Pittsburgh to me; “Slow down.”


So this morning when trying to get to church, we had an adventure.  We cross the city to go there, because it feels like home when we do make it, and it is where I grew up going.  Generally, it’s not a bad drive on a Sunday morning.

This morning, we left a little later than we like to because… we have two small children.

I knew that there was some sort of work in the Fort Pitt Tunnel this weekend, so I decided to take the Liberty Tubes instead.  Why?  No respectful yinzer takes the posted detour, and it was going west when I wanted to go east.

No work in the tubes, or even on the Liberty Bridge… except when we got to the ramp for the Blvd. of the Allies and we couldn’t go towards Monroeville.

Up Bigelow Blvd. to Craig St. through Oakland to try to get to Forbes Ave. and get on the Parkway in Squirrel Hill, and we ran into this along the way:

Lady Pittsburgh

Lady Pittsburgh

I have no idea what this was.  She was oblivious to the world around her, happily rolling down the middle of the street on her scooter with absolutely no regard for safety or traffic laws.  She eventually got on to the sidewalk, but she was rolling along at about a ½ mile per hour when I pulled up behind her.  All I could do was start a “What the…” phrase that I couldn’t finish with children in the car and laugh.  We laughed for the rest of the ride to church, and we weren’t done with the obstacles.

Apparently, Forbes was closed off right after the CMU campus for a race today.  Out & around to the Edgewood/Swissvale on-ramp to the parkway it was.

Seriously though, I know I’m not a resident of Pittsburgh proper, but I am a resident of Allegheny County.  Can we pass some sort of local ordinance that you can’t work on or around two major through-ways to the city at the same damn time?

We got there, and were only a little bit late.  The universe was testing my patience today.  I hope I passed.

 

#MeatballSub #Recipe


So, I’ve been hungry for meatball subs.  They’re so simple to make, but we just never seem to do it at home.  I shared the photo on social media, because I’m weird like that and it annoys people, and some people seemed to dig it.  wanted to share how easy it was with a minimal amount of effort.

So, the wife got a pound of ground meat from Aldi the other day, and I picked up the rest of the stuff that we didn’t already have at Giant Eagle on my way home from work.  I probably could have gotten all of this from Aldi.

So this is what I used…

  • 1 lb. of ground beef
  • a handful or two of finely shredded fancy 6 cheese “Italian” stuff – I started with a 2 cup bag.  We always have this or something similar around.
  • Whatever “shake cheese” you put on spaghetti. I have Parmigiano-Reggiano because they think it needs to sound fancy.
  • A handful of crackers.  We had “club” crackers from Aldi
  • Italian Dressing (we seem to really dig Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian)
  • A jar of cheap-ass pizza sauce  (I probably should have used some better marinara sauce)
  • Spices (Season All, cracked black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, Italian seasoning, paprika …whatever floats your boat.)
  • Brown sugar
  • Sub buns (I like the Cellone’s or bakery ones, but I was being cheap this shopping trip and got some weird mass-produced ones.)
  • EVOO
  • Butter

And this is what I did…

Meatball Subs

MEAT.

Turn the oven on first so you don’t have to worry about it later.  Put it on 375° because that’s always what they seem to say to put it on.  I don’t know why.  I don’t even know who they are.

I made some meatballs with the meat, some hand-crushed crackers, a dash of the pizza sauce, a dash of Italian dressing, a dash of whatever spices I grabbed off the rack (probably pepper, season all, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika), a bit of the Parmesan shake cheese and the mysterious “six cheese Italian” stuff.

I put some spices on the outside because why not, and tossed them into a frying pan with EVOO and a small pat of butter on the bottom.  I pre-heated it to high, then turned it to 6 before I tossed in the balls.  6 is at about 6:00 on my stupid electric stove top.

I melted a bit of butter in the microwave.  I quickly cut open the buns, put them on a baking sheet, spread on some melted butter with a brush and added… garlic powder, onion powder, a dash of shake cheese, and “Italian seasoning” to the buns.  No Italian seasoning for my wife, and no garlic powder for my 2½ year old.  I popped them in the 375° oven on the middle rack for a bit.

I used tongs to turn the meatballs over & popped a lid on the pan.

I dumped the remaining pizza sauce into a soup cup (it was a little jar), and added a sprinkle of brown sugar.  I nuked it for 45 seconds or so.  Why?  I like sweet sauce, and grandma always said “it cuts the acid.”

I turned the meatballs on to an undone side, and got the sub rolls out of the oven.  I knew they were done because… I didn’t even look at them.  I just took them out.  They looked fine.  Plus, we’re not totally finished.  I added some pizza sauce and some of the finely shredded awkwardly named cheese to the buns.

I made sure the meatballs weren’t going to kill us with the food thermometer.  They weren’t.  I put those on the buns and added more sauce, shredded cheese, and shake cheese.

