Try the NEW Firehouse Sub Pastrami Reuben and Support a Worthy Cause


Being the daughter of a retired Battalion Chief Firefighter,  first responders hold a special place in my heart, so I was excited to try a brand new menu item at Firehouse Subs.

Founded by brothers and firefighters, Chris and Robin Sorensen over 24 years ago; Firehouse Subs has expanded to over 1100 restaurants, throughout 44 states, while raising money for fire departments around the country.


Right now is a great time to stop in and support their Public Safety Foundation, while trying their REINVENTED PASTRAMI REUBEN – available for only a limited time.

The true origin of the  New York City Reuben sandwich is under dispute, however, Firehouse Subs has created their own version, similar to the traditional Rachel Sandwich.

The REINVENTED PASTRAMI REUBEN is served on toasted bread of your choice (white or wheat), loaded with USDA Choice Pastrami and Swiss cheese, topped with a creamy coleslaw, Thousand Island dressing and mayonnaise.  This savory sandwich is best when devoured warm – but it is available, non-toasted, if you prefer.


Absent is the typical sauerkraut, which was a relief for this taste tester.  Instead the creamy coleslaw added a richness to the sandwich, reminiscent of summertime, and complimented the warm meat very well.

What makes Firehouse Subs different and so delicious?

Their signature way of preparing your sandwich!

Firehouse slices all meat in house.  Your choice of bread is toasted separately from the meat.

The meat is steamed and the toppings, such as slaw, lettuce, mayo are added just before the sandwich is served.

This process allows you to experience the full meat flavor and deliciousness.

Other mouth-watering sandwiches

If you want to try something else, there are two sandwiches I highly recommend.

Hook & Ladder – Firehouse Subs most popular menu item and a more traditional option for picky eaters.  Includes smoked turkey breast, Virginia honey ham, and melted Monterey Jack.

Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket – Prepared with USDA Choice beef brisket, melted cheddar cheese, mayo, and Sweet Baby Ray’s® BBQ Sauce was a revelation to this certified GBA Barbecue Judge.  The Brisket was very tender.  No vinegar based sauce here – the Sweet Baby Rays was the perfect accompaniment to this hot sandwich.

Firehouse Smokehouse Brisket and Cheddar

Simplicity allows the meat to shine…just classic barbecue with a sweet sauce.

Also on the menu are:

  • A variety of chopped salads
  • A “make your own sub” option
  • Kids menu
  • Chili

Firehouse Subs App



Firehouse can also cater your office party or special event.

Download the Firehouse App for your iOS device and you can order your sandwich online.




Firehouse Subs

During my recent visit to Firehouse Sub #1245, just outside of Greenville, I spoke with owner and 15-year Firehouse Subs veteran, Elliott Goldsmith.  He explained several ways Firehouse Subs works to build fundraising efforts, even in local communities.

Through such programs as simply raising your purchase to the nearest dollar, or purchasing one of their (food safe) pickle buckets can help provide life saving equipment to community fire stations.

While having lunch, you are supporting a worthy cause and perhaps helping to purchase equipment, which might save someone’s life.

Visit your local Firehouse Subs and try the NEW REINVENTED PASTRAMI REUBEN SANDWICH!

Remember, it is only available for a short time.

For the location nearest you CLICK HERE!

For more about Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, CLICK HERE!





Posted in Food Bureaucracy, Restaurants, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

7 Types of Basil for Spring Gardening

Basil is one of the most fragrant and easiest of all the herbs to grow in your spring garden.

Introduced to England in the 16th century, it made its way to America in the 17th century.

It flourishes in the warmth of the Mediterranean countries, where it is so successfully combined with sun-ripened tomatoes.


The famous, basil pesto, was created in Genoa (northern Italy), usually consisting of crushed garlic, basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finally  blended with olive oil. {aka, Genoese Sauce}.

Used in many Italian dishes or to add spring time freshness to any culinary concoction, basil comes in many varieties, each with their own characteristics.

7 Types of Basil Plants

1. Genovese Basil

Genovese BasilThe most common variety – easily accessible from a local home improvement store. Also known as sweet basil.

Large leaves with intense flavor and a wonderful aroma.  Commonly used in the aforementioned, Genoese sauce.

Produces white flowers. By pinching out any flowering heads, the plant will continue to produce fragrant leaves until early Autumn.

2. Thai Basil

thai basil with blooming flowersHas a slightly spicier flavor with licorice undertones.

Works well in Asian dishes because it is native to Southeast Asia.

Produces narrow leaves, purple stems, and pink-purple flowers.


