Saturday, November 3, 2012

Et tu, Breyer's?

So I was very happy to report a few months ago that Edy's is now making real ice cream instead of frozen dairy dessert, but it seems that good news has been balanced out with some bad news. Breyer's is now apparently making frozen dairy dessert instead!

A few weeks ago, I decided to branch out a little bit and try a new Breyer's flavor, butter pecan. To my surprise, it just didn't taste right, and it had a sort of a sticky texture, so I finally looked at the box and noticed it said "frozen dairy dessert"! Most, but not all, of the other flavors in the black box line are still ice cream, but I guess this just proves that you always need to read the label, even with brands you think you trust.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Blue Bunny

Blue Bunny has always been one of my favorite kinds of ice cream.  As a teenager, I knew it only from the small dixie cups available at Pizza Corner in Valley City.  Later, when I moved to Iowa, where the Blue Bunny plant is located, I became entranced by all their unique flavors, and it was the only brand of ice cream I ever considered buying while I lived there.  Now that I'm here in the Mid-Ohio Valley, it's once again become a rarity for me, as the only place it can be found here is at Wal-Mart.  However, I'm starting to wonder if that's really such a bad thing.

I've had a couple of bad experiences with Blue Bunny lately.  The first was coming across a flavor that I absolutely hated: homemade turtle sundae.  I picked up a carton of this when we were recently at Wal-Mart, and it sounded like something the whole family would like.  But I was very disappointed, as the ice cream had a very artificial taste to it and the little turtle candies were extremely waxy and unpleasant.  I can be kind of an ice cream snob, but when my husband and 6-year-old stepson also refused to eat it, I knew we'd hit upon a clunker.  And looking at the long list of ingredients, it's not surprising it's either artificial or waxy, is it?

I still thought this just might be a bad flavor until I attended my nephew's birthday party this weekend.  They served bulk Blue Bunny ice cream in the pail, both chocolate and vanilla.  It didn't taste too bad, actually, but one of the little kids decided not to eat his ice cream and it just sat on the table for hours.  Although I could tell it had melted, the little scoop held its shape and didn't spread out.  That is not the sign of a natural kind of ice cream!  I know it's got to be full of all kinds of stabilizers to do that, and it kind of turned my stomach to think it might be doing similar things inside of me.

I'm not saying I'll never buy Blue Bunny again, but I do think I won't go out of my way to buy it from now on.  It just isn't that special anymore.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Edy's is back!

I think it's been about 3 years since I regularly bought Edy's ice cream.  When they switched most of their flavors over to the "Fun Flavors" line, which meant that they stopped being called "ice cream" and became "frozen dairy dessert," I stopped buying it.  Now, I don't want you to think that I'm some kind of ice cream snob who made this decision based upon the names alone.  (I like a good generic vanilla as much as the next girl.)  I first noticed that Edy's all of a sudden seemed really weird and sticky, and it was only as I was trying to figure out why that I realized this change had been made.

Well, my boycott has finally been lifted, because Edy's has announced that they are doing away with the "Fun Flavors" designation and returning all their varieties to their old recipes.   It's taken a few weeks for the new stock to appear in my local Kroger, but most of the flavors are now in the Grands packaging again instead of the Fun Flavors kind.

I decided to be a doubting Thomas and actually do a taste test to see if Edy's is really up to snuff, so I bought a carton of Edy's Grand vanilla and another of Turkey Hill homemade vanilla, and my husband and I tasted them both side-by-side.  The winner, by a photo finish, was Edy's, so I can officially announce that they are back in the game again, tastewise at least.

One concern that I have is that although Edy's is now using real milk and cream again instead of whey, their products still contain several different kinds of gum.  (The vanilla ingredients include guar gum, carob bean gum, carageenan, and xanthan gum.)  Again, I'm not an ice cream snob who rejects all gums on principle, but with my sensitive stomach, the more gums you add to a product, the more likely one of them is to make me feel ishy.  Only time will tell how I feel about Edy's product along this axis.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

2012 Fall TV Season

It feels like it would be wrong of me to let the month of May go by without my traditional post-upfronts rundown on the TV schedule for next fall.  I'm sorry for the delay this year, but as those of you who know me in real life understand, I've had a lot of issues on my plate in the last few weeks.

At any rate, here goes.  I'll use the same format from previous years, giving my thoughts on each timeslot in the week.

Monday

8:00-- My stepson loves How I Met Your Mother, and after watching it last season, I've become a fan, too.  So we will watch this on the hour, and at the half-hour we'll try new comedy Partners, about two formerly-single friends who try to adjust their relationship now that they've both found love.

9:00-- There's really nothing in this hour that I want to watch, as new show The Mob Doctor sounds too on-the-nose to bother watching.

10:00-- Castle!  Also, we will probably record Revolution, a new drama about the aftermath of a world catastrophe in which everything that runs on power of any sort stops working.  The preview we saw didn't fill any of us with great expectations, but we like to watch every new sci-fi show that comes along, so we'll give it a shot for a few weeks at least.

Tuesday

8:00-- I'll be recording Hart of Dixie, which was my favorite new show of the season.  What we'll watch live is Raising Hope, which I've always loved and which has grown on my family over time, followed by new sitcom Ben and Kate, about a brother and sister who live together.

9:00-- We'll watch New Girl, which was never quite perfect last season but has kept us coming back, followed by Apt. 23, which I think is just fine and my stepson adores for some reason.  I also plan on recording Emily Owens M.D., which stars one of my favorite young actresses, Mamie Gummer.

10:00-- I will check out Vegas, which is a period piece about the rise of that city in the 60's and the old-fashioned sheriff who tries to keep the peace.

Wednesday

8:00-- The Middle, followed by Suburgatory, which I liked more and more as the season went on.  The men in my life also want to watch Arrow, a drama about the Green Arrow of comic book fame.

9:00-- Modern Family!  Afterwards is a new comedy called The Neighbors, which had me when I read the description (unsuspecting family moves into new suburb filled with aliens) and then lost me again when I actually saw the preview, which looked excruciatingly dumb.  Still, I'll give this a chance for a week or two just because of our devotion to sci-fi (as stated above).

10:00--  I want to watch Nashville, if for no other reason than that it stars Connie Britton and Hayden Panetierre, two of my favorite NBC stars of recent years.

Thursday

8:00-- This is the only hour where we have a three-car pileup.  I definitely need to watch The Vampire Diaries, and the men in the house definitely need to watch The Big Bang Theory, but we are all mildly interested in Last Resort, that odd new drama about the crew of a nuclear sub who mutiny and declare themselves to be a nation-state.  If we don't like that show, there won't be a conflict, but if we do, I guess I'll be watching The Vampire Diaries online.

9:00-- Glee!  Also, I'd like to try out Beauty and the Beast, which is based on the CBS show of the 80's and stars Kristin Kreuk, the former Lana Lang of Smallville.

10:00--  We are all somewhat interested in Elementary, the new Sherlock Holmes show where Watson is a woman.

Friday

8:00-- Nothing.

9:00-- Fringe! Also Grimm, which I didn't expect much from last fall, but which has actually turned out to be a solid, if somewhat formulaic, hour of television.

10:00-- "There is only nothing again."

Sunday

8:00--  Once Upon a Time.  This is another show that has performed solidly, and I'm interested to see what will happen now that the curse has been broken.

9:00-- Revenge.  I really loved this show for the first 15 episodes, and then I feel like it drove off a cliff for the rest of the season.  Still, I'm willing to give it another try.  Also, The Good Wife, which will cause me to have to deal with CBS football overruns for another year.

10:00-- I'm interested in 666 Park Avenue, which has a old-fashioned vibe and stars another one of my favorite TV actors, Dave Annable.

Back to the salt mines

It took me a while after my last post to remember a non-Breyer ice cream flavor we've tried recently, but it was so unusual that now I had to make a special post just to mention it here: Turkey Hill pretzel.   I've always loved the Turkey Hill lowfat chocolate pretzel flavor, but as I mentioned before, I've sworn off all the Turkey Hill light flavors because of the additives they contain.  So when I saw this new limited edition flavor in the freezer case, I got all excited and assumed it would be along the same lines, just with more fat. 

However, when I got it home and read the fine print on the carton, I realize how wrong I was.  The chocolate pretzel flavor has a chocolate swirl in it, while this flavor has a pretzel swirl.  Yes, you read that right.  They actually put a solid ribbon of crushed-up pretzels in the ice cream itself.  It was, in one word, salty, and even my stepson, who is something of a saltaholic, thought it was too much!  It turned out that I was the only person who could stand to eat this flavor, and then only if I added a heaping teaspoon of cocoa powder to it to boost the chocolate flavor and cut the salty taste.  Needless to say, we won't be buying this flavor again, and you should try it at your own risk.  (However, the On Second Scoop blogger loved it, so it's possible your results may vary.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Into the Breyer patch

If I haven't been writing about ice cream as much here, it's because I've reached a point where there doesn't seem like so much new stuff out there to discover. When I was a single girl, it always seemed like there were way more new flavors being produced than I ever had time to try. But now that there are three of us here, it seems like we go through the flavors three times as fast and now we can say that we've tried just about everything that interests us. It doesn't help that there are many brands and subbrands that I've sworn off because they contain propylene glycol: Edy's Fun Flavors, Turkey Hill Light, and Breyer's Blasts, for instance.

