Surviving Christmas season is a tricky at the best of times. I decided I needed a challenge at mine and, by pure accident, I assure you, drank a cup of descaler.
Now, you will ask yourself, how, well, I tried out new herbal tea at my brother’s, that said spicy on the box and looked all christmassy. Which undoubtedly it would have been if I hadn’t made it with water from the kettle. I thought it was a bit acidy but well-mannered to the end I drank it up. Until my sister-in-law realised that the kettle was full of descaler.
Anyways, here are a few lessons (thanks to the good people at the emergency poison hotline in Germany). Do NOT throw up as you’re full of acid, drink a minimum of 3 litres of water, take anti-acid medication, as much of it as possible and only once you convinced the pharmacists that yes, you really did drink descaler. Then lie down for a few hours and ponder you own stupidity. There, another Christmas lesson, right there.
I love stuffed Jalepeno peppers, I really do. They’re one of my favorite fatty bar-snacks (along with hot chicken wings), but I had my doubts about the quality of these pre-made Hot-Bites that my sister and I enjoyed the other night. We were pleasantly surprised.
Ease 4.5/5 – Apart from turning on the oven and flipping partway through, these were dead-easy.
Colour 5/5 – Golden. So golden that I wonder if these are pre-fried.. but I don’t like to ask any questions of pre-made foodstuffs, I don’t think any of us really want to know the secrets of an industry that requires ‘food scientists’ to formulate products that aren’t inedible and can qualify for various objective terms like ‘cheese food’ and ‘cheese product’.
Flavour 3.5/5 – This is where the poppers fall flat. They were mildly spicy, which I liked, but the cheese was weirdly sweet and tangy, while the coating had a mild aftertaste of freezerburn. A spicy, salty*, fatty treat followed by a freezerburn chaser is not delicious.
*and they are mind-numbingly salty! 3 poppers contain just shy of one quarter of your recommended daily salt intake. Even for me, that’s a bit much.
Resemblance to packaging 4/5 – As with the Pizza Poppers, these appear too stuffed on the box, but marketing is what it is. This is why you put a photo of yourself from 5 years ago on your internet dating profile – you’re no fool.
I don’t know if eating this much processed food has ruined my taste buds, but apart from the sweetness and freezer-burn, I enjoyed these. I know that’s a big exception to make, but compared to Aunt Jemima’s breakfast croissant sandwich (coming soon), these were actually a joy to eat.
After an indulgent Christmas, I had to force myself to continue sampling the wonders of pre-packaged North American cuisine. As promised in the Kraft Dinner post, I am sampling Kraft Deluxe macaroni and cheese.
This mac and cheese receives its sauce from a pouch of orange goo, rather than the arduous mixing of powder, milk and butter into the pasta. This sauce is a runny Velveeta, which according to Wikipedia , cannot be sold as a “cheese food” but rather as a “cheese product” as it does not contain more than 51% cheese… Personally I find the sound of a processed ‘cheese food’ much more revolting.
Kraft Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese
Ease 4/5 – Streamlines the Kraft Dinner process by coming with a pre-prepared sauce. Not only do you gain convenience, but also a wonderful squishing sound as the thick cheese sauce is sloshed about with the noodles.
Colour 3/5 – I don’t know why this looses the vibrance of Kraft Dinner, it sure as hell isn’t more natural!
Texture 2.5/5 – This is where Deluxe Mac and Cheese starts to lose me. Unfortunately I find the texture of the cheese sauce to be too rich and slimy. That’s not the kind of mouth-feel you get with regular Kraft Dinner and an unpleasant surprise here. Yes, I used the term mouth-feel.
Flavour 3/5 – The taste is strong, very strong. There’s a sharpness and saltiness that only a processed “cheese product” is legally allowed to have. I will give points for not being overwhelmingly sweet, but I’m not a huge fan of whatever is causing this tang.
Resemblance to packaging 4/5 – The over-sauced gooiness is not accurately represented on the packaging. Since the directions are are as simple as ‘stir through cheese sauce’ I’m pretty sure this is not my fault.
Over-all a pretty delicious experience, but I will still take regular Kraft Dinner any day. Maybe I’m just not ‘Deluxe’ enough.
Apparently North American children are unable to drink milk unless it is flavoured, but what do you do when your fat child is bored of drinking chocolate milk? Not to worry, Oreo sippers and Sip-Ahh straws will come to the rescue for your picky-porker.
I had my sister (and chocolate milk connoisseur), help me with this edition of WTF and we came to a consensus regarding the new fad for milk-flavouring straws.
This is also a good opportunity to point out that in Canadia milk comes in bags. This is weird to a lot of people, but I don’t remember it ever being different – it’s also pretty green since you cut down packaging.
Oreo Sippers and Sip-Ahh Straws
Ease 3.5/5 – In theory this should be easy, you pour milk into a glass and drink it through a straw. In practice there is a major flaw with each product: Oreo sippers are so wide that it’s like drinking out of a snorkel – this leads to the unpleasant experience of having milk forcefully hit you in the back of the throat – delicious. Sip-Ahh straws, on the other hand, are too narrow and the chocolate beads become clumped together, requiring you to apply the sucking power of a Dyson hoover in order to get a drop of chocolate milk.
Colour 4/5 – Not much to say here – the Oreo Sippers are black and white – the Sip-Ahhs could be darker… they looked a little too chalky.
Texture 3/5 – The Oreos Sippers do not hold up well in milk. After a couple of minutes they are soft and pretty gross to eat.
Smacked in the back of the throat by poorly flavoured milk
Flavour 2/5 – On both accounts flavour is lacking greatly. Sip-Ahhs fail to turn the milk chocolaty and Oreo Straws don’t taste like much of anything until you bite into them – if you do this before they sit in the milk for more than a minute then you’re in luck: but that’s not what they’re intended for… if i want to eat an Oreo I would grab a cookie, but dammit I wanted Oreo-flavoured milk through a cookie straw! My sister’s critique: ‘Both of these taste like crap’.
Resemblance to packaging 4/5 – Oreos fair very well, but where is the pole-dancing cow from the Sip-Ahhs package?
These straws represent everything that is wrong with children today. Enough said.
Four (?) Thanksgivings ago, I was assigned stuffing for the Morser potluck housewarming/Thanksgiving. I found two recipes for the occasion that looked promising, one with a cornbread base and one with a lot of sausage. I was leaning towards the corn bread one but sadly could find no cornbread, or corn bread mix, in this great land. And so, half by accident, I stumbled into the Greatest Stuffing Recipe in the World.
It was the darling of Thanksgiving 2005, and has made star turns at each subsequent Thanksgiving – Canadian or otherwise. I’m not allowed to bring any other to stuffing-mandatory meals. But why would I want to? It’s perfect.
Instead of reprinting the recipe, I’m just going to direct you to it. And give you the wisdom of my experience.
- Good sausage is critical. This is the first year I’ve found Italian sausage, as the recipe calls for, but each time I’ve used a different, well-spiced sausage (or variety of sausages). I’d avoid ones that include leek or apple since the recipe already calls for a lot of both.
- The epicurious reviewers are divided on the matter of poultry spice. I’ve used it and not used it, and can’t tell much difference. Today I used creole seasoning instead, we’ll see how that goes.
- That’s right, I said today, Christmas eve. Make the stuffing a day ahead and let it hang out in the fridge unbaked. Add the eggs and liquid just before baking.
- The recipe says to add the apples/leeks/celery etc to the sausage. I say no; add the sausage to the mix while it’s still over a medium-low flame. Same with the bread and the rest of the ingredients. Keep stirring until all the bread looks like it’s absorbed the stuffing goodness, then turn off the flame and let it cool before refrigerating.
- I became convinced of that last tip the year I accidentally left the whole thing on the stove for an hour+ while I thought it was cooling. Oops. But the stuffing was amazing that year. A bit too mushy maybe, but great. Which is another thing: the recipe is very forgiving. I screw up at least one part every year and it’s always fantastic.
- If you cook it outside the bird, make sure it’s well moistened before baking. I’ve never actually stuffed it into anything (other than my mouth), would love to try it one year when I’m in charge of stuffing and bird.
And that’s it. Go forth and enjoy.
This whole local, seasonal eating thing is much easier when you can get fresh strawberries one county over in December. Remind me again why I’m freezing my ass off in London, trying to get acquainted with squash?
If you’re feeling masochistic, take a peak at the photo gallery from the Hollywood farmers’ market?