Rutgers Day is April 26, 2014

True confession time:  my original plan for the letter “R” was NOT Rutgers Day, but I had a stroke of genius when I woke up from my first nap of the day on Saturday and said, “Stop the presses!  It’s the perfect time to talk about New Jersey.”  The timing could not be better, because if you don’t have any plans this Saturday, April 26, you might want to swing by and check it out.  Rutgers is our state university, and although I’m not an alum I am a huge fan and booster of education in general.   Here’s the link if you want to see the official event. (or just Google Rutgers Day 2014)

A few tips:

1.  If you have kids go early — the shebang starts at 10 AM and there is free parking if you start at Cook campus (Bristol Myers Squibb is usually a good neighbor. They open their lots for parking), but you have to schlep.  If you are traveling with  small children (or cranky adults with short legs), bring the stroller or a wagon.

2.  Your four-legged family members are welcome provided they are on leash and happy socializing.   You’ll get the chance to see cows, pigs and sheep being shown by animal husbandry students.  Yep — right off Route 1, smack in the middle of New Jersey!

3.  You will also find a wagon handy if you want to shop the plant sale.   You can get your tomato seedlings or some nice annuals, but they do sell out (another advantage to visiting early).  Many of the student-run clubs and organizations will have fund-raising events and products on-hand.  I try to find the Toxicology Club  to check out their newest tee-shirt offering.  You’ll also come across used book sales, too…. oh, and come hungry because….

4.  On Douglass Campus you’ll find the Folk-Fest, food trucks and artisans/craftspeople…… no surprise this is where I spend the bulk of my time with good friends who like to eat and don’t mind sharing.  Remember to pick up a bag of fresh, warm kettle corn on your way out.  See if it makes it home, I dare you.

5.  The day runs until 4 PM — and it’s HUGE!  I never make it past Cook/Douglass myself, but there are shuttle buses to the other campus venues.  Great people and animal watching.  I can’t think of a better way to welcome spring.





Quinoa: Charming Botanical Stranger With a Funky Name

Q is a tough prompt, but I learned a bunch of fun facts about this interesting “complete food.”  Some of these are from Wikipedia, which is full of fun facts in its own way.

  1. First off — it’s pronounced “keen- wa.”  Although I always want to rhyme it with “Winona” (as in Winona Ryder) when I see it in print.
  2. Quinoa is a chenopod, and a closer botanical relative of beets and spinach than wheat.
  3. It is 15% protein, and chock full of amino acids, magnesium and calcium.  And it is gluten free.
  4. Some Bolivian quinoa was deemed kosher for Passover after it was determined that it was grown far enough away from wheat to be free of leavening contaminants.
  5. 2013 was the International Year of Quinoa — so proclaimed the UN General Assembly — in recognition of the people of the Andes who have been cultivating quinoa for centuries and with practices to ensure its production for future generations.
  6. You can choose from “creamy” or “crunchy” options when preparing your quinoa depending on how much water you use and how vigorously you boil it.  Do not be intimidated by its beige-y coloring — it is a little bit chewy and a little bit crunchy.  I think of it as the hipster love-child of brown rice and oatmeal.

I’d like to wish all Nap followers a joyous Easter and Passover.  This past winter was really tough on us in the US so these holidays feel even more precious when we can feel the sun on our pasty, wan faces.


Wheat Germ Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Facebook

I almost flipped my vacuum-packed lid when I read that Kretschmer Wheat Germ is planning a social media campaign to re-introduce its delicious product to a new generation.  Agreed:  I don’t want to see this tasty pantry staple go the way of The Edsel or Ship N ‘Shore blouses, because I love it in my yogurt and on my cereal.   But I remember my earthy paternal grandmother introducing it to me in home-bake breads eaten at her well-worn kitchen table.  PR gurus feel it is a challenge to re-introduce a “classic brand.”  Aside from the fact that we only have so many earthy, home-baking grandmothers to go around, the old-skool print media campaigns with dense copy blocks describing features & benefits won’t work in these days of sound-bite media.  Yeah, I have to agree:  “Remarkable food helps people over 40 enjoy vibrant living” is not a compelling tag line.  How about:  “Wheat Germ:  It Never Left.”  or “Wheat Germ: Glass Jar Keeps It Fresh After the Zombie Apocalypse.”

