Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving my way - Holiday bonus edition

Thanksgiving sucks (but stay with me here).

At least it does when you're a kid with no siblings whose extended family lives no less than five hours away. That means that dinner is just like every other dinner but with more food. After dinner, your parents give you permission to go out and visit friends. Only, they're all preoccupied with their huge fun families. You can't go hang out at a coffee shop because all businesses are closed on Thanksgiving. Lame.

Also: Turkey is boring.

But there is hope.
Now that I am a quarter century old I will soon be able to celebrate Thanksgiving my way. This will either be because I finalize some sort of arranged marriage scenario, or I am on my own in the world when I flee from Detroit and the imploding auto industry.

Here's how Thanksgiving my way will go:

There will be HAM.
Oh yes, there will be ham. Why will there be ham? Turkey tastes boring and you get a lot of weird-tasting bits. Ham, on the other hand, is delicious and special. Why do you think ham has stores dedicated to selling it exclusively? We all have the saints at Honey Baked Ham at our disposal and if you're in Detroit, there are a wide variety of places with names like "Bo's Ham House" to choose from. The person who decided to store a large piece of hog in a barrel of salt was a genius. Fear not, conservatives: There will also be turkey.

In addition to ham and turkey, there will be:
  • Potatoes: Scalloped and garlic-mashed

  • Five gallons of gravy

  • Green beans

  • Green bean casserole

  • Asparagus

  • That cranberry "sauce" that's shaped like a can

  • Rolls

  • Stuffing: Both made-made-in-the-turkey's-butt and NOT-made-made-in-the-turkey's-butt (For me. You butt stuffing people disgust me, but I'd hate for you to be disappointed).

  • Apple pie

  • Pumpkin pie

  • Here's the itinerary:

  • Friends and family are all invited. Only the "cool" relatives show up for the most part, and the less-exciting ones go home early. 21 and up please. No children, regardless of adult supervision.

  • While the food cooks, everyone will mingle and drink Simpler Times Lager, red and white wine, vodka, whiskey and rum.

  • Some guests will choose to step out and "go to the store" so that they can "participate in appetite-enhancing activities." They will return with nothing and claim that all the stores were closed.

  • Dinner will be ready by 3 p.m. Everyone will eat to the point that all conversation is punctuated by random sighs and groans.

  • After dinner, most guests will retire to the basement where a sea of side-by-side mattresses is available for napping and spooning. Other guests will choose to hang out in the more-than-accommodating living room to watch Dumb and Dumber and other hilarious classic gems. No football games allowed!

  • Once folks have recovered, they will return to the dining area and graze on the remaining food at which point the drinking will begin again. Others will drink coffee and tea, and eat pie.

  • Now that the spirits of all have been rekindled, it's time to play with my Wii and for a raucous game of Apples to Apples.

  • The night ends with sober folks trickling away and the drunks staying the night in anticipation of a group breakfast outing. I'll be in bed by 9 p.m. We'll all wake up at the same time and no one will have hangovers.

  • That's Thanksgiving my way. If you read this thing weekly, you're probably invited, so stay tuned in the years to come. This year, I'm going to Pissburgh (not a typo), PA to visit my mom's family for the first time in years. I hope I can enjoy it now that I'm an adult. I hear my uncle has a lot of new conspiracy theories. Any way, I'd wish a "Happy Thanksgiving to your and yours!" but that would be cheesy. Sorry. Not gonna do it ... OKAY FINE! HAVE FUN, EAT LOTS, BE SAFE!

    Monday, November 24, 2008

    McNuggets Lovin': I have the best ideas special edition

    About a year ago, my "songs about food to the tune of popular songs" career peaked with a little diddy about McDonald's Chicken McNuggets set to the tune of "I Can Tell" by the 504 Boyz (hear the NSFW original). Obviously, it was called "I Can Tell (U Want a Nug). I chopped and spliced the original song together to create an instrumental version over which my friend and I attempted to record lyrics after consuming some Smirnoff Source alcoholic water. A music video script was also written, but this never came to fruition.

    What's the point of all this? At the time, we thought an R&B song and video about McNuggets was a clever idea without commercial merit, although I would have loved to see it through. Silly food advertising is a dream of mine if you haven't figured that out by now. Lo and behold, McDonald's just released a commercial to the exact same effect, thus sending one more of my dreams down the tubes.

