Posted on November 27th, 2020
It's Black Friday. The one day of the year I allow myself to buy stuff I want instead of stuff I need. I put away $100 a month all year long in order to afford things like better quality clothes... tools for my wood-shop... electronics. You know... stuff.
This year I had to spend $380 of my Black Friday savings on a ridiculously expensive WiFi router when my old one died. Then I had to spend $470 on crazy stuff like food and HOA dues. So... $350 left. The plan was to put it on a new Milwaukee Tool table saw. But it’s conveniently "sold out" absolutely everywhere so stores can exclude it from their sales. I’m sure it will mysteriously be back in stock come Monday. That’s the way 2020 goes, it would seem. I’d buy some new clothes, but what for? I’m not going anywhere. So who cares? I guess now I have a $350 head start for 2021. Just think of all the superfluous crap I can buy next Black Friday!
I did treat myself to a bowl of Apple Jacks though, so I guess my Black Friday wasn't a total loss?
Apple Jacks. The apple cereal that tastes absolutely nothing like apples... but I love it anyway. I just can't eat them every day. Because sugar. Loads of sugar.
When I was a kid, however, I had a bowl of sugar-infused cereal every single morning before heading off to school. As I started working and traveling heavily in my twenties, I eventually phased breakfast out of my diet. It was either too inconvenient or too expensive to consider. The only time I ate breakfast when traveling was when it was included in my room rate, because that meant I could save money by skipping lunch. Occasionally I slip back into a cereal renaissance where I'll eat it for a while, but I always end up moving away from it again. Because sugar. Loads of sugar.
When my mom was living with me, getting her to eat anything was tough. The only way I could get her to eat was to take her to a restaurant because the environment set her in a headspace where she knew she was supposed to eat. Most days I was taking her out to breakfast, going to work, coming home to check on her and grab a bite, then taking her out to dinner when I got home. It was an expensive way to live. And a monotonous way to live. Since she couldn't hold anything in memory for more than five minutes, she would forget the restaurants we just ate at and want to eat there again. Many times this ended up being Denny's, for which I was grateful, because they had a big menu with a lot of selections. Mom could eat eggs and toast for breakfast and dinner every day because she had no memory of it. I, however, could not, and would need to mix things up a bit. The chef at our local Denny's probably did not like seeing me walk in because I was trying to get creative with their dishes to make something vegetarian and interesting that I could eat. I tried to tip well though, so maybe it was okay? I have to say though, it was nice that my mom and I were recognized by name all that time.
Not that I didn't want to order banana caramel cream crunch pancakes with extra whipped cream every chance I got. But, alas, sugar. Loads of sugar...
Mmmmm... dessert for breakfast!
I don't eat breakfast very often now-a-days. So when I do, don't I deserve banana caramel cream crunch pancakes with extra whipped cream? Or at least a bowl of Apple Jacks?
Posted on November 23rd, 2020
I'm experiencing a tea renaissance. Last night I had some amazing Winter Chai and I'm still thinking about it this morning. I stopped drinking tea for the longest time, but took it up again when I was served some amazing native tea in Laos back in 2013. After a couple years I started favoring sodas, but now I'm drifting back into tea-land again. Figured I might as well since the tea I ordered for my 2020 guests in January (that wouldn't end up coming thanks to the pandemic) will have to be replaced soon anyway... even though I froze it to keep it fresh like you're supposed to.
Winter Chai Blend from Tea Forté, whose pricey teas I love.
I have a free pizza to thank for my renewed interest in drinking tea.
Last week I went out for groceries and got yet another free pizza. Safeway/Albertsons is forever giving away free pizzas with purchase of something else. And since the "something else" is usually something I'm buying anyway, I always grab one. I don't like frozen pizza, but I'm not going to pass up on free food. This was my fourth free cheese pizza and I had to make room in the freezer by tossing out some old stuff I shouldn't have been saving in the first place... and drinking my tea stash. From there I moved on to cleaning out the refrigerator and found a full carton of eggs hidden behind the fresh carton I just bought. I don't even remember having bought them. I don't shy away from expired foods, but eggs that are a month past their "Best Before" date are probably a gamble I shouldn't be taking, so down the garbage disposal they went.
