Category Archives: food

The Competitive Cooking Chronicles, Part 5 – Nachos

Say hello to my little friend!
Say hello to my little friend! It’s a glass gun… of tequila.

When I received the invitation to John’s 60th birthday party, I wasn’t quite sure why Pat and I had been invited. We had once hosted John and his wife Suzanne at our house for Mardi Gras (if you were there, you will recall the giant vat of China Mist Iced Tea – and you’ll note that we still drink from the sleeve of China Mist cups he brought, lo, those many years ago). John’s a fun guy and Suzanne is adorable, and we exchange Facebook pleasantries, thumbs up and witty retorts. That said, it’s not like we hang out every weekend, but the invitation alluded to the possibility of games, and when the birthday boy personally contacted me to say, “Be on the look out for the invite!” … well, how could I say no?

Three days after the fact, I have a feeling John and Suzanne might be regretting that invitation.

Continue reading The Competitive Cooking Chronicles, Part 5 – Nachos

Kale is not a Chip

Now you know what to eat at the Stupid Bowl. You're welcome.
Now you know what to eat at the Stupid Bowl. You’re welcome.

One of my greatest regrets for the young 2014 is spending $4.99 on a bag of Alive & Radiant Foods Kale Krunch Original Cheezy Chipotle “Chips.” I abuse the quotation marks by embracing the word “chips” with them because no amount of “rich smoky cheddar flavor without the cheese” would make me want to eat Nature’s Green Supersnack™ ever again.

I would not  feed Kale Krunch to my dogs, despite Coolidge’s preference for the subtle mouth-feel of herbaceous coyote pooh and Winslow’s penchant for licking bird droppings  off the sidewalk. There are so many things wrong with Alive & Radiant Foods Kale Krunch Original Cheezy Chipotle Chips that I had to build a Hate Map to navigate its place on the Food Pyramid of Gastrointestinal Torment. So to spare you the embarrassment of showing up at your next party with what could accurately be described as “an over-priced bag of freeze-dried shit, sprinkled with faux-cheezy (and purposefully misspelled) orange coloring,” I decided to unpack everything that’s wrong with this sorry excuse for a snack food.

You’re welcome.

First, the parent company: There is nothing Alive or Radiant about the contents of this 2.2-ounce / 63-gram bag. Sure, the packaging goes to great lengths to elucidate the non-preservative virtues of its contents (organic kale, organic chipotle peppers, organic cashews, organic sesame seeds, organic paprika, organic palm sugar (?) and organic lemon juice), but it neglects to identify the all-natural Silica Gel packet (DO NOT EAT) interred therein. See for yourself:

Looks like dogshit. Tastes like dogshit.
Looks like dogshit. Tastes like dogshit.

So I get that by ingesting Nature’s Green Supersnack I will not be polluting my body with artificial preservatives, but correct me if I’m wrong: Doesn’t this Supersnack look like something I should have picked up on the clearance rack at the Encanto Green Cross? Except that the taste of it ruins the concept of munchies for everyone forever, and frankly, if I wanted to eat cheese-dried lawn clippings, I’d just fire up my lawn mower for the first time in 14 years. (Actually, I wouldn’t. Pat wouldn’t let me … because I’d probably cut off a limb).

Trust me when I say: It tastes as bad as it looks. Pat took a bite and spat it into the garbage can. I mocked him: “It’s not that bad. You just don’t want to try new things!” So I put a healthy pinch between my cheek and gum and chewed… and chewed… and chewed… and chewed… and realized I’d rather shotgun the tobacco spit-cups of an entire Major League  pitching staff than take another bite of this RAW * GLUTEN FREE * SOY FREE * DAIRY FREE * flavor-free shit-ball.

And cheesy is spelled with an "S," assholes.
And cheesy is spelled with an “S,” assholes.

I hated myself even more for spending $4.99 cents on this 2.2-ounce snack-pack of vegetal waste. I could have spent $3.98 on a 16-ounce Party-Sized bag of Spicy Nacho Doritos at Wal-Mart (just using it as a point of comparison, settle down) and at least I would have enjoyed plowing my way through that bag of regret (with the obligatory side of DAIRY-FULL ranch dip, bitches). Here’s some math, sports fans: If they made a Party-Sized bag of Kale Krunch, it would cost $36.29.

$36.29! I could buy two cases of Bud Light Chelada for that and still not be able to wash the distinct flavor of crotch-rot from my taste buds. Then again, there’s a reason they don’t make Party-Sized bags of Kale Krunch! No one would go to that house. The trash-can punch would probably be made of celery… and more celery. They probably wouldn’t even have two-ply toilet paper. Instead, they’d probably make all guests abide by the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” rule. Think about that sad party the next time you spend 7 minutes, 23 seconds chewing on a piece of Kale Krunch.

To recap: I hated Kale Krunch because it tasted like orange-colored toenail clippings, and I hated myself for spending $4.99 on it when I could have bought a delicious, family-sized box of Tabasco-brand Hot & Spicy Cheez-its (made with real cheese, bitches!), but there is another reason I will never purchase Nature’s Green Supersnack:

CRUNCH doesn’t start with a K, assholes.

Kale Krunch. Seriously? Is this some kind of subliminal rakist subtext for bark-munkhers? I get that you don’t vakkinate your kids and you think bathing is a sokietal konstruct used to oppress the masses. I apprekiate the fact that you like to use words like “womyn” and “herstory” and “mamrriage” because you’re trying to stikk it to the MAN who invented konstruktions like future-pluperfect to keep your kreative expression suppressed. But you’re selling this shit for $4.99 at Whole Paykhekk – a store that underwrites on National Public Radio, (whose listeners are 2 times more likely to have a kollege degree, which portends a high likelihood of good grammar usage). Now’s not the time to be kute, asswipes.

And don’t start with Cheez-Its. Sure, they’re taking liberties with the language – but they taste like crispy bits of salty heaven dipped in REAL MOTHERFUCKING CHEESE with baked-in Tabasco-y goodness. Cheez-its even does its part for literacy with its Scrabble Junior™ version, so you can attempt to spell while you’re shoving your filthy hands into the real cheese-dusted confines of the wax paper bag.

Shoving my hand into a 2.2-ounce bag of Kale Krunch, I wouldn’t be surprised if I pulled out a steaming turd… come to think of it, the Silica Gel packet (DO NOT EAT) would probably tamp down on the steam.

The Competitive Cooking Chronicles, Part 4 – GAMEDAY

The Official Krewe of Helios-Arizona Thanksgiving Day Turkey Gumbo
The Official Krewe of Helios-Arizona Thanksgiving Day Turkey Gumbo

We did not win the inaugural Gladiators of Gumbo this weekend in Shreveport, but neither were we chum for the lions. Competing in a field of 31 professional chefs, caterers and home cooks, Roux the Day represented for us amateurs, winning the winner-take-all non-seafood division, while The Spicy Crabs took the seafood division. Gumboo-yah won the People’s Choice Award, and Krewe of Helios-Arizona unofficially came in second*.

In my first outing as a competitive cook, I learned a helluva lot, had a helluva time and decided I’d come back for seconds next year. I don’t know if that means I am a glutton for punishment, but I definitely could contend for the title of a Gladiator of Gluttony.

Continue reading The Competitive Cooking Chronicles, Part 4 – GAMEDAY

The Competitive Cooking Chronicles, Part 3

That is a fine bird... even if it arrived at 10 PM.
That is a fine bird… even if it arrived at 10 PM.

Aleve, you complete me.

I crawled from bed this morning into a cavalcade of cracks, pops and cramps. Besides the grease burns, nicked fingertips (no blood drawn… yet) and isolated scaldings, competitive cooking has put the hurt on this 41-year-old body… and I have one more week of it.

Since January 1, I have run, biked and swam a total of 159.63 miles training for my first Olympic-distance triathlon … and thank God for that because I don’t know how I’d otherwise manage my three-day cooking odyssey at Gladiators of Gumbo next weekend.

There are 22 teams competing in my division – non-seafood – and they make no distinction between professional chefs and home cooks like me… nor are they making a distinction between hometown cooks and Arizona interlopers. All tasting by the judges is blind – and they have no expressly stated prohibitions against blatant bribery and underhanded tactics in the People’s Choice division. It’s a popularity contest – this is Louisiana: Vote Early and Often.

Continue reading The Competitive Cooking Chronicles, Part 3