Archive for June, 2009

An Impulse Buy: Book Review

Posted on June 30, 2009. Filed under: Book Review | Tags: , , , , , , |

First of all, thank’s for the book suggestions! I’ll be sure to go on Amazon later and read all the synopses and add some to my wish list. Meanwhile, right before popping in to Market Basket yesterday(where I didn’t really pick up any new foods to try, just the old trusty essentials), I popped into Barnes & Nobles and bought Eat This Not That: The Supermarket Survival Guide. Usually I take weeks to decide on things I want to buy. But I had just seen the author on Rachael Ray yesterday morning and damn do those television appearances help sell products!

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My first reaction after buying it was “Did I just pay 20 dollars for a book of facts and tips I already know?” I’ve spent many days on the internet and Runners World forums and picked up plenty of knowledge on what should and shouldn’t be in my food. Then I realized there’s no way I could know everything this book has to offer. And even if I did, this is certainly the type of book you want to leave on your coffee table for others to pick up and flip through; I’d go so far to say this should be on any Summer reading list, from the high schooler’s to the moms who feed them.

The book’s set up with several different formats to help you get the lesson. Each chapter has an introduction with general facts, debates, and general history about the topic. Then it moves into tips and tricks for choosing the right things, like what to look for on an ingredient list, or how to pick out certain fruits/vegetables at the grocery store. The authors also include informative tables, such as one that rates and compares meat from chicken breast to duck on protein:fat ratio, and a chart for which fruits are really worth getting organic and which are just added cost for little effect(Let’s just say I’ll be getting my peaches from Whole Foods from now on).

Of course, Eat This Not That also offers side-by-side comparison of products to show you which ones to eat and which ones to avoid. I found this the more tedious and annoying part of the book, since it basically is just applying all the tips and tricks you just read, but for those who only look at the pretty pictures when flipping through a book this can be pretty handy. What I do like is that the book compares identical items; it knows if you buy buttered microwave popcorn, you aren’t going to suddenly switch to airpopped with nothing added, so it shows the safer brand to buy. The authors have a clear point of view throughout the many pages of item comparison: added sugar is the devil and fiber is a gift from the gods. While I somewhat agree with this, the lesson is almost pounded in to a point of absurdity. But, to the authors’ credit, they do more often than not go with all-natural products. They don’t, unfortunately, consider store brands like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, which often offer cheaper alternatives to the Eat This foods, but all-in-all there’s a lot of good suggestions to throw into your shopping cart next trip to the store.

Would I recommend this? Absolutely. If nothing else, flipping through the comparison pages and realizing you already have most of those products in your pantry will give you a comforting feeling. There’s plenty of lessons to be learned(like HFCS made from organic corn is organic!). And the more people you can push this book onto, the better.

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Rest Day?

Posted on June 29, 2009. Filed under: Daily Update | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Ugh, the rain is back in New England apparently 😦 Maybe this will actually get me to take a rest day. It’s been over two weeks now and I’ve squeezed in a run every day, and I think my bones are starting to feel it but my mind isn’t. Anyone else find they have a hard time not running? I think getting on some sort of a training program would help me moderate my running/rest days, but I’m not sure which one to use since I’m not training for anything. Suggestions?

Well, if running’s of the to-do list, there’s plenty other things to keep me entertained. Definitely going to Market Basket where I’ll be picking up some goodies, but probably not too much new stuff since I can’t think of anything new to try. Maybe I’ll pick up some exotic fruit on sale; I’ve been slowly working fresh veggies and fruits back into my diet because I’m finding they don’t keep me as full or bloated as they did when I started gaining weight. Oh brocolli, how I missed thee! Speaking of gaining weight, I’ve gone up 3.6 lbs since Friday lol. It’s a little dissapointing when the change is that drastic since you know something funky’s going on there.

Today I’m also going to make a list of books I want to read over the summer. I just feel like my days are basically 1) running 2) eating 3) internet and I’d love to add a 4th thing to spice things up. Right now, I have The Beak of The Finch to read for school. I started The Poe Shadow in December so I might pick that back up. I got the Food Network’s How To Boil Water to learn cooking tips and tricks, and I have a teach-yourself-Italian book which I think I’ll try my hand at. I tought myself French this past year leading up to my March vacation, but I think I’ve forgotten most of it, so I might have to blow the dust off that book as well. What else should I think of reading?

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Orange Monster & Chocolate Lovin’

Posted on June 28, 2009. Filed under: Daily Update, Product Review, Recipe | Tags: , , , , , , , |

For all the New Englander’s reading this, wasn’t the sun  amazing? I went out running yesterday right before lunch. Sure, when I got back I felt like a lobster that just got cooked, but damn did I feel good. The sun has reminded me of part of why I started running: to enjoy the outside. Today’s not so sunny, but I was pumped enough to go on my long run: 7.5 miles 🙂 That felt pretty damn good. Well, needless to say after a hot run you need something to cool you down and heal you up. If you’re a blog reader no doubt you’ve seen the green monster. Hmmm, to each their own I guess. I’m not sure I could get something that looks like that down my throat, but so long as I don’t have to drink one I’m happy. However, what does work for me is an orange monster 😉 I thought of this guy on my run and couldn’t get home fast enough. As you all probably know, I love my carrot juice. As for my favorie fruit, I’m a peachaholic. It seemed natural in my mind that the two be put together, so I did! 6oz carrot juice with 140 grams frozen peaches and 1/4 cup greek yogurt gave me the orange monster:

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Sooo good. It actually tasted more like a creamcscicle than any of its components, but I wasn’t complaining. It has plenty of carbs for recovery with a little hit of protein. And what a great way for weight gainers to get a compact serving of their favorite fruits and veggies! I’ll admit, since I’ve needed to eat 2500+ calories a day fresh produce has pretty much left my diet. Maybe blending’s the key to get the nutrients without the bloat.

Ok, what did I promise for today? Oh right, chocolate 🙂 For today I reviewed four “gourmet” chocolates. Basically, these are not your checkout Hershey bars.

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If you’ve stepped into a chocolate store, you know Lindt. The swiss company prides itself on using the purest, best ingredients. First up, I tried their 70% dark chocolate. This bar was basic, but definitely not boring. The flavor was rich and sweet; it was the quintessential dark chocolate. This is definitely the bar you want to keep in your pantry for that quick chocolate fix, or to share with friends(it was the cheapest after all that I tried).

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Sticking with the Lindt family, next up was their 99% cacao chocolate. This is definitely an acquired taste which I have yet to acquire. The chocolate was dry and assaultingly bitter, and yet I loved it for that reason. A teeny sqaure of this was all I needed for the full flavor. My trick; take a tiny bite and then a sip of a light, sweet coffee, and your mouth will be in for a mocha sensation like no other.

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Welcome now the organic chocolate of the bunch. I love the combination of chocolate and cherry(if you’ve been reading a while you’ve seen my parfaits). Add in some vanilla and I should be in heaven. My verdict; this bar was actually a slight disappointment. The chocolate base was very sweet and mellow. And the cherries were their texturally, but added very little flavor. As for the vanilla, I would never have guessed it was in their if the label didn’t tell me. Save your money on this one and buy something with a more promising flavor like Dark Chocolate and Citrus.

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The last chocolate I had the pleasure of eating was Joey & Marty’s Amazing All Natural Belgian dark chocolate with raspberry ganache and nonperils. Holy yum was these good! The raspberry flavor was very present and sweetened the lovely bitterness of the dark chocolate. The nonpareils were a welcomed twist to the chocolate world, reminding me of sprinkles on a cupcake or Italian Christmas cookie. My only gripe was that each piece was so small, almost too “bite sized”. And I’m slightly confused if these were meant to be marketed to children or adults; what child would pay 2.89 for chocolate or even knows where Belgium is or what ganache is?

Anyway, I hope I got your taste buds fired up for chocolate eating. And I encourage you to go to the good chocolate aisle and splurge on something, because nothing can be more rewarding after a rough day than sitting down with a piece of fine chocolate.

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Feel Better Blondies

Posted on June 27, 2009. Filed under: Recipe | Tags: , , , , , , |

Well after the overwhelming response to the poll(lol, zippo) I’ve decided to do chocolate because it’s a pretty safe bet that you all love chocolate, so look for some good products here tomorrow. As for today, I have no clue what the future holds. I might go for a run since it’s so nice out, but right now I’m having a food hangover from last night’s deck party. Brownies, chocolate pudding, whip cream, and toffee bits in a bowl is apparently my weakness. I can’t wait to recreate that with Z-Bars and chocolate yogurt when I can stand to look at food again. I also have on my agenda to make some bagels but it seems baking is always the thing that gets pushed off until later.

Today I wanted to share a recipe from a little back. On this particular day, I got a letter from the doctor about a check up and where he wanted me to be weight-wise and by when all of this put me in a pretty bad mood. Well after throwing the letter out and later having to recover it for my mom, I decided I’d bake even though we don’t need more food lying around our kitchen. I made what I now call “Feel Better, Get Fat” Blondies, or as my recipe book has them titled, Starbucks Toffee Almond Blondies.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups light whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2 teaspoons almond extract

1 ounce slivered almonds

3 ounces Heath bar morsels

3 ounces white chocolate chips

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Preheat your oven to 350. In a small bowl, mix oil, applesauce, and sugar. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs into the sugar mixture and whisk.  Whisk in the almond extract as well. Pour the wet into the flour mixture until just incorporated and then fold in the Heath morsels, white chocolate chips, and almonds. Pour into a 9 by 9 pan and bake about 30 minutes or until golden. Cut into 16 blondies, each with around 180 calories.

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Sure, they aren’t my typical healthy recipe, but they aren’t that bad for you(and definitely not for the soul). If you want just a simple, healthy blondie, feel free to leave out the add-ins. The base was very rich and moist on its own. Thanks for reading. Now I need to go take some pictures(and nibbles) of chocolate for tomorrow 🙂

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Help Me Help You(Poll)

Posted on June 26, 2009. Filed under: Daily Update | Tags: , , , , , |

Good morning(or afternoon depending on when/where you’re reading this). Well the sun finally came out in New England yesterday. Too bad for being stuck in Marlborough, but at least I was able to get some good running, walking, and grocery shopping in. But man do I need to go to a Whole Foods. I couldn’t get half the things on my shopping list at Hannafords and the other half was noticibly more expensive(is it bad I’ve practically memorized the prices of most foods at Whole Foods?). Sometimes I wish I could stop looking at the Nutrition Info and ingredients and just buy the store brand High Fructose Corn Syrup, I mean apricot preserves. I don’t know if oblivion is bliss, but it’s definitey cheaper. Oh well, I guess paying now will help me live longer so I can spend more money on groceries. Joy.

Anyway, I wanted to bring a product review because I haven’t done one of those in a while. But there’s so many new things I’ve tried since my last one I can’t possibly type them all up. And after all a product review is to benefit the people reading it, not the one writing it, right? So I’m asking you what you want to read a review of. Post with 1 or 2 responses and look for some product reviews over the weekend

  • Instant Entree
  • Snack/Chips
  • Cookies/Brownies
  • Chocolate
  • Ice Cream
  • Bars

Post it up. I have plenty of ideas for any of those and I’d love to share. Hope you all have some good weekend plans. I’m going to a deck party today where I’m sure they’ll be plenty of munchies. Also, I kind of want to see My Sister’s Keeper. I’ve never read the book but I feel like I need to watch a movie that has some lesson to it. Or I could just see The Hangover and give my brain a break for 90 minutes which would also be welcomed. Choices, choices.

By the way, I saw this on a recent episode of Unwrapped: http://www.cereality.com/main.php Has anyone ever been to one of these? If there was one near me, I would not eat anything else.

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There’s A “No” In Normal

Posted on June 25, 2009. Filed under: Daily Update | Tags: , , , , , |

I wish I could bring you sunny pictures or some fine dining but it’s been rainy and gloomy here in New England for a week now and I’m afraid that’s not on the agenda. Yesterday I made The Peanut Butter Boy’s PB & Chocolate Scones(sans the chocolate) and they went great with a nice cup of joe. Oh, and I added a 3rd carton to my exclusive pints-of-ice-cream-I’ve-eaten-in-one-sitting collection, but that was about all the excitement. Instead, I can offer is some ramblings on a little thing called life.

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It’s silly when little questions lead to big answers. I started with “Do I take a rest day? Run 4 miles? Or maybe today I’ll aim for 7.5?” This is a question I ask myself pretty much every morning. And then, after making a decision, comes the natural: What do I eat? Here’s a little fact about me: I’m currently trying to gain weight and calorie count to make sure I get (at least) 2500 calories a day. And every day I end up right around 2500, even though I have different activity levels every day. But does this make sense? Should I be having 200 calories more on days I run 8 miles? Well, maybe, but I’ve set 2500 as my normal(Here’s where the title comes in).

But there clearly is no normal; every day has its subtle nuances that makes it unique. So why do we set and follow “norms”? Well, my only answer is because they work. In this particular case, sure I may burn more calories on certain days than others, but I am slowly and steadily gaining weight so clearly it’s working. Go with what works. That’s the grander lesson. Nothing’s perfect, but certain things come closer to perfection than others. And so, until we find something better, we tend to stick with what we got.

So naturally this leads to another question: What can we do to reach those almost perfect things? Well, it’s not easy. It’s a lot of trial and error, but here are some points I’ve thought of.

