th6 Junk food: Sometimes it just tastes good.It’s National Junk Food Day, apparently. And me without a single Moon Pie in the house.

In fact, I’ve eaten quite well today. Breakfast was oatmeal made with half yogurt whey and half water and flaxseed, plus half of the last banana in the bunch (shared with DF, because I’m kind like that).

For lunch I had rice topped with roasted vegetables – carrots, broccoli, Walla Walla onions and home-grown turnip, plus a dish of homemade yogurt mixed with a spoon of homemade orange marmalade and more of that flaxseed.

If only I’d known about the holiday. I might have gone to McDonald’s for breakfast and Burger King for lunch. Nothing says “bad for you” like a single meal that holds all calories needed for the entire day (with way too many in the form of grease).

On the other hand, I did eat white rice instead of brown. So am I junking out sufficient to the day?

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th9 The call of the Koolickle.Recently DF came into possession of a special report from the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “Land of plenty: Will food save the Delta or be its death?” is beautifully photographed and contains fascinating articles about the foods commonly consumed in the Mississippi Delta.

These range from the expected (barbecue, greens, fried chicken) to the surprising (tamales, kibbeh, Italian, Asian, haute cuisine). A supermarket is the only one in the Kroger chain that grinds its own meat, because the kibbeh consumers demand fresh grind of a specific quality.

This isn’t just a travelogue, mind you. The writers focused on nutrition issues, food deserts and health problems. We also learn about prawn farming, soul food, family-run eateries, blues music, restaurants that turned dying cities into Saturday-night destinations.

And we learn about Koolickles, a Delta delicacy also known as Pickoolas: dill pickles marinated in brine, sugar and double-strength Kool-Aid.

This is the home of the fried pickle, so it’s no surprise that gherkins might receive unusual treatment. But Kool-Aid pickles struck me as both horrifying and fascinating. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head.

Reader, I made some.

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th8 300x300 11 signs of spring in Alaska.The first shot in the dandelion wars has been fired: Over the weekend I pulled up a fledgling and chopped its leaves into my pot full of garbage soup. Take that, Taraxacum officinale!

Not really a war. In fact, I think dandelion blooms are cheerful and last year DF made homemade soda from them. It wound up fermenting and tasted more like a hard cider than a soft drink.

(Acted like one, too, which made DF pretty cheerful as well.)

Even if I hadn’t seen the dandelion greens I would know that it’s spring. Real spring, not calendar spring (March 20, my boot-clad foot), although some refer to it as “breakup.”

How do I know? Let me count the ways.

1. Vanishing snow piles. On today’s walk I had to pick my way past the remains of a  pile that had been plowed into an alley, and patches of snow still linger in shady spots. Mostly it’s a thing of the past, although some pretty impressive mountains of the stuff persist in the city’s various snow dumps.

2. Nighttime temps at freezing or better. The other day it was 23 when we got up, but generally the overnight temperatures hover in the low 30s.

3. Daytime temps in the 40s. When you’re in the sun that feels great. In the shade, or when a north-facing breeze smacks you, still a little chilly. But you couldn’t prove it by…

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th2 150x150 My minor celebrity moment. Whats yours?

Photo courtesy of Free Images (

During its musical revues the old Fly By Night Club sometimes included a “Minor Celebrities” bit, inviting audience members to write down their furthest-removed brushes with fame. During intermission the cast would pick what they thought were the best – and again, the more tenuous, the better.

Thus we’d hear things like:

“I take dance class with Michael Jackson’s plastic surgeon’s wife.

“My great-uncle invented Cheez Whiz.”

“I once heard Brian Keith belch when I walked past his house in Hawaii to go surfing.”

“I used to carpool a kid whose mother’s father embalmed Babe Ruth.”

All these snippets led, naturally, to a book. The title: “Elvis Presley’s Pharmacist Was My Sunday-School Teacher.” 

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th 1 150x150 Whats the weirdest thing you ever charged?The folks at recently commissioned a survey about offbeat credit card purchases. Some 57 percent of those surveyed copped to a bit of buyer’s remorse, i.e., “What was I thinking?”

“Adult entertainment” was the top culprit, with 6.7 percent admitting to have purchased temporary jollies. Men are “about four times more likely than women to use a credit card for this purpose,” according to the CardRatings blog post.  

You don’t say.

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