Frontier Former Editor

May 22, 2011

I feel like John Cleese, except for the ability to utter curt profanities at stupid teenagers . . .

Filed under: cuisine, decorum, ersatz food, fast food, food, food extenders, fun stuff, humor, Monty Python — Frontier Former Editor @ 5:46 pm

Sometimes truth is stranger than the Cheese Shop sketch.

As I stopped by the local national-chain sandwich shop this evening to get a fast dinner (don’t laugh too hard if you’ve been to Subway before), I decided that the remaining raspberry cheesecake cookies on the counter rack looked relatively appetizing. I asked for three, and the young lady proceeded to get tongs and remove them.

“That’s fine,” I replied.

“They’re very crumbly,” she said.

Decision time. Should I follow the trail blazed by Mr. Cleese four decades earlier and just blurt out, “I don’t care how ****ing crumbly they are! Bring  on the raspberry cheesecake cookies with all due haste and speed!”?

Answer: “That’s fine.”

I’m sure she either didn’t comprehend the ironic smile on my face, or else she called the police and I’m being surveilled for sexual harassment.

August 22, 2009

I’m glad I had my arm twisted to watch “Julie and Julia” . . .

Filed under: cinema, cooking, cuisine, food — Tags: , , , , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 11:31 pm

if only to behold, within a 2-hour span:

1) the sight of Meryl Streep and an incredible simulation of a mutated Jami-Gertz lookalike laughing and cutting up like a pair of delirious giant cassowaries or Miss Hathaways;

2) the odd sight of Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci sitting together in a tub full of suds;

3) the impressive sight of Meryl Streep boning a duck (a scene done only once before by Lea Thompson in “Howard the Duck,” and with far less deliberation and brutality than by Ms. Streep);

4) a delicious-sounding way to reduce butter;

5) aforementioned duck encased in pastry;

6) Ms. Streep’s superhuman restraint from patting Mr. Tucci’s head like he was Jackie Wright on The Benny Hill Show;

7) a reminder why I’ll eat a poached egg only over my own dead, decomposing body;

8 ) another chance to see the Dan Ackroyd takeoff on “The French Chef” and to laugh harder and in a more-informed manner than the twenty-somethings sitting in front of me (that’ll teach the little bahstahds to look at their cell phone screens while the house lights are off);

9) the spectacle of Frenchmen actually being polite and nice to an American, and;

10) a damn fine recipe for beef boulignon stew.

And to think the young pseudo-adults from my workplace I saw at the theater were saying how much they were gonna get into “G.I. Joe – The Rise of Cobra.”

December 12, 2008

Hot oily hens, or chicken soup for the dumbass

Yes, one of the entries in David Letterman’s ‘Book of Top Ten Lists’ for new marketing names for KC has finally come true.

Rub a dub dub, three idiots in a sink
Rub a dub dub, three idiots in a sink

According to the New York Daily News:

“Four months after a Burger King employee lost his job for taking a bubble bath in a restaurant sink, three scantily clad teens were fired when they turned a basin at their northern California KFC into their personal hot tub.

“They landed in hot water with the chicken chain’s management when one of the bikini-clad dimwits made the same mistake as the Ohio Burger King employee – she posted photos of the dippy escapade on MySpace.

“The photos included captions such as “haha KFC showers!” and “haha we turned on the jets,” and were filed under a gallery called “KFC moments,” according to the Record Searchlight newspaper in Redding, Calif.

“The story broke before the unidentified girl could scrub public access to her profile. On her MySpace page, the girl listed herself as a 17-year-old worker at the Anderson KFC near Redding.

“”I’m a KFC worker, they are my best friends and my family,” she said on her site.”

 

Guess I’m doing Taco Bell for lunch today.

July 31, 2008

The Roy Rogers tryptych, continued . . .

Filed under: dumbasses, food, food extenders, humor, observations, old times, semi humor — Tags: , , , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 11:31 pm

Of people who should have been locked out of Roy Rogers’ Restaurants.

 

I’ve already mentioned the manager who thought it was clever to order two of the same brush for completely different cleaning tasks, but there are others in the distant past of the Double R Bar who cast their own unique pall.

Going North

Remember Oliver North? When I was on my first assignment at the Sterling, Va. Roy Rogers, Lt. Col. North (USMC, ret’d) was also a federal criminal suspect and indictee for running what amounted to a money-laundering, conspiracy and arms sales enterprise with an official enemy state. North also picked a warm, midsummer evening in 1988 to enter the establishment while I was the evening shift manager.

Coming to the counter with his long-suffering wife Marilyn in tow, North ordered a Double R Bar Burger, fries and a drink and, if I remember correctly, a two-piece chicken dinner for his wife. Straining to maintain a socially acceptable face, I informed him that it would be a minute, gave them their drinks and said I would bring their food and free refills out shortly.

North is still alive and I don’t have an attempted murder charge on my public record, so you probably can figure out that things went well. But the thoughts racing through my mind?

– Can I smuggle a kitchen knife to Mrs. North in hopes that she’ll take the opportunity to plunge it into his chest in a last gasp of marital despair?

– Is the meat slicer dull enough that there are metal chips  and shavings that I can conceal in the slice of ham on top of his Double R Bar Burger or in the ice in his free drink refill?

– Could, hope upon hope, a motorist be about to lose control and smash his vehicle into the very section of dining room occupied by North’s torso and head?

– Did I forget to have that out-of-date case of country-style frozen quarter-pound (weight before cooking) all beef patties taken to the dumpster instead of being placed in the grill ready cooler at 4 p.m.?

– Will he simply die of cardiovascular failure from the stress of worrying how a Marine officer will fare at the hands of Leavenworth inmates enraged that he actually helped arm Shi’ite Iranian forces.

– Could I catch him unawares and crush his larynx with the edge of a serving tray?

The preceding took about 15 seconds to process. Finally I thought, ‘screw it, maybe the cholesterol’ll drop his ass like a sandbag.’

So much for my chance to alter history for the better.

 

Wireless is the future, I tell ya!

My time at the Sterling establishment ended a few weeks after the case of the FCC broadcast regulations bandit. That particular store had been chosen as a test site for wireless headphones and mikes for the drive-through. They were about as wireless and portable as Marconi’s first wireless transmitter, which meant that we had to have two thirty-meter towers with several hundred yards of antenna . . . sorry, that was the Roy Rogers extra low frequency site to communicate with the nation’s strategic missile submarines.

Anyway, the male and female drive-through cashiers got to tighten those glutes hauling around a three-pound battery-transmitter fanny pack while being able to wander around the front and take orders through the miracle of modern wireless electronics. Until the bandit struck.

I and another manager were standing near the front when we heard the drive-through repeater speaker emit: “Welcome to Roy Rogers and f*** you very much!”

Before we could run and choke the drive-through cashier, we saw she was in shock as well. And then all three of us heard: “You heard me c***s***er! What the hell do you want?!”

Apparently we had a radio enthusiast in the area who happened to pick up our frequency (Kenneth, perchance?) and decided to engage in a little recreational signal interference. Of course, our equipment couldn’t be switched to another frequency, and we had to end our test run. Apparently, corporate HQ had less of a sense of humor than some of us, and the Federal Communications Commission sent down a cat detector van to see if we could smoke out the bandit, to no avail.

 

AIDS is no excuse for being an asshole.

At Warrenton’s Roy Rogers, besides facing dairy cultures and people with no situational awareness related to cooking devices, we had the HIV-positive kitchen worker.

Now, in order to clear up any misconceptions then or now, I don’t feel that AIDS or HIV in and of itself is necessarily a reason to ban people from employment in most areas of the workforce. It was established even in the late 1980s that simply being near an infected person or shaking their hand or bumping into them wasn’t going to spread the virus (although Ebola may have been another matter, but I’ll leave that to the folks in Reston).

That said, the franchise owner was worried about the civil liability implications and asked me what to do. I said that it really shouldn’t be an issue as long as he follows proper food sanitation procedures and Centers for Disease Control recommendations to minimize potential for exposure (ie. don’t bleed or secrete on the food, puh-leeze).

What complicated things was that, in fact, said worker apparently failed to inform the store manager at the time of hiring that he was infected – a point that fell in a gray area of Virginia public health law and regulations about reportage of diseases posing a public health hazard. But the potential threat of “I’ll sue” from the guy ultimately left him with his job.

Of course, the worker occasionally and helpfully reminded me that I shouldn’t discriminate against him in duties and advancement because he was, in fact, disabled by his infection both physically and by the potential civil ostracism and persecution that could arise from his condition. While he showed no ill physical effects, I played it cool and things were on a fairly even keel.

One evening, moments before closing, a customer came through the drive-through and ordered a burger. The grill had just been cleaned and turned off by said worker, despite my standing instructions and corporate policy that the kitchen is open until closing.

“Tell him we’re out of food,” he said to me.

“I’ve got a better idea,” I countered. “Fry him a burger, now.”

