Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for April, 2010

[ Currently Eating: Earth Sandwich ]


So, I’ve been monkeying around with the new WordPress install that I grumbled about earlier. Surprisingly, I’ve been finding it hasn’t been grinding my Cheap Eats blogging mojo down.

If anything, it’s made it easier to make posts. There are still a lot of things I hate about it, but it’ll work for now.

I’ve also had some time to think, which is likely a dangerous thing. Deep thinking is not my strong suit. And anyway, I hate to wear neckties.

But yes, I got to thinking that as much as I hate to acknowledge the folks who dislike the “windbaggy” part of this blog, they probably have a sixteenth of a point. In particular, I’ve been complaining too much.

No one likes a complainer.

That is, except my secret horde of Cheap Eats zombie groupies that follow me around the Dollar Store documenting my every move. “Oooh, is he going to grab the Beanee Weenne? Or the Smoked Oysters?

And at night, I lock my lovely food zombie groupies in the pantry where they order my Earthquake food by expiration date. They also type up my ingredients list which is handy because I get tired of writing Thiamine Mononitrate and Disodium Phosphate over and over again.

Yes, zombie groupies are awesome. But even they get tired of me complaining. So I’ll try to wankle and complain less. And write more reviews. Better ones. With better sentences and more grammatically correct.

And I’ll also try to save America from its own gluttony, a la Jamie Oliver, by importing 55 herds of fresh Swedish ox-fish which poop out dynamically balanced meals of meat-veg that school kids will love to eat.

And also, I’ll sail my bathtub to Iceland to put out the volcano so planes can get up in the air already and bring us our imported frozen meat pies, Cadbury bars and haggis.

And so on.

(I lied about the Haggis, I don’t think they can import that to the U.S.)

Speaking of Haggis, this Cook’s Classics Beef Ravioli sure does NOT have anything to with that.

I often get suckered into buying cheap crappy canned food. For some reason, I have this hopeful thought every time I pick up a can of cheap food that it will somehow bring about Everlasting World Peace. But it never quite does. Go figure.

This was pretty cheap at 69 cents for a can. I’m trying to recall if the standard Chef Boyardee Ravioli gets down that far. I think it does at certain stores, but the price I see is usually around a buck. I figured that if this was anywhere similar to Chef Boyardee, I should just put this stuff in the earthquake pantry. I love to buy these off brands for that purpose.

But this Cook’s Classics ravioli really confused me. It smelled exactly like Chef Boyardee’s. The sauce was pretty much the same – gloopy, orange corn starchized puke with bits of “Meat” floating around. The raviolis seemed about the same too – little 1.5 inch pillows of bland, slightly stale-tasting, crackerish (hint, the ingredient after beef is “crackermeal”) paste-pouches.

But the more I ate, the less I liked it. This is somewhat contrary to what usually happens with this kind of food-travesty-in-a-can. What happens normally is that after awhile your taste buds sort of become immune to the crap assaulting it. Either that, or the episode of So You Think You Can Dance you’re watching starts to really heat up, and you forget about meat paste pouches so you can concentrate on all that revealed flesh jiggling onscreen.

Come on. You don’t watch it for the dancing. ‘Fess up.

But truly, I did sort of become more disappointed as the minutes went by. I went from about a 7 score, to a 5 score and finally to a 4. Then Lost came on the TV and I forgot all about scores, as I continued my weekly daydream about kidnapping the cast and holding them hostage in my pantry so that my zombie groupies would have something good to munch on while they’re typing up my reviews.

I think one of the issues is that there is this tangy aftertaste that I can’t quite describe. Kind of like a sour pickle, if a sour pickle was a sauce-drenched pouch of beef paste. Or maybe a cross between a tomato and a pile of metal shavings, if a tomato and a pile of metal shavings was a sauce-drenched pouch of beef paste.

Funny Man needs to end this review soon.

Without further ado, I will now state that this Cook’s Classics Beef Ravioli did not completely suck. However, I would not really suggest you eat this if you are alive.

What I mean to say, is that, zombies and food-reviewing undead, if they are reading this, should immediately go to the Dollar Store and purchase cans of this to take back to their lairs to consume instead of their normal dinner of human flesh.

(If this works, you can thank me later for saving mankind.)

Price: $0.69 for 15 oz
Found At: Fresh & Easy
Cheap Eats Score: 4/10

[ Currently Eating: Upgrade Soup ]

Great Things are afoot. Or, more likely, Things Have Changed Forcing Me To Finally Get Off My Ass And Upgrade Stuffs.

You know how it goes.

Well, maybe I should explain. Last week the Cheap Eats website went kablooey. Thank Jeebus it happened on a Saturday, when traffic was at a lull. In any case, this was entirely the fault of the server that this site lives on. Some flag of some sort went “ding” (or more likely the site tripped it, or some over-zealous, newly-hired employee decided to bust our balls), and we started getting 500 server timeouts.

I ended up having to upgrade the WordPress that this site runs on. Let me just say that this has been a LONG time in coming. You’re not going to believe how old the previous WordPress version was. That part was my fault. But I have my reasons.

Most importantly, I just hate to be told what to do.

I’ve been accused, by my parents no less, of having what some bears or giraffes (or extinct dodo birds) may call a “Hard Head“. That is to say, if you tell me I ABSOLUTELY need to do something, my first response is to say, “Why?” My second response is to ask all sorts of annoying questions. My third response is often to delay the inevitable.

Basically, I will go far, far out of my way to avoid doing something you tell me I have to do.

I am not a team player.

