Archive for the Food Category

Lay’s chips’ review, Round 1

Posted in Food on November 19, 2009 by poojaland

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve recently developed a fascination with other countries’ potato chips, mostly those by the brand Lay’s, as they seem to have all kinds of fancy flavors in different countries. Here again are the flavors I picked up on Monday here in Utrecht:

L-R: Lay’s Sensations Thai Sweet Chili, Cheese Onion, Bolognese Originale, Barbecue Ham and Paprika.

The reviews: The Sweet Chili chips are the most unique tasting. A likes them, but I’m not a huge fan of the spices. Cheese Onion is very similar to the U.S.’s sour cream and onion, but has a stronger cheddar (instead of sour cream) taste. Bolognese is close to our BBQ flavor, with a tinge of Italian spices (i.e., oregano). Barbecue ham is basically Canadian bacon (I love bacon, but am not a huge fan of the Canadian variety), and Paprika is again BBQ. Kind of disappointing that despite the names of the chips, they’re very similar to flavors we have in the U.S. I’m hoping to get back to the grocery store later today to grab a couple bags of other Lay’s Sensations flavors. Then I can do Round 2 of my Dutch taste test..

Mmm, Baconnaise! Genius!

Posted in Food on December 10, 2008 by poojaland

Was taking a break from work to get my weekly dose of Savage Love in the Onion, and spied an A.V. Club Taste Test product I just have to try: Baconnaise. As most of my friends know, I’m a fan of all things bacon (I even have an “I love bacon” pin), so this is right up my alley. According to the makers’ Web site, their products are available at QFCs and Albertsons, so I’ll have to go on a pilgrimage next time I need groceries so I can pick this up. As an added bonus, all their bacon-related condiments (which include Bacon Salts and bacon-flavored lip balms [which may be too much, even for me]) are vegetarian and kosher! Of course, I’m a purist in that I’d just rather have real bacon in my food, but this is a good option for when one wants to eat healthier or doesn’t want to deal with preparing/cooking bacon.

If you want to read the A.V. Club’s review of Baconnaise, click here.

Can’t wait!!


Posted in Food, shopping on December 3, 2008 by poojaland

Every year when daylight savings time ends, I can’t help getting a little excited, as it means Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. My family has a long-standing (18-year??) tradition of heading to a family friend’s for dinner every year. The family friends are another family with daughters close in age to me and my sister (we know them because the dad of that family used to work with the dad of my family). The guest list has quite expanded since we first started going, as their older daughter is now married with two young boys.

Anyway, the night was really great, as usual. My favorite memory was when the mother, Marilee, my sister and I were peeling potatoes. Scotty (Marilee’s older grandson; I think he’s five?) said to his mom: “Grandma’s playing with her girlfriends.” Love it!

That night, my sis stayed at my house and we were up at 5 a.m. to head to Target and hit up their Black Friday sale. We went mainly so I could get Guitar Hero World Tour Complete Guitar Edition for my Wii; it was $40 off. Having done our BF outings up in Lynnwood the previous years, we expected the Northgate area by my house to be completely clogged, so we decided to walk over instead. Of course, just our luck, there was plenty of parking available. Once we got in, I headed straight for the video-games area, while my sis went to pick up some $5 DVDs. The Guitar Hero games were almost flying off the shelves, but I was able to snag one. After we paid for everything, I decided to head downstairs into Best Buy to see if they had Rock Band on sale (as I bought GH, I started thinking that it’d be more cost-effective to get RB, which comes with all instruments, rather than keeping the GH I had bought, which only had a guitar). I talked to a Best Buy dude, and he said without hesitation, “Buy Rock Band.” “RB 2” is out, but not yet for the Wii. And apparently the only difference between 1 and 2 is the music (no upgrades to the instruments), so I only need to buy the disc once 2 for the Wii is released. So…we trekked back up to Target so I could return the GH I’d bought maybe 30 minutes prior (likely Target’s fastest return ever!), and buy the on-sale RB instead.

Finally, my sis and I headed to the mall. We stopped in JC Penney to pick up this food-warmer thing for my mom. Then, at about 6:45 a.m., we started the walk back to my place. It was a bit of an ordeal, as we had to lug both the Rock Band box and the food-warmer thing. Now we know to bring a car next time! Oh, and of course, we found out a couple days later that my mom didn’t want the warmer thing after all; she went to look at it at Penney’s later in the day on Friday, and decided the burner spots were too small.

After getting home around 7 a.m., we both went back to sleep until about 10 a.m. My sis headed out a few hours later, and then I hooked up Rock Band and ended up playing it for like three hours. So much fun!! But then I had to put it down so I could head out for some grocery shopping, as I was hosting my family and some family friends for dinner Saturday night.

Anyway…that’s the gist of my long weekend. Saturday night’s dinner gathering was a success — all the food turned out great — and my sister and I got quite a kick out of watching the older adults try various games (including, yes, Rock Band) on the Wii. Sunday was a recovery day, doing dishes and watching a lot of football.

And now it’s suddenly December, which is crazy. The weather here is gray and wet, but definitely milder than I’d expect for this time of year. Though, I guess we’ve been getting more extreme weather in January the past few years.

Hope everyone had a great holiday!

Twinkie carnage

Posted in Buster, Food on August 12, 2008 by poojaland

Over the weekend, my sister sent me home with some leftovers from her birthday party that took place the weeekend before that: two chocolate Hostess cupcake things, and a package of Twinkies. (I haven’t had either in years, but they looked mighty tempting, and she didn’t want them, so …) I took out one of the Twinkies last night for a little dessert snack. After hearing the rustling of the plastic wrapper, Buster (my cat) immediately came over to see what I was doing. Out of curiosity, I put a little piece of the Twinkie on my palm, and lo-and-behold, he snatched the thing up. I gave him a couple more pieces, then told him to bugger off so I could eat the rest. I left the other Twinkie in the package; I folded the open end underneath, and left everything on my coffee table.

Woke up this morning and padded into the living room to check e-mail, and there on the floor next to the coffee table was that second Twinkie! Buster had pulled the package off the table, gotten his paw into it, pulled out the Twinkie (no easy feat, since it was stuck to a piece of cardboard within the package) and started munching. He didn’t make it as far as the filling, but he did an impressive amount of damage. He likes the junk food, just like his mamma! Here’s a shot of the Twinkie, post-Buster:

Don’t worry, I don’t go feeding Buster people food; I just get a kick out of seeing what all he’ll eat. Some examples: avacado, mini marshmallows and whipped cream from a can (as soon as he hears the “whoooosh” of the can, he comes running). Funny guy.

Restaurant review: Sonrisa

Posted in Food, restaurants on May 4, 2008 by poojaland

Thursday night, Ritu, Marivic and I met up at a new “modern Mexican” restaurant in U Village called Sonrisa. (As an aside, we all thought that meant “sunrise,” but thanks to Marivic’s boyfriend, who speaks Spanish, we discovered it actually means “smile.”) The place was hopping — Happy Hour had recently ended — and the environment was pretty casual but nice. But.. in the end, I must say it was a bit of a disappointment. They started us out with free chips and salsa. But the salsa wasn’t the traditional kind — it was sort of a salsa verde thing, so it was really runny and not as tasty as your usual red-tomato-based offering. They didn’t really have many vegetarian options, so I ended up getting the veg version of one of their burritos. Good thing I specifically said “vegetarian” — apparently their usual refried beans have some sort of meat or seafood mixed in (I think either chorizo or ceviche or something??). So I asked for a simple burrito — beans, cheese and “just a few vegetables.” They were pretty good about going light on the veggies, but there was hardly any cheese, and one of the few veggies was zucchini, which just tastes really weird to me in a burrito. Maybe that’s just my pickiness coming out again. However, the little sides of guacamole and a corn-cake thing were pretty good.

Sonrisa had a definite chance to redeem itself with dessert; I’d read online that the tres leches (sp?) cake was highly recommended, but when it came out.. we were all a little thrown off from the start. Rather than being a stout cake in a little “juice” or something, it was this tall tower with a little bit of white cream as a frosting and some sliced strawberries. In my experience, tres leches cake is supposed to be super moist, but this thing was basically three flat pieces of pound- or shortcake on top of each other — extremely dry and dense. Normally, between the three of us, we can make quick work of one dessert, but we just couldn’t get through this one. If you want a fantastic tres leches, I highly recommend the pastel de tres leches at Senor Moose in Ballard — deelish.

Anyway, the final sign that I wasn’t too impressed with Sonrisa: I took home half of my burrito (mostly out of politeness than an excitement to finish it later), and totally forgot about it until two days later. Usually, I eat any leftovers as my very next meal, so this was quite telling. Sonrisa does have a happy hour — while I was waiting for the girls, I actually ran into some family friends who were just leaving after enjoying the HH — so I’d be curious to check that out sometime. I think it’d be a fun place if you just went for drinks and appetizers, and a dessert other than the tres leches. Plus, they have outdoor seating, so it’d be more motivating to go back once the temps heat up.

For those who want to check it out, the restaurant is located on the Blue C Sushi side of U. Village. It’s across the intersection from Blue C, next to the Bank of America.

Random stuff: Advertising, fruit, Mary Roach …

Posted in Books, Food on April 29, 2008 by poojaland

I was waiting in the drive-through line at McDonald’s this evening (yes, yes, I often get cravings for McD’s french fries, and will periodically satisfy them — everyone’s got their vices!) and I had the random thought that a really great advertising idea would be to hang TVs en route from the ordering thing to the cashier/food windows. Sometimes you’re waiting in line between the two locations for a few minutes, and this seems like a great time to slam folks with ads — they ain’t goin’ nowhere! I’ve seen grocery stores that have those TVs by the cashier (with the sound on, they can be extremely annoying), so this idea is a natural extension of that. Think of the extra $$ fast-food restaurants could make. And when the weather’s wet/cold and folks keep their windows rolled up, well, fire up the closed captions!

Random note #2 — was at Albertson’s over the weekend and made a splurge purchase — limited-edition strawberry milkshake creme Oreos. They’re a bit pricey for the amount of cookies that you get, but I love all things strawberry and even better — they’re dairy free! Yum, they’re delish. Oh, and speaking of all things strawberry — I did make a second splurge purchase on that trip — one of my favorite treats: Good Humor strawberry shortcake ice-cream bars. There is no substitute! My other favorite cold treat is (are?) Snickers ice-cream bars. I think I have Julie to blame…er….thank for the introduction to those ;o)

In other randomness…

We ate lunch outside today for the first time in, well, 2008, really. It was a little breezy, and the sun sort of came and went, but it was definitely bearable. This was after it was nasty and raining all morning. I know I talk a lot about the weather, but it’s been bloody weird around here the past few months! We’re all just eagerly waiting for summer!

My new favorite night-time snack: really cold schoolboy-size Braeburn apples (I get them at Fred Meyer, where they’re always $0.98/lb — nice!) with peanut butter. Semi-healthy, zuibun oishi (Japanese for “very delicious”). It can be a little tricky sometimes spreading PB on the apple slice, as the PB won’t really adhere to the apple, so if you tip the slice at all — whoosh! PB overboard.

