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Frozen?

Posted on June 8th, 2015

Dave!I am starting to get annoyed at frozen food manufacturers who have no smarts when it comes to how people heat their food in the real world. Everybody knows that the ideal way of cooking something frozen is to use the MICROWAVE to mostly thaw the item... then switch to a CONVECTION OVEN to finish cooking the item because cooking it all the way in the microwave usually makes it taste like rubberized crap. So why do manufacturers ONLY give you cooking directions for microwave OR convection?

Amy's Mexican Bowls Casserole

Fortunately, the answer for many items is to split the difference.

For example, Amy's amazing Mexican Bowls have instructions for 5 minutes in the microwave OR 40 minutes in the convection oven covered in foil followed by 10-15 minutes uncovered to crisp the top. But you can cut the cook time almost in half and still end up with optimal flavor by splitting the difference: 2½ minutes in the microwave followed by 20 minutes in the convection oven covered in foil followed by 10-15 minutes uncovered to crisp the top.

This is the strategy I use for cooking a lot of frozen foods... from veggie burgers to enchiladas. And I'm probably not alone. A lot of people are undoubtedly microwave-thawing then convection-cooking their freezer stuff to save time without ruining it.

Unfortunately, splitting the difference doesn't work for everything, and sometimes there are foods (like pizza, veggie corn dogs, and veggie breakfast sandwiches) which still get rubbery or end up under-cooked. So I end up having to spend a lot of time via trial-and-error attempting to find the right balance... usually cutting microwave time and/or increasing convection time until I get something fully-cooked but not rubberized.

But why should I have to figure all that out? Why aren't frozen food manufacturers doing the hard work for me? Isn't that their job? I can only hope that one of these days one of the big companies will pioneer an effort for providing Best Cooking Practices using BOTH microwaves (to thaw) and convection ovens (to cook) so the rest will follow. Until then... maybe I should start a website where people can post their cooking hacks for frozen food? Or maybe there already is one? With the internet, it's hard to tell sometimes.

And now I'm hungry. Way to go, internet.

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Bullet Sunday 370

Posted on March 2nd, 2014

Dave!No more bitching about how your favorite movie/actor/director didn't win an Oscar, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Oscar! First of all, I just have to say that Ellen DeGeneres did an amazing job as host. Funny, entertaining, yet still nice to everybody. And now my take on the big awards...

  • BEST PICTURE: Should have won: 12 Years a Slave. Won: 12 Years a Slave. This was an incredible movie that was painful to watch. Totally Oscar-worthy, even though I doubt I will ever watch it again.
  • BEST DIRECTOR: Should have won: ? Three-Way Tie ?. Won: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity). This was hard. I honestly felt that David O. Russell (American Hustle), Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), and Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), all had a claim to the prize. That Russell both wrote and directed American Hustle made me want him to win a bit more over the others, but the technical challenges that Cuarón had to rise above were legion, so I get it. McQueen is a solid choice too, so I just don't know.
  • BEST ACTOR: Should have won: Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave). Won: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club). McConaughey was good, but I just didn't see his role (or the film, in general) to be riveting enough to grab the prize. Ejiofor on the other hand?
  • BEST ACTRESS: Should have won: Sandra Bullock (Gravity). Won: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine). I fucking hate Woody Allen and, even though I'm sure Blanchett was her usual incredible self, I'd rather any other picture win. Bullock managed to overcome a lot of technical challenges to pull out a very good performance, so I'd probably give her the nod.
  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Should have won: Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave). Won: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club). Leto was the best thing about Dallas Buyers Club, but the sheer volume of emotional wreckage that Fassbender had to claw his way out of to deliver his performance must have been epic.
  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Should have won: Lupita Nyong'o, (12 Years a Slave). Won: Lupita Nyong'o, (12 Years a Slave). A complete no-brainer. Nyong'o had the performance to beat (even though I love Jennifer Lawrence so much that I probably wouldn't complain if she won it for her awesome turn on American Hustle).
  • BEST ANIMATED PICTURE: Should have won: Frozen. Won: Frozen. Animation god, Hayao Miyazaki, had his final feature film (The Wind Rises) in the running and I would have loved for him to have won... but Frozen was the film to beat.

