Posts Tagged With: Oreo

Oreo Obsession

It will come as no surprise to regular readers (I do like to dream) that I am something of a junkie. But lest you think I use the term junkie in reference to my pharmaceutical day job, let me quickly clarify: I am an Oreo junkie.
If you will allow me to be even more specific, I’m not talking about the kind of junkie that always has to have Oreos around the house, and inhales them one bag after another. Rather, my obsession is more about the drive-by’s through the Oreo section of the grocery store cookie department on practically every visit, looking for new varieties – even if I’ve just run in for a jug of milk. (Especially if it’s just for a jug of milk, come to think of it.) To be fair, I also find myself in the freezer section to see what new, wild consortium of chunks and swirls Ben and Jerry have dreamed up since my last visit. And I will often swing the shopping-cart through the yogurt section because I prefer unusual yogurt flavors. The difference, however, between Oreos and…well…everything else, is that I almost always buy the new Oreo.
There is a certain percentage of purist in me that needs to state that no wild Oreo variation beats the original chocolate cookie with the white filling. That is indeed the standard by which all others are measured. And I will go further and say that the chocolate cookies are a notch higher than the golden versions, but let’s not get too crazy and throw the baby out with the bath water. The golden cookie may not have the eternal qualities of the original, but it’s still a doggone good cookie. So I check them, too.
It doesn’t matter if I’m on a diet. I will save them in a secret place until I fall off the wagon. (A fall which can be predicated by hiding them poorly from myself.) It doesn’t matter if I’m short on cash. The milk can wait. These are limited editions, for goodness sake, and if I put it off I might very well miss my shot. The diet can start again tomorrow, and if I have checks I have money, right?
Let’s narrow down this obsession a bit further. Unlike the holiday shapes of Reese’s cups, I don’t spend money on an Oreo shaped like a football. Pretty much the same cookie to crème ratio, so there’s no point. And the colors? Second verse, same as the first. Winter red, Halloween orange, and Spring yellow might be pretty at parties but that’s about all the advantage they have, and it’s not much. Ditto for the cute patterns and designs on the cookie proper – aesthetic value only. What I’m looking for are completely new taste experiences, which usually manifest in the form of creative crèmes.
One of my favorites is the Peppermint Holiday – chocolate cookie with bits of crushed peppermint in the crème. If I weighed a lot less, I could eat my weight in those. I dearly love the white-fudge-covered ones that also come out around Christmas. (And if I don’t see them, I make them at home.) The only downside is that every season there seem to be fewer and fewer cookies in the box. (Does this mean the Girl Scouts are involved? Hmmm.) Aside from those, I’ll try just about any flavor at least once (except coconut – don’t be silly).
As I am wont to do when I go on one of these rants, I do have one beef that must be aired. I was in a local store a few weeks ago and saw a pack of Oreos for sale at the cash register. Upon more careful scrutiny, I discovered it was not just a plain Oreo, it was “cookies and crème” flavored. Take a breath here, because I’m serious. The quintessential combination of cookie and creme, essentially unchanged since its inception over one hundred years ago, and both the inspiration for and crucial ingredient of “cookies and crème” ice cream, now comes flavored as itself. Can you imagine cake-flavored cake? I almost went against my nature and refused to buy it on principle. But the urge was too strong. I just had to know what an Oreo-flavored Oreo was all about. Guess what? (Don’t get ahead of me here…) It tasted like an Oreo. Shocker.

Full Circle: The Oreo-Flavored Oreo

Full Circle: The Oreo-Flavored Oreo

While I’m complaining, I’d like to know why we don’t get all the flavors at our local stores. I thought it would be great to have an orange-flavored cream, since chocolate and orange are a classic flavor combination. I looked it up and sure enough, somewhere in the world there is a Creamsicle-flavored Oreo. Ditto for Dulce de Leche, Dairy Queen Blizzard crème, and Golden candy corn. There are even organic Oreos. Just not within 20 miles of 39759, if the search function on the Oreo website is to be trusted.
If the Oreo people are reading this, I have another suggestion or two. How about a Mocha Oreo? Coffee-flavored crème with chocolate cookies would be a very nice combo. I am also a fan of raspberry and chocolate together. Strawberry has been done – let’s move on. Or maybe a ground-breaking crossover: hazelnut crème in partnership with Nutella. But if this is too much to ask, I would be happy enough to find the flavors that have already been created. If Starkville has a shot at Gigabit Internet, surely we can get a Creamsicle Oreo to celebrate.

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Dauphin Island, Part the Second

My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past weekend, on the 17th.  I think that’s a pretty big deal.  And I’m particularly excited that they got married, because otherwise we would not have been able to celebrate that milestone on Dauphin Island a couple of weekends ago.  Nor would I have been born, which was pretty important, too – at least to me.

