Thursday, August 23, 2012

Critique: Beef Chuck Tender Roast

Only about 172 calories!
Anyone who has purchased meat at a grocery store, recently, has more than likely encountered a little touch of sticker shock! Long gone are those so-called cheap cuts of meat. I can remember eating lots of roast beef as a youth because my folks had to scrimp and save money in order to buy groceries at the local Jewel Osco located in Mt. Prospect Illinois. Back then (in 1978) you could purchase a five pound roast for about $3.95 – enough for a great dinner with enough left over for a good number of sandwiches later in the week. (Of course, back then, potatoes were 9 cents a pound and a carton of eggs could be had for sixty cents)!

Today, even a small pound and a half roast costs over $7 – just enough meat for one dinner and a few sandwiches. So, it’s important to know how to cook these little guys properly. The roast beef pictured here weighed in at 1.45 pounds and cost $7.53. To prepare it, I employed an old Dutch skillet I had inherited from my parents. I heated it up after adding a few chopped onions, garlic and virgin oil. I then browned all the sides of the meat which has been allowed to reach room temperature first. Just before baking, I placed a small rack in the bottom of the skillet to elevate the meat. Everything was then covered and placed in a pre-heated oven set to 325F. for about 40 minutes. A meat thermometer was used to insure that the internal temperature was between 145F (medium rare) and 155F (medium).  Once the meat was done (see this site for more complete directions), I allowed it about ten minutes to rest on a cooling rack – this to insure that the juices did not run out all over the counter when I sliced it.

This meal, which took under an hour to fix, turned out extremely well. The meat was just lightly pink in the middle (medium) which was re-enforced by a thermometer reading of 150F. Add a couple of veggies and some horseradish and you have the makings for a great repast.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Homemade BBQ Chicken gets my vote every time!

Fast food or home cooking?
After enduring a less than stellar dining experience involving a 2-piece chicken dinner at KFC recently, I elected to make my own BBQ Chicken on the outdoor grill. Something I should have been doing all along and here’s why!

Cost benefits of a homemade meal

As I mentioned in my earlier post concerning KFC, a 2-piece extra crispy chicken meal cost me over seven dollars. For that amount of money you get 2 pieces of chicken along with two sides and a biscuit. (Oh, yes and a diet Pepsi or soda). Now compare that to this meal I made myself pictured above at right. Yeah, and it cost only about a buck and a half!
So OK, there’s no biscuit! I substituted green beans in the homemade version! So sue me! I can do without those extra bread calories anyway.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The KFC in Forsyth Missouri!

It wasn’t very long after the KCF/Taco Bell located in Forsyth Missouri decided to scuttle the Taco Bell that I made the decision to actually eat there again. You see, on all my previous trips there, it was the tacos I was after. Now as there are ‘nada tacos’, I thought to give myself a chance to rate the poultry side of this business.

One of the reasons I’ve avoided ordering KFC meals is that I’ve found the menu confusing. After having arrived at the venue and walking up to the order desk, you have something light twenty seconds in which to order. Otherwise, the cashier and those standing behind you start getting antsy. So, with sweat beginning to form on my brow, I would generally order the three piece extra crispy chicken with coleslaw and ‘mashed pertater’ sides. I mean all the KFC’s have this, right? But, what was I missing out on?

This time I decided to take the bull by the horns and made an excursion there just to take a quick snapshot of the order board. That way I could pore over it at my leisure so that the next time I actually did order, I would look like the seasoned veteran I want everyone to think I am. OK, this did not actually go down that way! When I got there, I did snap a picture, but then tried to sneak off to a corner where I could view the offering without actually standing in line. This would have worked out great had I not been the only customer there. As it was, I stuck out like some kind of weirdo….. And, when I did finally approach the counter my brow was covered with sweat anyway……..

So what did I end up ordering? Why the extra crispy three piece chicken with coleslaw and mashed potatoes! Duh! (You see, I also have this thing about not trying anything new).

The ‘meal’ that was delivered to me came in the cute little box you see above. And, golly it cost only $6.99 before taxes! The 2 pieces of chicken consisted of one piece that was discernible as a chicken leg and one that was not discernible as any part of a chicken I ever remember eating! There was also a small tub of mashed potatoes which tasted OK and a tub of coleslaw which actually did not. Nestled in between these was a biscuit that also cam with two little packets of ‘butter’ and honey. I used only the honey and found the biscuit to be the best tasting deal of the whole lot. It wasn’t that the chicken was bad, mind you, it was that it was incredibly greasy; a fact that made opening the two little side order container a major chore. (I can remember in days long past that you’d get a couple of pre-moistened toilettes to clean your hands with – well those days are gone…no nothing extra in the box – you needed to remember to get your utensils and napkins from the condiment tray or you were out of luck)!

Truth be told, for less money, I can go across the street to Sonics and get myself a Chicago Dog, fries and a coke. And while many people love this kind of food,I think I'll take a pass.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Line Jumper Shocks Senior Crowd!

It was with some shock that I can report that a certain individual, who recently attended a lunch held at the Senior Friendship Center, had little or no training in the ‘niceties’ of civil behavior. Not wanting to identify this individual by name, I’ve chosen to call him Dennis Conroy, a fictitious name I pulled out of a hat.

By way of explanation, the Forsyth Senior Friendship Center offers food at great prices for those over the age of 60. Everyone, however, is invited to attend. The younger people, like Dennis, are asked to donate $6 to help keep the Center afloat. Yet, there are always some people who shirk their responsibilities and try to ‘game’ the system. Dennis, I would submit, was one such individual.

My suspicions of nefarious conduct began when I observed this man (who I’ll continue to call Dennis) at the entrance of the establishment. I saw no money being deposited in the donation box as he boldly shoved his way through a clutch of aging women. He apparently was headed towards the serving window, which was still closed at that time. A casual glance that way concerned me as I observed him engaged in a heated conversation with an elderly woman on the other side of the window. I rose from my chair and went over to him just in time to hear him declare, “Well I’ll just stay here until you’re open”!

I informed Dennis at that time of the protocol of assigned tables being allowed to go first and that he would just have to wait his turn. I then grasped his arm gently by the elbow and lead him back to my table where he sat down and then assumed a sullen posture.

No much later, someone rose from his seat and asked for to everyone recite the Pledge of Allegiance which we all did in hearty fashion. Then, there was a moment of silent prayer during which I noticed Dennis clandestinely skitter over to the serving window while the rest had their heads bowed. I remember frowning, but I held my peace and properly waited my table’s turn to go and get my own food. By the time I got seated again and happily for everyone at that table, Dennis had gobbled up his food and was gone when we returned.

The moral of this tale – Don’t be a 'Dennis the Menace'!

Aside: This was a tongue-in-cheek wandering of my imagination. Dennis is one of the best people you could know; he’s a published author and a good friend...hopefully!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Critique: Lean Cuisine Swedish Meatballs

I think this is the second critique I've done on a TV dinner entree that contained meatballs swimming around in a sea of pasta. The other one concerned an offering from Banquet; a meal that cost just a buck, but which hit you over the head with 440 calories (about half of which comes from fat), 1020 milligrams of sodium (½ the daily recommended intake) and 80 mg of cholesterol! Compare that with the much more svelte figures from Lean Cuisine of 290 calories (70 from fat), 670 mg of sodium and just 35 mg of cholesterol and you can sorta figure out why you'd be paying more ($2.50) versus a buck for the Banquet product. You see, everyone, it's all about symmetry! You evidently have too pay more in order to eat well. A 'good food' costs about a penny per gram of a food that delivers about 1 calorie of nutrition. 'Bad foods' generally are cheaper but you then get hit over the head with higher calories, more salt and cholesterol reading that are through the roof! It took me quite some time to figure that out.... Note: In 2016 the price had crept up to $3!

That said, I found this offering also to be both tasty and filling! Those little meatballs were done to perfection and the pasta was al dente the way a good pasta should be. Even the sauce passed muster as far as my taste buds were concerned. Overall, a good investment in your health fro m the folks at Nestle. I gave this meal a 7 on a scale of ten.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Critique: Lean Cuisine Chicken Chow Mein!

While I’m no big fan of Chinese cuisine, I’ve always made chicken chow mien one of the few exceptions! This offering caught my eye during a recent trip to the grocery store as a sale item at $2.50.

Nutritionally, this meal is pretty moderate. At just 240 calories, it fits in nicely with my current diet at a sensible dinner entree. The cholesterol is also a modest 25 mg and even the sodium is a tame 550 mg! All numbers that fit nicely into a dinner experience when combined with a modest salad using oil and vinegar.  Here’s what that looked like after I had removed the contents from its package and assembled it on a serving plate.

How did it taste? Just so-so. Some of the vegetables were a little undone as was the rice. Still, for a late evening, fast deal a meal, it wasn’t too bad. I gave it a 7 on a scale of 10!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Fellow CFO's - watch this video and learn!

Adam Smith, who posted an online video of himself going through a Chick-fil-A drive-thru and ordering only the free water, was canned from his gig as chief financial officer of Vante, a Tucson medical manufacturing company, after the video made the rounds......
My take: One morning, this man named Adam Smith, got himself out of bed and decided not only to ruin his career but to also video tape for all the world to see what a first class jerk, racist, moron he really is. I’d love to see the media follow this idiot just to see who, if anyone, hires him in the future. Anyone? Anyone at all?

Read more:

New Virtual Reality Google glasses out by Dec?

Prototype for eyeglass wearers

All my sources tell me that the new Google Glasses should be coming out sometime this late fall and there will even be a model for eyeglass wearers like myself.

Prices are supposed to run anywhere from $400 to $600 depending on the features. A must buy to geeks like myself!

Mayor defends war memorial after group calls for removal of cross!

A mayor has come to the defense of a war memorial that features religious symbols and prayers after a national group called for the cross to be removed.

“The Firefighter’s Prayer” is a 91-year-old memorial in a Rhode Island city that honors hometown soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending their country during World War I and II, reports.

It has stood in the parking lot of the Woonsocket fire station for decades with no complaints, until earlier this year when the Freedom from Religion Foundation called for it to be stripped of the cross, claiming it violates the First Amendment’s freedom of religion clause.

The group also wants the Woonsocket Fire Department to remove “The Firefighter’s Prayer” and a picture of an angel from its website.

“We ask that you immediately remove the cross from the Fire Station parking lot and remove the prayer and angel from the Woonsocket Fire Department website,” the foundation’s senior staff attorney, Rebecca Market, wrote in a letter to Woonsocket officials earlier this year.

Read more:

My Take: Seems our cute little atheists are at it again. These 'Godless idiots' are clueless when it comes to understanding how this world really works. Hopefully, they'll figure things out on their death beds...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Businessman claims city of Chicago stole his maps, threatens to sue!

The last thing you want to do in Chicago is cross City Hall.

But a local mapmaker says he's fed up and preparing to sue Mayor Rahm Emanuel's government after the city allegedly "stole" his maps nearly a decade ago and has refused to pay him royalties.

Christopher Devane, founder of Big Stick/Neighborhood Ties, told Fox that the city repeatedly has rebuffed his appeals. Though maps might seem a matter of public domain at first blush, Devane claims that the city -- and subsequently other companies -- have gradually plucked away at his work.

My take: Evil now walks the streets of Chicago and his name is Rahm…

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sun to enter period of increased activity in 2013!

Just in case you don’t have enough to already worry about, here’s something to consider. In just a few months, good old Sol will be going in to maximum overdrive in her eleven year cycle from producing few sunspots to many sunspots. One of the cute things about the solar maximum is the increased liklihood of a coronal mass ejection or CME. An event that occurs when the sun ejects massive amounts of solar particles (a solar flare) and which are usually associated with increased sunspot activity.  During the solar max, the sun produces about three CMEs every day, most of which are not pointed at the earth. However, every so often, we sustain a direct hit and on even rarer occasions they can be a real dozy in terms of the damage they can do!

In September of 1859, the worst CME ever recorded fried telegraph lines all across the US. Had this event occurred in modern times, it could easily cause trillions in damaged power infrastructure that could take years to fix. Such an event could easily spell doom for a society such as ours and yet not many discuss this possibility. Another similar mass ejection occurred on Aug. 4, 1972 and knocked out long-distance phone communication across some states, including Illinois, according to a NASA account. "That event, in fact, caused AT&T to redesign its power system for transatlantic cables," NASA wrote in the account. So, it might pay some folks to make sure they have a small generator close by just in case the lights go out…