Golf score? Nope.

Bowling score? A good possibility.

Age? Not quite yet.

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Death-to-Self Diet

Chocolate? Out of the question!

Wine? Are you kidding me?

Beer? Just the smell of one is too many carbs.

Toast? Are you not listening?

A cookie? Now you’re being hardheaded.

Yes, my wife and I are on what I call the Death-To-Self Diet, meaning that you have to die to the idea of eating anything you crave, want, think of, for at least three weeks. It’s a serious diet and is not for those who just toy with diets. You know how some people are, they change diets like they change churches, trying one here, then another there, but never really getting serious about it.

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Reggie’s: A Restaurant with Character

Character is character because it is unique. The moment you mass produce it, it loses its character. I’m sure the original TGIF’s restaurant was an unique experience. Same with the Olive Garden, Applebees, even McDonalds. But once those restaurants became mass produced they lost any claim to having character.

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Photo of the Week: Big Daddy’s Roadhouse Barbecue

Last night, we were in Lavon, TX around dinner time so we decided to eat out. The restaurant of choice was Big Daddy’s, which was established in 1999. I say that because they worked real hard to give the inside of the restaurant the atmosphere of something that was quite antiquidated as far as barbecue restaurants are concerned. In other words, the walls were covered with photos of John Wayne, and country singers that only the greyest of country music fans would know. It kind of worked. The atmosphere of the restaurant was quite nostalgic for the good old days when men were men, and they loved their women and no more. Sadly, I didn’t take any photos from inside the establishment, so you will have to venture there yourself.

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Picture of the Week — Light, Leaves and Leftovers

This is one of those rare pictures that I could see in my mind’s eye before I took it that actually came out better than it did in my mind’s eye. I spotted it several days before I actually got around to picking up the camera, getting on my knees, and adjusting the focus. I love the way the light was shining on both the ashtray, and the back porch, yet not in the back ground. It helps our eyes focus on the ash tray with a half-smoked cigar.

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Bad Golf, Good Dishes

Actually, it was an injured arm that lead to the pursuit of more dishes for my lovely bride. I wanted to golf at a course in Canton, TX, home of the First Monday’s Trade Days (the largest flea market this side of the Mississippi). It’s also home to the Canton Dish Barn. For those who are into Fiesta Dinnerware, the Canton Dish Barn is the place to shop.

My wife and I appreciate Fiesta Ware. We like the color. We like the solid feel of the plates. We like the way the plates keep our food off the table, as plates are designed to do. Yes, the simplicity of the plates and the bright colors remind me of… kindergarten, when things were simpler. No confusing patterns. Just simply, color, roundness of plates, and thickness, giving a senses of durability.

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A Gentle Reminder

My lovely bride loves to make chocolate candy for me, since I’m such a lover of chocolate. You can read more about that here.

The problem is that we ran out of chocolate a few days ago. She is ever attentive and asked me this morning, while she was at work, to leave her a reminder so she could make me more chocolate tonight. I thought it would be helpful to leave the can of cocoa in a place where she would see and be reminded. Then, to my delight, I discovered we had four cans of cocoa. She is really good about never running out of the essentials. Seizing on the opportunity, I placed all four cans in convenient locations. After all, can one leave too many reminders for the need of chocolate? See the photos and tell me if you think she will spot the conveniently placed cans of cocoa. (All photos Copyright TimothyJHammons 2017).

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You Can Keep Your Krispy Kreme! I Will Take Shipley Do-nuts Every Time!

Shipley 001

I can remember all the hubbub over Krispy Kreme donuts when they first came to Texas back in the late 1990s. Everyone was all excited about the prospect because we had heard for years about how good they were. And they are great donuts. But never did I ever waiver from my love for Shipley Do-nuts because that was the donut that a grew up with back in Houston.

