The best seat in the house at a restaurant is in the bathroom. Trust me.

The key to... You read that title right. The key hint is in the picture to the left. No I didn’t write “bathroom” on that plastic trash can lid. But if you look closely in the upper left corner of the lid the answer is there…

That’s the key.


To the bathroom.

Not too long ago, I ran into the Mobile convenience store near our house to use its bathroom. The door was locked. I asked for the key. The store attendant handed me the whole trash can lid with the tiny door key attached to it. I had to take that selfie once inside. For proof. No one would believe me that I had to use a trash can lid attached key to get in.

Which brings me to this as a food critic—

When you go to a restaurant you will find that the best seat in the house is not a prime table or booth. It’s in the bathroom. Trust me. It’s the toilet…

Uh huh.



Inspect the bathroom before you place your order. If it’s messy, dirty, full of hand stains on the stall doors and on the in and out door think of what the kitchen is probably like. Get the picture now? You better. If restaurant staff can’t be bothered to keep their bathrooms clean they aren’t thinking of you. It’s one thing to have a few toilet squares or hand towel sheets on the floor. But if it looks really messy, gunked up around the sinks then think about them not caring about exposing you to contagious germs and viruses.

Look at the flooring. Is it tile? Is the grout grossing you out? Or is there black growth around the edges where the floor and the wall meet? Is it wood? Is it vinyl? Does it look old, worn out, looks like it has never been scrubbed? Here’s your sign. You are in a restaurant where staff isn’t interested in you the consumer but instead they are more concerned about cleaning out your wallet than they are about cleaning up their toilets.

Check the urinals too. Are they stained with yellow water spots? Nuff said. I just can’t say more about urinals that have dried urine spots on or around them. Sorry but the eatery is not aiming to please. You. As my sister Lila Beans said when we discussed this part of my article…



Just thinking about it.

A good restaurant will care about its bathrooms’ hygiene. Restaurants are always full of humans who bring their hunger along with their individual germs. What better place to share them with everybody than in the bathrooms. A well-kept bathroom is a sign of a well-kept place to eat. If the staff cares about keeping their bathrooms spanking good you can bet the house salad that their kitchen is kept the same way too. Erma Bombeck was write when she rote “The Grass is Greener over the Septic Tank” because the green in that eatery bathroom you’re in is not hygienically growing there nor is it the restaurant’s official indoor herbs garden. So if it’s green and growing in or around the toilet tank…




Don’t exposure yourself to a filthy bathroom. You will either end up with some germ-infested sickness from it or from the kitchen after digesting something that has been exposed to bacteria. E Coli for one from the food. A viral contamination for another from where you wash your hands at a filthy sink. There are just too many good eats here in Vegas where staff does care about you and your health. They want you back as a repeat customer. Repeat customers pay the monthly operating expenses. Regular cash flow keeps restaurants open for business. Clean-flowing bathroom waters keep these eateries’ good reputations from going down the crapper…





NOT THROWING KNIVES. But yep! I killed it in the kitchen and it felt good…

Don't Mess with MenoMe!

It’s been a long, long time since my last post. I apologize for that. There was a monster in my kitchen. I had to kill it. It showed up in the middle of 2013 refusing to leave, creating havoc and determined to mess up my life.


The menomonster me!

Unexpectedly I went from just being Chef Aunt Weenie’ to this horrorible horror moan me. For about 18 months I had the menopause blues, news and no clues as I struggled to deal with this inner turmoil. Did you know there are some 34 menopause symptoms? Forget about just the hot flashes, cold freezing night sweats and anxiety. I was hammered with meno-morning sickness, vertigo, migraines, stuttering (yes the horror moan imbalance can make you stutter), brain fog, shaking and more.

Last year, in 2014, I ended up in the ER at St. Rose San Martin campus five times. Three trips for the menopause and twice for bronchitis. Honestly I thought sometime last year I was going to die. It was that bad of a body experience. Even my friends and family thought for a while that I wasn’t going to make it. Mostly because we really didn’t know what was going on in my body to make me so sick.

