Posted on Friday, January 15th, 2021
And so now I know what it's like to be wealthy!
I had a coupon for trying out the HelloFresh meal service. And, since their vegetarian options no longer seem to revolve exclusively around mushrooms (which I can't eat) and cauliflower or broccoli (which I won't eat), I took them up on their introductory offer. I signed up, selected vegetarian meals that sounded good, and got excited over trying something new.
My first box was due to arrive next week. For whatever reason, they screwed up and sent it this week. Which wouldn't have bothered me, except they sent meat dishes. I contacted them to explain the problem, they immediately credited me the cost, then told me to dispose of the carnivorous meals as I wished. So I gave all the meat to a neighbor and decided to try to refashion the recipes to be vegetarian with the ingredients which were left over.
The reason I now know what it's like to be wealthy is that my box from Martha and Marley Spoon also arrived this week, which means I had six complete meals in my refrigerator ready to be cooked for dinner with leftovers for the following day's lunch. SCORE! I could never afford to do this on a regular basis, but boy is it awesome knowing that I don't have to think about what to cook or worry about going to the grocery store.
The first meal I wanted to try was "Bulgogi Lime Pork Tenderloin"... without the tenderloin.
It was essentially sweet potato and pepper dices sauteed with scallions, garlic, and Bulgogi sauce mixed with lime. Not much of a meal without the pork, but if I cook some hard rolls with cheese to pair with it, I thought it might be nice.
One of the first things you have to do is zest the lime. "Zesting" is not a new concept for me because Martha Stewart wants you to do it all the time in her recipes... it's just that I've never understood how to do it. When I searched on YouTube I saw that people "zested" by using what looked like a teeny-tiny cheese grater. Something I didn't have.
Except I thought that I did, because when you look inside the handle of my box grater, there looks like what appears to be a small grater. Alas, any time I attempted to use it for zesting, all it did was gum up with lime peel and I never actually got any tiny grated anything out of it. Wanting to know what I was doing wrong, I Facetimed a friend who works in a kitchen restaurant and asked her by holding it up to the camera and asking her how to use it.
The first thing she said was "Well, first thing you have to do is remove it so that the peel doesn't end up in the handle." It was charming that she thought me that dense, but I explained to her that it doesn't come out easily. In order to get it out, I had to use two pair of pliers and nearly busted the thing.
"Wait. Let me look at that again... move it close so I can see."
"I have no idea what that is, but it's not a zester!"
"See how there's no grates? It just looks like pokey spikes!"
"Maybe it's supposed to be a masher or tenderizer of some kind?"
"Yeah, you need to go buy an actual zester. Sorry."
And so I did. And it arrived today. I got one by Oxo Good Grips, which makes my favorite kitchen utensils and gadgets. It was expensive... $12 compared to others costing less than half that... but I knew it would probably be safer, smarter, and last longer, so I invested the money...
Martha Stewart would be so proud.
And so now I can finally zest a lime or a lemon and make all those recipes correctly that call for zesting a lime or a lemon.
Pretty grate, huh? (HA HA HA HA HAAAA! I slay me!)
So wish me luck with my first zesting experience. I'll let you know if I end up with my fingertips missing.
Posted on Sunday, January 17th, 2021
Don't let the Wintertime blues get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Betty! As somebody who loved Betty White long before it was cool, I am thrilled to wish her a happy 99th birthday today!
Betty's last work was reprising her role as the voice of "Bitey White" from Toy Story 4 in 2019. Wisely, she has quarantined herself against the pandemic so as to stay safe throughout 2020. I sure as heck hope that there's some televised special featuring the legions of stars who she's worked with over the years on the occasion of her 100th birthday.
• It Worked! This is the best thing I found on the internet this past week... and it's from August 2019...
Live your dreams, people. The guy in the photo is Abdul, an astrophotographer with some incredible images on his Twitter feed.
• Public Record? “I believe we will find that there’s going to be a huge hole in the historical record of this president because I think there’s probably been serious noncompliance of the Presidential Records Act.” — Because the first thing a totally innocent person does is destroy evidence, right?
• WandaVision! Last Thursday night I stayed up for the midnight release of WandaVision's first two episodes on Disney+. While they are obviously building towards something, both of them seemed like a waste of time. If I wanted to watch cheesy old black-and-white TV shows, I'd tune in to Nick at Night (or whatever). The first episode was only 20 minutes of actual show (the second was closer to 30), and they STILL felt too long. If the setup is that Wanda is mentally trapped in old TV shows, they could have crammed all that in the first episode and moved on to the ACTUAL show after. As it is, it just seems like senseless padding. So I dunno.
