Grandmas Restaurant Cortland NY

So while I was working at my food company a few years back a friend told me about Grandmas.  I had to try it out.  I love diners and one with a whole menu of old school favorites.  Check out this article and you will see what I mean.  (not grandmas but a sad story as well)

diner die out

So last time I visited I had a Reuben sandwich and that was great.  This time, it was an Italian menu starring Pizza.  I almost took my husband and left.  I was so disappointed.  I was looking for some comfort food.  I drove 20 minutes to get that and well I could have gone locally and had something I was familiar with.  There were only 4 -5 pies and it looked like one type of cheesecake.  Man was I bummed there.  It was Friday night for goodness sake.  When is their busy night/time.  There was only a handful of people there and some questionable so that does not bode well.

I guess my grandmas run is over.  I have to look for a new diner.

It is a sad day for greasy, piled high food and fries.  You can get fries with anything.  Oh on this visit the waitress was very nice and accommodating.  As other diners noted in reviews, but that does not make up for the food.



Pok Pok, Brooklyn, NY

first you notice the area around POK POK

yeah, so good luck if you can afford the area

I mentioned to my husband–one can always dream

nice streets, people outside, clean,  neighborhood feeling

some homes had nice curb appeal

Pok Pok is on the edge of an area and immediately in front is a container area port/storage area

It is on the corner but when you actually go to the back, it looks like it takes up a double lot. Not sure if it really does.  Kind of cool actually. You walk in and it is dark but just enough light and you pass a bar then a galley area which houses rice cookers. You continue to the back and there is a small eating area and then continues sideways to an outside area and there are about 6-10 tables of varying sizes, then a kitchen immediately on the side of that.

It was funny to me as I could not tell if the waiter was part owner etc, or if he was a regular worker. Maybe there just have good staff like that.

So down to the food: we first had some spicy nuts.  That was a good start and when I saw it on the regular menu I almost burst, not free.  Luckily someone reminded me that ours was complimentary.  Then my dad (it was dad’s day) had spicy boar and a salad of a sorts.  My sister and her husband had pork belly  and rice. My husband and I shared a coconut based something with vermicelli, shrimp balls and pineapple. Yummy. I alternated with some of the wild boar my dad offered the table.  Our table had hot wings as well to start.  Here are the official menu items.

Kaeng Hang Leh  18
Northern Thai sweet pork belly and pork shoulder curry with ginger, palm sugar, turmeric, tamarind, Burmese curry powder and pickled garlic. Rich and exotically spiced, a Chiang Mai classic with Burmese origins.

Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings (Available spicy) 16
Natural Draper Valley chicken wings marinated in fish sauce and sugar, deep fried, tossed in caramelized Phu Quoc fish sauce and garlic and served with Vietnamese table salad. Based on Pok Pok PDX cook Ike’s recipe from his home in Vietnam.

Muu Paa Kham Waan  18
Boar collar meat rubbed with garlic, coriander root and black pepper, glazed with soy and sugar, grilled over charcoal and served with chilled mustard greens and a spicy chili/lime/garlic sauce. Northern Thai drinking food.  

Khanom Jiin Sao Naam   20                                                                                                        Thin rice vermicelli with pineapple, ginger, white turmeric, green mango, dry shrimp, Thai chilies and garlic, topped with a sweet/sour dressing and turmeric coconut cream with house made fish balls. refined hot season favorite from Central Thailand.

Everything was good.  The boar meat was spicy and was definitely something to take in strides.

It was about 140 or something like that before tip.  5 adults and one pint size.


Would I go there again, of course.  Now that I have tried these few dishes, its time to try some others.  Also, they are supposed to have good drinks, so next time, train is in order.  I hope they have a cover for the back because when the weather is off point, they lose a decent amount of seating. I am sure they have an app or hack for that. 🙂

I would give it about a 7.  I


Welcome home Po!!

My day in the life–the play by play!

After staying in the city we  headed up to the country for a few days.  It drizzled and then fizzled.  2 hours later down pours like “what the gulay”(what we taught our toddler to say in stead of “what the hell.”)  We looked at it in amazement, the water hitting the thick of trees.  Oooooo aaahhh.  Then silence for a few seconds. Lights flicker off and then bam, no power.  That was 2 plus hours ago.

Yeah in the 95 degree weather.  No AC, no fan.  No water pressure.  Bucket and scoop.  Bottle of water to brush teeth and wash face.  Oh we are having a party tomorrow.   Challenge is on!  Up later if power comes on.  No power,  early to bed.
At lights off moment, all went ape nutty, no joke. My kid started running around screaming, cousins playing tag and soccer indoors, adults scrambled to find candles and flashlights and to shower before dark.
Here is the kicker -gas stove so we WILL be eating dinner.

