Thursday, April 29, 2004

Hello, co-workers!!

Hello, co-workers!!

Today is Hobby Day at work, and I am sharing my personal time-eater, the Foodgoat blog.

I thought a good way to show off the website is to re-create one of the inspirations for the blog: a side-by-side honey taste test.

One of the first things I tried from the West Side Market was a jar of locally-produced honey. I decided to do a side-by-side test with the bottle of honey I had left over from the grocery store. I didn't expect much. Honey just tastes like honey, right?

Whiz bang! What a difference!

So today at work I have set up a honey-tasting, as well as a olive oil tasting. There are 3 honeys: one from the supermarket, one made from local spring flowers, one made from fall flowers. There are 2 olive oils: one from the supermarket and one from an Italian import store. Vote below and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Vending Off a Vicious Attack of Nerves

Vending Off a Vicious Attack of Nerves

You put your 55 cents in the vending machine, watch the twirly thing twirls, the candy leans tantalizingly out ... and stops, dangling just behind the glass.


You bang the machine, hoping your puny muscles can nudge a several-hundred pound money maker into giving you your rightful due. You contort your arm into the slot into unnatural positions, hoping you will somehow be able to stretch it another, say, 3 feet to your prize. You kick it, and stub your toe. You try just putting a nickel in, in case it's trying to extort you.

Finally you collapse into a hysterical fit, screaming "Give me my Strawberry Twizzler, you monster!" until they call security.

Conclusion: The vending machine hates me. It purposely does this on days that I'm starving, cranky, or signing a mortgage.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004



First question: Don't you think I should bid on this institutional convection steamer?

Second question: What do you think I could make with it?

Third question: Don't you think I should buy this beer kit?

Fourth question: Considering that I don't particularly like beer, what else could I make with it?

Monday, April 26, 2004

No food adventures

No food adventures ...

... this weekend. Why? It was NFL Draft weekend!

This is what Foodgoat looked like from about 11 am Saturday thru 5 pm Sunday.

Supplies included one high-definition TV, several draft guides and mock drafts, a telephone for conferring with his brother, a pen, high-speed Internet access. Rations included chips, dip, a microwavable cheeseburger, brownies, a Winking Lizard bacon cheeseburger with grilled onions and fries for dinner, and buffalo wings, washed down with a choice of milk, beer, tea, and Sierra Mist.

My weekend didn't have any food adventures either. My highlight was going here:

I barely know how to knit but I don't see why I shouldn't buy several bags of closeout factory yarn anyway.

But sometimes a lack of adventure is a good thing. My brother recently entered a pie-eating contest at school. But he never even had a chance: before he was even halfway through his allocated fourth of a giant Costco apple pie, last year's winner was stuffing the last crumbs of his share into his mouth. My brother reports that afterwards he had never felt so sick. I'm not sure if the pie-eating recovery was as bad as his caffeine overdose during last quarter's finals, but I'll ask him.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Happy Birthday Carol!

Happy Birthday Carol!

Ladygoat's sister turns 24.

My sister turns 24 today. Why, it seems like only yesterday that I was forcing her to wear her baby blanket on her head so she would look one of the Russian Jew peasants on “Fiddler on the Roof.” You know, for my own amusement. Who knew she’d end up a tortured, starving artist (see her work all over the Firmary site)?

Anyway, here are some food facts about her:

-Favorite food = California rolls
-Least favorite food = Brussels sprouts
-Fave ice cream = Cookies ‘n Cream (any brand), or Haagen Daz Bailey’s
-Fave Food Network personality = Rachael Ray and the Iron Chef host (the guy who eats the bell pepper)
- Fave restaurant = There was this one restaurant in Rome, on a cliff looking across a valley, with waterfalls on the other side .. and it was on ruins, so it was all medieval … Otherwise, I still like El Burro
-Fave cuisine = Mexican or Thai. Thai’s a new thing.
-One food you’d want on a desert island = Ice cream
-Worst food memory = One time when I was small, I was peeling an orange and I found a worm in it
-Odd food habits = After I’m finished with my plate, I draw pictures in the sauce. And I don’t eat the ends of things. Like the end of the bread or the hot dog. Sometimes even the fries.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Carol for selling her first painting!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!

