Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Clovis Needs Health Insurance

Clovis got a call from a health insurance scammer and was really pleased to hear from because he's in dire need of health insurance. Clovis was asked if he needed a policy for himself only and misunderstood, thinking that he was being asked if he needed a plan for his cell phone. Once that was cleared up, Clovis was asked how old he was, and he replied that he's 68 years old. The rep hung up after that. Must be some kind of ageism going on here.

Monday, January 27, 2020

SoxFest 2020

There Are DOZENS Of Us!
With all the great acquisitions that the White Sox have made in the pre-season, I decided that it would be pretty fun to attend this year's SoxFest in order to get hyped up for the upcoming season. It's basically just a big White Sox convention that features opportunities to interact with current and former players.

I want to give credit to the organizers of SoxFest for running a pretty tight operation despite SoxFest being such a large event. My daughter and I got to McCormick Place at 8:30 and the doors opened promptly at 9:00 with the line for entry moving very quickly. Once we got in to the event hall, there weren't any large crowd bottlenecks to speak of. That being said, the lines to get wristbands for "popular" player experiences like photo ops with Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu were very large and there was no way you could have gotten a space unless you had arrived very early or you had paid a VIP space. Still, spaces for experiences with former players like Harold Baines and Bo Jackson were reasonable. I was thrilled to have gotten a photo op with former White Sox player and Hall of Famer Tim Raines. It was extra cool because I happen to have a bobblehead of him celebrating his 2017 induction into the Baseball Hall Of Fame.

I appreciated the opportunity to peruse the White Sox Garage Sale which featured leftover past promotions as well as past game items for sale. I picked up a team gnome for the back yard for only $5 and my daughter got a super-cute White Sox bucket hat for a mere $10. Of course, there were also the typical ballpark food vendors like Begger's Pizza and Buona selling their wares at ballpark prices. Two dollars for a can of soda? I wonder if that is a standard McCormick place price. I'd have been much less inclined to pay if if the food court and/or the Starbuck's had been open. But, that's a minor concern and is a pretty typical experience whenever you're a captive audience like that.

So, all told, we had a pretty great time at SoxFest 2020. Next year, though, we're doing a VIP package.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Clovis Needs A Lower Interest Rate

Clovis needs a lower interest rate on his credit card, so he was pretty happy when a credit card scammer called him to offer him a lower interest rate on his credit card. The rep kept asking Clovis on which card he needed a lower rate, and Clovis kept saying that he needed a lower rate on all of them. When the rep asked for Clovis' credit card number, Clovis said his Visa was the first card, his Mastercard was the second card, etc etc. When asked to read the number off of his Visa card, Clovis read the 1-800 number off of it. The rep eventually got tired and hung up.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Spicy Honey-Lime Chicken Tostadas

I don't know that I had ever eaten a toastada before, much less made one. My preference for Mexican fare tends towards offerings that include soft-tortillas. A toastada is just a tortilla that has been fried or toasted, so I figured that trying to make some wouldn't be an daunting task. Thus enters the Spicy Honey-Lime Chicken Tostadas with Jasmine Rice from Blue Apron. The description that Blue Apron provides seemed enticing enough: "This zesty Mexican meal pairs crispy, oven-toasted tortillas with tender glazed chicken and carrots, which get irresistibly spicy-sweet flavor from a combo of honey, fresh lime juice, and fiery chipotle paste—tempered by dollops of cooling sour cream. We’re serving it all with a side of fluffy rice brightened with lime zest."

Preparation was much easier than I had expected. I even managed to chop the garlic without taking off a piece of my finger. One of the toastadas did, unfortunately, bubble a bit too much which made for an awkward eating experience.

Here's how it turned out (click on each image to see it in more detail):



Everyone really enjoyed this one, though it was debated whether or not one should eat a toastada with one's hands. Though, I can understand the desire to break the meal up with a fork and eat it by the forkful. I say: Why stand on ceremony during a family meal? We all decided to eat them with our hands. And they were a huge hit, though I probably should have backed off on the garlic a bit. This is a meal that I would love to attempt to make completely on my own, or, at least, I would buy it again from Blue Apron the next time it comes around.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Tasting The 2019 Samuel Adams Utopias

I have been very excited to try the 2019 Samuel Adams Utopias that I received as a Christmas Gift. In fact, I was so excited, I even went through the trouble of recording an entire video to document my experience. However, in the week that it took me to edit the video, I had second thoughts about the method I had chosen to express my feelings about tasting the 2019 Samuel Adams Utopias. I had watched a number of beer tasting videos in order to prepare for making my own, and I find that watching someone throw back a beer doesn't interest me. On some level, it also kind of disgusts me. Certainly, nobody wants to watch me do that. And it seems to me that since the viewer can't smell the beer and taste it along with me, it's far better to express my thoughts via the written word.

This Sure Doesn't Look Like Beer...
I experienced a small amount of dread just before I twisted open the bottle of Utopias. I had been chasing this unicorn for at least 10 years. What if I didn't like it? What if the very smell of it made me want to boke? I put those concerns aside as I steeled up my nerves and popped the bottle cap that sits under the decorative cap. There was no "fwoosh" sound as I opened the Utopias, which one should expect since Utopias is not carbonated. Immediately, my nose was greeted with the pleasant aroma of toffee, molasses and wood. It smelled very much like a cognac with a pronounced alcohol aroma.