Facebook’s timeline format is perfect for a heritage brand — if you like scrolling back to 1936.  If we’re talking about getting the youth vote I’m inclined to think their attention spans are not THAT long.   You might as well tell them to ask Nana and Pop-Pop to tell you about their experiences with fiber back in the old days.  No ~ my suggestion to the wheat germ publicity people is to cut right to the toasty heart of their product:

  1. It tastes great, and is a food made out of food with no additives.
  2. It comes in a real glass jar that you can recycle into an impromptu vase or use it to hold vanilla beans or old nuts and bolts ~ when it’s finally empty because each jar contains 26 servings .  (WHAT AN ECO-FRIENDLY VALUE!)
  3. When you go to the supermarket it is always in the same convenient location next to the oatmeal.
  4. There are only 2 kinds:  Original Toasted (Red lid) and Honey Crunch (Blue lid) and the lid colors have no political affiliation.

This post has made me  a tad peckish:  Ima gonna mix up some Greek yogurt with some toasted wheat germy goodness.  Join me?


Good Omens

Today is feeling like a pretty good day.  Maybe it’s the natural order order of things post-Friday the 13th, but a couple of things I’d consider to be good omens have occurred:

1. I replaced my toothbrush on the same day as I opened a new tube of toothpaste.  I don’t know about you, but those last few pitiful squeezes you execute with the old tube are so challenging.  And there’s usually a collar of dried toothpaste with some lint up at the top that keeps that last dollop from plopping out into your brush.  You know, when you stop actively squeezing and the paste drops back into the tube?   You know it happens to all of us who don’t like to waste anything. But, Ahhhh!  The feeling of a new toothbrush is just the best!

2. The post-Easter clearance rack at Wegmans means half-price Peeps!!!  So I got me a pack of green ones.  I love these colorful and extra-sweet marshmallow chickees!  More so to look at than eat actually. Because I have to brush the sticky, sucrose-created bio-film off my teeth soon after eating them.

3. The weather is super nice out today and this weekend leads up to my favorite day on the township sanitation calendar: BULK PICK-UP DAY!!! Where you can leave ANYTHING on the curb and it will be whisked away!  As much as a dame like me loves a trip to the town dump, I like it much better when I only have to haul my garbage to the curb.  So the G-man will be dismantling an old treadmill in between sneezing fits and garage-purging.  Me?  I’ll be inside catching up on Words With Friends and old issues of Rolling Stone.

Oh, and this is my 51st post!  Thank you, my elite army of Nappers for hanging around!

An Army for Good!

The Super Bowl of Madison Avenue

Regardless of how you feel about the outcome of the Super Bowl (or even if you care), last night was a great night to observe American culture at its best (or worst).  The Super Bowl is its own little stimulus plan for us to get over the hump until Presidents’ Day (and the Oscars) in February.  It is a day to delight in the creativity of Madison Avenue. I’m not going to embed any video of these ads, in part because of copyright, but also because I’m not shilling for any of these products.  Also, this is just my opinion, and you-all are entitled to yours as well.  So here goes:

  • What is GoDaddy trying to tell me about their product?  To this day I still have no clue, but I’m sure I don’t need it.
  • Some of the lines from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off  have become part of my family’s daily lexicon, but I thought this Honda spot was just trying too hard to get all of them in.  And frankly, Ferris isn’t the funniest character in the movie….Mr. Rooney is.
  • I can’t include any spot with the NBC logo embedded in it because they totally abuse their “host station” position… really, just SMASH me already!!   But Betty White can do no wrong as “The Voice.”  Yes, she is so much more than a hot body.
  • Speaking of hot bodies, David Beckham, shot in B&W in his new tighty-whities for H&M.   In the words of Dr. Jedi, always the scientist, “Now, that’s somebody who should be sharing as much of his DNA as possible.”
  • Volkswagen scores again with Bolt the dog and his plan to get back out the doggie door.  I’m certain all dogs hear James Brown in their heads when they aren’t thinking about bacon.  And then Darth Vader shows up again in another VW spot.
  • Why does Ms. Brown M&M have such a ‘tude?  Shouldn’t she have been modeled after Hillary Clinton or Sonia Sotomayor?   Those are M&M’s you could take seriously.

