Archive for Worth a Fork

Dintier than thou

Hormel’s Dinty Moore beef stew was long ago made available in a plastic microwavable tub: cut a slit in the cover, nuke for 90 seconds, and there you have it. I pick up one of these now and then just to break up the cycle of frozen stuff (usually Stouffer’s or Boston Market, occasionally Healthy Choice if I’m not paying attention), and besides, they spend less time in the reactor: like it says, a mere 90 seconds.

Until, apparently, now. I snagged one of them and another Hormel variety last weekend, and now they’re claiming 60 seconds, even merer than before. I wondered: did Hormel do something different, or is this simply a reflection of the fact that contemporary microwaves are a bit stronger than they used to be? (I’m on my third: the first two were rated at a meager 650 watts, the latest 900, and I’m seeing 1100 on newer models.)

A look at Hormel’s Brand Wall may, or may not, have given me a clue. The package portrayed that’s closest to the one I have on hand is marked 10 oz/255 g; however, the one I have is marked 9 oz — but still 255 g. (Nine ounces is indeed about 255 grams.) All the other nutrition information is the same.

Historical note: Dinty Moore, as a brand name, goes back to 1935; I’m guessing it had something to do with Dinty Moore, the character in the comic strip Bringing Up Father, which seems less unlikely than the Dinty Moore sandwich (corned beef layered with lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing) from Detroit. Hormel was clearly on a roll in those days, though: in the next two years, they introduced both their famous chili and the legendary Spam.

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A brave little toaster user

Adam Lapetina sampled twenty-seven varieties of Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts — no small task in itself, and downright astonishing in a single 24-hour period — and then ranked them from worst to best.

My personal favorite finished a hair below mid-pack:

16. Unfrosted Blueberry
This Pop-Tart wouldn’t look out of place behind the glass case of a European pastry shop, but that also means that it’s one of the MOST out of place in terms of blending in with its fellow P-Tarts. As with before, there’s something unnerving about seeing a Pop-Tart without its clothes. It feels vaguely scandalous, yet underwhelming, like hearing yet another new rumor about Charlie Sheen. The blueberry filling actually contains blueberries, which is nice, and it’s tart like a blueberry-flavored thing should be.

Add frosting, and it goes up only two notches, so it’s the blueberry-ness that makes this one fly. And my local store is carrying it again, so I don’t have to order from Amazon.

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Among the things I never thought of

“Do you eat smooth or crunchy peanut butter with jellyfish?”

My first thought is simply “No,” but somehow that seems inadequate.

What I should have thought of: the consequences of posting this around breakfast time.

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It’s not easy eating green

I am not one to utter kind words about kale, as a rule, but I do try to be open-minded, and maybe someone might find this recipe worthy:

When you think of comfort food Kale isn’t usually something that comes to mind. This creamy kale pesto sauce is nice and rich so it feels like a guilty pleasure but it is still packed with all the health benefits that this superfood is known for. It is also a great way to sneak some veggies into a meal for kids who are picky eaters, or for kids at heart who are picky eaters … like my husband.

And it’s heavy on the basil and the pine nuts, so you might not even notice the Dreaded Vegetable. What’s more, it’s billed as a “30 Minute Meal,” and I — and probably you — have toiled longer for less result.

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Future blast furnace

Dr. B gives ear to a Brian Fagan podcast, and this question comes up:

In the question and answer period, he was asked what the stricken people can do about it? “Move,” he said, “is the only option.” If the world is heating up, where would he move to? “Canada. It will be dryer, much warmer, and their politics are reasonable.”

There are reasons, of course, for cynicism:

My cynicism is not that I don’t believe that there is a major problem with pollution (there is) or that the environment is being destroyed (we see it here) or even that the climate is changing (it is) but because too many want to pull all these things together to make a top down dictatorship where the elites run everything.

As I have written before, here in the Philippines, one of the side effects of the more radical “green movement” is that it makes things worse. Keep out mining and logging, and the result is illegal mining and logging with worse poverty and environmental destruction than you would get if you regulated companies to do it without destruction.

And grow green crops and avoid pesticides, chemicals, and of course GM food, but that leads to importing food from other countries that use chemicals, pesticides and GM seeds because the local organic stuff is too expensive for the poor to eat.

It’s a situation you can see right here in town: stores in more upscale areas attract buyers who are willing to pay 79 cents a pound (or more) for organic bananas when the standard-issue fruit barely brings half a buck. A good head of organic leaf lettuce is $3ish; the usual fare from the Jolly Green Giant and his peers might break a buck during the winter.

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Is there no more room?

The Kraft-Heinz merger, I figured, was no big deal, other than creating a combined company with a name that sounded like a Seventies German band. But this alarms me:

A financial analyst has suggested that Jell-O may not survive the new merger between Kraft Food Group Inc. (which makes it) and H. J. Heinz Co. and “could be axed.”

Cue a shiver of despair.

It’s hard to remember a time before Jell-O. (On the other hand, perhaps it’s almost as hard to remember the last time you made it.)

“Hard” doesn’t even begin to describe it; Jell-O goes back to 1897.

Over the years, it has been served in thousands of church basements, enabled millions of liquor-laced shots at college parties, provided the concoction in which bikini-clad women wrestle.

Actually, Jell-O wrestling doesn’t involve Jell-O, but a similar product designed specifically for the ring; but don’t tell your friends that.

And the Jell-O name will survive, even if the gelatin dessert itself doesn’t: by now, there are more flavors of Jell-O Pudding than there are of Jell-O itself.

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I’d certainly buy ’em

And really, they should charge more for deboning them:

I prefer mine a little greener at the store, but otherwise this seems like a decent deal.

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Advanced shelling

The SB Nation title was “TACO CANNON TACO CANNON TACO CANNON TACO CANNON TACO CANNON,” and justifiably so, since it’s about a taco cannon:

The Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks just had their most successful season in history, with the school’s hockey team making its first Frozen Four, and they’re building a new $80 million arena set to open in October. Whether that arena has good sports teams or nice seats or structural integrity is irrelevant, because it has something more important:

This is the sort of thing that has to happen when Pinkie Pie and Sonata Dusk get together.

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Same surf, same turf

This turned up over at Interested-Participant, along with the note that “it seems to tell a story:”

Register receipt of some sort

Well, it’s marginally amusing in that the person drawing the line around “EBT FOOD STAMPS” prefixed EBT with a D to indicate “DEBT,” but there’s this undertone of “How dare these poor people eat like this!”

And that rang a bell over in the archives, circa June ’11:

There was some minor grumbling last month after word got out that some guy in Wisconsin had bought $140 worth of lobster, steaks and Mountain Dew with food stamps, and the usual noises were being made about how this was absolutely inevitable or how this was utterly unacceptable. (Best example of the latter, in fact a contender for QOTW here, was by a commenter at American Digest who said that there were only two things you should be able to purchase with food stamps: gruel and diet gruel.)

This is what you’re not seeing on that register tape: five 24-packs of Mountain Dew at 6.79 each, plus twelve bucks worth of container deposit. And it turns out that the actual purchaser, in fact, was not living large — not very large, anyway — at our expense; he was buying this stuff with EBT and then turning it over for cash, to the tune of 50 cents on the dollar. This isn’t what you’d call the highest use of taxpayer dollars, but anyone who is shocked — shocked! — to see this sort of thing going on probably isn’t paying attention: the system that can’t be gamed very likely can’t even be built, and I figure there’s nothing to be gained by paying some Federal agent to peer into people’s grocery carts.

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Ancient diet plan

While researching a novel set Way Back Then, author Michael Z. Williamson experiments with possible methods of prehistoric food preparation:

How do you cook a tasty meal with minimal spices and no cooking utensils? Well, it turns out you can create quite a few spices and seasonings from plants in the carrot family.

There are a lot of edible plants and quite a few spices in the Apiaceae family. In fact, almost all edible plants come from about six families, and do so in the last 7000 years or so. Before that, there’s some evidence of rice and wheat, and occasional possible evidence of fruit domestication (versus actual agriculture).

However, it’s obvious from the evidence that vegetarianism is just a modern ideal. No matter how many believers bleat about it being “natural,” it not only wasn’t natural then, it was a complete myth. There just aren’t plants in the temperate or boreal latitudes that you can gather for enough protein, fat and calories to stay alive. Even if you could, you won’t find them in December. This is a world nothing like our own. No domesticated grains, no herded animals. Even modern “wild” berries are usually contaminated, and sweeter, because of cross-pollination with domestic breeds. I’ve had vegetarians insist we were mostly vegetarian at the time, but they’re unable to name the plant species we allegedly derived our calories from, especially fat. I’ll save you time: There are almost none. Gathering non-fruit comestibles is a net calorie loss and a waste of time.

