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AskTP – Two Weeks to Candy

October 17, 2013

Maybe I spend the next two weeks just talking about candy. How hard could it be? But there are probably other important pressing food questions that will need to be addressed before we send all of our children into the streets to beg for high fructose corn syrup, chocolate harvested by child slave labor, artificial flavors, and artificial colors that have been banned by other more civilized countries.

Yeah. I’m the most fun dad ever. And then there are the awful awful sticky-sweet candy-inspired alcoholic beverages that try to pass themselves off as “cocktails” during this time of year.

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. Because today isn’t about looking forward, it’s about looking back. Every so often I dive into the comments section of the blog looking for questions that have gone unanswered. I value your questions and comments more than you could ever know, so I’ve made a commitment to ensure that every question (that has been asked with proper punctuation) ultimately gets an answer. It only seems fair.

And to help you scan through the post, each question is embedded with a hyperlink that will take you to the mystery link of the day. Okay, I think I’ve covered all the ground rules. Now without further ado, onto the questions.

-R simplifies my post on why one might not want to trust Dunkin’ Donuts:
Three reasons? You only need one: everything they “make” tastes like poisonous shit.

See, I was thinking I really should have flushed out the post with even more reasons and data points. I kept it to just three reasons because three is a magic number. That, and I didn’t think I could keep people’s attention all the way through ten. But if I were going to limit it to one, I think you pretty much nailed it on the head.

Chef Paul suggest maybe we are getting the donuts we deserve from Dunkin’:
I don’t know what happened to us over the years. Is it simply that we (as a society) have demanded too much? We want it to stay fresh longer, we want a lot for our money, and we want it cheap. This is what we get when we use that formula.

Your point is an interesting one. “This is what you want? This is what you get.” And it’s one of the reasons I am ever hesitant to demand more “food safety.” Labeling. That’s what I want. Label GMOs. Label artificial colors. Label raw milk cheeses. Label foie gras.

Some things like donuts should be perishable by nature. One should never expect a donut at 4pm to taste as good as the ones on the shelf at 7am. Donuts should be small. They are terrible for you. Let’s try to enjoy them with as little guilt as possible. Donuts should also be cheap. Amazingly, the crap donuts at Dunkin’ are the most expensive in the region. It’s truly shocking.

DEN isn’t buying the class warfare tactics coming from Dunkin’ Donuts:
A large DD coffee is the same price ($2.43) as a large at Starbucks or your local independent coffee shop. Part of DD’s model is value versus competitors (or so they say), but it is just not the case here. At these prices for DD, why not support your local shop?

I think part of Dunkin’s strategy is the perception of value versus competitors. But for drip coffee, that’s never been the case. Seeing people pay a lot of money for inferior coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts and think they are getting a good deal relative to other fancy shops makes me want to just give up and throw it all away. It’s amazing. Never let anyone tell you that mass marketing has no power in this day and age of social media.

Raf calls me out on what he believes to be logical inconsistencies:
funny, the parallel to your dunkin post is really that pork roll is also fake food – it’s called pork roll because it’s not allowed to be called ham. also, american cheese isn’t really cheese is it?

Let’s talk pork roll for a moment. John Taylor’s pork roll is made from pork, salt, sugar, spices, lactic acid starter culture, sodium nitrite, and sodium nitrate. I call that food. It’s not a handcrafted salami made in small batches. But it is an important part of New Jersey culture, and like it or not, “Taylor Ham” is charcuterie.

American cheese gets a little trickier. Some of it is cheese and some of it is not. The Land O Lakes white American is totally cheese. It’s made from cultured pasteurized cow milk and skim milk, buttermilk, milk fat, salt, contains less than 2% of: sodium phosphate, tricalcium phosphate, lactic acid, milk protein concentrate, enzymes, and animal rennet. The things that aren’t cheese have water, some use oil, and others contain “natural” flavors.

Like anything else, you have to be careful and look at the ingredients.

Chad Polenz reacts to discovering the secret ingredient in Wegmans yogurt:
Fishy yogurt? eww!

Yes. Exactly.

Lorres is less interested in cocktails and more interested in office space:
Forget White Ladies ( – which by the way I have made and liked very much – they are in The Vogue Cocktail Book ) did you peep into Einstein’s old office yet?

I haven’t, but I know where it is. But it’s just an office. It hasn’t been preserved. I’m pretty sure there isn’t even a plaque. Now someone else spends their time working in it, doing different work than that space’s previous scholar. The same goes for Einstein’s old house that’s just down the street.

Personally, I want to try and engage some of the old timers in conversation about the cocktails of the past. I’m sure this was a swinging place in the 50s and 60s.

Shawn is curious about exactly how bad I was at evaluating my Wegmans yogurt purchase:
Fish/Fish Oil is in everything these days. Did the label promote the Omega 3s? Some of the things I have found it in are just ridiculous, yogurt being one of them.

Looking back at the packaging, there was an Omega-3s call-out, but it was tucked around the side and not super visible from the front-facing panel of the tub. The major eye-catching claim was that this “super yogurt” was pre- & probiotic.

But it’s a good lesson for others. Anything that promotes Omega-3s may have found a way to put fish in the most unlikely of places.

jenh718 is clearly a badass, and she eats real food:
And I’m sick of hearing people talk about lack of time. Really? Three kids, partner, house to manage, full time student, part time employee, etc. etc. etc. and I eat real food. Pretty much all the time. So do my kids. It’s possible and not even all that difficult once you make it a priority.

