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A Procrastinator’s Guide: New Year’s Resolutions

WELL. Here we are. The end of 2016. The beginning of 2017.

In a lot of ways, 2016 was a mixed bag. It was like a bag of trail mix where you thought you were going to get a lot of M&Ms, but in actuality, you just kept getting raisins.

Nobody wants fuckin’ raisins in their trail mix.

So, as we look forward to 2017 (blissfully ignoring the fact that we are 4 days into the year), I’d like to share some of my New Year’s Resolutions & Goals.

Many of them are food related. Shock of all shocks.

  • See Dear Evan Hansen
      • Yeah,  I surprised you there. Didn’t start with a food thing at all. You don’t know my life.
      • If 2016 was the year of Hamilton, 2017 is going to be the year of Dear Evan Hansen. Mark my words. Watch this video and then watch it 25 more times and you’ll be where I am: breathless with excitement over this piece of art that I’ve only known for 4 minutes and 57 seconds. (Times 20).

    • Note to self: Go on a Friday night.
  • Eat at Le Bernardin
    • For Christmas, my dad bought me Eric Ripert’s memoir, 32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line. I’m only halfway through it, but it’s been a really wonderful read thus far. His childhood was so happy-sad and his relationship with food has been undeniably transformative. Which is why I’ve gots ta go ta Le Bernardin to eat his food. If you had the opportunity to hear Beethoven play, wouldn’t you? Mmmmmmhmmmm.
    • Note to self: Go on a Saturday night. Find someone dashing and funny to share meal. Jon Hamm, probably.
  • Eat at Russ & Daughters
    • Russ & Daughters is a New York landmark that has been around since 1914. In fact, they are celebrating 103 years today. (Happy Anniversarary, Russ & Daughters!) If you’re not familiar, the original location is a shop with the best bagels, smoked fishes, and caviars in all the land. Then, in 2014, they opened their sit down cafe. And then, they opened a restaurant/take away counter in The Jewish Museum. Hell, they even ship their fishes around the country. I will not let 103 more years pass until I eat their food.
    • Note to self: Go on a Sunday morning. Take Jon Hamm again.
  • Go to Hawaii
    • Ok, listen. This one is my biggest reach. But, I’ve been talking about going to Hawaii for at least 3 years. It has been stuck in my craw. I need to see where Magnum, P.I. wore his short shorts. I want to get a grass skirt and learn to hula. I want to pretend that I can surf. And I desperately need to eat some shave ice and taro root and literally all the poke.
    • tom-selleck-beach

      Come on.

  • Bake More Bread
    • I made focaccia for the first time for Christmas dinner and it honestly wasn’t great. It had good flavor, but it was dense and it was dry. But I knew where my problems were thanks to my repeated viewings of The Great British Bake Off and I am really excited to try again to see if I can improve. This is my year to play with dough. I knead to. #punsfullsizerender-2
  • Be More Peaceful
    • Couldn’t we all use a bit more peace and calm in 2017? Cleansing breaths, people.
  • And last, but not least: Be Open to New Experiences
    • Let’s try some new things in 2017. Let’s get weird.

So, in summation: theatre, eat, eat, travel, eat, peace, weird, Jon Hamm.

I don’t know about you, but 2017 sounds like it’s shaping up to be a pretty good year.

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Thanksgiving 2016: I’m Unprepared!

If there’s one thing I can say about myself, it’s that I’m consistent. I have consistently broken my promise to write on this blog consistently. I will try to be better.

It’s almost Thanksgiving, which has become my favorite holiday as of late.

Christmas? It used to be cool. But now, it’s just a lot of build up for a whole lot of nothing. Like when I lost my virginity.

HEYO!

Anyways. Thanksgiving is 4 days away. Even with my proclivity for procrastination, I am normally flipping through Bon Appetit and browsing Food52 for inspiration. But this year, I have not been.

This year has been a bit weird. Between some pretty heavy family dramz and the fact I’m on production right now in Salt Lake City, I’ve planned almost nothing. In fact, I only decided to go home to Jacksonville a few days ago.

Which means, I need to cook.

So, here we are. Real life Top Chef Challenge. Put together a Thanksgiving Dinner in 45 minutes of meal planning/grocery list writing. Dad will shop for ingredients at the best grocery store in the world, Publix. I will fly in on Wednesday to prep and the big day is on Thursday.

