Friday, February 12, 2010

three quarter time

The memory chip in the camera I borrowed had a few stray pictures on it that I needed to clear off before going to a dinner dance at church tonight. This one is from a road trip to Northern Virginia at the beginning of January.

My family and I had stopped at a Quarles convenience store in Front Royal, Virginia. I spotted an offer that seemed too good to pass up. Anything with Oreo in its name will catch my eye and the Oreo Brownie was no exception. The counter display had a pad of 75¢ coupons on it. I asked the clerk how much the brownie cost. It was $1 before the coupon, meaning I could get one for 25¢. I have long thought that most snack cakes are overpriced. It's rare to see a coupon worth more than half the price of an item.

I told my son that I would pay the quarter and he could have the free part. We put the treat in a bag in the car and forgot about it for the time being. A few days later when we were back home, my son found the brownie and cut it into two pieces. I knew without looking that my piece would be exactly 25% of the total mass because that's how he is.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

just jivin' honey

The elusive deep-fried Oreo almost did it again. Last year I was unable to find one at the Tennessee Valley Fair. I thought I was going to be denied on Friday night too. While leaving the Homer Hamilton Theatre, I saw a sign that plainly said "Deep Fried Oreo's" and should be submitted to The woman in the booth said they had not yet received their Oreos and tried to sell me a funnel cake instead. No thanks.

My wife and I soon saw two friends who told us there were DFOs to be had elsewhere in the park. Their group had purchased a deep-fried sampler plate, which included an Oreo, a Snickers bar, a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and a glob of cookie dough. They could have also chosen a fried PB&J Jamz. Our friends agreed with my theory that of all the deep-fried treats, the Oreo is the best because it can take it. The candy bars tend to melt inside the batter. They sent me the following note and one of the pictures that they put on Facebook. I zoomed in for a close-up on the goods.
Here is the picture of the fried candy. Oreos, Snickers, and Reese's were yummy. Fried raw cookie dough was just weird. Cookie dough should either be cooked or raw, but fried raw was a strange no man's land of mushy goo.

I found what I was looking for at a different trailer. In addition to the usual fare food of burgers and hot dogs, they offered deep-fried Twinkies and Oreos. I had a deep-fried Twinkie once. It wasn't worth it because the filling, which is the best part, liquefied and was absorbed into the cake. Four deep-fried Oreos cost $3. I didn't need or want that many, so I convinced the guy to sell me two for $1.50.

The headliner at opening night of the fair was Rick Springfield. I was shocked to learn that he is 60 years old. I remember the time he came to KLOS and serenaded our phone screener Preva. During Friday's concert, Rick told the women in the audience to close their eyes while he changed shirts. A lot of the ladies knew to bring bouquets of roses, which he whipped against his guitar strings, showering rose petals upon the stage. I bet he always makes the salad at his house.

About an hour before the Springfield concert began, my wife and I wandered past a tent where a hypnotist was just starting his show. Terrance B asked everyone to close their eyes and imagine that their left hand held a heavy book while their right hand was tethered to a helium balloon. The book got heavier while the balloon went higher. I wasn't feeling it. My two hands had barely moved by the time Terrance walked by and selected my wife to follow him to the stage. She was one of about 16 people chosen. He made them think they were watching funny, sad and scary movies. A woman seated in the center of the row onstage was put back to sleep by Hypnodog, a border collie that stared her down.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

kid in a candy shop

The folks at Earth Fare invited me over for pre-opening tour of their new Bearden store. It's across Kingston Pike from Mayo Garden Center in a building that has been vacant since Bi-Lo moved out several years ago. The "healthy supermarket" opens Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. The first 100 shoppers will get a goodie bag. 5% of store sales and the proceeds from one dollar hot dog and burger sales will go to the Beardsley Community Farm.

A sign in the produce section spells out Earth Fare's food philosophy. Of all the things they prohibit, I'm most pleased by the bans on high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. If they slip up and you catch them, you get a $50 gift card for every banned ingredient you spot. Clerks stocked the shelves and workmen adjusted the fixtures while I was there. Once the store opens, I can picture myself getting lunch at the salad bar or even at the sushi counter.

The bulk foods section offers a variety of trail mixes, snacks and unusual grains. My tour guides, Troy DeGroff and Nicole St. Charles suggested I taste the Carob Peanut Clusters, which were excellent. Later when they left me alone to take pictures and try some other snacks, I was blown away by the Chocolate English Toffee. No wonder it's $20 a pound. Both products come from SunRidge Farms.

