Sunday, October 24, 2010

Modern Meal Mistakes: The Double Don't

I'd hate to look like a snob who thinks bad food only existed in the past. We certainly have our fair share of it around these days. So I thought it would be fun to have a monthly glimpse at modern foods or food-type products that might make it into this blog twenty years from now. Given the popularity of the infamous KFC Double Down, I thought it would be a good place to start.

For those new to this particular sandwich, here is the description from KFC:

"The new KFC Double Down sandwich is real! This one-of-a-kind sandwich features two thick and juicy boneless white meat chicken filets (Original Recipe® or Grilled), two pieces of bacon, two melted slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese and Colonel's Sauce. This product is so meaty, there’s no room for a bun!"

And here is what it's supposed to look like:

We've got problems when even the picture on the website looks unappetizing, but we're feeling adventurous and decide to give it a whirl. We go through the drive thru so that we aren't seen by too many people. We're told by the employees at the cash register that they sell about 70 a day to people who are just curious. The total cost with tax is $7.83. For just the Double Down. Somebody somewhere is getting a big bonus for thinking this one up.

Finally time to chow down!

Oh, KFC. How I haven't missed you. And now - the big reveal!!!

A picture speaks a thousand words, and all of them are swears. Seriously - what is that? I was hoping I'd be able to just pick the cheese off or something if it was gross but it's definitely there for keeps. It also looks like there's a little mutant leg sticking off the top piece of chicken.

Well, time to dress it up with a nice plate. See if that helps.

The lack of flash makes the neon cheese stand out a little less. Definite improvement. Unfortunately it still smells a little like wet newspapers. I think it's the pepper jack cheese. Smells off or something. Didn't KFC used to smell good? I seem to remember it smelling yummy when I was a kid. Hmmm.

Well, here we go then!

The verdict:
GROSS. The first bite wasn't so bad. The taste didn't really sink in. It was just crispy and greasy. Then my taste buds perked up. Rubbery weird tasting cheese. Overcooked bacon. And SALT. I don't understand this. Why is there so much salt? Is that all people want to taste anymore? I feel bad for the Colonel. He spent all that time figuring out his secret mix of spices and seasonings and they've gone and thrown all this salt in so you can't taste it anymore. Is that to stop people from stealing the recipe? Cause it would throw me off. We decided we could make a tastier version of the Double Down, because really - the concept isn't that bad. The execution just sucks.

All in all, not the worst thing in the world. In fact, here are some things that I like less than the Double Down:
1. Frozen peas
2. Punches to the face
3. Norwalk virus attacks

And here are some things I like more:
1. Wieners
2. Airport security lineups
3. Getting poo on my hand when changing a diaper

So now you know how much I love frozen peas. Actually I think the worst thing about the Double Down is the after taste. It really stays with you. And of course you are immediately thirsty. Don't reach for that Coke though. The Modern World has provided an even better antidote -

The President is always thinking of you! And only $1.39 a bottle. Much better value than the sandwich it's curing. Two sips and you're in tip top shape.

Next week we celebrate Halloween with another frightening retro eat!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's a Wiener-Filled Life

We've been looking forward to this evening since we decided to embark on this culinary adventure. Wieners, condensed soup, pork and beans and...

...cheesy poofs?

Yes, the first dish up is the Cheesie-Corn Casserole. Cook up the corn according to package directions, fry up some onions and green peppers in some butter, create a white sauce with said butter and mix the whole thing up with the corn.

Add to this a beaten egg and crushed up cheesy poofs. Top with same.

Colour means it's full of vitamins, right? If so, my hands have definitely received their daily intake of vitamin C. I'm sure there are other ways to break up the poofs, but this was more fun and gross.

Into the oven in went for a half an hour. In the mean time we got started on the main dish. Dubbed "The Winter Warmer", we could only hope it wouldn't be too hearty for fall.

The little one seems concerned with the ingredients. Don't worry sweets. You're having leftover chicken and veg instead. You're not old enough to need preserving. Anyways, we mixed up the pork and beans, condensed tomato soup, mustard and W sauce in the casserole dish. Guest chef Megan was kind enough to cut up the wieners for me, but I couldn't help but throw them in there myself (wieners make me a little giddy).

We threw that in the oven for a while with our side dish and then pulled the wieners out to top them with apple rings and brown sugar. Back in they went to caramelize the sugar and soften the apples because that would be sure to make the whole thing edible. Finally we were rewarded with a glimpse at the finished products!

Come and get it!

The verdicts: Cheesie-Corn Casserole is surprisingly edible. The only real downsides are the texture of the poofs and the knowledge that you are eating unnaturally orange food. But the flavour was not very strong and the rest of the dish was fine. We determined that if you just mixed in actual cheese instead that it would be a winner. Still, a lot of effort for frozen corn.

The Winter Warmer left us feeling cold. Really. Fifteen minutes was not enough time to heat the whole thing and I had to put mine in the microwave to even take more than one bite. I know there are people in the world that will eat cold hot dogs, but I am not one of them. The sugar on top was definite overkill, although the apples were pretty yummy. The worst part was the amount of worcestershire sauce though. I like W sauce, but that was the only flavour.

But wait - we made dessert too!!! Thought it would be nice to do a jellied fruit salad. We found a recipe for the Pink N' Pretty Fruit Medley, but modified it because the fresh fruits were not in season. We substituted a can of fruit cocktail and presume the authors of the Purity cookbook would approve. We also decided to make it a brain-shaped jellied salad in honour of the Halloween season.

First we mixed up the jello and let it partially set. Then we mixed in the yogurt and fruit.

Pour into mould and wait as patiently as you can!



The brains were delicious. I have a spare box of raspberry jello and I think I might make another jellied salad. Turns out they are pretty tasty so long as gelatin is the only animal product involved.

And fyi - I had Cheesie-Corn Casserole leftovers for breakfast today. HA.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

'S Wienderful

Happy Thanksgiving! It was a busy holiday weekend at our house, but we still found a bit of time to cook some retro eats. On the menu for lunch today was the Quick Frank Supper - just a nice, simple dish that cooked itself while I got on with my (and by "my" I mean "Paula Deen's") apple butter pumpkin pie with praline pecans.

First I chopped up my veggies - tomatoes, onions, peppers:

Looks healthy so far. Now for the protein...

Hmmm. Sooo...heat up some butter in a pan. Arrange veggies in pan with a bit of salt and pepper and top with wieners.

Cover and let that cook on low for about 20 minutes. You should probably use this time to make a second meal because you won't want to eat this one.

20 minutes go by and I lift the lid to discover the wieners got a little excited in the pan and are now standing at attention. I cut them exactly as directed, so I can only assume this is the desired result.

The final step is to add a bunch of cheddar and cover it again until the cheese is all melted. I was most disappointed when I realized I hadn't purchased any yellow cheddar. We only eat the white stuff here and it's just not as colourful or retro. But anyways...

Jizz in the pan? I did intend for this blog to be rated G, but the wieners had other ideas. Or maybe it's just my mind that's in the gutter. Maybe to everyone else this actually looks appetizing. I decided to use to natural curvature of the wiener to my advantage for plating:

Q: But how did it taste?
A: Salt.

Fortunately we found the time to try another dish. This one seemed most appropriate for a Thanksgiving side dish - Turnip-Apple Bake. How could this go wrong???


Dice 5 cups of turnip and boil for 10 minutes or so. Drain and toss with butter, s+p:

Mix up one can apple pie filling, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon (because the pie filling is apparently lacking in sweetness):

Mmm...gelatinous...Put layer of turnips in greased casserole, followed by a layer of apple and another layer of turnip. Top with flour/sugar/butter crumb topping and bake for 50 minutes. Bing!

It looks like dessert. It smells like dessert. And it turns out it tasted like dessert too. So here's my serving suggestion:

Not too shabby a dessert if you make sure you get a piece of apple in each bite. Turnip and whipped cream alone are an odd combination. Definitely our favourite dish so far. You just don't want to mix it up with gravy.

Next week - condensed soup! Be there.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Condensed Soup for Everyone!

This month I'll be cooking out of:

Reading through it I thought it must be from circa 1970, but a quick google tells me that it's actually from 1980. Incredibly disturbing as I suppose this is the sort of meal I might have been given had I not been born into the family that I was. It's a handy book if you want to make really tasty pancakes and various baked goods. A look through the "main dish" section does not really whet the appetite similarly. Main recurring ingredients include condensed soup of all sorts, mayonnaise and wieners. So should these recipes of the past stay in the past? Or are they ready for a rebirth? Only time will tell.

This week we made Deviled Fish Fillets and Tangy Mashed Sweet Potatoes. Thought we'd start simple since we're new to this kind of cookery. A couple of changes had to be made due to lack of availability of ingredients at our local supermarket. Canned sweet potatoes (EEWWW) were replaced with fresh and frozen onion rings were replaced with homemade. I imagine this has enhanced the flavour of both dishes immensely.

How to devil a fish fillet:
1. Mix up some sour cream, mayo, mustard, chopped onion and salt:

Wow, I'm hungry already.

2. Spread mixture over the fillets in greased baking dish:


3. Bake in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.

We put together the sweet potatoes at the same time. Pretty simple. Mash them up and add butter and marmalade. Throw in oven with the fish.

So after 15 agonizing minutes (and some fumbling around with the homemade onion rings...mmm...deep frying...), we opened the oven and were greeted with this:

The husband's first comment: "It looks like nuclear waste." I thought maybe just the lighting was weird in the oven.

Guess not. Ummm...eeeew? Oh well. Retro cookery is clearly not for the faint of heart. But at least we now know why they tell you to garnish with onion rings!

Hides the fish! Yay! It turned out to not be as bad as it looked. Basically it tasted like fish baked in tartar sauce. I definitely prefer my tartar sauce cold, but at this was at least somewhat edible, and incredibly filling. Think I put on five pounds just looking at it. I had higher hopes for the sweet potatoes, but found them to be extremely sweet. This reinforces my opinion that already sweet potatoes should probably not be combined with other sweet things. Like marshmallows. Who invented that anyways? Gross.

We did have one really happy customer though. Apparently toddlers who normally don't care much for fish are most pleased to eat it devilled.

See you next week! Looks like we're cooking with wieners! Woot!

*Note: I recently discovered that frozen onion rings are available at your local Walmart Supercenter. So you know, when I make this again I can be lazy. Or you can be lazy when you make it. I know you want to.