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

Guitarz 2012 Calendar!


Some people who read this blog may, like myself, have an appreciation for guitars.  I like the weird, the odd, the strange, & the rare.

Not Enough Batman
Not Enough Batman

Guitarz is putting together a 2012 calendar of such guitars.

These guys put together a great blog, and I’m looking forward to their calendar.  I might take an artful photo of one of my weird axes, but with only 12 months in the year mine won’t be a slam-dunk… and sadly aren’t the weirdest/rarest out there.

Take some photos of your weird/rare/beautiful guitars and send them in!

They probably won’t take this photo.  So, get your axe in gear!  (Get it?)  Submit a photo of your rare/weird/cool guitar, or take a photo of a friend’s to submit.

McMummy Meal


Heard about this on the radio, saw the link to this article on Yahoo! this morning.  Creepy:

McDonald’s Happy Meal resists decomposition for six months

 

Day 180 | Davies Happy Meal Project | October 7, 2010

Day 180

 

Not that this is really all that surprising or life-changing… just makes you pause to think about the absurdity of it all.

From an art perspective, this is very fun & funny.  From an experimental perspective, this needs a little more control.  I’d like to see the meal left to sit still in between photographs, and perhaps even from a camera that sits on a tripod in the same spot every time.

I’d also like to see meals from other chains like Burger King, Wendy’s, Steak N’ Shake, as well as a home-made patty cooked from fresh ground beef… and even a store-bought pre-made hamburger patty.  Hell, why not even throw a Morning Star Farms or Boca veggie patty in there too?

You can follow the project directly on Flickr here:  Davies McDonalds Happy Meal Project

I find the comments from Theresa Riley at McDonald’s to be the most absurd part.  “Completely unsubstantiated?”  Have you seen the photos?

Also, Dr. Michael Doyle going on record saying “no hamburger would look like this after one year unless it was tampered with or held frozen” is kind of goofy.  Has he done this experiment?  Does he know for sure?

I do have to say that environment has a lot to do with it.  The fate of the burger & fries may be markedly different in an apartment in Florida vs. one in Alaska or Arizona… and then is there heat, A/C, or other environmental control going on in that apartment?

I’d love to see this as a Mythbusters episode.

Clemente Bridge @ Night


Clemente BridgeI recently submitted a photo to the Only In Pittsburgh blog, and they posted it today (Thanks Brett!).  So, this is nothing more than shameless self-promotion.  The photo featured is my current desktop @ work, and was part of a set that I took last year at PNC Park.

I find the bridge more visually interesting than anything actually in the park. I need to go back down & get some more views of the city this summer.  I have no idea how I managed to get a night photo that wasn’t blurry without the use of a tripod.

Only In Pittsburgh is a cool blog to check out if you like photography & if you like the ‘Burgh.  I follow them on Twitter to get my daily dose of Yinzer pride.

Weird Natural Ice Formation


Bethany pointed this out to me yesterday while she was preparing a nice Valentine’s Day dinner.  It prompted me to grab some more Snopocalypse photos, and upload the ones that have been in my camera since the big storm.  I’m not sure if I captured it quite right, given my limited angle (out the kitchen window) & minimal photography skills.  It’s a crazy ice formation that appears to have formed to the bricks of our neighbor’s house, then fallen forward to rest on another icicle… leaving a really interesting free-standing brick-pattern sculpture.

Crazy Ice Sculpture | DSC_0229.jpg
Crazy Ice Sculpture | DSC_0224.jpg
Crazy Ice Sculpture | DSC_0223.jpg

Photo from the Pens game last night…


Got a good shot from my cell phone last night at the start of the 3rd period.  tumblr treats your photos a lot better than Facebook…

Buffalo Sabres @ Pittsburgh Penguins - 02/01/2010 (Mellon Arena)

We were sitting in section D23.  Not bad for a cell phone camera, eh?

Oh yeah, the Pens won.

(Another) Message from McDonald’s USA [ref#:6502666 & ref#:6521333]


I never got a reply from McDonald’s going any farther than the original “we’ll forward it to the appropriate party” email.  So, I decided to reply.  Nothing to lose, right?  Well, I couldn’t directly reply, because of the incredibly blunt “No ‘replies’ can be received through this mailbox. If you wish to contact McDonald’s Customer Response Center again, please visit our website at www.mcdonalds.compart of their email.  So, back to the McWebform I went!  I even included the fancy ref#:6502666.

Well, it apparently worked!

From: McDonalds.CustomerCare@us.mcd.com
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Wed, December 9, 2009 5:09:19 AM
Subject: Message from McDonald’s USA

Hello Eric:

Thank you for taking the time to re-contact McDonald’s Customer Service Center. I’m sorry you have not yet received a local response regarding your recent McDonald’s restaurant experience.

Please know we take your comments very seriously. I will immediately re-contact the franchise owner of the restaurant you visited and request that he or she follow-up with you as soon as possible.

Please be assured your complete satisfaction is our top priority. Thank you for your patience and for taking the time to re-contact McDonald’s Customer Service Center.

Jimelle
McDonald’s Customer Response Center

ref#:6521333

————————————————————————————————————–

Please do not “reply” to this email response. No “replies” can be received through this mailbox. If you wish to contact McDonald’s Customer Response Center again, please visit our website at www.mcdonalds.com

————————————————————————————————————–

Are you finished with your holiday shopping? Even the person with everything gets hungry. An Arch Card makes a great holiday gift. For more information visit your local McDonald’s restaurant or our website at http://www.mcdonalds.com/archcard.

You wrote:

Hello,

Regarding my last message from Ashley at McDonald’s customer service… ref#:6502666

I was told not to reply to the email… hopefully that reference # can refer you to my earlier message.

I think it’s a very poor setup that you have… not being able to reply to emails.

Your message to me said “Because most McDonald’s restaurants are independently owned and operated, I have forwarded your comments to the franchise owner or local representative for follow up at the restaurant you visited. Please be assured that your comments will be investigated and, if appropriate, corrective action will be taken.

Secondly, although we did not completely meet your expectations, please know that our restaurant employees strive to maintain the highest standards of quality, service, cleanliness and value and it’s certainly nice to know that their efforts are appreciated. We want to recognize your complimentary comments and thank you for your kind words.

Was anyone at that McDonald’s contacted?

Will I get a reply?

And, then, it was followed up by this…

From: Sandra Jaeger sandra.jaeger@gmail.com
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Wed, December 9, 2009 7:07:00 PM
Subject: Fwd: Follow up of e-mail for the West Liberty Avenue Restaurant

From: Sandra Jaeger sandra.jaeger@gmail.com
Date: Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 7:02 PM
Subject: Follow up of e-mail for the West Liberty Avenue Restaurant
To: [complete@misspelling.of.my.email.address]
Dear Eric

I am the Customer Service Representative of the West Liberty Avenue Restaurant. I unfortunately did not receive your first e-mail.  Please fill me in on the situation.   I am located in the Pittsburgh area and will address all issues to the supervisors of this restaurant.
Sincerely,
Sandra Jaeger

How cool is that?  Ha ha ha.  An actual response!  Funny that it “didn’t get through” the first time.  Very funny.  Also funny that it went to a complete misspelling of my email address, those of you who have it will find it amusing.  There was a “.” where a “_” should be as well, as a few incorrect letters.  (Not transposed, incorrect.)

So, of course, I had to write back…

From: me@my.email.address
To: Sandra Jaeger sandra.jaeger@gmail.com
Sent: Wed, December 9, 2009 10:00:58 PM
Subject: Re: Fwd: Follow up of e-mail for the West Liberty Avenue Restaurant

Hello Sandra,

Thanks you for the reply!  I have always wondered if the emails that you get in reply to webforms at sites like the McDonald’s one are anything more than a standard form letter.  In reply to my first message, the response said “I have forwarded your comments to the franchise owner or local representative for follow up at the restaurant you visited.”  I had wondered if this really was the case…  Apparently not, until I took the time to reply with a second message asking if it had really gone any further.  I’m glad I took the time to follow up!

I  find it amusing that my original comments did not make it to you.  It makes me wonder how many emails remain unanswered daily when filtered through the McWebform.  This is not your problem though, as you are obviously concerned and addressing this issue now.

My original comments were regarding a visit that I had over a week ago now, in an evening stop at the McDonald’s on West Liberty Ave. in Beechview or Dormont or whatever the neighborhood may be there.

