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July 29, 2007



You're looking at a batch of them.

What are they?

Silly Billy — fried pickles, of course.

Here's the back story, from Emily Heil's July 29, 2007 Washington Post article.

    Feeling Picklish? Toss 'Em in the Fryer.

    In the Southern school of culinary thought, if something's tasty as is, it's even better fried. That principle was what led chef Eric Reid to dish up "frickles," the crispy fried pickle chips that are the top seller at Del Merei Grille, his restaurant in Alexandria's Del Ray neighborhood (3106 Mount Vernon Ave., 703-739-4335).

    The sounds-odd-but-tastes-great dish ($4) is a study in contrasts: Piping-hot pickle slices in a brown-batter coating get a cool partner in the spicy mayo-based remoulade they're paired with. The salty dill flavor is a counterpoint to the tangy pepper-laced sauce.

    Reid, who opened Del Merei in 2005 with then-pal Mary Abraham (she's now his sister-in-law), was looking for a crunchy appetizer to round out the menu of comfort-food staples. At nearby Evening Star Cafe, where Reid had been a chef, fried calamari was a customer favorite, and Reid hit on pickles as a perfect — and unusual — candidate for a swim in the fryer.

    Reid's food philosophy is simple: "I just like serving food people like, and I'm a huge fan of fried foods," he says. "You can pretty much throw anything in the deep-fryer and it tastes good."

    He happily shared his recipe, scaling it back from the giant batches he makes at the restaurant and adjusting it for the home cook. Don't be intimidated by the frying, he insists: It's perfectly doable and doesn't require special equipment. The keys are plenty of oil, high temperatures and a brief post-fry rest on a bed of paper towels to soak up clinging grease.

    My first try yielded sodden, oily slices, not crisp ones like those that had entranced me at Del Merei. Then I used a thermometer that clips to the side of the pot to make sure the oil was hot enough, and soon I was dishing up frickles that were a dead ringer for Del Merei's.

    Reid serves them with a garnish of mixed greens, but that's a little too restauranty for me. I like them served right away on a simple platter with a ramekin of the piquant sauce. Either way, frickles make for an impressive nosh with cocktails at a dinner party and can be a surprising topping for burgers.

    And after your guests clean their plates, you'll be proud to call yourself a fry guy — or gal.


Now you're all excited, aren't you?

Okay, then, without further ado, the recipe that accompanied the Post story.



    In the Southern school of culinary thought, if something’s tasty as-is, it’s even better fried. That principle was what led chef Eric Reid to dish up “frickles,” the crispy fried pickle chips that are the top seller at Del Merei Grille, his restaurant in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood.

    4 appetizer servings


    • 7 cups peanut oil, for frying
    • 3 to 4 dill pickles, cut into 1/8-inch slices (about 1 cup)
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • Freshly ground black pepper


    Have ready a baking sheet lined with paper towels.

    In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil to 350 degrees.

    Lightly coat the pickles in flour, shaking off any excess. Use a slotted spoon or Chinese strainer to place the pickles in the oil. Deep-fry, in batches if necessary, for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the frickles to the paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

    Recipe Source:

    Adapted from chef Eric Reid at the Del Merei Grille in Alexandria.

    44 calories, 3g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 287mg sodium, 3g carbohydrates, 0g dietary fiber, 0g protein.


Oh, I almost forgot the recipe for the spiced remoulade.

Silly me.

Here you go.

    Spiced Remoulade


    Serve this with the fried dill pickles known as frickles, or with crab cakes.

    The remoulade can be refrigerated in a tightly covered container for up to 1 week.

    Makes about 2 cups


    • 1 cup low-fat mayonnnaise
    • 5 cornichons, cut into 1/8-inch dice
    • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and coarsely chopped
    • 1 hard-cooked egg, grated
    • 1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
    • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 small shallot, minced
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste


    Combine the mayonnaise, cornichons, capers, egg, buttermilk, garlic, shallot, smoked paprika, oregano, black pepper, cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Recipe Source:

    Adapted from chef Eric Reid at the Del Merei Grille in Alexandria.

    34 calories, 3g fat, 0g saturated fat, 10mg cholesterol, 137mg sodium, 2g carbohydrates, 0g dietary fiber, 0g protein.

