Jerseygator's Blog

McDonalds and WiFi

Posted in Cooking by jerseygator on March 15, 2010

I just completed Cathy Erway’s book “The Art of Eating In,” which chronicled a 20-something year old New Yorker’s two year attempt to not eat out (which is pretty difficult in NYC).  It was a great book, and solidified my commitment to eat at home as often as possible.  Ms. Erway started her journey as a way to save money and eat better food; mine is more from the standpoint of knowing what I’m eating and feeding my family.

There are times, however, when “eating-in” is difficult or impractical.  Such was the case this weekend when we flew to Florida for 4 days for a wedding and a college visit.  Because many of our family still live in the Tampa Bay area, going in just for a short visit does entail lots of “little” visits to see relatives.  So, upon landing on Friday afternoon, we met my Dad at The Cheesecake Factory.  We were hungry after our flight, so ate pretty heavily (although I stuck with the grilled salmon in an attempt to stay on the lighter side).  After spending an hour catching up with him, we drove the 1-1/2 hours to Bonnie’s (Darrol’s mom) house, where we were staying.  Because we had such a late, heavy lunch, we just snacked that evening.

On Saturday, the boys went to Hardee’s for breakfast (a Southern thing…no Hardee’s in NJ and my teenage son loves their food).  I stuck with fresh strawberries, which are in season in Florida right now; the strawberries were sliced and topped a buttered English muffin.  Score one for eating in!  However, we left after lunch to take Darrol’s mom to visit her brother in Seminole (near St. Pete), where we were also going to catch up with my mom.  Of course, we met at a restaurant, the Homestyle Café.  The Homestyle is a nice little mom-n-pop kind of place, and again we ate good old restaurant food; heavy on the fat, sugar and salt, albeit quite yummy.  After stopping at my Mom’s apartment to change, it was on to the wedding, which was held at a beachfront hotel.  The wedding and reception were a blast and we pigged out on shrimp cocktail, smoked salmon, cheese, crackers, and assorted hor’dourves before our main meal of steak, potatoes and salad.  Of course, we also had some pretty good wedding cake.

Sunday morning dawned bright and early…it was “spring forward” and we had a two hour drive to Orlando in order to get to the college orientation on time.  So, we ate on the road and Hardees again won the day.  I had a chicken biscuit which, according to the nutritional info posted on the wall in the little hallway by the bathrooms, was 660 calories (330 from fat).  Oy.

The open house at Fullsail was tremendous, and after a three-hour tour we were treated to hot dogs, French fries and ice cream sundaes.  I managed half a hot dog and a diet coke.  I seriously just wanted to get back to real food.  We drove back to Bonnie’s where she had planned a nice dinner of pork chops, peas, and roasted potatoes.  Hurray!

Bonnie lives in a neighborhood that is pretty far out (not in a psychodelic sort of way; just in the boonies).  You can’t walk to anything; everything you might need to do requires getting in a car.  Including wifi.  Now, I had done pretty well with my twitter withdrawal, but I was getting a little desperate.  Bonnie does have access to the internet on her one PC, but there were a lot of us vying for time, and I really just wanted to sit back and browse for a while.  I decided I would find some free wifi and take my laptop out for a spin.  I got on the internet and found that the only place with wifi was (*!*) McDonalds.

Now, you have to understand my feelings about McDonalds.  Not a fan.  At all.  I don’t even like their unsweetened ice tea.  My daughter, who was planning to go with me, won’t eat at fast food joints, especially McDonalds.  (Yes, she had a biscuit at Hardees…we compromised.)  We realized that we could just go in and sit, but, really, that’s kind of rude.  They are providing a service and I did plan on using that service for a couple of hours.  We drove up, settled into some seats, and perused the menu.

“We could split a diet coke.”

“Can’t take any more soda today, I’m already feeling strung out on the two I had.”



“Well, it’s pi day (3.14) so let’s have a pie.”

So, we nursed two highly mediocre apple pies (actually, that’s higher praise than they deserve) and a glass of unsweetened tea.  Kenzie did get her diet coke, and we sat and caught up on twitter and facebook and MLIA and all the other browsing that did our hearts good.

We’re flying home today, and we’re all quite ready.  There’s something to be said about cooking your own food at your own stove (not to mention sleeping in your own bed and using your own wifi!).  All this eating out (and, yes, I got a Starbucks at the airport) has reminded me of how delicious our home made food is, and how we can control the fat, sugar and salt content in what we eat.  I think I need to detox.  Perhaps the flat of Florida strawberries we bought at the roadside stand and carried on the plane will help.


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