Archive for coffee

Things I Love

Posted in baking, food, health, movies, personal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2008 by uglydudefood

Black marble composition books.  I own boxes full of them, and they’re pretty much all empty.  There’s something nostalgic about these things.  I was forced to write “journal entries” in these during Sunday School when I was little.  I remember quite clearly answering a prompt about Moses with a longwinded answer about Moses Malone.  I was a smartass even then.

These things also symbolize hope for me.  100 sheets; 200 pages.  Blank and ready for me to fill them with my amazing ideas (or poop jokes).  Any time I see them available in a store, I buy at least one.  I never write anything in them.  I have boxes full of the things.  I love them more than anything.

Also pictured:  Star Wars bedsheets.  These date back to the Special Edition days, so there’s not a Ben Quadrinaros or Count Dooku in sight.  This is the way it should be.

Reviews are coming in for early episodes of the Star Wars:  Clone Wars cartoon, and they’re overwhelmingly positive.  Star Wars has been a pasttime for me since birth, and a bit of an obsession for me since about 1997.  I’ve read the books that tell you the backstories of all those stupid puppet aliens in the Cantina.  I amassed thousands of dollars worth of toys (which I am now selling for far less than their current market value, plug plug).  It’s good to have something Warsy to be excited about again.

I guess it’s good to have anything to be excited about.  For the last few years, I’ve been seperating my “blog life” from my personal life (for the most part).  When I stopped personal-blogging, I think I stopped personal-living as well.  I holed up in my iPod and my personal computer, attempting to one-up my own silly jokes for a readership of three people.  I hid myself away; developed a fashionable eating disorder; lost contact with my closest friends; and generally stopped feeling anything at all.  I used to think people that said, “I don’t feel anything anymore” were full of James Dean bullshit, but then I stopped feeling things.

Last night I went out to dinner with my family.  We went to Italian Delight in Linglestown, PA.  My parents have been pretty regular customers since they discovered the place, and I’ve been there a few times.  It’s a nicer sit-down establishment than a lot of pizzerias (such as Tonino’s, my favorite Harrisburg slice joint).  The restaurant recently changed ownership apparently, and the pizza recipe appears to have changed (for the worse, but it’s still decent).  I had the grilled chicken salad.  Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, croutons, pickles, black olives, peppers, and enough chicken to make you feel like you’re getting your eight dollars’ worth.  It was nice to have an evening with just my parents.

Tonight I went for an hour’s walk and grabbed a coffee from Starbucks.  I’m not particularly fond of their new Pike’s Place blend, but it’s a hot drink and I like the store’s atmosphere.  Maybe I could fill more composition books if I became cliche and sat around Starbucks.  Or at the very least I’d start wearing scarves and ill-fitting black sweaters.

Keep your eye on Ugly Movies for the latest reviews.  I’ve been adding movies as I see them, and also crazy amounts of older movies.  I saw The Incredible Hulk tonight, which was super-fun popcorn viewing.

Coming next week:  The Dark Knight, which promises to be the movie of the summer.  Also, The X-Files:  I Want to Believe, which excites me more for some reason (possibly because I am retarded).

What else is there in life?  My girlfriend’s name is Rachel.  We recently had a rough go of things, but we’re working hard.  These things take effort, right?

I’ve been without a car since early May, but that will soon be remedied.  I’m getting a 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid in the next couple weeks.  I could wave my fanny in the air and talk about “blah blah blah emissions” and “save the earth fiddle dee dee,” but really I am buying this car for the superior gas mileage.  I do most of my selfless things for selfish reasons (and, oddly enough, vice versa).

It’s Saturday night, and I’m relaxing and blogging.  I think it’s time to start filling up some composition books.

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Happy Administrative Professionals’ Day…to me!

Posted in food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2008 by uglydudefood

I went into work today to find a big frigging gift bag smack in the middle of my desk.

BLAM.