I set some meatballs aside for my 10 month old.  The sandwich was a little much for him, but he will eat just about anything you put in front of him.  Seriously.  even if it’s not edible.

I put the now built subs into the oven and cranked the knob to 400° because I am impatient and my 2½ year old kept asking if lunch was ready.  I turned the light on in the oven and watched the cheese melt.  Not only was that fun, I could also make sure I wasn’t going to burn the bejesus out of things.  I didn’t.  I took it out in time.

Well, some of the cheese that fell on to the baking sheet burned, because I made a mess.  Oh well.

These were pretty good, although next time I will use different/better sauce.  That squeeze stuff isn’t bad.  Maybe I can make a simple marinara.  Also, homemade-ish deli rolls or Cellone’s are worth it… and I would cut a little triangle out of the top like Subway used to, before we were over-saturated with them and they started to serve terrible cream-of-deathfish.

At any rate.  This is easy to do.  You could buy your own meatballs or bake your own bread or use cheese slices to make this as easy or as difficult as you like.  I cut my 2½ year old’s into 3 sections so she had sliders.  I cut my wife’s in 2.  I ate the whole thing in one big sandwich like a hungry hungry pig.  I refuse to apologize.

Share photos of yours or links to your own blogged recipe in the comments!

 

I want a Turner’s guitar…


Turner's Premium Iced Tea

So many delicious options.

I grew up loving Turner’s tea.  It was the thing that I bought nearly every time I went to the general store by my house.  In fact, I can probably say every time, without the “nearly”.  There was always Turner’s in the ‘fridge when I was growing up.  It’s still the drink of choice at family get-togethers.  The other night, we had a pizza delivered from A’Pizza Badamo, and I had them bring a gallon of Turner’s with the pizza & sub.

I have blogged about Turner’s before. I even wrote to them when I was much younger, asking what the “secret ingredient” was in their tea that made it so addictive.  They wrote back.  I didn’t get an answer but I did get a sweet Turner’s T-shirt (Tea-Shirt?), and a label from one of the little jugs to stick on my guitar case.  I’ve written to Giant Eagle and Market District multiple times asking them to carry Turner’s products.  I get the Moos-letter.

Turner's Tattoo

Turner

I’m not quite as hardcore as the guy who got a Turner’s tattoo, I guess.  But, I think we have successfully established that I enjoy Turner’s quite a bit.

So, do you think I can get Turner’s to endorse an Iced Tea themed guitar?  Honestly, I was just thinking to myself that I’d like a guitar that’s painted like a Turner’s iced tea carton.  It looks cool on that guy’s arm, and looks really cool on the Tea-Bird, makes a rockin’ T-shirt… so why not on a guitar?

The TeaBird is just awesome.

The Turner's Tea-Bird

The Turner's Tea-Bird

I voiced my opinion via Twitter…

http://twitter.com/#!/ErnieAndTheBert/status/108569045674110977

And on Facebook…

Seeing a Turner's Guitar Would Make Me Thirsty for Turner's!

Yhe people have spoken: Seeing a Turner's guitar would make them thirsty for Turner's!

(I had cut up a half gallon carton a long time ago to scan, render sort-of blank, and make a show flyer.  More evidence of my affinity for Turner’s?)

And got this reply on Twitter…

http://twitter.com/#!/TurnersPremiumT/status/108624210741575680

Hmm.  Possible encouragement?  Perhaps.  Who wouldn’t like one that had a tank to a backpack… like a camelbak that shot iced tea at the crowd.  Or, I could just get a beer helmet & drink Turner’s myself while on stage.

At any rate, I used KISEKAE Virtual Image Modeling System (one of the most fun online toys ever) to hastily throw together some designs:

Poorly Thrown Together Iced Tea Guitars

Poorly Thrown Together Iced Tea Guitars

Yes.  They’re ugly.  But, the colors are awesome.  Why the Les Paul shape?  Well, I have a perfectly good Epiphone that I hardly ever play… and it’s got a big chip out of the paint anyway.  It needs repainted… why not stripped & done up like this?

Well, sort of like that.  I’d like to take apart the different elements & move them around…  Maybe even get a scan of a gallon jug label or little jug label.  A tea-colored guitar with that little label in the corner might be cool.  If money were no object… I’d go for a jug or carton shaped guitar… or maybe even a Telecaster-type kit guitar that could be called the (wait for it…) Tea-Caster.  Well if money were really no object, I might even try out an Evertune bridge.

