Mar 26, 2010

Big Kitchen calling...

Those words are music to my ears, especially on a Friday afternoon.

Let me share with you one of the many joys of working for the company I do. On the other side of my cubicle wall, there live two professional chefs. In the basement right below my cubicle, there lives a big kitchen. On really, really happy days, the two get together.

So on mornings like today when I wake up late, forget breakfast, stumble into the office without my first cup of coffee and then realize I forgot to put socks on, a call from Big Kitchen is truly a blessing. The afternoon went something like this:

At 1:30 my tummy was grumbling, but I had become completely engulfed in digging through our writing archives to find the perfect stories to include in an upcoming publication. I got completely sucked in. I could get lost reading our archives for days. Seriously, check it out.

My phone rings. Caller ID reads "Big Kitchen." Hhmmmmm... I wonder who's down in the basement and wants to talk to me?

"Hello, this is Laura."
"Hello, Laura, This is Big Kitchen calling."
"Well, hello Big Kitchen. What's going on down there?"
"I'm cookin'. Wanna sandwich?"

Aren't inter-company calls enthralling?

Chef Michael made me a Certified Angus Beef® Philly cheese steak sandwich. He popped it in this enormous toaster oven they call the salamander. I don't know why they call it that, but this baby could broil a steel post in about two seconds. 

Luckily, it also perfectly toasts steak sandwiches: 
I found this apple in my drawer and thought it would make my little desk-side meal look more complete and healthy. I was pretty sure it had only been in there a few days.

Unfortunately, an apple didn't really sound that appetizing with a tender, juicy steak sandwich. The vending machine downstairs had a much better option:
Life was looking up. With a full belly and renewed strength, things were really hummin' along on my Friday afternoon.

A couple hours later, Ms. M took it to a whole new level. She poked her head around the cubicle wall. "Pssstt. We're making a DQ run. It's almost spring, you know." It snowed this morning, but we're really trying hard to pretend like that didn't happen.

Chocolate cookie dough + Health bar blizzard = summertime in my dreams:
Oh, and that apple I had such good intentions of eating? I ended up using it for more of a stress ball for the rest of the afternoon as I mulled over new story ideas.

Turns out, you can all but smash up some apple sauce without breaking the skin on a hearty, desk-cured Gala apple.
Yes, that is complete mush under the skin. Weird, I know.

Are you wondering what the point of today's post is yet?

Quite frankly, there isn't one. I was just really pleased with how a bad morning turned into a fine afternoon, thanks to one little phone call from "Big Kitchen."

Mar 25, 2010

High fives for factual reporting on beef and the environment. Thanks, Washington Times!

I have a hard time blaming all the world's problems on the evils of misinformed and sensationalized media outlets. The four years I spent getting a degree in journalism makes that kind of disparagement seem a bit hypocritical.

Yes, a lot of reporters get it wrong when it comes to the facts about American agriculture. But they’re only reporting what their sources told them, and it is their job to determine what “news” is. Whether or not you like what their sources told them or how they constructed the story is irrelevant. If you want the story told otherwise, I guess you should have been a journalist, right? OR, I guess you could get your MBA, start a blog, and become your own news source that publishes whatever story you are so inclined to tell. Or you could just make a point to share factual information to everyone and anyone who will listen. But, I digress…

My point is; it’s nice to be able to pat a fellow journalist on the back. The Washington Times recently published an article titled, “Meat, dairy diet not tied to global warming: report finds claims flawed.” Thank you, Ms. Harper, for printing something factually accurate, informative and sensible. Read a couple excerpts from the story:

Forget all that indecorous talk of animal flatulence, cow burps, vegetarianism and global warming. Welcome to Cowgate.
Cows and pigs have gotten a "bum rap," said Frank Mitloehner, an air quality expert at the University of California at Davis who authored the report. He is plenty critical of scientists and vegetarian activists such as Paul McCartney who insist that livestock account for about a fifth of all greenhouse-gas emissions.

Mr. Mitloehner said the claims that livestock are to blame for global warming are both "scientifically inaccurate" and a dangerous distraction from more important issues.

