Monday, June 30, 2008

Yogurt on the top

Ginger Sheep

I have been digging Greek yogurt with honey lately, but decided to switch things up when I noticed Old Chatham Sheepherding Company offers a ginger flavored sheep's milk yogurt.

At first bite, I was disappointed -- not much ginger in there. But the sour tang of sheep's milk kept me spooning it into my mouth. After a few more tastes, I idly stirred the yogurt remaining in the container, only to unearth a treasure trove of the ginger I'd been hoping for. Suddenly, the root's flavor was everywhere I wanted it to be! Bits of what I thought was raw (but turned out to be crystallized) ginger crunched between my teeth, answering the smoothness of the yogurt appropriately. And when I was done with the container, a light gingery burn lingered in my mouth.

I thought it was just the old Dannon "fruit on the bottom" yogurt that needed stirring, but I've learned my lesson. If you give the black sheep a whirl, don't forget to stir.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Do not want.

No, thank you.

Like the Oreo Cakesters, these taste fake. But they're "vanilla," so they don't have the hint of chocolate under the artificiality that makes the Oreo version slightly more palatable.

"Let the Cartoon Begin!"

Here's another intriguing item Daupo brought back from Costa Rica. Please pardon the blurry photo. I have misplaced the wrapper and so cannot try for another.

Zoo Cartoon

Zoo Cartoon (or is it "Cartoon Zoo?") is an artificially-flavored strawberry (morango) wafer snack. I identified the flavor as strawberry before looking up the word to double-check, so that speaks to the artificial flavor technology at least being up to snuff. Kind of like a Kit Kat, the large 7-layered vanilla and strawberry cookie inside (wafer, strawberry, wafer, strawberry, wafer, strawberry, wafer) can be broken along perforated lines into smaller sticks of Zoo Cartoon.

I liked this guy. Pretty light and inoffensive. Crunches when it's supposed to. It's not my favorite wafer snack (where's a Little Debbie Nutty Bar when you need one?), but it does not fall into the category of "crazy-candy-from-another-place that I would never eat again."

The name, however, like the raccoon, is a complete mystery to me.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

To a tea

Teacups 3

I think it was my grandmother who gave me these three miniature tea cups and saucers (pictured above) when I was small, which I treasure in that I-love-you-but-don't-want-to-break-you way. I also loved my Holly Hobbie tea set, and it was both very sturdy and had a tiny teapot so that was the one I played tea with. I never drank real tea at my tea parties. "Pretend tea" was water, milk (into which I dunked cookies or graham crackers, which wasn't the best idea, as the cups were too small to clean easily), or an empty cup.

I never became a coffee drinker (one Santa Lucia celebration in 3rd grade nixed that for me), but I do drink real tea and tisanes (in a bigger cup) these days.

Soon, I'm going to a real, live ladies' tea party. I've made cheese puffs with black sesame seeds (with that spicy cheese finally procured from the Union Square Green Market), zucchini bread with lemon curd, and mini pavlova with berries and cream. I'm taking a Rooibos (fair trade and organic certified) tisane, one of my favorites because you can't over-steep it, and a Moroccan mint tea made of green gunpowder tea (to which some fresh mint will be added). I am really looking forward to tea and high-class snacking.

Friday, June 27, 2008

When it rains, it pours.

Thanks to Paul, Progo has another snacking option. He took to Greenies cat treats right away. And by "right away" I mean "after a brief investigation.

You serious?Smells okay.Let's just see.So far, so good.

Not bad.

What was that called, again?Imagine that.

Natural formula, dentally beneficial, nutritionally balanced, low in calories, and he'll eat it? Nice one.

Sausage sass-back

Dan's in Vienna. It would have made a great post.

In the car, on the way to Disney World.

I couldn't do it.

Maybe the chicken ones... 2 cents cheaper...

Chicken, too.

Not today.

Black is the new green grape

Black Grapes

Current grape rankings revealed:

1. The purply-black sour grapes (with a few large seeds) that grew in our garden in Dubuque during my childhood. Skins separated easily; grapes were thick with juice. These may have been Concord grapes, but we didn't plant them. - 9/10 but unavailable to me.
2. Black grapes (seedless) - 8/10 and ranked #2 for dietary novelty and availability (in my refrigerator right now!)
3. Green grapes (seedless) - 8/10 but ranked #3 because they're so last week (down 1 rung from #2)
4. Red grapes (seedless) - 4/10
5. Red grapes (with seeds) - 2/10

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hippo Hooray!