Maybe as they go deeper into the story these episodes will feel worth it. But right now? Not really.
• NEWSFLASH! Footprints Lead to Missing Hikers Lost on California Mountain for 5 Days. I'm just going to put this right here as a reminder... if you go hiking without a LifeStraw... even if it's just supposed to be a simple day hike that you've done a hundred times before... you may very well be risking your life. Anything can happen. You can go a fairly long time without food. You can't last long at all without water. LifeStraw can turn even a muddy puddle into water that won't kill you. Indeed, it could be a puddle that saves your life. Amazon has LifeStraw available for $15 right here.
• Magical? Magic Spoon low-carb, no-grain cereal is practically tasteless... when I first tried it, I thought I had The COVID because I couldn't taste anything. I will not be ordering again. Except the shit was SO expensive, that I've been trying to eat it all so I'm not wasting money. But the biggest issue I have... even more so than the lack of taste? It's their stupid fucking boxes. They sell the cereal direct. There's no need to glue the thin-as-paper box so heavily that there is NO WAY to open them without ripping them to shit. On my fourth box I was even trying to use a knife so I could open it without tearing anything. NOPE! The glue is actually HEAVIER THAN THE DAMN BOX MATERIAL. Why? It's not like it's sitting on a shelf somewhere! They really don't need to use glue on the lid AT ALL since the bags are sealed and it's going direct to consumers! This is the stupidest damn thing, and I just don't get it.
It's almost as if Magic Spoon is saying "FUCK YOU! HA HA HA! JUST TRY TO GET THE FUCKING BOX OPEN IN ONE PIECE!!!" Which is an interesting tact to take when your cereal is this bland. I mean, I never expected it to taste like sugar cereal, but dang. Artifical flavors are cheap. Try adding some.
Have a great rest of your Winter, everybody.
Posted on Wednesday, January 20th, 2021
This is the drama I inevitably go through whenever I attempt to remember how to spell a word that I don't use very often...
Faroe: ALSO: Faeroe Islands (/ˈfɛəroʊ/; Danish: Færøerne) are a North Atlantic archipelago located 320 kilometres (200 mi) north-northwest of Scotland, and about halfway between Norway and Iceland.
No. That's not it.Farrow: María de Lourdes Villiers "Mia" Farrow (/məˈriːə di ˈlʊrdz ˈvɪljərz ˈfæroʊ/; born February 9, 1945) is an American actress, activist, and former fashion model. Farrow has appeared in more than 50 films and won numerous awards, including a Golden Globe Award and three BAFTA Award nominations.
No. That't not it.Farroll: was an admiral in the GalSec troops. She was in charge of an attack on a Wirrn. She was later injured because of a Wirrn. She was infected by the Wirrn to become the new Wirrn Queen. (SEE: British science fiction television programme Doctor Who)
No. That's definitely not it.Farro: Farro refers to the grains of three wheat species, which is sold dried, and cooked in water until soft. It is eaten plain or is often used as an ingredient in salads, soups, and other dishes.
Oh yeah! There it is!
Until recently, I don't know for 100% certain that I've ever had farro before. It certainly never showed up on the dinner table when I was growing up. I have vague-ish memories of probably eating it when I was traveling... like once I think it was served in an airline meal with apricots in it or something like that? I don't know. I'm old and my memory is going.
Suffice to say that farro has not played a big part in my life.
Both Martha Stewart (via Marley Spoon) and HelloFresh have been dropping farro bombs into my life, and I am totes here for it. The stuff is fantastic. Kinda like bulgur or quinoa but not really. I may plow under the grass in my front yard and try to grow it... that's how in love with the stuff I am! Then I'll set up a mill in the back yard so I can process what I grow. Sure it's all gluten, but isn't everything tasty in life? Except cheese, maybe? Cheese and ice cream? Yeah. That sounds about right.
Martha Stewart first dropped farro in my life via "Creamy Farro Fonduta with Roasted Winter Vegetable Medley" that turned out like this...
Except you can't see the cheesy farro fonduta stuff under all that, so here you go...
It's basically farro mixed with cream cheese and fontina. AKA MAGIC ON A FUCKING PLATE!
