Thursday, May 28, 2009

Some snacks you just don't mess with.


(it's really only worth a blurry picture)

A classic Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie is a beautiful thing. It's soft, squishy, creamy, sweet, and simple. I understand why the people at Little Debbie might want to make something else delicious in the same vein. I could eat four to six of them right now.

The newer Little Debbie PB&J Oatmeal Pie, however, doesn't work. Here, the Oatmeal cookies are stiff, not soft. The peanut butter and jelly filling they've created is not tasty enough to complement the oatmeal. It falls flat. I am relatively sure I will never eat another one, and I'm pretty fond of a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Do it with Relish

Green Tomato Relish ingredients

What's the season for green tomatoes around here, anyway? If you see them for sale in NYC, let me know. I have my grandfather's green tomato relish recipe to perfect, but I'm afraid I won't get my chance until August or so. Every year I miss them and have to make do with partly green. No more!

Clif's Edge



Today's mini Chocolate Brownie Clif Bar was brought to me by Transportation Alternatives. These were given out to bicyclists on a recent Bike to Work Day.

The flavor and scent are sweetly plastic and the texture is dense, moist, and grainy, like partially chewed brownie stuffed with uncooked rolled oats. Throughout the lengthy chewing of this tiny brick of "nutrition for sustained energy," my tongue burns slightly and my jaw grows weary. Still, I like Clif Bars so much better than other energy bars I've tried.

There are other Clif Bar flavors I prefer, but I actually would eat this again if there were only worse options and I had to choose something (is that faint praise, or what?). It's reasonably filling and compact without much of that artificial, "diet" sugar substitute taste.

To make a general comment that is not meant to be brand-specific, I have been repeatedly reminded that while chocolate covers up a wealth of sins, it usually doesn't hide all of an energy bar's warts.




By the way, I broke this warty baby out of Snack Jail, where Dan had left it on the 14th. I should have earned my own that day, but I don't like biking in NYC. Drivers are really aggressive around here and I don't own a helmet (yet; I'm working on it). I barely ride in my neighborhood, and I definitely don't bike to work. All that said, I support the initiative, respect bicycle commuters, and thank TA for the freebie.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Poetry Tuesday: Guest Poet, Chester Cheetah

a Poem by Chester Cheetah

Puffs

[Jennette says: As it turns out, these are no better than the generic versions of "no hull, no seed" popcorn or melt-in-your-mouth cheese puffs that have been around since my childhood.]

Puff Corn

Monday, May 25, 2009

Planning Ahead to Look Back

Self-portrait

June 04, 2009 will mark the one-year anniversary of this, my first and only blog. The fact that anyone else reads these posts is kind of awesome, and I really do appreciate it, so I thought I'd give you a chance to influence my posting on the fourth.

How do y'all think I should celebrate? Is there anything you'd really like to see me eat? Questions you'd like answered? Themes I should explore? Should I spend all day in Snack Jail? Eat only health foods? Try a new restaurant? Ingest my weight in frozen lemonade?

I'm open to suggestions.

Some will eat sand; I prefer cupcakes

Mini Cupcake

This afternoon I sort of crashed A's first birthday party by tagging along as R and H's friend in tow. The host mom, J, was as sweet as her backyard space, as lovely as her birthday girl daughter, as friendly as the other guests in attendance, and as welcoming as the mini cupcakes from Crumbs (I had two -- vanilla M&M and chocolate Oreo). I felt right at home.

Drinking from the watering can

Baby guests gathered around the play area to eat a little sand and occasionally drink water from plastic watering cans.

First Birthday Spread

Adults and kids alike enjoyed pasta salad with peas, broccoli, and tomatoes (my favorite dish); carrots and hummus; blue tortilla chips; and a pitch-perfect fruit salad served in a carved watermelon "bowl." I don't know that a one-year-old always knows when it's his or her birthday, but everyone at this party seemed to know it was a celebration. I had a great time.

Did I mention there were Jello shots for the grownups? I had two strawberry-coconut servings. Right on.

Everybody eats.