Hey, soccer fans and hippo lovers! This Kinder's for you.

Kinder box

Don't forget to save your Punktes. Earn your Fan Outfit!

Kinder reverse

Nutella-y hazelnut flavor...chocolate...nutty things...crispy outside shell...creamy inside...and golly, it's cute!

Kinder Hippo

Oreo Jokesters

"3 Cakes 3 Servings"


Who do they think they're kidding? 3 cakes is one serving.

These were almost good enough to be worth me taking a better picture, but the slightly off-kilter Snackwells-reminiscent fakey chocolate taste made me unhappy. Are these meant to be for dieters? The cakes have a pleasantly soft, squishy texture and a good amount of creamy filling, but they can't possibly be healthy, much less diet food, so why the chemical chocolate flavor?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chip Crash

Greta and I met at Ralph's for a little peanut butter cookie dough creme ice action. I came on foot. Greta came by car and with purple crutches. She was hit by a car in April, don'tcha know.

Was it coincidence that I had also brought home "New! Doritos Collisions (2 flavors - 1 bag)" as a snacking possibility? Yeah, it was, but after trying the Hot Wings + Blue Cheese variety I made a connection. I do wish the collision that Greta was in had been more tasty and less damaging (and also not with a car).


I'm the kind of potato chip fan who doesn't mind artificial flavors in a crinkly bag. If you are, too, Doritos Collisions might double your fun. Personally, I enjoyed the Blue Cheese flavor the most. It managed to have a reasonably bleu tang. The hot wing chips (more orange in color) did have a bit of spice but were not what I'd call "hot."

I figured the point was to taste the two flavors together (because otherwise how would there be a collision?), but most of the chips in the bag were too large for me to chew two comfortably. Breaking chips in half and eating half of one blue cheese with half a hot wing worked better, but crunching the two together didn't really improve the flavor experience. I'd rather just have a bag of Blue Cheese Doritos.

O' Giglio 'e Paradiso

Uaglio! Aizati i spalli!


It's almost that time.

Acconge i cosce! Aggiet!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Poet of MHS

Yeah, I remember high school. I went to Prom with a guy who had sprayed his hair green. I wore a silver dress my mom made for me and glitter eyeliner and a paint pen tattoo. We ate Chinese food before the dance, sitting on the hood of his car. He forgot to bring chopsticks.

Prom Pic, 1994

I liked snacks back then, too. Here's a poem I wrote 14 years ago about the rolls in my high school lunchroom. I had two similar white bread rolls at Fette Sau on Sunday (practically the only thing I like there, as I don't eat much pork - or any beef or lamb - and the sides are lackluster).


A nickel buys warm happiness
from the lunch lady in the
smiling hairnet.

A roll wrapped in napkin and
polite dismissal,
her attention turning to the kid
in line behind me.

She knows I am hooked
on floury carbohydrates and
seems securely defined
in her job - I return
every day at noon,
an addict.

A nickel is so small, it floats in my
backpack - honored to be
traded for a
tiny loaf-like sacrifice.

With a dollar, I could buy
20 rolls and gorge myself
all afternoon but she says
no you may only have
three, or four
on a good day.

I know she is just doing her job,.

How kind and caring you are, lunch
lady, rationing pleasure
so it is always a treat,
a privilege,
to be full.

From the Ambassador of Grilled Cheese:

American Toast

"This was found in a Viennese supermarket. They're equivalent to Kraft Singles. They taste okay."

Monday, June 23, 2008

What's the word, nerd?

Sam made something interesting with words from this site.

Check out how much I like to talk about peanut butter.

When I bite into a York Peppermint Pattie . . .

Not Marcy, anyway.

. . . I get the sensation of sitting in a cool, darkened movie theater watching the new Werner Herzog film about scientists studying in Antarctica, Encounters at the End of the World. Not unlike the refreshing, silver-wrapped candy, this movie, both overall and in distinct moments, is perfectly ridiculous and sublime.

