As our population becomes more and more obese, there is a push towards healthier lifestyles. Restaurants are offering healtheir alternatives, and even fast food chains are taking steps to remove trans fats from their offerings and make changes that promote healthy alternatives. One would think, then, that it would be no problem for a patron to order water at a fast food chain. Water is a healthy alternative to carbonated beverages. Not only that, it’s an inexpensive product from a restaurant’s perspective as well.

Why, then, is it practically IMPOSSIBLE to order ice water at a drive through window?

It seems that, if you want water, you have two alternatives. One, you can buy water, or two, you can have a tiny cup of ice water. As a lover of ice water, I don’t like either option.

Bottled water, while marketed as healthier than tap water, is, in fact, not. Some water bottling companies actually just put tap water in the bottles, others remove “impurities” and remove the good minerals as well. And, even if it IS healthy, it tastes bad. I don’t enjoy drinking tepid plastic flavored water, and I know a lot of other water lovers who feel the same way.

Then there’s the tiny cup option. What? Are water drinkers somehow less important than carbonated beverage drinkers? Are we less thirsty? Don’t we deserve an option to purchase a large cup of water and ice? That’s all I want, really; a large cup of water with lots of ice, just like the person in the car before me wants a large Dr. Pepper with a lot of ice. I’m willing to pay for it, and I’m NOT the only one! 

Here’s how it usually goes…

Me: I’d like the number 8 combo meal but make that combo drink an ice water.

Them: You want bottled water?

Me: No, I’d like ice water in the combo sized cup

Them: Uhhh…okay.

Then I get up to the window, get my food and a tiny cup of water, and usually that water is pink because it comes from the same spicket as the pink lemonade, and the person running the drive-through is too lazy to just let it run for two seconds to get the pink lemonade cleared from the spicket.

Me: Did I not pay for the combo?

Them: No. You were charged for the hamburer and fries but the water is free, so we didn’t charge you for a combo.

Me: But I asked for the combo because I wanted the combo sized drink. I just happen to prefer water over soda.

Them: But water is free.

Me: It’s free in a tiny baby cup. I want a large cup of water.

Them: So you want bottled water?

Me: NO! I don’t LIKE bottled water. I want water with ice!

Them: But we don’t offer that.

Me: Charge me for a Coke but give me water in the cup. Is that so hard?

Them: Blank stare.

Me: Forget it. Just give me the damned baby cup of water.

The sad fact is that this happens almost universally no matter what fast food drive through I go to. It’s like the workers are programmed, and ice water just doesn’t compute.

Why is it so hard to get a large cup of water? I seriously don’t mind paying for it. Just make it an option. Your restaurant will make tons of profit by charging me the same thing they charge for a carbonated beverage of the same size. WHY PUT US THROUGH THE SAME CRAP EVERY TIME WE TRY TO ORDER WATER?  What IS the big deal?

If I sound ticked off, I am. It happened to me again tonight, and went something like this:

Me: I would like the number 8 combo meal, and as that combo drink, which I want to pay for, I would like a large ice water. Not bottled water, not a baby cup of water, but a large water.

Them: But water is free. You have to order another drink with the combo.

Me: NO. Just pretend I’m getting a Coke and give me water instead.

Them: Uhhhhhh…okay.

So I get to the window and what do I get? A large Coke and a baby water. (Because water is free!)

Me: Take this Coke, and pour it down the drain. Rinse the cup out, fill it with ice, and then fill it with tap water. That’s what I ordered, and that’s what I want.

Them: But water is free.


Them: You want bottled water?


Them: But we can’t give you that. We’ll have to charge you for the cup.


Them: Why don’t you take the Coke then?


Them: Okay, lady. I don’t know why you’re so upset!


And so, here I am. I got my water. It’s pink and tastes vaguely of lemonade, but at least I got water. Unfortunately, the food was cold by the time I got home. And, oh…the order was wrong.