Last night I had one of those free cheese pizzas for dinner. It was the last thing I wanted to eat, but I didn't have room for my next freebie so I thought I should whittle down my pile. My attitude ended up being "Sure I don't want it, but does it even really matter?"
And it's at that point I realize I've been saying that to myself a LOT recently...
"Does it even really matter?"
Because, seriously, does any of that really matter? No. Not really. Dishes left in the sink. Cleaning that needs to be done. Projects that are lingering. Things I need to stay on top of. It just doesn't matter. Life is just a self-isolating blur of tedium sameness, and I'm mired in it like quicksand.
About the only thing that matters are my cats. Where I'm happy to just let things go in my life, I refuse to let anything go in theirs. I still steam clean their feeding station. I still wash their food dishes and water fountain. I still clean their beds. I still collect their toys. I still play with them. I still drop everything when they want attention. I still do everything I can to make sure they're cared for.
Just like after my mom died, I probably owe it to Jake and Jenny that I find the willpower to keep going day after day. Mostly because they are about the only thing I've going for me right now. But partly because I don't want to keel over and die and have them eat me.
Though with all these exotic teas I've been drinking lately, I'll bet I'm delicious.
Posted on November 5th, 2020
I've been buying less and less meal boxes from Martha Stewart and Marley Spoon because... A) They are expensive, and... B) It's sometimes tough to find two new recipes I want to try on the same week. Most of the older recipes I like have been made numerous times on my own for less money, so it's only the new ones I really care about. This week finally had two that I wanted to try, so I coughed up the money to pay for them.
Tonight was Indonesian Vegetable Nasi Goreng with Crispy Shallots...
I was dubious about the taste because the sauce has ketchup, vinegar, teriyaki sauce, chili garlic sauce, salt, and... sugar? But it was actually very good.
Last night was Black Bean & Quinoa Taco Bowl with Crispy Tortilla Strips. And I guess I owe an apology to Martha Stewart. I ordered this one even though I don't care for quinoa very much. I do love me a good taco bowl though, and it sure looked great in the photo...
It was a lot more work than I expected, but hey... TACO BOWL FOR DINNER! Then I got to the part of the recipe where you slop marinated romaine and tomatoes OVER HOT QUINOA AND SPICED BLACK BEANS! And I was all... BLECH! The lettuce is going to wilt immediately and I'm going to end up with a gross, sludgey, toxic mess. Bad Martha! But NOPE! Martha is always right, and I should have known she wouldn't endorse a bad recipe. This was ONE PHENOMENAL SALAD! Absolutely loved it, even though mine didn't look as nice as the photo...
And while it wasn't as good for my leftovers lunch as it was fresh, it was still pretty good...
Boy, gotta hand it to Martha's meal service... she's opened me up to so many amazing recipes that I never would have found on my own! And now I have two more. Both of which might actually be good for me? Say it isn't so!
Now that's some food for thought.
Because thought has to be put somewhere now-a-days.
Posted on October 18th, 2020
Cooking on Sunday seems like a tough sell before facing your Monday, but sometimes life throws you an easy recipe... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• LEWKS! Dolly Parton is one of my favorite people on earth. This video of her looking back on her leaks over the year is a great indication why...
• Rona! Thinking that overcoming COVID gives you immunity is most probably a mistake.
• UnHallmark! SQUEEEs in Hallmark...
Amazing how some of the best Hallmark movies aren't actually made by Hallmark any more. This film, for example, features an interracial couple. That is so exceedingly rare at Hallmark that you could reasonably argue that it doesn't exist. But, hey, they're producing a gay Hallmark Christmas movie this year, so maybe anything is possible?
• Meow! This made my week. Do not mess with a cat's pet!
The cat is fantastic, yes... but that puppy is too adorable.
• Pete! I think it's important to revisit this moment in Pete Buttigieg's "town hall" on FOX "News" from 2019. It's where he's asked about what people are labeling "late-term abortion"... something which is not medically accurate ("late-term" is past an expected due-date for birth), but generally accepted to mean 21 weeks or later in pregnancy. I keep seeing "late-term abortion" pop up in conversation lately, and I honestly don't think people truly get what it is. As explained by Mayor Pete in the video below, for the vast majority of women who have been carrying a baby for 21 weeks, they're expecting to carry it to term. They want that baby. So if they're needing to get an abortion into the third trimester, it's not because they've changed their mind, but because of a catastrophic medical problem for either the mother or child. So to deny women a necessary medical procedure under those circumstances is both horrifying and cruel (read this, as just one example... there are thousands more). Yet this is what some very unreasonable and sadistic people are wanting to deny a woman in need at one of the worst times in their lives.
I was initially a fan of Buttigieg, but ultimately problematic in some areas. That being said, I'd sure pick him over Trump or Biden. His thoughtful, measured response to serious issues is something we are sorely lacking in government.
• Flix! I laughed far more than I should have at this...
Lord only knows what people would think when looking at my Netflix!
• T-RAV! One of the best things about visiting St. Louis is their "Toasted Ravioli" (AKA "T-Rav"). Which, most places, is actually deep-fat-fried instead of toasted. It's amazing stuff. It's not always easy to find a non-meat version, but it's always worth it. My problem is that St. Louis is 1600 miles away, so the only way I'm going to get it is to make it myself. Fortunately, it's pretty easy, and I'm giving my recipe below...
And that's a wrap on this delicious Bullet Sunday. THIS TIME!
Posted on October 5th, 2020
For the longest time I believed everything you've likely heard about MSG. Causing headaches... being unhealthy... made of chemicals... blah blah blah... MSG is bad.
It's all (mostly) bullshit. MSG is none of those things. MSG is fucking great. And I've been cooking with it ever since I saw a video back in 2018 explaining how the backlash against it took hold in the USA. Turns out the bias against MSG was actually just anti-Asian xenophobic stigma. Something you might have guessed when the media dubbed it "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome."
MSG is used in a bunch of foods we eat all the time... especially canned foods, snack foods, and fast foods... but since those are American foods, nobody seems to be getting "Campbell's Soup headaches" or "Doritos headaches" or "KFC headaches." MSG is also naturally occurring in foods like cheese. But you also don't hear about people getting a "mozzarella headache" either. And since it's manufactured by fermenting sugars, the process is no different than making vinegar, but somehow vinegar is okay to use and MSG is not?
Lord people are stupid. But that's racism for you.
I use MSG in everything from pizza sauce to potato salad. It just adds a little something extra to my cooking. A little more depth and body to the experience.
So if you've bought into the racist, xenophobic, and overall idiotic hype on the "dangers" of MSG as I once did... then you're missing out. Or you may be missing out. Some people (like me) think it's the best thing since sliced bread. Other people can't taste much of a difference (oh how I pity you). The most "balanced" look at MSG I could find is this...
MSG is pretty darn cheap. So there's not much to lose by giving it a try. EXCEPT PHENOMENAL FLAVOR!
And that original video which got me hooked on MSG in the first place is here...
Yara Elmjouie (from the Eat This with Yara video above) has some interesting takes on cuisine on his channel over at AJ+ (Al Jazeera Plus). If you're an open-minded foodie who can handle your cooking videos having a political slant, it's worth a look.
And, on that note, looks like it's time to start making dinner... probably with MSG added.
Posted on October 4th, 2020
Everybody's getting the COVID, but all news is not bad news... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Tiny! In addition to Ted Lasso, my favorite show of 2020 (or possibly any year ever) and The Long Way Up (another exceptional program), Apple TV+ has also released a new series called Tiny World...
Fascinating, fascinating stuff. Another homerun for Apple.
• Long! And speaking of The Long Way Up, the series just keeps getting better and better with each new episode. Ewan McGregor has absolutely zero ego in the three The Long Way... series. He never complains about the accommodations. He never complains about the food. He never complains about running into fans. He's just grateful to have a place to stay, something to eat, and people who are friendly towards him. Above all else, he's grateful for the opportunity to be able to experience the world. Contrast and compare to so many travel shows where people are relentless assholes about even the tiniest inconvenience. If you want all the comforts of home and are going to be raving assholes when you don't get it... STAY THE FUCK HOME! Needless to say, I give The Long Way Up my highest recommendation.
• Battle! How I missed this fantastic video with Lin-Manuel Miranda from 2009 is a complete mystery. I guess sometimes I am completely out of the loop with things...
How he does what he does so brilliantly is a mystery. Makes me want to watch Moana for the hundredth time.
• Subway? If you still eat at KidFuckers, you should know that they don’t build their sandwiches on bread... they build them on candy Which is probably all fast food joints, but that's why they taste so good.
• Yup! My brain in a nutshell...
I'm procrastinating cleaning my kitchen with this post!
• Vote! Okay... okay... it can't all be good news, right?
Democracy is under siege, but so long as it's happening to people you don't agree with it's okay, right? Politicians seem to think so. VOTER FRAUD IS EXCEEDINGLY RARE! But facts don't matter anymore, I guess.
And that's all I got this Sunday.
Posted on September 28th, 2020
I've posted a couple times about making my own burritos so I can freeze them, microwave them, and serve up a tasty and convenient meal. Plus it can be healthier and far less expensive than buying them pre-made at the grocery store.
The problem is that I have never found a way to make and freeze breakfast burritos. When you microwave them they end up tasting horrible. The eggs are awful. The potatoes are awful. The salsa bleeds into everything. It's a gross, rubbery mess.
And so you have to make them fresh every time.
It's not a big deal, really. Scramble some eggs, cook up some tater tots, get out the cheese, salsa, and sour cream. Fry up some fake meat or real meat if you want it. Then slap everything together in a warmed flour tortilla.
So, not a big deal... but more of an ordeal than I want to mess with.
How I compensate is by making them every morning for an entire week. Once you get the process down and have all the ingredients grouped together in the refrigerator, it's easy to just stick with it.
I've just my eighth straight day of breakfast burritos and I think I'm done.
Until the next time.
Now I have to figure out what breakfast food I'm going to get addicted to next so I can get sick of it and have to find something new again. It's a vicious cycle.
Sorry, but thanks to the COVID pandemic and the fact that I can't travel, this is the kind of thing I have to blog about now.
Posted on September 16th, 2020
I became a vegetarian because the girlfriend I had at the time didn't want to kiss me because she said I smelled like meat. That was on Earth Day 1986. We broke up after that, but I stuck with the diet because the horrific allergies I had been plagued with all my life evaporated. It also fit in with my newly acquired Buddhist philosophies, so it was good all the way around.
Back then, vegetarian versions of my favorite foods were not easy to find. And most of them you could find tasted like ass. But all that changed when I walked into a Johnny Rockets diner in Santa Monica, California where they offered "Boca Burgers" for sale. I ordered one (no grilled onions or mustard), tasted it, then had to call the waitress over because I was convinced I was accidentally served a meat burger. But nope! It was just that good.
Eventually I found them at my grocery store and was eating them at least once a week for decades.
But then my world came crashing down when Kraft bought out Boca Burger and "new and improved it." They claim that they updated the texture and taste to serve modern consumers. But to me? It tasted like liquid smoke and burning hair smeared on pencil erasers. It was fucking disgusting. But no big deal... I could still eat the "Vegan Original" which had the original taste. Until Kraft discontinued it and replaced it with a fake turkey burger. When people complained, they said that when their customers wanted a vegan burger, what they really wanted was turkey. Which is a load of fucking horseshit... which, coincidentally, is what I'd rather eat than one of their fucked-up "turkey" burgers.
And so I stopped buying their horrific "food" products.
A lot of other people probably stopped as well, because when I was at the grocery store yesterday I was shocked to see that the "Vegan Original" had returned! SWEET! I looked very carefully at the box. The photo indeed showed the light color of the original instead of the dark brown plastic look of the "new and improved" model. I bought two boxes and couldn't wait to have one for dinner.
Then I opened the box...