People get sponsored all the time, right?  Why not me?  Can’t hurt to ask, right?  I figured I’d present my case here, then fire off an email to Turner’s, hit them up  on Facebook, Twitter (beware the imposter!), or wherever else I can… and ask if they’d be interested in helping me fund a Turner’s guitar.  Maybe I can just cover my LP in some Turner’s stickers then throw a clear-coat over it?  Ha ha.  That’s a lot of stickers…

The next step is to find someone that does this type of work around here.  Is there a guitar “body shop” anywhere that would tackle a custom paint job like this (& do a good job)?  Any business or artist that may know what they’re doing?

Then, it’s time to get serious with design.  Any ideas?  Suggestions?  Please, submit some pictures of ideas!  At the very least, describe ’em!  What do you think?  Would a Turner’s guitar be fun?  I need something goofy to match the square guitar & the backwards guitar, right?

Eric’s Decadent Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes


This past Christmas when we had the family over for a holiday dinner, I decided to try & make some scalloped potatoes.  I found a ton of recopies online, and took what I liked from some & what I liked from others and put them all together… leaving out the stuff I didn’t like.  They turned out really well, to the compliments of everyone.  The only problem is that I didn’t write down what I did… so I had no idea when I went to make them again for an Easter  dinner yesterday.  Last time, like everyone in the kitchen, I kept adding stuff until the sauce looked & tasted just right.

Friday night, I pulled out the same printed recipes from last time…. made sure we had most of the stuff here & popped what I needed on to the grocery list.  This time I wrote down what went into it, but I may have the portions off… Where I have “cup” or “Tablespoon”, I may have just dumped some stuff in by eye.

People have asked how I made them, so I’ll try writing it out coherently here.  I’ll add that  my wife, Bethany, washed & cut the potatoes while I made the sauce… which was invaluable… because the sauce needed to be watched, and cut potatoes that sit for any period of time get all brown.  I guess I could have cut them & put them in some cold water to halt the browning if I absolutely had to… but we get along well in the kitchen, and it’s nice to cook together sometimes.  (I offered for her to do the sauce & to put me on potato duty, but she declined in case the cause didn’t turn out well, the blame could go solely on me.)

Eric’s Decadent Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes:

Ingredients:

  • 5 lb. bag of russet potatoes
  • 2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (I buy the stuff in bags, this is 1 small bag.)
  • 2 cups shredded Colby & Monterey Jack Cheese (The store brand was 2 bags for $5 I think.)
  • 1 pint (2 cups / 16 fl. oz.) heavy cream
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp.) butter
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 4 Tbsp. flour
  • 4 Tbsp. corn starch
  • Salt/Pepper/Season All to taste
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (I used the stuff minced & put in olive oil, in little jars)
  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. Miracle Whip or mayonnaise… (or 1 Tbsp. Each!)
  • 1 sm. bag bacon bits
  • bread crumbs (or crackers)

Stuff:

  • potato scrubber
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish
  • sauce pan
  • spoon and/or wisk
  • large bowl (if you’re gonna soak the potatoes)
  • measuring cup & spoons
  • aluminum foil
  • hot pads
  • oven
  • stove top

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Wash & slice the potatoes, store in cold water if you have to so they don’t brown… or have someone do that while you…
  3. Grease a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with the stick of butter.  Melt the rest of the butter on medium heat in a saucepan.
  4. Add the flour & corn starch to the butter to make a roux.
  5. Turn it down to low heat, & slowly stir in the cream, buttermilk, sour cream,  & mayo/Miracle Whip.  Stir like a madman.
  6. Add the bacon bits, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and salt/pepper/spices to taste.  Don’t forget to stir.
  7. Add about half of each kind of shredded cheese to the mix, keep stirring like a madman.
  8. Pull the sauce from the heat, keep stirring… add a little to the bottom of the baking dish.
  9. Later potatoes, sauce, & remaining shredded cheese… saving a nice amount of shredded cheese for the top.
  10. Cover with foil, bake at 350° for an hour.
  11. Pull it out, uncover, top with bread crumbs or crumbled up crackers, add some additional seasoning if so inclined, and pop it back in for another 15 minutes.

Well, there you have it.  Pretty simple, and nothing makes me happier than cheese & potatoes.  I noticed a lot of scalloped potato recipes don’t have cheese, but really… where’s the fun in that?  Some also used a cream of chicken or cream of potato soup… makes it too much like White Trash ‘Taters for me.  You may want to skip the breading, use chips or those crispy canned fried onions.  Everyone has their own thing that they dig.  Yukon Gold potatoes would make this really nice, probably wouldn’t need to cook as long…red potatoes might make it bitey…  A mix may be nice.  As far as the spices, I used coarse ground black pepper, I think some dry mustard, paprika, and some McKormick Season All.

Pandora’s Lunchbox


Heh.  Twitter is fun.  So, you may know that I have my W(aL)D Twitter account, and I use it to be goofy.  I think I re-opened the Subway door here.  Mayhaps this time I’ll get some sort of resolution?

