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Thoughts on Food 1

Hello!  This will be my first post on Norris Cafe.  I do have some experience in blogging, my last blog can be found here.  Anyway, these posts will be my thoughts and recommendations on food and drink, as well as product recommendations.  More photos will come along with this blog as well.

Also, if you want to get to know me, I have an introduction posted here.  The TLDR version is that I’m in my 30’s and can only get jobs in fast casual restaurants.

I recently blogged on coffee, specifically how to make regular coffee taste like French Press style coffee.  If you came here from that post, welcome!

One unique food idea that I want to share on here has to do with chili.  It might sound strange but, chili and beans are really good with ranch dressing on top.  Yes, it’s true.  You read that right, put ranch on top of your chili.  You can thank me later.

If you are still not convinced, remember that ranch has garlic in it.  Garlic tastes great with chili and the creaminess of ranch only makes it better.

Garlic has other benefits as well!  Aside from being a go-to herb to add flavor, it is also related to onions and shallots-other supreme flavor enhancers.  Garlic also contains Vitamin C, Manganese, as well as fiber.  Go ahead and add ranch and/or garlic itself to your chili!

I could mention the most obvious benefit of garlic on here but, that would be stating the obvious.  I do not want to talk down to anyone here so I will not bother to repeat that the fact that garlic repels vampires.

Garlic also has been known to ruin one’s own breath, which is an effective deterent against unwanted lovers.

As for ranch, I do prefer the traditional type.  Some stores carry spiced ranch but, I never wanted to try that.  Ranch can be made spicy at home by mixing it with your favorite hot sauce anyway.

I also do not recommend taking a bath in ranch dressing.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand, chili is enhance with ranch because it contains garlic and/or onions.  I prefer white and green onions, myself.  Chili is also good as part of a Frito Pie, as long as it’s made with cheddar cheese.  Does Frito Pie taste good with ranch?  I don’t know, never tried it.  Let me know if you have.

That’s enough about ranch and chili.  As for the future of this blog, I have some product reviews coming up and some of my favorite recipes as well.  What are some products that you would like me to review?  Let me know!

Thoughts on Food 4- Labor Day

Hello!  As most of my fellow Americans know, Labor Day is coming soon.  What’s the best way to celebrate Labor Day?  With an awesome party of course!  For this post, I will go over how to have a great Labor Day party!  A Café Norris exclusive!

First off, if anyone tells you that Labor Day is silly, remind them that the first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City in 1882.  This Holiday has been around for over one hundred years, that qualifies it as a legitimate tradition.

Besides, a holiday that is dedicated to American workers is definitely worth celebrating!  We are the most productive workers in the world, after all.  If you have Labor Day off, do not feel bad about celebrating it.  If you work in retail however, you might want to get the day off as soon as you can…

If you do not care to celebrate or acknowledge the spirit of the American worker, Labor Day also counts as an excuse to throw a party!  Odds are your friends and family are still missing the festivities from last Fourth of July anyway, so they will welcome another event; celebrate away.

Labor Day is an American holiday so, you will want a menu that consists of traditional American food.  What does that even mean?  Does traditional American food even exist?!  Yes, it does!

Your main entrée will be Buffalo wings.  Buffalo wings were invented in American, specifically in Buffalo, NY.  Foods that were invented in the States count as traditional American food.

The recipe for Buffalo wings consists of standard chicken wings and a sauce.  The traditional sauce that dates back to the 1940’s is equal parts butter and equal parts hot sauce.  Mix thoroughly those two ingredients and you have traditional Buffalo wings sauce.

Buffalo Wild Wings also sells their sauces by the bottle, their sauces are worthy of Labor Day.  Stop by your local Buffalo Wild Wings (or B-dubs, as some might call it) and pick up a bottle for your Labor Day event.

Aside from serving Buffalo wings, to have an awesome Labor Day serve your guests bacon cheeseburgers.  Why burgers?  Were burgers not invented in Hamburg Germany, anyway and therefore, not an American food?  Burgers were invented in Germany yes but, bacon burgers were made popular in America!

Yes, it’s true, A&W restaurants made the bacon burger popular.  I could mention on here that bacon makes every food taste ten times better or that bacon makes us all immortals but, this is the internet.  Talking about the greatness of bacon online is just like stating the obvious.