July 29, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Google Magic — As in, 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from...'


Look at the results above, from a search for "Randy Mays Washington Post" performed by yours truly at precisely 12:28 p.m. today in an attempt to find a link to attach to Randy Mays, Photoshop expert extraordinaire, who created the picture puzzle in today's 12:01 p.m. post.

I almost fell off my treadmill when I scrolled down and found that very post on the first page of Google's search results, number 5 overall of 257,000.

How did they do that so quickly?

I mean, the blog post only went up at 12:01 p.m. — how could their spiders find and index it that rapidly?

For further investigation please refer to Arthur C. Clarke's 3rd Law, cited in the headline up top.

July 29, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

'I said be careful his flashlight is really a Taser' — Dallas police officer accidentally tasered at home by girlfriend


Above, the Taser X26, used by police forces in 44 countries around the world in an effort to provide stopping power without causing permanent damage.

On Sunday evening, July 15, 2007, in Dallas, Texas, police officer Charles Jeffers was accidentally tased at home by a female friend who thought his Taser was a flashlight.

According to a police report on the incident, Jeffers told the woman to put the Taser down, but she was "startled and accidentally pulled the trigger."

Read the July 17, 2007 Associated Press story below.

    Woman Shoots Cop With Taser at His Home

    A police officer was shot with his own Taser by a woman visiting his home, authorities said. Officer Charles Jeffers told investigators he'd stopped to use the restroom at his home Sunday night while on his way to investigate a burglary. He let a woman he knew into the house, leading to her accidentally shooting the Taser, according to a police report.

    Jeffers, a four-year veteran of the Dallas department, was placed on restricted duty while police review the incident.

    "We don't know what happened," said Lt. Vernon Hale, a police spokesman. "We're trying to figure out what occurred out there."

    The woman said she picked up the Taser, believing it was a flashlight, while Jeffers was in the bathroom, according to the police report.

    When Jeffers told her to put the Taser down, she was "startled and accidentally pulled the trigger," the report said.

    A Taser prong hit Jeffers in the chin. Paramedics removed the prong and Jeffers was not seriously injured, police said.


Yeah, yeah, "I said be careful his bowtie is really a camera," we've heard that — perhaps it's time to update that lyric, what?

[via the July 26, 2007 Economist]

July 29, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Personal Mister — Episode 2: Evian Brumisateur Spraydown


Jeez, they're closing: it was less than two weeks ago — July 16, 2007, to be precise — that I featured Misty Mate's creation of the personal mister space, and now here's mighty Evian attempting to hose them down.

Craig Wilson wrote about Evian's entry into the personal water-aided cooling space in his USA Today "Final Word" column of July 24, 2007.

    From his piece:

    And now you can buy mist. Evian is pushing Evian Brumisateur spray this summer. It's $15 for a 14-ounce can [top].

    Here's what the marketing department has to say: "Spray it on and feel the cooling sensation as the millions of tiny micro droplets reach your skin and instantly go to work to refresh... A great way to cool down during an afternoon at the beach or a brisk workout."

    How about going in the water? Or taking a shower?

    I understand misting plants. I've done it for years.

    But misting me?

    Being the hard-hitting investigative reporter that I am, I decided to give it a try. Maybe I was wrong about this. Maybe this was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    First of all, I would recommend anyone using this product take his glasses off before spraying. I did not. I'm also not sure a million tiny micro droplets reached my skin. Maybe a thousand. But, hey, I might be nitpicking here.

    But to be honest, it left me, well, mystified.


14 oz. for $15.

July 29, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Tom Shroder shout-out: He singlehandedly brought back Life magazine's picture puzzle


So just who is this Tom Shroder and why should we give a hoot about what he's done?

Okay, a little backstory.

On February 2, 2007, I wrote about Life magazine's wonderful picture puzzle feature, in which two seemingly identical photographs were Photoshopped such that there exist very subtle differences in numerous details.

Your job is to detect the changes.

I loved this feature and was quite unhappy when Life tanked yet again and disappeared a month later, in March of this year.

Then, out of nowhere, the feature reappeared in today's Washington Post magazine.

In his own words Tom Shroder, the magazine's editor, explains how this came to be:

    Editor's Note

    "It is, of course, a trifle, but there is nothing so important as trifles."

