Best New Recipes of 2020

by Houston

Did you cook or baje something new last year that was a big hit?

For me, this pumpkin cake was hands down the winner. Easy to make, well flavored, and not too sweet. I topped with store bought cream cheese frosting. 

https://lmld.org/pumpkin-cake-with-yellow-cake-mix/

139 thoughts on “Best New Recipes of 2020

  1. I also had a pumpkin dish that was a huge success. I’ve had many failed dishes involving squash and pumpkin. In the fall I made pumpkin bars and they loved it. It was just a random recipe I found online. I think the key is if you add enough sugar, cinnamon, and pie spice my family will eat it.

  2. We have experimented with a number of new recipes, mainly trying to get more calories into SO. I am getting much better at “pan sauces” in general. We found a very simple beef and green bean stir fry online and a slightly more complicated shrimp and green bean stir fry in Real Simple magazine. SO has a hard time with beef, but like the “sauce” on the beef better, though it is a bit too sweet for the shrimp. After several tweaks, I think I have finally found the balance between the salty, sweet, and tangy.

  3. Here is a recipe post. Coincidental to the requests this morning.

    As for advance notice of blog postings, I can start that up when we have a backlog of posts. Right now it is day by day. The vastly preferred method is for totebaggers to write up a draft post, with or without links, and put it on Suggest Topics. Emails to me are generally not the most efficient way to get a topic up, unless there is real concern about suitability. Especially an email of the “how about a post on x topic”, which inevitably leads to my interpreting or illustrating the topic in a way not intended by the request.

  4. Austin and Lemon Tree, I would love to see the recipes you mentioned. In particular, I need to get better with pan sauces.

  5. DS1 is going back to college this weekend, which means that I’ll be cooking less (yay) and baking less (boo). Are anyone else’s menus shifting this month, due to diets or other changes?

  6. I have several. There was the duck I made for Thanksgiving. The wild rice and cranberry dressing I made to go with it was not so great but the duck was wonderful. I did it in a jerk rub.

    I also have been doing a lot with coconut milk. This fish curry, for example- t
    https://www.masterclass.com/articles/an-introduction-to-south-indian-cuisine-and-easy-fish-curry-recipe#quick-and-easy-fish-curry-recipe
    There are many recipes for this dish on the Internet so I kind of follow several of them. I usually use tilapia or pollock. You have to wait until the very end to insert the fish because it cooks really fast and then falls apart if it cooks too long

    and tomato soup with coconut milk, which I do stovetop, not in the instant pot
    https://twosleevers.com/tomato-coconut-soup/

    Keema with ground beef or lamb. Again, there are a million recipes so you can follow any of them and it will be great.

    And this is now 2021 so I guess it doesn’t really count, but I made a wonderful Jamaican stew for New Year’s Day. I didn’t want to spring for oxtails, so I used beef chuck and augmented with some marrow bones that I had in the freezer. Ooooh, this was good
    https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1013460-jamaican-oxtail-stew

  7. So many new recipes this year! I think the one that the kids request the most is duck buns. The recipe for the bao is here (I steam them in the rice cooker) https://seonkyounglongest.com/bao-buns/
    I make pickled vegetables from carrot plus something else, daikon if I have it or cabbage or cucumber. (NYT “easy banh mi” or something like that has a very easy pickled veggie recipe). I buy duck confit meat from the wholesaler and just heat that up, then plus scallions and hoisin sauce. Really good!

    I also bought the Myers & Chang cookbook in the spring and have been making a lot of stuff from it – the chicken/bok choy/udon dish is the kids’ favorite, followed closely by the pork dumplings and the black pepper sauce (that recipe is surf and turf but we usually do chicken, only sometimes beef/shrimp since DH can’t eat most of those).

  8. My oldest goes back on the 19th and the second one goes back on the 25th. I am going to miss cooking for them, especially the oldest because he likes all of my experiments and eats all the leftovers. He also helps me a lot in the kitchen

  9. I start work next week, and have been trying to think of things to take for lunch/meal plans for an entire day. I’ll make a quiche on the weekend. Some days I’ll have cornflakes or a roll with butter and Marmelade for breakfast, salad Nicoise in a jar for lunch, and the quiche for dinner. Other days I’ll take the quiche for lunch and make miso soup for dinner. On days that I want an egg for breakfast, either quiche or soft-boiled or as part of my French toast, I’ll take the following in a jar and have lax or a protein shake for dinner.

    Bottom layer sauce: 50 g Sambala Olek, 30 g creamy peanut butter, .25 cup soy sauce, .7 oz rice wine vinegar, .25 cup olive oil. Whiz in the blender, divide among 4 jars.
    Middle layer: 2 bell peppers, 200 g snap peas, 2 carrots, 1 c leeks. Chop and mix, divide into jars.
    Top layer 125 g Asian egg noodles.
    Divide a sprinkling of 10 g black sesame seeds on top of the jars.
    To serve, turn jar upside down and shake. Pour into bowl.

    Anybody have low fat, medium-high protein lunch ideas or meal plans to share?

  10. LT, based on those tastes, I could be one of your kids! I was reminded at thanksgiving time how much I love squash/pumpkin. My son cannot stand them, or carrots.
    Mooshi, my kid wouldn’t like the curried fish either, but I might try it. Thanks for posting

    Meme, that was super quick turnaround on the topic idea! I’ll try to come up with a couple ideas.

  11. I gained 8 lbs over the holidays and I blame it all on my in laws having three meals per day. I was even running while I was there, but that doesn’t matter. I feel disgusting. I’m back to no breakfast, no sweetened drinks, no alcohol, no snacks, and being very considerate of portion sizes. It’s coming off, but what a PITA.

