A Quick Little Frozen Food Lifehack


I don’t want to say that I eat a lot of frozen chicken nuggets. Not because I don’t, but because I literally do not want to tell the world that I do so. Anyway, if you’re someone like me who (ahem) occasionally eats things like frozen chicken nuggets, you know that when preparing them, you usually have three options:

– Deep frying (no one is breaking out the deep fryer for 12 6 chicken nuggets)

– Microwave for a few minutes

– Bake at 400 degrees for something like 20 years

So you’re usually faced with choosing between the convenience (but mushiness) of the microwave, or the superior output (but eternal wait time) of the oven. Depending on how hungry you are, most people will cave and just nuke the nuggets. But you don’t have to! You can, in fact, have the best of both worlds.

Set your toaster oven to broil, and put your nuggets on a plate. Get them in the microwave for half, maybe a third of the time recommended by the manufacturer. When they’re done, transfer them to the toaster oven, and let them broil for a couple of minutes per side. Remember, this is food that’s already been cooked, and all we’re doing is heating it up. The microwave will thaw it out, and the broiler finishes the job and crisps up the outside. You get oven-quality results in a fraction of the time.

Once you get the hang of it, you realize that the same principle can apply to all kinds of frozen foods. Frozen french fries that only have oven instructions? Nuke them first and cut your cooking time significantly, finishing them either in the oven or on the stove. Given that frozen food was designed for the haggard, harried, and lazy, it only makes sense to find the laziest way possible to prepare them.

BOOM. Blogging. Nailing it.

Update on Advice-Giving Activities at AskMen and HeTexted

So, I’ve been busy lately, in a good way. “Man to Man” over at AskMen is doing pretty well. The questions have gotten more interesting, both for me and for the readers. I’m bummed that they don’t yet have comments up and running, because it would be great to get feedback and be able to interact with readers. I guess if you want to join in the discussion, for now you can like me on Facebook and follow me on twitter. If you missed the previous three installments, Links are below:

Why do people change?

Ian, I like your commentary. Riddle me this:

Why do people change? It seems that when I get involved with a woman and it turns into a long-term relationship (1+ year), they change! Either they get comfortable, gain weight, become tired all the time (leading to less sex), become more curt,or sensitive to things that I do or say, etc. I feel like I stay pretty stable in body/mind in the long term, but many women I have been involved with long term change on me. Is it my perception? Do you notice this in yourself or others? Is it a natural human evolution over a period of years or lifetime?


Yeah, that guy had an air of douche about him, but I go over it in pretty good detail.

Being the last Man on Earth


My buddy and I were talking about what would happen if you were the last man on earth. Like, one day you wake up and you’re the only one. He thinks it would be tedious and exhausting because you’d be the biggest celebrity in the world. I think having the “responsibility” of repopulating the world would make it worth it. What do you think?


This was a fun one. I liked working through a hypothetical like that. I wish I got more of those questions.

Why can’t I produce restaurant-quality food at home?

Hey Ian,

So I’ve recently been living on my own and trying to save some cash by taking your advice and cooking more of my own food. The problem is, I can’t seem to touch the flavor of anything I get in a restaurant. I follow recipes to the letter, I have some decent gear, and I’ve even looked up “copycat” recipes for dishes I love. Still, I’m falling short. Any ideas? Am I just not good enough of a cook yet? I don’t know anyone in the restaurant business to ask. There’s no reason why I can’t produce something equally as delicious, right?


This was another fun one, and something I think a lot of people wonder themselves (I know I used to). Anyway, keep ’em coming. Send all questions to me at theianlang@gmail.com

In other fun news, there have been some changes over at HeTexted. The site got a huge facelift, for one, and they’ve also added some new features. Now, when you ask me or another bro a question, you have the option to make it public. I tentatively discourage this, as my experience so far has been that the peanut gallery gives pretty horrible advice. They’s also started a blog, where I’m featured every Wednesday. My latest post is here, where I talk about having friends of the opposite sex. If you want to get in on the conversation, you can comment in there using facebook. I think that’s a great feature.

That’s all for now. I’ll probably try to get back into regular blogging later this week.

