Food safety basics

Ever wondered how seriously to take expiration dates? Or if you should eat the pizza that sat out overnight? Still Tasty answers common food safety questions and lets you search by ingredient to learn how to safely store (and consume!) your favorite foods.

Weather induced misery?

For those of you whose medical conditions are exacerbated by changes in the weather, check out MediClim. You sign up with your condition and location, and they mail you a warning one day before weather linked to your condition will occur. They currently offer alerts for migraines, asthma, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes but say they will offer alerts for more conditions in the future. Maybe this will help the human barometers among us get some relief.


Adopt a word

Logophiles will love the Save the Words campaign to revive words that have fallen out of use. You can do your part by adopting a word and promising to use it as much as possible. I am tremefied by the responsibility.

tre.me.fy: v. 1832, to cause to shake or tremble


The Turkish Elvis?

I have no idea what Tarkan is saying, but I like it. Much better than the 2001 Stella Soleil version.

Feeling uptight?

Amazon is offering 99 Perfectly Relaxing Songs for 99 cents. Or you could pay 99 cents for each individual song. Your call.


Indy eats: Hellas Cafe

After last weekend's McFadden lecture at North Central, Kurt and I hopped around the corner for Greek food at the Hellas Cafe. I ordered the chicken gyros platter, and it was excellent as always. Lightly seasoned with soft pita bread and cool, creamy tzatzki, gyros are one of my favorite flavor combinations. After I went semi-vegetarian a few years ago, I was glad to find a chicken option in addition to the traditional lamb. Kurt tried a bite, and I think he wished he had ordered it instead of his lamb kabob. While the kabob was tender and cooked exactly as requested, he thought the flavor didn't quite measure up to that of Castleton's Kabob Korner.

A surprising highlight of the meal was the garlic bread that accompanied the (rather typical) Greek salad. It was drenched in butter and olive oil and had a perfect crisp texture and strong garlic flavor. I was tempted to see if we could order a basket of bread but knew it wasn't in my arteries' best interest. The entrees were accompanied by seasoned green beans and roast potatoes with oregano. Both were good, if not exceptional. The interior of the restaurant is casual, with black painted tables, white walls, and blue booths. If you're not game for a lumpy seat, opt for a table; the seats at our booth were missing a few springs.

Service was friendly but inconsistent. Our orders were taken and the food was delivered quickly, but drink refills were slow, and it took 30 minutes to get the final bill and leave. Not ideal for those in a hurry, but I was enjoying the atmosphere and the company enough not to mind. Plus, few things are more amusing than Dr. H. when he gets impatient. There's belly dancing on Friday and Saturday nights which adds a nice bit of atmosphere.

For me, the delicious chicken gyros trump bumpy seats and slow service, and I highly recommend the Hellas Cafe for Greek food on Indy's northside. Maybe next time I'll remember to leave room to sample the baklava ...

I'm a sucker for candlelight ...

Interior view

Chicken gyros

Lamb kabobs

Reason to smile

Signs of spring

#22 is my favorite.


Maybe I have a green thumb after all

Not only did my jade plant not die, it bloomed! Given how rarely I remember to water it, this is a minor miracle. I might go wild and try a cactus next.


Seven Wonders of the Indy Area

Today's Indianapolis Star features a gallery of seven things worth seeing (or tasting) in central Indiana. I can vouch for the pies at Gray Brothers Cafeteria in Mooresville (the only one of the seven I've done), although my family is partial to the banana. The chicken and noodles is my favorite entree, but I don't think we've tried anything there that wasn't good. I call it 'Indiana Grandma' cuisine. Can't beat it.

For me, the most intriguing item is the Pine Hills Nature Preserve in Montgomery County. I've visited Turkey Run and Shades state parks but have never heard of Pine Hills. I enjoy rougher terrain, and the promise of "Indiana's deepest gorges" means this gets added to my list of spring excursions.


Flight of the Conchords

I'm loving the New Zealand music/comedy duo "Flight of the Conchords." Unfortunately, their April concert in Bloomington is sold out. Guess I'll have to make do with overplaying the album instead.

No brainer dinner: Linguine with gorgonzola cream sauce

Linguine with gorgonzola cream sauce
serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side dish

1 T butter
1/2 c crumbled gorgonzola
1/2 c half and half
1/2 pound linguine
Shredded parmesan

While the linguine cooks, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Stir in gorgonzola and half and half and cook until the cheese melts and the sauce begins to thicken. If this happens before the linguine is done, reduce heat to low until the pasta is finished. Drain the linguine and mix with the sauce. Top with shredded parmesan and serve.

If you let the sauce get too thick, add in a bit more half and half to thin it.


2009 McFadden Lecture: Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks will be presenting this year's McFadden Lecture on Friday, March 20th at 7pm at North Central High School. The event is free, but get there early because it usually draws a large crowd.

And yet, I tweet on ...

Thanks to Lesley for sharing the link!


$5 tees at Threadless until March 23rd. Also some $10 tees, but we're inching away from the "cheeeeeeap" concept with those.

I will be getting this one, so I can just look at Dr. H. and point. Good times.


Beware the Ides of March!

Don't go getting all stabby ...


Won't be long now

It won't be long now until the gardens at the Indianapolis Art Museum are in full bloom. It's one of my favorite places in the city to spend a spring afternoon.