In making Encounters, Herzog formed and lifted to eye level a glowing ball of his Eeyorian gloom and passion for otherworldly vistas, their colors twisting together like dirt ground into snow (or chocolate breaking open between teeth to alternately reveal and muddy a white, minty middle). Into the sphere he fashioned of slow-roiling doom and gleam, Herzog breathed, and I watched it swell like molten, blown glass into something that could cool and be handled -- a vessel of rare beauty and mundane sturdiness, each angle revealing another aspect, its almost-alien curves echoing the sweep of a crystalline and frozen fumarole, an underwater curl of ice shelf saluting a passing Beroe cucumis, a nearly flat disk of milk chocolate and peppermint with gentle waves or lunar craters frozen upon its surface.

. . .

I scoffed, I winced, I laughed, I found my mouth hanging open, tears welled up in my eyes. I went home and ate a York Peppermint Pattie.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Reinventing the wheel

I love peanut butter and graham cracker sandwiches dunked in milk. I hadn't ever paid much attention to my ingredients, buying whatever was cheapest in the grocery store, though I do prefer a crunchy peanut butter over creamy in nearly all situations. So I wondered -- if I bought a higher-end peanut butter, like Cream-Nut (which I recently read was considered one of the best peanut butters being sold today) and a really fancy graham cracker, would my experience enjoying a peanut butter and graham cracker snack become something transcendent?

I made myself sick

The Players:

C = Cream-Nut Natural Peanut Butter. Rich, superior peanut flavor. Thin, grainy texture. Oil and peanuts separate easily.

S = Extra-Crunchy Skippy. Pleasing sweetness. Spreadable, thick, chunky texture. Never needs stirring.

K = Keebler grahams [sic] crackers. Too sweet, slightly stale or cardboardy texture (I wish I had some Honey Maid. Those are better). Soften too quickly when dipped in milk. Taste cheap.

M = Mi-Del 100% Whole Wheat Honey Grahams. Great crunch. A little thicker and more like a cookie than a cracker. Definite sweetness (From honey and unsulphured molasses). Wheatinesss comes through. Does not soften enough when dipped for a few seconds in milk. A little too much chewing necessarily.

Now I really wish I had Honey Maid Graham Crackers. But we're going forward, not backward!

The Equations:

S + K = peanuts and graham crackers play nicely against each other, with peanut butter thickness really coming through. Slightly dissatisfying cardboardy graham flavor lurks. Not quite enough crunch. Add milk: good softening. Peanut butter helps the graham hold up. Milk saturates correctly. Very comforting, smooth snack with crunching of peanut pieces.

S + M = too crumbly. Begins to fall apart at first bite. Cracker overpowers the peanut butter. Add milk: no better. Now, somehow, there is no sweetness. It's just thick, thick, thick. This cracker is much better with nothing on it. I needed a lot of milk to wash this down.

C + K - I like the natural peanut butter flavor and the thinner, wet peanut butter. The Cream-Nut almost melts into the graham cracker, which is lovely. Add milk: the milk shines in this combo. Great milk flavor coming through. The peanut butter is nice, but it allows the stale aftertaste of the cracker to penetrate. Good mouth-feel, though.

C + M - dry, dry dry! Add milk: slightly wet on the outside. No flavor on the inside. I threw the rest away. This is not right.


1. The Cream-Nut peanut butter is delicious, probably great with jellies and jams on sandwiches, and would be nice to cook with. It's not bad on a graham cracker, but I need to try it on the Honey Maid Graham to see if that's the real answer. I suspect it is.

2. I'm not buying Keebler graham crackers anymore.

3. The Mi-Del cracker does taste fancy, but it's too fancy for the humble snack I enjoy. I think I'd be more inclined to eat this cracker plain, or with some kind of soft cheese or homemade jam.

4. Extra-Crunchy Skippy is still my go-to peanut butter, especially if M+R buy me the big jars at Costco (I'll pay you back!). It's lower priced and has nice, big chunks of peanut. I like the thick, spreadable texture and non-separating oil. What can I say? Sometimes I'm a traditionalist, and natural peanut butter is not the peanut butter of my childhood. Still, I don't feel loyal to Skippy as a brand, so I remain open to other peanut butter suggestions.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The cat comes around

Meet Progo.