    “Anybody have low fat, medium-high protein lunch ideas or meal plans to share?”

    We’ve worked through a big old pot of smoky lentils that I made if you want me to find that recipe. But probably not, because it’s got bacon in it.

  12. Houston – I have a conference call this afternoon – that is part training and part department meeting. I can post recipes later…likely after 4 pm.

  13. Things I forgot in my first post:

    1 cup bean sprouts in the crunchy veggie layer.

    I follow Molke Katzen’s quiche formula, don’t really have a recipe for miso soup. I usually put tofu in even though I know it doesn’t belong there, just to up the protein.

    On my request for recipes—I try not to have more than 1 egg/ day because of the fat, and only 1 serving of tuna/salmon (lax) because of the Mercury. Those fish, eggs, and sushi are as close to meat as I get.

  14. Milo, I gained and am re-losing weight too. I want to get all the way down to the low end of my target range, am at the tippy-top (but no longer over it) right now. I could probably skip the bacon in the beans. Do they keep well enough that I could get through them before they go bad?

  15. We do something similar with the lettuce and larb wraps, but I use ground pork. And this wouldn’t be good for low fat diets, but I always get the extra fatty ground pork at Hmart, or even better, from the Chinese market across from campus (but haven’t been there is so long)

    Ingredients of the Year (in our family) – the things I relied on this year, over and over
    coconut milk
    cilantro – I discovered that rather than fussily pluck all the leaves off the stems, I can just cut off the bottom parts of the stems that are kind of tougher, and then put the rest in the minichop with some lemon or lime juice and a touch of OO. The resulting paste jazzes up everything
    spicy chile crisp – saute any veg, and then throw some of this on the top.
    ground pork
    pollack – my favorite whitefish but hadn’t seen it in over 10 years. Then I discovered that Hmart carries frozen pollack
    cod loins – those big thick meaty parts of the cod
    jerk sauce from the S&S that stocks a lot of Jamaican brands

  16. “Are anyone else’s menus shifting this month, due to diets or other changes?”

    January is a pretty busy month for me work-wise, so I’m going with super easy menus even though I am still FT WFH. Monday was the meatloaf and mashed potatoes pre-made meal from Costco’s fresh case. Yesterday was meatballs with Rao’s jarred sauce. (the meatballs were homemade in an earlier batch & stashed in the freezer). Tonight we are having soup that I made in a big batch over the holiday break & froze. Etc.

  17. Oooh, meatloaf.I have to make meatloaf before the boys go back. They both love it. Actually, so does DH and DD.

  18. Mooshi, for cilantro and parsley, use the holes of your colander. Just pull the stem through—the leaves get cut off & separated.

  19. S&M, even that process is too fussy for me. Plus, a lot of the best cilantro flavor is actually in the stems

  20. S&M — I didn’t know that you’d gotten a job. Congratulations! I hope it’s something you like, or at least like well enough.

  21. NoB, I love paella ;). I haven’t “announced” the job yet, because I’m *still* waiting for final permission from the Foreigners’ Office. It’s not a job I want, is in a call center for about half the salary I used to get, but is better than what I’ve got now (nothing).

    Milo, thanks for the links. I can’t open Williams-Sonoma links over here, but the Allrecipes one looks good.

  22. Over the holidays I made some lasagna. It came out pretty well; the kids and I liked it, although we all agreed it was a bit bland. DW is not a lasagna lover; she tried some and said it was OK for lasagna. Next time (I still have another box of noodles, so there will be a next time) I’ll add garlic, basil, and oregano, and perhaps some Italian sausage. I didn’t have any parmesan, so next time I’ll try add that too.

    I used this recipe as my basis:
    https://www.cookingclassy.com/easy-lasagna/

    I added half an onion, diced, and some spinach. I substituted ground turkey for ground beef, and used whatever marinara sauce we had (turned out to be Bertoli organic). Next time I think I’ll add more onion and spinach.

    The recipe called for 6 lasagna noodles, with 3 noodles per layer, but the box had 15, so I made two trays, and the second tray, in a taller pan, had an extra layer of noodles, sauce, and cheese.

    BTW, for anyone wondering, I did not make my own ricotta.

  23. I have never found a food made with ground turkey to be anything other than a disappointment.

  24. Austin, my DS is planning to live off-campus, about a 15 minute walk away. He leaves on the 18th.

    DD is getting an apartment with a few other girls, near campus, but she’s not sure when she’ll move. Classes start next week, but with things so bad on the area (overflowing hospitals, oxygen shortages, more transmissive strain, etc), she’s keeping an eye on that situation in hopes of moving when things get better. She’s hoping once Biden is in office the vaccination rate will increase, and that federal requirements will be instituted to make plane travel safer.

  25. We did lasagna over Thanksgiving weekend. Our lasagna is not very Italian – it is pretty all American, in fact. Although I love Italian sausage, I don’t like it in lasagna so we just use ground beef. I think having a good tomato sauce is the real key.
    One year, DS1 did a lasagna with a real Bolognese sauce for Christmas dinner. It was fantastic, but a real project. This was the recipe
    https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/marcella-hazans-lasagna-50141035

  26. “I have never found a food made with ground turkey to be anything other than a disappointment.”

    A few years ago, I started substituting ground turkey for ground beef in my favorite chili recipe, and it tastes great. On the other hand, I have tried substituting ground turkey for ground beef in lasagna sauce, and I didn’t like the results, so I switched back to beef.

  27. Milo, perhaps your expectations are too high.

    I am not the pickiest of eaters, and generally enjoy food. IOW, my expectations are generally not very high, so I’m able to enjoy a lot of dishes made with ground turkey.

    I also find it easier and neater than using ground beef, because it is so lean. There’s no need to drain fat after browning, and almost no grease to deal with in cleanup.

  28. I tried Finn’s ricotta recipe…it was good, but the directions were a bit vague and created a lot of wasted whey (I know, I know, there are other uses but mine was still a bit milky looking and the other uses involved new cooking projects).

    Net: It’s only worth it if you have larger quantities of both milk and cream about to expire. YMMV.

    Win: a peppermint brownie bar from NYTimes…very good and not too fussy.

  29. In 12 years on the Totebag, I don’t think anyone has ever accused me of having too high expectations regarding food. But I suppose if “not tasting like cardboard” is too high, then I’m guilty as charged.

    What is the reason for this deprivation?

  30. Finn – I make ground beef with Indian spices and use the beef in a lasagna. I don’t use too much cheese either. The lasagna is not bland and my family likes it.

  31. Finn, you didn’t use garlic? There goes a bunch of flavor! I would also use way more than half an onion. :) We get bulk garlic and ginger paste from the Southeast Asian specialty store near the Costco – I would estimate I add more garlic than the recipe calls for 100% of the time.

  32. Milo, we enjoy the Paula Dean taco soup recipe you shared made with ground turkey. We are accustomed to lean meat, though, since elk and venison are quite lean.

  33. OH, Louse that looks wonderful!!! I love keema and make it all the time. I have to try this one.

  34. We eat a lot of ground turkey, as we don’t eat red meat. I add a dash or two of liquid smoke and everything turns out yummy.

  35. We don’t have that much elk and venison. No success hunting this year. Ground turkey is inexpensive and fine in taco soup.

  36. Since it’s past 3pm eastern can I ask a retirement planning question.

    For the sake of round numbers assume you’re 40 and have $500k in retirement. If you’re putting away the 401k max of $19,500 (with no match Finn!) you’ll end up with $3.6 million. If you increase your savings from $19,500 and add in $1000/month in taxable investment savings you’ll end up with $4.3 million.

    Running the numbers again for someone 50 years old with $1.1 million. In 17 years they would again have $3.6 million. If they added $1,000 month to savings the balance at 67 would only rise from $3.6 to $3.9.

    Long story short. If you’re 50 and on track for retirement saving an extra $1,000 really isn’t going to change anything compared to say using that $1000 to lease something like this:

    Or did I miss a step. I don’t recall every seeing this sort of thing mentioned.

  37. OK, I love ground meat (except turkey) and many of my favorite comfort dishes involve ground meat. But for me, the ultimately comfort food, the dish I will always turn to if I am feeling like I am fighting a cold or it is snowing out or I am just down is ma po tofu, which involves the endorphin-triggering combo of tofu, ground pork, spicy bean sauce and sichuan peppercorn. I discovered this dish back in the 90’s, learned that it could be even more awesome after two visits to Sichuan province, and now make it all the time. The whole family feels the same way. It is one of the most requested dishes from the kids, right up there with Cincinnati chili (another ground meat winner) and a chicken curry that I have made for years.

  38. “you didn’t use garlic?”

    I know, major fail on my part.

    Next time I’ll make sure to add a bunch. Also an entire onion.

  39. “If you’re putting away the 401k max of $19,500 (with no match Finn!) you’ll end up with $3.6 million.”

    At what age?

    ” If you increase your savings from $19,500 and add in $1000/month in taxable investment savings you’ll end up with $4.3 million.”

    Why not put it in a Roth instead?

  40. Why not put it in a Roth instead?

    A Roth what? You’re at the 401k match limit (excluding the catchup) and as a totebagger you can’t contribute to an IRA.

  41. Rhett – I’m away from Excel, but what’s your finished age?

    You’re pointing out what I’ve said in various ways over the years: the early years are far more important. The writers and bloggers are always eager to illustrate the starting at 22 example vs. waiting until 30. This is the back end of that, the middle ground between early retirement and maxing out all contributions until the day you put away your work boots. You can simply keep working and stop saving (although never refuse a match).

  42. “as a totebagger you can’t contribute to an IRA.”

    Why not?

    If you’re referring to the income limitations for a Roth IRA, that doesn’t preclude contributing to a traditional IRA, and possibly doing a conversion to Roth.

  43. The only thing I’d say is that $300k isn’t nothing, especially when we’re talking less than $4M. If you’re talking $10M, that’s a little different.

  44. Milo,

    At 5% $4 million is $200k plus $72k in SS. $3.7m is $185k. $272k vs $257k? Eh it’s something to consider.

    But think of it this way. Would you pay $1000month for the next 17 years to make your retirement income $1,250 higher per month at retirement. If your retirement income is already $26k/month.

  45. I’m about to buy a new car–Subaru Crosstrek. Has anyone worked with the Costco car buying program? Would you recommend it? TIA!

  46. Houston, my brother has bought several cars through Costco. He doesn’t like haggling and thought the Costco program got him good prices without haggling.

    I can’t offer you any more than that.

  47. “If you’re 50 and on track for retirement saving an extra $1,000 really isn’t going to change anything compared to say using that $1000 to lease something like this”

    I sure wouldn’t spend $1000/month to lease something like that. I’d more likely use it on a combination of skiing more, eating out more, buying more solar panels, and/or buying a new bike.

  48. Houston, we bought our Honda Odyssey minivan through Costco, because there were relatively few of the model we wanted on our schedule (4th baby coming) in the Pacific Northwest. I was happy with Costco’s model and pricing.

  49. I sure wouldn’t spend $1000/month to lease something like that.

    Finn, if you weren’t so literal you’d understand that the A8 was a stand in for whatever floats your boat. In Milo’s case an actual boat.

  50. “ But think of it this way. Would you pay $1000month for the next 17 years to make your retirement income $1,250 higher per month at retirement. If your retirement income is already $26k/month.”

    At the start of the pandemic I began an additional automatic diversion of $500 per month into our brokerage account. I haven’t missed it, even though we’ve added a $484 car payment a few months ago.

    It doesn’t feel like there’s a right answer. We feel like we’re mostly doing what we want. I’m not sure where the extra money was going before.

    When you do the math that you outlined before, it will amount to comparatively little, but I don’t feel like there’s a better use for it.

  51. I’m about to buy a new car–Subaru Crosstrek. Has anyone worked with the Costco car buying program? Would you recommend it? TIA!

    We used Costco for the Outback. All they do is set you up with a dealer with a fixed price. You still have to go through the rest of the BS with the dealer.

  52. II also find it easier and neater than using ground beef, because it is so lean. There’s no need to drain fat after browning, and almost no grease to deal with in cleanup.

    That’s the problem – it’s so lean there isn’t any flavor.

  53. Houston – I let Truecar make the initial contacts, and negotiated my price down from there. Truecar, Costco, USAA…they’re all basically the same, AFAIK.

  54. When you do the math that you outlined before, it will amount to comparatively little, but I don’t feel like there’s a better use for it.

    I think that’s one of my top definitions of being rich. The money comes in faster than you can reasonably spend it.

  55. It’s more like if I started spending more at this point, I feel like it would go very quickly. A big boat, a bigger house, you know? All kinds of added expenses.

    We’re also in the somewhat unique situation where our investment balance is large compared to our earned income. So we need that money to be as comfortable as we are, or will be. If I dump $800k into a lake house, it will not be replaced so easily as it could be by most others in our “investment class.”

  56. If I dump $800k into a lake house, it will not be replaced so easily as it could be by most others in our “investment class.”

    That’s not spending money, that’s just portfolio rebalancing and diversification. You’re just converting one asset class into another. You’re not spending money.

  57. Unless you’re buying it to rent it out a lot, it’s just consumption. It adds a decent tax bill, insurance costs, maintenance and upgrades and things going wrong with the dock and boat house, etc. etc.

    On top of all that, at 7%, it’s $56,000 per year that you’re not earning in the market.

  58. Rhett: there’s nothing wrong with your math. Rule of 72 says a 7% return will double every decade. So if you start a decade later, you miss an entire doubling. Note also that your second scenario doesn’t seem to account for the $1K/mo. extra you’ve been investing for the prior decade.

    The things that you haven’t considered include:

    — What happens if you get laid off or injured and need to retire sooner, or take a lesser job? Your numbers are awesome if you make it to 67, but a lot of people over the age of 40 are going to start feeling a bunch of career impacts, which could well include layoffs that keep you from continuing your 401(k) investments. There is value to protecting your downside risk.

    — The more you increase your lifestyle now, the more you need before you can retire if you want to maintain your same lifestyle. If I spend 17 years getting used to spending $12K/yr on a lovely toy, then I need to save another $300K if I want to maintain that standard of living in retirement (which, btw, I do).

    — For a lot of people around that 50-yr-old mark, the choice is less between toy vs. savings as it is college costs/paying off college loans vs. savings.

    I’ve become a fan of splitting the baby if you have that kind of option — getting enough in savings by the age of say 50 to support yourself in a liveable lifestyle if you lose your job tomorrow, and then loosening up a bit to play more, while still saving enough of the excess to cover you a little better if you lose your job — or just decide you want to call it quits — at 55 or 60. I really can’t tell you the weight that was lifted from my shoulders a few years ago when I realized that I wouldn’t have to sell the house even if we both jobs went away.

  59. Milo,

    All valid points. I guess the idea would be to lever up at 2.7%, put down $160k and borrow the rest.

  60. “a stand in for whatever floats your boat”

    I was just listing things that float my boat.

    I was also expressing my agreement with your point that it might make more sense to spend the $1k/mo now than save it to increase income later.

  61. “Unless you’re buying it to rent it out a lot, it’s just consumption”

    I was going to post the same thing, although I’d also add buying for appreciation as another reason it might not just be consumption.

  62. “ and borrow the rest.”

    Right but we’re investing maybe $70k per year. Payments on the $600,000 mortgage balance would definitely cut into that.

  63. “ although I’d also add buying for appreciation”

    On average, I don’t think real estate appreciates when considering inflation. And it certainly loses ground when you add up all the costs, Including the costs to keep it “current.” Or simply not leaking water and slowly Crumbling to rubble.

  64. “On average, I don’t think real estate appreciates when considering inflation.”

    Perhaps, but there are cases in which it does. E.g., you figure out a the lake house is located somewhere that’s about to become much more popular, or you’re able to buy a place for well below market value.

  65. So I’m going to have this information that nobody else does, but then the even harder part is it wouldn’t matter anyway unless I were planning to sell it after it appreciates. Otherwise, the only thing I win for being right is a larger tax bill.

  66. Houston I have used Costco. For our Subaru, I emailed a couple of Subaru dealers from the Costco list with what I wanted, that I was ready to buy immediately and they emailed me back prices. Gilman North gave me the best price and made it all very quick and painless because we agreed on the vehicle and terms by email before I drove over.

  67. Houston,

    Feel free to use COSTCO. Several years ago I helped a co-worker buy a Subaru. I pulled up the invoice price and the incentives and after the test drive said to the guy, “How does invoice minus incentives sound?” And he said, “Sounds good.” And that was that.

    I can get you that info if you let me know what trim level you got and any options. Might give you a good base line number.

  68. “ Your 4 month round the world cruise idea is so compelling in comparison.”

    It’s a nice house. I like the pool and patio. But is that a drainage ditch in the back that they’re trying to make into a water feature? Maybe it’s necessary for storm runoff, but it seems like an alligator breeding ground. And the property between it and the pool enclosure is completely unkempt, like you’re not even supposed to think about walking back there. I may not be suited to Florida living.

    There’s nowhere for a dog to run. I absolutely love my in laws’ property and their 270 degree Bay views, but spending a week there with my dog, it’s frustrating not having much space for him to chase balls.

  69. We’re spending the month in a very comfortable house in a Naples gated community, and wondering whether we would ever pull the trigger and buy a place instead of renting from Air BnB.
    There are *so* many of these communities here, many built around golf courses and starting to show their age, that it doesn’t seem likely ever to be a true investment rather than a consumption decision.
    However, DH reported that the golf course was packed today and plenty of the other golfers were not retirement age. Some are working remotely and have temporarily relocated their families as the kids are also going to school remotely. Maybe that situation will not outlast pandemic closures. I would not want to bet real money on that trend. Renting makes much more sense for us now.
    But it is really nice to go out without a coat and gloves and boots.

  70. Our temporary home is like that Bonita Springs home, with the same uselessly small pool enclosure area. Every si file house in this community has a pool.
    (If I had a house here, it would need to have a lap pool enclosure. But most of the lots in the reasonably priced communities are too small for that.)

  71. “ There are *so* many of these communities here”

    My aunt and uncle are currently building one of those houses in a new master planned community down there.

  72. Milo,

    It seems like half the people at the Hyatt in Bonita Springs have a side job looking after those houses. Obviously they were trying to sell their services. But they had horror stories. You can’t, for example, just turn off the electricity at that house from May to October. If the AC fails (you have to keep it running all year) you have out of control mold growth. You can’t drain the pool as the water table is so high an empty pool acts like a boat and will pop to the surface. So it needs to be full with all the chemicals and pumps that entails. And on and on.

  73. Milo, that was me – GM was FIL, Chrysler was my grandfather. It is amazing how every company uses competitors knowledge and parts. Not much separates one brand from another.

  74. And in lighter news amidst all that is happening, tomorrow morning I am playing bridge (under another one of my many many internet handles) on my pro partners Twitch stream against Jeopardy James and his partner. You can teach an old dog new tricks.

  75. Scarlett, some of the rec centers/gyms have pools for actually swimming in.
    Milo, it isn’t a drainage ditch. Wetlands preservation is required as part of the deal to be permitted to build there. Of course there may be alligators. That was a common topic on the FB page in our old neighborhood—person newly arrived all excited about an alligator or coyote, and others trying to explain the concept of “wildlife” that it was the animals home first, and so on. People do have dogs. A guy in my parents’ neighborhood is regularly at the pond letting his dog chase sticks (but not in the water, duh). Part of the “wildlife” concept is often a trail where your dog could accompany you on a run, and there are dog parks.

  76. Since it’s late enough for a hijack, I went to Costco recently, and noticed that the food court now only sells two types of pizza, cheese and pepperoni. They no longer sell their combo, which I really liked a lot. I was looking forward to a buying a slice after finishing shopping.

    Has anyone else noticed that too?

  77. Scarlett, you mentioned the age of the communities—the one we lived in was built in the 90s. My parents’ community in the Bonita Springs are was built in 2005. There are others still being built. If “new” is your thing, you can find one. But some of them are extremely lightly used 5th or 6th home. Buyer questions there have to look at both wear and tear from people living in the home and the kind of thing Rhett mentioned. For example, it’s advised to open all kitchen cabinets before leaving for an extended period, or the humidity will somehow make the doors hang improperly. I forget the details—Rhett can ask his friends at the Hyatt. But seriously, good “second”’home ownership there (and probably elsewhere) includes having people take care of it while you aren’t there.

  78. LT – ahh, I thought so.

    Finn – I hadn’t noticed, but I would never order vegetable pizza, anyway. Like raspberry and chocolate, they don’t belong together. I think a lot of places used ‘rona as a convenient reason to rid their menus of unprofitable choices. McDonald’s was happy for an excuse to dump their all-day breakfast.

    For Bonita Springs, if you want waterfront, it looks like $1.2M gets you half a duplex on a canal. I have mixed feelings about the canals.

    https://www.redfin.com/FL/Bonita-Springs/4848-Esplanade-St-34134/home/67660049

    This one shows up as “waterfront,” although I don’t see anything but an alligator ditch. However, the enclosed outdoor space is impressive.
    https://www.redfin.com/FL/Bonita-Springs/26370-Woodlyn-Dr-34134/home/61956114

  79. In the picture of the Florida house, I didn’t see a boat dock. We saw a lot of similar houses in the Naples area with the covered pools, which backed onto canals and all of them had boat docks. I loved the idea of puttering the canals in a boat and fishing from it. I guess, I am more cautious about venturing out into the open sea in a smallish boat (I know Rhett will post a picture of a gigantic sea going yacht and ask me if that’s big enough ;-).

  80. If you don’t have a boat, or even if you do and there is no dock, canals seem like nothing more than alleys with water. Where little children can fall in and drown when you turn your back. The appeal is uncertain.