Then last night my dinner was "Roasted Veggie Farro Bowls with Marinated Cranberries & Salsa Verde Sunflower Pepitas" from HelloFresh...
"But, Dave I thought you hated arugula?" — Well, I do. Arugula is what I imagine sadness and death tastes like. But I examined the recipe carefully and thought "Hmmm. Just maybe the sweet of the sweet potatoes, the tart of the cranberries, the sour of the lemon, and the aroma of the onions will be enough to counteract THE HEINOUS FUCKING BITTERNESS of the arugula? I think I'll try it!" — Then, just to make sure, I wasn't stingy with the salt and pepper AND I threw out 1/3 of the arugula. Worked like a charm! The blending of all the different tastes is incredible. I did end up having to throw out the "veggie stock" that was included (mushroom is a vegetable?) and use my own, but other than that... delicious! HelloFresh "Roasted Veggie Farro Bowls with Marinated Cranberries & Salsa Verde Sunflower Pepitas" FTW!
Boy. Kinda cool that after 54 years on this earth Im still discovering new foods to enjoy!
Posted on Thursday, January 21st, 2021
"So... what knife are you using?"
After 30 years of eating crap, I decided I wanted more out of life than frozen food reheated in a microwave so I signed up for Martha Stewart's meal service via Marley Spoon. It changed everything. I don't necessarily enjoy cooking, but I do love what comes from it. I am eating better now than I have in decades, and it would be tough to ever go back. And once I realized this truth, I started buying new stuff for my kitchen to make my cooking experience better. New tools. New cookware. New gadgets. New ingredients. New knives.
Again and again I heard THE ONE THING EVERY COOK NEEDS BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE IS A GOOD KNIFE! I was told that I could scrimp on a lot of things, but a cook's knife was not one of them. "Spend the $200 it takes to get the very best knife you can afford... it will last a lifetime and be an essential part of every meal you cook!" After I got done changing my underwear at the thought of spending TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS ON ONE FRICKIN' KNIFE I calmed down and scrolled past entire knife sets costing $50, and started researching what the best "fit" for me might be.
I was more accustomed to German-style knives which are total workhorses. They have heft and power to cleave through anything, and I came very close to purchasing a $195 Wüsthof that was most similar to the cheap-ass $18 plastic-handled chef's knife I had been using forever. But then I took another look at Japanese knives. They were harder, thinner, sharper, and seemed more suited to my vegetarian diet. If I wasn't hacking apart cuts of meat, what did I need with a heavier knife?
The rabbit hole you fall into when knife shopping is really, really tough to escape from.
I waffled between various brands for quite a while until I decided on a MAC Professional 8" Chef's Knife. Many, many professionals swore by it, the reviews were stellar, the price wasn't as bad ($150 at discount), and the more I read about it, the more it seemed like it was exactly what I needed.
Then it arrived.
I've always had a knife sharpener which easily and inexpensively keeps my cheap knives at peak sharpness. But it turns out my knives were never sharp at all. Not really. Compared to the MAC Chef's Knife I bought, I might as well have been using a frickin' spoon to slice tomatoes all these years...
I honestly don't know how to adequately describe how sharp this thing it. I really don't. It's razor sharp. It's
This knife scared the shit out of me.
The first thing I did was order a pair of cut-resistant gloves to wear when I cut tough, larger vegetables (like squash). The second thing I did was make a mental note to never use it barefoot. The third thing I did was decide to not toss out my old chef's knife. When I have company cooking with me, the last thing I would want is for them to seriously injure themselves... which is a frightening (but entirely realistic) scenario...
The MAC itself is a work of art.
Yeah, it's ridiculously sharp, but it's also extremely well-balanced. It has some heft, but doesn't get in your way. The bolster is enough to be comfortable, but not too much to keep me from holding it properly. And once I trained myself to cut with such a thin, sharp tool, I felt more in control than I ever did with previous knives. After the fear factor wore off, I grew to love it.
So damn sharp. For softer veggies (like tomatoes) you can just set the knife on it and the thing will practically cut itself. You can shave a sheet of paper with it. After a year of using it, the thing can still scare the shit out of me. Since the steel used can rust easily, you have to clean and dry it immediately after use. No leaving it in the sink until morning. If you're cutting citrus, you have to occasionally rinse it while you're working with it. I learned how to clean knives from a food stylist. You hold the blade edge away from you and wipe from the spine edge only. If you were to foolishly wipe from the blade edge, you'd slice clean through your sponge and your entire hand. That's a doctor visit I definitely do not want, so I am beyond cautious whenever I have this thing in my hands.