Today I celebrate my inner tree-hugging, Earth-mother, tie-dyed, Gaia-loving, flowers-in-her-hair hippie chick by making my yearly Earth Day kitchen resolutions:

-I will start bringing my own spoon instead of taking a new plastic one at work every time I bring in oatmeal for breakfast
-I will use cloth napkins instead of paper ones. I will buy cloth napkins first.
-I will remember to bring my trusty tote bag to the grocery stores instead of accumulating plastic bags.
-I will shop more at the co-op instead of at Impersonal Corporate Groceries
-I will buy more shade-grown and fair trade coffee
-I will buy more herbicide-, pesticide-, antibiotic-, hormone-free foodstuffs
-I will buy less overly packaged foods. And if I do, I will re-use the materials. Anyone need a tin can pencil cup? A cereal box gift box? Let me know.
-I will use more baking soda and vinegar to clean things
-I will grow my own herbs
-I will only eat the "best choice" fishes on the Seafood Watch
-I will make that solar oven I meant to make last year
-I will start composting my food waste. Stay tuned for potential vermicomposting adventures.

Things I will not do:
-Become a vegetarian
-Go on one of those raw foods diets
-Give up my car. Just can't be done in Cleveland.
-Stop using paper towels. I'll try to cut down, but I just can't give them up completely. They're just so convenient sometimes.
-Get a composting toilet. I mean, that's just too much to ask.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004



When Foodgoat has a sweet tooth, he hovers over the Krispy Kreme stand at the grocery store.

This week it was the Key Lime Pie Doughnuts that caught his eye. By coincidence, the day before I had read about key limes in Raymond Sokolov's excellent collection of essays, Fading Feast: A Compendium of Disappearing American Regional Foods. Of course I always think of Florida with regard to Key limes, but the only Key lime trees left there are the few that survived in a people's backyards (after the rest were felled by blight, real estate developers realized that condos and hotels were more profitable than the famous Key limes). Even the bottled Key lime juice is often not Key lime at all. Key limes are small, round and can be broken with just your thumb and forefinger, and any native Caribbean or Latin American will prefer their more sour taste to the blander but tough-skinned (and better for shipping) Tahiti limes that Americans get at the grocery store.

So in all likelihood the Krispy Kreme Key Lime Pie doughnuts, which are filled with a lime-flavored cream and topped with a brown sugary streusel, doesn't really have any Key lime in it. Still, it sounded good.

After tryinig them, Foodgoat pronounced, "They're good. Not as good as the glazed ones though. Not sweet enough."

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

You keep nasty chips

You keep nasty chips

I think we all know my love of chips. But when Foodgoat's college pal and accomplice Matt Bernius stopped by Cleveland last weekend on his way back to Rochester, New York (where they attended to Rochester Institute of Technology, which, from the stories I hear, sounds like the last stop on the Big Geek Train), he gave us a bag of chips that even inspired the normally chip-neutral Foodgoat to proclaim its glory.

The muse in this case is Terrell's Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Ripple Style Potato Chips. It has a barbeque flavor that will knock your socks off, if you wore them, which you should, because they keep your feet warm. Are these chips deep fried in barbeque sauce? Really, they're the best barbeque chips ever, maybe even the best chips period, and we're not the only ones who think so.

But, darn it all, it's only available in central New York. They are made by third-generation Syracuse potato chips company Terrell's, for Dinosaur Bar-b-que restaurant, another local institution (I ate there a couple years ago ... very messy, but very good). So if you're ever in New York, somewhere between Albany and Rochester, could you pick up a couple of bags of chips for me at the grocery store? Thank you.

Monday, April 19, 2004

No one knows its here, do they?

No one knows its here, do they?

Soda pop brands are pretty much standardized. Where ever you might be in the country, you can get the same old stuff. Right?

Well, turns out some sodas are still region-specific. Case in point: 50/50. It's a grapefruit and lime soda, and like stadium mustard, it seems to be a Cleveland-only product. I've seen the club soda made by the beverage company Cotton Club, headquartered in Cleveland until it was bought out by Cadbury's, elsewhere, but I'd never even heard of their 50/50. Foodgoat knew about it, and it's in all the grocery stores, but I can't even find it on the Internet, that's how obscurely local it is.

It's too bad, because I like it. Normally I think grapefruit is awful, but mixed with lime and sugar and bubbly water in the 50/50, it's rather refreshing. It's right up there with Sierra Mist as my carbonated beverage of choice.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Is My Blog Burning?: Anne's Adonyne Liniment Cake

Is My Blog Burning?: Anne's Adonyne Liniment Cake

I had Very Good Plans for Saturday.

I would wake up early and whip up a cake from scratch. The cake would be dropped off to the Bake Sale for Democracy fundraiser. I was going make an election cake, an old American recipe that commemorated election day, thereby using my baking skills for the Forces of Good. Then I'd swing over to the West Side Market as we always do on Saturdays, and have a bit of lunch. Afterwards I would go to a French Connection Winetasting and become a Knowledgable Gourmet. Finally, I would write a scintillating post about my delicious cake for Is My Blog Burning? while doing my laundry. I felt very organized.

