January 2011

Road Food, Street Food and Party Food

A sit-down meal is always nice. It's a relaxing break from the rest of the day and it practically requires us to concentrate on the food in front of us. It turns food into an event. Still, sometimes food needs to conform to us instead. There are three instances when the right way to eat gets some new rules, times when physical limitations necessitate simplicity and innovation without sacrificing flavor. Three such situations are when we're on the road, on the town or at a party.

Mexican Crema, the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything?

What’s more delicious than sour cream, made fresh, and can be purchased at a local tienda near you? (Don’t worry- I’ll tell you now. I won’t make you wait until the end of the post.)

Mexican crema. Mmmmmmmm, a little taste of Heaven. (Apologies to any Vegans who are concerned about any Dairy Cows who may be hurt as a result of my new crema addiction.)

When Is A Blueberry Not A Blueberry?

When it's a "blueberry crunchlet!"

I like to think I'm a pretty savvy and skeptical shopper. Even so, I have to admit, I always assumed there were blueberries in there. Shows what happens when you don't read the fine print, I guess, and it happens to the best of us.

It turns out that most things you buy at the grocery store which ostensibly contain blueberries, do not actually contain blueberries. For example Frosted Mini Wheats Blueberry Muffin cereal does not contain blueberries but "blueberry crunchlets" which are "defined as a mix of sugars, soybean oil, red #40 and blue #2."

Late Lunch: Pecan Encrusted Salmon with Side Salad

A couple weeks ago my best friend and I got together one afternoon. We had a late lunch over at her house. We had salmon with a side salad that included candied pecans and blue cheese crumbles. Just to mention a few of the many tasty ingredients.

For the main course, I stopped by Trader Joes and bought a large salmon fillet. It was packaged frozen, encrusted with pecans. It was also topped with fresh sliced tomatillos and green peppers. I purchased this fish fillet for about seven dollars. This was quite the bargain, considering there are two hearty portions of fish in the package, about sixteen ounces worth. At thirty-two grams of protein per serving, my best friend and I felt quite satisfied with the meal.

The Disgruntled Food Critic: Frozen Dinners

Yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before: "I only eat fresh food. I never buy that frozen stuff." Bullhockey. If nobody ever bought frozen dinners, grocery stores wouldn't have to stock them in their own, specially designed freezer chests. Frozen dinners are for people who don't feel like spending the money or energy to make a proper meal, people who just plain don't know how to cook, and single people who have resigned themselves to how horribly, horribly single they actually are. There's an appeal to frozen dinners beyond the convenience, though. Sometimes you just want, like, a cup of corn, one chicken leg and what could probably be described as a dripping handful of mashed potatoes. If you can get all that for five bucks and ready to eat in 10 minutes, you sometimes give in to temptation. But not all frozen dinners are created equal. Let's run down some of the regulars, shall we?

Sriracha: Best Sauce Ever

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of condiments. They add so much flavor for so little cost, and so few calories! Of all the condiments out there in the world, Sriracha is definitely one of my favorites.

I have a low tolerance for spicy foods, so I use Sriracha judiciously. It can be used to dress up almost anything you can imagine.

In recent memory I added a quick swirl to the insides of a grilled cheese sandwich before cooking it, squeezed a little bit into a bowl of instant ramen soup to give it a little kick, and put a quick dash on a few slices of pizza.

Pretzel Crisps: "Rethink Your Pretzel"

The Snack Factory Company was very generous. They sent me seven complimentary bags of Pretzel Crisps. You might be wondering what a pretzel crisp is. Is it a pretzel? Nope. Is it a cracker? Well, the slogan on their Facebook page says “Rethink your pretzel.”

Pretzel crisps were born in 2004 when the Wilson’s (a family from New Jersey) got a U.S. patent for a flat pretzel cracker. The Wilson’s are also responsible for the invention of Bagel & Pita Chips and they got their start selling the delectable Dutch dessert funnel cakes. They opened Pennsylvania Dutch Treats at the Paramus Park Mall in Paramus New Jersey in 1974.

Another Kellogg’s Fail

I just finished writing about what jerks Kellogg’s are—how they sell Americans inferior, more harmful products than the ones they sell in Europe—and then they come out with this heinous commercial for their “Special K” cereal.

It must be so new that there’s not a copy on the web yet, as I can’t seem to find one, but it basically goes like this: A woman wearing a red coat with white trim is lugging in her holiday decorations from outside and having a hard time of it. This is a natural thing, right? We all hate hauling stuff away, and she has a lot to haul—lights and plenty of other odds and ends.

It’s important to note that this woman appears perfectly healthy.

Say No To Imported Honey

I read a very interesting article this morning courtesy of Metafilter.  Titled "Honey laundering: The sour side of nature's golden sweetener," this article ran in the Toronto's newspaper "The Globe and Mail."  Funny what a different perspective you get on U.S. food politics when you read it from another country.

Over the summer someone gave me a little jar of local raw honey, and I was astonished.  It tasted so much better than the store-bought stuff!  The difference was comparable to that between store-bought tomatoes and garden fresh heirloom tomatoes.  It was that marked.