My first thought was that I missed my birthday. Turns out that today is Administrative Professionals’ Day. Take a moment to laugh at the professional spin they gave the old-time “Secretaries’ Day.”

Out of your system? Good. Because apparently those of us who bust our humps day-in and day-out to file your paperwork are special. How special? Special enough to get lots and lots of glorious stuff!

There are some negatives to having your coworkers know about your crazy, obsessive-compulsive dieting. There’s those that express concern–either fake or sincere-but-misguided. There are people that will ask and comment about your diet incessantly. However, all of that goes away when people get you a big ol’ bag of food.

Granola from Dingeldein Bakery. There is no official webpage for the Dingeldein Bakery, but it’s probably the most costly bakery in the city of Harrisburg, PA. I was really, really looking forward to crunching on this stuff. I opened it immediately after work and ate a serving. I’ve never had plain granola before (only in super-saccharine bar form), but this stuff was incredible. Raisins and nuts and what I’d assume to be honey combine to form this delicious, dense conglomeration. Now I will stop describing something that everybody else already eats.

Sugar-free candy! Included were packs of Extra Spearmint gum, Sweet ‘N Low Sugar Free Brand hard candies in both Fruit Flavors and International Coffee Flavors, and “Just Chocolate” hard candies.

And, if that’s not all, there was a $25 gift card to my grocery store. That will come in handy, whether it’s just to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables (cherry season is coming up, after all) or to gas up my car for the frequent hour-long commutes to my girlfriend’s house.

I’ll certainly be remembering this come Bosses’ Day!

What happens to those people right gob in the middle of the totem pole? We celebrate the head-honchos on Bosses’ Day (October 16) and the bottom-feeders on Administrative Professionals’ Day. Do the sandwich-meat (whatever menial position they tend to hold) just get to live day-to-day, happy in the fact that they’re benefiting from the knowledge and hard work of their supervisors and secretaries?

Amazing Black Bean Brownies: good for your heart, make you etc.

Posted in baking, food, recipes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2008 by uglydudefood

My last post was a recipe post, I guess. More, it was just a suggestion post. This here is my first post where I actually experimented with ingredients and made foods that did not taste like crunchy water!

I have an ever-increasing backlog of recipes that I kinda-sorta want to try, but will probably never get to. Homemade Marshmallow Peeps. Vegan, fat-free carrot cake. Pumpkin muffins recommended by my friend Silliker. Various veggie burger recipes. They all incite some sort of interest in me, but not enough to send me right to the oven to work the ol’ Spoodles magic.

I was blogrolling on Monday; The moment I saw the phrase “Black Bean Brownies” on 101 Cookbooks, I knew. The words made absolutely no sense to me. I mean, sure. I knew what they all meant individually. Black–an absence of color. Bean–a protein-filled treat that develops in pods. Brownies–chocolatey delights. When you put the three together? The phrase “Black Bean Brownies” sounded like “Cotton Ball Checkbook” or “French Fried Pants.” The words simply did not go together in any decipherable way. I was going to have to create this recipe. Immediately.

Closer inspection of the recipe showed that black beans were not the only experimental item. These brownies were sweetened with agave nectar, a sort of natural, healthier (although, obviously, by no means healthy) corn syrup.

The recipe initially comes from Baking With Agave Nectar: Over 100 Recipes Using Nature’s Ultimate Sweetener, which at $11 is actually close in price to what you’ll pay for damned agave nectar in this one recipe. For the sake of trying new things, I did spring for the organic agave nectar, but 101 Cookbooks says that you can easily replace the nectar 1:1 with honey.

I won’t reprint the recipe here (as I probably don’t have permission), but here are my notes. This was only my third time baking, so I was prepared for it not to go…smoothly.

