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Uncle Bullshit Normalcy

Posted on May 20th, 2020

Dave!The latest meme making its way around social media is people sharing photos from their "last day of normal." I don't even know what that means, but I do know the last day that I did something normal with my friends before lockdown was when we all got memorial tattoos on February 28th.

But things in my life were far from normal, even back then.

My volunteer work had been shut down 11 days earlier. Usually by late May I'd have already taken anywhere from four to six trips for that. This year I haven't been anywhere. The last time I traveled was December 26th. I have no idea when I'll travel next.

Given I have no idea when my normalcy went away, I try to create it by slipping into comfort meals I like. Up near the top of that list is heating up a bag of Uncle Ben's Ready Rice Whole Grain Medley, toss in a handful of almonds, and call it dinner. When I was at the store last month, I was sure to grab a couple bags.

Then tonight when I finally cooked it I noticed that it looked funny. It smelled funny. It tasted funny.

I dug the garbage to see if I purchased expired rice only to find that it wasn't what I usually buy... my local grocer replaced the "Whole Grain Medley" I get (which was apparently subtitled "Brown and Wild") with a new blend that's "Quinoa & Brown with Garlic." I didn't notice because the packaging had been changed...

Well, fuck.

So much for my comfort food. This is not comforting at all. QUINOA ISN'T EVEN A FUCKING RICE!

AND ON CARB APPRECIATION DAY, NO LESS!

I might have been able to overlook gross quinoa if it actually had garlic as advertised, but the garlic was barely there. Uncle Ben's? More like Uncle Bullshit! They even got rid of the guy's awesome bow tie on the package!

Just one more sign that things will never go back to normal again.

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Potato Salad Nirvana

Posted on May 12th, 2020

Dave!I've finally reached my potato salad nirvana.

It's been a long road to get here. I've experimented with dozens of recipes and married that to the way my mom and grandma used to make it. My biggest breakthrough occurred when I didn't have any eggs so I decided to add small cubes of Dubliner Cheese as a substitute.

It was sublime.

Hard boiled eggs are squidgy and don't add any flavor that isn't already well-represented by the mayo. They also add a stink to the salad that's a bit off-putting.

This is my current recipe, and I think I'm done now because it's exactly where I want it to be and I've reproduced it a half-dozen times now...

  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 1/2 cup Purple Onion or Sweet Onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup Dill Pickle Chips (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup Dubliner or Sharp Cheddar Cheese (cubed small)
  • 1 Tbs. Yellow Mustard
  • 1 tsp. White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Johnny's Seasoning Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Celery Seed
  • Chopped Fresh Dill or Green Onion and Paprika (optional for garnish)

Mix above together and put in refrigerator to chill. Cook 1 package of Simply Potatoes dices in a mesh basket in an Instant Pot with 1-1/4 cup of water for 6 minutes, then quick-release. Put potatoes in the refrigerator to cool for 10-15 minutes. Fold potatoes into dressing mixture, then chill for 20 minutes or more before serving (I usually can't wait and end up eating it while still a bit warm, and it's delicious). Garnish with paprika (or, if you have it, smoked paprika) and chopped fresh dill or green onions sliced thin. Because I can't help myself I always add more little cubes of Dubliner on top. Sometimes I like crushed potato chips on top too!

Lil' Dave Eats Potato Salad

After refrigeration, the potatoes soak up a bit of the mayo and sour cream so things can get a little dry, I just stir in a tablespoon of mayo and everything is good again!

Enjoy!

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Bullet Sunday 661

Posted on May 10th, 2020

Dave!XXX, but XXX... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• TAIKAAAAAAA! And lo did an angel descend from the heavens and declare that Taika Waititi will be writing and directing a Star Wars movie, and it was good. I frickin' adore Taika. What We Do In the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Jojo Rabbit, Thor: Ragnarok (Korg!)... everything the guy touches turns to gold whether he's writing, directing, or acting. As if that's not enough, he just seems like a genuinely smart, talented, funny, interesting, and exceedingly nice person...

We got a taste of Taika in the Star Wars universe when he directed an episode of The Mandelorian (and provided the voice of IG-11). Now he's bringing us more Thor (Thor: Love & Thunder), a new Flash Gordon, a new Time Bandits, plus a new Star Wars. Naturally, I couldn't possibly be more thrilled that he's working on projects I desperately want to see.

   
• Swoop! I love stories like this...

Birds are awesome.

   
• BMO! I had no plans... none to invest any more money in television. Especially HBO Max, which has nothing to offer me. Well... almost nothing...

BMO is one of the best parts of Adventure Time and I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to see where they take the character.

   
• PATATJES MET! I found this article on A Global Taxonomy of French Fry Dips to be especially enlightening. I, of course, choose fries with Dutch mayo. It's the only way to fry.

   
• Wood! Watching Netflix's Hollywood left me mildly entertained, but I can't stop thinking that they're trying to do a good thing badly while missing a bigger opportunity. Revisionist history is a fine line to walk. You either go for broke, rip up the rulebook, and grab your reimagining of history unapologetically by the throat... or you float through history making random changes that are all rainbows and cotton candy but ultimately don't mean anything to anybody but you. Quentin Tarantino *IS* revisionist history cinema, and Inglourious Basterds is a genius-level event of just how powerful a tool it can be. Ryan Murphy's Hollywood is just whispy fluff in a genre wrapper that "what-ifs" real events to mild effect. The final episode is just ridiculous with its pie-in-the-sky over-the-top goofiness. THAT BEING SAID... holy cats is Jim Parsons good in this thing! His character is a predatory monster which perfectly illustrates how power in the wrong hands can lead to a nightmare of a human being. I am guessing his take on Rock Hudson's manager is based on a real person who did these horrible things, and that's a really scary thought...

Jim Parsons drinking a martini in a still from HOLLYWOOD.

Good on you, Mr. Parsons. I'm excited to see where you take your post-Big Bang Theory career next.

   
• Advice! I generally roll my eyes at all these "lists of life advice" that make the rounds of the internet a couple times a year. But this one, titled 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice is pretty great and some of them (such as "A vacation + a disaster = an adventure" are exceptional. Well worth a read.

   
• Monk! Okay... this is pretty cool. I kept hoping and hoping that we'd get a Monk movie or two so we could see what he was up to now...

And now I just want a Monk movie even more than I did.

   
• Remember! And, lastly, just read this. There are some remarkable people doing wonderful things in the middle of our current crisis. They should be recognized and appreciated.

   
And that's a wrap on Bullet Sunday. At least for today.

   

Bullet Sunday 660

Posted on May 3rd, 2020

Dave!I'm bored out of my mind without being able to hang out with my friends, but excitement awaits me... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Nadiya! One of my favorite Great British Bakeoff contestants, Nadiya Hussain, has a new Netflix series out... Nadiya's Time to Eat. Not all of it is vegetarian, but I've gotten some good ideas from her show. Including this gem...

Sounds amazing, right? And how charming is she with her lovely British accent? Nadiya's got some cool ideas for quick and easy meals that makes her show a great thing to watch. Just keep in mind that the British terms for certain foods can be different ("caster sugar" there is "fine baker's sugar" here), and sometimes products (such as Double Cream, which is 48% milkfat, for example) may not even exist where you live (the thickest I can get is Whipping Cream, which is only 36% milkfat. Also? Nadiya provides all oven temperatures in Celsius, so you'll need to convert to Fahrenheit.

   
• Facebook "Standards!" It's gotten to the point where I can't understand the point of Facebook any more. They are so wildly inconsistent with the posts they ban that you can't really know what is acceptable or not. Take for instance this tweet I reposted that is clearly a joke on all the "5G causes the Coronavirus" conspiracy theorists...

Tommy Sinbazo: Just to let everyone know I work in the 5G field. I was doing dome work from home and realized I had the units set to the Corona setting instead of its default Make Everyone Gay setting. Whoopsie.

