Monthly Archives: February 2009

For A Case of Tastykake

We don’t often cross-post our content from IPB Proper, but on a night like tonight, it only seems appropriate. Please enjoy this foray into the world of disgusting store-bought treats.

Eagle-eyed Gentle Readers around here may have noticed two recent trends in our thinking: one is that we are vaguely obsessed with the Flyers, and the other is that we’re incredibly obsessed with Tastykakes. Now, we’ve lived in the outlying Philadelphia region for the better part of our lives, and up until this very day, our only exposure to Tastykakes was those shockingly vile pictures of them on billboards along I-95 on the way back from the airport and/or sports complex in Philly. But ever since finding out that the Flyers and Tastykakes go together like, well, some sort of iconic unholy combination, it has been our sworn mission to immerse ourselves in the Tastykake experience. If our beloved Tranny Brides actually officially score goals for cases of Tastykakes (to be donated to children’s charities), we simply must know what that case of deliciousness is really like. Seriously, Gentle Reader, this is what motivates Mike Richards when he’s breaking away shorthanded; don’t even try to tell us he’s not thinking, “Dude, you just gotta score here — there’s Tastykakes on the line.”

Boomer is the most shameless of the three of us, so she willingly volunteered to go to the nearest gas station kwik-e-mart to stock up on our Tasty vittles. We weren’t sure how much would be available, so imagine our delight when she sent us an email this afternoon titled simply “yum yum” with this as the entire body of the message:

Tastykakes In The Car

Mission accomplished. We were ready to spend this evening watching the Tranny Brides on tivo delay while enjoying our very own custom-built case of Tastykakes.

Here was the haul, divvied up:

Tastykake Sampler

It should be noted that we undertook this taste test without the safety net of a spit cup; it was just us and the Tastykakes. If the Flyers give them out to sick orphans, how bad can they be?

It should also be noted that when you sit for a few minutes next to a groaning platter of pieces of Tastykake, the smell is nearly overwhelming. And the sliced-open Jelly Krimpet will glare balefully through your soul.

Peering Into Your Soul

The more we thought about it, the more terrible an idea this seemed to be. Because seriously, if the Flyers give these things away to sick orphans, there’s no way they’re edible. They are the Flyers, after all. The only thing to do is just to dig in.

Jelly Krimpets 2

Our methodology is to just plow through, and then rate them on Boomer’s proposed High Disgust Factor scale, ranging from Beaker to Boulerice (Beaker being not at all disgusting, Boulerice being, well, Boulerice).

First up: The Pound Kake Junior. It is just a little brick of pound cake. There is actually nothing junior about it, as it could probably feed a family of four for a week. This is really a manly lunchbox dessert, even by our standards.

High Disgust Factor: Knuble. It’s actually pretty likable, in a workmanlike way. It tastes not unlike microwave popcorn butter, but in cake form. Or rather, kake form.

We wash this down with generous swallows of Diet Coke (is it actually Koke tonight?) and gird ourselves for more.

Second up: Creme Filled Koffee Kake Cupcakes. We’re confused by the spellings — why aren’t they “cupkakes”? Schnookie’s especially eager for this kake, because her fondest elementary school snack memory is that one time in first grade that her class got Drake’s Coffee Cakes. To this day, when offered a free snack, she irrationally hopes it will be something like that, but she has never once, in all those years been rewarded again. This cupkake is a little blob of yellow kake with what looks like tan mouse droppings on top and a blob of gleaming white creme in the middle.

High Disgust Factor: Gagne. Almost — almost — good. But, like Gagne, it has a fatal flaw. Gagne’s is that he’s a Marty killer, and the Koffee Kake’s is that its lingering (and lingering, and lingering) aftertaste is strongly of coconut. Or Kokonut. But the mouse poops are surprisingly crunchy and delicious, and the whole thing tastes genuinely of cinnamon. If this was a free snack at some event we were attending, we’d be psyched. Until we finished eating it, and then we’d spend the rest of the event wishing the world didn’t taste of coconut.

