Thursday, 18 August 2016

I'm coming back! I'm coming back!

Guys, I am so sorry I have been on such a raging hiatus! I am working on a few new reviews that I will release next week! Will they be good? Christ, I hope so.

Anyway, we moved into some new, and might I add "sick", digs. I mean, just look at how many collars my dog has to wear now. It's that nice. We've been settling in, drinking beer and swimming, but, now it's time for me to eat (and write about it) once again.

I'll blast social media once I post the next Regular Food Critic. While we wait, please enjoy my new favorite meme featuring one of my strong female influences: D.W. from Arthur.

If you want updates from "The Regular Food Critic", along with book news, 
please follow my author page on Facebook and my Twitter!
Show me you care, even if you don't:

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Part 2 - One Couple's Bad Dinner Becomes One Woman's Bad Lunch

One Couple's Bad Dinner Becomes One Woman's Bad Lunch  Continued....

Cheese Whiz and Cracks

You can't win 'em all, and that salad and I are definitely both the losers in this meal, but I had to keep going. Because I love many tastes. Not like, "Oh, I am a lover of foods and wines and oh my palate, my palate, my palate". I mean, if I am having breakfast, or lunch, or dinner, I need like five different tastes/mini meals. Graham hates this 'cause it means I either over order and have two bites of too many things, or I have some of mine and most of his. Today, since I only have a "salad" and a mystery wrap, I decided my third thing would be an old favorite: Cheese Whiz on salted Premium Plus crackers. Some people think Cheese Whiz isn't cheese, but the kind I get is labeled "Light", so even though it may not be real food for me, at least it's fake good for me (#wordstoliveby). However, there is something wrong with the picture, or at least, something that could be improved upon. You see, each sleeve you pull from a Premium Plus box is not the same. Some are better than others.

It's all about the toasted tops and edges. Oh man, there is just something about them. They are so good. I eat them alone, like chips, when they're tanned like that. Look for them next time you pick these up. Let me know if you agree, and if you don't then let me know if you wanna swap some of your good sleeves for all of my bad ones.

What Dreams Are Made Of

And there you have it. A meal made by someone who doesn't really have the time, wait, let me rephrase that. Everyone knows I have loads of time, all the time. So, this is a meal made by someone who just doesn't know enough to not be totally put out by how sub-par it is. I ate it all, not because it was good, but because I know that eating food helps me stay alive. The best part, you guessed it, was my 3 little cracker sandwiches. They just are very predictable, un-screw-up-able, and you know what? You can't get them anywhere except a person's house (hopefully your own). They never ever have cheese whiz at restaurants. I've asked. B. Franks says that there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes, but I think "never seeing crackers with cheese whiz on a menu" could also be one. Anyway, I'm tired. Can I stop now? After I award this garbage dump a humble 5 out of Harvey's? Yes? Yes.

For more books news, Regular Food Critic news, and just to 
listen to me ramble more frequently - follow me on Twitter 
and Like my Facebook page! T'anx again, peeps!
Twitter: FOLLOW!
Facebook LIKE!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Part 1 - One Couple's Bad Dinner Becomes One Woman's Bad Lunch

Since we're moving back to Chester, and since moving costs about as much as I assume it costs to clothe and shelter a child from birth to the age of 18, I find myself having to work with my fridge and cupboard contents to sustain my carbon-based life-self. Now, I believe there are two ways one could react in a situation like mine; number one being the " what?" reaction, and number two, being:
I fall into the latter group, otherwise known as the "Ohhhhh nooooo, what?" group. I know it doesn't sound hard; to not eat out, and to make your own food, but it's tough for me. Not just because I'm not so hot a cook, but mainly because I don't know how to "grocery shop". I just can't do it in a way that makes sense. Whenever I arrive back home from dropping a few T's (twenties) or so at the store, and get them all unloaded onto my  kitchen table, there is no clear cohesion. It's like if someone were to lay out a bunch of pieces from different puzzles and try to jam them all together to make a discernable image three times a day. That's not gonna turn out well, or into anything. That's not how puzzles work. They are meant to go together in very specific ways. Just like the building blocks of our breakfasts, lunches or dinners.