Babies want your cranberry sherbet.

Composite shot

If you happen to find yourself on Cape Cod one of these days, I recommend stopping by Four Seas Ice Cream. The atmosphere there is much more homey and historical than their website design suggests. I especially enjoyed the framed photos of ice cream parlor staff through the years (staff pictures look way cooler from those years before white t-shirts became a popular uniform, by the way).

Had it been hotter on the Cape this weekend I would have happily gone back again and again. As it was, I enjoyed a small cranberry sherbet. It was perfectly tart with pieces of dried cranberry throughout. I also had a bite of Dan's "lemon crisp" ice cream, but it was sweeter than I wanted it to be.

On snacking while standing in line: Weddings

Post-wedding snacks

[Disclaimer: I like it when people who are in love get married. I like going to weddings. My friends have fun weddings that I enjoy immensely. So don't get too carried away about my complaint this morning.]

Maybe I'm an impatient person, but I don't like waiting in receiving lines after wedding ceremonies. Even more boring is sitting in a pew waiting to be released row-by-row by ushers so that you can stand in a receiving line (especially if you're way back in the non-family cheap seats).

Granted, there aren't a lot of good alternatives to the receiving line if everyone at the wedding wants to shake the hand of or hug the bride and groom (or bride and bride, or groom and groom), which most of them do.

The best I could come up with for our wedding was to release the guests pew-by-pew ourselves, and as quickly as reasonable, so that at least there was never much of a line:

Many Hugs

The people in the back rows still ended up waiting around, though.

You know what makes a lot of waiting people happier? Eating while waiting. It turns out that if there is a table at the back of the Tabernacle with snacks that you can eat while waiting for your turn to sign the Quaker marriage certificate, as there was at Lindsey and Cormac's wedding, the wait doesn't seem quite as long.

Good idea!

I'll still go to weddings without receiving line snacks, but I'd rather not. Now I know what I've been missing.

I don't need wedding cake.

Homemade wedding desserts

It's not that I haven't had good cakes at weddings. It's just that I've had so many desserts in my lifetime that are better than the best wedding cake I've ever had.

This is one of the reasons Dan and I chose cheesecakes with various toppings for our wedding dessert. It also saved us a lot of money (we bought frozen cheesecakes and put out fruits and sauces for the doctoring of individual portions).

Long table of desserts

At Cormac and Lindsey's wedding in Craigville, MA, the dessert table was loaded with homemade goodies provided by friends and family of the bride and groom. Had I known, I would have contributed, but they certainly didn't need more.

Dessert plate

I ate until I groaned. It was so serious I couldn't even take a bite of the brownie-cup-with-peanut-butter-in-the-middle. When I can't do that, you know I'm full. Normally, I don't like to leave anything on the table other than a spare butter pat or three.

Follow the trail of butter pats.

p.s. Looks like someone was trying to get me drunk. Extra cups of Vino Verde kept appearing next to my plate.

Sunday, BBQ Sunday

Diana's salad

Diana's BBQ featured spicy macaroni and cheese (the jalape├▒o in there was a nice idea) and potato salad (my favorite ingredient: capers), many meats and meat-substitutes (I went for the turkey dog Vincent offered to cook for me), and a bevy of chip-type snackfoods.

More British chips

For one thing, someone had procured several small bags of British crisps. My favorite? These Tayto Pickled Onion, which mostly (but enjoyably) tasted of vinegar.

Where?

I brought a bag of Popcorn, Indiana (named after a real place, though the brand is a NYC creation) Smoked Cheddar Kettlecorn. The mixture of truly smokey cheese with the sweetness of kettle corn was pleasing, but I would have liked a little spice in the mix. I'd certainly eat this again, but I'll be looking for other flavors to try.

Popcorn

Snickerpuss

Ice cream Snickers

And why not eat an Snickers Ice Cream bar while watching the movie Tapeheads (in which John Cusack does a remarkable David Arquette impression several years before anyone had heard of David Arquette)? It's a holiday weekend! Live a little.