My original message was…

The crew in the place tonight seemed to be operating well, were friendly, and quickly as far as the food was concerned, but the parking lot was full of cars for the bar next door, and the men’s bathroom was disgusting.  Please see this link for a review & photos: http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/23/1346713/restaurant/Far-South-South-Hills/McDonalds-Pittsburgh

That pointed to a review that I posted on UrbanSpoon.com, which you can read here…
“Sadly, had the best service there tonight in years…” by ERiC AiXeLsyD (98 reviews)
November 29, 2009 – Doesn’t like it – Small crew tonight, decent night-time crowd, stopped for a late dinner, was served relatively quickly… fries were a perfect golden color and hot… burgers were OK, super-greasy but it IS McDonald’s. We were out at an event earlier, on the way home… had to use the facilities… but they were trashed. Stall #1 had no TP dispenser, the roll was on the back of the commode, and the bowl was chock full of the stuff. Stall #2 had a broken doorknob/lock mechanism. One hand dryer was stuck on, the other didn’t work, and both urinals were full of urine. I know they can’t control flushing… but periodic checks/cleanings and some repairs might be in order.  Just when I thought this place had their stuff together for once… My advice? When stopping here, use the facilities somewhere else. 1 person likes this review

…and these are the photos referenced:

Stall #1

Stall #2

I understand that the fact that at that time of night, there’s perhaps a smaller than usual crew, and that the West Liberty Ave. location is seemingly always busy.  I have been through the drive-thru at this time of night before, and it always seems slow, though it’s thankfully not as slow as the Wendy’s right down the street.  Those people have a whole different set of issues.  My friends and I call it “The Slow Wendy’s”.

I was just wondering what kind of cleaning & maintenance policies that you have in place?  Does management or ownership do any kind of inspection or follow-up?  Do inspections my the corporation ever occur?  I mean, surely you can’t think the photos above are an acceptable presentation of your restaurant chain?

I don’t know about you, but when I “gotta go”, it’s urgent!  The urinals looked filthy, si I opted for the stalls… one was stuffed, and one had a door that wouldn’t close.  I like to do my business in private, no interruptions.  Closing doors are a good thing!  Also… the lack of a TP dispenser, & the roll just being on the back of the thing…  I cannot imagine what would have happened had I needed to use that.  I mean, how uncomfortable would it be to reach behind yourself like that after…  Well, after doing your thing?

Thank you for your time, and the follow up.  I appreciate the fact that you took the time to inquire about the issue.

Sincerely,
-Eric

Maybe I should have included a link to the Wendy’s incident?  Not yet, my friends.  Not yet. I can’t wait to see what kind of response I get this time.  I love when it gets down to a real live person in charge of something.

The Creepy Mrs. Claus


So, on Friday, we boxed up the fall decorations, took ’em to the basement, and brought up the Christmas decorations. My wife, Bethany, put out most of the smaller decorations that go around the apartment, we’ll probably do the tree and maybe some outside lights by the end of the week.

As I was laying on the couch Friday night while we were watching TV… I felt like I was being watched. I was! There was a creepy set of tiny gnome-like yes staring right through me from the coffee table.

It was a tiny eerie Mrs. Claus salt (or pepper) shaker. It must be a set… no idea where they’re from. Mr’s Claus’ apron actually even looks like it was melted a little at one point in time. Perhaps she was stored in a hot attic, near some warm holiday lights, or near a radiator?

So, I did what any normal person would do (I hope)… and I turned the creepy little thing so it was no longer facing me.

Bethany erupted in a fit of laughter, because I was obviously disturbed by a tiny inanimate object.

Saturday morning, I stepped into the shower stall, and Mrs. Claus was eight there on top of the shampoo dispenser looking right at my naked figure.

Game on. Bethany wins the first round.

Needless to say, Mrs. Claus was all over the house this weekend.

We’ve played this game before with empty toilet paper rolls… because someone refuses to change them when they’re done, and just sets a new roll on the window sill. Not naming anyone here, I’m just sayin’. They’ve ended up in pillowcases, in the freezer, in the car… you name it.

This morning, I used my cell phone to capture an image of the disturbing little holiday figurine, Photobucket to save it, paint.NET to crop it, and then I emailed it to my wife’s Yahoo!, Hotmail, & Work email addresses, and her phone.

Not sure where to go next… but I thought I’d share the creepy Mrs. Claus image, in case you had anyone that you wanted to creep-out.

Maybe I’ll eventually have to get a better photo with the camera. This one’s a little blurry.