Bridge in the Ravine Garden

Tulips in the Formal Garden

Movie review: Ghost Town

In Ghost Town, Ricky Gervais plays a misanthropic Manhattan dentist who is able to see ghosts after a medical procedure goes awry. While all of the ghosts pester him to help with their "unfinished business", Greg Kinnear is the most persistent of the bunch. He's a philandering husband who believes he was left in limbo to prevent his widow (Tea Leoni) from marrying the wrong man. He seeks out Gervais's help to interfere with her new romance, and (of course) the gruff dentist develops feelings for Leoni himself. As unlikely as their match seems, the scenes between them are surprisingly sweet, and we learn that they have more in common than it would first appear. The weak point of the movie is the lack of chemistry between Kinnear and Gervais. Their long, talky scenes are devoid of humor and cause the second act to drag. The result is an uneven film. We laughed out loud at the opening scenes and later during the "courtship" of Leoni, but the film couldn't overcome the long stretches of the two men talking (and talking and talking). All in all, a disappointment. Maybe they should have cast Elmo instead. At least he and Gervais have some chemistry.

My rating: 5.5/10


Keep Fido and Fluffy safe

The Red Cross Safety Series offers books on first aid for dogs and cats. I can't say I've given much thought to pet emergencies before, but given how much Ernie and Nels love trouble, it's a good idea to be prepared.


Ft. Harrison State Park

Last Saturday, Kurt and I headed to Ft. Harrison State Park on Indy's northeast side to enjoy the beautiful weather. While the park has been open since 1996, this was my first visit. I can't believe I've been missing out all these years! There are hiking trails (my favorite runs along Fall Creek), several ponds and lakes, and a paved trace for biking or dog walking. In the winter, you can cross country ski, sled, and ice fish, and in warmer temps horseback riding is available. I'm looking forward to heading back in the spring when everything has greened up.

Fall Creek


Pathway to the Fall Creek overlook

Sunset over Delaware Lake


It's all fun and games ...

... until the robots take over!

Then again, they might just hug us into submisson.

Mark your calendars: Race for the Cure '09

The Indianapolis Race for the Cure will be held on Saturday, April 18th on the IUPUI campus. 40,000 people are expected to attend and proceeds support grants for research, education, and community outreach. I've participated every year since my mother passed away in 2002, and it's always an inspiring (and sometimes heartbreaking) day.



The Inner Peace Yoga Center is holding their 4th annual Yogathon this Saturday from 8:30am-5pm. They have sessions for all ages and will begin and end with relaxation and meditation. Should be a good time!

I wish I lived here ...

... with the rest of the thugs.

Peeve: Blogs with music

One of my daily stops on the web is Photograzing. Not only is there mouth-watering food photography, but each pic links back to the source website. It's a great way to find new food blogs and recipes. My habit is to scan the pics, click on all that look promising (thus opening many new tabs in Firefox), and skim them to see if the recipes are worth trying.

Today I had six tabs open in Firefox and a promising cupcake on the screen when all of a sudden The Most Annoying Music Ever began playing. I often joke that my least favorite genre is 'whiny white boy' music, but this 'whiny white girl' music was a new low. I was reminded of cats keening in distress, if that helps you understand what we're dealing with. So I hit mute and skim each blog to find the off button to no avail. I start closing tabs, and through the process of elimination find the offender. There is an off button, but it's at the very bottom of the page and isn't very large at that. I turn it off, unmute the laptop, and wonder what on earth they were thinking.

Even if I had enjoyed the "music", it certainly doesn't mean that I would have enjoyed it right then. I might have been listening to something myself, in a public place, on the phone, or in any number of other situations in which music busting out of the computer uninvited would have been a problem. If you have music so fabulous that you just have to share, be considerate of your readers and make it an "opt in" situation.

Ok, rant over. I feel better. This was so bad that I wonder if it was less thoughtlessness and more outright hostility. Mind-boggling.


Too good not to share: Maahi Ve

American movies need more scenes like this. How can you not smile at the sheer exuberance of it?


My new old quilt

I've been wanting a quilt for a while now, something warm and cozy to curl up in on the sofa while I read or watch a movie. I have two upstairs that have been deemed "family heirlooms." Knowing my dad wouldn't take kindly to spills or muddy paws on them, I decided to get a third quilt and put it to use. My requirements: dark (see above re: spills and muddy paws), patchwork, vintage. Quilts to me are homey and comforting, not a decorating statement. I was hoping for something that looked like it had been thrown together from the scraps in a grandmother's fabric sack. I also love the idea of using something from another era, something with a story.

After searching antique stores with no luck, I finally found what I was looking for on eBay. It's not in perfect shape; a couple of seams are ripped and there is a small stain on the back, but that just means it has history. I find it kind of satisfying actually. It's fun to wonder who made it and their circumstances and how many homes it has been in before it reached me.

Made in the 1930s, it is composed of rectangles in a variety of fabrics. There's lots of printed cotton, but also some squares of satin that seem to have been taken from clothing. The white satin square reminds me of a piece of a wedding dress. I'll never know if that's so, but it's certainly a nice idea. The back fabric is what sold it for me though. It's a French (or possibly Cajun?) kitchen print in vivid orange. As this blog has established, I am a sucker for all things French.

There is a downside, of course. Vintage means, well, old. And old means ... let's just say it ... smelly. While the quilt arrived in solid shape, it had a musty smell. I took a risk washing it last night, and two rounds with a good amount of detergent have made a huge difference. It didn't fall apart or bleed in the washer - hallelujah! If it ever gets warm enough, I think I will hang it outside to air out a bit more. That should take care of the rest.

My new quilt

Orange print on the backside

Ernie approves!