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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.

Making Healthy Meals for Kids

Posted: November 25, 2011
by: T.Alexander

It is my pleasure to introduce our guest writer, Carolyn. Carolyn is from Austin and enjoys writing about food. She has chosen a topic we've all wrestled with from time to time....how to making food for kids healthy and fun. Here's what Carolyn has to say:

If eating healthy wasn’t hard enough, add in a picky kid, and it can seem like a nightmare. You make a plan, get the ingredients, and spend precious time making sure everything is cooked just right only to hear, “I don’t like it.” Making healthy meals for kids doesn’t have to be an ordeal.

With a little planning, you can make delicious and nutritious meals that everyone will love. It might seem impossible now, but your kids will be eating healthy in no time if you make a few simple changes. Here are three easy steps to make healthy meals that even the pickiest eaters will love.

Step 1: Stick to the familiar

If your kids had it their way, they would be eating their favorite dishes for every meal. Many kid’s choices aren’t the healthiest, but you can use their preferences to your advantage. Unhealthy meals are just a few simple changes away from becoming good-for-you favorites. If your kids love chicken fingers (and what kid doesn’t), you can use this healthy recipe to cut out half the fat without losing any flavor. Substituting a few ingredients and changing to a healthier cooking method are simple methods to make their favorites healthier.

Step 2: Make it fun

Kids love to play with their food, so why not let them? It’s important to draw the line between play time and mealtime, but introducing new healthy foods can be easier when you make it fun. Choose a day and make it New Food Day. You can try zucchini on your first day. It’s tasty and packed with antioxidants for good health. You’ll also need halved cherry tomatoes, cream cheese, or peanut butter, small pretzel rods, large pretzel sticks, and string cheese. Work with the kids and make mini scooters out of the ingredients. When you’re done playing, the scooters make the perfect healthy snack. Pick a new food and activity every week, and your kids will be clamoring for healthy ingredients in no time.

 Step 3: Be a good example

Kids learn by imitating you, so set a good healthy eating example. If your kids see you shoveling down a donut every morning, they will learn that’s the right food to eat for breakfast. Instead, plan your meals in advance and make sure you have time to make them healthy. Start out cooking some healthy kid-tested recipes and move on to more complex and “adult” meals from there. It’s important to choose nutritious recipes and ingredients, but you also need to watch your portion size. The healthiest meal doesn’t matter if you eat four servings in one sitting. Most recipes will tell you how many servings they make, so use this information as a guide to know when going back for seconds is too much.

Picky kids won’t stop you from eating healthy if you follow these simple steps. Altering favorites, making eating fun, and setting a good example will help make sure you never hear “I’m not eating this!” again.

House-Autry Is Calling All Southern Cooks

Posted: September 24, 2011
by: T.Alexander

House-Autry  Mills has a lot to brag about – 200 years of being in business. How many brands can claim 200 years, or even 25 to 50 for that matter. It all started back in 1812 when the House family migrated from England to Newton Grove, North Carolina. The millstones for the original mill were shipped across the Atlantic from England to Wilmington, North Carolina, and then ferried up the Cape Fear River and transported by oxcart and mule team to the original mill site in Newton Grove. The House mill grew and eventually merged with the Autry Brothers Mill Company in 1967 to form what is now called House-Autry Mills. In 2001 they relocated their mill to a state-of-the-art facility in nearby Four Oaks, North Carolina. What’s their product? Corn meal and seasoned breadings and coatings for seafood, chicken, pork & veggies.

So how does a company celebrate 200 years of being in business? Well, why not a contest! House-Autry is compiling a cookbook of the best Southern recipes and you have a chance to be a part of it all. They’re looking for recipes that  incorporate at least one House-Autry product and the  stories and traditions behind these special recipes. The best recipes will be included in the cookbook and possibly featured on the House-Autry Mills  Facebook page, YouTube page or website.