And I was suitability impressed with the age-appropriate half-time show featuring Madonna.  I found out her duds were Givenchy Couture (thanks,  Tom&Lorenzo) and she kept those Golem arms and gnarly hands covered.    The songs were mostly old chestnuts but her folks know how to work a venue for maximum effect.  I like that Niki Minaj with her crazy eyes; she looked like like she was having a good time, but MIA, would it kill you to smile a little?

I know, everybody’s a critic.


Party Prep Begins!

Yipee!  We are the host family for the New Year’s Eve bash this year and that means a couple of great things are happening right now:

1.  It is the trifecta of shopping trips as the G-man quests for meats…. including something my family likes to call the “hidden meat.”  This is the surprise entree meat that was NOT on the official, planned menu.  So it is always a surprise to me when I open the ‘fridge and find a leg of something marinating or my spouse man-handling it with dry-rub spices in preparation for smoking.

2.  Since I’m in charge of the set-up this is when I discover we have 1000+ plastic forks, but only 100 spoons.  How does this happen?

3.  We walk the plank!  Since the dining table only seats 6 comfortably we cheat and set a huge wooden slab on top of it and VOILA!  We now get 14 seats for people who like to sit really close to one other. Eating off of your neighbors’ plate is strongly encouraged.

4.  The serfs children are home and they clean the house.

5.  We eat almost every meal out for the next 24 hours because both the kitchen and the dining room are full of prep:  bags of snacks/ booze/ servicing pieces I only use once a year/other crap that will be put away into places I will never recall until March.  (see earlier post about the G-man’s infamous scale)

6.  I make a vat of mac & cheese with all full-fat ingredients.  Consider this fair warning, cholesterol-watchers!

7.  Encore presentation of the GBC!

Happy New Year One And All!


Pizza Roll, Kids?

Any of us born after 1960 have seen the world grow more accessible with each passing decade.  By this I mean we have a much wider scope of cultural awareness; we come into contact with more people who hail from someplace other than our neighborhood.  We are all more mobile.  Maybe we went away to school or moved to a new city for love or work.  New immigrants moved into our towns and they weren’t afraid to share their cuisine or to open up a business that reflected the tastes of their old home.   I joke that my kids’ palates were more diverse by the age of 10 than mine was at 21, only because they came into contact with far more home-town diversity in their 10 years than I did.

But the 60’s & 70’s were a magical time:  we had better living through chemistry and the co-opting of other cultures into weird ideas that could only take hold in the marketing paradise that is America.  There is a group of us out there who remember snacking on something called a “pizza roll,”  the melding of pizza slice and egg roll.  You may have been lounging on the shag carpet in a friend’s TV room watching “The Match Game” after school, and some nice Mom would come in with a tray of pizza rolls hot from the toaster oven.  Although in my heart I always wished for some home-made rice Krispy treats, but I’m more of sweet than savory snacker.  Please pass the Tang….

You faithful “Take-A-Napsters”(thanks MJB for the moniker) may recall this blog’s farewell to Arch West, Father of Doritos. Well, another snack giant has passed.  Jeno Paulucci, the founder of Jeno’s Inc. and the pizza roll, died at the age of 93 on November 24, 2011.  Before the creation of the seminal  pizza roll, Mr. Paulucci was the founder of Chun King prepared foods.  Some of us may remember how the crispy noodles were kept in a package separate from the chow mein, a breakthrough technology for the prepared food market.  I admit that my introduction to Chinese cuisine came via Chun King, and it is only in hindsight that I realize how big a role convenience and marketing played in limiting my palate for a goodly number of years…..until I met my husband and the Jewish tradition of going out for Chinese food on Christmas.  Wow!  I wept when I saw all that I had missed!

Yet, I salute Mr. Paulucci and his ingenuity.  The pizza roll still exists today although the name was changed to Totino’s Pizza Rolls in 1986 after Pillsbury purchased Jeno’s for $135M.   He lived the quintessential American Dream with an idea, hard work, and some really good timing.