Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Who Can Take a Sunbeam....

Now we all understand that I love candy. I have an incredibly large sweet tooth and therefore anything sweet and tasty is delish.

Today being Halloween, a holiday I care little about minus the candy (although that is part of the part I care little about), there has been much blog-space devoted to Halloween goodies, including candy corn (yum!) and developing a candy hierarchy. I've tried to do that before, and it's not easy!! This "official" hierarchy is interesting, although I may have ordered things a bit differently. Oh well, when I rule the world...

Anyway, kids will love trick-or-treating at The Pedant's and my Door: Snickers, Kit Kats and Peanut M&Ms. I picked these candies on the basis that the only one I really love is (are? since the candy is plural in name?) Kit Kats. Maybe because of their chocolaty goodness, but maybe also because they can be used to teach kids about archeology. (Similar to Ogres, Onions and Archaeological Sites, they have layers!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Beef," but real Broccoli

First things first: if you're hankering to extend your life, or even to become a Guild Navigator, Crate & Barrel is selling the spice Melange. Buy now before the Harkonnens corner the market!

Last night's dinner: a Chinese ampersand fest; hot & sour soup (from Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, prepared by the Sherbs) and "beef" & broccoli (where I was lead chef, using Morningstar Farms "Steak Strips" and sauce from my memory).

The Sherbs's soup was an unmitigated success; replacing the vegetable broth with soup made from, as my mom says, "little pareve chickens" made the soup taste more along the lines of the Chinese original, which probably uses a meat broth most of the time. We could have added more chili paste and mushrooms and we would have liked it; not sure if any of our dinner guests would agree (especially with our brainstorming about black fungus).

My beef and broccoli was a little too salty; I was too liberal with the soy sauce (even though it was reduced sodium) in the marinade. Maybe I'll replace it with rice vinegar next time.

Monday, October 29, 2007

National Oatmeal Day!

Today, I ate oatmeal for breakfast. Turns out, it's National Oatmeal Day! (I learned this from, a new fun website added to my Google reader, a fantastic Google product.) I made it on the stove top since the last few times, when I did it in the microwave, it bubbled over. Milk'll do that...and then I lose half my oatmeal and I get sad.

My favorite way to make it: with milk, and then a teaspoon of splenda brown sugar mix and dash of cinnamon.

Also, this is interesting: what chefs would eat for their last meal. It's mildly depressing (after watching a marathon of bad vampire movies this weekend, I now know life can be taken over by the undead quickly) but mostly interesting.

Turns out, I missed National Chocolate Day. Guess I'll have to make up for it this hot cocoa recipe sounds super yummy. Better than the beer with chocolate undertones I had last night.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Test Prep and Food for the Hungry!

I have just been informed about, a website set up by the new NGO of that has a GRE-style, progressively harder vocabulary test. For each question you get right, the miniscule ad revenue for looking at that page pays for ten grains of rice for the UN World Food Program.

I found this on the blog. I always like to check if these things are legit, and the World Food Program has a link, so I'm convinced it's not just a chain e-mail scam dressed up as a word game.

Even if it was, though, it's a darned good game. I'm up to level 47 (of 50), have donated four 100-grain bowls of rice and I am really challenged by it; I haven't been this stumped by a word game since National Review stopped doing "William F. Buckley's Word of the Day," (note: JavaScript super-broken) with quotes from the God and Man at Yale author himself. It's also super-addictive.

Person vs. Metal

I believe I may have conquered the mandolin! It's truly a feat - you see, The Pedant and I were super excited about registering for it, and even more super exciting when assorted family bought it for us. Only problem, it didn't work well...

So, I decided to conqueror the machine. I mean, it's really only a fancy knife that can do super cool things.

And I did! (Mostly, I still think a blade needs to be sharpened.) I used it to slice the jicama for the jicama slaw. Twice! I even got some julienne pieces.

And it was fun!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jews and Muslims Need Not Apply, But Compressed Pig Is Universal

Thanks to Atlantic Monthly blogger Andrew Sullivan, I have learned that there is a man in California who makes world maps out of Spam.

