... A Sour Apple Tree

Your source for fast and/or frozen food reviews, Huntington and/or West Virginia commentary, rasslin' (not wrestling) nostalgia, bad parody, dumb satire, rejected slogans, pointless lists, unreliable sports predictions, and funny local pictures.

Location: Huntington, WV, United States

I'm a 37 year-old guy from Huntington, WV.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The bacon/ranch beta version is back...

Wendy's seems to be bringing the Monterey Ranch Chicken Sandwich back out of hiatus for the late summer/back-to-school season. For those who do not remember, it was the first national fast food sandwich to work with the cheese & bacon ranch dressing medium. Unlike the BK TenderCrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch (v2.0) and the Captain D's Bacon Double Ranch (v2.2), the sandwich featured no bacon strips and had monterey jack cheese instead of cheddar.

Overall, it isn't a bad sandwich, per se, but the fast food perfection attained by later sam'miches simply makes this one obsolete. There really is no need for this sandwich as long as D's has their superior chickeny-bacony-ranchy product on the market.

One would think that it would make me happy to have another option for fried-tasticness, but really, all it does is make me depressed that Burger King still won't budge on the BCR.

Don't get me wrong, I'll still prolly grab one this week or next, but still...big whoop.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

...ASAT food review: the sushi bar at the Kroger in Barboursville

As part of their massive remodeling project, the Kroger in Barboursville has added a take-away sushi bar. The trained sushi chefs make a variety of raw and non-raw dishes using shrimp, tuna, salmon, and other sea creatures.

While I will eat raw sushi if I have enough belts of Saki to kill off any tapeworm and/or give me a false sense of invincibility, for the sake of a healthy post-Hot Dog Fest dinner, I stuck with the smoked salmon and avocado rolls.

They include a dollop of wasabi, a packet of high-quality soy sauce, and some pickled ginger.

Overall, I would have to give it high marks (for this area, anyway). It was comparable to that at the sushi bar on 4th Ave. at a fraction of the price ($6-7 vs. $10+).

I think the six pack of beer and the buffalo-style pretzels bits have been officially replaced as my unnecessary weekly grocery impulse buy...

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Easy guac recipe, sans hard-to-find ingredients

Here is a rather basic guacamole recipe I've thrown together using ingredients readily available at most Appalachian grocery stores in the summertime. This serves 1-2 people, but it can be doubled, tripled, etc.
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 of a fresh lime
  • enough Vidalia onion to make a small handful of diced onion
  • some crushed or pureed tomato (about 1/4 of a 'mater)
  • sea salt

Cut avocado in half (cut from end to end along pit). Pop out pit and remove avocado skin. Cut avocado halves into 2 or 3 pieces. Finely diced the onion and garlic. Add all three to a large bowl. Thoroughly squeeze in the lime juice and add the pureed tomato. Season with sea salt to taste. Mash all ingredients with a potato masher until blended (but still sorta chunky).

Garnish (or not) and serve with chips and ice cold beer.

Mix-ins I've tried with this recipe:

  • 1/4 roasted, peeled, and seeded habanero pepper (warning, very spicy!)
  • sliced olives (use less sea salt with this variant)
  • shredded mild cheddar cheese and diced crispy bacon
  • 1 TBSP of chow-chow relish (use more lime juice with this one)

I'll post some photos the next time I make it.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Requiem for a mall

I'm pretty sure that East Hills Mall is/was the oldest indoor shopping mall in the Tri State area. By today's standards, it is itty-bitty, but I imagine it was purty kewl back in the day...

I best remember it being by Ames and Office Depot. Ames went out of business and the Depot moved to Merrits Creek. A Grandview Weekend Outlet (imagine the crap that Gabe's rejects...) held down the fort for a while, but it, too, is gone. I'm not sure if the CVS is gone yet, but it'll probably be gone soon.

The building now awaits remodeling into an office park...

I'm sure that, somewhere in Cabell, Wayne, or Lincoln County, some 50 year-old has a teeny lump in their throat over the passing of their first cultural indicator of a new breed of commercialism.

I'll prolly feel the same way when my kids stick me in the Huntington Mall Nursing Home in 50 years...

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The most annoying people who seem to show up on my TV:

Here are the the most annoying TV personalities who I seem to encounter on the dial from time to time Remember, I don't have cable, so no folks from CNN or Fox News will be here (this is good news for Campbell Brown, who just left NBC for Atlanta).

Some I like, some I don't. Some of these folks I generally agree with, while others have opinions differing from my own. One thing they all have in common: they are all prone to making me roll my eyes:

Chris Hansen. This guy is so annoying that he almost makes pervo kiddie diddlers seem sympathetic. Almost. Get back to real journalism, Dateline, like faking gas tank explosions.

Basically everyone in PBS commercials. If I wanted to look at moderately attractive non-actors with MAs, I'd go to my mirror, not my TV. Honorable mention goes to the woman in that Create TV commercial where some "I Think About You" song plays and the woman who's marriage was saved by a crappy PBS HD movie.

Robert Byrd. God bless him and everything that he has done for WV. But his handlers really shouldn't have let him give that speech on dog fighting. Doing so was, well, ".............................BARBARIC!!!!!"

Dr. Nancy Snyderman. Talk about Miss Buzzkill. She is always on NBC sayin' "don't drink pop, don't eat meat, don't use a knife to retrieve stuck toast." Until she tells me that Tudor's May B biscuits prevent colon cancer, I don't wanna hear it.

Any English judge on a reality show. The guy on America's Got Talent and the other lime-juicer on that inventor show kind of make me understand the point that the French have been trying to make for 800 years. Note: I said "English", not "British," 'cause Gordon Ramsay kicks ass.

Chad. Those commercials alone might be the reason why I stick with Sprint (the fat kid) despite their Draconian customer support.

Rick Steves. Why does this wiener get to travel around Europe while I am stuck in Moneyton playing "count the crackwhores?"

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As I went down to the river to pray...

I found this pic on my hard drive just now. I took it a few months ago and thought that the scene somehow summed up the lower Kanawha Valley. This is an old church near Red House in Putnam County located on a slope just above the river bank. It looks like it will fall in any day now.

I can just image, though, how the building was once a house of praise and joy and (sometimes) sadness. Folks congregated and married here.

Now it just sits and waits for the inevitable...

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Wendy's: the new donut shop?

Has anyone else noticed that there are always tons of cops at the Wendy's on 16th Street Road near I-64?

In addition to these squad cars, one had just turned in and another was waiting at the stoplight.

This seems like an odd place for so many officers to be at once. Shouldn't they lunch a little closer to the action? There are three other Wendy's in city limits that seem to be more prudent.


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Saturday, July 21, 2007

For my three British readers.

In honor of All Click, Silverback, and Spike, I had beans and toast for breakfast today:

The beans are leftovers from Famous Dave's and the toast is Ezekiel 4:9 Sesame Sprouted Grain Bread. There was no need for a sausage, as there was more than enough pork floating around in the beans.

Overall, is was inauthentic and half-assed, but mighty tasty and fillin'. I'd have it again.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

I love the Bacon Double Ranch Chicken Sandwich

So it looks like, instead of "grow(ing) on trees," the breasts now grow under seas.

Yup, Captain D's has undertaken one of the smartest business strategies of all time: rip-off the TenderCrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch sandwich from BK and introduce the Bacon Double Ranch Chicken Sandwich.

This is basically the same sam'mich: chicken, bacon, bacon ranch sauce, cheddar, tomato, etc. The only difference is they use a ciabatta bun instead of BK's corn-dusted roll. While I don't think I like the chicken as much at D's, the ciabatta is a nice touch. Therefore, the sandwiches score about the same in my arbitrary rating scale (4 out of 5).

If Burger King is gonna insist on giving us half-assed options like the BBQ Bacon TenderCrisp and no-assed half-tries like the Cheesy Bacon TenderCrisp, I'm more than willing to head to Captain D's for the flavor I crave.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

...ASAT popular topic round-up

Here is an update on some of the popular (well, regular) topics covered by ...A Sour Apple Tree:

Digital TV: PBS's HD station (simulcast on 9.3, 33.3, and 33.4) has been blowing me away with Simon Schama's Power of Art. At first I was skeptical about some Cambridge guy telling me what I should think about art. Schama, however, does not tell you what to think of the art; he shows you how to think of the art. He provides biographical and historical context to the artist and his work (which is shown repeatedly in full HD glory).

Rejected city slogan: Huntington-"Gary Redux"

Burger King: I tried the BBQ Bacon TenderCrisp with a slice of pepper jack from the fridge. Major upgrayedd. If it is at all convenient, I would recommend sucking it up and doing BK's job for them and adding your own damn cheese.

Jessica Ralston: She is kicking ass in substitution for Penny Moss. WSAZ, you are gonna hafta give her more than the My Z desk to keep her around (related note, wtf is a "WebChannel?"

Road kill: Someone finally picked up that dead dog on Hal Greer Road. Maybe the dog was Zoroastrian...

WV bloggers: Lincoln Walks at Midnight is rapidly becoming one of the only sources of news in WV that matters.

