Friday, February 19, 2010

Surprise lunch with my wife at Hot Rod's 50's Diner

I love when errands turn into me getting awesome lunch.

I volunteered to ride around a little with my wife this afternoon while she ran some errands (actually, I ended up driving). We did that and then at the spur of the moment went to try to meet up with a new business contact of hers and found out that she was out to lunch at one of our favorite spots: Hot Rod's 50's Diner (in Maryville, TN, where we live). Since we like it, since we're hungry, and since her peeps are cool, we dropped by, did a little talking, and did a lot of eating.

I tell you what: that place can make a burger and fries. If you're ever in the Maryville/Knoxville area, you should definitely try to make a trip by there. It's really good.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Working the social media thing and not getting it

So... I joined Twitter tonight, and as I'm sure about 80 million people have said before me,

  1. I don't get Twitter;
  2. I don't know how to work Twitter.
I think I know my username (@JLindsayCooks - because "UntrainedGourmet" has one too many letters for precious character-counting Twitter and because I want to use it to promote my food blogging and writing for Examiner.com), but I'm not even sure of that. I have no followers and don't really have a clue of how to find people on there that I know. In fact, I don't know anyone that uses Twitter. If you use Twitter and want to keep up with what I'm doing or in any other way think I'm awesome enough to follow, come follow me. It will be fun. I'll be eternally grateful. You get bonus points if you tell me
  1. What's the magic of Twitter;
  2. How to work Twitter.
I'm not a total moron (I've got a Ph.D. in something hard like math), so I know the basics of how Twitter works, but what I can't figure out is how you get followers. I found some guides on the web that told me to give a book away or something. I don't have any books that I can e-mail you (unless you want a copy of my dissertation -- BORING!!!), so that's out. Luckily, I'm funny as hell, so following me will be totally worth it. As a bonus, I'll usually be talking about what I'm cooking or eating, which will be awesome.

While I'm sitting here confused about the role of social internet media in the "promoting myself online" world, I'll point out that StumbleUpon, which you can clearly see I'm a part of, is one of the biggest mysteries on the internet. Seriously. I submit some good work to them; no one clicks. I click on some stuff; no one clicks. I submit something else; 70 people click (?). I submit something else that I think is better; 23 people click. I submit something else I don't think is quite as good; 800 people click (???). I submit other stuff; no one clicks. I'm totally mystified. I don't have time to go "Stumble around the internet" for hours a day clicking on bullshit that I don't care about or even that I think is neat, and I don't really get how it's any form of social outlet.

The big confusing one is Digg. I tried to play their game. I don't get it either (less than I get Twitter). L.a.m.e. Social media confuses the hell out of me. Why can't internet marketing be a little less confusing?

In other news, particularly the kind that pertains to food, I decided that my Southern-Chinese fusion recipes (bacon fried rice and peanut fried rice) are a little too hee-haw to publish on Examiner, so I wrote an article about Ugli fruit instead because it's like a super-weird, gourmet tangerine. I also told folks the secret to my flatbreads, which apparently everyone loves. Furthermore, I got hired on by the Examiner team to write articles under a second title: Knoxville Coffee Examiner (in addition to my regular gig as Knoxville Gourmet Food Examiner), and I wrote my first article for them today, a long piece about the loveliness and use of a French press, the rarity in use of which still surprises me.

Ah well, at least I understand how blogging works. I get to come on here, say my piece, pretend people read it, and feel great about myself and all of the cool links I get to plant. If you're in the mood to humor me, check out the links, subscribe to my feeds on Examiner, follow me on Twitter, and Stumble everything I write, though I guess shameless paragraphs like this don't make that kind of thing happen.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Experiments with coconut and bacon, but not at the same time

We've kind of run out of things here and really need a trip to the store. That's led to some rather creative dishes over the weekend that were really pretty good, to be honest.

First, since the only meat we had left in the house was bacon, I decided to go for a Southern-Chinese fusion dish by making "bacon fried rice," which is every bit as uncomplicated as it sounds. Basically, I started several strips of bacon in the wok, fried them up nicely, and used the oil to make fried rice (with eggs, peas, and carrots, along with some onion, garlic, and ginger, of course) and then added the bacon, chopped up roughly, at the end, tossing it all through. It was surprisingly good... better, in fact than last night's similar dish (we have a lot of rice): fried peanuts in fried rice, which was also quite good. The essential idea there was to shallow-fry some raw peanuts until they were crunchy and then make them the primary protein component in the fried rice. I label it creative and good and am glad I made it.