Calling All Southern Cooks
To participate, click on the link above and follow the instructions. The deadline is Nov. 1, 2011. Don’t be shy. I know you’ve got a few recipes floating around in your family. If you don’t remember the back-story, call your Mom, call your Grandmother. Don’t be shy. Get in the action & have some fun with House-Autry.


Why British Food Really Isn’t That Bad (Honest)

Posted: September 24, 2011
by: T.Alexander

Please allow me to introduce Dee Mason, a foodie with a great sense of humor and a mission to convince us that British food is...well, not really that bad. Dee has just about convinced me!

By Dee Mason:

There are lots of reasons to love the Brits: great accents, lots of history, their air of class, and more. But on this list of things to love you’ll rarely see British food getting a mention, and I think that’s a crying shame. OK, so Great Britain isn’t exactly France or Italy when it comes to their delicacies, but there are actually lots of good, hearty meals that you can only really find on the British isles. British cuisine may not be hugely popular, that doesn’t mean it’s not delicious. I’ve been working on a list of what I think are the greatest and tastiest examples of British food - a list that I hope will spur you on to want to indulge yourself in something that, whilst not exotic, is still a little out of the ordinary. Let’s get stuck in!

 Fish and Chips

You knew it was coming, I knew it was coming; so I thought I’d get it out there quickly. Fish and chips is (arguably) the national dish of England, and with good reason. There are hundreds of variations of this dish, and I’m going to focus on the classic meal you’d get from a British ‘chippy’. The versions of this dish that you get in top-notch restaurants or in other countries are often palatable enough, but for the authentic taste of England you can’t beat a real fish and chips from a real fish and chip shop. And don’t forget the mushy peas! I personally prefer mine soaked in salt and vinegar, but the meal is also quite tasty without condiments. My favourite thing about fish and chips is just how warming it is; I remember the last time I was in Britain I was at the beach on a blustery day and a cone of chips really hit the spot. It’s not hard to see why this is such a mainstay of British culture!

 Lancashire Hotpot

If you’ve never heard of a hotpot before, don’t worry, neither had I. But I’m so glad I discovered this unique dish. It’s a little like a casserole, and a little like a stew, but it’s covered in slices of scrummy potato. The dish is essentially a pot or bowl full of lamb or ‘mutton’ which is flavoured with onions and other vegetables, then covered (like a pie) with a topping of sliced potatoes. There’s lots of different types of hotpot, and the traditional Lancashire one actually traces all the way back to the industrial revolution. It’s a very hearty meal which is absolutely perfect for those chilly days in northern England. Personally I was never a big fan of casseroles as a kid, but Lancashire Hotpot now has a special place in my heart. It has a flavour all its own and I recommend that all foodies give it a try!

 Chicken Tikka Masala

I can already here you all shouting: “curry is an Indian dish, not British!”, and whilst that is very true, the classic Chicken Tikka Masala is actually an invention of the Brits - or at least of the Indian restaurants in Britain. It has become a cultural icon and the uncontested favourite dish of Great Britain. Stop into any of the thousands of Indian restaurants dotted up and down the country and you’ll see just how popular Chicken Tikka Masala is. It’s actually a fairly mild curry dish spliced with yoghurt to give it a creamy consistency; and with a piece of Naan bread on the side, it’s an absolute delight! I’ve never been too big on foods that are overly spicy, so the Tikka Masala is naturally a great choice for me. And, by extension, I’m sure that you’ll love it too!

These are just three examples of why Great Britain is great for food. And if you still don’t believe me, make sure you try bubble ‘n’ squeak, egg and chips, bacon butties... the list goes on! England might not be famous for its food, but it has a lot to offer to foodies. The food seems to reflect the fact that it’s often a bit on the cooler side in the UK, offering us tasty wholesome dishes that warm us to our core. I’d highly recommend all British cuisine, and if you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for? Get out there and fly the food flag for Britain!


Dee L. Mason is a foodie and nomad at heart, having lived on both sides of the pond. She writes on behalf of her preferred moving company, which she tends to rely on a lot.

