The information on this page is intended primarily for the residents, staff and family and friends of the Westchester Center for Independent and Assisted Living located in Westchester County, New York. However all readers are encouraged to send questions and comments regarding anything on this page by using the comments link at the top of this page.
Normally, I would have complained about the portion size and the ratio of protein to carbohydrates in this meal that purported to be beef burgundy, but the beef portion was just so terribly dry and stringy that having a larger portion of it would just have added to the dismal experience I had eating it.
We don't know what the "chef" substitutes for burgundy wine (we can't have real wine here at the Asylum), or what the actual liquid is that this was cooked in, but there certainly was no presence of it in the final presentation. In fact, we had to ask the server to bring out some gravy. When she arrived with only about 3 tablespoons of a beefy liquid in a dish she told us that that was all there was. What happened to the gravy is anyone's guess.
Fortunately, even that small amount of purloined gravy helped somewhat.
The canned, unsweetened pineapple chunks was the perfect ending for this very poorly cooked meal.
Rating- ☺☺x x x- Thank heavens for the gravy.
Corned beef and cabbage has been served here at the Center every St. Patrick's for a number of year. Each time cooked by a different chef.
Today it was our latest chef's chance to participate in the ritual of who can make the least authentic corned beef and cabbage dinner. And, as luck would have it, he won.
I really don't know where he came up with the idea that the "cabbage" component in the CB&C dinner should be shredded like sauerkraut or why it should have been piled on top of the meat, but that's the way it was served.
However, esthetics aside and if you're not a stickler to what makes a proper presentation, than the dinner was, in actuality, pretty good.
The meat was extremely tender and properly cooked as was the shredded cabbage. Even the boiled potato was nicely done.
Now if they can ever figure out how to cut a head of cabbage into quarters they just might have something worth looking at.
We don't often get exited about side dishes, especially one as mundane as a baked potato.
However, if you have not had one for over two months, having served to you once again is a big deal indeed.
While the reason why potatoes, in it's baked-with-skin-on form, had been pulled from the menu is not exactly clear, the very fact that we have it back more than makes up for its departure.
And, to make things even better, and something that I asked the chef to do, the potato was served uncut and unopened.
This meant that I could properly fork-split the still hot spud without ruining the creamy texture of the meat inside.
Oh, BTW, the innocuous baked fish was okay and were the veggies.
Rating ☺☺☺|☻☻- Great Potato
Our Best Tricks for Eating Healthy Without Blowing a Lot of Money
By Rachel Grumman Bender
Anyone who has ever perused the organic produce aisle at the grocery store may be led to believe that eating healthfully and sticking to a budget are totally at odds.
But making smart (not to mention delicious) decisions about what you pack on your plate doesn’t have to drain your wallet.
Unconvinced? Give these creative, money-saving tricks a try.
1. Cook Way Too Much Food — Really
2. Buy Ugly Produce
3. Get Packing … Your Lunch That Is
4. Spend a Little More Time in the Kitchen
5. Consider Eating Less Meat
6. Change Your Shopping Habits
7. Stock Up on Sales 8. Be Smart About Timing
I am not even going to discuss the merits or faults of tonight's main dish (Chicken Alfredo) which, by the way was just mediocre, but instead I would like to talk about some of the side dishes that are served here at the Asylum.
Let's start with today's lunch which was a cheeseburger with a side of (and I'm not joking) carrot and raisin salad which is more like a slaw than a salad.
Can you imagine someone walking up to the counter at McDonald's and ordering a side of carrot and raisin slaw instead of fries?
Which brings us to tonight's dinner.
Not wanting the baked ham, which I have known to be tough, I opted for the chicken with Alfredo sauce and pasta.
For the most part I got what I expected, a mixture of chicken chunks, an assortment of various pastas covered with a bland, floury, almost cheese-less white sauce.
What I did not expect was the giant mountain of assorted beans including green beans, green beans, navy beans and the dreaded LIMA BEAN.
I have nothing more to say about this except WTF.
Rating>> ☺x x x x- (the brownie for dessert was pretty good.
Bagel + Sushi? An Unexpected Match by Michelle Honig
It has the essence of a bagel with a heavy Japanese accent. This bagel-inspired sushi roll will be available from Wednesday, March 8 through Sunday, April 9 at both Uma Temakeria locations. The combo will not only be available as a hand roll (for $7), it will also come in the form of Uma Temakeria’s famous sushi burrito (for $12.50). Sushi, a burrito, AND a bagel? http://forward.com/food/364628/bagel-sushi-an-unexpected-match/?
Go to story >> http://forward.com/food/364628/bagel-sushi-an-unexpected-match/?utm_content=food_Newsletter_MainList_Title_Position-1&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Food%20Redesign%202017-03-01&utm_term=Food
Dementia risk reduced by eating 'five-a-day'
by Honor Whiteman
Dementia is estimated to affect around 47.5 million people worldwide, and this number is expected to more than triple by 2050.
