Tuesday, September 30, 2008
For Jeremy, who thought I said "Poultry Tuesday"
and for Alexia All Natural Chicken Nuggets, Chicken with Broccoli & Cheddar Cheese flavor:
Don't Just Thaw Me; Heat Me Up
O, farmers who care, who offer no harbor
To added antibiotics,
Your chickens your children, your/my
Frozen nuggets arrive cold but are
In 15-18 minutes (turning once) then
Baked too hot for hands, those
Panko crumbs like bells who cannot peal,
Broccoli and cheese thick as thieves who are thick
Inside soft soft deep chickeny pillows of aroma, these,
Broccoli and cheese twisting together
Tasted together. In rich oblong nuggets they should be
Dissimilar sisters, fraternal twins posing arm in arm
And melting into one.
Once on that darkened baking sheet
Now - gone.
Chicken farmers, I can no longer address you.
My eyes, lips, teeth, tongue,
Roiling boil of stomach,
Turn to your nuggets. Let me speak.
Your saltiness is not my tears,
For I shed none. But neither would
More cheddar in there make me weep.
Friends, you are so few.
My stingy nature, my mean heart
Must have spilled you out.
Monday, September 29, 2008
(from Anastasia, who sent the UK Invasion Snack Sampler)
So do you prefer kăr'ə-məl, kăr'ə-mĕl', or kär'məl?
I prefer Tunnock's Real Milk Chocolate Caramel Wafer Biscuits, thankfully "Still Original Size." Great width. It's an old-timey carnival of thick, caramel flavor. The wafers are nicely integrated with the caramel, leading to an expensively chewy-crunchy-melty-smooshy texture. A Tunnock's Caramel Wafter Biscuit tastes down-to-earth and popular;* neither high-falutin' nor exclusive; not sweetly condescending at all; and friendly. I found it mood enhancing, and I've got another.
Eating this was better than wearing borrowed expensive jewelry (sumptuous, edible, and anxiety-free).
Have you ever made caramel? It's like magic. Tunnock's...Chocolate Caramel Wafer Biscuits are like somebody else did the magic and didn't get your pots dirty. They're like the close-up magician at a fundraiser who cheerfully sets his wallet on fire for your own private finale and walks away with a wink as you're still applauding quietly and smiling a real smile at him. You have fond memories of that magician. Magic is cool.
Beverage: All Natural Sapat Fantasy Masala-Chai Flavoured Tea. This is my favorite Indian chai mix. I first tasted it in Pittsburgh, PA which is where I bought my supply. I drink most teas and infusions without milk or sugar, but this variety I like with both.
"The boy is based on no one."
*popular in the sense of "Suited to or within the means of ordinary people" (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2007, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2007.)
Sunday, September 28, 2008
My First Coconut Macaroons
(recipe inspired by Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies, 1966)
These are flaky and chewy, but not sticky or heavy macaroons. I would like them a bit stickier if it would make them moister. Is it reasonable to blame the "reduced fat" coconut for the slight dryness? Because I do. I didn't even mean to buy reduced fat coconut. I didn't know it was an option. Boo!
Still, I think the recipe is a pretty sound one, so I'll share it.
4 egg whites - I had leftover egg whites in a bowl, so I used 12 T. leftover egg whites, which is the equivalent.
Pinch of salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. sugar - I bet superfine sugar would be nice in this
2 1/2 c. coconut - Mine was unsweetened organic and reduced fat (again, boo!). I might use just 2 c. next time to see if it makes them a bit less dry. And I definitely will never buy reduced fat coconut again. Also, if you have sweetened coconut you might want to use less sugar in the recipe.