Eat to Live, or Live to Eat?

Posted: September 14, 2009
by: Robert Jackson

Firstly my apologies for having left it so long to post in this column. The reason being that in the past nine months, I have moved home no less than twice! Once into a rented property while I looked for a suitable home to buy, and eventually the move into same once the deal was done. But now I am very happy to say that it is complete, and once again I can spend some time focussing on my passion…..food and hospitality!
My move has taken me from the south coast of England back to my original home town and preferred base - to the quintessential Regency town of Royal Leamington Spa located in the delightful rural county of Warwickshire, middle England.
And so I have been fortunate enough to enjoy a splendid, typically English summer which alas as the nights begin to draw in, is on the wane. These last few months I have enjoyed many a relaxed barbecue with friends and family in the garden and the occasional picnic in many an idyllic location. The weather may not have been balmy, but it has been a fairly typical English summer – beautiful warm sunny days interspersed with periods of rain and drizzle.
But one doesn’t choose to live in England for the weather! We choose to live here for so many other reasons. Like the undeniably beautiful countryside. Here in Warwickshire for example we are fortunate to enjoy elegant spa towns, chocolate-box Cotswold villages and exciting vibrant cities – all surrounded by farmland supplying the most wondrous fresh produce!
Yes, the produce – so natural, bountiful, local and fresh. In fact only this last weekend we had a farmer’s market in town. There I purchased the most divine, sweet and tender leg of lamb, freshly plucked vegetables and fruits, freshly laid eggs and hand-made condiments. Boy does that beat your average supermarket!
So yes, I am beginning to realise that I am indeed one of those folk who deftly falls into the camp of “living to eat”. Unlike another little friend who has recently come into my life……..I am now the proud owner of a Jack Russell Terrier! The last time I owned a dog I was in my teens, so it’s been quite a learning curve and I am enjoying every moment!
But just as I am a hardened “live to eat” individual, he is most certainly (like all pets)“an eat to live” character. He shows little concern for what I feed him, only that it is regular, and sufficiently plentiful! And like most pets, his attitude to dining etiquette is to say the least, VERY relaxed! Mmmmm……..I feel a new page coming on for my website – “Doggy Etiquette”!! One day perhaps!
And so for now, all that remains is for me to wish you many happy days of entertaining this coming fall. I for one intend to make the very most of them…….after all, it will soon be Christmas!!
Oh by the way, this is my little terrier….Jack:

So What's A Plush Puff?

Posted: August 15, 2009
by: T.Alexander

Need a little boost for your coffee? What about a unique dessert topping? Or a treat between waffers? A Plush Puff will do the job. Plush Puffs are gourmet marsmallows made the old fashioned way - handmade over 2 days of whipping into heavenly lightness then flavored with high quality all-natural ingredients. They come in Caramel Swirl, Chocolate Chipetta, Vanilla Bean, Lucious Lemony Meringue & Simply S'mores. Delicious. We sampled Caramel, Chocolate & Lemon and the only negative is that we wish we could have tried S'mores!


Pistachios – Healthy Summer Treat

Posted: August 1, 2009
by: T.Alexander

When do you think about eating nuts? Chocolate covered cashews at Christmas perhaps? Or roasted peanuts in the summer? My favorite nut, hands down, is the pistachio. I have to work hard to get to that little morsel, but it’s worth it. So let’s explore the pistachio.




Pistachios are cultivated from trees pruned to make harvest easier. As with a good wine, the trees, planted in orchards, usually take 7 to 10 years to produce a significant harvest. The top producing countries are Iran, US, Turkey, Syria and China. That’s logical since pistachios come from what is referred to as a desert plant highly tolerant of saline soil.




The uses for pistachios are endless. Top on a salad, add to ice cream, mix with cottage cheese or just enjoy by themselves. Pistachios are also good for your heart. They’re full of nutrients that help prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol.  




I found a great sources for pistachios from Superior Nut Store. Right now their featured product is Colossal Pistachios in a glass jar for $44.99. Better hurry – it’s a great deal!