Meanwhile, some of the anti-vaxers and homeopaths and flat earthers and other morons are posting shit that is ACTUALLY MISINFORMATION THAT CAN CAUSE HARM and have free reign? Dafuq? I have posts taken down more and more lately, and in no case did I agree with the decision or even see why they took it down in the first place. Facebook has no concept of context or humor and are acting like total dipshits with this ban-hammer crap.

   
• Love Is Love! One of the members of my "Bible Study for Non-Christians" group brought up the movie Road to Edmond, which they decided to watch because it sharply divided Christians who saw it. None of the rest of us had heard of it, but it was free to watch on Amazon Prime Streaming, so we all agreed to take a look so we could have a discussion about it. I honestly don't know what my takeaway is. I almost stopped watching 20 minutes in because one of the characters was driving me crazy and the non-budget and amateurish acting was almost too much to take. But I stuck with it because I didn't want to be left out of the conversation with my group. Turns out that everything was building to something, not everything is what it seems, and it's actually a fairly remarkable film. I definitely understand why some people are completely incensed with it... heaven only knows there's enough to provoke that reaction. But I also understand why some people have fallen in love with it too. As I said, I honestly don't know how I feel about it... maybe I'll have more perspective once I've discussed it. All I definitely know is that I love the closing credits song as much as I could possibly love any song... it's Love is Love by Trey Pearson.

Trey Pearson has a lot of great songs, this one is called Silver Horizon and is every bit as good...

And if not for Road to Edmond, I likely never would have found it.

   
• Download! Boo! BOOOOOOOO! AMAZON'S GREAT NEW SHOW, UPLOAD, ENDS ON A HUGE CLIFFHANGER! And what are the odds that they won't renew it? Fuck all the television studios who refuse to show a complete story in a season. All this does is fuck over fans of the show when they cancel it.

BOOOOOO! And what's so frustrating is that they didn't need the cliffhanger. It's just lazy writing, and NO show should end a season on a cliffhanger unless they have the next season already started. So rage-inducing. If Amazon cancels Upload I'll be more furious than usual when this happens.

   
• After! Somebody edited together the underlaying narrative of grief that runs through one of my favorite shows so far this year... and it's almost unbearable to watch. What makes After Life so amazing is how it tempers the grief with humor. Without the humor though? It's a serious exploration of the human condition. Spoilers, obviously...

Ricky Gervais really knocked it out of the park with this show. He's already said that he's been so touched by the outpouring of love for the show that he's working on a third season. And, oh well yeah, HE DOESN'T END HIS SERIES ON A FUCKING CLIFFHANGER BECAUSE HE KNOWS THERE'S NO GUARANTEE THAT THERE WILL BE A NEXT SEASON! He's talented enough to come up with a way to start a new season without cliffhangers.

   
• Suess Raps! These videos of a guy rapping Dr. Suess over Dr. Dre beats is total genius...


I hesitate to guess how many times he had to practice these before getting this good.

   
• Better! TIME IS JUST A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT TO KEEP YOU FROM DOING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU WANT TO DO IT! WELL SCREW THAT! I AM IN CONTROL OF MY OWN DESTINY! SO... MORNING DRINKING at 9:00AM IN MY UNDERWEAR WITH CHEETOS AND TELEVISION, BABY! — MY DAY IS BETTER THAN YOUR DAY!

Me watching TV with a beer, Cheetos, and no pants.

So how was your day?

   
And that's that for bullets on this fine Sunday in quarantine.

   

Martha, Marley, Me, and Episodes

Posted on April 21st, 2020

Dave!Showtime's brilliant series Episodes, starring Matt LeBlanc (Joey of Friends fame) was added to Netflix back in 2018 but I only recently started watching it from the beginning. I had Showtime for the first two seasons, but since that was a while ago, I thought it best to start from the beginning and power my way through all five seasons. Tonight I finally got to the last episode.

I had forgotten just how funny and depraved it was...

