Category Archives: money honey

Even More FonDOs: My Trip To The Melting Pot in Raleigh

Wednesday is kind of a hit or miss day, don’t you think? It’s either really awesome or really MEHHH. Today, methinks, might fall into the first category.

First of all, my new (to me) Cannon Rebel XT  camera body arrived this morning. Of course, since the lens hasn’t arrived yet, I can’t actually photograph anything. But still- lots of smiles.Smile

Second, Jessamyn Not Jasmine was the runner-up Best Blog in Yes! Weekly’s Best of The Triad awards! You may not be able to tell by my fairly serious facial expression, but I’m REALLY excited. Oh wait, this is the internet and not reality TV so you can’t actually see my face. AWK-ward. Anyway, if you scoped my name through Yes!Weekly and this is your first visit to my little piece of the internet- Hello! Be prepared for seemingly random very liberal hysterical rants and unplanned blogging sabbaticals. I also really like to talk about food.

Speaking of food…

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend North Carolina Arts Day, which is a day/event where NC arts supporters converge in our state’s capital and lobby in support of government arts programming. Obviously, as an arts administrator, going to Arts Day was a pretty exciting event. It was really cool to see so many arts professionals take time off to make a statement in favor of arts funding. I met a lot of people (including lots of local politicos) and (since my hotel was across the street from my favorite grocery store) even snuck in a quick Trader Joes adventure. WIN-WIN.

 The night before Arts Day, however, I had an impromptu fancy dinner at The Melting Pot. I’ve discussed my love of fondue before, and the charm was definitely not lost on me. Not even kidding, the Melting Pot is (probably) my absolute favorite chain restaurant. However, eating there is NOT cheap and I’m only able to do it on special occasions (or during emergency eating escapades in the Carolina capital). Of course, since my camera was stolen right before my Raleigh adventure, I feared I wouldn’t be able to capture the magic of The Melting Pot in photographic form. But thanks to iPhones and friends, photographic memories were still made.

melting pot 1

In addition to their everyday fondue selections, The Melting Pot offers a rotating Big Night Out menu with fondue/salad offerings which fit into a specific theme. Currently, the Big Night Out theme is Latin America, and the cheese fondue special is a very fancy version of queso fundido. So…OBVIOUSLY we had to get it. This wasn’t the queso fundido you’d get at your local Mexican restaurant. I mean, I love melted queso fresco sprinkled with greasy chorizo just as much as the next cheese-aholic. But this fondue contained gruyere, fontina, AND gran queso. One of the best parts about The Melting Pot is that they make all the fondues table-side, and you’re able to see every element that goes into your meal. Our waitress was EXTREMELY knowledgeable, and she made sure that we knew about every aspect of our meal. As a restaurant patron, this is something that’s very important to me and I always appreciate when wait staff take the time to build relationships with their clientele. The queso fundido was served with the usual Melting Pot cheese dippers (an assortment of fresh veggies, bread, and apples) as well as a bowl of corn chips. Seriously, this singular fondue was enough to validate the cost of the entire meal.

melting pot 2

Next came the salad course. I just ordered the spinach and mushroom salad- nothing fancy. Actually, I wasn’t really a fan of this salad. It’s a certain kind of person that truly enjoys sweet flavors in a savory context and I AM NOT THAT PERSON. The dressing was a burgundy shallot vinaigrette- besides the fact that I kind of hate shallots, I thought the sweetness of the wine completely imbalanced the acidity of the vinegar, and the combination proved to be fairly unpalatable. I get the impression that this is a very popular salad at the Melting Pot, so I’m not going to completely denigrate it. It’s possible that my dislike of the dressing was based purely on my personal preferences. Basically, this is the Jessamyn version of reasonable doubt.

melting pot 4

As far as the entrée goes, each diner chooses a selection of dipping items and they share the actual fondue cooking liquid. My companions and I chose the court bouillon fondue (a no-nonsense veggie broth), and we each chose different entrée selections. Since I lead a functionally vegetarian lifestyle (save for the special occasions- you know, locally raised meats and barbeque festivals), I decided to get the Vegetarian selections. This particular plate includes Portobello mushrooms, asparagus, (REALLY FREAKING DELICIOUS) Thai-peanut marinated tofu, artichoke hearts, spinach-artichoke ravioli, and the Big Night Out Pasta (a fire-roasted corn salsa ravioli– stop drooling on your computer).

melting pot 5

It also included a bowl of semi-frozen edamame which, after they went for a swim in the court bouillon, were perfectly cooked and delicious. The Melting Pot also offers several delicious post-cooking dipping sauces for your entrée. My favorite, the gorgonzola cream cheese, is hanging out to the left of my edamame.

