Tag Archives: food

Kiwi Fruit And Toilet Paper

I remember when kiwi fruit first appeared in our local grocery stores sometime around the early 1980s.  The fuzzy brown globes quickly became a fad despite the inevitable jokes about donkey balls.  (No, I can’t imagine who would have started a joke like that…  *crosses fingers and stares at the ceiling, whistling innocently*)

Anyway, it wasn’t long before every fruit tray at every upscale gathering boasted slices of kiwi.  It was exotic and sophisticated and the thing to serve!  But to be honest, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with kiwi fruit.  When it’s good, it’s great… but there are so many ways it can be not-good.

If it’s the teeniest bit unripe, it’s sour with a lingering bitter edge that leaves your mouth puckered and your teeth furry.  Too ripe, and it’s tasteless mush.  Riper still, and the fermentation phase is interestingly fizzy; but I can’t say I recommend it.

If it’s been long enough since my last unpleasant experience, I occasionally buy some kiwis when they’re on sale.  Which is how I came to be sitting at the breakfast table, cutting into one.

Hubby glanced over and said, “That looks very… green.”

I took a bite.  “It’s not too bad, actually.  The last batch I had was an exercise in sour misery, but this one’s okay.”

He frowned.  “Why do you even bother?”

“Well, kiwi fruit has more Vitamin C than oranges.”  I swallowed another virtuous mouthful.  “And it’s very high in fibre.”

Hubby watched in thoughtful silence while I finished my kiwi.  Then he asked, “What kind of fibre is in that septic-safe biodegradable toilet paper you buy?”

I blinked.  “Uh…?”

“Because, you know,” he went on, “You could just eat clean toilet paper to get your fibre.  It couldn’t taste any worse than that kiwi.”

“Except for the nutritional value,” I reminded him.

“Okay; eat the toilet paper, drink water, and take a vitamin pill.”

There was probably a rebuttal to that, but I couldn’t think of it.  He’s right:  Fruit is basically just cellulose fibre, water, and vitamins.  (And flavour; but we’ve already established that kiwi flavour isn’t always an asset.)

I never thought I’d see the day when eating toilet paper seemed like a reasonable option…

*

P.S.  I just found an article that made my day!  I’ve occasionally been chastised by self-appointed Typography Police for my old-fashioned use of two spaces after a period.  They’re adamant that “the only correct usage is a single space after a period”, but that ain’t necessarily so:  https://www.fastcompany.com/90171175/science-just-settled-one-of-type-designs-oldest-debates.  So maybe I don’t have to retrain my fingers after all.  Hooray!  😀

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Restaurant Masochism

And now for a replay of this week’s winning conversation:

Me (eyeing our monthly budget numbers):  “Wow, I didn’t realize you were so heavily into BDSM.”

Hubby:  “What?  I don’t even know what that means.”

Me: “Bondage/domination/sadism/masochism.”

Hubby (with sagging jaw): “Wha…?  Where did that come from?”

Me:  “Your monthly budget.  You said you spend about $100 a month on restraints.”

Hubby:  “Damn autocorrect!  That should have said restaurants!

Speaking of restaurants, the other day we were sitting in a Subway and Hubby was (as usual) picking the anemic yellowish tomato slices out of his BLT.  He jabbed his finger at a prominently-displayed picture of a luscious red tomato.

“See that?” he demanded.  “That’s how tomatoes are supposed to look!  Not this… piece of… I don’t even know what this is supposed to be!”  He dropped another pale crunchy slice onto his napkin.

That’s when I realized that fast-food restaurants are absolutely unique in the business-to-consumer market.  Have you ever been served a fast-food meal that actually looks like the appetizing pictures on their menu?  I haven’t.  But it’s never occurred to me to complain about it; and I’ve never heard anybody else complain, either.

There’s no way I’d tolerate that kind of bait-and-switch in any other business.

Imagine me paging through car brochures and settling on a new Chevy Cruze. I pay my money, they hand over the keys, and I go out to the lot to find a 1982 Chevette dribbling oil and rust flakes onto the pavement, reeking of stale cigarettes and wet dog.  And somehow, I passively accept that the piece of shit they delivered is not even close to the pretty picture I bought.  I climb into that pathetic excuse for a car without a peep of protest, wave to the dealer, and chug away.

