I’m usually pretty good at eyeballing and copying things. I can typically study something crafty or artistic and make a passable copy of it. One year I even made a Thanksgiving Turkey out of a cantaloupe based on a tiny picture I found on the internet. This skill apparently does not extend to Thanksgiving cookies.
Earlier today while searching online for Thanksgiving desserts I found this picture:
The instructions said, more or less, “make cookies, add Reese’s Pieces, wrap in a green Fruit Roll-Up.” I can do this!
Here’s what I started with. Note that no store in a 50 mile radius of me carries green Fruit Roll-Ups. We found two alternatives. One was “wacky fruit stripes” that had red, green, yellow, and orange stripes. Susan thought we could just cut the green and yellow sections out and use them. A second stop revealed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Fruit Roll-Ups — and they were green! Surely one of these would work!
First, I would need the cookies.
As you can see, I’ve never made cookies before. These look terrible. They don’t look like corn cobs at all. They look like piles of raw McFlesh or something. Had I studied the source picture more closely I would have realized that those cookies were much, much smaller. Oh well, I was sure these would work. I handed the tray to Susan and said “make these into cookies!” and she did by placing in the oven and later removing them.
Susan’s suggestion was to make one prototype and then do the rest assembly line style. That sounded like a plan and so I took one of the cookies, covered it in icing (white icing from a can with a few drops of yellow food coloring added), added the Reese’s Pieces and the green Fruit Roll-Up and… oh my.
There are so many things wrong with this dessert that I’m not even sure where to begin. For starters, it looks like an alien fish caught in a lettuce wrap. I didn’t overlap the candy like they did on the original, which makes the candy look more like buttons than corn. Oh, and this was actually the smallest cookie in the batch, as most of them were made to the “corn you get at the fair” scale. I also realized after making one that I did not have enough green Fruit Roll-Ups to make a dozen cookies, so I broke into the TMNT Roll-Ups…
…which are covered in Turtle Tattoos. Are you kidding me? Susan found that if you soaked them in water for a minute you could somewhat squeegee the words off by running them between your fingers (or at least smear them to the point of illegibility).
This is me, soaking strips of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Tattoo-covered Fruit Roll-Ups in a bowl of water attempting attempt to remove the writing and make them look more like corn husks. The camera built into the iPhone is pretty amazing but I’m not sure it truly conveys how disgusted I was with the whole project at this point. Maybe it does.
This shot shows that the table looked like at this point. I really wanted to capture how much effort went into making the dumbest Thanksgiving cookies ever. This was taken probably two hours into the project.
At least the final product would look like oh dear God what are those?
Great Jehoshaphat they look like candy remote controls served as week-old sushi. This is not what I had in mind. Again, the source photo:
Mason said it best when he came downstairs, took one look at the tray of cookies, and said to me, “They look great, Dad. What are they supposed to be?”
A few months back I wrote about the food trucks in Washington DC I visited while I was there. I love the concept of food trucks. When I’m in Washington DC, it is so convenient to simply walk out the front door of our building and have 30 or more food trucks to choose from. I wish we had something like this near where I work but, we don’t. I have only purchased food from one food truck in Oklahoma (Big Truck Tacos) and that was because they have catered a few events we’ve attended.
I’ve seen the name La Gumbo Ya Ya a few times on Facebook (and really, how could you forget it) but hadn’t had the chance to try their food yet. They claim to offer “the BEST New Orleans style Po-Boys in Oklahoma City,” but unfortunately for me they tend to offer them on the north side of town and I work on the south side. “Po me.”
Through social media I heard that La Gumbo Ya Ya was offering free lunches to furloughed government employees with their furlough letters in hand. Since Susan and I are (a) currently furloughed and (b) always up for an adventure, we decided to take the Gumbo truck up on their generous offer. With our furlough letters in hand (and our badges in our pockets, just in case) we sought out La Gumbo Ya Ya for our free meals. The simplest way to find where La Gumbo Ya Ya will be is by following them on Twitter or Facebook, where they post both their upcoming locations and their daily menu. Wednesday, their menu included “Crawfish Jambalaya, Shrimp Gumbo, Sausage PoBoy, and Rice-o Rico,” and they were located at 525 Central Park, about 20 minutes from our house. (Spoiler: I will drive 20 minutes for free gumbo.)