With a lot of internet investigation on my part and several fantastic doctors including my gyno who saved my life 15 years ago with finding my body’s breast cancer in December 2000, we were all able to piece together what was going on. Animal Planet has a series called “Monsters Inside of Me” and I can honestly tell you that menopause would qualify for an episode on that AP show. Easily I may add…

When we finally were able to figure me out I set out on the journey to kill it. AND KILL IT INDEED I DID. By using my culinary skills I not only revamped my diet but I also took on some awesome helpers including Zincm Maca Root and L-Theanine which led to the demise of the monster inside of me. While it followed me into my kitchen I used my kitchen to kill it and it felt oh so good.

By using foods, nutrient-densed foods at that, and going off caffeine for all those months I was able to get my body back on track to a better, healthier me. While I’m not completely over this meno phase of my life, it has become so much better that those folks who know me very personally all think I’m cured. I am not. But I am working on it.

Today I saw my primary care physician and the excitement coming from her as she declared this is the best I’ve ever looked to her in two years just thrilled us both. Let me say, and she knows this to be true, having done chemotherapy 15 years ago and being autistic do not mix well with the change of life. It’s like taking an Italian dressing and trying to blend it with buttermilk ranch. It’s a mess. It’s gross. It’s tastes terrible. Well you get the picture! And it’s not a pretty one at that.

So here I am, it’s January 8, back on track with my blog. Ready to take on the world starting at home in Las Vegas. I love to write. I love to critique. I love to write about critiquing. What better way to satisfy my passion in that capacity than to be a Las Vegas-based food critic. But not just your typical food critic. I’m everything but typical. My goal is to review restaurants, their owners and chefs from a business woman and chef’s point of view. I won’t basturdized our eateries here or anywhere else on this planet like a lot of food critics do. There’s nothing to be gained by being a jerk about it. Jerk chicken is okay. Jerk attitude is not. Eat jerky instead. There is no such thing as a bad restaurant. Only bad individuals who need some direction about how to do their food establishments a little bit or a lot better.

We are already a nation of A-holes and the like. It’s time to take it back to old school when our country had manners not only at the dinner table but also out in public socially. It’s time to bring back the “Yes please.” and the “Thank you.” to the table of our lives again. It’s time to teach some of the culinary peeps how to do it better, improve their look, clean up some of their messes all the while without resorting to being mean and nasty about it. After all, these people in their professional kitchens are busting their pork butts to make a living feeding those of us who don’t bust our chops from the back counters. There’s nothing to be gained as a food critic for me to stomp their steaks for the public to see.

So with that get ready to embark on my food critic adventures while I, myself, am still continuing my culinary studies at getting my professional chef credentials. Not everybody is cut out to critique food. You need a working knowledge of the field, hands on experience and a greater understanding of what it’s like to be the head chef, a Sous chef, the kitchen help and the chief dishwasher so to speak if you’re going to mess up or mess with their culinary turf and surf.

Otherwise expect to not be invited back because you chose to create flaming enemies from your strongly negative and opinionated writings. Putting someone out of business because you don’t like the food or you slammed their restaurant by being downright nasty only serves to dish out to you being one of the most hated persons on the planet. Food critics often live lonely public lives. By their own doings.

There is just too much of brutality across our nation in all aspects of life that is not restricted in journalistic capacities or the television media. All it serves is to promote, to create more hostility. Look what happened to Ferguson and how people attacked one another’s businesses almost destroying a whole city. Yes you can be angry. But not to the level that you create violence out of freedom of expression. There has to be a balance with using freedom of expression. And that is what I intend to do by being a different type of food critic. To make peace while being honest but not to create discord that disharmonizes people’s right to earn a living by making food for you because you did choose to eat at their places.

Are you ready for me? I hope so.

Happy New Year. Let’s do some really great food adventures starting in my own neighborhood area. Join Chef Aunt Weenie’ me, Evil Eater Ed, Sous Oui Chef DazE and Noodles Nadja as we set out about town to conquer by taste what makes a restaurant so good you have to go back for more. And when we do find it we want you to know about it too. Don’t expect perfection. No restaurant, no chef, no eatery owner is perfect.

Just about every food place has had health code violations or other business issues that are temporary demerit marks on their faces. Unless you are that ignorant or stupid like Tapas Firefly who finally had to close its doors permanently because of continued numerous health code violations, most restaurant staff members get it when they learn they have to do better after the health department inspects them. There are strict codes to operating an eatery as a legal food business. Being a nasty food critic just adds insult to their injury. They know they have to do improve, change, clean up their act. They don’t need to be kicked down further. The health department in every state comes with the territory of running and owning a restaurant. It’s a marriage but it’s not made in heaven. That’s for sure!

