‘305 Day!’

Still lots of things going on this season. I missed the Lake Worth Chalk Festival last weekend and a few other art events, but managed to get to this past weekend’s Gifford Lane Art Stroll, which is a block party in our village. It’s a yearly thing – 25th year, this year and it brings out the whole village. It’s like a tv show where the full cast shows up for an event and they are all in one scene.

It was also “305 Day,” on Sunday, which is the area code for Miami and on March 5 (3/05).

The hit of the block party is cucumber punch which is delicious on a hot day, which always seems to be the case for this event each year – it’s been a cool winter, but Sunday was totally hot.

The first year I went, 20 years back, I didn’t know the cucumber punch had gin in it, and I really had my fill, I was feeling no pain. Now that I know the ingredients, I take it easy.

They used to serve the gin at a friend’s house where everyone lined up outside his green door and he and his wife and friends would serve it up to thousands. I guess after 23 years they felt enough was enough with the non-stop traffic through their house, so they have it out in someone else’s driveway now. So last year, I went to the driveway for the first time and got some punch and people started talking to me. But the homeowner was not having it, she started yelling, “Tom, you have your punch, now get out of here!” I couldn’t argue with her, because she is 97 years old! She’s a spry 97, but still.

This year while it was outside her house, she wasn’t around. She’s an avid bike rider at her age, so maybe she was out bike riding!

Anyway, it was a great day, I think I saw everyone I know there which is always nice. There’s a lot of food, live music and kibitzing. A perfect day for a small village.

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Not sure if I’ve ever eaten a parsnip; have you?

This cartoon was published Friday. I wasn’t sure if I should use it or not. Originally it was a simple one, where the snowman with the broken carrot nose says, “Carl is in a mood today.” And that was that. But I changed it to the parsnip not being orange enough and I wanted to see it people would get it. I don’t think most did. I don’t want to say it flopped, but it wasn’t as popular as others.

I don’t even know if I’ve ever had a parsnip and I think I only know what a parsnip is because I watch cooking and food shows, even though I don’t cook. But as I’ve said in the past, I find cooking shows very relaxing, so I watch a lot of them, yet I am never struck with the idea of actually cooking something other than in the microwave or air fryer.


Parsnips look like white carrots, and possibly when ordering in or eating out, they might have come as a side dish along with carrots and other veggies, so possibly I’ve tasted one, but I don’t think so. I might have thought they were overcooked carrots that turned white, the way broccoli does when it’s overcooked.

Roasted carrots and parsnips.

I try everything, so it’s not liked I deliberately turned down parsnips when I had the chance to taste them. I’ve had bison burgers and ostrich burgers and liked them. I’ve had duck and goat and liked them. I’ve had Korean food and all sorts of Asian food from Thai to Indian and being in Miami I’ve had Haitian food. I just don’t think I’ve ever had parsnips.

Once I was in NYC with a friend and we were looking for a place for lunch. As we walked through the city he would suggest places. My friend is a snob and as we looked at places, mostly exotic types, and he would suggest places, I would say “no, not that one,” and we would keep walking and then he finally said, “What does your sensitive American tastes want, a hamburger?”

I had to explain to my snobby friend, who was from out of town and didn’t get it, that I was turning down places that were empty at lunch time – they didn’t have one customer eating there which is not a good sign, and the rating on the front had a “C” not an “A” which is what you look for in NYC and other cities that have ratings on restaurants. My friend wasn’t wise enough to realize that, he thought I was being an ugly American, when I was trying to be a wise/safe eater.

We ended up at a wonderful Korean BBQ restaurant somewhere in Midtown Manhattan, you know, one of those places where you cook your own food at a fire or possibly it was a stone, in the center of the table. Not sure if they use parsnips. Probably not. But one day I’ll try one and report back.

