... 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.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Top Ten Foods for the Grill

1. Ribeye steaks - So fatty, so tender.

2. BBQ chicken - Brined, rubbed, then basted.

3. Ribs - I'm partial to dry-rubbed with a vinegar mop sauce, but I ain't too picky.

4. Corn on the cob - Pull back husks, remove silk, rub with butter, restore husks to their original position, and cook over direct heat 'til the husks have pretty much burned up.

5. Salmon fillets - Season well and add some wet wood chips to the coals for flavor.

6. Beer can chicken - Pretty much what it says: a can of beer up the chicken's butt and cooked over indirect heat (although I prefer Coca-Cola for the liquid)

7. Chopped pork - Put a Boston pork butt on indirect heat with some seasoning and smoking chips. When finished, chop it up and add a mustard-vinegar bbq sauce and make sam'miches with the meat and some slaw.

8. Hamburgers - Duh. Just make sure that the ground beef isn't too fatty or too lean.

9. Sausages - Brats, metts, Italian, or hot links: it all = delicious

10. Hot dogs - Although I prefer mine to be flash-boiled or cooked inside, I still can dig outdoor grill dogs as long as they aren't burnt and proper toppings are available.

Hon mention: yellow squash, bone-in pork chops, soft-shell crab

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Random Notes

  • The cat came back! I caught Mosby last weekend waiting for the food we'd been putting outside for him. After a bath and a couple of hours, he resumed his place in the animal hierarchy.
  • My Z 10 O'clock News' crappy production value. It seems that their broadcast picture quality is somewhere between a thrice-copied Grateful Dead bootleg vhs from the 1980s and local cable-only TV commercials. There is simply no excuse for broadcasting Jessica Ralston in anything less than full 1080p.
  • After bragging on Hal Greer McDonald's expertise in making McCafe coffee, I've had two bad experiences. First I got a piss-warm iced mocha and then a few days later ordered an iced latte with hazelnut syrup. When I took a sip and noticed no syrup, I pointed this out and the lady at the window acted like, you know, doing her job correctly was a major imposition. Back to business as usual, I suppose.
  • Be sure to head over to the WV Hot Dog Blog and vote astroturf for your favorite Moneytonland HDJ for WV hot dog joint of the year.
  • My son brought back a cold from his grandparents and now I've got it. My guess is that it came from the quilt that some missionaries gave him, just like on that episode of South Park (j/k, but still, that town is still making me sick and I haven't lived there for 12 years).
  • Homemade bread rawks.
  • We're less than a month away from the new season of Top Chef and there are some logical folks for West Virginians to root for this time around. One of the chefs studied at The Greenbrier and another one incorporates ramps into her favorite summer dish.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2009 Fake Emmy Ballot: Drama Series Guest Actors and Actresses

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
  • Edward Asner for CSI:NY
  • Ernest Borgnine for ER
  • Ted Danson for Damages
  • Michael J. fox for Rescue Me
  • Jimmy Smits for Dexter
With 13 Emmy Awards (and a truckload of Golden Globes and even an Oscar in there), this is quite an exclusive group of actors. I have to give my vote to Smits, though, for his role as a DA/wannabe serial killer who just couldn't follow the code of Harry. With the full weight of the legal system on his side (not to mention the pangs of friendship), Smits' Miguel Prado proved to be one of Dexter's biggest challenges yet.

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
  • Brenda Blethyn for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
  • Carol Burnette for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
  • Ellen Burstyn for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
  • Sharon Lawrence for Grey's Anatomy
  • CCH Pounder for The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
I might not be the best elector for this category, as I would rather eat spoiled potato salad than watch Grey's or No. 1, But I did catch those episodes of SVU and my vote goes to Blethyn, as she did the best job with her Law & Order "twist."