I returned to the window to take the customer’s money and give him his drink. Turning around to check on the burger’s progress, I saw the worker extracting a crispy meat patty from the french fryer and assembling the burger.

“Uh, what are you doing,” I asked.

“Making the burger,” he said.

“We don’t do it that way,” I offered.

“We do tonight,” he said.

“No, we don’t,” I observed.

Then he tossed down the gauntlet: “You’re looking for a reason to fire me because I have AIDS.”

Having looked for ways to actually give him a chance to make a living during a time when everyone else on the country seemed to be looking for excuses not to keep AIDS-infected people on the payroll (and having been awake for 15 hours and looking forward to an hour drive home), I was not amused. I went over, turned on the grill, and said something to the effect that “You are going to cook this burger properly and without contaminating the fryer with raw meat while I go apologize for the delay and refund his money.”

He indicated that I was again using this as an excuse for getting rid of him because he was infected with AIDS.

“No,” I replied. “I’m firing you because you’re insubordinate and incompetent.”

I’ve not been amused about it since, either.

Anyway . . .

July 30, 2008

Addenda, or how to get murdered by ax

My last assignment at Roy Rogers was as a senior assistant mgr/troubleshooter at the franchise Roy’s in Warrenton, Virginia. Besides having the pleasure of that holiest of rarities in Northern Virginia – going to work on I-66 when everyone was leaving and thus having an relatively empty highway out of Fairfax County – I got to see just how well a franchisee adhered to Marriott/Roy Rogers quality standards.

Of course, during my first week, I tried to sample the milkshake/soft serve machine and was told by one of the hired hands that it didn’t work .

“And why doesn’t it work?” I asked gently, sensing that the question might be construed as an attempt to elicit sensitive information.

“Well, the health inspector told us it was broken,” said hand replied cautiously.

“I see,” I said, already knowing the worst. “Did he happen to leave a note as to why it was broken?”

The lucky employee led me back to the store office, where I discovered the inspection and safety file book for the establishment. Sure enough, the last inspection report included words such as ‘bacteria count,’ ‘odor,’ and ‘final warning.’

I told the employee that it was his lucky day, and gave him some petty cash and a shopping list including stiff-bristle toothbrushes (a running theme with my days at the Double R Bar . . .), a gallon of bleach and three surgical masks.

Upon his return, he, I and another employee unlucky enough to answer ‘not much’ when I asked what he was doing pulled the machine to the back of the kitchen. Amazingly enough, the tool kit for the machine’s maintenance was as it had never been used – well maybe it made perfect sense. I removed the side panels and immediately was forced into a Hobson’s choice: vomit or laugh and vomit.

There was enough curd to supply several varieties of repulsive European cheeses to the next 20 wine tasting parties in Warrenton’s fox-hunting community. I’d only expected cheese for 10 parties.

Suffice it to say we got the machine clean, sanitary and sparkling in about an hour. I surprised myself in my ability to motivate two teenagers to get off their “lazy, filthy asses and don’t ever let something like this happen on my watch again or I’ll run you through the goddamn roast beef slicer on ‘shaved’ setting – you got that?!!!!” Well, it was calmer and not quite as blue, but the sense of murderous intent got across.

One day later, we were serving milkshakes, sundaes and strawberry shortcakes (Stiletto and Sled will remember those . . .).

After that, things went amazingly well given that I demonstrated that I could scrub cream cheese from machinery with the best of them.

Then there was the day of the flaming chicken fryer (another theme in my career at the Double R Bar).

It was after the dinner rush (maybe Neil Young could get another album title out of that), and I’d asked the first employee mentioned earlier in this post to drain, clean and refill the chicken fryer with shortening. The process is relatively simple: you turn off the fryer, screw in a drain spout at the bottom of the fryer, open the spout valve and drain the oil into a filter/pump, spray filtered oil back into the fryer until the solids were drained, turn off the pump, scrub out the fryer, close the valve, disconnect the drain and filter, pack solid shortening back into the fryer, turn on the power until shortening is melted, add shortening to bring it to full, turn off the power and close the lid.

They did pretty well except for one step – the first one about turning off the fryer. Within seconds of draining the fryer, the heating elements managed to ignite the film of oil left after draining. Naturally, smoke drifted throughout the store and the fire alarm went off while I was sweeping the dining room. I ran back and saw employee 1 and his buddy standing and wondering what to do.

I said “DO THIS!” and cut the power and closed the lid. Just then I heard a banging at the back door. I opened the door and was greeted with a firefighter poised to chop a hole in the door with a fire ax. The ax, of course, was aimed pretty much at my sternum.

I turned, looked at number one employee and said, “It’s for you.”

July 29, 2008

Phuc’ing around

Another entry in the “I kid you not” department.

About 20 years ago, I took a professional side trip as an assistant manager for the Roy Rogers fast food chain.

During one phase of that side trip, I was one of three assistant managers at the Reston, Virginia Roy Rogers (roughly a Northern Virginia hour’s drive time from Stiletto’s favorite strip joint). One of its claims to fame – okay, its only claim to fame – was its proximity to the first U.S. research lab to bring a strain of the Ebola virus into the country, although officials claimed it was fatal only to primates.

(Insert your own joke here – I could have filled the space with days of comments)

One of our most industrious workers was a young gentleman named Phuc Yu (thus the “I kid you not” designation for today’s story). While the first part of his name suggested a Vietnamese ancestry, the ‘Yu’ portion left enough doubt so that I refrained from stereotyping.

Phuc’s primary assignment was chicken fryer, a task which he learned quickly and by which we actually served a fairly decent fried chicken to the herds of yuppies roaming the Reston area during lunch time. If Ebola was one of our secret herbs and spices, it didn’t cause any of our regulars to collapse, weep blood and ooze liquefied organs.

Phuc could turn out trays of chicken in prodigious quantities, making him a handy guy to have around during weekday lunch rush, as was the case that fateful summer day in 1989. The lunch crowd had started assembling in our cafeteria style line in anticipation of our best selling three-piece all-white dinner, and Phuc had already fried up 16 trays of chicken (eight chickens x eight pieces per bird = 64 pieces a tray [32 pieces of white meat], or 1024 pieces of chicken in the ready locker].

A week prior to that day, our brilliant manager had decided to replace cleaning brushes and save a little money by buying two long-handled heat-resistant synthetic-bristle brushes. Upon their arrival, the brushes were lovingly marked on their respective handles as “For chicken fryer use only” and “For restroom use only.”

Phuc always followed the standard Roy Rogers Restaurant procedure of brushing the sides of the fryer free of batter fragments after every two trays of chicken and filtering the oil and brushing the fryer after every four runs of chicken. As lunch shift manager, I was doing my walkthrough of the kitchen and saw Phuc doing the brush cycle. As I watched Phuc approvingly, my eye wandered to the brush and saw the letters above his hand: FOR RES.

Standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the serving line, with about 70 customers for an audience, I lunged toward the brush and yelled . . . . “PHUC YUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!”

I’m pretty sure the shock of my homynymnal outburst served to distract the customers from the sight of me locking the chicken holding cabinet  with its 1024 pieces of chicken out of the kitchen and toward the back door to join the contents of our dumpster.

I kid you not.

July 13, 2008

Unusual chicken recipes

Filed under: cool stuff, cuisine, educational stuff, food, gasoline, humor — Tags: , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 10:36 am

Well, maybe two chicken recipes that somehow came to mind after ~M mentioned beer can chicken in a recent post.

Parachute Can Chicken

Ingredients:

  • One (1) freshly killed, roughly-plucked chicken
  • One Parachute Can, or metal cylindrical container of roughly 5-10 gallon internal capacity
  • One (1) stick
  • One (1) gallon of gasoline
  • Sufficient tinder/dry vegetation/flammable materials to form a large pile around and on top of parachute can.

This was related to me by my Scoutmaster, who was then an active-duty Marine and fresh off of a tour in Force Recon.

Snatch a chicken (preferably the noisiest bird) from nearby village, behead, drain, gut and pull off as many feathers as possible while distancing self from villagers. Drive stick into ground and suspend chicken on stick. Place can/container over chicken/stick arrangement. Pile tinder/dry vegetation/flammable material over can, soak in gasoline and light.

Chicken should flash-cook as fire superheats air in can. As soon as fire burns out, knock over can, grab chicken and eat on the run. Meat should be hot yet pink (alright, bloody red) at bone. Feeds one fire team.

 

Stove-off chicken breast

  • One boneless chicken breast
  • One packet of crab/lobster boil, or two tablespoons of favorite spice blend

Bring medium size saucepan of water to rolling boil. Add packet or spices and chicken breast, cover tightly, and turn off heat. Let set 5-8 minutes then remove. Goes with just about anything you want.

 

You probably won’t find these at Chick-Fil-A, although I’ve been at one or two KFC’s where people hinted at recipe 1 being standard procedure.

June 22, 2008

Let them eat cake.

Filed under: food, old times — Tags: , , , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 8:28 am

No, I really mean it. Let them eat two of the best damn cakes ever conceived in the South.

Max and Stiletto managed to fire me back 37 years in the old wayback machine with a brief exchange on red velvet cake.

Yeah, I like French and Viennese pastries, strudel, baklava, donuts, hot cross buns and all sorts of baked goods from around the world. But there are two delicacies that stand toe-to-toe with anything any country can produce to throw off your blood sugar levels.

courtesy of www.roadfood.com

Red velvet cake is best enjoyed in your mom’s or grandma’s or aunt’s kitchen with a glass of cold milk. It beats even a good old-fashioned Nilla Wafer banana pudding. As my grad school roomie once said in a comparative discourse on pizza and mutual oral gratification, even when it’s bad, hey, it’s pretty good. And when it’s good, red velvet cake will take our mind off just about anything else.

And for reference, I’m pretty sure my great aunt’s recipe for red velvet cake included lots of Crisco, red food coloring and Hershey’s cocoa.

 

And there’s molasses stack cake . . .

courtesy of gotricites.com

My grandmother would make me a stack cake if I even mentioned the words ‘stack cake’ in passing. She’d tell me to go find a good pint jar of homemade molasses, which around here only took a day or so after mentioning to a friend or acquaintance that ‘hey, I’m looking for some molasses.’

When you look up stack cake, you’re going to get thirty different stories and names and variants of how “this is the true stack cake.’  They’re all true, but my grandmother’s recipe was simple, cheap and took damn near all day to make because of the number of layers (six to eight in her recipe) to bake, and me having to wash the bowl of all that molasses.

Now, you’ll see all sorts of recipies declare that you have to have homemade apple butter or cooked dried apples to make the filling. My grandmother used White House applesauce from the jar, and her stack cake tatsed as good if not better than ‘authentic Appalachian’ stack cake I’ve had at Appalachian ‘cultural fairs.’ She made it the same way everyone else makes it around here – with what you have on hand. I could go on about the Zen of making stack cake, but she made it and it was good every time.

I’m hungry, in more ways than you know.

 

November 18, 2007

Collected observations

Filed under: bald white guys, economy, food, Joan Crawford, Michael Mukasey, music, Nigella Lawson, observations — Frontier Former Editor @ 12:26 pm

Sorry for the disappearance, but I’ve had various family and professional matters to handle.

I won’t engage you in tedium about those, especially since I have other tedium to provide here today. It’s amazing what dumb stuff bubbles to the surface, so here’s a collection from the last two weeks.

* After careful consideration. I think the most emblematic song of the 1980’s is . . . .

  (more…)

October 17, 2007

The Reese’s Cup is dying!

Filed under: candy, death of an American icon, dumbasses, ersatz food, food, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup — Frontier Former Editor @ 2:07 pm

Okay folks, it’s almost as bad as buying a Ford the last decade or so. Or almost as bad as Harley Davidsons had sunk in quality until about 10 or 15 years ago. Or so bad that Gibbon should have written another volume of “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” specifically to address this.

dead-reese-cup.jpg

The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is going to hell in a handbasket.

I made this profound observation while attempting to eat one at work today. It’s bad enough that the makers have trimmed the diameter by at least a quarter inch in the last year.

In the good old days, and even as recently as a year or so ago, a Reese’s cup could cover almost all of the top of a soda can. An Eisenhower silver dollar could damn near hide the current production version of the Reese’s cup.

[Note: If you’re from the South or at least corrupted by long-term exposure south of Falls Church, Va., it’s pronounced ree-see kup.]

And my attempt to eat one today . . . let’s just say that shucking and slurping a raw oyster would have been easier and neater.

Used to be that you could open the wrapper of a Reese’s cup with one finger, and that the cup would separate cleanly from the wax paper cup cradling it. You could nibble away at the candy at your leisure (ambient air temperature allowing, of course.).

The goddam excuse of a Reese’s cup I ate today had semi-bonded to the wax paper. That came after trying to separate the fused flaps of the now all-plastic wrapper.

The technique for eating a new, improved Reese’s cup involves debonding a portion of the cup’s perimeter and then scraping the contents away with your front teeth before trying to taste and swallow the now-crushed candy.

No leisurely enjoyment. The process now makes you feel like an anteater with a mouthful of dirt and panicky ants.

It’s a goddamn shame when your country’s leaders can’t even handle basic colonialism and your candy industry can’t even handle a simple goddamn peanut butter cup.

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