an empty seat next to you. This is not as difficult as it might seem. Individual seats are not reserved and a surprising number of people use the train to get from town to town so folks are always getting on or off at one of the numerous stops along the way, freeing up their seat or seats. A large group traveling from Chicago got off the train late in the evening in St. Paul, Minnesota freeing up several rows of seats. Seizing the moment, as it were, I left Susie in her seat and staked a claim to an empty row.
A few people got on the train at the same time and that’s when I spread out on the row, laying a magazine and a box of Cheezits on the empty seat beside me. I also assumed an unsocial look, hoping to discourage the folks walking down the aisle looking for a seat. Being the suave and debonair person that I am, I couldn’t bring myself to go so far as to pass gas or pick my nose as I suspected some other savvy travelers in the car were doing.
When the train left the St. Paul station, I began to go through the contortionist act of assuming the fetal position; wedging myself between the two armrests. I also had to negotiate the hidden steel bar between the two seats that requires constant adjustments in order to lessen the resulting hip pain.
When I awoke early, I was unable to walk without limping but I was consoled by the fact that I had saved a fair amount of money.
Not that I’m a skinflint or anything.

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Western train trip 2015 – Seattle City Centre-

Most of you know that the reason for our train trip was to visit Seattle and our Son’s family, including our new granddaughter. Yesterday we went to the Seattle City Centre where there is a new playground and a wonderful fountain where kids of all ages can play. The park is adjacent to the EMP Museum and the Space Needle

You can read more about the museum here :

You can read more about the Space Needle here:

The Space Needle.

The purple and aluminum building in the background is the EMP museum. Someone told me once that the shape of the building is supposed to resemble a smashed guitar but I have no idea if that is true or not.


This climbing structure made me a little jealous as I watched kids climb these ropes. Too bad we didn’t have this in Loogootee, Indiana 70 years ago. I might have turned out to be a mountain climber. I decided it might be best if I did not climb this thing. I didn’t want someone to have to call the fire department.

The following pictures are self-explanatory. This is obviously a very popular attraction. The fountain has what seems to be an endless variety of sprays set to music. I did not participate in this either. I forgot my swim suit.



Grandson Will enjoying the water

Grandson Will enjoying the water

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Train travel for Dummies – part one.

Some months ago, the pending arrival of a new grandchild was announced by our son and daughter-in-law in Seattle. My wife, Susie began making plans to visit the Northwest to see the baby when it arrived. ‘It’ became a ‘She’ a few weeks later after an ultrasound revealed the baby’s gender. I still marvel at this technological miracle because when our children were born, there was no way to accurately predict the baby’s sex until the actual birth.
One day, long ago, while I was painting the room where our first child would call home when he or she was born, I remarked to Susie that if I could figure out some way to identify a child’s gender in the womb, we could get rich.
“How would you go about doing that?” she asked.
“I don’t know, mirrors maybe.”
“You’re not getting around me with any mirrors, Buster. You can forget that.”
Oh, there were some old wives tales; a favorite of mine was “she’s carrying it high, must be a boy.” I never figured out what ‘carrying it high’ meant so I never bothered to keep any data on the accuracy of this particular belief because I wasn’t sure exactly where the boundary between ‘high’ and ‘low’.
But enough chit-chat. Getting back to visiting Seattle, we decided to take the train because our daughter, Julie and our granddaughter, Riley Marie wanted to go along and see some of the U.S.A. in the bargain. The train would allow us to do that so a couple of weeks before the baby was born, I made the reservations for the four of us.
I used the Amtrak website to book the tickets even though it’s a bit cumbersome. Example: the schedules are PDF files. Still, it is less time consuming than using the 1-800-USA-RAIL number. There can be long waits trying to reach a sales clerk. Still, in the past, on previous trips, I always called the sales number because I was more comfortable talking with a live person but I have learned to trust the website. I’m still a little bit leery about the identity thieves, though.
Train travel itself is not expensive. It’s the add-on of meals and any other things you might need to make the trip comfortable that drive up the prices. Amtrak offers Senior Citizens a 15 percent discount on coach seats which Susie and I took advantage of and our AAA membership card got us 10 percent on the other 2 tickets. The seats are roomy and quite comfortable and unlike the airplanes, a train car has plenty of leg room and the aisles are wide so it’s easy to stretch your legs. The seat also has enough in the way of attachments to help you almost make a single bed out of a seat but I should emphasize the word ‘almost.’