Stuffing Recipe – Thanksgiving 2009


Stuffing has got to be my favorite Thanksgiving food.  I remember Thanksgivings past where my dad & I would fight over the stuffing bowl like it was filled with gold, diamonds, and (for me) guitars.  The stuff is perfect.  Alone, with turkey, with gravy… the decadent amount of carbs is ridiculously awesome.

Last year was my first ever attempt at making stuffing… and my grandma told me that it tasted just like hers.  Is there a compliment better than that?  I had used as a guide an old recipe that my grandfather & grandmother had both used when making holiday meals.  My mom lent me the old cook book with my grandfather’s notes last year, I collected some others, and I made scans for myself.

I say “guide” because it’s not always an exact science when doubling/tripling recipes… and there really aren’t any cooking directions… it’s just a guide to make the stuff.  Also, I tend to do a lot of “oh, that looks about right” and a little bit of “hey, let’s add a little of this” in the kitchen, as most people comfortable there usually do.

A lot of times I see stuffing recipes online, on TV, or in the little books by the cash register at the grocery store… and they include sausage, apples, raisins, (yuck!) nuts, or even peppers, carrots, or mushrooms (all of the latter of which I’ like to try some time).  The philosophy behind this recipe seems to be a K.I.S.S. one.  I like that.  It’s a very simple accompaniment, and the taste that my mind goes to every time I think “stuffing”.

This year, it was definitely a two person effort.  I don’t know how I would have done it without Bethany and all four of our hands.  We made a lot of stuffing.  Sadly, I didn’t think to chronicle the thing with photos like I sometimes do with new recipes… but I did want to make a guide with my own notes, so when I do this next year, I remember what I did differently this year.  I know I altered things slightly last year, but the details were a little fuzzy.  I figured that if I’m going to do it for myself, I might as well share, right?  Plus, we got compliments from two moms, two grandmas, and an aunt… all excellent in the kitchen themselves!

I did take a photo today, because really, what’s a food blog post without a photo?  Perhaps I’ll see if my mom got any with her camera and amend the post later.

Thanksgiving Stuffing 2009

This year's effort was delicious, if I do say so myself.

This is my first time really writing out a recipe… so pardon me if it’s a little convoluted or long winded.  I don’t want to miss anything, and I hope to get it all in the right order as well as make it an entertaining read.

Here’s what you’ll need to do it the same way I did…

Food:

  • 5 loaves of bread (equaled 56 cups once cubed)
  • 1 bundle of celery (3 cups, chopped – the rest can cook w/ the turkey or be a snack)
  • 2 Spanish or Sweet onions
  • The giblets & neck out of your turkey.
  • 1 can (14½ oz.) vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoons of salt
  • ½ tablesppon Season All Seasoned Salt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 heaping teaspoon sage
  • 1 heaping teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 10 eggs
  • 4 sticks (2 cups) butter
  • some water
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 bottle of Yuengling

Stuff:

  • 2 cookie sheets
  • cutting boards
  • small pot
  • electric skillet
  • Magic Bullet®
  • electric roaster
  • large crock pot
  • knives
  • a few large bowls
  • whisk
  • spatula
  • several large spoons
  • paper towels