    Aside from the fact that I am beside myself now that I have realized that this ridiculous idea of mine was a home run, I am convinced that my song had a better message. The McDonald's song asks, "R U dippin' on me?" and is based around jealousy and greed. My song, on the other hand, is based around a young, dynamic couple with a shared passion for McNuggets. Take a look:

    "I Can Tell (U Want a Nug)" - Copyright 2007 Nathan Rogers

    You ain't gotta say too much
    From the look in your eyes
    I can tell you want a nug

    And you ain't gotta force-feed me food
    Just as bad as you want a nug
    I want a nug too

    No, No, No you ain't gotta say too much
    From the look in your eyes
    I can tell you want a nug

    And you ain't gotta force-feed me food
    Just as bad as you want a nug
    I want a nug too

    VERSE 1:
    Now you ain't gotta say much cuz I was eatin’, boo
    Lookin at yo’ lips got me thinkin’ ‘bout how many nugs to order to go
    You heard about McDonald’s combos?
    We get up in there and order more than a thrillion truckloads
    When it comes to barbecue sauce I am the boss
    Order me a salad that’s tossed
    I heard you ate that meal
    I see nuggets in yo’ grill
    Can you drive me in your blue Ford Focus
    So I can make nugs disappear like hocus pocus?
    I got no oven so I cannot cook my food
    Make it fast and tastin’ good
    Get a couple of yum yums
    Shove it in your mouth ‘cause it’s a nug
    And uh, hit me on my pager if you want ‘em
    Its nugget passion
    So get up on it if you want ‘em yum, yum!!!!


    VERSE 2:
    Pile ‘em on the counter in the kitchen now baby
    Sausage biscuit is a day dream
    Drippin’ with syrup fa sho, chewing it over
    Large fries’ll be the next thing
    I wanna eat them nuggets all night long
    From sun up to sun down and even in Hong Kong


    VERSE 3:
    Can I light a candle
    And eat nugs on a table where the light won’t show?
    I'll take my time and eat ‘em slow
    I'll do my own exercises
    Part of a healthy diet
    It's so very pleasurable
    I'll eat salads, you won’t though
    That’s OK, yo
    Now I wanna eat some more


    So, there you have it. Another advertising gem that never saw the light of day. If an Of Montreal song about Outback Steakhouse can captivate viewers, maybe it's time to brush the dust off my song about KFC Famous Bowls set to the tune of "Age of Consent" by New Order.

    Don't worry, I ate a 10-piece McNuggets meal after I wrote the first draft of this. You know, for consistency's sake.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    Fried Mung Beans: Colleague's Cookin' Special Edition

    When my coworker Russ inquired about the possibility of writing a piece about fried mung beans for Nate's Plate, I didn't hesitate to say yes. I pictured a pan on his stove with steaming off-white refried beans bubbling away, stinking up his house. Boy was I wrong. Fried mung beans are actually hard (I guess they're just fried once) and dark green-brown in color.

    I had the privilege of sampling Russ's Famous Fried Mung Beans before his review was completed, so I decided I'd write my own. I was drafting a corporate spam e-missive and an email from Russ appeared in my inbox: "Mung beans are at my desk. Drop by and sample the goodness." It was an offer I couldn't refuse.

    I walked across the office and there were the little guys on his desk, hanging out in a jar of Mrs. Renfro's "Smoky" Roasted Salsa. The beans weren't the fried mess I expected at all. They were hard and looked rather insect-like. The ones without their shells looked like Honey Smacks cereal. Most importantly, FRIED MUNG BEANS ARE DAMN GOOD.

    Fried mung beans are not a side dish for a meal, as I had expected. They're a salty, crunchy, kinda-burnt-tasting treat. They're a wholly addictive snack that leaves the slightest amount of oily residue in your palm.

    The fact they they were stored in an old salsa jar only made them better. It added some southwest pizzaz that delicately flirted with my taste buds. When removed from the jar, the beans smell rather neutral, which is good since Russ reported that they stink terribly when being prepared.

    As the jar emptied, I already found myself hoping that there are more fried mung beans on their way to the office. I'd buy a bag of these at the party store, and that's high praise. I suppose I could do that, since Beer Nuts already exist.

    And don't take it from me. Take it from Eric, a.k.a. Pep-Pep. After sampling some fried mung beans, this is what he said:
    "Holy crap those are good ... Those are REALLY good ... Those are one of the best snacks I've ever had."

    The people have spoken. Fry on, Russ!

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Cabo Chips: All natural gourmet corn tortilla chips -- "Taste the experience"

    A bag of Cabo Chips tortilla chips ended up in the "Awesometeria," the community dining area that my nearby coworkers constructed. I overheard them saying things about "lemon juice" and "sea salt." After taking one bite of a Cabo Chip, I discovered that they were clearly talking about some sort of other food product -- one that didn't lack any hint of flavor whatsoever.

    Normally, a review of tortilla chips that taste like overcooked fryer remnants would end after the 78th character of this very sentence. However, the creators of Cabo Chips think they are so great that they've written a 167-word essay that I have chosen to dissect.

    "The crunchy legacy of Cabo Chips
    Twenty years ago, the zesty imagination of three brothers[1] produced the idea of a snack that would change the chip world forever. Inspired by their unwavering loyalty to Cabo San Lucas and its warm sunny weather, they created the Cabo Chip -- the best corn tortilla chip you will find on either side of the border. Cabo Chips are light[2], rich in flavor[3], and the perfect complement to any dip[4].

    A superior chip arrives
    Cabo Chips began[5] April Fools Day[6] 2004 in a small factory[7] in Cabo San Lucas, but only a few months later, demand for the Cabo Chip was so great that we[8] had to begin production north of the border as well!

    Cabo Chips are made with the highest quality ingredients, including 100% Non-GMO white corn and expeller[9] pressed oils. A unique cooking process[10] and quality ingredients result in an all natural chip with no trans-fat -- lower in fat and sodium than many leading chip brands.


    [1] It's apparent that this phrase reads accurately: The brothers have one imagination between the three of them.
    [2] A scan of the the "datos de nutriciĆ³n" implies that this statement is surprisingly accurate.
    [3] Wrong! The flavor is very subdued and most closely resembles overdone chips from the bottom of the fryer. Their deeper-than-normal brown tint reflects this as well.
    [4] These chips are the perfect complement to any dip because they'd need an imperial gallon of guacamole to enhance their edibility.
    [5] Began what?
    [6] No surprise there. Maybe instead of "Taste the experience" their slogan should be "An April Fool's prank in every bag"!
    [7] The back of a discerning Mexican restaurant that discarded its overcooked chips instead of feeding them to patrons.
    [8] We, as in the three brothers who know not of parallel construction in writing.
    [9] Something that every consumer is familiar with and has in the kitchen.
    [10] Leaving them in the deep fryer for three days.
    [11] No can do.

    Back up to essay.

    In case you're curious, satisfaction is NOT guaranteed anywhere on the bag.

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    The Back to Basics Egg ‘N Muffin Toaster: A guest column

    Once upon a time during a scooter rally, I drunkenly walked my Vespa to my friends Amber and Other Nate’s house after the bar closed. I am normally one to retire early, but I was chasing a girl with the same destination so I felt that I could forego sleep for a bit. Regardless, I surely needed something to eat, as I always do after the bar, and Amber did not disappoint. She immediately fired up THE EGGWAVE – a magical device I had been hearing about for some time – and began dispensing delicious breakfast sandwiches to all of her guests at 3am. I could introduce all of the benefits of such a machine, but Amber (who runs, which features ME this week) covers all of them.

    Would you trust this woman?

    I sure hope not. She puts her dog in the mailbox for Christ’s sake. This blue eyed, dog abusing gal does have one thing right, though. She is Paula Deen of the Food Network and she’s latched on to quite possibly mankind’s greatest invention: The Back to Basics Egg ‘N Muffin Toaster.

    First, The Back to Basics Egg ‘N Muffin Toaster has a horrible name. That shit is way too long. TBTBENMT is not a handy abbreviation. Inspired by this David Cross comedy bit my co-workers and I have dubbed this machine THE EGGWAVE and its delicious output is known as AN EGGWAVE. This is not to be confused with the established yet inferior product going by the same name. Stay with me here people, or I’ll sick Paula Deen on you.

    If The Eggwave had been around when I was in college, there is a pretty good chance that I would have never graduated…or at least never graduated weighing less than 250lbs. I would have sat in my dorm room, quietly eating Eggwaves all day long. I would have been fat, but sweet Jesus, I would have been happy. Every college student must have an Eggwave. Actually, every person in the world must have an Eggwave. Jot that down on your Christmas list.

    The Eggwave is also a completely unnecessary invention. One could easily make an egg sandwich without the aid of this contraption. However, the experience would not rule nearly as much as putting all of your fixins in one fancy robot, hitting a button, and commencing the twiddling of the thumbs for approximately 3 minutes while your most delectable breakfast sandwich cooks. You see, The Eggwave has some highly advanced technology going on inside of its robot body. It works very hard to ensure that all of your sandwich components are done at the SAME TIME. You can stop sweating bullets as you scramble to push the toaster button down at the precise moment while you’re cooking your egg, trying to time it so the egg is done at the same time as the toast, but always ALWAYS failing. The Eggwave knows your pain. It has thought about that shit already & has moved on to solving the current economic crisis. So no worries man, you are guaranteed to have the most enjoyable breakfast experience of your life – no effort required.

    But maybe you don’t want an Eggwave for breakfast. Maybe you’re a fool and you think you’re too good for an incredibly delicious & personally perfected sandwich to kick-start your day. Well, I can almost guarantee that at 3am after you stumble and / or drunken drive home from the bar, an Eggwave is going to be the most delicious thing that you sink your teeth into. Never again will you be a victim to the tyranny of McDonalds and their fascist “No Breakfast after 10:30am” rules. An egg McMuffin – anytime you want it – only better than McDonalds because you can make it with REAL FOOD – not processed food product.

    Here are my top 5 Eggwave fixins – in order of deliciousness.

    1. Bacon – obviously. Bacon rules. The Eggwave will not cook raw bacon or any other raw meats. The Eggwave is not magic. The Eggwave will, however, heat up any pre-cooked meats you put it its compartment. You can take 2 full sized pieces of bacon – break that shit up into 4 pieces, and count down the minutes until those 4 pieces and their egg, muffin & cheese friends are in your trap.
    2. Swat Sauce from the Fly Trap in Ferndale – hot sauce is a requirement for my Eggwaves. The best I’ve found is from a wonderful diner in Fabulous Ferndale. Swat Sauce from the Fly Trap may have magic as one of their top ingredients. It is that good. Of course, you also need to pepper your Eggwave if you want it to be at its most delicious.
    3. Croissants – Usually, I stick to the standard English Muffin (of which, I have to say that Bays is my favorite brand, followed by Pepperidge Farm 100% Whole Wheat English Muffins). But when I really want to reward myself I get a giant Croissant from Costco, set The Eggwave on the lowest toast setting (very important – for English muffins I crank it all the way up) and brace myself for the flaky, buttery goodness that I am about to experience. It’s my way of telling myself “Hey, way to not kick that homeless guy on the way to work today. You deserve something special”.
    4. Morning Star Veggie Sausage – As disgusting as this is, I kind of love McDonalds sausage patties. It’s the only thing I kind of miss about not ever going to McDonald’s breakfast anymore. There’s something about the mystery spices in their meat product that I have yet to find in any frozen sausage I’ve tried. So until I rob a McDonalds at gunpoint and declare that "all of their sausage are belong to me," I’m sticking to Morning Star Veggie Sausage Patties as my “meat” of choice. The only problem with this is that the sausage does not cover the span of the egg sandwich. They cover more height than they do surface area – however, this problem is solved within a few chomps. The sausage smashes down, shifts, and never disappoints.
    5. Provolone Cheese – I’ve tried several different cheeses, and provolone is pretty much the best. Always. On everything.

    I could seriously go on. I dream of Eggwaves in my sleep. In my dreams, they have little wings and cartoon eyes. I jump on trampolines and bite them out of the sky. The Eggwave has made my life, and my dreams, better. Trust me. You want this kitchen gadget more than anything you’ve ever wanted in your life.