Archive for the ‘Pop Culture’ Category

McDonald's #HappyUT

Photo courtesy isthisREALLYmylife? on Flickr

McDonald’s is trying to change the way consumers think about its food, according to a recent article in The New York Times Magazine. Franchisees are renovating their stores, and the company’s marketing and social media teams are circulating stories about the farmers who supply their food and recruiting “Mom bloggers” to help build their brand.

Back in the 80s though, McDonald’s didn’t seem to need help improving its image, at least in my preschool and elementary school eyes. I ate many Chicken McNuggets, plain hamburgers with ketchup, and plastic cups of airy soft serve ice cream with thick hot fudge or buttery caramel sauce.

I even won a McDonald’s t-shirt after calling into a local radio show and singing the restaurant’s theme song. (Which I still remember today: Big Mac, McDLT, a quarter pounder with some cheese, filet o’fish, a hamburger, a cheeseburger, a Happy Meal, McNuggets, tasty golden French fries regular or larger sizes…)

Continue Reading “McDonald’s memories and the power of childhood foods”

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Men of a Certain Age, A League of Their Owen

Men of a Certain Age

When I learned about Blogathon Theme Day #1 – “5 Movies that Have Inspired My Blogging” – I wasn’t sure I would participate. I can only think of one food blogging movie (Julie and Julia), and it’s too obvious to write about.

But writing and blogging are about perseverance and never giving up and remaining committed to your goals…much like the sports glory movie, one of my favorite genres. Because I’m more of a TV person than a movie person, here’s my top 5 list of sports TV episodes and movies that help push me to reach, well, any goal, including those related to writing and blogging.

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Spicy Maple-Cashew Popcorn from Cooking Light

Inspired by this post by Three Many Cooks, I actually did ask for a Dutch oven for Christmas. I was lucky enough to get one, and I’ve been popping popcorn like crazy ever since. 

A couple of weeks ago I took a big bowl of this spicy maple-cashew popcorn to my grandmother’s house, where my entire family had gotten together for a post-New Year celebration. It was a Sunday – game day – and nearly everyone was in a Ravens jersey or shirt of some kind, supporting the home team.

As the game dragged on and it looked like the Ravens would lose to the Bengals (again – yikes!), this popcorn had a lot of competition.  There were seven kinds of cookies, sugared nuts, and a cracker spread made with shrimp, crab, cream cheese, and tomatoes.  There were casseroles and bread baskets and Hershey’s kisses.  But in the end the Ravens prevailed in the face of adversity – and so did this popcorn.  Most of the bowl was gone by the end of the party.

I suggest you whip up a batch of spicy maple-cashew popcorn for the games this weekend.  You’ll need to keep your energy up for cheering…or yelling curse words.  If you’re a Ravens fan, obviously I hope it’s the former.  Which leads me to the reason I really wrote this post.  I wanted to say this:

Move those chains, move those chains, move those chains.

Ravens 2011 Playoffs

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What Michael Phelps eats

What Michael Phelps eats (image from http://www.michaelphelpsbiography.net)

I’ve been training for the Baltimore Marathon for the last five months. I loved training for a big race again, but man, was it rough at times.  The day of our longest run was unseasonably hot, about 80 degrees. I had procrastinated buying a water belt or backpack – I still don’t have one actually – so I was breaking up our longest run, a 22-miler, by water stops. I hit the 13th mile and mentally prepared myself to run two miles to the next water break, then three miles after that, etc. But the around-15-mile water stop wasn’t there. I ran five miles in the heat, my head feeling like it was going to explode, before I got to the next stop. I inhaled three cups of water, ran a mile to my apartment, and called it a day at 19 miles.

I still remember how much the race can hurt when you hit mile 20 – and considering my last run of this length was about six years ago, that’s saying a lot – but I’m still super excited for the race, from the packet pick-up and the pre-race pasta party to the actual big day.  It’s all worth it when they wrap the mylar cape around you at the end. (I think it’s mylar…anyway, it’s to keep you warm.)  

Of course, food is a big part of the training plan for some athletes.  (Not me though; I’m just happy to finish). So if you’re running, biking, hiking, or doing any other kind of physical activity this weekend, take a look at what some key athletes do to increase their energy and improve their performance. And best of luck to anyone running on Saturday – maybe I’ll see you out there!

Continue Reading “What Endurance Athletes Eat”

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This is the last post in Kenny‘s Blogathon Food and Art series.  I want to say a big, big thank you to Kenny for taking over Sunday posts this month, and for showing us the connection between food and art.  Take a look at his other great posts:  Would You Like Some Art with Your Food?, Food and Art Trivia!, Use Your Coffee to Make Some Art, and Introduction to Food and Art.

Many years ago I saw this graphic and architectural design book titled I Am Almost Always Hungry and the appellation stuck with me. At the time I was working as a graphic artist, and this book married two subjects I hold dearly, eating and visual art. I always thought that I would use that phrase one day, either as a name for a painting or a title for a specific exhibition. The truth is, I am always hungry.

Images from The Dallas Morning News (scallops including a recipe!) and Seattle Blogs (pad thai).

I thought it would be appropriate to mention this love for food and art, especially in this last Sunday post of my guest-blogging. A perfect evening would be to attend an art opening, enjoying the energy and excitement that fills a gallery during an opening reception, followed by a delicious meal – complete with appetizer, entrée, and coffee with dessert.

Food and Art leave such lasting memories with me, instantly bringing me back to certain experiences in my life. For instance, scallops remind me of a dish I had in Vermont on the night I proposed to my wife:  perfectly seared jumbo scallops with wild mushrooms in Vermont cream over homemade fettuccini.

Pad Thai will always bring me back to a street in Thailand, where I was eating some out of a styrofoam container with splintered sticks, sitting in a gutter without shoes, bruised and dirty while dried-up bloodied toilet paper hung from my hand from the serious motor-scooter accident I had earlier in the day.  (My brother wishes he had a picture of that moment to send back home, knowing it would’ve freaked out our mom).

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2010 Super Bowl, Colts, Saints

Thanks to http://www.kennethyee.com for taking the time to create this great image!

Time for Super Bowl Sunday! Those of us in the Northeast will likely be snowed in, watching the game with our spouses or kids or roommates. But for those of you who aren’t expecting a storm, or who are hosting a Super Bowl party anyway, I’ve put together a list of recipe ideas inspired by three players from each team. (lf you’d like to make food inspired by the city, check out Saveur’s menus for Indianapolis and New Orleans.)  A special shout-out to Kenny, who told me about the players so I could match their game to recipes.

Continue Reading “Super Bowl XLIV: Make Food Inspired by the Players”

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February 2011 Update
The Food Network has many videos about chocolate for Valentine’s Day, from holding a chocolate tasting to making chocolate truffles and hearts. Flip through the videos here.

Food Network Chocolate Weekend

(l to r): Nigella's Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake, Emeril's Spiced and Spiked Hot Chocolate, Bobby's Chocolate Compone, and Giada's Gianduja Souffles

For a long, long, long time I was single on Valentine’s Day. In fact, I was single about 90% of the year or more. So I always thought Valentine’s Day was a terrible, stupid, discriminatory holiday. Except for two things that is: conversation hearts and chocolate.

Yes, the chocolate, especially the heart boxes full of M&Ms or vanilla butter creams. This I liked about Valentine’s Day.

Even though I’m married now, I still think chocolate is the best part of the holiday. (Hmm, I hope my husband doesn’t read this and take that statement the wrong way.) What I mean is, chocolate is a benefit everyone can appreciate.

That’s why I love the Food Network’s chocolate weekend.  Take a look at this list of 5 shows on Saturday and Sunday to find one that fits your chocolate personality.  The list reflects my love of the sweet side of chocolate, but you can look at the Food Network’s full TV schedule for Saturday and Sunday to find the shows that highlight chocolate’s savory side.

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