It didn't quite work out that way.

Having been up until 3 am on Friday night at Foodgoat's Firmary show (it went well, except that he broke a string in the middle of the set), I didn't get up until 10 on Saturday. Hmm, no time to make a cake ... I'll just do it after my wine class. So to the market I went and then off to wine tasting, which was a lot of fun. Back home at 3 pm, I resolved to make a cake. But being just a teensy bit woozy from tasting 8 different wines, I decided to lie on the couch (just for a minute) and watch some TV.

Around 6 pm, I finally came to.

I could have made the cake then, but I was tired and melancholy from the wine (translation: hungover). And the bake sale was over. We watched the Passion of Christ instead.

So. I was going to write off Is My Blog Burning?, since today we had lunch plans and I was anxiously awaiting an afternoon book signing with Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation. Besides, I had forgotten to get the ingredients for the election cake.

But around 5 o'clock, I was flipping through The Book Lover's Cookbook, which has recipes inspired by celebrated works of literature, and came across a recipe for cake from Anne of Green Gables. In the book (one of my favorites of all time), Anne prepares a cake for her favorite teacher, who is coming over to dinner. What she doesn't realize, until it's too late, is that where she should have used vanilla extract, she uses liniment. Disaster, naturally, results.

The best part is that the recipe is from a granddaughter of L.M. Montgomery, the Anne of Green Gables author. The second best part is that I had all the ingredients and it didn't seem too hard. So I went to work, and made my very first cake from scratch.

Anne's Anodyne Liniment Cake
(without the liniment)
from The Book Lover's Cookbook

2 cups flour
1 T baking powder
pinch o' salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup milk
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients and mix. Add butter and milk and mix well. Add eggs and vanilla and beat for about 3 minutes. Pour the batter into two greased and floured 9-inch cake pans. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and remove from pans.

Unfortunately, I only have one cake pan. So I used a pie pan for the second on. Also I didn't have any cream for making frosting. So I slathered on red raspberry preserves between the layers. Then Foodgoat had the idea of pouring chocolate on top, so we melted some chocolate and went to town.

The result was surprisingly good, considering that the recipe was pretty simple. The batter, according to Foodgoat, tasted like crepes. The finished cake tasted like .... a cake! Okay, yellow cake to be more precise. Nothing fancy or too adventurous, but that's not always a bad thing. Foodgoat had two slices. So I guess it all worked out in the end.

Thursday, April 15, 2004



I forgot to mention further advice my dad gave me about the making of chicharron: "While you're baking it, you can also brush the skin with water ... remember how you see in the Philippines brushing the lechon (roast pig, and the best stuff ever) with the leaves? They're brushing them with water, so they won't explode."

"Explode!! They can explode!?" I had visions of whole roasted pigs, spontaneously exploding into little bits, spraying pork pieces all over the Filipino countryside. And then I could see the headline on the front page of Cleveland Plain Dealer, "WOMAN, 28, DIES IN FREAK PORK RIND ACCIDENT: Fatally wounded by pork skin shrapnel when opening oven."

But then the dawn of understanding and common sense fell upon me. "Oh, you mean it won't get those bubbles?"

"Yeah, the skin will be very smooth and shiny."

So much for chicharron as a deadly weapon. It can still kill you, but only in the old-fashioned "I've-having-chest-pains!-Bag-her!-Give-me-200-CLEAR!-300!-CLEAR!-beep-beep-beep-Call-it" type of way.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Never heard of chicharron before. Sounds like Pork mischief to me!

Never heard of chicharron before. Sounds like Pork mischief to me!

Prepare yourself to be impressed. All by myself, I made chicharron.


Unfamiliar with the Filipino phrase? Maybe you know it better as pork rinds, or cracklins as I hear they call it somewhere. People 'round the world, it seems, have discovered the delicacy. So it's not a bit healthy. I don't care. It's quite tasty. No, really, it is.

I'm not in the habit of making pork rinds, but when I saw a big square of pork skins at the market for just $1, I knew I could figure something out.

I told my dad, "I bought pork skins."

"What are you going to do with it?"

"I don't know."

"Ehhh! Then why did you buy it if you didn't know what to do with it?" Little does dear Dad know that I buy things I don't know how to use all the time. My shelves are stocked with items I still have to look up in the Internet to know how to eat.

"That's why I'm calling you! How do you make chicharron?"

It turns out that making pork rinds is pretty easy. You boil it in a pot of water for about half an hour, cut into bite-size pieces, and bake in the oven at about 300 degrees for about 3 hours. Nuthin' to it. Even I couldn't mess this up.

This will, of course, fill up the place with a porky smell. I didn't mind it at all, but all one of my siblings had to say about my intention to make chicharron was, "When Mom and Dad make that, it stinks up the whole house."

The result is a very hard, crispy piece of pork rind that, according to Foodgoat, tastes just like bacon, which is a well-known synomym for delicious, yummy, tasty, etc.

You can also then deep fry the pieces, which will supposedly puff them up, making them airy and fluffy like they are in most commercial versions of chicharron, but I skipped this step, since it's got enough fat in it as it is.

Chicharron can be eaten straight up, like chips, but I prefer it more along the lines of the Filipino way: with white rice and a bit of Mang Tomas (liver) sauce or vinegar, for dinner. What chicharron doesn't get eaten right away is going to get beaten and ground up into crumbs, which can be sprinkled on top of noodles or rice or potatoes or salad, like Bacon Bits.

Sounds good to you now, huh?

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Happy Birthday Mom!

Monday, April 12, 2004

Easter candy

Easter candy

I hope everyone had a nice Easter!

My day was quite enjoyable. It wasn't as memorable as the one Easter that my cousin accidently smacked another cousin in the head with a hammer during the Easter egg hunt, resulting in a trip to the ER and kid-convened trial and a swift conviction, but that's another story.

And I hope we can now say goodbye for the year to all the Peeps : The Peeps sightings, Peeps pranks, Peeps dioramas, etc., although it has been fun to point out Peeps every time we see them at the store, inevitably causing Foodgoat to recoil in fear.

I don't particularly understand this reaction, but it's still fun to provoke.

I don't actually recall tasting a Peep, though I must have at some point: it's just a sugar-coated marshmallow, right? Except with ominous baby bird faces.

Let's face it, candy-wise, Easter doesn't quite compare to the other holidays. There's chocolate bunnies, but I haven't gotten them since I sold them for a third-grade fundraiser, and besides, chewing on a bunny's ears, even if they are chocolate, is kind of a strange thing to encourage.

There are Cadbury creme eggs. I confess I've never had them. I haven't been tempted to try a chocolate pretend raw egg. But that's just me.

We usually got jelly beans and pastel-foil-wrapped chocolate oblongs inside those plastic eggs during Easter egg hunts, which are nice but can't really compare to the Nestle Crunch Fun Sizes that you can rake in on Halloween.

Thursday, April 8, 2004

Pickle me this, Batman

Pickle me this, Batman
Me, I'm not a pickle person. I love relish, but I always take pickles out of my burger and give them to Foodgoat, and that's doubly true when it's one of those big dill pickles on the side.

But Foodgoat love them dill pickles, so he picked up a bag of the new Lay's Dill Pickle Potato Chips. They're always coming up with something new, those crazy chip marketers. Open the bag, and there's no doubt what the flavor: dill pickle all the way. I wasn't tempted in the least, and I've been known to turn empty bags of chips inside out so I can lick the last salty crumbs out of the corners. But Foodgoat's initial reaction, a surprised and enthusiastic "Mmmm!" led me to reconsider, so I hesitantly popped one in my mouth.

And indeed, it's pretty good. It tastes just a little pickle-y and not as sour as the Salt & Vinegar flavor, so the chips aren't as nearly weird as they sound. I'd take them over a real dill pickle with my sandwich any day.

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

Resistance Is Futile

Resistance Is Futile

Captain's Log, Stardate 04082004, 2347 hours Earth Standard Hours: Foodgoat left me at home. All night. Alone. With the one giant chocolate chip cookie. Right in front of me.

I don't ... think ... I'll be able to resist ... much longer.

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Speaking of ....

Speaking of ...

The label of my now-empty bottle of Juicy's Fresh Squeezed Juice at the West Side Market has this on the label in very small print:

WARNING: This product has not been pastueurized and may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.

The Strawberry-Lemonade made me feel delightfully refreshed, not germy. Whew! Close call.

Speaking of feeling germy, a long time ago we would occasionally get water from those big vending machines where you fill your own big bottle up. That is, until the time I got completely nauseous and was convinced that the water was contaminated.

Speaking of getting nauseous, Foodgoat did at one time take up the challenge of consuming an entire gallon of whole milk in one sitting without any of it coming out for a whole hour. He just barely succeeded, but tells me the experience was painful. No documentation exists of his exploration of milk limits, but you can see what it does to this guy.

That incident was far into Foodgoat's youth, but speaking of milk, I feel quite safe in saying Foodgoat would never go for this milk taste test. I think I'd be a little more open to it, since according to Introduction to International Health 390, the three things to know about public health are: breast-feeding is better, communism is good, and men are dogs. Still, you'd probably have to get at least a tequila shot in me to try the stuff. And if I could just have it in my coffee instead of straight up, that would more acceptable. But if I have to watch it being pumped, the deal's off.

Monday, April 5, 2004

Things that Only Look the Same

Things that Only Look the Same

Don't confuse ....

the original Star Trek alien girl with...
Ladygoat at Halloween
Mia Farrow, from her early, Rosemary's Baby days, with ...
Seamus, Mia Farrow's son. He looks exactly like her, doesn't he?

(Credit goes to low culture)
Kai, the last of the Brunnen G, from Lexx with ...
Patrick, from Five Dollar Beer. Patrick and Genevieve were the first (and so far, only) bloggers that we have actually met in the flesh. Patrick doesn't have a beehive hairdo, like Kai. But he may be a Divine Assassin too. He hasn't blogged about yet, though, so we can't be sure.

Nokia 770 smartphone with ....

a Star Wars stormtrooper

(Engadget saw the resemblance first).
Hydrox with...
Oreos. Oreos are better. A lot better. Even though Hydrox came first. Though now that I try to find a link to it, it looks like they don't make them anymore. Or at least, Keebler bought the company and sells them as Droxies. I think. Anyone seen them recently?

Saturday, April 3, 2004

Black Licorice

Black Licorice

I read in the newspaper about how licorice improves memory. Licorice has this long history of being used medicinally, to sooth a sore throat, stop coughs, to aid digestion and treat ulcers and arthritis. I haven't had licorice (real licorice, not the Red Vines-type) in years and years, and don't remember what it's like.

Foodgoat said, "I don't care for black licorice. And I don't think you'll like it."

My brother said, "Black licorice is nasty. It's the most disgusting thing ever."

Hmm. And I don't even like fennel.

It wasn't looking good. Still, I went to the Mediterranean store ("Today's special! Dutch licorice $6/lb"), pointed to the big jars of black licorice and asked for half a pound.

"What kind?" Kind? They have kinds?

"Um, whatever kind you think I should try."

"Well, we got different kinds of licorice, some are sweet, some are salty."

Salty??? Salty licorice? "Uh, I'd like a sweet one." It's too early in the day to adventure that far from the main. In fact, salty licorice can be mild, medium and double-salted, but we'll save that for another time.

So he let me taste one of the sweet licorice candies. It was very black, round, like a gumdrop, not long and thin like a Twizzler. I chewed. And chewed. And chewed.

"It's sticky," I said.

"Licorice is sticky," the man said.

I didn't mind the chewing. But then I began to taste ... the licorice.


"I don't like it." I said.

"That's what licorice tastes like," the guy said.

"Give me half a pound of the chocolate-covered mocha beans then," I said firmly.

He gave me the mocha beans, but he also gave me another licorice candy to try. This one was square and covered with brown sugar and looked like this:

This one tasted much nicer. It was softer, sweeter, and the licorice flavor wasn't quite so ... emphatic. It was so much better that I bought some. It's called griotten.

Turns out, licorice is really a Dutch thing. Drop (rhymes with rope) is practically the national candy of the Netherlands. They eat it after every dinner, adding up to 68 million pounds a year. People think the popularity of this acquired taste there has to do with the fact that people are exposed to it as toddlers, when the poor kids don't know any better.

Thursday, April 1, 2004

Etiquette Rule #523

Etiquette Rule #523

While at the marketplace, one should not place a handful of chewing tobacco in one's mouth. Chewing tobacco is generally considered vulgar, and if one must partake, one ought not do it in public, particularly in mixed company, particularly while in front of the fish stand, and particularly while pushing one's child in a stroller.

One of the things that took some getting used to when I first came to Ohio was the fact that restaurants still had smoking/non-smoking sections. Smokers were driven out of restaurants a long time ago in good ole Cali, and that's the way it should be. Food and cigarette smoke just don't go together. Not even bar food, in my mind, is improved by the lingering aroma of nicotine.

So when some guy just stops in the middle of the West Side Market, right in front of the catfish and tilapia, to stuff a huge wad of chewing tobacco into his cheek while his pink-poncho'd daughter looks on, I almost felt nauseous. EWWWWW. That is just disgusting. Thank goodness I wasn't there to see him spit it out.