Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for November, 2009

[ Currently Eating: Rice Balls ]

Fried Rice Madness - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Happy Th’Day.

As in th’day that we all ingest dumptrucks full of food.

I’m not going berate people for overlooking the “true spirit of Thanksgiving”. I know this is just the way it works. I’d be more of a hypocrite than usual if I said that for this Th’Day post, instead of pteranodonic turkeys and gigantic bowls of mash-po, I’m going to go with simple Leftovers for Lunch.

Well, I’m going to do it anyway. That’s how I roll, and idealistic droning.

Long time readers (the eleven of you) may remember that I’ve posted about fried rice many, many times previously. It’s just difficult to get away from because it’s a great money and time saver for lunch.

To me, Leftovers for Lunch represents one thing we should be thankful for as far as food goes. That is, there is actually leftover food to eat. Most people waste a ton of food every year. I’m as guilty as the next person of that. I’m probably even worse, because I buy a lot of junk food at the dollar store just to review it, and I end up chucking half of it.

I’m not really the type of person who goes down and volunteers at the soup kitchen. That’s just not me. But I guess I’ll try not to waste food and to re-incorporate leftovers into meals whenever possible.

How noble.

Anyhow, this Th’Day Fried Rice is actually made up of two different types of leftover rice. The first is leftover portion of Spanish Rice from a dinner at a Mexican restaurant. The second is a leftover portion of rice from a takeout lunch of Beef Stroganoff (I know, weird, it comes w/ rice instead of noodles). I cut up the beef into pieces, cut off some of the corn on the cob that came with the Spanish Rice, added leftover onions and bell pepper pieces and fried up the whole thing with an egg scrambled into it.

I know, I know – tomorrow I’m going to go eat turkey, stuffing, ham, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie until I burst just like everyone else. It’s hypocritical, stupid, lame and a downer to post about eating leftovers before the big meal in order to make other people feel guilty.

But hey guvnor, I’m just a right bastard.

[Editor's Note: Actually, if you would like to feel even guiltier this Th'Day, you might investigate what Thanksgiving represents to many Native Americans groups.]

[ Currently Eating: Uh, Cookies for Breakfast? ]

Hormel Corned Beef Hash

I have something to say. Here it is:

I am a Sucker.

Yes, a sucker. Maybe an unintentional, half-baked or day-old sucker, but a sucker nonetheless.

I reminisce. I nostaligicize. I ponderificate. I make up words. I think back to the Day.

Back to the Day when you had to be a nerd kid to use a computer. (Commodore 64 programmer, thank you very much. 40 characters across the screen was a luxury. Run-stop Restore that bizatch.)

The things you did in your wee moo-cow childhood dayz will always float to the surface like Dexter’s trash-bagged, hacksawed body parts in the bay.

Ok, maybe that’s going too far. Especially when talking about meat products.

We used to eat Hormel Corned Beef Hash on camping trips. This fleshy, fattening substance, studded with Rubik’s Cube corner chunks of potatoes was the highlight of breakfast. Fried up crispy and usually with scrambled eggs, this kind of corned beef hash reminds me of our clunky, yet reliable, motorhome. If you can believe it, my parents still have the SAME motorhome from the early 80s rusting in back of their house. The floor of the motorhome still smells faintly of motorbike dust and packets of Lipton instant cream of chicken soup.

I absolutely think Hormel knows that I’m a Sucker for old timey meat-in-a-can. I think they’re watching me from a spy satellite orbiting the Earth. Like that Simpsons episode. They have special punch cards in their satellite (yes, they use punch cards in case they need to burn the incriminating evidence) that contain food preference data on every single American citizen. I think they sent word to their flunkies on Earth that I was due for a corned beef purchase and thusly they moved quicky to place their product in the aisle I was walking down last week.

I am not paranoid, he sayeth as he dons his foil hat.

Hormel Corned Beef Hash

Corned Beef Hash in a can is an interesting experience. I’ve earlier reviewed Hartford House Corned Beef and if memory serves me correctly I didn’t like it very much. I wish I had a can of that to test side by side with the Hormel variety today, to see if my old score still stands up. Because I’m wondering just how different it can be from the Hormel variety.