3. Cinnamon Basil

Cinnamon Basis

Just as its variety name indicates, it tastes like standard basil laced with cinnamon.

Ideal for for ice cream and desserts.

Also known as Mexican Spice Basil. Difficult to find in the United States.

Beautiful ornamental annual because of its small, pink to purple flowers from July to September, in warm climates.

4. African Blue Basil

African Blue Basil

Photo courtesy of Jengod at English Wikipedia

A type which can be a perennial in year-round warm climates.

African blue basil starts out purple when young, only growing green as the leaves grow to full size, and even then retaining purple veins.

All parts of the plant are edible.  Popular to steep for tea.



5. Lemon Basil

Lemon BasilA hybrid grown primarily in northeastern Africa and southern Asia, enjoyed for its fragrant lemon scent.

It has white flowers in late summer to early fall and the leaves are slightly serrated.

Popular in Indonesian dishes, it can be used in any dish where lemon is a component.


6. Lettuce Leaf Basil

Lettuce Leaf BasilSome retail nurseries carry this variety.

It’s crinkly leaves are very aromatic and fresh tasting.

Great for wrapping fish; chopping into a salad; or freshening up a rice dish.


7. Micro Opal Basil

Micro Opal BasilIs a micro-green packing a powerful punch.

With hints of lemon and lime notes, it has a crunchy, velvety texture – great on salads.

Difficult to find except for specialty cultivators, specializing in micro-greens.

Growing Basil

Based on MY experience, Basil is relatively easy annual to grow.

I typically start from seedling (small, baby plant), planting in the spring, once the ground is warm.

Depending upon the variety, some can grow up to 24-inches tall, so plan accordingly.

It is because of their height, I have found the best success by planting in a deep pot, such as 24″ deep, to allow for good roots.

Although I grow in a container, I still wait till the ground is warm – approximately two weeks after 40º nights.

Do not overcrowd the pot.  I only plant (2) seedlings per 18″ diameter pot.

Basil loves full sun; in well-drained soil because its roots cannot sit in water.

Semi-rich nutrient soil with a pH level of 6-7 is good.  Consider fertilizing once a month if you water frequently.  You do not want the soil to become dry and crumbly.

Because I live in zone 7, I usually water twice a week – if no rainfall.

Medicinal Uses for Basil

Because basil contains antispasmodic agents, a standard infusion of fresh basil leaves can help with indigestion and constipation, adding honey and lemon, it eases chest congestion and bronchitis.

According to John Lust’s, The Herb Book, steep 1 tsp of dried basil in 1/2 cup of water. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups each day, a mouthful at a time.

I think I will just incorporate my vinaigrette recipe on my salad…

Creamy Basil Vinaigrette

This can also be used over grilled vegetables. Can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge.


  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves = 1 ounce
  • 1/4 cup roasted garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Put basil, garlic, Parmesan and vinegar in a blender. Cover and blend till thoroughly combined.
  2. With the blender running, slowly add the oil in a steady stream through and open lid.
  3. Transfer to a small bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes

Posted in Container Gardening, Edible Gardening | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GVL Today Recognizes JoAnn’s Food Bites

“10 Foodie Accounts You Should Definitely Follow”

Thank you to GVL Today for the recognition of JoAnn’s Food Bites.

Through my blog I share my passion for cooking and growing food at home.

We examine food from a historical, beneficial and agricultural prospective.


Posted in Food Bureaucracy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Essential Tool for Garlic Adding Depth to Dishes

My absolute favorite aroma from the kitchen occurs when I am sauteing butter, onions and garlic – my
JoAnn's Food Bites


Garlic is one – if not – the most versatile seasoning agent in the food world!

A member of the lily family, garlic is a cousin to leeks, chives, onions and shallots.

The edible bulb, or “head” grows below the ground.  The bulb consists of sections called cloves, each encased in its own parchment like membrane.

Types of Garlic

In the United States, there are three major types of garlic;

JoAnn's Food bites garlic garlic press

white-skinned, strongly flavored American Garlic

Italian Mexican Garlic

Italian or Mexican garlic; both of which have mauve-colored skins and a somewhat milder flavor.

Elephant garlic

Elephant garlic, is not really garlic, but a relative of the LEEK, but has the most mild flavor of the aforementioned varieties.

Buying Garlic

Fresh garlic is available at your local supermarket year round.

Purchase firm, plump bulbs with dry skins.  Avoid heads with soft or shriveled cloves.

Do NOT buy those tubes you see at the store in the refrigerator section.

Do NOT buy the pre-peeled garlic you see in the zip lock pouches, usually in the produce department – unless you want your entire refrigerator smelling like raw garlic, plus, it is just not as flavorful as freshly peeled garlic.