UPDATE: I just tried a parsnip! A few hours after writing this blog post I was at Whole Foods. I went to the hot bar to get lunch and there were carrots and parsnips. Only the dish was called “Carrots with turmeric,” and if I hadn’t written this post, I would have thought the white carrots were just discolored from the turmeric! But I realized they were parsnips and I bought some and know what – they taste like carrots. White carrots. And since I don’t really like carrots, I probably won’t be eating them again anytime soon. 🙂

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Delicious air fryer chickpeas

I don’t like to cook, I barely boil water. Oh, I can cook, I just don’t like to.

But the other day I made Air Fryer Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans). A friend posted a photo on Facebook of the ones she made and I had it on my mind. So I bought a couple of cans of the chickpeas and went at it.

The recipe I read had to be adjusted because as they started frying, they started popping, so I lowered the temperature and the time and they came out perfect – crunchy and delicious.

I washed the chickpeas to get all the salt off and let them dry in the air on paper towels – about an hour. If you let them dry, they’ll come out crunchy.

After that, I put them in the air fryer and air fried them for about 10 to 12 minutes at 360 degrees F. Some recipes call for a higher temp and a little longer time, but as I said, this worked out better for me.

As they were frying, I juggled them a bit every few minutes, to move them around.

When they were done, while still hot, I drizzled them with olive oil and then added sea salt, pepper, turmeric, powdered ginger and powdered garlic. I added rosemary, too, at another time. That really was delicious. They came out delicious. You can actually add whatever you like to them. Add nothing, or add everything. But if adding stuff, do it after they are done frying. Not before or during.

I never liked chickpeas even though I know they are very healthy and full of protein. I try to eat hummus, but never really like it either. There’s a chocolate hummus now, which I bought, but it’s still sitting in the fridge. But now that this new crunchy method is so easy to make and delicious, I may just start eating them, in this form.

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Steak or eggplant parm?

I was watching something on tv about people being polite to waitstaff at restaurants. Not sure why that is even a question, shouldn’t everyone be nice to each other all the time?

I’m always polite to the staff but I do one thing that I think is annoying and I have to try to stop. I ask the waiter what is their favorite thing or what they would order out of two choices. I did it the other day. I’m sure they just say anything and who is to say their tastes are the same as mine. But I do it all the time anyway.

I was with a friend and was going to order the steak sandwich. I don’t eat much red meat, but this looked good. But my friend sort of was questioning the fact that he wanted the same thing and should we both order the same thing. It was a strange request since we don’t share food, so what’s the difference? It’s not like we were going to sample from each other’s plate and needed to order two separate things.

Anyway, I also seemed to like the eggplant parmesan , even though I don’t like eggplant, but for some reason, it seemed good.

So as not to get my friend all in a twist, I asked the waiter, which he preferred, basically, which was a better dish. He said to me, “Well, to tell you the truth, I’m not much of a . . . ” and I thought, oh, he’s not much of a meat eater. He’s vegan. But he said, “I’m not much of a vegetable eater.” Which was the strangest thing. For one thing, he was a guy in his low 20s, maybe 22 years old, don’t most 22 year olds eat healthy?

So in spite of his not eating veggies, I ordered the eggplant parmesan so as not to upset my dining companion. It ended up being good.

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Freaking out over the new tipping systems

People are freaking out about the new Starbucks tipping system, but it isn’t just Starbucks.

The freak out is about the awkwardness of it all. At the airport recently I came upon this where when you pay with a credit card, you have to go through a process of tipping or not tipping before you scan your card.

This is now a thing everywhere – in person at the register and also on apps where you order food or drink.

I’ve seen this at ice cream stores, sub shops, fast take-away places and of course sit down restaurants. You order and then when it’s time to pay, the tip portion comes up. And you’re not even in the store when you order on apps and you are tipping before you even receive service, or even enter the store at most instances. Tip first, ask questions later.