Cats like blackberries

Likes: the smell of olives, trying to eat leafy greens, chewing plastic, scratchin' stuff, waking up early, hanging out on knitting.

Dislikes: flashlight beams, the vacuum cleaner, guests, piles of things, cat treats.

Cat treats?! What kind of feline doesn't like cat treats? I'm both sorry for and suspicious of the snackless. Come on, just try it! I've offered him a ridiculous variety, too, but he turned up his li'l cat nose at every brand he sniffed -- Whisker Lickin's, Pounce, and Meow Mix, most recently.

The closest I got to being able to treat Mr. Proginoskes was a few years ago, when I received a sample of Flint River Ranch cat and kitten food. It was just a small pouch, but the cat gobbled it up. He's not finicky about cat food (just treats), but it was still clear this was an especially pleasing flavor to his palate. I'd often thought about ordering more of the food online to replace the rejected "official" cat treats, but never got around to it. As it turns out, Flint River makes treats, too. So last week I decided to order Flint River Ranch's Signature Brand Ultra Premium Sun Dried Bonita Treats and give this treat-shy cat one last chance to be pampered with a special snack.

Bonita Bonanza

The Bonita Treats came in the mail yesterday, so I took them for a test run after dinner. What's in the package looks and smells like large flakes of fish food, has no additives nor preservatives, and should last quite a while (the serving size is just a pinch). I had to hold a small piece crumpled in my fingers and poke it at Progo's nose a couple of times to get him started, and I tried not to get my hopes up ("He won't eat it. He hates everything."), but once he got a little taste he was snacking like a pro and looking for more. He likes it! Hey, Progo!

Postscript: It may be early to tell, but the taste of the Bonita Treats may just have changed his life, snackwise. making him more open to previously rejected treats. After enjoying his pinch, he considered he might try a tartar control Whisker Lickin's, too. When the cat decides to prove me wrong, he spares no effort.

Let the movies lead the way.

I was not expecting much snacking inspiration to come from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical State Fair (1945), though I have been to a couple of different state fairs and I know the food to be had at such an event is often excellent (anybody out there need me to judge a homemade pickle contest?).

Pickle Judges

The other food featured heavily in the plot was mincemeat, which is one of those dishes that (like blancmange) I always thought sounded like it would be delicious when I read the name in books growing up but didn't entice me when I was met with the real thing. In the case of mincemeat, I didn't know there would be all that fruit in there.

So, I don't always like fruit and meat (I used to have a rule disallowing the pairing, which I have relaxed in recent years), but I do like all kinds of fruit in different combinations with a meal or as a snack on their own. And I was excited and inspired by the emergency snacking possibilities of wearing bunches of fruit (tastefully, always) on your dress, as modeled (using cherries) by Margy Frake (Jeanne Crain)!

Dress cherries

And on your hat!

Hat cherries

This is a fashion-and-snacking statement I could get behind.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Baby Food

Baby Bunny Beanie 3

I stumbled upon Sindri Bloggar, an Icelandic+Swedish baby's blog. The kid has a good sense of humor, writes well, photographs like a dream, is a pretty decent swimmer, and knows how to snack. Besides, if anyone should be allowed a little "navel gazing" in an online post, it's an infant.

Seriously. Current favorite blog.

The Chewy Menagerie, or: I Question my Humanity

Daupo brought goodies back from Costa Rica and was kind enough to share. Here are my impressions of Frulli (in 3 tropical fruit flavors), made in Brazil by Dalla Costa.


Mamão Papaya Com Creme (Papaya With Cream).

Animals featured on wrapper: Alligator/crocodile who walks upright and has protruding (drooling?) tongue; hornet or other bestingered insect with blue wings; some kind of shark or dangerous blue fish ? (illustration cut off).

Experience: Sweet, only slightly tangy, kind of tastes/has the texture of a Circus Peanut at times, though moister. Stuck to my (surface of upper left) teeth. How can it be crumbly and juicy?!