So much so that I was sad when I got to the final episode. At least they wrapped it up pretty well. If you haven't seen it yet and have Netflix, then it might be worth your valuable time.

   
And now, because I have nothing better to blog about, I figure I might as well catch up on my latest meals from Martha Stewart and Marley Spoon!

   
19. Bean & Cheese Taquitos with Tomatillo Salsa & Sour Cream
I fell in love with tomatillos in a previous Martha Stewart recipe box, and automatically order any dish that has them. This is essentially the same meal as the quesadillas I had weeks ago, but rolled into taquitos. I should have made them into quesadillas, because the taquitos are a heinous mess. All the filling runs out while they bake. But still... fantastic meal and super delicious!

Bean & Cheese Taquitos with Tomatillo Salsa & Sour Cream

   
20. Risotto Primavera with Asparagus, Leeks & Peas.
Nothing great. And the instructions were really confusing... plus I have no idea why they have it served on a bed of greasy spinach, which was kinda gross. Won't be making this one again.

Risotto Primavera with Asparagus, Leeks & Peas.

   
21. Coconut-Peanut Rice Noodles with Blistered Zucchini & Green Beans.
This is the first time I ordered a duplicate recipe... something I wasn't planning on doing except... well... quarantine and not wanting to go to the grocery store. It was their AMAZING Coconut-Peanut Rice Noodles with Blistered Zucchini & Green Beans that I loved so much the first time. THIS TIME when I made it, I held back half of one of the Sriracha packets because I felt the full amount overwhelmed the peanut butter flavor. FLAWLESS! PERFECT! AMAZINGLY BALANCED NOW! When I make this on my own, I will switch to blistered green beans only. I am getting a bit tired of the way Martha puts zucchini in everything, and I think it lacks the flavor that green beans have.

Coconut-Peanut Rice Noodles with Blistered Zucchini & Green Beans.

   
22. Fresh Fettuccine Alfredo in a Hurry with Baby Kale Salad.
I hate to say it, but this entire meal was kinda embarrassing. First of all... this was a lot longer process and a lot more difficult to make than ACTUAL FETTUCCINE ALFREDO! The real recipe is fettuccine noodles with butter and grated parmesan AND THAT'S IT! If you make it any other way, IT'S NOT FUCKING FETTUCCINE ALFREDO! No cream. No lemon and garlic and other extra shit. It's parmesan and butter. Period. And I would know... I've eaten at the restaurant where it was invented several times when visiting Rome! But this? Just no. Instead of fettuccine noodles, there I was cutting up pasta sheets AGAIN. Instead of a load of parmesan, you get two tiny squares to grate up. Instead of butter you get mascarpone cheese, garlic, and LEMON?!? The result is a bland, senseless pasta fiasco that should NEVER be called "Fettuccine Alfredo." Luckily I had some extra parmesan to throw on top for SOME added flavor. And don't get me started on the Baby Kale Salad. Yet AGAIN Martha wants you to toss the shit with oil. I am so sick of fucking greasy lettuce in these meals that I couldn't stomach the thought of it. And so I dumped a bunch of French dressing on top to help cover up the kale. ATTENTION MARTHA STEWART... OTHER SALAD DRESSINGS EXIST OTHER THAN OIL. HOLY SHIT!!! From now on I will be looking at the recipes very carefully instead of just clicking stuff that looks good. I thought this was going to be a simplified one-pot recipe for Alfredo or something. Turns out it wasn't even the dish advertised.

Fresh Fettuccine Alfredo in a Hurry with Baby Kale Salad.

Baby Kale Salad WITHOUT greasy oil on it.

And I guess that's the end of that.

   

‘Dillas on A Monday Evening of the Apocalypse

Posted on April 20th, 2020

Dave!So... not a great day.

The volunteer work I do has been suspended indefinitely. No travel through all of 2020 and while there's a hope we can get things back together in 2021, it's looking grim indeed. Which is pretty much where we're all at right now, I think.