OK, on to the directions…

  1. Monday night, get your loaves of bread, open the bags, and put the loaves on cookie sheets before dinner.  Leave ’em out on a table or counter while you do your thing.
  2. Right before your favorite prime time TV shows come on, set up a station on the coffee table in front of the couch with the cookie trays of bread, some cutting boards with knives, and the pans out of your electric roaster.  Cube the bread and fill the roasting pan.  When I say fill it, I mean fill it.  It will be ridiculously full.
  3. Cover it with paper towels, and set it on the kitchen table that you only use when company comes over anyway.  Over the next few days, stir it a few times a day, whenever you think of it.  This will get it nicely & slightly stale.  If you’re going to be doing anything that smells, like using cleaning chemicals, put it in the oven… but don’t turn it on.  It’s nice & warm & dry & not stinky in there.  The bread will absorb that stuff and the stuffing will taste like Mr. Clean made it.
  4. Wednesday night, get out your turkey… and pull the disgusting papery bag of giblets out of the neck cavity, and the neck out of its butt.  (Why exactly do they put the neck in the butt, anyway?  Who’s idea was that?) Boil the giblets in your can of vegetable broth, or just use plain water… or even turkey or chicken broth.  I thought the vegetable broth would add a nice flavor.  I boiled them for a nice long time, and let it cook down quite a bunch.
  5. Finely chop up your celery & onions… or use the Magic Bullet, like I did.  I’m not real big on chunks of slimy or crunchy stuff in bread-like consistency foods.  I probably had half of each chopped finely, the other half rendered to near-paste by the genius little piece of equipment that list the Magic Bullet.  I’m sure any food processor would work.. but this one is easy to pot pout of storage, use, and clean when you’re done.
  6. Then I popped out the electric skillet to sauteé the onion & celery mixture… probably in some Country Crock & a bit of extra virgin olive oil… adding some of the spices mentioned above, and maybe even some paprika… although, they don’t come the totals listed above.  These are the aforementioned “oh, that looks about right” and  “hey, let’s add a little of this”.  You’ve sauteed stuff, you know how it works.  I love this step because it turns the onions from gross into awesome… especially the Spanish onions.  The sweet onions are oddly enough not as sweet to me when cooked.
  7. Next time, I’m totally getting a pair of swimming goggles or those glasses that I’ve seen at Bed, Bath & Beyond for when I chop & pulverize the onions.  I was crying like a little girl who just watched a car run over a kitten.
  8. I popped the onions and celery into separate containers for the ‘fridge to save for Thursday morning.
  9. Next, I pulled out the giblets and chopped them into tiny pieces, & put them with the reduced broth from cooking into a 3rd refrigerator bound container to be used on Thursday morning.
  10. Go to bed.  You have to get up early.
  11. Thursday get up about an hour before your turkey needs to go in the roaster oven, and start to mix all this crap together.
  12. Add the dry spice ingredients to the now stale-ish cubed bread.  Good luck not getting any on the floor.
  13. Chop the fresh parsley.
  14. Nuke your butter in a microwave safe bowl, add it to a large mixing bowl, crack open the 10 eggs, and whisk away.
  15. Add the fresh parsley to the buttery gooey egg mixture.
  16. Add 2-3 cups of the broth from the giblets, and the finely chopped giblets to the now even gooier butterier egg mixture.
  17. This is where I got the bright idea to dump in some Yuengling.  It wasn’t a whole bottle… but I had it out & only needed about ½ cup for my butter/garlic/beer turkey injection/baste,  so I dumped some into the gooey buttery gibletey mixture, and drank the rest… all before 8:00 am.
  18. Dump the celery & onion concoction on to the bread, mix around, and then dump on the gooey buttery gibletey Yuenglingey mixture.  This is where it was imperative that there were two of us.  Bethany opted to use her hands to mix while I poured.  The mixing gets easier when it’s wet, as it goes down a little.  You should probably wash your hands before you do this.  Not that I think you’re stupid or anything… but there are signs out there all over the place… so someone somewhere must need reminded.  Use soap, and hot water.
  19. Now, this needs to come out of the roaster so the turkey can go into it… and you should be doing this around the same time as turkey prep… so stuff what you can into the turkey carcass’ various cavities, and put the rest in the crock pot.  I had Bethany scoop it into a bowl small amounts at a time as I stuffed it into the bird, so I wasn’t touching raw poultry and the stuffing that wasn’t going into the bird.  She made it clear that she wasn’t touching the raw dead bird, or sticking her hands into it.
  20. I sewed up the turkey and popped it into the roaster to cook, and then put the stuffing in the crock pot on low to cook for the same amount of time.
  21. Everyone told me last year that stuffing + crock pot = bad idea.  This is where I say that you could not be more wrong.  It was perfectly moist and heated well throughout.  I did break the cardinal cock pot rule by removing the lid every hour or so and stirring a little so it didn’t stick to the sides or burn.  This worked well, except that I didn’t get the bottom well enough.  You could add more liquid throughout if t looked necessary… or not stir if you like the crusty part as much as the other part.  If you use the crock pot enough, you get to know what works for yours.  Pop it on to warm or off a while before you eat.
  22. When the turkey’s ready, the stuffing’s ready.  Stuff yourself silly, send people home with leftovers, and eat for breakfast, lunch, & dinner the next day.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the process, and I’m sorry for jumping tenses.  I think I did anyway.  All over the place.  Maybe Dave and Kristin can give me some pointers on that.

I’d love to know what you think of this recipe, and how you do your stuffing.  I’m always up for trying things new ways… and I’m always up for eating stuffing.  In fact, even better — make some, and invite me over for dinner!