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The Ill Communication

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The chef’s special returns

April 20, 2016 | 22:26 | Written by: snake911

A tradition lasting for about a year straight, I would always make a lunch that was so tasty, so good, but eventually had to stop due to some problems. I present to you: homemade french fries and meatballs.

Well, the image above just shows the french fries, but that’s the only thing I have to prepare for the meal as the meatballs -- being turkey meatballs -- are the type you find in the frozen aisle of a supermarket and only need to microwave them when you’re ready to eat.

I found the recipe for the french fries years ago on YouTube, but I can’t for the life of me find the original video. Maybe she took it down? Anyways, it’s delicious and takes a minimal amount of effort to make them. I start off with a raw butt potato, and the end results are the tasty fries you see in the image above. As you can see, I’m still getting used to this oven as it appears to work way better than the oven at the previous place where I lived as that one took forever to cook with. The special ingredient for these fries are adding a good helping of Lawry’s seasoning salt, which give the fries a mild kick and masks the starch taste of what potatoes have.

I had to stop making this meal because we were constantly buying those frozen pizzas at Costco where no pan is needed: just slap the pie on the oven rack and you’re good to go. The problem was that the oven was never cleaned when we were done. Meaning, the next time we (I) would use it, all of the cheese and meats that fell off the pizza would burn and create enough smoke to where it was always setting off the smoke alarms, and once that happened it was difficult to get the smoke out, so I was always waving off the smoke away from the detectors during cooking and for a while post cooking.

But now that this oven is sparkling clean, I can start making this meal again. Here are the end results:

Yummers! I love dunking the meatballs and fries into ketchup. It’s the best ingredient for items like these as it brings in sweetness to these salty tasting dishes. I’m not going to say this is a healthy meal, per say, but one that is a healthier alternative as the meatballs are turkey as opposed to traditional ground beef, and the french fries are baked in the oven as opposed to being deep fried.

I’m planning to keep this as a weekly tradition for lunch for the foreseeable future, so whenever it’s Wednesday, know that I’ll be chowing down on this wonderful little slice of heaven.

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Columbus’ _true_ treasure

April 11, 2016 | 21:45 | Written by: snake911

I’ve gotten addicted to coffee drinks again, so I’m blowing through money like I have it. This time it’s a drink that comes in a small 11oz can. I present to you: New World Vanilla.

This stuff is good. Like, really good. I’m not really sure if it’s a hybrid drink of sorts combining an espresso drink with something like coffee milk, cappuccino, iced coffee, etc., but the label on the can describes it as “an espresso coffee & milk discovery”. With it you get a very rich, creamy drink with a hint of that coffee taste but with a good kick of vanilla. Very decadent.

I’ve been getting them at a 7-Eleven near where I work where they have a “buy 1, get 1 half-off” deal. Needless to say that I’ve been taking advantage of the situation. For me, it’s great as a late morning snack that I have in combination with a banana. Keeps me focused with my work until my lunch break. Although, I don’t know how much longer I can go with these drinks as they are doing a great job at burning a hole in my pocket. Darn you, Columbus Coffee Roasters! Did you have to make such a tasty drink!

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Rice rice rice

April 1, 2016 | 19:45 | Written by: snake911

So it’s been about a month since I bought this new device:

Tada! It’s a rice cooker, and with it a path to a, hopefully, healthier lifestyle. I’ve been eating a lot of salads lately, but what normally ends my trend in eating healthier foods is when meals become repetitive and dull, which eventually leads me back to eating junk like hot dogs and fast food in large quantities. So to deflect the temptation of going back to fattier and sugary foods, I needed a way to introduce more meals to the lineup, and what better way of adding dishes to the mix than to bring in a side dish to the menu like rice.

I love rice, but I’ve never liked cooking it as it requires you to babysit it the whole time, constantly stirring it to prevent the rice at the bottom of the pot from burning. I feel like I can make that time more productive by multitasking in the kitchen. So instead I normally buy the Uncle Ben's Ready Rice that come in microwavable pouches that you cook for 90 seconds and it’s ready. Those are really flavorful and easy to make, but geez are they expensive. So those are some of the reasons why I wanted to invest in a rice cooker: to have it cook the rice for me and to save money by buying rice in bulk.

On Amazon I bought the Zojirushi NS-VGC05 Electric Rice Cooker and Warmer. It’s compact so it doesn’t take too much countertop space and it cooks up to 3 cups of rice at a time. I love it because it has so many functions like a timer so I can prep everything before I go to bed and have warm rice ready to go when I want to eat something like natto for breakfast, and it has a “keep warm” mode that keeps the rice…well, warm until you are ready to serve it. It automatically flips to this mode after it’s done cooking. In addition it has something called “fuzzy logic” that makes setting what you want to cook as simple as pressing just one button. Meaning, you don’t have to worry about what kind of rice you’re using, or how much rice, or how much water you put in. It just works!

I’m lucky that I live just down the street from an Asian supermarket so I can buy rice in bulk there and have a variety from rice to select from. For the past month I’ve been cooking just plain old brown and white rice. For the white rice, I’ve been experimenting with making onigiri, but with minimal success for the look of it. Instead of softly shaped triangles, mine normally end up looking lumpy and deformed.

Another advantage of living near an Asian supermarket is so I can select ingredients to stuff the onigiri rice balls with. Mainly I’ve been using tuna with some Japanese mayonnaise labeled Kewpie. This tastes really good. I also bought a package of bonito flakes and mixed it with some soy sauce. And then I bought a small jar of akaume zuke, a pickled plum from Japan. I think it’s also named umeboshi, but I’m not 100% sure (I’m new at all of this). Then to top it off I wrap the onigiri with some nori, which is really tasty to where I like to cover the whole ball with it rather than just a small strip at the bottom.

I eat the onigiri either at lunch when at work or just for dinner. I like to think it’s healthier than consuming a cup of instant soup that’s crammed with a high amount of sodium or eating some big meal, because with rice it tends to act as filler and gives me a sense of feeling full without needing to eat a lot. In terms of quality I think this model of Zojirushi really fits the bill as it has a bunch of nifty features and comes in a compact size. And when it comes to adding rice to meals, it gives me a number of opportunities to create many dishes, so I’m planning to be looking online for some great meals in the coming months.

If you want to know more about rice cookers and the kinds of things you can do with one, I highly recommend checking out this episode of Japanology. That lady that cooks stuff with it like an oven is nuts!

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Beginner’s attempt

March 14, 2016 | 22:03 | Written by: snake911

Last night I made a basic platter of burritos and Spanish rice. The verdict: delicious.

The odds were stacked against me, though, as the stove top pilots in my apartment only have one setting which is max. I didn’t know there were ovens with a setting like this one as you should be able to adjust the flame anywhere between hi and low heat. A week earlier I had someone from maintenance check it out but they said it was operating as intended. Although I wasn’t there at the time because I was at work, so I didn’t have the opportunity to criticize about it not having the ability to adjust the flame. Later I noticed the knobs didn’t have a marking for low heat, meaning they only do have just one setting. Man, that’s dumb. Oh well, this just gives me another reason to buy that NuWave cooktop I’ve been eyeing for over a year now. But in the meantime I already bought the taco meat and I wasn’t going to let it spoil.

With a high flame I was able to cook it successfully. I used the Jennie-O Lean Ground Turkey with Taco Season. With it you get less fat and a great mild spicy taste of flavor already mixed into the meat. I kept things simple by adding just some cheese to the burritos and wrapping them in Romero’s tortillas (a family favorite). As a side dish I bought one of those Uncle Ben’s rice pouches where it’s already made so you just have to microwave it for 90 seconds. The flavor for the evening was Spanish Style. Yum.

Not too bad for a first attempt, but next time I’ll dress the burritos with the usuals like diced tomatoes, refried beans, onions, and the such. In the end I’m just glad the smoke detectors didn’t go off, which is my calling card when cooking with the oven.

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The 60 minute dash

February 16, 2016 | 19:34 | Written by: snake911

In a pinch while on my lunch break when I’m using the precious hour to run errands and don’t schedule enough time to actually eat something, I swing by 7-Eleven to get a combo that includes a Big Gulp and a Big Bite for $2 and smash it into my mouth with only minutes to spear before my break ends. I also throw in a pack of cookies for an extra dollar to round things off (unfortunately they didn’t have my favorite today which are cookies covered with M&M’s. Today was plain ol’ chocolate chip). It’s a filling meal for 3 bucks, but one I hate to eat because it’s nothing but sugar and fat. Most days I normally bring a salad to lunch.

I’ve got a plan to help curb this bad habit, but it’ll be at least a month until I can get this plan into action. Time is needed because I need to purchase something rather expensive, but when you weigh in my health (pun intended), I feel it’s worth the investment. Tune in next month for an exciting entry in HEALTHY LUNCH PREPARATIONS!

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Life preserver for the weary

October 14, 2015 | 21:52 | Written by: snake911

I have some big decisions I need to make in the coming days, so I’ve been in a restless state of affairs over the past week. It gets to the point where it’s the only thing I think about, and unfortunately usually happens when I’m trying to sleep.

Take last night for example where I only got around four hours of sleep. I woke up just before 3am and couldn’t stop thinking about the decisions I have to make, making it difficult to go back to sleep. 3am quickly turned to 3:20am, then 3:53am, then 4:25am, then 5:10am, and then 5:30am when my alarm was set to go off. It was so hard to focus during the first few hours at work today, but thankfully I have a backup for these situations. Behold the all mighty Zipfizz.

Seriously though, this is a life saver. It’s an energy supplement that’s sold in powder form which you add to water and stir it up to create a delicious energy cocktail. I’m not going to say it’s a healthy means of receiving energy, but it sure is a lot better than slamming down a soda, sipping coffee, or * bleh * choking down an energy drink like Monster. Which is odd to say since Monster HQ is just a few miles away from where I work.

The thing I like most about Zipfizz is that it doesn’t give you a sudden spike in energy followed by a sugar crash. Instead you just feel more alert and focused approx. 20 minutes after you drink it, with the effects lasting about six hours if you use the whole tube. When the effects wear off, there’s no sudden change in how you feel; you just go about the day as you normally would.

I guess this comes from the fact that a tube will give you a B12 shot containing 41,667% of your recommended daily intake. That’s right. Forty-thousand! The second highest vitamin intake is vitamin C with 833%, followed by a number of other dietary nutrients.

I rarely use Zipfizz now so to not have my system build an immunity to its energy boosting advantages, which is why I still have the limited run of the fruit punch flavored version that has an expiration date set for two months ago.

Btw: I know all of that above sounded like an ad for Zipfizz, but believe me: if I were being paid for endorsing products (which I don’t because this site doesn’t even have any advertisements plastered all over its pages), I wouldn’t have to be making these big decisions.

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