However restaurant staff do need to be encouraged as to how they can really raise their own work standards. Sometimes staff is so busy making the food they don’t see the food as we customers do while we are partaking of it. Or they don’t have the understanding of the day to day business operations or marketing skills that also make running a food business. First impressions are lasting impressions. A smile is worth more than the weight of gold. There are many small aspects of a business that can make or break it without it being about the food alone. Nuff said.

With that in mind remember this—

No I’m NOT THROWING KNIVES as a food critic. But if there is a monster in a kitchen somewhere on this planet you can be sure I will find and happily kill it without ever making a mess. Here’s a hint. At home in my kitchen called Duck Bones Diner, I’m known by my family staff as General McAuntie. So much so that when my husband and our two nieces who live with us watch food programs you can hear them from time to time exclaim aloud that OMG those people would never do that in auntie’s kitchen. Hell no. She would kill them for making a mess like that. Yep. Reputation is everything. Even at home. I trained them well to much higher standards. I will train you too. You may not like it but later on you will have learned to appreciate it.

Get ready Las Vegas. I’m coming out of my kitchen closet to check out your kitchen closet. Together we will improve your look, have your food taste better and get your customers to love you more. You may only need a little tweeking. Or you might need a huge overhaul. Either way it’s a win-win for you if you want it to be.

See you soon. I look forward to eating you up. You can take my words anyway you want. I know what I mean by that statement. I’m hungry for some good eats. Are you ready to swallow my words in the process? HOT DOG I’M EXCITED… I HOPE YOU ARE TOO!

Las Vegas is Hotter than You Think…

My boiling point is 112 degrees. Literally. Driving in it.

My AC in my truck is broken. So are my two 30D EOS Canon camera bodies.

Which do I pay to fix?

The cameras of course so I can earn more money to fix the AC. It’s a vicious money cycle having to figure out which is more important~driving in extreme high desert heat or feeling the heat of having to turn down work due to broken camera equipment. I choose the latter.

Living here in the Vegas Valley is the fact of life that for four months each year, from June through September, temperatures will rise past 100 degrees. A LOT.

This summer today was the first day of worse. It was 112 driving home from the office. All windows down except for the driver’s one. All my windows are dark tinted and they do reduce the heat a lot. But of course I can’t drive with them all up or I’d suffocate from the hotter air that will build up inside.

How do we Vegans manage temps that keep going up into the teens whether or not we have AC in our cars? We drink a lot of water. Tons of it. It works. Just like the radiators in our cars. Keeping hydrated keeps the body engine cooled down even though the outside of the body gets tagged from the sun’s heat rays.

Stay hydrated is not all water either.

Because we have very little humidity here in the desert by the time you’re heavily sweating you are greatly dehydrated. Your skin should be a light mist of moisture which rapidly evaporates. Likewise of you are not sweating at all you’re about to be hit with heat exhaustion or heat stroke. An absence of that light moisture not on your skin means you are overheating your body engine. Both are dangerous to living in Nevada, Arizona or any other state that has desert appeal.

So drink up. Water with or without ice. Iced coffee. Iced tea. Any unsweetened drink. Any alcohol-free drink. Or a mix of 50-50 water and low sweetened juice, which by the way hydrates you faster than just water alone. Caffeinated drinks will make you pee more but it is rare that they will really dehydrate you, just don’t sugarized them.

Consuming sugar-ladened or alcohol drinks will make you very sick in extreme heats. Skip the Gatorade, the Powerade and the lemonade with sugars in them. Google the Internet yourself to read how in high temps drinks with sugar can slow you down and put you down.

If you need a sugar fix eat cold fruit. The natural sugars are wetter for your digestion. And don’t depend on bottled or canned fruit juices either. They are loaded with tons of sugar, fructose, and the like. You will get sick from drinking them straight up. Dilute the sugar concentrations with water.

And drink throughout the day before the day heat even starts. This is key to keeping your kool.

By doing so you will be a better-in-tuned body in our summer days here and we won’t find you overheated and out of water laying face down alongside our roads.

Also when driving in our valley being extra drinks in case your mechanical vehicle breaks down and you’re stuck waiting in the het for help. You don’t want to run out of liquid yourself until roadside service comes along. And don’t expect towing trucks to carry or offer you water. Best you be a Boy Scout and be self-prepared.