Just beat the egg whites with the salt and vanilla until you get soft peaks. Then add the sugar a little bit at a time while continuing to beat the mixture until you get much stiffer peaks and everything seems incorporated. Fold in the coconut. Drop by rounded tablespoon (or shape with damp hands) onto a greased cookie sheet (you can also use parchment paper or a silicone mat on the cookie sheet). Bake at 325 F for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Note: Makes around 40 macaroons. You should feel free to cut this recipe in half if you have less leftover egg whites than I did or want fewer cookies.
p.s. A&E's Intervention? Depressing. I'm making an effort to snack in moderation, people. I don't want anyone to have to call in Jeff VanVonderen. Though, for the record, he's my favorite intervention specialist.
Please welcome my sister, Cali, a second-year law student, in her first guest post. We'll be spotlighting her kitchen and eating habits today. Feel free to compare and contrast from what you know of mine. In fact, if I get around to it I'll make a post with my own photos and list so you can better compare. -- J.
[Pudding, huh? So nothing has changed. Please see photo at top of post -- J.]
[I still haven't found the bite-sized to try. -- J.]
[Um...for me, that happens with PastaRoni. I only buy it when down in the dumps, and I almost always eat the entire box. -- J.]
[I have a jelly/jam-buying problem, too! Try them on the crackers! -- J.]
[You are amazing. I couldn't keep them 2 weeks. -- J.]
[The best flavor. Nay, the only flavor. -- J.]
Yay, law school.
[YAY, CALI, aka Electra, Queen of the Underworld! Thanks for taking some time out from studying/working/sleeping/snacking. Come visit! -- J.]
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Let's stay in today.
A grey afternoon + farmers' market beets + mustard + vinegar + buttermilk (granted, someone had to run to the store for the buttermilk) + Nigella Lawson's How to Eat* (I am in raptures over her. She is my first honorary aunt) = cups of comforting beet soup. The perfect accompaniment to PS3 video games on a stay-in Saturday afternoon.
But we don't have to stay in all day. After eating our beet soup, let's venture outside to see Pete Seeger in a family concert (with a grandson, Tao Rodríguez-Seeger, and the amazing Guy Davis) in Brooklyn at this year's Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Chili Pepper Fiesta.
* In the wise words of Ms. Lawson, "although it's possible to love eating without being able to cook, I don't believe you can ever really cook unless you love eating...I have nothing to declare but my greed."
(photo credit: AugustHeffner.)
Now, this is a snack with a face that I could actually eat. Also, you know what it reminds me of? Paul Reubens as "the moon" on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (I can't find a picture of that, so here he is on Tom Goes to the Mayor).
Milk Bikis! Even the name is tasty.
Here are some photos from special operatives Jim and Martha, traveling in China.
I don't know if I could handle this. I am lily-livered and tender-hearted. I know it means I miss out, but I have a hard time eating things that look like the animals from which they are derived. I'm happily an omnivore, but even chicken legs and wings give me pause from time to time.
Jim says these were still alive.
Speaking of being an omnivore, has anyone read the book The Compassionate Carnivore by Catherine Friend? Looks interesting.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Arriving at work yesterday, I was greeted by this cheery, colorful pile. It's a Japanese snack sampler from N., just back from a months-long gig in that country! I'm familiar with Pocky, but the rest of the items were new to me. Good thing I got in just as she was putting everything out on the table. You wouldn't have enjoyed a picture of what it looked like after we started ripping into and eating everything. My pick from the pile?
I chose to consume this beverage-themed gummy straw for two reasons. The first is that I love Haribo gummy colas (currently my favorite gummy of all time). The second is that I couldn't resist the drama occurring on the back of the package (see photo below). The two colors of cola/beverage (is the blue drink a cola? Dish soap?) are fighting over the straw! Clearly, this is why the product is colored both blue and brown.
The odor of blue and brown in a battle turned out to be overwhelmingly sweet and strange. I opened the package to discover that the scent came from this gummy wad:
Inside the pouch, a long gummy string lies coiled, appealing to me in the same sort of way that the gum that came in long rolls once was (Oh, I just remembered the name: Bubble Tape! Remember Bubble Tape?). I say I imagine this is meant to represent a straw, though it is much thinner than a straw would be. It is blue on two ends and brown in the middle. I expected it to be blue on one end and brown on the other, as if the two soda straws had merged. Curious.