He has traced the problem back to a 2006 United Nations report, "Livestock's Long Shadow." In the report, the damning livestock "emissions" included those of the digestive variety — along with gases produced by growing animal feed and actual meat and milk processing. But the transportation analysis factored in only fossil fuel emissions from cars.

"This lopsided analysis is a classical apples-and-oranges analogy that truly confused the issue," Mr. Mitloehner said.

"The developed world should focus on increasing efficient meat production in developing countries where growing populations need more nutritious food. In developing countries, we should adopt more efficient, Western-style farming practices to make more food with less greenhouse gas production," Mr. Mitloehner said.

Ahhh... how refreshing.

Follow the link to the full story and leave a comment for the author. Let Ms. Harper know you appreciate the article, and politely give the folks who are leaving negative comments some more information about the beef industry and the environment.

Mar 24, 2010

Blackberry + beef recipes = true Love

*That's saying a lot. I've been accused of being averse to the L word a time or two*

But I do love beef recipes delivered directly to my Blackberry phone. I also love lists. Particularly shopping lists. You find me a fella who will look up delicious recipes based on beef cuts within seconds, then organize a shopping list categorized by grocery section... then we might talk.

In the meanwhile, meet Beef For Dinner mobile.

caliAGchick and I were contemplating dinner plans this evening over a nice, brisk walk in the park. We had some pre-cut skirt steak thawing in the fridge: perfect for fajitas. Normally, I would marinate fajita meat overnight, or at least a couple hours before cooking. But we needed fajitas, pronto, and I was not interesting in running home to ask Sandra Lee or the Crook County CowBelles (my two favorite cookbooks) for advice.

Oh, wait... let me introduce you again... this is Beef for Dinner Mobile. He's full of great advice. Just type "beef for dinner" into your mobile web browser, and you'll be BFF in no time.

I typed in fajitas; it gave me ten options. I picked Classic Beef Fajitas with Galic & Lime; it made me a shopping list. It told me what to get in the fresh produce isle, what to look for in bread & baked goods, the condiments section and the meat case. Why, thank you, Beef for Dinner Mobile! I was in and out of the store in ten minutes.

I saved the recipe (for free, of course), to be brought back up once I was home.
Then I used all the muscles I had to squeeze fresh lime juice. Unfortunately, neither my Blackberry nor the Beef for Dinner site was helpful in that. After some strenuous effort, I managed to miss the counter enough times to splash nearly two tablespoons in the dish.
 I poured the lime juice, some fresh minced garlic, and pepper over the steak strips. Then I cheated and dumped my pre-cut peppers and onions in the skillet. I added a fun sprinkle of Chugwater Chili seasoning -- just a little taste of Wyoming, compliments of one of my dearest college roomies.
The beef got a similar dash of Chugwater Chili love and started sizzlin'.
I whipped it all together with some fresh cilantro, and there you have it:
Dinner was done and served just as caliAGchick got home. She suggested I quit my job and become a full-time nanny. I reminded her how slightly irresponsible I've been known to be, and we agreed it was best I stuck to cooking for her.
Topped off with some tortilla strips, cheese and avacado slices, it was the perfect little feast.

I asked caliAGchick if it was odd I've started taking pictures of all my meals before eating lately, and she assured me that was normal... as long as I didn't expect her to wait until the photo session was done to dig in. Deal.

Mar 19, 2010

It's official... MBAs all around

Yesterday was a big day at the Certified Angus Beef LLC office. More than 40 employees went through our MBA graduation ceremony with NCBA Director of Communications Daren Williams.

I'll be expecting my pay raise any day now to go along with this new education level. That's not unreasonable, is it? Ok, maybe it is. I might not be getting the pay bump that would come with a real MBA, but my Masters of Beef Advocacy degree is certainly a valuable asset.  
The Masters of Beef Advocacy program is all about empowering agriculturalists to stand up and speak out about our industry. We talked a lot yesterday about the most effective ways to share our story, and how to tackle some of those tough topics the average consumer doesn't understand and most beef producers are a little uncomfortable talking about... like hormones in our beef, PETA and/or the HSUS, antibiotic use, animal welfare and health misconceptions.