But according to new research, there is one simple thing older adults can do to help reduce their risk of dementia: eat their "five-a-day." Researchers say eating five portions of fruits and vegetables daily could reduce older adults' dementia risk.
In a study published in the journal Age and Ageing, researchers found that eating at least three portions of vegetables and two servings of fruits daily was associated with lower risk of dementia in older adults.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that adults should consume at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables daily - the equivalent to around five servings - in order to improve overall health and lower the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
Go to story >> http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/316055.php
Chicken fingers here at the ALF are a hit or miss proposition with misses usually coming out on top. Fortunately, today was one of those "Hit" days.
The usually tough-as-nails concrete-like batter was replaced by crispy, flakier affair that one could actually bite into.
And, once I got past the coating I was treated with very white and mostly tender and moist chicken meat.
Accompanying this finger food was the one thing that this place makes as good as any other dining venue anywhere, the Steak Fries.
The small cup of honey mustard dressing rounded out the trio.
Rating >> ☺☺☺x x
With my appetite returning after a couple of days hiatus, I was happy to see something on tonight's dinner menu that I would consider to be "Comfort Food."
Pasta with sauce has always been my go-to dish when I'm feeling down, depressed, or just plain hungry. And, when you add something spicy and tasty to the spaghetti, it's that much better.
Today it was sausage (actually kielbasa) and just a hint of peppers, that graced the perfectly cooked pasta which came dressed in a tangy red sauce.
There was a tablespoon or so of chopped carrots (a concession to the dietician I'm sure) most of which I quickly scraped off the plate.
The only thing that would have made this meal better would have been a nice crispy chunk of garlic bread with which to sop up the sauce.
Rating >> ☺☺☺☺x- Because it "Hit the spot."
Due to some personal difficulties here at the ALF this past week I have neglected posting to this blog. To be frank, food has been the last thing on my mind.
Hopefully, as things get back to normal. I'll return to being the usually cantankerous old curmudgeon I usually am. Until then, here is something you might be interested in.
The World’s BEST Meatloaf Recipe – No Joke! It Won an Award!
I made a HUGE loaf with 3 pounds of beef and pork. My husband had sandwiches for a week and then I tossed the remaining loaf into a tomato sauce for pasta. Check out what my pals over at Gardenweb had to say about this recipe: I put the meat into a large bowl, then the egg on top and beat it with a fork, then sprinkle all the dried seasonings on top. Then I do 4-5 slices of bread in the food processor and then empty the container on top of the meat. Then I chop the onion and pepper in the processor and dump on top of the meat.
Then I put 3 celery stalks and 1 large carrot in the processor and process fine and dump it on top of the meat. Then I add the soup and mix it all up with my hands. I don’t use my knife for this meatloaf! Thank you for the additional tips!
1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs – (tear up soft sliced bread – don’t use fine crumbs as for breading)
1 1/2 lb ground meat (beef or pork & beef) (about 700 grams)
1 beaten Eggland’s Best egg
1 onion chopped fine 1/4 teasp dry Colman’s (or similar) mustard
1/8 teasp ground sage
1/2 teasp McCormick ground thyme
1 1/2 teasp Morotn salt
1/4 teas pepper
1/8 teasp nutmeg
1 chopped green pepper
1 tin condensed tomato soup (eg Campbells’s)
3/4 cup grated celery 3/4 cup grated carrot
1) Mix meat with egg, add onion and seasonings and bread crumbs, greens and carrots 2)
Add half the tin of soup and mix everything well.
Turn into greased loaf pan or glass casserole dish 8.5 x 11 inches and pour remaining soup over the top, smoothing it evenly over all. 3)
Bake 350 F (177 C) for 1 1/4 hours.
Mustard pickles also goes well and this makes wonderful cold sandwiches next day !
Source: American Pro Footbal Player’s Wife in 1963 My Notes:
1) I use ‘tomate frito’ instead of the condensed soup. It’s a rich fried Spanish tomato purÃ©e but otherwise condensed soup is good. Never use ketchup !
2) I usually double the amount of the ground spices with the exception of salt.
The last time we had this dish it was such a disaster and so poorly executed that diners found it almost impossible to eat.
The meat (what there was of it) was tougher than shoe leather with a chunk of cabbage to match.
Therefore, you can imaging my hesitancy when corned beef and cabbage appeared on the menu once again.
Should I order it again possibly encountering the sane lousy meal, or should I just pass and go for the fish stick alternate.
I bravely went for the meat and, while it was far from most folks idea of what this venerable old dish should look and taste like, it was much better than the last time.
The corned beef was sliced rather oddly (narrow strips of lean meat) as was the cabbage which looked more like sauerkraut than boiled cabbage.
But despite these shortcomings, which only indicates that the chef has no idea of how to cook corned beef and cabbage the old fashion way, at least the meat was tender as was the cabbage. I would have like to see the a baked or boiled potato instead of mashed, but all in all it wasn't all that bad. I just wish they would let me in the kitchen to show how it should be done.