  81. “I am more cautious about venturing out into the open sea in a smallish boat (I know Rhett will post a picture of a gigantic sea going yacht and ask me if that’s big enough ;-).”

    Agreed. But I’ll just make an obvious comment that it’s more about design than size.

    This can easily cross an ocean:

    (current circumstances notwithstanding — I just wanted you to notice the deep keel, possibly weighted)

    And this can not:

  82. Milo – good to know. The furthest into the sea, I have gone is whale watching in Boston. Went so many times. One time there were what seemed to me very large swells and it was quite out of the norm for a fun day. I know people were thinking Perfect Storm – although we were not even close to that level of rough sea.

  83. Milo, you are utterly wrong about veggie pizza, chocolate and raspberries, and McDonald’s breakfast, which included most of McD’s edible items. My son still wishes he could get their hotcakes here (although plain Cheerios, Graham crackers, CPK Mac & Cheese and Taco Bell precede it on his wish list). But I agree with you on the definition of “waterfront”. I was surprised when we moved to Tampa to learn that the Fla real estate definition of that term is “has a place you can keep your boat without paying docking fees”. Many of them had lifts to pull the boat out of the water at the end of the season to store it dry. Generally, images of kids puttering around on a little boat after school or whatnot are entirely false.

  84. SM – I love McDonald’s Sausage Egg McMuffin. I’ve always liked their breakfast, and wasn’t offering a personal opinion on that issue. Just that they dropped it as an all-day offering at the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of franchise owners have said “Thank God!” because it was a lot to try to keep ready. I’ve read that immediately after they eliminated it, their metrics like service times and customer satisfaction went way way up. So I don’t think it’s coming back. And from their breakfast menu, even during breakfast hours, they dropped the fruit and yogurt parfait, to my two younger kids’ great disappointment.

    “Many of them had lifts to pull the boat out of the water at the end of the season to store it dry.”

    End of the season? In Florida? I’ve got a coworker who’s retiring to Florida in a couple years because the boating season never ends.

  85. I was also surprised that neighbors and acquaintances with sailboats only used them during the most hellish months. Idk if this’ll work. It’s supposed to link to Apple Maps showing the area around Hula Bay in S Tampa where there are tall buildings for boat storage. Hula Bay Club

  86. No way. I’ve been happier and much more relaxed avoiding it, and I’m not going back now. The same is true IRL, btw. I have half of my Facebook feed snoozed (from all sides, including family members), some are risking unfriending.

    For a long time, people on the Politics page were eager to eliminate divergent opinions. Wish granted. Enjoy.

  87. “where there are tall buildings for boat storage”

    those are called boatels. My dad/brother use one. You call an hour before you want to use your boat, a forklift operator takes it off the shelf and sets it in the water. When you’re done, you dock it in one of the take-out slips, and they put it away for you.

  88. Milo, ok, if you say so. I also know that our neighbor stored his boat in his driveway (no direct water access) all winter, then put it in the water in the spring. They went to dinner at Hula Bay a lot, so I think that’s where they kept it. The marina in downtown St Pete is also clearly more active in summer than in winter. But it’s entirely possible that tourists/snowbirds have different habits and rhythms than people who live there full-time.
    On politics, I’m reminded of the saying “the opposite of love isn’t hate, it is indifference”.

  89. Admin request for no more political comment on the regular pages. From either side, especially if the content is directed personally, including seemingly harmless comments such as why isnt X on the politics page or i have given up the politics page.

    Yesterday was an extraordinary day. Today we go back to the usual rules. With deletions if necessary.

  90. Meme- thank you.

    Also, your post last night about playing bridge on twitch today makes me smile. Have fun today, and come back and tell us about it.

  91. Regarding McD’s customer service ratings increasing after dropping breakfast – I hate when places that are meant to be fast and instead clog their menus with everything that slows down the process, all to make money. Back in college I worked at a coffee shop in a bookstore. We also sold muffins, cookies. Then they decided we needed to make smoothies and cold coffee blended drinks. Fine, but the cold drinks take 2-3x longer to make. Then they decided that we needed to sell sandwiches, which involved making them, toasting them, scooping chips or potato salad on the side. This added so much time to each order, and management never wanted to have more than 2 employees in the coffee shop at one time. Eventually they went to premade sandwiches that tasted horrible, but we still had to toast them and plate them. I always felt bad for the regulars that just wanted a simple coffee drink.

  92. “I hate when places that are meant to be fast and instead clog their menus with everything that slows down the process, all to make money.”

    I was spitting mad when Chick-fil-A eliminated the spicy chicken biscuit and (much earlier) the cole slaw. But the efficiency, and particularly since shifting to all drive thru and curbside, is a marvel to behold. The number of cars that they’re processing through the drive thru is unreal, with multiple employees taking orders on iPads in multiple lines (in person, not through the speaker system), a coordinator to ensure that the lines have properly merged in the correct order, and multiple people inside and outside the drive thru window filling and arranging orders, all with the exact number of requested condiments and sauces, entree modifications, drink preferences like half sweet tea, half unsweet.

    And now I don’t even use the drive thru, because their mobile app and curbside is even better.

    Starbucks is an amateur joke by comparison, they have one drive thru line that’s spilling out into the larger road (of the shopping plaza) and blocking traffic. And after yesterday’s drive thru disaster, DW will never again order from the drive thru speaker (the mobile app is much better).

  93. The Starbucks app is the best! My order is correct 100% of the time and I never have to deal with their staff for mistakes. No lines and perfect drinks. Just pop inside for five seconds to pick up the drink.

  94. When Starbucks started, wasn’t the point that you could hang out in a coffee shop without the politics of coffee shops in the 60s and 70s, and didn’t they grow because so many people use them as pseudo offices? What’s the point of Starbucks to go?