Banana Com Creme (Banana With Cream)

Animals featured on wrapper: Partially submerged hippo recovering from an injury (has band-aid on its rump); friendly-looking woodchuck/ground hog (beaver?) with protruding teeth, propping itself head and shoulders above a hole in the ground; green octopus or squid (with 6 legs) gazing heavenward and wearing a wry smile.

Experience: Does not taste much like banana. Kind of floral tasting, like a rose petal. A lot of saliva was created in my mouth to deal with this. My tongue started tingling about midway through chewing this flavor. Stuck to different teeth (outside and surface upper and lower right). Aftertaste is slightly more banana-y than before candy was swallowed.

Cereza Con Creme (Cherry With Cream)

Animals featured on wrapper: Blue, 6-legged octopus with owl-shaped head (again, could it be a squid?), looking startled or shocked; water skiing duck in goggles and green Speedo-style swim trunks; ostrich (mostly cut off by wrapper construction) glancing out of the corner of its eye to make visual contact with me (smiling - flirting?).

Experience: This was my favorite flavor. Almost a bit of sourness to the cherry. Like an old Lifesaver, but not in a bad way. Vigorous chewing made the texture grainy. Stuck to back teeth on both sides, but more on the right.

Overall: I feel uneasy. Most candies only have one animal mascot per product or flavor. Why so many in this case? And what are these animals looking at? And, finally, where do I, the human animal, belong in all of this?

in the kăk'təs

Rilegious, Religious!

Chapel Car Interior

Thanks for joining me in the chapel car.

Steph alerted me to today's Merriam-Webster word of the day (here).

No doubt M-W wanted to help me celebrate 17 days of blogging with this subtle tribute.

p.s. I don't regret not spelling it "snackrilegious."
p.p.s. Note alternate (and original, Paul tells me) pronunciation here.

Snack, Interrupted

It took hours and hours to get to this point:

Some progress

Why don't I explain as verbosely as possible?

I always feel a little guilty when I purchase a snack at one of those "big name" corporate restaurants or coffee shops. However, I don't know precisely why it tugs at my conscience more than choosing something at a major grocery or drug store chain. Maybe a large portion of my guilt derives from my fear that I am snacking less-than-creatively when I, say, grab a bite at Starbucks on my way to choir practice instead of seeking out an a more obscure vendor or brand. It could also be related to the Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein (et al) documentaries I've watched.

At any rate, a fear of the banal choice or too-predictable snack pattern sometimes loses out in the face of the need to snack quickly and efficiently, which I can do when I am in close proximity to a commonly branded locale, the line is short, the employees are speedy and responsive, and I am familiar with which items I am willing to order from the menu. (I've mentioned my other running-late-to-choir standby -- the fish sandwich eaten while walking through the park. What can I say? It's a scrappy underdog that saved the day.)

We're speaking of Starbucks now. Starbucks is usually a winter destination for me, as my order there is almost always a grande* chai latte** -- plus a toffee almond bar, if I'm feeling peckish. The chai, which comes out of a box, is pretty decent heated up with steamed milk. But I don't mind some of the company's icier, non-coffee beverages in the summer. And I did not find myself to be desirous of a hot drink on this latest occasion. So, to accompany my favorite corporate bar cookie, I asked the guy behind the counter what he would suggest to someone (me!) who was in the mood for a cold chai beverage. Turns out, my gallant counterman was quite willing to share information, advice, and opinion. Bonus.

First, he told me that his barista (though no Clint Idol, I'm sure) could make a blended chai drink or an iced chai drink, but oddly -- in my opinion -- strongly felt that someone new to cold chai drinks would be better off starting with the iced variety (rather than the blended). He also seemed quite sure that soy milk is better than cow's milk in an iced chai, though neither he nor I is by habit a soy-drink-imbiber. "The soy milk's on me!" he declared, thrilled, when I agreed to purchase an iced chai with soy milk. Well, okay, then!

As it turned out -- not a bad suggestion. The final, oh, 8/9 of the drink were delicious. (the first 5-6 swallows were a little too sweet). But the course of my snack would not run smooth. This is the sad point of my post (some overlong paragraphs later) and the reason for its title: this website, as a matter of fact, put quite a crimp in my snacking plans.