Rating >> ☺☺☺x x- Hoping for better results next time
Every couple of weeks (actually it seems much more less than that) we are "treated" to what the chef calls Salisbury steak. While we don't know if this was ever served in Salisbury, we do know that it is certainly not steak. In fact, it's not really much of anything other than poor quality ground meat (we are not sure if it's all beef) covered with an gloppy, bland sauce (not gravy) and set on a plate with an inordinate amount of rice and some very, very overcooked broccoli.
And, to make things worse, if you can believe that's possible, the quality of the meat has actually gone down in the last couple of times this dish was served here.
At one tome these "steakettes" as they are formally called, used to have a slight char broiled flavor which, at least, made interesting. Now it's just a mushy patty of meat.
RATING >> Sorry, can't give this any rating other than "Poor show."
Fish dinners here at the ALF are a hit or miss affair with both the quality and quantity often unknown factors.
This leaves the unsuspecting diner with either ordering what's on the menu and taking their chances or ordering the alternate meal which is usually more recognizable but often less edible.
Being that tonight's alternate was meat ravioli, I passed and went for the fish even though it had a innocuous and rather generic description (White fish, not Whitefish).
Fortunately, and surprisingly as well, I made the right choice.
The fish, as mysterious as it was, was actually pretty good.
That's probably because they didn't bread it or adulterate it too much.
They simply broiled it, with a very light and moderately seasoned creamy sauce which neither add or distracted from the nutty0like fish beneath.
The veggies too, were nicely cooked even though they were a bit scarcely distributed.
A slice of lemon would also have been nice, but that's a minor point.
On the whole, not bad for here.
Rating >☺☺☺ ○ ○
Feb. 17, 2017
(Foodie is still getting over a bad cold and not tasting very much. But here's some interesting food news to read while I mend)
Why Eating Dead Food Is Bad for Your Health
How to make smart dietary changes to turn your health around by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D., AARP The Magazine, Your plate should be 50 percent veggies and fruit, 25 percent whole grains, and 25 percent meat, poultry or fish. As a nation, we're a bit fat. OK, more than a bit. After age 60, it doesn't get any easier.
How come? We eat too much. For over 30 years, we have been trained to eat 20 percent more. And now we are almost 20 percent overweight. Bingo! We're apt to move less. So we don't burn as many calories. Half or more of what we eat is "dead" food. Dead food has no nutrients. We call it dead because refining takes out almost all of its vitamins, minerals and fiber.
It's super-tasty, super-digestible and you can eat a mountain of it without feeling full. But it's dead, and it's making us sick and fat. What Is Dead Food? Filler: This is everything we're taught to love: bread, white rice, white pasta, sugar, chips, soft drinks. Processed food: Prepared items top this list: frozen meals, snacks, desserts. And weird stuff like ketchup.
Fast food: Think of your beloved French fries, cheeseburgers, milk shakes, griddle cakes and anything else that can be fried.
I'll bet you think I'm going to rag on the fishcakes.
You think I'm going to tell you that they are not fit for human (or feline) consumption.
I'll bet you even think that I took one bite and asked for something else.
Well, if bet on any of the above, YOU LOSE.
The truth be told, the fishcakes were not half bad and the fries were pretty damn good.
Both came to my table hot and properly cooked.
And, while it's true that the fishcakes are of the very processed variety and look like they came from "The People's Fishcake Factory #6" and despite their small size, they were tasty and free of that "Fishy" flavor and smell associated with this kind of item.
A cup of almost home-made cabbage soup was served along with this meal which was a bit on the sour side for my taste, but was quickly remedied with the addition on a teaspoon of sugar.
At our monthly food committee meeting this past week, one of the topics that was brought up was the haphazard way the food is plated and presented.
There was unanimous agreement that food that looks good on the plate is essential to the dining experience.
Often, the food that is served to us arrives on the as if it were thrown onto our plates as one would do in an Army field kitchen.
The chef agreed that he would try and make the presentation more pleasing to the eye as well as the palate. It appears that his promise was initiated with Saturday night's dinner.
The three elements (chicken, mashed potatoes, and spinach) all occupied 1/3 each of the plate's surface with a healthy serving of gravy poured over both the chicken and in a small well carved into the scoop of mashed.
In addition to way was the food was plated, it also arrived hot and, in the case of the chicken, properly seasoned and cooked.
As usual, a light sprinkling of salt was all that was needed to perk up the flavor just a bit.
I hope this is a sign of how future meals will be treated.
The State of New York specifies that individual elements of any meal must consist of not less than 3oz. There is not rule that prohibits larger portions of any one element.
This leads to some very odd, often lopsided, portions of food set upon our dinner plates.
As you can see in the photo, the ham portion (although I did not weigh it) I am sure did not exceed the 3oz. limit as did the mashed potato side.
This left a very big space for the most vilified veggie combination on the planet, succotash.