Refrigerated storage causes a decline in distinctively garlicky flavor and an increase in a more generic onion flavor.

Storing Garlic

Properly stored – see my video – unbroken bulbs can be kept up to 8 weeks, although, I use mine way before that deadline.

I never break cloves from the head, until I am ready to use them in a recipe.

Typically, crushing, chopping, pressing or pureeing garlic releases more of its essential oils and provides a sharper, more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole.

Buy your own garlic press here:

Garlic Alternatives

Dehydrated garlic flakes, aka instant garlic, are slices or bits of garlic that must be reconstituted before using.

When dehydrated garlic flakes are ground, the result is garlic powder.

Garlic salt is garlic powder blended with salt and an “anti-caking” agent.

Garlic extract and garlic juice are derived from pressed garlic cloves.  Although convenient, never use these in your home cooking, as they are a poor flavor substitute, especially when fresh garlic is so inexpensive.

Garlic breath is a chemical reaction, most intense between 6 and 18 hours after ingesting.  Experts agree, it can be minimized by eating a salad or an apple, which contain enzymes, alternating the molecules causing the “stinky breath.”  Mouthwashes that contain strong oxidizing agents, aka chloramine, are also effective.

Growing Garlic

The easiest method for growing garlic is to break a “head” or bulb into cloves, plant them out individually, and in about nine months, each one should have grown into a new head of its own.

Garlic likes full sun and well-drained soil.
Soil is too wet = bulb will rot
Soil is too heavy = small, flavorless bulb

Best sown in the fall for harvesting the following summer.  Garlic sown in the spring will grow, but probably not very large.

Cold growing conditions produce a more intense garlic flavor.

The only maintenance needed is to keep the weeds down and the soil moist.  Never over-water the plants.

You can harvest, as soon as the leaves turn yellow and fade.  For garlic planted in the fall, this will be late spring or early summer.

For spring-planted garlic, harvest between midsummer and early fall.

Recipes using garlic:

Elevate steak and potatoes for two

Simple Asian Pork and Rice Dinner for two

Meaty Skillet Lasagna

Some research information was found in the Food Lover’s Companion.


Posted in Edible Gardening, Healthy Eating, Kitchen Tools | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rise Biscuits Donuts Perks Up Greenville Mornings

Rise Biscuits DonutsSouth Carolina has a new option for breakfast, Rise Biscuits Donuts has brought their handmade biscuits, donuts and hash puppies to Greenville.

Originating in Durham, North Carolina, Rise has expanded to Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and now, for the first time in South Carolina. Soon, their 17th location will open in Texas.

Open for breakfast and lunch patrons, Rise has a variety of biscuits and hand-crafted donuts, you will not find anywhere else.

Manager, Brent Guinn is excited about the opportunity to expand into the South Carolina market.

Greeting every guest with, “Morning. Welcome to Rise,” the restaurant was fully staffed with pumped employees the day of the pre-opening party.

The biscuits are made fresh daily. Hungry diners can watch the biscuits being created through “spying windows,” purposely positioned along an eating bar for eat-in diners.

Rise Biscuits Donuts JoAnn's Food Bites

Rise employees busy at work.

General Manager, Charles Koch admitted, “if you want to see the first daily batch mixed, you would have to be here at 2 am,” which, of course, Rise is not open that early.

Rise Biscuits Donuts JoAnn's Food Bites

I chose the sausage fried egg biscuit; prepared on the spot and served piping hot.

Along with the food, a simple, but convenient coffee bar, allows customers to prepare their own coffee, to their liking. Self-serve fountain drinks are available, as well.

Rise Biscuits DonutsParticular about my coffee, I only use fresh milk or half and half in my coffee, not dried creamers; imagine my surprise; decanted cold cream was on the coffee bar!


Rise Donuts Biscuits JoAnn's Food BitesSo many pastry choices….

To judge Rise’s donut making ability, I chose a standard donut with a chocolate glaze.

The cake-like donut was delicious and filling, about five inches in diameter.

When I revisit, I will try the Bacon Maple bar. Shaped like an eclair, an entire strip of bacon adorns the top of this maple filled pastry.


Rise Biscuits Donuts JoAnn's Food BitesBut what everyone MUST TRY are the Hash Puppies.

Made from shredded potatoes and cheese, they are rolled like a tater tot and deep-fried. An ingenious concoction by manager Brian – a cross between a tater tot and cheese covered hash browns.

Make sure to ask for a side of his comeback sauce – great for dipping the hash puppies.

With only 4 hash puppies per order…I think Rise needs to offer them in 8 piece or even 10 piece portions.


Besides the bar I mentioned earlier, the restaurant has a couple of inside tables, but also, has more tables in a covered, outdoor patio area; which is adjacent to their drive-thru window.

Rise is available for catering events. Large orders need to be placed in advance.

Check out their website for full menu options.

Brian told me, “we try to change up at least one menu item every couple of weeks.” “One time it will be a biscuit substitute, another time it will be a more savory item.” So regulars will always have something new and interesting to try.

In my travels, I will be looking for other locations RISING up!

Rise Biscuits Donuts is in the Time Square Plaza

1507-D Woodruff Road
Greenville, South Carolina 29607
Monday – Friday – 6 AM to 5 PM;  Saturday & Sunday – 7 AM to 3 PM

Posted in Restaurants, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Discovering Local Food at Ingles Markets

One of my missions with this blog is to encourage foodies to support their local food producers, whether it be through CSA”s (Community Supported Agriculture) or buying produce at the local farmers markets.

Since moving to the Appalachian Foothills area, I have never before witnessed such support for local farmers and food products.

The regional chain of Ingles Markets has a special event called, Taste of Local, based in Western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina.

Local food producers are able to set up a table and display their products, along with free samples for Ingles’ shoppers.

Some products maybe available in your own local Ingle’s Markets, as they obtained wide distribution agreements.  I have noticed a few of the products available in my Ingle’s, in the Upstate.

Why I prefer local products

Nellino's Sauce

Made with all natural ingredients: tomatoes, olive oil,garlic, basil, black pepper.

Besides supporting local agriculture, many of these independent entrepreneurs have much higher quality ingredients than nationally know brands.

Such foods do not contain all the unpronounceable chemicals which I see in national brands, which means I am eating better. For example,

Nellino’s Sauce Company, formerly Nello’s Italy, LLC is distributed out of Raleigh, North Carolina.  Neal McTighe’s creation celebrates his Italian family roots and his appreciation for quality ingredients.

At the Taste of Local event, he was so confident in his marinara sauce, he handed out shot samples, you drink straight up.  No meat, no bread, no accompaniment.  It was so fresh and vibrant.  Full of flavor.  

Compared to a well-known national brand, Nellino’s is about the same price, BUT

  • lower in calories
  • lower in fat – containing ZERO saturated fats
  • has half the sodium
  • contains less sugar

Nellino’s is available for purchase on their website and can be shipped directly to your home.

Other Local Products I liked:

Another locally produced product featured at the Taste of Local was Roots Hummus, out of Asheville, NC.

I will admit, I was not a hummus fan!  However, after sampling their “original” and “spinach” varieties, I was convinced I probably had not had GOOD hummus, in the past.

Paul, aka #PaulTheRockStar,  served up samples of their entire product line with blue corn chips. Buying my top picks, I now eat hummus as a great snack, with carrots, broccoli or other raw vegetables.

Roots Hummus

Excited about hummus. Paul (#PaulTheRockStar) explained how The Roots Foundation contributes to food education and community enrichment.

Roots contains NO GMO’S; is gluten-free and is vegan friendly.  Made from all natural ingredients, 2 Tablespoons of hummus contains only 6 grams of fat;  ZERO trans fats; 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein!

Read here What Exactly is a GMO…

Hickory Nut Gap FarmIf you are a carnivore, like me, looking for grass-fed beef or pasture-raised pork, check out Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, NC.

At the Taste of Local, the farm provided samples of their beef and pork, which she only browned in a skillet, adding a little salt and pepper.

The pork had a wonderful sage flavor, without being overpowering.  The beef was tender and succulent.

Hickory Nut Gap Farm raise and process all their own meat.  As explained to me, the “breakfast sausage” I sampled, contains only pork, salt, red pepper, sage, sugar, black pepper and water.

No added hormones or antibiotics are given to their animals.  A 2 oz. slice contains 8 grams of protein and ZERO carbs!

I plan to make a day trip to their farm, where they have a store, cafe and events throughout the summer months.

Honorable mentions which I purchased:

Sunny Creek FarmSunny Creek Farm from Tryon, NC.  – Grower of a wide variety of sprouts.

I purchased their broccoli sprouts which are the best source of sulfurophane, which make carbohydrates digestible and have been linked to the prevention of cancer cells.


Tad McBride Sauces from Black Mountain, NC

Tasted a sample of his Samurai Steak & Sushi Sauce applied to a slice of flank steak; it was delicious.

Much like a soy sauce, without the lingering salt taste.  Would be great on stir fry, steak or chicken.  Be careful, a little goes a long way, hence he sells his sauce in 5 oz. bottles.  You can buy now on Amazon.


Unicoi Preserves produced in Sautee, Georgia

Partnering with other local food producers, Suzy and Clark Neal have developed a unique line of gourmet jams and jellies.

Available in the deli section at participating Ingles Markets, I sampled and then HAD to buy the Vineyard Spread.

Made from Chambourcin grapes (which they recruit from a Georgia winery), it tastes just like a fine wine from France. Very sweet, it is best paired with some cream cheese and applied to your favorite cracker.  Suzy told me, she loves it on shrimp and grits.


New Sprout Organic Farms in Asheville, NC.

Inspired by the importance of clean food and a local food economy, Alan and Jill Rose started their farm in 2011.

They provide organic potato and sweet potato slips to commercial growers and backyard gardeners.

Sweet potatoes aren’t started by seed like most other vegetables, they are started from slips.

Slips are shoots that are grown from a mature sweet potato. 

Sweet potatoesAt the Taste of Local, they gave me the biggest surprise of the day.  Samples included, sweet potato chocolate chip muffins and raw turnip.

First of all….I am NOT a sweet potato fan, much less turnips (which I really have never tried).

However, those muffins were delicate, delicious and did not taste like sweet potatoes at all.  The raw turnip strips were crunchy and similar to eating a raw potato – which i do periodically.

I bought sweet potatoes and made the muffins at home AND I served up raw turnips, along with carrots, celery and broccoli on a vegetable tray for Sunday munching.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Taste of Local Event, sponsored by our regional Ingles Market.  For more info see their Facebook Page. 

If you would like the Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe – drop me a line at



Posted in Food Bureaucracy, Foodie Must Do | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crushing My Craving For Pasta

Foodies, I am still battling my love for PASTA.

Despite my recent doctor’s advice, see my post

I am still cooking it at least once a week (okay, it was twice last week).

Believe me, the Lightlife plant-based, soy product  was great, but I can’t travel 30 miles to the nearest store for it, on a regular basis.

Lightlife meatless protein based food

Imagine my jubilation, when I saw an advertisement for a new Dr. Oz show titled…


Food journalist, Mark Schatzker, who wrote, The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor was the guest, who explained a new research study released in the Nature’s Nutrition and Diabetes Journal which suggested:

maybe PASTA is not to blame for American’s obesity rates?

I see Italians, living in Italy, eating the luscious noodle all the time and they are slim and trim.

What are Italians doing differently, than Americans?

Americans Are Cooking Their Pasta Wrong

Best Practices for Cooking Dried Pasta

Cook to ONLY al-dente. The pasta will take longer to digest, thus you fill fuller quicker and tend to eat less.

Cooking it to just barely tender, al-dente, will prevent a spike in your blood sugar during digestion.

Make sure to use A LOT of water when boiling dried pasta. Recommendation was one pound of pasta to six quarts of water.

That is a lot of water.

Make sure to salt the water BEFORE you add the pasta.

Water must be at a strong, rolling boil BEFORE adding the noodles.

Stir it frequently! Moving it around in the pot will DECREASE the amount of starch ABSORBED by the pasta.

Starch is bad!

Allow it to cool before eating it. The carbohydrate enzymes will take longer to digest from a cool noodle.

A Pasta Realization

As foodies, we know the problem with pasta is the type of FLOUR used to make industrialized, mass-produced, boxed product. However, some brands are selling pasta made with soft, low-gluten wheat flours, as well as protein-free starch from beans and vegetables.

This originates in China where epicureans make long noodles or thin wrappers, prepared fresh, by hand; cooking them only for a few minutes, serving them while they are soft and slippery.

I need to experiment with different types of noodles and see which one can fill the void of my carb-loaded, spaghetti and meatballs ?

Alternatives To Consider

Of couse, there are zucchini noodles, which are delicious and great every once and while, but they do not have the silky texture, which I would miss.


 I am going to try Shirataki Noodles, which I think I have seen in the Asian section of my local supermarket. They are made from konjac yams and are naturally low-calorie, low-carb and gluten-free.




I wonder what whole wheat, gnocci pasta, which is not made from white flour, tastes like?

What about red lentil pasta, which has TWELVE times the fiber and SEVEN times the protein than the white flour counterpart.

According to  It serves up 30 percent of the day’s folate, a nutrient that can aid weight loss efforts, and it’s also packed with 20 percent of the day’s thiamine, a vitamin that helps the body convert carbs into fuel.



Do you have any suggestions on how to crush my pasta cravings?  Let me know in the comments….

-happy cooking!



Posted in Healthy Eating, Pasta | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment