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Aunt Christine’s Household Hints! – VINEGAR!

If anyone knows me personally, (and I know those who don’t, I do believe you’re missing out..), they would most likely know who my Aunt Christine is as well. I grew up in the country, a half mile away from her, and spent hours upon hours at her house  playing with my cousins when we were kids. Now, as an adult I still adore her (possibly more than when I was a child), and as anyone who knows her can attest, she’s one of the most generous people I know.

Now keep in mind, generous comes in many different ways with her.  For instance, every time I go south to the States she comes over and gives me some “funny money” (US Dollars) that she had just “hanging around”. When she comes across a great deal somewhere, instead of buying one, she’ll buy a few and end up giving me one of whatever it is. For my last birthday, she bought me a purple wig. Yep… I don’t know why either, but she’s great that way! I mean come on, who gets a purple wig AND a helium “Happy Birthday” balloon that sings the birthday song to you whenever you punch it???? I loved it!!

Ok, so moving on. At some point a year or so ago, she came over and gave me a super cool series of small books that she bought God knows where. They are basically 3 separate books on different uses for household vinegar, baking soda, and salt. Alright, obviously these hints aren’t exactly MY AUNTIE’S HINTS as the title of this blog post suggests, because the vinegar book is actually written by Christine Halvorson (NOT my Aunt Christine) but I kinda like the idea that she gave me the books, so it seems like they came from her…. like my logic?

Here’s the vinegar book:

IMAG1310

The books have a bit of a retro/vintage type of look to them, and are full of super cool little “hacks” or hints, to make life easier, and cost effective.The book suggests using Heinz’s brand name vinegar, however, I’m SURE any brand name of vinegar would work if not your not feeling fancy. Just be sure it’s the 5% acidity kind.

So, I thought when times are a bit slow around here (aka, I have nothing new to post), you, my dear readers, will get a handy dandy hint or two on how to use one of these household staples in ways that you may not have ever dreamed of! Well perhaps you may have heard of a few of these, but you can always pass the info (as well as this blog post..ahem) onto someone who might not be in the know. That way, you could be the hero for the day and be a smartypants ALL AT ONCE!

Win win!

So, we shall commence the schooling with the household vinegar tips. For the most part, these tips are referencing your run of the mill, white, grocery store bought, 5% acidity vinegar. A few tips will use apple cider, but that will of course, be prefaced.

Ok. Here’s two handy hints to get us started:

For cleaning your microwave:  If you microwave is dirty and greasy with old food particles and other grossness, microwave a glass container with one cup of water, and a 1/4 cup of vinegar for about 3 to 4 minutes. After the microwave is finished, leave it there for about 10 minutes without the opening the door. Then, open the door and simply wipe clean!

Laundry: If you add 2 cups of vinegar to the rinse cycle while washing cotton or wool blankets, it will remove any soapy residue and leave the blankets smelling clean (not of vinegar), soft and fluffy!

If you have any uses for vinegar, let me know and I’ll post them here!

If you’re interested in buying these books, here’s a place you can:
http://www.amazon.com/Heinz-Distilled-Vinegar-Helpful-Household/dp/141271365X

Welcome to the PUFFIN.

I successfully married Pork and Stove Top Stuffing into a cute little … muffin.

I know, right?

Pork – meaty, savory, porky, protein rich.
Muffin – bready, sweet, moist, and good with strong coffee.

Separate, they are wonderful. Together? Initially, a conceptually difficult union to wrap your sweet pretty head around. OK.. I’ll speak for myself. It took me a bit to wrap MY sweet head around it. I mean, come on’ – What do you call it?

A Pork Muffin?

A Porkfin?

A Puffin?

Regardless of what one might call it, – it’s strange. But hey, how can you go wrong? Pork, and stuffing. Who doesn’t like that combination, and besides, we ALLL know what strange means to me.

It mean’s I gotta try it.

Plus, they said it was easy, and I like easy.

So… without further adieu, I give you………. a porffin?

Whatever.

Here’s what you need to make this wildly creative, culinary masterpiece:

muffin2
That’s right. A muffin tin, two eggs (three, actually. I’ll explain later), ground pork, and a box of good ole’ Stove Top Stuffin’. Try and match the flavors people, k? I mean, if you get ground pork.. use Stove Top Stuffing for pork. If you get ground turkey, (which is perfectly acceptable protein choice in this situation for all you skinny-minnies), use the Stove Top for turkey.

Yessssssssssssssssss, you don’t have to point out the obvious fact that I combined ground pork and turkey Stove Top Stuffing – but ground pork was what my freezer had, and turkey Stove Top was what the store had. No big deal. I’m comfortable flying that kind of flag out there for everyone to see.

You know, the REBEL flag.

So, because I can’t just be normal and go along with direction, I like to “doctor” things up. That would the Stove Top Stuffing that I’m talking about. If you have extra “aromatics” in your fridge folks, doctor that crap up. I started sauteing celery (and lots of it because celery and I have had an intense love / love relationship for many years), and onion with a touch of garlic.

muffin3

That particular day, I decided to live on the edge and add some hot chili flakes to the party. I added about a tablespoon and half.

It turns out I’m not as edgy as I thought.

Dial down the chili flakes folks.

Learn by my mistakes. Especially if you’re not too adventurous on the whole spicy thing. Start with half a teaspoon.. you can always add more (One of Mom’s favorite expressions)

muffin4

So at this point, when the aromatics are soft, make the Stove Top Stuffing according to the box instructions. Easy Peasy right? Once that’s finished, and slightly cooled, add your pound of ground pork (or chicken, or turkey) and THREE eggs. I realize I had previously said two, and I actually did only use two, but I found the finished product SLIGHTLY crumbly, so an extra egg would hug up all those ingredients and make them stick together much better.

muffin1

When the mixture is thoroughly mixed, spoon it into your greased muffin pans. My muffin pan has muffin cups for giants so I got six from the whole lot. However, if you are of the regular human race, I can say that normal muffin pans are acceptable, if not desired over the bigger ones.

Spoon them into the tins at the fullness that you want, as they don’t puff up, obviously, like a cake muffin would.

muffin5

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. (All depending on what size of muffin tin you used. I used a longer cook time because of the muffins for Giants that I was making.) Use your logic okay? We are dealing with ground pork (or any ground meat), so it’s imperative that it’s thoroughly cooked. If in doubt, use a thermometer and cook them till you have an internal temperature of 160 degrees for pork and 165 for turkey or chicken.

FYI – At the very end of cooking time, turn on your blast broiler for a  minute or two. It creates this mildly crunchy top that is FANFRICKENSTASTIC!

I highly suggest you try that.

muffin6

These bubba’s are awesome with a side salad for a lunch, or even for a quick breakfast heated up in the microwave. Ok, listen, you can have them for ANY meal because they’re just that good. The batch I made are at the TOP of my spice tolerance so next time, I’ll go a bit kinder on the chilies. Lastly, these freeze like champions!!

muffin7
Give them a try and tell me what you think! What changes did you make to “doctor” them up?

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Hell’s Cracklins

Hello everyone, my name is Kidfresh and I’m here on a guest review for Forkin’ Foodie. Why was I selected to make this guest review out of the numerous non-Canadians Joanne knows?

Well, the answer is right here:

Bag
I was foolish enough to post this photo on my facebook page because, well, it’s an abomination straight from Hell. But then sweet little Joanne asked me to ingest this labratory experiment and forward my medical records to Forkin’ Foodie.

So, here it goes.

As you can see, I purchased both “flavors” of Lowrey’s Microwave Pork Rinds. Those “flavors” would be:

Original:

bag1

And Hot and Spicy:

Bag2

In reality, the flavors are salt and saltier, but we’ll get into that in a minute.

I was quite surprised to find out that the sodium content was indeed fairly low in comparison to what I was tasting. At 310 mg per serving, this package has less than 1 gram of sodium, which I totally don’t believe. But I digress.

bagcontent
The package looks just like microwave popcorn, but there are some noticeable variations in the instructions.

baginstructions

First of all, you are instructed to “shake the bag 5-6 times to spread the pork rinds around the bag evenly”. My guess is that if you don’t, the clumped up rinds will heat into one whole wild boar and attack you once you open the package. With this in mind, I shook the bag rigorously. So much so in fact, that I heard some of the rind pieces fly from the bag and hit the floor. But curiously, I never found them.

Hmmmmm.

The other instruction that was a departure from the common microwave popcorn was the insistence to “WATCH”  the bag. “Do NOT leave unattended”. Why? Because “the product does not pop”. In fact, “the bag may not expand like popcorn”. Sounded like an ambush to me. I proceeded with caution.

I placed the bag in the microwave on HIGH for 90 seconds. At the one minute mark, it started to smell like Cup O’ Noodles Soup. That didn’t make me feel any safer than the anticipation of the wild boar. The bag did in fact expand, but there was no popping. Instead, I started to hear the cracklin of dem pork cracklins.

When the 90 seconds were done, I pulled the bag out of the oven and opened it up. To my surprise not only was I not mauled or mutilated, but there seemed to normal pork rinds in the bag.

results1

They still looked normal on the plate:

results2
And to my recollection, they tasted normal. And by normal, I mean salty as hell. I haven’t chomped on dese here pork cracklins for over a decade and a half, easily. But they seem to be what I remembered. Crunchy and salty, and just screaming with country fried death.

When I picked up the bag of the Hot and Spicy rinds, I noticed that the bag was really flat. Way too flat to hold the “original” cracklins that were on my plate. So I decided to shake a few out to see what they looked like, pre-atomic blast.

And this is what they looked like:

results3
I don’t deep fry hogs on a regular basis, so I was surprised to see that these little bits of Satan’s meat turn into these ribbons of rinds. Uneasiness crept into my bones once more. But I popped the Hot and Spicy back into the microwave for another 90 seconds and WALLAH!

results4
As you can see, that red tinge is the color of “saltier”. There wasn’t much spice, but a whole lot more salt. I only had 2 or 3 cracklins. That was mainly because I didn’t think I would be able to get the action shot of my heart exploding out of my chest with hypertension if I ate any more than that.

The bottom line is this. If you like pork rinds, you will probably really like this because they not only taste like pork rinds, but you get the added pleasure of getting them hot and cracklin right out of the nuke box. And I do mean cracklin! These things are still cracklin as I write this sentence.

You guys enjoy. I”m calling F.E.M.A.

Thankful for Turkey in Disguise? Umm.. No.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving  this weekend,  I decided my selection on the frozen food entrée had to be of the festive sort. (Yessss dear Americans, we lovely Canadians got the jump on the celebration of being all thankful and shit, waaaay before you guys even THOUGHT of the idea….. coughCopycatscough.)

Anyway… enter the Hungry Man Turkey Dinner.

Before we begin, I have a little issue to mention. It’s with the name itself.

HUNGRY MAN????

Buying this entrée made me feel like I should be dressed in a lumberjack outfit, have an axe over my shoulder while wearing a manly, man-watch. Had I had balls to scratch, I would have – just to feel more comfortable buying this thing.  Now I understand how a guy feels buying tampons.

Ok, let’s get started.

#5 – Hungry Man – Turkey Dinner

Here’s the box:

HMbox

The Goods:

Calories: 480, Fat  13 gm, Carbohydrates  71 gm,  protein 20 gm,  and WHOLLY CRAP – Sodium 1430mg which equates to 60% .. SIXTY PERCENT!!!! of your daily allowance.

Food Tray Op:

HMfoodtray

Heating Instructions:

1. Remove film from dessert. Cut slit over corn.
2. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Turn back film; rearrange turkey slices. Stir stuffing and potatoes. Replace film. Return tray to microwave.
3. Microwave on high for 4 minutes.
4. Let stand in microwave for 1 minute. Stir potatoes.

Ok… so remember how the box made the meal looks so homey and comforting?.. the perfectly sliced turkey with deliciously browned gravy,…. and look again at those mashed potatoes… all whipped and luscious and that cranberry/apple dessert – simply delectable, right?

Uh huh. Sure. ….Wait.. do you hear that?… That POP noise? Yeah.. that’s your bubble bursting my friends…. or perhaps it was just mine, because when I opened the film and looked at the still half-frozen crappiness that was my festive turkey dinner, I was starting to feel all bummed out.

Take a look at the stirring point:

HMstirpoint

The damn “turkey” is TURKEY DELI MEAT. You know, the stuff you make your lunchtime sandwiches with?

SO not impressed Hungry Man.

You know, I GET that the turkey can’t be whole turkey breast off the bird simply for consistency sake, but really,
if you’re going to use chopped and formed meat, at least use those chopped and formed turkey breast roasts…
cut some THICK slices off that bubba. Don’t give me some weak~assed flimsy meat that’s meant to be loved up by bread and mayo.

I finished cooking it the rest of the way, and plated it. See?

HMplated

2~Bite Taste Test:

Because the entrée had a few different components, I had a bite from each one, so technically, it’s a 5~bite taste test.

The corn was your average, run of the mill niblet corn. It was sweet but tough. Not unpleasant though. I’m sure it will go out tough like bullets as well. What??? TMI?? I thought we were all friends here. Sigh.

The turkey was gross.

It sort of tasted like turkey but really, the deli~turkey meat taste, not the  just-off-the-turkey, turkey taste. Get my drift folks? In fact, not only deli grade turkey meat, but shitty quality deli meat – the kind that quite frankly, wins the hotdog trophy for processing.

The potatoes were finely mashed and pasty, much like the kind made with potato flakes. Oh, and guess what? The box confirmed my guess – they in fact ARE potatoes made from potato flakes. Surprisingly, they tasted like potatoes though. Imagine that. The dressing was VERY good, as was the gravy for the dish. The dressing was nicely textured, slightly peppery – really good.

The cranberry apple dessert was a complete joke.

I originally thought, ‘oh ok this is the dessert’… and then I thought,.. ‘wait… what????.’  because when I scooped it up on the plate,
it was LITERALLY one spoonful. No word of a lie people, ONE MEASLY SPOONFUL. Soo.. although the box calls it a dessert,
I will save their sorry butts and consider it a cranberry sauce of sorts, just to help make up for the pathetic stuff that was disguised as “turkey”.

All that being said, the sauce was very, very good. Sweet and tangy like a cranberry SAUCE should be.

Too bad this entrée didn’t come with a dessert.

Considering that I bought the entrée FOR the turkey, and it turned out to be a dismal forkin’ FAIL,
I have to say the rest of the entrée was pretty passable and left me feeling sort of festive-ish.
If the turkey was replaced with oh I dunno… proper tasting TURKEY, it would be a fantastic entrée.

I give Hungry Man’s Turkey Dinner

6/10

blueforkinfoodiestamp

But, does she home-style???

There are only a few things in this world that equate with pure, simple bliss. Great sex, for one, but that kinda goes without saying. (sorry Mom and Dad.)  Hearing  a child’s big belly laugh for the first time, or being pinned under 10 lbs of flannel quilting while laying on your Grandma’s couch as she cooks home-made soup for you. And you’re not even sick.

Another bliss inducing thing?

A big ass bowl of creamy Macaroni and Cheese.  That’s right. Uh huh.

What is it about pasta and cheese that catapults us into a land of warm fuzziness, with a heavy-lidded glaze over our eyes and a smile in our bellies? Who knows, and who cares. We just like the stuff, right?

So much so, in fact, that human beings eat 7 MILLION boxes of the blue box variety each WEEK. The K-brand chemical crap can’t be compared to a home-styled mac n cheese but, what do you do when you don’t have M&C skills?

Head to the frozen food aisle.

#3 – Amy’s Macaroni & Cheese

Found in the health food section, the box reads that  it’s made with Aged Cheddar Cheese and contains 78% Organic Ingredients. (The food, not the box, smartypants.)

Here’s the box:

box

The Goods:

410 Calories, 16g fat, 16g protein, 47g carbohydrate and 640g of sodium, which is 27% of your daily allowance. I also wanted to post a photo of the ingredient list, as it’s not often that you actually can pronounce almost everything on that list, and that it’s ORGANIC! Check it out:

ingredient

Food Tray Op:

foodtray

Heating Instructions:

They list a few different options, Oven, Toaster Oven, and Microwave. I choose the mike because typically all the other frozen food entrée’s require a microwave and I like consistency. Both in food and routine.

1.Remove overwrap.  2. Cook on high for 4 minutes.  3. Stir and cook on high for 2 to 3 minutes.

Plated Meal:

plated

2~Bite Review:

As it cooked in the microwave I have to say it was smelling mighty fine. When I stirred it on step 3 and put it back in the microwave it had that REALLY saucy consistency that makes mac n cheese so luscious. It looked exactly like it does on the box.

I was gleeful.

Upon taking it out and plating, it was NOT like it was 2.5 minutes earlier.

 I’m not sure if the pasta sucked up HALF of that sauce but it seemed like someone was trying to rip the last shred of sunshiny-happiness from my pathetic and miserable life by making it sticky and unsaucy. Ok, perhaps a LITTLE dramatic, but suffice it to say, I was dissapointed. And, maybe not HALF the sauce was missing, because it was still kinda saucy, but NOT LIKE ON THE BOX, OK!!

On tasting, the pasta was nicely done. Not mushy, but not underdone either. It didn’t have that “toothsome” or “al dente” bite that pasta is “supposed” to have, but that’s ok because it’s a FROZEN ENTREE people, for crying out loud, give it some slack. The second bite was bit more cheesy, but the sauce had this, thick, starchy taste to it. Oh, and the cheese could use a bit of a sharper flavor, because considering it contains almost 30% of your daily sodium intake, I think it was riding dirty on the bland train.

All in all though, for a frozen mac&cheese entree that you find in the health food aisle, it was pretty damn edible.

I’m wondering if you took it out at the REALLY saucy stage and didn’t cook it further would it have been better? Hey, I’d forgo a bit of pasta tenderness for cheesy, saucy sauciness. Priorities, people.

Lastly, if you’re like, tall and husky, and have an appetite on you, this little speck of an entree won’t cut it. (Plus you can email me with your phone number cuz I’d like to meet you, wink wink ).  Seriously though, I measured it to be not even a full cup.

measure

However, if you’re one of those salad eating bitches, this will be more than enough, but then again, if you’re eating salads all the time, you wouldn’t DARE eat fattening, yummy, I-wanna-wear-a-onesie inducing, pasta and cheese.

So, does Amy home-style her Mac n Cheese?

Considering general taste and nice, organic ingredient list, and if you don’t care about next day salt-bloat,

I’d say oh yeah, she home-styles it alright.

I give Amy’s Macaroni and Cheese

8/10

blueforkinfoodiestamp