Monthly Archives: December 2010

Special Double Super Awesome Blog with Project Van: Cross-cultural New Year Examination, GO!

Project Van and I have teamed up to bring you two great blogs about the respective cultural traditions of the USA and Japan when it comes to the New Year’s Celebration. So here we go!

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Apparently, Project Van didn’t get the New Year’s blog done in time. So maybe there won’t be a super double blog. But we’ll see if she posts it anyway.

First, in the USA, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day have their own respective customs. In Japan, New Year’s Day is a celebration that goes on for the first three days of the year and is deemed the biggest holiday of the year. In the USA, without a doubt, Christmas is our biggest holiday, followed closely by Thanksgiving.

From here on out, I’ll allow Van Tilden from Project Van to inform everyone on the Japanese customs, which will be posted in her blog with the link here. I’ll go on with the American customs.

New Year’s Eve is probably the largest drinking holiday that we have. People drink immense amounts of alcohol at parties and bars. Many people also shoot fireworks.

A lot of places have public fireworks displays where you can go and see professional shows done. When I was a kid, we shot fireworks at our own house.

Many people watch the huge ball drop in New York’s City’s Times Square, along with the huge countdown.

Typically at midnight, everyone yells “Happy New Year!” and the music for the song Auld Lang Syne begins playing. By this time, people are likely to be singing in a slurred voice because they’re drunk

New Year’s Day is a little more interesting because there are more distinctive elements to it, especially in the South.

Universally, New Year’s Day in the USA is a time for sales, sales, SALES. All kinds of great deals start at many different places, so people are out shopping the whole day.

A huge part of New Year’s Day, especially for me and many people, is the making of New Year’s Resolutions. You resolve to do something new, and it turns out that the most popular resolution is to lose weight. My resolutions almost always include “become fluent in Japanese,” at which I fail and have failed continuously, haha.

Also, many people end up breaking their resolutions fairly quickly.

The lore and legends of New Year’s Day are pretty interesting.

First, it’s said that whatever you do on New Year’s Day, you’ll do frequently throughout the rest of the year.

Second, it’s said that you should never clean or wash on New Year’s Day. If you sweep your house, you sweep all your luck away. If you wash clothes, you wash all your luck away. This same idea became a bastardized superstition, and my father swears that if you wash clothing on New Year’s Day, it will kill family members.

Third, in the South at least, it’s considered traditional and lucky to eat black eyed peas, collard greens, and crackling bread. Crackling bread is basically baked cornbread with pieces of pork crackling in it. I can’t describe to you what exactly pork crackling is other than to say it’s an almost inedible piece of pork. Black eyed peas are eaten for luck, greens are eaten for wealth.

I despise the black eyed peas/collard greens dynamic more than anything, especially when these are the only things cooked for New Year’s. Anything that ends in “greens” without fail tastes disgusting and has the consistency of slime. I’ve read elsewhere that some people also eat cabbage on New Year’s Day instead of greens.

Fourth, at the stroke of midnight, you should open the doors to the house to let out the Old Year. Also, you should make as much noise as possible to scare away evil spirits.

Traditionally in some places, people eat things that look like money- anything that is round, like a coin. Apparently donuts are a popular item in some places.

A baby is often used to symbolize the New Year, with an old man symbolizing the Old Year. This tradition apparently goes way into the past.

A few years ago, I tried to start setting my own traditions for New Year’s. This began with Hot Pockets, which I can no longer eat because of the meat content. Incidentally, Hot Pockets which contain only cheese and sauce exist, but I’ve only found them once or twice. The rest are stuffed with meat.

The Hot Pockets idea was great and was specifically designed so that I wouldn’t have to eat the nasty New Year’s foods.

Last year, I think I went with pizza rolls and donuts. There was also the idea to read Tarot cards (the fortunes for the New Year!), but that didn’t work out so well as that required effort and I had little energy to do it. I think I eventually did Tarot readings, I just can’t remember when.

Maybe I’ll just start making my own Hot Pockets or something.