You see, I was foiled in my attempt to photograph my food and drink after purchase when my camera batteries revealed themselves to be dead. And, obviously, until I could take a picture for y'all, I couldn't consume the snack. I couldn't eat the almond toffee bar in full; I'd have nothing to photograph. It wouldn't be fair to you. And I couldn't guarantee that a partially-eaten bar would retain its structural integrity as I carried it home. No, it was safer to wait to take a bite until after I got a record of it on my memory card. I considered but rejected the idea of also not drinking my carefully-recommended beverage until the camera's batteries could be recharged. But choir practice had not yet begun, so there would be no battery charging for a while. And even if I had decided to put off eating the cookie, I was, after all, thirsty! One can't afford to become dehydrated. Even worse, the ice had already begun to melt, diluting my drink. What a dilemma.

So. Here is a picture of melted ice in the cup (I drank the beverage during rehearsal) -- which (near-empty cup) I carried home in the name of internet verity and your rapt witness -- and the bar cookie numerous hours after it was purchased but just before I finally was able to eat it (post-photo session).

Sad but true.

By the way, these particular toffee almond bars (I've eaten at least 20 since 2001) are good in direct proportion to how many flat toffee pieces are found in them. So give them an eyeball before you order one, if you find yourself near a S___ B___'s while in a corporate snacking mood.

Oh, and also -- we should discus varieties of chai at greater length some time. Of the boxed and bottled "pre-made" types I've tried, there is one brand that has a band-aid-y aftertaste. I would warn you away from it, but I don't remember which one it is.

* I prefer to say, "medium," but find that word is often met with a blank stare.
** I will not say "chai tea" to a coffee shop employee. Chai means tea. I will say "chai tea" if quoting song lyrics or episodes of The Simpsons.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Impulse buy: 1080 Recipes

[I first posted a version of this on Bakespace last fall, but I'm transferring it over here.]

I bought a new cookbook back in October (1080 Recipes by Simone Ortega and Inés Ortega). That's the big guy on the left in the photo above. It had just been released in English and I couldn't resist the illustrations and design by Javier Mariscal (it's a stunning Phaidon book). Amazon tells me the Spanish original edition of this book was published over thirty years ago.

I think this book is beautifully designed, and there are many recipes in it I'd like to make, but when I gave it a test run the instructions in the recipes I tried were a little vague. I like to follow explicit instructions the first time I try a new recipe, even if I deviate from them, and that wasn't always possible. Still, I guess it may improve my food prep skills to stretch and intuit the missing steps and specifications.

Here's what I ate:
Recipe 412 (green beans with vinegar and egg yolk sauce) had a mild but pleasant flavor. I wanted the instructions to tell me if the water I covered the beans with was supposed to cook away or if there was still supposed to be a lot left after the 15-20 minutes the beans simmered (for me, there was). I wasn't sure whether I was meant to drain them or add the sauce and make it into a soupy mess.

Recipe 328 (baked eggplants and tomatoes with grated cheese) was delicious, but quite mushy. I assume that the recipe means for me to use small eggplants, since it counts on 1 eggplant per person. 1 large eggplant was more than enough for two of us. I had trouble getting my oil to stay at the necessary heat to fry the eggplant, and then the fried eggplant turned soggy while I was finishing frying it in batches. Since the recipe only specifies to "cook them" I didn't know how well they should be cooked. Perhaps I did it for too long.

Recipe 77 (classic Béchamel sauce) was delicious and worked as written.

Recipe 117 (caramel sauce) did not "[thicken] a little" as I cooked it at the end. Mine only reduced, but stayed perfectly thin and liquid.

Recipe 969/970 (baked apples with cream and caramel) wasn't bad. My apples did not get as tender as I would have liked, but I was unsure whether to add more water to cook longer once the water in the dish had evaporated. I used honeycrisp apples and the flavor was amazing. Also, once they were done baking the cored hole in the middle was filled with liquid, which I had to pour out in order to stuff them with whipped cream. No big deal, but since the recipe didn't mention that would happen I wondered if I'd done something wrong.

I am ever second-guessing myself in the kitchen. But I'm not a bad kid.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


From Wien:

Dan, currently an operative abroad (treat yourself to an apfelstrudel on me!), describes Peanut Snips this way:

"I was given a thing that had the texture and shape of a cheese poof - but peanut flavor ! Not my favorite, but I ate several."