We never looked forward to going to Duncan Donuts, or any other donut shop Saturday or Sunday morning. For my family, the treat was always Shipley’s. In fact, at one point when my brothers and I were all under the same roof, we had to buy two dozen donuts when we went. Most of them never got cold. We were in donut heaven.

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Heidi’s Peanut Butter Cups!

As many of my friends knows, I’m a confessing chocoholic (please follow the link). This isn’t like being confessional in a theological sense, where you come to your positions theologically through much study, prayer and leading by God. This is…of the flesh, completely! Chocolate is my Kryptonite, my weakness when it comes to eating. I love chocolate. Well, that should be overly redundant by now.

However, since my doctor strongly recommended I go on a diet and my wife helped me, I have cut out almost all chocolate intake. In fact, the first three weeks on the diet we were completely chocolate free, along with being beer free, wine free, bread free, cheese free, potato chip free…,well, anything that I could eat that wasn’t absolutely good for me. And guess what? The diet worked beyond my wildest dreams. After the first four weeks, which is the main portion of the weight-loss portion of the diet, I went from a dainty 265 lbs. to 238 lbs. After that, the diet focuses on stabilizing at the 238 lbs. But I didn’t stabilize at all. I kept losing weight. Now I’m down to an even 230 lbs. for a told loss of 35 lbs., and I may get into the 220s if I continue eating the way that I have been.

But alas, the need for chocolate. Heidi knew that I loved chocolate, so she went to work trying to find chocolate that would keep us in the guidelines of our diet, meaning that it had to be butter free, sugar free, fat free, etc. You might think that it was an impossible task, but not for Heidi. She came up with a simple recipe of mixing cocoa (a major portion of what makes up chocolate) with coconut oil (no relation to chocolate), added some Stevia and then froze it. This was about week three of the diet, so when she presented it to me, I was extremely grateful.

I bit into the chocolate not knowing what to expect. It was quite different than the chocolates we are accustomed to. First of all, it’s not full of sugar. Yes, the Stevia gave it a hint of sweetness, but the taste was more chocolate and almost sour in comparison to the other chocolates we are used to eating. I loved it.

Then something happened. The more she made it, the more my tastes changed, and the more I loved it. That has been another one of the surprises to this diet, my tastes have changed. While in the first part, I was craving all kinds of foods I could not have, after being away from those foods, I only began to crave what was on the diet. The last hold out was last week when I was craving Saltine crackers. Strange, I know.Food 005

What was special is that Heidi gave me a piece of chocolate the she dipped in all-natural peanut butter, and it was a taste from the heavenlies. I told her she should make some peanut butter cups, and she being the loving wife she is, she did!

The two I have eaten were splendid. While you have to keep them in the refrigerator because the chocolate has a low-melting point, the cups are best eaten at room temperature, meaning they will be much more messy. But messy is worth it. Here are the final peanut butter cups.

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More Glorious Food!

More delectables from Heidi’s kitchen. First up, sword fish and fresh green beans. Very delightful!

Food 003Heidi marinated the swordfish in Thyme, lemon juice, salt and pepper, broiled it in the oven, 5 minutes on each side. Did I say it was wonderful?

As for the green beans, she gets a gold medal award for taking fresh green beans, adding red onion, and marinated them together with Herbes de Provence, and balsamic vinegar with a dash of salt. Superb!

The bonus: only about 250 calories for the entire meal!

Here is another dish she made me last week, although, no details for it. Just look and drool.

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Not Eating Donuts

As anyone who has ever experienced a serious diet knows, the worst part of the diet is the cravings, and the the worst part of that is having that which you crave, right before your eyes.

My sons and I have a weekly ritual on Saturdays in which we go to the pharmacy and a donut shop. I knew going into my current diet, that I would be faced with our little ritual, so this is about not eating donuts. Fortunately, there isn’t much to say, other than the sacrifice has been worth it. I have lost 17 lbs.!

I need that truth before me, because the worst part of this diet hasn’t been the hunger. On the Hungry-O-Meter, I’m usually around a 3 or a 4. However, on the Crave-O-Meter I’m usually around a 9 or 10. Donuts are high on the list of cravings. At my worst, I think I was craving bacon and chocolate, with a buttered tortilla wrapped around it, covered with gravy and a beer. I’m sure they serve that somewhere. But if they don’t, try one for me and let me know.

As for the donuts, my boys tell me they were excellent.

CRW_8320 Donuts 001 Donuts 002

Food, Glorious Food! Heidi’s Taco Salad

Heidi has me on a special diet that she used a number of years ago to help her lose more than 60 lbs. We cut out carbs, which means, we cut out bread, beer, chocolate, fruit with too much sugar, beer, chocolate, bread, tortillas, chips, cereal, beer, chocolate … well, you get the idea. It is also a low fat diet as well. This means, brace yourselves, no bacon! I know! The humanity! It is not the Atkins diet, but a bit more complicated than that.

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Chili Rellenos for Thanksgiving

This is the time of year that I start thinking about chili rellenos. Most people start thinking about turkey, stuffing, being stuffed by turkey and stuffing and football. But not me. I think about chili rellenos, because my mother had the world’s best chili relleno recipe.

It was so good that she always cooked chili rellenos for us on Thanksgiving instead of turkey, gravy and stuffing. Well, not always, but for the most part. She would save the turkey for Christmas.

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Bring On the Fatted Calf

In biblical times, especially in Christ’s day, when there was something worth celebrating, those throwing the party brought on the fatted calf. This was the one that was fed the extra food so that it would taste better and provide more meat. Over the past 50 years in our country, the fatted calf has become a thing of the past.

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Good Southern Food

I was perusing Facebook this morning and noticed that my friend Andrew M. had a post about a women in South Carolina asking for “diet sweet tea.” That was humorous in and of itself because “diet sweet tea” is called “unsweetened tea.” I know that you can add those poisonous pink packets of powder to the tea to make it taste sweet and have less calories, but I’m convinced it is better for you just to add the sugar to the tea and drink it that way.

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Confessions of a Chocoholic

“Hmmmmm, chocolate!” That is one of the most memorable lines from the Simpsons as he relishes the thought of his next fix of chocolate. He is known for finding chocolate anywhere and everywhere and even dreams about The Land of Chocolate. He loves the land of chocolate and curses reality when he awakens from the dream to find that he cannot live life eating everything in front of him and turning into a big, round ball.

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Top 5 Blue Bell Ice Creams and the Blue Bell Tour

BlueBell 001

Last week, I finally got the opportunity to take the boys to the home of Blue Bell Creameries here in Brenham, TX for the tour. It was my first time to visit, which is odd, because I lived in and been around, and driven past the Creameries for the past 25 years or so, given that my father lives in the area.

Having two boys who love ice cream pushed me over the edge, I broke down for the tour and shelled out the $14 it cost to take the 30 minute tour. Normally, I would balk at shelling out $14 for a 30 minute tour, but this one had the promise that no other tour guide in history can offer: Blue Bell ice cream at the end of the tour. For my boys, the 30 minute tour was almost too long! After looking at assorted machines dispensing ice cream, ice cream sandwiches and Great Divide bars, Joey kept asking, “can we have some ice cream now?

That is the cumulative effect of the tour. Never mind that we are peeking into the secret halls where that yummy, precious Homemade Vanilla is produced, all day, every day that the factory is open (no cameras allowed!). Never mind the fact that the tour-guide told us it was their number one selling ice cream hands down. Never mind that you can find Homemade Vanilla at every Outback Steakhouse across the nation. Never mind that Blue Bell is not yet nation wide, but should be. Never mind that they introduce 16 new flavors every year, while removing 16 other flavors every year, therefore if you like a flavor, buy a lot so that they keep it on the production list! All these facts and figures never seem to sink into the grey matter until we actually get some ice cream!

