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Force of Good

By Tim Butler | Posted at 23:06

Volkswagen has a savvy marketing department to say the least. A few months after my parents purchased their Passat, which features a special slot to hold an umbrella, an umbrella arrived in the mail as a free gift from VW. It was the kind of thing that added a new surprise to a car that was several months old already.

Apparently, VW must do this for all of their cars. The other day I received a colorful little box from the company. In keeping with the company's theme that the New Beetle is a “Force of Good,” they gave me a Force of Good kit. It has handy things for “doing good,” such as bandages, floss, a pen (that can be lent in a pinch) and hand sanitizer. Yeah, it's nothing major, but it is kind of fun, and a nifty “owner loyalty” idea.

It makes me feel like, well, doing some good.

Ribs You've Gotta Try and the Store With 'Em

By Tim Butler | Posted at 22:24

I'm normally not a big proponent of ribs. I like barbecue ribs just fine, but they're messy and usually provide very little meat for the effort. Give me a pork steak and be done with it already. But, Aldi — yes the Aldi, the little grocery store with private label “cheap brands” — has rib meat already removed from the bones in their frozen meats section that is better than any ribs I've ever tasted before. They're marinated in a healthy pool of hickory barbecue sauce of excellent quality, ready to be placed in the oven and served in about an hour or two. The meat has a robust barbecue flavor and is extremely tender. I had some tonight and just writing about it makes me hungry for more.

When the aforementioned friends of the family came into town, my mother made a batch of these ribs and they were a humongous hit. In fact, the couple that was visiting us had previously had a bad experience with Aldi, but this convinced them that maybe the Stock-up Store wasn't so bad after all. If you have an Aldi in your area, you really should try to find some of these ribs before they go away — they're only here for the season. You'll find them right by the steaks in the freezer case.

And, while I'm on the subject, let me count the ways that I love Aldi. Sure, it has rock bottom prices, but it also has some of the best quality products anywhere. Period. If you've avoided Aldi because of their reputation as a “cheap place,” you ought to give them a chance. Every Aldi private label product is backed by an amazing “double guarantee” — if you aren't satisfied, they'll refund your money and give you a replacement of whatever you returned. Once we got a bad package of swiss cheese for example, and walked out of the store with a new package and a refund in hand. Aldi also gets special buys of normal brands, but often, Aldi's products taste better and are more consistent.

Their Grandessa premium line includes scrumptious pies, for example, that best not only other grocery stores, but also often some of my favorite restaurants (their chocolate silk is the best chocolate silk, bar none). They also have other premium products, like energy drinks; Aldi's Red Thunder has a very good, fruity taste and rings in at four cans for $2 at the moment (on sale) and normally just $3. Compare that to just one or two cans of Red Bull or some of the other popular drinks.

To top it off, you'll find special buys of computers, camcorders, scanners, printers, shoes, pools, furniture, and — at the moment — even car wax and fishing poles.

I'm Hungry

By Tim Butler | Posted at 0:21

But, it is late, and I should go to bed rather than getting something to eat. Still, a nice pizza would really hit the spot right now. :)

Sunday Lunch, On Tuesday: Pies

By | Posted at 17:34

Another Sunday Lunch from Michael. Yes, I am two days late, but that still isn't as late as I am on the July PhotoQuest. :P

1. What is your favorite fruit pie?
Well, I'm not a big fruit pie person, presuming that by that you mean meringue-less fruit pies. My mother made a very good blueberry pie for the Fourth of July, though. Maybe I'll go with that. It is cheating, however, since it is meant to be served with whipped cream on top, hence making it somewhat of a cream pie.

2. Is the Boston Cream Pie, a pie? Defend your position.
I plead ignorance.

3. What is your favorite custard , cream pie or pudding pie?
Lemon, followed by banana, followed by chocolate silk.

4. What other desert item do you like with your pie?
Depends: on a fruit pie, you must have ice cream. On a cream pie, just meringue or whipped cream.

5. Who makes the best pie?
My mother. And, no, she does not read my blog, so I am being honest. Really.  ;) If you mean pies purchased some place, I'd say the Hen House (in Michael's neck of the woods) is my favorite.

Chicken on a Honey Wheat Bun

By | Posted at 22:06

That must be the new “big thing.” On Friday, I finally tried one of McDonald's new deluxe chicken sandwiches. They are really on the pricey side, for the venue, at least, but I was pleased with my “Classic” chicken sandwich. It rang in at $3.29, including a nice grilled chicken fillet, lettuce, tomato, mayo and a “deluxe” honey wheat roll.

Today, I tried one of White Castle's new chicken sandwiches, which — surprisingly enough — also are on a honey wheat roll. The home of the crave gives you a very nice honey chipotle sauce on top of the chicken, as well. It was a tasty little sandwich, and combined with a few slyders, I was well satisfied. Price wise, unfortunately, the little White Castle chicken rings in at $1.49. Given the size, you'd probably need to spend $4.50 to approach the amount of chicken in the $3.29 sandwich from McDonald's. I'll stick to burgers next time, I think). That is only $0.69 for the Jalapeno cheese variety.

A New Donut Company

By | Posted at 22:37

I was introduced to a new donut company this morning: LeMar's. Well, it isn't a new donut company, but it seems to be relatively new to St. Louis and it only has one location, in Creve Coeur, at the moment.

I've now tried two of their huge, $.75 donuts, and I'm fairly happy with them. This morning, I had a lemon jelly donut. It was probably close to twice the size of an average jelly donut, was very soft and had a good icing on it. The lemon wasn't the tartest, but it was good. Just a little while ago, I tried another one, a German chocolate donut, that was excellent.

As a whole, LeMar's isn't as tasty as Krispy Kreme, I'd say, but I'll stop again. LeMar's claims the Rocky Mountain News chose their donuts over Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' Donuts (as well as others). While I'd probably agree that the donuts I enjoyed today where better than Dunkin' Donuts by quite a bit, I suspect it was a bit of hometown pride on the part of the News to pass up Krispy Kreme for first place. That's my professional donut eating story and I'm sticking to it. ;)

Tim's Special BBQ Sauce

By | Posted at 22:33

Ok, here's a first for asisaid. I present to you my new creation: Tim's Special BBQ Sauce.

  • 1-2 oz. Maull's Sweet 'n Smokey Barbecue sauce.
  • 1-2 oz. Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory Barbecue sauce.
  • 5 jalapeno slices (or about 1/3 of a small, fresh jalapeno), finely diced.
  • A liberal dash or two of crushed red pepper (dried).

Mix thoroughly. Microwave for one minute on low power, then twenty seconds on high power. Mix again. A small amount on a hamburger bun will add plenty of zest to you barbecue burger, for example; it should be good on other things as well. Bon appetite!

Sunday Brunch: A Brunch on Brunch

By | Posted at 17:19

1) Do you eat breakfast on a regular basis and why or why not?
No. I love breakfast, but I love sleep even more. If I skip breakfast, I only have to get up one hour before I need to be almost any place I might need to go. If I eat a microwave breakfast, as I do sometimes, that ups the time by ten or fifteen minutes. A good, freshly prepared breakfast would do substantially more damage to my sleep time.

While I don't have to rise as early as some, breakfast just does not come out important enough to make it worth the extra time. As a side note, I would point out that most breakfast foods (short of a “full” breakfast as described below) do not seem to be overly filling, and therefore I just end up eating more on a day that I eat breakfast. If I just eat lunch, I end up consuming the same amount of lunch and feel just as satisfied, despite having a net of less food during the day.

2) What is your typical everyday breakfast?
A glass of milk or chocolate milk is my average “breakfast.”

3) How do you eat your eggs?
I prefer omelets, strongly, but I do like fried eggs on occasion. My favorite omelet is a western style with cheese and without mushrooms (i.e. green pepper, ham, onion and cheese, and, optionally, jalapeno peppers). Although I have not figured out how to create my ideal omelet, I know a cafe down in the Ozarks that does know how — they manage to make the egg very thin, thus allowing the omelet to be wrapped up like a burrito rather than the typical clam-shell style folding. The best omelet should have its ingredients that go inside the egg sautéed prior to making the actual omelet, rather than dumping the ingredients “raw” inside the egg. Cheese is best on top, not inside the omelet. Serve with ample hash browns and some good toast or biscuits with fresh jam.

If an omelet is out of the question, I will generally opt for two fried eggs, over medium, sausage links and hash browns. If available, though, I like Captain's Hash as well (that's where the sausage, and hashbrowns are tossed together with green pepper and onion — the egg remains on the side).

4) What is your favorite restaurant to eat breakfast out at?
McDonald's, Hardees or Jack-in-the-Box are all good for a quick breakfast, although I vastly prefer going some place that will serve the aforementioned, properly prepared omelet. At most fast food restaurants I will opt for a sausage, egg and cheese sandwich with a hashbrown. I do like McDonald's breakfast burritos and McGriddle sandwiches too.

5) Describe your perfect breakfast in detail.
I think I already did that in the course of explaining proper egg preparation. Like Christopher, I would express my dislike of breakfast served at times other than breakfast. The one exception would be a brunch type setting where you might have breakfast and lunch foods mixed in a late morning/noonish type setting, but I very much dislike breakfast for dinner.

Monday Brunch on Lunch

By | Posted at 22:45

1) Do you take your lunch hour at work?
No. Since I don't have a schedule exactly, I eat whenever there is time. Usually between 11:30 and 1:30. Generally I take far less than an hour too. I do take a lunch forty-five minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, however, since I have classes before and after the noon hour.

2) What is your favorite place to eat lunch at?
Tough question. I like lots of places, it just depends on my mood. St. Louis Bread Co. tasted very good today. My favorite lunch is just one that is different than what I had the day before.

3) What do you usually eat for lunch?
I vary a lot.

4) Do you have anyone that you eat lunch with on a regular basis?
Yes, but it varies depending on the day of the week.

5) If not eating, what do you usually do on your lunch hour?
Me, miss lunch? The only other thing I might be doing is frantically working so I can fit lunch in. ;-)

Have your Brunch on Lunch in the comments, if you'd like.

Old Spaghetti Factory

By | Posted at 8:56

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