Zuul was the minion of Gozer.

In my refrigerator, dead things and nearly dead things and never-quite-right things evil energy grew and spread.

"Generally you don't see that kind of behavior in a major appliance. "

Among the dead

Something had to be done.

So, last evening, I worked the graveyard shift...

... it was in the dark of night that I found myself among them.

And the truly dead were banished to another land.


"Go to the light, old cheese!"
"Do not be afraid, two-year-old cocktail sauce!"
"There is no death, moldy chicken stock. It is only a transition to a different sphere of consciousness. "
"Cherry juice with no cherries in the jar,
I order you to cease any and all supernatural activity and return forthwith to your place of origin or to the nearest convenient parallel dimension."

Now, as Tangina might say, "This house is clean."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pickle Puss

I've hinted at my affection for cornichons, but I didn't go into it then. I have a deep, abiding love for these little pickles. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water.

You silly pickles!

A dill, a sweet, a bread-and-butter, or a watermelon rind pickle won't always do it. Some days I need a handful of these tiny, sour, crisp gherkins -- brilliant, intense, and brightly acidic.

No pâté necessary.

p.s. There's also something about food in miniature that appeals to me. Can't you see Hunca Munca in the doll house nibbling on one of these?


Ikea is coming to Brooklyn.

No, I will not be tormenting myself by attending any opening day ceremonies. Don't get me wrong. I like Ikea. And I want a Sommar for my freezer this summer. But I'm not braving those crowds for a popsicle mold.

Big Box

Rather than visions of blond bookshelves dancing in my head, promotion of the new store's opening (promotion like this giant studio apartment in a "cardboard box" seen in Union Square), reminded me of the Ikea edibles kicking around in my pantry. Contrary to popular belief, Ikea snacking is not just about eating Swedish meatballs in the cafeteria (which, actually, I've never done) after a morning of looking for the perfect end table on wheels.

Here are my two favorite take-home snacks found in the big Swedish box thus far:

1. Lingonsylt preserves -- Lingonberry is a tart fruit here, and the preserves are not unlike a spreadable homemade cranberry sauce with small, whole berries in a fruit syrup. Thick flavor. Good on biscuits! Seen here on baking powder drop biscuits, prepared as described in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.

2. Anna's Ginger Thins -- I first found them at Ikea, but they can be bought elsewhere. I appreciate how thin and crispy these cookies are. Their ginger-icity is tops!
Ginger Thins

To accompany your repast, consider these Swedish proverbs [source]:

Den som vill ha något gott fär söka där det finns.
Who wants to have something good, will have to seek it where it is.

Ingenting retar aptiten så som litet på fatet.
Nothing stimulates the appetite like little on the plate.

Hade jag inte min buk att fylla, skulle jag min arm förgylla (då hade jag råd till smycken).
If it weren't for my need to fill my belly, I would have gilded my arm (then I could have afforded some jewelry).

Aftonsång med dryck, morgonsång med hosta.
Evening song with drinks: morning song with coughs.

Wait, what?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Come out swinging.

Bare Knuckle Dark Chocolate Cocoa Battle!

In this corner, in the pink trunks:
Contender 1a
Contender 1b
teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland Chocolate 99
99% cocoabutter
Gift from: Paul
Ingredients: Cocoa, cocoabutter, soyafree, 1% Fructose (Fruitsugar)
[I've tasted this one before, because I've been eating one segment at a time at Paul's advice so that I can savor it, but I've never compared it directly to another high-cocoa chocolate.]

In this corner, in the gold trunks:
Contender 2
Michel Cluizel Chocolatier (Paris) Noir Infini 99%
99% de cacao
Gift from: Steph
Ingredients: cocoas, cane sugar, spices, cocoa butter, bourbon vanilla bean
[a birthday present that has been languishing in snack jail because I felt like "the occasion" to eat it was never special enough and the wrapper looked distinguished!]

Before the bell: Obvious from the indredients list, the teuscher has fewer bells and whistles, which I imagine is a boon to those who want their dark chocolate "authentic" and untrammeled. However, I am hopeful that the Noir Infini might have more flavor than just cocoa. I wonder if that cane sugar will make it more noticeably sweet.