We did get our ice cream. There is an entire ice cream shop at the end of the tour complete with gift shop and plenty of ice cream. You get a ticket for free ice cream with your purchase of a tour ticket, and that gets you a good helping of ice cream to sample.

It was there that I came up with the following rule for my boys: “Sons, if Daddy doesn’t like what you are picking out, you can get it.”

That may sound harsh. But Joey selected his ice cream based on it’s color, not flavor. It was like a sherbet orange and lime of some kind. He didn’t like it and I ended up eating it and gave him my Rockside Brownie ice cream (NOTE: new flavor, very good, buy lots!). His was still good, but it wasn’t chocolate. Therefore, I don’t let him buy food or candy unless I like it too.

Now, what some of you have been waiting for. Here are the Top 5 selling Blue Bell Ice Creams. This is not my opinion, but their list compiled by a capitalistic system known as supply and DEMAND! They supply these flavors and the public keeps DEMANDING them! Which leads to the reminder, if you like a flavor, buy lots and demand more. Here are the top 5 selling flavors:

1. Homemade Vanilla — This should be logical because you can take vanilla and add anything you want to it and it will be great. I like to add chocolate syrup… well, to all my Blue Bell flavors.

2. Cookies and Cream — I had to get an ice-cream sandwich of this yesterday while swimming at the Blue Bell Aquatic Center with my boys. It reminded me why Cookies and Cream is so popular. The other ice cream sandwich they sell a lot of is Homemade Vanilla.

3. Chocolate — This would have been my number one on the list, but again, this list is based on sales, not opinion. If you want to see an GREAT list of Blue Bell ice creams according to me, click here. That is a list of MY Top 10 Blue Bell Ice Creams as compiled by the research team of Timothy & Timothy.

4. The Great Divide — Why not? An ice cream of their best flavor, Homemade Vanilla and Chocolate.

5. Ultimate Neapolitan — I don’t like this one because I’m not a fan of strawberry. But I do like 2/3 of this one. Can you guess which ones?

Other Interesting FACTS: I have Orange Swirl and Red Velvet Cake in my freezer right now. Both are July rotational flavors and Orange Swirl is new. I like it even though it’s not chocolate. And, I have yet to add chocolate syrup to it, but I’m sure it would be delightful.

When the ice cream is put into the cartons, the cartons are spun so that the ice cream doesn’t have bubbles. This is true for all ice creams except those like the Ultimate Neapolitan and the Great Divide. Not sure how they keep the bubbles out of those.

It takes 60,000 cows to produce enough milk for a days worth of production. That is a lot of milk. They also test every batch of milk in order to maintain their high standards.

They shut down production at the end of every day and are only open Monday through Friday. Kudos to Blue Bell on this! They know the importance of family and time off.

They truly do eat all they can and sell the rest. In the employee break room, the ice cream in the freezers is free to all employees.

PHOTO ABOVE: I think that is there first delivery truck. Andy wanted to climb on it, even though the sign says not to. Beside Joey and Andy are their cousins, Jackson and Maddie.

World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies!

ChocolateChip Cookies

Yes, the title has a bit of hyperbole in it. I’m not sure the cookies I ended up making on Friday night are the world’s best, or even my best. They are just the first batch I’ve made for my boys and I’m just grateful they turned out delicious.

What I learned is that the chocolate chip cookie recipe on the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip bag is quite forgiving. I was trying to doctor it as prescribed by some: adding a bit more flour, and using more brown sugar than granulated sugar. But I came across a problem. While stirring the cookie dough, it was clumping and not getting smooth like I know the batter to be. So I … panicked and added another stick of butter and another egg. That helped with the consistency issue, and I could detect no great change in taste.

The boys loved the end product. So thank you for all the suggestions. I think the clumping problem came from old brown sugar. It was not gooey like new brown sugar. Note to self: use fresh ingredients.