Monthly Archives: October 2010

Tastiest Toast

After visiting with my friend Kelly, I acquired, through magical means unknown to most of mankind, the ability to make some of the best toast ever.

The recipe is simple and incredibly delicious, needing only a handful of ingredients.

French-bread, preferably a long, thinner loaf, is the start.

Add to that butter and olive oil.

Rosemary and cumin will sum things up nicely.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and adjust accordingly to your oven’s power.

Slice as much bread as you like. Combine a decent amount of butter and olive oil in a bowl, along with some rosemary and cumin. Heat for a few seconds in the microwave, until the butter has mostly melted. Make sure to stir.

Spray a pan with Pam or Baker’s Joy or some other non-stick mechanism, and lay out the bread. Using a basting brush, brush each slice of bread with the butter and herb mixture.

Place the bread in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until semi-firm. As the bread sits after you take it out, it’ll firm up more, so always consider this factor.

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Posted by on October 31, 2010 in food


Fried Jalapeño Poppers and Pepper Jelly in the Deep South

Last week definitely busted my ignorance about Alabama’s reality. Whether the urban-ish area of Dothan had fooled me or not, I came to discover that small towns are more so the rule and not the exception of Alabama. That’s okay, though.

The lot of us were going to meet with Kimberly’s husband and decided to stop and eat at a small restaurant there. Naturally, most of the food was inedible to me, so I ordered the jalapeño poppers, which have been a favorite food of mine for the past year or so.

Not only did they bring me a plate full of the poppers, it also came with a small cup of pepper jelly. Pepper jelly will have to be a blog of its own, but let’s just say it’s one of the best-kept secrets of the South.

Jalapeño poppers consist of jalapeño peppers stuffed with cream cheese, then battered and fried. The resulting flavor is sweet, savory, and spicy, a combination that can’t be beat. Honestly, it’s like eating deep-fried crack- they’re that addictive.

Those poppers were literally the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve never had the opportunity to dip them in pepper jelly before, but WOW is all I can say! I’ll always be on the hunt for pepper jelly now when I eat poppers.

The only complaint I can make about said jalapeño poppers is that they used whole pieces of peppers instead of cutting them up and having them spread throughout the cream cheese. This made the consumption experience a tad bit awkward, where the initial bite led to eating a whole piece of a pepper, followed by eating the cream cheese and battered part together.

As a side note, the proper pronunciation of "jalapeño" sounds like "hah-lah-PEH-nyoh," even though I frequently hear people say it "hah-lah-PEE-nah" for some God unknown reason. But hey, I guess that’s better than someone saying "juh-LAHP-eh-noh."

Again, if you run into some poppers- I highly recommend trying them. In a blog soon, I’ll likely post my own variety of the recipe; we’ll see how that turns out!


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Posted by on October 30, 2010 in food


A Casserole Called Fiesta

At least, I think this was called a Fiesta Casserole (not to be confused with my mother’s Fiesta Casserole, which is different).

This casserole was a powerful and quickly made concoction that Kimberly decided to throw together, and boy, was it delicious!

The casserole contained cheese, rice, Rotel tomatoes, and some odd mixtures of spices and seasonings.

The end result turned out almost too spicy for some people, but I definitely dug right in- there’s not often such a thing as too much spice for the Beaux.

I also added Cheez-Its to my bowl, which was the final zing it needed to make it a perfect meal in my mouth. I’m pretty sure I had seconds that day, too, but I can’t remember.


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Posted by on October 28, 2010 in food


The Unremarkable Grilled Cheese

Some friends and I went to eat out at a place called Country’s BBQ on a Sunday. The experience was incredibly pleasant, even if the food in question was not the best ever.

The best part of the food experience was definitely the fried pickles. If you’ve never had fried pickles dipped in ranch dressing, you have not lived and are not allowed to die until you try them. The hot chocolate, too, was good, but I could’ve done a better job.

I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and hot chocolate, which wasn’t a mistake- I do love grilled cheese- but what came was something of a disappointment.

The plate had a slice of processed cheese between two slices of processed bread that had been fried, with two pickles to garnish it. Now, it tasted okay, but…call me fancy, call me uppity, or call me just plain tasteful, but seriously? I could have made a better grilled cheese than that.

Correction: I have made better grilled cheese than that. I could open my own chain of grilled cheese stands and slowly take over the world through my culinary abilities rather than be the victim of half-hearted cooking!

To add insult to injury, only a few days ago Tyler had made the best grilled cheese sandwiches composed of crusty French bread, cheddar cheese, and monterey jack cheese, and my friend Caleb has made delicious grilled cheese for months and months now, so let’s just say I’m slightly biased and have a "sensitive palate" when it comes to this particular cuisine.

The fried pickles redeemed the restaurant in my opinion, and I can’t make any accurate commentary on their BBQ, which everyone seemed to enjoy.

I did have some French fries, which were said to be home-cut, and they were seasoned really well. Normally "home-cut" French fries means nasty chunks of undercooked potatoes that Southerners like to pretend taste better than fast-food French fries. In this case, it worked!

I’ll have to have someone guest-blog and commentate on the actual BBQ of the restaurant.


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Posted by on October 27, 2010 in food


Guest VLOG from Japan: Van Tilden Eats Nattou!

Recently, I had a little trouble with the WordPress app on my iPad, so now that I’m back to the MacBook, I’m going to offer everyone the biggest treat I’ve had in a while- a vlog from my friend Heather, who lives in Japan!

Heather and I met through a mutual friend. She’s originally from Alabama but married a really awesome Japanese man by the name of Yasutaka and now lives in Japan with him. For a long time, she’s kept a blog on MySpace about Japan and what it’s like to be an American living there. With my own leap to WordPress, I encouraged Heather to also make the leap, and now, not only does she have a WordPress blog, she’s taking advantage of YouTube and posting videos about Japan.

I’m really excited about this, and so, without further a-do, I present to you the link that will let you watch Heather in action!


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Posted by on October 26, 2010 in food


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The Remarkably Bad Idea of Deep Frying Cheez-Its

Friday night saw us getting ready for Saturday night’s Halloween party. The process included carving jack-o’-lanterns, which actually all turned out pretty nifty. Tyler and I carved a panda (actually, he did most of the carving, and I helped scoop out pumpkin seeds), Jessi and Nathan carved a beer mug, Kimberly carved the words FIGHT CLUB, and Philip carved a traditional scary face.

All the while, Kimberly and I shared a bottle of wine, which quickly became two bottles of wine. Somehow, I easily forget that I’m a light-weight, and I drank more than I should have.

At some point, in our excitement of discussing religion and life, I had the not-so-bright idea of frying cheez-its. After all, I had purchased a box of cheez-its, and I really do love them. Kimberly immediately jumped on the idea, and before we knew it, the cheesy goodness had been battered, fried, and served.

The problem: they ended up tasting like burnt cheez-its. In other words, it wasn’t a good idea and didn’t amount to very much.  In more other words: frying something that’s allegedly already been fried does not work so well.

At the same time, good came from the situation, as I learned that cheez-its are a great thing to use for the actual breading of something. Can you imagine breading chicken in cheez-its and what that might taste like? I bet it would be amazing. Sadly, my pesco-vegetarian self will not be partaking of that dish, but it’s still an idea.

Also, cheez-its are likely a great topping for casseroles. I’ll try to experiment with some of these ideas and get back to everyone on them.

Remember to go easy on the wine if you’re a light-weight! It may not burn like whiskey or rum, but it can still create strange ideas like frying cheez-its!


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Posted by on October 25, 2010 in food


The Hot Toddy

Thanks to Tyler, during the course of my sickness I was introduced to something known as a "hot toddy." The hot toddy definitely helped me in the middle of my cold last week!

I had never heard of this concoction before, but I’m SO glad he told me about it.

Essentially, a hot toddy is a beverage warmed that contains alcohol. The actual recipes for hot toddies vary greatly, but the one in particular I used consisted of sweet tea, whiskey, and vinegar, though honey was also recommended.

Not normally drinking alcohol, I didn’t realize the strength that whiskey has. However, I did feel better, and while the whiskey’s effects were going on, the burning nasal passages weren’t nearly such an issue.

In the end, I had two or three hot toddies total over the course of two nights. Warm beverages help to loosen up congestion, and whiskey and vinegar help to kill the infection.

Bear in mind, though, that too much alcohol can actually lower the immune system, so proceed with caution. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy it!

If you can’t have alcohol, I’m not sure what I woudl suggest to you in place of it. The vinegar still works wonders!

Apparently, as my father did some kind of investigation, one is only supposed to use Apple Cider Vinegar in the hot toddy. We only had white vinegar at our disposal, so white vinegar went into my drinks. How my father knew about the Apple Cider Vinegar in my alcoholic beverage will just remain his little secret, I suppose.

This blog was a long-time in coming, apparently, but I had forgotten that I had written it and have been away from my computer. Luckily, you all get to enjoy it now!


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Posted by on October 25, 2010 in food

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