Burns My Bacon: Unnecessary Jarring

salad in a jar

 

From a recently received press release:

More and more consumers are getting creative when it comes to their food—and not just what they eat, but how they eat it! Mason jar salads are particularly a popular trend on Pinterest with healthy eaters easily able to transport their salad creations on-the-go. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but also a healthy solution to many commuters, travelers and busybodies on the move.

No. No. No. Fine, cocktails in a jar can be cute, but it’s overdone. (Keep my beer in a pint glass please.) We decried this trend when it moved on to desserts in a jar three years ago. Now SALADS have to be in a jar too? Apparently this “healthy trend” is not limited to Pinterest, but coming to a restaurant/store near you. Please tell me exactly how jars make salads easier to transport. Who has ever thought, “gee, that tupperware works great, but I wish it could more fragile and also five times heavier?” I’m sorry, people. Eat your goddamn salad on a goddamn plate. And if you start putting my entrees in a mason jar…just expect broken glass.

Running for Cheese

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As some of you know, over the last two years I have made an attempt to balance out my outrageous amount of pork belly consumption by training for a marathon. For the most part, I’ve used this as an excuse to eat as much food as I want to, but with the New York City Marathon just around the corner this weekend, I’ve actually been taking it easy on the eating and drinking front, trying to do the right thing for at least the week leading up to the race. So when I went to pick up my bib and other materials at the marathon expo yesterday, I was pleased to receive an “Insiders Guide” tucked in the official marathon “Start Village Bag.” It includes a nutrition section with lots of helpful tips about what to eat before the race. This one caught my eye:

For breakfast, a “great option is bread or a bagel with two ounce of Grana Padano.”

Oooh, what is this Grana Padano? Is this a new superfood I haven’t heard of, rich in antioxidants and run-fueling protein? Better make sure I get some before the run! The guide goes on:

After the race, “Good choices include salty soups, tomato juice, pickles, Grana Padano, and fresh fruit.” There are also three recipes for Grana Padano meals, along with a primer on how you should eat it while training: “mid morning: 1.5 ounce of Grana Padano and 1 sliced apple or pear….pre-evening run: 1 to 1.5 ounces of Grana Padano on 2 slices of whole-grain bread with sliced tomato…” and on and on and on. The best way to succeed at marathon running, according to this guide, is to eat Grana Padano morning, noon and night.

As you may have realized, Grana Padano is not a superfood, but merely a salty Italian cheese. Yes, according to this “insiders guide” the secret to succeeding at distance running is to eat cheese all effing day. Now, my first reaction was “what the eff have I been doing eating gross, chewy power bars, when cheese is actually the best thing for me?” My second reaction was: this is a scam.

Yes, I get that this is an advertisement. We have those here on Endless Simmer too. But here’s the thing: The New York City Marathon costs $266 for each runner to enter ($358 for foreign runners). It is actually called the “ING New York City Marathon” due to a lucrative sponsorship with a financial institution, and every inch of the race is covered in advertisements for various brands. Do they really, really need to accept advertisements (posed as editorial content) that tell runners to eat as much cheese as possible??

If I’m missing the point here, just let me know and I will gladly spend the next 48 hours cheese-loading.

“I’ve Got Shards in My Enchilada”

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After a long day of work, my girlfriend calls to ask if I’m okay with enchiladas tonight. “HELL YES” I’m okay with enchiladas for dinner tonight! Leaving late from work on a Friday, I got into the car for my 40=minute trek to the Philadelphia suburbs. I could taste the cheesey goodness of enchiladas, looking forward to smelling them as I walk up the stairs to the apartment. YUM.

Ten minutes away—now I’m really getting hungry. I’ve convinced my stomach that it’s in for a tasty treat tonight. He’s excited. I got a call from girlfriend, thinking it would be her asking how far away I was so she would know when to put it in the oven. Then, WHAMMY: “the pyrex dish exploded after about a minute and a half in the oven.” DAMNIT. Luckily, girlfriend was okay and THANK GOODNESS she didn’t open up the oven to peak at the enchiladas while it exploded.

I wasn’t sure of what to expect — was thinking maybe the “oven safe” glass just split into quarters. She seemed upset on the phone — but she did just spend an hour creating these tasty envelopes of cheesy goodness. But then I got home, and the glass had literally shattered into hundreds of tiny glass pieces, covered in cheese. To make it worse, of course cheese coated at least half of the oven. Since we have a gas oven, the glass (and cheese) also snuck into the cracks that go below the panel that covers the gas burners.

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Burns My Bacon: Still Burning

croutons4

In case you haven’t noticed, I like to complain.  Partially, it’s because there are just so gosh-darn many annoying things in the culinary world, and I feel it is my duty to voice my gripes for all to hear.  Kinda like a public service announcement.  And partially, I have this idea that if I let my annoyance out in a public way, I will be able to move on with my happy-go-lucky existence.  Kinda like group therapy.  Sometimes, though, a violation to my sensitive annoy-o-meter is so heinous that the same complaint, differently manifested, bears a second airing.  So listen up.

Not all that long ago, I wrote about waste-of-space label recipes.  I wrote about it; I thought I was over it.  Then, I came upon the example above, and I knew I couldn’t keep quiet.

I confess, I do love pre-made croutons, even though they are a total ripoff.  Yes, I am paying an exorbitant amount for someone else to cube my stale bread and sprinkle ranch powder on it.  I admit it.  Just call me Sandra Lee.  However, it’s not enough for the crouton makers to basically pick my pocket.  Now, according to the package recipe for “Baked Ranch Chicken,” I am supposed to grind up the bag of croutons into bread crumbs in order to bread my chicken.  Seriously.  I think that would come out to $.02 per crumb or something.  What do these marketers take me for?

The only reason I haven’t called the 1-800 hotline to lodge my complaint is that I never considered using ranch dressing instead of eggs to get my breadcrumbs to stick to the chicken, so the recipe was not a 100% waste.  But, I will provide my own breadcrumbs and use the croutons for my salad, thankyaverymuch.

Burns My Bacon: Big Beer Marketing

They’re at it again. I thought our expose on the punch top can was a good start. Maybe the top ten reasons to drink craft beer even better. But big beer can’t help itself. Pouring thousands upon thousands of dollars into marketing rather than a better product, big beer is intent on changing the way we drink. Through the packaging. #fail #sadface #dumb

MILLERCOORS NEW BOTTLE

 

On my way to the shore this weekend, I noticed two new beer billboards. The first highlighted Miller Light’s brand spankin’ new bottle design. AWESOME. Can’t wait to get my hands on that new bottle and taste feel the new great flavor “touch” that Miller has come up with. See what I did there? If not, let me clarify—Miller isn’t even comfortable enough to claim that they’ve improved their taste. They are just trying to lure you in with gimmick ads and packaging that in no way make the product any better. But they aren’t responsible for the most embarrassing new gimmick. That title belongs to “The King of Beers.”

Look at those curves…

budweiser-bowtie-can

Yes, Budweiser decided to up the ante.  Screw the blue mountains—they’re going to turn the can into a bowtie. Now, crushing a can will be even easier. Why improve the taste of piss, when all the people are expecting is…piss? …OH, did I mention that there is slightly less beer in this can? (Don’t tell anyone!)

Arctic Zero Ice Cream Smores Cup

Finally, You Can Eat the Whole Pint

Arctic Zero Ice Cream Smores Cup

I generally don’t buy ice cream. I don’t like to have it in the house. Not because I dislike it—the opposite! I love it and if I keep a pint of Ben and Jerry’s (or Bluebell! My people in the southern states know what I’m talkin’ about!) in my freezer, I keep going back for one more spoonful until all the sudden it has magically disappeared. Into my stomach. Oops.

All that might be changing, though. Arctic Zero is now available all over the country. Have you heard of this stuff? It’s ice cream… kind of… well, it’s a frozen ice cream-like dessert with only 150 calories in an entire pint. 150! How do they do it? They use monk fruit concentrate and organic cane sugar (no artificial sweeteners) to sweeten and mix in whey protein concentrate. Not gonna lie here—Arctic Zero is good, but it doesn’t taste like full-fat, ultra-sugary ice cream. You know what, though? The fact that an ice cream binger like me can eat the entire pint if I so choose and not bust my healthy eating plan for the day or feel like a sluggish failure is a major, major plus. I would almost call it… healthy!

Arctic Zero offers an impressive array of flavors as well as cute little chocolate-covered bars that clock in at 85 calories a pop. I’m partial to vanilla maple and cookies & cream varieties. One warning: this stuff is rock hard straight out of the container, so I’d recommend letting it sit for about 10 minutes before digging in. Or! If you’re not into eating it plain, Arctic Zero is really great in recipes. You can use it to replace ice cream or whipped cream when making frozen pies or as a totally guilt-free base for smoothies and milkshakes. The peeps at AZ were nice enough to share some recipes with me and now I’m going to share one with you.

Cookies & Cream S’more Cups

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NatureBox Snack Delivery Service

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: NatureBox Snacks

NatureBox Snack Delivery Service

I’m usually pretty skeptical of monthly Internet deals and delivery services. “Pay $____ and we’ll send a monthly delivery of snacks/makeup/shoes/jewelry/whatever to you” websites usually turn out to be a disappointment, in my experience. But! I might have finally found a monthly food delivery service I like! (And I’m not talking about a dieting program like Nutrisystem or something.)

The good folks at NatureBox sent me a box of goodies to try out, and I have to say I’m pretty impressed with the quality. The whole point of NatureBox is to provide tempting snacks that are actually healthy for you—every snack item is nutritionist approved, made with natural ingredients, and minimally, if at all, processed. You can pay NatureBox $19.95 (a flat rate including shipping) per month and they’ll send you a big “Discovery Box” containing five full-size bags of snacks. If you don’t like the food, you can return it for a full refund, but I don’t imagine that happens very often.

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