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POP CULTURE/CELEBRITY DISHES 2010

Celebrity Dish Comments
Jay Leno Humble Pie cook in one kitchen, move to another, then move back to the first kitchen as if nothing happened
Conan O’Brien Cake not just to have, but eat, too
The Democrats Crow
Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie Anything as long as it’s served “family style”
Sarah Palin Half-baked Alaska if it burns, just blame the liberal media
Lindsay Lohan Fruit Cake just bake well
Bethenny Frankel & Jill Zarin Sour Grapes
Kim Kardashin Twinkie
Snooki Deep-fried Twinkie
David Hasselhoff Wendy’s Cheeseburger it may be three years old, but it’s still satisfying
Jesse James Cherry Pie with pretty much anything on the side
Barack Obama Pound Cake i.e. “just desserts”
Levi Johnston Leftovers
Twilight Jello which isn’t to say it’s not satisfying for those who like jello
The Tea Party White Bread
Justin Bieber Bubble Gum Ice Cream
Katy Perry Vanilla Tart
Lady Gaga it doesn’t matter because it’s all about the presentation
Wall Street Pigs in a blanket courtesy of the Fed’s $3.3 trillion in loans
Main Street Toast

FIVE THINGS THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN INCLUDED IN THE SENATE’S FOOD SAFETY BILL BUT WEREN’T

1. THE COSTCO AMENDMENT

What do you do with eight gallons of stewed tomatoes? A 4-pack of 120 oz. mustard jars? 50 lbs. of rice?

If you’re like most households, you stick them on a shelf in the back of the pantry and try to ignore the fact that the giddy joy you felt because you saved so much money can’t possibly last long enough to counteract the guilt you’ll feel when you end up throwing half of it out.

This amendment would have legally prohibited club stores from selling bulk items that:

(a) the average consumer can’t possibly consume before the expiration date
(b) the average consumer doesn’t need – i.e. cashew butter, creamed spinach, dried parsley, tapioca pudding, etc.
(c) or that taste so good when sampled in the store nobody can resist their multi-ounce siren call.

2. CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR FOOD HYPOCRISY

This amendment would have made it illegal for anyone to cop a militant attitude about food – holier-than-thou vegans, organic-only food-nazis, food processing plant owners and/or executives who roll their eyes (and mobilize their lawyers) if anyone questions their quality or commitment to cleanliness, etc.

3. SPECIAL PROVISION FOR SPOKESPEOPLE AND OTHER PUBLIC RELATIONS EXECUTIVES

When it comes to outbreaks of salmonella, E. coli, listeria or other types of foodborne illnesses, it takes a special kind of flak to stand at a podium in front of a bunch of reporters and claim the company’s products are “perfectly safe” and that the media is making the situation out to be a lot worse than it really is, or that it’s not really company’s fault but the work of disgruntled employees and/or unscrupulous food activists, and that in either case, the company is “cooperating fully” with authorities to resolve the situation in a safe and timely fashion.

Since spokespeople can’t be sued for lying, this amendment would have made it mandatory for them all to attend a special private banquet where the only food they got would have been the very food they claimed everyone could “trust and continue to consume without any health and safety concerns.”

4. WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET – OR ELSE

Ever order anything online, or from the back of a magazine because the photos looked so good?

This amendment would have not only banned the use of Photoshop and other means of digital enhancement, but made it illegal for anyone selling direct-to-the-consumer food to hire a photo stylist to, for example, sort through 10,000 bushels of pears to find the one – and only one – in the lot that looked like you’d want to eat it.

It would also have made it illegal to embellish descriptions, meaning that if a wine-of-the-month club promised “world-class” bottles, they had better come from a part of the world that’s actually known for its vineyards and taste really, really good.

5. VEGETABLE JAIL

This amendment would have authorized the FDA to work with state and local law enforcement officials to create “vegetable jail,” so that instead of threatening kids who won’t eat their broccoli, carrots, green beans, etc. with no dessert or having to sit at the table until everything – “And I mean everything!” – is finished, parents could just say “Look… it’s either spinach or 18 months hard time.”

(Not that some kids wouldn’t choose jail over spinach, of course, but at least it would have helped.)

BBQ Tips

  • Beef + flame = BBQ.
  • Beef + flame + lots of beer = 2nd degree burns and a clip for “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
  • A grill is the second best way to cook asparagus. But a blast furnace is the best way because it completely incinerates those terrible little stalks.
  • Don’t wear a “Kiss the cook” apron while you BBQ unless you want a drunken friend or neighbor to try to.
  • If a cup of hot coffee has to carry a warning label, why doesn’t a grill? And since it doesn’t, how long before somebody files a class action lawsuit claiming they were burned because they didn’t realize grills get so hot?
  • Not everything can be grilled — like pasta, for example. And although this may seem obvious, to 4-year-olds and drunken neighbors it’s not.
  • If a dog is man’s best friend, a grill runs a close second.
  • There is a difference between well-done and burnt, but only to people who like their steaks well-done. To everyone else — especially lovers of blood and pink — they are both the same: a waste of a perfectly good cut of meat.
  • If you’re cooking with gas, it’s important to the light the grill immediately after turning on the gas instead of running inside to get another drink first.
  • It’s also important not to use lighter fluid.
  • Anyone who says “everything tastes better when it’s grilled” clearly hasn’t eaten at my neighbors.
  • Men like to BBQ for the same reason they like to see stuff blow up.
  • There should be a mathematical formula for calculating the increase in LDL given a steak’s price per pound so that anyone with high cholesterol can ignore their doctor’s advice in an informed manner.
  • George Stephen, creator of the Weber Grill, should be sainted.
  • If there is ever another Civil War, it will most likely have something to do with Texas, Alabama and Missouri claiming to have the best BBQ in the America, and all the other states either taking sides or taking offense, except for Wisconsin, which will remain neutral because they have fish boils instead of BBQ.

MY BARISTA, MY FRIEND?

On most days, even when I get up too early, I’m already running late. So that by the time I get showered, get dressed, get the kids ready, get in the car, get the kids to school and get to Starbucks, I have used up what little energy I began the day with and what I really want is my venti extra-shot Americano.

Now.

IIn the old days, this was easy because vain, arrogant, intimidating baristas would glare so angrily at anyone who ordered wrong – a “vanilla sugar-free grande triple latte” instead of a “triple grande sugar-free vanilla latte,” for example – the poor soul would have no choice but to take his or her drink and slink away in shame, silently vowing to avoid such humiliation tomorrow by going somewhere else and leaving Starbucks to the caffeine addicts.

Baristaphobia = shorter lines.

But now that McDonald’s has McLattes, Dunkin’ Donuts touts the dunkin’ as much as the donuts, and break rooms everywhere include at least one vending machine that can automatically make any one of a dozen coffee-drinks, Starbucks seems to have realized they have to do more than just serve coffee if they want to make money, they have to serve customers.

Who can blame them? It worked for Burger King back in the ‘70s, so why not?

(Except instead of “Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us,” it might be:
“Make it no foam
or sugar free
whatever you want
we’ll serve with glee
our growth has slowed
so we can’t be
snobs anymore.”)

Obviously, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being nice, but the result of this customer-friendly attitude is that all the people who used to stay away from Starbucks because they were afraid of being yelled at are now standing in line right in front of me, asking what the difference between a “misto” and a “macchiato” is or trying to decide if they’d like to try a breakfast sandwich.

Worse, the baristas are not just being polite to them, they’re being chatty, too. Which means that in addition to wanting to know exactly how they can make the customer’s drink exactly the way they’d like it made, they want to know how their day is, what kind of plans they have, how their family is, etc.

And when I finally get to the front of the line, they want to know that about me, too.

Except at 7:43 in the morning, after having been up all night with a vomiting toddler and a dog who wants me to get up every couple of hours and go to the window to look at the neighbor’s cat, I don’t want to be friendly to anyone – not my kids, not my spouse, not my neighbors and certainly not my barista.

Unfortunately, as much as I want to respond to the question “How’s your day going so far?” by saying “It would be a lot better if I didn’t have to wait in line for 25 minutes to get a cup of coffee,” I don’t.

Because whether it’s crack cocaine or caffeine, addicts like me will do anything to get their fix – even smile and pretend to be friendly.

(And while there are still any number of alternatives to Starbucks, places where the lines are short and somber, and the baristas still act like divas, they’re a few blocks out of the way, and the only thing worse than waiting a few extra minutes in line is waiting a few extra minutes in traffic.)

POLL: WHAT KIDS EAT

Do you make your kids eat food they don't like?

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FAMILY DINNER: THEN VS. NOW

  • Dinner was at the same time every night.
  • Nobody called (or texted).
  • If you were late, Mom would just stand on the back porch and call out your name.
  • If you were really, really late, Dad would stand on the back porch and call out your name, and then you were really in trouble.
  • Mom cooked.
  • And if she got home late from the the beauty parlor, post office or grocery store, she could always make a 20-minute casserole out of rice, leftover chicken and whatever can of Campbell’s Soup happened to be in the cupboard.
  • A well-equiped kitchen had a sink, an oven, a fridge, a KitchenAid mixer and sometimes a croc pot, but no dishwasher, pot-filler, microwave, Cuisinart, automatic espresso maker, bread maker, bagel toaster, juicer, George Foreman Grill, rice cooker, TV, second fridge, second dishwasher or computer.
  • The kitchen was only for cooking, too, not entertaining (unless you were a grandmother, second cousin, aunt or female relative helping cook a holiday meal).
  • The Four Food Groups were an important government-sponsored guide that encouraged people to eat meat & poultry, grains, fruits & vegetables and dairy products not because they were healthy or nutritious but because they were important American (or American-controlled) businesses.
  • If you said grace, it was something short, that rhymed, and even though you said it fast you had to be careful not to say it too fast because then your parents would say it “didn’t count” and make you do it over.
  • Kids drank milk then for the same reasons adults drink it now: it’s good for bones.
  • Margarine was superior to butter because margarine had less fat (as opposed to today where butter is superior to margarine because it has less trans-fat).
  • Kids had to eat everything on their plate before they could be done, even if that meant they had to sit at the table until their vegetables got cold and their fried chicken turned soggy.
  • It didn’t matter if kids weren’t hungry.
  • It didn’t matter if kids didn’t like something, either, especially liver and onions.
  • Tang, Minute-Rice and Cheez Whiz were preferable to orange juice, “old-fashioned” rice and real cheese because they were fast, easy and they never, ever spoiled.
  • Take-out pizza was a treat.
  • Organic food wasn’t “organic,” it was just “fresh.”
  • Nobody cared about BPA, which meant plastic cups were better than glass cups because they didn’t shatter when somebody knocked them on the ground.
  • Kids had to ask to be excused from the table.
  • Parents sometimes said “No.”