Archive for March, 2010

I am flying to California later today and hate to travel on an empty stomach. Airport food is overpriced and airplane food is, well, unpalatable. I packed some snacks for the flight, but want to board this evening with a full belly.

I had some errands to run this afternoon that took me past one of my favorite sandwich shops, Tubs Gourmet Subs. For anyone that grew up in the Seattle area in the late 80s, it helps to say the complete name Tubsgourmetsubs, because if you just say “Tubs,” it conjures up images of that hot-tub-by-the-hour place called Tubs, that used to be located in the U. District. Yeah, not a very appetizing thought.

Despite the name, Tubs Gourmet Subs has one of my favorite sandwiches in Seattle: The Firecracker. A toasted baguette, with a shattering crust, is slathered with garlic mayo and sprinkled with “firecracker” seasoning. Then, they pile on slices of chicken, jack cheese, strips of bacon, jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, and a healthy (or unhealthy) few squirts of ranch dressing. It is served with warm BBQ sauce on the side for dipping. The Firecracker more than lives up to its name. After about four bites, my mouth is on fire, but it’s worth every bite.

The mister used to work near Tubs Gourmet Subs about 15 years ago. It is located in a strip mall right on Lake City Way, near Nathan Hale High School (and a gun store and a strip club, but what on Lake City Way isn’t near a gun store or a strip club?).

Gavin’s favorite sandwich was, and still is, the Joker’s Dip – an orgy of meat (ham, turkey, roast beef, and bacon) plus the requisite cheese, mayo, lettuce, and tomato served on a toasted baquette and with warm BBQ dipping sauce.

I believe Tubs Gourmet Subs (no apostrophe, by the way, that is their typo not mine) was a pioneer in the toasted baguette style of sandwich. Long before that naughty talking oven over at Quiznos started getting all the attention, Tubs Gourmet Subs has been toasting their bread.

And what’s with the BBQ dipping sauce? Who cares? It’s fucking delicious and who doesn’t like to dip their already flavorful food in something MORE flavorful? No one, that’s who.
Tubs Gourmet Subs on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

I come from a family that believes in breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day, you know. Today, I am still a strong believer in starting out the day with a good breakfast. I am very much a morning person and wake up each morning and think, “what’s for breakfast?” Of course, that is then followed by “what’s for lunch?” and “what’s for dinner?” But that’s another story.

For children growing up in the 70s and 80s, I think you came from one of two camps in regards to food: the processed food camp or the natural food camp. Even though my mom baked her own bread, canned and cooked a lot, I would say we were from the processed food camp. We loved Velveeta, sugar cereals, ding-dongs, and yes, SPAM.

I didn’t know people turned up their noses at SPAM for a long time. It wasn’t something we ate often, but when my parents sliced it thin and fried it up crisp, all I knew was that it was delicious. Sure, it isn’t the healthiest food, but if you look at the ingredient list (pork, water, salt) it isn’t nearly as bad as some other processed food.

I think my parents struck the right balance of letting us have processed food occasionally, but sticking to real food and homemade cooking the majority of the time. If not, I would be way worse of a junk food junkie. Now, I just indulge every so often in my need for a processed food fix.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about SPAM. Marination Mobile – a mobile food truck in Seattle – offers SPAM tacos and local chef Tom Douglas made his own version of SPAM recently, but what I have been thinking about were SPAM breakfast sandwiches.

Somewhere along the way my mom got inspired to make homemade Egg McMuffins, but with SPAM. These were a popular breakfast choice throughout my middle school years. I have mostly fond memories of these cheesy, salty, eggy sandwiches, though one memory, while not a very favorable endorsement, stands out more than all the others.

One day in 7th grade, my neighbor and friend Leslie came over for breakfast before school. Leslie was going through a bit of a rough patch since her dad had accepted a transfer with his firm to Tokyo, and Leslie learned that the whole family would be moving to Japan at the end of the school year. My mom made us SPAM sandwiches, perhaps thinking that canned ham heals all wounds. And who wouldn’t think that, right?

After breakfast, my mom dropped us off at school and we met some of our other friends to walk to class. My SPAM sandwich was treating me great, but Leslie was looking a little pale. Sure enough, she threw up right in front of us all on the school lawn.

OK, so that isn’t a really solid endorsement for SPAM but you can see that there were other factors in play, right? Regardless of my one bad memory of SPAM, I still remember it fondly. So much in fact, that I recently made mom’s SPAM breakfast sandwiches.

SPAM breakfast sandwiches
2 thin slices of SPAM
1 thin slice of cheddar cheese. Or, a Kraft single if you want to be seriously retro.
1 English muffin
1 egg

Fry up the SPAM over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until brown and crisp. Set aside on paper towels.

Next, fry up the egg. My mom always used one of these little molds to make the egg the shape of the English muffin. This is obvioulsy optional, but since she gave me one as a stocking stuffer a few years back, I use one. Also, I like to keep the yolk runny even though this makes for a messier sandwich.

And finally, toast the English muffin lightly. Top with the cheese, SPAM and fried egg. Enjoy.

Read Full Post »

Kitchen gear I love

Kitchen Gear I Love:

There are certain items in my kitchen I just can’t live without. In fact, these are probably the same items no cook can live without. Wooden spoons, tongs and a good non-stick skillet come to mind. Out of all the items crammed into my kitchen cupboards and drawers, and cluttering my kitchen counters though, there are a select few that I love. Yes, L.O.V.E. It’s been a long time since I’ve shared with you some of my favorite kitchen gear, but it’s time I tell you about a few of them…

Sharp knives

When you first buy a knife, the edge is super sharp. Once you start using it though, it quickly dulls. Honing it helps, but every so often you need it professionally sharpened. No, not for free at the meat counter of QFC. Pony up a few bucks and get it sharpened by the pros. I read a great article about knife sharpening last year and took my knives to the Epicurean Edge in Kirkland. They have mail-order service too. They charge $2-4/inch and will give you a honing lesson for free. It was there that I also learned that you should hone your knives after every four hours of use. Check out the edge on this baby!


I’ve heard these called a variety of things, but could only find them online when I searched for “portion scoop.” Anyways, these are super handy when you want uniformly sized anything. I use them the most for cookie dough, but have used them for portioning muffin or cupcake batter into the pan and even for portioning out meatballs. They come in a variety of sizes and can be found a restaurant supply stores and some kitchen stores. And on amazon.com, of course.

Bench scraper

These are also called dough scrapers, but they have a myriad of other uses. Some are even marketed for scooping food from your cutting board into the pot or pan. I think the basic style above can you be used for it all though. Once you have one in your kitchen, you’ll find you use it all the time. 

Mom’s Kitchen Aid

So you can’t buy this exact Kitchen Aid for your home, but if you do a lot of cooking and baking – especially if you do a lot of baking – this tool is invaluable. I am lucky enough to have partially inherited my mother’s Kitchen Aid. I say “partially,” because she is still alive and technically, I just “store” it for her at my house. I use it a lot more than she does, so it lives with me now.
There are a few things that I have made lately that would have been nearly impossible without this mixer. Marshmallows for one one – you need to whisk the sugar mixture for 15 minutes. Actually, for anything requiring egg whites beaten to firm or stiff peaks – soufflé, mousse, angel food cake – this mixer is a life saver.

The new ones are cute – especially with all the bright colors you can now buy, but I like this old one and its rather worn appearance. Even though it is 30+ years old and has “walked” off the counter when my mother wasn’t looking, it still works like a champ. If you are considering buying one of your own, buy the biggest one you can afford. The 4-quart one is really too small for many dough recipes. Get a 5-quart at a minimum or a 6-quart if you can.

Read Full Post »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.