Chocolate Cupcake

Third Up: As Pookie puts it, “Should we get this Lemon Pie out of the way?” It’s a hard brown crust around a blobby glob of dull yellow goo.

High Disgust Factor: Asham. We expected profoundly disgusting, and as it turns out, it’s actually not vomit-inducing. In other words, pleasantly surprising. The filling is fairly lemony, and the crust isn’t as stale-tasting as we thought it would be. It’s doughy and fake tasting, though — kinda like Asham.

Fourth Up: “Tasty Treat”. This is Tastykake’s contribution to the premade Rice Krispie treat canon. When cutting these things into pieces, this one smelled the worst when first opened by a knife. How do Rice Krispie treats turn out like that? How is that possible? We were about to find out.

High Disgust Factor: Carter. Dude. This is the dessert that’s all blond hair and white teeth. It tastes like a rice krispie treat that has yellow cake mix (not kake mix) powder in it. It makes us want to make our own rice krispie treats with yellow cake mix sprinkled in, just to see if we could replicate this flavor, but in a wholesome, homemade way. Heh. We actually went back for more of this one.

Tastyklair

Fifth Up: Tastyklair. Pookie: “So far we haven’t had one that makes me want to gack, but looking at the Tastyklair, I don’t think I can put it in my mouth.”

High Disgust Factor: Hextall. Ron Hextall gave us hours and hours of laughing-at-him joy while also being someone we could genuinely loathe. Likewise, this was the item that most delighted us while studying up on Tastykakes, and is also something we can genuinely regret having eaten. Pookie: “This tastes like a ‘treat’ I would have been given in Russia.” She doesn’t mean that in a nice way. Once again, it’s the doughy, dry crust, this time filled with cake-mix flavored cream and a crumbly “chocolate” topping. It’s iconically bad.

Sixth Up: Chocolate Cupcake. Tastykake totally dropped the ball naming this. It’s a dry lump of chocolate cupcake with a thin, sad layer of chocolate frosting over the top. It doesn’t look encouraging.

High Disgust Factor: Briere. We’d rather pretend this never happened. It was strangely crumbly, yet had a gummy mouthfeel. Schnookie: “This is the opposite of all the others, in that it started out revolting, then had a lingering aftertaste of just cocoa.” Pause. “No, wait. Now it’s revolting again.” Pookie: “Maybe we should rate this as a Terry Murray, because for you it was literally a choking situation.” ZING!

Seventh Up: Creme Filled Chocolate Cupcake. It looks less malignant than the plain chocolate cupcake because it has a flat smear of “white” frosting on top, and a gleaming blob or white creme in the center.

High Disgust Factor: Lindros. It’s an enigma. It doesn’t taste as bad as its non creme-filled counterpart, in large part because its cupcake foulness is broken up by that glob of sugared, whipped crisco. We rate it a Lindros because it was puzzlingly difficult to figure out what was going on with it — we couldn’t figure out what we were tasting, how bad it was, what its intentions were, and it would have been greatly improved by Scott Stevens smushing it into oblivion.

Jelly Krimpets

Eighth Up: Fudge Nut Brownie. Schnookie balked here, after struggling mightily with the chocolate cupcake. This is a very flat slab of brownie substance topped with a thick sludge of “frosting” studded with pieces of walnuts.

High Disgust Factor: Cote. Like Cote, this sucks at what it does, but it’s also kind of benign. That said, if Cote was a metaphor for this brownie, and picking Cote for a roster was a metaphor for choosing an after-dinner treat, then playing with an empty spot in the lineup would be our metaphor for opting to go dessertless. To spell it out. Pookie: “This tastes like brownie jerky.”

Butterscotch Krimpet

Based on our “observing the billboards along I-95” research, we think Krimpets are the signature Tastykake. So we saved them for last.