Inner

I think this is a candy bar that is better in ice-creamed format than in its original (though harder to eat in the shower).

Frankly, it's the yeast of my worries.



Speaking of doughnuts, Paul sent me the link to this video (edited and introduced to the internet by Everything is Terrible). I am confused by carpenters wearing doughnut hardhats, but I do support the trend of millinery couture with food attached. However, I can only assume that the proselytizing pastries cooked up in the Wonder Oven are never consumed. I don't think it would be very Christian to eat sentient baked goods with eyeballs and religious beliefs.

As a side note, I don't like to see such obviously enforced swaying-to-music in kiddie videos. But it's alarmingly common.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I Do, Honey Dew

When in Boston
(photo by Dan)

I may have mentioned my fondness for Boston Creme/Cream doughnuts. I used to be all about the blueberry cake, and they're still in the game, but I'm in a cream-in-the-middle phase of life. How about you?

In the interest of tourism and keeping in touch with my inner doughnut, I knew that someday I needed to test a Boston Cream while actually in Boston. And now, an excursion out to the Cape this weekend has made this dream come true. Plus, be still my eating heart, I got to try a new brand of doughnut. I mean, I like Dunkin', but it isn't exactly the last word in cake-with-holes. There are so many other doughnuts out there I haven't tried.

Honey Dew Donuts, my supplier this past Friday morning, is a company with its roots firmly in Massachusetts, so that made this particular Boston Creme doughnut (pictured above, before being eaten at Boston's South Street Station) doubly significant. It was tasty, featuring a cream that was neither too sweet nor too skimpy. The chocolate on top was appropriately rich. Still, given that I was actually sitting in Boston eating a doughnut made in and named after that very city, I expected something more.

I also tried one of Honey Dew's Blueberry Nugget variety. It was cakey, but almost light or fluffy, with good blueberry representation (though not whole berries or anything crazy impressive). Quite tasty.

Both doughnuts did outperform similar flavors I've eaten from DD. The prices were also cheaper at Honey Dew. If you're interested in my current rankings as an equation, they could be expressed this way:

HD Blueberry Nugget > HD Boston Cream > DD Boston Kreme > DD Blueberry Cake

And now for the bottom line. When in Mass. (or another HD locations) -- do, do Dew!

Beverage X Revealed (source remains classified).

Mystery Drink
(see original post here)

█████ gave Dan a bottle of "Tranquilo," a brand new flavor of Vitamin Water. I got to try it, too!

But I'm not sure when this will be available in stores, nor do I want to get █████ or Dan into trouble by leaking anything that's supposed to be a secret.

I will say that "Tranquilo" smells tropical, almost of suntan lotion (in a good way) and coconuts. According to the packaging, the flavor is actually tamarind and pineapple. It's smooth and sweet, sort of like a fruity green tea. Some people will probably find it to be too sweet.

Were this available in stores (and I hope it soon will be), I'd drink it again -- and I definitely rate it among my favorite flavors of Vitamin Water.

[UPDATE: This is now available in stores, obviously. Also, I tried one of the new low-calorie Vitamin Waters (I forget which flavor) and found it gross. It tasted like artificial sugar.)]

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"My doctor said I wasn't supposed to get pudding in it!"

Kozy

Kozy Shack Chocolate All Natural Pudding:

1. Since 1967
2. Kettle-cooked
3. Gluten free
4. HQ in Hicksville, NY
5. 0 grams trans-fat
6. "Good" source of calcium
7. Delicious -- a)rich; b)smooth; c)thick; d)chocolatey; e)classic; f)soothing

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bonus Accessory

Punched

Let's talk office supplies and how they may enhance our snacking!

I love the decorative hole punch Nick picked up in Japan (I think that's where he said it came from; I might have misheard while busy swooning over its cuteness). Not only does it create a mini fork and spoon in negative, it also creates fork and spoon confetti!

Nick said he hole-punches his recipes this way now. Too clever.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Pet Peeve

This is not a fortune

When I am promised a fortune, I want a fortune. I don't want a "wise" saying. I want a prediction of some sort. There's no reason to eat a fortune cookie if the piece of paper inside is not going to prognosticate. It's not like they taste good.

p.s. Can one actually describe a responsibility as "dashing" or "bold?" Please cite examples if you feel you can explain.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Suck My Pizza!

Suck My Pizza

A friend's uncle
recommended I try the pizza truck that parks at the southwest corner of Union Square. He had pretty good things to say about it, and I work around the corner, so I hied myself there.

You know what's disconcerting and unappetizing? When you're standing in line behind a guy who seems to be having trouble placing his order and you realize he and one of the pizza sellers are now arguing about something and then the guy walks away angrily shouting, "Suck my ***!" and the pizza seller shouts back, "Suck my ****!"

Then it was my turn to order. I didn't want anything sucked. Tension was in the air. I meekly asked the second pizza seller (who had done no shouting) for the Sicilian slice special (2 for $4) and a Pepsi ($5 total) and tried not to look at Mr. "Suck my" while my pizza was fired in the truck's oven (in the photo above, the crust looks burnt, but that's because I toasted it to re-warm it when I got back to work).

I do not consider myself a prude, but my pizza just didn't taste as good as I think it would have if I'd gotten to experience it without the memory of all that yelling about sucking things that should never be sucked in public (or in anger). Still, the slices were tasty (I almost always prefer Sicilian when in NYC) and I'd order lunch there again.

I don't mean to be stereotypical, but I do happen to be eating chocolate and thinking about shoes.

Goji berry bar

I'm being honest in the title of this post, if a bit defensive. I'm not into chocolate and shoes because I'm female. I'm into them because I'm me. And I've got my priorities (fairly) straight -- I don't love them to the detriment of more intellectual pursuits (not that I'm pursuing that many intellectual things through this blog, as you know). But I do happen to be a lady who likes both chocolate and shoes. Give me a break, imaginary critics. There are plenty of men out there who enjoy these things, too (or would, if men's shoes came in such variety).

Tragedy! It has been a week of woe, where my shoes are concerned. Finally, the weather is warm enough for me to show off my recently acquired toenail polish, and my open-toed shoes are torturing me every chance they get. First, a very old pair of low-heeled brown sandals gave up the ghost. I just can't get the ankle straps to stay up. Over the years, I've tried taping, tightening, adjusting constantly, and ignoring; I've hit my limit. Goodbye, low-heeled brown sandals.

Then, a new pair of $6 flip flops (bought on sale over the winter and tried on, but not worn while walking around until yesterday) turned on me. These jerkos not only chose to both dig their fake-leather straps into my feet, causing the sort of pain that feels like it will leave bruises, but the right-foot flop decided to twist as I walked, leaving my right foot constantly falling off the sole of its shoe. I thought I had finally found that elusive plain black thong I'd been looking for (no crazy colors or fake crystals on my flip flops, please). But I was wrong. Why, oh why? Also, goodbye.

I should have been wearing my supremely comfortable (once they're broken in), never-angering handmade moccasins by Manimal, because I have them in two colors (support small business owners! Watch for sample sales!) and I love them. Wanting to show off my pedicure was nothing but hubris. If I'd gone for the toe-enclosing mocs I would not have been doomed to two days of foot pain and rage.

Wait a minute. Am I going to talk about inedibles for the rest of this item? Let's get to the snacks. A few moments of sanity amidst my days of furious feet? Brought to me by eating squares of a Vosges Haute Chocolat Goji bar. This fancy chocolate was an unexpected gift from Louis, produced upon the occasion of our finishing a monster (5 months or more) recording project at work. Thanks, Louis!

"Tibetan goji berries/pink Himalayan salt/deep milk chocolate/45% cacao" is printed on the front of the box for this 3 oz. (85 g.) bar. On the back? An overwritten essay on "How To Enjoy An Exotic Candy Bar" by someone named Katrina (whose bio was also overwritten, so I stopped reading it), including instructions such as "Take 3 deep breaths. Rub your thumb on the chocolate to help release the..." blahblahblah.

I didn't take three deep breaths. I rubbed my thumb on nothing. I just ate the chocolate. And it was delicious. I had forgotten about the Goji berries promised by the packaging, so their chewiness surprised me. The salt, which I was looking forward to, was as good (and pink) as I'd hoped. I love salt with chocolate. I did wonder if this bar might be better in a darker chocolate, but I'm no snob; I like milk chocolate, too. In fact, though I've had other flavors of chocolate bar from this line, the Goji Bar is my favorite so far.

Eating a bit of the bar yesterday helped me get through the day without running out to buy replacement shoes just so I could take the rotten flip flops off. Eating some today has me feeling like I take whatever shoes come next, good or bad. And that's some empowering salty chocolate!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Poetry Tuesday: Dan went to a fancy art party and all I got was this lousy herbal water.



You, the coatless, who are going home when the sun sets,
Drink this. Drink this in your
Cold home, surrounded by your
Reheated macaronis and consolation lipsticks. Sniff
And you may clean your fixtures with the smell.
Astringent hydration; there's frowning inside.
Vanilla and lemongrass fight over you,
So you must not be lonely. But you are
Lonely. As mint has deserted you all.
Oh. The situation's muddied.
There is something in your water.
It is meant to be there but it should not be there.

Your tongue is angry at you now.
The two of you are going to argue.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dirty Girl



My first Mary Jane (from Paul) got a little dirty in Snack Jail. But that was just her wrapper. Inside was an unsullied treat. At first taste, I thought it was a kind of caramel and graham flavored chew. Also, I felt it was threatening my fillings, so didn't do much chewing around this lady.

Eventually, the graham flavor I identified gave way to peanut butter. I read this is what she's meant to taste of, as she's actually part peanut butter and part molasses. I can accept that.

Desperately Seeking Sun Chips




There's a new Sun Chip flavor floating around out there -- Peppercorn Ranch. I picked it up a month or two ago with a sandwich at a Subway, but haven't found it again. It wasn't bad. I'd like to try it again, if the universe will allow.

Two Times the (Bottlecaps) Lady

Bottlecaps from Angela

Both Tia and Angela sent me Bottlecaps in snack samplers this year. I think that means I am eating them by popular demand.

I'm generally more of a SweetTart or Smarties girl. Bottlecaps trend sweeter than sour and I prefer the latter most of the time. Still, these bring back fond memories of childhood Halloweens and buying candy at the corner drugstore (which was a Revco, in case you were wondering). Plus, purple tastes like soda pop and orange tastes like Tang!

Chips and Sticks:

In which I dither around for a paragraph or so before finally getting to the point.

Nick's trip to Japan sounds like it was a nice time. Better than nice. My favorite part is when, after it was over, he came back to NYC with a little Japan in his luggage. Some of Japan is edible, you know, and of this category Nick selected some comestibles as souvenirs. And of these edible souvenirs selected, a good number of bites were shared with me. And this was nice of him. Really, really nice!


Corn Soup Pringles

Corn Soup Pringles (that may not be the correct translation, as I've forgotten exactly what Jeremy said the Japanese reads) taste like Pringles coated with chicken Ramen Noodle Soup flavor powder. This pleases me. They're getting a little stale because I waited just too long to finish eating the small cannister's portion, but don't hold that against them. I didn't.


Asparagus Pretz

Pretz Asparagus don't visually resemble asparagus in many ways. They are long and thin, and have little brown hatch marks painted or burnt on one side (which are probably supposed to resemble the tips that grow on the asparagus stalk), but that's about it. Their flavor, however, and especially their scent are reminiscent of that vegetable. There's a certain bright greenness about them in the mouth. They're actually more asparagus-ish, as it were, than they are pretzel-y. I like them best eaten two at a time.

In conclusion: I am eating Japanese snacks and everything is nice.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Have you seen this root beer?



Sprecher
root beer is served at Mother's. It's dark there, so the photos are bad. The root beer is not.

The Host with the Most...snacks.



The South Korean film The Host lost me a bit about two-thirds of the way through its two hour run time, in part because of how relentlessly it continued to beat up on every character. At one point I decided that there just couldn't possibly be a happy ending. Too many things had gone wrong for the pendulum to ever swing back. I don't need a Hollywood Ending every time, you know, but I would have felt better tonight if director Bong Joon-Ho had gone just a titch more Hollywood.

I also couldn't tell if the moments that seemed absurd to me in certain scenes (for example, a sort of yelling, sobbing, fumbling wrestling match of grief that went on for a while in a communal mourning site) were meant to be funny or if I was just being culturally insensitive. Is this a goofy horror film, or a horror film that doesn't always translate well?

I'm willing to overlook a lot of this, and even if I watched the credits roll with some disappointment, I'm not sorry to have rented The Host. It was curious in a way that I felt made it ultimately worth my time, the effects were intriguing, and it contained some nice shots and acting. And I was thoroughly charmed by the "I'm sorry" special feature on the DVD in which Bong Joon-Ho apologized to (among others) cast members whose lines had been cut, set designers whose signs hadn't been seen clearly, and bikers who had been inconvenienced by the shooting schedule.

Still, what actually kept me watching for those two hours, as people continued dying and dropping from high places and getting their heads drilled into, was my newfound dream of living in a snack stand.



Me too, kid. Me too. It looks awesome, first of all:



And, second of all, it's a great resource for refueling during crisis/monster attack:



Everyone should have a snack bar in the family or get themselves into a family with a snack bar. This is a dream worth running away from a mutated-because-of-an-evil-American-forcing-a-local-to-dump-dangerous-medical-waste-against-all-reason amphibious fish-beast for.



Finally, on a related note, this is a movie that should be watched while eating instant noodles.

Stack and Snack

Tower of Power
(photo by Dan)

Oh, what a night it was. It was a dreamy evening of enormous, double-thick peanut butter cookie sandwiches filled with a honeyed peanut butter creme. The flavor of these lovelies resembles the classic girl scout pb sandwich (or Do-Si-Do), but they are soft and bendy, even after sitting out (covered) at room temp overnight. They also look and taste more rustic, warm, and homemade (of course!).

This is another recipe from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. I'm finding a lot of hits in there.

Scouts Honor Cookies

Scout's Honor PB Sandwiches
adapted from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion
Makes 24-32 sandwich cookies (I'll make them smaller next time)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix for the dough:
1/3 cup unsalted butter at room temp
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

After blending, add 1 large egg and mix again until thoroughly incorporated and fluffy.
Stir in:
3/4 cup flour
1 c. old-fashioned oats (not quick oats)

The recipe calls for you to drop teaspoon-full amounts onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Next time, I am going to roll my dough into marble-sized balls (to make a smaller, less irregularly-shaped cookie). Either way, then press down on the dough with the bottom of a greased glass so that the dough ends up around 1/4" thick.

Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool a minute or two on the cookie sheet. Remove carefully to a rack to cool.

While cookies are cooling, beat together the filling ingredients:
1 cup peanut butter (I used just less than 1 cup creamy and added 2-3 T. of crunchy peanut butter to round out the cup)
1 T. honey (I used raw honey)
1/4 cup powdered sugar (add a little more if you feel like it. I did.)

Once cookies are cooled, distribute filling onto half of the cookies. Press an unadorned cookie onto a filling-spread cookie. Repeat until all cookies have been paired. Eat up!

Saying Cheese

K's cake

Chuck E. Cheese in Harlem

Tokens! Free refills of syrupy pop! 2 pieces of dense, sweetly sauced pizza! Vegetable tray that was always just a bit out of reach! Children and adults, friends and strangers, having a lovely time together! A grown birthday boy dancing with a costumed mouse! Cake! A vibrating, sticky-floored arctic journey via video game! Winning enough tickets to buy three Laffy Taffies and a plastic comb!

None of these are complaints. I had a blast at Kevin's birthday. I didn't even know there was a Chuck E. Cheese in NYC. Let's go back!

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