Life is (bitter) Sweet

I need to do a corrections corner!

The Last Chance Saloon is NOT CLOSING. I repeat: the Last Chance Saloon (right before you get on the aqua highway to the Keys) is NOT CLOSING. Zeke went there to get a drink last weekend and found this out the hard way. He told the server he wanted to get one last drink before it was gone and she went off on him, saying it’s NOT CLOSING, that they’ve lost a lot of business due to that rumor, that the affordable housing that’s going to be built, is going to be built around them and that her brother is thinking about suing The Miami Herald for printing that the Last Chance Saloon property was sold. So, I got that out of the way. Go have a drink there if you’re so inclined, as apparently they’re losing business due to false rumors. Foodie in Miami regrets having helped spread this rumor. Ahem…

Another corrections corner, apparently the recipe I published as Jennifer Aniston’s Salad (June 21, 2022) was not the actual salad the three stars of Friends ate every day for lunch. Aniston stated the salad was a Cobb and that she wouldn’t have put as many garbanzo beans in her salad as the one published, for digestive issues. It’s still a good salad, though.

Emma had a bunch of ground meat of different varieties leftover from her Hello Fresh meals that she didn’t use that she deposited into our freezer, so I had a ground meat dilemma. Our freezer was already packed so, I desperately tried to think of ways to use up the ground meat. I’d picked up a section of the New York Times on food to feed picky kids, but surprisingly, many of the recipes sounded good and used ground meats so I picked out a couple recipes to try.

I made Korean Meatballs for dinner Monday night with ground pork. It was an easy recipe and I would make it again, but feel it would have been better with a little sauce on top. It said to serve with white rice, but due to the Great Weevil Invasion of 2023, I was all out of rice in the pantry, so used some Trader Joe’s brown rice from my freezer (another contribution of Emma’s). I usually don’t like rice from the freezer, as it seems wasteful and expensive, but it was easy. You just put the plastic bag in the microwave and cook a couple minutes. I served it with Ginger Miso Soup (Trader Joe’s) and an Asian Cucumber Salad.

The next day for dinner I made a Homemade Hamburger Helper with Ground Beef. It was a definitely a more gourmet version of Hamburger Helper, with smoked paprika and white wine, but I can’t say it was a recipe I’ll make again. While delicious, it had ground beef, bacon and cheddar cheese (so, high in calories) and it took a while to make. When the first direction was: carmelize onions for 20 minutes, I knew I was in for a cooking marathon. Zeke, who grew up on the actual Hamburger Helper, loved it. It also makes a lot and since it’s only Zeke and I, there’s only so many times you can eat the same leftover. I tried to pawn some off on Emma and Gui, but they said they already had a ton of leftovers.

I saw the play El Huracan at The Gables Stage on Thursday night, as a Villager’s Fundraiser for the preview before the play started its run. I went with Kelley and Allison and we had dinner at La Fontana. We all got homemade pasta, mine a ravioli with creamy pesto and split a Fritto Misto. It was all very good and we luckily sat inside as the rain started and it was a deluge, perfect weather for a play about a hurricane in Miami. I enjoyed the play, written by a Miami native and Academy Award winner (for Encanto), Charise Castro Smith.

Saturday was the Historic Hunt for The Villagers. I volunteered to be on the committee at Kelley’s urging, but it occurred to me I should’ve actually done the Hunt one time before volunteering. The theme was Florida Female Pioneers and it took place in the Gables, Grove and Downtown Miami at 3 p.m. Hunters returned to the meeting spot, a Villager’s Home, after 5, for cocktails and appetizers. Shorty’s catered a BBQ dinner of Ribs and Chicken, Cole Slaw and Baked Beans. Fookem’s Fabulous Key Lime Pies was served for dessert.

A side note about Fookem’s- this is a guy (Josh Abril) in the Grove who started his Key Lime Pie business when the pandemic hit, since his reality TV show job halted and he couldn’t get unemployment due to Florida’s crashed system. He started making the Key Lime Pies with their signature Sea Salt Graham Cracker Crust and selling them in front of his house on Oak Avenue and on his bike/cart in the Grove.

They were a big hit and now he makes more flavors and also provides desserts to various restaurants. The Key Lime Pie was delicious- chilled, light and bright, with just a touch of salt and no eggs, for those with allergies (Kelley). My friend and faithful Foodie in Miami reader Peggy Rigsby sent me an article about this guy awhile ago and I’m so glad I finally got to try his pie! They are $25 and it’s best to order ahead.

Fookem’s Fabulous Key Lime Pies 3081 Oak Avenue, Coconut Grove 305 699-2122.

I went home, exhausted and got a good night’s sleep to recharge for Phoenix’s 2nd Birthday. As you may recall, Phoenix had his 1st Birthday at our house last year but Zeke and I were unable to attend due to the fact we both had Covid. We had to watch the festivities from the balcony above, so I was very excited to be hosting his party this year, IRL.