train coach car

train coach car

Which leads me to a nice segue on the other of the 2 travel options that AMTRAK offers. The other option is a sleeping berth which is also where you sit when the bed’s not made. Our 2 Coach seats were 340 dollars but a 2 person berth would have added around 500 dollars to that price. One consideration when looking at that price – the berths do include 4 meals each in the 2 night 45 hour trip which, if you ate them all, would be worth 60 to 70 dollars each. The sleeping berth prices vary with the length of advance bookings and I suspect, the season in which you’re traveling also plays a part. There are no discounts on sleepers, at least none that I know of.
We elected to ride Coach and rough it during the night to save money. After all, how bad could sleeping in the seat get? The answer to that question is easy. It’s pretty damn bad. Amtrak used to provide pillows and you could buy a cute little AMTRAK blanket to keep warm. They don’t do that anymore. I am assuming that Congress messing with the AMTRAK appropriation has something to do with it but don’t quote me on that.
Food was another way in which we planned to save some money. We planned on eating only the evening meal in the dining car on each of the 2 nights we were on the train. The other meals would be taken care of by food that we prepared or bought ready to eat.
Both the coach seat choice and the food planning did not go as well as planned but I’ll explain that on the next post. Right now, I’m still adjusting to that 3 hour time difference on the west coast and it’s way past time for bed.

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No Foghorn Leghorn for us.

For some time now, we have been talking about raising some chickens for their eggs but we couldn’t seem to get serious about it for several reasons. – To begin with, our travels pretty much prevented any idea of chickens although I briefly considered a chicken house on a small trailer that I could attach to the back of our fifth wheel, Fiona II. Susie and Indiana traffic laws cut that idea short.
There was also the problem with varmints. Hawks, dogs and coyotes were all a threat. I spent some time trying to design some sort of pen that would keep the chickens safe going so far as to study the layout of Guantanamo Bay but decided that was probably overkill on my part. Like so many of the things I plan, the chicken thing has not worked out thus far. However, I came across a story about the H-E-B stores in Texas rationing eggs with their customers because of a Flu virus infecting chickens causing them to be slaughtered by the millions. This was enough for me to start thinking about raising our own chickens again because some things have changed in our life.
For one thing, we are planning on cutting back on our travels and moving into a neighborhood on the Southside of Indianapolis. Several of our neighbors have backyard chickens and we have a fenced yardwhich will go a long way towards eliminating varmints. The only problem I have encountered thus far is that we are not allowed to have a rooster in this neighborhood. Thus the title of this post. Too bad. By the way, H-E-B Grocery stores are like Publix in Florida and Kroger in the Midwest. They dominate a good part of the South Texas grocery market.
Anyway, I wrote my column last week on this story and you will find it below. As you read, you will see that I wrote that I was setting out to do a story on Bruce Jenner but that’s not true at all. I only mentioned him in a kind of yellow journalism manner, trying to attract the prurient interests of my readers, such that they are. I wish now I hadn’t mentioned the Bruce Jenner thing at all. It’s a train wreck kind of story. Sad and completely incomprehensible to me. Anyway, my story on rationed eggs.

I don’t wish to start a panic amongst my loyal readers but I feel it is my duty as a sometime investigative journalist to let you know what’s going on around the country. Like every other News source in this country, I set out to do a piece on the biggest topic in the country; the saga of Bruce Jenner. But I have to tell you folks that this whole topic of conversation is just too weird for this old guy to comprehend so I abandoned that idea.
However, on a real newsworthy note; in doing my initial research, I came across a story on a severe outbreak of Avian bird flu in the United States that is causing the destruction of whole flocks of commercial egg laying poultry. This virus, like many of the products on our store shelves, is another present from China and is causing a huge disruption in the production of eggs for our everyday use.
That’s about all I have to say on the subject because if I go any further, it will require some serious research on my part and with my attention span, I feel that it is best to leave those kinds of efforts up to the full time staff of this newspaper.
However, I will tell you that this column originated because, in doing what little research I did do, I discovered that notices on egg rationing are beginning to pop up in grocery store dairy departments around the country. This revelation piqued my interest enough for me to do a quick, unofficial and very unscientific survey of stores in Central Indiana on the question of egg supplies. You will be happy to know that, at least for now, the survey did not produce any disturbing news about disruption of my morning breakfast routine.
“What did you call that again?” the dairy clerk asked after I informed him of my concern.
“Avian bird flu.” I said. “It’s from China.”
“No. Never heard of it. We get E-mails on that kind of thing and I haven’t seen any E-Mails. I believe the prices are going up though.”
And they are. I just paid 2.49 for a dozen which is about twice what we paid 5 years ago. That’s just another example of why retirement planning on a fixed income is almost impossible. 15 years ago, when we were planning our retirement, our financial planner never even considered the possibility of Avian Bird Flu and what it could do to our little nest egg. –Sorry, no pun intended. Actually, that’s a lie. I fully intended to do that and I had to rewrite this paragraph 3 times before I could make it readable. –
If the price goes much higher, this could turn into a real crisis. I have been eating eggs for breakfast since the chicken was invented. We may even have to consider raising our own chickens again. We tried that when we first moved to the country over 40 years ago but at that time, the cost of eggs had nothing to do with it. I really wanted to have fresh fried chicken like my Aunt Lucine used to make on the farm. That experiment didn’t work because we found out that neither of us had what it takes to kill a chicken. My mother and my Aunt made it look so easy but we couldn’t do it so the chickens continued to grow and get tough. When they started terrorizing the neighborhood dogs, we abandoned the project, rounding up the chickens and shipping them to Yellowstone National Park where they were released into the wild at the same time the Timberwolves were. Before you ask, I never heard what happened. Maybe Bigfoot had them for dinner.
Anyway, for the near future until I can get a chicken ranch established, I will keep telling myself that that the cost of eggs is relative. At 2.49 a dozen, that’s still only 20 cents an egg. That won’t break our food budget, especially if I can convince Susie that she really doesn’t need eggs for breakfast. I know that sounds selfish but it’s not. Her doctor is concerned with her blood test results and I’m just trying to help her with her cholesterol intake. Everyone knows eggs aren’t good for you.
Cereal is obviously much better for her. Honest. Still, I know what she’s going to say.
“I don’t remember the doctor saying I couldn’t have eggs and besides that, if cereal is better for me, then why isn’t cereal better for you?”
I don’t have an answer for her yet but I hope to have one before breakfast tomorrow.

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best laid plans……. #21

A few days ago, I realized that we no longer have a microwave bacon cooker. I have no idea where it went and being old, I can’t say with any certainty that we even got to Florida last November with one in tow. While I scratched my head for a while about where my cooker might have gone, I eventually quit with that task. You can drive yourself nutty trying to remember something that just isn’t memorable.
We went out last weekend haunting the yard sales and thrift stores trying to find one and had no luck at all. Didn’t even see one. I guess there is no market for used microwave bacon cookers.
We finally found a new one at Bed, bath and beyond which we took home with us. The thing required that the bacon be inserted vertically between inch tall posts and when we looked at it, Susie asked how we would ever clean in between those little posts. Long story, short, we took it back.
While we were there at B,B and B, I found that they were having a clearance sale on Bacon Bowls. I asked the clerk what they were and she explained this was a gizmo that allowed you to make bowls made from Bacon. -And we wonder why obesity is rampant. – It looked sort of like an old time orange juice squeezer only you wrapped bacon around it, making sure there were no holes…. Actually, you know what? I have no idea how the damn thing worked but apparently, if it was done properly, you ended up with a leak proof bowl made from bacon just waiting to hold your scrambled eggs or your garlic mashed potatoes.
Even though the appliance was on a clearance price, we decided against buying one. Later that day, my daughter sent me a link to Amazon where I could find all kinds of microwave bacon cookers, including the one that I had returned to B,B and B. There was also a model that looked just like the one we had before it disappeared. However, before I could thoroughly check it out, I was interrupted by some friends who were going to Beall’s outlet store where a HUGE 15 percent off sale was going on and naturally, Susie wanted to go along.
We had no more than gotten in the place when I came across this little dandy in the kitchen department.

Microwave Bacon Cooker.

Microwave Bacon Cooker.

7.99 minus my 15 percent discount. Why not? I brought it home, loaded it up with strips of bacon, put the thing inside and turned the Microwave on. Bad idea. the microwave rotisserie is round and my bacon cooker is rectangular. When the thing started to spin around, the cooker got hung up between the front and the back of the Microwave interior and went all catty-wompus on me. If I would have let it go on, the thing would have spilled bacon grease all over and Susie would not have been a happy camper. -Get it? happy camper. She really is a camper although she’s not always happy.-

I have already ripped the packaging apart so it looks like I’m stuck with it.
Maybe I can sell it at a yard sale.

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