To explain just how cautious... I never use it when I've been drinking.
Once you've used a good knife, you kinda get addicted to really great steel. I've since bought a few other quality knives that cost a fortune but are ultimately worth the investment. What I will not be buying is a pointed paring knife. I ended up getting a round-tip paring knife because it seemed safer to me, and that will do just fine, thank you very much!
Unless I actually do need to murder somebody. Seems like the compact size of a paring knife would be a lot easier to conceal than an 8" Chef's Knife!
Posted on Sunday, February 7th, 2021
You're probably watching sportsball today, but I've got your touchdown right here... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• BAT! My new ritual for Sportsball Sunday is to watch the Superb Owl episode of What We Do In The Shadows...
Far more entertaining that football could ever be.
• Make Mine Marvel! Finally. Exactly what I'm looking for in a Marvel Studios Disney+ series...
I'm assuming that they're not going to waste our time with three episode parodying 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, and Rush Hour before actually getting to the action. And speaking of action... how amazing is it to see Sharon Carter (AKA Agent 13) kicking copious amounts of ass in this trailer?
• Beer! The Superb Owl commercials were mostly a bust this year for me. Except one. This is one of the best straightforward commercials I've seen in a long time...
It bypasses special effects and slick marketing to go with something much more intimate and human. And it works really well, accomplishing what commecials costing boatload more money can't. Bravo, David Fincher.
• Plague! As a long-time fan of Adam Ellis and his illustrated comics and stories, I was 100% unsurprised to learn that somebody made a shot-for-shot film adaptation... without asking for permision... of one of his stories...
I'm unsurprised because this shit happens CONSTANTLY. I've had my works stolen more times than I can count... for everything from business logos and remakes of my DaveToons to outright plagiarism where they erase my copyright and present it as their own work to promote their sites and products. There was a shop in the UK that printed out one of my cartoons to fill AN ENTIRE WINDOW DISPLAY and never responded to my emails once I was made aware of it. And don't even get me started on my photos. Those have been stolen so often that I had to stop putting hi-res images online, which was brought about because some asshole used one of my shots to promote a homophobic message of hate that really hit me hard. 95% of the time when people ASK me to use something, I am happy to say yes with the understanding that it's for non-profit use that doesn't promote hate-speech. But since I don't make any money off of my stuff, if YOU are, then I want to get PAID.
This right here from Adam Ellis is one of the worst and most egregious rip-offs I've ever seen. And the fact that the people who STOLE HIS WORK then asked him to promote it... and even blew him off when he asked them to remove their theft... is abhorrent. I hope he sues because he has a very good chance of winning. SOME of us should actually get justice for having our work stolen. This is rage-inducing. But what's even more rage-inducing? The response from the filmmakers after Adam's post went viral, essentially saying that they tried to contact Adam (right), but when he "didn't respond" they decided to steal his work anyway. Except because they added stuff to the story, they don't consider it to be really stealing. And since the concept of man being created from the earth has been told forever, then they have a right to tell it. Even if it rips off the way Adam interpreted it completely. So by that logic I guess I could rip them off by making a shot-for-shot remake of their film and they would be perfectly fine with that?
• I AM SEEN! And I don't think that I've ever felt more attacked!
Pretty much... me.
• Olive Garden? When it comes to eating out, I'm not the biggest fan of Olive Garden. It's okay... and there are certainly some dishes I like there... but it's not terribly authentic and I would prefer to make my own Italian at home. The exception is their salad and breadsticks. In fact, most every time I go there, it's not for the pasta... it's for that neverending salad and breadsticks. A while ago I found that they started selling their "Signature Italian" salad dressing in the grocery store. I bought a small bottle to try, absolutely loved it, and have been buy the big bottles two at a time so I never run out...
It makes salad become frickin' dessert. And it's made me start experimenting with making my own breadsticks. At first I thought it shouldn't be too difficult. It's just a basic bread slathered with butter and garlic salt. But they're surprisingly tricky to make the same, because th sticks at Olive Garden have a fluffy texture to them. I'm guessing it's because of some kind of dough additive, but I'm not giving up just yet. If Olive Garden ever releases frozen sticks at the grocery store that bake up the same, I may never go to their restaurants ever again.
• Population! I found this fascinating...
