Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday Megalinks

Casual Kitchen: Favorite Food Photography Links
Need tips and practical advice on how to best set up and execute your food pics? Dan has a nice list of everything you ever needed to know, but couldn’t locate.

Chow: Eat Well and Save - Tips for spending less on good food
Quick and dirty rundown of highly effective grocery shopping strategies. Worth a gander if you’re new to the savings world.

Chow: Public Transit Picnic - Is it rude to eat on the subway?
I tend to agree with the columnist here. Yes, if it’s small, non-odorous, and you genuinely have no other time to eat a meal. No if it’s a ten-course curry banquet from the local Indian joint. Respect public transit!

Clever Dude: Dining as a Group. Paying as a Group.
To sum, Clever Dude and Ms. Clever Dude went out with a bunch of friends, ordered about half what everybody else did, and paid accordingly. (The split-11-ways bill came to $22.50 each, and they forked over $12 each.) While I understand the reasoning, I’m not sure I would have done the same thing. I figure it's a given that group gatherings necessitate equal bill-splitting and order as such. BUT. I’d love to hear opinions.

Consumerist: 13 Confessions of a Waiter
Summary of a longer Reader’s Digest article compiling the … take a guess. Confession #3 is for real, yo. I worked at Wendy’s in high school, and legend had it that one of our sandwich guys punished jerky customers in kind.

Cracked: 7 Most Bizarre Fast Food Industry Lawsuits
Super nifty countdown of cases like Krispy Kreme v. Entenmans, McDonald’s v. Hippies, and Hooters v. Another Chain That Wants to be Hooters. It’s like a law course and a VH1 countdown in the same article! Rated PG-13 for language. (Thanks to Eater for the link.)

Epicurious Blog: What’s the Longest You’ve Ever Waited in Line for Something Edible?
Shake Shack. Burgers. Would do it again.

Epi-log: The Great “Ghetto Latte” Fracas
There’s a controversy brewing over certain Starbucks drinks. Apparently, asking for an espresso, pouring it over ice, and adding free milk from the counter will save about 50% of the cost of a regular latte. Baristas hate this, since it messes with the pricing structure and the drink quality is less-than-great. Has anyone ever tried it? Do tell.

Festival of Frugality #135: Antishay Ventenne
This week’s festival takes a “Frugal All Over” theme, and CHG’s own The Booze of Summer: A Quick and Dirty Guide to Lighter, Cheaper Drinks is an Editor’s Pick. WOOT!

Get Fit Slowly: Want to Lose Weight? Use a Food Diary.
Whether you’re dropping poundage or trying to save some bank, one of the best things you can do is keep track of what you’re eating/spending. According to GFS writer Mac, this acts as a motivator, guilt inducer, nutrition guide, and secretary all in one. Read on for more of his insights…

New York Magazine: Eat Cheap 2008
New Yorkers, take note! And for you non-Bigappleites, How the Rising Cost of Food Trickles Down is interesting, too.

Slashfood: Coffee – Suddenly, it’s good for you
Yay! I just had three cups to celebrate. Screw you, heart disease!

Slashfood: Fruit juice – an invitation to diabetes?
*Sigh* For every piece of good news about coffee, there must be an equal and opposite sliver of bad news about fruit juice. Apparently, eating whole fruits is way better for you. Which makes sense, when you think about all the added sugar in beverages.

Slashfood: My Conversion to Dried Beans
Okay. I’ve tried using Goya dried beans twice now (chickpeas), and both times they came out harder than a rock. I followed the directions to the letter, so what am I doing wrong? Is it me or is it Goya?

Slate: The Mac-and-Cheese Effect - Why family dinner makes working parents (especially moms) feel better.
Oh, what a great article. To sum: “Happily, according to a new study, family dinner appears to be good for parents, too. … Among 1,580 parents who worked at IBM, those who said their jobs interfered less with being home for dinner tended to feel greater personal success, and success in relationships with their spouses and their children ... even if they still worked long hours. They also felt more kindly toward their workplace. Parents who missed dinner at home because of work, on the other hand, felt gloomy about their professional futures.” (Thanks to Serious Eats for the link.)

The Simple Dollar: Ten Ways to Find Bargains on Fresh Food
Nice Top Ten list focusing on produce.

Wall Street Journal: The Candidates Dine Out - What Obama's and McCain's favorite restaurants say about the men
Extensive piece on the candidates’ preferred eateries/cuisines. Both like Tex-Mex, pizza, and burgers. Maybe they’re more alike than we believe… (Thanks to Eater for the link.)

(Photos courtesy of Helping Hands of Detroit, Associated Content, and Random Aussies.)

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Jaime said...

Wow, much to respond to.

I was with a coworker today who ordered that *exact* ghetto latte - double espresso over ice, milk from the bar. I'd rather order an iced Americano - ice, espresso, water - with room for milk. Still cheap, more espresso, fewer calories. (I actually order a tall in a grande cup, for a little extra milk room.)

I think chick peas are notoriously tricky to use dried. I've had good results with black beans. I just have trouble planning the timing right - the overnight or all-day soak, then the hour of cooking. It's tricky.

On fruit juice - even 100% juice, no added sugar, is still worse for you than real fruit - there's much less fiber, and you can down it way faster than you can eat an orange.

And ooh, bill-splitting. Unless everyone ordered very similarly-priced things and no booze, I am *not* in the split-evenly camp. Not at all. Maybe it's because I'm a vegetarian, rarely drink with dinner, or because I'm ass broke, but I like to pay what I owe. If it's fair, sure, and that's an awesome easy thing, but I don't like when there's a big range of food prices or alcohol on the bill, and people are like, "Oh, let's just split it evenly between the ten of us." I feel like an uptight shrew when I have to say, "Um, actually, my meal was a lot cheaper, so that wouldn't be fair," but I am an uptight shrew trying to pay off her credit cards, so my friends will just have to deal.

pumpkininrecovery said...

I find it really rude when people I dine with expect me to evenly split the cost of their alcoholic beverages, appetizers, and large meals when all I've ordered is one moderate priced dish and water. I order what I can afford these days so I can stick with the whole 'living within my means' thing. I often try to get a separate bill if I can, but sometimes it just isn't possible. My money doesn't flow freely, and I eat out rarely because of it. I am finding more people understanding when I tell them I've only ordered what I can afford and then put my CASH on the table (preferably not needing any change).

Kyle said...

Chickpeas take forever to cook. Like, hours and hours. But if you cook them long enough, they do eventually get cooked through. Sometimes that's like four hours. It depends on the chickpea. It used to be that I would cook any bean myself except chickpeas, but finally I converted myself. I just pick an evening when I know I'm going to be home all night, cook a whole pound (or more) at once, and freeze the extra in its cooking juice. I never try to cook chickpeas on the day I plan to eat them (maybe if I was going to have them for dinner and I thought of it before lunchtime). Chickpeas require some serious patience, but it's totally worth it. They are cheaper and tastier when you cook them yourself. The cooking water is like a broth. Delicious.

Aryn said...

I avoid splitting the bill, too, because I usually get burned splitting the check. On top of the fact that I'm a small eater, my food intolerance means that I couldn't enjoy the appetizers and desserts even if I wanted to. Why should I pay for food I can't eat?

Ms Meghan said...

I cook chickpeas a lot because I make hummus a lot. I usually soak them for 24 hours, then drain and rinse, then refill the pot with enough water to cover the chickpeas, cover it, bring it to a boil and the turn it down to a simmer. I usually cook them for ~45 minutes. I'm not sure. I just kind of keep an eye on them because my lowest burner sometimes is too hot.

larochelle said...

There's also money savings ordering "short" instead of tall:

Marcia said...

I generally avoid bill splitting too. Sometimes, if we all order similar items (a soda or coffee, and a similar priced entree), then I have no problem with it.

But about 1/2 the time, I am ordering a glass of wine, an appetizer, AND an entree (I do take leftovers!!), and the other 1/2, I am ordering water and a low-priced entree.

I DON'T want someone to subsidize my wine or snacks. Likewise, I DON'T want to subsidize someone else's steak OR the fact that some people suck at math, don't add in tax, or only put 5% down for the tip.

I generally avoid eating out anyway because I have a toddler. It's too painful.

Kris said...

Kyle, thanks for the chickpea tips. Maybe I should start with an easier bean and work my way up? But the broth sounds so good ...

As far as the splitting the check goes, I think it depends on the situation. With friends, I definitely pay what I owe. You're right, Marcia: I don't want to subsidize someone else's dinner, and vice versa.

With work-related restaurant dinners (was Clever Dude's function a work thing? I forget.) it's a little different. I feel like I would go in expecting to split, if someone asked. Just in case. It comes up rarely, but hey - you never know.

Thanks for the input, everybody!

Heather said...

I think Ms. Meghan has the right idea about chickpeas. But I would add another tip.. I've found it is important to buy your dry chickpeas from a place where things get bought off the shelves quickly... we were buying it from a halal cash and carry, and I think they may have been older than my grandfather. If they are a bit more circulated they will soften up a bit easier.
Anyway, I just use canned now anyway! Saves me precious time. Good luck!

Lazy Rani said...

Just because beans are dried doesn't mean they last forever. The older the dried beans, the longer the cooking time. Also, the climate they're stored in can affect cooking time. I'm pretty "cheap" but I don't think cooking beans for four hours makes sense. If my beans--even the notorious slow cookers like chickpeas--take more than two hours, I consider them defective.

Also, I have more luck with the ol' "quick soak" than the overnight soak. This is the one where you boil the beans for two minutes, turn off the flame, add a lid to the pot, and let sit for two hours before thoroughly rinsing and cooking. (This method is also purported to reduce the musicality of the bean.)

And check splitting? How could anyone expect me to pay for something I can't reasonably afford and didn't order? If I were worried about what people thought of me in a situation like that, those people would not be my friends! Still, when everyone is comfortable with it and can afford it, I think the even split is a lovely thing. And by comfortable, I mean for real, not like too shy to say they aren't comfortable.