We also ordered the Dark and Dulce chocolate dessert fondue( a combination of dark chocolate and thick dulce de lece sprinkled with coarse sea salt) but I was too busy stuffing my face and soaking up the awesomeness of that flavor combination to remind Anna (my very patient photog companion) to take a photo. Have you ever met anyone who didn’t like chocolate and sea salt? PLUS DULCE DE LECE? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Fondue is not just a delicious style of eating, but a study in food culture. It forces people to communicate while eating, and it can be reinvented in countless fashions. In my mind, that’s the essence of food- like music, it can bring any manner of people together in a positive way. The Melting Pot encapsulates this theory, and I will always recommend that my friends and family (that’s you, by the way) take the time to seek out one of these restaurants.

If you’re concerned about the price (a CONSTANT concern for yours truly), eating at the Melting Pot with a few friends can definitely help alleviate some of the financial pain. By splitting a cheese fondue between four people, you’re only paying about $8/each for a first course which could easily serve as a main course. Each salad is only $7. A Chocolate fondue for four is about $5-6/each. And if you decide not to get an entrée ( roughly $19-30), you can have a VERY filling cheese, salad, and chocolate fondue dinner for about $20. While it’s not the cheapest dinner for a student living on the verge of imminent bankruptcy, it’s definitely still a viable special dinner option.

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Filed under blogging, food, money honey, photography, restaurant reviews

The Trouble With Food Tracking and My Wish List

I learned a valuable lesson today. It’s a lesson I’ve been forced to learn about 187391092779 times over, and I hope this time the true meaning will stick in my mind so that I’ll quit making the same mistakes.

If you are monitoring your food intake, ALWAYS TRACK YOUR MEALS.

I know, it seems obvious. It is obvious. It’s also the cornerstone of the Weight Watchers philosophy. But I am the laziest tracker in the history of the world. I spent the month of March being really lazy about my tracking habits- partially because I was fasting, and partially because I’m just really freaking lazy. As a result, when I stepped on the scale two weeks ago, I wasn’t very surprised to be pissed off by the number it gave me. However, I was a little surprised to be even more upset by the number I saw last week. In my defense, I was on my period and I always weigh really heavy when I’m menstruating. But I also didn’t track very well last week. I always start the week strong, and then I taper off toward the middle of the week. When I stop tracking, it becomes infinitely easier to impulsively eat the foods which sabotage me and my goals.

This week, however, I really focused on my tracking- even when I didn’t feel like it. And I saw definite results on the scale this morning. I need to maintain this momentum- sometimes tracking my food is just such a F-ing hassle. But I have to remember that the long term goals are worth the extra five minutes of effort.

In other news, I’ve been accumulating a wish list of items which will improve my blogging/cooking/athletic life. While the list grows steadily every day, there are a couple of items that are really key:

canon rebel1. New Camera- I love my camera. I really do. It’s small, and I can take it everywhere. But I need to get serious about my photography, especially in regard to my blogging. I mean, I’m well aware that a fancy camera does not create great photos- there’s no substitute for good lighting and composition. But I want the quality of my photography to increase, and I don’t want to invest more money in another point and shoot when I’m pleased with the point and shoot I’m using. I need to upgrade to dslr. My ideal model is the Canon Rebel– of course, it’s really expensive. I’m looking for a used canon, and I’m actually looking primarily at older models. I spend quite a bit of time scouring ebay for viable options. At this point, it’s just a little too far out of my financial grasp. But I’m hopeful- if you know anyone who is upgrading to another model and wants to get rid of their dslr, let me know!

garmin heart rate monitor2. Heart Rate Monitor: I think I need to be monitoring my activity level more vigilantly and I think a heart rate monitor will really help with this goal. I’d like to kn0w exactly how many calories I’m burning while exercising and I’d like to get more precise heart rate calculations. This will help me determine how I should be increasing/decreasing my exercise levels, especially as I reach weight plateaus and finish couch to 5k. At this point I’m battling between a garmin and a polar– price is an obvious factor, but I’m still just trying to decide between the two brands. As always, I’m really open to any insight you guys might have.

running shoe fitting guides3. Running Shoes: I actually already talked about this, but it’s become a true necessity. I don’t know how I’ll make it through the summer running season (especially since I definitely plan to run/race when I’m in Boston) wearing the shoes I have right now. These are great sneaks for general exercise, but I need to take better care of my tootsie wootsies if I’m going to keep up this hobby. I’ve received some great running shoe store recommendations in both GSO and Winston-Salem, but I still can’t quite decide between Fleet Feet and Off’N Running. In fact, I might have to get fitted after Saturday’s race– but maybe I’m being too impulsive. Thoughts?

citrus reamer4. Citrus Reamer: Self-explanatory. I bite my nails, and citrus juice+ bitten cuticles= LAME.

All this talk about running has made me pretty pumped about my run tonight. It’s weird how I’m sort of starting to like it.

…I hope I didn’t speak too soon. Smile

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Filed under blogging, body issues, couch to 5k challenge, exercise, food, goals, money honey, races, running, shopping, weigh-in, Weight Watchers

Strawberry Fields Forever

One of the best parts about living in North Carolina during the summer is the opportunity to go strawberry picking. Last summer, my brother and I went down to Ingram Strawberry Farm just a few miles away from my parent’s house in High Point, and picked strawberries until the cows came home (or until we ran out of money, I forget which came first). The heat was f-ing crucial- the sun was blistering and it was beating down on my bare back (as you can tell, I dressed like a strawberry in honor of the occasion). Even though we still have a few months before strawberry season begins again, I needed to remind myself that it’s not always blustery and cold in the old north state- one day, the sun will rise again.

(HAHAHAHAHA CIVIL WAR JOKES ARE…not that funny, in fact.)

Gabriel is just SO entranced by the mystical power of strawberries.

Hey, look! I picked a...water bottle. Because someone thought this pretty strawberry field was a trashcan.

 

All Photos Taken by Brother and Sister Bear Stanley, though admittedly Brother Bear Stanley was forced to take more photos than Sister Bear.

In case you were wondering (because I’m sure all these pictures made you want to grab a wicker basket and frolic in the strawberry scented meadows), strawberry picking is terribly fun (until the sun reminds you that you’re from the city, not the country), and not very expensive. There are lots of pick your own farms, and produce options vary by season. Pick your own farms are an excellent way to spend time with friends, support your local economy, and interact with farmers on a personal level.

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Filed under food, money honey, Uncategorized

FINALLY: The Wait Is OVER!

It’s been a pretty busy weekend here at Jessamyn’s house. For starters, I FINALLY received my loan refund check. Do you know what that means?

 

Yeah, that’s right: A FRIDGE (and pantry) FULL OF FOOD! The days of Jessamyn subsisting on pantry scraps are over (until I am desperately awaiting my refund check in the spring- the life of a full-time graduate student is ROUGH, y’all).

Also, I bought Udi’s Gluten Free Bread for the first time, and I’m unnaturally excited to try it.

Other big developments?

Yeah, That's Right: I photographed my sneaks on my kitchen counter. Haters Gonna Hate.

Thanks to Mama and Papa Stanley, I finally have new running sneakers! Honestly, I think part of why my mom was so quick to contribute to the sneaker cause is because she’s been tired of seeing me loaf about in the same pair of kangaroo jogging shoes for the last five (seriously, Jessamyn, five?) years. Somehow, though I never buy shoes for exercising, my regular shoe collection grows steadily every month and my old pair of sneaks grow dingier with every cycle. This is a trend I am determined to end (well, not the purchasing of new pumps, boots, and flats. I might have a new health resolve, but I’m still a Fatshionista).

It’s a happy day in Jessamyn’s house. 🙂

Tonight I’m heading to the afore mentioned parental units house so we can break bread together while I mooch off their washing machine. Also, in case you’ve been living under a rock, the Golden Globe Awards are tonight (8pm EST, NBC) and since my mom and I are amateur movie buffs, this is basically a holiday for us. Plus, I don’t own a television set so even if I wanted to sit at home and cheer for my favorite shows and films alone, I couldn’t. I could go into my anti-television ownership philosophy (which has very little do with televisions and more to do with furniture feng shui), but I’ll spare you for the time being.

I’ll also get to spend some quality time with my little brother- have I mentioned he’s starting Weight Watchers with me? I’m so excited to start this journey with him, and I’ll give more information about our effort later.

AND tomorrow, I’m planning to visit the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market on my way home from J-Town- I can barely contain my excitement. Fruits, vegetables, pumpkin butter? IAMSOEXCITED!

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Filed under exercise, food, grocery shopping, grocery stores, meal planning, money honey, shopping, Weight Watchers