Game on.

Here’s what I’m doing.

  • Rosemary and Citrus Turkey For a Crowd from NYTimes Cooking
    • I made this turkey last year and it was a real crowd pleaser. And by crowd, I mean: me, my mother and father.
  • Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing from Martha Stewart
    • This has been my go-to stuffing recipe for the past few years. It smells and tastes like being home for the holidays. And unlike being home for the holidays, this stuffing will not ask you why you’re not married yet or if you are a lesbian. (‘I have a busy job’ and ‘no, but like, a little bit in college.’)
  • Best Ever Green Bean Casserole from Alton Brown via Food Network
    • Lovers of my prose will know that I have been searching for the right green bean recipe for Thanksgiving for a few years. Previous green bean casseroles have been too fancy. Regular green beans are too plain for Thanksgiving. Alton Brown has never let me down, so let’s audition this one.
  • Classic Mashed Potatoes from NYTimes Cooking
    • Potatoes? Good. Milk? Good. Butter? GOOOOOOOD.
  • Cranberry Sauce from Alton Brown
    • Cranberries? Good. Sauce? Good. Ridges made by molding cranberry sauce in your own can? GOOOOOOOD.

I’ll get a little help from Sis Schubert’s rolls and some sort of frozen pie. A frozen pie is not my preference, but there are only so many hours in a day.

Bring on the Thanksgiving pants!

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You are my Everest.–via Tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer Dessert: Peach Tart

So, you want to make a seasonal, fruit-forward, impressive dessert that’s not too difficult and won’t take too much time because you have the Olympics to watch?

Admitting it is the first step.

On any other day, I’d say this:

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via funnyordie.com

(You thought I was going to include a PhelpsFace picture. YOU DON’T KNOW ME.)

I happen to have the perfect dessert for you: a peach tart from Food 52.

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It’s seasonal! Peaches are perfect right now. Summertime is peach time. You can find sweet, juicy peaches in every farmers market and grocery store.

It’s fruit-forward! This dessert highlights the beautiful summer peach. There’s so much fruit that this tart almost feels healthy. Almost. 

It’s impressive, but not too difficult! This is a relatively simple dessert. Fewer than 10 ingredients, most of which you should already have in your pantry/fridge. From start to finish, this took me 2 hours. Peel & slice the peaches. Make the dough. Assemble. Bake. And I love a tart because the crimped edges feel fancy. If you don’t have a tart pan, I highly recommend that you invest in one.

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You have Olympics to watch! Me too. I’ve become as obsessed with archery and the Greek men’s water polo (hubba hubba) as I have been with Phelps & Ledecky, Kerri Walsh Jennings and the Final Five. (The Final Five is a name which sounds both sweet and post-apocalyptic at the same time. Impressive!)

Well, for your Olympics viewing, you need this dessert. It looks like a gold medal, right? I mean, a gold medal with a bunch of sweet, juicy canary yellow diamonds in them. Canary yellow diamonds that you can eat. Canary yellow diamonds that you can cover in whipped cream.

Go big or go home.

USA! USA! USA!

Peach Tart from Food 52

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup mild olive oil
  • tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
  • 3 to 5 small ripe peaches, pitted and thickly sliced (about 1/2-inch wide

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stirring enables the salt and sugar to sift the flour, so you don’t need to sift it in advance. In a small bowl, whisk together the oils, milk and almond extract. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and mix gently with a fork, just enough to dampen; do not over work it. Then, transfer the dough to an 11-inch tart pan (you can use a smaller one if needed), and use your hands to pat out the dough so it covers the bottom of the pan, pushing it up the sides to meet the edge. This will work if you pat firmly and confidently, but not if you curl your fingertips into the dough. It should be about 1/ 8-inch thick all around; trim and discard excess dough.

In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the butter. (If your peaches are especially juicy, add 1 tablespoon additional flour.) Using your fingers, pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly, with a mixture of fine granules and tiny pebbles.

Starting on the outside, arrange the peaches overlapping in a concentric circle over the pastry; fill in the center in whatever pattern makes sense. The peaches should fit snugly. Sprinkle the pebbly butter mixture over top (it will seem like a lot). Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until shiny, thick bubbles begin enveloping the fruit and the crust is slightly brown. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or room temperature, preferably with generous dollops of whipped cream. Or vanilla ice cream.

 

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Fake Politics: Eat Like a Republican/Democrat

We are deep into election season, y’all. If you didn’t know that, you must be living on a remote island without TV, news, TV news, internet news, Facebook, Twitter, computers or phones.

It sounds wonderful there. May I join you, please?

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via oceans5.org

I don’t really care much who you’re for–the guy with the bad hair or the lady with the less bad hair. But, what I DO want to know is which party best aligns with your culinary wants and needs.

I’ll explain.

TIME Magazine recently partnered with GrubHub to put together a quiz that measured whether you eat like a Republican or a Democrat.

How did they do that? Well, I’m no C.J. Cregg so I’m not going to explain it well. (And let’s face it, you’re no Josh Lyman. Don’t flatter yourself.) But here goes.

TIME studied the GrubHub ordering patterns of 200 congressional districts and they found that 75% of the most popular dishes “had significant correlations to the partisanship of those districts.”

Are you a die-hard Democrat, but you secretly eat like a Fox News correspondent? Don’t tell Hillary you’re not with her. Or are you a born-and-bred Republican, but you eat like the Bill Clinton on vacation at Burning Man? You’re fired.

I think there’s one thing that we can all agree on. We’re all hungry.

Take the quiz. See how you score.

And please remember to vote this November. I know who’s getting my vote.

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via avclub

What’s next?

If you’re a fan of The West Wing like I am, be sure to check out The West Wing Weekly. It’s a new podcast from Joshua Malina and Hrishikesh Hirway. Malina starred on the 4th season of the show (and jokes that he ruined it…) and Hrishi is a superfan of the show in addition to being a musician/composer. They analyze the show episode-by-episode and invite writers, actors, and designers on to talk about their experiences working on the show. It’s a great peek behind the curtain. Plus, from time-to-time they have real-life politicians on to talk about the reality of the politics of the show. If you’ve ever WANTED to watch The West Wing or you want a viewing companion, here ya go.

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Hear Your Heroes: A Conversation with Ina Garten

Who would you invite to your fake fantasy dinner party?

Let’s assume it’s you + 3 people. No stipulations.

I’m going to say: Tina Fey, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Ina Garten.

I think we’d all have lots to talk about, no? Tina and Ina already have met on 30 Rock. Tina and Lin are both prolific writers and actors. Lin and I are both Puerto Rican. I mean, the conversation is flowing and I haven’t even opened the first fake bottle of wine yet.

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via Buzzfeed

Ina Garten spoke in Richmond last Tuesday and I got the opportunity to go and, PEOPLE, it was incredible.

Disclaimer: I am a dork and I love Ina Garten, so if either of these things offend you, just X on outta this post.

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The only photo I took. It is genuinely terrible. 

I think I’ve seen every episode of Ina’s show, The Barefoot Contessa. I own more of her cookbooks than anyone’s and they’re the first books I consult when I have a party, need a recipe, or need inspiration. She feels like a friend or family member. Her soothing manner of saying, “how easy is that?” is instantly calming.

I’ll admit, I cried more than once during the event. (I said I was a dork.) But honestly, I was overwhelmed by her ease and grace was really  inspired by the path her career has taken. She is even more more interesting and charming in person.

Throughout the evening, which was billed as ‘a conversation with Ina Garten’, the moderator (who was also a friend of hers) steered us through questions about her early years in nuclear energy policy at The White House, how that brought her to to buy the deli in the Hamptons called The Barefoot Contessa, how she was so out of her depth when she first owned it but then how it rose to success, how she wrote her first cookbook, and how she started with The Food Network. The biggest success of her entire career didn’t come until her late 30s/early 40s. She turned down the pilot to her cooking show and then the Food Network came back to her with a better offer. And then she turned it down again. Until they just told her, “yeah, we’re going to shoot this pilot. We’re coming in 2 weeks.” Insanity.

It was fascinating to me to hear her talk candidly about her successes and failures, but even more interesting was when she spoke so honestly of feeling overwhelmed or scared to do something new, but just doing it anyway. It’s a good reminder not to let those fears of how or why get in your way. Just do it and then figure out why you’re doing it later. You can course correct once you’ve started.

Of course, there were some wonderful entertaining tips, which I’m excited to share with y’all. Some of these are fairly intuitive, yet, I didn’t always think of them. But that’s the thing she does best—strips back the bullshit and gets to things in their simplest terms.

  • Dinner parties are about the friends, not the food. So pick a really simple meal and just enjoy yourself. As a guest, you don’t want to impose upon your host. And as a host, you don’t want to be in the kitchen all night.
  • Only invite people that you really love over for dinner.
  • The fancier the guests, the simpler the dinner.
  • Ask your guests what they don’t eat and then make one meal for everyone. Find the thread between vegetarian/pescetarian/omnivore/other.
  • Always put the two most talkative people opposite each other. If they’re next to each other, the conversation stops with them.

I think the loveliest moment of the evening was when the moderator asked Ina why she felt food/food culture has become so important now.

I’m paraphrasing here, but she said that it’s really about taking care of ourselves and connecting with people. We have high stress jobs and ‘jangled nervous.’ How generous it is to be able care for cook for someone.

Isn’t that the whole point of this life—to connect with and care for others? There is nothing I’d rather do than make someone feel cared for and loved with some fried chicken and a pie.

That got a little sappy, y’all. But Ina brings out it out in me.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled quippiness.

Ina Garten is a New York Times best selling author and has many wonderful cookbooks, which are available here.

Her newest cookbook is called Cooking for Jeffrey and comes out in October.

 

 

 

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Boredom: Pistachio Coconut Cream Pie!

What do you do when you’re bored?

Here’s what I do:

  • Instagram until I get to the last Instagram post I remember
  • Facebook until I get to the last Facebook post I remember OR until I get to the kind of posts that are like these that I find so annoying:
    • Dan, babe, you are the most perfect, special, amazing human being and I can’t imagine my life without you. I would literally die if I didn’t wake up inside your loving arms every day, babe. Our wedding day was the best day of my life and every other day has been the best day too and every future day is the best day of my future life. I eat drink and breathe you babe. XOXOXOXOXOXOX Amy
      • Geez, Amy. There are a lot of feelings and thoughts and emotions there (and very few commas). Maybe put some of those those in a card to Dan. He’d probably appreciate it in a way that I would not.
  • Clean
    • JK I NEVER DO THAT WHEN I’M BORED
  • Netflix
  • Make a pie

I didn’t have much to do one recent Saturday and I had all my chores done (I am very cool!). I had nowhere to be, a full fridge and a full pantry. Huh. Ok. WEIRD.

The next day was Easter. I was planning a meal at home by myself (again, I am VERY cool). I had nothing planned for dessert. It seemed perfectly appropriate to make a whole pie for one person.

For me, the most challenging and most rewarding baking projects have been pies. I am always proud of what I accomplished. But, I always can find something I would have done differently or could have done better. There’s always room to grow.

If you’re moderately experienced baker and you want to take your pie baking to the next level, please do yourself a favor and get the Four & Twenty Blackbirds cookbook. Their innovative twists on classic flavors satisfy me on a deep, soulful level.

On that lazy Saturday, where time and space no longer mattered, I decided on the Pistachio Coconut Cream Pie. Why that pie? Well, I love coconut cream pie. Plus, I had most of the ingredients for the pistachio coconut cream pie at home. Sometimes, the decisions are made for you.

This pie is worth the effort that is required to make it. Is it horribly, terribly difficult to make? No, not exactly. But it’s also not easy; it’s labor intensive. You will need a couple of hours. You will need a bit of patience and a bit of chutzpah. I was particularly nervous when I was making my custard, as the only other time I made one I scrambled the eggs when I added the hot milk. Not remotely tasty.

This pie, however, turned out to be quite delicious.

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The pistachio adds an subtle earthiness, and since I used the salted pistachios I had on hand, a pleasant saltiness to balance the sweetness of the cream and sugar in the pie. The area that I’m going to try to work to improve next time is the crust. It was quite loose and crumbly, I think largely due to the fact that my shredded coconut was very dry. But the flavor was spot on. And bonus, it’s gluten-free and no-bake. So lah di dah!

The moral of this story is when you get a little bored, delicious things can happen. Put your phone down and make a pie.

Dan and Amy will probably thank you. Publicly. In an Facebook post.

Four & Twenty Blackbirds pie is available at their Pie Shop in Brooklyn and on countless other menus in New York.

PIE SHOP
439 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Phone (718) 499 2917
MONDAY – FRIDAY 8am – 8pm
SATURDAY 9am – 8pm, SUNDAY 10am – 7pm

Buy their book here.

Pistachio Coconut Cream Pie from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book

Crust:

Makes one 9-inch pie crust

  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon shelled pistachios, raw and unsalted
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ kosher salt

In a dry medium-size skillet, toast the pistachios over a medium heat until fragrant, 7 to 9 minutes; shake the pan or stir frequently to prevent burning. Pour into a shallow dish and allow to cool about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the coconut in the same skillet over medium-low heat 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly golden and fragrant. When finished, immediately add to the pistachios.

Once cool, pour the toasted pistachios and coconut plus the sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until the pistachios are finely chopped and the mixture looks homogenous, scraping down if necessary; the crumbs will stick together slightly when ready.

Pour the crumbs into an ungreased, preferably metal 9-inch pie pan. Spread evenly over the bottom; then create a circle about 1 inch in to separate the crumbs for the sides from the crumbs for the bottom. Start pressing the outer ring of crumbs evenly up the sides and into the corner (where the side meets the bottom) of the pan. Press the remaining crumbs evenly over the bottoms to meet the sides; use a flat-bottomed cup to smooth out bumps. Freeze until solid at least 10 minutes, before filling.

Filling:

  • 2/3 cup shelled pistachios, raw and unsalted
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • 5 large egg yolks, whisked
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ¼ cups coconut milk | I used full fat. Because fat is flavor.
  • 2- to 3-inch strip lime zest
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

Chop the pistachios in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment until chopped into medium to find pieces. Add the chopped nuts to a heavy-bottomed saucepan along with the whole milk. Bring just to a boil over medium heat, remove the pan from the heat, and cover. Set aside to steep for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, have the whisked egg yolks ready in a large bowl. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch, granulated sugar, and salt. Whisk in the coconut milk and add the strip of lime zest. Strain the pistachios from the milk, then add the milk to the saucepan and whisk until combined. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until bubbling and thick, about 5 minutes. Once the mixture boils, cook for about 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.

Slowly and carefully stream one-third of the hot milk mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the yolks from cooking. Stream in the remaining hot milk, and then return the mixture to the saucepan.

Have a large bowl ready for cooling and a fine-mesh sieve to strain the mixture through. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture just returns to a boil, 1 to 2 minutes. Strain through the sieve, using a spatula to push the mixture through and to scrape the filling clinging to the bottom of the sieve. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.

Sir in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, fully incorporating each addition before adding the next. Stir in the lime juice. Pour into the prepared crust and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the filling. Refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours.

In the chilled bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating on medium-low speed just until the cream holds stiff peaks. Remove the plastic wrap from the surface of the filling and spread the cream over the pie. Slice and serve.

The pie will keep refrigerated for 2 days.

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Grocery Games: The Original Soupman Review

What’s the deal with grocery stores?

Yes, I did say that in my best Jerry Seinfeld voice. (Admittedly, my best Jerry Seinfeld sounds more like Kermit than Jerry Seinfeld.) 

Grocery stores are weird places. They’re like the airports of everyday life. Nobody really wants to be there. Everybody is a little bit too loud. Almost no etiquette exists.

If you really try, though, you can make your own fun at these often hellish places.

For instance, try to find the saddest tagline in the grocery store.

WAIT, I FOUND IT!

Celeste

I was able to get a list of the rejected taglines that the Celeste pizza company didn’t go with and guys, some of them are grim. 

  • Celeste Pizza. Pizza for just you because you’re so very, very alone.
  • Celeste Pizza. Might as well buy some cats.
  • Celeste Pizza. Kill yourself after.

Then there are the weird products you see. For instance, I saw Peeps flavored milk and eggnog. 

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Peeps are probably the most divisive candy out there. (Only slightly more disgusting than Cadbury creme eggs.) So, why would we ruin delicious milk with with the horror of a Peep? The people who make Celeste pizzas should sell them together.

  • Celeste Pizzas, now with Dessert Peeps. A cry for help!

And then, there’s this. 

Remember the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld? Apparently he has a line of soups that are sold in grocery stores.

If you don’t remember the episode (which is now 20 years old), it’s actually based on a real guy, Al Yegeneh. He was widely considered to make the best soup in Manhattan, but was also widely considered the meanest guy in the entire world.

It seems he has a bit of an empire now–lots of locations for soup, a soup line sold nationwide in gro stos, a soup line that is hawked by Shaq. Cause nothing says soup like Shaq.

Seriously, this is from the press release about their company, The Original Soupman:

Shaquille O’Neal serves as an advisor to and equity partner in the Company, as does Mr. October, Reggie Jackson and Emmy® and Golden Globe® nominated and Tony Award® winning actor Jason Alexander.

What must those board meetings be like?

Naturally, I bought two boxes. Peeps milk I will never try. But kitschy sitcom soup from Shaq and Mr. October?? Sure. Why not? 

 

First of all, this is the busiest packaging ever.

If you look at it, it’s got heating instructions! Details about Al and Seinfeld! Information about New Yorkers and their queueing habits! Potential soup side effects! They forgot one: eye rolls.

Do you see the bottom there? Al signed his name under the phrase “Love Life, Love Soup.” Do you think that Al Yegeneh ACTUALLY says “Love Life, Love Soup”? Like that’s how he signs his holiday cards or business emails or the Tetra Paks of soup that he signs at all the Soup Trade Shows? 

I tried two of the soups: crab and corn chowder and the lobster bisque. Neither of them look particularly appetizing here.

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Actually, they look pretty gross. Neither were anything to write home about. (Apparently, they were interesting enough to blog about, though.) I’d say that the lobster bisque was probably the best packaged soup I’ve ever had. I could actually taste sherry, so it had that going for it. I did go back for seconds with my tiny bowl.

Maybe there are more surprises to be found at the grocery store. Maybe there’s a line of Kimmy Gibbler rainbow macarons. Or Steve Urkel sliced deli cheese.

Maybe the grocery store isn’t so weird after all. Maybe, just maybe, it’s a little bit magical.

 

Love Life, Love Soup.

Bethany

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Restaurant Review: Guy’s American Kitchen

As you guys know, I non-ironically love Guy Fieri. His unabashed love of embroidered flame shirts. His bleach blonde locks. His phraseology. God, the phraseology. Full throttle!

My BFF Stowe and I share this love. So on my most recent trip to New York, he and I decided to hit up Guy’s first Manhattan restaurant, Guy’s American Kitchen.

Stowe regreted our decision immediately. Understandable. He was not as drunk as I was.

Stowe: This is the most hipster thing we’ve done.

Me: Why?

Stowe: Because people there will be genuinely enjoying themselves and we’re going…

Me:…to make fun of it?

Stowe: Yes.

If I may be so bold, this was one of the worst meals I’ve ever had in New York City.

Now, it wasn’t all bad. In fact, I can give you two positives of my experience.

  • The service was good. The restaurant was very full for a mid-afternoon on a Saturday (fucking Times Square), so we sat at the bar. Our bartender was attentive, but not intrusive, and our food and drinks came out quickly.
  • The space was tastefully decorated, especially when you consider the source. The restaurant is huge–it seats 500+ people at a time and they turn the tables often (fucking Times Square). But it was very actually kind of pretty. They had some wallpaper in the women’s bathroom that I really rather liked. Also, they had TVs in the women’s restroom so I could keep up with the college football games. PHEW. Can’t miss a second of that College Game Day action. Go, Sports Team! 

Onto the many, many negatives. Starting with the worst offender: the food. 

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Garbage.

  • We ordered 3 apps to share: The California Egg Rolls, the Dragon Chili Cheese Fries, and the Buffalo Bleu-Sabi wings. The egg rolls were easily the best thing that we ate because they were served hot and tasted fine. The Dragon Chili Cheese Fries would’ve been good, guilty pleasure bar food. But instead, they were served stone cold. Should we have sent them back? Yes. But, we wanted an authentic experience. Don’t worry, we ate them anyway because our third app, the Buffalo Bleu-Sabi wings, was inedible. These are Buffalo wings made with a house made buffalo sauce that tasted sour or rancid. Something had gone terribly, terribly wrong. When I asked Stowe how they tasted and he said, “I’m going to let you be the judge for yourself.” Not a ringing endorsement. 
  • We each ordered a margarita. I got the Classic and Stowe got the Caliente Margarita, a spicy margarita made with jalapeno and cilantro. Mine was a decent margarita; not the best I’d ever had, but decent. Stowe’s came with so much cilantro in it that I looked away at one point, and when I looked back, he was tangled up in it like seaweed. 
  • We each ordered a house-brewed beer. I got the Morgan’s Red Ale and Stowe got the Golden State Lager. Mine tasted like skunky Newcastle. His tasted like skunky Yuengling. It might’ve been, for all we know. We poo-poo the Guy-brew.

These three mostly terrible appetizers and four drinks cost $93.09 before tip. Frankly, it could’ve been worse. It’s NYC and Times Square, to boot. If the food and drinks had been better, I wouldn’t have minded shelling out the cash.

I wish I was writing this telling you that my mind was blown. That my socks were knocked off. That my tips were bleached. (Admittedly, that one didn’t make sense.) I really wanted all my pre-conceived notions to be wrong. But, of course, my expectations were correct. New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells quite rightly trashed the joint in 2012.

Will I go back to Guy’s American Kitchen again? Not for all the flame shirts and bleach blonde dye in the world.

All future visits to Flavortown will be on TV and TV only.

Guy’s American Kitchen is located at 220 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036. But please, go literally anywhere else.

Some photos from our visit. Hover for captions.

 

 

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Thanksgiving Prep: Procrastination Station

Well, holy hell. Thanksgiving is next week.

Or depending on when you start your calendar, this week.

I’m hosting. I think.

If all goes according to plan, my parents are going to be arriving on Tuesday for Thanksgiving. Because I’ve been in the middle of some hot and heavy production, I have been procrastinating my ass off on my Thanksgiving planning. 

So, everything is pretty business as usual!

Thank goodness for the New York Times.

If you haven’t signed up for their NYT Cooking emails, you should. They’re written so well–signature NYT combination of cool wit and great information. But they also are chock-a-block full of excellent ideas. Weekend meal suggestions, what to cook on a busy weeknight, how to plus-up that Friday night takeout pizza, and yes, even what to cook for major holidays.

They’ve created an amazing meal planning website for planning your hosting needs. It’s located here

Just answer 5 quick questions and instantly, you have 16 recipes to choose from. Will you use them all? Likely not. But it’s an excellent jumping off point. In fact, it’s where I’ve found the green bean casserole recipe I’ll be trying out this week. A nod to nostalgia with some updates that will hopefully satisfy every palate. (I’m mean you, Dad.)

The Thanksgiving Recipe Collection Carousel is located here. You can browse turkey recipes, side dish recipes, stuffing recipes, etc. You can also access their how-t0 guides for various Thanksgiving tasks: roast a turkey, make stuffing, make pie crust. 

A gift from me to you, fellow procrastinators.

Cause if we’re being honest. You’re reading this post and not working/cleaning your house/going to the gym or any of the other myriad things you’re supposed to be doing.

People after my own heart.

 

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2nd Day of Fall: Pumpkin Spice BS

Let’s just gloss right over my nearly months of utter silence and pick right back up where we left off.

Like a great relationship with an old friend or riding a bike or a third thing, let’s just pick right back up like no time has passed.

What have I been doing? I did some advertising for clients with a celebrity (#sponsored). I bought a house. I did not cook much.

What have you been doing?

(Leave space for reply.)

That sounds cool!

Let’s talk about something.

It’s fall again. (UGH.)

Listen, I’ll admit some things that I didn’t want to admit before. I’m enjoying the SLIGHTLY cooler weather. 70 degree days are perfect. 54 degree mornings are not. But I can still wear short sleeves comfortably. And flip flops. #904forlyfe

I’m sad to see summer foods go. Tomato sandwiches and caprese salads and tomato pie. Ok, maybe I’m mostly just sad to see tomatoes go. But, I am excited to see some fall foods ushered in. Roasted veg. Soups. All the squashes. Acorn. Kabocha. Squatternut bosh.

I will there is one fall food that I’m not excited about: pumpkin spice. Yes. I’m calling pumpkin spice its own food. This phenomenon has grown from delightful novelty into a whole lot of bullshit. I blame Starbucks and Obama. Come on, you KNOW he had something to do with it.

That’s probably a pumpkin cookie…

I recently went to my new local grocery store and found a whole display of PSBS: Pumpkin Spice Bullshit. So I decided to buy a LOT of it and try it out. (I bought so much, in fact, that the woman at the check out made a comment about it. BACK OFF, LADY, THIS IS RESEARCH.)

Let’s talk about what’s good, what’s bad, and what I’ve been too scared to try yet. I shall use a stoplight rating system.

  • Red means stop. Because that’s what red means.
  • Yellow means eh. That’s NOT what it means in a traffic context.
  • Green means OH HELL YEAH. Also, not what green means.
PSBS

PSBS

Pumpkin Tortilla Chips

Yellow/Eh

Eh.

Eh.

Listen. This is just a vaguely cinnamon flavored multi-grain chip. Is it bad? No. Is it good? No. It’s fine. It’s inoffensive. I ate it with some salsa that I found in my fridge that I threw away after I checked the expiration date. There have been no salsa-related casualties.

Pumpkin Spice Oreos

Red/Stop

GREAT lighting, she says sarcastically.

GREAT lighting, she says sarcastically.

Oreo is a client of my agency and a damn good one, so all I’ll say is: may I interest you in some Oreo Thins?

Pumpkin Spice Milanos

Red/Stop

Why. Just why.

Why. Just why.

Growing up, Pepperidge Farm was absolutely the tops in grocery store cookies. Milanos and Mint Milanos were the best ones. When I was babysitting (or cat-sitting….that’s right) and found those in someone’s pantry (again, that’s right), I knew I hit the mother load. I was probably most excited for this one. These cookies taste as gross as they look, and that’s saying something because they look pretty gross.

Pepperidge Farm, why did you mess with perfection?

Pumpkin Spice Hand Rejuvenating Ultra Concentrated Dish Washing Liquid

Yellow/Eh

If it looks like hand soap, it has to be ultra concentrated dish liquid.

If it looks like hand soap, it has to be ultra concentrated dish liquid.

Well, this is a bit misleading. This packaging looks like Method hand soap. I almost put it in the bathroom. But upon further inspection, it’s actually dish soap. Why would I ever think that? Since it says HAND REJUVENATING in giant letters and Ultra Concentrated Dish Washing Liquid in tiny letters.

This product is fine. I don’t know why I need my dishes to smell like pumpkin, but whatever. Maybe I’m too old school. I like my dishes to smell like lemon or Dawn.

Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice

Green/OH HELL YEAH

From JunkFoodGuy.com. Apparently.

From JunkFoodGuy.com. Apparently.

I should probably admit something to you guys right now. I’ve got a real peanut butter addiction. I can’t keep it in the house because I’ll eat it all in one sitting. Like a bowl of ice cream. It’s pretty gross. (Yes, I am still single, why did you ask?)

Jif Whips is a whipped peanut butter, so it’s less dense. Easier for spreading, dipping, what have you. The Jif Whips + pumpkin pie spice tastes like a tub of Halloween candy. It evokes memories of trick-or-treating without having to put on a costume. But if you wanted to, I wouldn’t judge you.

Details on the Pumpkin Odor Absorbing Scented Beads later. Plus, I haven’t tried the Pumpkin Flavored Morsels or the Pumpkin Pasta sauce yet. Neither sounds very appetizing. ‘Morsels’ is never a word that conjures up yumminess. And I rarely buy canned pasta sauce, but hey, this is a limited time original! Gotta catch ‘em all! Those will be to follow in another post.

The last thing I did was actually employing the thing that started it all: pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. A few years ago, my grandma gave me a collection of recipe cards. Some of them were my favorite meals that I ate when I went to visit. Others were recipes I never tried, including a brandy and a bourbon slush. Go ahead, Myrtle.

One such recipe was for a pumpkin sheet cake. It ain’t a health cake, but it sure is good.

Thanks, Myrt.

Thanks, Myrt.

So folks, if you see something, say something. This message has been brought to you by the defenders of pumpkin integrity. Fighting PSBS one autumnal day at a time.

Gramma’s Pumpkin Sheet Cake

Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped nuts | I used pecans
  • 2 cups pumpkin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Frosting

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 sticks butter
  • ½ cup nuts | I did not include the nuts in the frosting, but rather toasted sliced almonds and topped the cake with it. It was a rull nice touch.
  • 1 lb. of powdered sugar

If you have a sheet cake pan, then the baking time below should work for you. If not, you’ll need to watch the oven and adjust your time accordingly. I used a Pyrex 4 quart baking dish and my cake took about 35-40 minutes. 

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Put all cake ingredients into a bowl and whisk until mixed together. Put into greased and floured baking dish.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely.

For the frosting, put all ingredients together and mix to combine. Frost and enjoy. 

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