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Comments by YACCS
Monday, August 23, 2004

Office Sugar Spice Microwave Popcorn and Other Odd Office Snacks

What would wind up in the microwave at some offices if it was around

Okay, now that I have your attention, I'll use this somewhat cute/offensive picture to start another "food" thread. I was working a tad later than usual tonight, and I got up for another cup of Machine Green Tea. Basically, we have a machine that accepts little envelope-thingies of about 12 different kinds of coffee, and 5 or so teas, and it makes stuff one cup at a time. As an accompaniment, the business provides the usual fixings--sugar, creamer, milk, etc...and someone also donated a cheap shaker-can of cinnamon. I enter the pantry area, I notice a strong but unfamiliar smell. It was not unpleasant, just...heavy. A few seconds later I hit on it--someone had made microwave popcorn (someone else had abandoned a box of instant-popcorn earlier that day), and put sugar and cinnamon on it. It was inspired, gacky-buttery-swee-smelling, and almost funny in an Office Space kind of way. Only the smell remained; I assume the budding chef ate his/her creation. One has to wonder what kind of hunger or sugar craving would make someone make such an ersatz "pastry," especially since there's a Cosi AND a Starbuck's downstairs in the same building.

My question to you all then...what is the most creative "office minimalist cooking" that you've seen? Remember, you're only allowed to use one "primary" common ingredient. Poaching good stuff left over from other departments' meetings doesn't count. :D

Other acceptable examples: Impromteau "garlic bread" from a bagel with leftover garlic from ordered-in pizza, items involving extra soy sauce or duck sauce packets from Chinese takeout, etc...Bring em on!

posted by Jenonymous @ 7:52:00 PM

7:52:00 PM

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Saturday, August 21, 2004

Corporate Squatting: Another Way Wal-Mart Destroys the Competition

This could be a Wal-Mart near you

Okay, I know that Wal-Mart bashing is a sort of cheap shot--it's just so shooting-fish-in-a-barrel easy to do--but when I read this article (courtesy of Utne Reader), even my jaw dropped.

Entitled "Wal-Mart, What a Bargain," this gem from the progressive magazine Terrain has the usual list of disgusting facts about the chain that everyone loves to hate--but then I read down to this little-known fact:

"Once Wal-Mart stifles its competition in a region, it consolidates its holdings by vacating many of its stores. To limit competitors in the future, the leases of these dark Wal-Marts prevent them from being used for retail. Other uses for these massive windowless structures are limited.

"As of this February, Wal-Mart possesses 371 dead stores. Half of these buildings have been vacant for at least two years, and 21 percent have not been used for at least five years. Over that time, the number of dead Wal-Marts has risen 38 percent.

"In 1999 California had only one dead Wal-Mart; now it has a dozen. Supercenters would increase that number. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart opens a new store every 42 hours."

Now, even die-hard conservatives would have trouble spouting "free market" rhetoric in the face of this gross abuse of real estate law. Indeed, this is the grossest form of corporate welfare. Wal-Mart has shown that it can and will break every law that it can unitl it's forced to stop. The basic theory seems to be that if you're big enough and do enough bad things, as opposed to only one or two, you can get away with all of your transgressions.

This is a form of corporate malignancy at its worst, and puts a fine point on any "cancer" analogies. A huge store comes into a community, destroys the surrounding businesses, and then deliberatley goes out of business itself--but makes sure that nothing else can flourish in the space that it once occupied. Guess if you don't pay your workers enough to actually shop at your store, and put everyone else in an area out of work, you can't pay your own bills in the long run.

I am beyond even trying to figure out the reason, other than sheer spite, for this business "strategy."

Jen's prediction: The next big Wal-Mart lawsuit will be by a civic group that wants to use a "dark" Wal-Mart for some kind of retail--such as a market or swap area.

Yet another reason not to shop at Wal-Mart.

posted by Jenonymous @ 10:20:00 PM

10:20:00 PM

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Why I love the Union Square Greenmarket, and Local Produce in General

What I had for lunch when I got back

Okay, so here I am, messing around for the first time with the new Blogger engine since Steve got out of the hospital. Yesterday, I had a half-day at the office, so I went down to the Union Square Greenmarket before hitting a music event at the Cooper-Hewitt uptown. I had totally forgotten how great the produce--especially that from Upstate New York--is this time of year. Unfortunatley, I wasn't in a position to schlepp tons of soft, sun-warmed produce to the Upper East Side and then back to Queens. So, I resolved to go to bed earlyish, and make a pilgrimage back to 14th Street this afternoon before the predicted rain came.

I'm glad that I did. Now, granted, much of this food is NOT cheap, but a lot of it is, and it is all very much worth it. And, while heirloom tomatos are three to five times as pricey as the cottony, woody mutants in the supermarket, but taste like another item altogether. Also, I really do feel that we need to preserve the genetic diversity of what we eat, and this is a great way to do it, eat healthfully, and subsidize small farmers.

What you see above is only part of what I munched on--and, I only had half of that tomato, which was about the size of a human brain or a curled-up chihuaha. Now, these tomatos were not supermarket material--I had to carry my bag ginergly, lest it burst before I got it home. This particular merchant had three huge carts of mixed varities, arranged in flats. Another vendor had his piled high, all together:

That tomato, by the way, was fruity and the color of nectarines--yellow, orange, and red--inside. The other half went into some fresh succotash, but more on that later. Here's what I was able to get for the forthcoming few days:

--way too many heriloom tomatos (the only item that caused sticker shock--I gotta say, they're a great idea but not everyday fare)
--two bunches of carrots for a buck a bunch, bright yellow ones and deep purple ones. The purple ones are almost sweet, like pickled beets, while the yellow ones had an almost grassy herbish cast to them.
--purple basil (seen on the giant tomato, above)
--two different kinds of artesinal raw milk cheeses, a blue and a Dutch-style softer cheese, not unlike really good aged Edam
--a small, overpriced, but very tasty box of fresh mixed herb and greens sprouts
--a very reasonabley-priced bottle of hard cider from Ithaca, NY--and yes, they had samples--this type is a very dry type made from special cider apples.

What I want to get next time:

--mixed variety small eggplants from the same guy I got the tomatos from
--honey or beeswax from the Ithaca apiary guy
--more cheese
--sweet pea sprouts--very sweet, but very perishable; gotta eat em the day you buy them almost
--freerange-bred wild-variety ducks (mallards)
--pheasant eggs, if they're not sold out again
--gorgeous cultivated cut wildflowers
--mushrooms from one of the mushroom vendors
--another bottle of cider, maybe a different variety.
--mixed sweet and hot peppers from this guy:

What I did with all the stuff I got:

Pigged out on half of that huge tomato; had one or two tiny heirloom tomatos of another variety, had that all with bread and tiny slivers of artesnial cheese and a little wine, munched on a carrot afterwards.

Then I cooked some succotach with some okra that I needed to use, a few more of the most over-ripe tomatos, and some corn. It's cooling now on the stove. For the next few days I'll munch on the carrots, and make tomatos with basil for cheese sandwiches.

In any event, the whole episode cost less than a meal at a good restaurant, and it was more fun and hands-on. It's one of New York's more subtle, less-exploited pleasures.

Share your greenmarket stories here!


PS--and yes, this isn't a very serious post. But, I figured that it was time for me to tag something up, and why not another food post?

PPS--and yeah, didn't get my prosciutto either. Oh well.

PPPS--and yes, I took all of the pix myself, with my little cruddy 1.5 mp Kodak that I got as an "I'm sorry we f--d your order" gift from Dell, but that's another story....

posted by Jenonymous @ 5:18:00 PM

5:18:00 PM

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