Actually, I’m going to cut people a bit more slack than Jen. Mostly because I know that she is already starting with an advanced knowledge of how to cook. It’s always easier to do things when you know how. Some might say the same thing about home repair, but it would take me ten times as long (at least at first).

Still, her point is well taken. Don’t sell yourself short. And perhaps if you are looking for tips on how to do it, Jen can point you in the direction of a quick recipe or two. Or for that matter, I’d be happy to help as well. Don’t be shy. And if you are shy, you can always send me a private email (and I can reply privately too).

Deanna seems interested in playing logic games:
Did I ever tell you Bella Napoli has a truck in a weird parking lot in Cobleskill? Yep, it’s true, and was a total game changer for me and my waistline. Fact: Cobleskill is closer to SGF than Latham is. Fact: Deanna really likes Italian pastry. Myth: Deanna has willpower.

That’s news to me. But I’ll play along.

IF Bella Napoli has an Italian pastry truck in Cobleskill, and
IF Cobleskill is close to Deanna’s farm, and
IF Deanna really likes Italian pastry, and
IF Deanna is concerned for her waistline,
THEN Deanna doesn’t need willpower only good taste
BECAUSE while Bella Napoli makes great donuts, their pastry is just meh
(the fudge fancies on the other hand are pretty good though)

Lilly is feeling a little more pumped about living on the southwestern outskirts of Albany:
Wow. Indian Ladder, Altamont Orchards, Carrot Barn AND Gade Farm all have done very well?? Living in Altamont has it’s advantages. :-)

Yes, you are close to a lot of good apple cider donuts. But all things being equal, I’d rather be closer to Mrs. London’s in Saratoga Springs. As good as apple cider donuts are, croissants and French pastry are better. Even in fall.

enough already! joins team “From Scratch” and says team “From a Box” are slackers:
I’m with jenh718 100%. Been using that recipe for years – how much easier can it be?

Well, the Trader Joe’s mix all came in one box (minus the butter and the egg). So there was no measuring. That saves time and mess. That’s no small thing. There was no double boiler to heat or chocolate to make sure doesn’t scorch. But I hear you. However, since I don’t bake I actually don’t keep flour in the house these days. So I’d have to get a sack of that. And since I wouldn’t use the Baker’s chocolate, I would need to look up the recipe, and figure out how much chocolate I would need to buy in order to make a batch.

None of this is hard. It just takes time. It’s easy if you’ve made them before and know the drill. But there is a barrier to entry that’s high for some. Even those of us with modest skills in the kitchen.

Jon in Albany asks a very important question about central New Jersey:
How does the pizza compare to what is available in the Albany area?

Oh, you know, strikes and gutters, ups and downs. In all seriousness, it’s a bit too early to tell. There is good stuff, bad stuff, and mediocre stuff. The most important thing is that I’ve found a serviceable slice shop that also makes decent pies. Once I drop a few more pounds I’m going to make a concerted effort to finally try the famous Trenton style pizza places too. Surely I’ll find a way to write about them once that happens.

Kim asks the other really important question about my new life in New Jersey:
My question is this: have you finally made peace with turning right to turn left???

YES! Little Miss Fussy actually loves it. She feels like we’re on some kind of crazy rollercoaster. But mastering the local traffic patterns has made me look back on my first few days and forced me to realize that I’m really not so great with change. Big shocker, right?


6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2013 9:40 am

    If you are looking for a stop on a pizza quest, I’ve wanted to try this place for awhile. I might have hijack the family and drive a little further to get there, but it is on the “one of these days” list.

  2. October 17, 2013 11:55 am

    I was just in Chicago and my colleague from the west coast was stoked at the opportunity to try Dunkin’. He asked why they are considered so great and I told him actually *some people* are down on DD because of the artificial ingredients. Didn’t seemed to faze him one bit. Sorry Profussor.

  3. October 17, 2013 12:18 pm

    The “turn right to turn left” thing is just plain stupid.

    And y’know, there’s something to be said for mixes that save time and reduce the mess… this coming from someone who came home last night to a kitchen piled high with dishes, ’cause when my husband decides to cook, it takes hours and he has no concept at all of conservation of dishes (measure all of the dry ingredients first, then the wet stuff, so you can use one measuring cup, not every single one of them!). Too bad they don’t have a good “mix” for dinner, just for (some) baked goods.

  4. October 17, 2013 12:25 pm

    You’re the cutest. Love it.

    I’d check out Land O Lakes American cheese again. I think it’s no longer a WIC approved item because of the milk/oil ratio. Or something like that. I didn’t really look into it because I don’t buy it. But maybe it’s something you could do some snooping on?

    • Kerosena permalink
      October 18, 2013 10:17 am

      LoL white American is a weird thing. The stuff you can get at the Deli Warehouse for $2.99/lb is definitely not the same thing they sell at Price Chopper for $6-7/lb, despite having the same name.

  5. Laura permalink
    October 17, 2013 2:54 pm

    Related to the fishy taste conversation, I recently hard boiled some Trader Joe’s Omega 3 eggs and one of them tasted fishy. At first I thought it was rotten, but then I concluded that they must feed the chickens kelp or some type of fish or ocean product to increase the Omega 3 content. I poked around their website a bit, but didn’t see anything about it.

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