Dirty Martinis….Cincinnati Chili and a Night to Remember???

Posted: April 26, 2009
by: Mark Stine

Ok …this is a combo blog with interesting recipes for the last gasps of late winter/and the ongoing chilly springtime we seem to be having in many parts of the country.


After seven months of a business travel freeze, courtesy of the economic downturn of 2008-2009, I had a sudden trip to New York City come up. Well this gave me the ability to follow up on a “reunion” with coworkers from Intergold, the marketing arm of the chamber of Mines of South Africa, where we had all worked back in the early 80s. My former Associate Laura had actually tracked me down via Google, after 20 some years and found me of all places through the GourmetStation blog listing and after getting hold of Kathy “Hubie,” another coworker we were finally able to make the reunion happen for this planned trip.


The weather was chilly…the sky kind of grey…but our hostess for the event “Hubie” had planned on Dirty Martinis as a warm up drink with appetizers. I was put in charge as bartender for the night and after being introduced to the shaker...the Grey Goose vodka and a bottle of Dirty Martini olive juice, the stage was set.


Many people prefer Gin for their more traditional Martinis…but when using Vodka…one is correctly to refer to the drink as a Vodka martini. Dirty Martinis for me are a perfect choice as I often buy jars of olives, pour out the juice and replace with vodka to let the olives marinate in the vodka, which can also provide tasty appetizers.


Dirty Martini Recipe


2 oz. Vodka or Gin
3/4 oz. Dirty Martini Olive Juice
1/2 oz. Dry Vermouth

Chill a Swank martini glass in the freezer or add ice and water to get it "very" cold or use a silver shaker with ice and make the best darn Dirty Martini you have ever had. For an added flourish, check out the following website for some really cool contemporary Martini glasses

( http://swankmartini.com/home.htm )




Needless to say our happy little reunion trio knocked back a number of these Dirty Martinis…which led to some “Dirty Dancing” ...a popular Patrick Swayze movie that came out in the 80s and we were on our way. It can be said that some among us were feeling no pain and the memories from our former working environment 29 years ago came flooding back.


Kathy, who I had always affectionately referred to as “Hubie” from a former name- Huber, prepared a wonderful comfort food menu to go along with the Vodka Martinis. Since I don’t have her special meat loaf recipe….I thought I would substitute a regional “delicacy” for the purposes of this blog from my own hometown region.


Cincinnati is noted for its Skyline Chili and local hometown derivations. This following recipe was given to me in 2006 by my Aunt and she has used this recipe for over 50 years!





Cincinnati Chili recipe from Audrey Ankenbauer 

2 lbs ground beef

1- 8 ounce can of tomato sauce

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce

1 quart of water

3 ½ tablespoons of white vinegar

3 medium diced onions

4 tablespoons of chili powder

1 teaspoon of red pepper

Salt and pepper to taste


Mix all of the above ingredients till the beef is smooth.


Put in a cheesecloth bag 2 garlic “toes”, pickle spices from a small box or tin, red pepper and bay leaves and tie it all up tight and add to the mixture.


Cook the mixture for 3 hours along with the cheesecloth ingredients and if you like a more traditional chili, you can add red kidney beans. When you are finished cooking you can also serve with oyster crackers as a garnishment on the side.




The preferred serving style  for Cincinnati chili is often served over spaghetti and topped with cheese, onion and hot sauce and variations are referred to as “two-way”, “three-way” or “four-way chili.” You can Google Cincinnati chili at Wikipedia and learn its greater history and origins, ethnic derivations designed to expand the culinary base in Cincinnati history.


According to the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, the local populace consumes over two million pounds of chili each year! Combine that with Dirty Martinis, a DVD of Dirty Dancing …drink Martinis and commence your own Dirty Dancing and you then have a fun filled evening for any rainy chilly night!

