Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Zipfizz, the miracle placebo hangover cure

I wrote this on a Sunday morning after being out until 4 a.m. so please disregard all time references.

Zipfizz engergy drink mix is an orange powder that comes in an orange tube (dubbed a test tube by its makers) that my friend Stacey got for free from a local liquor store. She got it for free because she inquired about what the hell it was. The cashier apparently told her he had no idea and that she should have some for free. Obviously, this mystery tube had to be consumed immediately, if not sooner.

I had actually reviewed Zipfizz once before, and it was a damn good review. When it came time to publish, however, the draft had vanished from my computer. The folder it had been in even contained a file icon for it that became invisible when I clicked on it. Not being one to give up easily, I got my hands on another tube (AKA Stacey felt bad for me and gave me her second test tube of it). Then, that tube disappeared before I could review it. Lucky for me, one of my cat's treats slid under the oven this morning and when I went to extract it for him, I found the missing tube. I knew I had to review it soon, but I told myself I was too sleepy and hungover to do so today. Then I realized -- This was the perfect moment in which to put Zipfizz to the test!

After some hesitation, I once again mixed the tube of "healthy energy" orange soda flavored powder into 16 - 20 ounces of water, taking note that I should not consume more than three tubes today in case I somehow managed to get my hands on more.

The powder reacted in a couple minutes, leaving some stagnant nuclear orange liquid, topped wth some even brighter foam, in my drinking vessel (a mason jar some spaghetti sauce had come in). The liquid was not fizzy at all -- quite the disappointment. The taste was actually not that bad and it reminded me of either weak orange soda mixed with something creamy, or watery Sunny D.

The flavor, however, is but one piece of the puzzle here. The test tube promised me healthy energy and I would settle for nothing less. As I sipped away, I reacquainted myself with this special health powder.

I felt extra glad to not be a child, a pregnant woman, a person who is sensitive to caffeine or a person with a health problem, because if I was, Zipfizz would not be recommened to me. Things being as they were, however, I was able to enjoy the Zipfizz proprietary blend, which is as follows:
Caffeine from guarana seed extract
Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Grape seed extract
Green tea leaf extract
American Ginseng root extract
Ginger root

Ah, the good stuff. And it seemed to be working, though whether or not that was due to the famed placebo effect was unclear (this is what I had discovered during my last experiment with Zipfizz). I can't say I'd urge you to run out and get your hands on a tube, but Zipfizz was with me when my hangover subsided and that counts for something.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Homebrewing adventures: The first ever pale (and kinda chocolaty) stout

Once upon a time in a land far far away (Ypsilanti, MI), my roommate and I decided we needed to start brewing beer in our apartment. So one Saturday morning, we ventured to the supply shop, bought a bunch of equipment and an "everything you need in one box" kit to make some Oktoberfest. It turned out pretty well, minus the fact that we added too much water, thus creating the first ever "Oktoberfest Lite." As we brewed successive batches of different beers, we became more confident, and experimented a bit. There was debate about which of our beers was the best -- Ian liked one because it tasted like apples, but I told him that was because we probably didn't disinfect everything properly and contamination can lead to an apple-y taste (this is true).

Our last (failed) endeavor was to make a chocolate stout. We went to the store to get what we needed, forgot to grab some things, and then the bags of grain broke open in the parking lot and a surprising amount of grains went into my shoes. We soon moved out of that apartment and went our separate ways, with Ian keeping the cat in exchange for me keeping the brewing equipment.

Over the past two or three years every time we got together, we'd say "we should brew some beer soon." Well, we were just spewing hot air -- until this weekend. Our brew features chocolate malt, and LOTS of pale malt extract, so we expect it to be light in color and heavy in alcohol. Here's what happens on homebrewing day one (and look for progress updates over the coming weeks).

Steep the grains in the sock thing (don't use a real sock, please) until the water reaches 170º. There are two gallons of purified water in the pot.

Add the malt extract once the water has boiled, then wait 'til it begins to boil again. It will probably boil over at least three times.

Add bittering hops then boil for 55 minutes while stirring incessantly so that sticky malt sludge doesn't burn onto the bottom of the pot.

Add finishing hops and boil for five more minutes.

Cool rapidly to 70º. We have not successfully cooled the wort (pre-beer stew) rapidly, ever. And no, we usually don't leave the lid on. We just didn't want a squirrel to get in there.

Add three more gallons of purified water to the wort in the fermenter. The prior two gallons have boiled down significantly. Add the yeast.

Use a hydrometer to determine the wort's "original gravity" to help determine alcohol content later on. Now you know what the "high gravity" comes from on your favorite malt liquor's label. And yes, you can see "Homebrewing for Dummies" here.

Seal up the "deluxe fermenter" and secure the airlock. Be nervous that it's not going to work until it starts bubbling the next day, then call your friends and brag.

See Homebrewing adventures part two >


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Taco Bell dream wedding

It's like a glimpse into my future! Thanks to Angel R. for the tip.


Friday, January 9, 2009

An Angry (and confused) Whopper

When people ask me what an Angry Whopper is, I explain to them that an onion was abused with spices and other devious measures during its formative days in the soil and is here for revenge, or at least that's what my TV tells me. What doesn't make sense about this (among many things) is that half of the onions on the Angry Whopper had no detectable spice. The jalapeños sure did though, and boy is there a lot of mayo Angry Sauce.

Oftentimes in our lives, confusion makes us act out in anger. In the case of the Angry Whopper, I am just confused. Sure, it is delicious (no small feat for the vaporized grease pushers at Burger King), but I don't really feel like I "know" the Angry Whopper. I have consumed one on two separate occasions -- One with a meal, and one as an a la carte sandwich for the whopping big price of $4.02 -- and I still don't get it.

Some bites of the Angry Whopper taste exactly like its well adjusted Whopper sibling, which makes sense since the receipt I was given reads 1 SC WHOPCHZ 3.89 PLUS ANGRY(!) 0.60. Others treat you with the sweet burn of jalapeños. My virgin bite of an Angry (I'll call it this for brevity's sake for here on out) tasted completely normal and I found myself wondering if I had been slipped the wrong burger or if I had developed an extremely high tolerance for spice. As I ate on, randomly placed jalapeños added some hot surprises with intensity that grew stronger as the burger diminished. Bite to bite, though, the experience is hardly consistent, which I suppose is true of anger itself.

It's worth taking a look at the Angry's ingredients, in prioritized order as seen on the Burger King web site.

Angry Onions: The first time I ate an Angry, I was convinced that the "spicy onions thing" was a total lie. The only angering thing about them was that they suffered from that problem you have with onion rings where you take a bite and the onion comes out, leaving a fried shell behind. During my second Angry experience, I hand-picked an Angry Onion for solo consumption. The first bite tasted like the onion ring nub it resembled, but the second bite actually had some spice. Confusing!
Jalapeños: It's hard to mess these up. They're spicy and sweet with a burn that increases as you eat more of the Angry. My only complaint is that their haphazard placement leads to inconsistent heat.
Pepper Jack Cheese: My friends know that I hate at least 88% of the cheese on the market. For a pure taste test, I left the cheese on and it either is completely flavorless, is pretty damn good, or is masked by all of the other "fixins."
An Angry Sauce: I was convinced that my first Angry was just topped with plain old mayonnaise. So were my hands, my face and my notes. The sauce was everywhere and I wasn't even recklessly chomping. After I was told about "An Angry Sauce" (why "an"?????) I made sure to take note of it during my second spiral into anger. As far as I can tell it tastes like sweet BBQ sauce.

For some reason, Burger King does not highlight the fact that there is bacon on this thing. Perhaps it's because there is barely any present. When I first looked at the Angry, before eating it, I thought I saw a piece of bacon. But as I continued to eat, I was convinced that I had seen a funny-looking onion. My notes even say something like "I thought a piece of onion was a piece of bacon. Fail." Later on, I discovered a two-inch strip of bacon. There definitely needs to be better bacon coverage on the Angry.

So, after we've all calmed down and had some time to think, do we care enough about the Angry Whopper to forgive its quirks? Absolutely. It's fast food, so it's imperfect but absolutely delicious.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Grill skillz: 1980's Wendy's hamburger training rap

Continuing the spirit of food-inspired raps, here's one about burgers. Apparently it's a an '80s Wendy's training video. Thanks to Amber for the tip! Remember kids, "it should be gray and moist to be correct."

Part one starts sizzlin' at about 01:40

Part two'll flip your patties around 02:30


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Lemonhead Song (So Damn Good)

This fall, my friend Rachel sent me a music video, telling me that it was made in Detroit. After about 30 seconds, I knew I was going to have to interview Dave Chaney, the genius behind the Lemonhead Song. I met one of his friends at a party and gave her my email address so he could get in touch, but I apparently wrote it down wrong. I caught up him on Facebook last week and he had been trying to email me since September, so I shot some questions his way. Red Lobster is his favorite restaurant, so he obviously has great taste (I once ate 93 shrimp there). Here's what he had to say about eating Lemonheads every day.

Do you like lemon in general, or just Lemonheads? Lemon Jolly Ranchers? Mike's Hard Lemonade? Do you clean your house with Lemon Pledge?

Ummmmmmmmm. FORGET everything else I love LEMONHEADS! LOL. They are the best sensation to my mouth. The candy has the best sour to sweet transition ever. The texture is well defined and I almost pissed on myself when I tasted the chewy lemonheads for the first time.

What did your friends think when you told them about the Lemonheads Song / video?

They weren't even surprised. Lol. I'm always up to something random. So when I told them they were anxious to see it. People actually tell me it's a nice video and that it would make it on real T.V.

How long did the song exist before you decided to make a video?

The song was produced well over a month before the video came out. Matter of fact, Tommie Green didn't even want to shoot a video for the song; he thought it was a stupid idea. The first scene of the music video actually happened.

Is the video filmed all in Detroit?

Of course. I didn't travel for that video. Tommie Green, the director/CEO of WhiteWood wanted to shoot it all in Detroit. Most of the video was filmed in my basement. The rest was in a very uncivilized area in Detroit and at the studio I recorded the song.

Who made the music for the song?

Rawtalent Productions. Thanks for spending those long hours in the studio helping my non-rapping ass. Check them out at www.myspace.com/therealrawtalent

How did you come up with the Lemonhead Hawk?

I made a video about going to war with people that nag about me eating lemonheads so much. It's called Lemonhead Helmet (I'm ready for war). In the video I wear a helmet made of lemonhead boxes and I have a knife. I go on explaining how I will call among the "Lemonhead Hawk" to guide me in my journey. LOL!! I don't know man, it's completely ridiculous.

Do you have other songs about food? I saw another Whitewood video about "Throw some cheese on that beef (just bought a Big Mac)." Is food a popular thing with Whitewood?

No, the Lemonhead Song is the only song I wrote about food. I wrote another song about the word SHAMAKAKAKA and one about poking a nicca(stabbing with a knife)lol. You have to watch more of my videos if you don't understand. Throw some cheese on that is a mock of RICH BOY'S "throw some D's". I'm not really sure why he chose to talk about a burger but I know that's one of our most popular video. Rich Boy himself added that video as his favorite on Youtube. Food isn't a popular thing with Whitewood, we just try to film what people want to see and hear.

Do you actually eat Lemonheads every day?


How long have you been eating Lemonheads for?

Maaaaaaaaann!!! I've been eating lemonheads before I started growing pubic hair. LOL...ummm so about 16 years.

Do any of your friends share your passion for Lemonheads?

Yea, some of my friends tell me they started eating lemonheads because of me. I have fans that write me about their passion for lemonheads, but I think it is all for my attention. lol

Do you have a Lemonheads tattoo? Would you get one?

I thought about getting a tattoo of a lemon actually. Then I thought about it again and told myself "I'm not THAT crazy" lol.

I saw you made a Lemonheads necklace in the video. Have you made other Lemonheads art? Have you ever used them in cooking?

Yea, I made that Lemonhead Necklace specifically for the Lemonhead Song Music Video. I hate to admit that it's gone now; it was eaten up by some ants...lol. (Don't leave candy hanging around in your room). I made a girlfriend, a bracelet, a pair of sunglasses and a gun out of Lemonhead boxes. Cooking? No, I usually consider a box a lemonheads breakfast though...

What are some other foods / restaurants you like? Would you ever try 7 Mile Shrimp Palace?

I love Mexican food and sea food. Red Lobster is my favorite restaurant and no I wouldn't try 7 mile Shrimp Palace (lol). It probably taste just as awful as the other shrimp they serve on 7 mile. I stay on 7 mile by the way.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Well look out for the second episode of the Lemonhead Show, the Poke a Nicca music video and I have another song coming soon.