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To nuke or not to nuke.
To nuke or not to nuke.

Can I live without a microwave?

Earlier this week, I posted this question as my Facebook status update, and 47 comments later, I am still waffling as to whether or not I plan to buy a new one. Even my mother weighed in, saying I didn’t need one if I bought a toaster oven.

There are a couple of food items, however, that make me wonder if I really want to live without one. In the winter, the sweet or baked potato is a staple food for me, and the difference between eight minutes in the nukebox and an hour or more in the oven is daunting.

I’m a big fan of microwave popcorn, particularly the SmartPop Kettle Korn. Also, my boys eat a lot of turkey dogs and 30 seconds in the microwave makes lunch a snap. A friend pointed out, however, that hot dogs taste better when they are boiled in water on the stovetop, and I agree that most foods are more appealing when slow cooked.

I decided to learn about the health risks of using a microwave, because so many friends have ditched theirs. Hence, the Facebook post.

A few people said they got rid of their microwave to save precious counter space. This made sense. Others voiced health and nutrition concerns.

Through research, I have learned a few things. Microwaves heat food rapidly by causing water molecules to resonate at a high frequency. This process changes the chemical structure of food, which could decrease nutrients. Plus, carcinogens can leach out of plastic containers into food during the cooking process, but this is less of a concern for me because I only use glass in the microwave.

Some folks said that microwaves escape during the cooking process, but I found that even the most ardent nukebox naysayers agree that the chances of this are slim with newer models.

My final thoughts are that microwaves are not extremely harmful to one’s health, but they do take up a fair share of space. And, as stated earlier, most food tastes better when baked in a toaster oven. So after a little research and informal polling, I thi…

The smoking ban is less than two months away.
The smoking ban is less than two months away.

Will the smoking ban pollute bar entrances?

Like it or not, the smoking ban is coming. As of July 5, Milwaukeeans will no longer be able to light up in bars or restaurants.

One of the burning questions in my mind is how do bars plan to handle smokers who step out for a few drags? If smokers are forced to smoke outside, will the entrances to bars and restaurants be filled with smoke? Sounds like, for some, this could be an unsavory first experience.

Last weekend I was in Chicago, and I noticed that the smokers were standing right outside the bar, puffing away. It doesn't really bother me, because I'm a only-when-I-drink smoker, but it was noted by my friend who quit a few years ago. And I agreed that it's gross to walk through a wall of smoke before entering a bar.

I hope for everyone's sake, bars and restaurants have a plan for smokers starting on July 6, and not just as ashtray next to the front door.


Treat yourself to booze, mamas.
Treat yourself to booze, mamas.

Five places I'd like to drink on Mother's Day

Last week, I posted a blog listing five local restaurants I plan to revisit in the near future. Apparently, my brain is now in list mode because on my way to work this morning, I thought of a bunch of places I would like to have a cocktail with my "mom friends" on Sunday after I thoroughly enjoy the breakfast my sons plan to buy me. (Hopefully at one of the places on my list from last week.)

Anyway, if I should be so lucky to break away for a couple of hours, I know two things. One: I will wear my "Mommy Needs A Drink" T-shirt. Two: I will be at one of these establishments:

1. Paddy’s Pub, 2239 N. Murray Ave. -- I did not make it there for St. Patrick’s Day this year, and I’ve had a hankering to go ever since. Sure, I can drink my Guinness anywhere, but there’s something about drinking a Guinness at Paddy’s that makes me feel like I’m a few blocks closer to Ireland.

2. Sugar Maple, 441 E. Lincoln Ave. -- With 60 beers to choose from, chances are every beer-drinking mom in the city can find a pleasing libation. Plus, those moms far more sensible than I -- those who don’t suck down a smoke with their suds -- will appreciate the airy, smoke-free environment.

3. La Perla, 734 S. 5th St. -- Drinking margaritas on the rooftop patio sounds like a lovely way to spend a kid-free afternoon. The key is to indulge in no more than a couple of drinks. Otherwise, the scene might quickly deteriorate into a "Moms Gone Wild" scenario starring drunken MILFs and a mechanical pepper.

4. Art Bar, 722 E. Burleigh St. -- Since Cafe Corazon opened just a block to the east, I frequent Art Bar less than I used to. However, it is still one of my favorite Riverwest watering holes and I have yet to have one of its mojitos this season. Hence, I just might swing by for something muddled.

5. Hi-Hat Lounge,  1701 N. Arlington Pl. -- I always appreciate the mix of fancy and casual at the Hi-Hat and it has been a while since I drank one of its Bloody Mar…

A taste of New Orleans in 'Stallis!
A taste of New Orleans in 'Stallis!

Five places I need to revisit

Like most people, I find myself going to many of the same places for food and drink. This week, however, I checked out two establishments -- both of which I will write about for in the next few weeks -- and remembered how much I enjoy going to new digs.

Later, I thought about places I have been to, but not in a very long time. Here's a list of five places I remember liking a lot, but need to check out again to reform an opinion.

1. Miss Katie's Diner, 1900 W. Clybourn St. I remember eating a fantastic omelet at this ‘50s- and ‘60s-style diner, but that was about a decade ago. This seems like a place that would be kid-friendly, too. Anyone wanna weigh in on that?

2. Blu, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave. I love everything about this place, including the fact it's on the 23rd floor of the historic Pfister Hotel, features a spectacular view of Brew City and the bowls of cashews. Please tell me they still have the free cashews; it has been about five years since I last visited.

3. Crawdaddy's, 6414 W. Greenfield Ave. I love Cajun and Creole food and had a great experience at Crawdaddy's about six years ago. It's high time to get back over there for that blackened chicken sandwich (I still remember it!) and a massive boozy hurricanes.

4. McBob's, 4919 W. North Ave. My coworkers went to McBob's last spring after the Morrissey show at the Eagles Ballroom, but I split. Ever since then, I meant to go back for their satisfying bar fare, so I put a visit to McBob's on my list of my summer resolutions.

5. Ginger, 235 S. 2nd St. I have very little experience with tapas eating -- I went to La Merenda once -- so I'm ready for more small-plate dining. I plan to write a guide to ordering tapas in the next few weeks, so I'd better get over there soon.