At some point mankind will understand that resources are finite and the planet is being destroyed. Then they will either do something about it... or they won't. The universe won't care one way or the other. Humanity, of course, will care quite a lot.
And that's my last touchdown.
Posted on Monday, February 8th, 2021
After spending the entire weekend with the worst case of food poisoning I've ever had... or maybe it was some other kind of reaction to the "plant-based meat" ingredient I ate... the last thing I wanted to do when I got up was go to work. I was still feeling weak, my stomach was still a bit dicey, and Monday's are always challenging even without all that.
But oh well... buckle up, buttercup. Or whatever.
The culprit for my woes? The last meal from my Martha Stewart meal kit... Plant-Based: Meat-Free Soft Tacos with Charred Corn & Guacamole...
Here's the review I left on Martha & Marley Spoon's site:
"This was a nice idea... but who approved this plant protein stuff? I have a cast-iron stomach. I have eaten the gamut of vegetarian meals on all 7 continents (okay, I was dining off the coast of Antarctica, but still)... and after eating these tacos I was the sickest I can remember being in a long while. And, as if that wasn't bad enough, the plant protein had HORRIBLE texture. Like eating pencil erasers. This isn't even a contest. Worst meal I have ever eaten with Marley Spoon or any other meal service. Probably in the top ten of the worst meals I've ever eaten period. On top of that they needed cheese... and the spinach should have been cut up because it kept falling out of the way-too-small shells. The only bright spot is that this was the ONE bag where my tomato wasn't pulverized by a can of beans this week (because there weren't any beans, I'm guessing). Literally gut-wrenchingly awful."
WHAT I DID NOT SAY BUT SHOULD HAVE SAID... this stuff shredded my intestinal tract in ways that I didn't even know were possible. When I'm not eating Imodium like candy and sitting on the toilet, I am doubled over with stabbing cramps. This was horrific. AND ON A SATURDAY NIGHT!!! Not that I have much going on in COVID-times, but oh my gawd. This stuff shouldn't even be legal. I spent an entire evening wanting to die.
So, yeah... not a fun day to me.
But Monday's rarely are.
Posted on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021
The microwave in my work's break area is very old. It has aged so much that the white plastic parts are now yellow plastic parts. I don't know much about it, but I believe it's a 10-watt model. At least it seems that way. Something which would cook in 20 seconds in my microwave at home can take 2 full minutes at work. It's wasteful to just toss it out for a newer model since it's still functional, so we just deal with it. If somebody's reheating a bagel (or whatever) when you want to eat lunch, you just come back in ten minutes... no big deal.
Years ago I was reading a vintage magazine where they were predicting that in the future frozen meals would be packed in nuclear-powered packaging. No microwave required. You'd squeeze down on a corner of the aluminium tray and the Uranium-235 embedded inside would activate and cook your TV dinner. This raised all kinds of questions. Such as... what happens to all those food trays? Do they just go in the trash-can and get taken to a landfill? Wouldn't we all be glowing in the dark if the product caught on? What were they thinking?
At least they were still going to use aluminum trays instead of the plastic crap we use now. Not that anybody back then would ever recycle anything. Back then everything went straight into the trash.
I have a certain nostalgia for the TV dinners of old.
The earliest dinners I remember as a kid didn't come with dessert. There were three sections... one for the meat (for me that meant meatloaf, chicken, or salsbury steak), one for the potatoes (usually mashed, but sometimes slices or fries), and one for the vegetables (exclusively consisting of peas, carrots, and corn or a mixture thereof). That's it. That's all you got...
Photo from a Google Search, so I dunno.
I didn't like any kind of meat, even when I was very young, so mom sometimes let me have a macaroni & cheese dinner.
Eventually a small and mysterious fourth section was added. This was where the dessert landed. Sometimes it was fancy cobblers, cornbread, muffin, or maybe even a brownie, but my favorite was baked apple slices. Oh boy! There were only about four or five of them, but they were floating in a sea of sugar-cinnamon syrup that was so good I'd try and lick it out of the damn tray...
Photo from a Google Search, so I dunno.
As I got older, Swanson started getting creative. They had "International" versions which steered away from the meat and potato fare that the USA lived on in favor of exotic dishes from Old Mexico or Italy or even the faraway islands of Polynesia! Instead of a mere four sections, they would have five! They also had larger-size dinners which were their HUNGRY-MAN line of bake-and-serve meals. It was a bonanza of non-stop food goodness, fresh from your freezer!
Eventually microwave ovens dictated that aluminum trays be ditched in favor of plastic. And the golden age of TV dinners was over. We never got a nuclear option because microwaves were cheaper, I guess.
But not nearly as much fun, certainly. If Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull taught us anything, it's that.
Posted on Friday, April 2nd, 2021
Most of what I learned about cooking came from my grandmothers. I loved cooking and loved food, and they were happy to help me learn how to do it well.
I remember once when my grandmother was teaching me how to make her famous, award-winning apple pie, I had just help to slice the apples and was ready to make the filling when I asked her how much sugar and cinnamon and lemon juice to add. "Well you have to taste the apples." If they were tart, less lemon juice. If they were sweet, less sugar. If they were fragrant, less cinnamon. And so on. It was a balance that you could only figure out if you knew what you were working with.
And it was the same for the potato salad. "You have to taste the onion to know how to season it." And it's been my habit to do so ever since. Today I was finally recovered enough to make some, and thank heavens I tasted the onion before mixing everything. It was RANK. The taste was putrid and gross. No idea what happened, but it bummed me out because I had just bought it on Friday. Thankfully I had the whites of a green onion to use instead, so everything turned out fantastic...
Dang I make good potato salad.
I keep experimenting every time I cook up a batch and I am discovering new spice combinations to make it a different kind of tasty. This time I used some baharat seasoning, which added an entirely new dimension to such a simple food. Last time I used adobo, and that was amazing too. Before that I think I used a Ukrainian blend that was mind-blowing. I think the reason I eat so much potato salad is because it's never the same flavor twice for me. If it weren't so loaded with carbs, I swear I could eat it every day.
Today is Good Friday.
Which has puzzled me since I was a young Catholic because you'd think that crucifying Jesus would be a bad thing. But apparently it used to be "Holy Friday" and words change over time. All things "holy" were equated to being "good" and so forth.
Though I'm guessing all the people slaughtered during the "Holy Crusades" would beg to differ?
I am a long, long ways from the Catholic I was raised, so I'm probably not the right person to ask. Though it's my guess that the people who got slaughtered during the Roman Catholic crusades were likely not happy about it. Though I could be wrong. Maybe the level of big dick energy it took for a pope to send out an army whose sole purpose was to slaughter heratics was so impressive that they were happy to die underfoot of it. Stranger things have happened.
Like the day that Jesus was crucified being referred to as "Good Friday," regardless of how it came about.
Posted on Thursday, April 15th, 2021
This morning I finally managed to keep my Honey-Nut Cheerios down. A little nausea after, but nothing terrible. I managed to hang in at the office for three hours, so that was new. By the time I got home I was exhausted but my appetite had come back. Starting small, I had a slice of dry toast. Then a couple shortbread cookies for lunch. No nausea. I'M CURED!
So what's going to be mysterious first real meal since Saturday? What I really, really wanted was a good salad. An awesome salad.
Yes, I was shocked too. I was sure it would be pizza.
Butter Lettuce. White Cheddar Shreds. Italian Croutons. Slivered Almonds. Dried Cranberries. Freshly-Ground Black Pepper. And a good pour of Olive Garden Parmesan Ranch Dressing...
Maybe it was having gone (mostly) without food for 4-1/2 days, but it was a phenomenal dinner. As was the Crystal Light Concord Grape Drink I had with it.
Somehow my amazing meal got my mind running through my favorite green salads, which I will list here before signing off because I have nothing better to do...
Italian. The salad itself at Olive Garden is nothing groundbreaking... iceberg lettuce, Roma tomatoes, purple onion, olives, Italian croutons, pepperoncini peppers, parmesan cheese, and fresh-ground black pepper. No, it's the Olive Garden House Italian Dressing that makes it so fantastic. Thankfully, it's available in stores, which means I can easily make my favorite Italian salad at home any time I want.
Chopped. The Hard Rock Cafe got me hooked on putting dried cranberries on my salads. Over the years I've stolen ideas from many other restaurants to create the perfect chopped salad. Butter lettuce, cherry tomatoes, thawed frozen peas, dried cranberries, thinly-sliced green onion, pumpkin seeds, medium cheddar shreds, croutons, hard-boiled egg, and freshly-ground black pepper. The topper is either a very good ranch dressing (Olive Garden's Parmesan Ranch is incredible) or a creamy French, depending on my mood.