Sleepy actually was the next logical thing.  So maybe –this is a catalyst for good sleep. The rain that is. (confirmed what I already knew)

Power returned.

Country Life!!

Philippine Life!

My life at the moment!


Singapore’s HDB Blowing my mind

Okay so I was watching this program with my husband while on vacation and the guy was on youtube reviewing products. (unbox therapy??) These are the latest greatest, over the top, top of the line, innovative etc, etc. products.  So he mentioned that he finds a lot of cool stuff but some things really blow his mind so he tries to reserve that phrase {blow my mind}for the select few that really do a number on him.  So that comes to me now, the HBD blows my mind.  In fact it really opens and transforms my mind and thinking.

HDB is the Singapore Housing Department Board housing website

Here are some things that stood out.

“HDB flats are home to over 80% of Singapore’s resident population, with about 90% of these resident households proudly owning their home.

Home Ownership Scheme

In 1964, the government introduced the Home Ownership for the People Scheme to give citizens a tangible asset in the country and a stake in nation-building. This push for home ownership also improved the country’s overall economic, social, and political stability.


Financial planning

Apart from ensuring that our flats are affordably priced to help Singaporeans become home owners, we encourage financial prudence and forward planning. Since January 2007, flat buyers who would like to obtain an HDB loan to buy a new flat must have a valid HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter before purchasing their flat. The HLE letter considers the flat buyer’s age, income, and other financial commitments to calculate the maximum amount loanable and expected monthly instalments to ensure he/ she is not financially overstretched.

Home Protection Scheme

The Home Protection Scheme (HPS) was implemented in 1981 and administered by the CPF Board. This scheme helps to ensure that dependants of our flat owners would not lose their homes because they are unable to finance their loan in the event of death or permanent incapacity of the sole breadwinner. “


How can you not be impressed by that!  I mean, they were so methodical about it.  Even in the national museum, they speak about it as its own subject area.  I was just blown away and would like to return to Singapore and stay in another part of the city just to observe.

This is why we travel: to learn while we observe! (besides eating)



Bangers & Mash

So  I wanted to go to an Irish Pub in Stamford. Yeah I was craving some bangers and mash.bangers and mash So in the past there were some nay sayers about my particular choice of pubs, and in the present there were some absent friends (people who we thought would be available but happened to not be available) and there were always alternative cuisines calling. I was still determined to get my food and maybe catch a football or rugby game as well.

So on this day today why did I not get my bangers & mash!

1st location–no parking, so sad

2nd location—- pub closed (we called the number and the person who answered said that they had been closed for 2 weeks–wtf)

3rd location–end ups being–lets just find any place.

A go to–Do Fu–Korean

Dessert–Sixteen Handles

So to the future, I will just make sausage and potatoes.  Problem solved.

Bangers and Mash Recipe

Sparks Catering Services–Update June 2017


Ever so often I post my offerings here.  Feel free to reach out to me here, at the email attached to my flyer or to my Facebook or linked in, depending where you are seeing this post.


Sparks Services Home

I am also offering lunch services.

Sparks Catering Services Lunch


Armed with my Instapot, wok and blender I can do most things. If I have not made in the past  I can certainly learn or give it the old college try!


Day out Filipino Style

1.  Wake at 530 am (lay in bed and listen to the animals outside)

2. Get out of bed at 6:30 am (pick your clothes and pack up your travelling gear for day-hat, water, sweater for ac in van, toddler gear)

3. Breakfast is being prepared at 6:30 am (the house helper is enticing you with the smell of bacon and rice from the kitchen)
4.  7 am family eats and then gets dressed

5. Leave at 8 am on organized transportation (bus that holds 11 total)

6. Road tripping till 10 am after stops for gas and water.

7. Destination 1- inside/outside church -1/2 hour (it is Sunday and the church throws open its doors and there are literally people congregated on the plaza watching the church ceremony (on big screens)

8. 10:30 am or so drive to destination 2

9. Arrive at destination 2 for 11: am and lunch located in a mall  (make use of the available bathrooms)

10. Lunch from 11:30 am to 1 and 1/2 hour b…sssiing in mall. (Mall life)

11. Quick stop to visit friend (chat and kids play in the park) and leave by 2.

12. Arrive to destination 3, a bday party at 2:45pm. We stay till almost 5 pm. (traditional Filipino bday party with all the bells and whistles-I had muscato wine.)

13.  5:00 pm on the road again.  All 11 of us tired, laden with gifts and bellies full.

14.  Reach home at 645pm.   Food is prepared already.  Too full.  Skip dinner.

Day is done, gone the sun, from the lakes from the hill from sky.  All is well, safely rest,  god is night.


That’s how it went down.

Time gets away!!

So much time. We left the house at 430pm, reached airport at 515.  We checked in then waited to waste some time till 830.  Lol and that we did: non fast food, bathroom  break, stroll, Halo Halo.  We are outside of check area. Hey its 745 as we wait for customs.  Oh yeah,  our flight is 820.   8pm we clear.  Oh we have to rush.  20 min to take off.  Too many people on fast walkway, we sidestep that,  too many things,  can’t run.   We near the gate and WTF gate change.  We take another fast walkway.  Oh its at least 820 by now.  We are nearing gate and a list of names is read and that sounded like ours.  Oh snackers,  are we the last to board. When is the plane supposed to leave.  We feel less like idiots when they continue to announce names.   We get on plane and all the eyes are on us.  Infamous almost.  Hmmm.   Sunday strollers!


My favorite time is eating time!!

Instant Pot Does it Again-Lamb

This time I thought I would try lamb.  As we know, lamb is not fast cooking and if not done right, well its just not done right.  So I embarked on finding lamb.  No stop & shop for this or little market.  I went to the source–Costco.  I found lamb pieces (w/bone, cut like oxtail) about 10 per pack.  I immediately searched for a recipe for lamb chops and then I remembered Lamb Tagine and it was on.  This is the recipe I found and as usual I edit a little to work with what I know and have.

4 lamb chops

1 tsp cinnamon,  1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp of ground ginger (I uses fresh)

1 tbsp olive oil, 1 small onion sliced (about 1 cup), 2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 cup dry wine (I had vodka so I used that), 3/4 cup chickpeas, 1/2 cup dried apricots (I used raisins and then on the second round a mix of raisins and dates)

I added two small shakes of turmeric

At the end I added some rice flour to some of the sauce and made a roux to add to the pot for some thickening.  The sauce had an oily slick so I diminished it with the roux

So the end product was good.  I made it twice and I am thoroughly enjoying eating my lamb tangine with some rice.


My process–I added all the seasonings and the vodka to the meat with about a tsp of olive oil and let it sit. The following day I sauteed the  meat in the pot and then cooked it for about 20 minutes. (oh I should warn that I did not follow the process that came with the recipe)

After the first pressure cook I added the chickpeas and the raisins and let it go for another 6-8 minutes.  Presto-dinner made.  My rice cooker was going at the same time.

Lamb and me happy together. I thank thee Costco.





Self Censorship–Shiraz Persian Restaurant, Elmsford NY

With yoga pants, paint stained, I decided to Self Censor.

Immediately upon entering you notice a dimly lit separate dinning space under recessed lighting in a gray and white space. As we went through the galley area I peeked into the dining room and felt that I may not be up the the part in my yoga pants. The manager (jeans and white shirt) looked at us and before he even spoke, I mentioned that maybe I was under-dressed. So they offered the back room space and I felt it was only fair out of respect for the establishment as I was a little under dressed. It was fine and actually was a great space to contain my toddler.

So the area we sat in have a long a table which probably operated as a party space as it has room for 20 and it has space to lay stuff down by way of a ledge. Also you never really have to interact with the front guest unless, like we found out, they leave through the back where their cars are parked.

Okay so on to the food. Great dinner for what we ordered, which was not super fancy. We had stuffed dates (walnuts and blue cheese); King Kabob for two: beef fillet kabob, chicken kabob, koobideh kabob, saffron basmati rice, and roasted tomato: and chicken salad. It was good as we all cleaned the plates. We also has dessert-why not, my mom was with us and she is an ice cream child and we wanted to try something new. We tried Halva & Ice Cream- Combination of pistachio halva & one scoops of saffron ice cream.

Halva was interesting. Here are the thoughts going through my head while tasting:chocolatey sweetness, piercing but definitely like a sandy powder and dry pistachios accents.

I was pleased with the food and would like to go back and try something different. The people are nice and accommodating and they always kept checking in on us. They also did not turn up their noses when I asked for sweet wine with my dinner. Sometimes you just want what you want.

Location-not much parking in front and as it is on a small strip at the beginning of town. On the side street and in the back is additional parking. I believe they owned two shop spaces so the second one was Shiraz Gourmet market. That will be for next time.