If there is any activity that makes me hungry, it is swimming.  I’m not sure that floating around in the ocean or excavating the moat around my sand castle counts as real exercise, but somehow I got pretty hungry anyway.  Our lunches in the condo were tame but plentiful – sandwiches, chips and dips followed by two limited edition flavors of Golden Oreos– lemon crème and birthday cake.  (Nothing really beats an original Oreo, but I try not to let a new flavor come along without trying it at least once.)  As a side, I had a few bites of West Indies Crab Salad I’d picked up at Bayley’s restaurant on the way to the island.  It’s basically just crab meat and onions marinated in cider vinegar, oil and cold water, invented by Mr. Bayley back in 1947.  Simple but tasty, and also a check mark off one of my eat-it-before-you-die lists.

Our second evening there was family photo night.  We all donned our white tops and khaki bottoms and took as many shots as possible before dark-thirty, then caravanned to dinner.  Despite the legion of culinary options in Mobile, we chose to forgo the long drive and went across the street to Islanders.

The Family Reed, in official beach photo attire

The Family Reed, in official beach photo attire

We started with a big plate of fried crab claws, another family Dauphin Island tradition.  I should have been wary when it said “market price”.  But hey, we were celebrating.  For the main meal I found myself in a menu dilemma.  They had shrimp and grits, a dish that always grabs my attention.  Even when there are other enticing selections, I always wonder “what amazing rendition of shrimp and grits might I miss if I don’t order it here?”  The other option I was considering was a pork ribeye, which I had never seen on a menu before.  I figured I was at the beach so the seafood choice was the logical one.  The shrimp and grits were decent – they had little bits of Conecuh sausage mixed in, too, which added to the Alabama-ness of the whole thing.

The next morning was play-time in the kitchen.  Younger brother made pancake bites – little mini-muffins made from pancake batter, served with syrup.  I brought along my deep fryer and made donuts from canned biscuits – buttermilk Grands with a hole cut out of the center. I’m not usually a big fan of canned biscuits, but when you deep-fry them and pour on the glaze, they take on a new personality, one I would like to spend more time with.  So we had pancakes that were muffins and donuts that were biscuits.  Twisted but fun.

At dinner we went back to the ocean, so to speak.  Skinner’s Seafood, just down from the hotel, provided us with local grouper filets – some we fried and some we blackened for fish tacos.  We also brought home steamed shrimp, which Younger Brother combined with an oven roast of corn cobettes and the tiniest little potatoes I’ve ever seen, for a spin on a low country tradition.  Needless to say, we ate long and well.  Again.  Thank goodness I got up at dawn to run ten miles on the beach every morning.  Right.  Dessert was chocolate cobbler and homemade vanilla ice cream which didn’t really want to freeze.  It was more like vanilla milkshake poured over chocolate cobbler.  But does that sound bad?  Nope.  It was just fine.

After a quick snack breakfast the next morning we checked out and headed for the end of the island to catch the ferry over to Gulfshores.  While we waited, we all got ice cream at the little monopoly shop at the ferry departure point, because it’s never too early in the day for ice cream.  Besides, it was hot, and that Coke float was just what Dr. Jay ordered.  Literally, that’s what I ordered.  They didn’t get it wrong.

Younger Brother and fam headed to points east, while we cut north to Foley.  We had some last-minute school shopping to do at the outlets, and had our sights set on Lambert’s Café for lunch.  Since we’d just had ice cream, we waited till mid-afternoon to go and the parking lot was still packed to the gills.  Once we were seated, they began bringing the “pass-arounds” – fried okra that they spoon out on the middle of the table on a paper towel, and the famous “throwed rolls”.  If you haven’t been to Lambert’s before, you need to be a little wary.  They throw the rolls.  Across the room.  They are amazingly accurate throwers, but one toss to Son ended up smacking me directly on the right ear.  Another hit Doc on the head, split in two, sending one half spinning  directly into Daughter’s hands.  The Wife took one for the team directly on the chest.  And the food just kept coming.  I considered sustaining myself solely on the pass-arounds – macaroni with tomatoes, black-eyed peas, cabbage, fried potatoes with onions.  That would have more than filled me up.  But I noticed they had deep-fried hog jowls.   How could I not order that?  The server described them as similar to thick-sliced bacon, and that’s essentially what appeared – a plate full of curled pieces of thick fried bacon.  Wow.

Lambert's Deep-Fried Hog Jowls, with a little sorghum for dippin'

Lambert’s Deep-Fried Hog Jowls, with a little sorghum for dippin’

I’d love you to believe that I came home and ate low-fat yogurt and salads with no appreciable dressing for the next week, or that I actually ran those early-morning miles on the beach.  But some of you have seen me since that weekend and you know better. It was worth the sacrifice to celebrate such a big day.  Happy 50th, Mama and Daddy!

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The Summer Push

I didn’t expect so much pushing this summer. Pushing my way through a wall of heat to get to my car. At 730 am. Pushing a mower around the yard, through the aforementioned wall of heat. Pushing my kids to get out of bed when I go home for lunch. And lots of pushing other people’s suitcases.
From the last day of school through the 4th of July weekend, there have been just fourteen days when all four of us have had feet on the ground in Starkville. And for the rest of the summer? No change in sight. We have a few more “together days” calendared out before the travel starts up again, then it’s back to school. And I’m good with that – really I am – even though the extent of my personal participation in these summer excursions has been scarce. That means I don’t have a lot of travel food stories to share here in the heart of the season, but as this summer’s token homebody, culinary opportunities of another sort have come my way.
For most of the first two weeks of summer The Wife was the one flying the friendly skies, leaving me in charge of feeding the munchkins. In the past it was easy: I would proclaim it Hot Dog Week and tune my creativity towards developing a multitude of hot dog recipes without repetition. But as I have previously mentioned, Daughter has been convinced that a person’s taste buds change once every seven years (overnight, to hear her tell it) and apparently the hot dog-loving bud left the building after that special week. Who could blame it, really?
This time I had a simple goal: create space. That meant using every possibly edible item in our cabinets, refrigerator and freezer while at the same time going to the grocery only for the essentials. In other words, every meal was an episode of Chopped.
Our first weekend as a wife-and-mom-less crew was Memorial Day. There were lima beans that had been in the freezer for way too long. I was of a mind to do something creative, and pulled up a cobweb-draped memory of a lima bean puree. I did some digging and found a recipe for lima bean hummus, made much the same way as ordinary hummus, with tahini and olive oil, the main differences being the featured legume and the type of seasoning. The resulting dip was a little sweeter than chick-pea hummus, a lot greener, and a bit more complex due to the mix of herbs I happened to have on hand. It was a big hit with Mama and Aunt Kathy. Score one.
Another major freezer-space eater was three bags of chicken wings I had accumulated from Beaverdam Farms. I had never done wings before, but the words “never before” are not very strong deterrents these days. The other deciding factor was the deep fryer. The Wife is not opposed to fried food, but we have an open floor plan, and she is not fond of the deep-fried aroma it spreads throughout the house. (I, on the other hand, am on the lookout for Scentsy to create a Hot Fat fragrance.) The timing was perfect and I was thrilled with how they turned out. I already had multiple barbecue sauces handy and made some buffalo-ish sauce with melted butter and Sriracha. As a side I thin-sliced potatoes and beets and made chips. The beets were almost tolerable that way. And I managed to get the fryer cleaned up and put away before The Wife returned. Score two.
Lest any reader may have seen me at the grocery store during these two weeks, I suppose I should define what I mean by essentials. If you were guessing milk and bread, you’d be mostly right. But as a reward for all the room I was making in our pantry, I allowed myself to test a few limited edition ideas.
I have a love-hate relationship with Pop-Tarts. I love them. That’s the love part. And allow me to say that any Pop-Tart without frosting is an abomination, unless you are planning to batter and fry it and drizzle it with caramel sauce. And even if I might, I bet you aren’t. I hate that I cannot keep a box of them in the house for more than about 24 hours. I will eat them three times a day if they are within reach. Breakfast pack, snack pack, dessert pack. Finis. It was even worse when I discovered the new “Gone Nutty” variety with chocolate frosting and peanut butter filling. Oh my gluten. Score three.
Then came the Strawberries and Cream-flavored Oreos. I rarely buy original Oreos unless I need them for a recipe, for much the same reason I rarely buy Pop-Tarts. It’s because I love them. But if I go to the store, I almost always check to see what new flavor combo has arrived, and there are precious few that I have missed. Score F’oreo.
How about those little cups of mini cookies? Oreos, Nutter Butters, Chips Ahoy? If you ever use the Express Lane at Kroger, you can’t miss them. Comic Tim Hawkins confirmed something via Twitter that I had never considered, but should have: “dumping a package of mini-Nutter Butters in milk and eating it like cereal IS delicious.” Turns out you have to eat them pretty fast or the cookie part turns to mush, but that’s no reason not to go for it. Not to be outdone, the mini-Oreos were fabulous smothered with a combination of Activia strawberry yogurt (for the health) and a Dannon Strawberry Explosion yogurt drink (for flavor and texture). Cinco de Score-o.
Bless my heart, I have run out of space and haven’t told you what The Wife ate on her trip. Stay tuned. And be afraid.

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