After locating the truck we approached with our furlough letters in hand. After presenting them we were told to order anything we like. Susan’s not a huge fan of seafood so she ordered the Rice-o-Rico and I had the Shrimp Gumbo. The couple running the truck said that we were the first two “free furlough lunches” they had handed out. One of the owners told us a little about the history of po-boy sandwiches and how the tradition came from the 1920s, when free sandwiches were handed out to workers on strike. He said it seemed only fitting that La Gumbo Ya Ya keep the spirit alive and do the same. He also told us that he was serving in the military during the last furlough, so he knew what it was like.
While I am not just saying this because it was free, but in the parking lot of Central Park that day I had the best bowl of Shrimp Gumbo I have ever had. The shrimp, okra and rice were perfect, mixed with just enough spice to bring the dish alive. Susan said her bowl of vegetables were delicious too. While we were grateful for the free lunch, we were more grateful to receive a bit of generosity from a local business. Susan and I are by no means anywhere near starving, but saving $15 during lunch during a week of no pay helps. Aside from all that, La Gumbo Ya Ya has absolutely delicious food and earned two new customers out of the deal.
In a previous post I shared what the case my Raspberry Pi came with:
It’s big and dumb. The other day while shopping in Big Lots, I ran across the following item:
(To be honest, I’m not even sure what this thing is meant to do. It looks like it’s a thing that you could put Poptarts in to put them in a kid’s lunch or something. Huh.)
The wheels began turning, and for $2, I had to find out.
Pretty much everything I know about using a Dremmel, I learned from watching television. I know it spins really fast and can cut and grind things. I’m sure this is the part of the project where I’m supposed to provide blueprints and explain my thought process, but… c’mon, $2. Also I bought two of these cases so consider this a rough dry run.
My only real goal was to provide access to all the ports while maintaining the case’s original structure, which consisted of small hinges on one side and a clasp on the other.
Wow, using a Dremmel is kind of hard. I mean, using one is really easy, but making straight cuts is really hard. Once I was done cutting I used a grinding wheel to even up the sides, and a piece of sandpaper to smooth off the edges.
The cuts look pretty amateurish, but the case is completely functional. The last step involved running two small screws through the Pi’s screw holes to anchor the thing in place. Most of the ports are accessible without having to open the case, so that’s a plus. Now that I’m sure everything fits I’m going to take it back downstairs and do a bit more sanding.
This will work until something better comes along. Although it looks pretty terrible it’s so funny that it makes me laugh every time I look at it.
Whenever I visit our nation’s capitol for work, I end up either at the mall area or in Navy yard. Shortly before 11am, both of these areas become packed with food trucks. I’m sure this happens in a few other areas as well.
People who live and work in the area probably take them for granted, but I find the whole experience quite exciting. This Oklahoma City Food Truck Tracker lists 7 food trucks, most of them novelty in nature. FoodTruckFiesta.com on the other hand, a website that tracks food trucks in the D.C. area, lists 118 different trucks for downtown, with another 28 for Arlington and 13 for Fairfax.
One thing I like about the food trucks is all the variety. Literally steps away from one another I found Mexican food, Korean food, Indian food, and Italian food. Last time I was in D.C. I had a burrito from the Chupacabra truck. This time I settled on a trio of tacos (one chicken, one beef, and one fish) along with a bag of chips and a bottle of water from the DC Taco Truck. Prices are slightly higher than fast food (my lunch was $10 even). I probably wouldn’t eat at the trucks every day if I worked in D.C., but… okay, I am lying. I would eat at the trucks every day if I worked in D.C. For what it’s worth, everything I’ve had from the food trucks has been tasty and fresh.
The food trucks are much more advanced than I would have guessed. Every one I’ve visited accepted credit cards. Many of them are also on Facebook and Twitter and announce daily deals and discounts online.
I believe variety is the spice of life, which may be why I enjoy the D.C. food trucks so much. I love all the different colors on the trucks and all the different types of food you can get in such a small area. I can’t wait to try a new one the next time I inevitably go back.
The Christmas present I ended up with after this year’s bout of Dirty Santa was this collection of hot sauces. Containing “Flavors from Around the World,” the box contained the following seven bottles:
- Peruvian Garlic Sauce
- East Asia Teriyaki
- West Indies Cayenne
- Pharaoh’s Revenge
- South West Jalapeno
- Jamaican Habanero
- Cabo Juan’s Chipotle Sauce
As I alluded to yesterday, on New Year’s Day we picked up some fresh tamales and while they are always great, they were made a little bit better with a bit of Jamaican Habanero sauce on them!
(Sorry. It’s the only way I could get it to rhyme.)
I can’t remember the last time someone gave me a New Year’s Resolution, but Susan has declared that in 2013, our house will be “sugar free”. It’s no secret that Susan and I have both struggled with our weight for years and years, and we don’t want our kids to have those same struggles.
What we’ve come up with is a simple weekly/monthly reward system for not eating sugar. This means no candy, no desserts, and no sugary pop. Each week the kids will get a small prize, something like a dollar or two. (We’ve also talked about matching that money and putting it into a jar for the kids to open at the end of the year.) At the end of each month, anyone who makes it all four weeks will receive a larger monthly reward — the kids have already suggested going bowling or going to Bounce Town as monthly rewards.
We can control the food that’s available to eat in our house but not what the kids eat when they’re out of our sight. That means getting some cooperation from Granny when the kids go over to visit her on their respective Granny Nights, and it will also require the kids to make good choices on their own — like picking white milk over chocolate milk at school. Both of the kids are excited about the rewards and being healthy, so I know they will be able to do it.
With the impending deadline rapidly approaching we’ve spend the weekend bingeing on sweets. I think we’ve had shakes either in between every meal or with every meal. Yesterday Morgan had to throw her Icee cup into the trash to make room for her shake from Freddy’s Frozen Custard. I bought a bag of jelly beans on Sunday and ate them like there’s no tomorrow because … well, as far as eating sugar goes for me, there’s no tomorrow. After dinner on Sunday we all had big bowls of chocolate ice cream with marshmallows mixed in. I can tell you that none of us feel great after eating all this crap. I hope to reflect back on this post and remember that if I am tempted in the near future.
Susan is already taking bets on the order that we will fall. I’ve already told her that I will be last, so that’s a moot point. (She does not agree.) We’ll see how long all of us and any one of us can make it. Of course all the rewards and the betting is second to getting our family in healthier state, which is the ultimate goal.
Saturday before the show, Susan, myself, Tim and Dawn met for a pre-show dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. If you’ve not been to one, the Hard Rock Cafe is a chain of restaurants that combines lots of rock and roll memorabilia with good (but slightly overpriced) food. I’ve been to Hard Rock Cafes in Miami, Chicago and Las Vegas, and spent a few days in the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago as well. They’re all kind of different, and they’re all kind of the same.
Here’s me in front of KISS (well, their outfits). The Las Vegas location features lots of playbills, posters and guitars belonging to bands of varying degrees of fame. The guitars hung up high belonged to Eric Clapton and Van Halen. The lower ones at table level belonged to Smashing Pumpkins, Slaughter, and Jakob Dylan.
I didn’t visit the gift shop this time around because they don’t carry t-shirts in my size. They do carry hats. I have three Hard Rock Cafe hats, one from each restaurant I’ve visited, and none of them fit quite right. I didn’t buy a fourth one.
Right before we left for the concert, Susan pulled out the “rockin’ bandannas” she brought with her and made me put one on for this picture. I wore it for 30 seconds, just long enough to take this picture. Fortunately I haven’t seen it since.
Located in the Imperial Palace just off the Las Vegas strip is the Hash House A Go Go. According to the website there are seven locations nationwide, five of which are in Las Vegas. (The other two are in San Diego and Chicago.) The four of us (myself and Susan and our friends Tim and Dawn) showed up for breakfast/brunch (breakfast according to Las Vegas local time, brunch according to our internal clocks).
For breakfast Susan ordered a coffee with cream and sugar. I ordered a 20oz Watermelon Margarita. It was 8am. Welcome to Vegas.
You know you’re at the right place when the menu mentions “Man vs. Food,” “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” and “Unique Eats.” Susan ordered a $12 plate of pancakes. I won’t lie, I thought $12 sounded high for pancakes. Then the pancakes arrived.
I believe that’s whipped cream, along with the eggs, bacon, butter and syrup on her pancakes. I ordered off the smaller menu and ordered the breakfast quesadillas, which were also about twelve bucks. I wish this picture showed the scale better, because it was gigantic.
The bill was higher than you would guess thanks to a couple of mixed drinks — yes, for breakfast — but everything we tasted there was fantastic. I’ve read complaints online that the service can be slow, and I can see that during high traffic periods as each dish is cooked to order. We personally had a great experience, and to anyone who enjoys big breakfasts that will keep you full until dinner, I would highly recommend a visit.
Thirty-nine years old. Who would have ever thought.
My Mom baked every one of my birthday cakes that I can remember. Thirty years ago today, she made this one for me:
“Happy Birthday, Robbie.” (That’s me.) By the nine candles on the cake I can tell you this was in 1982. The action figure on top of the cake is a Twin Pod Cloud Car Pilot from The Empire Strikes Back. The vehicle is a CAP-2 Captivator, a Star Wars “Mini Rig” — one of Kenner’s many “extended universe” (things that never appeared in the movies) items. As you can see from the box below, the CAP-2 was used by bounty hunters to capture Rebel scum. There’s really no reason a Twin Pod Cloud Car Pilot should be anywhere near a CAP-2, but somehow these two met on the planet of Chocolate Frostania, and the rest is history.
For what it’s worth, I still own both the CAP-2 and the Twin Pod Cloud Car Pilot. If the wind is just right, you can almost catch a whiff of that chocolate frosting …
(This is one of the rare occasions that I am cross-posting the same thing on robohara.com and retroist.com. Apologies for the double coverage.)
One night last week while Susan and Mason were in Washington DC, Morgan and I had dinner at Schlotzsky’s. While there, we noticed a sign for a brand new Five Guys Burgers just across the street. “We’ll have to go there with Mommy and Mason next week,” we said. Unbeknownst to us, Susan and Mason actually tried going to a Five guys while in DC but, after being led to a bad address by Yelp, ended up eating somewhere else.
Today while shopping on Northwest Expressway I mentioned the opening of the new Five Guys to Susan. Susan mentioned that they tried going to Five Guys in DC last week. We all agreed that we should have lunch at Five Guys. We drove over to Five guys and were greeted by a sign on the door that read “GRAND OPENING — TOMORROW!”
Being silly and overly-dramatic, while standing in the parking lot, I shook my fists at the sky yelling, “NOOOO!” As the kids were laughing, I threw both hands to the air, began spinning, and shouted “WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!” as I spun. When I quit spinning, I found myself standing face to face with the store’s manager.
“So … you like Five Guys, I take it?” he asked. I nodded, and Susan explained how she had tried to go to one last week, but couldn’t find it.
“Unfortunately, we don’t open until tomorrow. Today’s our last training day for the staff,” the said. As we turned around to get back into the car, he said, “Tell ya what. How about I let you guys in and you can give us a test run. One condition though … everything you eat will be free. Is that okay?”
The kids cheered, Susan and I smiled, and in we went.
I’m assuming that’s every Five Guys employee for the NW Expressway location. If this their first day, you wouldn’t know it. I gave the girl who took our order a test by asking her where random items were on the menu and having her read back our order to us, and she passed with flying colors. There was a slight issue with our receipt, however:
Even being free, a $99.99 drink should be like super-duper-sized and come with lifetime free refills, right?
For some reason (and not just because it was free), but this may have been the best Five Guys meal we’ve ever had. I don’t know why, but I thought it was better than the one in Moore (same owner). I had a normal cheeseburger with lettuce, pickles, mustard, and mushrooms. So good. Susan had one with everything. Mason had a bacon-cheeseburger, and Morgan had a kiddie burger, ketchup only. Don’t forget — one order of fries is enough for about three adults. Even though everything was free we still only ordered one order of fries, and didn’t finish all of those.
As we ate, two other couples were allowed to enter the store. One of the couples, like us, appeared to have just stumbled on to the location. The other couple, I think, were related to some of the employees in some fashion (at least they seemed to know one another). We asked the manager if they do this often and he said no, that this was the first time, and that we (our family) was the first customers to eat there.
The newest Five Guys restaurant in Oklahoma City is located on the SE corner of NW Expressway and Rockwell, in the corner location of the strip mall there. They open tomorrow. Thanks to the manager and all the staff at the new location for being so cool and doing such a great job today. Be sure to stop by and tell them robohara.com sent you for a surprise!*
(*The surprise will be, they have no idea who I am and you will get nothing for free. Surprise!)