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“Our hot air poppers are not designed with an on/off switch.”


Didn’t I just email & tell you that?  I think I did.

Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself again.  Did you read all about the Evil Popcorn Popper?  It wants you to tempt death by electric shock each time you feel like making a tasty air-popped snack.  Others chimed in on Facebook with their tales of appliance treachery.  In the comments, I formulated an email. I sent it.  Here it is:

Hello Presto®!

I recently bought one of your popcorn poppers because we had one when I was a kid and air-popped popcorn is always better than that microwave stuff. We can agree there, right?

I have a few questions about your design choices.

First… The butter tray. Why doesn’t any butter that I put in it melt? I’ve tried actual butter and “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!®” both to no avail. Did you guys test this out in the factory? Does anyone there own one of these poppers? They’ve never pointed out this problem? I can certainly melt it in the microwave, but it’s amusing to me that the popper has a butter tray that clearly doesn’t work (even long after all the popcorn has popped). Yes, I have sat there stubbornly for a while waiting for the butter to melt for many minutes after the last dead kernel spits out of the popper. When I was a kid, our popper had a metal tray. I think it did a better job of conducting heat & melting the butter. I think it even fit an entire artery-clogging stick (as long as my parents or the babysitter weren’t looking). Do you guys have any poppers for sale that actually pop popcorn AND melt butter? I’d like to see one.

Second (and more importantly)… The power switch, or lack thereof? It’s kind of scary. You guys seem to gloss over it on the video located on your site: http://www.gopresto.com/products/products.php?stock=04820

Is that guy a chef and an electrician? Is he certified to plug in live wires? Do you guys not see the spark(s) when you plug the thing in? Have you ever actually plugged one in? Do you feel that it’s dangerous? I almost want to plug it in to a mulch-outlet power strip with an on/off switch and use that to turn it on so I don’t accidentally put my thumb in between the prongs as I’m plugging it in.

Speaking of switches, you can get a nice rocker switch from Grainger relatively cheaply: http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/CARLING-TECHNOLOGIES-Rocker-Switch-1A822

I’m sure you can get them even cheaper if you buy in bulk… and I’m sure they’re not all that difficult to install.

Can you imagine if other electrical products didn’t have an on/off switch? Toasters? Curling irons? Hair dryers? (They almost all come with circuit breakers now!) Electric knives? Electric hedge trimmers or weed whackers?

You really don’t feel that it’s dangerous? Not so much as a warning label adorns the power cord? Do you use gloves to plug yours in? Why was the plugging done off camera in the video?

I really look forward to your thoughts on these issues. I might go make some popcorn while I wait. I’ll be sure to melt the butter in the microwave first, and I hope I’m not electrocuted when I plug the popper in so I can read your reply!

Inquisitively,
-Waldo

This was the reply:

From: Presto Customer Service <contact@gopresto.com>
Date: Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 3:01 PM
Subject: RE: Where’s the switch?
To: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>

Good morning,

I’m sorry to hear of your dissatisfaction with your hot air popper.    We have not received complaints of butter not melting in the butter melter.  Please note that the instructions do indicate that soft/room temperature butter or margarine needs to be used, refrigerated butter will not melt during the short popping period.  I do not recommend that you let the unit run after the corn has popped, as this could cause the unit to overheat.

Our hot air poppers are not designed with an on/off switch.  I talked with our Quality Manager and he indicated that there are no plans to change the design to include a switch.  The unit has been tested very thoroughly and meets all UL mandates.  If you read and follow the instruction manual,  you can feel assured that this appliance is safe to use.

Have a good day.

Colleen
NPI Customer Service
Shipments made to U.S. or Canada only

Well, that was unsatisfactory.  Letting it run empty to melt butter is bad, but plugging in a live appliance is OK?  I call shenanigans.  Shenanigans because we keep butter in the ‘fridge, and shenanigans because plugging something in that sparks feels kind of dangerous.

I do find the sentence “I talked with our Quality Manager and he indicated that there are no plans to change the design to include a switch” highly amusing.  They had a discussion about my email.  This has never come up before?  Say it with me: Shenanigans.  I’d like to know what the quality manager really said.