Next, we’ll discuss trying to get water at a sit-down restaurant WITHOUT lemon. (Also next to impossible)

Maybe someday we water drinkers won’t be so discriminated against. I’m not holding my breath.


The holiday season is upon is. Well, it’s more than upon us; we’re entrenched in it and have been, really, since before Thanksgiving, thanks to retail marketing.

During this time of year, I avoid shopping like the plague. The throngs of people on the roads and in the stores make me so anxious that I’ll do almost anything not to be around them. I’ve never understood those people who get up at 3am to be the first in line for Black Friday. To me, that’s like getting up early to be the first in line for the torture chamber.

Nuh uh. Not me.

When I think of all the pushing and fighting and waiting in endless lines, it does nothing but stress me out. Case in point, last night I had to go to GameStop and PetSmart for a quick game purchase and some pet food. Both places are in the same shopping center, which is about five minutes from my house, and I was literally in GameStop for less than two minutes — PetSmart for about five — but because of the ridiculous holiday traffic, it took me an hour and a half to get home. (I sat through 11 red lights at one intersection!)

The blatant commercialization surrounding this holy holiday has become worse and worse each year, until now, some Christmas advertisements begin gracing our TV sets and radios in early September. For many, Christmas has stopped being a celebration of the birth of Christ but an excuse to give and get presents. The sad thing is that, in our disposable, immediate gratification, get-what-you-want-and-get-it-right-now society, gift giving has become so difficult that there’s no joy in it anymore. It’s not like the old days when we lived more frugally and rarely got extras for ourselves; these days “I get what I want” is a way of life, leaving gift buyers scratching their heads trying to come up with just the right gift. Then, on Christmas day, as they hope against hope that the gift recipient will love what he or she got, they’re often disappointed by the lackluster response.

Because of all this, about five years ago, our family decided to stop giving gifts to one another for Christmas. I have to admit that the first year was strange, but as the years have progressed, we’ve all noticed something universal for each of us.

The meaning of Christmas has returned for us.

The focus is back on love and the joy of just being together. We have a wonderful meal. We talk. We laugh. We hug. We tell stories about old times and about family members and friends who are no longer with us. We play dominoes and/or cards. We watch a football game. We enjoy just being together for one of the few days a year when we are able to do that.

Any gift giving we do are for those less fortunate than ourselves; people who have needs that are unmet, people who are alone and/or infirm. People who can’t pay their electric bill, kids who have no shoes, families who have no food for a nice meal. Those are the gifts that truly count. Those are the gifts that mean something.

As the retail world continues to push you into giving them a bigger piece of your hard earned money, consider taking this route. The economy will survive, and you and your loved ones will benefit in ways you never expected.

Try it, and have the merriest of Christmases — from me to you!


And now, an admission, which may seem — on the surface — antethetical to everything I just said…

In spite of my panning the commercialization of Christmas, I have an admission to make. My favorite Christmas song, next to John Denver’s Aspenglow and The Carpenter’s Merry Christmas Darling, is a commercial jingle that’s familiar to almost every Oklahoman.

My love for the jingle began when I was just a tot growing up in Elk City, OK. We didn’t get many TV channels back then — especially living in a little prairie town in far western Oklahoma — but one of the channels we got if we moved our antenna to just the right spot was an Oklahoma City channel. Each year, starting the day after Thanksgiving, this jingle began playing on that channel, and since it coincided with the Christmas spirit rampup, I associated it with Christmas.

When I was six, we moved to Lawton, OK, a town that didn’t get Oklahoma City channels. For years, as Christmas approached, I always felt like something was missing, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then, when I was about 12, we finally moved from the dark ages and got cable. The day after Thanksgiving that year, I was in my room watching TV when the B.C. Clark’s Anniversary Sale commercial came on. I immediately stopped what I was doing and just stood there, transfixed, as waves of emotion came over me — nastagia and joy filled my heart with each note.

I have learned since then that that little jingle means the same thing to many, many Oklahomans. Megan Mullally, a native of Oklahoma City who became a household name when she starred on Will and Grace for many years, sang the jingle on The Tonight Show. It has been sent to service men and women overseas, sung on airplanes full of homesick Oklahomans, performed at school pageants and even in church services. It’s just not Christmas around here without it.

So for those of you who live near and far, here is the B.C. Clark’s Anniversary Sale jingle, so you, too, can share in a little Oklahoma Christmas tradition!

So, I’ve left a few dangling threads out there.

Sue me.

It’s been a little bit busy around here, what with work and play taking up every waking moment. (Awwww…poor me!)

Let me tie up a few of those loose ends.

1. The winter storm. Zero damage! (YAY!) What’s more, there is so much tree damage in town that the city is carting off tree limbs free of charge, so that pile I’ve had in the back yard for months will be gone this week, and it won’t cost me a cent. 

I think my desert willow survived, too, which is the best news of all. I’d have cried big girlie tears if I’d lost it. The only real pain in the you-know-what thing I have to do is cut back the pampas grass. It was beautiful before the ice, but now the huge fronds are all broken and bent. This year, I’ll be sure to get out the gloves before I start sticking my hands in that thing. (Have you ever had a hundred grass cuts from really big grass? Not fun!)

2. The guild meeting was a success, though I would have preferred more non-officer participation. Still, it looks like we are going to work on getting our member participation up in our raids, and if that doesn’t happen, we’ll move on to more serious measures. All in all, though, I think whatever steps we take will be for the better, and hopefully we can all stay together.  There’s a good chance of that anyway.

3. Though I haven’t mentioned this before, I’ve lost 16 pounds in the last month an a half. I guess that’s what a veggie addiction and a busy schedule will do for you. I feel better than I’ve felt in I don’t know when.  On top of it all, I’m more than content — I’m actually happy.

It’s been awhile, and I like it! :)


So, tonight I had dinner at the Olive Garden on Memorial (just east of May).  The first Originally from I noticed as we waited for our table was that, outside the restaurant, prominently displayed on the wall, is a plaque with the restaurant’s general manager’s name proudly etched in it .

My first thought, of course, was that this was a huge departure from a Kim managed restaurant. Even though Olive Garden is a chain, they obviously take pride in their business and back that up with excellent service.

As usual, my experience there was steller. From Anna, the sweet lady at the door, to Kelly, the best waitress in the world, we were treated with respect and, even more, we were treated like friends.  Experiences like that are why I like to tip well.  The thing is, they didn’t really go out of their way for us. They just did their jobs well and had fun while they were doing it.  Their attitudes put us at ease, and we spent twice as much as we’d intended, so their behavior is obviously smart business.

Why can’t the Kims in the world get this? We don’t want you to work any harder; we just want you to do it right the first time, and if you can’t, make it right one way or the other. Do it that way, and you don’t have to pretend you can’t hear the person complaining on the phone. Do it right, and you can be an adult who would proudly etch her name on a plaque hanging outside your restaurtant instead of an immature poor excuse for a manager who doesn’t have the guts to apologize for your substandard service and instead pretends she’s lost a phone connection.

(I’m still embarrassed for her; can you tell?)

Anyway, bravo to the staff of Olive Garden on Memorial.  Your food is excellent, but more than half the reason we go there is because of you, the excellent employees who treat us like royalty.  Thank you!

Today’s recipe, boys and girls, is homemade and deliciously satisfying Chicken Pot Pie.

The first thing you need to know is that this is nothing like those frozen chicken pot pies we all suffered through as children. Those are just nasty. These are real comfort food — hot, savory and full of freshness.  Best of all, making it is as easy as pie. (Go ahead; boo. I’ll wait here.)

Got it out of your system?  Okay, let’s go on!

I’m a firm believer in cutting corners when it won’t affect taste, and this recipe is chock-full of corner cutting. If you’re not a corner cutter, though, feel free to uncut my corners when you cook, and do it the hard way. It won’t bother me a bit.

Here’s how I do it:

1 10 oz package frozen peas and carrots
1 large potato, cut into bite sized pieces
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
3 cups cooked chicken (I get a rotisserie chicken from the grocer and tear out all the white meat to use in this)
1 pastry for a 9-inch 2-crust pie

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Rinse frozen peas and carrots in cold water to separate. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour, onion, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly.  (Alternately, you can saute onions in just the butter until limp and then add flour, salt and pepper - that’s how I do it.) Remove from heat. Stir in broth and milk, heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for one minute. Stir in chicken, peas and carrots, and potatoes.*  Remove from heat.

*[Note about potatoes: I cut mine into small 3/4 inch cubes, so I don’t have to cook them any first. If you want bigger chunks of potatoes, cut them into pieces and boil, being sure to start with cold water, so the potatoes cook consistently both outside and in. Once they are semi-soft but not done, drain them and then add with the peas, carrots and chicken when ready.]

Ease pastry into the bottom of three single serve turrets.  Fill with mixture - be sure to fill where it heaps a bit. Cover with pastry, crimping at the edges.  Cut holes in the top of the pastry and decorate with additional designs of pastry if you wish.

Bake about 35 minutes or until golden brown and chicken filling is bubbling. If you notice edges browning too fast, cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil.

Once the pies are done, be sure to allow them to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to continue to meld, the sauce to thicken more and saves your tongue from a bad burn.

Try these, and you’ll love them as much as we do!

Since my Irish friend, Frank, reads my blog from the other side of the world, I thought it might be fun to share a little bit about what it means to be a Southerner in the United States. Some might argue that an Oklahoman is not a Southerner, but those folks have never been to Oklahoma. In my opinion, you can define a Southerner in one of two ways:

  1. He or she lives in a state that is south of the Mason Dixon line, or
  2. He or she knows how to cook and/or eat Southern cooking.

Oklahomans qualify on both counts, so considering it might be boring discussing the significance of the Mason Dixon line, I thought I’d talk a little bit about Southern cooking.

Southern cooking is significantly different than food you’ll find anywhere else in the country, or, really, anywhere else in the world. For a food to qualify as Southern, it must have a high fat content, involve frying, gravy and bacon grease, not in any particular order. My favorite Southern meal contains all four.

Chicken fried steak and gravy , mashed potatoes or home fries, and a mess o’ greens is pure heaven as far as I’m concerned. It’s my favorite meal to cook and my favorite to eat, and I’ve been told I make it better than just about anybody.

Here’s how I do it:

Chicken Fried Steak

  • 2 Cube Steaks (These are thin round steaks, pounded until the meat is tenderized to the point where it’s almost falling apart.)
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons (or more, to taste) garlic salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 inch oil in a frying pan

Mix the egg and milk together in a bowl. Mix the garlic salt and flour together in a shallow pan or paper sack. Salt and pepper the steak and then dip in the egg/milk mixture, then coat the meat with flour. (You can do this by putting it in the shallow pan and then turning it over, or you can put it in the bag, close up the top and shake the bag.) I like to return it to the egg/milk mixture and then cover with flour again; this just makes a thicker crust.

Heat the oil over medium heat. When a small amount of batter begins to sizzle when dropped in the oil, put the steaks in. (Don’t worry if you get batter in the oil - that just adds good stuff to the gravy.) Fry about three minutes (or until the coating begins to brown) and then turn over. (Watch the heat - don’t let the oil start smoking.) Poke the crispy top with a fork; this allows the meat to cook more evenly. Cook the other side about three minutes and turn again. Poke the other side of the meat with the fork. Repeat this process (except for the poking - you only do that once per side) until both sides are crisp and brown. Remove from the pan and place on paper towels to drain. Do not toss the oil; you’ll use this and the remaining flour for the gravy.


  • leftover, used cooking oil
  • 1/4 cup flour/garlic salt mixture
  • equal parts milk and water, about 3 cups combined

Pour off about half of the oil and return the pan to the stove, which should be turned down to low heat. Scrape the good stuff off the bottom of the pan and add the flour/garlic salt mixture. Stir to form a roux (a smooth mixture of flour and cooking oil). Continue stirring for up to two or three minutes to remove the raw flour taste. Add the water/milk mixture about a cup at a time, stirring constantly. (You want to add it slowly, because you don’t want it too thin.) Keep adding the water/milk mixture until the gravy starts bubbling up and is a nice, thick consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Next, I make either mashed potatoes or home fries, depending on the family’s mood.

Mashed Potatoes

  • 4-6 potatoes, depending on how big they are
  • 1/2 stick of salted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk or cream

Peel potatoes and cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Put cut potatoes in a pot of cold water. (It’s important that it’s cold, so the outside and inside of the potatoes gets done at the same time.) Boil, checking often to ensure you don’t overcook. When potatoes are done, drain them and put them in a mixing bowl. Add the milk and butter and whip until the lumps are gone. (Do not overwhip. Overwhipping releases glutens and makes the potatoes rubbery.)

*Sometimes, to make the mashed potatoes a little fancier, I use the butter to saute some onion slices (usually about half an onion, sliced into bite-sized pieces). When the onions are translucent and soft, I add the entire pan of butter and onions to the potatoes before I start the whipping process. You can add garlic to the onions while they’re sauteing and have onion garlic mashed potatoes. Some people add cheese or sour cream. My mom always added a raw egg when the potatoes were being whipped. The heat of the potatoes cooks the egg as it mixes in, and the potatoes are very rich. So add what you like! It’s up to you!

Home Fries

These are my family’s favorite. They’re much more trouble than mashed potatoes but it’s worth the trouble.

  • 6 potatoes, peeled or unpeeled or a little of both, and sliced about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick
  • 2 large onions, sliced thick
  • 1/4 cup chopped red and/or green bell pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 inch oil in a frying pan

Heat the oil over high heat. Put the potatoes and onions in when a piece of potato in the oil just begins to sizzle. (I know this seems like a lot of potatoes, but they cook way down.) Cover the pan and let potatoes fry for about 5 minutes. Take the lid off and turn the potatoes. Leave the lid off and continue to turn potatoes until all of them are golden brown and onions are cooked through, crispy and/or brown.* This usually takes 30-40 minutes. Drain on paper towels and salt immediately, so the salt sticks.

*The trick with home fries (also known as country fries, by the way) is not to overcook. The inside of the potatoes has to be soft like the inside of a French fry. The outside isn’t the same for all the potatoes. Some will be soft, some will be very brown, some will be light brown but crispy. To get it right, you want 80-90% to be light brown and crispy with the rest split between soft and very brown.


These can be collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, spinach or kale.

  • 3-4 lbs of greens
  • 1/2 lb raw bacon, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups julienned onions
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the greens thoroughly to remove all the dirt or sand. Put the greens in a large pot, and just cover them with water. (Again, it seems like a lot of greens, but they cook way down.) Turn heat to medium. In a frying pan, fry the bacon and onion. When bacon and onion are almost done, add the garlic and continue frying for a few more seconds. Add the entire pan, including grease, to the greens. Cover the greens, reduce heat to low and cook for about 2 hours or until the greens are soft. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Of course, the trick to all this is timing. You have to know when to start the various dishes in order to have them all come together at the same time. After you’ve done this a few times, it’s almost as if your body can feel the right time to put things on. I rarely get the timing wrong anymore.

When it’s all done, I like to serve the greens and the gravy in bowls. This keeps the meat from getting soggy from the greens and allows for greater gravy coverage when the meat bites are dipped in the gravy bowl one at a time.

Put it all together and it looks like this. Trust me when I tell you that if you cook this right, you’ll get addicted pretty fast. It’s just that good. And, leftover greens are great with hot, buttered cornbread the next day. Yummy!

So try it for yourself. Sit down and open the top button of your pants, because once you start, you won’t stop until your plate is clean. Be sure to try the gravy on both the meat and the potatoes!

Enjoy! :D