With summer temps expected to reach almost 120 this weekend keeping your body kool is a must. Organ damage or even failure can happen. People die in extreme heat long before they feel dehydrated or weak. Feel your body needs. Fuel it before it asks you to. Friend it more when you are outside.

Then go and enjoy your summer fun here…

Easter Treating Yourself To A Really Good Time…

Happy Easter Foodie Peeps

Ed and I enjoyed a very romantic day yesterday just hanging around the west valley of Las Vegas. We walked the Farmers Market at Trivoli Village sampling a few treats and found us a raw honey supplier from Pahrump plus a chocolatier from North LV who makes wickedly tasting dark chocolate-covered almonds and cranberries.

Then we headed off to Bed Bath and Beyond for a few more kitchen needs and an excuse to droole over the 8 quart Dutch oven Ed wants from Fontignac. Ooooooooooo lala and aaaaaaaaaaaaah waaaa moi. French and sleek Bon appetite.

We lunched on the patio at the Olive Garden all to ourselves. Not another soul joined us. Everybody sat inside while we were grateful for the solitude of food and love.

On the way home we stopped at our local grocery store for some Greek yogurt and cream. We are making homemade strawberry ice cream this weekend. Michelle, our store manage laughed when we told her we ARE NOT buying ice cream from the store anymore but we will buy the ingredients to make it! She is just so sweet cream of a personality herself. We adore her.

We have the Cuisinart ice cream maker. It is a blast using it. We mix our batches in my mother’s Dormeyer Camfield Power Mixer. Yep. That antique mixer still works like new some 50 years later. My mother worshiped it clean and now I do too. Yes my cooking friends we blend the old with the new appliances to create food works of art for the palate.

I’m just waking up from a nap. It is allergy season and my face is full of achoos and sinus pain. There is leftover peanut butter ice cream from yesterday. I think I will plaster my face with it to cure my face via my stomach.

Ahhhhhhh the life of a home chef. It just keeps getting better and better. And tastier too.

Happy Easter all. No Easter bunnies were harmed in Aunt Weenie’s culinary kitchen. However we did find a few dark chocolate rabbit turds on the work station island. And like Andrew Zimmern… of course we snatched them up and ate them! Oh M&M Goodness.

Andrew Zimmern I am NOT! Murder by Mutton…

imageLamb shanks. I bought them at our local grocery store. Two shanks in a vacuumed-sealed pack. I knew they were not from a young spring lamb. It was clearly mutton from an older sheep. I love mutton. Ewe know I do… Better flavor than a young lamb. Mutton is great for stews and roasts too. It cooks up with a lot of flavor.

It’s an acquired taste. If you don’t like baby or spring lamb then you definitely don’t want to try mutton.

As I opened the package at home to oven roast the shanks I was over come by the smell of piss and vinegar. The stench was so powerful that our French Mastiff Lucas wanted out and he wanted out NOW! Anything to escape the odor of what the amateur home cook would think was rotting meat. To Andrew Zimmern that pungent could only mean one thing. Ram mutton.

Rams are known to drink their own urine. It ends up flavoring the meat in a not so pleasant way. Basically it is a gross smell of all gross smell cuts of meat. Probably why the shanks were vacuumed-sealed to begin with. Grocery stores can sell any type of meat from young veal to old culled sheep and cows that no longer useful. You don’t always know the age of the animal or its sex. It doesn’t mean the meat is bad or unsafe for human consumption. It just means that you may end up with a tougher cut of meat with a stronger smell that can, well, knock you down.

I, opening my lamb shanks, just got head-butted in the nose by a ram! Pee ewe! Somebody sent an older male sheep to slaughter.

Okay I spent good money for these shanks. I roasted them with fresh bacon strips to absorb the… Um… Male odor. I topped them off with brown sugar and freshly squeezed juice from an orange to counteract the ram’s rankness.

When they were done, perfectly cooked to a golden brown, I plated the smaller of the two and sat down to eat it. OMG. OMG. Did I just say OMG? Twice? Trice? Oh yes I did. That first bite was beyond belief. The pungent smell was nothing to the taste of it.

It was divine!

Now I understand his Bizarre Food episodes when Andrew says that a meat which smells so bad can taste oh so good. It was. The dog still didn’t want in however. He was not getting a bite. At least not from me. He stayed outside.

After I finished cutting the last piece of meat off the bone and cleaned up the kitchen, Ed walked in the house. He just came home from work. The ram rank was still permeating throughout the house. Ed got hit full-faced with it before he even entered the kitchen. Pee ewe! “What class did you fail?” came out of his mouth referring to my just starting Rouxbe’s online cooking school.

Mutton dear.

Mutton my eye wife. What did you kill and left to rot?

Mutton dear.

Well get it out of the house honey. NOW! I’m getting sick.

Lucas still sits at the patio glass door not begging to come in.

I wrapped up the other shank in plastic then handed it to Ed for the outside trash. The smell followed him out of the house. The dog wanted in. I let him. Ed returned then commented that he hopes I live. He was worried that by morning I would be dead from murder by mutton. I survived. This blog is evident to that. Aunt Weenie wrote this. Tis I.

Culinary lesson for the day…

If you buy lamb and it does not state young spring lamb on its packaging then have the meat counter staff open it up. They can always rewrap it for you to buy. Smell up the meat department in the store instead. Because if ewe don’t like mutton ewe won’t have to bring it back or cook with Febreeze as your main spice. And ewe won’t know if it is a ewe or ram until ewe smell it.

Andrew Zimmern I am NOT!

“What cancer cannot…”

“Cancer can destroy the body but it cannot kill the heart”

This has been my life mantra since January 17, 2001 which is the date of my double mastectomy. I wrote it to remind myself that I may lose parts of my body to the disease but that disease was no way in hell going to take my life dreams away from me. Especially the baseball.

I just finished my rookie year in baseball when at the end of it playing the sport with the men that my mammogram came up positive with two breast tumors. Boy was I ever mad! I worked so hard all my life to play baseball and now even my own body was denying me the right to make my dream a long time reality.

And yes I do live by my own words…

Rouxbe 101 The Basics: Mile High Pancake Lesson

For beginning the culinary arts at, the school’s first basic knowledge lesson is about Wheat and Wheat Gluten. It is designed with a self-assessment test of your own knowledge about wheat before they present you with the first cooking lesson with flour to give you a mental test drive of their school. You lock in your answers. There is no cheating or redos.

I used Krusteaz Honey Wheat pancake mix because my husband and I limit our eating of white flour recipes so we don’t keep any flour in our kitchen. The mix is made with an all purpose flour and did serve the purpose of this lesson perfectly.

I mixed the box mix and water lightly. I then separated 1/3 of the mix into another bowl and timed my whisking the batter by hand for exactly two minutes. I let the rest of the other bowl batter sit for the five required minutes. I had Ed, my husband, griddle both batters while observed this.

1. The over mixed batter stayed dense while on the griddle and did not spread out. They were smaller pancakes. Transferring them to the plate they felt like rubber. I then cut one in half and felt it hard to slice it. I propped the cut cake up so I could photograph its texture. It was dense.

2. The lightly mixed batter sat and waited for the over mixed batter to finish cooking. It poured easier fom the bowl to the griddle. It also spread out into four perfectly rounded cakes. They bubbled and rose very well something that the over mixed batter did not do. When they were done to a golden brown perfection I plated them the same way as the over mixed cakes. As I cut the lightly beated mix in half it cut smoothly with ease. Its density was light and airy.

3. I put the two cut cakes propped up next to each other. The difference was obvious immediately. OM was thinner but dense. LM was way more thicker and porous in its density. I took a picture of them side by side for comparison.

4. Eating them. There was definitely a taste difference. The OM was terrible, tasted rubbery and lost flavor. The LM on the other fork was an eating pleasure. It tasted good. Just plain good. Even when we put peanut butter on Ed’s plate of both mixes and I put my homemade strawberry freezer jam on my plate of cakes they did not improve the eating and tasting experience of the OM cakes. But OMG to LM did they enhanced those cakes! Move over Emeril because we kicked it up four notches with the LM.

5. In conclusion over mixing your flour beats too much gluten out of the flour even for Krusteaz’s box mix. That really ruins the whole griddle and tasting pleasure. Sucks it right out of the tater leaving a rubber duck to chew on. So keep your wrist light when whisking your pancake batters or another batter you are cooking with. Heavy-handers need not apply for kitchen duty unless you are taking out the trash. In this case the over mixed batter was the trash….