Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Cross dressing KenIf you interrupt Barbies, it's a good idea to come bearing candy.
Although the girls had been feasting on blue cotton candy and playing metrosexual Barbie, they'd seen Marley and Me earlier, so were still in the movie candy frame of mind. Let's face it, kids are always in the movie candy frame of mind.

Blue tooth cuzI won't see Marley and Me due to imminent dog death and a preference for good movies, so until Gran Torino comes out, I'm prowling the video stores.
You'll find Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites next to the Hannah Montana microphone gummies (which look like severed thumbs or worse) at the video store.
The kids and Cross Dressing Ken (do you not love the fur mini) gave the Bites a big snapping yum. The adults wondered how many candy companies would be out of business if they relied on taste alone.
I'll resist saying the Bites bite, but they taste just like they look, cheap chocolate covered bits of mint chocolate chip cookie dough.

Cookie Bite A Taste of Nature does a good job of marketing to the movie rental crowd. I mean I bought these hideous things didn't I, and kids would likely pounce on any one of their products. Yet I don't have to try Muddy Bears to remember my first chocolate covered gummy.
The girls didn't like ripping through the plastic pouch to get to the candy, but praised the Bites as chewy, doughy, and mint tasty.

Cookie Dough girlsAlthough my favorite thing about the not all that new Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites is a warning on the Web site to not bake them in the oven (not even an Easy Bake Oven?), I'll be all over their Mike and Ike and Hot Tamales Cotton Candy the instant I find them.
What do you think of that Cross Dressing Ken?

Friday, December 26, 2008

From The Cheap Seats

Santa hat JMOThank you for the festive hat, Olga, what a wonder (bra) you are.
Happy holidays, and before you ask how mine are going, don't ask.
I hate the holidays, my sister hates the holidays, my mother really, truly hates the holidays, and most of my cousins hate the holidays as did their mothers before them.

Little KathyGrandma Farino battled sink squid while slinging pasta and antipasto for cigar chomping, poker playing, moonshine making Italians with little thought of sitting down anytime between Thanksgiving and January 2nd. I doubt she got to nibble so much as a tentacle, let alone sneak in a much needed bottle of Metaxa. Although there was that week we lost her to the wine cellar, but I digress, this being a post about

Christmas Movie Releases
On The Cheap

Gabe 1) Buying a $5.00 ticket before noon is an excellent way to embark a full day of movie watching.

2) Writing down show and running times is as important as planning the correct snack to movie ratio. These days you can use the glow of your cell phone to double check running times instead of grabbing the mag light off your bike and that cheap light up watch you took from your parent's junk drawer.

3) If you bring a child, they must be able to sit through multiple movies and have a high tolerance for sugar and Icees. It helps if they wear baggy clothes with many pockets.
Andy, aka Guido (left), could never sit through a single movie, Disney be damned (not literally, don't want to inflict the wrath of The Mouse).

Andy,Chris Christopher (right), who ate nothing but Italian bread and Skippy's until he was 19, was a more suitable candy mule. Joey fared well with waves of people in motion, which may be why he joined the navy.

Plan Ahead
Buy multi functional Christmas cookie decorations. Forget the fondant, buy Dots, Snow Caps, and Red Hots. In other words, use movie candy to decorate your holiday cookies, they look and taste great, and will survive the end of days.

Leftover candy
Using snack sized plastic bags, I was able to stuff this and more into a purse no bigger than a poodle's head. Plastic soda bottles can be refilled with water or a friend's never ending big gulp, and are better than cans (which can spill or leak into your coat pocket).

The Trifecta
Both of the main features I saw (Doubt, Benjamin Button) and the *bridge movie (Slumdog Millionaire) may be the best out there. They're the only ones (besides Gran Torino in limited release until January 9) I wanted to see. Any one of them are solid movie going choices, but for brevity's sake (yeah, too late) I'll take a look at my favorite.
There's a ready made audience of lapsed Catholics for the thought provoking Doubt, and of course it stars Meryl the Peril Streep (The River Wild). I would bear her children...somehow, if possible.