Sure this opens up some free time I could use for other endeavors, but it also takes away some of my purpose for being on this earth. I suppose I could look into other organizations where I could donate my time (and maybe I will eventually), but I don't know that my heart would be in it. Not like it has been for the past five years.

I guess we'll see. I try to remain hopeful.

Because life goes on.

I've been doing everything I can to avoid going to the grocery store. For the second time in a month, I took everything out of my cupboards and took inventory of my freezer and refrigerator to see what I can make from what I already have.

There's a lot of pasta. A goodly amount of cheese with a month or two on the expiration date. A surprising amount of canned beans. A couple cans of soup. Not much else by way of ingredients. I do have a stash of boxed rice dishes. And a half-dozen frozen meals. I think I could get away with another week... possibly two... before having to go shopping.

Tonight my tomatillos felt ripe enough that I could pull out the ingredients I've been saving to make one of my favorite recipes I got from the meal service I've been using (Martha Stewart and Marley Spoon, which you can read about here). I had never cooked with tomatillos before, and have fallen in love with them. They make a great green sauce. I bought some weeks ago, but they were pretty tough. And so I kept them in the refrigerator in the hopes they would take their time to ripen so I could have something nice as my food supply ran out.

And tonight was the night...

Two baked refried bean quesadillas topped with cheese, crema, cilantro, and green onions.

That's "Cheesy Baked Quesadillas with Green Enchilada Salsa"... but the filling is actually a mix of canned refried beans, onion, garlic, and taco seasoning with cheese. It's pretty fantastic, as you can imagine. My leftover cilantro and green onion had not held up that great, but I managed to salvage enough to drop on top with some crema and more cheese.

'Dillas on a Monday evening of the apocalypse won't compensate for what I lost today... but it's a good enough start, I suppose.

   

My French Dutch Oven

Posted on April 15th, 2020

Dave!This morning I was awakened at 5am by the sound of a cat puking. Since this happens so rarely, I immediately grab my iPhone so I can use the flashlight on it to see who's sick. Turns out nobody is sick. Jake just had a hairball and, of all the places in my home, he decided to puke it up in my bedroom. Thanks, buddy!

Guess I need to step up my brushing with the Furminator.

And now for something entirely not cat-related.

I have been craving bread for a week. But I haven't baked any because 1) I don't want to use up what precious little flour I have left... and 2) I am too tired after work for a long process of multiple rises. And so... tonight I decided to just whip up a loaf of single-rise "wet bread" which doesn't taste as amazing as my beloved SourJo bread, but it does taste like bread. AND I NEEDED IT!

Bread rising in a proofing basket.

Bread sitting in a Dutch oven after baking.

Bread. At last.

Dutch oven bread always gives me the nicest crust. I used to have a cast-iron Dutch oven that I inherited, which I hated. Eventually I replaced it with an Emile Henry potato pot after a friend and I were discussing bread and she recommended it. The thing is made in France and was really expensive... $100 I think?... but it's so perfect for bread. The reason being that "regular" dutch ovens are deep with a shallow lid. It can be tough to get in and out of it when you're dealing with a "wet loaf" that doesn't hold its shape and may be sticky. The potato pot is less deep but has a tall lid. So there's room to rise, but it's easy to work with. Apparently so many people ended up using this potato pot for bread that it's been rebranded "bread & potato pot" by Emile Henry (a company founded 1850 in Burgundy!).

Which is all a convoluted way to say that my Dutch oven is a French oven, I guess.

UPDATE: The pot is indeed pricey. The red one I have is now $120 at Amazon, but they have a black one for $110 as well. As you can see, the pot is split in the middle instead of the top so that the lid is deeper and the base is more shallow, making it much nicer for bread-making...

And it also does a bang-up job of cooking potatoes, as it was originally designed for.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I just ate dinner and am going to have a slice of bread for dessert!

   

Martha’s Box of Delights and Me

Posted on April 3rd, 2020

Dave!As I mentioned a while back, I've been buying meal boxes from Martha Stewart and Marley Spoon. I can't afford to buy them every week, but the recipes are so amazing and have expended my meal options so wonderfully that I can't afford not to buy some of them either. They've still been shipping during the quarantine which has been really nice. If I had my way, I'd eat crackers and ice cream all day, but Martha Stewart has forced me to cook. And that's a good thing.

Here's a look at the last eight meals I've been sent...

   
11. Vegetable Pot Pie with Parmesan-Herb Drop Biscuits
I reeeeeally hesitated to order this recipe because the idea of soggy dumplings in a creamy stew didn't sound appealing. But... a lot of people eat dumplings so it can't be all bad can it? Well... the rosemary dumplings were fantastic and the creamy stew/soup was tasty as all get out. Really makes me want to take a chance on more dishes like this. Odds of me making this again? 100%

My dinner. It's a shallow cassorole dish with cream sauce ad vegetables with dumplings on top.

These soup and stew recpes are great to pack up for taking to work for my lunch...

The Vegetable Pot Pie put into Pyrex dishes so I can take it to work for lunch.

   
12. Three-Cheese Cannelloni with Chopped Italian Salad
I've tried to order less and less Italian dishes because they aren't very inventive. It's always some kind of pasta in a red sauce with a greasy, oily salad. And this was no different. I ended up ordering it because I like cannelloni and was hopeful. Turns out they didn't use cannelloni shells, but still more of those pasta sheets that they use for everything. This wasn't terrible... the taste of the pasta was good... but I couldn't take another greasy salad, so I skipped the oil vinaigrette and used Italian dressing I had, then added croutons and parmesan. THAT was actually a nice side salad. Odds of me making this again? 50%

My dinner. It's a plate with cannelloni on it.

My dinner. It's a plate with cannelloni on it.

   
13. Detroit-Style Pizza with Roasted Peppers & Salad
Martha uses this crazy frozen pizza dough whenever they need a dough for their recipe. It arrives thawed which means it's all stuck in the bag and has to be scraped out. This is messy and really tough to work with. It will not stay stretched out, so you have to keep letting it rest and then try again and again and again. This means you end up with a denser dough than what's intended. I like the taste of the red peppers quite a lot, so I may make this again but with my own sauce. Once again I used my own dressing for the salad because I didn't want vinegar and oil yet again. Why can't Martha get more inventive with her dressings? Odds of me making this again? 50%

My dinner. It's a plate with cannelloni on it.

   
14. Cheesy Red Pepper Pesto Tortelloni Bake with Garlic-Butter Green Beans
Okay... just to get this out of the way... the garlic green beans were incredible, and I will absolutely be making them again. Soon. The tortellini bake was boring. Yet another boringred sauce recipe that I could have done without. Odds of me making this again? 25%

My dinner. It's a skillet with tortelloni in it.

Plated with the green beans.

   
15. Cheesy Baked Quesadillas with Green Enchilada Salsa
Bar far one of the best meals I've had from this service. When I want a quesadilla, I just toss some cheese in a tortilla and nuke it in the microwave. These are so much more amazing. The filling is flavorful and delicious. The tomatillo sauce is so fantastic that I want to make it for every Mexican meal I ever make from here on. I usually eat half of the recipe since it's meant for two people, then take the rest to work for lunch the next day. Not these. I ate every last bite of both servings and would have eaten more even though I was full to bursting. Odds of me making this again? 1000%

My dinner. It's a plate with my amazing quesadillas on it.

   
16. Roasted Veggie Pinwheels with Creamy Fontina Cheese Dipping Sauce
Here we go with that wacky frozen dough that sticks to the bag and is impossible to work with because it thaws during shipment. Except this time I re-froze the stuff. Made ALL the difference. So much easier to work with... and no sticky mess! There were really, really good. Mostly because the Fontina dipping sauce was aces. When I make these again I think I will try a pastry dough instead of pizza dough. The flakier, lighter, less tough pastry will make for a nicer meal, I think. Odds of me making this again? 100%

My dinner. It's a pan with my yummy pinwheels on it.

The pinwheels plated with the sauce on top.

