Monthly Archives: January 2014

Disappointment, Thy Name is Oikos: Super Bowl Blah

Growing up as a small child (yes, at one time this six-foot-tall lady was a small child) (and I suppose everyone grows up as a small child) (can you use this many parentheses this close together?) (and now punctuation?)

Ahem.

Growing up as a small child, I loved a television show with all of my heart. You may have heard of it. It was the smash hit show called Full House.

Of course, as a small child, I called it the wrong thing. I called it ‘The Little Girl Show.’

I know, I know.

Cut It Out

Cut It Out

I’m sorry, did I say that I LOVED Full House? I mean, I still currently love it.

The bond between Danny, Uncle Jesse and Joey (he is NOT Uncle Joey, you IDIOTS) is undeniable. And the sacrifices that Jesse and Joey made in their lives to help raise those girls after Pamela died…

I know I sound silly. But I love that show, as do many others, and tons of other shows from our childhood. Perfect Strangers. Family Matters. Growing Pains. Bad though they may be, they still hold a place in our hearts. (Also, Full House isn’t bad.)

You have to believe that I was trepidatious when I heard that Dannon’s Oikos was going to reunite the men of Full House for a Super Bowl spot this year. I’ve loved John Stamos from afar for so long, but the previous Oikos spots have been, well, witless.

So, when Oikos pre-released their SuperBowl spot and I watched it and I was confused. Here it is for you.

I had so many thoughts.

1)   You’re a yogurt company. Why are you pre-releasing your Super Bowl spot? Also, you did a teaser, too. And a website. I hope to God you have the full cast reuniting for the actual spot that airs. Because if this is it? Yikes.

2)   Also, the best part of the SuperBowl is the commercials. Why prematurely ejaculate all of your creativity a week before the big night? But, I digress.

3)   Oh, Oikos. Are you trying to be the sexy Greek yogurt? Is that why you have John Stamos in your spots? The Greek yogurt you don’t feel naughty about after a night in the sack? I ask this because that is a steamy kiss and…I’m sorry, was she about to….lick your pants, sir? LICK THE YOGURT OFF OF YOUR PANTS, SIR? WHAT ARE WE INSINUATING WITHOUT ANY SUBTLETY AT ALL????

4)   The rest of the spot? I dunno. I think it was underwhelming. These dudes have been best friends for literally decades and that’s the best you got? And if you’re going for an in-joke from a TV show, go for it. Get B. Saget in the Danny Tanner uniform and have him cleaning a vacuum with a dust buster. Get Joey with Mr. Woodchuck. Gimme a Kimmy Gibbler on a unicycle. But this was halfway and did not play on my nostalgia so much as upset it.

What do I know, though? Maybe I don’t know anything about advertising. (I do, though.) Or about Full House. (I DO though.) I mean, I only cried when the series finale was aired on May 23, 1995.

….and I cried again when I watched in on TVLand like a month ago.

I suppose I’m saying one’s nostalgia has to be protected. A generation’s collective memories cherished and preserved. And when they are trotted out to sell a product (as I know they will be), let them be treated lovingly.

And not with a spraybottle and a cum joke.

All in the name of yogurt.

UPDATE!!

Now, THIS is how you do Full House. Thank you, Jimmy.

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Winston-Salem’s New Favorite Pizza Place: Mission Pizza Napoletana Opens Tonight!

The last time I was with my best friend, LP, I asked her an important life question. If she could eat one type of food for the rest of her life, what would it be?

Immediately, without hesitating, she chose pizza.

And I chose sandwiches. I mean, I love sandwiches. I want to eat those forever.

Don’t get me wrong, I love pizza, too. But pizza is just pizza, right?

At least, that’s what I thought before I actually got to try Mission Pizza Napoletana.

But let’s back up a bit. To when I saw the Mission Pizza Kickstarter campaign last summer. That’s where I first heard about how Peyton Smith of Forno Moto was going to bring some crazy newfangled pizza to this town. Pizza we’ve never even dreamed about.

And again, I was like “Whoa, guy. Pizza is just pizza.” It’s like the old Jim Gaffigan bit about how all Mexican food is the same. Tortilla with cheese, meat and vegetables.

But it’s so absolutely, totally not the same. How you make it matters. And what you put on it definitely matters.

Mission Pizza has this amazing oven. This hand-built brick oven that cooks pizza at 1000 degrees in minutes. And they’re putting together delicious pies in it.

And because I am a fancy person friends with the person who made their Kickstarter video, I got invited to their soft launch on Wednesday. This was their first real night serving people. (The restaurant was so new the tables still smelled like varnish. Bless.) The atmosphere was electric and with good reason, Peyton and his team have a good thing going.

The interior is clean and cool, the waitstaff is fun and friendly, and the food is excellent. The menu may change a smidge between soft launch and open, but I believe the gist will remain: pizza, plates (salads/apps/etc.), beer and wine.

In an effort to be a glutton support local business, I tried a little bit of everything. I started with the beet salad: very well executed combination of classic flavors of beets + goat cheese. (Bonus, they’re using a local cheese maker, the Goat Lady Dairy, to provide the goat’s cheese.)

They've got the beets.

They’ve got the beets.

Evan, of the Kickstarter video making fame, ordered this pork belly as an appetizer. And an appetizer it was not, but delicious it was. The white bean ragu and balsamic were hearty with a hint of sweetness.

Don't think, just eat this.

Don’t think, just eat this.

I ordered the Soppressata pizza, which our waiter recommended. The crust was thin and crispy, the basil was charred and smoky, the soppressata was sweet and the mozzarella creamy. They say the simplest foods are the hardest ones to do perfectly, but that was not a problem here. Evan’s fiancee/my friend Lauren kept saying that her pizza felt refreshing—it wasn’t a heavy, dense pie that you’d need to take a nap after. This is a pizza you could have before a night out.

Soppressata Pizza

Soppressata Pizza

Lastly, I SHARED the tiramisu with my friends. (I shared the other things too….but, I didn’t share that much cause it tasted too good.) I love tiramisu. I love the creaminess of the mascarpone next to the soaked ladyfingers. (Soaked ladyfingers just sounds disgusting when you type it.) And this one was one of the best I’d ever had. It was light and fluffy. The perfect last bite.

Tiramisu to share. Or not.

In short, I stand corrected. A pizza isn’t a pizza isn’t a pizza.

And, a sandwich isn’t a pizza, either. So, if I can only eat one food for the rest of my life, I think I’d like to change my answer.

Go check out Mission Pizza Napoletana starting tonight! 707 North Trade Street. Regular business hours are Monday through Saturday, 5-10 pm.

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Split Pea Soup: The Creamiest, Hammiest, Splitiest, Pea-iest Soup Ever

And now, a dad joke.

What’d you have for breakfast?

Pea soup.

What’d you have for lunch?

Pea soup.

What’d you have for dinner?

Pea soup.

What’d you do all night?

Pee soup.

Get it? Cause…pea….and pee….it’s a homonym.

It’s literally a dad joke because my dad told it to me when I was like 10 or something. And I’ve cherished it all these years. I don’t know what that says about me/us.

After my New Year’s Easy Eve ham, I had a leftover hambone and a lot of leftover ham. So, the natural course of action was to make a split pea soup. HASHTAG SOUPCLUB

Hambone Burnett.

Hambone Burnett.

I have to say, this is one of my favorite soups. It’s thick and creamy, but without the addition of any dairy for the anti-lactites. It’s full of vegetables and has an underlying hamminess. And while that sounds ridiculous to type, it actually is true. The hambone flavors the background of the soup with the broth and the water, and then including actual ham reinforces that flavor and is just plain delicious. Don’t skip the lemon juice at the end; it really brightens the soup up.

I can’t tell you that this soup will help your comedy at all.

After all, it is a bit of a ham.

You knew it was coming.

Oh, don’t look so surprised. We all knew I was going to wrap up with a bad joke/ham joke. #selfaware

Split Pea Soup with Ham from MarthaStewart.com

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 chopped medium onion
  • 4 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bag (16 ounces) green split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • Ham bone plus 2 cups reserved ham from the recipe Glazed Ham with Apricot-Mustard Sauce, cut into 1/2-inch cubes | I didn’t make this recipe, but I’m sure it’s delicious.
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a Dutch oven or 5-quart heavy pot with a lid, heat oil over medium. Add onion, carrots, celery, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add broth, split peas, ham bone, and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and partially cover; simmer until peas are soft, 30 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make croutons: In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add bread and cook, tossing occasionally, until browned and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Pay attention here, these mo-fos will burn. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Remove and discard bone from soup. Working in batches, puree only 1/2 the soup in a blender (don’t overfill); return to pot. Add ham cubes, and simmer until heated through. If necessary, thin with water. Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Serve topped with croutons.

Ahhh.

Ahhh. Out of focus soup.

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A Christmas Tradition: Carrot Cake and Chuck Hughes (Sigh!)

It was two days before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a…

Nope. Can’t keep that shit up.

It really was two days before Christmas and I was attempting to make my first carrot cake.

YES. I realize that Christmas was weeks ago. It’s getting a bit wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey on the blog today.

Why must we all speak like children?

I have no idea where he picks that stuff up.

I love carrot cake. I don’t know what it is. There’s normal cake deliciousity, plus the natural sweetness of the carrots and the raisins. And don’t even get me started on a cream cheese icing.

Have you ever seen someone on TV and REALLY thought you could be friends with that person? Like REALLY? Like if you actually met them, you’d grab a burger and start talking and hanging out or whatever. (This is going somewhere, I swear.) Chef Chuck Hughes is like that for me. He’s really funny and super likable. He’s totally goofy, absolutely adorable, and bonus? He makes a lot of gorgeous dishes on his show on cooking Channel Chuck’s Day Off. Also, that show has an awesome soundtrack.

Last year, Chuck did a Christmas special called “Chuckmas” (no idea where they got the name). And he and his mom made a carrot cake that I believe they make every year. And no wonder. It’s delicious and fairly foolproof.

Fairly foolproof. But don’t worry, I’m always here to play the fool.

One of my springform pans was leaking, so I put it on a cookie sheet. And the only way to get the other pan on the same rack in the oven was to lean the other springform pan on the cookie sheet. So, basically, I wound up with one really nice, even cake and one really slanty cake that looked like a hillside.

Once they cooled, I thought I’d cut the top of the cake off like I’d seen on TV! It looks so easy! Level the cake! Nope. This went very poorly. The cake was misshapen, basically a dome, and it started to lead to some structural damage. Then I had this exchange with my dad.

Me: My cake is falling apart.

Dad: I have something for that!

He brought me a backhoe.

He brought me a backhoe.

I also kind of fucked the frosting up. I overwhipped it in an effort to get the lumps out of the cream cheese.

But my pal Chuck KNEW I was going to struggle a little bit. So he and his mom top the cake with these amazing crystallized walnuts. So, even though I wasn’t completely perfect, he had a way to cover up all my mistakes.

That’s what super talented, hunky friends are for.

Carrot Cake, ever so slightly adapted from Cooking Channel

Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups peeled and grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup dried golden raisins

Frosting:

  • 2 packages cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 ½ cups confectioners sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange

Maple Walnuts

  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts

For the cake: With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 8-inch springform pans with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine the sugar, oil and eggs with a whisk. Gently stir in the dry ingredients. With a spatula, gently fold in the carrots, pineapple, walnuts, cherries and raisins.

Divide the batter between the pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in the pans on a rack. Run the blade of a knife around the cakes and unmold.

For the frosting: In a bowl, cream the cream cheese with the butter and icing sugar with an electric mixer. Add the zest and juice and continue beating until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

Spread the frosting over the top of the cakes and stack them on a platter.

For the maple walnuts: In a skillet, bring the syrup to a boil. Add the walnuts and stir continuously until the syrup has crystallized around the walnuts. Pour onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and let cool. Garnish the cake.

Cake!

Cake!

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Happy New Year: Predictably, rang it in with Ham

It’s 2014 now.

Time for me to write 2013 on my rent check until roughly August.

I’m fairly certain that you guys know me well enough by now that you know how I spent my New Year’s Eve: with a pork product. And I DID.

In reality, I spent the evening with my friends Alison, Cagney, and Jennie. We had a relaxed New Year’s Eve, on account of desired laziness and Alison and Cagney’s baby being under the weather. We made dinner, Cagney obsessively watched Miley Cyrus Takeover on Fuse, we got super drunk*, and I was home by 12:20.

*We did not get super drunk even a little bit. No hangover on New Year’s Day? Great start to 2014.

As for the dinner making, our motto was New Year’s Easy. COPYRIGHT ME 2013.

Our menu was as follows:

  • Oyster Cracker Snack
  • Honey-Bourbon Glazed Ham
  • Stuffing with Sausage
  • Roasted Butternut Squash
  • Chocolate Pudding with Espresso Salt

I was responsible for ham and squash. And as promised, they were so easy you could get super drunk and rage all night and still make them without cutting your fingers off.**

**We did not get super drunk at all, we flipped the channels between Jackass the movie, the aforementioned Miley Cyrus takeover, and the New Year’s Eve shows making fun of the people who stood in front of Times Square.

The ham is unbelievably simple, but has amazing flavor. Sticky sweet and deeply smoky because of the bourbon.

I’m hot, sticky sweet.

Why haven’t I put bourbon with ham before? It was a revelation. And all you have to do is baste the ham every half hour. And you have time to get, like, monumentally drunk.***

***We did not get monumentally drunk. I fell asleep for a minute on the couch at like 11:30 because I get sleepy. And this is a picture of Alison PROBABLY asleep in her dog’s bed.

New Year's Easssssy

New Year’s Easssssy

Make this ham. You don’t be disappointed. You’ll have plenty of leftovers. And even if you don’t get drunk, at least your ham did.

Honey Bourbon Glazed-Ham from PopSugar, originally adapted from Southern Living

In the original recipe, the ham is studded with whole cloves; however, speed up the recipe by adding the whole cloves into the bourbon sauce. The clove flavor will still infuse in the ham, plus upon service, your guests won’t have to pick out the buds as they eat the ham.

Ingredients

  • 1 fully cooked, bone-in ham (7-9 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Several shakes of Tabasco sauce
  • 40 whole cloves

Preheat oven to 325°F. Remove skin from ham and trim fat to 1/4-inch thickness. If ham is not precut, make shallow cuts in fat 1 inch apart in a diamond pattern. Place ham in a 13- x 9-inch pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together all other ingredients. Spoon entire mixture over ham. Bake at 325°F on lowest oven rack for 2 hours and 30 minutes, or until ham has an internal temperature of 145°F. Baste with pan juices every 30 minutes as ham cooks. Remove ham from oven and rest it for 15-30 minutes before carving. Strain sauce and serve it in a gravy dish alongside the ham (optional).

Serves 12-15 people.

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