Not that your present-day Carnivorous Man is in a position to brag, either:

Most of the Paleo diet people won’t be happy either. There was a lot of meat, but most of it was stringy and lean. Humans need fat for brain development and to maintain the skin, among other organs. When you can’t get gorged, winter-ready animals with a layer of fat to eat, you wind up eating brains, livers and kidneys. They also provide salt, minerals and flavor. Hunter gatherers cherish the organ meats for nutrition. You’ll want a lot of fatty fish, too.

After a week of this diet, I was ready to kill someone for some french fries or a peanut butter sandwich.

He is, however, kind enough to offer a couple of what could be Vintage Recipes (see the link).

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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First meal: snap

Followed, inevitably, by crackle and pop:

A young woman says she lives on almost nothing but Rice Krispies — and insists she is still healthier than most people.

Natalie Swindells, 26, eats four bowls of the cereal every day. She can’t face eating much else and has not tasted a vegetable for nearly two decades.

The bank worker, who says she has never taken a day off sick, stopped eating most other foods from the age of two. She now believes overeating causes more health problems than having a very restricted diet like her own.

Well, the key word here is “almost”:

She will also occasionally eat milk chocolate, ready salted crisps and chips. Although she consumes fewer than half of the recommended 2,000 calories for women Miss Swindells still has an active lifestyle. She lives in Macclesfield with her boyfriend Daniel Walsh, 26, who she says has grown accustomed to her strange eating habits.

Maybe it’s just one of the quirks of being Maxonian. Macclesfield is the only English mill town that was not bombed in World War II, and their current MP is a Mormon. Further, it’s the home of Mr. Methane, a flatulist. I’ll bet he doesn’t live off Rice Krispies.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Gleaner than you ever thought possible

Two versions of The Gleaners by Millet

To the left, “The Gleaners” by Jean-François Millet (1857). To the right, a revision approved for inclusion in the Gluten Free Museum, dedicated to erasing all images of this deadly poison in the documentation of everyday life.

(Via Jeff Faria.)

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Better watch those English muffins, too

What do we know about Danish butter cookies? They come in this enormous metal tin, they contain no shortening ingredient other than butter, and you should probably keep them away from me.

One of the major distributors of Danish butter cookies is, surprise, Campbell Soup Company, which acquired Denmark’s Kelsen Group in 2013. And Campbell’s was not pleased to see a competitor named Danisa moving into their territory, since Danisa’s manufacturer, “Danish Specialty Foods,” allegedly in Copenhagen, is apparently actually in Indonesia.

Takari, US distributor for Danisa, argued before the National Advertising Division that they’re just the importer and have nothing to do with the contents, and besides, First Amendment. The NAD was not impressed with this argument, and Takari will revise the packaging and advertising.

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Mayo presumably to be held

Because standing in the parking lot and taking a deep breath just isn’t enough:

For hamburger aficionados who can’t get enough of it, Burger King has an answer: a grilled burger-scented fragrance.

Burger King said Friday that the limited “Whopper” grilled beef burger-scented cologne will be sold only one day on April 1, and only in Japan.

And no, the date is not the joke. The King is serious enough about this to ask 5000 yen (forty bucks) for the bottle — with purchase of an actual Whopper.

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Considerations of taste are irrelevant

At this writing, the stuff has two five-star reviews on Amazon, mute testimony to the sheer emptiness of some people’s lives.

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You want that with fries?

The title of this spam was nothing remarkable: “Attention: Our Lowest Home-Rates Expire 3-25-15.” (And a possibly amusing domain: loancashbefore.work.) But this was the text hidden behind the HTML:

The fries themselves are not bad … a bit plain maybe, but not bad. The creamy spicy tuna dipping sauce they serve with the fries is stupidly bad. That stuff doesn’t even belong on sushi; on fries it’s ridiculous and downright trashy. If you like that stuff, stop having sex with your cousin. I’d like house-made mayo or aioli options, or even a really refined, light, bbq sauce seems like it would pair well against the slaw. Traditional ketchup, for me, is a no and their whole grain dijon is meh.

If this was swiped from somewhere, and I always assume it is, I didn’t find the source.