Incidentally – who the hell is Mary Kitchen? I know Hormel has been around since 1891, and Mary Kitchen has been around since 1949. But I’m not sure when Hormel bought the brand. I’m trying to think back to the 1980s and remember if the old cans had the Mary Kitchen name on it. Strange, I don’t seem to recall it. I’m sure old fart out there will remind me. Or a new fart would be fine, someone who thinks that he knows stuff because he can read Wikipedia.

Back to the corned beef hash – I’m actually a pretty big fan of this stuff as a special occasion treat. I wouldn’t eat it more than a few times a year. If you do decide to take a trip down memory lane, or if you’re a newcomer to the wonderful world of canned meaty products, I would suggest you do NOT go and smell the unfried stuff straight out of the can. That would be unwise.

You just put it in a frying pan, flatten it slightly, and let it crisp up. I don’t really put oil in it, I just use a nonstick pan. Flip it once and then crack some eggs onto or around it. The best part is the crispy edges, so make sure it’s really flattened. Some people dislike the little Rubik’s Cube potato chunks, but I find that they actually go well with the corned beef. If that’s not enough potato for you, cut up some baked potato from the day before, fry that ahead of time, and then just add it in.

Hormel Corned Beef has a sort of roasty taste to it, but I’m not sure if that’s not from me nearly burning it to get the crispy edges. I paid over $2 for my 15 ounce can, but I think that it’ll occasionally go on sale. Like I said before, it’s not something I’d eat every day, but it’s worthwhile to pick up a can for the pantry. (Do you hear that, Hormel Sky-Watchers? I’m going to buy some more cans, so you better go put them on sale soon.)

And all you dieting nay-sayers out there will be glad to know that they have a “reduced fat” variety. If you still feel guilty, throw some veggies in there for god’s sake. Work with me here, people.

Price: $2.35 for 15oz
Found At: Fresh & Easy
Cheap Eats Score: 7/10

[Editor's Note: Unfortunately, I never learned how to solve the Rubik's Cube. I think I could've done it if I applied myself, but for some reason, the instructions my friend photocopied for me didn't make any sense. So instead, I learned an ancient, time-honored secret method to solve it: it's called the Screwdriver...]

[ Currently Eating: Genetically Modified Market Produce ]

BK Wins Poll

Dear Burger King,

I did not make the rules. But you lost in our latest poll of Worst Fast Food Commercials. You were caught like a deer in the headlights, hmm… funny that the screengrab I made above is actually from one of your commercials. Almost too perfect.

And so on, sincerely, Me.

This actually did come as a bit of a surprise. Oh, I have no love for the hoity-toity bank robber bandit masquerading as Burger King’s mascot. But there are worse fast food commercials.

Like Carl’s Jr.

When I think of Carl’s Jr. commercials, an bitter bile of unhappy Happy Star meals from the 80s crawls back up my throat. Ugh. How far they have fallen off my pedestal of Great Childhood Memories. I could go on for a long time about how bad my impression of CJs has become because of the commercials. I find them to be confusing, misogynistic, boring, misleading, racially insulting, idiotic and stupid – pandering only to the absolute lowest common denominator life form on the planet.

[Editor's Important Aside: Hello. By reading the above statement, i.e. training your eyeballs thusly on the above sentence, you are agreeing that in fact that this website is merely poking fun, or fun-like sharp spears, at certain food companies, and you waive your rights under the Fast Food Constitution to do anything about it, or make use of useless law degrees, or butter your toast with a spoon, or pet any resulting iguanas. You agree that I've been declared legally insane, blind, deaf and balding. Thank you, and thanks for having a sense of humor (although, it would be nice if you could put that into your commercials).]

Burger King

But let’s return (reluctantly) to Burger King. The results came in at BK 37%, McD 29%, CJs 21% and JITB 13% out of 1208 votes. I only really agree with the results of Jack In The Box. Some might think, what difference is there between a guy who puts on a fake king head, and a guy who puts on a fake antenna ball? It seems to me that Jack is sorta cool and Mostly Harmless, while the King is a creepy, mute, mentally challenged, booger, I mean burger, monster.

[Editor's Important Aside: BK, please refer to the above aside, thank you.]