  95. The CFA near me just finished building temporary (but maybe not) heated stalls for employees to stand with their ipads…and an overhang (like at a gas station) that basically covers the entire drive thru. It is unreal what they have done with making that process work, especially in snow and below freezing temps, not to mention that they have never screwed up our orders.

    The Starbucks around always have lines backed up to the road. A terrible experience. I don’t go to Starbucks, but my friend was commenting that the one closest to her is stilled closed for walkup, so even if she orders on the app, she still has to wait in the drive thru to pick it up! Why bother.

  96. Milo I felt the same when Chick-fil-A eliminated (at least here) the carrot raisin salad. That was the entire reason I indoctrinated my family into that restaurant.

  97. Hmm, I don’t think I ever had that one. They’ve brought back brownies, minus the walnuts unfortunately, but I haven’t tried one yet.

  98. The Chick fil A near us is relatively new and built from scratch in a spot that could handle multiple drive thru lanes. But Starbucks has a lot more locations and some of them were squeezed into tight spots. It’s not surprising that they can struggle with drive thru.
    The Panera near us is amazingly fast with drive thru orders. Much faster than walking inside and ordering. Maybe they put their most nimble staff in those spots and let the newbies work the inside orders.

  99. We stopped at a Panera driv thru on a recent road trip. The menu was much smaller than I remembered Panera having. I requested a sandwich that wasn’t on the menu and they told me they can only provide what is listed on the menu, but all their new Flatbread pizza items were on there. They ended up missing an item and not giving us spoons and forks so I had to walk in. What was on the menu inside…the sandwich I couldn’t order.

  100. i guess it’s just one more thing…

    it’s a spicier blend for the breading, which I believe is done onsite, so a parallel line of production and pressure frying alongside the non-spicy chicken breasts. at breakfast, they’re still cooking nuggets, because those go into the Mini’s. And unlike at lunch, they’re also doing sausage and eggs for other biscuit iterations, plus potatoes iirc as part of the burritos. (no cows, of course.)

    I’m guessing they also know that people like me will still buy a regular chicken biscuit with the same or nearly the same frequency.

  101. LT, im surprised they let you walk inside. Were bathrooms open?

    Becky, what was that salad like? One I frequently make, to go with tuna steaks, is grated carrots, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and raisins. Takes 2 min to prepare with a good grater.

  102. SM – it was in Indiana.

    Regular chicken biscuit with zesty buffalo sauce isn’t the same, but a fine alternative.

  103. Regarding McD’s customer service ratings increasing after dropping breakfast

    Many years ago i car pooled to work and we’d stop at a McDonalds drive through for breakfast. The running joke was that no matter what you ordered they would just throw random shit in a bag.

  104. Starbucks is an amateur joke by comparison,

    I have no idea why Starbucks though drive thru was a good idea – all their drinks take so long to make.

    When Starbucks started, wasn’t the point that you could hang out in a coffee shop without the politics of coffee shops in the 60s and 70s, and didn’t they grow because so many people use them as pseudo offices? What’s the point of Starbucks to go?

    I would guess at least 95% of their customers (pre-covid) get their drinks to go. I know you haven’t worked in an office in a long time, but lots of people come in with their morning starbucks.

  105. Becky – my DH loved that carrot raisin salad too. I agree chick fil a’s are generally very well run. Our office building Panera was similar in amazing execution. I used to go to suburban Panera locations and simply couldn’t believe the difference. Panera has been investing long enough in technology that they were ahead of the game when the pandemic hit. They increased their throughput in our building when they started doing order in advance, pick up from the shelf. By giving you a pickup time, they load-leveled their demand, and at the same time got rid of the visible long line that deterred walk-ins. It was a bit of a pain when I logged in and saw I couldn’t pick my lunch up for 30 minutes, but it was a lot better sitting in my office working or scrolling for those 30 minutes than waiting in the restaurant.

  106. And this can not:

    If fuel wasn’t an issue why would it not be able to cross the ocean? Would it just roll over and capsize in heavy seas?

    These can easily cross the ocean:

    So, again if fuel wasn’t an issue, these should be able to as well.

  107. @Finn – Resident Costco fan here. I believe they cut down the options from the food courts nationwide as part of the pandemic response, but I could be wrong. Anyway – it’s been awhile since they sold the combo by the slice, and you are not the only one upset about it!

  108. Denver, I haven’t been out quite that long. I didn’t get it then either. I can make my own coffee, ty. The only reason I see to spend money for one is the experience/workspace.

  109. I think a lot of places changed policies and practices that they’d been wanting to change for a long time. COVID gave them an excuse. There’s no reason why the grocery stores and discount clubs still have shortened hours. I bet Costco had wanted to get rid of that combo pizza for a long time and grabbed the opportunity.

  110. They eliminated the spicy chicken biscuit??? That was my favorite! I haven’t been to CFA since February because the one I frequented was near my office, not my house. And it’s an urban location with no drive thru or parking, so it’s not really good for takeout. And I went there on road trips (none of those either).

    McDonald’s breakfast is the best part of their menu, although I do still like the fries too.

  111. I generally get Starbucks to go because I like the iced coffee. I used to sometimes hang out with my friends in/outside if we had a meeting, but Milo is right about their sales being sky high because of office workers. Their highest grossing stand alone shop in NY used to be on 48th and Park. It was across the street from several banks including JP Morgan. Jamie Dimon (JP Morgan CEO) got so tired of his employees streaming across the street all day that he installed his own Starbucks in the lobby of the bank.