Samuel Adams Utopias is meant to be enjoyed one ounce at a time, hence the rather small size of the official Utopias glass. I'm reminded of a story involving my father. As a worker for the federal government, he was on furlough during the Clinton shutdown of 1996 and I was on Christmas break from college. He and his work buddies decided to commiserate at their favorite restaurant and I was invited along. While there, the group ordered a round of cognac which I slammed down as quick as possible. Everyone was horrified. As a college kid, my thinking was that I was being given a shot of alcohol in a fancy glass. My father, however, informed me that "good alcohol is meant to be sipped, not gulped down". And that's true of Samuel Adams Utopias. Even though it's technically a beer, you're supposed to sip it like a fine liquor.

And sip it, I did. I sat by the fireplace and sipped the Utopias and just focused on enjoying this Holy Grail of beers. And it tastes a lot like a cognac with a little hint of beer flavor. It's a decadent taste that's a little fruity with hints of cherry and vanilla. There's really nothing that I can compare it to because it's so unique. I definitely like it, but I also see it as something that I'll only break out for special occasions. I've told my daughter that, if I ever die, she'll have to either bury me with the bottle or cremate me and store me inside it. It's that good.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Fig & Goat Cheese Beyond Burger

I spent a decent part of my Holiday break watching documentaries on plant-based diets. I recognize that there's likely an inherent bias in such documentaries, but I figured that cutting back on meat at least little bit isn't a bad idea. The girlfriend and I decided to try to challenge ourselves to eat one completely plant-based meal a week. To that end, my first contribution came from Blue Apron with their Fig and Goat Cheese Beyond Burger with Roasted Cauliflower & Spicy Lemon Dressing.

Beyond Meat is one of those plant-based meat alternative companies similar to Impossible Foods that are attempting to mainstream plant-based foods by trying to mimic the taste and texture of meat. Beyond Meat uses pea protein and no soy whereas Impossible Foods uses potato protean and does use soy. The nuts and bolts don't matter that much to me at this time. I just want to know how it tastes.

The BlueApron description sounds enticing enough: To give the plant-based Beyond Burger™ incredibly savory-sweet flavor, you’ll pair it with an easy sauce of sautéed shallot mixed with fig spread and dijon mustard sauce, then layer it all on soft buns alongside tangy goat cheese for creamy contrast. We’re serving it with a delicious side of roasted cauliflower tossed in a bright dressing of fresh lemon juice, sweet currants, and spicy crushed red pepper.

We briefly considered not telling the kids that they were eating plant based burgers. A Folgers Coffee type scenario played in my head where I thought "We've secretly replaced the ground beef that these children usually eat with plant-based protein. Let's see how they react....". We ultimately decided that deception on that level is not cool, so we were fully open with what we would be serving. The kids weren't looking forward to it nearly as much as the adults were. The adults saw it as an adventure. The kids saw it as a punishment.

Meal prep was easy enough. I had never cored a cauliflower before, but that's not much of a task. I did, however, start to waiver when I opened up the packaging for the Beyond Meat patties. They smell like a laundry basket. But, the patties cooked up nice enough and I could hardly tell that I wasn't cooking an actual burger.

Here's how it turned out (click on each image to see it in more detail):



As for the taste, my own personal thought is that the burger tasted fine for the most part, but just before swallowing, I noticed a taste that I could only describe as "earthy". It's not bad, or bothersome, it's just noticeable enough for me to be very aware that I'm eating a plant-based burger. I suspect that if I had been more liberal with the fig-mustard sauce and the goat cheese, the taste would have been less noticeable. If I had to eat this sort of burger for the rest of my life, I wouldn't be inclined to run out into traffic. The cauliflower tasted really good in the dressing and that was the real star of the meal for me. It was the perfect mix of sweet, acidic and peppery. It made me not hate cauliflower for once.

The kids had a lot less of a negative reaction than we expected. My teenage daughter said that she liked it just fine, but she couldn't get past the fact that it was plant-based and was not inclined to take more than a few bites. The younger kids wanted nothing to do with it at first, but ultimately tried a few bites before requesting "real" bugers. The cauliflower was a hit all around, though. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Clovis' Wife Is A Big Spender

Clovis was very happy to hear from yet another credit card scammer, because Clovis owes a ton of money on his credit cards. You see, Clovis' wife had run up over $50,000 of credit card debt on his cards and he needed to get a lower interest rate in order to make those payments. How lucky it was that the scammer called Clovis with just such an offer! Clovis could barely contain his excitement and notified his wife, telling her to "pass the yams". When Clovis tried to commiserate on the subject of his spendthrift wife with the credit card scam agent, the agent kept ignoring him. Clovis asked the agent several times if he was married, to no avail.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Skyrim: Killing A Cave Bear With Unrelenting Force

It's New Year's Day and I've got the day off. I spend a good part of the day playing Skyrim on my Xbox One. Now, normally, I wouldn't gush online over such an old game, but, despite Skyrim being around 8 years old, I'm still amazed at how well it has held up over time. While playing today, I got attacked by a cave bear on a hill. I used Unrelenting Force on him hoping to briefly stun him and then go in for an attack. As it turns out, my Unrelenting Force shout made the cave bear roll down the hill so much that it killed him. The kill didn't register until the cave bear stopped rolling down the hill, so I didn't immediately realize that it had died. Check out the video for yourself: