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Think of the Drink

November 14, 2014

Thanksgiving is coming. I can’t tell you how glad I am that we have a family tradition. It’s really something that I almost take for granted. But if I were to stop and think about it, I would realize that it’s not going to last forever. Our annual family gathering has survived marriages, break-ups, births, deaths, and kitchen renovations.

Cousin S. and I always try to bring some ridiculously tasty cured meats and cheeses. It’s the most delicious family competition you have ever seen. And thanks to the help of Eric at The Cheese Traveler and the gang at Adventures in Food Trading, I’ve been able to come up with some pretty good stuff over the years.

Aunt N. always struggles about whether to replace one of her classic dishes and put something new on the table. Everyone has their favorite. Mine is the stuffing, but those creamed onions are pretty special too. Others really like the roasted sweet potatoes with pears. Young Master Fussy looks forward to the mashed potatoes and gravy all year.

The only thing I actually prepare over the course of the meal is the whipped cream at dessert time. I make sure that it’s glossy, smooth, and holds soft peaks. It’s a thing of beauty, let me assure you. But I’m not going to be much help if you want to know the best way to roast a turkey or which technique you should use to make fluffy mashed potatoes. That’s some other blog.

One thing that many people really stress over is what to drink. So let’s think.

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The Snob List

November 13, 2014
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Religion is awesome. One of the things I love about this ancient form of social control is that it shows those things that human beings have wanted to do for thousands of years.

We’ve always fought with our neighbors. We have always gossiped. We love to eat pigs.

This is just one reason why religious law and doctrine compel people to love your neighbor, shun gossiping, and vilify pork. The major world religions only command us not to do the things that otherwise we would do.

People have been coveting their neighbors’ possessions for thousands of years. Maybe, just maybe, these behaviors aren’t moral or ethical flaws. Perhaps they go deeper than that, and somehow are a part of our DNA. I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t try to manage our base impulses. But I do find it comforting to recognize that these seem to be part of the human condition.

Like for instance the classic biblical dictate, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Because I’m sure it’s no surprise to any of you that sometimes… I get just a wee bit judgy.

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Just Mayo, Deception, and Unilever

November 12, 2014

Let the buyer beware. The supermarket is a minefield of deceptive labeling. For me, it has almost become a game, and it’s one I’m trying to teach my kids. SunnyD is sold in the juice aisle, but is it actually juice? Why is Cheez Whiz spelled wrong? Well, it could be to secure a trademark, but most likely it’s because the orange goop in the jar cannot be labeled “cheese” by law.

John Oliver has a great segment that begins with the recent court battle over pomegranate juice and ends with the first amendment. It’s a brilliant piece which you should watch.

Now even though I’m keenly aware of supermarket shenanigans, and for the most part I’m a careful label reader, occasionally I get hoodwinked. This happened recently with a product called Just Mayo.

Let me set the record straight. I like to make my own mayonnaise. I do. But I haven’t figured out how to make it without making a ton of it. Having a lot of fresh mayonnaise around is dangerous for a person with a fat tooth like mine. So part of what appealed to me about this product was its small size. The other thing was the clear quality of its ingredients. Obviously, Just Mayo was made for people just like me.

There’s only one problem, and that problem has recently earned them a massive legal battle.

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The 3:20 Egg Sandwich

November 11, 2014

Kate Welshofer is a really great sport.

There’s a rumor that she has a cable TV show, but I wouldn’t know because subscribing to cable television is pure madness. More importantly, she has a quirky video blog that I watch on occasion. What can I say? I’m a sucker for goofballs. Really, it’s her comic timing, distinctive voice, and frank asides that keep me coming back.

Well, there I was, minding my own business and catching up on some of Kate’s old videos, when something jumped out at me. While standing in her kitchen (at 1:26) she says, “I’ve learned that my breakfast sandwich is ready.” And that’s when the beast first appears.

It looks like a harmless egg and cheese english muffin. Yet she’s reluctant to take a bite. She holds it and waves it around. And when she finally does take a bite, it’s painfully hot. There’s only one kind of technology that’s capable of turning a simple sandwich into a weapon of self-destruction, and that’s a microwave.

Now here’s where things started to get out of hand.

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Culinary Virgins

November 10, 2014

Thanksgiving will be here before you know it. Like almost everyone else, there is turkey on my Thanksgiving table. But for me, the notion that Thanksgiving is about the turkey is ridiculous. The food I’m most looking forward to eating is Pepe’s Pizza.

Granted, it will probably be on Sunday. And granted, my insistence upon a stop will surely inconvenience members of my family. Just as surely, they will fail to understand why this is such an important stop.

And they aren’t the only ones. There are plenty of people who have passed through the doors of this hallowed pizza palace in New Haven who don’t quite get what all the fuss is about. I reject the notion that this is all about the Pizza Cognition Theory. That same disenchantment is shared by visitors to In-N-Out Burger, so one might argue this has something to do with food failing to live up to its hype.

However, my initial lackluster experiences with our region’s significantly less famous mini hot dogs and apple cider donuts has led me to another conclusion entirely.

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Funday: Consortium Sandwich

November 7, 2014

The blog goes through phases. Years ago it seemed like I wrote about Chipotle all. the. time. Then favored status moved on to All Good Bakers. I think The Cheese Traveler had a turn. Recently it seems like I’ve been writing about The Chefs’ Consortium a lot.

Part of the current phase has to do with guilt. I’ve been slow to pick back up where I left off, writing stories for the group’s website. But I’ve also been slow to resume my writing for All Over Albany. And for that matter, the output of my Yelp reviews has slowed to a trickle.

All of these activities should resume once I finish this side project I somehow took on.

I mention the Chefs’ Consortium bit, because today is somehow Friday again. And there are three events coming up I want to share with you. Two of them are related to the consortium. I may even be able to make it to one of them.

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November 6, 2014

Some people are tough. I am not one of those people. That probably shouldn’t come as a surprise since I get all bent out of shape when somebody cuts the tip off a wedge of brie. There are people out there who are going through chemotherapy. Others grind their teeth through every moment of every day in constant pain.

Me? I’ve got a head cold. But it still sucks.

Fortunately, the house is full of food thanks to the one two punch of the CSA and the chest freezer. There is a bus that comes to deliver the kids to and from school. I have a stack of Lucky Peach magazines that I’ve been dying to read. But I don’t know if I can do much more than lie down and maybe watch some TV.

The timing of this cold couldn’t have been better. Mrs. Fussy is away in Canada, and I just got something special in the mail.

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