Our contributors give you brief reviews of recent cookbooks/ kitchen gadgets/ recipes they’ve tried, and tell you whether you should take it home, just give it a taste, or toss it out.
Greek Meatball Salad
Whenever I mention that I had Greek Meatball Salad for dinner the person I’m talking to makes a funny face. It’s one of those skeptical, crinkle-nosed “Really?” faces. It’s similar to the face John Bender makes when he discovers Claire is gonna eat sushi for lunch in “The Breakfast Club.”
I know this routine so well because I eat this salad roughly 107 times during the summer. It is, by far, my favorite salad. I don’t know exactly what it is, but these little meatballs filled with feta and roasted pepper are awesome.
I’ll usually play fast and loose with the greens based on what I get in the weekly CSA delivery, but I can tell you that the meatballs seem to go well with any sort of green I throw at it. And if you add some pecans? Freaking heaven.
Verdict: Take. Again and again and again.
Pop Tarts Gone Nutty! Chocolate Peanut Butter
I eat a lot of Pop Tarts. Entirely more Pop Tarts than a forty-something woman should, which, if you think about it, should probably be zero Pop Tarts. I know they’re not actual food, but rather a food-like substance. A delicious, chocolate-frosted chocolate food-like substance that goes ridiculously well with coffee.
See, I read somewhere (or I might have made it up, sometimes it’s hard to tell with my “life facts”) that the sooner you eat breakfast after waking up the morning the better. It jumpstarts the ol’ metabolism and, even better, it tells your body that “yes, yes this is the time we wake up.” Allegedly, this helps your entire sleep cycle. A life-long insomniac, I’m all for things that help with the sleep.
This is an incredibly long justification as to why I tried Pop Tarts Gone Nutty! Chocolate Peanut Butter. I spied them at the unSuper Target near my house and after ponying up $2 they were mine all mine. Or rather mine and two of my nephews, because I know how to share.
And truth be told, I was okay with the sharing of the Pop Tarts. I’m not sure how they managed to make a food-like substance that contains the words chocolate, peanut butter, and Pop Tart in its name taste so damn bland, but they did.
Verdict: Taste because it’s a chocolate peanut butter Pop Tart, but make sure you have some pals to share with.
Recently, my Rock & Roll Bookclub read Stephen King’s 11/22/63 and decided to do “Mad Men” cocktails to go with it. Sadly this was before Shannon’s Mad Men Cocktails post. Left to my own devices I hit up the Mad Men Cocktail Guide, and chose the most exotic sounding cocktail: The Negroni.
First confession: I’m not much of a drinker. I love a good gin & tonic, but that’s about it.
Second confession: I’m kind of cheap. I’m a freelancer. I like to think that second sentence explains the first.
So with the Negroni in my sites, I went in search of Campari. I didn’t intend for this to be a kind of quest, but it happened. I should have seen it as more of an omen than a challenge, when my regular liquor store was out of Campari. But I didn’t. You see where this is going, right?
Liquor #2 didn’t even carry it.
Finally, I tried the big, dusty warehouse Liquor Store #3 (I live in a small town, I managed to hit all three stores within like a seven mile radius of my house). The old guy who owned the store was sitting just inside the door listening to a Twins game on the radio.
“Do you have any Campari?” I asked. And then proceeded to pronounce it a few different ways figuring my Minnesota tongue was butchering it.
He took kindly to my Twins t-shirt and decided to escort me shelf where a one, single bottle of Campari sat. It was $32!
THIRTY-TWO DOLLARS! (and it came to $36 after taxes)
Because I am a wussy I couldn’t all “Um, forget it. I don’t want it.” He got off his chair for me!
As he rang up my ridiculously expensive bottle of liquor I’ve never tasted. He told me how he only sells a bottle of the stuff a year, and oddly my bottle was the second one he’d sold that weekend.
Even stranger when I tasted the shit at Rock & Roll Bookclub that night. Holy bitterness, Batman. It was disgusting. It was beyond disgusting. It was bad and my reaction to its badness was so violent that every single member of my book club had to try it. Each of them were throughly disgusted. It was nasty. So nasty I left the bottle at the host’s house hoping that thirty-six-dollar mistake never catches back up with me.
Verdict: Toss (and not toss back in the good way you might toss back something delicious. Toss, like out the window).
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