But some of us (me) just don't get it. Take yesterday's experience; I went grocery shopping, panicked, and left with 2 beef hearts (for Gully), some couscous (for Gully), a carton of almond milk, Swedish Berries, and a box of Premium Plus crackers (more on those later). These are all "ingredients" for something, but the sum of their individual parts don't actually equal anything. Well, I guess they could, but that something would be leaning more towards a poisonous elixir than anything capable of being washed down on a sober stomach. Prime example? This treachery: Tofu Slimy Cylinder with a side of Cheese-Whiz and Crackers and "Salad" with the Worst Dressing Ever Made.

" Don't Go With What You Know"

I love Tacos. Whenever I see that Old El Paso Hard Taco Dinner Kit I think to myself "Never change...". It comes with all the trimmings (except some of the really vital ones) but most importantly it comes with approximately one billion shells. It's like there is always enough for everyone to have at least seven, no matter how many people are in on the feast. This is amazing because, in the context of suppertime, seven is often considered "too much" of anything for one person; too many boxes of Hamburger Helper, too many minutes before saying "stop" as the woman winds parmesan onto your pasta at East Side Marios, too many spoons for a bowl of soup. It's a tough crowd out there. This is why tacos are such a special treat; you can load an obscene amount onto your plate and no one looks weird at you, or sad for you. In fact, people usually egg you on the take more. Oh, people, aren't they hilarious?

Unfortunately, when I made this particular batch, I decided to get the Soft Shell Kit.  I hate Soft Shell Kits, but by changing the shell's malleability I was able (in my mind) to make dinner "healthier"(if you're having trouble following that rationale, remind yourself how much it doesn't matter). I also "health-ed" things up by using tofu instead of beef. That's a lot of unnecessary twists and turns when the traditional route so obviously yields the better experience. Which reminds me of the time Allison put Roshelle in charge of navigating her vehicle to our apartment in Montreal. For some reason, Roshe decided each direction would be a "turn left", just one right after the other. For a journey that would have otherwise only taken us ten-ish minutes, we ended up having to spiral into our destination after about fifty.

"Mmmm... thatttttttttt."

But whatever. That drive isn't the point. The point is this visibly upset burrito. It was clear no one was ever going to ask me for this recipe. I mean, on top of all those missteps, I used onions and carrots as toppings (whomp whomp). Between Graham and I, nobody warmed to the final product, so I ended up freezing about 9 to eat over the following 3-week period. Here's one unthawed from the freezer. It looks like Barbie put out a hit on Skipper and it was up to me to dump the body. It's wrapped weird, it's lifeless, it's lunch. Not for long, though. I know how to put spring back into the step of food like this. It's called the "Broil" setting. "Broiling" is the impatient man's "cooking". It may ruin everything, but at least that "everything" is always ready in under two minutes. Maybe one minute, if you don't like your smoke detectors screaming at you. Broil is god's gift to kitchen idiots like me, and you know what else, apart from broiling, is a gift from god? Salsa.

Herdez Salsa: The perfect condiment to elevate a flaccid food tube...

Do you even know what this is? This is THE GREATEST SALSA IN THE CITY grocery stores. This is found in the, you guessed it, Mexican section. It's the best option Sobeys and Superstore carry in lieu of "the real thing". You know why I love it? Because it's, like, 75% water! #JustLikeMe! So besides being really tasty (so I say), it's also hella relatable, and if you're a woman like me, you know how important that is. *winky face*

This salsa is made up of wet red liquid (yes, I just used the word "wet" to describe a liquid, that one person didn't call me a wordsmith for nothing), with soaking red, green, and clear rectangular prisms and cubes. I wish I could have been to one to invent this perfect blend, but you know what they say, "If fluids and solids were druids and cold-tits..." No, that can't be it. Anyway, it's bee-knees, and also ranks high on the "you need a napkin on your lap/bring the salsa to you" scale. It's basically just cold soup in a jar, people. Make sure you have on your splash pants and you're nowhere near a first date. This shit gets messy.