A.J.’s idea was to do a Pizza Party, with a bunch of toppings, where everyone makes their own pizza and we cook it on our Ooni Pizza Oven. I explained to her that making a homemade pizza isn’t as easy as it looks- it’s more of an art. The pizza dough and peel (the apparatus the pizza goes on) has to be room temperature, you need to make sure it’s not too cold or too warm, or it will stick. You need lots of flour and do a test run on the peel to make sure the pizza dough can move freely. Also, you can’t overload the pizza with toppings or it will be too heavy. So it’s a delicate balance and I didn’t feel like it was a good idea for strangers (and family) to be in my kitchen, willy nilly, throwing toppings onto pizzas.

I made four pizza doughs from scratch, bought three at Publix and made homemade pizza sauce (from the Ooni book). Justin grilled Chicken Wings, Sausages and Chicken Hearts (?) which he served with dipping sauces. They were really good and I had an appetizer platter of Pickled Eggplant, Pepperoncini and Caponata with crackers.

My first pizza was a Margherita (sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil and olive oil), keeping it simple. My second pizza was a Pepperoni with mozzarella, basil, Parmesan Cheese and Mike’s Hot Honey, modeled after a pizza I had at Krust in Tavernier. A.J.’s pizza was a fig jelly, blue cheese, caramelized onions and mozzarella pizza, with arugula salad tossed on after it came off the pizza oven. It was a fan favorite, as was my last one, modeled after Miami’s Best California Dreamin’. It had pizza sauce, artichoke hearts, goat cheese, plum tomatoes, spinach and mozzarella. Surprisingly, my party-goers preferred Publix’s Pizza Dough to my homemade one. I’m taking notes for my next Pizza Party.

Everyone had a great time at Phoenix’s Birthday, including Phoenix. I’d gotten him a Baby Shark cake from Publix Bakery which he LOVED. He squealed in delight when I showed it to him and then sat in a chair at the dining room table, right in front of his cake, looking at it in dizzy admiration. “Baby Shark, Daddy Shark, Mama Shark” he said, over and over. Wyatt showed him how to get a little finger full of icing to taste. That’s what big brothers are for! I made homemade Birthday Cake Ice Cream to go with the cake and another partygoer brought Ice Cream Sandwiches. We then sang Happy Birthday, which happens to be Phoenix’s favorite song.

It was a wonderful party, but soon everyone was gone and it was just Zeke and I. One of A.J.’s friends said “I guess next year we’ll be celebrating in Saint Augustine”. And soon they’ll be gone and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself. It’s not like I think being a grandmother is the end-all-be-all of my life, but I am happiest when I’m with my grandsons. I’ll adapt somehow, I’m sure, but for now I’m sad and the party was bittersweet because I don’t know when we’ll all be together like this again.

But, first things first. I’m babysitting Wyatt and Phoenix this Thursday, Friday and part of Saturday, while his parents go to a concert with another couple in Saint Augustine. You can be sure this Gigi will enjoy each and every exhausting moment spent with my two little charges.

T.V. shows I’ve watched lately: Pamela Anderson: A Love Story (Netflix)- interesting. Chris Rock’s Selective Outrage (Netflix) where he addresses Academy Award Slap. Rom/Com Your Place or Mine with Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher, which I thought was totally stupid and predictable. I was surprised, because Reese usually makes such good choices, career-wise. I guess they can’t all be gems. I watched the movie People Like Us, with Jonah Hill, Eddie Murphy and Julia Louis Dreyfus, which was really pretty funny, but I didn’t care for the ending. I started watching Working Moms (sitcom on Netflix), really funny and have been watching the first season of Arrested Development, which I always heard was funny but never watched until now.

Lastly, Zeke and I started watching Pretty Baby, a doc on Brooke Shields on Hulu. It’s good, but certainly sad to see how she was taken advantage of by her mother, Hollywood, the media, etc… A cautionary tale, for sure. I have to say I didn’t care for her movie- A Castle for Christmas– which I watched last Christmas. Totally predictable, Hallmark-esque. Not that Brooke was bad in it, it was definitely the script. It made me think I could write a better one, so maybe that will be my empty nester career move. Better Hallmark movie writer.

In good news for my writing career, the editor of Coral Gables Magazine emailed me that he was bumping up my pay for the Morris Lapidus article Lapidus Legacy because he thought I did an excellent job. I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback on that article and it was a labor of love, so I’m glad it’s finally been published. My story for Chicken Soup for the Soul: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: “Yes, Lets!” (they changed the title) will be coming out in July of 2023.

I have a bag full of fresh Stone Crabs to eat (courtesy of John Schild) and a bunch of Tamales from Homestead (courtesy of Zeke), so we have good meals to look forward to this week. And I’ll have my two grandsons for the weekend. Life, as of right now (and what else do we have?) is sweet.

Up Next: My Spring Garden

Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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