Who exactly are Underwriters Laboratories and why do they put their logo on everything?  How did they decided that plugging in a live wire is safe?  Maybe I should write to them and ask about it?

⚡⚠⚡ The Evil Popcorn Popper ⚡⚠⚡


A while ago I bought a popcorn popper similar to one we had when I was a kid.  It’s a rather simple appliance, and I have many fond memories of making a mess by trying to use a bowl that was too small and putting way too much butter on it.  I still like popcorn, and the stuff from a popper is leaps & bounds more awesome than the microwavable kind (but not as cool as the little foil pan that puffs up when you hold it over an oven burner).

Presto® PopLite® hot air corn popper
Presto® PopLite® hot air corn popper

I have a popcorn popper that looks a lot like the one in the photo, I think it’s a Presto® PopLite® hot air corn popper.

The one we had when I was a kid was a little fancier… it had a cup that you filled with a trap door where the butter cup here is… and a butter tray made of metal about the size of a stick of butter in front of that. The one pictured here is like the one currently at home, and it sure doesn’t melt butter… even if you leave it long after all the popcorn has popped.  Did anyone test this at the factory before they boxed & shipped it?  No one that works there has ever tried to use this thing?

One similar feature to the one I remember form my childhood is a distinct lack of a power switch.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the video from their site:

One of the first things you learn as a child after the word “no”, not sticking things up your nose, and not eating stuff you find on the floor is to not stick your fingers (or anything else) into an electrical outlet.  Everything else comes with a warning label. directly on the electrical cord.. like your hair dryer, a toaster, or even a lamp.  This thing just plugs right into the outlet with a crazy little spark and a jarring whir of sound.

Perhaps one has to be a chef to operate the thing?  Maybe the guy in the video is just in a costume, I don’t know.  Maybe he’s an electrician.  Do they have professional popcorn chefs?  Was he trained to properly plug a live cord into a receptacle?  I like how they don’t show you that part.

I can’t think of anything else that’s on as soon as you plug it in.  You can buy a rocker switch rather cheaply.  Are they that hard to install?  Are they that much more expensive?  Should I write to Presto and ask them why they let his dangerous chaos continue?  I just might.

What kind of popcorn popper do you have (if you have one)?  I’ve never tried one that uses oil… or on of the ones that looks like a tiny cart.  Do you have a tricky death-tempting popcorn popper at home, or any other appliance that dares you to dance with 110v?

So, I’m gonna be a dad.


 

So, I’m gonna be a dad.  It’s crazy.  I’m the guy that plays in a punk band that sings songs about poop, gets his truck stuck in the mud, buys crazy guitars, and has Batman & Star Wars obsessions.  I barely have my own life together, and now my wife & I are going to be responsible for another one?  As crazy as it is, I think we’re ready.  It’s exciting.  We’ve been OK with the thought of having a kid for a while, it just never happened.  We’re glad it’s finally happening.  Some time in May, we should have a little boy or girl.  We go on Saturday for an ultrasound to get an exact date.

image

Someday, someone is going to call me “Dad” and my wife “Mom”.  The idea of it all is just incredible.  I’m sure I’ll be blogging about it all along the way.  Before I start, any fatherly or parenting advice?  Please leave some below!  (Not on Facebook to Twitter!)

 

Hamburgers vs. Meatballs vs. Meatloaf?


This thought came to mind while making hamburgers for the holiday.  I remembered the commercials for ranch burgers & I had a packet of the ranch dressing mix, so I looked up their recipe.  It contained breadcrumbs.  I always thought breadcrumbs belong in meatballs or meatloaf, but not hamburgers.  Then there’s egg.  I put it in meatloaf but not in meatballs or hamburger.  They’re all almost the exact same thing… but then they’re all completely different.

I generally always throw them all together without a recipe.  They’re easy to do that way.  I guess everyone has their own way to do things.  I make them all the same sometimes, but sometimes I add something different for fun.

I’m just wondering how other people do things?