  • Firstly, stop thinking about “things” and start thinking about people. A good friend is worth more than any object. Find normalcy in family and friends because they’ll never let you down in the long run.
  • Find comforting(and healthy :-P) prepackaged foods. Think about it; things that come out of a box always taste the same. Load up on the ones you love and keep them close by. Maybe don’t do this if your comfort food is deep-fried twinkies, but rather look for foods that have some nutritional merit as well. My picks are below.

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  • Don’t be afraid to be boring. I hate it when people point out the things that I constantly do, or the foods that I constantly eat. But then I try and swap it up, add some excitement to my life, and that I often hate more. I’m not saying never try new things, I’m just saying be yourself. You know what you like so don’t listen to others and live your own life.
  • Learn to laugh because there really is no normal. I’ll admit this is what I have the most trouble with; I’m the first to throw a hissy fit over the littlest, stupidest thing. But it’s definitely something I’ve noted about myself and will work on.

One addendum: Check out IowaGirl’s awesome giveaway here: http://iowagirleats.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/real-simple-pure-bar-giveaway-6-packages-to-win/#comment-2852 I’ve been eyeing the PureBars at Hannafords, what a great prize that’d be!

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The Best Thing I Ever Ate

Posted on June 24, 2009. Filed under: Product Review | Tags: , , , , |

I’m a Food Network junkee, if you didn’t know that already. I will watch anything on that channel except for the infomercials that come on from 5-9. My favorites include anything Paula Deen, Diners Drive-ins and Dives, The Next Food Network Star, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Iron Chef America, and the new little gem that premiered last night: The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Did anyone else watch this? Listening to these professional chefs go gaga over a dish makes my own mouth water. I definitely think I need to start a list of places I want to eat someday. Let’s see, The Lady and Sons if I’m ever in Savannah of course, The Original Boston Creme Pie from The Parker Hotel, and Eggs Benedict from Upstairs In The Square since that was the best thing Sunny Anderson ever ate. That’s a good start.

So anyway, watching this show made me ask the question: What’s the best thing I ever ate? Well, my first reaction was it’s all dependent. No dish can transcend the 4(or 5) taste sensations and be declared the supreme victor. And then it hit me; yes there was. There’s one dish that I regret leaving any morsel of on the plate. One dish that, given the chance, I would devour a bathtub of and not feel a tad bit guilty. What was this delectable delight? I’m ashamed to say it’s not my Aunt Anna’s Italian box pizza or my 18th birthday tiramisu(though that was pretty damn good). No, this was the Coffee Buttercream Cake served at my school’s auction last April.

Sure, a cake can be good. A cake can be great. But can it really be “the best”? Yes. Let me describe my experience with this cake. After dinner there were 3 desserts available: a coffee cake, a chocolate cake, and a lemon cake. I took for myself a modest piece of the coffee and lemon cake. I ate about a bite of the lemon cake, and proceeded to push it aside once I discovered the coffee cake. The light, moist, airy cake was a marvelous canvas for the rich, decadent buttercream. The coffee flavor bursted through and sat, melting in my mouth. I, of course, had seconds, thirds, fourths, and much more of the coffee cake.

I’ve done some research and found that the cake, made by Catering on The Charles, was their Coffee Buttercream layer cake with yellow cake and white chocolate mousse filling. Recently I sent a message lauding the chef and asking(ok, begging shamelessly) for the coffee buttercream recipe. If I ever hear back I’ll be sure to share. So tell me, what was the best thing you’ve ever eaten?

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A Recipe That Pops

Posted on June 23, 2009. Filed under: Daily Update, Recipe | Tags: , , , , , , , |

First of all, if you’re new to this blog due to my fridge’s feature over on Carrots N’ Cake, welcome! And a big thanks to Tina for featuring me. If you don’t already read her blog(who am I kidding, what blogger doesn’t?), definitely check her out at www.carrotsncake.com. Her blog is always insightful and entertaining, and I particularly enjoy it as someone who has gone to school/work in Boston and am always looking for new things to do in the city.

Yesterday was so incredibly rainy all day; I barely snuck a run in. But it was pretty much one of those days. You know, the ones where you put on the clothes you wouldn’t wear outside and watch reruns of crappy TV dramas(Charmed is my choice). I never want to try new foods or anything funky on those type of days; I’d rather stick with the flavors I know and trust. Maybe that’s why my lunch looks like it came out of a Superman lunch box: Trader Joes whole wheat Mac N’ Cheese, a turkey dog cut up with ketchup, carrot juice in a dalmations cup, and a cranberry apricot almond Nectar bar. Alright, maybe a kid wouldn’t have the Nectar bar. But this lunch was post-run so I wanted some simple carbs, and I just picked up this bar the day before at Whole Foods. It’s definitely my least favorite of the Nectars, but they’re all pretty good.