I think not.

Then again, in the car dealership I’ve got all the time in the world to argue over expectations and aesthetics.  If I delay the line in a fast-food restaurant, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll get lynched by an infuriated mob of hungry patrons.

So maybe accepting a limp, sad, greasy burger is more about self-preservation than submission and masochism.  That’s what I’d like to think, anyway.

I’ll let you decide…

Book News:  After a long simmer on the back burner, there’s finally hope for Books 2 through 14 to be released as audiobooks!  Stay tuned…

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Tiger Nuts

The other day I was surfing the internet, secure in my delusion that there aren’t too many things left that can surprise me.

You see where this is going, right?  Yep, I got a surprise.

At first I thought it was only another instance of my self-diagnosed attention-deficit sexlexia, but on second glance I realized that I had actually read this label correctly:  “Tiger nuts”.  Skinned tiger nuts, no less.  (Because I guess otherwise the fur would stick in your teeth…?)

I couldn’t believe it either.

I’ve seen and tasted a lot of nuts in my lifetime… (stop snickerin’, youse guys) but I’ve never encountered tiger nuts (other than the zoological variety; which I have no desire to examine closely, much less taste).

But apparently tiger nuts (the correct spelling is actually two words, not the self-consciously concatenated version on the label above) are a type of tuber, like potatoes and peanuts.  Who knew?  The same label also included a banner to cheerily remind us it’s “Not a nut!”

I want a T-shirt that says this.

If only I could get somebody to say that about me.

But there’s no hope of that, because very soon after the tiger nuts, I ran across this product and my attention-deficit dyslexia kicked in hard:

You have to admit, that font is hard to read when it’s vertical.

I glanced at the side panel and thought it said “GoodFarts”.  Standing there in the grocery lineup, I nearly burst a blood vessel trying not to giggle.  The rest of the patrons eyed me suspiciously when I snapped a photo and turned away with my lips twitching, but fortunately nobody called the guys in the white suits.

My childish mind was part of the problem, but the urge to laugh came from another source, too.  My mind immediately seized on the idea of a ‘good fart’ and began manufacturing scenarios in which a fart might be desirable… which led me to a fond memory of my ex-father-in-law (may his delightful soul rest in peace).

One day he went to Emergency with chest pain, so they got him onto a stretcher and attached the usual monitors and devices.  No danger signs showed up, but the terrible pain persisted… until he finally belched and farted in quick succession.  With an engineer’s inborn panache, he sat up on the stretcher and announced, “All systems:  Go!”  Everybody cracked up.

Now that’s a good fart.  And he didn’t even need a ‘plant-based keto-friendly food bar’.

That product label makes me wonder, though:  How many animal-based food bars are out there?  Maybe they just heard about tiger nuts, too…

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Gravy, My Nemesis

The other day we were having supper when Hubby mentioned that the recently revamped Canada Food Guide shows a plate consisting of 1/2 fruits and vegetables, 1/4 protein sources, and 1/4 whole grains.  As we chowed down on a particularly delicious pork roast with gravy, I inquired, “And what about the ‘gravy’ food group?”

“They didn’t mention that,” he said, looking up from his plate, which was neatly divided into half meat and half mashed potatoes drenched in pork-flavoured fatty goodness.

Clearly there’s been a mistake somewhere, because gravy is an essential food group.  But if it isn’t shown on the official Food Guide Plate, that must mean…

Hey, it’s a beverage!

That would work for me.  I eat a healthy diet with lots of whole grains and fruits and vegetables, but gravy is a non-negotiable part of my meals.  And so is ice cream, which is basically just sweet frozen gravy, amIright?

Mmmm, and now I’m imagining porksicles — frozen pops made of pork gravy.  (Not to be confused with cocksicles, which have been a serious risk for the male population during this latest -50C attack of the polar vortex.)

But, see, when temperatures are cold, you need extra calories and hot drinks.  Gravy offers both, in one convenient and delicious serving!

So if the Powers That Be have eliminated gravy from a ‘healthy’ diet, well, too bad.  We’re all going to die sooner or later; so if something has to kill me, it might as well be gravy.

Ah, Gravy, my sweet nemesis.  I know you’ll get me in the end, but you’re so worth it!

Book 14 update:  Hooray for beta readers — this book is getting whipped into shape!  Off to do more revisions now…

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The Haggis of Salads

Last week, Robbie Burns Day got me thinking about another food that, like haggis, drives otherwise-reasonable people into vehement arguments over whether to love it, hate it, or call up the hazmat team to dispose of the toxic waste-on-a-plate.

I’m talking about jellied salad.

Jellied salad was in its heyday when I was a kid.  My Culross Copper Club cookbooks (published in 1954, 1965, and 1978 by the local ladies in the small rural community where I grew up) are packed with recipes containing the almighty Jell-O™.   If they could conceive of a food combination in even the most hallucinatory of dreams, there was a jellied salad recipe for it.

Some were, quite frankly, revolting.  Others sounded revolting, but were actually delicious.  My particular favourites were baby shrimp in tomato aspic (always molded in a fish shape and served on lettuce leaves) and Golden Glo salad:  Lemon jelly, pineapple, grated carrots, and diced celery.

There are cultural and historical reasons why jellied salads got so popular, but the truth is that they were fun and pretty, and usually tasted okay as long as you could put aside your innate objection to odd pieces of food suspended in unnaturally-coloured gelatin.

I know its day is long past, but I still can’t resist serving it every now and then.  Just one brightly-coloured jiggly blob in a cut-glass bowl is enough to bring back happy memories of my grandparents’ big dining table extended to its limits, surrounded by a happy hubbub of family.

It was prettier in the cut-glass bowl…

Anybody who didn’t live through the golden age of jellied salad reacts the same way when I put it on the table.  First there’s a furtive glance:  What is that?  Next, a longer, more incredulous look:  Is that… Jell-O… with STUFF in it?!?  Finally, they avert their eyes in a polite effort to ignore my embarrassing faux pas.

When I explain what it is and that they’re not required to eat it unless they want to, everyone relaxes.  Some even sample it cautiously, but I have yet to hear anybody sing its praises; or, for that matter, say anything at all about it.  They just eat the small portion on their plates and tactfully turn the conversation elsewhere.

So I guess jellied salad is firmly relegated to the same status as haggis:  If you grew up eating it during happy times, you probably still like it; but the rest of the world thinks you’re nuts.

Or maybe everybody has moved on to more sophisticated foods; and I’m the only nutcase left.

It wouldn’t be the first time…

Book 14 update:  Off to the beta readers this week!  Then I’ll be putting on my ‘production manager’ hat, so stay tuned for a title, cover art, and a release date announcement soon!

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Just A Nutjob

I have to confess:  I’m obsessed with nuts.  All sizes and shapes and colours; from soft to firm to rock-hard, and everything in between.  Such a glorious variety… mmmm!  And there’s nothing like that delicious crunch when I crush them between my teeth.

Guys, stop wincing – it’s nothing personal.

The other day I checked the grocery list and chuckled.  There were only three items on it:  Peanuts, walnuts, and pine nuts.

This was in addition to the dried-fruit-and-peanut mix that’s always in my car in case I need a snack while I’m on the road; the can of salted cashews in the snack drawer; the almonds and almond flour in the baking cupboard; and the big bowl of unshelled nuts that takes up residence on our counter every year as soon as fresh nuts become available.  (And you know I’m secretly snickering at “fresh nuts”.  There’s nothing better than cupping a nice big handful of… okay, I’ll stop now.)

And there’s always at least a gallon of peanut butter in the freezer in addition to the jar that’s currently in use; but I don’t actually include that in my nut count – peanut butter is a staple food that transcends nutdom.  (If only I could say the same about myself.)

If there’s peanut butter, there’s hope.  If there’s no peanut butter… *shudders at the thought*  I’m not even going to go there – it’s too traumatic to consider.  I’m sure most guys would agree that a nutless day is a bad day indeed.

Hubby is bemused by my love affair with peanut butter.  If we eat the same leftovers a few days in a row I get tired of them no matter now delicious they might be.  But peanut butter?  I eat it for breakfast every… single… day.  And I have for decades.  I just tell Hubby he should be glad that when I find something I truly love, my commitment problems magically disappear.  😉

I do realize that peanuts aren’t actually nuts at all – they’re legumes.  But I’m still nuts for them.  I know; sometimes I’m such a goober.

And now I can’t get the song “Goober Peas” out of my head.

Any other nut nuts out there?

Book 14 update:  I made it to the end of Chapter 21, and circled back to tune up some details in earlier chapters.  It’s fun to weave in all the little loose ends!

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Cheesy Sasquatch Fries

* Note:  The first part of this post may require a front porch, a rocker, and a cane to wave at the young whippersnappers.  The second part may require anti-psychotic meds.

Hubby and I were sitting at the table the other day, talking about cheese.  (Yes, I realize that “Let me tell you about the cheese I ate the other day” is the conversational gambit most likely to make listeners lapse into a coma.  I hope you’ll bear with me.)

I bit into a tasteless piece of rubbery orange-ness and announced, “You know, this so-called ‘old’ cheddar is what we used to call ‘mild’.  It’s really sad that there’s a whole generation out there who thinks this is actually ‘old cheddar’.”

“Huh,” Hubby replied.  “Never mind; there’s a whole generation out there who thinks that the orange plastic stuff on their fast-food burgers is cheese.”

Not to outdone by crotchety complaints, I upped the ante.  “And most kids don’t even know that their french fries are made from potatoes.”

Then (as it frequently does in our house) the conversation veered sharply off-course and scuttled down the nearest rabbit hole.

“They probably think french fries grow on trees,” Hubby grumped, then brightened as inspiration hit.  “Groves of french-fry trees… but they’re all hidden behind government-controlled park areas so nobody has ever seen one.”

“That’s it!” I exclaimed.  “The government is in league with the forestry companies.  That’s why the logging companies have such tight controls on their land.  All those security measures and radio check-ins and restricted roads… I mean, seriously, how many logs do they really haul out?  We’ve seen maybe two or three trucks carrying logs in the year since we’ve been here.  They’re actually just hiding all the french-fry trees.”

“And those two logging trucks we saw are only decoys!” Hubby rejoined, getting into the spirit.  “It’s the same two trucks with the same logs, just driving back and forth.  The real money is in the french fries they’re shipping out in unmarked reefer trucks.  And…”

He considered for a moment, then laid down his most compelling argument yet:  “You know that guy who petitioned the Supreme Court to have sasquatches declared an endangered species?  He was onto something, because guess who’s picking the french fries?”  *imaginary drumroll*  “It’s the sasquatches!  They have a treaty with the government that gives them the sole contract to harvest from the secret french-fry trees in exchange for living in seclusion and having no contact with the rest of the world!”

So there you have it:  We’ve figured out the mystery of why some french fries bear no resemblance to an actual potato; and we’ve also explained why all official sources categorically deny the existence of sasquatches.  Are we brilliant, or what?

(Don’t answer that…)

Now their secret is out!

Book 14 update: I made it to Chapter 17 this week and I’m chugging along.  Aydan gets a nice surprise for a change!

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Pickles, Peeves, And Daniel Craig

It’s been one of those weeks.  I’ve been trying to fit ten days of work into seven, and my brain has rebelled.  I knew I was in trouble a couple of nights ago when I dreamed of Daniel Craig.

That might sound like the quintessential female fantasy; but it wasn’t… because of the pickles.  Yes, I dreamed that Daniel Craig was plying me with a plethora of pickled cucumbers.

Freud would nod sagely and point out the phallic significance.  Normally I’d snicker and agree; but the truth is that I’ve been inundated with cucumbers lately, to the point where I’m even dreaming about them.  The garden is going crazy, and every second day I lug in a basket of strawberries, a basket of cucumbers, a basket of tomatoes, and a basket of corn.  And now the beans have found their second wind, too (no pun intended).

Don’t get me wrong; I’m thrilled that our garden is doing so well.  But I’m also a teensy bit overwhelmed, which means the chances of me writing a coherent blog post this week are somewhere between ‘Nil’ and ‘Not a chance in hell’.

So instead, here are a couple of random thoughts that flitted through my mind this week:

I love food, cooking, and eating; but some days the futility of it nearly brings me to my knees.  I spend SO MUCH TIME (and money and energy) acquiring food, preparing it, eating it, and cleaning up afterward… and four or five hours later I do it all again.  And again.  Repeat the next day, and the next, ad infinitum.  And it all ends up in the toilet anyway.  Wouldn’t you think we’d have found a better solution by now?

And one of my pet peeves:  Stinky soap in public washrooms.  Seriously, Dairy Queen, Wendy’s, and MacDonald’s:  Can’t you buy hand soap that doesn’t reek like some unholy combination of burnt transmission fluid, old gym socks, and rotting flowers?  You post big signs reminding everyone to wash their hands, and then you provide hand soap that nobody wants anywhere near their skin.

But… kudos to the PetroCanada at the corner of 17th Street and Cliffe Avenue in Courtenay, BC – their soap smells nice.  And BIG props to the Flying J truck stop on Portage Avenue in Headingly, MB for providing GoJo mechanic’s hand cleaner in the women’s washroom – hooray!

Despite my pickles and peeves, I’ve had some wins this week, too:

Our bookshelves are finally finished, woohoo! It’s been nearly two years since I last saw my beloved books. Thanks for all your hard work, Hubby!

The tomatoes have been FABULOUS. That’s one sammich-worthy slice! (This is the heritage variety ‘Brandywine’ – definitely the flavour winner this year.)

Book 14 update:  It was a busy week, but I still managed to get to Chapter 13.  Poor Kane is discovering that fatherhood can be a dirty job…

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Brain Food

I’m SOOOO close to finishing the draft of Book 13!

Each time I start a new book, I promise myself that I’ll write steadily within a realistic timeframe.  And each time, I end up writing day and night to finish in time for some self-imposed deadline.  In my quest for energy and inspiration this week, I’ve uncovered new FactsTM (see footnote below) about brain food.

Earlier civilizations believed that foods resembling a particular portion of the anatomy provided special nourishment to that anatomy.  So cauliflower, lumpy and brain-shaped, was ‘brain food’.  (This theory also explains the popularity of bananas and cucumbers; but I digress.)

Modern medicine informs us that ‘brain food’ doesn’t, in fact, resemble the brain; instead, the secret to smarts comes from complicated things like omega-3s, antioxidants, and flavonoids.

But after extensive research (a couple of hours at least) I’ve discovered that both ancient and modern beliefs are wrong.  Brain food isn’t brainish-looking.  It’s not complicated or difficult to obtain.

It’s…

*suspenseful drumroll*

Junk food!  And I have FactsTM to support my conclusion!

When I’m plotting a book, I usually pace; although I may also stand stock-still staring into space or drape myself over the furniture in odd positions.  (I bet you thought you were supposed to sit with your butt on the sofa cushions and your feet flat on the floor.  Pshaw.  The correct position is:  Belly on the cushions, arms draped over the sofa back, toes on the floor.)

Pacing is my favourite creativity stimulant; but even better is Pacing With Brain Food.

I can think better when I’m chewing; probably because jaw muscle contractions stimulate my brain.  My research supports this, because I’ve found that crunchy foods provide much more inspiration than soft foods.

I love gooey goodies like cheese and ice cream, but they offer no inspiration at all.  Likewise, chocolate (while ever-so-yummy) doesn’t help me.  In fact, the more chocolate I eat, the less I can think; until my entire mind is subsumed by four words:  MUST… HAVE… MORE… CHOCOLATE!

Tradition holds that booze is a veritable fount of inspiration; but not so.  A moderate amount of booze completely drains my brain; and too much booze fills it up again with ideas that seem brilliant at the time but when reviewed the next day make me say, “What the everloving f…?”

So once again, the FactsTM bear me out:  It’s gotta be crunchy.  You can’t chew booze.

Fruits and veggies?  Meh.  They’re better than nothing.  But…

Popcorn.  Chips.  Beer nuts.  Pretzels.  Cheezies.  OMG!!!!

My brain goes into overdrive.  I pace frenetically, gobbling handful upon handful of crunchy brain-stirring goodness.  Ideas flow, like belly fat breaching the waistband of too-tight jeans.

It’s a good system; but it’s not really sustainable unless I want to buy a whole new wardrobe to accommodate my… *ahem* expanding creative process for each subsequent book.

So in a few more days I’ll be back to my usual sensible diet; but just remember, you heard it here first:  Junk food is the ultimate brain food.  It’s a FactTM!

*

1 FactsTM is a trademark of The Fake News Generation Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Bullshit Consortium.  FactsTM is defined as “any random statement, however ridiculous, which is shouted loudly enough to be reported by the media”.

P.S. I’m travelling today, so I’ll be checking in later – ‘talk’ to you soon!

P.P.S. It’s spring on the Island!  Hooray!

 

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Well, I’ll Be Spatchcocked!

It’s odd how I can go for weeks or months without running across anything particularly funny on the internet, and then suddenly I get inundated by snicker-inducing goodies:

I was browsing Amazon for Christmas gift ideas, and I didn’t realize some vendors have such a tenuous grasp on reality (and good taste).  Check out this “Lovely silhouette art for baby nursery”:

Awww… how adorable. Not.

Um, guys… it’s a panda waving handguns.  In what world is this ‘lovely’ or in any way appropriate for a baby nursery? Although if this is how parents are decorating their nurseries these days, it does explain a few things.

So I abandoned the Amazon vendors to their delusions and went to catch up on my blog reading instead.  And within minutes I ran across the word ‘spatchcock’.

If (like me) this is the first time you’ve encountered that word, I know what you’re thinking.  I can practically see your thought-bubble from here.

You’re thinking, “There goes Diane down another dodgy research rabbit-hole that leads to a kinky sex website.”

I’d act all indignant about that; but there’s not much point since we all know it’s happened before and it’ll probably happen again.  But I swear, this time I wasn’t reading anything dodgy at all – it was a cooking blog.

There was no definition or explanation; only a note that you could “spatchcock the chicken” if you wanted.

Well.

I’ve lived for over five decades, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never wanted to do anything that sounded like that to a chicken.  Or to any living thing, for that matter (with the possible exception of a couple of guys I’ve known).

I did a Google search for ‘spatchcock’, braced for who-knew-what perversion.  And I found it immediately:  Jamie Oliver spatchcocking a chicken.

I’d love to say that it was as lewd as it sounds; but sadly, it only means ‘to butterfly’ – to remove the chicken’s spine so the carcass can be flattened for cooking.  I’m not sure why they didn’t just say that in the first place, but it’s nice to know there are cooks out there who share my childish appreciation for salacious-sounding words.

Apparently the internet was on a roll, because after serving up panda pranks and chicken chuckles, it rounded out the amusing animals with a plastered possum that broke into a liquor store and went on a bender, a scofflaw squirrel that got charged with criminal mischief and was released on bail, and some hostile hagfish that slimed a car so badly it looked like a remake of a Ghostbusters movie.

But ‘spatchcock’ is my most prized discovery of the week.  I don’t find words that are new to me very often, and I consider it a serious lapse of my professional puerility that I’d never heard of a word with such great comic potential.

’Cause now I’m imagining a new verbal expression of shock:  “Well, spatchcock my ass and call me a chicken!”

Gotta work that into a book somehow…

P.S. Just a bonus to this week’s bounty of beasts:  Yesterday I saw two women walking across the Canadian Tire parking lot in Parksville.  One was walking a large dog on a leash.  The other also held a leash… attached to a goat.  They were going for a walk.  To Canadian Tire, apparently.  Now I have yet another reason to laugh uncontrollably at the word GOAT!

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