Spam, as I'm sure you know (click on the "Spam" link at the beginning of this sentence for a truly frightening Flash animation of a wild-eyed man trying to shove a spamwich through your computer screen), is a compressed lunchmeat made of pig and some stuff with multiple syllables. My exposure to it has mostly been through residents of the Pacific Rim who eat it on rice.

Sadly, the website is like the old web chestnut without the Shatner; it's just a picture of a can of Spam. Honestly, Spam is cheap enough; couldn't the guy have purchased a can, some Reddi-Wip, and some maraschino cherries, and made his own amusing picture by "sundaefying" the can?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Make My Waf the P-Waf...

Recently, Kid Rock, the Michigan-born, Republican-voting amalgam of Tommy Lee, Toby Keith, and Eminem who began the "hick hop" craze allowing for mainstream innovators such as Cowboy Troy, got into a fight in a Waffle House resulting in a broken plate glass window, which in my book means the fight was awesome.

I assume that the window also got broken because, unlike with Under Armour, people do not ritually scream "we must protect this Waffle House!"

Waffle House, as you may know, is the chain best known for serving shredded potatoes "smothered and covered," which, despite the claims of the Bloodhound Gang, just means with cheese and onions. They in fact also sell waffles, but I have never seen anyone eat a waffle there.

Of particular note, I found via Google that an enterprising individual has posted Waffle House's "cheat sheet," the way the short order cooks mark the plates with condiments to remind themselves what goes on the plate.

Monday, October 22, 2007

This state has an oaky flavor, legs, and ages very well...

As The Pedant mentioned earlier, I am in charge of recapping our winery trip Saturday. Turns out, about 30 miles outside of the fortress of democracy there is a whole wine country. Apparently, Virginia humidity (my new foe) is perfect for vintners (hopefully not like those in Isaiah 5!).

We had gone once before, but since it was a gorgeous day we ventured out again. We saw three wineries and TP stopped in a cutesy little town for a snack.

Now, I know very little about wine, other than red is served at room temperature and white is served chilled. I kind of have a desire to be a wine snob, but only cause I want to stick my nose up at people even more. The first winery was fun, even if they only had port-a-potties. We liked their peach wine and their white table wine. I enjoyed the sweet stuff a bit more than TP.

The next one, TP wanted to go to because of their legal excitement. The result, a real bathroom, and a very tastey Riesling. Delish. They did also have a dog there which was fun.

The third one sort of sucked. Not only was their wine fair, they had port-a-potties. And ex-frat boys smoking cigars. Not cool.

How Dare You Oppose the Will of Zurn!

The Sherbs will be blogging about this weekend's trips to some wineries, so I will blog only about a collateral issue: Roger Zurn.

It's election season, and in our area and the surrounding counties, that means zillions of small outdoor signs advertising one candidate or another. While coming home from the wineries, we noticed that one sign happened to be advertising for a candidate named "Roger Zurn."

He's the Republican incumbent treasurer for Loudon County, Virginia. His official campaign website is here. The Washington Post profile, with a short interview, can be found here.

Not only does he rock the 'stache old school, he has an awesome last name (his full name is H. Roger Zurn, Jr.). It sounds like the villain in a thousand bad sci-fi/fantasy films, to whit:
  • "You presume to toy with the minions of Lord Zurn?"
  • "I have dispatched General Zurn to quell the uprising."
  • "Face the wrath of Zurn!"
  • "This galaxy belongs to Zurn the Overlord, and no other."

A news article from February indicates that those who trespass on the property of Zurn may be dealt with harshly.

More politicians need to have awesome last names.

Your Unimportant Food News Update

New in the world of food:

1) Beef magazine has perhaps one of the most fascinating opening sentences in industry writing:

In the past, if you asked me which factor is the most important in determining profitability in the cow/calf sector, I would have said supply and demand.
Turns out that geopolitical considerations are more and more important in the cattle industry, leading the writer to advise:

This is the time of year when ranchers are preconditioning, weaning and preg-checking. Maybe calls to our congressman, attending state and national cattlemen meetings and donating dollars to our industry's PACs will be just as important on our planning calendars.
I know what I'm doing this season in between my preconditioning and preg-checking!