The Jack in the Box commercials really grew on me. And since I am one of the few people who actually enjoy their meat paste tacos, I don’t feel the need to complain too much. Except that their new logo sorta sucks, especially when I try to say “Jack In the Balpha” and people look at me like, What?

I seriously thought that Burger King would’ve been voted as the 2nd best after JITB. I thought that McDonald’s might’ve been about tied with Burger King, but maybe slightly worse. I didn’t expect that many folks to hate the McD commercials – to me, they seem sort of innocuous. What is it that people don’t like in their commercials – the crappy sappy jingles? Or the creepy clown?

I think I’ve identified the major problem with CJs commercials. I watch a lot of hockey, and for some reason (their target audience, of course) they find it amusing to play the same, stupid commercial after every break. In the course of a game, I might see the same CJs commercial 25 times. It’s super annoying, made more so by the fact that the commercials are so horrible in all respects.

Incidentally, if I see the stupid Panda Express commercial one more time, I’m going to barf. I also hate commercials that have any sort of phone ringing, alarm clock, dog barking, or any loud noise that is expressly meant to make you look up from whatever you’re doing while the commercials are on.

(Incidentally Part 2, why is there no “Volume Jump” on TVs? I don’t want to mute the commercial because then I won’t know when the program is back. I want to lower the volume by an exact amount each and every time a commercial comes on instead of having to hold the volume button down. Oh, it makes me madder than a mad hatter…)

I suspect this is the whole point of commercials. Play them enough times so that they’ll burrow into our grey matter. But have they done enough market testing on this? Do other people NOT get annoyed by seeing the same bad commercial 25 times during one program. I’m not sure marketing budgets for commercials should be focused on making a good commercial. You can get any halfwit to make a good Blair Witch type commercial for you a la YouTube.

I think fast food companies should focus more on not annoying the crap out of TV viewers by playing the same commercial over and over. Even a guy who thinks guacamole is made by putting a whole avocado into a blender is going to get annoyed after awhile. Stop it, stop it, just stop it already.

I rest my case and my typing fingers.

[Editor's Note: I've been guilty of leaving a poll up for months and months to inflate the numbers. But anyway, there is a new poll up at the top of page. I have no idea what it means, but please answer it.]

[Editor's Note 2: I almost forgot - I somehow made it to FIVE years of posting on this blog. Happy 5 year blogiversary to me.]

[ Currently Eating: Sleep ]

Shrimp Circle of Pasta - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Oh Hell. I mean, Hell-o.

This is the part of the story where the embattled, sick editor of Cheap Eats begs off posting for another week by uploading an old, overexposed picture of a wagon wheel circle of grilled shrimp on a bed of pasta.

The thing is, things never work that way. For example, if I type or think the word “thing” or “thingy” or “think” multiple times, after awhile things start to look very strange. And I start to over-think things. Simple “leftovers” posts become convoluted things. Things are like that on this blog since we think about cheap eating things quite a bit.

[Editor's Aside: I must be thinking (or tink'ing) of our earlier "Tings" review]

Regardless, I’ll try. Begin: This is an old, overexposed picture of a wagon wheel circle of grilled shrimp on a bed of pasta. If you ignore the bad quality of the picture, you will start to notice the greatly pleasing symmetry of the shrimp with tails all facing the same way. Neat, even though it reminds me uncomfortably of Las Vegas buffets.

I’m sure you’ve already noted that this is neither leftovers (it was a main dish for dinner) nor is it cheap (well, it’s cheaper than buying a dish like this at Olive Garden, I guess). That fact has been noted and recorded summarily in the Cheap Eats back issue files, so that I won’t make the same mistake again.

But let me get back to the synchronized shrimp. This is actually a great tip for leftovers, even though this dish itself isn’t a leftover. About 76% (more or less) of the time, dressing up your leftovers a bit will make them taste better. I want to say that it’ll ALWAYS make them taste better, but I don’t want to get emails from irate readers dumping gold paint on their leftover tuna casserole.

It’s happened before.

But yes, it’s all about tricking your brain into thinking that you’re eating something more delicious than last night’s beef stroganoff. It really does work.

But now, I think I will head back to bed to rest my head. And dream of synchronized shrimp swimming in vats of garlic butter.

[Editor's Note: I think that thinking things think about things that think thoughts of thinking things.]



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