Tag Archives: vlog

Chicken and Waffles Debate, Techie Style! (with bonus Peeps!)

Gentle Readers, lean in close, it’s confession time. The Practical Cook isn’t even going to pretend to go to the grocery store this week. Life and business have conspired to make eating on the road a necessity this week. It’s a holiday weekend for many, and I’m going to take a break as well.

Peep Show

Peep Show

However, in the spirit of rebirth and renewal, I’m leaving you with two videos. I am going to try to get back in the habit of video blogging. First up, my day job sometimes crosses over  into my hobby. Watch as technology and waffles clash forks in this hotly contentious chicken and waffles episode of my video podcast, EngineersUnplugged.com

Second, an oldie but goodie, for all you Peep haters out there:

Enjoy your weekend! Questions or comments, drop them in the comments section or on Twitter!

Send your syrup, hot sauce, and fancy fork work to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Wednesday, Peeps Revised!

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Potato Chip Tasting: Chicken and Waffle Potato Chips vs Sriracha Potato Chips (with video)

Gentle Readers, somethings must be tried to be believed. As a well-documented fan of chicken and waffles and sriracha, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to at least try these little gems. Full disclaimer, I’m not a huge potato chip fan, so I don’t have religion about brands. I love the fresh cut ones, though, which follows my mantra of when you eat Fried, eat only the best Fried there is to offer.

The Contenders: Lay's Chicken and Waffles Potato Chips vs. Sriracha

The Contenders: Lay’s Chicken and Waffles Potato Chips vs. Sriracha

However, I’m not afraid to try new things (that aren’t full of hazelnuts or licorice of course). We tasted both kinds of chips plain, and dipped in maple syrup and/or sriracha. There was some cross-dipping, as my co-tasters, The Practical Cooks Junior, are notoriously experimental with mixing and matching. Roll the tape:

Perhaps it was the preparatory 6 mile bike ride, but we all liked them both, and agreed the Chicken and Waffle Potato Chips were best. They taste mainly of maple syrup, but if you eat more than one you build up the pepper coating taste too. Not much chicken, very little waffle. I wouldn’t buy these regularly, but it’s a great conversation starter for a party.

The Sriracha Potato Chips were good, but at an unfair advantage as I had eaten fresh cut ones tossed with sriracha and gorganzola a few days earlier. They are good, just not that special.

We opted not to taste the garlic and cheese bread chips, as they didn’t sound that special. What do you think? Have you tried them? Share your opinion in the comments box below!

Send your crazy chip ideas, extra maple syrup, and spare lattes to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Friday: Meeting Smitten Kitchen, a Cookbook Review

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Bacon Quest: Bacon Bacon Truck in San Francisco Reviewed! (with video)

Gentle Readers, it has been too long since The Practical Cook broke out the video review. Fear not, she is reunited with her camera and on the road. Better still, she is stalking that crowd favorite, bacon.

I learned about the famed Bacon Bacon SF food truck a few months ago, when I was, well, talking about bacon at a Tweetup. You would be shocked how often that happens to me. They have everything from your standard bacon grilled cheese to bacon popcorn and chocolate bacon.

The Menu at the Bacon Bacon SF Food Truck

The Menu at the Bacon Bacon SF Food Truck

Accompanied by fellow bacon fan, whom I shall call Semper Fried, we decided to try as much as we could across the menu, for science of course. In our meager defense, we walked to and from the truck, and that was some reasonable distance.

Pork Belly Taco and Pork Belly Fries: Delicious in a box

Pork Belly Taco and Pork Belly Fries: Delicious in a box

I had the Bahn Mi and Chocolate Bacon, he went for the Pork Belly taco and Pork Belly fries (they made me think of Southern BBQ, a win). The bacon was exceptional. I am in the process of determining where it came from. My sandwich was good, the pork meatballs were nice, but I’ve had better pork belly. The money is really on the bacon here, it is outstanding, thick without being jerkylike, not overly hammy or salty, very balanced with a pronounced bacon flavor.

Pork Meatball Bahn Mi with Bacon!

Pork Meatball Bahn Mi with Bacon!

Would I go back? Absolutely, if only to buy more chocolate bacon. Yeah, it’s good, don’t try to kid yourself about that. Go early, the line forms fast. I think I’m going to try the vegetarian option next time, with bacon.

Chocolate, Meet Bacon.

Chocolate, Meet Bacon. ❤

Will you go out of your way to eat bacon? Tell me your story or issue a bacon challenge in the comment box below!

The Bacon Bacon Food Truck in San Francisco! Hunt it down today!

The Bacon Bacon Food Truck in San Francisco! Hunt it down today!

Food truck recommendations, kudos, and culinary challenges can be sent to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Friday, Roasted Spring Vegetables Recipe.

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Weekly Menus: Week of 4/8/2012 (with Bonus Video)

Gentle Readers, for those who celebrate, Happy Easter. For those who don’t, I hope you’re sleeping in. The Practical Cooks Junior have determined that we will be up at the crack of dawn, though I suspect they are in it for the hot cross buns. But I digress.

Festive cupcakes! Bunnies in outfits for the win!

Festive cupcakes! Bunnies in outfits for the win!

The Juniors have also greatly influenced this week’s menu. I’m encouraging them to own their culinary destiny. Here we go.

Two Egg Artists, Two Vastly Different Visions

Two Egg Artists, Two Vastly Different Visions

Menus for this week:

Weekly Menus: 4/8/2012

Weekly Menus: 4/8/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 4/8/2012

Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 4/8/2012

Which translates into:

Sunday: Leftovers
Ham ham ham. It multiplies in the fridge.

Monday: Nachos
Still working through the pile of black beans. Add some sweet potatoes and cheese, and you’ve got nachos for the dinner guests we’re inviting over. (Including a small one with a love of spice.)

Tuesday: Salad Bar
Planning on using whatever is in the fridge atop greens. Necessary after Meatapalooza.

Wednesday: Salad and Pasta Bar (or Beans)
This will either be a salad and pasta tossed with ham and green peas in a creamy sauce or beans with ham. Catching a theme here?

Thursday: Lasagna or Ham Loaf
I’m hoping for lasagna, not going to lie.

Friday: Dine Out!
We’re changing up this week, dining out a different day.

Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner
Could be grits, could be biscuits and gravy. We shall see.

How do you use up ham? Post a comment below.

Peeps: Not Safe at Any Speed

Peeps: Not Safe at Any Speed

And now, my thoughts on Peeps, the Easter candy that looks back at you. Roll the tape:

Send your challenges, ideas, and actual food questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up next, Three New Chocolate Things Reviewed. Again, because someone has to.

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The Best Bacon: Bacon Brackets Winner Declared, Stunning Upset (with video)

Gentle Readers, the smoky haze is clearing, the fat has been rendered, and a winner has been declared. The Practical Cook can now resume purchasing and consuming bacon in rational rather than rasher quantities. So who won?

Bacon Smackdown!

Bacon Smackdown!

Let’s roll the tapes:

That’s right, out of all the fancy pants brands we tried, the victor is Wright Hickory Smoked Bacon, sold at a reasonable price at your local grocery store. The results are so shocking, I plan on doing a blind taste with some local food talents, just to confirm or deny. If you’re interested in running your own test, or participating, let me know.

Wright Hickory Smoked Bacon: Winner of the Grocery Store Round!

Wright Hickory Smoked Bacon: Grand Champion, Best Bacon

You see, the favorite going in, by far, was Nueske’s. I thought it would win, easy. The fabulous Wonder Woman surprised me with a 3 pound sampler pack of the stuff, and having mowed through the two more unique varieties, I spared the standard hickory smoked for the Bacon Brackets. I couldn’t eat it.

Blind Tasting Bacon!

Blind Tasting Bacon!

That’s right, bacon I could not eat. It was so smoky, though I admittedly have a problem with high smoke, it was inedible to me. Improv Cook backed me up on this one, though she’s not as put off by smoke as me. I went and bought another sample, this time sliced to order. Better, but I loved the cherrywood smoked Nueske’s way more.

Beauty in bacon can be deceiving. This is the Nueske's!

Beauty in bacon can be deceiving.This is the Nueske's!

So the champion went down. I consolidated this final post, as the first place winner in the Mail-Order is hard enough to source, and not delicious enough to bother, in my opinion. So here’s the Final Four, ranked from last to first:

4. Applegate Sunday Bacon. This only won the Gourmet grocery store bracket by being the least unappealing. Not recommended if there are other options.

3. Niman’s Ranch. This was the barely named winner of the mail-order category. It was smoky, salty, and a bit chewy with some good fat, but neither Improv Cook nor I loved it enough to stake our bacon reps on it.

2. Bacon from Cliff’s Meat Market. Proving that butchers know what they’re talking about, the mysteriously labeled “Bacon” from Cliff’s in Carrboro, NC, was really good. I would eat this very versatile locally-obtained bacon any time.

1. Wright Hickory Smoked Bacon: Grand Champion. This bacon was flavorful, meaty, with some smoke, extremely versatile, and really just a pleasure to eat. And isn’t that what bacon is all about?

Thanks to everyone for joining us on this journey, and my comrade in tasting and the founder of this awesome quest, Improv Cook. Special thanks to Cliff’s Meat Market, Brinkley Farms, and John at Eco Farms for the great info and the bacon.

Keep your French Toast company with some bacon, and grits, and eggs, and . . .

Keep your French Toast company with some bacon, and grits, and eggs, and . . .

And another special thank you to Neal’s Deli, for hosting the Bacon Summit that led to the Bacon Brackets. I’m coming in soon for another one of those pastrami biscuits, or perhaps the egg and garlicky spinach. I need a little bacon break . . .

Neal's Deli Biscuit with Egg, Swiss Cheese, and Garlicky Spinach: It's a Health Food Really

Neal's Deli Biscuit with Egg, Swiss Cheese, and Garlicky Spinach: It's a Health Food Really

What a long salty trip it has been. So I challenge you to go try this bacon and post a comment! What do you think?

Send your fresh veggies, challenges, and actual cooking questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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We will meet again on Sunday, with Weekly Menus and a Bonus Recipe!

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Bacon Brackets, Round 2 Results: Gourmet Grocery Store (with video)

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook has exciting results to share. This week’s Bacon Brackets involve the first of a series of upsets. And really, aren’t we in it for the Cinderella story? In searching for the best tasting bacon, Improv Cook and I just assumed, right or wrong, that the gourmet shops would have something up their porcine sleeves.

Let’s roll the game day footage:

We were wrong. Here are the contenders:

Bacon Brackets, Round 2: Gourmet Grocery Store

Bacon Brackets, Round 2: Gourmet Grocery Store

And here are the stunning results of the Gourmet Grocery Store Bacon Brackets:

1. 365 brand. $4.99/12oz Some shrinkage during cooking, low salt, crisp chewy, meaty but more like beef than pork. 4th place “not good” (Yeah, we said it.)

365 Bacon is not delicious

365 Bacon is not delicious

2. Wellshire market style. $7.99/16oz This bacon had moderate salt, some chew, some bacon flavor, okay texture, good on a biscuit. 3rd place with texture caveat  (as in if you have texture issues with thicker bacon at all, don’t buy this one)

Wellshire Farm bought in bulk

Wellshire Farm bought in bulk

3. Pederson apple smoked. $7.99/16oz This bacon was noticeably sweeter, had a slight chew, some smoke, good for salad or bitter greens, 2nd place, best to cook with this one instead of eating straight up

Pederson Apple Smoked bought in bulk

Pederson Apple Smoked bought in bulk

4. Applegate Sunday bacon. $4.99/8oz This bacon suffered shrinkage, but was bacony with moderate to high salt. However, it was not crispy, so we award it a  reticent 1st place.

Reluctantly, we've crowned Applegate Sunday Bacon as the winner this time.

Reluctantly, we've crowned Applegate Sunday Bacon as the winner this time.

The big shock: the gourmet grocery store bacons got their porcine behinds handed to them by the plain old grocery store bacons. We tasted these back to back, and though I hope our finalist judges aren’t reading this, we agreed we wouldn’t go out of our way to eat any of these “gourmet” bacon contenders.

Beauty in bacon can be deceiving.

Beauty in bacon can be deceiving.

Up next week, Round 3, Local Bacon! I’ll let you gather your local bacon and test along. Do you have a favorite so far? Post a comment, even just to cheer us on or provide exercise tips. 🙂

Got bacon? Send your challenges, ideas, and vegetarian recipe requests to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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On Sunday, we’ll have Weekly Menus, Plus Another Bonus Recipe!

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Taste Test Challenge: Peanut M&M’s vs Pretzel M&M’s (with video)

Gentle Readers, how many varieties of M&M’s could there be? The Practical Cook just learned there are white chocolate ones, too. However, one must draw the line somewhere, lest the colorful candy shell envelop a Brussels sprout next. I digress. A Gentle Reader challenged me to taste the Pretzel M&M’s, and I accepted.

Pretzel M&M's, because sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

Pretzel M&M's, because sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

After all, who doesn’t love a crunchy, salty, sweet snack? Silence, just as I thought. Let’s roll the tape, shall we?

So the results are in, The Practical Cook still votes squarely in the traditional Peanut M&M camp. In fact, I had some plain M&M’s in trail mix the other day and was reminded how satisfying they were. Basically, it’s been a chocolate sort of month. To be fair, The Practical Cooks Junior prefer all new types of M&M over the old, while The Practical Cook’s Dad (a veteran taster), sides with me. There is apparently an age line drawn in the candy-coated debate.

Not sure I want my candy talking to me.

Not sure I want my candy talking to me.

So what’s your stand? Plain, Peanut, Pretzel, Peanut Butter? Vote for your favorite M&M by posting a comment. Make your voice heard! Let us caucus over candy, if for not other reason than to give me the opportunity to use that verb. I can hear you out there.

Serious questions, knock knock jokes, and chocolate challenges can be emailed to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Friday, I’m eating veggies all week to prepare for Bacon Brackets, Round 2: Gourmet Grocery Store Edition!

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Turkey Talk: Restaurant Review of Bosphorus in Cary, NC (with video)

Gentle Readers, when fellow adventurous eaters say “get in the back of the car, we’re leaving,” The Practical Cook hops in without question. Though I would like to tell you this was the getaway vehicle (a la Jack Bauer):

This was not the getaway car, though it should have been.

This was not the getaway car, though it should have been.

It was not. However, the destination, Bosphorus in Cary, NC, is worth the trip, no matter your means of transport. So delicious, I had a moment at the table in regards to the eggplant. Apologies to dining companions Buttercup and Waldorf for bearing witness, but as the tape indicates, I’m lucky I got any food at all. Let’s investigate, shall we?

And here’s what we ordered, in translation:

The Bread: It just came to the table, unbidden, but you do want to try some with the mildly spicy dipping oil. Take that Dr. Atkins.

Turkish bread with peppery oil dip. Do not cut carbs on this one.

Turkish bread with peppery oil dip. Do not cut carbs on this one.

Bosphorus Meze Platter: The Sampler Platter, not to be missed. Everything was good, the  baba ghanoush was not to be missed. I do heart eggplant, but this was perfectly balanced, smoky without being bitter or overly chunky.

The Meze Platter at Bosphorus

The Meze Platter at Bosphorus

Cigar Bourek (Sigara Boregi): These are the taquitos or mozzarella sticks of Turkey, apparently. Deep-fried phyllo dough stuffed with feta, served with marinara. I liked these, but wanted a slightly more pronounced feta taste. The Juniors will love them, I might save my fried quota for the next item.

Turkish Deep Fried! Because that is what I do. (Cigar Bourek, phyllo wrapped feta.)

Turkish Deep Fried! Because that is what I do. (Cigar Bourek, phyllo wrapped feta.)

Fried Eggplant & Green Pepper (Patlican Kizartmasi): And then I had a moment at the table. This was the first dish I tried, ordered because of my love of the eggplant, and I was not disappointed. It was warm and crispy, yet smooth with the yogurt. It was a veritable vegetarian party in my mouth. Hunt this dish down and eat it. Try to avoid sharing.

Turkish Fried Eggplant at Bosphorus: I must have dimmed the lights for this photo so I could be alone with it.

Turkish Fried Eggplant at Bosphorus: I must have dimmed the lights for this photo so I could be alone with it.

Lahmacun: Ground beef with spices atop a thin dough. This isn’t crisp like a pizza, more like a really good tortilla or roti. And these things rock. I almost didn’t get to eat one, because I was too busy communing with the eggplant/photographing for this review, that’s how good they are.

Lahmacun (or Turkish Beef Pizza) at Bosphorus in Cary, NC

Lahmacun (or Turkish Beef Pizza) at Bosphorus in Cary, NC

Ali Nazik: Beef and lamb kofta-style kebab over a bread salad. OMG. I would order this for the bread salad alone, drenched in tomato sauce on one side, and yogurt on the other. With my texture issues, this isn’t one I would’ve ordered on my own, but was one of my favorite items. Take the leap of faith, order this, then tell me what you think.

Ali Nazik with Bread Salad: Try this!

Ali Nazik with Bread Salad: Try this! It tastes like delicious.

Bosphorus is family-friendly, delicious, and not hard to find, even by Cary standards (I find the place unnavigable, forgive me). The wait staff was amazing, the food arrived almost before we ordered it, and I left just wanting to eat more. Put it on your short list to try. Thank me later by sending me a picture of your dinner.

Have you tried Turkish food? Post your thoughts in the comments section, or Tweet at me. I’m standing by, waiting for your call.

Got ideas for the blog? Want to challenge The Practical Cook? Email practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today to stay current on all of The Practical Cook news!)

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Tomorrow, Hoppin’ John, Simplified.

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Think Outside the Box: Combining Cereals for All-New Taste Sensations

Gentle Readers, as those long-time readers know, The Practical Cook has a deep and abiding love for cereal. It’s great year-round and all day long. Dry or with milk, atop a parfait, in a trail mix, so very versatile. However, there is one thing I do not do: combine cereals.

The Practical Cook's Cereal Warehouse

The Practical Cook's Cereal Warehouse

The Practical Cook’s Mom and the Youngest of the Juniors do. With abandon. Ad nauseum. Emphasis on the nauseum. As I am trying to be more open minded in my old age, here are a few of their favorites, as observed over the years.

1. Raisin Bran + Anything. Often combined with Cheerios, I think this started because we usually had both in the house and TPC’s Mom wanted to finish off the box.

Raisin Bran Muffins Cooling

Raisin Bran Muffins Cooling

2. Grape Nuts + Anything. In theory, the crunchiness would work well with a plethora of cereals. In practice, at least for me, the toasty malty goodness I like so much on its own make the milk a liability for other cereals.

All Clusters (aka, cereal candy) plus Autumn Wheat (aka, hay bales)

All Clusters (aka, cereal candy) plus Autumn Wheat (aka, hay bales)

3. Clusters + Hay bales. That actually has some appeal, because the textures are so different. We just got a box of “only clusters” from Trader Joe’s to try. I read the sugar content after I got it home. I’m just going to dice up some Snickers and put them in with the Shredded Wheat next time.

A Pyramid of Sugar Cereals

A Pyramid of Sugar Cereals

Where do you stand in this heated debate? Do you like your cereals pure as the box they came in, or do you find yourself experimenting like the Swedish chef in your bowl? For anyone needing refresher work in cereal, don’t forget to visit our helpful How to Cook Cereal and How to Cook Sugar Cereal videos.

Post a comment below to pick a side. You’ll find me eating one at a time, rinsing the bowl between.

Email ideas, questions, and compliments to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today to stay current on all of The Practical Cook news!)

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Tomorrow, it’s time to talk Turkey, as we review Bosphorus in Cary!

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