So let’s talk about WordPress. Amazing, amazing open source software that is currently caught up with pleasing all the teeny weeny 15 year old bloggers who want to talk about Miley Cyrus’s magical Diplodocus. (What’s that you say, there IS no magical Diplodocus? Damn damn damn.) Upgrades every 3 weeks, plugins to put a single line of text into your blog, and AJAX Oh My.

I have hoisted myself with my grubby middle-aged hands up onto my soapbox.

[Editor's Note: Now is about the time you should tune out in case you are allergic to boring rants.]

Whatever happened to writing a few lines of text in a program to do something you want, instead of complaining to the community to get that new Facebook plugin sidebar doohickey into the next upgrade? (Don’t get me started on how much I hate Facebook or how many people have asked me if I’ve joined yet.)

Me, I just want to write some crap every 2 or 3 weeks. This crap, if people like it, may be commented upon. People can also visit old archived crap if they wish. If they wish to contact me, they may use a crap form. Also, if you happen to have a laptop, you may read my crap while you take a crap of your own on the crapper.

La la la la It’s simple, and it works.

I seriously believe, if it ain’t broken, then by Ganesha’s wonderful elephanty trunk, Don’t Fricken Fix It!

We all have better things to do than worry about upgrading, or whether or not something is breaking in the custom code that I’ve written. Like go and eat a mythical KFC Double Down today. (I time travelled back 5 days to get the picture above – you like?)

Yes, I know you’re saying – “But WordPress has the auto-upgrade thingy so you don’t need to worry.”

Let me tell you, young grasshopper, that I used to have over 50 different WordPress sites. This was before WordPress MU days, or at least before it worked well. If you have ANY sort of custom code in your blogs, be prepared to update it manually and continually, whenever the WordPress geniuses decide they need to roll out another Miley Cyrus-centric update.

Yes, I know that the majority of this code will be contained in the theme if you’re smart. And oh sure, you can rely on plugins, but that’s even worse. What the bollocks do you do when a plugin that is essential to your site becomes incompatible with the “new” version of wordpress? It happens more often than you think – wiz kid plugin author gets bored / gets a job / gets laid / gets married / gets religion / gets greedy / gets drunk. It isn’t a question of IF it will happen. It’s a question of WHEN it will happen. There is no money to be made in free plugins.

To make a long story longer – I was pretty happy sitting around with the WordPress 2.0.11 branch, which the WordPress Gods had decided not to upgrade any longer, but would support as far as security updates went until 2010 (I think that was back in 2007 or so). Well, then they decided to go against their word and throw in the towel long before they said they would. And I decided to say “F-em”. I decided that the probability of some hackologist figuring out some new exploit in WordPress 2.0.11 was so unlikely that if they could do that, they would probably try to take over the world instead a la Pinky and the Brain.

La la la la website stopped working last week.

Well, I decided to upgrade at the same time I fixed the mess. It turned out that quite a few people visit this little blog, more than I had realized. (I have no idea why any people other than my food reviewer friends would visit – there’s so many better options out there.) As such, it was wonking major gremlins with the shared server that it sits on. The solution was turning the dynamic pages (yes, WordPress pages are usually dynamically served) into cached static pages. But it was way too difficult for me, with just my old Electrical Engineering degree, to figure out how to do it. And the plugin required me to upgrade.

La la la la so I upgraded the bizatch.

I wasn’t happy about it, though. In fact, I was VERY unhappy about it since it cost me a whole Saturday and half of Sunday. You have won this round Matt Mullenswag, but I will be coming for you with fricken bells a buzzin’. And I will be taking no prisoners. I will strike you down with great vengeance and then make you eat my poo.

What I’ve done is remove all plugins that were “unnecessary”. Plugin authors who decide not to support their plugins any longer are the Absolut vodka bane of my existence. It drives me crazy. There should be a law against it.

So I’ve vowed (I’ve vowed this many times in the past, but always cave in when some new cool Miley Cyrus quote plugin comes about) to use as few plugins as possible, so that I don’t have to pull out my non-existent hair when I have to upgrade yet again to satisfy the WordPress Gods.

La la la la now I only wish they would get rid of that idiotic Hello Dolly plugin once and for all.

So, finally, this is what it has to do with you, dear reader or readerette. The site may look a little different, but hopefully all the main functions are there. I purposely waited a week to say anything, just to make sure. One of the main changes is that I had to get rid of the Poll plugin, and I don’t really want to find a new one, unless it is completely 100% independent of the core code. I just don’t want to have to worry about not being able to upgrade the poll in the future. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. But please remember it has to be 100% independent of the stupid WordPress core code.

I’ll be holding my breath quite literally everytime there is an upgrade. Because who knows what monkeys they’ll throw into the wrench. But other than that, reviews and such should continue as they have previously. I’ve settled into one post every 1-3 weeks. Seems OK to me. I get mail every so often from a new razzafrazz jumpin’-at-the-bit food blogger who seems to think that it’s an afront to the senses to post less than once a day. Let me tell you, young Beeblebrox, that you will learn that it’s quality and not quantity that will contribute to your longevity in the blogosphere. And no, I won’t link your new blog unless you give me $1,583,302. And 35 cents.

I guess what it comes down to is: I Fear Change. I hate changing things up. I want people to listen to LP records and cassette tapes again, heck even listen to CDs. I want my Wendy’s Pasta Bar back. I want my McDLT. I want Carl’s Jr. not to suck ballz. I want Facebook to die a horrible death.

I guess that a food blog that doesn’t keep evolving is eventually bound for the Internet Archive Death Star graveyard. But know that you stormtroopers will have to drag me there kicking and screaming.

La la la la la Hooray Cheap Eats is running again.



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