But in recent weeks, Breyer's ice cream has been on sale at our local Kroger.  As I mentioned above, I'm avoiding all the Blasts flavors because of the propylene glycol, which leaves us with the all-natural flavors.  I can tell from their website that there are a ton of these still being produced, but our local store only stocks a few of them, and what we find ourselves buying most often are plain old chocolate and vanilla.  We've found the chocolate to be wonderful, and the vanilla...

Well, the vanilla is more complicated than it would seem at first glance, since Breyer's has not one, not two, but four different kinds of vanilla.  We've tried two of these so far.  Natural vanilla seems to be the baseline flavor, and it is a very strong, light-bodied vanilla with visible flecks of vanilla bean.  I love this ice cream but can only eat it by itself, as it seems a waste to put chocolate sauce or other toppings on it.  Not to fear, though.  The other variety we've tried, homemade vanilla, is a much more traditional, denser type of vanilla with a less prominent vanilla taste.  This kind is fine by itself but even better with chocolate sauce or served with a la mode desserts.

We are so taken with these two varieties that it's hard to find an excuse to even try the other two, French vanilla and extra-creamy vanilla.  However, in the interest of journalistic integrity I may eventually be induced to do so!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Reader, I married him

Apologies for the late notice in posting the news here, but on April 7th my barely-remembered dreams came true and I finally married my sweetheart. I feel like an honest woman!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The return of ice cream posts

I'm going to talk about ice cream some more just because I can. It's been about six months since I did so last, and we go through the flavors way faster now that there are three of us, so this may be a very long post.

Deluxe: We've continued to make some good finds in this range, which we buy a lot now that the prices of most name brands have gone up a lot. A flavor that my stepson loves is Triple Brownie. I find it a little bit artificial tasting for my liking, but it does have a lot of chocolate in it, and who can argue with that? Better, in my opinion, is Death by Chocolate. It has small brownie pieces and also a few nuts, but not too many. One flavor we got and all hated was Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. It tasted extremely of chemicals and was just horrible.

I also tried Deluxe's holiday line of flavors this year. I didn't like Pumpkin Pie, as the spice balance was all off. Peppermint tasted wonderful, but had one problem: the peppermint pieces were huge and impossible to bite through while frozen. I ended up spitting them out as I came across them until the bottom of my bowl was filled with what looked like aquarium gravel. The one flavor I found to be perfect was Eggnog, which was much better somehow than the actual Kroger eggnog I bought.

Turkey Hill: We've also been buying this brand a lot when it's on sale. Their Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is really good, and you can actually taste the brown sugar in it. Another big favorite of ours is Lady Liberty Mint, which started out as a limited edition flavor but now looks like it might be here to stay. It's a very strong mint ice cream with the same chocolate cookie stripe that you find in Double Dunker. It's to die for!

A limited edition flavor that I'd always avoided and now wish I hadn't is Box of Chocolates. I'd thought that it would be filled with huge hard pieces of candy, but the pieces are actually tiny and blend in very well with the ice cream. I remember seeing this in stores around Valentine's Day before, so let's hope it makes an appearance again this year. Another limited edition flavor that the men here liked more than I did was Whoopie Pie.

We also just tried Cookies 'n Cream and it was exactly what you'd expect. Nothing stood out about it, but it was perfectly fine.

A disappointment we had recently was to buy a box of Coconut Almond Fudge, one of the flavors available only as light ice cream. It tasted of chemicals, and I was quite surprised to see that it contained my archenemy propylene glycol. Looking at the ingredient lists on their website, it seems that all their light flavors now contain this additive. Let's hope it doesn't migrate over to the full-fat versions any time soon.

Friday, February 3, 2012

I'm coming out

It's come to my attention that, improbably, there are still a few people out there visiting this neglected corner of the blogosphere. Once I figured that out, I thought that I should probably put some kind of an update here to tell you what's been going on with me since I've been AWOL.

So here goes: I fell in love and moved to West Virginia, leaving the library world behind me in the process. I also acquired a couple of step-children in the deal, one who lives with us full time and one who just visits occasionally. I've had some poems published, most recently in a journal that some people have actually heard of (but probably not you). I should be pretty happy and crowing about all this to the world, and there's only one reason why I've crawled into my shell and hidden instead: I'm not actually married. Hopefully one day my beloved's long, torturous divorce, worthy of a Hollywood celebrity in the 1950's, will wend its way through the court system, but until it does, I am not only living with someone I'm not married to, but living with someone who is, in fact, legally married to someone else. I guess if I was a different kind of person I would shrug it off or take pleasure in the fact that I am a scarlet woman, but instead I have just been hiding, waiting for the situation to improve. I guess I finally got tired of waiting, so here I am, telling the truth at last.

Monday, January 30, 2012