Category Archives: Food

Favorite Foods of 2017

We’re closing out another delicious year, and 2017 was certainly another record year for culinary treats. Here are some of my favorites from the last 12 months before we ring in the New Year.

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1. Valentine’s Day Breakfast.

Vivian got to use her new smoker to serve me up some smoked salmon for a Valentine’s breakfast, served on a bagel broken with cream cheese and broken apart in the shape of a heart. Smokin’!

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2. Bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers.

Yes, I included these last year, but it’s one of the most delicious things you can put on a toothpick. Crispy bacon and a creamy, cheesy, onion soupy picture inside a (seeded) jalapeño. Give me as many as you can — I’ll eat them all!

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3. Easter Breakfast at Twin Valley Church.

Pastor Ryan and our Church Elders were at Twin Valley Church bright and early serving up a wide variety of different breakfast foods for the congregation — eggs, muffins, pancakes, bacon, strawberries, and nearly anything else you can imagine. The best part, however, was being able to have Fellowship together in the morning.

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4. Father’s Day Dinner.

Between Vivian and her mom, they can come up with just about the most delicious meals imaginable. This year for Father’s Day, they made for Jack me a plate of prime rib, scallops, and yucca along with a Crab Louie salad and Donna’s peanut butter chocolate pie for dessert. Rarely has such a delicious meal ever been served anywhere.

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5. Fried Bologna Sandwich.

We took an adventurous trip to Pella, Iowa back in May for Tulip Time, and we brought Hannah and Aaron along for the ride. Along with the parades, windmills, and tulips all around, there was plenty of unique food to be had. The best of which, I decided was the “Pella Bologna,” which we got from the In’t Veld Meat Market on Main Street. We fried up a few slices and put it on a toasted Pretzel Bun along with some mustard for a very delicious sandwich.

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6. Dim Sum at the Park.

Ever since Phil and Jen introduced us to Dim Sum last year, we’ve been having it nearly everywhere. We ate it on Valentine’s Day and for our First Date Anniversary, but I’ve especially grown fond of getting it at Gold Mountain in Aksarben Village, right across the street from Stinson Park, where our kids come to play at lunchtime. There’s nothing quite as nice as having pork dumplings on a lovely, sunny day.

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7. Cast iron skillet breakfast.

Vivian has become very fond of her cast iron skillets, which she particularly enjoyed using when we went camping down by the river in Louisville over Labor Day Weekend. She made some cheesy eggs and sausage with pancakes for everyone our first morning there.

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8. A year’s worth of Arby’s.

Props to Pastor Ryan for letting me know the first 50 people at the remodeled Arby’s in Bellevue got to have free Arby’s for a year. That means 52 Free Meal vouchers with your choice of sandwich. I’ve been able to eat there over a dozen times so far and haven’t had the same sandwich twice. These include the Bourbon Brisket sandwichAngus 3 CheeseCajun “Deep-Fried” Turkey, Smoke Mountain, the Venison sandwich, and the Gobbler.

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9. Big messy birthday burger from Five Guys.

Vivian and the kids surprised me for my birthday around lunchtime with food from one of my favorite burger restaurants. You may not think it’s much to look at, but it’s delicious (and comes with a ghetto grocery bag full of fries). We ate them all together at the Elmwood Park Grotto.

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10. Vivian’s vegetable medley.

Vivian has been making a unique vegetable medley with summer squash, Brussels sprouts, and a handful of other ingredients inside her cast iron skillet and serving it for meals, side dishes for parties, Thanksgiving and Christmas and just about any other time. It’s worth a mention just because of how much everyone enjoys it, including me (and I didn’t even think I liked Brussels sprouts).

The big yellow one’s the sun

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On Friday night, Vivian and I had an impromptu date night as I snagged tickets to see Brian Regan down at the Holland Center. Vivian’s been a fan of his since before I even knew her, so it was a treat to see him live (and with all-new material, of course). Yes, that blurry photo above is actually Brian Regan taking the stage — I actually chose to snap just one blurry photo with my cell phone and actually enjoy the evening with Vivian rather than worry about documenting it. Imagine that!

