There’s No Denying It – Your Food Says You’re From the South

Banana Pudding--Thee Southern Dessert

  In time of crisis you food of choice is banana pudding

You have at least 5 recipes for ‘nanner pudding

To soothe your troubled brow in times of extreme crisis you crave collard greens

Cooked in fat back

To be heart healthy you eat fish at least once a week

Fried catfish

Krispy Kreme doughnuts are considered part of a nutritional diet

The “makes you smile” part

Your local restaurant always keeps 2 pitchers of sweet tea ready to pour

But only ½ pitcher of unsweetened

A glass of sweet tea

Chicken and dressing means the shredded chicken is mixed in the cornbread dressing

With gravy poured over

Dukes mayonnaise, white bread, sliced tomatoes and salt is summer heaven

Big Boy homegrown tomatoes

You don’t need a recipe for biscuits

Your mama taught you how to bake when you were knee-high to a grasshopper

Pickles aren’t just from cucumbers

You’ve pickled okra, peppers, and yes even watermelon

Cornbread is a sacred food not to be messed with

No kin of yours would ever serve sweet cornbread

And now I hang my head in shame because even born and raised in the South I only rate a 50% on my Rate a Southerner Scale.  I go off in shame for a plate of catfish with sweet cornbread.



Fitting Food for the Fourth


The Fourth of July demands All American food.  It’s a birthday party after all.  Even without a grill folks should eat hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, potato salad, potato chips, watermelon, cake, ice-cream and of course ice-cold lemonade (or beer if it’s your preference).  What we should not eat is what I discovered in a grocery store while on vacation last week.

Bad Food for the Fourth

Obviously preparing for the horde of hungry out-of town tourists that were about to descend for a week the bakery was ready.  Every item I noticed had red and blue stripes piped across the top.

July 4 Food.  Really?

July 4 Food. Really?

I was offended.  The Good ‘ol USA was founded by men with vision and with hard work.  Running a thread of icing across the top of a premade item is not vision or hard work .  It’s lazy, sloppy and demeans the holiday.  I’m ok with a sheet cake with the topping covered in strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream that gives off an aura of a flag.  Someone put a bit of thought and effort into that cake.

"Flag Cake" - Made By Christine Turn...

“Flag Cake” – Made By Christine Turner – July 4th 2009 (Photo credit: CTurn1)

For our family the propane tank is full and the grill is gleaming.  (and I know at least one family that should be eating food from a Green Egg).

Plan Ahead People 

As I was out running errands today I noticed far too many stores with signs saying they would be open on the 4th.  That’s probably so their overworked and underpaid employees can pipe a few lines on a pastry for the folks running in for the last-minute items.    Meanwhile far away management will be all smiles at their lake house spending time with family and friends (and real July 4th food)

Plan ahead people!  Everyone should have the opportunity to be out waving sparklers (even if they are made in China)!


Photo credit: HatM

Blazing Beans

Do you remember the first time you saw Blazing Saddles?  I hope it was in the movie theatre because I recently saw it on TV.  Let me say, Blazing Saddles with the offensive words beeped out is nothing but conjunctions, pronouns, prepositions and occasional nouns.  Pretty much the really interesting words; the verbs, adverbs, adjectives and interjections are not suitable for television.

Baked Beans w/Bacon

(Photo credit: Jeff Cushner)

Beans that Talk Back

What’s left?  Baked beans are what is left.  Since its premier in 1974 even a casual viewer of the movie can describe Mongo and “friends” dinner of baked beans.  For good ‘ol low brow humor you can begin with arm farts but you have to end with campfire beans.

Personally I’m an “open the can and heat” baked bean sort of person.  Luckily for me there are a wide variety of baked beans on the market from vegetarian to so spicy a bucket of beer can’t quench the heat.  If I wanted, which I don’t, I could probably eat baked beans from a can for an entire month and never have the same type twice but that’s not what I’m writing about today.  I’m writing about made from scratch authentic baked beans.

Yes, even I have, on occasion, made baked beans from scratch and yes, though you have to plan ahead they do taste great.