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So basically all that rain left me with a lot of time to sit on the couch and think of what carby, warm, deliciousness I wanted to go along with supper. Don’t you love when you forget about a recipe for months and it suddenly pops into your head?(You’ll get the pun in a few sentences) There’s one recipe in my repertoire that’s super simple, goes with anything, and had been requested time and time again. It’s never failed or dispapointed. It’s my Poppin’ Popovers.

Ingredients:

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup milk

1 cup whole wheat flour

a pinch of salt

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Preheat the oven to 450. In a bowl, whisk the egg. Add in the milk, salt, and flour, and mix until incorporated, but keep the batter slightly lumpy. Using an ice cream server, scoop evenly into 6 muffin tins(you might want to spray first, but I’ve never had problems with sticking).

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Place the popovers in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Drop the temperature to 350 and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove and serve immediately. Serve with butter, jam, or any other spread else you desire.

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Are these things simple or what? 4 ingredients! Absolutely minimal mess in the kitchen, but these babies are better than the rolls at Bertucci’s. And these are the definition of healthy, too. Each popover has only 100 calories, with about 2 or 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. Be sure to time them correctly, though. It makes your dish that much more impressive when the steam comes out of the fresh baked popovers.

This would be the part where I would say “I hope you try this recipe…”, but since it’s so simple and healthy and that’s what most of you are all about I’m pretty confident you will 😉 Thanks for reading and see ya tomorrow!

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New Page

Posted on June 22, 2009. Filed under: Daily Update | Tags: , |

I don’t actually have much to post here today(notice the italicization). It’s a rainy, rest day. What I really feel like doing is hiking, so I think I might go for a “hike” along the road on a 3.75 really rural and hilly route I sometimes run. Then again I hate walking places I can run, so maybe not, we’ll see. But I do want to draw your attention to a page I’m adding, Food Favorites. This is just a list of all my kitchen essentials that I can share with you. I’ll be updating it periodically as I find new food loves, and I hope to make more pages in the future about things like TV shows and anything else I can think of. Also, be sure too check out the awesome giveaway over at The Happy Runner: http://thehappyrunner.blogspot.com/2009/06/contest-and-giveaway.html Wouldn’t that be an awesome prize to win?

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My Meal Has Eyes…

Posted on June 21, 2009. Filed under: Daily Update | Tags: , , , , , |

It’s a rainy Father’s Day here, but that’s ok because we did most of the celebrating last night and the mist was welcomed on my run this morning. Not much plans for the day other than Price Chopper(bleh) and possibly Trader Joes or Market Basket or Whole Foods(yay).

Like I said, we celebrated last night. I started reading my book for Brown on the way up, The Beak Of The Finch. I almost took a nap after the first chapter but I decided to just shut it and go with Nintendo DS. There was snackage when we got there and then something more my style: A walk on the beach :-). The sun actually came out, though the water was 59 so I didn’t bother going in. Damn older people walk slow, and I thought I was bad.

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When we finished there was a little candy shop near the car that looked pretty authentic. Even though I’m not a huge candy fan, I am a big fan of seizing the moment, so I dragged everyone in to pick stuff out. They had loads of flavored salt water taffy which caught my eye, so I grabbed a half pound bag. So far I’ve had molasses, raspberry, watermelon, and banana, and they’re all delicious 🙂 I can’t wait to try a peanut butter one. My mom got a “smore”, homemade marshmellow between graham crackers coated in chocolate. It was ok, but I’d rather just have eaten the homemade marshmallow by itself. To split we got chocolate, panache, and peanut butter and chocolate fudge. Guess which was my favorite 😉

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Well I only had the molasses taffy before dinner so as to not spoil my appetite. I love Wells because all the fish is fresh and from the sea, and cheap as dust. For the first time, I had me a lobster. I did not realize how messy these things were. Note to self: Lobsters are like farts; never have one in front of someone you’re dating before you’re engaged. there were also steamers and some cheesey rice thing. That was addictively good but I snuck a peak at the nutrition label(it was all from a bag) before hand so I knew not to have to much. It’s definitely something I’m going to recreate for a meal some day. It must be simple, right? We have cheese, we have rice, we don’t have partially hydrogenated anything, so it should be good. Oh, and my carrot cake cookies were the perfect ender to the meal. They were a little too moist this time, but some people liked that so I wasn’t complaining.

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I need to think of something not lame to do for my dad today. Maybe free ice cream at Coldstone’s? Meh, not exactly special enough. I’ll come up with something.

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