The Holidays, y’all

I could attempt to recount the things we’ve eaten over the last week, but really, you can probably imagine it.  You’ve been reading about our meals for a year.  You know that before we go out of town for a few days, we try to eat down the fridge, which is what we did on Wednesday.  You know that on special occasions like our anniversary or a Thursday, we like to have snacks for dinner, which is what we did for Christmas Eve Eve as we watched Love Actually and opened our gifts for each other.  And you know about the holiday excess we’re trying to avoid.

Festive Shane

We spent Christmas in Rockford with my family, including this handsome fellow who dazzled us with his crawling and his good looks:

Christmas Max

There was the traditional Christmas Eve corn chowder, more bland than it should have been, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with the salt shaker and the most important spice. There were dozens of cookies stashed in the cold garage: gunk bars, brownies, chocolate coconut pinwheels, and sugars.

Mark and Evonne

We had German food for Christmas lunch – Mexican last year – sauerbraten and spaetzle, warm red cabbage, German potato salad, and an assortment of sausages. Somehow – perhaps thanks to the gym – we made room for Swedish pancakes at Stockholm Inn on Sunday, Beef-a-Roo, and cocktails and snacks at Garrett’s with Jenn.

Open wide!

And then on to Lakewood for a few non-holiday days with Shane’s family: tacos and Blizzards with his brothers, scones and excellent coffee at The Root after a visit to Trav’s funny gym:

Post-run olive scone at The Root

A visit to the Cleveland Art Museum, where we saw an incredible Damien Hirst piece made entirely of butterfly wings, followed by a tasty but cold and stressful lunch at Tommy’s in Coventry – I had tempeh salad, nom nom nom. Watching the Hawks win – or at least most of the game – over beers and food with the whole family at Buckeye Beer Engine. Time with kitties, cousins, and grandpa. And a couple of remarkable hot dogs at Happy Dog before heading home:

Happy Dog-14
Photo by edseloh

Among the toppings we tried were blue cheese coleslaw (me), marinated mushrooms (Orin), and habanero pickled red onions (Shane) – plus a really great chimichurri and a garlic-tomato jam for our tater tots.  I wish I had photos of any of this, but despite taking the camera everywhere with us, we only managed a couple of pictures of the cats.  I’ll try harder next time, promise.

0618 Beef-A-Roo

We hit the road for Rockford tonight, where we’ll be spending the weekend visiting my family, meeting our new nephew, and having the last of our wedding receptions.  According to Google Maps, the distance between our house and my parents’ is 320 miles, or an estimated drive of 5:46, with an hour gained by crossing into the central time zone. Tonight, however, it took closer to 7 hours.

First, we hit construction just outside Ann Arbor. Then we hit stand-still traffic that continued past Kalamazoo. THEN the traffic cleared up just in time for a huge storm to break, dramatically reducing visibility and slowing us down to a crawl. The rain let up just outside Indiana, and we had about 90 minutes of smooth, weather and traffic free driving through Chicago – incredible! And THEN, near Marengo, the sky turned black as an apocalyptic storm rolled in with heavy rain and lots of lightning.  With no shelter and our destination less than 20 miles away, we pressed on, in part fueled by our cravings for Beef-a-Roo.

Have I mentioned Beef-a-Roo here before?  If not, I sincerely apologize.  I also sincerely apologize to anyone who lives far from this northern Illinois mecca of fast food, as you’re missing out on something truly special.

beefaroo!

Beef-a-Roo is a Rockford institution that has been dishing out quality burgers since 1967.  Each of the nine locations around the Rockford area has its own identity and decor, but all of them serve up killer milkshakes, sandwiches, salads, and fried things.  Despite the titular ‘beef’, Beef-a-Roo is surprisingly vegetarian-friendly.  The Veggie Club may have cemented my love for the chain in the years when I was veg but was dating a dedicated meat eater.

Lunch from Beefaroo
photo by slworking2

Having renounced my veg ways, I now crave the Cilantro Lime Turkey Club – turkey, havarti, veggies, and cilantro-lime mayo on a doughy roll – along with their various chicken sandwiches and, of course, the cheddar fries.  As pictured above, their cheddar fries come in a soft-drink cup, with the distribution of melted cheese basically requiring the use of a fork.  Soooooo good.

Beef-a-Roo doesn’t have the cult following that In-N-Out Burger has, and I really don’t understand why – except that Rockford isn’t quite the destination that California is.  Alas, more Beef-a-Roo for me!  Tonight, having weathered the storm and the too too long drive, I enjoyed every last bite of my Cilantro Lime Turkey Club, and then helped Shane finish his Jamocha shake.  I figure we earned it.