Now, to my mind, Brown, though under-represented on this candy, is winning the fight. The blue ends were sweet, feisty, fruity, peppery and soapy. It stung my tongue a bit and lingered on the palate longer than necessary. The brown portion in the middle tasted like a gummily artificial version of soda pop, still sweet but smoother and less alarming.
If you look closer at that illustration again, you'll notice that the brown guy (and I don't use "guy" here to label this soda as male) looks angry and the blue guy looks scared. Now this makes sense to me. Blue is clearly a usurper. Long live Brown!!
Or does it take the blues in our lives to fully appreciate the browns?
The second Okashi offering I tried was Pucca. Again, this was because of the curious illustration on the back of the package.
Snarky! I like it. This reminded me of a certain (Quaker Oat?) cereal that was like a crunchy pillow hollowed out on the inside which you could bite into halves, but Pucca is fish-shaped and filled with fudgey chocolate. Nice crunch. Well done, fishies.
Finally, I sampled the purple disks in this tube.
Why? Because I cannot resist robot hippos. Looks like they eat grapes and then, I can only imagine, emit purple disks from some robotic orifice.
Yow! Grapey! A little chalky, but the strong fruity flavor made these novel. I don't think I'd eat a whole tube, but one was just fine.
I did not taste everything that was displayed on the tabletop. I restrained myself (though when I ran across some leftover Pocky and Pretz later in the day I may have had a nibble of 2 or 3 flavors). Ahem. When snacking with a group (especially in the workplace), it is important to not come off like a snack hog. But I did snap some quick pictures of a couple of other intriguing packages before they were trashed.
What is this? A flirty flan? A teasing cupcake? Am I receiving some sort of knowing wink from a small dulce de leche cheesecake?
A toucan, right? I liked this illustration. An exotic bird + treasure chests + chocolate candies with something inside = pretty good vacation idea. Intriguing.
All in all? I tip my hat to you, Japan. Don't stop the innovations and feel free to keep it up with the package design. But you might ease up on the blue cola products. Just saying.
p.s. Dave said CHOCO A~NPAN (the box can be seen in the first photo at the top of this post) were soft little treats that looked like hamburgers but were filled with chocolate. He raved about them. Anyone in NYC know where he can buy some more?
Hello, there. Hey, I have a question. How can you be so mouthwatering when you're not that good? Not that bad, granted, but not that good. Scientists must have located the chemical formula for mouthwatering.
Impressions: Sour, airy, light, corny. Strong vinegar punch. Shaped like monster paws? Definitely thirst-inducing. I don't get "onion" out of this unless I eat two at once. Not many in the bag. These taste like they'd burn the inside of your nose if you put them up your nose.
p.s. This is another British snack sent to me by Anastasia, my swap pal in the Ravelry International Scarf Exchange.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Welcome! Happy Poetry Tuesday, everrrybody.
Wendy suggested I try one of Jared's classic snack combinations: peanut butter stirred into vanilla yogurt.
I used some more of the fancy Cream-Nut peanut butter mentioned in 2 previous posts. Normally I only keep chunky peanut butter in the house, but I'm glad I had this (relatively) creamy brand on hand, as it seemed to mesh with the yogurt more soothingly than chunky might have.
Notice my giant yogurt tub? I really prefer full-fat-cream-on-top vanilla yogurt, but it's hard to find in single-serving containers. I had to buy the big guy. Yogurt doesn't have to be a diet food, y'all! Demand single-serving full-fat yogurts!
Your snack idea is a good one. I like how the richness of the peanut butter tastes in the tangy yogurt. I kind of wonder if a sweeter peanut butter brand would be better, though. The Cream-Nut's honest nuttiness gets a little overpowered by the crazy sweetness of the yogurt. Maybe I should try plain yogurt next time. Also, this took a lot of stirring. I guess I'd need a blender to really get the textures to meld. The snack is a little too much work when I am dealing with a giant yogurt that needs to be decanted into a smaller container before the pb can be added, but that's my problem, not yours. I'm glad Wendy mentioned this combo to me. Keep up the inventive snacking!