If I’ve left anything out of the blog, I do apologize. I can’t recall anything else at the moment of what we do for New Year’s.


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Posted by on December 31, 2010 in food


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Beaux vs. WordPress Challenge


Apparently, WordPress is starting a campaign to make us bloggers post more, and a challenge has been issued called “postaday2011” (that’s post a day 2011.) The concept is to force us all to make a post every single day in the year 2011.

Since I love to write anyway, I’m down for this challenge. Just make sure, Dear Reader, that you 1) like my post 2) rate my post with five stars 3) COMMENT my post (I know I’m getting a few views out there- don’t be shy to comment.) I need you all to make me popular, well-known, and super-happy so that I can make lots of money through my writing skills.

This will require intense focus and many amounts of cooking food, so please give me all the encouragement that you can!

That being said, I did a little research, and apparently there are a few different patron saints of cooks. Saint Martha of Bethany is the predominate one, so I’ll put her picture here:

Saint Martha is the same one that cooked for Christ, so that makes enough sense.

Also, my own personal patron saint is likely Saint Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers and journalists.

He gets inserted here, too, in order to intercede for me in the new year.

So here this, WordPress: I take on your challenge and will post, post, post, so GET READY!




Posted by on December 30, 2010 in food


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A Grand Epiphany: The Conspiratorial Connection Between Slim-Fast and Instant Breakfast

I’ll admit that I’m addicted, in part, to both Instant Breakfast and Slim Fast.

Now, first of all, I understand, dear Reader, that at this point in time you must be looking down upon me for having such a lame addiction. Wouldn’t it make more sense for me to say I was addicted to something that’s actually addictive, like, say, crack? Or maybe alcohol? Or how about something nominal like cigarettes?

(Okay, so I used to smoke, but I don’t anymore. I didn’t smoke that long anyway. It was more a really bad habit for me than an outright addiction. Either way, that’s all beside the point I’m trying to make.)

Instead, I’m addicted to vitamins and minerals coated in chocolate.

It appears in two forms:


Tonight, as I stirred the sweet goodness of cold milk and sugary brown chocolate mineral powder together, I realized that there isn’t a huge difference between Instant Breakfast and Slim Fast. I mean, except for the part where you have to make Instant Breakfast yourself. And how Slim Fast is marketed as a weight-loss tool.

But honestly, isn’t it the same concept when you really think about it? The whole point of it being called Instant Breakfast is that you can drink one little shake and be on the go instead of sitting down for an entire meal. The whole concept of Slim Fast is that you drink a shake instead of eating a meal- except the Slim Fast plan requires you to drink shakes twice, so it’s really like having an Instant Breakfast and an Instant Lunch.

So couldn’t you technically just drink an Instant Breakfast for breakfast and lunch and not worry about buying Slim Fast? Or if you were really in a hurry, couldn’t you just drink a Slim Fast instead of an Instant Breakfast?

Provided, Instant Breakfast likely tastes better to most people than Slim Fast. Slim Fast comes in a can, and it has a weird aftertaste that I don’t find outright unpleasant, but it’s still probably not what most people are expecting.

Also, I think you can actually get pre-made versions of both and powdered versions of both. So really, what’s the deal?

Either way, I love the taste and the vitamin blitz that hits my body with every consumption of the chocolatey nectar. Maybe my real addiction is to chocolate. But either way, my brain almost invariably starts functioning better when I have a mineral rush flow into it.

The point is, I wonder if they’re actually the same drink with two different packages. If so, people have been duped, and we must find a new way to eat chocolate and obtain vitamins for our bodies at the same time.

Also, this guy appeared when I did a Google search for photos of Instant Breakfast:

Could someone PLEASE explain to me how a bodybuilder has anything to do with Instant Breakfast? Had he appeared under the Slim Fast search, I would’ve understand, but Instant Breakfast?

Please, someone: make this all make sense.



Posted by on December 30, 2010 in food


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The Shocking Tuna Salad

So I just finished eating a tuna salad sandwich. Tuna salad happens to be one of my favorite foods and is relatively easy to make. Also, I make the world’s best tuna salad, and no one else has ever topped mine in the history of mankind, at least when it comes to my own taste buds.

Imagine my surprise and delight to walk into the kitchen today to discover my mother had made a regular salad and a tuna salad. Not only that, the regular salad even had cheese in it. Cheese! I love cheese!

Refocusing, I naturally made myself a tuna salad sandwich. I couldn’t resist it.

Halfway through the sandwich, I bit into something that tasted odd. Mushy, sweet. Too sweet to be an onion.

I had to remove it, because I couldn’t continue eating it. Maybe it was just a mishap, I told myself- a really sweet onion after all.

Then it happened again. At this point, I was confused, and the more I chewed and tasted, the more I was confused. Again, a removal, an avoidance.

I examined the uneaten piece of sweetness from the tuna salad, and it looked remarkably like pineapple. Still unsure, I had to actually ask my mother about this.

She revealed to me that it was apple.


Apples in tuna salad.

Somehow I, the mega-awesome chef master-of-tuna-salad, was tricked into eating tuna salad made with apples.

Hopefully the gods of the kitchen will forgive my offenses in doing so. Apples in tuna salad, I can avow whole-heartedly, are not my thing. Maybe others have had better experiences with this.

Also, many people, including my own mother, seem to really love having eggs in their tuna salad. I’m not a huge fan of boiled eggs, much less boiled eggs in tuna salad, so it’s strange to have the combination of apples and eggs together with onions, bell pepper, and fish. I’m not sure my brain can really comprehend what just happened in my mouth earlier, especially since I was eating mustard on my sandwich.



Posted by on December 28, 2010 in food


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The Abominable Cheese Sandwich

Today, friends and family, readers of the blog, I have compromised every single slice of integrity that I ever had when writing this blog and have become the ultimate hypocrite.

No, I did not eat any meat. So breathe your sighs of relief now!

Rather, late in the night, I began craving the taste of a cheese sandwich. And not just any cheese sandwich.

I began craving the taste of the world’s most disgusting, awful, terribly made cheese sandwiches.

Upon this moment of writing this blog, said cheese sandwich has just been consumed.

Yes, folks, despite all my efforts to have delicious foods with medium complexity, despite my desire to review the best of meals and describe the best of tastes, I have succumbed to the rumblings within my tummy and given myself over to the dark side for the mere price of a cheese sandwich.

Processed bread.

Processed, off-brand, cheese slices.


Salt and pepper.

This goes against every distinctive culinary moral and sensibility I have developed over the past year! Why would I do something so atrocious? I’ve been betrayed by my own gustatory system!

Let us pray that the Gods of the Kitchen do not strike me down for my treason of their ways.

But the truth is that I really enjoyed that terribly processed cheese sandwich. I have no idea why. I’ve never craved that sandwich before. In fact, even when I’ve eaten actual cheese, I’ve almost consistently made it a point to not eat just a cheese sandwich unless it was grilled cheese, and even then the likelihood of eating it as a side of soup was drastically increased.

IN FACT, that sandwich actually brings back horror story memories from my childhood, which may be the next blog that I post.

Now, also understand, if you do sincerely like such plain cheese sandwiches as above mentioned, I don’t hold it against you- instead, I’ll just tell you that you haven’t really lived until you’ve had one of my cheese sandwiches.

But ah, I have lived! And now it’s as though I’ve rejected life and embraced death. What’s wrong with me?

Also, can you tell my lack of integrity by the fact that I posted the recipe for the horrible cheese sandwich after lamenting its very existence for several minutes?



Posted by on December 27, 2010 in food


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Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa, Beaux Style

A really lovely example of Southern life and attitudes is the movie Steel Magnolias. In the movie, one of the main characters, played by Dolly Parton, talks about a recipe called a “Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa.” The recipe involves

  1. A cup of sugar
  2. A cup of fruit cocktail, with the juice
  3. A cup of flour

Stir together and bake in the oven at 350 degrees until golden bubbly.

Believe it or not, this recipe actually works.

Not to be outdone by this movie, and especially since I was working with all-purpose flour as opposed to self-rising, baking powder was a necessity, along with an egg. I also put it in two tablespoons of butter for good measure, and to add the final Christmas touch to it, cinnamon went into the mix.

I baked it at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

The result was an amazingly sweet explosion of sticky goodness that was sparkling and beautiful on the surface. Perfection inside and out, it was.

As usual, the picture does very little justice to the actual treat itself, and by this time I was already majorly chowing down on dessert so much that I couldn’t get a decent photo of the full thing.

A cuppa cuppa cuppa is ridiculously easy to make, as in, one of those things you give to people who have never cooked anything in their lives as homework to make themselves feel more confident in their culinary abilities.

The taste was of a slightly varied peach cobbler. Some bites were sweeter than others, but that was because the fruit was mixed together in a strange way. Also, the grapes seemed to taste slightly odd. Not bad, but odd.


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Posted by on December 26, 2010 in food


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Christmas Day and the Big Joke of Santa

Well, I can say that this Christmas has been pretty wonderful. I’m in a strange place within myself, so the surrealism effect of Christmas that usually happens isn’t here, just like it wasn’t here last year. I’m not exactly sure why it’s like that this year, but I can definitely tell that it’s December 25th, that we were opening presents earlier, and all that, but the build-up of it, the surprise of it, some certain element, isn’t there.

Maybe this is because of my association of Christmas with the Nativity. I found out today that another name for Christmas is the Solemnity of the Incarnation, and I watched the end of the Christmas Mass on EWTN. Then a reminder that Christmas is an entire season and not just one day came on, and naturally I knew that, but in this moment, it renewed the meaning inside of me, the deeper mystical aspect of what this celebration is all about.

Over the past several years, I’ve begun getting myself my own Christmas present. I figured this was an easier thing to do than asking for something. Instead, buying something and then waiting until a certain day to make use of it seemed equally as easy. Christmas before this largely was divided into two categories, whereby I received gifts that I had asked for along with a whole lot of things I didn’t ask for but made use of and loved dearly anyway.

That wouldn’t work for me now, though. I’m content to have one thing, or a few small things, practical or decorative or whatever. Truth be told, I’m an incredibly easy person for whom to shop. I can be given almost anything and be extremely content with it.

One of the main things I’ve received over the years is video games. As a kid, I loved reading books and playing video games. These two concepts in my childhood were often depicted as being diametrically opposed: video games were looked upon as evil, and books were glorified. I enjoyed both, and I still enjoy both- in fact, as I recall, when I was a child, I did my absolute best in school when I played video games and read in my spare time.

So this year, I got a video game for myself, in a series of games that I’ve played since I was five. Metriod: Other M for the Wii.

I opened the game. Popped the game in the Wii.

And the Wii proceeded to not read the disc.

I tried again.

And again.

I cleaned the disc, thinking it was just something from it not being brand new (I bought it used online.)

No luck.

I went troubleshooting on Nintendo’s website and discovered that Metroid: Other M wasn’t playing because of the way the game was encoded and that the lens in my Wii was damaged, and that’s why it wasn’t reading the game.

I had the option to repair the Wii at this point, which means Nintendo is sending me a shipping label (for free) and repairing the Wii for me (for free) so that I can play the game.

I won’t be paying a dime for the repairs, but I will be waiting for possibly a week or two for Nintendo to repair my poor Wii so I can play my game.

So Christmas Day came with a big joke- the one present I bought for myself ended up not even working! That’s okay, though! It’ll be fixed soon enough, and in the meantime, my brother has graciously lent me some of his video games to play.

Also, I was able to spend a few hours today home alone, away from everyone and everything. Me-time is definitely worth embracing when I get the chance.



Posted by on December 25, 2010 in food


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