Rehearsal Dinner Fears

June 1st, 2008

K’s parents were in town this weekend. We went to the restaurant that is going to do our rehearsal dinner. Now, I really like this place. It’s an Italian restaurant, and my feelings about Italian restaurants tend to revolve around risotto. I’ve had risotto with two dishes there now, once as the main dish, pear and gorgonzola risotto and the second time with peas. I feel they get risotto. It’s not that no one else in the area does, but we needed a place to go, and we liked this one. Eating out at all the places that seemed like good ideas was fun, but it had gotten expensive.

So, we went to this place on Friday, and I had a great meal. It wasn’t the best I’d had there, but it was really good. While we were eating, I heard the couple behind us talking about how Rachel Ray had been there recently. I couldn’t make out the context, but it froze my tiny heart. I live in fear now that I’m having the rehearsal dinner at some place that’s going to be featured in one of Rachel Ray’s crap ass annoying shows. It’s childish, but this really has become a fear of mine.


May 15th, 2008

Well, the first week of working solely on writing has been interesting so far. It started with a lot of chores that needed to be taken care of, and a trip to Iowa. There was a bridal shower and a graduation party to celebrate K’s completion of her degree. She made out like a bandit and I was reminded of how weird ‘salad’ is down there.

As the graduation party was being set up, my future mother in law teased me that she had made a salad with vegetables in it. This may not sound odd to those of you who have never been to northwest Iowa, but let me explain.

There were three salads on offer at this event, all were served with the meal, and desert was a separate event served after. The salads were as such: one pasta salad with carrots and celery, one salad made of vanilla pudding, cool whip, and something peach flavored, and one made of vanilla pudding, cool whip, mandarin oranges, and Keebler Fudge Cookies. The ‘fluf’ salads, as I’ve come to think of them, taste like diabetic coma, and it is a testament to their hearty pioneer constitutions that no one in her family has diabetes. It is a small miracle.

The best part of these events is always when we can bring another person along, someone who has not seen these salads before. I was treated to that wonderful look of cognitive disonance that happens when a person follows a bit of turkey sandwich with some orange flavored fluff, only to bite down on a fudge cookie. On to desert!

Making the Most of Citrus

February 12th, 2008

As a fan of mixing cocktails at home, instead of watching a bartender dumb “Sour Mix” into my glass, I go through a lot of citrus. That means a lot of discarded hulls in my trash. I like to minimize food trash as much as possible. Its a sort of weird outflow parents telling you about starving children, and an inherent absent minded tendency to let food spoil. I’ve wasted so much that at this point I’ve gotten a little weird about trying not to waste any more.

To that end, tonight I candied a bunch of orange peels. Now, I’m sure lemon would work well too, but has anyone tried lime? Mark got me started on Shaker Lemon Pie which uses the whole lemon, and is magical. He tried orange and I thought it turned out better than he did. Lime was another story. I’m told that my face was quite comical as I tried to swallow the single bite of that lime pie. The peel was horrible. It was like eating pie from an H.P. Lovecraft story. Words like unfathomable and unknowable come to mind. Would trying to candy lime peel be the same thing? I’m guessing yes, but maybe a friend has tried this?

It’s that time of the year that corporate entities send gift baskets to other corporate entities, to let them know that they care, you know, in a totally platonic but pro holiday way.

K has been making out like a bandit at her workplace, with a constant barrage of chocolates and the like. At the Minneapolis office of my workplace, some enterprising soul decided it would be best to send a collection of dime store style wonka candies. You know the sort of thing, Everlasting Gobstoppers and Fun Dip and things.

There have been strange advances and failures since I was last buying this stuff.

First off, Fun Dip now comes with a second sugar stick. Candy companies, what the hell took you so long? Did you not know that my eight year old self would have shived someone for a second on of those condensed flavorless sugar sticks? I always got some of the flavored sugar out of the little bags, ate it with the stick for a while, got bored, and ate the stick. This was immediately followed by remorse. Without the stick, all the Fun Dip was, was a bag of bitter flavored sugar. With a second stick, I could have continued my foray into artificial cherry flavor. I feel deprived.

Second, when did gobstoppers get so small? These things used to have multiple layers of flavor. They used, even as recently as when I was in college, to be big enough that they made my jaw sore holding them in. What happened? These things are the size of peas now. How are they supposed to last “forever” if they are that tiny. I could practically crunch right through one the moment I put it in my mouth.

There isn’t much room for innovation in the candy world, but lets try not to backslide, shall we?


October 21st, 2007

The girlfriend came home from Iowa today with two “grapples,” apples that have been bred to smell and taste like artificial grape flavor.

The wonders of modern technology.

Some school in the area of her home town signed on for a grant program that has their elementary school at the forefront of testing exotic fruit experiments. The remainders make it to the store.

Now, I have no idea if this was a GMO, or just a breeding accident that someone realized tasted like fakey grape. I don’t really care. All I know is that it made me uncomfortable. I felt old. Some things just shouldn’t be done. The fact that these two apples made the entire dining room reek of jolly rancher only exacerbated my fear.

But, remembering that all good technology is used to piss off old people, I decided to soldier in and taste the damn thing.

Really, I have to wonder about the thing. It doesn’t really taste like grapes, or even fake grapes, when you bite in. Mostly you get apple flavor, something close to a honeycrisp, maybe a braeburn. Hidden somewhere in the front of the flavor is grape jolly rancher flavor. I don’t know how they do it, but it’s like when you looked at crystal pepsi and it tasted different. I’m not sure I would have tasted anything, if I hadn’t been told this was a grapple.

So, really there is only one use for these things. Here’s how you get the most out of a grapple.

1) Find a grapple and some form of powerful hallucinogen.

2) Drug a friend.

3) When your friend is high, feed him the grapple. Don’t tell him that it’s been engineered to taste like that. Tell him that an army of tiny gnomes, carrying miniature grape jolly rancher candies, rubs the apple down before each bite. If he looks fast enough, tell him, he can see them rush in just before the apple reaches his mouth.

Science at work folks. We are at the forefront of a brave new world, where we take real food, and make it taste like fake food. The children at the school, I hear, were fans of this apple. Who can blame them? It tastes like what they know.


September 30th, 2006

In the latest New Yorker there’s an article on Foodtv. I’ve watched a fair amount of the Food Network over the years. While I don’t have cable, I had lamented that I would pick foodtv and Comedy Central, if I could choose channels ala carte. No longer.

First off they are getting rid of Mario Batalli, who may be the only man in America who I see as a threat to my keeping kosher. He just makes pork look like it’s going to taste so good. I really don’t even like pork. With him goes Sarah Moulton, who knows her shit, though I would only watch her show from time to time. Ming Tsai was already gone. I suppose I can’t really blame them for that, but I might anyway. A lot of my friends didn’t like him as much. Some thought he seemed a bit arrogant. It doesn’t matter.

The point is, I don’t care if it’s a 30 minute meal. I want to know about cooking, not reheating, or pulling from plastic bags. I also NEVER want to hear “Yumm-o.” The word is just so precious I want to kill a baby kitten just to return balance to the world. Alton Brown is still doing his thing, but do I want a whole network for one show? Unless it’s the Daily Show, then no, I dont.

Sun Spots

September 22nd, 2006

I saw this post on solar chargers over at Tree Hugger. I may have to go order some of that solar goodness myself. A little looking into it is probably in order first, but that sounds like it could cut the power bill pretty quickly. If it works as well as they claim it would pay for itself in a few months.

Also, from Boing Boing, to which I eternally link whore, Smoking Etiquette in Japan and Extra Hot Jalapenos for your garden.

The smoking etiquette is for Brad, who never updates his scant web presence, and spends a lot of time in Japan.

A few weeks ago I picked some of the last jalapenos out of the little pot I’d been tending for two years. I moved a little while ago, so now the squirrels don’t eat two bites of every one of them and then throw them on the ground. I kept expecting the squirrels at the old place to realize the peppers were hot. They never did. I put three of the peppers into a small curry, and then let it cook for a good long time. Near the end I squeezed a whole lemon into it, why the hell not? This got the peppers going in a way I hadn’t expected, and while I could eat it with no problem, my poor girlfriend had five bites and then had to give up. I am so tempted to get some seeds for those hotter jalepenos… I’m going to have to cook two dishes for every meal next summer.

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