Ever been faced with some of these tough questions? Or seen a news article that didn't paint the whole picture about the food we eat? Maybe you didn't think YOU were the right person to correct inaccuracies and share a positive story for the beef industry.

Well, quite simply... you are. If you care about the beef industry and want to be armed with the facts about modern food production, you are who should be talking about beef production. Sign up today to start working toward your MBA by e-mailing Daren at, call him at 303-850-3346 or contact your state beef council. It's free, it's simple and it's not time consuming.

Plus, you know you want one of these...
"Congratulations on completing all six courses in the Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program. You are one of more than 800 students who have completed the MBA online courses and are now ready to enter the “real world” of beef advocacy. Thanks again for your commitment to reclaiming our legacy as original stewards of the land, caretakers of animals, and producers of safe, wholesome, and nutritious beef."

Mar 16, 2010

In honor of St. Patty's Day...

... I painted my walls green!

OK, just joking... I didn't do this for St. Patrick's Day. But I did paint my wall (singular) Forbidden Garden Green last month. It was inspired by the advice of caliAGchick and Bobcat, not tommorrow's celebration of Mr. St. Patrick.

It all started when one of our grounds maintenance guys re-painted some of the walls in the office. He got my cubicle section done in a half an afternoon, which made painting seem like a fun, simple little weekend project. So, that day after work, I headed to Lowes.

I started in my room. My first instinct was, of course, to paint the walls an off-white-with-a-touch-of-warm-pink and then one focused wall of a deep chocolate. Luckily, my dear friends convinced me to overcome this weird OCD obsession with matching colors, and that I needed to add a pop of something new and different. I'm so glad they did.

Isn't it just beautiful?
I couldn't completely abandon my odd devotion to matching items... as soon as the paint was dry, I ran to Kohls to accessorize. caliAGchick had to call and tell me to back away from the home decor. Immediately. But not before I snatched these pillows:
Then I got online (where she couldn't scold me for compulsory shopping) and started ordering new wall decor... simple little things, but enough to add some excitement to my once plain, white-washed surroundings. My favorite find was this:
That's on a backdrop of Toasting Tan, which covered the other three walls. It goes perfectly with the rusty stars on the other wall. It is a lot smaller than I had imaged it, but it still nestles just perfectly between my two closet doors and above my beloved jewelry armoire.

Yes, you heard me. My two closet doors. It's actually four, if you count each of the sliding doors. That's a big deal in my life. And isn't armoire just a great word? It's a great piece of furniture to have, too.
But my most favorite new items are what anchor the freshly green wall above the furniture set from my great-grandma's house (which I will someday write a whole post about, I promise).

I am in love with these stick-on vinyl letterings, and found the perfect one to go over the vanity.
It says, "If you are confident, you are beautiful."

It's just the perfect little reminder that if I feel like a puny little baby, I am sure to look like one, too. And nobody likes that. So toughen up, buttercup.

All that's left to spruce up is the wall next to my bed. It's still a blank canvas of Toasting Tan, waiting for my sister to come visit and spill some creative love on.
So hurry up and come to Ohio already, sister!

Mar 13, 2010

Move over, Kraft.

The blue box just got its mac & cheese butt kicked.

Last weekend while [D] and I were driving home from the Sugar Shack, we had a long talk about our personal fitness and wellness goals while chowing down maple chocolate coconut haystacks. She told me a little saying I'd never heard before: "Nothing tastes as good as the feeling of being skinny." We both laughed, although there are times I think that might be right. Last night was NOT one of those times.

caliAGchick's mom sent us a recipe for Chipolte Mac & Cheese last week. I've been dying to try it since the second it arrived in my e-mail inbox. Last night we prepared a cheesy little feast.

It started with this:
Buttery, garlic bread crumbs.

Then I chopped up some of these:
Meanwhile, caliAGchick started cooking up the noodles and was working on the delicious meatloaf she whipped together to go with it.

This is where it starts tasting better than a hot beach bod:
We're dumping the noodles in a mixture of heavy whipping cream, milk and butter. Nearly six cups of it in all.

Then comes the first pound of cheese. Yes, I said the first pound. As in, there is more than one pound of cheese in this.
Freshly grated, extra-sharp cheddar cheese. It was all suppose to be white cheddar, but I like a little variety. The next full pound of cheese was extra-sharp yellow cheddar.
Once that melted into a oohey-gooey-cheesy slurry, we added in the chilies and poured it into the baking dish. We smothered it in the bread crumbs and popped this little baby in the oven.

Meanwhile, Bobcat put together three little wedge salads that could have passed as artwork. Really tasty artwork. 
Then the cheese and meatloaf sauce started bubbling in the oven. We pulled it out and gathered around the stove, staring... waiting... wanting to disregard the fact that putting the macaroni in our little mouths right out of the oven would have burned our tongues to a crisp.

When the steam cleared, we finally dug in.
For one night, that was better than being skinny. Well, it was better than being skinny this morning at breakfast, too. And I bet my feelings don't change by tonight either.

I think you'll agree. Give it a try. Next time I don't feel like being skinny ever again and make this, I think I'll cut the bread crumb topping in half so it gets a little crispier. And I'll probably wear elastic pants.


Mar 12, 2010

PETA's trash-talk is garbage

Sorry, I couldn't help but make as many puns as possible in that headline... you'll understand soon.

My dearest Aunt C e-mailed me this "news" story, and I am still a bit baffeled. Below is the AP article that ran on 9 News in Denver, and here's a longer version running in the Colorado Spring's Gazette.

COLORADO SPRINGS (AP) - The animal rights group PETA is offering to help cash-strapped Colorado Springs by paying to put trash cans back in parks, if the cans carry an anti-meat slogan and a picture of a woman in a lettuce bikini.

The city stopped picking up trash in parks to save money, and all the trash cans have been removed.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals told city officials Wednesday they'd pay for new trash cans saying "Meat Trashes the Planet" and "Go Vegan." The cans also have PETA's logo and the lettuce-clad model.

Mayor Lionel Rivera says he'll consider the offer if it PETA also pays to have the trash picked up and hauled to the dump. But he joked that the Colorado Beef Council might demand equal time.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

I don't know why this struck me as such an unusual tactic from PETA; they've been known to do a lot worse. But for some reason the audacity this organization has never ceases to amaze me. Colorado ranks 10th in the nation for beef production. Here's a little more info from the Colorado Beef Council:

Nearly one-third of Colorado's counties are classified as either economically dependent on the cattle industry or having the cattle industry serve an important role in their economies. Cash receipts from the sale of cattle and calves at $2.5 billion represents over half of the gross farm income of $4.9 billion -- Colorado's largest industry.

Colorado Springs might be strapped for cash right now, but jumping in bed with PETA is not the way to fix the problem, especially when you look at what the beef industry brings to the state. I still can't tell from his comments in the article if Mayor Rivera is serious about considering this offer or finds it as laughable as I do. Just in case, send him a note in support of animal agriculture:

Mayor Lionel Rivera
Address: P.O. Box 1575, Colorado Springs, CO 80901
Phone: 719-385-5986

Mar 9, 2010

Thanks for making MK pretty again

Mary Kay heard a bit of an outcry over the past couple days due to their involvement with the HSUS. They acted quickly and listened to what their customers had to say. They recently released this statement on their facebook page:

"Some fans of Mary Kay® products and independent beauty consultants have expressed concerns over a recent sponsorship of a Dallas-area event. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention. We have heard you and want to clarify any confusion.

First and foremost, Mary Kay is not a sponsor of this event. Mary Kay’s owner’s wife was approached to make a personal contribution towards a local event here in Dallas sponsored by the Dallas chapter of the Humane Society. This event specifically supports efforts to stop puppy mills and the organization’s stop puppy mills campaign. Out of caring and compassion for addressing puppy mills, our owner’s wife agreed to make a personal contribution. Mary Kay has contacted the Humane Society to clarify that we are not sponsors of this event and the company logo is being removed from the website.

As a company, we sincerely apologize for any confusion or causing any offense to members of the Mary Kay community."

This is great news for all involved -- agriculturalists know their voice has been heard, and we can all go on loving Mary Kay! If that's what you're in to and stuff. If not, then I guess you can go about your day as usual. Don't mind me.
An now, on a completely unrelated note... Happy birthday Bobcat! We had a little birthday celebration at 3 Amigos (where else?!) tonight, complete with a pile of fried ice cream and a nice, long chat with Cheryl about how we think the weekend crowd could be improved.

Mary Kay's not-so-pretty partnership

The word's out: the agriculture industry is watching the Humane Society of the United States and making sure those who send them money know where it is really going. Mary Kay cosmetics recently tied itself to HSUS, and we need to let them know that's not OK. Read more about it on the BeefDaily blog.

Here's a copy of the note I sent Mary Kay. Please take a couple minutes today and do the same -- instructions are on the BeefDaily site.

I recently learned Mary Kay is planning to be a corporate sponsor at a Dallas, Texas gala with the Humane Society of the United States. What a slap in the face to the hardworking women who use and sell your products. HSUS is an extremist animal rights group that has made it clear they want to put animal agriculture out of business. I know dozens of female farmers and ranchers who supplement their income by selling your product. It will be awful hard for them to make a sale knowing their hard-earned money is going to an organization so set on destroying agriculturalists’ way of life.

I can only hope your partnership with HSUS is by mistake -- they are not the organization most people think. Less than half of 1% of their multi-million dollar budget actually goes to hands-on pet shelters. They hide behind the name "humane society," making people believe they are affiliated with local humane societies (the ones who actually do help animals). Learn more here

I noticed the gala you are sponsoring together is working to stop puppy mills and abuse. However, the HSUS sends some mixed messages on where they really stand on that issue, too.

Please, learn more about the HSUS and reconsider your sponsorship of this event. Support local shelters that will actually put your money to use helping animals, not paying fat salaries and lobbying bills. I have used your product for years, and will not pay another dime to your company until you reconsider. I will ask all my friends and Mary Kay consultants to do the same.

Laura Nelson

Down at the Sugar Shack (sugar shack baaay-bee)

I took a little educational adventure this weekend to the Sugar Shack, and that B-52s song instantly stuck in my head. I hope it's stuck in your head now, too... like a fly in maple syrup. Ha!  

My friend [D] and I took her two kiddos down to Malabar Farm to the opening weekend of the Maple Syrup Festival. There, according to the brochure, we went on "a self-guided tour of the sugar camp and sugarhouse that revealed the evolution of sugaring equipment and how maple sap is transformed into maple syrup." That's three direct references to sugar in one sentance. You know this was going to be an exciting day.

Here are a few things we did learn on our day at Malabar Farm:

Lesson No. 1: Check the white balance settings on your camera before shooting. Don't assume you just can't see the screen very well in the sunlight when the color is off. Luckily, some black and white editing turned out well on these to cover up the blotched photography. Thank you, Photoshop.

Lesson No. 2: A LOT of people were excited about the Maple Syrup Festival. We were imagining a handful of folks peacefully meandering through the woods at this little farm (which also happens to be a state park). Instead, there was this:
Yikes! There were lines, crowds and a lot of mud. This was the third day in a row that the sun graced us with an appearance. People were coming out of the woodwork in a mass exodus from the sad, gray Ohio winter. You could practically hear the sighs of relief as people said goodbye to their seasonal depression.

This pretty little view was enough to shed some of my winter misery:

Lesson No. 3: Motherhood is complicated and not for the weak of heart -- this probably is not a shock to anyone else. However, being the baby of my family did not leave me with a natural understanding of what it takes to have another human being dependant on me for survival.

[D]'s supermom-ing skills never cease to amaze me. She strapped her 30 pound, year-old son, little-L, into what looked like mountain hiking apparatus and carried him on her back all day. little-L was very pleased with this arrangement.

Lesson No. 4: Native Americans were the first to discover how to harvest maple sap. They slashed grooves in the trees and collected the sap in hollowed out logs. Then super hot "cooking stones" were dropped into the sap to crystalize it and make a form of hard candy. This was likely the only sweet-tasting substance in the Native American's diets.
[D]'s older son, c-man, thought the Indians were cool, too. This one gave him a high-five, but as we walked away, he whispered something to me about making sure those Indians didn't "get us" later. And he was watching the snow for "bad guy tracks." He cracks me up.
Doesn't [D] have the cutest little fellas? This is c-man, investigating the sap buckets:

Then in colonial times, they figured out how to make the sap into sugar. How this guy represented colonial times, I don't know. But it was the one photo I salvaged from the scary blue tints, and I just loved the colors of the trees around him.

Lesson No. 5: Cotton candy is really cotton-y. That's one I learned from c-man. After watching everyone else eating maple cotton candy, he was really excited to get some of his own. He waited patiently as we toured the Sugar Shack, which showed modern maple processing, then waited in a line to buy the maple sugary goodness. We finally got the cotton candy, and he was just dying to dig into it. [D] opened it outside the store, and his long wait was finally over.

He took one bite and handed it back to [D]. "This candy is too cotton-y. I don't like it at all." End of story.

Lesson No. 6: Every day is a parade when you are riding in a horse-drawn wagon. I've ridden horses all my life and the novelty of it should have really worn off by now. But it's still fun. This big fella was our transportation from the Sugar Shack back to the parking area. I liked him.  

Lesson No. 7: It doesn't matter how old you are, a sugar high is still always followed by a massive crash. The boys were sound asleep about two seconds after leaving Malabar Farm. I stayed awake long enough to devour my maple-chocolate coconut haystacks and some pure maple candy, then we stopped for ice cream.

I lasted through one episode of the Sopranos and crashed, happily tucked in bed before 8 p.m. That makes for one great day at the Sugar Shack (sugar shack, baaayy-beee).   

Mar 6, 2010

I'll admit it: I'm a bit of a steak snob

Not that I look down on any other beef. It's all healthy, safe, delicious and nutritious. But once you have had a steak like this, you just know some is better than the rest:
That’s a Certified Angus Beef® brand Prime strip steak. Eating one will change the way you think of steak. For the better. The much, much better.

I swear, I’m not just saying that because I work for them. I ate this whole heaping mess of goodness and then had to be restrained from licking the plate. I’m such a glutton. If I hadn’t been at a work-related event, I would have done the same thing…but not held back on the plate-licking.

My roomie/co-worker/friend caliAGchick invited me to tag along with her to Cantina Laredo’s in Columbus for a beef and tequila tasting, sponsored by CAB and Corzo tequila.

It was a four-course meal, starting with these tasty little shrimp nachos and a cucumber margarita. You think cucumber margarita sounds odd, but it was the crispest, most refreshing little concoction ever.
See all those little snifters behind the plate? Those were for the different kinds of tequila. They were paired with different courses and their flavors and distilling processes were explained as we went through the meal, just like a wine tasting. This completely shocked me, as I always thought tequila had only one flavor: revolting.
That was the first, last and only time I had tried to drink tequila in anything but a girly little margarita or cocktail until earlier this week. It was in Mexico – you can see how impressed I was.

But this was completely different – you could taste the differences in each flavor and how they tasted with the different courses. The shrimp nachos were followed with an enchilada-like soup that was the perfect combination of spicy and smooth. Then the main course, this prized item (again):
 The avocado salsa to the side of the steak was to die for. Seriously.

Then the finale. Mexican apple crepes smothered in a tequila-infused sauce. Oh. my.
 This picture doesn’t really do the crepes justice, but it does get caliAgchick in the picture. Since her mom and aunt consist of nearly 15% of my readership here, I like to include pictures of her to keep them happy.

*Hi caliAgchick’s mom and aunt!*

Oh, wait – did you really think I would let you go with a fun post about tequila with no educational value at all?? Well, you thought wrong.

One of the reps from Corzo shared with us she had stopped eating meat after watching the movie “Food, Inc.” I am respectful of anyone’s personal choices, and if she makes an educated decision to be a vegetarian that is her business. But, it is important for people to hear both sides of a story before jumping to conclusions based on a biased, sometimes factually inaccurate movie. Get the other side of the story here.

Ok, that's really all now. But I just got my wireless Internet hooked up, so look forward to hearing from me a lot more now!

Mar 4, 2010

*All things new*

Remember that time I started a blog with a promise to try something new each week in an attempt to not hate living in Ohio?? Well folks, I’m a lady of my word, and I’ve been tracking my new adventures on a handy sidebar here… scroll down… down... look left…no wait, your other left (also known as the right -- thanks, Meg)  Ah! There it is… “New experiences since starting this blog.”

Sometimes I have to stretch a little to consider some of these entirely new experiences, but I’m working on it. I know you’ve just been dying to read about my adventures in Ohio, so wait no longer. This one will cover both an old new event and a new new event. Look out.

About a month ago, caliAGchick, Bobcat, Buckeye and I drug ourselves out of ZUMBA! class, exuding so much fitness we could have been featured on that You Tube video. We were ravenous and wanted to try something new. caliAGchick mentioned a little Mexican restaurant she had seen on her way to our affectionately located “south side” home (a handy neighborhood to live in if we ever decide to be gangsters). She said it looked like a bit of a dive, but could be fun. Sign. me. up.

We ended up on the other side of the track (literally), right off the freeway and behind the Super 8 back parking lot. A dive, indeed. Welcome to 3 Amigos:
It’s really a treat. The food is amazing and cheap and we’ve managed to make BFF with the waitress, Cheryl. Shocking, I know.

You would assume it is mostly Mexican fare at a place called 3 Amigos, right? It is… until you get to menu item #43: spaghetti. A little above that, #32: frog legs. #51: wings (we just convinced Cheryl to add teriyaki flavor this week. Score!). # 64: fried fish basket. They have a little bit of everything you could ever want at 3 Amigos, and it is all conveniently numbered so you never have to worry about pronouncing Mexican words wrong. Or English words for that matter. They have this, too:

*I can't find this photos right now, so make it up in your head. It's a mounted buffalo head with a Mexican sombrero on it. Image it*

Yes, that is a buffalo with a sombrero on its head. No, he does not have a number. But he is cool.

Our little group of friends became regular diners at 3 Amigos, stopping by after ZUMBA!, grabbing a happy hour drink after work and even hosted our own Groundhog Day celebration. We frequented 3 Amigos on weekdays and daylight hours only, which is apparently why we loved it so much.

Over the weekend, caliAGchick and I saw a whole different side of 3 Amigos. After a super fun dinner with our friend KOD and her wonderful family, we decided to stop by and check out the nightlife at our favorite little dinner spot. Talk about a change of scenery.

For those of you who were lucky enough to go to college in Laramie, Wyo., I would compare the scene to the Cowboy Bar. Not the Cowboy Saloon, the Cowboy Bar. Yes, that Cowboy. The other Cowboy.

I was wearing a cardigan. Needless to say, that wasn’t exactly dress code.
Let me give you a little slice of the conversations we had with a couple nice young men there:

“So, I was stabbed on Tuesday.”
*looks of horror exchanged between AGchick and I*
“But you should see the other guy.”
AGchick: “Let’s leave. Now.”

Cheryl told us later this young man came back the next night and his stab wound was bleeding through his shirt. He picked a fight and was asked to leave.

Another nice man: “Naw, you don’t want to hang out at the UG (another bar in town we had heard of). That’s where all the little college kids go with their school books. Then they go home early and study. It’s real preppy…
Well, maybe you girls would like it. That is a nice cardigan.
But don’t get me wrong… you can still definitely score some good drugs there. If that’s what you’re in to. I’m going to guess not though, huh?”

*more horror*

Monday night over chips and salsa, Cheryl assured us these were not normal occurances. But better safe than sorry -- we'll stick to daylight hours at 3 Amigos from now on, thank you. Don't say we didn't give the Woo-town social scene a chance.