Troy offered me samples of some organic foods and the opportunity to compare their labels with popular mainstream brands. Earth Fare's organic peanut butter was good, their organic blueberry conserves were outstanding. I was very pleasantly surprised by an Oreo alternative. The stuff inside Country Choice Organic Sandwich Cremes was soft and delicious. Best of all, there was enough of it. I didn't feel shortchanged.

One of the managers (based on his name tag, it might have even been the CEO) told me that photography is not normally allowed in their stores. Because I was there for a media preview, I was permitted to take pictures. I was reminded of both an upscale grocery store in St. Louis and a downscale store in Knoxville where I was asked me to put my camera away. Fortunately I was able to take a picture of an interesting dispenser for first cold press extra virgin olive oil. I didn't notice until I got home that the "Fresh Grassy Overtones" qualify for

I was thrilled to see my all-time favorite condiment, Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, on the shelf. A brand of spaghetti sauce made me wish my dad was still around. I would have liked to ask him if Rao's Homemade has any connection to the Mr. Rao who lived across the street from us in Crestwood, New York. If there isn't already a band named Hot Pickled Okra & Dilly Beans, there certainly ought to be. I should call WDVX and ask them.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

hard to hide the kid inside

College students like my son are dealing with the stress of final exams this week and next. He told me something they did to loosen things up in his dorm. The story begins at the end of the fall semester when a girl on his floor ate an entire package of Oreos during exam week. She felt guilty about it and confessed to all her floormates.

When school resumed in January, my son and his friends began plotting. They used their extra meal plan points to buy packages of Oreos from the campus convenience store. At first they planned to leave a small pile of America's favorite cookies outside the girl's door. Momentum started to build and more students got involved in the plot. The idea changed from a pile to a pyramid. Each week, they bought more Oreos and hid them inside their empty suitcases. All the while they kept their purchases secret from the victim of their prank.

As the number of Oreo packages grew, tasks were assigned to each individual. When my son described it to me, I thought it sounded like the first season of "Prison Break." My son and another engineering student were to design a plan for stacking 144 packages. Someone else would be the lookout while somebody organized the transfer of cookies like a reverse bucket brigade.

A date was chosen for the denouement. The girl in question would soon return from track practice. While she was in the shower, the Oreos would not be stacked in a pyramid. Instead they decided to wall in her doorway. They figured out how to leave space for the door handle. When the girl opened her door and saw the blockade, she used that space to deliver a one-finger greeting to her friends.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

one trick, three treats

It would have been cool to celebrate Halloween by posting a copy of "The War of the Worlds," as requested by my friend Bean. I unsuccessfully dug through several drawers full of old CDs hoping that I might have the version we did on KLOS. Unfortunately the fan sites and Rare Footage Vault didn't have it either. Instead I found a CD of the 1938 version, which I was enjoying in the car as I drove around today.

Last weekend I saw something that would be great at a Halloween party. Here are some college students using liquid nitrogen to make ice cream. It makes a mess.

Last night I judged a dessert cook-off that you'll be reading more about later. One of the contestants put Oreo Balls on a Halloween tray with some holiday sprinkles. They were similar to the Oreo Truffles my wife makes, except these had white chocolate (yuck) on the outside. I much prefer the dark chocolate coating.

Of all the Halloween costumes I saw tonight, only one made me reach for the camera. Here's a human Marshmallow Peep.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

how stuff works

Quick, what's the best part of an Oreo? Obviously it's the Stuf. When they want to improve an Oreo, they double the Stuf, not the cookie part. You may recall that during the NFL playoffs, I got all caught up in the Double Stuf Racing League theme song.

A restaurant chain called Country Kitchen is trying to hop on the Oreo bandwagon with their new Oreo Pancakes. They put two "oversized Oreo cookie wafers inside two of The Best Pancakes in Town." Sadly, they omit the Stuf. I guess the glob of whipped cream on the side is supposed to represent the missing Stuf. Before we looked at the murals, I tried some while in Cuba, Missouri. They were not bad, but I missed the Stuf.

The pancakes can take their place alongside the Oreo things that I wrote about one year ago. I still haven't tried an Oreo pizza or an Oreo sundae but the Oreo Cakester was good. Since the pancakes didn't satisfy my Oreo jones, I was drawn to a specific item in the pastry case at Sweet Desserterie in Memphis a few days later. Our friend Jessica took us there during our visit with her. The best thing I tasted during my vacation was that piece of Oreo Cream Cake. Before you give me a hard time, let me tell you that I've already lost the three extra pounds that I allowed myself to gain on vacation. And it was worth it. Just look:

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

for the mighty and the bold

Seeing the word Knoxville on the Engadget HD site caused me to do a double take today. They ran a blurb about DirecTV finally offering HD versions of our local channels. I thought about trying to write a whole blog entry about this but two things have distracted me. First of all, I can't find the price for the HD channels on the DirecTV website without placing an order.

Secondly, my wife is making a batch of Oreo truffles as her dessert contribution to the casino night at KCHS on Saturday. If you're going to the Luck of the Irish Party, be sure to sample one of these delicious treats.

The smell of Oreo in the air prompted me to start singing (if you can call it that) the DSRL theme from the new Double Stuf commercials. My wife thought I was trying to sing Dies Irae which is part of several famous requiems, like Mozart's for example.

Since I was so far off tune, I registered at the DSRL website just so I could download the theme song by the Lords of the Future. I even put a copy of it on my mp3 phone. I sent the link to both of my kids too with the warning that the tune was stuck in my head. Here's my daughter's response:
...thanks? now it's stuck in my head forever...grrr
so, what the deuce was that? it sounds like someone playing Guitar Hero on Nintendo Wii. pretty whack...and not just the regular type. no, that was wiggitty-whack

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

twist, lick, dunk, chop, blend, freeze, bake, fry

Something is happening with Oreos. They seem to be everywhere lately, morphing into different dessert items. I was recently asked to submit something for a local charity cookbook. They want the recipe for the Oreo Truffles that my wife made last Christmas.

I have yet to buy any of the Oreo Cakesters that caught my eye during our road trip last month. Back at home, I saw a great looking Oreo cake in the bakery department at my local Food City.

A few minutes ago I saw a TV commercial for the Oreo Sundaes at Baskin-Robbins. The commercial has received some online criticism. The sundaes are only a small part of a partnership between Oreos and Baskin-Robbins.

Perhaps the most unusual Oreo treat is the Oreo Dessert Pizza that debuted this week. It was featured in a Domino's flyer that arrived in my mail the other day. I wonder how many laps I would have to swim before I could try a slice. It looks like they make you buy a regular pizza before you can get the Oreo pizza.

Lastly, it's the time of year when deep fried Oreos are likely to be available at Boomsday or at the Tennessee Valley Fair. Of all the deep fried treats I tried in my heavier past, I remember that Oreos held up best to the deep frying. The Twinkie and the Snickers bar weren't as impressive.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

from the Greek word for beautiful

There's no doubt that you people know your snack food almost as well as reviewer Patrick Holland does. Last night I posted a close-up photo and asked you to guess what was in the picture. I hoped somebody might think it was the landscape of a far off planet or the pattern on a tortoise shell. However you all recognized the broken pieces of Oreo cookies that my wife used to decorate the cupcakes she made for our son's swim team. She used the blender to break up the cookies but left the pieces bigger than she does when making Oreo Truffles. Bonus points for guessing that the cupcakes were chocolate (duh!) and that the cupcakes are sitting in a box lined with aluminum foil. The little pastry cup liners are foil too.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

name change

About nine months ago, my wife and I shared a single "Beamer Ball" at the swim team banquet. It's no coincidence that Beamer Balls got added to our Christmas cookie list around the same time that my wife reached her weight loss goal. Of course the new versions of us have learned the importance of portion control. Even if the right portion seems so tiny sometimes.

More than a few people have asked me for the link to the recipe. It's not that hard to find. A Google search for the "beamer balls" recipe points you right to my blog entry from March. I expected to see more written about these tasty treats. The name "beamer balls" was printed on the recipe that we received at the swim banquet. I tried different search terms and found that some others have posted similar recipes with the more descriptive names "Oreo Balls" or "Oreo Truffles."

As my wife rolled the Oreo and cream cheese mixture into balls, I thought a good name for them could be "reindeer droppings." That name is already taken by some interesting cookies and by somebody else making Oreo Balls with milk chocolate coating.

Most of the other online recipes use almond bark instead of the Ghirardelli baking chips that we used to coat the mixture. After we finished making ours, I found a recipe that says you can also add shortening to the ingredients we already knew about. That might be too rich for my blood.

As it turns out, my wife gave away most of the Oreo Truffles pictured below. That's the name she's sticking with, by the way. Yesterday she told a friend to expect a few on the plate of assorted cookies we planned to give as a Christmas gift. The friend said that they sounded delicious and would be great for the dinner party she was hosting tonight for some of the staff from the Knoxville Symphony. She asked if we could just give her a serving plate full of the truffles. I hope the friend (or her husband) will post a comment here to let us know how it went.

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