Coke products: Powerade Mountain Blast (the blue one) is the soft drink equivalent to Australian Shiraz: it goes with anything. It stood strong against the flat iron steaks and danced merrily with the mustard dill salmon this week.

Youtube: Click here anytime that you need a dramatic interlude.

Cleveland Browns: Quinn ain't gonna be ready in September. Hopefully Frye will perform like a man auditioning for a backup gig for a better team (which he is) and get some wins before BQ gets thrown to the tigers (well, in this case, Bengals).

Huntington restaurants: Right now local take-away is all about New China Garden's Szechuan chicken. It's two turntables and a microphone.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Flat iron steak, take 2

Today we had the rest of the flat iron steak, this time rubbed with Tom Douglas' "Rub with Love"Chinese 12 Spice Rub. I was going to grill it with a habenero, too, but my wife firmly vetoed that idea.

While it gave it a snappy crust and an interesting spicy-sweet taste, I think that I am partial to the basic sea salt and fresh pepper version from Sunday. A cut that juicy and tender needs to have its natural flavor enhanced, not masked.

Note: I left off the onions this time, just for Stanton and JDB...

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Flat iron steak: now that's what's for dinner...

I've been watching a lot of BBQ University on Create TV and PBS HD and one of the coolest things that the show has turned me on to is flat iron steak.

Some smart folks at the University of Nebraska found that removing some connective tissue from the top blade roasts produces the second most tender cut of beef (behind the tenderloin) for a fraction of the cost of fillet.

I seasoned my raw steak with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and popped it in the George Foreman (which seared in the juices) with some Vidalias and cooked it to medium.

I then sliced it against the grain into cutlets and served with an au jus made from the run-off from slicing, Worcestershire sauce, red wine, and whole grain mustard. My wife loved the dipping sauce, as did I, but I thought the beef was tasty enough to not really need any additional flavoring or moisture.

My wife and I then enjoyed a fine steakhouse quality meal for about $2 each.

Not too shabby.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

What kind of business is this?

Saw this sign for a nail tech place a few months ago...

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

If you have a screamin' toddler...

...this'll save the day.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Welcome back, Billy

Smashing Pumpkins are back with a pretty solid single, "Tarantula." This should prove to those emo brats that you can be dark without being a friggin' pussy.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lamest. Swag. Ever.

Every know and then, media outlets get a little too big for their britches and start hawking crap that no one in their right mind would ever want. Here are some of the dumbest offerings:

  • WSAZ ringtones. Now, every time your kid calls for permission to get her tounge pierced, you can let the entire Tri State region know which TV news outlet you half-ass pay attention to while eating dinner.

  • The Nina Totin' Bag. Have you ever thought to yourself "I love NPR legal analyst Nina Totenberg soooo much I want to use her likeness to cary junk around?" Sure you haven't! The fact that it is sold out makes me almost sorta understand why the GOP has a bug up its arse about trial lawyers.

  • Anderson Cooper Ladies Heart T-shirt. Now you can let the world know which dreamy TV anchor would get your panties a-droppin'. I, personally, am holding out for the officially-licensed Nancy Grace Weenie Roaster/Nut Cracker.

  • The Dominion Post. This isn't about any specific jakey item. Nope. Access to the website itself requires a paid subscription. Hey, Raese, 1999 called and wants its failed business model back.

  • Fox News Channel Doggie Bandana. I'm gonna get this one for my Swiss Mountain-Feist mix as she, like some FNC viewers, is irrationally terrified of black people.

  • WVHotDogs Store. Actually, please shop here. Stanton still owes me $50 from our over-under bet on Gerald Ford last year. Dec. 26: close, but no cigar, Stanton.

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HDTV tips for folks in Huntington

Here are some tips for people living in the city of Huntington, West Virginia who want to get digital and high definition television via terrestrial, over-the-air signals.
  • Do not worry about buying the most expensive set-top antenna. Every few months or so, I buy a $30-$40 antenna with fancy knobs and lights and I have returned all of 'em within three days. Those antennas are designed to magnify weak signals in the 'burbs and sticks. In Moneyton, we have good signal strength; our problems are shadows, reflections, and noise from hundreds of 3 story + structures, thereby making antenna placement, not amplification, the key to getting good digital signals. My cheap-ass, $10 vhf-uhf antenna works just fine and picks up HDTV and DTV signals from WSAZ, WOWK, and WPBY. The pricey ones can only find 3 and 13.

  • Find an optimum spot for each channel. While there will be one or two spots that do ok for all channels, each signal will have its "money configuration." Don't be afraid to jiggle the ufh dish or the vhf rabbit ears; you can always move them back.

  • Don't be afraid of props. We use a metal candle snuffer as a sort of an extra arm for the uhf dish. It is especially helpful for getting the WOWK HD signal (by far the trickiest in the South Side). Others have success with aluminum foil and coat hangers. Be creative!

