The most wasted of all days is one without laughter – E.E. Cummings

Category: Food

300 Sandwiches away from an Engagement Ring

A while back, I saw a story on television about a woman who made her boyfriend a sandwich. Ah, today’s news. Good stuff. Next to that was a story about how a guy forgot to put his socks in the laundry basket. The end.

Ok, there was more to the sandwich story but the obvious nature of this into lent itself too well to jokes to not run with it. Anyway. . .

The sandwich was apparently so good (it was a turkey and Swiss on white bread, in case you are curious) that the bf in this case said “Honey, you are 300 sandwiches away from a proposal.” Well if that doesn’t sound like a challenge, I don’t know what does. I know about 53 girls that would quit their day jobs and work at Subway as a sandwich ARTIST if the guarantee at the end of it all was a handsome fella and a 1.2-carat finger weight. Don’t go getting mayo on those prongs, ladies. It’s impossible to clean out.

You’ll all be relieved to know that this rad chick took the challenge and started making sammys for her man. Right around the 280 mark, he lived up to his end of the bargain and put a ring on it. See, my motto is true: sandwiches do bring eternal happiness.

For anyone on this side of the women’s lib movement, you can imagine the outrage that this story sparked for head-shaving, bra-burning ladies everywhere. “How 1950’s can you get? Little woman cooks for her man and that makes him marry her,” responses were posted from YouTube to Twitter, talking about what a misogynist this guy must be to make the little woman cook for him in order to agree to marry her. To this I say in my best Barbara Streisand impression: “Oy vey.”

Let’s be clear about a couple of things: first, I don’t recall even once that that the guy turned to his GF and said “Woman, make me a sandwich.” That’s a very different, pack your bags kind of scenario. Second, he didn’t threaten her at gunpoint to make him dinner. This was a feel-good story on GMA, not Dateline. No cooks were harmed in the making of these sandwiches. Lastly, and I know that this is what most of my readers are concerned about, she did not make 300 grilled cheese sandwiches. She actually went out and researched amazing sandwich recipes and cooked them up with and for her man. Breathe easy, readers. There was no inundation of cheddar and the worst intestinal blockage of this guy’s life. (I think now is a good time to warn you ladies that if your plan is to make grilled cheese for dinner for a year, abort mission! Cheese is good for the soul but not for the tummy, if you catch my drift.)

I actually thought that this story was totally charming for several reasons: first, this guy recognized his woman’s prowess for making delicious sandwiches and told her about it. If only every husband or wife would pay such homage to their spouse’s talents, I think there would be more wedded bliss. I’ve been waiting for just over five years for my hubs to tell me how amazing I am with our Kirby.

Second, this girl heard what made her man happy and decided that she wanted to keep doing this seemingly small act to bring him joy. In the grand scheme of things, sandwiches aren’t a big deal… except when they are. You never know what’s going to melt someone’s butter (mmmm, butter) so it’s important to pay attention. More times than not, what seems like a big deal to someone else may be a fairly insignificant sacrifice for you. Little sacrifices on your part could (and likely do) mean the world to someone else.

I loved this story so much that I’m issuing a Sandwich Challenge to my readers. The upcoming holidays are a good time to implement this because they are all about giving and sacrifice and yadda yadda yadda. . . This isn’t just about finding or taking care of your romantic interest (although I’m certainly all about that). This challenge will be equally effective in any relationship you hope to make stronger… like with your rich uncle. Jokes, jokes. Sort of.

The rules of the challenge are below. And of course, I would adore reports back on how this worked out for you – if you dare.

Carlee’s Sandwich Challenge 2015

First Step: Focus. Focus in on one or two people that you want to improve your relationship with. Again, this doesn’t have to be a romantic interest but absolutely can be. Even if it’s a “kind of stranger” that you feel like you want to know better, this will work; a neighbor, an acquaintance, the good looking nurse at your local clinic . . . ok, that last one may be a little more difficult unless you plan on getting a flaming case of strep throat on a weekly basis and even then . . . flu shots! Flu shots are coming up. Ok, we’ve solved your issue. I especially recommend this for you singles out there trying to snag a date with a particular someone . . . this will be a rad experiment for you.

Second Step: Listen. This is a toughie because we are so self-involved these days but this is the critical part of the challenge and without it, we’ve got nothing. Listen to the people you’ve decided to focus on. Listen for hints or flat our declarations of things they love or would like to do, see, visit or eat. People are dropping these hints ALL THE TIME even though they don’t’ realize it. “I love watching (feel in favorite 80’s movie here”; “I wish I knew how to make cake pops” (me, too. I for sure know how to eat them but. . .); “I love the fall and the leaves and pumpkins”; “I hate doing the dishes”. All of these seemingly insignificant statements can give you a lot of great ideas and insight into what makes your people tick.

