September 19th, 2016

storyteller doll

Graze Box #9

There is storytelling stuff to write about and genealogy stuff to write about and life in general to write about, but, first, let's talk about snacks! This Graze box was another one of mostly repeats, but one has to expect that.

Snack #1 – Caramel Apple (repeat): At 80 calories (and 26 grams of sugar) this is a not too damaging sweet snack. The caramel sauce is really extraordinary, with flavor beyond just sweetness. I do prefer fresh apples to dried apple slices, but I also understand that isn’t realistic for a mail order snack subscription. At any rate, I do think this is a good offering. Dare I admit to licking the remaining sauce out of the container after dipping the apple slices?

Snack #2 – Chinese Shiitake (repeat): This soup is really more of a meal than a snack, even though it is only 90 calories. It has a mild broth, with shiitake mushroom slides, corn, and rice noodles. You put the noodles and vegetables in a cup, along with the paste for the broth, and add hot water. I think this is one of the better soup offerings from Graze, not least because it is both filling and not too salty. It’s the sort of thing that’s nice to have on hand for times when I had a breakfast meeting and am not super hungry at lunchtime, but know I will want something to get me through the afternoon.

Snack #3 – Herby Bread Basket (repeat): This 90 calorie snack has mini basil breadsticks, oregano rice crackers, and garlic crostini. The herbal flavors (both basil and oregano) are strong. I think the oregano rice crackers are the best part of this, while the garlic crostini are pretty ordinary. Overall, it’s a good savory snack, with lots of crunch and flavor.

Snack #4 - Cocoa & Vanilla Protein Flapjack (repeat): If you’ve read any of these snack reviews before, you know about Graze flapjacks, which are soft, rolled oat granola bars. This one has subtle cocoa flavor, which is always a good thing. There are 250 calories, which is not so great, but that does include 9 grams of protein, from a mixture of sunflower seeds, flaxseed, and soy. So, overall, I think the nutritional profile is no worse than any other granola bar. And it more filling than many other things of this ilk. I admit I like some of the other flapjack flavors better, but this is still good.

Snack #5 – Creamy Ranch Kern Pops (new): These are partially popped corn kernels, with a sour cream and onion seasoning. They’re 150 calories according to the container, but the web site says they’re 140. That discrepancy isn’t going to kill me. Anyway, the texture of these is more like corn nuts than like popcorn, which is fine with me. I liked the seasoning, too, which was subtle but did have a definite sour cream tang. Overall, I was surprised by how much I liked this snack and was glad for the portion control, because it’s the sort of thing I could see myself mindlessly snacking on cup after cup of.

Snack #6 – Garden of England (repeat): This fruit snack has 80 calories and consists of soft apple pieces, mini strawberries, and black currants. This is my favorite (so far) of Graze’s dried fruit snacks, largely because of those tiny little strawberries. I also like the balance, with the tartness of the black currants offsetting the sweetness of the apple and strawberries. Delicious.

Snack #7 – Vietnamese Pho (repeat): This is not really very pho-like, but it is a decent afternoon pick-me-up if you ignore that, particularly since it is only 60 calories. It’s a little on the spicy side, which is okay with me. I found that the star anise dominated the flavor profile, but it could just be that it’s a flavor I am particularly sensitive to. There are sesame seeds, which are pretty much overwhelmed by the broth flavor, along with shiitake mushrooms, which give a bit of meatiness, but are a bit too chewy. The rice noodles are in smaller pieces than I’d prefer, since part of the pleasure of Asian noodles is that it’s socially acceptable to slurp them. Overall, this is okay, as long as you don’t think of it as actual pho. (If you do want actual pho, by the way, and you are in Crystal City, there is a good Vietnamese food truck that comes on Thursday.)

Snack #8 – Cinnamon Pretzel (new): The name of this is slightly misleading, as it consists of poppyseed pretzels and caramelized honey and cinnamon almonds. So the pretzels themselves don’t have cinnamon. It’s 140 calories. The pretzels are fine, as pretzels go, but it’s the cinnamon and honey almonds that are the real star of this. I like glazed nuts, in general, and when there is cinnamon in the glaze, it’s all the better.

Overall, I’ve continued to be pleased with the variety of snacks I get from Graze. They’ve added a bunch of new snacks recently, with a focus on superfoods (stuff like chia and acai and green tea), so I am looking forward to trying some of those.
storyteller doll

Mostly Storytelling

Yeah, nothing for days, then two posts in the same day. So it goes.

Celebrity Death Watch: Richard Whittington-Egan wrote true crime stories, including a couple of books about Jack the Ripper. Don Buchla was a major designer of electronic musical instruments. Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro was the president of Cape Verde for about a decade. W. P. Kinsella was a Canadian writer, whose most significant work was the novel Shoeless Joe, which was adopted into the movie, Field of Dreams. Charmian Carr was best known for playing Leisl in the movie version of The Sound of Music, but you may also remember that she played Ella in the Sondheim TV musical Evening Primrose. Edward Albee was a playwright. It was seeing a production of The Zoo Story in high school that made me realize I could enjoy seeing plays which I had found unreadable. He was, apparently, not afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Baseball: The Red Sox swept the Source of All Evil in the Universe! Yay! Now they’ve got 4 games against the Orioles, which will be a big deal since they are currently 3 games up on the O’s in the AL East. I am thinking I might go to either Wednesday or Thursday night’s game, especially if I can stay over in Baltimore to make the commute issue less annoying.

Starbucks Protest: When I was walking from the metro to go to The Grapevine, I noticed a woman picketing the Starbucks across the street. She was carrying a large sign, with the word "Obey" on it. And the "O" was filled in with the Starbucks logo. Anybody have any idea what that was about?

The Grapevine: This storytelling series at Busboys & Poets in Takoma started up again on Wednesday night. This month’s featured tellers were Heather Forest from New York and Chelise Fox, who is, apparently, local, despite my not having heard her before. There were also the usual open mike tellers, one of whom (Dominique) was a first timer and quite good. Chelise had a fine and complex tale about a contest between wit and luck for the success of a man. Heather’s stories were mostly ones I had heard her tell before, e.g. "The Squire’s Bride." Her most powerful piece was a personal one at the end of the program, about the deaths of her mother and father-in-law. Her telling, enhanced with music, is good, but I do bristle whenever I hear someone use the word "shero." I understand why one might not want to use "heroine," but, surely, there is some better word that doesn’t rely on a completely mistaken etymology?

Better Said Than Done: Finally, regarding my own storytelling, I was part of Saturday night’s Better Said Than Done benefit at the Walker Nature Center in Reston. My story was pretty marginally related to the theme, which was Wild Life, though I did have Barbie attacked by a (stuffed) tiger. Overall, my story went reasonably well, though the ending could have been tighter. Given how all over the map the material was on Monday, I think I did a reasonable job pulling it together. I should also mention that, for me, the highlight of the evening was Catherine’s story about the woes of being on a condo board that was trying to solve a problem with goose poop in their lake.

Travel Re-Planning: I was going to go to Laos in January, but decided that I want to take a longer trip than I could get away with then. Fortunately, Alaska Air makes it reasonably easy to cancel award tickets. You get your miles back pretty much right away, though it can take a bit longer to get your credit card company to refund your taxes.

I do, however, still want to avoid being here doing inauguration week. And I know that, what with Martin Luther King’s birthday being that Monday (which we don’t get as a holiday, but our government counterparts do), it will be a slow week at the office, making it an uncontroversial time to get away. I’ve got plenty of ideas for places to go, some of them odder than others. It will probably come down to where I can get a good fare to, as that can actually be a decent time for paid tickets.