Slow Cooker Winner!

Dear readers,

The entries for the slow cooker contest ranged from breakfast to dinner, with snacks and sweets in between, and featured recipes from grandmas, blogs, favorite websites, and special cookbooks. There were many recipe entries, all ones I’d love to try, and I couldn’t pick just one- I wanted to give you all slow cookers and force you into an awkward dinner party, so I left the task up to Keepitcoming Love.

The winner of the West Bend Versatility cooker is…Gwen! Gwen’s recipe was for slow cooker mussels in white wine. We both liked the fact that it had a minimal ingredient list with easy preparation and no additional steps outside of turning on the cooker. We’ll be featuring the recipe soon on the site. For the rest of you, don’t despair! We’ll be cooking your recipes and enjoying them all winter. Expect more fun giveaways in the future!


Laloo’s Goat’s Milk Deep Chocolate Ice Cream

Ah, remember those blissful times when I assured you that I rarely contract illnesses of any sort? How confident and young I was in that time. It seems like only three weeks ago that I convinced you that I was some schlubby superwoman with lungs of steel, and now look at me. I’m bleary-eyed and congested two ways to Sunday and wandering around in an pseudoephedrine-induced haze because that is indeed how I roll when I got a col’…d. It’s the worst kind of illness because it keeps you up late at night without any of the fun and photobomb aftermath of a college party but all of the post-shenanigan symptoms. I’m too tired to get up and do anything productive but too energetic to nap for another week. Hell, I don’t even care enough to make myself matzo ball soup, so I’m settling for the next best thing: chocolate goat’s milk ice cream.
Yes, bubbies everywhere are shaking their heads and dropping their Arnold Scaasi-designed knitting needles. I’ve foregone the pervasive soup bowl and picked up a goddamned spoon. Two pieces of vital information prior to the shakedown: this ice cream was free, courtesy of Laloo’s. This ice cream was also seven freaking dollars and forty-two freaking cents at my local freaking organic co-op. Seven fitty for a pint of chocolate ice cream. Let that sink in and then, mom, understand that I did not pay real people money for this, because that would be insane. One tenth of a law school application (the part where you compose an essay in Twitter form) and one half of a movie ticket in Connecticut equals this ice cream. Laloo’s is an ice cream company specializing in lactose-friendly goat’s milk based ice creams with superior digestability. It’s ripe with probiotic power and I imagine it gives Activia a run for its money in both the olfactory and Jamie Lee Curtisian factors. With flavors like cajeta de leche and black mission fig, the company intrigued me. Despite my ambivalence to goat cheese, I gave it a go. This ice cream thankfully lacks some of the stronger, brettier flavors goat cheese typically carries, but has a rounded complexity that makes it present, but not front and center, on the palate. So, caprophobics needn’t run in the other direction.
This flavor, Deep Chocolate, boasts a short ingredient list with 77% Scharffenberger dark chocolate front and center and a surprisingly low caloric content- 160 calories and 6 grams of fat for half a cup. That doesn’t really help considering that I polished off the container in a day and a half, but works if you actually eat in moderation. Ahem. The chocolate flavor is fantastic, with a rich, silky flavor redolent with cocoa and a slightly salted, milky aftertaste that reminds me of eating bittersweet chocolate chips. The chocolate is distinct with none of that ubiquitous “chocolate flavoring” stuff typically employed in supermarket brands. That flavor alone compelled me to eat most of the pint, with no additional ingredient hacking. I was surprised that my sea salt and olive oil went untouched!
Texture-wise was where things got a little freaky. I’m not alone in thinking that this is an incredibly gummy ice cream. Unfortunately, it has the mouthfeel of a Fudgsicle and the price tag of gelato with a fudgy, dense slickness that sticks in the mouth like a pudding with a tangible chew. Not that I don’t like that, but it added a strangely generic feel to the ice cream that didn’t settle with its image and ingredient list. My other main gripe was that there was a serious filling discrepancy between pints. Of the two pints I picked up, each had air bubbles pocked throughout and the second one was missing about a half inch’s worth from the bottom, the ice cream settling atop the space without filling in. You can vaguely see the line where the ice cream did not fill in. A few air bubbles in a quart of Edy’s does me no harm, but when you’re talking about a dollar’s worth of ice cream making up those few tablespoons, I start to raise my eyebrows. I was happy to sample this and enjoyed it immensely, but I honestly can’t justify the steep price tag attached to this dessert.

SOPA Blackout

Dear readers,

We’re joining hands with many other websites today (suck it, Bing!) in not bringing you your daily post content so that we can remind you that, should SOPA and PIPA pass, we will be arrested and taken to the less-cushy sister of white collar crime prison, federal “please stick it here” prison as a result of posting one too many photos of Snooki. It’s a sad world, but you can stop it by writing your local congressman a clever haiku or a strongly-worded letter.

Please protest SOPA and PIPA so we can continue being jerks on the internet!



Feature Week!

You guys asked and I delivered: our first feature week of 2012 will be Gross Food week! Be prepared to see quite a few selections from my local organic discount grocery store and Big Lots. Any and all suggestions will be taken, no food is too creepy or expired! Let the games begin starting next Sunday, January 22nd. For one week, I am Fear Factor minus the physical exertion.
And don’t forget to enter your best recipe for a slow cooker! We’ve had over 100 entries so far…whose will reign supreme?


Askinosie Dark Chocolate + Coffee CollaBARation Bar

When I was a kid, I was really into reading books. That hasn’t changed to this date, but my taste was far less refined and far trashier than I’d ever imagined. Eschewing the best of Chaim Potok and throwing away my parents’ copies of the New Yorker, I had a friend who would supply me with the most sordid of romance novels. When I wasn’t nose-deep in His Potent Rogue’s Scent or The Very Virile Visigoth, I was paging my way through my grandmother’s old copies of Women’s World, which she would pass onto me after reading.

God, I loved those magazines. There’s nothing in there that compels me to read them now, but the diet tips never failed to amaze me. It seemed like every month there was a new scientific breakthrough about how eating dark chocolate- or drinking a glass of wine, having coffee, or eating muffins, could somehow help you shed your waistline, live a hundred years, or just feel awesome. These tricks aren’t new, though they are somewhat exaggerated. All of the above foods (with the exception of muffins) are rich in antioxidants and help to promote the production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, like anandamide and other endorphins, which in turn induce euphoria.
All of these foods are also high in flavonoids, a type of polyphenol, that along with other phenolic compounds, helps affect the flavor and mouthfeel of all of these foods. And since chocolate, wine, and coffee are relatively simple compounds harvested from around the world, all will essentially have unique “varietal” characteristics, to borrow a wine term, based on their country of origin, exposure to sunlight, and other variables. So aside from their health benefits, they have the potential to be extremely varied. We’ve all seen the surge of interest in single origin and bean-to-bar chocolates, and wine aficionados are well aware of the importance of appellation d’origine contrôléethe French classification of geographical indications dating back to the 15th century for wine and other food-producing regions, a standard other countries have been quick to jump upon.
So with all of this deliciously territorial information in mind, I approached the latest Askinosie CollaBARation with trepidation and curiosity. The bar is simply constructed, made with Askinosie single origin cacao from Davao, Philippines, and Intelligentsia single origin coffee, from La Perla de Oaxaca, Mexico. Like the first CollaBARation, the packaging is minimal and striking. With a scant ingredient list and two mammoth flavor profiles, I wondered if the two would mingle sultrily in my mouth or if it would be a veritable clash of the titans on my tongue. Although the bar is not studded with coffee beans, the strong scent of coffee was immediately pervasive and lingering, and the dark chocolate was smooth and crisp, snapping audibly in my hand.
This is a strong, forceful bar, definitely one that could fell the family pet if consumed by the wrong party. It goes more along the lines of something you’d want to eat slowly after dinner rather than wolf down at a Riefenstahl film. It has a very slow, cool melt and creamy texture, initially chalky on the tongue. The coffee flavors are forward and present themselves in a fruity, dark flavor, like a good dark roast, but regrettably, there are just too many good things going on and too few fillers to balance it out. I’m all for stellar combinations of flavors, but this bar just doesn’t nail it. Good dark chocolate already has notes of coffee, caramel, and red fruit on its own. Adding more of these potent esters tips the scale too far and tends to be overkill. The flavor lingered and deepened on the tongue with this bar, and eventually settled with a slightly burnt, overly steeped flavor, bitter like an old cup of coffee. Albeit good coffee, but who’s counting when it’s that flat?

Unfortunately, the lack of sweeteners or emulsifiers, to stabilize the bar’s flavor and accentuate its more subtle notes, just threw me off. Despite the richness of the bar, I couldn’t eat more than two pieces. It was just too strong for my taste. While I’m normally a supporter of coffee and chocolate, the infusion of the two flavors proved to be this bar’s downfall. I’d be curious to see more infusions of Intelligentsia coffee in Askinosie’s bars, as they blended it superbly without any grittiness or sandy texture from the beans, but not with a cacao this forceful.

White Cow Dairy Chocolate Malt Yogurt

I think more grocery staples need makeovers. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has been done to death, as has the plastic surgery version. I want to see a show that directly impacts my pantry. And I want the team to start with yogurt. While I don’t see a need for extreme quinoa or a new frontier for beans, yogurt is crying for a new look. It’s worked hard all its life to prevent indigestion through the magic of Jamie Lee Curtis and the more awesomely named Suleiman the Magnificent. It’s one of those foods that has been around since 2000 BC and, like the Magical Girl in all films ever made, just needs to take off its glasses and bland background and get with the cool crowd. And White Cow Dairy is its new fairy godmother. Or Clinton Kelly, your call.
Chocolate malt yogurt, people. This ain’t your mother’s key lime pie Yoplait. And this yogurt is freckled. And it comes in a squat milk bottle. The packaging is gorgeous and adorably prim and kind of makes me feel like I’ve been transported to a quaint Greenwich Village farmer’s market that serves as the backdrop for an adorable scavanger hunt set up by my girlfriend, Zooey Amelie Unicorn Cactus Flower. . Move over, pudding cups and step aside, Dannon. This is bringing sexy back for yogurt in a whole new way. Now, let’s see how it tastes.
The nitty gritty: This particular flavor has a caramelized note that intensifies the nuttiness of the malt powder, but is a little overshadowed by the zippy tang from the cultures in the yogurt. It’s a very mature-tasting yogurt, not something you’d buy for little Timmy as a compromise between Ho-Ho’s and carrot sticks. The sugar is minimal, but interacts well with the Dutch chocolate, giving the yogurt a mellow, fruity flavor like raw cocoa nibs. Unfortunately, the malted milk flavor was barely there at all, imparting a mere whisper of barley and cream. The entire concoction stuck to the cheeks and worked its way into the corners of our mouths with its gritty texture and left a bitter aftertaste, mollified only after a glass of water. While this flavor wasn’t perfect, I have faith in the wonders of science once more. I’m almost convinced that there’s a bright future for cottage cheese.

Slow Cooker Giveaway Update

Hey all,

The slow cooker giveaway post was deleted by Facebook. Their promotion guidelines do not allow contestants to be eligible for a giveaway by “liking” a page as an entry, so although I encourage you to like the page in support of the site, I cannot use it as a means of promoting the page through the contest. As a result of this, I am extending the date of the contest from Saturday, January 15th to Friday, January 20th so that people can resubmit their entries to me. I will be accepting them via email at only and encourage all new submissions and resubmissions as well but due to my awful memory, can only consider submissions that are emailed or commented on NOW (as opposed to the deleted comments) to be eligible.

Again, to be eligible for the contest you must:
– Comment/email on the post with your best slow cooker recipe idea
– Posts must include a recipe! It doesn’t have to be yours and can be from the internet or passed down from Grandma. Your call.

I will announce the winner on the 21st and cook their recipe!

Sorry for all the trouble. I’m readjusting the format so that this won’t happen again.


Marley’s Mellow Mood Relaxation Drink

Believe it or not, this drink wasn’t created or endorsed by John Grogan’s loveable yellow laborador. I know, I was disappointed, too. For those of you who are into Marley, though, the Bob one, this drink might come as a pleasant surprise. Marley’s Mellow Mood Relaxation boasts yet another way to get your sleep on. Because nothing relaxes you like a tie-dyed assault of colors, and 29 grams of sugar per can, right? Jah, mon, and that’s all you’ll hear from me.
The can boasts a lofty goal of considering this a dietary supplement, like a Flintstones multi-vitamin. While I’m sure there’s at least one person out there who is actively making this a part of their day-to-day routine, the vast majority of you can stop holding your breath. There are better relaxation supplements out there, and I doubt any of them taste like home-fermented fruit leather. The drink says it’s berry flavored, but tastes more like berries that have been sun-dried with every intent of being made into macro granola but were sadly forgotten in a head shop for a few months. There’s a raisiny note to this, and it’s fairly strong, persistent flavor that lingers throughout each sip. I’m no stranger to slightly medicinal flavors in energy or relaxation drinks, but this gave the beverage a synthetic and creepy edge that inspired me to go through my Stranger Danger checklist one more time. It tastes like bottled mall incense, the kind that comes packaged with a free angry warrior statue.
It’s lightly carbonated and has a watery, floral flavor with a medicinal bite against the fermented berries scent, but holds very little appeal for me as it lacks the fresh flavors of most fruit-flavored sodas. Its flavor does mirror its mission statement in that it is a fairly murky, lazy soda, but unfortunately, that translates to a dismal drink. Color me affected by my own childhood, but drinking it left me with unpleasant memories of taking cherry Robutussin when I was sick. I immediately regretted the two sips I took, as I wasn’t so much relaxed as I was sluggish after trying a little of this and aching from the sugar. Every time you drink this beverage, a dentist earns a $20,000 bonus. This might work if you’ve had a tough day playing Ultimate and need a break, but nevermore, Tuff Gong, nevermore. I may have got the beverage, but I didn’t get no ecstasy, not in the slightest.

Sausage Pancake Bites Return to Dunkin’ Donuts

If you can’t stand the thought of consuming your daily recommended dose of sausages and pancakes in cylindrical, stacked, or gargantuan form, Dunkin’ Donuts has brought back their Sausage Pancake Bites (or as Tom Haverford would call them, Brekky Nuggs) for a limited time.
I tried these last year and would probably get them again. Any other breakfast flavor combinations you think would be phenomenal nuggets?

Fat Witch Bakery’s Blonde Witch Brownie Mix

A vintage scooter.

Mont Blanc cufflinks.

USSR-era Russian pocket watches.

A used Mac.

An off-brand Zune. (No lie, it was called the Creative ZenE)
All of these are examples of the incredibly extravagant, fairly dumb things I have purchased in the past. It’s safe to say that I’m not good at bargain hunting. There are, however, a few things that I can’t bring myself to buy, no matter how adorably pretentious they may be. One of these is any baking mix above $5. Baked comes out with a new Williams-Sonoma exclusive brownie? No can do. Momofuku packages their cookie mixes? Sorry. I can’t see the value in a small, pre-portioned amount of baked goods, some of which are fairly sub par at the source, for the price of seeing a mediocre feature film.
Needless to say, I nearly peed myself when I walked into our local organic grocery outlet slash butch singles bar and saw brownie mixes from Fat Witch for the mere price of $3 and change, a brownie mix that typically costs $10-12 before shipping. Holy crap, Betty Crocker’s most shameful mixes cost more than this. Fat Witch has been on my radar for a while now. Though I haven’t had the chance to go, I figured it couldn’t hurt to bake up a batch of “witches” at home and see how they fared.
The box illustrations are incredibly cute, albeit a hair twee, and the instructions are succinct and actually useful. Too often do I grab a mix and start preparing it, only to find that in addition to the one stick of butter, I need a mixer, six small bowls, and an extra bottle of dishwashing fluid to complete the recipe. The instructions include not only a list of needed ingredients, but a list of dishes or utensils you may need. Some parts are annoyingly vague, like the step where you let the brownies cool without any suggestion for time. As anyone with a sweet tooth knows, this is a terribly relative amount of time. “Cool” for me is any temperature where I can dig my hands into the pan without risking a third-degree burn. Second-degree, I can deal with.
Mess-wise, it’s a cinch to prepare and still feel like you’re putting in some work with very little clean-up involved. It’s a one bowl recipe if you have a stainless steel bowl that can be heated on the stove. The rest of the ingredients are mixed in, the entire process taking roughly ten minutes. The batter was strangely pliable, like non-sticky peanut butter. This photo sort of illustrates it. I liked that it didn’t take a lot of butter to make a smooth dough. The included chocolate chips were sized perfectly, rather than some of the minis or behemoths I’ve seen in other mixes.
The blondies came out of the oven smelling sweet and nutty, with a slight saline scent that quickly wore off and a lingering cakiness. The top had a delicately browned crust with pools of melting chocolate scattered around. After waiting an agonizing hour, I cut into the brownies. They were fantastic, with a slightly gummy, tender texture and extremely moist interior, with addictive and chewy crisp edges. The flavor didn’t shy away from salt, and carried a savory, yet blatantly dessert-y quality. We still felt that they could have used more salt, as the chocolate chips were fairly sweet. Fresh out of the oven, the warm pieces had a gooey, indulgent texture reminiscent of eating a Tollhouse cookie pie. Room-temperature, they settled and lost some of the airiness that made them so moist, but were still chewy with no crumbliness. $10 blondies? Not really. But for around $3, they’re some of the nicest I’ve had from a box.