Category Archives: Culture

The Perfect Snack

We all have our dietary weaknesses.  That one food that tempts you more than any other.  Maybe it’s a cheeseburger, or pizza, or ice cream.

Reese's

I know it will come as a shock to anyone who’s read this blog, but Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are my dietary Achilles heel.  I mean, whoever came up with this perfect snack food should be canonized— Saint Harry of chocolate-peanut butter goodness, patron saint of snack time and hyperactive children.

Harry Burnett “HB” Reese invented the snack in 1928 in Hershey, PA.  He worked for The Hershey Company as a dairy farmer but was inspired to start his own candy company.  Inspired is the only way to describe this delicious treat.

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As a fantasy author, I’ve been asked what historical period I’d like to live in if I had my choice.  The answer is easy— anytime after 1928.  Can you imagine life without the peanut butter cup?

“Hey Georgie, finish your porridge and you can have a nice piece of fruitcake.”

No thanks, I think I’ll stay in the modern world and use fruitcake as a doorstop like any sensible person would.

If you have never eaten a Reese’s cup, don’t deny yourself any longer.  Head to the nearest store and grab a pack.  Don’t be fooled by all the choices either.  The standard double-pack is the only way to go.  These standard size cups have the perfect ratio of chocolate to peanut butter.  The minis have too much chocolate and the Big Cup has too much peanut butter.  And don’t worry about the white chocolate, dark chocolate, crunchy, or any other variant.  Why mess with perfection (Although the Reese’s Fast Break bar is pretty good too if for some unfathomable reason the store is out of cups).

I could go on until the Hershey dairy cows come home, but now my mouth is watering and I have to run out for a little bit of chocolate-peanut butter heaven.

“Hey, you got chocolate in my peanut butter!”

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Filed under Culture, Food, musings

Food for Thought

 

Eating bugs

I ran across this article on the BBC news feed about eating insects.  People dine on insects in many countries.  It is not that uncommon as it would seem to some of us westerners who are grossed out if our food is one day past the date on the label (and don’t get me started about leftovers).

You see people eating insects on Survivor or Fear Factor and shudder, but is it really that big a deal?

According to the article:

  • Most insects are 100% edible
  • Many insects are high in calcium, zinc, iron, and protein
  • They produce less greenhouse gas than animals
  • Insects absorb the taste of your chosen seasoning and add a satisfyingly crunchy texture
  • Insects could be the sustainable food of the future

I don’t know about you, but I’m game to try most anything when it comes to food.  My criteria are simple:  If it smells bad or looks nasty, I won’t eat it (and if it tastes bad, I won’t eat it a second time).  In the case of insects, I don’t think the smell would be the issue but the looks.

For one, we westerners have a hard time eating something that is looking back at us.  Also, it is a freaking bug.  We’re supposed to smash them, not eat them.  Although, shrimp is just a bug from the ocean, right (maybe not technically, but close enough).  I love shrimp.  Maybe a nice juicy grasshopper smothered in cocktail sauce would be just as tasty.  I’ve eaten escargot after all, and what’s more unappetizing than a snail.

So I guess if I visited a country that had bugs on the menu, I’d give it a try.  If they started raising grasshoppers on the farm down the street, I’m game.  I don’t plan to become the great insect hunter in my yard though.

Maybe it’s time we lose some of our food phobias and give insects a try.

And for you writers out there.  I do tend to write about food in my stories.  Now I have a few more items to add to the menu.

Pass the Beetle, please.

 

 

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Filed under Culture, Food

I’m not Fat – Just Ask the Internet

I looked in the mirror the other morning and was shocked by what I saw.  Where did that belly come from?  I know it wasn’t there yesterday:

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Of course, this is a bad time of the year for gaining weight.  It’s getting cold outside and I’m getting less active (“less active” is code for I’m eating too much junk food).  Halloween candy, Thanksgiving pies, and Christmas cookies don’t help.  A dedicated person would probably fight the junk food temptations, but I decided to try another approach—Internet research that proves I’m not fat (Because you know sitting in front of the computer is going to help burn that fat away).

I just have Big Bones: 

I’ve half-jokingly used this excuse for a few years.  What does it actually mean to have big bones and does it have any effect on how you carry your weight?  A couple of years ago, I read that a rule of thumb is to wrap your middle finger and thumb around your wrist.  If they touch, then you have a medium frame size; if they overlap, you have a small frame size; and if they don’t touch, you have a large frame size.  Mine don’t touch, so I figured I have big bones.

There is actually an online calculator that is a bit more accurate (or at least makes you think it is a more scientific approach).  I tried it, and it confirmed that I have a large frame size.

So what does this mean?  Basically, I can carry weight better because of my bone density.  Also, I can adjust my BMI number by about ten pounds.  So instead of being 30 pounds higher than my ideal weight, I am now only 20 pounds higher.  I’m pretty sure that still makes me fat.

  I’m preparing to Hibernate:

According to my highly technical research (The internet never lies), we tend to gain a few pounds in the winter because our bodies are preparing for a period of food shortage.  So when it gets cold, we eat more to prepare and our body responds by increasing its insulin resistance so we can store more fat.

Basically, the reason I ate too many Reese’s Cups at Halloween and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving was because my body told me to prepare for winter.  It’s not my lack of self-control at all.

So another 5 to 7 pounds is because of this process.  So now I’m only 13 pounds overweight.  Still chunky, but not as fat as I thought.

It’s just water weight: 

Most people’s weight can fluctuate from day to day or week to week.  I know that my weight can fluctuate up to about 10 pounds from one month to the next.  According to several health and wellness sites I visited, the average person’s weight can fluctuate from 5 to 7 pounds, and water is the main culprit.  I know I drink about a gallon of water a day—have for years.  Hey, I like water.

A gallon of water weighs roughly 8 pounds (see, that’s my power plant background coming out), so I’m going to make a leap of tangled logic and say that I retain about 8 pounds of water.  That brings me down to 5 pounds overweight.  What the heck, who isn’t 5 pounds overweight?

So there you have it.  I’m not fat, I’m just big-boned, retaining water, and preparing to hibernate for winter.  Whew, that was too much work.  Wonder what we have around here for a snack?

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Filed under Culture, Humor, musings, Society

Turkey Time!

It’s Thanksgiving in the old US of A.  I love Thanksgiving not just for the food, but for the cooking of the food.  Yes, I love to cook, and I always look forward to a day in the kitchen.  Sounds odd right?

In modern America, being a foodie is a badge of honor, but that means eating out not cooking in.  Forget that mess.  Eating out is okay when I’m too tired to cook, but the food tastes so much better when you make it at home.

So this Thanksgiving I am thankful for my kitchen.  It has plenty of storage, and counter space, and all the utensils and condiments I need to create a traditional Thanksgiving feast.

So while you’re driving miles down the highway to your in-law’s house to avoid cooking, I’ll be in the kitchen humming away and enjoying the tastes and smells.

My wife will be watching football or one of those boring Thanksgiving Day parades, rolling her eyes at me for enjoying the kitchen.

Of course, I’ll get the last laugh.  Afterwards, while I’m lounging on the couch in a turkey-induced haze, she’ll be on cleanup duty.

I cook, you clean — it’s the best deal I ever made.

 

 

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Filed under Culture, Holidays, musings

I am a Loser

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Some lady yelled “Loser!” at me the other day.  I don’t know why.  I was driving well within the speed limit.

Then I got to thinking maybe she was right.  My mom always told me that I’d lose my brain if it wasn’t attached.  Come to think of it, my wife tells me all the time that I’ve lost my mind.  Hmmm.  They can’t both be right, can they?

And I realized:  the older I get, the bigger a loser I become.  I’m constantly losing my keys, or my glasses, or forgetting where I set down my glass of water.  Just the other day, I lost my glasses, and then I found them on my head.  Good thing they were attached.

So calling someone a loser is considered an insult, but is being a loser a bad thing?  You win some, and you lose some, right?  We’re all losers at some point, and hopefully we learn from the experience.

So when someone calls me a loser, what they are really saying is that I am full of hard-earned wisdom.

Yes, that lady the other day saw me as a wise man, like Socrates or the guy that invented the Reese’s cup.  That was one perceptive lady.

 

 

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Filed under Culture, Philosophy, Society

Guess What I’m Having for Dinner?

I talk about all my favorite things on this blog except food.  Why you ask? (you know I’m going to tell you anyway.)

My brain works in peculiar ways, and I often feel it is just as important to explain why I don’t do things than it is to explain why I do.  This habit has been reinforced over the years by having to explain to my wife why I didn’t wash the dishes, or any number of other tasks that I should have done in her estimation. (sound familiar?)

So why don’t I blog about food and cooking?

Cooking is actually one of my favorite things.  I love to cook and share food with friends, but there is a difference between sharing food with a friend and the food videos I see all over the internet.  Here’s the difference:

I like to play a game with my mom when we talk on the phone.  If I made something for dinner that I know she loves, I’ll say “guess what we’re having for dinner?”  Then I’ll describe the dish in detail and, of course, invite her over to share the meal.  My mother lives six hours away.  So, in essence, I’m rubbing her face in it.  I’m saying “Nah, nah!  See what I got and you don’t.”  If I really want to get her goat, I’ll take a picture and text it to her.  Of course, she does the same to me.

Those food videos and pictures all over the internet are basically the same thing — “Look what I got!”  Oh yeah, you can have some too.  Just rummage through the pantry and try to find all these ingredients (Who keeps capers in their pantry anyway?).  And good luck getting it right!

Don’t show me food that I can’t eat.    It’s like going to a topless bar (or watching Magic Mike for you ladies I suppose).  What’s the point?

So I’ve decided that I will start a food blog just as soon as someone develops a food replicator like in Star Trek.  I’ll happily share my food with you online.  I’ll just shove a slice of lasagna in the chute, and you can pull it out of your replicator without having to rummage through the pantry.

Until that happens, I guess you’ll just have to come to Charlotte if you want to check out my cooking.  Tonight we’re having BLT’s.  See you at seven.

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Politeness is a Virtue

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I just finished reading The Way of the Samurai by Inazo Nitobe.  Nitobe was of the samurai class in Japan but was western educated.  He wrote The Way of the Samurai in English in 1900 around the time Japan was westernizing.  Nitobe does a good job of explaining the philosophy of the samurai as it relates to western civilization.  Specifically, he compares the ways of the samurai warrior to that of medieval knights in Europe, and compares Japanese culture and philosophy to the christian west.

Not surprising, he describes the Japanese as being more culturally focused, whereas westerners are more individually focused.  He does this without judgement.

The bulk of the book is taken up with explanations of the virtues to which the samurai adhered.  These virtues are: Rectitude, Courage, Benevolence, Politeness, Veracity, Sincerity, Honor, and the Duty of Loyalty.  As I read this book, the virtue that resonated with me the most was Politeness.

If you watch Japanese anime, news from Japan, Japanese shows, or know someone Japanese, politeness is probably one of the first things you notice.  The Japanese are polite, and it is a sharp contrast to American culture.  It could be argued that politeness is disappearing from American culture.

According to Nitobe, “Politeness is a poor virtue, if it is actuated only by a fear of offending good taste, whereas it should be the outward manifestation of a sympathetic regard for the feeling of others. . . In its highest form, politeness almost approaches love.”

So it seems that the samurai virtue of politeness is not much different than the Golden Rule that we were all taught as children.  You know, the ole mind your manners and love your neighbor shtick that seems to be going out of style.

For a true samurai, using his sword was the last resort, not the first instinct.  Virtues, such as politeness, came first.  Hmm, maybe we could try that for a change.

 

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