Ninth Up: Jelly Filled Krimpet. This is perhaps the scariest item on the plate whose name doesn’t rhyme with “Blastyklair”. It’s a sponge cake with a squirt of red goo in the center.

High Disgust Factor: Forsberg. This is a surprisingly ephemeral dessertstuff, yet it packs an enormous wallop of grotesqueness. We each took eensy-weensy bites, and yet we still found ourselves overwhelmed by the powerful wretchedness that is the flavor of the jelly filling. It tastes like a fruit roll-up that goes on for miles. Like the Flyers-Era Forsberg, it’s not very substantial, but it’s also pervasively vile. Pookie: “I felt like it wasn’t actually playing in a game, but it was still calling a press conference during the action to tell me stuff it’s already gone over time and again before.”

Tenth Up: Butterscotch Krimpet. It’s sponge cake with a limp square of tawny “frosting” drooping over the top of it. It looks almost as bad in person as it does in its I-95 glamor shots, and we hoped it would be a Tastykake experience for the ages.

High Disgust Factor: Cechmanek. The Butterscotch Krimpet is a very puzzling experience. Pookie: “I couldn’t tell you what this tasted like. It’s like… a sugary… citrus… sawdust…” Schnookie: “It’s like Roman Cechmanek. It’s beamed into my life from a mysterious planet, it’s doing god-only-knows-what here, and then it’s going to beam back away.” Pookie: “But it’s going to leave me with great happiness like Cechmanek did, because my Tastykake tasting experience is now over.”

So there you go, Gentle Reader. Perhaps our Tastykake obsession is safely behind us. If there’s one lesson we’re taking away from this exercise, it’s that you really, really don’t want to be a sick orphan in Philadelphia.

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Wherein Liz Improves Our Lives Immeasurably

Around Christmastime, our good friend Liz suggested we needed to acquire some Domaine de Canton ginger liquor. She especially suggested we acquire it to add to hot chocolate. We were intrigued, but for reasons far beyond our understanding, we couldn’t find it at any of our regular purveyors of booze.

Now, two months later, we have finally emerged from the desert of Domaine de Cantonlessness.

February 19 2009

DELICIOUS!

When Pookie told a coworker about the ho-cho/Domaine de Canton beverage, her coworker asked, “What restaurant did you have that at?” Why, a little restaurant we like to call our liquor cabinet, now fully accoutered with all the essentials for a classy, scrumptious wintry treat.

[Posted by Schnookie]

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Super-Quick And Hellenic: What More Could You Want?

Once a month I get all motivated to try new recipes — the day the new “Food & Wine” issue arrives in the mail. This month I was stopped in my tracks while flipping through the pages thanks to a feature of “Fast Recipes” that claimed to reimagine classic Greek dishes. Having never eaten Greek food (I have no idea how it’s eluded me this long), it’s not like I was all a-quiver with the thought of whipping up my old exotic faves; no, they just had a really scrumptious-looking picture accompanying the recipe for Pork Souvlaki with Tzatziki. I had no idea what Souvlaki is (I’ve since looked it up. This seems to be a skewerless version of it), but it said it would take me 40 minutes, had an easy list of ingredients, and looked perfect for a weeknight meal. Here’s the recipe:

1 1/4 pounds trimmed pork shoulder, cut into 3-by-1/2 inch strips
1 large onion, cut through the root end into 1/2-inch strips
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Greek-style whole-milk yogurt
1/2 European cucumber, seeded and finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Warm pita, for serving

(The only change I made to the recipe is that I used pork tenderloin rather than shoulder, because it seems leaner and easier to deal with. But I’m normally a big fan of pork shoulder, so I’m not sure why I opted for that. I guess I’m just lazy.)

1. In a medium bowl, toss the pork strips and onion wedges with the olive oil, lemon juice, chopped oregano and half of the garlic paste. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and let stand for 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the yogurt, cucumber, mint and the remaining garlic paste. Season the tzatziki with salt and pepper.

3. Heat a large cast-iron griddle or grill pan (or, in my case, just a large skillet) until very hot. Add the pork and onion wedges along with any marinade and cook over high heat, turning once or twice, until the pork and onion are tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the pork and onion to plates and serve with the tzatziki, lemon wedges and pita.

Presto! Easy and delicious!

February 10 2009

This was super-duper fun to make, not least because it made the kitchen smell absolutely heavenly. Through a strange confluence of events, I ended up prepping everything before Pookie got home from work, and Boomer got home even later. Now, it should be noted that Spring Fever is creeping up on the denizens of Maple Hoo, and a kitchen redolent of fresh mint and oregano, lemon, cucumber, garlic and onions… well, it was enough to drive us all into progressive tizzies. I was in the thrall of the spring-fresh aromas, then Pookie walked into the kitchen and nearly swooned, then Boomer got home and exclaimed about how fantastic the place smelled. This meal was like a big plate of scrumptious freshness. I’d spent all day at work getting increasingly excited about trying a new recipe, and the whole experience of this didn’t let me down. Everyone should try it!

And perhaps the best part of all, by the way, was that I had extra mint, and there’s only one thing to do with that: make mojitos. (In a tall glass muddle 1 tablespoon of sugar, the juice of one lime, and 6-8 whole mint leaves. When the sugar has dissolved, fill the glass with ice, pour in 2 oz. of light rum, and then top off with chilled club soda. Stir and drink. Repeat the process from the beginning.) It was really the only civilized thing to do.

(Posted by Schnookie)

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Filed under Hearty Meals, Meats Meats Meats

A Picky Eating Revelation

It was about a year ago that I concocted the plan to partake of a project called “Picky Eating With Pookie”. The idea was to try every vegetable that we grew in the garden or that Schnookie brought home from the farm share. I meant to do an end-of-season review of the experiment but… I’m lazy, what can I say? I got ruminating about it today, though, and made an interesting discovery about my motivations for the project and how that effected the outcome.

Around this time last year I was emerging from a long Holiday-inspired hibernation. It was the end of January and I realized that my days consisted of getting up, sitting in the car for an hour, sitting in front of my computer at work for eight hours, sitting in the car for another hour, and then immediately upon getting home, sitting down on the couch for another six hours. Thanks to Schnookie, I never had to get up to make dinner, and thanks to Boomer there were never nights that I had to change the routine to run errands after work. It was just five days in a row of sitting, sitting, and more sitting. I began to worry that I’d never leave my hibernation period and I’d just get more and more tired. My commutes would get harder and harder as I struggled to stay awake. This was not good. I had tried incorporating a daily walk around the neighborhood after work, but in the Winter it’s too dark after work and I could always find a bad weather excuse to skip a day. I needed something I could do inside, regardless of weather. Something that didn’t take much time. Something fun.

Then I remembered the exercise routine a friend had recommended a few years ago: The Shovelglove. It’s simple. You get a sledgehammer and then spend fourteen minutes a day to use the sledgehammer to mimic movements like “shoveling snow”, “churning butter”, and “driving fenceposts”. I had tried it during grad school and enjoyed it, but had ultimately stopped because I was trying to fit it in before classes and because I had decided it was going to make me lose weight. I hated getting up early and it did not make me lose weight. This time around I said, “Don’t be a fool, Pookie! Know ahead of time you won’t do it first thing in the morning, and don’t expect to lose weight! Instead — use it as a tool to give you something to do when you get home that doesn’t involve sitting! It’ll be fun! You’ll have more energy to spend on stitching and blogging and enjoying your evening!” That seemed like a goal I could get behind!

Pookie, Dapper

Me and my shovelglove.

I know all the experts give advice for New Year’s Resolutions that you should always, always, always set quantifiable goals. Don’t say, “I’m going to exercise.” Say, “I’m going to run a 5K by September.” Don’t say, “I’m going to use the kitchen more.” Say, “I’m going to cook dinner once a night every month.” Well, I say, bah humbug! My decision to shovelglove with the intention of fulfilling the goal of “having more energy” was perfect for this reason: when I failed, I didn’t feel bad for failing — I felt bad because I knew I wouldn’t have the get and go to stitch or blog or stay up for the late hockey game or to drive to work without my eyelids drooping the whole way. And when I suceeded, I didn’t feel good because I had done my exercizing duty — I felt good because I was engaging in an activity that wasn’t a chore, but rather was part of my evening full of hobbies and fun!

I realized today that I had inadvertently taken the same approach with Picky Eating. The idea had come to me not because I was worried that I wasn’t eating healthily enough. It came to me because I had spent all day looking at pictures of garden-fresh produce on Skippy’s Garden. I had some serious Spring Fever and for some bizarre reason, this manifested itself entirely in wanting to eat a carrot. I began to associate everything that was good about the garden and farm during Spring and Summer with what I thought carrots tasted like. When the first produce came home from the farm in the form of snap peas, I didn’t see “peas that will be a healthier snack that chips”. I saw “snack that is imbued with farm-y goodness that you can only get now because it’s Spring, whereas those chips will always just taste like chips and you can have them all year round”. If I tried the snap peas and didn’t like them, I wouldn’t have thought I failed in my attempts to eat healthier. I would have let myself down by robbing myself of one more opportunity to enjoy the fact that it was finally Spring.

Something about taking that approach made it so that the experiment was, at least by my (admittedly low) standards, a raging success. The reason I know it’s a raging success? This dinner:

February 3 2009

Schnookie IM’ed me during the day to say, “I’m making chicken sandwiches tonight, and I’m going to serve a side of potatoes and green beans.” And I thought, “Ooh! Green beans!” That’s right. I looked forward to eating green beans. I was shocked. And pleased. And then I thought, “Uh-oh. What if I look at the plate and I’m still a picky eater? What if I think I want them now, but when I’m faced with actually eating them, I balk?” Girding myself, I entered the kitchen at dinner-plating time. As I walked in, Schnookie took the tray of roasting potatoes and green beans out of the oven and put it on the counter. My fears? Totally unfounded. I looked at the beans and without contemplating them at all thought, “Yummy!” I reached right out, plucked a bean from the tray, and popped it in my mouth. And it was tasty! I was able to load my plate up with scoops from the tray without having to pick around the green stuff.

This is a huge step, Gentle Reader. HUGE. So huge, in fact, that in addition to putting lettuce, tomato, and red onion on my sandwich I also added sprouts.

Maybe you didn’t hear that last part. I’ll repeat: sprouts.

OK, so it was a pinch of sprouts, but it was sprouts nonetheless. Sprouts are so low on my list of veggies I thought I liked that I had in fact completely forgotten there was such a thing as sprouts. Turns out, they’re tasty! They give a nice bright crunch to the sandwich and don’t really taste disgusting at all! Who knew?

Anyway, the reason I was thinking about it today was that I had my annual physical. The doctor informed me that my bad cholesterol was a teensy tiny bit high when they ran my bloodwork in September.

Me: Well, I’ve been working on eating more vegetables.

Doctor: Great! Let’s run that bloodwork again and see if it worked!

Me: Uh… Heh. Well, it’s a work in progress. Sadly, I don’t think looking at a tray of green beans and thinking, ‘Those look tasty!’ has a very immediate effect on my cholesterol.

Doctor: No, probably not.

But that’s just the thing! I wasn’t eating more veggies to get healthier! I was eating them because I wanted them to be something that I like. And now? They are! (Well, some of them are. Whenever I try to tell Schnookie that I think I’m doing much better she mentions broccoli and I throw up a little in my mouth and realize I’m not as far along as I thought.)

Without realizing it at the time, I framed Picky Eating in a fail-proof manner! And now, here I am a year later, putting sprouts on my sandwich and thinking happy thoughts about Spring when the first snap peas come home from the farm!

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