So we have the best Labor Day entrees, of bacon burgers and Buffalo wings, now you will need a salad.  Salads that contain green vegetables are well…healthy.  Health food has no place at a party (sorry, not sorry).  Instead, try fruit salad.

Apple sauce makes for a great fruit salad base so combine it with strawberries and/or strawberry Jell-O.  What could be more American than that?!

Or an alternative fruit salad, add strawberry yogurt to a bowl (only use your favorite brand) then add bananas and graham cracker crumbles.  Stir thoroughly and enjoy.

You will not need a carb for this meal, seeing as we already have burgers on the menu and burgers come with buns.  However, you could have chosen lettuce wrapped burgers…if that is the case then go with buttermilk biscuits from ALDI.

If you do want to use hamburger buns (which is tradition…Tradition!…tradition) be sure to toast and butter the buns then add some garlic.  You can use either minced garlic or garlic powder.  If you go with the powder, do not hesitate to use a generous portion.

What does one drink on Labor Day?  I am not a big drinker so, if you want booze then I will have to leave that to you.

However, I do have to say that beer ketchup is some good stuff and goes well with fries and tater tots.  And yes, I do always always always recommend having fries with burgers.  If someone wants baked potatoes with burgers, remind them that their behavior is un-American.

Anyway, back to drinks.  The big soft drinks like Coke, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper were all invented in America so those are good choices.  Root Beer would work as well seeing as it is far less popular in non-American countries.

If you are looking for something other than soft drinks and black coffee, and is not booze…Lemonade is your best option.  Whether its manufactured or homemade, lemonade is the most convenient drink to serve.  And the good news is, it also tastes good.

Back to soft drinks, if you do serve them, include some ice cubes of said soda into the drinks when served.  For example, if decide to serve Pepsi on Labor Day, beforehand make some Pepsi ice cubes with your ice tray by pouring Pepsi into an empty ice tray.  These Pepsi ice cubes will make the normal Pepsi drink a lot more fun.

The next item on the menu is the most important, that being dessert!  Americans are known for their rich, decadent desserts after all so to that end, combine two or three desserts into one!

Multiple desserts in one?!  What does that mean?!  It means, brownies a la mode.

Start with your favorite brownie mix.  If you favorite includes brownies with extra fudge or brownies with peanut butter, you won’t hear me complaining.

Next, prepare homemade ice cream.  Your homemade ice cream flavors can be standard chocolate and vanilla for Labor Day.  Top the brownies with your ice cream and your awesome dessert is ready to eat!

If you have had homemade ice cream before, you can see why it is superior to the store brand ones.  Yes, it is better than all of them!  If you have not had homemade ice cream before, you are probably wondering why I recommended some common flavors like chocolate and vanilla.

First off, homemade ice cream is richer and more flavorful than anything with xantham gum in it.  If made correctly, those two flavors alone would be enough to satisfy any foody.  Combine the two with brownies and people will be begging to come to next year’s Labor Day party.

What is the best way to serve your guests?  You could call out orders like a restaurant but, the better way is to serve them buffet style.  Not only is it a buffet –and real Americans love buffets –but, the buffet is similar to an assembly line; a fitting motif for Labor Day.

And what about entertainment?  The best holiday parties have movies or TV to go along with them.  And if you’re like me, coming with things to say for an entire party can be quite difficult.

Before showing movie however, your guests might like a trivia game with Labor Day questions.  Aside from that, go ahead and turn on the TV.

If you want to show your guests a movie, I recommend Office Space or Trading Places.  Or, if you want to be very American and show your guests a TV marathon, go with The Office Season 1.

The best way to schedule an event such as this awesome Labor Day party is as follows:

  1. Arrivals and greetings
  2. Door prizes (if applicable)
  3. Dinner (if doing a marathon, start it now)
  4. Games (forgo if doing a marathon)
  5. Dessert
  6. Movie (again, if not doing a marathon. If you are  doing one, this is the end of the party

 

So there you have it, how to throw the best Labor Day party ever!

Did I leave out a few menu items?  Or is the schedule a little off?  Let me know if it, let’s talk about it.

Thoughts on food 3-Ingredients

Hello,

This will be some ingredient recommendations by me but before I do that, I want to mention that I did try the Beaumont coffee as a French Press brew.  I have to admit though, the French style did not seem to improve the coffee after all.  Looks like drip coffee sometimes is the way to go.

Now on to the ingredients.  The first one that I want to mention has to do with baking cakes.  If you are using a cake mix, chances are the mix will call for some vegetable oil.  If you want to bake a richer, flavorful cake, use butter instead of oil.  The fat of the butter will provide additional flavor to your cake seeing as the adage of fat=flavor, is true.

A simple improvement to macaroni and cheese, is to add tuna.  After you have stirred up the noodles with the cheese and the macaroni is ready to serve, open a can of tuna and stir it into your macaroni.  The canned tuna will stick to the macaroni, you will not need mayonnaise.  And technically, tuna and macaroni counts as seafood pasta.

If you are baking or frying chicken and want to add a cheddar flavor to your chicken, try using cheez-it crackers.  Grind the crackers into powder then sprinkle or rub the powder on.

Some have improved on their chicken by adding cornflakes cereal to their mix.  I have never  tried that and do not like mixing sweet and savory flavors so, I cannot fully endorse that.

Hot dog and hamburger buns can be improved by toasting them right before serving the hot dogs and hamburgers.  If you do not have or do not want to use a toaster, the broiler in your oven will work just as well, then add butter and serve.  Adding powdered garlic to your buns along with the butter gives them a garlic toast flavor, which I have never regretted doing.

If you are cooking Mexican food, be sure to season your meat with ground Cumin.  The Cumin will help give your food an authentic flavor.

Matter of fact, do not be afraid to over season your meat.  Under seasoned meat is bland meat, after all.

With some ingredients, it is best to let these ingredients disappear.  For example, when cooking a fridge cake, I have found that it is best to let any ice crystals melt before trying the cake…not that I have done that before or anything…

That’s it for this one guys, until next time!

Thoughts on Food 2

Hi!

This will be my first product review post.  I recently purchased some coffee at ALDI and thought I would give a review of it.

Before I go on, I have to say that if you have not shopped at ALDI store yet, I highly recommend it!  The prices are reasonable and for the most part, the quality of the food is just as good if not better than what most stores carry.  ALDI used to be a part of Trader Joe’s but is now independent.  Anyway, be sure to check out ALDI stores, you won’t regret it.

Now on to the coffee.  The brand I bought was Beaumont Coffee, here is what it looks like:

beamont coffee

I did not use the Faux French Press method (which I previously blogged about here), but instead used a standard drip coffee brew.  I also did not add any cream or sugar to the cup and used a clean mug to drink it.

I was a little disappointed with the lack of robustness of the flavor of Beaumont.  I used enough coffee for it to be a strong brew yet, it still tasted weak and somewhat bitter.  I prefer dark, bold blends of my coffee and this one did not deliver.  If you are okay with mild or medium blends however, this one might be a good match for you.

As for why I thought coffee without cream and sugar would not taste bitter, that is because a developed pallet for coffee will taste black coffee as sweet – provided that the coffee is of high quality.  If you are unaccustomed to black coffee, you will need sugar and cream to add flavor to it.  Fellow aficionados however, will agree that black coffee is sweet just the way it is.

Am I a coffee aficionado or a coffee snob?  I’ll let you decide.

So Beaumont coffee is not particularly strong but I could clearly taste the berry/fruit flavors of the coffee.  Fruit flavored coffee is also common in Kenyan roasts, if you are familiar with East African blends.  I do enjoy berry type flavors in my coffee so for that reason I did enjoy my cup of Beaumont.  Other coffee flavors might taste like nuts or bread but, berry blends are what I prefer.

Is Beaumont worth buying?  Yes, it is.  To compensate for the lack of robustness, I will brew it French Press Style from now on; that will make it good.

***

Going back to cream and sugar and how they interact with coffee, to truly taste coffee one must be able to enjoy a cup without those two add-ons.  That is the only way to fully enjoy coffee.  To initiate yourself toward fully enjoying coffee, go ahead and start with cream and sugar.  Move on to cream only without sugar.  Then gradually lower your cream until you do not need/want any of it.  Drink a cup black, never look back.

I also was reminded recently that in order to make coffee, one must remember to add water.  Whoops.

As for why I was shopping at ALDI in the first place well, being a married man and all, I am quite broke.  I’m a new dad now, that makes it even worse.

***

Now some questions for you!

  1. What is your favorite way to brew coffee?
  2. What foods go well with coffee?
  3. What foods would you like for me to talk about on this blog?