Before the show, Grammy and Pop-Pop stopped by to dress Hannah up in color colorful springtime attire. Then they made us all pork chops for dinner, letting Hannah help and learn the magic of shake-and-bake. Then on Saturday, Vivian and I had something of an extended date-day together. The West girls from church were spending the day watching Hannah and Aaron so Vivian and I could clean house and then have lunch at the Pizza Shoppe for something of a late lunch.

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In other news, Aaron turned ten months old last week, which we celebrated with some adorable pictures in front of our tulips out front. Springtime seems to be exploding in every directions, with trees at the park and in our yard in full blossom. Hannah got to play with a pile of fallen blossoms on one of our walk-walks, and on another she got to discover the joy of running through a sprinkler. We’ve also been spending extra quality time at the park, giving the kids swing time and cupcakes whenever they’re available. Such are the joys of the season, at least before the scorching heat and humidity of the summer descend upon us.

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Our friend Mark also turned 107 or something, which gave me a great excuse to join him and Phil and Jen at Pana 88 to have Ramen Noodles (not the Instant Noodles you’re thinking of, but something much more edible). It was the perfect place to laugh it up as a perpetual drizzle made the rest of the world cold and gray outside, a precursor to a dumpling party this weekend.

Swings and grills and movies, oh my!

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It’s been a quiet week or two out here. The weather’s turned nice again, which means spending time at the park with Hannah and Vivian over lunch. Stinson Park’s become a destination for the Johnson family, particularly on Mondays and Wednesdays when Jones Bros. has free cupcakes over the lunch hour. Hannah also seems to get excited to see daddy during the day and having the chance to running around in the fresh air before heading home to crash.

We also got to have our first grill-out with Vivian’s parents one the temperature rose above 80 degrees for the first time this year. Hannah got some more quality time outside as Jack grilled up some hamburgers and then Donna gave us all haircuts before the end of the night.

In other news, a bunch of us went to see God’s Not Dead over the weekend. It’s the latest in a series of independent Christian films to make it to the big screen, this one coming from Pure Flix and starring David A.R. White, whose other (fairly cheesy) independent Christian films Vivian and I have grown to know and love via Netflix. I highly recommend checking it out.

Also: Keystone Homecare burns down, Vivian makes biscuit pot pies, and Hannah eats pizza.

Christmas Vacation, Part 2

It’s been a great week here so far with my family in North Carolina. My brother and I flew in on Sunday and have been hanging out with my folks and my brother all week. We had a lovely Christmas dinner on Monday and opened presents. We all pretty much got a bunch of DVDs and books that we’ve been enjoying all week. I got Police Squad (the TV series that spawned the Naked Gun movies), The Wizard, Triumph of the Nerds, and Amazon Women on the Moon to satisfy all of my geek cravings. I also got Season One of Punky Brewster, a show I grew up loving and feeling almost ashamed to admit it now. It’s such a cute show.

We went to eat with the folks a couple times this week, stopping by a Waffle House today and a place called Mama Dip’s yesterday. I got to try Chitlins for the first time in my life, and let me tell all of you out there, you don’t ever want to be anywhere near this stuff. I won’t go into details, but the smell alone from these things is like a barnyard. I actually ate one piece and nearly got sick, but hey, you have to try new things if you ever want to live life to its fullest! We’ve also been spending loads of times watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 and a bunch of other movies. This week has really reminded me of what a vacation is really all about–getting away from your everyday drudgery and being able to do nothing for a little while, just so you can put everything else in your life into perspective. Sometimes I get so caught up with my job, my freelance work, and my online projects that I don’t have time to sit back and see it all in perspective.

I’ll have more pictures to share once my Internet connection isn’t quite so unstable!