And a new thing at many restaurants is where they use this new scanning device at the table; they don’t take the credit card away to process it anymore, which is a good thing, but the waitstaff now stands over you waiting for you to tip and pay for the order, You don’t really have time to think.

Last week I split a bill with a friend, we both gave a credit card and split it in half and we both tipped 20% and left. We didn’t get a receipt and we asked each other, “Do you even know how much the bill was?” Neither of us did.

In NYC recently I was at a diner with another friend, an expensive diner (diner, not dinner), and the waiter was quite pushy. He was an older guy and I guess worked as a waiter most of his life, so he knew the ins and outs.

He handed me the black box to pay and then said, “Put your card in this way,” and “Here is the tip section, I’ll push the 20% button for you here,” and he did. He pushed the tip button himself.

One thing about that tip thing – I think they are losing out because I usually give more than 20% tip and most times I’ll round up the tip to a higher figure. Like if the tip is $17 or $18, I make it $20. So if their 20% button gives them $17.25, if they left me to my own devices, I would have left them $20.00 and sometimes even more if I liked the waiter or waitress, or if I know them personally.

There is one Starbucks I frequent in NYC daily, it’s a convenient location for me. But they are terrible. They are slow, they ignore orders placed on the app, they once made me break a $20 bill for a 5 cent bag (they charge you for shopping bags in all NY stores now) and they are not tip-worthy. But if you don’t leave the tip ahead of time when placing the order, you worry about the treatment you will get. But now that I think about it, could it be any worse than the service you get now?

At the beginning of the pandemic, when everyone was staying home, I used Instacart and had things delivered from the supermarket. You would tip in advance there, too. I usually gave $5, but at that time, they were so overwhelmed, they literally would take up to four days to deliver the products. Now it’s two hours, but then it literally was days, they would tell you on the app, “We’ll be there next Thursday, between 2 and 4 pm.” It was a mess.

But I read that if you gave a big tip, you would get faster delivery times, so I started giving $20 and it worked; I was prioritized and received my delivery on the same day. So it seems as if on these apps and such we are now paying to get a fast and decent order before we even get the fast and decent orders and it’s almost a bribe to get the fast and decent order.

I heard that people don’t tip Uber drivers much. I always do. I used to give them a cash tip, but now I put it on the app. It’s easier. As I exit the car I tell them, “I’ll put the tip on the app.” I don’t know if they believe me, but I always do add it later.

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Cinnamon or Nutmeg; Ina or Martha?

This recent cartoon started out by the witch on the left telling the witch on the right how to do the laundry. I was originally laundry, not a witches brew inside the cauldron. But I couldn’t get the wording right.

As it sat for a few days, I saw Ina Garten on the Today Show and thought I would like to do a cartoon Ina-related. And this one came to mind. I changed the laundry to eggnog. As for Martha being part of the scene, I don’t know how I came up with that, but it became a debate on what to put in eggnog – cinnamon or nutmeg.

And I added the text before I actually looked up Ina and Martha’s recipes. And lo and behold, I was correct in my first assumption. Ina prefers cinnamon and Martha prefers nutmeg.

Me? I love eggnog but I’m not going to take sides. I’m not telling if I prefer cinnamon or nutmeg. 🙂

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Be her guest

Ina Garten (left) and Julianna Margulies

I barely boil water and don’t like to cook, but I love watching cooking shows. I watch them all. I find them relaxing.

I know what a chocolate ganache is, how to make a roux, I know the best way to crack eggs and I know the best extra virgin olive oil to buy, but I don’t cook. I just eat.

I was on a plane recently and I started watching an Ina Garten show called Be My Guest With Ina Garten. It’s an hour show where she has people come to her Hamptons house and the first talk for about half an hour over a drink and then they cook together. The best part is the first half hour because you learn so many life lessons from people from different walks of life. One guest is better than the other.

I’ve been DVRing the show and I watch it when I can.

The episode I watched on the plane was with Julianna Margulies where she talks about living life on her own terms. I’ve never seen ER, but she talks about leaving that show. She was offered $27 million to stay for two more seasons after she decided to leave, but she left. People talked bad about her, saying she was thinking she was too big for her britches, when in reality, she left the show to move from Hollywood to NYC where she directed a play for $270.00 a week. $270.00 vs $27 million.

Years later, she was offered the show, The Good Wife, she loved the concept, but she did not want to move back to California, so they ended up moving the whole production to New York, just for her! I have a cousin who worked on that show, as part of production and also the spin-off show – The Good Fight.

I saw Nathan Lane and Emily Blunt and Marcus Samuelsson, who has an incredible life and story.

They talk during the cooking segment, but the best part is when they are sitting across from Ina, telling their story. I learn a lot from their journeys. I’ve rolled back the episodes and watched segments again.

And of course, they go out into the Hamptons at times to shop and that’s a place I love. I was there recently this fall. And if the village of Southhampton didn’t change the schedule, I’ll be at this year’s Tree Lighting and Christmas parade again in a couple of weeks.

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How do you feel about self-check out?

This recent cartoon, really hit a nerve. I didn’t think it would affect people so much. It got thousands of shares an untold number of comments on social media.

Mostly people who work at Walmart were upset, thinking I was picking on them, but I just chose Walmart because I usually hear people complain about the check-outs at Walmart. Truth be told, I don’t remember the last time I was in a Walmart, I think it could be 10 years or more and it’s only because there are no near where I live, I think the closest is 10 to 12 miles away, which isn’t much, but why not go to closer stores, rather than drive 10 miles to get something?

If you didn’t realize, the lady in the cartoon has a Walmart logo on her vest.

And people seem to hate the self-check out, but is it mandatory in Walmart? Every place I have been that has them has them as a choice; they have the usual cashiers, as well.

I prefer the self-check out, I seek it out. I use it at Publix, Whole Foods, CVS, Home Depot and I’m sure whatever place I see it. I find it convenient, fast and I don’t have to speak to anyone.

I’m glad the cartoon made the rounds, it must have been seen by over a million people so far.

One site where it was shared, got so hot and heavy in the comments section, it almost came to blows, that they removed the cartoon! And it had hundreds of shares and almost as many comments!

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Free water and the rich guy

A couple of us were walking around Madison Square Park on Sunday and we stopped to get something to drink from a food truck. There was a girl on the corner handing out Hint flavored water, but she said it was warm, so we passed that up and bought cold drinks from a store nearby.

We sat on a bench and drank and talked.

We were sitting across from Chelsea Clinton’s condo building. It’s a ritzy area, Jeff Bezos lives catty corner to Chelsea on the cross street.

And out came a guy from Chelsea’s building, I guess one of her neighbors. He saw the Hint water truck parked sort of out front and he said something to the doorman, who walked over to the truck. That’s it above.

We assumed he was going to complain about them being there and ask them to move along. But no, the doorman came back with two cases of free water. Not bottles – cases. The free samples.

The rich are different. Cheap, the rich are cheap.,

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I finally visited Wegmans. It’s a super market, but it’s a super super market.

My mother spoke about it for years. Whenever she went upstate NY to visit my nephew in college, she returned with reports about Wegmans. It was never about the trip itself or of my nephew, it was about Wegmans.

A few years ago, they opened a Wegmans at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Brooklyn, NY and I’ve been meaning to visit, but I would forget about it. But yesterday, I remembered, so I took the F train from the city and visited.

It’s right next to the King’s County Distillery and there among a lot of the old navy yard.

They are opening a Wegmans in the city, at Astor Place, in about a year, so NYC will have two now.

It’s hard to describe Wegmans, it’s a supermarket, but huge. It has restaurants inside and a coffee shop, a pizza place and loads and loads of groceries. It’s almost like a Costco but with just food, no clothing or books or anything like that.

It’s an experience, sort of like the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building.

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