Vegetarian Cobb. This is a close cousin to my chopped salad... but using chopped romaine lettuce, faux bacon pieces, avocado dices, hard-boiled egg, chopped hot-house tomatoes, either blue cheese or feta, and thawed frozen corn (in place of the chicken that's on a classic Cobb salad). I usually go for a nice honey-mustard dressing on this one.
Greek. Yeah, it's the feta that makes this a favorite. Chopped Roma tomatoes, diced cucumber, diced avocado, red onion, chickpeas or cous cous, chopped red bell pepper, black olives, feta cheese, pita chips, and freshly-ground black pepper. Sometimes I'll toss in iceberg lettuce to make it more of a meal. The dressing is a toss-up depending on my mood. Sometimes I like a creamy Greek yogurt dressing... other times a classic red wine vinaigrette.
Taco. Always a treat... especially on a hot summer's day with a cold Pacifico beer. Iceberg lettuce, black beans, diced tomato, diced avocado, thawed frozen corn, Beyond Meat Fiesty Crumbles (or cooked quinoa), Mexican cheese blend, diced green onion, and taco chips. Top with a blend of three parts Thousand Islands dressing to one part sour cream and a spinkling of chopped cilantro.
Pear. It's really tough to beat a pear salad during that short window where Bartlett pears are fresh off the tree. Summer salad greens, dried cherries, candied walnuts, and parmesan. Top it off with a good balsamic and you're golden.
Summer Berry. This is almost more of a dessert than a salad, which is okay by me! Summer salad greens, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or blueberries, toasted walnuts or almonds, thinly-sliced/baked beets, diced shallot, crumbled feta, and sunflower seeds. Best topped with a sweet honey and berry vinaigrette.
Apple. An awesome salad for Fall harvest days. Mixed greens, dried cranberries, candied slivered almonds, mild gorgonzola cheese, diced mild onion, and a sprinkling of bread crumbs. Top with an apple cider vinaigrette.
Watermelon. Not really green-salad apropriate, I'm still tossing this in here because it's such an amazing salad. Sweet ripe watermelon, scored baby cucumber slices, diced fresh basil, crumbled feta, and a few grinds of black pepper. For a dash of added flavor, I usually drizzle with a mix of light oil, rice wine, and lime zest.
Posted on Sunday, April 18th, 2021
I have yet to see any April showers, but you've still got excitement ahead of you this Spring... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Burrito Battle! Black beans, white rice, guacamole, sour cream, corn salsa, and extra cheese... all wrapped in a double-tortilla. Plus a side of chips with queso or guac. That's it. That's what I like in my burrito. But when it comes to where I'd rather get it, I'm torn between Qdoba and Chipotle. At least I am when I travel. When I'm home, the only option is Chipotle, and it's 20 minutes away.
When a Qdoba burrito is made well, it's my favorite. I just like their beans better and their cilantro-lime rice is sublimely tasty. But Qdoba is wildly inconsistent. Sometimes the beans are undercooked or overcooked. Twice the rice has been so salty that I couldn't even eat it. Sometimes the burrito is badly-wrapped and falls apart. Chipotle, on the other hand, is always the same. I've bought burritos in Chipotle restaurants across the country and they taste alike no matter where I'm at. I appreciate the consistency. I enjoy their burritos. So, when I have a choice, I'm always thinking "Do I risk a bad experience for a potentially better burrito, or do I go with something I know is going to be good every time?" I still don't have an answer. I just go for what I feel when a burrito is in my future. Then wonder what other people think. What do you think?
• Renewal! Just a quick note to say Magnum P.I. has been renewed for a fourth season. This is a show that I resisted... then fell in love with... and find myself rewatching quite a lot. So much so that I end up buying every season on iTunes...
They very rarely have a misstep, and 95% of the episodes are great. Which usually means a show will be canceled immediately, so good on CBS for keeping it going!
• Daddy! Good grief. I was interested in buying a "Scrub Daddy" because they are so highly recommended for scrubbing while not scratching. But when I look into it... Scrub Daddy... Sponge Daddy... Scrub Mommy... Scrub Doggy... Scrub Daddy Power Flower... Scrub Mommy Kitty... Eraser Daddy... Screen Daddy... Scour Daddy... Scrub Daddy Scrub Daisy... Scrub Daddy Big Daddy... WHAT THE FUCK DADDY DO I NEED?!? DOES ANYBODY HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH A DADDY?!?
I guess I just start with the original and see where that takes me.