   
• Marshmallow! And speaking of Frozen... there's a lot of things I could say about this brilliant Disney animated feature. Maybe that will happen later in the week. In the meanwhile, how much does everybody love Marshmallow? Probably my favorite animated character since Sully from Monster's Inc....

Frozen Marshmallow

If you love Marshmallow too, be sure to keep watching past the Frozen credits.

   
• Ark! As I mentioned a year-and-a-half ago when I visited The Creation Museum, the group behind it all (Answers in Genesis) is working on a second museum... ARK ENCOUNTER! Apparently it's going to be a life-size replica of Noah's Ark (or something like that). They were in a bit of financial trouble but, after their leader Ken Ham had a much-publicized debate with Bill Nye The Science Guy, it apparently garnered them enough attention that they got their money after all. Personally, I can't wait to go... even though I believe absolutely none of it...

Ark Encounter Drawing

There's some pretty harsh criticism of Bill Nye for giving Ken Ham a platform to "legitimatize" his beliefs... but that seems kinda lame. I may vehemently disagree with Ken Ham, but I find value in understanding what he (and countless others) believe to be true, so I was happy to have a chance to see him actively debating it. And I'm looking forward to ARK ENCOUNTER as well... if it's as nicely done as The Creation Museum, it'll be worth a stop.

   
• About! Nick Hornby's About a Boy is a remarkable book that I've read at least three times. Much to my shock, the movie adaptation starring Hugh Grant was quite good... though very different in parts (and with a crappy Hollywood ending slapped on). So when I heard NBC was creating a television series for About a Boy, I was intrigued...

About a Boy TV Poster

And so I watched it only to find out it was TOTAL SHIT. As an adaptation of the book. As a television show though? Not terrible. Not good, but not terrible. It seems to be based more on the movie adaptation than the book, but it fails pretty badly there too. The concept is the same, however. Will Freeman's dad wrote a hit Christmas song that set him up for life. Since he doesn't have to worry about money, he's living a self-absorbed life that revolves around fun instead of responsibility. Enter Marcus Brewer. He's an odd kid (mostly due to his mother, Fiona, who has severe emotional problems), and he's ruthlessly bullied at school. Will and Marcus cross paths, and both their lives are forever changed. The movie, while not entirely faithful to the book, does get a number of things right. Most importantly, they very clearly show just how miserable a life that Marcus leads and how terrifying it is to not know from moment to moment whether his mom is going to survive her depression. The TV show? Pretty much none of that. They focus more on Will being an idiot than the boy in About a Boy. And that's the biggest problem. The kid playing Marcus is good, but you never feel for him or his situation. And that leads to the entire premise of the show falling apart. And who knows if we'll ever see Ellie, a critical character from the book who was glossed over in the film and seems to be absent from the TV show entirely (so far). I dunno. I guess I'll give it a shot for a while, but my love of the book and movie is kind of killing me here. Maybe if I play the absolutely amazing movie soundtrack while I watch the TV version it'll be more tolerable?

   
• OREO! So Marshmallow Crispy OREOs and Cookie Dough OREOs happened a while back, but I've only just now gotten around to trying them...

New OREOs! Marshmallow Crispy OREO Cookie Dough OREO

Love the Marshmallow Crispy version. They're very sweet, but the crap actually tastes like a Rice Krispies treat in the middle! The Cookie Dough? Not so much. The flavor is vaguely there, but it actually seems more like coffee(?) (which I hate) than cookie dough. Doen layik it.

   
Sorry to end on a down-note, but I do proclaim this Sunday's bullets ended!

   

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