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Pic of the day 2012: day 25

January 25th, 2012 No comments

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Mmmmmmm, leftover turkey chalupa fixin’s for rainy day lunch. Eff that fast food crap!

Categories: food, Pic of the Day

An apparent Emergen-C

January 27th, 2011 No comments

I came to the realization a few days ago that I have a serious Emergen-C habit. Sure, it started as just an electrolyte replacement regimin due to the fact that I sweat like a stuck pig during yoga (and apparently sleep), but it’s gone beyond that.

Here is some background on my “plight.” I am one of the few Americans on this planet who doesn’t drink soda. Every so often I get a craving for one, but I have, effectively, been soda-free for just about fifteen years. Considering my proclivities towards vices, I’m throwing out a big “yay me” for this one.

As a result of my nonsodaness, I drink a lot of water. I pretty much cut caffiene out of my diet a couple of months ago, so my options for constant beverage were effectively reduced down to water.

Don’t get me wrong, I love drinking water. In a typical day, I drink almost ten liters of the stuff. What I discovered when I started yoga, however, was that I was sending my body chemistry way out of whack. I’m all in favor of lethargy, but having it forced on you is no picnic.

Enter the Emergen-C: chock full of vitamin C and a mess of other stuff that the packaging tells me is good for me. No sugar and awesome flavors like tangerine (an apparent Whole Foods exclusive) make me a pretty happy camper. I, apparently, was missing flavor in my life.

Now comes the downside. On a typical day I consume up to three of these tasty little packets. That’s a total of 3000 milligrams of added vitamin C in my life. Silly me decides to get on the interwebs and look up “vitamin C toxicity.” While non-toxic (how a toxicity can be non-toxic is beyond me), due to the fact that vitamin C is not stored in the body, but, rather, water-soluble and flushed out of your system, high doses of vitamin C can lead to other issues: kidney stones being the scariest.

I may be overreacting. I drink enough water in the day to keep a pretty constant flush going all the time. I would hope that keeping my kidneys in constant “motion” would keep me from getting those nasty engine deposits that can cause knocking, pinging and crippling pain. The thought of a “stone” growing in my body terrifies me. That’s right, I’m afraid of my First World problem. Where else but America would someone worry about getting too damn much of something other than fast food and booze. Scurvy has been on the rise in English children for the past couple of years and I’m bitching about how much vitamin C just pours out of my body. That’s right England, I just took away your First World status.

This worry, much like my impending kidney stones, will pass. I’m not sure I’ll ever jump on the Crystal Light kick that seems to be sweeping the nation, so I’ll just dutifully stand by my Emergen-C.

I think I’ll have one now and worry about my future.

Categories: food, monkey, Ravings, Vice

Don’t eff with my lunch

June 1st, 2010 No comments

I did something today that I haven’t done at all in my adult life: I didn’t leave a tip at a restaurant.

As someone who has worked in a variety of restaurant jobs over the course of my teens and twenties, I cut a lot of slack for a lot of the standard crap that goes on in the course of someone serving you your meal. I understand, to some degree, that omissions and substitutions can sometimes wreck havoc on the kitchen and I also realize that a ten table station is downright ludicrous.

What happened to me today at lunch was just a snowball effect of horrible management and apathetic self-victimization.

I’ve been going to a Thai joint near my office every week or so for the past five years: my first time being about a week after they opened their doors. It’s a pretty simple place with a mere dozen menu items for lunch that comes standard with a little cup of soup and a tiny eggroll. On most days, about half of the fifteen or so tables are filled and the whole lunching experience takes about thirty minutes and it’s right back to the office again.

Not today.

Today I walked in and everything seemed moderately normal: about ten of the tables were seated and the normal Asian server/manager was hustling around from table to table. I sat in the corner and she immediately came over to get my usual order: Thai fried rice with beef, medium spicy and an iced tea. She shuffled off and sent the other girl who typically acts as food runner over with my iced tea.