I’d love some feedback in the comments below.  I’ll share how I generally do things.  These aren’t really recipes, and I don’t measure much, but this is typically what goes in each:

Hamburgers

Meatballs

  • Ground Beef (Sometimes Turkey)
  • Crushed Croutons (Whatever we have for the salad if we’re having one, or a nice mix of spices or whatever.)
  • Parmesan/Romano “shake” cheese
  • Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian Dressing (It spices them well, keeps them nice & moist!)
  • Black Pepper

Meatloaf

  • Ground Beef
  • Egg
  • Bread or crushed crackers.  (I like the bread ripped up more than the crackers.)
  • A1, Ketchup, Mustard, or BBQ sauce… or a combo of all of them.
  • Season All
  • Black Pepper

(Click here for a crazy meatloaf recipe.)

Of course sometimes I add garlic, or onion powder, or something crazy.  That’s the fun if it though, isn’t it?  So, what goes in your meatballs, hamburgers, or meatloaf?

Raw Ground beef

Raw Ground beef (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nine Can Vegetable Soup


This is an incredibly easy & delicious dinner or lunch.

Well, the name’s misleading.  Sometimes it’s not exactly nine cans.  I’ll give you the recipe as it was given to me…

Nine Can Vegetable Soup

  • 2 cans Hormel chili, any variety
  • 1 can vegetable soup
  • 1 can green beans
  • 1 can sliced new potatoes
  • 1 can mixed vegetables
  • 1 can corn
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (for extra kick, use a can of tomatoes with green chiles in place of one can of diced tomatoes).

Optional: 1lb ground meat*

Dump the entire contents of every can into the crockpot – liquid and

all.

*Brown turkey or beef and drain and add to veggies in crockpot. Heat on low all day, or on high for less than 2 hours.

Well, sometimes I do it like this…

  1. Hormel Chili with Beans
  2. Hormel Chili with No Beans
  3. Campbell’s Beef With Barley & Vegetables Soup
  4. Campbell’s Vegetable Beef Soup
  5. Cut Green & Wax Beans
  6. Diced New Potatoes
  7. Succotash (Corn & Lima Beans)
  8. Mixed Vegetables with Potatoes
  9. Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic, & Oregano
  10. Petit Diced Tomatoes
Nine Can Vegetable Soup

I didn’t take this picture, or make this soup. This is pretty much what it looks like though. (athomewithkim.com)

Sometimes I add other stuff.  I think I’ve put in Garbanzo Beans, Mexicorn, or

the diced tomatoes with jalapeño or chili peppers, and even plain old navy or black beans.  Sometimes I dump some of the liquid of the cans out.  I like thick soup.

I’ve used ground beef & ground turkey… both work really well.  I’m sure a vegetarian version of this would be easy to make. (Hormel makes a vegetarian chili, you can get vegetarian vegetable soup from Campbell’s, & the ground tofu, seitan, or tempeh would work well… or you could just add more beans or vegetables.)

I just put it into the crock pot on low all day.  Dinner’s ready when you get home!

I like to have it with homemade bread, or over biscuits like a pot pie.  If you’re camping and have a mountain pie iron or if you have en electric sandwich maker that seals the edges you can add some flour to thicken it up or strain it a little to make incredible filling.

I also like the tiny saltine crackers.

A any rate, we make some & it lasts a while… as a main dish, or a side with sandwiches.  It freezes & re-heats easily.

Do you make something like this?

What are some good soup recipes or easy crock-pot recipes?

Your favorite pizza sucks, my favorite pizza rules! (Part 2)


So, last time I blogged about pizza, I covered some of my favorites: Aiello’s, SLICE, & A’Pizza Badamo.  This time I’ll blog about other area big-hitters.

Beto's Pizza on UrbanspoonBeto’s is another place nearby that is just excellent.  They’re the place that you’ve probably heard of that doesn’t cook the cheese & other toppings.  You’ll probably either love it or hate it.  I dig it, the wife does not.  The only thing I’d change is the consistency of the sauce… I’m not a fan of chunks of tomatoes in pizza sauce, but the flavor is excellent.  They don’t get all fancy with toppings here either, just simple, straightforward pizza with cheese that’s melting as you eat it.  I think my favorite way to eat it is just as plain cheese pizza.  Why mess up such a beautiful combination?