    My friend that works for the federal government in lower Manhattan goes to Starbucks twice a day with her coworkers. I used to go every afternoon with several of my girlfriends. It is a totally social thing to go for a coffee run with coworkers. The kids do it too as an activity even if they are picking up sugary drinks instead of coffee. The other reason is that caffeine is a drug. The high schools were complaining before Covid about all of the deliveries via services from Starbucks and DD. People want coffee or associated drinks, but that doesn’t mean that they want to hang out there.

    Also, I think you have a misinformation about what is open/not open. In many states, you can sit in a Starbucks or any fast food restaurants and use the restroom. In other places, you can pop inside to pick up an order, but there is no seating. There might not be a restroom. In other places, you have to use the drive through or curbside. You may never enter the facility. It varies by state and even by location within a state. I can go into the Wendys near me to pick up an order, but I can not do this in the location near my cousins. Same state, but different rules at that location. I can go into Panera right now and sit inside or outside. This wasn’t always the case, but it is possible now.

  112. Rhett – I picked the Carver as unseaworthy because it’s a planing or semi-planing hull (more flat, no or little keel). Above the waterline, it has a lot going on on the sides, which is awesome for interior space and comfort, but imagine it getting struck by waves on the beam. And it’s pretty top heavy.

    I think those catamarans would be much better, sail or powered. I wish we could get an update from MiaMama; we wouldn’t have to guess at being internet naval architects if she checked in. A friend from college took a year and off for his family to sail around the world on a catamaran like they one you pictured.

    Blogs and online forums have certain topics that will never be settled, and whenever someone asks them, all the regulars go “ugh” or start posting that “getting my popcorn” gif.

    Here it might be Big Pond vs. Little Pond, for schools and otherwise.
    Parenting sites, there’s always SAHM vs. WOHM.
    Financial sites: prepay mortgage or invest instead?

    Boating sites, the most common one is single engine or dual? For smaller boats “Can I tow with X vehicle?” Then there’s “what exactly is a trawler?”

    And with less frequency “can a catamaran cross oceans?” In general, the ayes point out that people do it all the time, they’re inherently more stable with their weight distributed over two hulls spread far apart.

    And the naysayers generally say “Yes, but if they go over, they’re REALLY going over, and they’re not coming back.”

    Interestingly, modern oceangoing cruise ships are not “seaworthy” ships by any stretch of the imagination. Their design is 1,000x worse than the Carver. They simply run away from any big storms, and for any smaller disturbances, they just say “Eh, we’re big enough that it doesn’t matter.”

    Here’s a scale rendering of what Titanic would look like next to Royal Caribbean’s Oasis. One of these was well designed to cross the North Atlantic at high speed in any storm (radar to spot icebergs would have been nice) back and forth for 40 years, and one putters around island hopping as long as the weather is decent.

  113. I haven’t been in a Costco in over two years. I let my membership lapse this year

  114. We haven’t been to fast food places or Starbucks much at all since March. I used to pop in when dropping/picking up/waiting for my kids. The Starbucks, I would go to is pretty busy, I didn’t see it as relaxing being there. Panera was much better for getting together with friends. My DS discovered that Chipotle stopped taking cash. That was a change that happened during Covid.

  115. Thanks Lauren. I hadn’t thought of the going—the a tusk no event to and from—as part of the social thing, but I see what you mean. The different rules are crazy-making, at least from here. I suppose if you’re there and not moving from one place to another much, it doesn’t make much difference. I really can’t tell you what the rules in various parts of Germany are either, just that it sounds like they’re the same. Pretty sure the Dec 16- Jan 11 lockdown was just extended to the end of January across the whole country, not just here.

  116. My DS discovered that Chipotle stopped taking cash. That was a change that happened during Covid.
    Much wider acceptance of charge cards is a real plus of Covid here. I know of a couple small spots that have stopped taking them because of the cost, but far and away more have responded to public health requests to use charge cards as a way to decrease personal contact. And some stores that aren’t really open but will bring stuff out if you prepay will take cards. More of them take PayPal or direct transfer.

    Milo, any desire I had to go on a cruise evaporated when we saw them at port in Tampa. They are malls with built-in hotels. At one point I thought we’d do one along the N Mediterranean to decide where to go back & spend more time the following year. That’s really the only kind I can see do I g now, serving as bedroom & transport in one, with a few amusements for along the way.

  117. S & M…I think it is the new version of the smoke break. People just want to get away from their desk and it seems acceptable in most offices to leave your desk to grab a cup of coffee.

  118. Our nearby McDonald’s is offering free* Big Macs if you can bring in X numbers of pennies and/or nickels.

    *(for Finn) in addition to those goods to which the customer would normally be entitled based on the dollar value of the rendered currency

  119. Milo, why are they doing that? To avoid having to pick up a couple rolls when they drop off cash?

  120. “They are malls with built-in hotels.”

    They are elaborate resort hotels that arbitrage a Bahamian flag and its associated employment laws with U.S. embarkation, so that middle class Americans can experience the same level of service on vacation that rich Americans expect everywhere.

    As I understand it, they can not make sequential stops in U.S. ports (remember the Jones Act discussion after the Puerto Rico hurricane?). That’s why the smaller, coastal New England cruises are so much more expensive, comparatively.

  121. “ elaborate resort hotels”.

    Ok. Whatever compound with a limited set of possibilities you want to call it is fine by me.

  122. Accepting only credit cards is a real problem for poor people and also kids who want to pick up snacks on their own

  123. Mooshi, I assume Louise’s kids and yours can use some kind of debit or prepaid card, but yes, cards only is a disaster for poor people.

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