From there, the circus began.

As is typical with most days I’m out at lunch, I had my Kindle with me and was reading the latest crap novel that I crave so much, so I don’t often pay attention to much of what is going on around me. After five minutes of reading with no sign of soup, I started to look around. I would guess that more than half of the ten tables had their food and were throwing down the nom while the rest of us waited. A table near me who, I’m guessing, had recently ordered, flagged down the server/manager type who was standing in the corner opposite me. From their gestures I gathered that they were curious as to where their soup was. At that point I was curious as to where mine was, so I made the “inquisitive” face towards the server/manager. Rather than wander over to see what I needed, she merely yelled across the room “No soup yet?”

She hadn’t brought me the soup, and her runner had made herself scarce in the kitchen, so yes, she knew damn well that I had no soup. She proceeded to take three more tables of orders and, as an afterthought five or so minutes later, brought me my damn soup.

When the soup was dropped off at my table I asked her if I could get a refill of my tea. She motioned to the other end of the dining room and told me it was over there. Not once in my five years of going to this place have I ever refilled my own drink. I looked her in the eye and said “Seriously?” and her reply was “Yes, it’s over there.”

At this point I was already starting to get a tad pissed off.

Another twenty minutes passed and Thai fried rice with beef, medium spicy, was still not in front of me. The remainder of people without food around me were also wondering where their dishes were and started signalling to the server/manager that they needed to get their food out now or packed up to-go. The server/manager would make these exasperating huffs and then go back into the kitchen only to return a few seconds later explaining that she told the cook(s) to make the order. She proceeded to do this five or six more times for five or six more customers.

Finally, someone who had been seated before I got there got up and said forget the order and he was going to have to leave to get back to work. The server/manager got really indignant and said that the customer couldn’t do that because the food was finished. The guy gave a little chuckle and then walked out the door.

I was still without my Thai fried rice with beef, medium spicy.

Two more tables say they either need to cancel or have the food packed to-go right now and stood up. The server/manager began scurrying around the restaurant like ants after someone upsets an anthill; and, like those ants, it seemed that nothing was being done.

Suddenly, a plate of pad Thai came out of the kitchen and was delivered to a table where three gentlemen were seated. I’m not sure where the other two dishes were, but the other two guys got up and left.  After another couple of minutes another plate came out and the food runner angled towards my table. “Fried rice?” she asked. “Yes,” I responded and she plopped the most lacklustre plate of greasy fried rice I’d ever seen in this joint down in front of me and scurried off. Sure, it was Thai fried rice, but it was chicken instead of beef and had a spicy factor of zero.

It had been about forty-five minutes since I had sat down, so, instead of sending the plate back and trying my luck with another hour of waiting, I began eating.

Another plate emerged from the kitchen and it was another plate of Thai fried rice; a plate that looked suspiciously like beef. “I ordered chicken,” said the gentleman server/manager tried to put the plate down in front of. “He took yours,” said the server/manager pointing in my direction.

That was it.

I shovelled a few more forks full of rice into my gullet and gathered up my stuff. As I headed towards the counter where the cash register was the server/manager scurried over to find my check. We didn’t exchange a single word as I gave her my best head-shaking stink eye and paid for my failure of a lunch. I’m pretty sure she knows that I’ll never be back in there again.

Categories: food, monkey, Ravings, Stupidity

Nukin’ Chips, and I don’t mean Ponch and Jon

April 26th, 2010 No comments

There is a special place in my heart for the relationship between the microwave oven and the potato. Such an innocuous combination was responsible for the beginning of an amazing friendship and the formation of the Forkers.

With that in mind, I approached the melding of microwaves and starchy tuber after reading Savory Sweet Life’s article on “How To Make Potato Chips In The Microwave” for a new approach on things to make with potatoes in a magnetron environment.

