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Italian Style Lasagna Worth the Wait!

by Ana Gomez Montalbano on 01/03/19

By the 1920s, an influx of Sicilians flooded the lower Brazos Valley.  Texas was on its way to an economic stronghold.  For many Italian and Sicilians families, establishing a standard of living not easily attainable in their native land, was a primary goal.  Cotton and corn were lucrative crops leading the way for better opportunities.  Though escaping economic and social hardship in their native land, the cultural comforts remained intact. Traditionally, food and conversation were the center of a table.  But now, you can get an authentic flavor to go!  When serving Lasagna, their is definitely less conversation and more jaw-dropping, mouth-watering, lip smacking, glorious saucy layered pasta, slap it onto a dish for me please!  

A true Italian Lasagna experience is straight out of the oven served with the right amount of love at Sloppy Joe's Eatery.  Order the authentic Lasagna dish and your palate will thank me.  Layered pasta, smothered in sweet meat sauce and dripping melted cheese will keep you coming back for more.  But I got to warn you, although popular, the establishment is much like a hole in the wall eatery.  If you catch the short line at the right hour, you wont have to wait long to dig in.  But if you do find yourself in a long line, order the lasagna, its worth the wait!  Find your way to Sloppy Joe's Eatery in Bryan, Texas 3629 Tabor Road. 

Found Memories of the Ice Cream Parlor

by Ana Gomez Montalbano on 07/16/17

Raising children during the 1970s, mothers were safety coordinators of natural disasters.  With the help of outside sources, also referred to as "the village" in raising a child" when parents were not around, they still had eyes in the back of their heads.  One of the worst scenarios for parents is child melt-down.  So if you can image a mother of 5, experiencing 5 melt-downs all at once, it is enough to appreciate what our local dental plan consisted of.  

Every summer, my mother scheduled dental visits and the phrase, "killing 2 birds with 1 stone", was literally, what she felt with 5 kids, "murderous". Believe it or not, the anxiety level was always low because after the visit, whether a cavity no not, the dentist had two jobs: dental care and psychological impact for both parent and child.  Whether a clean bill of health or not, a free ice cream coupon was delivered promptly: both consistently and a tasty incentive. 
For those who can remember, back in the day, small town ice cream parlors were part of the local pharmacy, at least in my town.   The idea for a dentist to sabotage teeth even more was not in retrospect but the coupon kept everyone happy. 
The local pharmacy was a happy place to go.  Set right in the middle of main street, the big windows in front of the sidewalk displayed anything from toys to small appliances.  The door of wooden frame surrounded a long glass window with an open sign stuck to the inside panel.  A cowbell alerted the pharmacist of patrons entering.  While mother attended to the pharmacist, we rushed to fill our orders in the parlor.  Aligning the counter were high swivel red-cushioned stools made of shiny, cold steel.  The walls covered in posters illustrating wide-smiling, toothless kids posing with their favorite ice cream flavors were enough to make an excruciating dental visit a forgiving healing process.  'Mary Poppins' theme music flowing over the intercom filled the air for a sweeter atmosphere. 

My fond memories of the ice cream parlor is engaging and thanks to our local dentist, my dental visits as an adult are less excruciating.  Yet ice cream in a wafer cone will always be both comforting and delectable. #NationalIceCreamDay

July 4th 1973, Celebrating Through the Eyes of a Child

by Ana Gomez Montalbano on 06/20/16

Remember when childhood lazy days of summer meant freedom was spending time in the "great outdoors".  No schedules, no morning chores, no homework and almost no rules.

My first fishing trip was along the banks of the San Jacinto River where I caught a needle-nosed fanged-teeth gar.  My father caught the reel before it dragged me in but over the years I stretched the story some.  Blackberry picking along the railroad tracks was an adventure in itself.  It took us the whole morning to fill a small paper bag because we ate more than we filled.  I never worried about snakes and never saw them but I did come close to being hit by a a fast-moving train.  Unaware, I was more mad at my sister for shoving me out of  its way.  When you are a kid, danger is unthinkable. 
Riding my banana seat bike was my favorite because it allowed me to travel far away and it was the only thing my brother didn't tear up because if he did, he would lose a riding partner for sure. Through the neighborhood trails we peddled fast to safe passage and we never dare to venture alone.  We were frightened of the "boogie-dragon" who hid in the thick brush waiting to surprise attack and swallow a kid whole.  On the other side of the trails was the sparkling kingdom 5 miles from home also known as the local ice cream parlor. 

We lived as free-spirits.  A time when the neighborhood-watch meant if you got out of control, no matter how far you ventured from home, your mom would know about it.  

The glory of all glorious days happened on July 4th.  Yards were packed with cook-outs and screaming kids.  Flaming bbq pits seemed like a competition among the neighborhood dads as they poured on the lighter fluid onto the charcoal(now a carcinogen).  For a child, this was a day to be reckoned with.  Weenies burnt to a crisp fell from the grill and onto the ground could be eaten without a 5-second rule applying.  Soda straight from the bottle burned your throat going down and we could drink as many only to surrender to milk of magnesia right before bedtime.  And ice cream never could stay in the cone. It had to be eaten in 20 seconds or else drip straight down to the ground where the ants would gather and waste no time in a sneaky biting frenzy to make you drop the cone altogether. 

I took a huge chance to pull out my accumulated stash of candy assortments hidden away from mothers view which was blended into the mix of an already sugar-loaded day. 

We didn't complain about how hot and sticky we were under the blazing sun nor at dusk when our bug-bitten legs and arms swelled like a allergic affect from the high-fructose sugar substances eaten the entire day(when soda was not harmful and when no such protection as bug spray).  We quenched our thirsty little heads straight from the water hose and cooled down with water sprays to the face.

By nightfall, I couldn't wait to grab a pocket full of ground-blasters.  Lighting the short fuse was no fun, though. My reaction time in lighting a match and igniting the fuse was too short lived.  Burned fingers were a ritual on July 4th but I wanted nothing of the sort so in my attempted to practice lighting matches, I gained a callous from match burns. God forbid if mother should find a wailing child from burns.  The embarrassment of being scolded in front of the older kids over a throbbing finger on fire was enough punishment to last a life time. 

On firecracker day, there were fire-poppers(usually older kids with fast reaction time) and then there were the rest of us.  Little kids had to come up with strategies or be fire-popped.  Mine was to hit two birds with one stone by taking control of the water hose, spraying a fire-popper while damping his ammunition and then run like hell.  The bottle rockets were the scariest because there was tremendous speed behind the ignition and the fire-poppers would aim into every direction except the sky.  Can't believe we survived. 

July 4th is a celebration of our American independence, a feeling of contentment and the beauty of childhood memories. Every year, in my attempt to relive those childhood days grows stronger.  The great outdoors seem like a wonderful plan.  Then slowly, age takes over.  The heat becomes unbearable too quickly and the bugs are merciless!  Firing up the bbq pit starts out like a party but winds up ridiculous the more the margaritas take effect.  I swear my taste buds are too sensitive these days. 

By nightfall, worn out by the heat and savagely bitten by enormous mosquitoes, our plan to watch a fireworks show at a jammed packed park has fizzled.  The Star-Spangled Fireworks Spectacular on TV sounds more like it but as the symphony plays on, it reminds me how much I'm missing the magic. 

Waiting for a second wind is unusual these days so I down two cups of java and ready for action. Only one hour left before the fireworks warehouses close so off we speed down the road.

Upon our arrival, the parking lot is full.  Finally we locate a parking space nearly 2 blocks away and now left with 15 minutes to shop.  At the entrance, the doors fly open and a fog appears.  As it dissipates, there, front and center, stands a 6 foot high box packaged and waiting for the desperate woman-child like me to load it up and take it home.  It was the biggest and the baddest of all firework displays bundled up in one package ever!
Whistlers, thunder strings, smoke bombs, tons of sky burst rocketry, paratroopers, wolfpack rockets, warheads, and the grand finale red, white and blue racks, the mother lode of all true July 4th patriotism!  I could not resist nor could my husband who's eyes grew as wide as his smile when he stroke the package with a gleam in his eye.

We rolled up in our drive way and swiftly began setting up our show.  The neighbors circled in closer to get a view of our goods as we line it up for a street spectacular!  Drum roll!  Wait!  Racing into the house, grab my tablet and search for Tchiakovsky's "1812 Overture" on you tube for great background effects! 
One by one as the displays were launched into the dark sky, a burst of many colors painted our view.  I cannot help but grin from ear to ear as a chuckle takes me back to my childhood summers. 

$300 worth of fireworks spent in 20 minutes and even now I still manage to come out with a blistered finger.  But just like a kid again...a reminder of the pleasantries of life, our freedoms.  A feeling of contentment overcomes me.

How To Be Texan During Rodeo

by Ana Gomez Montalbano on 02/02/16

Ask anyone to describe a native Texan, and it usually goes like this:  loud, boisterous, opinionated, down-right proud of Texas heritage, almost spiritual-like.  But for those who finally arrived, the manner of becoming Texan is developed in no time.  Texas is diverse in culture, food, music, and just about any way you slice it. 
Dress anyway you like, but during Rodeo, which is just as big in Texas as football, if you want to blend in, do as the Romans do...or the Texans do.

A quick lesson on why Rodeo is special in Texas.

Now that we got that all cleared up, here are some things one must understand about the Texas way of life. 

1.  Boots.  You must learn how to wear a pair of western boots.  Texans have been wearing boots since they could stand.  Parents didn't buy walking shoes for their babies, they bought boots.  Once a pair is broken in, you might find sleeping in your skivvies along with your boots on because they become part of your feet.  Oh, and by the way, Texans own at least two pair.  One, called a work boot, another more dressy for going out on the town or wearing to a wedding or funeral.  Its natural and normal.  If you have never bought a pair, the sales assistants at boot retail stores can fit you into the style you prefer.  Because there are a variety, don't get away from a Texas style boot, or you will be found out.

2.  Hat.  Not everyone wears a Stetson, but there are two types of cowboy hats that function for the entire year: straw, and black.  Why these in particular?
Straw hats are light in color, lite-weight, include a large brim for sun protection, and keep the head cool in the summer heat.  Worn during the spring and summer, its a fashion statement so if you wear one for work outside, make sure you have a fancy one to boot.
The black hat is designed to be worn in the cooler months of fall and winter.  It is meant to draw the suns rays to keep the wearer warm during cold weather. 

The Cowboy Hat

3.  JeansWrangler  and Levi's have always been a cowboy favorite, because of comfort while bull riding or ranching.  The cotton allows for body cooling during summer heat yet can also keep warm during winter months.  But no matter what type of jean you desire, make sure the length covers the heel of the boot.  This means it just about drags on the floor.  If not, don't bother wearing boots.  We will understand. 
For women, the more bling on the pockets, the more trendy and stylish. But like a man's jeans, a woman's pair needs to cover the heel of the boot, too.

The Jean

4.  Belt.  Its said the bigger the belt buckle on a cowboy...the happier the cowgirl.  Anyhow, only if he is a champion bull riding does he get the credit.
The belt must be a western belt, made of real leather, not bling for men.
However, for women, the more bling on a belt, the more admirable. 

5.  Truck.  Not a pickup truck, but merely a truck.  A necessity by way of ranch and farming, but quite handy for hauling or pulling.  A truck is part of the Texas scene.  Once was questioned by a Kentucky girl, why women in Texas drive trucks.  "Its a natural select.  Only for the chosen few", I remarked. 

Love me, love my truck.



6.  Food.  During Rodeo, forget about that diet you started yesterday.  Plus you don't want to look like a ninny or a prude.  If the menu calls for bbq, chicken quarters, sausage, potato salad, charro beans, apple pie, and beer served on a turkey sized platter, as we say in Texas, "hope ur hungry!"

7.  Follow the Rodeos:  Dedicated fans can follow the real action and fun of livestock shows, rodeos, and concerts.  And most of all, get to know the cowboy champs on the circuit.

Biggest Rodeo in Texas

Cowboy Professional Rodeo Association Schedule

Gourmet Cocktails: What Real Texans Drink for Christmas and the New Year

by Ana Gomez Montalbano on 12/30/15

Nothing is more grand than a hearty feast during the holidays and a cheerful toast ringing in the new year.  Brace yourself as we have uncovered some of the most untypical exotic drinks created beyond the holiday delish.

1.  Eggnog.  Always a favorite during the holidays but whip it up with the right liquor and sit back and enjoy.  Our favorite mixes are Kahlua, Rum, nutmeg, topped off with whipped cream.  We love Rum because its sweet yet spicy with a smooth texture and doesn't take away from the other flavors of any drink.  Cheers!

2.  Grinchmas.  A green flavored drink but again, we add Rum so the other flavors are apparent too.  Add lemon-lime, and a teaspoon of syrup over chopped ice and wowwee! 

3.  Chelada.  Beer is big in Texas but kick it up a notch with a Chelada.  Its usually served with Mexican Beer, such as Corona, but in Texas it doesn't matter which beer.  Add lime juice, tomato juice and pour over ice, salt the rim and garnish with lime and you got yourself a beer cocktail!

From all of us at Roadside Texas, and AG Insurance Solutions, we hope you have an enjoyable holiday season.  The state of Texas DPS will be on the roads.  If you go out and have a drink, make sure you ride home with a sober driver.  Happy New Year!


Designated Drivers Service


D'Lish Dish
Texas is as diverse in culture as it is in food.  Find out how favorite Texas cuisine was originated and watch for postings as we dish out the delicious and unique flavors restauranteurs have to offer.