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What I learned from last night's dinner

1. The George Foreman Grill is the best way to cook sausages indoors.

2. HP Sauce tastes great on Italian sausage.

3. Italian sausage does not go so well with horseradish Dijon mustard.

4. Italian sausage + bread 'n butter pickles = so-so

5. Eggplant grilled on the Foreman looks like a million bucks.

6. Eggplant grilled on the Foreman has the texture of 10 day-old uncovered Jello.

7. Don't over-steam Brussels sprouts.

8. Toddlers love Italian sausage with plain yellow mustard.

9. Not even Famous Dave's Georgia Mustard bbq sauce (the official bbq sauce of all of God's backyard cookouts) can save slimy eggplant.

10. I want Italian sausage at least 3 times per week in my diet.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

My boys' favorite youtube video

They love to watch it together and even try to reenact it, although the 8 month-old doesn't have any teeth and the 3 year-old hasn't yet perfected an English accent. That said, the older boy now calls the younger one "My Charlie."

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fast Food Review: McDonald's Southwest Salad with Crispy Chicken

While I'm not particularly prone to eating my vegetables as often as I should, I do love salad, so I make sure to order one about every 7nth time that I eat out. This time the number came up when I was getting some takeout from McDonald's, so I grabbed the Southwest Salad with Crispy Chicken.

The lettuce and carrot shavings are notably fresh. The lettuce looked better than most of the stuff in the produce section of the grocery store and the carrots are still very al dente and not at all soggy like those in some pre-made salads.

The corn chip strips are fresh and crunchy with a semi-authentic spicy salsa flavor. I would totally buy these for game-time snacking if Frito-Lay would sell 'em.

The Newman's Own dressing has a sour heat that pairs nicely with the balsamic-marinated sweet corn and beans. The Southern Style Chicken is meant to go with a pickle, so it matches well with an emulsified vinaigrette.

There are some minor complaints, though. It is hard to toss salad ingredients together. I had to take several bites before all of the ingredients blended about properly. They are also a bit skimpy on the cheese and other fixins.

However, when one gets all of the flavors in one bite, the result is a savory smoked pepper taste that is rather satisfying and the texture of a mouthful of two kinds of crunch (veggies and lettuce) the contrasts nicely with the warm, chewy chicken.

Overall, the McDonald's Southwest Salad is thoughtful and delicious and good enough for a casual dining restaurant, not just a fast food joint.

As a salad at a fast food joint, I give it 4.5 out of 5 Perfectly Good Medium-Sized Midwestern Public Universities.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Didn't Jerri Blank use this as a pickup line?

The funniest moment of the digital television transistion:

"Your TV could become just a box, if you don't get...this box."

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

2009 Fake Emmy Ballot: Reality Shows

Yet again, I'm writing my votes with crayons on a Planet Hollywood napkin and mailing them to the academy, since they forgot to me mail me my real ballot. This year I'll start at the bottom of the barrel (reality crap) and work my towards the top:

Outstanding Host for a Reality Show or Reality Competition

Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars (ABC)
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race (CBS)
Heidi Klum, Project Runway (Bravo)
Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio, Top Chef (Bravo)
Jeff Probst, Survivor (CBS)
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol (FOX)

Although Lakshmi can at times come off as shallower than a kiddie pool, her head-up-her-ass haughtiness is a perfect fit for a show about food that costs $100 per ounce at a fancy restaurant. Colicchio adds to the appeal by being stern, yet likable, and having an expert degree of knowledge for the competition at hand.

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program

The Amazing Race (CBS)
American Idol (FOX)
Dancing with the Stars (ABC)
Project Runway (Bravo)
Top Chef (Bravo)

The Amazing Race is the exact same thing every frickin' season, Idol feels too exploitative, DwtS is for the brain-dead, and I could give a rat's ass about fashion. This leaves Top Chef, where I occasionally learn a thing or two about food.

Outstanding Reality Program

Antiques Roadshow (PBS)
Dirty Jobs (Discovery Channel)
Dog Whisperer (National Geographic Channel)
Intervention (A&E Network)
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List (Bravo)
MythBusters (Discovery Channel)

Call me a cracker-ass cracker, but I love the Roadshow (although I hate it when they get someone all excited only to use them as an example of what not to bring).