Unlike most endeavors I undertake, I actually wanted to follow the instructions on this one. The last thing I needed to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon was to have to explain to squeezle why and how I’d managed to blow up the kitchen and set the microwave on fire. I realize most modern microwaves are smarter than I am, but I’ve been very wary of them since the incident I had with the microwave that was in our house when we first bought it that operated just fine with the door open. It took one good burn on my hand to figure out that I probably wasn’t smart enough to operate that particular machine.

We’ve since replaced that oven (a couple times, I think), and our current microwave presented me with a few “challenges” when approached from the chip-makers perspective.

First and foremost, the instructions say to turn off the rotation in your oven if it does that. Since mine rotates and doesn’t have the ability to disable the rotation, I pulled out the gigantic glass tray and elevated it using some prep bowls to inhibit the rotations. From there I was able to follow the instructions: putting down parchment paper, covering the paper in thinly sliced potatoes (thank you scary mandolin cutter), spraying the mess with cooking spray and applying a sprinkle of sea salt.

Now came the scary part. I was about 50/50 convinced that the microwave was going to implode when run for five minutes with not much other than a quarter of a potato and a sheet of paper in it. To my surprise, it did not. What it also did not do, however, was crisp up those chips. I had to add an additional two and a half minutes to the time in order to get crispy chips with the stationary setup. It was vitally important to monitor the chips after the first three minutes because they all pretty much cooked at different rates.

For the second run (you honestly don’t get that many chips down in a standard-sized microwave), squeezle suggested I yoink out the elevator bowls and let the stupid oven rotate. This worked infinitely better than the stationary chips. After about three minutes, chips were crisping up and my speed to delivery (aka, squeezle’s belly) was way faster.

One potato about the size of a pint glass generated four and a half runs through the microwave and a pretty normal serving size to go with sammiches that squeezle made for dinner. We were about to embark on a second potato, but figured the oven could use a bit of a rest since the glass tray was close to lava hot and the kitchen reeked of potato steam.

That being said, I found it a bit too easy to make these chips. They were a snap to make and remarkably tasty. Usually when I set out on a “project” such as this, I make a huge mess and usually end up hurting myself or causing some sort of trouble that I, then, have to resolve.

None of that was true with this. Even with my liberal applications of cooking spray (a potential for me seriously injuring myself in a plethora of ways), nothing bad happened. I didn’t start any fires, I didn’t cut myself on the razor-sharp mandolin, and I didn’t leave the kitchen looking like the Swedish Chef had done a guest spot.

I guess there is always next time.

Categories: Awesomeness, food, monkey, Stupidity

Do not jack with my jawbreakers!

December 18th, 2009 No comments

jawbreakerI’m a candy junkie. Oddly enough, however, my habit did not form until I was well into my 20′s. I’m almost convinced that it’s related to my body’s craving for alcohol, but I can’t prove anything.

Anyway, I loves me some candy, and, therefore, I can motor through a crapload of the stuff if given the opportunity. On several occasions I have easily polished off a pound bag of Runts and once even got through three gigantic boxes of Hot Tamales before I lost all feeling in my tongue. Yes, I do almost everything to excess.

The one way I have found to curb my excesses is jawbreakers. Even most dime-sized jawbreakers are resilient under the power of my chompers, so I usually take my time and actually pace myself when it comes to the damn little thing.

Unfortunately, unless it’s Halloween or if I’m near one of those creepy candy stores that all malls seem to have, jawbreakers just aren’t in abundance in retail environments. Sure, there are those wacky quarter machines near the front door of most grocery stores, but, after hearing about a news story here in Dallas when I was a kid where a man used one of those machines to get a handful of peanuts and ended up with a couple of newborn baby rats, I’m pretty much out on those clockwork deathtraps for anything other than Homiesand those sticky jelly hands that you can whip out and grab things with. That pretty much leaves me with Wonka Everlasting Gobstoppers as an option at most retail outlets.