  • Be patient. Not all signals will come in perfect all of the time. Clouds, trucks, and trains can all mess with DTV signals in Huntington. Sometimes you'll hafta watch Medium and How I Met Your Mother in analog. Dems the apples.

  • Don't give up. The HDTV and DTV signals will get stronger after the 2009 changeover. For example, WV PBS is sending out a 150,000 watt DTV signal. When the analog gets shut off, however, they will crank it to 1,000,000 watts. At that time, WSAZ, WOWK, and WPBY will be automatic and we will be fiddlin' to get WCHS and WVAH in high def (now only available in analog).

  • Have Fun! This is a new technology and you will be able to bore the bejesus out of your grandkids with stories of jiggling antennas to see what sort of experiments the engineers at local stations were up to back in aught-seven. You can even compare yourself to the drunken sailors who heard Reginald Fessenden on December 24, 1906, read Luke Chapter 2 and singing "O Holy Night."

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Monday, July 09, 2007

The fauna of Ritter Park

Thanks to an expired gas card, the James family kept our July 4 activities uber-local by taking a stroll through the beautiful Ritter Park in Huntington's South Side. While most would associate the park with humans and defecating dogs, there is actually quite a lot of activity going on amongst the animal kingdom in the park. Here is a sample of some of what I saw:

The rose garden is currently being swarmed with some sort of locust/cicada/evil beetle infestation (not sure which, but it is semi-Old Testament, for sure). They are fond of buzzing right by your ears and face, but do not seem keen to land on large mammals. After a couple of minutes, you hardly notice them at all (I did feel bad for the couple who was to be married later in the day in the midst of eleventy-billion of these buggers).

This guy had just eaten a double cheeseburger, so he had to wait 30 minutes before he could join his mallard pals in Four Pole Creek.

Insert your favorite David Letterman joke about a squirrel and his nuts. The squirrels in Ritter Park are about the fattest and tamest critters this side of the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana. If my kinfolk from Nicholas County saw 'em, they'd be made into gravy in under an hour.

This is probably the fastest turtle in all of the Tri State. He was near the big swing and was haulin' ass to get back to the creek. He remembers what happened to his cousin last year on the 4th when some red necks lit an M 80 up his butt.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

...ASTA ironic photo patrol, vol. 1

I snapped this photo the other day:

I hear the minister wears a hockey mask and the ushers are dressed like Pennywise and Captain Spaulding.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Don't do this to me, BK

Earlier this month I griped about Burger King's disappointing BBQ Bacon TenderCrisp. Well, now I am hearing that BK is pulling the Spicy Tendercrisp sandwich.

Unless this is a prelude to the glorious return of the TenderCrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch, I think that me and the King are done.

In honor of the good times I've had with BK, I've invited Boyz II Men to sing us out (imagine me eating different sandwiches in different outfits in slow motion with a misty camera lens).

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Pass the blunt to the homie on my left

Rather than attempt to express my feelings on the Libby commutation, I'll instead redirect y'all to the Infinity Ranch's posts here and here. He uses his fancy lawyerin' to explain the issue succinctly and rationally, while I would just end up usin' a bunch of swear words like "bullshit" and "cracker-ass."

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Black Light Burns tonight at the MonkeyBar

Former Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland's new band Black Light Burns is playing a gig tonight at the MonkeyBar (across from Nawab's on 4th Ave.) tonight. The tix are a rather reasonable $14.

While I won't be able to make it, I have heard the band before and they are pretty good. In an interview with the H-D, he distanced himself from his work with Bizkit (arguably the worst commercially successful band of the Millennium era), so that gets mad props in my book.

Anyway, if you ain't got shit else to do tonight and tomorrow morning, this looks like a good bet to kill some time.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

WV PBS's D TV setup is flabbergasting

Yesterday West Virginia PBS brought minor excitement and mild irritation into my life.

First, I woke up to 3 "new" channels on my digital TV receiver: 9.1, 9.2, and 9.3 (WSWP out of Beckley). While they were identical to 33.1-33.3, it was convenient to have them in the VHF band where I wouldn't hafta sort through a bunch of home shopping and fuzzy analog channels.

Well, last night, right in the middle of a Cadfael mystery, the whole thing went to pot. The digital channels started flooding with binary code mumbo-jumbo and the analog channel up 'n froze. After a few minutes, all the DTV sub-channels went blank.

As of Sunday morning, the analog signal is back, but the digital signals are still out.


Update: Alswell at 1:30. The DTV channels are back.

Gotta love being on the threshold of a technological frontier.

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