If I were a rich girl, I’d hire someone to do nothing but prep fruit for me. Namely, peel oranges, wash and cut apples/pears, de-stem strawberries … I got an 8 lb. bag of oranges the other week — which amounted to like 14 oranges — and thus have had the icky, sticky fun task of peeling one basically every day since then. It becomes a bit of a process when I’m in the office — 1. get the orange from the fridge (it’s gotta be cold); 2. wash hands; 3. wash orange (because I’m a bit of a germaphobe); 4. go back to office; 5. peel orange over the garbage can and try to separate the wedges without giving my face a bath of (too much) orange juice; 6. go back to kitchen and wash dried orange gunk off my fingers; 7. get a fork and go back to office (the fork is so I can eat and work at the same time). Whew! And, of course, then that lovely orange scent gets absorbed into the skin of my fingertips..

Finally, the latest book by one of my favorite authors, Mary Roach, has recently been released. The title is “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex” (more deets on Amazon). She is HIL-arious. I randomly picked up her book “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” at the library a few years back because I was intrigued by the cover (click to see the image and get more info). I loved it from the first page, and have since gotten several friends to become fans of hers as well. If you’re looking for an informative, witty and just plain fun read, I highly recommend “Stiff.” Her second book, “Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife,” is also great, but I like “Stiff” better. Can’t wait to check out “Bonk”!
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April 24: Dining Out for Life Day

Posted in Food on April 24, 2008 by poojaland

If anyone stumbles across this in time — today is Dining Out for Life day in Seattle. If you eat at a participating restaurant, they’ll donate 30% of your bill to the Lifelong AIDS Alliance. Here’s where to find what restaurants are participating:

The guys and I just got back from dining out at Matador here in Redmond. My cheese enchiladas were great, but I’m still not a fan of black beans, no matter how hard I try. Still glad to have donated to the cause, though!

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Are fruits and vegetables the ONLY non-dairy foods?!

Posted in Food on April 4, 2008 by poojaland

So I tried to go dairy-free yesterday at work to test the whole lactose-intolerance thing. When I arrived in the morning, the last dairy I’d had was around 7:30 Wednesday night. Thursday morning, I had a little bit of Kashi cereal (like Grape Nuts — extremely painful and boring to eat) with some soy milk. The rest of the day, I ate: some Jelly Bellies (the only non-dairy candy Shirley had in her basket); an apple; two slices of seven-grain bread, toasted, with some butter; a little bag of Fritos (Fritos’ only ingredients are: corn, corn oil and salt — who knew??) and some soy yogurt. I was feeling peachy until mid-afternoon when the usual stomach discomfort started up again. Got home and read the label on the bread I’d eaten and, sure enough — it has milk products in it. And the butter, of course, has dairy, which I really should’ve known. Turns out even my Eggo waffles — the multigrain ones — have nonfat dry-milk powder in them. Argh! I really don’t want to have to subsist on fruits, veggies and eggs! But I’ll have to be better about eating carefully during the work day or when I’m out and about. The discomfort is much easier to deal with on my own at home..

Dairy is the devil

Posted in allergies, Food on April 2, 2008 by poojaland

Yesterday I had my first allergy test. I’ve had various on-and-off allergies the past few years, but wanted to get some official answers. I’d suspected I was mainly dealing with lactose intolerance, along with seasonal allergies. And.. the test basically confirmed this, though, unfortunately, there’s no real test for lactose intolerance — it’s a trial-and-error thing. The test itself wasn’t quite what I was expecting; my mom and a friend both had the test done on their back, so I was imagining being in this windowless room, laid out spread eagle on my stomach on an examination table. Then the doctor would start poking little needles in my back. In reality, the tests were done on my forearms and biceps and I sat in a chair in a regular exam room. On my right arm was outdoor allergens — grass, pollen, trees. The nurse made little black-ink marks from my bicep (January-season plants/pollens) to my wrist (December plants/pollens). Then he put drops of the allergens up and down my arms, and pushed them into my skin with this “prick” tool. Before he got started on my left arm (food/pet allergies), areas of my right arm were already starting to burn — before the 15-minute “do not itch” “do not bend your arms” period had even started! After he did my right arm, then the real fun began…sitting alone in the exam room with both arms madly itching, and no book to read (since I couldn’t bend my arms to get it out of my bag, turn pages, etc.). I had to pass the time starting at various posters about nasal polyps and asthma. Good times. I was lightheaded for the first five minutes or so — I think from the overdose of allergens — but I hung my head down for a few minutes and eventually it passed.