This isn’t a bad thing. I grew up on the long yellow box of color changing Gobstoppers, and really have a sense of nostalgia for the indescribable flavor the little monsters have.

Sleeves of three Gobstoppers are a Halloween mainstay, so I’ve been pretty good for the past couple of months. Yesterday, however, I had me a huge craving and none in sight, so I bounced down to the local grocery and picked up a couple “movie sized” boxes (what does that even mean?) of the little boulders to get me through the next couple of weeks.

The invective that came out of my mouth after opening up the box I choose not to repeat here, but I was irate. Gone were the dime-sized, multi-layer balls of sugar; replaced by a smaller ball about the diameter of a plain M&M. Worse, the candy was not scaled in kind, but rather, reduced to merely two color layers before hitting the packed candy powder center. Bottom line, I can crunch through these things like a rat baby’s skull.

Damn you Wonka, damn you straight to hell. I know it’s all really Nestle’s fault, but, just for this slight, I’m going to avoid both Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp movies for the next month or so.

What? Did Gobstoppers last too long and you weren’t able to sell enough boxes to keep your candy-coated yachts afloat? Are children’s bones getting so brittle from modern living that jawbreakers are becoming contraband? Why, Willy, why?

That’s it, I’m headed out to buy me a 5lb tub of Atomic Fireballs.

Categories: food, monkey, Ravings, Vice

Green morning

December 14th, 2009 No comments

breakfast_saladBreakfast is an odd meal. For Americans at least, breakfast is pretty much the only meal that has predefined “rules” for what can be served. Think about it, having breakfast for dinner is a huge treat and breakfast at lunch is just brunch (though the rules around brunch are odd in their own right). Unless you are a college student (where all rules for just about everything are thrown out the window), you eat your sugar-based bready object in the morning and more protein-related foods in afternoon and evening.

This got me thinking. Why not breakfast salads? The closest most people get to a salad first thing in the morning is a bowl of cubed fruit that is mostly cantelope and honeydew melon filler. Cubey fruit does not a salad make.

What is even more interesting is that many of the best salad fixings are standard breakfast foods. Bacon (a.k.a. manna from heaven) and hard-boiled eggs are standardly accepted; croutons are nothing more than toast, and potatoes are a key ingredient in Niçoise salad. I’m not suggesting anything as radical as a maple vinagrette, but they are out there.

Break convention, people! Throw the rules on their ear. While not as portable as that pop-tart or a cruller, eat some damn green stuff for breakfast.

All this food talk is making me hungry. I’m off to have a Craz-E Burger. Someone call my cardiologist.

Categories: food

On PB&J

December 4th, 2009 No comments

pbjI like to think of myself as a bit of a foodie. For those not in the know, that means I like to get pretentious about what I eat when I’m around other people, yet still do those 3AM McDonalds runs when I’m headed home from the bar after drinking a crapload of Bud Light. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but the intent is there. The big difference between foodies and gluttons is that foodies tend to look at their cuisine before shovelling it into their faces: this being way different than actually meeting your food.

OK, enough of the sidetrack. I’m here today to speak about the wonders of the greatest food combination in the entire world: peanut butter and jelly.

I’ve been a massive fan of the PB&J since I was a wee lad. A couple of sammiches with a tall glass of chocolate milk and some Cheetos could very well beat out any fancy fare for my choice of last meal. I’m just that dedicated.

I am, however, quite snobbish when it comes to PB&Js. Crunchy is the only peanut butter that should be used and it is my firm belief that lightning should strike you if you meld peanut butter and bread together with anything other than grape jelly. I’m much more flexible with bread choices (I’m not a total asshole). I almost never eat plain ‘ol white bread, but it’s mighty tasty with PB&Js as well as leftover turkey sammiches. The Cheetos (puffy not the original) and chocolate milk are not necessary, but it does help to have something to wash down it all down with. Amazingly, this is one time where beer just doesn’t do the job.

It makes me hungry just thinking about it.

Categories: food