Today, Subway Freshbuzz tweeted the following…

Does anybody else out there try to save half of their $5 Footlong for a 2nd meal, only to be called back by its delicious siren song?

So, I posted this in response…

@subwayfreshbuzz Nope. Not when 1 bite is a potential trip to the E.R. thanks to cross-contamination in the food-prep area.

Tonight, I have this in my Direct Message box…

subwayfreshbuzz Thanks for the feedback. It would be great if you could let us know more about this incident on our cust. service page  http://bit.ly/bhSAn

Well, at least I have someone paying attention!  I sent them a link to my original complaint to Subway, but I’d like to list the whole saga here… in case I need them to refer back to the message trail at some point…

Five. Five dollar. Five dollar… foot up your ass.

• October 28, 2009 • 8 Comments (Edit)

Subway Customer ID: 1918316

• October 29, 2009 • 7 Comments (Edit)

Quiznos writes back before Subway!

• November 12, 2009 • 8 Comments (Edit)

So, we have a response from Subway! – Not really a response, if you ask me…

• November 13, 2009 • 2 Comments (Edit)

The Quiznos Toasty Torpedo™ and the diminutive hand model…

• November 17, 2009 • 3 Comments (Edit)

“You never told me you spoke my language, Doctor Jones.”

• November 18, 2009 • 3 Comments (Edit)

If we’re keeping score, that’s Subway 1 and Quiznos 3½. – No doubt.

• November 20, 2009 • 3 Comments (Edit)

Subway®: “First, allow me to apologize.” – Again, this really wasn’t a nice response, or a response at all…

• November 24, 2009 • 4 Comments (Edit)

Allergies, Alliteration, and Annoyance.
– I had to take it somewhere else.

• November 25, 2009 • 6 Comments (Edit)

Allergies, Annoyance, Alliteration, & Acceptance

• December 21, 2009 • 1 Comment (Edit)

If we’re keeping score, that’s Subway 1 and Quiznos 3½.


Wow, amazingly… Quiznos is still on the job, and Subway is still not.

The W(aL)D inbox was empty today, save for this…

From: HelpDesk <HelpDesk@quiznos.com>
Date: Fri, Nov 20, 2009 at 2:36 PM
Subject: FW: The Quiznos Toasty TorpedoT ads?
To: FO Marketing <FOmarketing@quiznos.com>
Cc: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Thank you for your response back. Greg is currently out of the office so I will forward your comments on to our marketing team for you.

Rebecca Chamberlain

Help Desk Associate

QUIZNOS®

Subs • Soups • Salads

Our friends at Subway have still not written back… even though I was told by Mack Bridenbaker that Paula Gomez from Customer Care would address my concerns.

We also have another Quiznos email address to add to the collection.

If you need to catch up, here’s a time-line on this one:

  • I write to Subway about allergens, cross-contamination, hygiene, the $5 footlong campaign and Jared:  $5 Foot Up Your Ass. [Oct. 28, 2009]
  • Subway (Anna Seely, Customer Care) sends back a form letter that I in turn reply to: Customer ID: 1918316 [Oct. 29, 2009]
  • I send it to Quiznos to get a comment, and they (Tony Jones, Vice President for Quiznos representing the Ohio/Indiana/Pennsylvania/Illinois region & Gregory Boudreaux, Help Desk Lead) do:  Quiznos writes back before Subway – To put this in perspective I also tried to get comments from Sheetz, Jimmy John’s, & Jersey Mike’s – w/o so much as even a form letter generic response (wtf? seriously.) …and re-sent the concerns to Subway noting that it had been a while since they’d received my mail with no reply. [Nov. 1o & 11, 2009]
  • Response from Subway (Mack Bridenbaker, Subway Spokesperson) saying someone (Paula Gomez, Customer Care) will address my concerns:  Sort of a response from Subway [Nov. 13, 2009]
  • Since I have a good already open dialogue, I write to Quiznos about the little hands in the Toasty Torpedo Ads:  Are those midget hands? [Nov. 17, 2009]
  • Quiznos (Tony Jones, Vice President for Quiznos representing the Ohio/Indiana/Pennsylvania/Illinois region) writes back, amused:  Have you ever thought of getting into an independent consulting capacity… or maybe franchise news journaling? [Nov. 17, 2009]
  • Today, Quiznos (Rebecca Chamberlain, Help Desk Associate) writes back, to tell me that she’s passing on my email, and that someone else from the marketing team will get back to me.  Awesome.

If we’re keeping score, that’s Subway 1 and Quiznos 3½(The responses saying you’ll get a response are only worth ½ in my point system, OK?)

So there you have it.  Quiznos is awesome.  Subway is not.

What is “FO Marketing” though?

At any rate, please let me know what you think of the insanity… and where I should go from here.