2) Molly Laas, a commentator on the Huffington Post website, says that you shouldn't eat apples when they can be turned into sweet, soothing alcohol. My response is that you need to eat a lot more apples (as opposed to drinks) before you lose gross motor control and start puking.

3) I love tomato juice. But I don't drink it around sensitive electronics. alerted me to the fact that LaGuardia Airport's security personnel are not so diligent - someone managed to spill juice on a baggage scanner, disrupting the checkpoint for hours.

Although it is interesting that this happened at LaGuardia - pretty much the only time I drink tomato juice, instead of the cheap gazpacho base that Campbell's calls "V8," is on airplanes. Why I do this, when "V8" sounds much more like Werner Von Braun's aeronautical invention, I cannot tell you.

4) Finally, Slashfood clues me in to an automatic marshmallow rotator for toasting your marshmallow in the fire.

Personally, I like to put the marshmallow directly into the fire, and watch the exterior light up like the detonation of the Genesis Device, or, more recently, the introduction for every Universal Pictures movie. A light char on the outside is tasty, and gets the interior properly melty.

Successful Meals and OK Yogurt

I love both the piña colada and coconut cream flavors of the Teet's store brand of light yogurt, but the banana cream flavor is just not as good. A ranking of the current Teet yogurt flavors, from best to "meh," I've tasted would be:
  1. Coconut Cream
  2. Piña Colada
  3. Vanilla
  4. Key Lime
  5. Peach
  6. Strawberry Cheesecake
  7. Banana Cream
Anyway, the jicama salad and the other things we prepared for the dinner party last Friday (a mushroom risotto which was all the Sherbs' doing and she carried off masterfully, and stuffed zucchini) all were quite tasty. We had a lot of leftover jicama salad, so I cooked it into fritattas the next day, with mixed results. The Sherbs was a fan; I, not so much - cooking jicama seems to cook out the sweetness, leaving it a little too much like eating warm radish.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Jicama Grommit, Jicama...

Apparently, on Food Network there are 123 recipes with jicama - and one by Rachel Ray. The Pedant and I still think she used pre-chopped jicama, otherwise it would have taken longer to make a 30 minute meal.

In other (food) news - TP and I had a dinner at a local restaurant yesterday. I was in a bad mood and comforted myself with a fantastic meal (description stolen from the website):

Murali Vegetable and Goat Cheese Bake

baked layers of eggplant, roasted red bell pepper and goat cheese served over Pesto sauce

It was perfect. Although the rest of the menu was over priced (this was actually an appetizer) it was worth the trip. Mmmmm....Cheese...

Jicama . . . what the hell?

No, seriously, what is up with jicama?

The Sherbs and I foolishly decided to make a salad involving the mutant apple-radish that is jicama (it also includes beans, avocado, green pepper, and tomato). At the Teet, we got the produce guy to find us some jicama, and he gave us a huge, mutant thing weighing about five pounds that looked like a failed cross between a coconut, a turnip, and an heirloom tomato.

No, they did not have any smaller jicama available.

Turns out, only a third of the jicama was actually necessary for the salad (we only needed two cups of jicama), which is good because we did not have the machete necessary to effectively cut off more of the tough root vegetable. Then we had to peel off the stringy, leathery skin, a thankless task.

The salad, at the end of the day, is tasty. But I dare Rachael Ray to make jicama into anything in thirty minutes or less.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I am not sure where I was going with this.

Blogger AppleCider5946 impugns the place of Dr. Pepper in American life:
There was a time in America when Mom[']s homemade apple pies and cakes were a treat you got to eat once in a while . . . [n]ow mass produced candies and cakes are available almost everywhere you go. Some Americans are in a quagmire stuffing themselves with donuts, Twinkies, and Ring Dings for breakfast, lunch and dinner then washing it all down with a Dr. Pepper.