THE PROCESS

  • The recipe stated that canned black beans worked just fine for this project. I bought canned, no salt added beans, and they seemed to work fine. With the usual, high-sodium canned stuff, you would probably want to spend a good amount of time rinsing the beans.
  • I made the decision not to include the walnuts. My family is fairly picky when it comes to such things, and I thought these brownies were weird enough due to the beans and the sweetener. Didn’t want to rock the boat too much. As mentioned in “Final Thoughts,” this may have affected my final batch.

THE TREAT

  • Inexperienced as I was. I was unsure what the instruction “Bake…until the brownies are set” meant. Did I want them to come out of my oven looking like I wanted my final product to look? Or did I want to take them out a little soft (still solid), and the heat from the baking process would finish it all the way? I checked on my brownies at thirty-five minutes and they seemed a little…shiny. Internet research seemed vague at best, although if I had followed Slashfood’s direction I probably would have fared better. At forty minutes , I removed the pan and hoped for the best.
  • After cooling (and after refrigerating, as specified by this recipe), my brownies were still gooey. Not uncooked-gooey, and not inedible-gooey, but certainly too gooey to cut out of the pan with any confidence. I knew that if I put these things back in the oven after they’d cooled, they would only burn. I was left with some extra-gooey fudgeypuddingbean brownies.
  • That said, these things tasted really good. There was no bean taste to them at all. They tasted like super-decadent, fudge brownies. The coffee flavor was pretty strong, but not bad at all. Even the consistency wasn’t terrible. Certainly softer than I would have liked–and softer than any brownie I’d ever eaten before–but I could pick them up with my hands without them falling apart, so that was good enough.

THE REACTIONS

  • Mom: “Is there coffee in this?” She didn’t seem entirely unimpressed, but didn’t enjoy the flavor all too much. I offered her another the following day, and she accepted. Conclusion: not poison.
  • Dad: “I’m not that adventurous.”
  • Brother: I didn’t even bother asking. He ate a cheeseburger instead.
  • Coworker 1: “I’m impressed!” “This is more like fudge than a brownie.” Later, “I have a brownie craving!” As one of my better friends, she might have been tempered by pressure not to hurt my feelings.
  • Coworker 2: “Those brownies were…interesting.” After some hesitance, she came out and said, “I think I’m so used to [regular sugar] that these just don’t hit my craving.” She also expressed that she liked my previous two baking attempts far better (Toll House Cupcakes and Chocolate Cherry Dr. Pepper Cupcakes). Note to self: less adventurous baked goods for the office. This was actually my favorite bit of feedback, simply because it was actual, constructive criticism. I’ll come back to her because I know she’ll actually tell me how she feels about the food. I’m hoping it will be complimentary, but I know it won’t be needlessly so.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • I’m wondering if other types of beans would work in this mixture. Black beans seem to be a common Internet trend in this brand of baked goods, but the flavor of a canned black bean tastes fairly similar, for instance, to a canned pinto bean or a canned white bean. This is one thing I would change if I ever made this recipe again, just to learn whether these are acceptable substitutes. Maybe white bean “blondies?”
  • I loved the taste of these brownies, and specifically how the instant coffee offset the chocolate flavor. However, the coffee did tend to come front-and-center. I think the amount of coffee could stand to be cut in half (unless it was used to mask some sort of beany aftertaste that I didn’t sense at all). This would, I think, make my family far more receptive to these brownies.
  • I left the walnuts out of the recipe, and now I’m wondering if they would have helped to bind the mixture and make for a more cohesive and less goopy brownie. I don’t believe nuts actively bind food, but you never know. Since my family didn’t eat more than one of these apiece anyway, I would probably leave the nuts in next time for a more full and textured brownie.
  • I was too much of a wuss to pull a fast one on people. When consumers asked me about the brownies, I came right out and told them they were full of beans and alternative sweetener. It would have been interesting to put these brownies to a blind taste test. Would these just seem like “super-fudgy” brownies, or would people notice something awry?
  • I really like the idea of using beans in a recipe instead of flour. It adds a world of protein and fiber that you aren’t going to get in a regular brownie. This makes them more substantial, more filling, and–dare I say it–more satisfying than a normal baked good in a lot of respects.

NUTRITION (for 1/45th of batch)

via Caloriecount.about.com

Serving Size 30.0g
Amount Per Serving
Calories
98
Calories from Fat
53
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
5.9g
9%
Saturated Fat
3.5g
18%
Cholesterol
30mg
10%
Sodium
11mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates
10.8g
4%
Dietary Fiber
1.1g
4%
Protein
1.6g
Vitamin A 4% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 3% Iron 7%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Eating out: it’s not ONLY beneficial to your ladyfriend

Posted in food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2008 by uglydudefood

Just like every other aspect of eating, restaurant-dining and I have had a bit of a tenuous relationship over the past three or four years. Oftentimes, I would accompany my family and friends to restaurants, only to order “just a Diet Coke,” or “decaf coffee, black.” More often, though, I would just avoid the whole eating-out situation altogether.

I’ve been better lately–I’ve been eating veggie burgers and salads. Pintos and cheese is a new Taco Bell mainstay. Hell, I’ve even scarfed down a slice of pizza or two since I’ve started trying to fix myself.

A great source of inspiration–or at least a handy resource guide towards not being crazy at restaurants–can be found on Crack Fitness NYC. Melissa offers seven helpful hints for actually enjoying your dining experience, still remaining healthy, and avoiding the shame you would invariably bring your friends and accomplices over dinner. Here is an interesting excerpt, although I would strongly recommend reading this entire article:

Tip #2 *The ONE request rule. This is huge. This can transform your relationship with eating out if it makes you uncomfortable. You can only ask the waiter to make one substitution for the entire meal. So if you want your omelet with egg white only, don’t ask for it to be cooked without oil. If you want you salad dressing on the side, don’t drill the person about the way the cook your fish. If you want your fish cooked with olive oil not butter, make that your request. So let’s say your fish comes drenched a top a pool of teriyaki, just move it to a separate plate, so you have a reasonable amount of sauce.

One of these tips is to look at a menu and see if there is something you will actually eat on there beforehand. It saves you a whole lot of hassle. You don’t want to get seated at Denny’s (the epitome of fine dining, of course) and find yourself torn between the Grand Slam Breakfast, the Grand Grand Slam Breakfast, and the Fatboy Special–eight pieces of deep-fried french toast spread thick with lardo.

There are a number of items and sites that facilitate my particular brand of obsessive-compulsive, mildly-disordered crazyeating, which probably goes completely against the intentions of Melissa’s article but dag-nabbit it’s progress.

Red Robin’s website is my favorite. They have a burger customizer, which allows you to get accurate (but limited) nutritional information of all of their food, including the condiments you want and the side dishes you shouldn’t be eating. By the way. a lonely, bunless Gardenburger sitting on a cold plate is a mere 100 calories, which is a small price to pay for being the laughing-stock of your table.

Of course, everyone is familiar with those cheap paper menus they make available at the fast food joints now. Taco Bell, McDonald’s, and Subway (which is, by no means, a healthy weight-loss regime, by the bye) have had the most easily-available nutritional information in my opinion, but these days they all have some sort of guide or calculator on their website. Even Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken have gotten in on the game, although I think that’s simply to rub their fiendish coronary-murder-plot in your face before you croak.

Anyway, I guess this post was my successful attempt to crazy up a perfectly good and valid link. If you want real advice from somebody who is not a crazy crazy that is crazy, see the post at Crack Fitness NYC.

Mememmeme

Posted in food, health, meme, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2008 by uglydudefood

I was not tagged for this meme! Instead, I stole it unceremoniously from one of the three hundred food blogs I read, iheartfood4thought.

It is like a MySpace vanity survey, except I have invited it into my food-related house and OH SCREW IT this is a MySpace vanity bulletin.

On Culinary Arts…
Q. What is your salad dressing of choice?
A. Nothing. If I want to eat veggies, I’d like to taste the veggies. In a pinch (such as particularly rancid lettuce), a quick squirt of white-trash yellow mustard is the cure for what ails you.

Q. What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
A. Back when I ate meat, the answer would unequivocally be Wendy’s. Their beef tastes like actual meat, which is in turn enhanced by the condiments. McDonald’s is too much like a condiment sandwich, and Burger King’s Whomperoo tastes like a bottle of liquid smoke. Nowadays, I am a connoisseur of Taco Bell, which surprisingly offers a fairly healthy option that tastes good–Pintos n’ Cheese.

Q. What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
A. Red Robin offers a Gardenburger (which criminally costs $7.99, the approximate cost of 2.5 boxes of the same damn thing). More importantly, they offer a fairly comprehensive burger customizer which offers nutritional information based on your selection from a wide variety of rolls, condiments, cheeses, and sides.

Q. On average how much of a tip do you leave at a restaurant?
A. 20% is my bare minimum. I’ve been known to tip 100% for exceptional service and 50% for more-than-adequate. I also have a special form of white-guilt that springs from ordering nothing but coffee. In turn, I will generally pay the price of an average meal for a cuppa.

Q. What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of?
A. This is a bit of a loaded question because I ate the same food every day for nearly three years. If I had to choose my absolute favorite from those days, it would probably be the vegan Boca Burger. You can eat it plain and bland (a personal favorite). Crumble it into any random, lazy-ass recipe. Use it as a vessel for sauerkraut or delicious, delicious mustard.

Q. What are your pizza toppings of choice?
A. I don’t need clutter in my life. Plain ol’ cheese. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a classic Margherita or a big, floppy, greasy triangle of dough, sauce, and cheese from a local pizzeria. The old adage remains true; keep it simple, slutface.

Q. What do you like to put on your toast?
A. Bread is a nonentity in my life.

On Technology…

Q. What is your wallpaper on your computer?
A. Marshmallow Peeps lollipop.

Q. How many televisions are in your house?
A. Embarrassingly enough, at least seven.

Q. What kind of cell phone do you have?
A. LG

On Biology…
Q. Are you right-handed or left-handed?
A. Right-handed.

Q. Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
A. Nothing that didn’t start its life outside my body.

Q. What is the last heavy item you lifted?
A. Groceries–Kashi GoLean, broccoflower, canned tomatoes (diced and stewed varieties), zucchini, eggplant, sugar-free gelatin, Jones Soda, ricotta cheese, and tofu.

Q. Have you ever been knocked unconscious?
A. I had a fairly serious bicycle accident almost two years ago. Without the helmet, I would have most assuredly been kaput. Otherwise, I just cracked my head open but-good and concussed myself in the process.

On Psychology…
Q. If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
A. If it were possible, I would choose my deathday.

Q. If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
A. Cornelius “Spoodles” McGoof

Q. what color looks good on you?
A. Black and brown

Q. Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake?
A. No, but I’ve surely swallowed non-food items on purpose to amuse friends and emergency-room-doctors alike!

Q. Have you ever saved someones life?
A. I save hundreds of lives a day simply by driving on the correct side of the road.

Q. Has someone ever saved yours?
A. I can name a few friends that have almost ended my life, but I don’t believe they saved it.

Truth or Dare (or a Bribe)…

Q. Would you kiss a member of the same sex for $100?
A. A hundred dollars? I would kiss the wiener of a member of the same sex for a hundred dollars.

Q. Would you allow one of your little fingers to be cut off for $200,000?
A. Yes. Yes I would.

Q. Would you never blog again for $50,000?
A. For fifty thousand easy dollars I would throw my computer out the window.

Q. Would you pose naked in a magazine for $250,000?
A. I came damn close to posing nude in college just to have a story to tell.

Q. Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000?
A. I probably have already done this merely to amuse my miscreant friends. It couldn’t be any more difficult than eating a bowl full of jalapeños.

Q. Would you, without fear of punishment, take a human life for $1,000,000?
A. This I would not do. I’ll inflict any manner of pain, torture, punishment, or fruit-pie upon myself, but when it comes to harming another living being that doesn’t have chlorophyll running through its veins, that’s a big N.O.

On random stuff…
Q: What is in your left pocket?
A. Who says I am wearing pants?

Q: Is Napoleon Dynamite actually a good movie?
A. Napoleon Dynamite is an entertaining movie with an irritating fan-following, much like Borat, The Boondock Saints, and Dirty Dancing: Havanna Nights .

Q: Do you have hardwood or carpet in your house?
A. Throw-rugs over what I’d imagine to be dirt floors.

Q: Do you sit or stand in the shower?
A. I squat.

Q: Could you live with roommates?
A. The realist in me says, “Yes.” The socially-retarded blogger in me says, “Not on your life, Froderick.”

Q: How many pairs of flip flops do you own?
A. I own one pair of well-worn size-18 flip flops, which will never be replaced due to the relative rarity of their size.

Q: Last time you had a run-in with the cops
A. I am a friend of the law. My natural look of fear and respectful awe keeps the po’ on my side.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A. A palindrome.

Q: Last person who called you?
A. My lovely girlfriend, Rachel.

Q: Person you hugged?
A. My lovely mother, Mom.

On Favorites…
Q: Number?
A. 19.

Q: Season?
A. Summer.

Q: Holiday?
A. Halloween.

Q: Day of the week:
A. Thursday, simply because I base my enjoyment of life on television.

Q: Month?
A. July.

Current Events…
Q: Missing someone?
A. Somewhere in the past twenty questions, this food survey has taken a turn for the lamer.

Q: Mood?
A. Hungry.

Q: Listening to?
A. Food Network

Q: Watching?
A. Iron Chef: America.

Q: Worrying about?
A: Blogs and/or frogs.

In conclusion…
Q: First place you went this morning?
A. The terlet.

Q: What can you not wait to do?
A. Discover some new food that fits my obsessive lifestyle.

Q:What’s the last movie you saw?
A. Horton Hears a Who, which was surprisingly good. Jim Carrey has officially Robin-Williams-ed himself out. He is no longer entertaining when he is trying to be funny. However, Steve Carell, a decent adaptation, and an as-respectful-as-possible animation style make this a worthwhile venture.

Q: Do you smile often?
A. Whoever says “it is easier to smile” has never frowned their whole lives. The smiling, it hurts my face.

Q: Are you a friendly person?
A. I’m barely a person.

My Pee Buddy ‘N’ Me

Posted in fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2007 by uglydudefood

St. Thomas Roasters

Posted in food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2007 by uglydudefood

WHAT?

I was going to go mini-golfing tonight, but apparently there was a torrential downpour. Instead, my friends and I went to a local coffeeshop and had delicious beverages. The java joint was called St. Thomas Roasters (Linglestown, PA).

My friend Theresa ordered the strawberry smoothie with whipped cream, and she said that it was “really good,” and that it “didn’t disappear right away.” There is your “review” part of this review.

I ordered a large coffee–my usual–with the intention of having decaf–my usual. However, one golden name beckoned to me from its shiny urn–“Snickerdoodle.”

Snickerdoodle-flavored coffee. Like the damn cookie.

Of course I had to have it. Screw the fact that I literally haven’t had any caffiene in about a year and a half. I had to have cookiecoffee and I had to have it then and there.

And you know what? It was okay. It tasted like somebody sprinkled a spoonful of cinnamon into their coffeepot, although I’m sure there was some insidious something inside of that beverage. It leads me to wonder what they put into the coffee to make it so scrumptious. Did I inadvertantly drink five thousand calories? Am I going to balloon back up to 300 pounds overnight? In bikini season?

So apparently caffiene has an effect on me now. It is currently almost four in the morning and I am wide awake, shirtless, and typing a blog on the American Online Internet Web.