Category Archives: Humor

Crockpots: the Death of Flavor

crockpotHello faithful readers, my name is flavor and I continually suffer a long, slow death at the hands (or handles) of my arch nemesis, the crockpot. It matters not if I am attached to a fine pork roast, short ribs, a creamy soup or what was thought to be a zesty chili, the results are always the same. I slowly dissipate and eventually disappear altogether as the crockpot, set on an overly low setting, cooks hour after hour and very gradually leads to my total destruction, leaving not a single trace of my existence behind.

The primary reason for my recurring death in homes across the country has to do with the fact that when food is cooked at a low temperature for hours, it becomes overly dry and I simply get cooked off as the food I’m associated with simmers and simmers and simmers and…you get the point! Yes, you can attempt to save me by adding a variety of spices and herbs, such as garlic, onions, shallots, rosemary, thyme, or peppers of varying colors. However, it is all in vain as they only prolong my ultimate demise as I am even forced to flee from them as the crockpot continues its relentless and evil slow-roasting, murderous onslaught against me.

After I have been eradicated, my descriptive counterparts, bland, blah, tasteless, and unsavory move in and set up shop in your crockpot, biding their time until they can underwhelm the unsuspecting palates of your family, friend and guests. They thrive while I simply attempt to survive within the confines of your crockpot, but even I cannot stand against the four horsemen of the flavor-killing apocalypse in an environment that’s conducive to their growth and proliferation. Deliberately, they plot my ultimate end, and I am powerless against them. Oh, the humanity.

For the sake of all that’s flavorful and good in this world, please allow your crockpot to collect dust at the back of a cabinet, in a closet, or, better yet, in your basement and find a savory and palatable alternative, such as grilling, broiling or baking with fresh produce and spices.

Of course, one extremely convenient alternative is provided by MagicKitchen.com in the form of delicious and divine entrees, side dishes and desserts, all prepared to keep me very much alive and prominent while banishing the four horsemen of the flavor-killing apocalypse to that great crockpot in Hades, where they belong. MagicKitchen.com prepares all its dishes with me first and foremost in their minds, even the recipes designed for those of you with specific needs or medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or certain allergies. They use the freshest ingredients and deliver these delectable treats right to your door and they don’t even own a crockpot.

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An April Fool’s Story

pregnant-193839_640The set-up: My wife has a fraternal twin brother, of this I am fairly certain (when you get to this story’s conclusion you’ll understand why I use the word “fairly”). Several years ago, as we were having a joyous time attempting to conceive our first child (maybe that was just me having the joyous time), I wondered aloud if twins were common in her family as I had just read an article on genetics and twin…production? (for lack of a better word). I then vocalized my anxiety about raising a child…

The application: Unbeknownst to me, my innocuous query elicited a chain of events in my wife’s mind that was astounding in its nefarious complexity. She claimed that my question spurred her to conduct some web-based ancestral research to determine the answer and after about two weeks of research, produced documentation to the effect that her family had generated (for lack of a better word), 28 sets of twins since the mid-1800s. My reply?…Holy sh*t! Two days later, she informed me that one of our joyous attempts was successful. We were pregnant…

As I’m sure you’ve deduced, my first reactionary thought was, “A BOGO, really, a buy one, get one free deal? I’m not ready for that, am I?” My wife, sensing my trepidation, soothed me with claims that the odds favored a singlet. It didn’t work. I always thought it was the mother who initiated the “nesting” procedures, that it was a maternal, not a paternal instinct. In this instance, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I immediately began pricing cribs, diapers, diaper genies, and…college tuition.

shocked2The big day finally arrived. No, not the delivery day, the ultrasound. For some reason, my wife scheduled it the same day I arrived home from an unavoidable business trip and claimed it couldn’t be rescheduled. I would miss the appointment. My wife feigned indifference as her mother would be accompanying her and the ultrasound tech was a close friend of hers.

Needless to say, I wasn’t as focused on “thinking outside the box” and “hitting the ground running” as I should have been during my meetings. To make matters worse, I kept going straight to voice-mail when I called my wife with the new kangaroo pouch. When I arrived home, my wife stated that the ultrasound had gone well and that we were NOT, in fact having twins. Thank God, crisis avoided…we were having triplets…shut the front door! She then proceeded to play the ultrasound video for me, and there they were, like three peas in a warm, amniotic fluid-filled pod.

Her mother was ecstatic. My wife was ecstatic. Her ultrasound tech BFF was ecstatic. I was stupefied. I then sat down and resigned myself to a life of eternal diaper changing, chauffeuring and poverty.

april-foolAfter I pulled my head out of my hands, I looked at my loving wife and mother-in-law and there they stood, arms around each other’s shoulders, each with snarky grins on their faces. They were reveling in my incredulity. Those female versions of man’s best friend! “April Fools” they then exclaimed in unison (it was March 31st, BTW). I then peed my pants in unrestrained relief.

The realities: My wife does have a fraternal twin. She has no earthly idea how many sets of twins there are in her family. She conducted no ancestral research. She falsified all the ancestral documents she showed me. She knew I was fearful of raising one child, let alone two…or three. She intentionally scheduled the ultrasound appointment the same day I arrived home. The ultrasound tech and, obviously, her mother were in on it. The tech provided an actual ultrasound video of triplets. My wife wanted to keep the joke going, but her mother talked her out of it. I still dearly love my wife.

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February 28 is Open that Bottle Night – Get Ready!

wine-335672_640The idea of Open That Bottle Night is to finally open that bottle of wine that’s been gathering dust in your basement (or wine cellar), waiting for a special occasion. So take it out, dust it off, then heat up some MagicKitchen.com prepared meals, and enjoy the wine with the meals, along with your significant other.

It got me thinking, though, what other things come in bottles that we could enjoy on that night? How about a fine bottle of beer?

Your favorite liqueur such as Grand Marnier, or a fine brandy,  decanted into a balloon glass would fit the occasion well.

For the kids, how about the old experiment of dropping a mento into a bottle of Coca-Cola? You will want to do that outside or in the bathroom, and be ready for some cleanup! These guys had a lot of fun with it:

Planter_01_grande

It’s time to start your garden, depending on where you are. Use empty plastic bottles to start your seeds.

Maybe you’re not a drinker, but you’d still like to celebrate this awesome holiday, this significant day? You could drink a bottled coffee or tea. Don’t drink caffeine?  Open a bottle of sparkling water, with a lime twist.

Don’t forget your pets on this special occasion!

There are other things you can do for your pets. Apparently you can buy your dog or cat fine (alcohol-free) wine. With names like Pinot Leasheo, how can you go wrong!

Stock up on bottles and get ready for the best holiday of all, Open that Bottle Night!

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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Beat the February Blahs

winter-stormHello, it’s me, February, and I’m sick and tired of being labeled the worst month of the year by people like comedian Lewis Black. Black once said, “Valentine’s Day doesn’t belong in February. It’s the most depressing month of the year. How do we know that? Because we made it shorter and it still seems <expletive deleted> longer.”

Yeah, I know, in the month prior to me, January, you are still recovering from your Christmas and New Year’s hangovers. You use January to get back into your routines that were disrupted by the holidays. As for next month, March, well, that has the first day of spring within it, and everybody just loves spring!

So here I am, the most reviled month of the year in which the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t quite yet visible. But it’s not my fault. I can’t control the weather! I can’t make those low hanging clouds disappear! I can’t ensure that damn ground hog doesn’t see its shadow! What kinda screwed up tradition is that anyway? I mean, who the hell listens to a giant rodent?!

Anyway, I thought I’d get in touch with all of you and offer some suggestions on how to enjoy my presence and maybe alter my reputation in the process. So here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Remodel a room. I mean, you’re stuck inside anyway, right? And you don’t need to break the bank in order to remodel. Brighten up the dining room with some new paint, change the look of your living room with some new window treatments, or liven up the bedroom (not that way, you pervert) with some new sheets, pillows and bedspread.
  1. Liven up the bedroom. Yes, I mean that way, you pervert. You’re stuck inside anyway, right? Get rid of the kids, light some candles, wear something sexy, administer or receive a massage, give those new sheets a work out, cuddle, explore, experiment. And not just on my 14th day, either, but on the 2nd and 4th and 7th and 10th and…get the idea?
  1. Use Netflix and get hooked on a premium channel series. But don’t do it alone. Turn into a kind of video book club with your friends…make it as serious or light-hearted as you like, so long as it’s done on a regular and continuous basis throughout my 28 (or 29) days. And it doesn’t have to be a current series. Go back through old seasons of The Sopranos, or Mad Men, or Band of Brothers, or Dexter, or Veep. Whatever you and your friends can agree on. Just have something to look forward to (see #2) and I’ll fly by, I promise.

Yeah, I know, there was nothing about exercise, or getting outside, or pampering yourself, those have been written about to death, but if that’s what floats your boat, don’t let me stop you. Enjoy and I’ll talk to you again in twelve months!

February, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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Velveeta Cheese – It’s Not Real Food

Cheese Store- Find One and Start Buying Real Cheese!
Cheese Store- Find One and Start Buying Real Cheese!

If you’re looking over your shopping list before heading to the store and you’ve got Velveeta Cheese circled and highlighted as a must-have item, cross it off your list right now. It’s not real cheese, and it’s not even real food.

But, but, but…”I love Velveeta Cheese,” you say. Your eyes glaze over with a look of bewilderment. Your memory races through countless Velveeta-inspired creations you’ve consumed like macaroni dripping with cheese, hunks of bread dipped in cheesy, bubbly fondue, and chocolate fudge with Velveeta Cheese as the secret ingredient. Your mouth begins to salivate like Pavlov’s dog at the very thought of tearing away the foil wrapper on a new block of Velveeta Cheese.

When the idea of saying goodbye to Velveeta Cheese forever enters your mind, you get defensive. Deep down, you’ve always known this edible door stop as heavy as a brick was nothing short of a heart attack in a box. Seriously, do you even have to ask if this stuff is healthy?

Walk into any weight loss clinic in America, and you’re bound to find a block of body fat used to give people a visual of what packing around too much weight really looks like. Oddly enough, a carefully molded block of body fat looks a lot like that block of Velveeta Cheese you were thinking about buying.

“But it’s made from milk,” you murmur. Hardly, it’s only 2 percent milk and the rest is largely a mixture of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. These are three ingredients that give dietitians nightmares, remind doctors to keep their tools sharpened for an endless procession of open heart bypass surgeries, and block your arteries like Germany’s soccer team protecting their goal from Argentina.

Need a little more food for thought? Velveeta Cheese is sold as a “pasteurized prepared cheese product.” It’s not a dairy product, and it’s not even real food. It’s an entirely processed substance created in a lab and designed to entertain your palate. And despite what you may have been telling yourself for years, it isn’t healthy. It’s time for this fake cheese to melt away and never return.

Evan, MagicKitchen.com blogger

Note: if you need to eat a great warm cheese dip with tortilla chips, try this one: Proper Queso Dip – from someone who agrees with us, the very funny Marie Porter

 

 

 

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The 1970’S – How did we communicate?

Leaving the sixties behind.

The 1970’s are famous for bell-bottom trousers and the rise of the insanely popular disco dancing. It was also the time when the sensational TV series about rich people behaving badly, ‘Dallas’ and ‘Dynasty’ were launched. The Rambo action films which became something of a cult, also made an appearance.

Richard Nixon, the first and so far only American president to resign from office, stepped down in 1974, thanks to the Watergate scandal.

During the seventies, the US economy went in a recession as interest rates and inflation rose to new highs. Because of Middle East tensions, there was a shortage of imported oil, which had the potential to lead to drama on the highways and byways!

The sixties were full of hippies and protestors, and hippie fashions and values had a major effect on the culture of the time. Hippie culture has never died out completely, but by the mid-seventies it was no longer as prominent.

The civil rights, women’s rights and gay activists who campaigned throughout the sixties, also saw real progress towards their goals as the sixties were left behind, and we moved on into the seventies.

Communication in the seventies.

Long before the rise of the internet and all the current social media platforms, people found some innovative ways to use technology to communicate with each other. An early example of this is a long distance marriage ceremony conducted over the telegraph. With the bride in Boston and the groom in New York, telegraph operators transmitted the couple’s vows and the words of the magistrate performing the ceremony, over the wires. This took place in 1849 and was certainly the world’s first ever electronic network connecting people in an intimate way!

Here are some popular means of communication used in the decade of the 1970’s.

  • Letters. People wrote letters to each other, even when they lived in the same city or town. They wrote full words and sentences, without current abbreviations such as OMG or LOL! The post office was fantastic and mail was delivered within a day or two of sending it.
  • Telephone. There were no mobile phones, so callers used landlines and answering machines. But the push-button phone came into vogue in the ’70’s, very stylish!
  • Telex and telegram. These were used for urgent messages.
  • Fax machine. The arrival of the fax machine in 1973 revolutionised electronic communication services. Similar to the e mail of today, delivery was immediate. It was touted by some as being the eighth wonder of the world!
  • Typewriters. Those clanky old machines were the high-tech business machine of the decade. Away with the manual typewriters, in with electric ones! It was a big advance.
  • Computers. There were personal computers in the 1970’s, and even modems for communication, usually on “Bulletin Boards”. It could take ten minutes for your modem to transfer a comment from your computer to a board, so patience was a virtue.
  • Of course, people still visited family and friends, to impart news face to face!

A magical time!

The seventies was indeed a magical period. It  led us into the awesome technological advances of the next 20 years.

The communication wheel has certainly turned since the lazy, uncomplicated days of communicating with people in the seventies. Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

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VW Cuisine- Blog post 3

Temple of Apollo

For part one click here, for part two click here.

From Greece we moved on to Turkey, a truly fascinating country with a bad rap. There’s something compelling about Turkey. The mix of eastern and western cultures, the many ancient sites and natural wonders, the friendly people and scrumptious food, and the diversity combine to make a trip there one of endless fascination.

The coastline is dotted with resort towns combining the best of white sand beaches with wild bars and terrific seafood restaurants. The interior of the country has gorgeous scenery and a compelling history.

For instance, there is an underground city called Derinkuyu there, cut 7 stories deep in the solid rock, probably by the Hittites, who were contemporaries of the Babylonians. In the center is a huge circular air shaft. It contains stables, wineries, schools and endless tunnels down which you duck-walk to reach the next level.

The food of Turkey is similar to that of Greece (but don’t tell them that). One of my favorite appetizers was boreki, cigar-shaped cylinders of phyllo dough wrapped around Gruyere cheese with fresh dill and parsley, deep-fried to a golden crunchiness.

Of course, we still cooked a lot in the kombi or VW  van as well. One day I got extremely lucky with a pasta dish that I was never capable of replicating. In the pantry(under the back seat) I had some pasta. In the tiny fridge I had a bit of medium white cheese, an egg and some milk. I had a few people to feed that night, so I cooked up the pasta in one pot. In the other, I mixed the egg and milk well, and turned on a medium flame. I crushed up the cheese as best I could since I had no grater. When the milk started to thicken up, I added the cheese and some salt and pepper and stirred until the cheese was melted. After my husband had drained the pasta outside, I mixed the pasta and the sauce and it was a huge hit.

You may want to purchase MagicKitchen.com’s easy pasta dishes instead of attempting this at home.

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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VW Cuisine- blog post one

I once went traveling in Europe in a VW Camper van for several months.  What a trip, and it called for a lot of ingenuity to cook meals with local products on a little two-burner butane stove. Here are some notes from that trip, I hope you enjoy them!

Cooking in a Kombi can be extremely challenging. I had some spectacular successes and some truly awful failures. I once cooked a two-course meal for eight while parked on a  street in Athens. We bought our VW Kombi, soon to be known as “The Wanderer”, in London, England. My husband was in charge of navigation, advance notice of lane changes, and calmly reminding me every single time that a right turn was into the far lane, because as you know, in England they drive on the left.

In England we discovered Gammon(ham), crisps (chips to us) and orange squash drinks. We moved on to Scotland for a tour of the Scotch refineries. Did you know you can get tipsy just from standing in a distillery and inhaling the fumes?

Here was our most successful meal in the British Isles:

Beef Stew

The trick to making a beef stew in a Kombi is to buy an already-tender cut of meat. You don’t want to use up all your butane tenderizing a tough cut, which can take hours.

1/2 lb. tender beef, cubed
1  10-oz can beef consomme
2 potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, sliced
1 small onion, Chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup red wine

Brown the beef in a little oil in a large pot. Dump in the consomme and a can of water, stir in the flour and bring to a boil while stirring.
Add the rest of the ingredients and lower the heat. Simmer until vegetables are cooked, stirring often.(Or MagicKitchen.com makes an awesome beef stew!)

 Romania

Romania was a country I would only recommend to the bravest travelers 20 years ago. Amenities may have been updated since then. But either way, I would still recommend it whole-heartedly. It will sweep you back in time as you visit medieval towns such as Sighasoara, where Vlad Dracul was born (and where you can have a beer and a meal in the building where he was born.) The discomforts we encountered included a scarcity of food, which leads to this recipe. One ingredient here can only be found in the Alps of Romania, and the charm and flavor of the cheese is directly related to how long you’ve gone without a substantial meal. Keeping in mind that we lost ten pounds in two weeks in Romania, I present to you:

 

Bark Cheese Sauté

2 tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 hot peppers, diced
1 sweet pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp oil
4 Tbsp bark cheese (This is a crumbly, sharp goat cheese with a strong resin taste from the tree bark which is the container)
1.5 cups hot cooked rice

Note that any of these vegetables can be changed to whatever catches your eye at a roadside stand. Sauté the vegetables in the oil until soft, pour them over the rice and sprinkle with the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I’ll leave you with one more easy standard:

I Don’t Care Eggs

A kombi is almost never parked level. That’s how this recipe came about.

4 eggs
1 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste

Ask your husband how he wants his eggs. If he replies, correctly, “I don’t care”, then melt the butter into the pan and crack in the eggs. Since the van slant will inevitably run the eggs into one mass, impossible to separate, give up on your plan of over easy and just scramble them all together. Serve with fresh local bread.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these memories, I have more VW Kombi recipe to come in future blogs.

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

 

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Just Like Mom Used to Make

For some reason, my meatloaf never comes out the same way as my mom’s used to and no matter how hard I try, and how many times she has shown me how to make her vanilla pound cake, it comes out like just a dry pound of cake! I think it is just a rule, by law your food will never be as good as the way you had it growing up. But wouldn’t it be wonderful to open up your fridge and see your favorite classic meals, just like mom used to make?

When I was a kid, my aunt used to make me spaghetti and I loved it. I mean, every time I went to visit my aunt (which was several times a week) I asked her to make me spaghetti. I asked her recently what it was that made it so delicious and if she could give me the recipe for the sauce.

Here it is, she said…

1 Box of Spaghetti

1 can of Tomato Sauce

What? No slow simmering of tomato, onion, herbs and no careful planning of the day to lovingly stir sauce and no bringing it slowly to her lips to taste her famous sauce? Really? A $.49 can of pureed tomato? It must be that law at work again, because I can’t ever think of making spaghetti with a can of sauce now and I thought it was so delicious when I was a kid.

But I loved it. I loved it because she made it for me. Now that I cook for myself and my family I know that I can get a HomeStyle Meatloaf from MagicKitchen.com with all of the traditional sides and no one will ever know that I didn’t make it myself! Except for my family, of course but they don’t seem to mind because they love it so much.

Mariel, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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Matching Beer with Food

Guest post by Dain Turner

Ask anyone what food beer goes good with and 99% of the time you’ll get pizza as the answer, but there are really a lot of other foods that go well with beer, depending on what type of beer you’re drinking.

There are so many different type of beer classified by taste, texture, aroma, brewing process, etc., that it would literally take up a book. But since this is a blog post, we’re going to keep it simple and use the all familiar EBU and IBU values. (?!?) Ok, so maybe they’re not familiar at all, but basically it’s a scale that rates the bitterness of beers.

So, why does beer go so well with pizza? It’s the tomato sauce on the pizza that compliments the bitterness of the beer and actually enhances the flavor, and vise versa. However, the beer you ‘re slugging down with the pizza would probably not go well with foods with a deeper taste. Yes, I know we were going to keep it simple and just talk about bitterness, but this will be easier with pictures. Everything’s easier with pictures.

If you follow this easy guide, you can’t go wrong.

MagicKitchen.com Flatbread (Pizza)
Light beer (meaning less bitter or sweet):
Pizza(DUH)Hamburgers (drooling DUH)Dishes with curry., like curry chickenSpicy foods. Think Mexican dishes, Thai dishes, etc.

Braised Beef Top Blade in Beer & Wine Sauce
Dark (heavy beer):
Stew, Beef dishes, Barbeque

MagicKitchen.com Pan-seared Prawns
Stout (dry):
Shrimp, Oysters, Lobster

At the end of the day, I think most beer drinkers would be happy just drinking beer, but if you want to do it right, just follow the guide and you might not even fall off your bar stool.

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