So vile is that hodgepodge of corn and lima beans that the very thought of it co-mingling with the rest of my food sickens me no end.
Rounding out this most inadequate and unsatisfying meal was the coconut custard pie which was served in a bowl.
I am looking forward to tomorrow's soup course which, I am sure, will be served on a plate.
☺/5 The ham, what there was of it, was tasty.
For some reason I fell asleep this afternoon, right in front of my computer, leaving me late for dinner.
One of my tablemates was sent out to fetch me. I wish she would have left me right where I was so I would not have had to endure the torture that was dinner tonight.
To say that the chicken marsala dinner was bad would be doing a disservice to the word dinner.
Why this testament to the horrific was even allowed to occupy space on my planet let alone my plate is a mystery.
The pre-formed chicken "breasts" were hard, dry, stringy and coated with a breading so atrocious that if it were not for the chemical taste of whatever passed for seasoning, there would be no flavor at all.
I don't know what that flavoring was supposed to be or why they thought to call this dish "marsala", but they could have saved the time cooking it and thrown in directly into the garbage where, I am sure, it all wound up anyway.
Just plain unabashed crap.
One big steaming pile of...
Let us begin with that strange little dish in the corner of the above photo.
It's a couple of wedges of tomato in a dish.
No mozzarella cheese, no lettuce, no nothing.
That's what was served as a salad/appetizer thing for dinner tonight.
Now don't get me wrong. I like a nice tomato as much as the next guy.
I remember, as a kid, one of those marvelous summer treats was the ability to dig into a nice juicy beefsteak tomato fresh from the vine. They were terrific and usually needed nothing more than a little salt and pepper.
Unfortunately, the tomatoes served this night did not have the flavor, taste, or consistency to stand alone. They were...ridiculous.
Not so ridiculous was the main course of sliced kielbasa with peppers and a side of squash and corn on the cob.
While I prefer my kielbasa (or any other sausage for that matter) served in one piece, the tasty slices of nicely seasoned sausage combined with a mix of sauteed peppers made up for it being sliced.
The squash was nutty and the corn on the cob was tender and flavorful.
A little larger portion of the kielbasa and peppers would have been nice, but I won't complain.
What you are looking at here is the remnants of perhaps the worst burrito if not the worst thing I have ever eaten here at the A.L.F.
The only reason that I continued to eat it is that I was curious to see if I could identify the source of whatever was making this drek taste so foul.
At first I thought it was the tortilla that had a very bitter taste.
However, after eating the tortilla separately, I ruled that out. The tortilla was just a tortilla.
I tried the beans, the lettuce and the cheese. All okay.
Than I dug into the burrito itself and discovered the source of the problem. It was the filling itself that was so bad.
Though I had trouble finding out what in the meat was so foul, I believe it was the chili seasoning itself that was either of poor quality, spoiled, or used in such a large quantity that it left the meat totally inedible.
Now, while I am not going to blame the chef for this fiasco (the burrito was not made here and most likely arrived frozen and re-heated), I do blame him for not tasting the burrito before sending it out to the table.
One bite would have been enough to toss them in the garbage.
-☻Minus one-just awful.
While nobody standing at the counter of Gino's or Pat's cheesesteak sandwich stands in Philadelphia would in any way consider this to be a genuine Philly Cheesesteak sandwich, it still managed to satisfy anybody who has had a hankering for one.
All of the right components were there. The shaved tender steak, the yellow cheese and the roll, but just not in the right quantities.
The sandwich, which was surprisingly adequate in size, could have used more cheese. A lot more cheese. And onions. Where were the sautéed onions? And the roll could have been a little fresher too.
You will notice the inset of a bowl of spinach soup which I had as an appetizer. Amazingly it was different, bold and very spinachy and a nice start to lunch.
They could keep the cole slaw which was nothing more than a gloppy disturbance.
☺☺☺☺/5 Good, but needs a little tweaking.
Delicious Recipes From the 7 Banned Nations
by Liza Schoenfein (The Forward)
At a time like this, food can seem like a frivolous topic. But it’s not. Food is about sharing and connecting. Food is about breaking boundaries and crossing borders. I know it’s sappy, but as far as I’m concerned, food is love. Still, I was feeling a little queasy about writing, editing and posting the regular fare.
And it hit me: We would provide lovely recipes from each of the nations the president has banned. Here, then, are a variety of foods from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen.
Most are from our archives; the rest were found around the web.
Persian Halvah, Iraqi Recipes, Libyan Recipes, Somali Recipes, Sudanese Recipes, Syrian Kibbe, Yemeni Recipes.
The menu board here at the Asylum read like a schedule for a chicken anatomy class.
With eggs for breakfast (It's chicken, but in another form), and Chicken wings for lunch followed by "Honey" baked chicken for dinner, we all knew it would be long until we ate an entire chicken.
By back to the wings.
While they weren't the Buffalo hot wing variety (perish forbid anything with a little heat should be served here) and they weren't really fried, the wings were rather tasty and, despite their small size, actually meaty.
My only complaint is that there wasn't enough of them.
With only 4 wings on the plate, it was hardly a meal, unless you are a big fan of macaroni salad, of which there was plenty.
A little hot sauce on the side would have been nice too.
As far as lasagna goes, this concoction of ground beef, ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, and pasta, in most circles would be called amateurish and second rate.
However, for a second rate kitchen like the one we have here, it wasn't all that bad.
The ground beef (although unseasoned) was plentiful, the pasta well cooked and the sauce spicier than usual. Only the ricotta cheese component was poorly executed. Simply put, there wasn't much of it. I could barely detect any and my tablemate could find none at all.
Also, as you can see from the photo, my serving looked as though a 350 pound Mafia don sat on it after it was plated.
It also could have been a little hotter, but we here at the Asylum are used to luke warm meals.
☺☺☺/5 I like the sauce.
Over the years, residents of the Westchester Center assisted living facility have endured periods of staff shortages.
Usually these shortages are temporary, last only one shift and are mostly due to weather conditions. Unfortunately, as of late, staff shortages (mostly exemplified by the lack of dining room personnel) have been occurring more and more and on a regular basis.
Hardly a weekend day goes by without a delay in setting up for breakfast (mostly for the second seating residents).
The reason is always the same, short staffing. There are usually (or there should be) at least 6 servers to attend to the approximately 25 tables (4 residents per table) for each of two shifts. Today, there were only 3.
This causes a delay in setting up for, and serving diners who are supposed to be in their seats at 8:45 am. If all goes as planned, breakfast is usually on the table by 9 am, and the diners begin to leave at around 9:30.
Today, as you can see from the photo of my watch, breakfast did not arrive at our tables until 9:45, nearly 45 minutes late. The reason for the short staff. Well, it certainly was not the weather.
What it is, is the inability of management to motivate a crew of poorly paid, over worked and abused (by management and diners alike) to get up and come to work on time, every day.
The servers, who usually have had no experience in serving food and are minimally trained, work for little more than minimum wage.
There are no benefits (other than being able to eat whatever food is being cooked for residents that day) and they must go thorough a difficult vetting procedure as mandated by the state. In addition, they have to endure a job filled with blood pressure raising tasks and room full of sometimes very nasty and difficult people to deal with. Our Residents.
Sadly. There is no easy fix. The resident/diners will most likely never change and, unless the department heads go through a personnel management course, there won’t be much improvement there.
This leaves the one thing that motivates most people. Money. Money, in the form of a decent wage with bonuses for having a good performance record.
Also, the state must ease off on its rules and regulations that prohibit people with arrest records to work in nursing homes or ALF’s. There are other ways to properly vet prospective employees that don’t discriminate against people who may have made a mistake 10 years ago. ........ff.
The main course for lunch today was hot dogs. However, I decided to pass on that because, if the last three or four times were any indication on how today's hot dogs would be, I know that most likely they would be dry, overcooked, tasteless, and cold. Therefore I went with the alternate billed as a "Deli sandwich."
Well, it was a deli sandwich, but not like what we usually get which is a tasty sandwich on a roll with lettuce and tomato. What we got was a soggy sandwich on cold and stale white bread with a side of cole slaw that was so runny and thin that it ran all over the plate and actually began to soak into the bread rendering the already inedible sandwich even more so.
☺/5 (The soup appetizer was pretty good)
I am showing you this photo of a slice of apple pie, not because it was good (which it was), or because it was warm (which it was) or not even because it was a fairly decent size portion (again, which it was).
The reason why you are looking at this pie is because, in the almost 4 years that I have been here and having been served at least 1 slice of pie a week, this is the first time that I have ever received it where it has not looked like an elephant sat on it or that it had been used as a soccer ball in the kitchen.
☺☺☺☺/5 Good pie.
Okay, it's not really dinner at the State Penitentiary, but sometimes it sure does look that way.
Tonight's offering of what is questionably called Salisbury Steak was just more of the same old same old mediocre no-brainer meals that are cheap and easy to make by a cook staff that often has trouble making toast let alone an actual meal.
There was an attempt to put a "homey" touch on this offering by adding a very small piece of cornbread, but even that could overcome the ho-hum.
A baked sweet potato also came with this, but I gave it to my tablemate because I am still on a diet and I'm trying to cut back on carbs.
☺☺/5 I liked the cornbread.
One of the good things about eating here at the Center is that you actually do have some choice other than what is offered on the menu.
One of those choices, and one which is always available, is the good old ham and Swiss on rye.
Now usually, the amount of actual meat/ cheese/lettuce&tomato ratio in these sandwiches weighs heavily in favor on the lettuce. Today however, I can say that the sandwich that I received to was as good a sandwich as I would have received in any restaurant or diner anywhere.
I actually enjoyed it.
Sometimes I just don't know what going on in that kitchen.
It's a riddle wrapped (not in a burrito) but in an enigma.
Sometimes you just get a hankerin' for something simple and basic.
You know, it's the food you grew up with and always got exited about when mom made it. Some people even call it "Comfort Food."
Tonight's comfort food here at the Asylum was not only basic and comforting, but it was actually really good.
It appears that the cooks have finally found the right combination of sauce-pasta-meatballs.
While past efforts were usually lacking in one of two of the elements, this recent attempt was right on the money.
The spaghetti was cooked just right (not too al dente or too mushy).
The meatballs were tasty and neither too spicy or too bland. And, it was all topped off with a very decent (though a bit commercial) marinara sauce.
All it needed was a healthy sprinkling of some nice grated Parmesan cheese, and walla!, the perfect meal for a rainy, windy Monday night.
☺☺☺☺/5- Nicely done.
There is a reason why restaurants have menus.
Besides giving the diner an idea of what his meal will cost him, it's also useful as a way of describing what there is to eat.
For instance. If you see meatballs and spaghetti on the menu, you can expect to be served a reasonable copy of what you know meatballs and spaghetti is supposed to look and taste like.
The same for scrambled eggs and bacon. You certainly would be surprise when, instead of scrambled eggs, out came a raw egg and chunks of pineapple.
Such was the case with what we were told would be chicken a la king on toast.
Well, the toast was there alright, but that's where any similarity to anything the rest of the world knows to be chicken a la king ends.
There was at least 5 or 6 ingredients missing the most notable of which was the sauce.
As far as I am concerned, what we were served for lunch was nothing more than chopped chicken and peas on toast and should have been written on the menu as such.
☺/5- Really, really crappy.
This is what lunch looked like here two years ago.
On that day we were served cold eggplant Parmesan with equally cold pene pasta in a Styrofoam box with plastic utensils.
Two years ago this facility was in a state of quarantine due to a virulent outbreak of norovirus which affected at least one third of the residents.
This forced a closing of the dining room and any communal dining.
Unfortunately, at that time there was no way to deliver the food hot to our rooms and we were left to eat cold, poorly made and poorly plated food like this.
The quarantine lasted almost two weeks. The food never got any better.
The first time the chef made this dish here it was inedible. It was a mushy mess with flavor and texture to match and had no relation to what any normal person would consider to be chicken Parmesan.
Friday nights dinner, while it still might not be anybody's idea of a traditional chicken parm, was by itself an extremely tasty and well made main course.
For most of us, chicken Parmesan originally was supposed to be a poor mans substitute for the old Neapolitan icon, Veal Parmesan. A dish made with tender veal cutlets, dipped in egg and breaded and baked with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. Sort of like a pizza sitting on top of a piece of veal.
This dish was quite the opposite.
The chicken was breaded (but with no egg wash).
The cheese was there, but in very small quantity.
The star of this show was the sauce, which, though not a true tomato sauce, did have some of the elements of a well seasoned cheese broth.
The cutlets were tender to the fork without the mushiness and there was enough of the proper seasoning to make salt unnecessary.
Although the dish was served with rice and a mushroom/cauliflower medley, I passed on both and had an extra piece of chicken instead.
There was another one of the chef's strange beet and onion salads (also passed on) and ice cream for dessert.
As i said, it may not be chicken Parm. as we know it, but it certainly was good enough to eat.
At first glance this edition of my beloved eggplant Parmesan looked promising all gussied up with a generous helping of nice tomato sauce and just a hint of melted cheese below it.
It was not until I took my first bite that I found out what this dish was really made of.
Beyond a layer of cheese, past an additional layer of sauce lay the reason for all that tomato cascade.
It was an effort to hide the burned layer of bread crumbs at the center of that very over-baked concoction.
I delicately dissected each layer and found that the charcoal broiled bread crumbs ran throughout the slice effectively ruining the meal.
What a shame nobody had a thermometer.
The Faceless Foodie is taking a break today. Not from eating, but from writing about it. It was such a ho-hum food day here at the Center that there was nothing worth reporting on.
Eggs for breakfast, chef salad for lunch and Salisbury steak for dinner.
So, instead, I thought you might like to check out this U.S. Gov. website that has some very nice (and free) publication on senior nutrition.
I wasn't expecting much more than the usual dried-out piece of chicken covered in that gloppy, overly sweet, right out of the jar barbecue sauce as I ordered dinner this evening. But I was pleasantly surprised by what I can only perceive as a re-thinking, when low and behold, the sauce was not gloppy or too sweet. In fact, it almost tasted dry-rubbed.
Of course, it was still on the dry side which is most likely due to over-cooking so as not to spread the dreaded salmonella among the residents that would surely kill us all.
Although I am not a great fan of Mexican food, I do admire the way our neighbors south of the border manage to find a way to properly season food so that even the most mundane ingredients taste special.
Take the lowly burrito for instance.
This very simple street food, usually consisting of cooked meat and beans wrapped in a tortilla and topped with cheese, can be a anything from a tasty snack to the centerpiece of an entire meal.
And ,while the ingredients are simple, the spices and seasoning that make this wrap exclusively Mexican are complex.
Basically they are: chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt, coriander, and paprika.
Unfortunately, while the concept was okay, once again the execution fell short because of a total lack of most of the seasoning that would have put this meal over the top.
Mexican food is supposed to be a bit on the spicy side, and if they can't do that, than maybe they shouldn't do it at all.
☺☺/5 only because I liked the tortilla.
I am not sure what a "stewed" pork chop is, but I am sure that I liked it.
Well, perhaps the word "liked" should be modified by saying I liked it better than the old way they used to make pork chops around here which was to bake them until they were impossible to cut in to.
This new method (which I think is more braising than stewing) allows for the meat to cook in either its own juices or some braising liquid which, not only tenderizes the pork, but adds much to the flavor of this sometimes flavorless meat.
The chop(s) were tender with a very nice, and not too overpowering, coating.
Unfortunately, depending on where you sat, the level of tenderness may have varied a lot.
While my chop was tender and juicy, my tablemate's chop was dry and shriveled.
The asparagus was a nice change, but I would have preferred a little less stalk and a little more tips.
I passed on the wild rice which is usually neither wild or rice.
We have no idea why this dish was called "Fried" rice with shrimp and crab when there was obviously none (or little of) any of those ingredients in it.
The rice was definitely not fried by any definition, the shrimp were few and far between and the crab, well, it was not there.
The little veggies were nice (corn, green peas and carrots), and should have been enough to add at least some flavor, but even they could not overcome the boredom of this dish.
Even adding two packs of Chinese take-out soy sauce and some yellow mustard (see picture on the right above) could not ease the pain of having to eat this concoction.
☺/5 ...Only because the rice was tender.
It's been a long long time since we have had anything called a "wrap" here at the Center.
Actually, when I first started to do these reviews almost 4 years ago, I thought that these wraps were probably the best thing served here.
Back then, there were ham and cheese wraps, a tuna wrap and a chicken wrap as we had Sunday afternoon for lunch.
And, as I took my first bite, I realized why I liked them so much.
Everything is right with this sandwich.
It's tasty (tender white meat chicken with Lettuce, tomato and cheese) with ranch dressing. And, the tortilla wrap makes it easy to handle.
I liked this a lot, and hope that we see more of these in the future.
We have had lamb stew and beef stew and even stewed chicken, but this was the first time for me having beef stew here, or anywhere.
This, of course leaves me at a bit of a disadvantage because i have nothing to compare this meal with.
Therefor the only thing I can do is tell you whether of not I liked it or not.
Okay, I'll tell you.
I DON'T KNOW.
The best I can say about this oddly seasoned dish id that it's okay.
The veal was tender, so no problem there.
There was a nice gravy, and enough of it.
But, the gravy had a weird flavor. Not bad, just strange and somewhat exotic with a seasoning I cannot identify.
One of my table mates said it was marjoram, I said it was turmeric and the one just made a face and left the table.
However, despite the mystery condiment, It was not too shabby.
We here at the Asylum have never really had anything referred to as an "Appetizer" as a prelude to dinner.
usually we have the choice of a salad or soup before the main course is served.
Sunday evening was different when, what should appear on the menu, but a "Mini Beef Burrito."
Being a lover of Mexican food, this seemed like a nice way to start a meal that featured veal stew?
Unfortunately, the mini burritos were more wrap than filing and what filling there was was not very good.
Sorry, but it wasn't worth the effort.
Something different happened today after I ordered the W.Center's pizza for lunch.
I sent it back and asked to speak to whoever was in charge of the kitchen this day. I did this for two reasons.
First, because it was the lousiest, cold pizza I have ever tasted, and...
Two, because I had to wait almost an hour to get it. I told the server to send the boss out but, unfortunately, he was not in today and instead I was seen by a lowly assistant who looked a little apprehensive at the prospect of conversing with me given my penchant to overheat and explode.
But I kept my cool and explained to her that to serve pizza like this and have to wait an interminably long time for it was not only doing a disservice to me, but to all of us (residents) as well.
Amazingly, while I was having this rather curt exchange with the assistant, not one, but two pieces of bubbling hot pepperoni pizza arrived at my table which did nothing but enhance my wrath and send me into further narratives about staff shortages and a dysfunctional kitchen staff.
The assistant left promising to pass the information on to the boss. I'm not expecting too much in the way of compensation, moral or otherwise.
The Assisted Living Gods must be pleased tonight after receiving todays most magnificent burnt offering.*
It appears that the kitchen's high priestess of the grill either fell asleep or just didn't care enough to take the already very thin burger off the heat in time to keep it from becoming an inedible hockey puck.
*Editor's note: Due to the fact that I am on a diet, the burger was ordered without the bun and macaroni salad side dish.
I am not going to beat around the bush or get cutesy with words.
I am just going to say that "This may be the best fish dinner I have ever had here at the Center."
And I say this unashamedly.
In the past I have written many unkind words about how the fish was cooked and served to us, with good reason.
Dried-out, overcooked, heavily breaded and poorly seasoned seafood has always been the norm here and nobody seemed to be able to do anything about it.
Well, all that changed Monday night when, low and behold, a new era in cooking fish came to the Center.
The improvement was immediately noticeable.
The fish (most likely Pollack) was tender, flaky and moist.
The flavorful batter was light and gently baked.
The small cup of melted butter was the perfect addition along with some nicely seasoned "cheesy" mashed potatoes.
The only "yuck" factor was the succotash, but that's my personal opinion.
I only hope that this meal was not a fluke (pun intended), and that we will see, and taste, more of the same in the future.
Every month, or so, we have here at the Center, a theme dinner featuring the cuisine of a different nation.
This month the food took on a German accent with an offering of Bratwurst with sauerkraut or Chicken schnitzel.
Having already eaten sausage with my eggs for breakfast and hot dogs with sauerkraut for lunch, I passed on the brat and went for something familiar.
As it turned out, it was the right choice for the reports I got back on the bratwurst was that it left much to be desired.
And, while the schnitzel had no resemblance to anything actually German (no fried egg, no anchovy), the breaded chicken cutlet was very nicely seasoned and tender to the fork.
This, combined with a vegetable we don't often see here at the Center (asparagus) which was lightly drizzled with a thin interpretation of Hollandaise sauce, made for a very acceptable dinner for a change.*
I included a picture of the very strange "gurkensalat" (cucumber salad) which appealed to absolutely none of my senses and which I ate none of, just to show you what it was.
*Editor's note: If the chicken used in Monday's Chicken Parmesan were made as well as the chicken used in todays schnitzel, there would have been a much more positive review.
I last reviewed the Chef's Chicken Parmesan on November 19th, shortly after he took over the kitchen.
At that time the only problem I had with this usually well received offering was the blandness of the sauce.
Since that time the tomato sauce, which is used on many of the "Italian" dishes here at the Center, has improved to a point that I can say that it is, at least, acceptable.
Unfortunately, that is the only good thing I can say about this absolute abomination of what should be a no-brainer meal.
To put it mildly, this stuff was a big, red cheesy pile of s**t with the texture of pureed baby food and the seasoning to match.
The mushy (or soggy) composition of the chicken gave it an almost pudding-like consistency that was nothing less than an affront to my palate.
If this dish, as it was, were cooked by a four-year-old, I would forgive his lack of finesse, pat him gently on the behind and send him to his room to sulk.
Sadly, this dish was cooked by a grown man who should know better.
With much regret, this is another addition to my list of "Dishes I Must Avoid."
Oh, BTW, the piece of what was supposed to be garlic bread was almost completely devoid of garlic. But what can you expect of a Chef that seems to have lost the key to the spice rack.
If I were still rating these meals with stars, it would get a minus 3.
Editor's Note: The Faceless Foodie has decided that his waistline has far exceeded the recommended girth for normal human beings and will embark on yet another diet. Therefore, for the next few weeks many of the food fotos will be shown without side dishes. More details on this as the days progress.
And now back to our regularly scheduled review...
Perhaps it was the non-labeling of the species that should have warned me off Friday's "Herb encrusted baked fish" dinner, or just the mere fact that the fish was baked at all, but I decided to go with it anyway seeing how the alternate was honey baked ham, a dish that usually renders the ham rubbery and impossible to digest.
Not only did this unknown variety of fish arrive DOA but it appeared that rigor mortis had already set in leaving the remains dry and inedible.
While baking fish is a tried and true cooking method, it should never be used when the fish to be baked is thin filets of white flakey-meat.
The filets were left in the oven way too long which literally baked all of the juice and flavor out of it.
And, since the fish was frozen (maybe more than once) there probably wasn't too much flavor left in it to begin with.
There are two things that our kitchen desperately needs.
First, a decent broiler (like a salamander), and second, someone who knows how to use it.
There are many things I could say about this abomination of a meal, but since none of it would be complimentary and most of it using language that would make a sailor blush I will stick to the facts in as a clinical way possible.
The meat: Tough, dry, flavorless with practically no “pickled” taste noticeable. In addition, the chef, probably in a fit of either madness, confusion or both, decided that somehow corned beef would taste better if it had some sauce on it. But not just any old sauce. Only a sauce so incongruous to the very essence of corned beef would do. It was brown and sweet. You heard me SWEET!
The cabbage: Pale, under cooked (mine was almost raw), tough and tasteless and cold.
The potatoes: Probably the only properly cooked item on the menu, but still served cold. There is not much more I can say about this dinner other than whoever cooked it has none of the basic cooking skills to prepare a meal like this or anything else for that matter.