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A nightmare dressed like a sugar rush

The little girls sell lots of cookies, but they’re not too proud to tap the resources of a big girl:

(Via Hello Giggles.)

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Maybe a single Rah

The latest addition to the Girl Scout Edible Addiction Cookie line is Rah-Rah Raisins, described as “Hearty oatmeal cookies with plump raisins and Greek yogurt-flavored chunks.” While I remain loyal to my usual choices — and when are you girls gonna come up with some Thick Mints? — I figured the least I could do is sample the new ware.

And it’s okay, if a trifle uninspiring. I was expecting a bit more contrast between the raisin and yogurt bits, and the oatmeal base suggests something more chewy than crunchy, but it’s certainly a different approach to an otherwise-overworked theme, and they do manage to get fourteen of the little discs, two inches in diameter and 3/8 inch thick, into the six-ounce box, which might be enough to discourage you from polishing off the entire box at a single setting, a problem I have pretty much always had with the traditional shortbread trefoils.

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Don’t read the side panel

On processed foods, that’s usually where they put the ingredient list, and you probably don’t want to read the ingredient list, at least not before dinner:

I’ve started checking ingredient labels, looking for the evil polysorbate 80. I heated up a frozen Red Baron Pepperoni Pizza for lunch and there was ingredient list was printed on the side, but it may as well have been a written in hieroglyphics. I wasn’t going to try and puzzle it out, so I pulled one off of their website. It’s fairly horrendous, but it doesn’t appear to contain any of the dreaded emulsifiers and certainly no polysorbate 80.

It did contain (under “dough conditioner”) something called L-cysteine hydrochloride, about which you might want to know:

Cysteine is required by sheep to produce wool: It is an essential amino acid that must be taken in from their feed. As a consequence, during drought conditions, sheep produce less wool; however, transgenic sheep that can make their own cysteine have been developed.

Reminds me of the flap over the common ingredient in yoga mats and McRibs.

As for the dreaded polysorbate 80, well, there’s always 20, 40, 60 and 65.

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A little Sprite told me

Coca-Cola is testing new branding of its flagship products in Spain, and if all goes well, they may go worldwide with it:

Until now, the different varieties of Coca-Cola family functioned as three independent brands (Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero) in the design of their packaging and advertising. From today, as part of the new strategy of “single brand,” all variants of Coca-Cola will unite under a common identity.

The most visible change in this new strategy is that the packaging design will be unified. All cans and bottles have the same style, based on the iconic original brand of Coca-Cola.

What they’re not saying — but they’re showing in the packaging design — is that Diet Coke, or at least the name, is dead, at least in Spain. (Some European countries have been getting Coca-Cola Light, the new name, for several years now.) I don’t think this part of the plan will materialize in the States.

On the other hand, there will now be Coke Zero and Coke Zero Zero, the latter with neither calories nor caffeine. And I detect no trace of the ill-fated Coke II.

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Food is here

This is something I never saw when I was a kid: a youngster waxing rhapsodic about broccoli. I didn’t much like the stuff myself, though I have since done a 180; the parental units were mystified, since I had no trouble polishing off a serving of Brussels sprouts, which were similarly green and only marginally more symmetrical.

The Association (remember them?) had a spiffy little tune on the subject:

Now that I think about it, I started eating broccoli in earnest about the time this song came out, which would have been 1969.

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They can’t go for that

No can do, say the plaintiffs:

Hall and Oates are suing a Brooklyn-based cereal firm, claiming its granola Haulin’ Oats infringes their trademark.

The case accuses Early Bird Foods & Co of breaking the law with its “phonetic play on Daryl Hall and John Oates’ well-known brand name”.

Lawyers for the singers filed the case in Brooklyn federal court.

The duo claim the company is attempting “to trade off of the fame and notoriety associated with the artist’s and plaintiff’s well-known marks”.

This would seem to be at least slightly inconsistent with the duo’s thinking. Said John Oates a few years back:

There isn’t one album that says Hall and Oates. It’s always Daryl Hall and John Oates. From the very beginning. People never note that. The idea of “Hall and Oates,” this two-headed monster, this thing, is not anything we’ve ever wanted or liked.

Yet it’s something they’re willing to protect. I’m thinking maybe I’m just out of touch.

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As slowly the doctor wakes

Someone had to try it, of course:

Call me in the morning.

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Nay, they may say

I’m pretty sure I would, anyway:

Note the semi-subtle misspelling to avoid running afoul of Federal food definitions.

In other news, expeller pressed oil is evidently a Thing. No substitute for Valvoline, though.

(Via Dawn Summers.)

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Turn up the defroster

About a decade ago I issued this plaintive whine, or whining plaint:

Am I the only person in this city who ever buys Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts in the unfrosted-blueberry variety? Their status as one of the original flavors hasn’t done anything to insure their presence on the grocer’s shelf; they seem to show up in the stores about twice a year if I’m lucky. Meanwhile, the sickeningly-sweet frosted versions get more shelf space than ketchup, despite their lack of palatability and their incompatibility with my old-style, uncomplicated toaster. (Something in the frosting seems to melt down into a nasty brown slag; for all I know, there could be plutonium in there.)

I still have the same toaster, a bit more elderly and rachitic — the lever works, sort of, but it’s no longer a straight shot from top to bottom — and I’d pretty much abandoned the search for unfrosted blueberry.

But the last two times I’ve looked, I’ve found them. Now I don’t need to feed a Pop-Tart addiction, obviously, but a pair of them once a week isn’t the end of the world, and if the Food Police come calling, I’m going to point to the box, where an illustration of the frosting isn’t.

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Slurpables

If it’s sufficiently cold out, and the refrigerator is sufficiently close to full, it makes a certain amount of sense to leave the Pepsi out in the car, where it will be properly chilled without crowding out the asparagus.

Until, inevitably, this happens:

This week, I brought in one 12-pack from the cold. Except the Pepsi wasn’t just liquid — more like a slushy.

That’s a little too ice cold for my son’s taste.

The closest I’ve come to something comparable was watching someone parking a can of [name of drink] in the freezer on a Friday before a long weekend, presumably forgetting about it, and then retrieving it on Tuesday. By this time, the contents have frozen solid, and, being largely water, they have expanded, meaning the can itself has been deformed into something other than the neat cylinder it used to be. The eventual discovery of this phenomenon was greeted with some choice Anglo-Saxonisms by the owner of the [name of drink]sicle.

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Over easier

For at least half my life, the powers that be, or that imagine they be, have been warning me about cholesterol, coursing through my body like liquid plutonium or something. I am somewhat pleased, yet still somewhat annoyed, that they’ve now admitted that they were just kidding:

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has taken cholesterol off the list of things that are automatically bad for you if you are an otherwise healthy person. Cholesterol, like just about anything already in our bodies or in our food, can cause you problems if you have too much of it already or if you consume too much of it, but isn’t necessarily the One Ring of Dietary Substances.

This was probably inevitable once they figured out that “good” cholesterol wasn’t all that good and “bad” cholesterol wasn’t all particularly bad, and neither of them, from my point of view anyway, were as bad as statins, which overlaid my entire structure with random weakness. (On the upside, statins gave me a great excuse to not drink grapefruit juice, as though I needed one.)

Still, the exasperating aspect of this is that there continues to be a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee at all. And given current trends in corruption, I suspect there will someday be a Recommended Daily Allowance of Pepsi, or something equally implausible, because dollars were spent to support it.

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Make mine Spunow

And look, it’s on sale:

Chocolate bars for sale

Miss Cellania explains: “Almojoy got nuts, Spunow don’t.” Still unexplained: the difference between Nickers and Sickers.

And where the heck are the W&Ws?

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It goes with your milk-white complexion

Mascara made from Oreo cookies:

She has also made eyeliner from M&Ms.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Trefoiled yet again

Prepare to peel off more dollars for your Thin Mints:

Secure in the knowledge that the general public is always jonesing for cookies and their position as purveyors of said revered items, Girl Scout councils in some cities are charging more for their cookies this year, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Because it’s up to each local council to decide how much to charge per box, prices could vary depending on how far you’re willing to drive: Cookie inflation is coming to Southern California, for example, where councils in San Diego, Orange County and Greater Los Angeles have hiked the price from $4 to $5, after San Francisco’s council did so.

Local Scouts have quoted me $4 — up from $3.50 — for this year’s trefoils and Samoas and whatnot.

But hey, say the Girl Scouts of Orange County, $5 a box is still a bargain, especially compared to the $5.84 they could be charging if cookie prices had advanced apace with inflation.

File that under Cold Comfort.

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