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Monday, July 20, 2009

What's for Lunch: Beans & Toast a la Famous Dave's

For those of you looking to enjoy a spicy-sweet version of the classic English dish beans and toast, try some leftover baked beans from Famous Dave's. I dug these out of the freezer and served them over my wife's homemade Amish bread.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Rebellious Scots to crush.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

The Sunoco Show

"Blessed Lord, you ministered to all who came to you: Look with compassion upon all who through addiction have lost their health and freedom. Restore to them the assurance of your unfailing mercy; remove from them the fears that beset them; strengthen them in the work of their recovery; and to those who care for them, give patient understanding and persevering love. Amen. "

--Book of Common Prayer (Episcopal Church), 1979

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Top Ten Favorite Beverages of the Moment

1. Pepsi Max--As much caffeine a the no-longer-available (at least around here) Vault Zero, but with a cola flavor and a ginseng kick. I like that this calorie-free drink doesn't use Splenda, as it leaves an odd aftertaste in my mouth.

2. McDonald's Iced Mocha--Hal Greer McD's makes such a good one that they might catapult themselves waaaay out of the bottom spot on my next ranking.

3. Home-brewed iced green tea with honey and lemon--I heart my iced tea maker.

4. Mountain Dew Game Fuel Horde Red (cherry-citrus)--I usually don't like soft drinks made with sugar/corn syrup, but the mix of caffeine and the smooth, chuggable flavor makes this one a guilty pleasure.

5. Coke Zero--Great taste, it just needs more caffeine.

6. Diet Pepsi--The best of the traditional diet colas.

7. Iced tap water--Can't beat it on price and refreshment.

8. 1% milk--Skim is watery, 2% gets warm too quick.

9. Any strong, dark roast coffee served over ice--My drink when I need to be less cranky in a hurry.

10. Vitaminwater Energy--My favorite of the watered-down Kool-Aid drinks now popping up in bix box store checkout lines.

Hon. mention: Frostop root beer, Coca-Cola, Diet Coke

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Coolest toy evah

Slave 1 with Han Solo frozen in carbonite.

Boba Fett sold separately

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Top Ten Funniest London Underground Station Names

The tube station names of the London Underground are sometimes really funny, especially to an American with a brain that hasn't matured since junior high. Here are my 10 most giggle-inducing:

1. Cockfosters (probably the funniest toponym in the world)

2. Shepherd's Bush

3. Mudchute

4. Goodge Street (if "goodge" isn't a slang term for something yet, it should be)

5. St. John's Wood

6. Roding Valley

7. Marylebone

8. Hornchurch

9. Mornington Crescent

10. Tie: Northwood, Chorleywood, Colliers Wood

Hon. Mention: Pudding Mill Lane, Oxford Circus, Barking

Special contest: Gratuitous in-post linkage to your blog for the best suggestion for what noun/verb "goodge" should be a naughty/sophomoric synonym.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Celebrating John Calvin's 500th Birthday

Today is the 500th anniversary of John Calvin's birthday, so here is how I plan to celebrate:

1. Throwing footstools at Anglican priests.
2. Accepting that I am double predestined to eat whatever my wife makes for dinner.
3. See more old queens than the time I visited Buckingham Palace.
4. Wear a kilt to church despite the fact that no one in my ancestry has been to Scotland in nearly 300 years.
5. Move to Ulster and pretend that it was mine all along, then move (back) to Appalachia.

All joking aside, a hat tip to all of my Reformed and/or Presbyterian on this day of great importance to them.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Brian Kilmeade doesn't marry other "ethnics."

Wasn't there another guy a few years back who admired Nordic racial purity?

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Huntington Area McDonald's Rankings

1. 5th Ave (near campus). The food always seems the freshest there and the employees are generally smarter and friendlier than at any other area location.