    — Sherlock Holmes, "The Man With the Twisted Lip"

    I so wanted to be Sherlock Holmes, and not just for the drugs. I aspired to his almost superhuman powers of observation — which, when explained to the dumbfounded Watson, actually appeared to be brilliantly human. The ability to be attentive to the smallest significant detail is what our species has instead of speed, strength, tooth and claw. For Holmes, it was the most devastating of weapons.

    In "The Sign of the Four," Watson tests his friend by handing him a pocket watch that "has recently come into my possession." Holmes studies it, notes with disappointment that it has just been cleaned. Watson smirks, thinking this a lame excuse. Then Holmes let's him have it:

    "Though unsatisfactory, my research has not been entirely barren. Subject to your correction, I should judge that the watch belonged to your elder brother, who inherited it from your father... He was left with good prospects, but he threw away his chances, lived for some time in poverty with occasional short intervals of prosperity, and finally, taking to drink, he died. That is all I can gather."

    All dead on, reasoned from minutiae: a monogram, dents, tiny numbers scratched inside the case, grooves scored by the winding key, the weight of the gold, etc.

    These were the powers I wanted. The truth, however, is better illustrated by this typical scenario: I dine with my wife, gazing at her lovingly throughout the meal. Before coffee, a stranger escorts me from the table and asks me to describe my wife's outfit.

    Umm... nada! A complete blank.

    Perhaps that's why I became so obsessed with a feature that showed up in Life magazine — briefly inserted in The Post this winter before going out of print (yet again) in March. The feature consisted of two pictures that appeared to be identical. When you studied them closely, tiny variations began to emerge. The goal was to find them all.

    It was as addicting as Holmes's injections of morphine. And then — it went away. I was bereft, until I realized, hey, I am the editor of a magazine. We could create a new version, based on photographs of the Washington region, tinkered with by our resident Photoshop genius Randy Mays. That's what awaits you on Page 6. And if hunting for the differences starts driving you crazy, just remember: It's really quite elementary.


Here's a link to today's inaugural "Second Glance."

The two pictures, with 12 differences between them, are up top.

Way to go, Tom.

If you agree, email him (shrodert@washpost.com) and give him some props to encourage him to keep this feature alive.

You can tell him joe sent you if you like but if it were me, well — I'd leave that fool out of it.

July 29, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tasting Spoon


Nice lines.

From the website:

    Ceramic Tasting Spoon and Holder

    Every cook needs a taste to make sure her/his creations are seasoned to perfection before serving.

    Designed in Scandinavia, the set comes with a 10.5'' long tasting spoon and holder.

    The holder has measurements printed on the inside and is designed to easily pour liquid ingredients without splattering.


July 29, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Foundmoney.com — 'Claim money you never knew you had!


Who knows?

[via caroline]

July 29, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Giant Tweezers — Episode 3: Mine's bigger than yours


It began more than two years ago, this epic saga, with a post that became Episode 1 (once Episode 2 appeared years later – but I digress) on May 15, 2005 featuring 10-inch long tweezers.

A reader suggested a much cheaper — 99 cents v $7.95 — 11-inch long IKEA version called the "Centrisk" just one week later, which was all very well and good except that you could only get them by going to an IKEA store, which for most of you isn't gonna happen anytime soon.

Then I decided to feature the Episode 1 item in Episode 2, a bookofjoe BlastFromThePast™® on March 31, 2007, noting in passing that the price had increased to $8.95.

Guess what?

After years of work out back in the skunk works, they're stretched these tweezers to a full 12 inches (above and below) and rendered them in stainless steel as opposed to who knows what mystery metal the earlier iteration is composed of.

From the website:

    Giant Sauté Tweezers

    This versatile kitchen tool is ideal for cooking stir fry or sauté.

    The long 12" length keeps hands away from the cooking heat.

    Also perfect for retrieving food from tall jars.

    Made from dishwasher safe stainless steel.



Bonus: at $7.99 they're now cheaper than their diminutive cousin.

It's unusual to see this sort of thing — where something gets bigger and better and cheaper at the same time — in the world of atoms: it's almost always a bit-based phenomenon.

Could this be the start of something... big?

July 29, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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