• Justice! THE take on Caron Nazario that every last fucking person in this country had better wrap their head around...
My thoughts♬ original sound - Chris Wells
Yeah. It bothers the fuck out of me.
• Love! ZOMG! If a woman gave me a wheel of cheese I would marry her and love her forever!
I sincerely hope they aren't making fun of this guy, because that's TRUE LOVE right there! I shudder to think how much that much cheese costs. Hundreds of dollars, easy.
• Machine! Tortises aren't just adorable... they're eating machines! I got sucked into a tortise rabbit hole because I just couldn't stop myself, and I think watching them eat is my favorite part...
Luring With Food Always Works! 😅🥬🐢☀️♬ Blue Blood - Heinz Kiessling & Various Artists
There are entirely too many fantastic videos over at The Tortoise Whisperer's TikTok... including BABY TORTOISES!
• Melt! I care about the welfare of animals over the vast majority of people. So I don't think I would be able to resist this...
I mean... just look at that little face. How could anybody resist?
And that's a tortilla wrap for bullets this fine Sunday.
Posted on Tuesday, May 4th, 2021
I make a darn good macaroni & cheese. It's got all the cheddar and parmesan and condensed milk and the seasoning in there... which makes it a delicious heart attack that I don't make too often because it's so brutally unhealthy. Plus it's a tough recipe to cut down, so I always make way too much of it. And frozen mac & cheese is never as good as when it comes right out of the oven, so a good chunk of it always seems to get thrown out before I can eat it all.
But I still want me some mac & cheese from time to time.
I actually like the Kraft Dinner box mix. Yeah it's made from powdered cheese and tastes like plastic... but in a good way...
I can eat an entire box in one sitting, so I don't buy much of the stuff because that's dangerous. BUT THEN I found that Kraft makes "singles" that you just pour water into and microwave...
They are fairly perfect size-wise, even though they are somehow not as good as the boxed stuff that you make on a stovetop (guessing it's the lack of milk and margarine?). I can say that they have better flavor than the Annie's mac & cheese cups, which tasted fairly bland to me (which is weird, because I rather like the Annie's boxed stuff).
Flash forward to my last trip to the grocery store when I saw that Kraft has "Macaroni & Cheese DELUXE." Apparently it's been around for a long time, but I've never seen it until my last trip to the grocery store...
What makes it "DELUXE" is that the noodles are a little bigger and the cheese is not a powder... it's a packet of liquid cheese goo. Once you cook the macaroni and drain it, you just squeeze the goo into the pan and stir it up (instead of having to add the powdered cheese, milk, and margarine liked the "regular" stuff). The cheese goo is tough to get out of the packet completely and I made a little bit of a mess on my fingers trying to get every last drop, but it wasn't a big deal.
And the verdict? Well... it starts off nice. Lots of cheesy flavor that's similar to Kraft Dinner, but weirdly different. BUT THEN it turns on you. There's this bitter, chemical-like hit on the back-end that gets worse the more you eat it. I only got 4 or 5 bites into the bowl before I couldn't take it any more. I tosed everything in the trash and had Totino's Cheese Pizza Rolls instead.
WTF, KRAFT?!? How do you call this "DELUXE" when it's not as good as the original? I could eat original Kraft Dinner morning, noon, and night and never get tired of it. But this "DELUXE" stuff tastes like a toxic waste dump and I couldn't even get through a single bowl!
YOU HAVE SHAKEN MY FAITH IN YOU, KRAFT! HOW DARE YOU CALL THIS "KRAFT MACARONI & CHEESE" WHEN IT IS NOTHING OF THE SORT!!! YOU HAVE OFFENDED ME WITH THIS VILE TRAVESTY, GOOD SIR! Or good madame. Or good them. The president of Kraft-Heinz Company is Steve Cornell, but I don't know how they identify. Or maybe there is a separate president in charge of Kraft Dinner that I don't know about. REGARDLESS, I AM OFFENDED!
And so now I will go back to the original (and best) Kraft Dinner and not be swayed again. Fool me once, shame on you... fool me twice AND I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE ON YOU, KRAFT!
Their Kraft Singles Deli Deluxe American Cheese Food Slices (that are not individually-wrapped) are my most favorite fake cheese to make a grilled cheese sandwich. So great. Now there's a "DELLUXE" product that is in every way better than the original! So instead of "revenge" maybe I'd just write a stearnly-phrased letter or something?
I like to keep my options open.