Thursday, December 25, 2008

Egg Foo Yung

First and foremost, let me apologize for the potential butchering of that spelling. I am not well versed in most Asian cuisine and there were about fourteen different spellings online, so I just went with this one. Growing up, this was one of the regular items ordered by my family that I would refuse to touch... I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that they called it "Brain". Yeah. Anyway, egg foo yung is an omelet-like dish that might have Cantonese or Polynesian origins (this has been debated) but is commonly found on American Chinese menus. Primarily eggs and vegetables, it is often also available with meat or seafood included... I think we had the chicken variety. This was part of the (in hindsight) unnecessarily large order of Chinese food that was part of our low-key Christmas Eve. While I had my standard sesame chicken on the table - and another egg roll for those that have read my earlier posts - I decided to be gung-ho and try Brain for the first time. Let's get on with the details...

What I Like:
Eggs, chicken, and flavored sauces.What I Don't Like:
I still don't fully comprehend everything that was in there, and the world wide web did not give me a concise list of standard ingredients, so I will just name the one thing that was so obvious it hurt... onions. I don't like onions... and I mean I REALLY don't like onions. In this egg foo yung they were large and plentiful... boo to that.
Who Made Me Try It:
I'm the one that put it on my plate, but I was strongly supported by my dad. I don't think he thought I would actually try it, so he can put this in his pipe and smoke it.The Results:
Houston, we have a problem. Perhaps it was just this recipe, but I did not like it. The egg portions of it were good and the sauce/gravy on top was tasty, but the onions were over the top. I felt like there was more onion than anything else on there and that was annoying. Thankfully I had plenty of sesame chicken, white rice and an egg roll to fill me up... even though I was still hungry an hour later.


The holidays are upon us, so you can probably expect to see a few new posts from me within the next couple days. I am in my parent's house with alcohol a-plenty and all kinds of foods that I would normally never try, but am slightly more open to thanks to the combination of this blog and inhibitions loosened by booze. The first attempt? Shrimp. Growing up on the eastern shore of Maryland there are two things you are supposed to love... corn and seafood. I don't like either. I didn't get too much pressure to try various seafoods growing up since one of my sisters is allergic, but it still found its way into our house and as I've grown up (using that term loosely) there have been exponentially more opportunities for me to try it from year to year. Unlike most of the entries here at It's Not Chicken, shrimp is one that I tried before and did not like. I remember vividly being at the house of my parents' friends on a lovely summer evening with a variety of beers and knoshy foods available. One of these foods was your standard shrimp with cocktail sauce for dipping. I tried a bite, hated it, and spit it right into a napkin. BUT... I tried it, and that was enough for my parents at the time. After I got home yesterday my folks laid out a bunch of snack-type foods to tide everyone over until dinner and leftover shrimp from their holiday party was one of the options. I decided to go for it. Here's how it went...

What I Like:
Cocktail sauce.
What I Don't Like:
Shrimp.Who Made Me Try It:
This was a wicked combination of my mother and Yuengling... or what I like to call "the one-two punch".The Results:
Still not really a fan... sorry. I had a very generous amount of cocktail sauce on there for the first bite, and that helped, but I am still just not a big fan of seafood... especially cold seafood. It still tasted to me like whatever body of water it came out of. That might just be something I need to get used to though now that I am on this mission. I was willing to take the second bite necessary to finish that individual shrimp but I vehemently refused to take another piece. I'm not going to change overnight people and I think I have made a lot of progress so far... this was just a smaller step than some of the other ones I've taken recently.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Artichoke Chili Dip

This is another milestone tasting for me gang, and something that was said could never be done. A little background first though... my parents host the holiday party for my dad's office at their house every year and one of the staple menu items is the Artichoke Chili Dip. This is a served-warm dip that includes chopped artichoke hearts and diced chili peppers (it's not like "beans and meat" chili) and is generally consumed with tortilla chips or some sort of bread stick - pumpernickel is recommended. When possible, my sisters and I have been responsible for helping with the cooking and other prep efforts for the party and making this dip frequently fell on my shoulders with a certain sense of irony and pressure. It isn't easy to be in charge of making a popular dish without being able to do a taste test yourself. I must have managed fine though since I was asked to make it repeated times over the years.