La Salata

La Salata is an amazing freaking salad bar that my class-brothers Roman and Jon, and myself, frequent whenever our work finds us back in Houston, Texas. It is hands down, the best salad place in the world, and when you consider the fact that I have been to about 4 different places other than Nova Scotia you know it's gotta be true. The salad I created today would be the kind of salad that would be "let go" from La Salata, that is if it were ever to be hired on in the first place (which I doubt). It has two components; leaves and lines (see image on the left). It looks like miso soup, and by god I wish it were.  The dressing is what you get when you put maple syrup, garlic, olive oil and water in your Nutri-Bullet cup thing, and then forget you already packed the base of the machine for your move, so you end up shaking it like a martini and throwing the garlic in the garbage. I knew it was going to taste bad, but I didn't expect it to feel like this (see video):

             Continue to Part 2 - One Couple's Bad Dinner Becomes One Woman's Bad Lunch  ....
For more books news, Regular Food Critic news, and just to 
listen to me ramble more frequently - follow me on Twitter 
and Like my Facebook page! T'anx again, peeps!
Twitter: FOLLOW!
Facebook LIKE!

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

PART TWO - The Halifax Crafters Market/"Clean Spoons"

So it's been like three days since I had that lemonade, and I feel a mixture of "over it"/"could use a glass right about now". Like Miley Cyrus says on the last track of her "Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz" album: "What does it mean? What does it mean? What does it mean?" The answer, in this instance, being: "Nobody cares. Nobody cares. Nobody cares." 

"Ex-squeeze me? Baking Powder?"

After downing my glorified citrus water, I made a quick stop at a soap booth. It had a pretty straight forward presentation going on; there were some shelves, and the soaps which the chick had made (or so she says...) had been displayed in an attractive manner. Or maybe it was just a "regular" manner. It's not like she had dumped them into a pile on the table and been like "Perrrrfect". They were spread out carefully and deliberately. Maybe to "showcase" them in a desirable way, maybe to satisfy OCD tendencies, who knows. But now that I am thinking about it, I'm starting to like the idea of a "dumb, unorganized heap" look. Yeah, I believe that would have been a welcomed twist. It takes a lot of confidence to do absolutely zero set-up at a craft fair, or any fair for that matter, and a "like it or lump it" attitude can only mean that a product is so good that nobody has to do shit to sell it because it sells itself. That, or it means someone is lazy and they suck. Probably something I would have to decide on a case by case basis, but an interesting spin none the less.

Sadly, there was no "favorite imaginary mess". Her area was pleasant, and I was happy to have found it. I like homemade soaps because they're cheap and who cares/whatever, which happen to be the only two pre-requisites that must be met before I commit to any purchase. I asked the girl with the glasses how much they were (aren't they all "the girl with the glasses" these days? I know I am, and I don't even have a prescription). "Six dollars," she said. Awesome. She cleared that hurdle with a bit of height to spare (I would have also accepted "7 dollars"), and I hoped she could keep it up as I continued on to my next questions. She didn't. Instead, she and I got all tangled up in the following exchange, and before I knew it we were in a non-consensual discussion about my breakout:
Me: "So are any of these for like, face washing?"
Girl: "Yeah, this one here. It has charcoal, blah, blah, blah..."
Me: "Oh, neat, and is it good for..."
Girl: "Acne? Yes."
Me: "..."
Me (again): see video clip


Woah. I think Jerry summed it up perfectly in one of Seinfeld's nightclub intros when he said, "Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, that's not gonna work at all." You see, I was going to say "sensitive skin", but my friend here judged my book by its cover-up, and went there. She was doing that thing creative types sometimes do so well: making normal people really uncomfortable through a series of way too honest and unfiltered observations. As soon as the "A-word" was out of her mouth, I began to feel myself move through all the stages of unexpected embarrassment:

Here's a tip - never ever draw attention to someone's bad skin day.  It's about as bad a SNAFU as misidentified sausage poisoning (otherwise known as "asking a woman who isn't pregnant about her pregnancy"). If there is something going on with my face, I am usually the first to know. Like I said, my glasses don't even need the glass parts! I can see! I am aware! Here's the good thing, though, and I mean this - this girl (unbeknownst to her) has given me a great story. I really like her for that. I know she didn't mean anything by jumping the gun and assuming I wanted to talk about "pizza face". One of her friends mentioned that she gets asked about acne-prone skin all the time, so it totally makes sense. Still, it was what it was, and every time I think of it I die. In a good way, because to me, it's amazing. Sometimes really painful moments turn into really funny moments upon further examination, and now when I think of this awkwardness, I wouldn't have it any other way. I wish I would have gone back and told her my version of our conversation, and how I am now almost certain it's going to end up being the highlight of my month. Maybe she would have laughed? Or maybe she would have stared blankly at me with that "evil intellectualism" these artsy types sometimes pour on ya. I'll never know. (Oh - and P.S.- the soap is "fleek". Will buy again. And again. And again.)

"Clean Spoons"

Speaking of highlights of the month, there was another contender that occurred within the confines of the Olympic Centre last weekend. While looking at some pottery at the end of our rounds, a dude (Cherakee - might have been your broseph-in-law?) noticed something "funny" going on with little Hayley Parsons' mug. You see, the crafters market has coffee you dispense yourself, and they also have clean cups for everyone to use. The evidence also suggests they used to have clean spoons, too. That is until apparently (as the guy pointed out) Hayley swiped that mug mistakenly to serve as her "cup of joe", leaving all other patrons with only a "dirty spoons" selection. The guy was losing it after we confirmed that yes, that was exactly what happened, and so were we. Hayley was majorly hungover that day, and it was a classic hangover move, as hangovers rarely read and have little to no attention to detail. I was and still am so glad this didn't go unnoticed because it's the kind of gift that keeps on giving (in the form of Hayley's new nickname: "Clean Spoons"). 
Move over General Hospital, there's a new soap in town...

Like I said, my purchase (although a bit prickly) was a success. Me love the soap, and even though it's not a snack, it still deserves a Harvey's rating. A good one at that - 9/Harvey's - for the laughs and the product itself. 
Oh, for crying out loud. I almost forgot the real snack that I had - Lure Caramel Co. toffee. Holy shiza. This stuff it addictive. It was like Hanson's first album was playing in my mouth, and no one is telling me to turn it down/off. What makes it even more incroyable is that the fact that it is hand-made! By Kate Melvin! I cannot wait to go to Lure in Indian Harbour and make myself sick! Just ask Natalie how fast I eat at a chocolate shop! Yum! Thanks, Kate! Harvey's out of Harvey's! And now that that's all wrapped up in a nice wordy bow, I am going to peace out and make lunch. It's almost 2:30 for god sakes, and I still haven't made any of my daily cheese-based meals! Pull it together, Tuesday! Is it Tuesday? I never know what day it is...

For more books news, Regular Food Critic news, and just to listen to me ramble more 
frequently - follow me on Twitter and Like my Facebook page! T'anx again, peeps! 

Twitter: FOLLOW!

Monday, 2 May 2016

PART ONE - The Halifax Crafters Market/If this was an album dropping, it would be called "I'm Getting On The Horn"...

I made fun of BeyoncĂ© yesterday on Facebook and everyone's mad at me. ANYWAY... if you were in the city this weekend, you probably took a bunch of fliff-notes out of your bank account and stopped into the Halifax Crafters Market. The Halifax Crafters Market is where (mostly) way too talented people try to cash in their brainchildren for (mostly) way too few dollars. That's right. There were some D-E-A-L-S carving out property at this little pop-up fair. I am talking, of course, about cousin Rachael's coloring books (which are basically being given away for 15$), as well as her original hand-painted totes, apparel, greeting cards, and prints. What I am not, I repeat, not talking about the five-dollar cup of lemonade my "hangover self" (who always gold-digs my "regular self") forced me into buying. Sadly, not at all

Before you start asking yourself what my problem is with lemonade everything, please keep in mind I'm not trying to wage war on the cool cats (How does the old saying go? "Every time someone says 'I don't believe in hipsters' somebody sends back a fish taco at Lion and Bright"?). We all know you can't please everyone, and what is perhaps even more important to remember is that everyone can't please me. It's not anyone's fault, except probably mine, so offense need not be taken. On that note...

$2.00 too many...

I once complained (via email) to Maynards about a 
package of Sour Patch Kids I bought in the New Orleans Airport. As I pounded away on my keyboard, I discussed how my candies seemed "damp" and that it "didn't matter if they only cost a dollar" because "it wasn't about the price, it was about standards." Although I am sure that statement rings true for a lot of people, it doesn't for me. I polished off the whole bag sour-y sweetness before I could even hit send. Because of course I was still going to eat them, a little wet around the edges or not. Standards, As if. The truth is it's always about the money and within two weeks I had a cheque in the mail for a cool $1.49. Cha-ching. 

The point of my story is to demonstrate my history of being "cost sensitive". Five dollars for a cup of lemonade is too much. I should have just asked for the lemons instead. It may not have necessarily been more "bang for my buck", but at least it would have been "bang". I had to play along, though. The dog and pony act had me right where they wanted me and they knew it. Must've been my eyeballs doing their best impression of really thirsty red grapes that gave me away, but, if wasn't those two face raisins, then it had to have been the smell of last night's booze naturally off-gassing from my pores. Either way, they were waving liquids around in front of a vulnerable Saturday morning liquor zombie, so obviously they had my attention (which gives me an idea for an alternative album name: "Desperation Hydration: Struggles of a Waterless Parched Person").

Becky with the good hair...

They had some choices in the "flavor" department, so I decided to go with "SeaBerry" (or as I like to refer to it now, "Really?"). I watched one of the gals pump a squirt (ew - "pump a squirt" - no!) into my cup and then start cranking on the old-school-machine-squasher. Judging from the progress they weren't making, it was clear that some sort of short-cut would need to be taken soon, otherwise, I would have had to go back the following day to collect my drink. And take a short cut they did, because after about the second lemon they began topping off filling up my bevvie with water. A lot of it. 

All that water got me thinking: What am I paying for? The manual labor? The physical exertion of bringing the arm upwards and downwards for a maximum of twice times? I felt like some fool throwing bills around so two roommates could make money while they figure out how their hilariously expensive and so obviously unnecessary 16-piece vegan-metal hand-juicer works. (#FiveDollarsFiveDollarsFiveDollars) 

Watching them reminded me of when I was a teenager and used to carry around a little lantern with a lit candle inside to "get around in the dark". In my house. I could have turned on the lights, but I wanted to use the lantern because I thought it was cool, and even more so because I wanted everyone else to think it was cool. They didn't, and I retired that habit fairly quickly once I realized it wasn't catching on. It wasn't very practical anyway, ya know, and neither is the jig they pulled down at the Crafters Market. And on top of the "Why even?"-ness of it all, I just realized while writing this that lemonade isn't even a craft! It had about as much business being there as I have in complaining online about something I actually enjoyed - none! Jokes on me, though, because all arbitrary and unasked-for observations aside, I did buy the lemonade. And that can only mean one thing - the hipsters won Saturday. 

This whole post is essentially just one long tug on a couple of strangers' chains and is built upon only two facts - one being that the lemonade was damn delicious and the second being that I am a cheapskate. Which is why I give the price of the thirst quencher a 3/Harvey's ("three" being the amount of loonies I believe it should have cost) and the taste a 9/Harvey's because I love lemonade. I'm serious. I love it.

This isn't the end...

I have more on my experience at the HFX Crafters Market coming up later tonight, (#cleanspoons and #soap), so prepare for my usual flooding of your newsfeeds! And remember I am still campaigning for me, myself and I.  If you can, please share this link! If you want, please follow me on Twitter! And, if you haven't already, like my page on Facebook! 

JillianMParsons FOLLOW!

Facebook LIKE!