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Posts Tagged ‘Breakfast’

Food Club Liquid Eggs Review

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Food Club Liquid Eggs ReviewI’ve never tried “liquid eggs” (industry term: breaker eggs), but I see them used quite a bit at charity breakfasts I attend. I do recall having powdered (dehydrated) eggs, which have been around for more than a hundred years.

My experience was on Scout trips – the eggs were pretty awful.  So I set out to do my home experience, and picked up a pint carton of Food Club (TopCo) brand “Great Egg0-Spectations.” The carton promises “contains 99% real egg product. (See full ingredient list at the end of this post).

I can see why they use these at the mass breakfasts, or in commercial bakeries and restaurants. Speed, little waste, consistent product. (As you know, “fresh” eggs can vary in taste and size).

So these were a buck. The carton contains the equivalent of eight eggs. 3 T equal 1 egg.  A reason for buying them would not be value, certainly at any store in any given week, you can find at least one brand at around 50 cents a dozen. Of course, you can pay up to $6 a dozen from the same display case, and obviously, people must buy them or they wouldn’t be there, but I sure don’t get the idea of $6 eggs.

I assumed I could use the product as I would fresh eggs, so I set out to make scrambled eggs, adding a dollop of milk to my mix, cooking them in a non-stick skilled at medium heat. They turned out just fine. Tasted like…………….spoiler alert……………scrambled eggs!

Food Club brand is part of Topco, which is based in suburban Chicago, and started as a co-op of producers in the 1940s. They sell thousands of different products (frozen, refrigerated and dry)  under their own brand names, to a wide variety of retailers. They also produce their products in three different value segments, from a economy type product to an added value kind.

My conclusion is that liquid eggs are tasty and convenient. Would I buy them again? Nah, like I said above, I really don’t “get it” for home use. Plus the carton instructs you to use in a week, and most people keep fresh eggs around for weeks without a care. If you’re really concerned with product longevity, powdered eggs can last 5-10 years, depending on the brand and storage method.

Do you use liquid eggs at home? How do you use them? Do you have a preferred brand?

INGREDIENTS

EGG WHITES (99%), LESS THAN 1%: NATURAL FLAVOR, COLOR (INCLUDES BETA CAROTENE), SPICES, SALT, ONION POWDER, XANTHAN GUM, GUAR GUM, VITAMINS AND MINERALS: CALCIUM SULFATE, IRON (FERRIC ORTHOPHOSPHATE), VITAMIN E (ALPHA TOCOPHEROL ACETATE), ZINC SULFATE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE, VITAMIN B12, VITAMIN B2 (RIBOFLAVIN), VITAMIN B1 (THIAMINE MONONITRATE), VITAMIN B6 (PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE), FOLIC ACID, BIOTIN, VITAMIN D3.

Food Club Liquid Eggs Review

 

 

Food Club Liquid Eggs Review

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Village Inn Review, Huntley, IL

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Village Inn ReviewWhat’s better than getting a restaurant meal with quality ingredients, cooked precisely to your order, at a great value?

Not much I can think of. I have found my new “home away from home” for breakfast out, the Village Inn Family Restaurant, in Huntley, IL, a distant Chicago exurb. “Chicago area diners” lean towards large portions, and the Village Inn is no exception.

Throwing three eggs on a plate, next to (at least) a half pound of potatoes, along with your choice of meat and toast (rye, for me, always),  their breakfast will satisfy any sized appetite.

Two things stuck out for me. First, I love ham. But I especially love GREAT ham.  And by “great,” I mean “real,” not Village Inn Reviewsome pressed, chopped, and formed, ham-like meat.  No, I crave real muscle meat, full of texture and flavor. Village Inn more than satisfies.

Second? I crave my ham to have a little “char” on it, adds to texture experience, and I like my breakfast potatoes extra crispy.

Scored on both accounts, in fact the waitress brought the eggs and toast first, said the ham would be up in a minute, she didn’t think the cook charred it enough.  And when she delivered? Spot on.

I like going to Huntley.  It’s a peaceful little town, away from the hubbub of the big city, but with all the requisite access to commerce and great little mom and pop places, like the Village Inn and Sal’s Pizza, down the street.  Oh, and the most excellent Diary Mart.  I also try to get out there to support local charity feeds, like the Boy Scout Pancake breakfast and such.

Village Inn? I shall return. Often.  My compliments to the kitchen.

 Breakfast menu.
Village Inn Family Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Village Inn Review

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Waffle House Review

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waffleI wrote a piece years back, after hitting a Waffle House shortly after 9/11.   I recently dropped in on one on the Gulf Coast.  BTW, I counted on a map, and there are about 30 in a 40 mile stretch along the coasts of MS and LA.  Wow.

I sat at the counter, sipping my Joe, and indulged in some bacon and eggs, cooked as ordered, with a smattering of cheese on the hash browns.

If you haven’t been to a Waffle House, they are a chain across the South, with diminutive facilities, and a menu focused on breakfast, a few sandwiches, and a couple of entrees.  If you’re so inclined, you can even get a T-bone there for around $10.  Breakfasts run in the $3-$4 range. The chain is particularly proud of their hash browns, which you can ordered “smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered, capped, topped, or country.” The descriptions all refer to different add-on ingredients, and the taters are available in three different portion sizes.  They have not come up with a word (unless there is a secret menu) which would refer to ordering the hash browns with all of those additions.  They should.

My breakfast and coffee were just fine, they are big on consistency, and as such, a very dependable road stop. They have over 2000 locations in 25 states; they started in 1955 in Georgia.

The company hasn’t avoided controversy over the years, with a couple of religious and racial issues receiving some attention, but it seems behind them.

Find the one nearest you with their locator.

Waffle House Review

Waffle House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Waffle House Review

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Farmer Johns Sausage Review

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Farmer John Sausage ReviewI’ve never been much for “brown and serve” type breakfast sausages; to me, they have always represented one of the main components of civic group and church pancake breakfasts, huge chafing trays of the little pork links.

But it’s hard to pass up any processed pork product that is selling for around $2 a pound these days, less than half what you would pay for other breakfast meats, whether your favorites are bacon, ham, or smoked or patty sausage.

Farmer Johns Original Breakfast sausage are always a buck for a 1/2 pound package at Dollar Tree and most club stores.  Fairly often, they are on sale for even less.  So that’s a deal.

They are “skinless,” and they are not pre-cooked, so prep will take you 10-15 minutes on the stove top or under the broiler.  No one recommends microwaving them.

Farmer Johns is an L.A. company, located in Vernon, just south of downtown LA. They’ve been around since 1931, and make the full range of processed pork products: bacon, sausage, hot dogs, lunch meat, hams…….including the local favorite “Dodger Dog,”  sold at Dodger stadium and in retail outlets.  The factory (USDA est. 360) (pictured below) is “famous” for its extensive murals depicting rural life. They are now part of Hormel.

The ingredients for the breakfast sausage are straightforward: Pork, water, sodium lactate, less than 2 % salt, dextrose, surgar, flavorings, BH, propyl gallate, citric acid. I’m happy that list doesn’t include any configuration of corn syrup solids, or mechanically separated poutltry.

This product may have changed my mind about having them in the regular breakfast rotation, especially at this price.  Plus, since they are not in casings, if they are thawed, you can smoosh them into patties, if you prefer your pork intake in that shape!

The flavor is good, not very seasoned, so great appeal for the mass market.  They also offer  a “maple flavor” variety.

Farmer John Sausage Review

In the box

Farmer John Sausage Review

In the skillet 10 minutes

Farmer John Sausage Review

Dodger Dogs Retail Packaging

Farmer John Sausage Review

Farmer John Factory

 

 

Farmer Johns Sausage Review

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Lunchable Waffle Stick Breakfast Review

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Lunchable Breakfast ReviewWell this is a curious thing, spotted at WalMart for about a buck. “Lunchables” are “complete” meals to go, to eat heated or at room temperature, and were introduced in 1988 by Oscar Mayer, now part of Kraft.

They were created by a team at  Oscar Mayer as a way to sell more bologna, and the first units were comprised of lunch meat, cheese slices and crackers.

Now there is a plethora of choices, including the original styles, pizza slices,  diminutive hot dogs, burgers, and subs, and even tacos.

I admit to not being a regular customer, but I impulse bought this one, through it in the microwave for seconds and consumed.  I admit it has good flavor, the bacon is great, as is the syrup.  The waffles get kinda limp in the microwave tho, I should have tried one at room temp.

Would I buy it again?  Probably not, but they’re great things for a family on the go, as long as you watch the nutrition labels.  According to the package code, this product is made at  South’s Finest Meats 3201 10th Avenue, Suite S,  Tuscaloosa, AL 35401.

Lunchable Breakfast Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunchable Waffle Stick Breakfast Review

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Appleton Farms Ham Steak Review

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Aldi Ham ReviewI have written about a lot of Aldi products; Aldi is the global discount grocer owned by the same German family as Trader Joes.  At Aldi, you won’t find many big brand names, but rather Aldi concocted brand names that are manufactured under contract to Aldi’s specifications. (Also it will cost you a quarter to rent a cart, refunded when you return the cart to the line. Oh, and bag your own).

Where as my spawn professes to be a “ham hater,”  I am a genuine ham lover, and adore it all. Except honey glazed.  My domestic favorite is the slow salt cured beauties from the Carolinas;  internationally:  jamon serrano, prosciutto and the like.

Much of the ham in grocery stores isn’t very good, tho, and so it’s nice to run into one that isn’t full of fillers and other bits.  The Appleton Farms Ham Steak is ham, water, salt, seasonings, and that’s about it.

It’s made for Aldi by a packer called “Gusto” and they’ve been running a  ham and bacon operation west of Chicago for over forty years.  Gusto was purchased by Butterball in 2012, Butterball is owned by Seaboard, a diverse firm dating back to 1918 and a single flour mill in Kansas.

They run a 200,000 sq foot facility in Montgomery, IL, capable of grinding out 6 million pounds of product weekly. Wow.

Their Appleton Farms Ham Steak?  Superb.  Highly recommended for real ham taste and texture.

Aldi Ham Steak Review

Aldi Ham Steak Review

Gusto Packing Factory

Aldi Ham Steak Review

Gusto Packing Aerial

Appleton Farms Ham Steak Review

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Fairfield Inn Roseville MN

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Fairfield Inn Roseville ReviewDesigned to compete in the category the hospitality industry calls “added value economy”, the Marriott Corporation created the Fairfield Inn brand in the late 1980s. This category of motel offers amenities, but limited “service,” at “value pricing.” Pricing, of course, varies depending on location.  “Limited service” generally means, no on-site restaurant, bell staff and the like.

As with most hotel brands, Fairfields are franchises, and franchisees are bound by a set of rules and standards required by the brand to give the impression of standardization. In other words, guests at one Fairfield Inn should be able to expect the same type of accommodations, services, and amenities from one location to another.

Brands do a fairly good job of policing this policies, in order to protect the value of the brand.

Small business operators being what they are, however, guests should not be surprised to find some variance in quality of operations (plus or minus).

The Fairfield Inn in Roseville, MN, a suburb of St. Paul is operated by TMI Hospitality, a Fargo, North Dakota based operator of nearly 200 hotels/motels of different brands. The company was recently sold to Starwood Properties for over a billion dollars, media reports state.

TMI seems to one of the operators that gives more than required of a franchisee. There wasn’t a single aspect of a recent stay at the motel that didn’t exceed my expectations for the segment. Every member of the staff that I encountered was friendly and accommodating. The motel and rooms were antiseptically clean, as was the swimming pool and pool area.

The complimentary hot breakfast was well supplied and tasty. The first hotel I remember offering this option (in a chain) was the Hampton Inns, in the mid 1980s. It’s rather standard now, in the economy and economy plus segments, and as I mentioned above, because the motels are franchisees, service and quality can vary. I know the menu choices are dictated, as I own a social media company and this year we wrote home pages for more than 400 motels of a couple different brands and the paragraph on hot breakfasts was nearly the identical language.

What I don’t know, however, is whether or not franchisees are required to buy from a central commissary designated by the franchisor, or whether they have latitude on picking their own suppliers and/or offerings.

I didn’t inquire who the supplier was for this Fairfield, could have been a local company, Sysco, US Foods, or someone like that. The breakfast bar was open for four hours daily, and offered (this is similar to the language from the websites we did) “breakfast meats, breakfast breads, cereal, fresh fruit and juices, yogurt, eggs, and hot waffles.”

This particular bar stood out as the attendants had it fully stocked prior to the posted opening, and kept it refreshed and clean. An addition to the offerings was biscuits with sausage gravy.

All food was heat and eat (it comes prepared from the supplier and is just thawed, warmed at the hotel), and was really tasty. The scrambled eggs were light and fluffy, and the gravy was flavorful and had nice chunks of sausage.

Some franchisees make a minimum effort in this area, and may put out the breakfast once, and when it’s gone, it’s gone, and there is no effort to maintain order or cleanliness during the serving hours.

The Fairfield in Roseville not only exceeded my expectations in this area, but they also get kudos for having a full array of condiments and a variety of toppings for the toasts and bagels available, something they surely wouldn’t have to do.

Fairfield’s have done away with vending, instead offering a “market” at the front desk, with a variety of snack food and beverages.  Prices are a bit spendy, but the concept does give you a wider choice and is available 24/7.

Another surprising service? There was a 4-5 inch snowfall overnight, and a hotel employee when out and brushed the snow off every car in the lot. I’ve never seen that, anywhere, and thanks!

Complaints? My nit picky stuff. Pool water was a little chilly, and I suspect the sausage was turkey based. LOL.

I travel an incredible amount, and I’m not loyal to any one brand or another, usually choosing my accommodation by convenient location.

While I can’t say you should start choosing Fairfield Inns to get this level of service, I can expect that any motel managed by TMI will probably have the same standards, and I will definitely  look for TMI properties in the future. Locator here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fairfield Inn Roseville MN

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John Morrell Little Smokies Review

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John Morrell Little Smokies ReviewI continue my quest for the world’s tastiest Little Smokies.  So far, by a wide margin, Hillshire Farms Beef are my favorite….in the number two slot is the in-house brand at discount grocer Aldi.   It’s not a close second as far as the primary criteria, flavor and texture, no, Aldi places for value… regularly nearly half the price of the big brands.  (Hillshire Farm are usually $4.99, sometimes $4.49, and Aldi clock in at $2.99 always.

Today I tried out John Morrell; a product that the package promises “Plump Meaty Bites.” Morrell is a meat company that traces its roots back to 1827 England.  They sell products under a number of brand names that they have acquired over the years:  Ekrich,  Armour, Kretschmar,  Krakus.   Morrell itself is now owned by Smithfield, which of course, became a Chinese owned company recently.  (Not sure if it’s a good idea for US food companies to sell out to Chinese, just sayin’).

There can be some confusion between “little smokies” and “cocktail franks.”  Cocktail franks taste like mini wieners and are most often found floating in a chafing dish full of barbecue sauce at a party or event you wished you hadn’t attended.  Little smokies are more “sausage-like” in both texture and flavor.

I grabbed the Morrell package because it was substantially discounted compared to Hillshire, maybe $3.49.  Although the package says ‘little smokies,”  these are clearly cocktail franks, an extruded type sausage with the same fine grind and ingredients, and seasonings of one of Morrell’s hot dog products, I am sure.  Not only do they taste and feel like a frank, they are a much lighter color than the Hillshire Farm beef products.

What is an extruded sausage?   A slurry of ingredients is produced, and squirted into a collagen casing, which can be edible or non-edible.  If the latter, it is stripped off in the last state of manufacturing (fascinating to watch).  Newer technologies offer ‘spray on’ collagen casings, the operator can designate different thicknesses, in order to emulate the feel of a natural casing (intestines).

Morrell’s product is pork and mechanically separated chicken.  Hillshire Farms, ain’t.

Does the Morrell product place on my ‘consider regularly’ list?  Nope.  If I wanted little wieners, I’d buy wieners and chop them.  My taste in Little Smokies requires a resemblance in flavor and taste akin to “real sausage”, so I’ll suck up on the purchase price and stay with Hillshire Farms.

The Morrell package does not indicate a USDA plant number.  I don’t understand why some packages must have it, others don’t.  I asked the USDA and got pawned off from one department to another – ultimately not receiving an answer.

I generally don’t care for any ‘sausage’ product that contains chicken or turkey.  Yeah, I know they are supposed to be better for you, but the taste and texture just doesn’t appeal to me.

Speaking of confusing?  The regulators could help me out by coming up with definitions for “franks,”  “wieners,”  and “hot dogs.”

John Morrell Little Smokies Review

In the pan,, unheated

 

 

John Morrell Little Smokies Review

 

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Jones Canadian Bacon Review

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Jones Dairy Canadian BaconGrowing up within spitting distance of Canada, I never gave much thought to “Canadian Bacon” as a kid;  we had it quite frequently, I just figured my parents smuggled it in from Ontario like they used to have to buy bootleg margarine in Michigan. I rarely buy it for home use, I generally find it is pretty flavorless, and not a great value.  Maybe,  McDonald’s product, which is about as unbacony as a product can be has also put me off a bit.

As I progressed through the years, I came to understand what we call “Canadian Bacon” in the US is not Canadian at all, but rather a product similar in taste and texture to ham.  And here’s where it gets really confusing:  ham comes from the butt of a hog, bacon from the belly, and Canadian Bacon from a pork loin.  Whew.  Canadian bacon is usually leaner than ham, and lacks the sweeteners ham is sometimes cured with.

“Real” “Canadian Bacon” is called ‘back bacon’ up thataways, and “streaky bacon” in Canada’s motherland of jolly old England and other points in the crumbling empire.

And that product is generally more flavorful, with better texture, than most anything sold in the US, save for premium brands, no matter what ‘country’ label it has on it.  In fact, hasn’t most processed pork in the US become a real disappointment?  Whether you buy chops a tenderloin or roast, most mass market pork in the US tastes like nothing. At least to me.  If I want real pork flavor, I’ll buy fresh from a farmer;  some Carolina and Virginia hams are spectacular as well.

Anyway, back to the subject.   Jones Dairy Farms is a meat producer located in Ft. Akinson, Wisconsin.  They’v been selling processed pork products to the masses for over a hundred years.  I’m not sure how wide-spread their distribution is, but they have a product locator on their website.  I punched in zip codes at both ends of the country and found outlets.

(By the way, if you’re ever in Ft. Akinson on a Friday nite, (118 miles from the Sears Tower, 25 miles from Madison), there’s an exceptional fish fry at the Fireside).

Anyway, a package of Jones Dairy Canadian Bacon headed up in my fridge as a result of it being in the ‘scratch and dent’ bin at my local grocery.  It was a buck and a half as opposed to a regular price in the range of $4.50 – $5.00, the equivalent of around $12 a pound.

How was it?  As expected.  Reminiscent of mild ham.  Slightly sweet.   The ingredient list, if you’re interested: Cured with Water, Potassium Lactate,Salt, Sugar, Natural Flavor, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Nitrite.

I’d be interested in trying their Old Fashioned Hickory Smoked Whole Ham.

 

Jones Dairy Canadian Bacon

Bacon, from package, prior to heating

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jones Canadian Bacon Review

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Crystal Lake, IL – Andys Family Restaurant Review

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Andy's Crystal LakeLanding at O’Hare after an overnight flight from Honolulu, I was starving.  Why didn’t I eat on the plane?  Conked out on the new lie flat seat/beds in first class, very comfy, a little too comfy.

Was heading from Chicago to Madison, so I thought I’d stop en route and get a tasty breakfast on the back roads, and my back road of choice to Madison is US 14, so I hit Andy’s Family Restaurant in Crystal Lake, IL.

Over ordered, not a surprise, went with the Chicken Fried Steak and eggs, the place was jammed, but service was prompt and friendly, they have had lots of practice, this place has been around for years.

Played “butter Jenga” while I was waiting, scarfed the meal and hit the road.  Great place.

Andy's Crystal Lake

Andy's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Andys Family Restaurant Review

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