As someone who may be having Diet Dr. Pepper with cup noodles (24 cups for less than $6 at Costco!) for a snack later today, I resent the implication that Dr. Pepper is on par with Twinkies, a snack food not even the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association can totally get behind.

In support of AppleCider5946's theory, however, a Google search quickly reveals that Americans obsessed with Transformers hold that "[m]y favorite recipe is to mix canned chili with Dr. Pepper and malted chocolate milk balls to make a damn fine gumbo." Given the nature of the community that was posted in, I am not clear if that was serious. But it may well be.

Sadly, a search on "Dr. Pepper brings joy to humanity" was, until I just mentioned it in this blog, a Googlenope. Also: "Jesus loves Dr. Pepper," "Dr. Pepper cures cancer," and "Dr. Pepper is an alternative fuel for the future."

However, "Dr. Pepper, the Drink of Kings" gives you this site.

Anyway, Dr. Pepper can completely be a part of a balanced diet. And for the record, sugary cereals were worse in the days of apple pies cooling on the shelves than they are now - sugar was considered a vital nutrient. Like how tobacco smoke soothed the throat.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More on Cake

If you're in a dimly lit restaurant and you want to take an adequate picture of your oversized dessert using only a commercial digital camera, have an acquaintance hold up a napkin. If you are pigging out on the giant cake slice yourself, I suggest using this opportunity to chat up a person at a nearby table. Be careful, though - pictures of a birthday cake have "done damage" to the Indiana Republican Party (link courtesy of Blue Indiana).

In other news, Martha Stewart is fascinated by those who make cakes shaped like the Nintendo Wii. I don't get it, in the same way that I'm underwhelmed by all those Food Network Challenge cake contests. I want a really tasty cake that is, secondarily, aesthetically pleasing. Making the cake look like something with cardboard and dowels seems to put the wrong priority first. Can't they do something with spun sugar rods and plates to make it a more appropriate structural material?

Of course, like the author of, I now know what's going on top of my wedding cake: two anthropomorphic bovines, the cow believing that the groom's tractor is sexy. As opposed to the "holsteins making out in roses like some twisted dream sequence from a bovine version of American Beauty" that is also sold.

Cake recipes, for good or for ill

Godiva Chocolate's recipe this month is for a "Scary Monster Cake." Chocolate-syrup soaked sponge layers glued together with chocolate-caramel mousse filling and iced with more chocolate are not scary or monstrous in the least.

Some people allege that replacing Dr. Pepper with mashed banana in a cake recipe yields useful results. I am skeptical; the Sherbs, not so enamored of the banana, surely disagrees. I do have to wonder, though, while all Dr. Pepper cakes seem to be chocolate cakes with Dr. Pepper in them (see also: chocolate cake mix with Dr. Pepper). Wouldn't it be just as tasty to make Dr. Pepper the primary flavor - a cake that makes the world taste better?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Shakshuka, Parve Desserts

For dinner last week, The Pedant and I enjoyed some shakshuka, which is a vegetarian's dream come true. I had some of the leftovers for lunch, but this time added couscous to the bottom of my bowl and mixed. It was like a grainy middle eastern treat! Hooray!

TP and I were at the Flooz's wedding to her mister last night. The wedding was lovely, and the parve desserts were divine. As a sweet lover, I must say the "make your own crepe" station hit the spot. A vanilla crepe cooked with chocolate chips and chocolate syrup topped with whipped cream and cherries was AMAZING. (Well, real whipped topping would have been better, but I'll take what I can get.) Also, Stoner's Apple Cinnamon Pancakes were super tasty from pre-wedding brunch yesterday.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Good Rarebit!

The rarebit experiment was successful and tasty, with three caveats (all of which I take responsibility for as executive chef):

1) The Teet's house brand of prepared horseradish made the sauce kind of bitter.

2) Some asparagus were insufficiently steamed.

Other than that, it was a beer and cheese sauce over white asparagus, broccoli, and oven-roasted potato slices with salt, pepper, and rosemary. How could it be bad?

Monday, October 8, 2007


While I'm thinking about it, tonight's meal, which I'm really looking forward to, is a rarebit from the Moosewood Cookbook. Wikipedia tells me that rarebit has never had meat in it, so calling it a "vegetarian rarebit" would be redundant.

Regardless, the plan for tonight's version is to have roasted potatoes, a sauce starting with a roux, and some actual green veggies.

More on Netflix

I also am in love with Netflix. Yesterday, while The Pedant was out at some boring (TP would interject, "NO! Not Boring! Just boring for others!") brunchy thing, I was left to assemble 4 Ikea Chairs, a Crate and Barrel Outlet Bookcase and assorted other things and watch 4 episodes of The Gilmore Girls from Netflix. It was a good time had by all. See, the beauty of Netflix is that I am not committed to a series at a time. I started my GG Fun Fest (TM) from the library where I would wait (impatiently, I may add) for the season to be available at the library and then get 22 episodes to watch in a week (3 if I was able to renew). Now that's a lot of mother-daughter fast talking. Netflix is brilliant in that it allows me only one disc at a time therefore I am not committed to start getting all the story lines confused. Hooray!

In other news, I adore Trader Joe's Fake Meatballs. They made a fantastic dinner last night and will be an even more fantastic lunch today! Yay!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Be my Netflix buddy!

I'm trying to get everyone I know with Netflix to become my Netflix buddy, in part so I can engage in a voyeuristic look at other people's media consumption, and also to see if there are any movies on my queue that I should skip.

Speaking of which, I saw the first three episodes of All Creatures Great and Small with the Sherbs last night thanks to Netflix. It was adorable and we will watch more of it, but I won't give you the heartfelt review here. Instead, I will satirically summarize it as follows:

The Fifth Doctor infiltrates a rural veterinary clinic as a drunken layabout in order to keep in check the mercy-killing impulses of recent veterinary-school grad James "The Angel of Death" Herriot, a man who finds fatal ailments requiring euthanasia in every third animal he treats. Meanwhile a blond version of John Steed from The Avengers pretends to be a veterinarian but in fact treats as few animals as he possibly can.

In other news, my new favorite flavor of Harris Teeter brand light yogurt is Piña Colada. The Sherbs and I have been visiting "the Teet" regularly as there's one that keeps giving us $5 coupons, plus their fat-free, low-sugar yogurt was 33¢ with my "frequent Teeters" card (not in fact what it's called). The yogurt has little bits of coconut and pineapple in it, which make the aspartame in the mix a lot less cloying.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Lima Beans = Amazing

I think The Pedant summed up what I wanted to say about the Ren Faire. Totally a (sub)culture shock (it was my first). Amusing and entertaining, minus the fact I stained my brand new shirt. With Corn on the Cob. I don't know how that's quite Renaissance, but... it was tasty!

In other food news, TP and I made an interesting creation last night for dinner: Lima-Bean Pot Pie. It was based off of Chicken Pot Pie, but we appended TP's mom's recipe. We used lima beans for protein (since tofu would have had an odd texture and the Chick'n Strips would have disintegrated) and instead of pie crusts, used Grands Biscuits (the kind in the cool tube) on top. It was a success. Quite tasty. It did taste exactly like the frozen CPP I used to have as kid.

Monday, October 1, 2007


Went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival, home of smoked turkey legs, "Steak on a Stake," and other vaguely Tudor-era unhealthy comestibles. Very tasty.

However, the Sherbs and I had a visceral reaction to the renaissance environment. We didn't want to be part of the history, we wanted to demonstrate as completely as we could that we were of the age of flush toilets and automobiles.

So, obviously, we need super-modern costumes. Things utilizing only synthetic fabrics, multiple zippers, and other things completely unavailable in 1540.

My thought: the leisure suit. Combined with side-zip naugahyde boots, the modernity of the outfit should be sufficient to cause an electrostatic reaction due to sheer anachronism.

Failing that, a Members Only jacket.