Archive for the ‘GeekTalk’ Category

Sweet Jesus.

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

So, yeah.  As a reasonable human being, I was a little taken aback when I learned of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Double Down. If you’re not familiar with this (what I might call an) abomination, the description reads as thus:

This one-of-a-kind sandwich features two thick and juicy boneless white meat chicken filets (Original Recipe® or Grilled), two pieces of bacon, two melted slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese and Colonel’s Sauce. This product is so meaty, there’s no room for a bun!

No room for a bun?  NO ROOM FOR A BUN?  Do you understand what this implies?  A bun itself is superfluous in most fast foodwiches, any way.  When you’re scarfing down the 700 calories, and 35 grams of fat in a Mickey D’s Steak, Egg & Cheese Bagel, is there room for anything in that sandwich equation that your body is ok with?  Is the bagel even necessary?  I say nay  nay.  It may taste good and come cheap, but it’s an exercise in masochism.  Ouch.  And no room?  If there’s no room for something, something else is wrong, kiddies.

Feel your heart flutter.  Photo from CityRag.com, all credits to them.  I couldn't bring myself near the thing.

Feel your heart flutter. Photo from CityRag.com, Broward New Times and John Linn, all credits to them. I couldn't bring myself near the thing.

The Double Down appears relatively harmless at first.  Despite the fact that it looks like a deranged prison chef pretty much just fried everything in the pantry and piled it into a sloppy, sadistic mess, KFC assures us that:

It’s 540 calories and 32 grams of fat.

It can’t be sooo bad, you may think.  What’s 540 calories?  You may say, that’s like, a little less than a third of my FDA certified recommended daily caloric intake.  Lemme skip breakfast and I’ll be golden, much like those crunchy, savory breasts holding my pig and cheddar sandwich together.

Again, I say nay nay.

City Rag checked out the Double Down and did some research of their own.  Apparently they got their hot little hands on KFC’s nutritional information and a basic calculator, and I’ll quote their math as follows:

2 fried chicken breasts at 360 calories, 21 grams of fat each, comes to – 720 calories and 42 grams…

2 x 1 oz slice of “Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese” at 100 calories, 9 grams of fat each, comes to 200 calories and 18 grams fat…

1 squirt of sauce 100 calories and 10 grams of fat (even by KFC’s calculations) and the Double Down is hit twice as you can see in the picture, comes to 200 calories and 20 grams fat…

2 strips bacon, equals 70 calories and 6 grams of fat…

For a grand total of 1190 calories and 86 grams of fat!

(I kept all the original links because well, it’s their research and not my own.  I’m too lazy to attempt like, calculations and stuff.  I retired my TI-82 when I got to college and the batteries corroded and vomited the nasty all over my little prized machine.  I was sad.  Just not sad enough to buy a new hundred dollar calculator.)

(Can you imagine if some mathematically gifted MIT undergrad attempted to turn the nastiness in this sandwich into an equation?  I’d imagine it would look something like:

lard

photo credit: all Gwen Feldman, baby. It's my special MIT-approved equation.

Oh, my internet friends.  Why?  What is the point?  Why do we do this to ourselves?

Image courtesy of vegansaurus.com.

Image courtesy of vegansaurus.com.

Okay, I get that maybe it’s tasty.  I wouldn’t know.  But here it is; I slap you in the face with a riding glove and challenge you to try fruit for a full week.  The fat in the Double Down might just appall you once you’ve acclimated to healthier living.  It scared the crap out of me.

The funny thing is that when I initially read that the sandwich wasn’t so bad, I found the vegan take on it, and figured it might be fun to attempt a PETA-friendly fry up of the thing.  I may not be a vegan myself (I’m a vegetarian who cannot live without cheese), but well, I didn’t have to do the work to come up with the recipe.

Vegansaurus.com explains the recipe clearly:

Start by getting your kitchen stocked with vegan substitutes.

  • Gardein Lightly Seasoned Chick’n Scallopini
  • Lightlife Smart Bacon
  • Follow Your Heart Vegenaise
  • Energ-G Egg Replacer
  • Earth Balance Natural Shortening
  • Follow Your Heart Monterey Jack

You can replace the shortening with canola oil or even Crisco, if you feel like taking your life into your hands. Before doing anything else, I fried up about six pieces of Smart Bacon, and thinly sliced the Follow Your Heart Monterey Jack using a mandolin. If you don’t have a mandolin, a cheese slicer will do the trick, or a sharp kitchen knife if you’re really patient. You should also thaw out the Gardein patties, which are usually kept frozen.

The Colonel’s Sauce
No one has any idea what’s in this stuff, so I basically went for “yellow”. 

  • 4 Tbsp Vegenaise
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 1 tsp turmeric

Mix it up until it looks yellow. Adjust as needed.

KFC’s 11 Secret Herbs and Spices
The actual recipe is a closely guarded secret, but this is close enough. I adapted the recipe from KFCChickenRecipe.com with vegan substitutes where needed.

  • 1 Tbsp sage
  • 1 tsp ginger root
  • 1 Tbsp rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder or cayenne
  • 1½ tsp thyme
  • 2 Tbsp garlic salt, or mix 1 Tbsp salt + 1 Tbsp garlic granules
  • 2 Tbsp onion salt, or mix 1 Tbsp salt + 1 Tbsp onion granules
  • 3 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp powdered vegetable bullion from Rapunzel, or any vegan “chicken-flavored” bullion.
  • 1 pack of McCormick Thick & Zesty Spaghetti Sauce Mix (available at Safeway), or 1 packet of any vegan tomato powdered instant soup.

Grind into a fine powder using a food processor or blender, and set aside.

Making the batter and deep-frying it all up

  • 3 Tbsp Ener-G egg replacer
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened, plain soy milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

In a mixing bowl, beat together the egg replacer, water, canola oil, and soy milk. This is your “eggs and milk” batter.

Now is a good time to get your deep-frying apparatus into gear. If you own a deep fryer, you know what you’re doing here. For everyone else: melt the whole box of Earth Balance shortening in a wok or cast-iron pan on medium heat. Top it up with canola oil if the pool of oil isn’t deep enough.

Next, thoroughly mix together the flour with the “secret” herb and spice mix that you made earlier. Spread out the flour mix onto a long sheet of baking paper.

You basically want to coat the living hell out of the Gardein patties, then deep fry them until your kitchen smells like KFC. So: take a patty, dip it in the batter, then roll it in the flour/spices until it’s completely coated. Then take the same patty and repeat; you want to coat the coating.

Finally, drop in your patty and deep-fry it for a few minutes, until golden brown. You can test out your oil beforehand with a small glob of batter and flour. You really don’t want to cook them for too long!

Putting it all together then nomming the shit out of that
Now you’re ready to assemble your Vegan Double Down: two slabs of fried fake chicken, stuffed with fake bacon, fake cheese, and fake “Colonel’s Sauce”. Make it look pretty.

You will eat about half of this before realizing what a mistake it’s been. But until that moment, it will taste like sweet, deep-fried heaven.

(by the way, all images in the above quotations (except my equation) were ganked directly from Vegansaurus.com.  They get all credit.  You may have noticed this, but no image in this entry is mine.  They all come from very nice, hopefully reasonable and non-litigious sources.  Hey, I try to give credit where it’s due.  Please don’t sue me.)

Believing that a vegan version would only be a healthier incarnation of this (and I hesitate to call it a) sandwich, I was set to try it out and blog about it.

I dunno.  After reading about the gravestone-friendly stats on the amended version of the Double Down’s nutrition list, I can’t bring myself to try even a milder version with fake meat, as it’s still an exercise in yuck.  See, I’d have to eat the thing, just so I can relay how it could still taste like it was dredged out of the delicious depths of a thirty year old, lard seasoned deep fryer, and I just can’t do that.  It would hurt me, I think.  I love my readers (apparently there are many of you, though you rarely comment), but I don’t love you enough to justify a stroke at the age of thirty-five just because I choose to play a game of tennis and it’s taxing enough to kill little ‘ol me.  If the actual Double Down is that bad, then the vegan play on it couldn’t be too far behind.  Just…no.

Soooo…have any of you tried the Double Down?  What do you think of it? I won’t judge, I promise.  It ain’t my place.  Let me know.  Photos are strongly encouraged.


GeekTalk: The Droid

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Last Friday I donned my black suit, pinned my hair, and stepped into my conservative heels; it was time for my second interview.  I’d been through the first appointment with a company that really piqued my interest.  This time I was interviewing at a different branch some twenty five miles out.  And I had no clue where it was.

Not to worry, I had my faithful Garmin GPS in my trunk.  I’ve been happily dependent on satellite directions ever since one wrong turn found me lost by the South Boston docks during the wee hours of the morning and it took me until 7 am to find my way home (yes, I am that hopeless).

I hopped in my Honda, plugged in the GPS, and cheerfully wiggled my nose in anticipation of plugging in my destination.  All signs pointed to a prompt arrival until the GPS rolled its eyes, gave me the finger, and died.  Isn’t there some kind of law that states that technology is bound to sputter out when it’s most needed?  Oh. Yeah.

That’s why I was so intrigued when Brandon (fellow resident of the Staycation Lab) brought home his shiny, new

Photo Credit: www.SmartDeviceCentral.com

Photo Credit: www.SmartDeviceCentral.com

Verizon phone, the Droid.

We love gadgets here at Cool Stuff, so of course anything with wireless access and a glistening, clear display is embraced.  I’m not too big into hyperbole, but man, this industrial cutie is fierce.

Let’s start with the obvious.  With its 3.7 inch WVGA, movie screen display, it elbows out the iPhone in visibility and sheer yum factor.  Installed memory maxes out at 16gb, but can be expanded to double the capacity, which puts my iPod to shame.  Networking and connectivity – check.   Wifi looks pretty up on this one.  Plus Google‘s got its hot hands all over this thing (and let’s face it: Google is the IT girl among current competitors); with pre-installed apps like Google Talk (like a chat program for your phone), Exchange support, multimedia player, etc.

It’s Google that adds the oomph, and this is what brings me to the GPS capability of the phone.  With Motorola’s proprietary voice recognition software, use of Google maps has pretty much just made my dead Garmin extinct.  Say a street address, utter the name of a restaurant, or even mention the title of a museum exhibit, and Google Map’s turn by turn instructions get you there – vocally.  With consistent access to Google’s finger on the ever changing pulse of the internet, you can expect information to stay current (which would have been great for me last year when my GPS guided me to a Pizza Hut that had been condemned a year earlier).

Brandon purchased a Droid car mount – insert the phone into the mount, and the Droid enters ‘car mode,’ an intuitive interface that allows voice commands and acts more like a Tom Tom than Brandon’s own Tom ever did.  With large icons and a simplified screen, it’s easy to see how one might kick their dash-mounted GPS to the curb – after all, this droid lets you socialize, too (remember it’s a phone?).

As a Blackberry user, I gravitated immediately to the physical QWERTY keyboard, though the Droid’s oh-so-responsive touch screen has one, too.  I’m told the latter has a bit of a steep learning curve, as the narrow keys allow for clumsy fingers. You can forget passwords to unlock your screen as well – instead, expect a connect the dots prompt to activate your phone out of sleep mode.

Don’t expect any sexy curves here.  Slightly larger and heavier than the iPhone and embellished with right angles, this kitten is all about performance.  It’s not the kind of phone you’d expect to see perverted by a mass of Swarovski crystals (though no offense to the folks who like the look).  It’s the power of the Droid’s engine and not the chrome that takes center stage.

Oh, and there’s a 5.0 megapixel camera with flash and variable color and light affects.  You wanna solarize that?  No prob.  Invert to negative?  That will just be a moment.  The best part is that with its clear resolution, this gives the reluctant casual photographer every reason to ditch the disposable camera (and yes, I know you’re out there).

Linux aficionados will have to wipe the drool off their faces (and perhaps offer a small prayer of thanks to Holy Linus) when they lay eyes on the Droid’s acceptability of third party programs, due to its open source friendliness.  There’s no app for that?  Well, make one.  Duh.

If this phone could cook a decent vegetarian dinner, get me that job and book my appointments for me, I think I very well could marry it.

In short, I want one.