Mona Collins

Talk Thursday…on the Weekend

In Talk Thursday on November 24, 2013 at 9:22 PM

Talk Thursday with Debbie Arnold

Photos from Creative Commons users Michael Kappel, Blue Yonder and Pen Waggener.

So, I’m posting the latest Talk Thursday interview on the weekend. It happens. Nonetheless, the series continues. This week I am happy to feature my friend and fellow Arkansas Blogger, Debbie A. I met Debbie virtually on Twitter a few years ago. Her tweets were, and still are, informative and oftentimes delicious recommendations. She tweets about food, one of my favorite subjects. I had the good fortune of meeting her in person at a blogging conference earlier this year. She is a lovely person with a sweet spirit. I’m excited to have her as part of the series. Enjoy her answers below. 

1. What is your favorite food dish, and why? 

Honestly, I’m not sure I have a favorite. I’m pretty much a seasonal eater and cook. I like to use whatever is in season and will plan my menus accordingly. I can truly say, though, that if I could have fresh Cherokee Purple tomatoes available all year along with some fried okra and fresh purple hull peas, I would not complain. 

I guess I’m known around among our family and friends as a good cook. I’m not a chef by any means, but I am a really good home cook.  

2. If you had to eat one cuisine for the rest of your life, which cuisine would you choose?

As a student of foods and one who has an adventurous palate, this is very difficult for me to answer. I love really good sushi, but there’s only one place in Arkansas that I have tried that does it well and then with only one particular sushi chef. Trust me; we’ve looked elsewhere without any luck.

I won’t pass up really good, honest-to-goodness fried chicken, but I don’t do parts and I don’t fry it at home.

3. What is the best health and fitness advice you can share with the Addicted to Fries readers? 

Do as I say and not as I always do. I’m a firm believer in exercising and eating in moderation. I’m not an exercise fanatic, but I do know that I feel better physically and emotionally when I get in some form of daily exercise. I may hit the gym for an aerobics or weight class, two to three miles on the treadmill, or a nearby trail for a vigorous walk. Before I retired, I got up each weekday at 5 a.m. to walk with my husband. I indulge in the luxury of sleeping in a little later these days.

I try to keep my weight under control; sometimes I’m full of will power, sometimes not. I love to cook and I love to enjoy a good meal. It is important, I think, to eat in moderation, but to eat a wide variety and try everything within reason.  (I can honestly say that I don’t think I will EVER eat raccoon again. EVER.). Fruits and vegetables make up the bulk of my meals, but I do eat meat as well although not nearly as much as I did at one time. And, I believe in the real thing. I’m not in favor of “fake” food, but I will use natural sugar substitutes for some things. Butter, in moderation, is my friend. I also believe that it makes life sweeter to indulge in a decadent dessert on occasion.

One thing that works well for me is to have a healthy snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon. That may be a piece of fruit, a handful of almonds or walnuts or even a tablespoon of peanut butter. When I do that, I am less likely to dig into the chocolate or overeat at meals.

I’m also a firm believer in drinking lots of water. Before I have my morning coffee, I drink a full 8 ounces of water. That sets the tone for the remainder of the day. I’ve been in this habit for so long that I don’t have to measure out a minimum 64 ounces a day now; it just comes naturally. I never have really understood how people can say they don’t like it since water really is the only natural fluid our bodies require.

4. Currently, what is your favorite snack food?

I’m not a big snacker, but you may see me with a cup of Williams-Sonoma salted caramel hot chocolate this time of the year. It’s my guilty pleasure. What’s not to love about chocolate and caramel? I’m rather addicted to whole grain Pringles chips which is why I try never to be around an open can of them.

Oh, you should probably know that I can eat a chunky peanut butter, banana and crunchy Biscoff spread sandwich on really fresh bread any time of the day. I’m probably addicted to those as well.

I keep fresh fruit available all of the time and when I’m good, that’s what I will eat. I’m not always good.

5. What type of beverage best describes your personality, and why?

My six year old granddaughter says I’m just like Uncle Si of Duck Dynasty fame. He and I both always seem to have a glass of iced tea in our hands. And, I do mean always! Sweet tea, even though I’m a Southern gal, is not my tea of choice. I prefer it strong and straight, sometimes with sweetener but rarely with lemon.  

That’s pretty much me: strong, straight and sometimes sweet. Occasionally, I may be a tad bit tart.

6. What was the last local (unique to your area) restaurant at which you dined, and what did you have to eat?

I’m one who researches restaurants and food opportunities in whatever locale I am in or soon to be visiting. My friends and family just expect me to always have recommendations whether it’s fine dining or food trucks. It’s just something I really enjoy.

My husband and I are fortunate to spend lots of time in both central and northwest Arkansas and enjoy lots of good dining experiences in both areas. Our last restaurant adventure was a wine tasting and dinner. It was a joint effort with Chef Miles James of James at the Mill in Johnson and Jim Striegel of Red Mare Wines. The menu included, among several delightful courses, a lobster risotto with Arkansas Arborio and local edamame and locally-sourced lamb with roasted butternut squash and a caramelized potato tart.

We are huge fans of 28 Springs in Siloam Springs as well. I don’t think I’ve eaten anything there that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy.

Did I mention Crepes Paulette in Bentonville? How about Meridienne? Oh my gosh, I’m so loving Heirloom Food and Gifts in Rogers.  

This is not fair!

Centrally, I’m ecstatic about the reopening of Bruno’s in Little Rock where my absolute favorite is their chicken piccata but served only with the lemon butter sauce rather than the red sauce. I’ve been going to Bruno’s since I was a child; it’s rather like a member of the family. 

Did I mention Hot Dog Mike in Little Rock? Did you really want to get me started?

There’s a little place in Oark somewhat near Clarksville that everyone needs to try. The Oark Café in the Oark General Store is owned and operated by Reagan and Brian who left the busyness of Washington D.C. to own and operate this historical spot. She makes a mean blueberry pie and his cheeseburgers are definitely worth the drive. I have to thank Kat Robinson of Tie Dye Travels and her book Arkansas Pie for clueing me in on this gem.

Choosing a favorite restaurant, though, is rather like asking me to choose a favorite child.  Except that analogy doesn’t really work with me since I only have one child. Perhaps, I should have said choosing between my grandchildren which I absolutely could never, ever do. 

Dining with DebbieDebbie is in her second year of retirement from a 30-plus career in education primarily as a PreAp and Regular English teacher at the middle school level. While she enjoyed teaching and interacting with students and staff, she is thoroughly enjoying this time in her life. She has been married to her husband for almost 44 years, and they have one child, a daughter who lives in Fayetteville with her husband and her two perfect grandchildren who are 8 and 6.  Debbie and her husband spend lots of our time traveling back and forth to NWA in order to spend as much time with them as we can and they will allow.

She blogs at Dining With Debbie and serves as an administrator for Arkansas Women Bloggers.

Connect with Debbie:

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