Entries Tagged 'Food' ↓

What I Did on My Summer Vacation: Day One – Thirteen Lucky Force of Will

This is a little out of order given I wrote about Day Two the other day, but I thought I would share this picture for those of you who didn’t see it in real-time on Twitter:

Force of Will

I have been home at least once a year, every year, since moving to New York, but for some reason I never thought to dig through my old Magic cards.

The above was the booty I obtained upon going through my first rediscovered drawer of Magic cards… That’s right ladies and germs! Thirteen lucky copies of Force of Will on the first pass!

That’s the good news…

The bad news is the same as what I told the Star City dealers when I tried to cash in some Wastelands last month: The only people with dozens of Wastelands (or apparently lots of copies of Force of Will) didn’t know — back when we were mising them for a dollar — that they were going to be worth $60 or whatever, which is why they are all beat up (-ish).

So most of this crop of Force of Will is in the played / heavily played category.

(that’s the bad news)

Also in the initial booty pile was a quartet of Icequakes that were officially beat to all hell (but I am pretty sure they were in the first deck I ever played to a PTQ win, so sentimental value there), and some additional sauce. You can see a couple of original Mishra’s Factories there, as well as a Beta Lightning Bolt and some other respectable Lightning Bolts. Do you know I actually shelled out $1 a piece for M11 Lightning Bolts at a tournament last year? For shame!

I also scooped up some random potential staples like Nomads en-Kor and Gaea’s Blessing.

I hit a bunch of Undiscovered Paradises and white-bordered Mishra’s Factories in the first drawer but I didn’t know to pull those, so I didn’t and never really went back.

Anyway, more good news around Day Three… But Day One wasn’t too bad.

I was obviously happy at finding Force of Will, but hopeful as I didn’t find any Wastelands.

More later.


The Secret Ingredient


Food :: Ingredients :: Delicious Ingredients
Delicious Ingredients in Food :: Rewards Programs :: #FloresRewards

So writing Restaurant Kryptonite the other night… I didn’t realize it until much later but I missed one of the most potent ingredients in the michaelj ingredients vulnerabilities list. Perhaps the most potent non-prime beef ingredient of them all!


Yes, dear readers, delicious pecans.

I love pecans. The are my number one nut. My dad and sister and wife like these ludicrous nuts such as almonds. But to me, pecans are the holy grail of nuts. Perfect pecans are crisp, Snap like a Bruce Lee roundhouse, and make otherwise excellent desserts absolutely perfect. There is nothing like dropping crumbled pecans on rice pudding, ice cream, whatever.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Given my new project Flores Rewards it is probably not a surprise to you that I am a rewards program junkie. I have carried an AmEx for the last ten years even though it costs a couple of hundred dollars a year (and other credit cards literally chase you to be their customer). I love rewards. I love points. Ultimately I love awesome free stuff.

Here are all the random rewards cards I carry around all day:

First Column (treats) – Tasti D-Lite (and two old Tasti D-Lite punch cards from individual locations), Crumbs coffee card, Tim Horton
Second Column (coffee) – Two Whole Foods cards, Joe, Starbucks Gold
Third Column (mostly lunch) – ‘wichCraft, Baja Fresh, Hale and Hearty Soup, Go Go Curry (lucky curry), Food Merchant

Basically  I figure you gotta eat (or drink coffee, or whatever), so you might as well pick an option that has a great rewards program.

Anyway, for the first time in my adult life I have been trying to stick by a budget in a specific and concerted fashion. Since 1999 I have been “paying myself” $100 in “fuck you” money [cash] that I spent pretty much on whatever (mostly food, coffee, treats).

Katherine asked me to try to limit myself to $50 in “lunch money” per week as an effort in discipline.

I was initially apprehensive given that:

  1. I make much more money now than I did when I was, you know, 23.
  2. Money is worth less than it was 11 years ago.
  3. Like basically everyone, I am resistant to change when it affects my immediate comfort.

I realized pretty quickly, though, that I was blowing about $6 a day in iced coffees from Crumbs and that represented approximately $30 of the $50 delta. Therefore in an effort to conduct towards marital bliss, I never realized…

… I was only one punch away from my free medium iced coffee / free Crumbs cupcake.

So I sauntered into Crumbs to get my final punch, and what did I see but…

Chocoalte Pecan Pie!

What the!?!

The cruel, cruel irony is that I forced the girl at the Crumbs counter to describe for me the constitution of this exercise in fudge-y pecan wonderment. I cannot honestly tell you what she told me. It was like that Tom Cruise movie about making less money or whatever.

“You had me at ‘Hello.'”

I did not get the Chocolate Pecan Pie cupcake. That would entail paying for it. I would not pay until much later.

First I had to run this:


So I got my final punch so that I could shotgun / topdeck / mise the Chocolate Pecan Pie cupcake the next day.

I don’t know if I mentioned this, but I like anything pecan basically. Examples would be choosing pecan-based extra toppings at toppings bars, erring on pecan-ish flavors in selections of coffee, ice cream (for example butter pecan), whatever. So the combination of pecans + Crumbs cupcakes was an easy decision for me.

How can I describe this product?

The Chocolate Pecan Pie cupcake is essentially the Vitamin Water of ingredient marketing-driven decadence. There is like a nickel’s worth of pecans sprinkled up top, and no pie at all. It is a chocolate base cupcake, but has a deep fudge filling. Initially I was going to take pictures of a bisected baked good, but both the chocolate cake and the fudge infusion share a kind of muddy midnight color; differentiating one from the other by sight was next to impossible when it was a few inches from my face… The structuralism was all in taste and texture. Thumbs up to both.

And as for paying later? I have become un-used to eating the random snacks all week that constituted the $50 “fuck you” money that I no longer get to walk around with. A woman at work even asked me if I am losing weight this week! As such, I was not prepared for the 540 calorie yum yum bomb that I dropped into my belly. I felt terrible for the rest of the day. I would gladly do it again.


  1. Did I mention I love rewards programs? It is not so much that I am “cheap” but that I love shenanigans. Every time I get that little punch in the card that brings me 8% or whatever closer to a free $7 salad I feel like I am pulling one over on The Man, that I am picking the pocket of some wealthy scumbag CEO [that I someday want to grow up to be].
  2. That is why I made Flores Rewards for you! Get ready for a heady combination of shenanigans, free stuff, and fun!
  3. I still owe cake. I am going to research this week if they will make the Chocolate Pecan Pie cupcake into, I dunno, some kind of gigantic forty-person mutant cupcake Forbidden Dance. If so, I will soon no longer owe cake.
  4. Tarmogoyf! Baneslayer Angel! Jace, the Mind Sculptor! <– I dunno, what else was I supposed to do? This is mostly a Magic: The Gathering blog, still.


Restaurant Kryptonite

A little over a year ago I was very involved in a local chapter of Toastmasters.

Toastmasters is an organization that helps people of all walks of life with their oral verbal communication skills. For example our chapter had a couple of life coaches, some moms, immigrants who needed to improve their confidence with English, an iPhone app developer, a highly successful CEO entrepeneur, and the CFO of a large public company… all sponsored by some huge engineering firm.

Anyway, one of the activities at Toastmasters involves pulling quotes out of a box and spontaneously jawing about whatever is on a card for about three minutes. I volunteered to moderate this activity one week, and because I can’t do anything the regular way, instead of using the proscribed plastic box with the canned — literally canned (“boxed” really) — cards, I made my own… entirely from headlines from America’s Finest News Source.

I also hand-wrote the headlines on the backs of my business cards, so that whenever someone pulled one, they were forced to topdeck one of michaelj’s cards (that’s how I roll).

Because that’s how I roll.

People didn’t get what America’s Finest News Source was / is from the outset, and were reading the headlines straight (maybe they were just not as madly creative as I was / am). Anyway, this is one of the headlines I used:

You can click the above image if you actually want to jump over to The Onion.

“Area Woman Will Eat Anything With Tuscan in Name”

Come on!

That’s a softball!

Anyway, I was thinking about this… Of course it’s hilarious to wag your finger at / turn your nose up to birds who order things with “Tuscan” in the name, but aren’t we vulnerable to the exact same kinds of behavior? I know I am.

Here is a list of five ingredients that I absolutely fall over backward for every time I see them in a menu.

#5 Pepper / Chiles / Chipotle

Peppers — and extensions and / or specific iterations of peppers — are like the Made to Stick of food preparation. If you staple a pepper onto something where it doesn’t seem like it belongs… Bingo, ya got me.

For example, chile rubbed… anything.

Or Jacques Torres Wicked line (hot chocolate and / or dark chocolate solitaires and / or candy bars) that have ancho and chipotle peppers in them. “Are you ready to be naughty?”

I once ordered a Wicked Peanut Butter* Mocha at Jacques Torres and every man in the line immediately changed his order to match.

“Is that good?”

“Only if you like flavors.”

I think my attraction to peppers stems from some desire for my food to have taste. I mean if you take a perfectly good whatever and then kick it up a notch… You grok, no?

#4 Bacon

In this case I am basically a one-man extension of the Top Chef judging panel. Add bacon, win.

I mean I love bacon so much — probably not a surprise.

I will often switch my order preference from something on the menu to something else simply because the something else comes with bacon automatically; conversely, if you can add bacon for $1.00 or whatever, I am running sick ads. Admit it, you would too.

#3 Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is my literal restaurant kryptonite. If there is something peanut butter on the menu, I just immediately order / add that thing. Part of my obsession with Tasti** the past couple of months comes from frequenting specific branches that have peanut butter sauces and / or sundaes on the menu. This is kind of weird insofar that I love nuts and peanuts are not even close to the top of my list of nuts; but add peanut butter to an otherwise reasonable menu option, and I will usually topdeck that.

#2 Garlic

Garlic is a transformational ingredient.

Like I was walking down the street in Minneapolis last week and overheard two kids talking about the steal they got on French Fries. They were $9 … but for a “big plate” of garlic French Fries. Do you know how much a potato costs? I don’t know if $9 is a reasonable price for a sliced up, deep fried, potato even in a top flight steak house… But add the word “garlic” to the name? All of a sudden you dress it up like a big blue ribbon on gigantic, recently hosed-off town sow.


#1 Rib-eye

These six letters, lined up in this particular order, are a combination of yellow, wood, kryptonite, lead, and mercy. Basically any weakness any superhero can have, that is what rib-eye is to me.

I was recently at an awesome restaurant with my wife, and she took recommendations from the waiter. He suggested some kind of curry fish (typically curry would fall under the “pepper” category, and get a certain amount of extra ups from YT in terms of predilection to order). However there was rib-eye on the menu.

This was not a restaurant known for steaks. They were known for their insane view of the city (and it was in fact superb), but according to my wife, the curry whatever kind of fish was one of the best meals she had ever eaten. I, on the other hand, got a thoroughly mediocre steak (probably not even prime).

I would order the rib-eye again; every time. That is because rib-eye is a combination of yellow, wood, kryptonite, lead, and mercy; any weakness any superhero has, that is what rib-eye is to me.

Can you imagine what would happen if there were, say, a garlic rib-eye on the menu? They actually have that at Plataforma.

* Jacques Torres peanut butter is actually “European” and full of hazlenuts. Mise.

** Speaking of Tasti, we are about to bust out some great content for Flores Rewards. Go check out the still in utero http://FloresRewards.com now!