2. Washington Ave. One of the fastest drive-thrus in town and they have a high tolerance for special orders.

3. Lavalette. Folks are just nicer in Lavalette. Just ask Jim.

4. Ceredo/Kenova. The fries always seem hotter and saltier in Huntington's Canada.

5. Huntington Mall. The food isn't bad, but it suffers from heavy traffic and the most difficult parking lot/drive-thru to enter and exit of any business in the Tri-State.

6. Route 60 East. It can sometimes be difficult to get out of the drive-thru, especially when stuck behind someone who cannot gauge the stoplight. The PlayLand is also eerily reminiscent of Lord of the Flies.

7. Proctorville. They've fumbled my orders a few too many times over the past decade, but they don't charge sales tax on to-go orders, which is nice.

8. Wal-Mart. Good food, but it usually suffers from a less-than-clean dining area and one has to walk halfway across the store to get to the bathroom.

9. Hal Greer Blvd. I've already bitched ad nauseum about this location. No need to waste any more carpal tunnel injuries on them. They do make good McCafé, however, probably thanks to all of the practice they get from patients and employees of Cabell-Huntington Hospital in need of a caffeine fix.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

What's for Lunch: Famous Dave's Leftovers, Part 1

A few days ago, my father was in town and swung by Famous Dave's in Barboursville to pick up some takeout. He got the All-American BBQ Feast, which meant that there was bound to be some leftovers (although not on corn, as they stiffed us on a couple of cobs, but I digress).

The next day, I loaded up my lunch bag with some of the Georgia chopped pork, a roasted chicken breast (with the wing still attached) a some slaw. I took the meat off of the chicken (except for part of the wing) and heated it in the toaster oven with the pork. I then placed the meat on my wife's homemade Amish bread and topped it with some Famous Dave's Rich & Sassy bbq sauce:

I was gonna eat the sandwich with the slaw as a side, but then I remember that I am a West Virginian, so I put the slaw where it belongs, on the sam'mich:

I folded it over and went to town, but I had to eat the last third of the bbq sandwich with a fork, as the stability of the bread had been compromised by the sauce, juices, and slaw dressing.

Good work, Mrs. James and Famous Dave. I give it 4.5 out of 5 coworkers disappointed with their Hot Pockets and bologna sandwiches.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Fast Food Review: Wendy's Boneless Wings

I'm on record for being a big fan of both "boneless" chicken wings and fast food, so when I saw that Wendy's (our semi-localish national fast food chain out of Columbus) was now serving up some pre-sauced chicken nugs, it was a no brainer: I had to check them out.

I had originally planned to try all three, but I found out that I could only get them in $3.99 increments, so I scaled back my order to try their "Bold Buffalo" and "Sweet & Spicy Asian Chicken" varieties; Honey BBQ would have to wait.

Bold Buffalo:

The first thing that I noticed was that the wings had a nice aroma of vinegar, a must for any true Buffalo-style chicken, as it is not just about the heat, but rather a balance of specific flavors. This stood true as I took a bite and the chicken tastes of a balance of vinegary zing and some spice, but not too much cheap heat. It tasted pretty much like what a Buffalo wing from a national fast food joint should. Not perfect, but solid. It could, however, stand a bit more sauce, even if it would take away from the crispiness of the nugget.

Sweet & Spicy Asian:

This was the wing that had really caught my eye, as I tend to be a huge mark for all things sweet and spicy. Sadly, this wing was more salty than sweet. They need to add more sweetener (sugar, honey, or even corn syrup) and maybe even make them a teeny tiny bit spicier. With this flavor profile, the spice was not as good as a generic sweet Asian sauce found in most frozen food items. They could learn a thing or two from Healthy Choice. Even if the sauce isn't all that good, they still need to add more to the chicken. As it is now, it tastes too much like the breading.

At around 10 pieces for $3.99 + tax, Wendy's Boneless Wings are not a great bargain, but a nice change-of-pace item.


Bold Buffalo- 4 out of 5 Sabres vs. Blue Jackets tickets

Sweet & Spicy Asian- 2.5 out of 5 OSU exchange students headed to Thailand to teach English

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