The best way to Share a Restaurant Bill with others

You go out for a nice dinner out with friends.  It is a good time until the check comes.  At this point there can sometimes be resentment.  If someone offers to pick up the whole tab, it tends to be the same people.  If somebody tries to cut corners, it is also usually the same people.  In any large group of friends, there are invariably those who cover more than their fair share and those who cover less.  Lets look at some of the best ways to a restaurant bill with others.

♦  Everyone pay their own share.

This can often seem the most equitable, but it can be unfair to some.  People tend not to include their share of the tip in the calculation.  Perhaps they do not kick in for appetizers they ate.  Perhaps they forget to include drinks.  Regardless when everyone puts their money down it often seems short.  Often leaving one person to cover a larger share.

♦  Even split

With an even split it seems more equitable.  You know what everyone owes.  It is nice and easy.  But then you have people who may not have ordered much.  One person gets a Hamburger and Coke while another gets Champagne and a Steak.  This method has just as good of a chance at being unequal. 

♦  Separate Checks

Separate checks make things nice and easy.  If you know that some people in the group really complain or are extra cheap this is the way to go.  This causes a lot of extra work for the waiter or waitress so should be avoided in large parties unless you know that there will be trouble if you don’t.  Make sure YOU leave a good tip if you do put the wait staff through this.

♦  Take turns pick up the whole thing

Assuming you can all afford to pick up a tab in turn, this is a fine method.  Once again, there could be an element of some people trying to scam it a little bit, but generally this method can work out well.  It feels more like you are “giving” something to your friends rather than being forced to cover because one is too cheap.

♦  Know the people you are with.

It all depends on what your friends are like.  If they are all generous, no method will be bad.  If everybody orders close to the same thing, even splits work out great.  If some people are going to spend significantly more separate checks or each paying their own “share” works out best.  It depends more on your group than it does on a particular right answer to the question of which method is best.

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The best Tasting Coffee

There are many ways to improve the flavor of coffee, but the key question to ask first is if one drinks their coffee black, or with cream and or sugar.  So these are the essentials to start off with, and everyone has their preference.  Personally, I prefer mine with cream and Truvia, that new sugar substitute.

The right mix of cream and sugar, or the sugar substitute is essential for the best tasting cup of coffee.  That’s why whenever I’m eating out and the waitress comes over to the table to refresh my cup of coffee, I immediately wave her off!  Why?  Because I can’t stand my blend of coffee and cream to be diluted with more coffee, that’s why.  I can’t figure out why most servers don’t understand this.  I know they are trying be nice and do their job, but the proper mixture is essential for the right taste, and adding more coffee can dilute that mixture.

Would you like to have a perfect cup of coffee without using a spoon to mix your blend of cream and coffee?  That is, if you use cream?  The easiest way is to add the cream and sugar first to the cup!  That way, when you pour the coffee into the cup, it’s automatically blended!  You don’t need a spoon at all, and it’s one less utensil you have to wash.  But back to improving the flavor of coffee, there are some steps to take when you make your coffee that will always improve the flavor.

For me the best tasting coffee is drinking it within a few minutes after my coffee maker is done making it.  If the coffee sits there for a while, such as an hour or so, it never fails to impart a burnt taste in my mouth!  Maybe I’m sensitive, perhaps overly so, but I have to have a fresh tasting cup of coffee.  My mother used to put the damn coffee urn in the fridge if there was any left over!  That’s probably a leftover from the depression days of not wasting anything, God bless her soul.  But I couldn’t stomach it when she did that, and the coffee always tasted like crap!  So if you are just making coffee for yourself, try to estimate how much you think you’re going to drink, and make that amount.  Leftover coffee just doesn’t cut it!

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The Semillon Grape

The Semillon grape, the traditional Bordeaux grape for the white wines in this region, is rather old and its early appearance dates back to the XVII th century although there is no clear explanation about who and how it was brought over to the sole region of Bordeaux. 

We know that red grapes were brought into France by the Romans crossing the borders from the South and heading then to the West ( City of Narbonne) before moving forward to the West ( region of Bordeaux). 

But in the case of Semillon the grape appeared in Bordeaux before moving eastward and down to the region of Provence in the south of France. 

Anyway the grape accounts for the making of the sweet white wines, like Sauternes, Barsac. It grows fairly well in gravelly soils, clay or limestone and can resist the frost.

The Semillon is sensitive to the Botrytis Cinerea and enjoy the noble rot whereby it will give out the most outstanding sweet wines like the Sauternes, including the most famous Château d’Yquem. The Botrytis allows for the making of a high concentration of the natural sugars. It will cover the grapes every year in September and hit them in such a way that they look like ill-shaped, rotten grapes but its general effect is outstanding: the Botrytis softens the natural acidity, add sugars and glycerin to the plant,

Harvesting is generally scheduled in September and will begin the moment the grapes are touched by the noble rot. The grapes are considered as “over-matured” at this time, hence the hand-by-hand harvesting where grains are removed carefully over several runs through the vineyard.

The results after fermentation are noble sweet wines with a deep colour of honey, aromas of butter, almonds, hazelnuts or figs. 

However, ever since the last world war, the consumption of wines is France has been constantly declining and the white wines, whether dry or sweet ones, have been hit by the phenomenon. Still there is a recent trend where white wines are served before lunch (along with appetizers) sharing the front table long with alcoholic drinks. As a matter of fact, the planted area was struck to a current 15,000 hectares versus 30,000 at the turn of the XXth century.

The grape can also be found in the region of Cognac, up north Bordeaux and foreign countries like Chile, California, South-Africa to mention just a few. 

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Simple Southern Buffalo Sauce

Simple Southern Buffalo Sauce

     Buffalo Sauce is best known as a dipping sauce for chicken wings. Here in the south however, it is used for many different things. It can be used as a dipping sauce for any type of meat, as a marinade and even as a sandwich topping. This recipe for Simple Southern Buffalo Sauce was taught to me by my Grandmother and has been a family favorite for many years.  What’s great about this recipe is that it has only 5 ingredients, and it takes only twenty minutes to prepare. It’s absolutely delicious, it’s perfect for parties, and it’s a surefire crowd pleaser. I have serve it at all of my barbecues and Superbowl parties for as long as I can remember, and people always ask me for the recipe, so here it is.


1 – stick of unsalted butter, cubed

1 – 32 ounce jar of Texas Pete brand hot sauce

1 – 6 ounce can of Hunt’s brand tomato paste

3 – Tsp sea salt ( optional )

1 – pinch garlic powder ( optional )

     In a large saucepan, melt cubed butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, slowly pour in the Texas Pete brand hot sauce, and raise the heat to medium high. Next, add the Hunts brand tomato paste. Allow the mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally until the tomato paste melts down and incorporates, approximately twenty minutes. Add salt and garlic powder to taste.

Suggested use: Serve as a dipping sauce for chicken wings or strips, alongside celery and carrot sticks, accompanied by ranch or bleu cheese dressing.

Serves approximately 16 – 20 people, depending on what you use it for (chicken wings, sandwiches, marinade,etc.)

Any leftover sauce may be kept in a closed container in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

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The best beverage is tea

There is nothing like a nice cup of tea. I never developed a taste for coffee. My mother gave me hot tea with sugar and milk when I was a child. Now, I prefer unsweetened ice tea, even in the winter.

There are many teas to choose from. You can make tea from all sorts of plants. My husband makes red tea, that is loaded with vitamin C, from the rose hips of our California native roses. He chops up the rose hips and boils them in water. Then, we pour the red tea over ice. The rose hip tea has a mild refreshing taste.

Sun tea is my favorite. I fill a gallon glass jar with water and tea bags. Then, I place the jar in the sun. In a few hours, I have delicious tea to pour over ice cubes. On days when the sun does not shine, I brew my tea in the refrigerator. The tea takes longer to brew, but it still tastes great.

Tea is good for your body. The flavonoid antioxidants found in tea protect your body from free radicals that damage cells. Antioxidants in tea appear to lower cholesterol, improve cardiovascular health, and help guard against some cancers.

The flavonoids in tea may reduce the risk of having a stroke by making blood cells less likely to form clots. A study done by the University of British Colombia concluded that the low incidence of cancer in Japan, even among smokers, is related to the large amount of tea consumed by the Japanese.

Drinking tea gives you fresh breath and a healthy smile. Tea does not leave an after taste in your mouth like coffee. According to researchers at Tokyo Dental College, tea can kill bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay. Tea stains on your teeth can be easily removed by your dentist during your routine teeth cleanings.

In 1995, the New York Academy of Medicine concluded that tea does not cause nervousness, insomnia, or stomach irritation, the way coffee can, when consumed in large quantities. The researchers found that tea relieves fatigue, clears the mind, and does not cause the body to experience a burned out feeling later on.

My family drinks sun tea almost every day. We do not have insomnia or feel nervous. When we go a day without tea, we do not experience fatigue or headaches. Some of my coffee drinking friends report that they feel tired and have headaches if they miss their daily coffee.

Tea is a better choice than coffee, because tea is easy to make, tastes great, and is good for you.

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The risks of coffee to one’s health

Coffee is a stimulant in wide use around the globe and especially in the United States. Before one can analyze the relative risks and benefits of coffee, one must be aware of its effects and components.

The central ingredient of coffee – when used as a stimulant – is caffeine, a relatively mild psychoactive stimulant. It is consumed by over 90% of North American adults daily, and is considered addictive.

As with any stimulant, there are inherent risks in use and abuse. Lack of sleep has proven derogatory effects, and can even lead to hallucination and paranoia in severe cases. Especially when coupled with the increased anxiety commonly tied to the use of stimulants. This can make driving, or other high risk activities, dramatically more dangerous. There are few safeguards in place to prevent the use of caffeine in conjunction with these high risk activities.

In addition to the problems tied to the use of any stimulant, caffeine has specific dangers of its own. It increases production of stomach acid and can create or exacerbate ulcers or acid reflux. It has been linked to miscarriages in pregnant women; and it not only rapidly creates a tolerance, it also generates an addictive withdrawal effect in those who use it regularly and then attempt to cease.

As with any stimulant, there are perceived benefits which may, to some minds, counterbalance the genuine risks of caffeine (and, consequently, coffee) use. These benefits tend to be purely subjective in nature and perception, although there may be links between caffeine and reduced rates of Parkinson’s Disease, and caffeine has long been used as a headache treatment because of it’s ability to dilate the blood vessels. Still, the benefits do not appear to outweigh the risks by any objective measurement.

However – although caffeine is a natural component of coffee, decaffeination can be used to create a beverage that is strictly flavour, without a stimulant effect. This “de-caf” coffee poses few significant health risks and, for those with a taste for the relatively bitter bean, can provide a healthful alternative.

It is clear that in terms of health risk, coffee is a relatively minor culprit when compared to the parasite within – the caffeine that can cause addiction and damage to the unaware user.

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There is some Thing about Macaroni Cheese

I do not know why but this dish is a hit very time. No matter if you are young or old there is some thing about Macaroni cheese that is so satisfying that you always come back for more. There are many versions of this and all of them are more or less the same but this is the one that I recommend to you.

You will need

250g/9oz short cut macaroni

50g/2oz butter

50g/20z plane flour

600ml/1pt full fat milk

100ml/3½floz double cream

100ml/3½floz dry white wine

50g/2oz strong farm house cheddar cheese

75g/2½oz mozzarella cheese

75g/2½oz parmesan cheese

Salt, fresh ground pepper and pinch of nutmeg to taste

10 to 12 cherry tomatoes

1 small onion

1 bay leaf

1 pepper corn

Take your pasta and blanch in a pan of boiling salted water. Do not cook all the way threw. What you are looking for in this pasta is a fine white line threw the middle of the pasta where it has not cooked. Do not worry you will cook the pasta more as you bake it but if you cook it all the way now it will be over cooked latter. Once it is cooked get it in to some cold running water and stop it from cooking any more. Then drain of the water and allow to cool on the side as you make the sauce.

The sauce is just a simple mornay  or cheese sauce. Take you milk and place that on a low heat and in to the milk add the small onion cut in half the bay leaf and pepper corn. Allow the flavors of infuse in to the milk as it heat up and then take of the heat and place to one side.

Now take a thick bottomed pan and put that on a low heat and add the butter. Allow the butter to melt slowly and then add the flour a little at a time. Working the flour and the butter together in to a nice golden paste. Now a little at a time add the milk through a sieve, you do not want the onion bay leaf or pepper corn to get in to the sauce. As you add the milk use a whisk to incorporate the milk and the paste together till you end up with a good thick sauce.

Now add you white wine cheddar cheese and mozzarella and cook till the cheese has melted in to the sauce and finally finish with the cream. Season with salt pepper and a little nutmeg to you taste.

Now take your pasta and place that in a deep sided oven proof dish. Take to sauce wile it is still hot and pour that over the pasta making sure that it all gets covered. Now sprinkle over the Parmesan cheese and just work it in to the pasta with a spoon, you do not want it all on the top as it will form a crust. Finley scatter your cherry tomatoes over the top and bake in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. If you do not like tomatoes you can leave them off. But they do add a little sharp notes to the rich creamy texture of the macaroni cheese.

Remove from the oven when the top is going golden and the tomatoes have all cooked in to the sauce. And then eat hot with a side salad and some garlic bread, no matter what time of year always a winner.

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Testing Eggs for Freshness

Egg Testing

Eggs are a staple in most refrigerators and when we bring them home from the grocery store, we might not actually know the freshness. The stores have a buy by date, but this might not actually be helpful. After you examine the eggs in the store for breakage, you probably will want to test them for freshness at the grocer and at home. In addition, there are means to determine whether the eggs are raw or cooked.

From the Ranch to the Home

In the state of Washington, the egg producers advertise that you should purchase Washington State produced eggs. The choice options available in stores are limited but limiting choice of brand by distance from farm minimizes time in storage or on transportation.

The best means in the grocery store to determine freshness to pick up each eggs. If the eggs feel light, the egg is probably not fresh. The egg should feel heavy. Once you get home, you can do a simple test to determine whether your eggs are fresh.


After bringing your eggs home from the grocery store, you can determine whether they are fresh enough to keep. You will want the facts if you want to return the eggs to the store if they pass the swimming test. Eggs take in air as they age, so they will float easier as they age. Fill a bowl with water and drop eggs into the bowl. Fresh eggs will sink to the bottom of the bowl and are safe to place in your refrigerator. If they are lying on their side, they are a week old. If they stand on end, they are two weeks old. As they age the air creeping in will give them buoyancy and the eggs will begin to float. You might want to make a notation on the container about the possible age. If they all float, you might want to return them to the store or discard.

As the eggs sit in the refrigerator, you might forget when you purchased the eggs a cracked egg on a plate can offer a clue on whether they are fresh. A fresh egg will make a perfect circle and the yoke and egg white will remain close to each other.

If you share a refrigerator, you might need to know whether the eggs are raw or hard-boiled. You can spin the eggs on the counter. A hard-boiled egg has a solid interior so the egg will spin. Raw eggs will wobble as the contents of the eggs moves around inside.

Eggs are a staple in the American diet as an entre and as an ingredient. Consumers can gain knowledge to use them responsibly.


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Testimonies regarding the social aspect of coffee drinking

My first “coffeehouse cult” experience took place in a town that was really much too small to have a coffeehouse in the first place. The little shanty of a business was once a two-story house, but it had been transformed into a three-room java shack.

One room was studious, lined with books, magazines, and whatnot for the academies that sometimes congregated. Another was more like an open sun room or sitting room that transformed into a staging area for Friday night entertainers. Of course, the third room held the bar, the cafe-style tables, and all the normal coffeehouse adornments: mugs, machines, syrups, teas, and the like.

Those who patronized the business were inevitably regulars, and I was among them. If I had been more thoughtful in my youthful post-college days, I might have saved some of the cash I spent on pizza and coffee and invested it, but then I wouldn’t have the great stories from the Xpress Yourself Cafe, after all.

It was here that friends from the neighboring community came and talked over everything from politics to sports and a whole variety of topics in between. We had midnight Scrabble tournaments, where I usually took second place to a genius from the local photo shop.

The poorly-paid singer for Friday nights was a middle-aged stoner who wasn’t going any further in his career, as he wasn’t that good, but he was loud. When he wasn’t available, we occasionally had poetry readings and the like, and the “sensitive types” from all over came in to pour their hearts into the open mic.

The owners and I became fast friends, and I was granted access to areas of the coffeehouse that few others were allowed into. I helped wash dishes in the kitchen, I prepared sandwiches on my off-days, and my payment was an unending supply of mocha and latte. When they finally closed the little joint, it was like someone had died. The old man who owned the place lived across the street, and the owners were a few months behind on their payments after I’d left town.

I tried to join other “coffeehouse cults” in other towns where I later lived, but the air was never the same. The pseudo-intellectuals and the midnight buzzers were always distant, and no one ever wanted to know anyone.

Truly, the Xpress Yourself Cafe was a once-in-a-lifetime place. And, undoubtedly, it will never be replicated in the sterile, homogenized, name brand coffee shops of today. Thank you, Brenda and John Hojonski, for all that you gave your community – some of us will never forget.

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Teavana drink reviews three Kingdoms Mao Feng Organic Green Tea

I am normally a very big fan of green teas. Although this one had all of the hype that I expect with a Teavana green tea, there is probably a reason that I have never seen it. Or during any tastings at Teavana store locations. It definitely didn’t quite live up to my expectations no matter how my fiance and I tried to drink it. 

How we drink it

This is definitely a different type of experience altogether. Since the flavor is really weak it is very difficult to drink as a cold tea. If you are going to drink it cold you are really going to have to work hard to enhance the flavor of it. This means probably adding 5-6 times as much tea in order to make it strong enough. My young son will only drink tea cold and probably should only drink it cold so if we want to make this and he is awake we have to make it cold for him so he can feel like he is drinking it along with us. 

When we drink this particular variety, we normally drink it hot around dinner. This seems to be the best time to enjoy it, if you can really actually enjoy it. Drinking it hot I normally add creamer to it in order to give it the flavor that it is lacking. My favorite is probably creme brulee flavored creamer for this variety but hazelnut is also a nice flavoring for it as well. My fiance on the other hand likes to add honey or sugar to it with half/half or milk. Regardless we both have to add quite a bit of flavoring to make it tasty enough for daily drinking. 

When we are sick we often drink this tea because of the weak flavor.  It gives us the healthy benefits of green tea without overpowering our weakened senses.


The smell isn’t anything amazing just a basic green tea. It smells grassy with water just like I expect my green tea to smell. I was hoping for something a big stronger but I really didn’t get that at any point during the process. 


Overall the flavor is that of green tea. It isn’t a great green tea it is simply average. I would say that you are probably better off buying a store bought Bigelow green tea if you are going to get something like this. At least Bigelow has a somewhat better flavor than this. There is definitely a lot missing from this tea. If you want to get the most out of it you really have to quadruple the amount of tea that you use. The recommended amount simply isn’t enough at least not for my fiance and I. 

Best consumed

I personally enjoy drinking green tea for dinner and really don’t enjoy it at any other time. This one is pretty basic so you could really drink it whenever it works best for you.  It is low in caffeine so you could even drink it before bed. 

Health benefits of green tea:

Believed to beneficial to the immune system
Includes polyphenols that are believed to help prevent certain types of cancers
Stomach and digestive relief
Shown to lower cholesterol
Contains less only 1/20 the caffeine of coffee

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