   
17. Baked Cheddar & Veggie Quesadillas with Salsa & Guacamole
These were delicious. Just not as good as the incredible quesadillas from two meals ago. Odds of me making this again? I will likely make these again once I get tired of the other quesadillas (the poblanos in the filling were great), but that won't be any time soon. 50%

My dinner. It's a plate with my veggie quesadillas on it.

   
18. Smoky Black Bean Soup with Cheddar Chive Cornbread Biscuits
I am not a "soup person" and I don't really know why. It's not that I don't like soup... I'd just rather eat other things. But since soup can store so well for lunches and such, I've been ordering some of them. Tonight was a Smoky Black Bean Soup with Cheddar Chive Cornbread Biscuits. Phenomenal. The soup has a smoked paprika in it which elevates it to another level entirely. And these biscuits! Perfect accompaniment!. Odds of me making this again? 100%

My dinner. It's a bowl of black bean soup with sour cream and chives pluse a cheddar biscuit.

   
And that's a wrap!

A lot of hits, only a couple misses... but even the misses were worthwhile.

Apparently Martha got enough complaints about their stupid decision to stop including recipe cards that they have started including them again. This is much nicer than what I can print out here, and I save every one of them so I can cook them again later.

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Peanut Butter Pastime

Posted on April 1st, 2020

Dave!My mom loved peanut butter. She would be happy to eat a peanut butter sandwich for lunch and dinner every day. When her memory was failing her, I saw her eat them for breakfast on more than one occasion. Whenever she was bored and hungry, a peanut butter sandwich was her go-to snack. I once remember her laughing while reading an article out loud to me which had somebody saying that peanut butter breaks down after three months and shouldn't be eaten. For a jar of peanut butter to last her more than two weeks was a rarity.

After I had to move her out of the house, I threw out a jar with a few spoonfuls left in the bottom and stopped buying peanut butter.

That was almost four years ago.

Yesterday when I was buying groceries for a friend's mom, one of the items on her list was peanut butter. It sounded delicious after so long not having it, so I bought a jar. Mom preferred creamy JIF, but she would buy Extra Crunchy JIF too because she was happy to eat it as an occasional change of pace and knew that it was what I preferred.

And, oh yeah, that loaf of bread I bought yesterday? I thought I would try the new Franz "Keto" bread in case I couldn't find flour to bake my own. But before I stuck the loaf in the the freezer, I pulled out two slices and put them in a baggie to give it a try with lunch today. People were raving about the stuff, so why not? Well, to start with, there's the $6 price tag. Secondly, the loaf is a small.

Turns out there's a third reason why not... it tastes like crap.

Maybe it's because I'm used to the delicious breads I bake, but this dry, tasteless, boring "Keto" bread was awful. Don't get me wrong... if you can't have carbs, it's definitely better than nothing... but I will not be buying it again, that's for sure. Even when loaded with tons of Extra Chunky JIF peanut butter I had a tough time choking it down.

As tonight is my third night of Quentin Quarantino I watched the next two films in his catalog... Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2...

Kill Bill Volume 1 Movie Poster with Uma Thurman

Kill Bill Volume 2 Movie Poster with Uma Thurman

Likely one of the most stylish revenge flicks ever put to film, Kill Bill features Uma Thurman hacking her way through her former fellow assassins until she gets to her former boss, Bill. It's a brilliant and bloody spectacle with amazing fight sequences. The movie features cool wire-work which gives it a magical quality... but not so much that it feels surreal. The dialogue is pure Tarantino and, because he decided to cut the movie in two rather than cut down on the dialogue, it makes for a good balance.

Like the balance between my delicious homemade bread and this here JIF peanut butter I'm eating while blogging.

Can't believe I waited four years.

   

Groceries in the Face of Armageddon

Posted on March 31st, 2020

Dave!I have enough groceries to last another two or three weeks. Probably longer. I may be eating pasta with frozen vegetables and cheese for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but I will survive just fine. My cats have enough prescription food for another month. I also have two bags of "regular" dry food with a year left on the expiration date (which I keep on-hand for emergencies), so Jake and Jenny are good.

