Matt Brundage

Archive for the 'food' category

Friday, 16 May 2008

An open letter to Trader Joe’s regarding their Chocolate Nonfat Yogurt

Trader Joe's chocolate yogurt I have a comment about the design of the yogurt container. There is no mention that the yogurt must be stirred. I ate about 3/4 of a yogurt before I realized that there was a huge dollop of chocolate at the bottom. Before I discovered the chocolate, I was thinking, “..my, what a bland yogurt!” Perhaps I was just having an off-day.

My suggestion would be to replace the text on the front (“With Imported Cocoa”) with “Chocolate on the bottom”, “Please stir”, or something to that effect.

Furthermore, calling it “imported cocoa” isn’t necessary, as the US doesn’t even grow the cocoa bean. The phrase borders on deception, as some consumers do not know this and assume that “imported” cocoa is a luxury.

Monday, 4 February 2008

CSS, cookies

CSS file size I’ve been meaning to publish this for a while, but was never really motivated. Image: a graph of the changing weight of the main CSS file of this site. I’m not sure how much one could glean from this information — it doesn’t tell you the efficiency of the CSS declarations, only the size of the file. This file is important to the site, as every page accesses it and is styled by it. For that reason, it pays to keep the file small and compact.

There’s not really that much I can tell you about the graph. Summer 2004 saw my discovery of the Firefox browser — the CSS file promptly increased fourfold as I started to rely on CSS for layout purposes. It’s hard to believe now, but before summer 2004, I was coding solely in IE. The peak file size came in April 2006, as the CSS file was bloated after I had recently installed the WordPress blogging software. I’ve since been moving declarations into the WordPress template CSS file. Nothing to write home about, I know…

Next, I’d like to give mad props to Ray and Jade for bringing those wonderful chocolate chip cookies to the party on Saturday. Wow. It’s a wonder that Jade isn’t pushing 200 lbs with the mastery that Ray displays in the kitchen.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Mustard woes

Due to forces entirely beyond my control, my household now has four opened containers of mustard in varying states of use. Combining said containers is out of the question, as each blend is unique: classic yellow, honey mustard (in both “tangy” and “non-tangy” varieties), and brown mustard, which may or may not be zesty. Mustard is one of those foods that flies off the grocery store shelf, but has limited utility. Sure, it pairs well with meats (especially those with high saturated fat content) and freshly baked soft pretzels, but for everyday use, mustard is largely overlooked. I figure I’ll have to eat one half smoke every night for the rest of the year to reduce our mustard supply to a more manageable size.

Friday, 9 February 2007

New York Nanny State

Recently, you may have heard about the New York City Board of Health’s push to ban artificial trans fats from restaurant menus. Never mind the fact that trans fat occur naturally in meat and dairy products. Or that trans fats are “FDA-approved”. According to the FDA, a full 17% of our fat consumption comes from margarine. I personally got off the margarine train years ago, but I’ll willing to bet that there are thousands of people of the misguided opinion that margarine is the healthier alternative to butter. Just wait twenty years or so, and margarine will be good for you again.

So: liquid oils — made into solid fats by adding hydrogen — will be banned. But what about saturated fats, shown to be correlated to higher rates of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease? When will the Board of Health push to ban meats, daily, and cheeses, all of which are typically high in saturated fats? Soon, all we’ll have left to cook with is olive oil. Until they declare war on monounsaturated fats.

Sure, the Board of Health may be trying to act in the best interests of the public, but how far should legislation go? Consider this nugget of wisdom from Barry Goldwater:

I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents “interests,” I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.

Goldwater’s words strike a chord with those who believe New York is turning into the “Nanny State.” Additionally, the excerpt stands up like a fortress to the illogic of New York State Senator Carl Kruger, who has proposed legislation banning iPods and other such devices whilst crossing a city street.

Kruger says that while he is trying not to intrude upon personal freedoms of New Yorkers, it becomes difficult to leave the problem alone when pedestrians tune-in to an iPod/Blackberry/cell phone/video game only to walk blithely into a speeding bus or moving automobile to meet with near certain death.

Yes, Kruger may say that he is “trying not to intrude upon personal freedoms of New Yorkers…”, but he is failing miserably at his goal. Even without considering the personal liberty issues at stake in this issue, consider the holes in his proposal:

  • People with headphones cannot hear approaching cars or their horns. Neither can the deaf. Should deaf people also be fined for crossing the street?
  • People watching their stock quotes or playing a portable video game aren’t watching traffic. For that matter, nor are the blind. Should blind people also be fined for crossing the street?
  • Should we fine people for not looking both ways?
  • What if the music is coming from an old-school boom box not directly attached to the pedestrian’s ears? What if the pedestrian is listening to music originating from a street performer, a source he cannot readily eliminate without force or coercion? Would the iPod cops put the kabash on street performers in the best interests of pedestrians?
  • Should we fine people who put their hands over their ears as they cross the street?
  • Kruger has said that people can simply take the earbuds out of their ears as they cross the street to avoid the fine. But what if the pedestrian simply pauses the song, essentially turning the device off? How would the iPod cops know? And what would they do about those twenty-something interns wearing earmuffs?

Seriously, Kruger acts as if pedestrian deaths suddenly started happening after the iPod was launched in 2001. I hate to break it to him, but non-attentive pedestrians have been getting run over for millenniums. If this illogical proposal becomes law, expect New Yorkers to take to the streets. With their iPods and french fries, of course.

Thursday, 26 October 2006

Philipsburg and Dinner Cruise

The shops of Philipsburg, Sint Maarten First photo: The shops of Philipsburg, Sint Maarten. Much business comes from cruise ship passengers. The main drag was a one-lane one-way road. It was literally six or seven steps across. And establishments weren’t exactly far away from the street, either. Marigot was much the same way. Philipsburg’s liquor laws appear to be non-existent. Nearly every store or roadside stand sold alcohol of some kind, and tourists were freely drinking from bottles while shopping from store to store. Aside from the usual tourist-centric gift shops, there was a surprisingly large number of tablecloth stores. One store was actually named “Mr. Tablecloth.” If I were a tourist from a cruise ship, the first thing I’d seek out in Sint Maarten would be their vast selection of tablecloths. Riiiight.

scenery, Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten Second and third: Annie and I took a twilight dinner cruise around Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten. A few days before, we had attended a presentation hosted by a vacation timeshare company. For our troubles, they gave us a voucher toward the cruise. It was time well spent if you ask me. Open bar, great food, even better views… And waitresses ready and willing to start conga lines. The middle picture is simply gorgeous full-screen. Annie and I take a dinner cruise around Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten

Friday, 20 October 2006

Rehearsal Dinner

Annie and me, Golden Bull restaurant, Gaithersburg MDAfter the wedding rehearsal — which was actually more nerve-wracking for me than the wedding itself — we made our way over to the Golden Bull Grand Cafe in Gaithersburg. Many thanks go to my parents, who paid for the occasion.

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Trader Joe’s

So I walk into the Silver Spring, MD Trader Joe’s last night to return some two-day old nectarines. Nectarines that looked as if they had been sprinkled with all manner of mold spores and left in a moist, warm environment for a month. I was expecting that I would at least have to explain myself and show my receipt (which I had). However, the cashier asked for the supervisor to come over, and the man simply asked me how much my item cost. “$3.29″, I said. He opened the cash register and handed me the cash. No fuss; no muss. They took my bag containing the three uneaten, rotting nectarines and I went on my merry way.

I was impressed with the level of (perceived) trust they had in me. They didn’t bother checking the receipt to confirm that 1.) I had indeed purchased a container of nectarines two days earlier, and 2.) that the price I paid was indeed $3.29. Since I had paid with a credit card, I thought my refund would go back on the card as well; the cash refund was unexpected, but above all, tangible.

Wednesday, 18 January 2006

Irish Cream

Bailey’s Irish Cream is probably one of the more versatile adult beverages. There’s straight up Irish Coffee (coffee, Irish Cream, whipped cream), Irish Ice Cream, Irish Cream with plain milk, Irish Cream with warm milk, Irish Frappe (1 bottle Starbucks’ Mocha Frappuchino, 4 ounces Irish Cream, 2 tablespoons Hershey’s dark chocolate syrup). Heck, I’ve even added it to cream of crab soup, and it wasn’t bad.

Monday, 30 May 2005

Cheesesteak

Annie's cheesesteakQuite possibly the best damn cheesesteak I’ve ever had. Annie happens to be a former Jerry’s employee and knows how to make a mean sub. It borders on the too-good-to-be-true. I don’t want to know how many calories it has — however, I do know that she spread mayo on the bread after toasting.