As mentioned above, the test results were a little anticlimactic. I’m indeed allergic to many Feb-July trees/pollens, along with grass. I also have slight allergies to tree fruits (apples, oranges, cherries …), but that allergy was at its worst in high school/college, and only bothers me sporadically now (apparently one can build up a sort of tolerance for those allergens). I also have a slight allergy to cats.. I did get really stuffed up around a former co-worker’s cat a few years back, but I’ve never been bothered by Buster or Fuzzy, the cat I grew up with at my parents’, so I’m not worried about that. Interestingly, the reactions I had to the tree pollens on my arms (which looked like huge mosquito bites) were still visible by early evening, even though I’d had my test around 3 p.m.

Anyhow, seems like dairy is indeed the main culprit, though thankfully I’m not allergic to milk itself. One of these days, maybe I’ll get the will power to completely go off dairy for a few days to verify this, but at this point, I’ll just try to do a better job of avoiding it as much as possible — especially when I’m not at home — and taking Lactaid pills when I can’t (though I think my intolerance is so acute that even a full dose of Lactaid only helps a little). I drink pretty much only soy milk at home, but I do have a lot of regular ice creams, cheeses, etc. It’s surprising how many food products have milk or milk products in them..

I miss the worry-free days of my childhood when I could eat anything and everything. Ah, the joys of getting older!

VegFest: Good, Bad and Ugly

Posted in Food, Vegfest on April 1, 2008 by poojaland

So VegFest on Sunday was a lot of fun. It was well-attended (apparently 13,000 attendees on Saturday); basically, a ton of companies set up booths to hawk their products and foods. We pretty much wove around the place and sampled a lot of goodies. I found the food to be pretty hit-or-miss.. A lot of the meat-substitute foods tasted pretty nasty — one fake beef jerky product had a waxy texture; a fake pepperoni stick had a weird licorice texture/aftertaste. As I’ve been having some digestive problems with dairy lately, I was very interested in trying out the vegan cheese products, especially this mysterious “Sheese” stuff I’d read about somewhere online. Their stuff was okay, but nothing I got too excited over. My favorite fake cheese was actually made with rice. I’ll have to see if I have more info on it at home. I also really enjoyed these “chicken” nuggets made of corn. The texture was amazingly close to that of a true chicken nugget. Finally, a surprising product was this spread made with hemp. It looked questionable — dark green with black spots — but tasted just like peanut butter. And no…I didn’t get the munchies after eating it ;o) The annoying thing about all these healthy/alternative products is that a) they’re difficult to find (either in specialty stores like PCC or Whole Foods, or only online) and b) once you find them, they’re really expensive (like $3.50 for a little tub of fake cream cheese at Fred Meyer).

There were also several liquid drinks to try.. this coconut-flavored I.C.E. water stuff was pretty good, but the stuff I remember most was super nasty — “aloe water.” The sample I tried was supposedly green tea and ginseng flavored, but it really tasted like licking a puddle. That’d someone’d peed in. After eating some plastic. Ew!

Overall, though, it was was a fun time for just $5. Plus, the weather was really beautiful — and (mostly) dry. Afterwards, we went to the local TV studio my sister works at and got to watch the end of a live news broadcast. That was really cool. I was expecting the studio to be a buzzing hub of folks with headsets, laptops, cameramen, makeup people… but it was me, Anuja and Chrissy; the two anchors, weatherman and sports guy; and one producer who basically only told the folks when they were on and off camera. The cameras are operated by robots! And also controlled by someone in the control booth. Who knew.

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