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Growing Up at Denny’s

November 1, 2018

Who woke up this morning with a sugar hangover? Those are the worst. But hey, I stuck to my plan. I ate one bite sized Butterfinger, one bite sized Baby Ruth, and one bite sized Nestle Crunch. Oddly, the only one of those I did not regret was the Butterfinger.

Dang, that’s good food science. And the bite sized Butterfingers are the best, because they have the highest ratio of “chocolate” to whatever the heck that is on the inside of those things. Seriously, I have no idea how you would even define it. If only we had some rock star pastry chef like Greg K. around to tell us the name of the French technique for transforming sugar and fat into a crisp, multi-layered biscuit.

… I’ll wait…

Dammit Greg. Where are you? Ugh. But since we’re just coming off candy night, I thought it would be a good day to follow up on last week’s post about the impossibly sweet pancakes from Denny’s. If you don’t remember, those were the ones that come with a pitcher of warm salted caramel to pour over them.

Amazingly, the caramel sauce was one of the very few things that wasn’t made with soy.

I have no idea how much Denny’s has changed from the late 1980s until today. But I used to spend a lot of time there. How much time? Well, if I were to go looking for my wasted youth, the first place I’d check would be between the seat cushions of a booth at Denny’s. And somehow, after all these years of blogging, I haven’t written anything about it at all.

So, here it goes.

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The 2018 Candy Bowl

October 31, 2018

It’s Halloween, and I’m going to keep this light. There are plenty of other places on the Interwebs where you can go and read about the true life horrors of the day.

Blessed be the innocents who go around and pretend to be frightened by imaginary monsters.

So for them, I’ll have candy. And frankly, I could use some candy too. Although as the designated stay-at-home-and-pass-out-candy person, my own little treat is a sweet double IPA that I picked up at the store. It should help to pass the time, since last year the doorbell rang twice. Twice.

This year, as a result, I bought less candy. I hope the stash holds out. And as opposed to the Halloweens of the past, I’ve put much much less thought into the selection. Which isn’t to say this year’s candy bowl isn’t focused on some strategic objective. It is. It’s just that, much like last year, I still feel broken by the candy industry.

What’s in the bowl? I’m glad you asked.

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The Best Donuts We Almost Missed

October 30, 2018

It’s hard to be unhappy when you’re eating a donut. Unless, of course, that donut comes from Dunkin. Then it’s fair to feel a sense of dread and loss. Otherwise, it’s pretty much nothing but sunshine and rainbows.

So let’s turn our attention to donuts. Especially since I’m woefully derelict in revealing the results of the Ninth Annual Tour de Donut. That’s right. Ninth. Which is why I’m excited about finally putting this thing to bed.

For nine years we’ve been leading people out into the wilderness in and around the Capital Region of Upstate New York in search of the season’s best apple cider donuts. For seven of those years, we went to five entirely different places each year. That’s thirty five different cider donuts in all.

One of those years, we limited our visits to just bakeries. Albany’s Cider Belly won that contest easily, and established itself as such a major apple cider donut force of nature, that the bakery scored a bye into the grand finals. Last year, on year eight, we did a championship round of the top five orchards from the previous tours.

This year the stakes were high. Because this was for a spot in the grand finals against Cider Belly and Terrace Mountain Orchard. This year we went back to three places were somehow our donuts on the first visit weren’t reflective of their general excellence. Plus we hit two additional spots that somehow were off our radar.

How did it turn out? Well, the donuts were some of the best we’ve experienced.

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To Life

October 29, 2018

This has been a difficult weekend. Last night I cooked a simple dinner. I had been craving pasta with a basic Italian-American meat sauce. Not bolognese. Just straight up ground hamburger, tomatoes, and spices. So that’s what I made.

Mrs. Fussy thought the whole thing smelled amazing, and suggested it might be a meal with which we should have a glass of wine.

As it turns out, the wine cabinet was almost empty, which means it’s time to buy another case. So while a pinot noir might not have been the perfect pairing, it filled in just fine. Mrs. Fussy pulled the cork, filled our glasses, and when we clinked them together, I said l’chaim.

Which is finally when I started to feel better. But it wasn’t the wine. It was the words.

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A Sweet Breakfast Turns Sour

October 26, 2018

Healthful eating isn’t really my thing. Sure, I try to make sure to balance out all the super fatty foods I eat with a diet full of whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. But a lot of that is out of vanity. Some is about trying to avoid a lifetime of prescription medication. And there is even a soupçon about staying, ahem, regular.

That means pancakes are an occasional indulgence. I love pancakes. Especially the ones my father-in-law makes on the farm in Pennsylvania. While I may try to limit myself to one, I usually end up eating at least three.

If I am going to be eating pancakes, they have to be special. The odds of getting a stunning pancake when out and about is slim, so I typically don’t even consider them an option. A large part of the problem is that a vast majority of places that sell pancakes don’t even have real maple syrup in the building.

It’s a crime.

Just today I got an email from the largest kill joys in the food business, The Center for Science in the Public Interest. I think all they eat at home are bran flakes, kale, and avocados smashed onto 100% whole grain bread (with no salt). Historically they are famous for comparing everyday foods to Big Mac’s. So if you know the factoid that a large tub of buttered popcorn is the equivalent of two Big Mac’s, you can thank the good folks at CSPI.

Now they are taking on salted caramel pancakes, which sound fantastic, except for one thing.

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October 25, 2018

How many of you wait until the last minute to do things? How many of you are planners?

It’s funny because pretty much my entire professional existence has involved planning. But in my heart of hearts I’m a procrastinator who saves things for the very last minute. I don’t quite know how to make sense of those two things. I guess I have the capacity to plan ahead, but only if somebody is paying me to do it?

Case in point. I was in Target last weekend with Little Miss Fussy who saw all the Halloween decorations, and more importantly, the bags of candy. So she asked me what our plans were for the holiday this year.

“We’re going to do the same thing as last year” I told her. “I’m going to run out the night before Halloween, and buy whatever candy is left for trick-or-treaters”. So that means I can pretty much push off thinking about Halloween until Tuesday night.

[Quick show of hands, if you can see where this going]

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Refrigerated Cake

October 24, 2018

Maybe I’ll never publish the results from the Ninth Annual Tour de Donut. That would be a humdinger, wouldn’t it.

No, I won’t be that cruel. They are coming. For some reason it’s just proving to be a challenge to find the time to write a post tour post. Those take longer than most, because there’s a lot to cover, including at least a little bit of number crunching.

But there are always food topics to discuss, including even new ones that I’ve never brought to light, yet still have bothered me for a long long time. Although in this case, I’m starting to embrace cold cake with grace.

Just know this isn’t coming out of nowhere.

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