Snack bagsAnd every time I see Philip Semour Hoffman (Twister) I'm impressed. Just watched Charlie Wilson's War (also starring Amy Adams). Impressed.
Love Amy Adams (Night at the Museum 2), and always want to hear her sing and be poignant, but she only has one exceptional moment here—one of striking clarity, but in comparison to the two leads, incidental.
John Patrick Shanley (Congo, Joe Versus The Volcano) wrote the 2005 Pulitzer winning play on which the movie was based. Shanley directed and wrote the movie's screenplay (he also wrote Moonstruck)—good for you John Patrick Shanley.
The movie explores the possibility of clergical advances toward an isolated altar boy, and questions Streep's unshakable certainty, one's place in the world, and the politics of the Catholic church.
Is it me or is Streep channeling Olympia Dukakis. Oh, she's not dead?
It's the acting which stands out and although Adams and more so Viola Davis are fine, the scenes between the iron willed Streep and the soul baring Hoffman are the heart of the film. That I do not doubt.
See it and bring snacks.
*A movie which bridges starting and and ending times between movies you plan to see in their entirety

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Joey, SquidChristmas squid, anyone? Funny, the sailor boy here was alone in craving pots of pickled blech. It's very Italian. I remember the horror of seeing one taking up residence in our kitchen sink. A squid, not a sailor, but that would have been fun.
It was a minor trauma when I was a kid, seeing that tennacled lump lounging in the same sink that strained our pasta.
But Grandpa said I didn't havea to eed it. At least I think that's what he said, and nobody smacked me or called me some kind of vegetable when I backed away slowly.
Another myth dispelled: A dead squid will not come to life and spray you with poison ink if you lean in too close. And you're a big baby if you don't lean in too close.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day

snow bob Almost everything closed today. But you can't close the outdoors.
Hmm, tell that to someone from New Orleans. Or Lake Delton.
Seems as if we've come close over the last few years.

snow noseMeet Soco. She's a crazy-friendly one-year-old rottweiler/something else and the world is not only her toilet, but one giant powdered sugar playground.
She lives down the hall.

dog leapLook at that catch—you go, girl!

off to the woodsNo, hey, come back here.
And she was raised among deer and beaver until the thaw. Which came a week later when it hit 50 degrees, then froze, then snowed, and then a tornado hit and there was fog and thunder snow until the next blizzard.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Gobstopper candy canesIn the yearly hunt for tree worthy candy canes, I was surprised by the tri-flavored Everlasting Gobstopper candy cane. I was surprised I hadn't tried them before, and how in the thrall of a cold weather sugar fit, the White (Fruit Punch, Orange, Strawberry) cane was so crunch crispy yummy.
The Red cane is a little redundant with it's Cherry, Lemon, and Strawberry flavors, but toothsome nonetheless, whispering a hint of cherry lemonade.
I prefer both the White and Red Gobstopper candy canes to the Green (Watermelon, Grape, Strawberry) because the light sour taste is underwhelmingly represented by a layer of watermelon.
I'm often surprised by Wonka products and became recaptivated with Nerds over the summer. No, not that kind of nerd.

Haning candy canesThe color changing effect of the Gob cane is a waste on me because I like pitting teeth against hard candy. Ask my dentist. I don't fare well with Tootsie Pops either. But it's fun if you like that sort of thing. Not that I've had the will power to find out.
If these canes make it to a tree it will be a Christmas miracle.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Enstrom's Toffee

Our taste testers loved this stuff. I found it too crumbnutty, and both Karen and Jackie found me equally crumbnutty for saying so. And making up words whenever I felt like it. Phil 2 was milling about the kitchen to sample and offered a typically succinct, "Mmm, goodth."
Although Karen instantly hoovered the milk chocolate off the bark, she seriously enjoyed the buttery crunch of the toffee between.
Both testers were too busy scarfing it down to say much more than how could I not love this Colorado candy and the toffee to chocolate ratio was perfection itself.
Jackie, the toffee lover, gave the golden nuggets the highest marks.
Yeah, okay, I was mostly eating the crumbs from the box before taking photos and passing it on to the test kitchen, but I could have done without the thick dusting of crushed nuts.
(That there is what we call a set up.)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

car accident
The good news, this was the car that hit us. The bad news, this was the car that hit us.
The ofcoursewhynot news, I got the ticket.
The probablyforthebest news, she smashed in my door preventing me from opening it and "having a word" before the ambulance and police got there.
The almostfunnynews, the only thing my dad was concerned about after we got my mother to stop screaming, was dripping blood on the interior of his truck.
He' fine, has a V-shaped battle scar. The EMTs calmed my mother down and she tried to give one of them money. Always tip the people with sedatives.
My sister had to drive my parents back from Milwaukee to Madison and then drive us back to Milwaukee that night. Needless to say she has several guilt chits with my name on them, and I didn't get to join the Black Friday mob for the flat screen TV I've been stalking Kathy Bates style for a year.
We did, however, pass a crazy throng at Johnson Creek around midnight just to rub it in, which was fine because I'd already gotten a TV the night before during a recon mission at Best Buy.
But I don't really like the TV and the tow truck company charged us for two days in less than 24 hours, charging more to tow my dad's truck (the son he always wanted) from Wauwatosa to Brookfield than it cost to tow it from Brookfield to Madison. They also changed the price at the last minute and demanded about $400.00 bucks in cash.
Shall we continue?
I think not or I'd have to mention the incident with the toilet. Guido. And that might taint my holiday experience. (Growling Edward style. Yes, I'm still reading those books.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ice, Ice, Baby

Box of Mike and Ike Ice
It's cold, maybe a little colder than it should be, but it was *shorts and thong weather a few weeks ago and could all melt tomorrow.
The point? Is there ever a point? I liked the look of the Mike and Ike Italian Ices on a frozen pond at the splash park. Frightening disgruntled geese and old people with fingers poised over quick-call buttons on flipped open Pantech Breezes was fun too. And who gave the geese cell phones.
The display at Walgreens claimed these Mike and Ikes were NEW though the summer fruit and Italian Ice on the box screamed summer—Walgreen's has a Spahn Ranch like hold on me so I bought them.
I was looking for Jolly Joe's, so didn't really care about the bland taste of the concentrated pear juice and carnauba wax of the lemonorangecherryblueraspberrywatermelon Italian Ice. The geese seemed overly curious.
The best part of a box of Mike and Ike Italian Ice candy is the warning in purple print on the back:
"To enjoy this Italian Ice, you do not need to freeze this product."
Too late.

Mike and Ike IceIf you close your eyes and pretend the tingling feeling in your extremities is the sun beating down on you rather than one of the first stages of frostbite, you can almost taste the lemonorangecherryblueraspberrywatermelon italian ice flavors.

Holiday Jujy box
The box of winter Jujyfruits fared much better than the Ikes on ice. They're just small jujyfruits shaped like teddy bears, snowmen, and Christmas trees.
I may have inadvertently eaten some photo shoot pieces realizing too late that a breakfast of spice encrusted salmon, half a banana, and pp (previsously posed) holiday Jujyfruits don't mix. But I'd do it again, because Jujyfruits are not only the perfect movie candy, but make you ask for more as they pull out fillings and gurgle your stomach. I can't believe I left them off the Gummi Food Pyramid, especially since I was eating them when I made it.
However, cute and inscrutable as these winter Jujys are, stick (ha) with the regular-sized Jujyfruits for full flavor and the perfect Jujy-sized candy.

Winter Jujyfruits
*It's always shorts and thong weather in a college town

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Boogie Nights

Why does this cow look so startled?

For the same reason this photo makes me think of latex gloves?
Here are the things I was going to write about:
•One of the three boxes of candy waiting for me to shoot then eat (all parts of a Jujy Fruit are edible)
Fresh Pear Frangipane
•Door County Cherry Almond tarts
Must hunt down burger and shake.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tart Hunt

The French Country Apple Tart is an elusive pastry, here caught sunning near the south entrance to Govenor Nelson State Park near Lake Mendota.

Country Apple TartIf captured in the wild, be aware of its natural ability to slip between your teeth undetected, releasing a mildly tart apple taste as a defense mechanism.
This particular dessert was a bit soggy and dull despite an appealing presentation. Although pretty in its winter coat and rustic dessert cup, you're better off hunting one of the region's other tarts, season permitting.

Cranberry Walnut TartThe Cranberry Walnut Tart, for instance, makes a better impression as a holiday dessert, breakfast, or tea.
A hearty pastry, its nutty, buttery taste is held together by a heavenly crunch of sugar, walnuts, and crisp, sweetened cranberries. The Cranberry Walnut's endangered status is due to its chances (slim to none) of making the short trip from Madison to Milwaukee uneaten.
Another passeriforme, this species (tartus migratorius) is from the seasonal tart family, most commonly found in southern Wisconsin from mid-October through late December.
*IUFTD Red List:
Hubbard Avenue Pumpkin Pie - Endangered
Clasen's French Country Apple Tart - Least Concern
Clasen's Cranberry Walnut Tart - Critically Endangered
*International Union For Thanksgiving Dessert

Saturday, November 08, 2008


As part of a tribute to gluttony I'll be trying random pies and picking the best one for Thanksgiving. Although my sister will say bringing dessert is "Completely unnecessary we have far too many sweets in this house already and everyone is on a diet we all need to lose weight, blah, blah, SHUTUP, blah."
And if I don't bring anything my mother will search the house like a pig on a truffle hunt.
For your consideration:

Pumpkin pie Pumpkin Pie From the Hubbard Avenue Diner

Did you know they make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip pie in October?
This pie was purchased on a whim after tucking into a stack of questionable pancakes. By which I mean Buckwheat Zucchini German Potato and Onion with a side of sour cream and cranberry dressing.
Do not put syrup on that.
One thing I'll say about the Hubbard Avenue Diner, no matter what I'm compelled to order, they'll do a fine job of making it. The side water is delivered cold and quickly with plenty of ice in a clean red glass, and the tea water stays hot in the ceramic mug. Tell me what this hot water container is called and win a prize.

Tea water(Photo taken with my new (i.e. free) phone. Can you tell. I know you can.)
Back to pie. The crust is secondary, which is good, because it doesn't force me to eat filling only, treating ill conceived crusts like discarded mollusc shells.
Let's see a side view.

Pumpkin pie side viewThis is a substantial pie, smacking of something sweet, sticky, and savory. It didn't need that dollop of whipped cream, no it did not. See how thin the crust is? Not under or over baked, the crust was neither a detraction or distraction, rather the set up man to the filling's punchline.


On another front, the after Halloween please quit putting racks of this stuff in front of me front, here's one of my favorite packs of sale candy.

Halloween candyIt's called the Scare n' Share Mix and is a life threatening 24.17 ounces of sugar brought to you by The Hershey Company.
The Scary Sugar Coma Fun Pack contains Whoppers (note the 8% calcium), Reese's Whipps, Jolly Rancher Lollipops, Kit Kats, Resse's Peanut Butter Cups, and Hershey's Take 5 Bars.
I was surprisingly taken by the chocolate covered jumble of nuts, pretzels, caramel, and peanut butter of the Take 5, a concoction I swear I once fried on my dorm room burger maker in the seventies.
Finally, the winner of the Most Popular Costume poll is me. You bunch of leakers. But why even try when the answer has been and apparently will continue to be:
See, now, this is just fine.

Aaron RodgersDo you not love the devil woman (note the picture of her kid) eyeballing Aaron Rodgers. Check out that butt, girlfriend, and thank you for keeping your clothes on.
Now if A-Rodg showed up on game day dressed like that, I'd be a fan.
More Halloween photos are up here. I said Leftovers, okay. And there will be more. Yea. Maybe I'll be done by Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Halloween: Time To Kill

Remember a few posts ago when I was all "Enough is never enough?"
Well I was downtown for hours, most of them spent waiting on my cousin to drag his sorry arse off the couch, out of the shower, and away from the mirror while I made friends with the indigenous peoples of State Street. Enough really is enough after all. Needless to say I had a lot of:

Time To KillHolding with that sentiment and without further ado, it's the
First Annual Parent's Night Freakfest Awards
with our hosts Jamie Lee Curtis and Matthew McConaughey.
Take it away Jamie.
Hello everybody, here we are in the lavish–arrgghh—eeeeekkkk— flumpp

Matthew McConaugheyWell alright, alright, alright, thank you for that chilling intro, Jamie Lee.
First I'd like to take my shirt off for the ladies (zip). Oh my goodness, I said "shirt," didn't I? My bad.
On to the awards. Is it truly chilly in here or are my butt cheeks tighter than usual. Check out those silky buns of steel, y'all.
How fitting that our first award of the evening is for:
Best Backstory
Pet Toy And the winner is...Discarded Pet Toy

Shirtless McConaugheyNot to worry, little guy, I was just kidding, I'm taking off my shirt (rip).
The next costume is based on one of the deepest movies of my generation. You know it, you love it, pass me a Zagnut, it's Beetlejuice.

Winner of A Movie Couple That Nobody Dresses Up Like Which Is Weird Because They Totally Should:

The Maitlands

Adam and BarbaraMaybe you should take that shirt off, Adam. Or is there room for just one set of bodacious ta-tas on this stage? What do you think, Jamie Lee?
And speaking of dark, have you heard the rumor I'm going to be the next Dark Knight, a rumor I started myself. Yes I did.

Best Dark Knight Costume Worn By A Slightly Inappropriate Person
Nurse HarveyNurse Harvey Dent (that's what his name tag says even though who could forget Heath Ledger's gams?)
The glasses, and I'm going out on a limb here, fake yellow teeth, are a nice touch, compadre.
This next recipient is on the right track, but needs a couple palm fronds and some serious thigh wax to kick it up a notch.

Best Baby With Hairy Legs
Still in diapersSome College Kid In A Diaper
It's time to insert what, Jamie Lee? I see darlin', well enjoy.

Alright, alright, alright, thank you crazy old street singer. Which leads me to my personal favorite:
Most Likely To Be Arrested.
That's not funny, compadre. Well, maybe it is, anyone care to partake? I'm talkin' about you part with your weed, and I take, son. Yeah.
The costume for Best Weed goes to:
WeedThe "I Only Burn On Weekends, Dude" Dude

Oh right, oh right, oh right. The award for:

Most Likely To Be Arrested
DroogGoes to the guy getting arrested, Alex From A Clockwork Orange

Honorary Most Likely To Be Arrested
BreathalyzerThe "Blow Me" Guy
Moving right along.

Best Costume Seen Through A Bar Window
Hockey Puck GuyThe Guy With The Hockey Puck Through His Head
Just two more to go, I promise. I'm standing on your what, Jamie Lee? Sorry darlin', we'll straighten that out later. This next one is a write-in from our blog host.

The Costume Most Likely To Be Worn By My Nephew, Andy
Condom dispenserCondom Dispenser
Very nice. And practical too. And our last award of the evening, one we can all relate to, the award for the....drum roll, please:

Best Job Of Standing Upright
DrunksA Couple of Drunks
That's it, drive safely, get some fresh air, and don't forget to vote.
How you doing, there, peaches—looking goood. You still dating the drummer from Spinal Tap?

Friday, October 31, 2008

My Halloween So Far...

Jimi HendrixIs it a good idea to visit the Pipefitter before candy shopping?
"That's game, Hendrix."

Caramel applesThese may very well be the last three caramel apples from the James J. Chocolate Shop in Madison until next year. And I've got them. Brrraaahahahaaa.
(The guy who sold me these was wearing a kilt.)

Palin and friendPalin costumes 1, tie dyes 20. So hard to tell if people are in costume around here. I think I saw Jerry Garcia go into a sandwich shop on lower State Street this afternoon.

Tricky DickThe University of Wisconsin welcomes the GOP.

Dude with blue thingThis guy caught my eye. Does ANYONE know what the hell that blue key chain on his sunglasses is?

Nader backerHe seemed so sad, even for the Library Mall.

Kettle cornMaybe I should have bought the Nader guy some kettle corn. (Although the vendor couldn't keep up with the free samples. I mean, c'mon, have you ever known a student to turn down free food?)

Skeleton and lady(skeleton talking) "Hey lady, I wouldn't stick around here after the sun sets."

Bloody surgeonDidn't you take my appendix out?

Trash can ladySeriously, this is the sort of thing you see driving down the street, so why am I still here.
Seacrest out.