And now to the poetry. Today's snack reminded me of another poem I wrote when but a tender teenager. I was seventeen and romantic and nerdy, mad for peanut butter and certain boys, and could not stop writing love poems (not much of this description has changed). I suppose I should be too embarrassed to post this, but it's not like I have a poetic reputation to ruin.
I was painting my
fingernails with peanut
butter this afternoon and
the happy music was playing
on the stereo and then
the sun coming in the
window reminded me that
you love me
so we spent an hour
in the park just wrapped
around each other - flesh
sculptures in prickly grass
and you turned 8 cartwheels
and I got tired
and you understood that
i was too small to put the
baby bird back in its nest
and you kissed frustration
off my nose
then you wouldn't let
me lick the yogurt off the
picnic table and we watched
the dog eat a granola bar because
it was spoiled by the lemon
custard* and again the grass
but I was sitting on
your shoulders and you
were wearing shoes
photo credit: Matthew Nauser
* I remember that lemon custard granola bar, but not whether it was that flavor on its own or whether we dipped the granola bar in lemon custard yogurt. Either way, disgusting. A terrible idea.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Ah, the Concord grape. Grape of my childhood. Grape of my dreams. No grape is more pleasingly grapey or forgiveably seeded. It must be early fall, for I found the most beautimous Concord grapes at the McCarren Park farmers' market this past weekend. And I must have been hungry, for no sooner had I spotted them than I found they had been bought (by me) and were coming home in a bag.
After eating them out of that bag much of the afternoon on Saturday, and arranging them artfully in a newly purchased (six dollars) lavender vintage Pyrex divided dish (sold without lid) on Sunday morning, inspiration struck. Didn't I like pie? Why, yes, I did. Hadn't I heard of grapes being used in pie? Why, yes, I had! And did I have the right sort of grapes (by type and by weight) to make such a pie?
You guessed it. I found I had just enough (a little under 2 pounds) of the grapes left to make myself a pie Sunday evening [whilst watching yet another version of Little Women (1949, with June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor, and Janet Leigh this time) on DVD].
I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Pie and Pastry Bible, which is the trickiest cookbook I own in terms of level of difficulty (it varying between "just a bit" to "wildly" over my existing baking skills and comfort zone) and persnickety-ness of instruction. This is the cookbook that allowed me to create the following Flame Plum tart, but nearly drove me mad in the process of following its scads of instructions as I crafted the thing.
Enough about tarts of the past. Back to pies of the present. It took me an entire evening to make the transition from picking out ingredients at the grocery store (at about 6pm) in Union Square to pulling a fully-baked pie from the oven at midnight to being asleep when it was finally a fully-cooled-and-ready-to-eat pie at 2am (2 hours of cooling? After over 5 hours of making a pie? That's just craziness, Ms. Beranbaum!).
Ah, but such a luxurious craziness. I'm talking Concord Grape pie (p.127) with Basic Flaky Pie Crust (2-crust version; optional baking powder included; p.23), topped with homemade peanut butter ice cream (p. 246). Whew.
And what about the eating of the pie? Worth the fuss and muss and freezer time? At least this once, yes. When removed from the oven, the crust was golden brown and the filling smelled like fresh, rich grape juice. The surface of the pie undulated with heat and purple-red droplets of juice jumped and popped beneath the grape-shape holes in the flaky top crust (this "bunch of grapes" decoration was suggested by the cookbook's author and only partly successful when executed by me).
And the homemade ice cream? I think I let the custard curdle, but that affects texture more than flavor. Starring in this ice cream, in perhaps the role it was born to play, was the Cream-Nut Peanut Butter left over from my graham crackers and peanut butter sandwich taste test.
The pie alone? rich and delicious. With the peanut butter ice cream? It was like the most deluxe peanut butter and jelly sandwich evah. Evah evah. Jelly like I've never had. Peanut butter ice cream beyond compare. Extra-great flaky and buttery pastry. Oh, my. Pie.
So, yeah. Pretty great. I can't wait to have another slice for breakfast.
p.s. This was my 150th post! Wheee!
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I love strawberries, especially tiny wild strawberries on a hillside in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
I love milkshakes, especially at the gone-but-not-forgotten Glass Onion in Lawrence, KS.
I remember liking Whoppers and that "malted milk" flavor in general when I was growing up, though Whoppers were always my dad's candy. Each year someone (my mom, my sister or me) would purchase a big carton of Whoppers and wrap it up to go under the Christmas Tree. The gift was easy to spot and unmistakably noisy if one picked it up, so it was never a surprise.
Then, one year, Dad said he didn't need to get Whoppers every year anymore. He seemed to have had enough.
It only took me a few bites to tire of Strawberry Milkshake Whoppers, though I couldn't stop eating them right away (which is kind of scary). They taste fake and smell faker. To me, it seemed like the fake (a blend of natural and artificial flavors, according to the box) strawberry taste covers up any malted milk angle. It suggests there's not much actual strawberry in there. It protests too much, if you get my drift.
Also, there's no cocoa butter, though there is a little cocoa. Palm kernel oil stands in for that, making any chocolate in these actually mockolate. Is this (or the original Whoppers) a product that would formerly have contained cocoa butter but has been reformulated to cut costs? If so, shame on you, Hershey's! You certainly didn't make this product better tasting by avoiding real chocolate in there.
Me: The aroma is so strong. It's like the smell of the kisses that my neighbor's Strawberry Shortcake doll blew. You know, those dolls they had where when you squeezed their stomachs they blew scented kisses at you? [Editor's note: these dolls]
Dan: You're right. They do taste like Strawberry Shortcake dolls.
I guess Dan was even less taken with them than I was.
p.s. Thanks for the snack scouting and procuring, Paul!
Friday, September 19, 2008
I wanted to like the Halvah bar. It's a Turkish confection, I'm told. But my initial reaction upon opening the package was, "Ew!"
The Marble Halvah bar looks gray and mottled and feels oily. But I gave myself a mini pep-talk and took my first bite. "Oh, it's not so bad," I told myself (which is hardly praise). I got a little chocolate flavor on my tongue and an intriguing rich oiliness (the sesame and vegetable oil in the bar, no doubt). The texture is flaky and the bar melts as it is chewed.
Then, however, the taste thickened and spread through my mouth, filling it with a kind of forgot-to-brush-my-teeth-last-night bitterness and the tang of old grease. My second bite was much less tolerable. The aftertaste kills the Halvah bar experience for me. Third bite? I was sad.
My snacking partner said, "I wouldn't say the flavor is evil, but it's not as good as the texture. The aftermath is smoky and sinister, like a party you're at and you think you're enjoying but when you leave you realize you smell like bar smoke."
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
It's "Poetry Tuesday" on Snackreligious! For this week's installment, we're butchering us some Elizabeth Barrett Browning (even to the point of employing slant rhyme not in the original) because this delicious British snack made us a little crazy with delight.
How do I love thee, Jaffa Cakes?
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
Of your orange, your Chocklate out of sight.
With all your cookies I'd stuff my Face.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most tasty snack, your sponge squishy and light.
I love thy flavor, but shared, as is Right.
I love to bite thee, and my mouth Obeys.
I love thee with a passion put to use
For most rare snacks, and love your box's faith
In "sports nutritionists," who love you, too,
So says the text*, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God's cool,
I may just eat thee even after death.
* Perhaps my favorite packaging claims yet:
1. "Now even more orangey!"
2. "Each McVitie's Jaffa Cake contains lots of energy, and only 1.0g of fat per cake. That is why they are recommended by sports nutritionists." (emphasis mine)
Seriously. Yow! These are great! Thanks, Anastasia!