Baked Beans – Slow and Slower

The basics are simple enough.  Start with a package of dried beans, most people prefer white great northern but feel free to substitute the bean of your choice be it black, pinto or red.  I’ve never seen garbanzo beans used but who knows; maybe you could start a new taste sensation.  With most dry beans you can choose between soaking them overnight or briefly boiling them and then letting them sit for 1 -2 hours.  There just is no quick way to make baked beans from scratch.  That’s truly from scratch, but if you want a semi-scratch way just buy a can or too of great northern beans as your base ingredient.

From this point on, it’s up to you.  There are recipes that put the beans in casserole pans in the oven, in pots on the stove, cast iron pots over a campfire, and even in crock pots.  Don’t get too excited about the crock pot idea.  You still have to go through the previous step of softening the beans either overnight or for several hours. (Or if you‘re a crock pot sort of person buying the can of beans as a starter would seem to be your method of choice)

Campfire cooking

(Photo credit: Ryan Greenberg)

A Chance to Explore Your Culinary Creativity

Now your cooking creativity can take over.  Pour in the ketchup or barbeque sauce, a dash of pepper sauce; mustard is good too.  Molasses, brown sugar and chopped onions just add to your medley of flavors.  Garlic powder sounds tasty as well. Unless you are making the beans as a vegetarian dish bacon is required.  Either fry the bacon, drain and add chopped up pieces to your beans or lay strips of bacon across the top of the pan as its cooking.  Rereading that last sentence it occurs to me that I would use both bacon methods in the same dish.

There’s hardly any way you can go wrong with baked beans.  Some food maven probably has added chocolate.  I know I’ve been known to pour in a beer; if one was handy.  Nuts sound horrendous and adding a topping of marshmallows is utterly ridiculous but other than the absurd almost anything goes in baked beans.  It’s what sneaks out later that’s the problem – hated by adults and a constant source of laughter to small children.  Blazing Saddles we still love you.

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Raggedy Ann’s Candy Heart

Rag doll characters Raggedy Ann and Raggedy An...

Before Woody and Buzz were animated and commercialized there was Raggedy Ann, the most innocent of toys that come alive.  Raggedy Ann was a curious floppy yarn-headed doll who took care of her fellow toys and not too far into the original book received a candy heart.  A candy heart that made her sweeter than sweet.

At a Store Near You – Valentine’s Day

It’s almost Valentine’s Day.  I can tell because the grocery store is awash with items in red and pink.  It seems everyone has a valentine angle.  “Pick me I’m a cute cuddly stuffed animal.” “No, no, pick me because I’m chocolate” or the “Buy me not because I’m romantic or cute but because the store put a pink ribbon around my packaging.”  From the romantic to the “really?” it’s all on sale right now.

Bags of candy hearts bring back memories of Raggedy Ann.   Honestly, I don’t know that I read Raggedy Ann as a child. I probably discovered her about the same time I discovered the Little House books; that would be when I had children.

Where Did R.A.’s Candy Heart Come From?

Raggedy didn’t start out with a candy heart.  As I recall, and feel free to leave a comment below if I’m wrong, she fell into a bucket of paint.  Raggedy Ann had been tied on a string so she would be the tail of a kite but as happens when children tie knots something went wrong. Splat!  Cloth dolls do not mix well with buckets of paint. One of the young painters took Raggedy home to see if his mother could clean her up a bit.  Of course, good ‘ol mom to the rescue.  Isn’t that always the way things get fixed!  Mom not only cleaned the paint off, but restuffed the doll and then stuck inside a small treat – a candy heart that said “I Love You”

English: A photograph of a heap of candy heart...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It just brings out the warm feelings inside you doesn’t it?  Unless you’re a realist who immediately thinks “What if the doll gets wet?  That candy heart will make a sticky mess.”  Or there’s the pragmatist who says “Mice, dogs, other vermin they’ll all smell that candy and rip the doll to shreds.”

Luckily for lovers of innocence the realists didn’t write the stories about Raggedy and her friends.  Soon we’ll be exchanging small candy hearts with silly sayings on them; both children and adults.  It’s an annual ritual of innocence.  Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all exchanged silly greetings year round?

English: Gruelle's Raggedy Ann design patented...

Gruelle’s Raggedy Ann design patented by United States Patent Office on Sept. 7, 1915.

Oatmeal – The New Fad Food

English: Oatmeal Русский: Овсяныехлопья

Oatmeal has been around longer than I have which means it’s been around a long long time.  It’s been the staple of the prune-eating crowd for years as well as the school age child.  How many children have woken up to find a bowl of hot oatmeal, fresh out of the microwave, ready on a winter day. Something has changed. Suddenly oatmeal is everywhere in ready to add water and eat containers from McDonald’s to my local gas station mini-market.

I know we baby boomers are aging, way to quickly I might add, but why has oatmeal become the “it” food?  Some sources say it’s because the FDA now allows food with oat bran or rolled oats to say on the label that they might reduce heart disease.  That’s not the usual American way – the eat your way to health – we’re more into take a pill or vitamin and all medical problems will be solved sort of society.  Quick fix, that’s us.

A Sprinkle of This – A Dollop of That

Down here in the South we’re used to eating grits with our breakfast.  Grits have fiber; I just looked that up. Why the change in breakfast habits then?  I don’t have a clue.  I can tell you though that we American’s haven’t lost our food touch.  We eat oatmeal ostensibly because it’s good for us but in order to take it palatable we add a few extras.   Since Waffle House introduced their oatmeal  (it’s actually made from scratch not out of a packet) I have been watching other diners.  Bob #1 takes brown sugar on his.  Bob #2 adds honey.  Someone else at the end of the counter asks for butter.  Personally I prefer 2 creamers, some honey for sweetness and a sprinkle of cinnamon. (Caveat – you have to take your own cinnamon to WH)  I can’t forget my husband, he’s a 3 – 4 creamer diner with pecans mixed in with the honey.  Are any of those options heart healthy?  I seriously doubt it.  They’re all probably canceling out any benefit of the oatmeal.

English: Waffle House Logo

Again – Why Oatmeal as a Fad?

Hubby has been pushing bran as nature’s broom for several years.  He talked a lot about bran but didn’t really eat any.  Now that oatmeal is so readily available he has jumped off the bran bandwagon and is totally on the” oatmeal is saving my life” one.

Oatmeal, because of its high fiber content and complex carbohydrates is supposed to stabilize blood-glucose levels and keep me feeling full longer.  Right!  The magic of fiber and complex carbohydrates apparently doesn’t work for my brain.  I had my bowl of morning fad food less than 2 hours ago and quite frankly am already wondering if we have any cookies, oatmeal would be good, around the house.  A PB&J would work in a pinch.

Healthy Food for Not – You Tell Me

Salud! Healthful eating to you.  Do you have other foods that appear healthy but with a few changes taste better but no longer are as good for your body?  Let me know you favorites.

There’s more random food thoughts on the way.  If you’d like to be among the first to read them just fill in your email on the “Follow This Blog” icon on the right.

Salad bar from a Pizza Hut restaurant in İstanbul

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Pip of a Name

Christmas came and went and so did the New Year but not a home-baked cookie or other baked goodie is in the house.  What happened?  A pip happened, that’s what.  It’s been so warm here in the South that the holidays seem to sneak in.  I need a smidgen of cold to help me anticipate the season. In Florida, even in winter you might still be wearing shorts but since I no longer live in Florida, now when I’m wearing shorts and t-shirts I’m not thinking ho ho ho I’m thinking vacation, vacation vacation.

Good Intentions Gone Bad

Yes, the holidays happened, that’s what and all those good intentions and recipes were laid aside in the final frantic rush.  Then came Christmas morning with a Kindle Fire in my stocking which moved me into the world of Angry Bird and classic literature (it’s free and I don’t have to worry about getting it back to the library in 2 weeks).

Sidney Paget: Sherlock Holmes

I’m fairly certain any statistician worth his or her data would have me reading a romance novel or a cookbook but they would be wrong.  The genre of this new year is detective novels – specifically Sherlock Holmes and works by Dashiell Hammett.   I can guess the killer early on in many of the novels because I have now seen the same plots repeated and slightly updated on CSI, Law and Order, NCIS etc.  Science may have progressed but the plots remain the same.

Yes, I do remember the theme of this blog is food.  Food is about to come in play with my ramblings. A feature I’m enjoying in my electronic reading is the ability to highlight a word and have a definition appear.  Admittedly some of the words used by Sherlock Holmes aren’t in a modern dictionary but I’m surprised how many are.  Take “ulster” for example.  When I see the word Ulster I immediately think of Ulster Knife Works – manufacturers of the first Girl Scout knife but when Sherlock tosses an ulster on before leaving Baker Street I’m pretty sure he’s not wrapping a knife around his neck. A quick tap on the screen and I now know about an ulster overcoat.

Finally Food to Write About

The pip is more interesting.  In one story a client came to see the great detective Holmes and told the tale of an envelope being opened and five orange pips dropping out. I was fairly certain from the passage that a pip was an orange seed.  A tap on the screen and yep, I was correct, except the definition said “like an orange seed.”

My trusty Fire had just let me down. Now I had the nagging thought “do other fruits have pips?”  A further search revealed that my thinking was correct. Many other fruit have pips; especially pomegranates.  The entire inside is nothing but pips.

Pomegrante seeds

Still further research led me to quite a few definitions for “pip” with none really related to the others.  Pips are also the dots on dice or if you’re in a verb sort of mood a pip is also what happens when a baby chicken breaks out of its egg-shell.  It pips at the shell.

Oranges and eggs – now we’re talking breakfast with a side game of craps.  No that’s wrong: maybe Monopoly.  That’s the ticket; on second thought  all the young folk who might have played a board game with me have gone back to school (YEAH!).  Sorry, that was a momentary loss of grandmotherly love wasn’t it?

English: Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961)

Dashiell Hammett (credit: Wikipedia)

Doyle and Hammett have different writing styles but I must admit I’m enjoying Doyle more.  There’s a bit more intrigue with the killings. Both authors though spent considerable time describing the various people in their stories…not as much describing the food.  Just a thought, food is so commonplace to an era that it needs no description:  He ate a pickled egg.  The roasted goose was laid on the sideboard.  No matter the decade a villain needs large dirty well-worn hands (to pick up the pickled egg) or a permanent sneer (as he surveyed the plump goose) in order to give the reader a clue.

If I can just manage to solve a few more murders perhaps I’ll take time to bake those Christmas cookies before the next federal holiday.  Stay tuned, if you’re not already on my email list – just sign up on the right and you’ll get an email when send out a new post, perhaps with tasty cookie recipes you can save until next December.

I See the Lights

I see the lights and wonder why?  It’s 9:30 p.m. on a weekday night and I’m unexpectedly driving through Atlanta.  I started noticing the office lights as we sped through the intersection at I-75 and I-285:  office towers with over half their lights on.

Atlanta Skyline

Atlanta Skyline (Photo credit: k1ng)

The Hungry Busy Worker

Who are these people who are so important that have to be at work long after sensible people are at home or more importantly in my mind; aren’t they hungry?  Did they start their day at 7 or 8 a.m. with a quick dash through McDonald’s for coffee and an Egg McMuffin.  Perhaps around 1 p.m. they ran down to the coffee shop in their building and grabbed a sandwich and Coke for lunch.  Then what?  It’s now 9:30 p.m. and they’re still toiling away.  Did they stop for dinner?  The coffee shop is long closed. Was nourishment a Snickers bar?  Did they take time to drive to a restaurant and actually sit down and enjoy a meal or were they now working with hunger pangs gnawing away their actual ability to do work efficiently?  I ponder and wonder but continue driving.

Some People Do Work at Night

Logically some of the lit offices are because cleaning services are in emptying trash cans, dusting picture frames and vacuuming carpets but certainly that doesn’t explain all those lights.  I’m going with a food theme here:  where do those cleaning people who work into the night eat?  Even if they have a break there’s probably not time to get in the car and drive somewhere for a meal.  What about those that rode to work on MARTA?  Do they ride with a friend to the Varsity?

All this thinking begs another question. Do people still bring lunch boxes to work (besides too skinny women with their cute insulated packs containing carrot sticks, an apple, ½ a multi-grain cheese and sprout sandwich, and a cup of low-fat yogurt which they are just too full to finish.) Oops forgot the overpriced bottle of spring-fed water but I digress.

Another thought does cross my mind; did that many people fail to simply turn off the lights when they left work?  Horrors!  I don’t want to think there are that many lazy inconsiderate people in Atlanta so I’m sticking with the working too late into the night idea.

As For Me

Enough, all this thinking and pondering makes me want to pull into a Dunkin Donuts for a late night treat but instead its home I go.  My bedtime is approaching.  Those overeager digital pushers can type on hungry and tired but as for me soon I’ll be warm, cozy and in my bed sipping an adult beverage.

The holidays are in full swing.  Cooking baking starts Thursday.  There will be recipes and photos.  If you’d like to be the first to see the recipes post your email on the “Follow Me” button to the right.

The Nutritional Value of Ice

You would think everyone would know the nutritional value of ice after all it’s just frozen water and water has ZERO nutritional value.  Apparently that thought was lost on some government bureaucrat in North Carolina.  I offer as evidence a photo of the bag of ice I bought just before Thanksgiving.

Zero – Zero – Zero – Zero – Zero and Zero

What the ? !  Nutrition Facts for Ice? !  This is too much!  Has our nation’s education level sunk so low that consumers need to be told that ICE has ZERO calories?  ZERO – no fat either, or sodium. Potassium and carbohydrates are ZERO too, and let’s not forget protein, a solid ZERO as well.  Did some overzealous nutrition nut call the state and complain they weren’t getting enough information about the ice they bought.  Water that is “purified water from the mountains of western North Carolina” according to the bag.  I won’t go on a tangent discussion of what might have been purified out of the water – let’s just leave it as “purified.”

It was great ice – as ice goes – but truthfully I wasn’t expecting a lot.  Cold and tasteless is my favorite type of ice. I didn’t expect to have stronger muscles from protein or higher blood pressure from too much salt.  I was just buying ice for the holiday.

If you actually took time to read the Nutrition Facts above your sharp eyes and keen intellect might have wondered how there was 56 servings in one bag of ice.  It was a 20 pound bag!  I had never seen a 20 pound bag of ice before but when I need ice I’ll look for it again.  The bag had EZ grip handles at the top for carrying the bag home and as an added bonus the bag is 100% recyclable; just what you would expect from a company that distributes purified water with no calories from fat.

What’s Next for Nutrition Labeling

What lame-brained government official decided that ice needed a nutrition label and wrote that law into their regulations?  What’s next?  Nutrition labels on kitchen faucets?  However will we know if the water we drink can make us fat (Hint, it’s not the water it’s what we put in the water that’s making us fat.)  A shot of bourbon does tend to add to the enjoyment of ice but even after several shots of bourbon I can still tell you it’s the alcohol not the ice that’s causing me problems.

Grow up legislators! Ice is not the enemy of America.  Assume we consumers have a bit of common sense.  I don’t mind being reminded by an ice cream container that there’s lots of fat and sugar.  I will have fewer and smaller scoops if I take the time to read  the label; but ice, get real.  Requiring  the nutrition facts about ice to be printed on a bag; that’s government intervention gone too far.  It’s time to revolt and take back our frozen water and our sanity.

I’ll stop ranting by the next blog – if you’re not already being notified when new blogs are posted fill out the Follow This Blog box in the right column.  In the meantime, do you have a pet peeve about labeling – or water?


Thanksgiving Food for a Small Family


(Photo credit: gvgoebel)

This year there will be 6 of us eating turkey.  Seven people will be at the table but the youngest member is what some people might all a picky eater.  I have other words for a child that passes on mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.  The problem of cooking for a small family is that if we served everyone’s favorite our dinner would consist of: deviled eggs, turkey, dressing (traditional, cornbread and oyster), gravy (one with giblets and one without), cranberry sauce (Ocean Spray I love you fresh stewed with oranges and red wine), mashed potatoes, potato salad, rice, macaroni and cheese (or as the granddaughter said “the good kind, homemade not out of the box,” green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole with pecan topping, sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping, dinner rolls, butter, some type of green salad, a bottle of wine or maybe a Mimosa, pecan pie, coconut cake, key lime pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and chocolate cake.  Do you see a problem?  As much as I like food even I can see that’s too much food.  We may live in a land of plenty but that menu is plenty too much.

Thanksgiving Past

Personally I would be happy going to a restaurant, that is until Friday arrived and there was no leftover turkey to make into a sandwich.  Normally I prefer multigrain bread but for a down home true leftover turkey sandwich you can’t beat plain old white bread – slathered with mayo and heavily salted.  It’s an eating sin I live with during the holidays:  too much fat and  too much salt. Some people top their post-Thanksgiving sandwiches with dressing and cranberry sauce but that’s too much; make it plain and simple for me – reminiscent of my childhood.  Years ago we had traditional Norman Rockwell holiday meals with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins around the table.  All the food spread out on a table with the turkey as the crowning glory at the table’s head.  Whether he carved or not my memory recalls my grandfather carving the perfectly roasted bird for the assembled family members.  Was wine served?  With the adults involved it should have been but I don’t know; I, after all, was just a child and intent of stuffing my face not observing what the old people at the big table were doing.

English: A small plate with a serving of mashe...

Remembering my grandmother’s kitchen it’s amazing she could amass such a feast.  I’m sure every family brought something and it must have gone immediately to the table as each group arrived.  There would have been no room in the kitchen.  Many modern homes have closets larger than that kitchen.  Yet the best food in the world came out of that tiny room.

More Food, Why Yes I Believe  I Do

One Thanksgiving tradition never changes.  I’ve been grocery shopping once and even with a pared down menu I still have my 2nd list of things that were forgotten on the first trip.  Will there be a third trip?  Probably, even though it’s a small family I want my grandchildren to remember a festive and full Thanksgiving.

What is your favorite holiday food?  and no fair saying “dessert.”


To Raisin or Not to Raisin

English: A pile of Sunmaid raisins.

Let me be truthful and admit right here and now and be up front about this issue.   I’m on the “Not” side of putting raisins in food.  As I was preparing my list of foods that taste better without raisins I asked a friend for confirmation.  She listened to my list and was shocked, yes shocked, that I thought oatmeal cookies were better without raisins.  Obviously we can’t be stranded on a desert island together if she is going to have such outlandish food tastes.  I shudder to think what she must put in her sweet potato casserole.

Best Comfort Food (Without raisins)

Creole Bread Pudding with Vanilla Whiskey Sauc...

What got me thinking about raisins was actually bread pudding; the ultimate comfort food. It’s so sweet and loaded with carbohydrates; any who reads this blog regularly knows those are my two favorite food groups.  I once had a bread pudding made from Krispy Kreme donuts.  It was too light and fluffy, like the donuts but something was missing.  Bread pudding should be able to stand on its own.  Sure it’s called pudding but that’s a misnomer actually it should be called “bread with some pudding to moisten and sweeten it” but I guess that name’s too long for most cookbooks and restaurant menus.  Back to the main topic:  I’ll dine on a bread pudding with raisins swimming among the bread because those tiny dried grapes are easy to spot and scoop out as I’m eating but oatmeal cookies that’s another thing.  Raisins in oatmeal cookies are harder, in fact it is near impossible to not eat the raisins.

Too many bakeries ruin what should be a morning treat of cinnamon toast by pouring in the raisins.  What, do I look like I need more fiber?  No my brain is attuned to pleasure not pretending by eating a few raisins in my French toast I will have a healthy day.  Oatmeal is for healthy days. Cinnamon toast is for delightfully sinful days.

OK Food (With raisins)


(Photo credit: huppypie)

I’m not anti-raisin.  There are a few foods I like that raisins make better.  Carrot salad is one that comes to mind especially if the carrot salad has chopped up pineapple as well.  Celery is ok for crunch but it needs to be finely chopped and added with a light touch. It is almost lunch time and needless to say my mind is wandering.  When I finally head out the door it will be a strange combination of foods that I’m craving.  First though I need to finish my thoughts.

Trail mix; you can’t have a decent trail mix without some raisins.  That seems to go back to the idea that raisins go best in foods that appear to be good for you.  Apparently the flavors of raisin and pineapple meld because it’s not trail mix for me without those two ingredients.  For a midday snack a small box of raisins does hit the spot.  It’s convenient and doesn’t leave powder sugar all over my blouse or cherry stains on my fingers.

And the Winner is!

What’s the score? Three food ideas for raisins, three against.  In my electoral college the “Nots” just won.  It’s a rather complicated voting system – too long to explain here just accept the fact that raisins do not belong on my list of sweet treats.

Join the conversation – are you for or against raisins?  Leave a comment below.