Molly's Pizza on UrbanspoonMolly’s Pizza is close by too.  They have some great pizza, and some really crazy specialty pies like the Ranchero Steak Pizza and the Pierogi Pizza.  I personally like to get a pizza with zucchini on top.  Excellent stuff!  It’s hard to pick a favorite around here.

Fiori's Pizzaria on UrbanspoonFoiri’s is a south hills institution.  Sorry, I don’t get it.  Is it good pizza?  Most definitely.  Is it overrated?  In my humble opinion, yes.  Maybe I’m biased because you can get deathfish as a topping there.  At any rate, if you’re in the area and a pizza aficionado, it’s worth checking out before you decide that Slice is the best place around.

Il Pizzaiolo on UrbanspoonIl Pizzaiolo isn’t your regular Pittsburgh pizza shop.  They’re fancy.  They have great pies in a steep Neapolitan tradition.  As they say themselves…

…the restaurant has become a vibrant gathering place for lovers of Neapolitan pizza, pasta and Italian wine. Nearly everything on the menu is hand-made. And if it’s not made in-house, it’s imported from the best artisans, cheese-makers and salumeria in the world. Mozzarella di Bufala comes direct from Naples every Thursday and the pizzas are baked at 1000˚ in a handcrafted, wood-fired brick oven for less than 90 seconds. This, along with perfectly leavened dough, San Marzano tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil, produces the most authentic Neapolitan pizza possible.

So obviously, this is no Pizza Hut.  They make incredible gourmet pies.  Unfortunately it’s entirely not what I’m craving when I “just want a pizza”.  This is where you want to go when you’d like a nice evening out to enjoy some of the lightest most delicious pizza you’ve ever eaten.

Italian Village Pizza (Canonsburg/McMurray) on UrbanspoonItalian Village Pizza is all over the place.  Both by location and quality.  They used to have a killer A1 Steak Sub at the one on Rte. 51, but I don’t think they have that any more.  The last one I frequented was the one in McMurray, but I only ever got the pizza once or twice.  The steak & Italian subs are incredible, but the sauce was just too bitter for me.  It tasted like straight tomato paste with some basil thrown in.  Some people love it, but it just wasn’t my thing.

Here I’d also like to try to address this thing…

VinceNt’s vs. Vincent’s

I’m still not sure what the exact dispute is… if there’s still a dispute, and if there are only two Vincent’s involved in this saga.  Can anyone fill me in on this?  I’ve heard several amalgamated stories over the years.  Some credible news even.  First, you’ve got to get your head around the locations…

There’s Vincent’s Pizza ParkOne on 30 in Irwin/North Huntingdon, one on Ardmore Blvd., and one in Holiday Park (the one I used to frequent).  And there’s Vincent’s “of Greentree” …oddly enough in Greentree, Southpointe, and the West End.  (There also seems to be a Vincent’s Pizza Pub on Mt. Washington – I’m unsure if they’re related to any of the others.)

I haven’t been to Vincent’s Pizza Park in Holiday Park in a long long time, but I remember it as the greasiest pizza I have ever had.  It was good, but greasy.  Some people like that.  I’m not the biggest fan of grease, but I remember they had a nice thick crust & a flavorful sauce.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to the Vincent’s in Greentree, but the one in Southpointe has great steak subs, garlic buns, and pretty good pizza.  Their “like it” percentage on Urbanspoon is pretty low though.  No idea what’s up there.

Vincent's Pizza Park on Urbanspoon Vincent's of Southpointe on Urbanspoon

Which Vincent’s is your favorite?  Which Vincent’s location is the best & the original?  (I think it’s Vincent’s in Forest Hills)

Please, chime in on any of these locations, any from my previous pizza post, or any that I may have missed.  I may dive into pizza chains next.  Pizza is always a subject of hot debate (and it goes well with beer).

Radical!

Radical!

How to Drink Buttermilk


I’ve been quiet with blogging lately.  I’m not all that busy, and I’m certainly not out of things to ramble on about.  I guess I’ve just been doing other stuff.  I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday & any time with friends, family, or time off of work.  Today. I was inspired to make a post about buttermilk, and thought I’d get it down before I forgot about it.

Charlie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk

Charlie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk

I like buttermilk.  Occasionally, when at the grocery store… something hits me that says I want buttermilk.  Much to my wife’s dismay, I listen.  Buttermilk is an acquired taste to say the least.  Most people any more seem to see it as a cooking ingredient.  It makes great pancakes, ranch dressing, and mashed potatoes.  It’s a good dredge for breading.  It’s good in many recipes.  But, it’s also a delicious drink.

Generally I prefer Charlie’s Old Time Buttermilk (by Turner’s) or Country Charm Cultured Buttermilk (by Dean’s).  Uncle Charlie’s has the tiny added butter flecks.  If you like things like sour cream, cottage cheese, or stinky cheeses… you may also like buttermilk.  (Maybe if you like yogurt too… but I personally hate yogurt.)  You may like it only after your first couple of tries, like beer or coffee.

No, it’s not higher in fat than regular milk like you’d expect.  It’s good for you.

I don’t remember not liking buttermilk, but there aren’t many of “us” out there.  My parents always drank it, my grandparents drank it.  I was used to it forever I guess.  It’s delicious, and now something I crave like a special treat.  I’ve had people make horrible faces after trying it.  I’ve had people swear at me, and even hit me after letting them try it.  This is how you man up (no offense to ladies, the dairy-allergic, or the lactose intolerant) & drink buttermilk the right way:

  1. Get a nice tall glass.  (I like a nice beer mug or even a really tall weizen or pilsner glass.)
  2. Pour in just enough buttermilk to cover the bottom.
  3. Add salt & pepper to cover a good portion of the top of the buttermilk.  (Paprika like on old-school diner cottage cheese if you’re fancy.)
  4. Pour buttermilk to the top of glass.  Top off with more salt & pepper if desired.
  5. Make the first gulp obnoxiously large.
  6. Make a refreshing “ahhh” sigh.
  7. Enjoy the rest at a relaxed pace.

…or just drink straight from the tiny jug or carton if you’re a barbarian.

Tall glass of buttermilk

Tall glass of buttermilk

Boston Market ups the pressure… (a.k.a. What now, Panera Bread?)


Insanity.

That’s right.  Boston Market not only reached out via my contact form thanks to Facebook, but also had the cojones to do this…

Boston Market RT!

Boston Market RT!

I still haven’t received a reply to my email to Mr. Wakabayashi, but what now Panera Bread? What now?  Clearly, this will pan out to be a bigger rivalry than Neil Young vs. Skynrd, or East Coast Rap vs. West Coast Rap.  Maybe even bigger than me vs. the people that think I’m McDonald’s (At Least Mr. Wakabayashi used my contact form correctly!)

If you have no idea what’s going on, or if you work for Panera Bread.  You can catch up here…

In other news, did you know that they both cater?  I wish someone would have told me.

Panera Bread (Scott Twp. Greentree Road) on UrbanspoonI actually stopped at the local Panera the other night because the wife was sick and wanted some of that cheese-broccoli soup.  I went in to get some to go, and got myself a half of a turkey sandwich and a cup of the chicken noodle.

The employee (a young girl, of course) at the counter was quite friendly, asked if I wanted lettuce tomato or onion on the sandwich, and even asked if I wanted mustard and/or mayo.  Clearly, someone went over new procedures.  Sadly, I asked for lettuce & tomato… and got neither, but I did get mustard and mayo.  I applaud the effort, and shame on me for not checking before I left the store.

I have to say, after my initial complaint, they have totally stepped it up service-wise.  I still call shenanigans on the new soup.  They ought to let sales do the talking… OFFER BOTH.  It’s certainly a popular item.  Let the consumers decide if they want a great-tasting soup… or the crappy flat-noodled healthy soup.  Clearly, as a leader in the Fast Casual industry, you can afford to test the proverbial waters?  I think more changes have been made, but it’s still not the old soup.  Shenanigans.

Also, I counted 3 signs within  a span of about 8 feet on the counter where you wait for your order advertising the catering… and the pop machine still does it too.  I think the receipt may have even said something about it.

I spend far too much time contemplating fast food & fast casual dining.  If only I could save time buy purchasing already prepared meals.  Does anyone out there do that?

Get Stuffed.


I can’t wait to make stuffing again. It’s ridiculously tasty. I love the carb overload. Maybe I will get those goggles, and I need to pick up some Yuengling.  A week from tonight, I should be in the process of creating this awesomeness.

I’ll show you my stuffing recipe if you show me yours.

How do you do it?

Maybe this year, I’ll try to make some Potato Filling too.  There are a bunch of recipes for it out there.  Maybe stuffing balls would be good…  Now I’m hungry.

STUFFING!

STUFFING!

Yuengling Lager

Beer

New Catering Advertisement Opportunities! (for Boston Market & Panera Bread)


I’m just sayin’.

Panera Bread  - vs. -  Boston Market

Panera Bread - vs. - Boston Market

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Nov 4, 2011
Subject: New Catering Advertisement Opportunities!
To: & Cc:  A bunch of Panera & Boston Market Employees

Hello friends at Boston Market & Panera Bread,

I assume that the lack of response to my last email about an all-out catering battle at my house was ill-received.  I didn’t get any interest from either camp, or even any kind of acknowledgement of my email.  Not even a coupon.  Isn’t that the typical response?  “Throw ‘em a coupon!”  Color me disappointed.

No reply is rather rude, don’t you think?  Batman movie night has come & gone.  We dutifully provided a favorable dining experience to our guests thanks to an incredible local pizza shop.  Roasted red peppers as a pizza topping?  A hit all around, I tell you!  Subs with a homemade feel cut in to bite-size appetizers were also quite delicious.

I’m not sure why neither Panera Bread or Boston Market was willing to enter my catering battle royale.  It would have been an exciting opportunity for both of you.  I realize now… that you need help with forward thinking.  You missed this opportunity to advertise your catering and fight for my dollar.

I believe that I may have come around to your way of thinking.  Perhaps I need to fight for your dollar.  I previously saw advertisements on the pop machine and all over the windows as borderline obscene… but why stop at the border, friends?  Let’s trample the border, deface it on our way through, and not look back!  I have some ideas that you may find attractive.  I really look forward to your feedback.  (Don’t give me any shenanigans about unsolicited ideas and what-not, we’re all friends here.)

  • Advertising on the napkins.  You already do it on the receipts, walls, & windows.  Subway uses their napkins for nutrition information.  Show them up, advertise!  Think of all that clean wasted ad space ripe for the slinging of your delicious wares.  Were one ambitious, this could extend to the “to go” sandwich wrappings, the fancy new plates that you’re both using, and even the trays.  Hell, why not the drink cups?
  • Guerrilla advertising. You could have employees go into your parking lot at regular intervals, and put flyers under the windshield wipers of cars.  If you really wanna get crazy, try bumper stickers!  People would love decorations on their autos.
  • Me.  Send me a T-shirt that advertises your catering services.  I play in a band.  I’ll wear it to shows.  The throngs of bar patrons who rock out with me on a regular basis will be sure to flock to the nearest Panera Bread or Boston Market location.  I might be able to convince my band-mates to do the same.  If we’d like to get really crazy, may I offer to sell my forehead as a billboard?
  • Paystubs.  Your employees get paid right?  Get that money back!  Advertise your catering services on their pay-stubs, and any communications that you need to send.  There’s room on that W2 envelope for a 10% off catering coupon.
  • Right on the food itself.  This is the one that excites me the most!  You’ve seen the toasters that produce an image of Darth Vader, and the irons that brand your initials on to a steak, right?  There are also printers that print right on things like rice paper & cakes.  Why not take advantage of this technology?  Think about it.  Full color printing on wraps?  Toasty images on buns, bread, & bagels?  Delicious meat branded with confidence, demanding that you pick up a catering menu.  It’s never been done.  It’s opulent.  It’s genius.  (If I do say so myself.)

So, what do you think?  Can I help in this new advertising adventure?  These are the next steps in the evolution of promulgation.  Let’s move onward and upward, into uncharted catering promotional territory.  It will be an onslaught to the senses, and an influx in revenue for all involved.  I’m excited for this venture, and especially excited to get some feedback from everyone involved.

Excelsoir!
-Waldo Lunar
[ -YOUR AD COULD BE HERE- ]

incessant emails / incessant advertising

incessant emails / incessant advertising

Further Reading: