Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dozens of children go missing in Eastern Panhandle following crippling snow; parents surprisingly subdued, satiated

Dozens of children have been reported missing in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia following a crippling snowstorm that dumped nearly three feet of snow in the area, requiring residents to shelter in place.

Charles Town Police became suspicious when they noticed a sharp decline in the number of 911 calls from parents who had had enough and were begging to be dug out of their homes for fear of harming their children, many of whom had not been outside for days. One parent had been telephoning almost hourly up until the day before yesterday when all calls ceased.

"The screaming and the bickering was quite overwhelming," said Suzi Crowder, mother of Sophie, 8, Max, 5, and Carly, 3 (pictured above). "Most days I can handle it with a combination of medication and aggressive wine therapy, but after being shut in with them for nearly five days straight, I just kind of snapped."

Crowder, who offered no explanation as to her children's whereabouts, appeared surprisingly calm as she led police through her home in the Locust Hill subdivision. There was no evidence of a forced entry; however, the home was in complete disarray. Toys were strewn about, laundry was piled up to the ceiling and dirty dishes covered nearly every inch of counter space. A police officer was seen bagging up a dog-eared version of Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal," which appeared to be covered in a red substance, reportedly Frank's Hot Sauce.

No suspects have been taken in for questioning as it appears no crime has been committed. Police remain baffled. Persons with information on the children's whereabouts are urged to keep it to themselves.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My heart belongs to Fresh & Easy this Valentine's Day

When my e-friend, Allison, from Fresh & Easy asked if I'd be interested in sampling some sweet treats just in time for Valentine's Day, I was all too willing to oblige! I started banking calories at my fitness boot camp in anticipation of my package's arrival!

Unfortunately, a nasty stomach bug worked its way through my family and derailed my taste-test plans, but once the family recovered, I got to work.

If you recall from my earlier post, Fresh & Easy grocery stores currently are providing reasonably-priced, wholesome foods to customers in Arizona, California and Nevada. They offer a wide range of their own brand products and prepared meals that contain no artificial colors, flavors or trans fat, without the hefty price tag commonly associated with healthy foods. Additionally, they carry many top name brand products to meet families' needs.

My recent care package contained a couple bottles of wine, Swiss truffles, a chocolate bar and snickerdoodles.

Let it be known, I'm no stranger to wine, and enjoy most varieties, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Shiraz. You can imagine my joy when I found a bottle of McGuigan Hand Made Barossa Shiraz nestled in the shipping box. Made from Shiraz grapes grown in the Barossa region of South Australia, I immediately noticed the fruity aroma when I uncorked the bottle. I'm used to a more peppery Shiraz, so the rich plum and berry tastes were a bit of a surprise, but not at all unpleasant. Although the folks from Fresh & Easy recommended that the wine be served with red meat or mature cheeses, I paired mine with some Wensleydale cheese with cranberries that was left over from Christmas and the tartness of the cranberries seemed to mellow the fruitiness of the wine. Before I knew it, the bottle and the cheese were both gone! (Note: Lest you think I'm a lush, my mom and dad, Sue and Larry Homemaker, joined me!)

The Montcadi Cava Rose sparkling wine screams "Valentine's Day," with it's rich, rose color, strawberry aroma and playful bubbles. Made from grapes grown in Spain's Cava region, I can easily see this wine paired with a nice pasta with shrimp or chicken and a tomato cream sauce (I think I just decided my menu for V-day!), although it would work well with light appetizers and most any meal. Both of these wines currently are on sale for $8.99 and $4.99 (can you believe it?) respectively.

The Sweet Boutique Gourmet Swiss Truffles were so creamy and delicious that I had to hide them from my kids. Go eat your M&M's, kiddos, these heavenly chocolates are reserved for Daddy and me!!! I especially liked the fact that they easily can be split in two for the calorie-conscious consumer, tho I much preferred to pop them whole in my mouth (I did drop a few pounds with that stomach bug, so I needed to recoup)! A bargain at $3.99, these little gems are the perfect gift for your sweetheart.

For Valentines who prefer a more robust (translation = LARGE) chocolate, there is the Fresh & Easy One Huge Hunk Chocolate Bar with Pecans and Fruit. I cannot recall ever seeing a chocolate bar as large as this one--almost sent me into a sugar-induced coma just looking at it! Made with smooth Belgian milk chocolate, I had no trouble sharing this sweet treat with the Homemaker offspring, as there was more than enough for the three of them, myself, my hubby and the mail carrier, not to mention the rest of the kids on the block.

The Fresh & Easy Snickerdoodle Cookies included in the package made me mad at my mother, as they reminded me that she forgot to make my grandmother's recipe this year for Christmas. Snickerdoodles are my all-time favorite cookie, and next to my Baba's, these rank right up there on the Taste-O-Meter, just ahead of the ones I recall served with the spaghetti and meat sauce lunch at South Lake Elementary School. Ahh, memories...sigh!

Valentine's Day is a little under two weeks away, so that gives you plenty of time to scoot on over to your neighborhood Fresh & Easy market to pick up some great-tasting, wholesome and affordable gifts. A gourmet gift from Fresh & Easy is sure to pay off with plenty of hugs and kisses from your Valentine!