Because I've got food for a while I hadn't planned on a grocery store run... until I got a call from a friend in Seattle. They were wondering if I was headed to the store any time soon and, if I was, could I please pick up some things for their elderly mother who can't risk going to the store due to health concerns in our new COVID-19 Reality. I could drop them on her back porch and they would happily Venmo me money to cover the cost.

And so... off to the grocery store for me.

I figured that since I was going, I might as well cash in a bunch of Safeway Monopoly Instant Winner Free Product Tickets and Instant Winner Discount Coupons I won before they expire. I would also pick up ingredients I need to make more of my mom's Applesauce Bread...

  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Applesauce
  • Walnuts

Well, silly me, the four things I needed were all out of stock. They did have applesauce and walnuts, but they were the tiny containers which cost a fortune, so I passed.

The lack of flour had me concerned about not being able to bake bread for much longer, so I ended up buying a loaf that I could freeze. I also bought Coke Zero, Lay's Potato Chips, and Quaker Brand Chocolate Rice Cakes. They are not things I need, but they are things I want. Surprisingly, produce was in good supply so I picked up some onion, garlic, cilantro, scallions, tomatoes, and tomatillos to add some nice variety to my meal planning.

Plus I bought two apples, just because it would be nice to have a fresh fruit treat in the face of armageddon.

The store had everything on my friend's mom's list except paper towels and toilet paper, of course, but I had some extra rolls to stick in with her groceries so it was all good. Most of the things she wanted were prepared foods like soups and boxed/frozen meals, all of which were in good supply.

Atmosphere at the store was generally cheery. People didn't seem overly-angsty or angry. A few people with facemasks and gloves and everybody trying to keep their distance... but otherwise it was just like any other shopping day.

Except I won free AAA batteries, free cooking spray, and a free sesame bagel playing Safeway Monopoly, so that was a bonus. And these days I'll take as many bonuses as I can get, thanks.

Tonight I continued my Quentin Tarantino movie marathon, but I watched only one Tarantino film, Jackie Brown. That way I can have Kill Bill parts 1 and 2 as a double feature tomorrow night...

Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown Movie Poster.

Jackie Brown is an adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel Rum Punch, a book I ran out and bought immediately after finding out it was the basis for this amazing movie. Surprisingly, the movie follows the book fairly closely. There's some elements jettisoned from the secondary characters out of necessity, but Jackie's story is pretty much left intact. She's an airline flight attendant running drugs for the wrong people and just trying to get by in life and get out of a life of crime. It's really smart and surprisingly funny in spots. What's nice about reading the book after seeing the movie is that you can imagine Tarantino's version of the characters while you read plus get additional details as to everybody's back-story and motivations. Rum Punch is a sequel to another Elmore Leonard novel called The Switch, which is also very much worth reading (which could be said of most everything Leonard ever wrote).

And because the prequel to Jackie Brown was The Switch and because that book had been adapted into a movie called Life of Crime (starring Jennifer Aniston and Tim Robbins), I decided to watch it to complete my double feature since I hadn't seen it before (iTunes $7.99)...

Life of Crime Movie Poster.

Surprisingly, it's a decent movie! I mean, not Jackie-Brown-level-great, but still worth a look. The plot is the same as Ruthless People in that a wealthy woman is kidnapped and held for ransom only to have an adulterer husband who wants her dead anyway and refuses to pay. Ordell Robie is played by Mos Def instead of Samuel L. Jackson... and Louis Gara is played by John Hawkes instead of Robert DeNiro... so there's a considerable adjustment you have to make mentally, and yet there are certainly worse actors you could have cast as younger versions of the originals! The movie is definitely worth a watch if you're a fan of Elmore Leonard and Jackie Brown (though I thought Ruthless People was more entertaining).

And now I think it's time for a crisp apple and a Quaker Brand Chocolate Rice Cake to top off my evening's events. Good thing I ended up at the grocery store today.

   

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