Eggology - More than Egg Whites

Posted: November 1, 2008
by: T.Alexander

When my social media expert friend Toby Bloomberg suggested I join Twitter, I thought she might be making a joke. But I listened to the Diva, reviewed her Twitter network, and began to see the twitter-light. GourmetStation is now tweeting. It’s been great fun making daily micro posts, but what I have enjoyed most is the network…the people & the connections. My network is predominately food oriented so there are lots of yummy hot topics. More importantly, I’m being introduced to new products that I can share with you.  So here goes…my first new discovery – Eggology!

Brad Halpern is the passion behind Eggology – it’s fairly simple…recognition of egg whites as a pure protein food then use egg whites to create delicious food products. The products were initially recognized by body builders and those with a passion for fitness (Brad is a triathlon racer). Then here come the boomers seeking a healthier lifestyle and a larger market was created.

Egg products at the retail level contain chemicals, coloring, and gums and Brad wanted a pure product. So he developed packaging in easy-to-handle clear plastic jars that can be sterilized without additives. Brad is also an innovator in shipping the egg products with a proprietary system that allows for safe, convenient home delivery. As if that was not enough, Brad went on to develop organic egg whites and now his products are sold in 4,000 specialty food stores nationwide.

Below are a few products from the Eggology website that appealed to me. Pardon the rush, but I’m heading down to my local market to see if I can purchase some Cool Cravings today!

Eggology 100% Egg Whites
All-Natural Hardboiled Eggs
Cool Cravings (Ice Cream)
Eggology On-the-Go (Scrambled in the Microwave)

Meal On Line – GourmetStation – New 5 Day Meal Plan

Posted: October 3, 2008
by: T.Alexander

So what’s new about a 5-Day Meal Plan? Nothing really if you’re looking for diet food. Whether your dietary needs are for health or vanity dieting, there are several excellent companies that will take the guess work out of your need to purchase a Meal On Line. But that’s not what GourmetStation set out to do. We wanted to develop a Gourmet Meal On Line plan that consisted of fine dining at home for 5 days out of the week. No small servings, no lack of richness, no lack of gourmet…..just high quality dining with the convenience of Meals By Mail.

Thanks to our existing patrons for the many orders that came through when we launched the new line last week. Our initial launch consisted of a Create Your Gourmet Meal configuration along with a Most Popular.   Like our popular Meal Gift program, the “Create” configuration allows patrons to select 5 Meals Online from a line up of poultry, seafood, pork, beef and pasta. There are 38 entrees to select from – something for everyone. The Most Popular configuration has pre-selected entrees including Lamb Shank, Beef Marsala, Chicken Saltimboca, Macadamia Mahi Mahi and Three Cheese Tortellini in Alfredo Sauce with sundried tomatoes. Yum.

Again, like our Gourmet Meal Gifts program, these Gourmet Meals Delivered have a 3 days shelf life under refrigeration and may be frozen once without quality loss. So who is purchasing our Meal Plans? A patron in the Northeast who’s Mom lives across the country. This loving daughter wanted her Mom to have good food throughout the week. Another order went to a new Mom who just brought new baby home – now she’ll appreciate the program. And yet another patron sent 5 days of Gourmet Meals to herself – for a treat. Feeling like an indulgence?


Finding Just The Right Quote For Your Toast

Posted: July 11, 2008
by: T.Alexander

I met Steve Maarten when he submitted a comment on our blog. Then I was led to Inspirational Spark. The Internet is a wonderful source for finding quotes and the like, but what I like about Inspirational Spark is the organization of the material.  For example, if you were toasting at a dinner party and you wanted to thank someone, you might just visit this page on thank you quotes. My favorite was simple & sweet:
"I would thank you from the bottom of my heart, but for you my heart has no bottom." Author Unknown

Then there are those romantic quotes that we wish we could remember, but when the time comes…well sometimes we choke up. Just go to this page, pick your favorite quote, jot it down & you’re bound to make the impression you want. Here’s one of my favorites.

We like someone because. We love someone although. Henri De Montherlant