In other news, since I do a lot of working out and need the protein, these kinds of meals wouldn't cut it. I had to make some protein drinks. My usual recipe is just (whole) milk, whey protein concentrate, evaporated cane juice, and (Ghirardelli or better) cocoa powder with the occasional dash of cinnamon powder or vanilla extract. Feeling a bit creative and needing to use some leftover coconut milk from the curry of the day before, I added that in place of half the milk (about 6 oz. or so). Whoa. Seriously. Whoa. Seriously. Whoa. What a good idea!

The weekend was rounded out with some of the best barbecue available in Maryville, the stuff over at Full Service BBQ, which is fantastic. The beef rocks, the pork rocks, the potato salad rocks. I had a good time with that stuff.

I feel sad, however, that I'm a little too busy with life and doings to have time to post much on here... right after my reinvention of the blog! I'll get better at it hopefully before too long, so hang in there with me. As for now... I'm working on some whole wheat and flax flatbread that hopefully will get a little dose of pizza toppings put on it.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

A new direction -- my relationship and experience of food

So I'm still writing recipes and food whatnot for Examiner.com as the Knoxville Gourmet Food Examiner, and that takes up enough of my writing-specifics-about-food time to where I have little left for blogging about it, particularly since the theme so far of this blog has been sharing the recipes I've tried and loved, which is exactly where I get most of my material for Examiner. Since I don't want to double-post, and I don't want to think up second-rate stuff for the blog, I've just kind of let it fall by the wayside. That changes again today, but with a different bent: I'm going to spend my time on here talking about my relationship with food and saying the things I can't say on Examiner (where I'm a "journalist" that has to follow the rules that only few others seem to follow: write in the third person and leave personal notes out).

SO! If you used to come here to find cool recipes to try, then you'll probably only find links to them as I put them on Examiner (do feel free to click those links, go to those pages, check out the recipes, enjoy them, and become a subscriber of my Examiner feed, which delivers my posts to you for free in your e-mail). This blog is about to get a bunch more personal instead of being about showcasing the recipes so much: it will be about my experience of recipes, foods, and other topics related to me the person... and a good deal about the food still. I think it's fair to say that I will continue to shamelessly promote myself and my Examiner articles, so expect a fair many links (which, like I suggested, you can or might should click on to visit them in their glory and then become a subscriber so you can enjoy them more regularly).

Speaking of shameless plugs, the article I wrote for Examiner today is kind of strange. It was really good, really interesting, and something I ate yesterday: oven-baked sweet potato French fries in both purple and orange. The strange bit, other than the vibrant purple of the purple sweet potatoes, is that it would be a perfect recipe for Halloween, and it's dead in the middle of February, which is pretty much the least Halloween-like month of the year. I'm betting I'll repost it. Here's what it looked like with both of them on the plate:
Neat, huh? They were good, too. The oven-baked quality of them seemed like it would leave me with soggy fries, but the reality is that with a quick par-boiling first, they come out almost every bit as crispy from the oven as they will from a deep fryer, though it takes considerably longer to get there.

If you wonder, I'm now a purple sweet potato fan (I can't wait to try them mashed, if only for the novelty of the appearance of the outcome) -- they're a little denser and drier, it seems, than the orange kind, and a bit less sweet, so overall, particularly in a savory use like this, they are really, really good (particularly smothered in some spicy barbecue sauce: Joe's Mo-Hotter XX Hell Sauce, which has a name I wish I was making up and which ended up in my kitchen only because we got some of it as kids to laugh about the name and have been laughing about it ever since... over 15 years of humor from pepper sauce).

Dinner tonight... well, it rocked. The recipe probably won't end up on Examiner due to their "local" initiative and the extreme difficulty of connecting "Chinese-style beef steak and mushrooms in coconut sauce over plain fried rice" with "Knoxville, TN." It's a shame, really, because it was really, really good. Maybe I'll change my mind and write about it, but I should have taken a picture because I don't have one to go with the article... unless the leftovers tomorrow come out nice looking.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the new format of the blog, even though the readership of this blog is so weak right now that I can probably expect that no one will see this post. If you do, welcome aboard... this should be kind of fun.

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