22 November, 2012

Happy Thankgiving!

Not too much time to write because I've got two turkeys in the smokehouse, sides to whip up, and guests coming in a couple hours. But I've got a bunch of new posts coming soon - probably starting tomorrow.  See ya soon!

Yeah, Thanksgiving dinner at HoJo's was just $2.95 in 1963.

02 November, 2012

Out of The Can: Hormel Black Label Canned Ham

Dat Ham

Canned hams have a terrible reputation, and if you've ever had a bite of a really cheap and nasty slice of canned ham, you'd feel that the reputation is actually too kind. I know because I've had some totally unpleasant canned hams.

And now, you're looking at that picture above or a Hormel Black Label canned ham and thinking to yourself, "What a nasty-looking chunk of pink meat." You might even be inspired to try vegetarianism, thanks to that photo.

Well, I have got news for you, my friend. Hormel's Black Label canned ham is surprisingly good - I might even say very good. I prepared it just as described on the label and although it still wasn't much to look at when it came out of the oven, it sliced beautifully. If you've ever had a really expensive deli ham - say, a Boar's Head or Krakus ham - you'll know what to expect from the Black Label. It was firm and delicious, and quite similar to a traditional cured pig laig.

Kudos, then, to Hormel. Finally, I get to review a canned meat that is worthy enough to be actually eaten rather than enter long-term storage in a bomb/zombie apocalypse shelter as a survival food of last resort. We had the ham with peas and scalloped potatoes and it was a great family meal.


01 November, 2012

This time you've gone too far, ALDI

Candy Corn M&Ms

So finally, two seasons after they were introduced, I finally managed to find a bag of White Chocolate Candy Corn M&Ms. And they SUCK.

  1. The only reason they're called "Candy Corn" M&Ms is because they're coated in white, yellow, or orange shells. They have no actual candy corn flavor. And they're certainly not shaped like candy corn. They're still round.
  2. I doubt they're made of white chocolate. White chocolate is made with cocoa butter, which imparts a faint aroma and flavor of chocolate. There's nothing like that here. Just a cheap-ass artificial vanilla flavor that overpowers everything. It's like eating chunks of hard vanilla cake frosting.
Very disappointing, not worth the time I spent looking for them, and not worth the three bucks I paid for them.


Real Apple Cider

I can not buy apple cider at the supermarket. Every major brand of apple cider, even the ones that are locally or regionally produced, are pasteurized now and pasteurized cider doesn't have the fresh apple snap that cider should have. It tastes like liquid applesauce, and cider should instead taste just like taking a bite out of a fresh-picked apple (minus the crunch.)

For years, I've taken a nearly weekly drive south to Portland CT, to Gotta's, a farm stand on Route 17, which still presses and bottles cider from their own apples. Fresh cider. Unpasteurized, complete with the state-mandated warning label that the cider is unprocessed and might be "bad" for me.

Last week the family and I drove north to Hadley MA and found apple cider from Pine Hill Orchards at one of the farm stands there. This cider is excellent - fresh and snappy and unpasteurized, just like cider should be - and it's also just as sterile as the pasteurized variety.  They do this by exposing the cider to UV radiation as it's bottled.

It would be so awesome if more processors could adopt the UV sterilization process. So many more ciders would taste fresh and snappy again, instead of cooked.

If you have the opportunity to try an unprocessed or UV treated cider, jump at it. You'll be amazed at the freshness of the taste, and you might never settle for pasteurized cider again.