Third: Write it down. We don’t want to make any hasty decisions right away as this could be dangerous: someone will make mention that they really like expensive cars and you’ll go out and take out a $70,000 loan and then you’ll hate me and. . . My point is not to go crazy. Be methodical. Take down some easy notes for a few weeks: likes campfires, wants to learn how to knit, needs an hour away from children, etc. This “listing” serves two purposes: first, it helps you keep track of individual “sandwiches” of each of your people – you’d hate to take a plate of peanut butter cookies to someone with a raging peanut allergy, am I right? Experiment over. Second, and this is the sentimental part, it generally means more to someone if you remember the things they said. If I said, “Gee. . . I sure love cupcakes,” and then you showed up with one 20 minutes later, it not only wouldn’t mean as much but it might seem like you are trying too hard. It, however, would blow my mind if you showed up with a cupcake three weeks later and said, “I saw these and REMEMBERED that you like them so I thought I would pick one up.” Mind. Blown.

Important side note: This is the most important warning I can give in the entirety of this blog: It’s critical to not be creepy. If the girl you are hoping to ask out makes mention that she loves her purple underwear (why would you say that? I don’t know. I’m old. I don’t know what you kids are up to these days!), maybe just don’t write that down. Turn on your “creeper” radar before you write just anything down; ask yourself, “Could this get me arrested?”, “Could this possibly make anyone mad?” or at the very least, “Will this cause extended conversation about me that includes concealed weapons permits and restraining orders?” If your answer to any of these things questions is even “maybe” let alone a resounding “yes”, I would recommend keeping it off the list. Also, anything that involves the word “poop”, but that’s just a personal recommendation.

Last Step: Divide and Conquer. Look through the list(s) that you’ve made and discard anything that is going to require a crazy amount of money (that you don’t have) or irrational wishes (that you also have that aren’t fulfilled like a trip to Italy). While these “bucket list” items are important for all of us to have (dream, people, dream), that is not the point of the Sandwich Challenge. The point of our little experiment is to see how much of an impact the seemingly insignificant sacrifices mean to other people and make a difference in their lives.

Once you’ve disregarded all of the impossible or even seemingly difficult tasks, you should have a nice little list of things you can do for that person (or people) without too much effort on your part. Look for things that:

• You can do without purchasing anything over a couple of dollars (or purchasing anything at all).
• You have a resource to help with (she wants to learn how to knit and your mom happens to be an expert).
• Acts of service that won’t take much time to complete (weeding a flower bed, babysitting for an hour, etc.).
• Things that you can to together. This last one is one of my favorite categories because it not only shows that you listened but that you want to spend time with the person completing a task or learning a new skill. Part of the appeal of the sandwich story was that not only did she research and make a lot of sammys for her man but that she got him involved; they researched together, they cooked together, it quickly became their “thing”, and having a “thing” is almost a guaranteed bond – a wonderful one at that.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, it’s time to do. Make a plan and execute.

The purpose here isn’t to blow someone’s mind by taking them on a hot air balloon ride (unless you know a guy, of course, then just go for it). The point is to do several small things that make a difference – make someone in your life some sandwiches. It’s these seemingly small acts that can make a huge difference to someone else. Try it. And while you’re at it, eat a grilled cheese.

If you are interested in sandwich recipes (literal ones, not the figurative ones I’m talking about above), check out our sandwich vixen’s cookbook here.

Continue Reading

Food for Thought

This week, General Mills announced that they will be removing all artificial flavorings and dyes from their cereal lines; goodbye Yellow #6, it’s been real.

Seriously though, I watched a news report about the GM secret lab and how they are working to substitute the artificial dyes and flavorings with natural stuff – instead of using red dye, for example, they are extracting the color out of a fruit like cherries to give the cereal its highly-coveted red color. The whole thing was very Mission Impossible meets Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: two parts amazing to one part ‘duh’, Baker Aker. Why didn’t someone think of this before?!?

I have to give General Mills some major mom-thumbs-up for this move. It was probably a lot of work to make these changes but hopefully those health-conscious moms that care what their kids eat will go to the store in droves to buy the new ‘flavored-by-broccoli’ Trix.

This unexpected change in my world (seriously, we eat a lot of cereal in this house) left me in a thoughtful mood, wondering what else I could do to change my food world for the better. How can I contribute to this ever-growing food consciousness that is sweeping the nation? What can I do to feel better about the products that we are eating? And then it hit me: obviously big food production companies are reading my blog so maybe I should say something in behalf of consumers everywhere to try and convince them to make some changes to our favorite products. So, with that in mind, I present to you. . .

Food Alterations to Carlee’s Adored Modified Products (better known as F.A.T.C.A.M.P.)

Below is a list of suggested alterations to food products that are widely consumed. The good news for all of you major food production companies is that after some intensive research on my part, the changes that I am suggesting are pretty simple and would require only slight modifications to the current product offering and could potentially increase sales. It’s basically a win-win. So without further ado:

Oreos

oreos2The invention of Double Stuf Oreos basically ruined the regular Oreo as we know it; who wants to settle for the ‘regular’ amount of filling when such abundance is available two shelves down and to the right? The issue is that by putting Double Stuf on the packaging, you are instantly giving me a visual of trying to stuff myself into my jeans after eating these cookies. The name just isn’t appealing in the slightest.

So, my proposal is this: rename the Double Stuf Oreos to just ‘Oreos’. Then, in a gesture that will surely increase sales, change the name of the previously ‘regular’ Oreos to Half Stuf Oreos. This accomplishes a couple of things: it acknowledges that the amount of filling in the Double Stuf Oreos is actually the correct amount and how God initially intended them to be made. (Apology accepted). Second, it will make new Half Stuf Oreo buyers feel better about their consumption choice – you can practically market them as a healthy alternative. Welcome to Diet-ville, Oreo; it’s good to see you.

Big Mac

Is there a ‘Small Mac’ somewhere that I am unaware of? I feel like I am pretty astute to the ways of the fast food market and in all of my years, I am yet to encounter a mini version of the Big Mac. Is the adjective (that’s the word ‘Big’ for all of you Math and Science majors) really necessary? Nobody really wants to order anything with the word ‘Big’ in front of it. “I’m already at McDonald’s so I think we are both already keenly aware of my choices today, thank you.”

I propose that we rename the ‘Big Mac’ to the ‘Mac’; or, if an adjective is absolutely necessary, let’s use something flashier like . . . well . . . flashy. Yes, the ‘Flashy Mac’. Think of how much more enjoyable ordering that would be: “I’ll take a large Coke and a Flashy Mac.” Initial research shows that not only will consumers be more confident in their ordering choices but that morale of the McD’s drive-through workers will increase three fold.

Salt and Vinegar

World, I know many of you are wondering what I could possibly do to alter the chip goodness that is Salt and Vinegar. Well, I’ll tell you. MAKE THE RATIO CONSISTENT FOR CRYING OUTLOUD! Nothing ruins my morning . . . I mean my late afternoon . . . like biting into a S&V potato chip and immediately getting the sense that the top layer of my tongue is going to be burned off by what feels like a flesh-eating overload of vinegar. Seriously, it’s that bad. Most regular potato chips taste the same so I don’t know why some companies that make the S&V go so far as to eliminate my taste buds entirely. Is your product tester a masochist? You’ve missed the mark on my taste for the tangy.

I propose that every chip company that makes S&V send a secret spy into the Pringles factory, high-jack a can of their S&V and get to work copying the recipe. Or maybe you could go to your local grocery store and accomplish the same thing but it seems less fun and less ‘we’re trying’ that way. Their flavoring is always consistent, despite what you would assume about flavors and their ability to intensify while in a tight cylinder.

Speaking of that can. . . .

Pringles

I’m wondering if Pringles actually started out as a toddler snack. You know how they have regular granola bars and then “toddler granola bars”? They are inherently the same thing but come in different packaging just to make it fun and encourage the kiddies to eat up. I believe that’s how Pringles started because that chip can was clearly made for a three-year-old’s hand to be able to reach all the way to the bottom. I basically have to dislocate my pinky finger in order to get my claws in there. Do you know how difficult it is to pick up a stack of chips with your middle and third finger without crushing them into oblivion? Of course you do, we’ve all eaten Pringles. It’s a tragedy because Pringles is right, “Once you pop, you can’t stop” . . . until your hand gets stuck in the can and you have to call the fire department to free you and you spend fifteen minutes explaining that you were actually trying to get the Cheeze-Ums out for your daughter and you were really only grabbing two but when your hand got stuck, you panicked and inadvertently grabbed 15 chips . . . anyway, I digress. The point: you’ll stop. I promise.

I propose an expansion of the can. I appreciate the cylinder design because in general, it does keep the chips in better shape than other pre-historic chip containers (don’t even get me started on the balloons that are chip bags) but the cylinder itself is too dang small! Now you are going to fire back at me and say “It’s the right size to cradle the chips – too much larger and it wouldn’t serve its purpose.”   Good point. But to that I say, “Then increase the size of the chips as well.” Duh, Pringles. Duh. My pinky and our local fire department thank you.

You guys, this advocacy stuff is really up my alley. Seriously, I feel so much better having voiced my concerns. Feeling like you’ve made a difference in the health and self-esteem of moms just like me is an important part of what my blog is all about.

Because these changes will likely come to fruition (that’s another big one – it basically means ‘it will happen’ it doesn’t mean that all of the above-mentioned products will change to fruit, don’t worry) and you’ll probably see me on G.M.A. in the next ‘Food Expose’ story, feel free to leave your feedback on the food items that you’d like to be changed and I’ll see if I can slip them into my interview with Robin Roberts. If we’re going to save America, we need to do it together.

Continue Reading

My Reaction to Greek Yogurt

greek-yogurtIt’s no secret that I don’t like yogurt. I’ve never had an affinity for swallowing anything with the consistency of snot. . . . even if there are chunks of fruit in it; especially if there are chunks of fruit in it. It’s just not my thing.

Unfortunately for me, yogurt is like the number one diet food that everyone claims fills them up in the morning and “really is so good”. For years, all I’ve heard from starving women everywhere is that yogurt is their go-to when trying to loose the lbs: high in protein, a little bit sweet and just right for breakfast. (For the record, you yogurt aficionados aren’t fooling anyone. The only person you are talking into liking yogurt more than eggs and bacon is yourself. The only way yogurt out-tastes real breakfast food is if you’ve never actually had real breakfast food.)

So you can imagine my (the girl whose middle name is technically ‘diet’) dismay every time I hear someone recommend yogurt or see it appear on my ‘recommended foods’ sheet for an upcoming battle of the bulge: it’s not pretty. In fact, my reaction is usually similar to the reaction of children everywhere that find out that Santa isn’t real – there are a lot of tears and confusion and crushed spirits.

Several years ago, I heard that there may be an answer for us yogurt haters out there and it was the Greeks that were helping us out. That’s right, Greek yogurt burst onto the scene in an apparent revolution of the yogurt industry. Sidenote: it’s funny to me that there even had to be a revolution because you all LOVED yogurt as it was, right? Why reinvent the wheel? Why? Because that wheel tastes like a bad cold, that’s why.

Anyway, Greek yogurt became the go-to snack of healthy-wannabes everywhere; it was healthier than regular yogurt (gasp!) and higher in protein (how?!) and better tasting (what the. . . impossible!). Everyone jumped on the bandwagon and started peddling Greek yogurt like Peeps at Easter.

My pure distaste for yogurt kept me out of the Greek game for several years – I didn’t even want to date the mildly better-looking cousin of that guy: from a totally different country but the bottom line was that they were still family and DNA can’t be changed that much.

Last week, well, I got brave. In the middle of my latest round of lies to myself about how I really do enjoy healthy food, I caved. I bought Greek yogurt. I’d like to blame my hunger for my momentary lapse in zeal and judgment while cruising the dairy section of Costco but I think I really just caved into peer pressure; “It has a totally different texture,” they said. “It really tastes much better,” they said. They lied.

I’m here to tell you that Greek yogurt is no better than its slime-ridden counterpart. In fact, the only difference that I noticed was a slight inclination to say “Opa” after each bite. The texture was bad, the taste was not improved. I had been duped – and in bulk, Costco-size, no less.

Why the tirade about Greek yogurt? Well, first I’d like to drive home the point that I hate yogurt. Second, I’d like to make a plea for honesty:

I don’t deal well with sugar-coating things, unless of course those things are donuts or other baked goods. I’d rather hear the truth of the matter when it comes to, well, anything. Yogurt is a good place to start because I don’t feel like it’s asking too much:

When someone asks how you like yogurt, it would just be better for all of us if the answer went something like this: “It is not very good. BUT I’ve found that it’s what I have to eat for breakfast to loose weight.” We know you aren’t eating yogurt because you want to and that there is some hidden agenda behind your willingness to swallow snot in the wee hours of the morning.

I’ll make you a deal – if you’ll just tell the truth, we can be friends. I don’t trust anyone that says they love yogurt because it means one of two things: they are either a liar or they haven’t eaten enough ice cream in their lives; either way, I question your judgment and I will never buy anything you are selling.

Example number two would be exercise. If someone says, “Hey, you’re a runner? Do you love it?” The appropriate response would be “No, it hurts like heck but I’m trying to drop a dress size,” rather than “I just feel so free and clear-minded when I run seven miles.” Lies. There are maybe 100 people on Earth that actually love running and they all have some form of Olympic hardware to back them up. Anyone else making that claim is just not telling the truth. You can love how you feel after you run but not during.

My point is this: when things are difficult or gross or weird, can’t we just fess up to the fact that they are? It doesn’t mean that you can’t eat yogurt (or wet bread) or run or do weird things if you have a reason for doing them; I’d just respect you a lot more for admitting it. In fact, I think respect points would likely double – I admire people that run even though it’s hard, more so even than those that do it with ease.

On that note, I’ve got an entire 96 pack of Greek yogurts to get through because I don’t believe in food going to waste, even terrible tasting food. So if you need me, I’ll be sitting in an aura of pride and simultaneous disgust for the next three weeks.

Continue Reading