About your judge: I can't hold a candle to professional chocolate tasters who talk about specific fruit nuances as if they were sampling wine, like the woman I heard on the radio one evening who made me angry at all gourmands for about 45 minutes. She had all kinds of (to my defensive ears) hoity-toity ways to describe chocolate, a multi-step tasting process, and if I remember correctly pointed out her more refined palate several times. I'm sure she'd feel sorry for my weak tongue and descriptive skills. I am not a professional chocolate taster/describer, so this is going to be a little less proffesh.

Weight has been met.

Tasting: 0.25 oz of each variety.

Let's have a clean, tasty fight! Come out swinging, as it were, etc.

Reflections on the teuscher tasting in real-time: The smell is much like rich cocoa powder. I imagine a little bit of a sourness behind that. Biting a piece off...holding it in my mouth. The powder flavor is melting into a rich bitterness. There's a certain blankness to it. I feel like I'm getting to the heart of the chocolate flavor. I can see why people make food/sauces with chocolate. This is more like food. It's barely sweet at all. Afterward, on my tongue is a thick lingering wave of deep black-hole. It's sucked all flavor into itself. There's a tiny fruitiness or something at the very end. Now I will chew slowly on the rest of the piece. I like the thickness of this bar. It chews nicely. The chocolate is so present. I keep looking over at the wrapper and the [few] ingredients like something more will be revealed. This chocolate is full and thick and big. It's really the taste left in the mouth when I'm done that makes this one special. There's that tiny sour remnant and the sense that I've done something.

Palate Cleanser: limeaid with a water chaser.

Michel Cluizel tasting in real time: This one immediately smells sweeter. Are these chocolates so powdery [bloom] because I've waited so long to eat them [or because I stored them incorrectly]? In the mouth, on the tongue, this takes longer to melt despite being a thinner bar, but my mouth is probably colder even though the water I drank was room temp. This bar is actually more bitter. I thought it would taste a lot sweeter than this. Tastes darker and harsher....still not melting like I'd like it to. I'm going to start chewing. Wow. It's very bitter. I wonder what spices are in here. There's an aftertaste of something I can't identify. This one is not bad, but wow. It's so intense. Thick, hard-flavored paste in my mouth. Really coats the teeth and the sides of my cheek. I feel like the flavor fades as I swallow it. Initially this is the more forceful chocolate, but the flavor takes leave of me more quickly, too. There's a higher, sharper aftertaste. Really no sweetness at all.

By KO, the winner is: teuscher Chocolate 99!

Afterthoughts: I thought I'd like the Michel Cluizel more because it looked (from the ingredients list) and smelled like it would be sweeter and therefore easier to eat. But the teuscher had a better texture (including the construction of the bar) and flavor, and was more enjoyable as an "experience." This does not mean I won't finish both bars, but it does mean that I won't be eating them back-to-back anymore. I'm going to look for some food/wine that pairs well with chocolate to see if I can bring out some of the nuances in these treats (it seems plebian to call them snacks. I think I've been outclassed by chocolate).

A few extra notes on my process:
Contrary to suggestions on this site, which I did not read before this tasting because I wanted to do this intuitively, I let the radio play in the background. Both chocolates were at room temperature. Unfortunately, bloom was present on the chocolates, as they've been hanging out in jail together, but this should affect only the aesthetics, not the flavor. Both snapped very well when I broke them, though the teuscher bar is thicker and had a more pleasing break.

I observed, broke, smelled, melted, and chewed both pieces in that order. I did not prefer one chocolate's packaging over the other. I liked both the black outer label of the Infini and the pink foil of the Chocolate 99.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Corn blog

Serving Suggestion

One or two vegetarian corn dogs from MorningStar Farms with a tangy mustard (more on mustard later) make a very fine snack.

I don't know what it is about these. I'm not a vegetarian, and I think most brands of vegetarian hot dogs are disgusting. But wrap the vegetarian hot dog up in some corn bread, and I'm in heaven.

These are best cooked in the oven (if you like a firmer crust), but it takes longer and makes the house too hot on a muggy day. In a pinch, the microwave is fine (and takes only 2 minutes). A toaster oven works, too.

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