This week was the office party at my job and people were asked to bring in appetizers and desserts to snack on during the gift exchange and booze consumption. I decided to step up and make the dip for the first time outside of my parents house, with the hopes that my coworkers would enjoy it (or at least not projectile vomit). It seemed to go over pretty well and since many of my coworkers are readers of It's Not Chicken I knew there was no way I could escape trying it... so I did... and here's how it went.

What I Like:
Mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese.
What I Don't Like:
Artichoke and chili peppers... which is mostly why I never ate this before...

Who Made Me Try It:
I really should credit my family members and my dad's coworkers who have been trying to make me sample the dip since the days of Underoos. The climactic tasting was of my own accord, but fueled by years and years of attempted pressuring.

The Results:
I make a pretty mean artichoke chili dip!! Now, keep in mind that I've never had it before so I don't even know what it is supposed to taste like and my parents weren't around to test it and tell me if I got it right or not. But it tasted GOOD... good enough for me to have several bites of it and to look forward to making it again. Look out world... there's an incomplete albino with a new-found passion for the culinary arts coming your way!

Editor's Note: In lieu of actual photos of the dip, I used this one that was found online. While the ACD has not traditionally been served in a bread bowl, you can bet your sweet ass that it will be next time.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I'm a little excited about this one folks... let me tell you why. My parents both eat just about everything. My mom only dislikes one thing... ONE (that I know of). And that, my friends, is peas. I remember one Thanksgiving when she stepped away from the table to answer the phone and we thought it would be hilarious to dump the entire dish of remaining peas out on her plate. There are not that many times I can recall my mom being angry but this was one... she was NOT amused. So I am finding a little extra satisfaction in my pea eating (not to be confused with pee eating... that's just gross) because this is the thing that I know my mother - my creator and the biggest food enforcer in my life - won't eat unless it contains the antidote.

Getting back on track, I'll tell the tale of this latest cuisine conquest. The building I work in has the occasional lobby event with free food of some sort. It ranges from ice cream to seasonal meals, but it kicks ass every time. This week they had - and I don't know why - free food around lunch time that consisted of two pasta varieties, salad, desserts and punch. I partook in the pastas and deserts because the salad had pear in it and I can only try/post so many things in one week... I'm not a machine people. One of the two pastas was your standard ziti with marinara sauce and the other was bow tie pasta with an alfredo sauce, peas and what I later found out was bacon or ham of some sort. It isn't out of character for me to have taken both types, but normally I would pick each individual pea out of the bow tie pasta and dispense of it. That's the old Bill... the new Bill breaks a two-by-four with his head and then eats some of the peas. Let's get to the basics...

What I Like:
Pasta, alfredo sauce and bacon

What I Don't Like:
Who Made Me Try It:
I'm becoming more and more willing to try things on my own, but this was inspired and supported by Dre.

The Results:
I ate most of them! I don't know if it is because they were doused in alfredo sauce, but they didn't bother me much. The texture was a little odd (or at least new) but combined with the other elements of the dish it wasn't completely noticable. I don't think I will be asking for a side of peas in any upcoming meals, but I have decided I'm ready to try pot pies again now that I'm more willing to consume the various ingredients. I honestly never thought I would be trying this many new foods in this short amount of time... all thanks to the Internet. It provides me with employment and has succeded in motivating me to do things that neither my parents or any of my girlfriends have ever been able to get me to do (eat).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cranberry Salsa

It is pretty common for my teammates at work to bring in a variety of snacks (or "sniggies" as we call them) and pretty common for me to not be able to eat them. We have a Vegan-by-choice, a lactose intolerant Hispani-Jew, and a slew of folks that think "organic is a food group. Now, there's nothing wrong with any of that and a lot of the food they bring in honestly looks really really good. Generally I don't partake unless its some form of cookie and even then I ask four separate people what's in it to make sure they aren't trying to sneak anything by me. Today was different. My buddy Andre is a big fan of this blog so when Loinsy-Boy put cranberry salsa on the table today he lept at the opportunity to make me try a bite. I tried to put up a fight but I could tell he wasn't going to leave me alone until I tasted at least a little bit. Let's see how it went...

What I Like:
I asked for the ingredients so that I'd be able to give an official list here and in the next category. The parts I like include apple juice, green apples, sugar and chopped up cilantro. Let's get to the longer list...
What I Don't Like:
Cranberries, red onion, jalepeno peppers and sweet red pepper. He didn't say anything about tomato, but I'm pretty sure there was some of that in the mix as well.
Who Made Me Try It:
Andre strikes again! I got pressure from other folks nearby but it was Dredle-Dre leading the charge... that bastard.The Results:
I have to say that it didn't taste too bad. The cranberries added a really interesting flavor that I did not see coming at all. Even with that though, there were still a LOT of chunks. I added another chip to the top so that the chopped medley wouldn't overpower the one I used to scoop, and that seemed to help too. Now, I only had one bite but I would be willing to maybe have another bite in the future of this or other salsas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Eggroll... Egg Roll... which is it?

Chinese food is a staple for college students and twenty-somethings living in the city that don't feel like cooking and really aren't in the mood for pizza. I am currently the latter, but my tale of Asian cuisine begins with the former. When I was growing up my family would get Chinese take-out every once in a while but (as I'm sure you've guessed) I was never really willing to partake. I pass part of the blame for this one on to my family who would order things like moo goo gai pan (which we affectionately called "brain") and neglected to tell me you could order certain chicken dishes without the veggies. If they came in the same container as broccoli, I wanted nothing to do with them. So I would usually be stuck getting the god-awful chicken "tenders" that truly should not have been provided for human consumption. Needless to say, that left a bad taste in my mouth - pun intended.

Hop, skip and a jump through time to my college years and my man Danny D reintroduced me to Chinese delivery... this time in the form of sesame chicken WITHOUT the broccoli. I was in love. It was meat in a delicious sauce with white rice... perfection! Since then I have continued with this order as well as a few similar ones (orange chicken, hunan chicken, etc.) and been a happy boy.

Leap forward through time once more to last night. This is me now in my "not wanting pizza" moment and my roommate came up with the brilliant idea to get delivery before heading out to a holiday party. As I stood there looking at the menu and feeling pretty proud of myself for pushing my normal limits by getting hunan beef, it hit me. I'm feeling crazy and I'm gonna go for it... "I'd like one egg roll please."

What I Like:
Fried things. Not all fried things though... I think carnivals are taking it a little too far. I mean seriously... why ruin a perfectly good Oreo cookie by frying it? Just dunk it in some milk and enjoy. I digress...What I Don't Like:
I have to say, I had no idea what was in an egg roll. Marty was going to tell me but I told him to wait until after I'd eaten it (just to be safe). He wasn't even 100% sure what all the ingredients were post-consumption I was still at a loss, so I decided to ask the experts. According to Wikipedia, the contents generally include chopped vegetables (most commonly cabbage) and some combination of meat and/or noodles. Thanks for nothing Wikipedia. Despite my Irish heritage I'm not a fan of cabbage and I could tell that was in the mix so I guess that counts for something. There were shades of red and green in there too that I don't think were for the holiday season, but I could not tell you what the hell they actually were. I'll just assume I don't like any of it.Who Made Me Try It:
This one was pretty much my own decision. I don't think Marty expected me to get past the first bite though, since he offered to finish it if I didn't like it. The Results:
I ate the whole thing! I have to say that it wasn't too bad. I think I might even get egg rolls again from time to time. I'm blissfully ignorant of the contents still so that helps, but who am I to argue with the fact that I didn't spit it out? I'm telling you folks... this blog (or web log for you non-web-savvy individuals) is opening me to a whole new world. Great... now I have that song from Aladdin stuck in my head.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Really Chunky Tomato Sauce

Pizza is the Two-Face to my Batman. Sometimes it has absolutely incredible sauce that is flavored right and is liquefied enough to pass through a contact lens (Harvey Dent, or the good side). But sometimes... nay, MANY times it is chunky to some degree. Let me take this opportunity to say that I can detect any chunk in any sauce or dish at any time... no matter how much you Normies (that's what I call normal eaters) think I "won't notice" it. There are some tomato sauces that have little chunks and that is annoying enough... its like the pizza is teasing me. But every now and then some bastard puts damn-near full tomatoes in the sauce. It's "sauce" people!! It's supposed to be a liquid!! If I wanted that many chunks on my pizza I would have asked the nice likely-not-really-Italian fellow making it to just throw salsa on top. Pizza should not taste like you threw shredded cheese and croutons on top of a whole tomato, but some jerks still feel like making it that way.

Case in point... a few of us are working late, so a couple pizzas from Uno's were obtained. I wasn't all that hungry so I wasn't planning on having any but a slice was forced upon me when it turned out that they screwed up the order and we were getting an entire other pizza for free. I was told it was a "meat and cheese" pizza so I walked up to get a slice and I saw a lot more red solid-looking things than I had expected. Upon further exploration, these were in fact baby hampster-sized pieces of tomoato (now you know what goes through my head every time I bite into a chunky something in my food) and I decided to decline. Little did I know, the choice was not mine to make.

What I Like:
Catsup, Ketchup and Chef Boyardi pasta sauces.What I Don't Like:
Any solid form of tomato.Who Made Me Try It:
My buddy Dre convinced made me try it... is that a hate crime?The Results:
My pulse is still at about the same level that it was prior to consumption, but I think I might have a slight surly face on now. I was quoted as saying several times "I can tell they're in there!" It wasn't awful, if only due to the fact that the pieces of sausage were larger than the red chunks of death. I won't be ordering anything at Uno's any time soon though... especially this.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


This one has a bit of a back story to it, so I'll get started with that. Years ago at one of the Thanksgiving meals of my youth my parents decided I needed to try celery again. I refused. I think something was said to "motivate" me (couldn't leave the table, couldn't have dessert, or something like that) and still I refused. I just knew that if I took a bite of that celery I was going to vomit. Nothing was more certain to me at that moment. So I continued to refuse... "If you make me eat it I'm going to throw up!"... and still they made me take a bite. And you know what happened? That's right. I threw up... from celery. To this day I still got mocked for that at home, but I also still stand by the fact that I was right.

Flash forward probably twenty years and I found myself at a similar crossroad... this time with two good friends and a few good beers in me. I sat there with the only remnants left on our plate of wings being the standard side of celery sticks and two people who seemed VERY determined to make me eat them.

What I Don't Like:
Well folks, that would be celery.What I Do Like:
A good back rub, but that has nothing to do with the topic at hand.Who Made Me Try It:
Hurley-Bird and Jebs, during a much needed weeknight distraction consisting of tree decorating and a few rounds at Muggsy's.The Results:
You know what? It wasn't bad! It helped that I was dipping it in a little blue cheese, but I actually ate several bites. I'm actually happy that I tried it and look forward to future orders of wings and maybe even some of those celery-stick-filled-with-peanut-butter things I keep seeing. This whole blog thing is already a success! Oh, and in case anyone isn't believing any of this... I decided to include photographic evidence.

(Sorry for the low resolution... it's form a camera phone.)