These are NOT the original recipe. Not by a fucking longshot. And now I'm stuck with two boxes of this gortesque shit. So as not to waste my hard-earned money, I did cook one up to give it a shot. It's not as horribly over-flavored as the non-vegan option, BUT IT'S STILL NOT THE ORIGINAL THAT THEY PROMISE YOU RIGHT ON THE FUCKING BOX!
100% false advertising. I'm writing to Kraft and insisting on a refund based on their fucked-up lies. I mean, why in the hell not put the ACTUAL product's picture on the damn box? Had I seen it was this new brown plastic crap, I would have never bought it!
And so I guess I'm finally done with Boca Burger now. After clinging to the memory of that amazing burger I ate in a Santa Monic Johnny Rockets so very many years ago, this was the last straw. I'll cook up Impossible Burgers or whatever else isn't going to taste like the physical manifestation of fucking disappointment.
Red Robin, Johnny Rockets, and everybody else has already moved on from Kraft's Boca bullshit, I guess I can as well.
Posted on September 13th, 2020
The world may be on fire, but don't let that dissuade you from pulling out the marshmallows... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Transplant! I've written a couple times about my favorite show of 2020, the Canadian medical drama Transplant. It's just fantastic television and deserves a look. If you're heere in the US, NBC is airing it on Tuesdays and on their Peacock streaming service. Today I found out that Apple iTunes Store is offering a Season Pass for all 13 episodes for $25. It didn't take me even one second to purchase it, even though I already have Canadian recordings of all the episodes. I support shows I like by purchasing them whenever I possibly can. This was a no-brainer.
• Farmer! In an age where laughs are getting harder to find, this was exactly what I needed...
Almost makes me want to get on TikTok to keep up with him.
• HEADLINE! Face masks could be giving people Covid-19 immunity, researchers suggest. Not that anything wil ever dissuade the dumb-fuck anti-mask brigade, but any news is good news, right?
• Float! Apple sure does know how to create amazing retail spaces. Every store I've visited around the world... even the most basic... is incredible. My favorites are those which take classic old buildings and turns them into jaw-dropping shops. But there's something to be said for their mind-blowing original creations...
Apple Stores are practically destination-worthy. If we were in different times, I'd take a diversion to Singapore to see this marvel.
• New New Order! One of my all-time favorite bands has released new music!
It's different. But as a huge fan of dream-pop, this half-step in that direction is not something I hate. I actually rather like it, even though it's not what I was expecting.
• Lunch! Yesterday I was going to get up at 7am, get some bread started, clean the kitchen, put another coat of paint on the cabinets, then cook up a vegetable bake with dumplings for lunch. But then I took one look out my window as smoke was pouring into the valley and decided I'd sleep until noon. This was lunch...
Now-a-days, you do what you can do and try not to feel like a failure for not doing what you feel you should be doing. Just getting up in the morning to feed my cats was doing good during a pandemic. But while the world is on fire during a pandemic? Vodka Coke and frozen veggie corn dogs is a frickin' miracle.
And now... once more into the breach.
Posted on September 4th, 2020
Growing up I never had much exposure to cilantro. It appeared in salsa, but that’s about it. Over the years I’ve been kinda meh on cilantro, but once I started exploring Martha Stewart’s meal service, I’ve come to love it (so much so that I’m going to try growing it eventually).
Yesterday I was craving cilantro but too tired to cook after getting some from the grocery store, so I made me some Coconut-Peanut Rice Noodles with extra cilantro for dinner tonight...
Amazing stuff. I find it sad that some people have tastebuds that register cilantro as “soap” tasting, because it’s become a favorite flavor of mine.
And speaking of Martha Stewart's meal service...
On of the meals this past week was Spinach & Tomato Lasagna Rolls. I made half without the Spinach, which I felt were far superior because the texture of the spinach was kinda gross. Great stuff though. They have you mix pesto into the tomatoes for a darn delicious sauce. The best part is that the noodles crisp up on the edges when you cook them. I honestly thought that the filling would come pouring out as they cooked, but nope...
Yummeh. If I can find pasta sheets, I have to make this again.
Well, that's enough cooking for a while. Back to peanut butter sandwiches for a while.