I listen to music. I cook. I blog about it. Mayhem ensues.
As a child, I regarded unfrosted brown-sugar as the epitome of Pop Tart sophistication.
I've tried the oat ones because Big Lots had them, and they're okay. I keep a large package in the office of whatever flavor looked good from Big Lots, which usually means buying rival brand Toast 'Em Pop Ups.
When I noticed a three-year-old jar of barely used tahini in my refrigerator, I made halvah. It's incredibly easy and turns out to taste much better fresh than packaged.
@SheilaC -- My thought exactly! My mom used to crank out bajillions of butter cookies, and I positively loathed them (and still do).
Rainbow cookies, now... rainbow cookies are worth trying to find. I haven't had one in years because Arizona is not big on Italian bakeries.
I'd swear that on the East Coast, even grocery stores had a larger selection of cookies than the six described, but it's been so long that I don't remember details.
@colonelcash -- Two options! If you're confident in melting chocolate, you can add alcohol directly and it won't seize (non-alcohol-based flavorings will cause seizing, unless you add a little milk or oil or butter to the chocolate).
Alternately, add a little bourbon to the condensed milk and then just use a tad less in relation to the crushed crackers (since you've upped the moisture) or add some food-processed unsweetened coconut or ground nuts to up the dry ratio. Put the excess bourbon-laced condensed milk in your next cup of coffee.
@Desert -- If you have Whole Foods or a locally owned chi-chi-mart, check there for non-Philly cream cheese.
It's also very easy to make at home. You can do it with rennet and the whole nine yards, but the easy-peasy way is to take live-culture yogurt that's not full of stabilizers (probably from the same source where you could just buy the cream cheese), plop it in cheesecloth, and hang it over a bowl to drain for a few days.
The tangier your original yogurt, the tangier the resulting cheese. Sugar and flavorings will not stop it from turning to cream cheese (you get flavored cream cheese!), but you do need live cultures and not a whole lot of better-living-through-chemistry. The more fat in your yogurt, the fattier and creamier your cream cheese.
Oh maaaaan, that is a grueling cooking regimen if you're not a professional chef at a restaurant! I give you props for keeping up the self-discipline this long and wish you well on the journey to a completed book.
Does NYC not have grocery stores? Out here, supermarkets sell bagels (ranging in quality from the ridiculous to the sublime, and yes, there's plenty of ridiculous) and also sell cream cheese. I'm absolutely certain I can have a bagel and schmear for under $1 a day, and if I want to get fussy about bagel quality, they're more tedious than difficult to make.
@AdanMedra -- Yeah, I was surprised to see refritos classified as Tex-Mex, when that's an indigenous dish across the Southwest and even shows up in Louisiana in a red-bean version.
I was also surprised to see use of dried chiles classified as a Tex Mex invention, when that's indigenous cuisine in New Mexico.
"Puffy tacos" are definitely indigenous cuisine and show up in a number of variants in different regions; the question is when they date from (they seem to appear widely once there's herding onto reservations, as flour and lard were commonly available, but that doesn't rule out earlier origins).
@sdfishtaco -- Three words: choice of flavors. Nobody locally is going to sell me a dark-chocolate-coated ice cream bar that's lemon... or cherry... or coconut... or peppermint. But know I know how to make one if I'm gripped by the conviction that having one is of vital importance.
@Desert Dryad -- Jarritos has or had a zero-calorie, no-sugar Light line of a couple of flavors, including tamarind, but they get horrid reviews. I've never tried them and can't even remember if I've seen them in stores.
Thank you for embracing Mexican pop!
While I'm not really a pop drinker, I make an exception for Jarritos pineapple and Jarritos tamarind, both of which have enough edge to survive the extreme sweetness of the brand.
@Android User -- I remember McNuggets going from "a thing I eat sometimes" to "ew, gross" around late 2003, and that corresponds with the switch to all-white-meat. So you may not be imagining it.
In Arizona, ordering a "frappe" is not going to lead to my being served a lovely ice cream drink, but ordering a "milkshake" WILL accomplish that goal.
Lecturing servers on why they should adopt regional New England usages will accomplish nothing other than possibly getting me banned from restaurants.
@Traveller -- Once upon a time in a small town in Minnesota, every swimming trip was finished with a frosty at Dairy Queen, and judging from the lines, this was the only thing to do in town. That was before the big truckstop gas station got a Subway, when there was only the pizza place, the sitdown coffeeshop, and a couple bars.
I wouldn't do DQ weekly now (despite there being one near my house), having moved on to live-culture froyo... but every few years, a strawberry-cheesecake blizzard is exactly what I need to achieve full contentment.
@Jwink3101 -- What Chipotle and Qdoba serve are Mission-style burritos, that being the emblematic burrito of San Francisco's Mission District, rather than a burrito that's on a mission. I don't think California has a name for the rest of what it does in the name of Mexican food.
Rick Bayless is the source who comes closest to making sense in the article, since he recognizes that what's served in the rest of the Southwest is not Tex-Mex. New Mexican food certainly isn't Tex-Mex, and it's closer to native foodways than what's usually on the menu at Mexican restaurants here in Phoenix (which is closer to the foodways of Ohio snowbirds, though still not the greasy, processed mess that the article author claims).
Panda Express is what would happen if Target opened a quick-serve Chinese restaurant. It's clean, bright, predictable, and not particularly authentic as Chinese food.
It's also better than the similar-looking no-brand places at mall food courts and at least seven locally owned Chinese restaurants that come to mind off-hand, though not necessarily superior to regional fast-casual chain Pei Wei. I eat at the Panda maybe twice a year, but it's never something I actually regret.
I've never salted my pasta water, and my pasta doesn't taste "flat," even when eaten with nothing but a little olive oil and parmesan. It tastes like pasta.
@naags - Don't squander money on a car rental in Scottsdale unless you have a burning desire to go somewhere like the Botanical Garden. If you're just looking to be amused, the downtown trolley will take you all over Old Town Scottsdale and the Fifth Avenue Arts District, and up to Fashion Square Mall. In Old Town, if you walk through the little park with the running horse statues, it doesn't dead end -- it leads you into a bigger park with a small modern art museum and restaurants and such.
At that point, you're probably getting your ice cream at the Sugar Bowl, which is somewhat down-at-heel. There may still also be a gelato shop at the far south end of Brown Avenue in Old Town, which I thought good when I ate there.
If you can stomach froyo as a substitute, there is excellent froyo at Yogurtland at Camelback and Scottsdale in the strip with the cupcake shop, and there's a Yogurtology in the basement of Fashion Square. (I actually do froyo more than ice cream and have strong opinions on it.)
@Katie Potato -- I was surprised to see Garibaldi biscuits in our large Asian supermarket here in Phoenix (labeled probably in Chinese, as all I remember is recognizing the picture). So it may be possible to still find them in import stores in the U.S.
When my parents ordered takeaway pizza during my childhood -- combination WITH anchovies! -- it was part of the ritual that I always went with Dad to pick up the pizza, and I clutched the warm pizza box on the drive home, inhaling happy pizza scents.
The smell of that particular brand of chain pizza is my comfort scent, and it is a source of mild woe that, although Phoenix is replete with excellent pizza, I can't get that particular pizza.
Heck, it's a challenge even to find a pizzeria that offers anchovies.
@elangomatt -- Mrs. Freshley's is a regional brand owned by the same parent as Tastykakes (Flowers Foods) and should ordinarily be more like Tastykakes than Little Debbie.
Oooh, I hadn't thought of adding oats to the "flourless nut-butter cookie" formula! This sounds soooo good.
I'm wondering if similar cookies can be made by simply combining sugar, eggs, and Nutella or properly made chocolate butter. That works with peanut butter (it's a classic recipe from before gluten-free was really a thing), and I've gotten it to work with tahini.
I always price-compare, though I will sometimes pay slightly more in order to reduce the level of hassle in my life.
For instance, where I live, canned white Great Northern beans cost 78 cents in Target's Market Pantry brand, 89 cents in a national brand, and $1 at the dollar store. If I'm already at the 99 Cents Only and getting massive bargains on other staples, and there's no reason I'd want to go to Target for another week or so, I'll go ahead and pay more for the beans. Saving 22 cents each on two cans of beans doesn't justify 30 minutes on the train each way to Target!
I have similar benchmark price ranges for just about everything I regularly buy. Or if it's something like "I want nuts and don't deeply care which nuts," I will go to a store that's reliable about having low nut prices and buy whichever sort has the best price.
@BeavisPeters -- They're not so much stale as weirdly moist and dense, as if they're simply donut-shaped snack cakes. I haven't eaten one since I was too young to know better; if absolutely forced to consume one unjustifiable food of my youth, I'd go for Dolly Madison raspberry zingers before I'd touch Entenmenn's anything.
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