Introducing “Man to Man,” an Ok Advice Column at AskMen

Started doing the advice column thing this week, and the first one is up at AskMen. They’re calling it “Man to Man,” which keeps with AskMen’s heavy-handed “better man” theme, but isn’t bad as far as advice column names go, I guess. The formula for any good advice column is a balance of seriousness and silliness, which is what I went for here. A sample:

Hi Ian Lang,

Here’s my question: How can I let a woman know that I’m only interested in having a sexual relationship with her without coming across as cold and insensitive?


As you can probably tell, this is the “silly” part. A snippet of my response:

If she were interested in this arrangement, that would probably be clear, so you must be talking about a scenario in which she wants a real relationship and you do not. If that’s the case, why do you think this is an OK thing to vocalize? No matter how you word it, you’re essentially telling this person that while you think her sex parts are dynamite, you’re less enthusiastic about her personality.  That’s a pretty sh*tty thing to say to someone’s face. Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot, and a woman told you that she appreciates your personality but doesn’t find you attractive enough to screw. Chances are you’d deny her invitation altogether, and maybe buy a fedora and grow a neck beard and start yelling about “the friend zone.”

So yea, that’s fun. Read the rest over at AskMen. Hopefully it takes off and I get more and more interesting questions to answer every week. It will be good for the readers, and good for the people who write in. So share, share, share and get me some more submissions, people.

How To: Never Get Laid


Generally, I love and encourage commenters, both good and bad. As a writer, it keeps you honest. Sometimes they offer valuable, critical input. Other times, they don’t. For example, a comment from my latest article about advice:

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 11.25.43 AM

He caught me red-handed. Here I was, thinking I was positing helpful advice acquired through years of experience, when all I was really doing was tossing another log onto feminism’s testicle consuming fire.

Before I even start the advice column thing, here’s some to get you started: talking shit about feminism will never, EVER get you laid. Not once, not ever. A woman doesn’t have to be a bra-burning, armpit combing feminazi for her to be turned off by your disdain for the movement that affords her just about all of the political and social freedoms she enjoys today. Yes, there are likely some “feminists” out there who would like to see men subjugated the way women once were, but those aren’t most feminists, and not even “real” feminists. Modern feminism is, above all, about equality. Things like not being talked down to in the workplace, or not having politicians tell them what to do with their bodies. Equality is not a zero-sum game. Men do not have to give up anything to afford the kind equality most women seek.

I don’t even consider myself a feminist, but most of the things they ask for just seem like common sense to me. If you, as a man, can’t see how AT THE VERY LEAST not taking offense to that benefits you as someone who wants to meet women and maybe touch their lady parts, then you’re blind.

No one’s saying you have to agree with my (or anyone else’s advice). Just don’t be a jerk about it.

AskMen is Making me an Advice Columnist. Please Solicit my Advice.


So, AskMen decided they’re going to have a go of making my regular weekly column into an advice column, and I’m stoked. I’ve been providing advice in various corners of the internet for a couple of years now, so it will be nice to do it on a larger platform like AskMen. In order to introduce the idea, this week I shared a few things I’ve learned from giving dating advice (mostly women). Namely, behaviors that guys think give them an advantage, but actually turn girls off. Via AskMen:

The Behavior: Reluctance/refusal to DTR (define the relationship)

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, amirite? You’re spending a lot of time together, you’re obviously exclusive, so what’s the problem? Even without the label, it should be obvious to her that she’s your girlfriend. I mean, why else would this still be going on if she wasn’t?

Why it drives girls nuts:
For all the progression we’ve seen in modern society, you’re still expected to be the one to make this overture. Sorry. In your mind, you’re thinking something similar to the above paragraph. In her’s, she’s thinking something more like, “OK if we’re so invested in one another, why wouldn’t he call me his girlfriend? If he’s comfortable enough to leave the bathroom door open while he poops, why is that so hard?” And, face it, fellas, she’s got a point. The funny part is that she essentially agrees with you that the label itself isn’t necessarily important. But, if you’re unwilling to do something simple and apply a meaningless label, she’s going to question whether or not you intend to apply further, more meaningful labels down the road. Would you want to live with that kind of uncertainty?

How to fix it:
There’s no denying that having a DTR conversation is up there with talking to your parents about sex in terms of discomfort. In fact, proposing marriage was the easiest DTR talk I’ve ever had, because at least the script is simple. That’s why it doesn’t have to be a drawn-out affair. When my wife and I were dating, I defined the relationship simply by referring to myself as her boyfriend in passing. I didn’t even really think about it, but it stuck. NInety-nine percent of the time, actions speak louder than words in relationships, but this is one case in which they matter, no matter how trivial they may seem. Have a drink or two and lay it out there for her. If by this point she hasn’t rejected you as a human being, she’s unlikely to reject the label.

So yeah, that’s what I’m doing now. Hopefully, it will be in the standard “Dear Abby” question and response format. I think it’ll be good for both the site and the readers, because one thing that AskMen lacks is any level of engagement and interaction with their consumers. Instead of reading fake questions answered by “Doc Love,” now you can send them in and see your real question answered by a real person (me).

Of course, that can’t happen if we don’t get a steady stream of questions. Send your questions to editorial@askmen.com, and I’ll do my best to answer them. Also, by no means does the question have to be about dating or sex. In fact, I’d prefer if at least some of them weren’t. Ask me about etiquette. Ask me about what to wear to the office. Ask me something hypothetical. Ask me a “would you rather…” type question that makes me cringe. Literally, ask me anything.

The 10 Best Beer Gimmicks

The big beer manufacturers (particularly MillerCoors) are always looking for new and exciting ways to attract new customers. One easy way to do that without fundamentally changing your product is to offer the same bland beer in “innovative” packaging. The following are what I consider the 10 best, ranked in order from shittiest to most effective.

10 – The Miller Lite Vortex Bottle

vortex-bottle1Oh man, was this thing ever a turd. I distinctly remember ordering one at a bar in Stamford, CT where I almost exclusively drank draught PBRs (they were cheap) because I wanted to see what it did. In a word: nothing. Not a damn thing. If you’re not familiar, it was an otherwise normal glass bottle with what looked like “rifling” inside the neck. And it was supposed to…. hell if I know. I guess maybe the beer was supposed to spin like a football as it came out, but no one bothered to think a) why anyone would want that, and b) the limits of fluid dynamics that make said action impossible. It didn’t cost any more than a regular bottle, but man what a bait and switch.

9 – The Coors Light Frost Brewed Liner

155086898_bca56a1e64_m These were supposed to “lock in the refreshing frost brewed rocky mountain taste.” What they really did was turn the tab, inside, and top lip of the can blue. When I look into my beer can, there are several things I don’t want to see. Bugs and ashes are chief among them, but an eerie blue tint is up there. Hint – you don’t need a special liner to “lock in” the taste of prospector piss.


8 – Anheuser Busch Aluminum Bottles

budlightalumI get the motivation behind these. Glass is not only expensive, but dangerous as well. It’s harder to dispose of. It’s translucence can “taint” the beer (which kind of tastes like taint anyway). The problem is that these combined the worst parts of a bottle and a can. Like bottles, they were difficult to open (I think most were pop tops), and they were a real motherfucker to crush when you wanted to trash them. Like a can, their aluminum construction meant they cooled down quicker, but their narrow mouth and 16 oz capacity meant they warmed up before you could finish them. Plus, they were really tall and skinny, so no normal coozy fit around them. If there’s any theme here, it’s to not fuck with the great American longneck.

7 – The Coors Vented Widemouth Can

ventBig points here for trying to address a real need and coming up with a solution that could theoretically   work. Why yes, I would love to consume my cheap American lager in a faster and smoother fashion!  Unfortunately, it’s a poorly executed idea. The wider mouth is fine, but everyone knows those vents are just a token. Look at the opening as close to eye level as possible, and you see that the vents aren’t really vents at all. Still, they get consideration for daring to cut a wider hole in the top of the can.


6 – The Coors Light Cooler Pack

Coors18CoolerPackThis was back when Coors was trying to push their plastic bottles on us, which were an atrocity in their own right. Those fuckers were squishy and slippery. More interesting, though, was the way they packaged them. It was a normal beer box, but the inside was lined with a blue plastic bag so that you could ice them down right in the box. Again, a great concept. Why lug a cooler to the beach/tailgate/public hanging when you could just pick up a case of refreshing Frost Brewed Coors Light and a bag of ice? If you ever owned one of these, you know why they sucked. They leaked, almost immediately. Also, it’s a testament to the shittiness plastic bottles that they were forced to design a package that required extra input in order to keep them cool from the store to the destination.

5 – Current Generation Aluminum Bottles

Lite Alum PintI know MillerCoors is sold this way (particularly at sporting events), and I think Anheuser might have come around as well. Unlike the old Anheuser bottles, these offer 16 oz of refreshing hooch in a more reasonable package. The bottle is wide enough to fit in a coozy. The wider mouth means you can drink it before it gets too warm. The replaceable top is great for keeping out… I don’t know, bees or whatever. It’s no one’s first choice, but it’s still more convenient than walking around with, say, a pint of beer in a Solo cup.


4 – The Bud Light Write On Label


Sara wants a trip to the Bone Zone Cafe, where funnily enough they serve Miller.

These were not only kind of fun, but hold the distinction of being a gimmick that didn’t even bother pretending that it somehow enhanced the beer or the drinking experience. They were useful, for example, for writing your name on your bottle if you were too much of a pussy to finish it before setting it down in a crowd. It was also really handy for making sure you were roofie-ing the right person (I kid, I kid). It was also fun at a bar to buy one, scratch something like “I wanna cover your tits in safflower oil,” send it to a girl, and then have the bartender claim your unsuspecting buddy was the one making the overture. Good times.

3 – The Coors Light “Cold Activated” Bottles and Cans

CoorsLite_ColdActivated_2StageCoors has a knack for coming up with gimmicks that seem to come from a place of good intentions. I mean, why not a visual indicator of whether or not your beer is “cold as the rockies?” The problem is that the mountains are a good indicator of the temperature of the package, but not necessarily the beer within. Aluminum is a good conductor of heat, so if the mountains on a can indicate coldness, there’s a good chance the beer isn’t far behind. But bottles? Not so much. Glass is an insulator, so all the blue mountains mean is that the label is cold. Besides, if you’re too stupid to pick up a beer and determine if it’s adequately chilled, you don’t deserve one anyway. On top of that, now they have stripes for “cold” and “super cold.” That’s just insulting. Still, if it made it into a Little Big Town song, it has to count for something.

2 – The Heineken Textured Can

heineken-can I just found out about these, and I like them. They’re simple. They don’t claim to fuss with the flavor of the beer, so it comes out tasting as skunky as you’d expect. It’s your basic can, only with some raised knurling around the outside. It’s definitely easier to hold on to, and I would assume acts as an extra temperature barrier between your skin and the can, however small. It’s one of those things you pick up and say “why isn’t everyone doing this?”


– The Miller Lite Punch Top Can

Punch CanFinally, Milwaukee’s storied brewing company got one right, and boy did they ever. It’s a basic can with no bells or whistles, save for the tiny little notch on the top that beckons you to penetrate it with a key or something similar. The idea is to improve airflow into the can as beer is pouring out, and unlike the Coors vents, it works. You can absolutely destroy these things. That’s a good thing, because they’re found on the 16 and even 22 oz cans, where quick drinking is imperative. If you’re, say, pregaming a baseball game or some other event where bonging and shotgunning are “frowned upon,” these are the way to go. Even if you’re a dainty little girl (or in a place where conspicuous public drinking is prohibited), when poured into a cup the extra opening cuts down on foam big time.

I’m sure I missed some, so let me know. Others, like mini kegs, I intentionally left out. In the mean time, we’ll have to wait for the next gimmick to come along, or for the big boys to make beers that are slightly less shitty.

A Quasi-Academic Look at #Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”


Since the song came out, Robin #Thicke has defended its questionable content by saying that the whole point of it is to make fun of the kind of guys who act/think this way. At first, I kind of figured it was a response meant to deflect the question and/or screw with people. But then I started thinking “is there a way this could actually be true?” Turns out, there is, or at least I think there is, and it’s simple: Imagine the falsetto parts of the verses as the “smooth” things this would-be lady killer wants to say to his intended, and the full-voice parts are what actually comes out.

Let’s set the scene. It’s Saturday night, and our protagonist is in “da club,” as they say, where he spied a lady he’d like to talk to. The problem: what the hell does he say to her? Pickup lines are old news, and with the loud music a simple “hey what’s up” isn’t going to lead to much. He needs something a little more… open ended.

If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say
If you can’t read from the same page

“I like that. It’s poetic. Metaphorical, even. What is it I’m trying to say? From what page am I reading? Bitches love this artsy stuff. I bet she’ll respond with something flirty. Ok, let’s do this. Let’s blow her mind.”


“Shit. That’s not what I meant to say at all. I’m not nearly drunk enough. Or too drunk, I can’t tell. Yeah, that’s probably not the best thing to say to a girl when you first meet her. ‘Hi, I’m only approaching you because I’m blind, can’t hear your voice, and am crazy.’ Good job. Oh well, next one.”

Our Protagonist moves around the bar until he finds another potential candidate. “She’s hot, but not, like, THAT hot,” he thinks to himself. Perfect. This time, maybe something a little more direct is in order. Nothing too obvious, but maybe not trying to be so abstract will keep him from tongue tying himself.

What do they make dreams for
When you got them jeans on
What do we need steam for

“This is PERFECT. Heavy on the innuendo, but nothing inappropriate. Solid gold brother, solid gold.”


“SHIT. Why did I say that? There goes all the innuendo. That wasn’t subtle. That was the opposite of subtle. Wait… maybe she didn’t hear me? She’s into this. We’re dancing! Awesome!”

I feel so lucky
You wanna hug me
What rhymes with hug me?

“I really hope I didn’t say that out loud. Shit, I did. Haha, she said ‘rub me.’ That doesn’t even rhyme, really. I think I’ve met my dream girl. Uh oh, we’re really grinding now. I wish I had some real gangster-type shit to say to her. That would be tits.”

One thing I ask of you
Let me be the one you back that ass to
Go, from Malibu, to Paris, boo
Yeah, I had a bitch, but she ain’t bad as you
So hit me up when you passing through
I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two
Swag on, even when you dress casual
I mean it’s almost unbearable
Then, honey you’re not there when I’m
With my foresight bitch you pay me by
Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you
He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that
So I just watch and wait for you to salute
But you didn’t pick
Not many women can refuse this pimpin’
I’m a nice guy, but don’t get it if you get with me

“Damn, what a sick rhyme. I’ve been working on that one for weeks. My bros say my flow’s improved A LOT. Time to field test it, as they say.”

Shake the vibe, get down, get up

“Christ, who am I, James Brown? Whatever, she liked the enthusiasm. I think she’s, like, really drunk. Or maybe I’m just that good. Yeah, I bet that’s it.”

As the night progresses, the duo decide on taking the party to his place for some post-club revelry, and maybe, if our protagonist is lucky, some sex (or at least under-the-shirt-but-over-the-bra boob touching.

“Whew, I still have some weed left. God, this stuff is shit. It’s like the stems grew their own stems and that’s what I’m left with. Hopefully she won’t notice if I play up the stickiness.”

Baby can you breathe? I got this from Jamaica
It always works for me, Dakota to Decatur

“Perfect. I’ve never been to either of the Dakotas, and I don’t even know where Decatur is. But Jamaica’s a place with good weed, right? Saying I take it with me from Dakota to Decatur (which I’m pretty sure is in, like, Turkey or something) makes me sound like a world traveler who’s badass enough to not worry about the implications of transporting drugs across international boundaries. Ok, time to… Wh- What? She just took it and smoked it? No explanation needed? And now she wants me to go get a condom? THIS IS THE BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE!”

Later, as he’s in the bathroom searching for is long-expired box of condoms, he gives himself a pep talk…

No more pretending
Cause now you winning
Here’s our beginning

Yes, champ. Winning indeed.


From that perspective, the song’s explanation makes sense. These guys who think they’re master pickup artists don’t realize that their occasional success is usually just due to their finding a girl who was out to have fun and get laid herself. Not convinced? What would that same kind of douchebag say to himself if he saw a girl he wanted dancing with another man? Would it be something like… this?

OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you
But you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature
Just let me liberate you
You don’t need no papers
That man is not your maker

Yes, the guy (who is not you) with whom the lady is dancing is clearly holding her under some kind of spell against her will. If only you were there to “save” her, big guy.

What about before these guys go out for the night in their roving bro-packs? What kinds of things might they say to themselves in order to “hype themselves up?” You’d want to say something encouraging and affirmational, right? Something like…

And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me

I rest my case. Never doubt Robin #Thicke

Last Week’s Article on AskMen: Hitting Your Late 20’s


I wrote this last week, but it’s still super popular so I figured I’d share it here with the subset of people who follow my blog but don’t read AskMen, which I assume is around 2 people. I think people enjoy reading things they can relate to, and most of AskMen’s readers are either approaching their late 20’s themselves, or passed them by not so long ago. A snippet:

It’s great if your first real, adult relationship results in a lasting marriage, but if not? Welcome to your first real, adult breakup and everything that comes with that. Those pitfalls are also, I think, what makes the 20s so significant. You’ve gone from an age in which you had a lot of support to an age in which not only does life get harder, but you’re expected to handle it much more on your own. If you can limp across the finish line into your 30s, chances are you’re much better off than when you started. Your teens might be when you’re ushered into adulthood, but your 20s are when you lay the groundwork for the man you’ll eventually become.

Read the rest at AskMen.

#Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is not About Rape


Unless you are dead and/or def, you’ve probably heard Robin #Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines.” If you are a sane, well-adjusted person, you agree that it’s the greatest gift to music since the invention of the major chord. But for some people, getting offended and complaining is as intoxicating as any drug. Because these people hate all things that are good, they’ve set their sites on the best song since the Star Spangled Banner. The reason? It promotes “rape culture.”

Has anyone heard Robin Thicke’s new rape song?” blogger Lisa Huyne wrote in a post in April. “Basically, the majority of the song…has the R&B singer murmuring ‘I know you want it’ over and over into a girl’s ear. Call me a cynic, but that phrase does not exactly encompass the notion of consent in sexual activity … Seriously, this song is disgusting

Oh for Chrissakes, go comb your armpit hair elsewhere and shut up. Just because you took a Womyn’s Studies class one time, that doesn’t mean you’re qualified to say what is and what isn’t a “rape song.” Her main issue with it is that #Thicke repeats the phrase “I know you want it” over and over. Ok, that could be considered a little rape-y, in the context of, I don’t know, an actual rape situation. But have you ever had consensual sex? By definition, both parties “want it,” and if you’re having the sex you know, in fact, that the other person “wants it.”

If anything, the idea of taking offense to something like “I know you want it” and dismissing it as rape undermines women. What if she does want it? Are you trying to say that women aren’t capable of wanting sex, so that when a man declares he “knows you want it,” it can only be an unwelcome advance? Sure, contextually that kind of thing could be negative, but this is just about a man trying to have some swagger, some bravado. I wasn’t aware that wasn’t allowed anymore.

DON’T WORRY, the video (which is fantastic and features beautiful women in various stages of undress) is under plenty of scrutiny too. I know, the gall of someone to hire women who look sexy for a living to look sexy in a music video. For his part, this is what #Thicke had to say about it:

We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all three of us are happily married with children, we were like, “We’re the perfect guys to make fun of this.”

People say, “Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?” I’m like, “Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.”

Hmm. That sounds like an answer from a man who a) knows what’s up and understands the purpose of the thing he created and b) is probably sick and tired of people asking him if his music video is “rapey.” Of course it is, he made it that way on purpose. It’s not as though someone caught them with a hidden camera and leaked it to the web. It doesn’t matter, though, because we live in a world where art is dead, primarily because we’re all incapable of deciding what things we take seriously. Like, listen to this lady:

“[T]he fact that they are all married with kids does not make it OK for him to say these things or depict them in a song. Because songs like this are dangerous,” wrote blogger Liz Terry earlier this month.

Yes, this song is super dangerous. Here’s a tip – if your son or daughter grows up to be a rapist, it’s not because he saw and heard “Blurred Lines” by Robin #Thicke. It’s because they have a screw loose, or you’re a lousy parent, or both. If it’s too inconvenient for you to have a conversation with your child wherein you explain that things like music videos and video games are not real and should not be taken seriously, then you deserve for your child to grow up to become a rapist. You know the easiest way to take something like a music video and turn it into a big deal that can influence children? You incessantly blog and talk about how it’s a big deal that can influence children.

In breaking news, people are still idiots who get great big boners from complaining about otherwise innocuous things.

This Chili Recipe Fights Cancer


This is not my chili, but looks a little like it

Ok, so the recipe itself probably doesn’t fight cancer. I say that though because I created it for my friend’s Relay for Life chili cook-off, and all of the proceeds (entry fees, etc) went towards her team’s fundraising goal. Still, it won best meat chili out of a very competitive pool, so it’s worth sharing.

I almost feel bad calling this chili, because I think of chili as a kind of American peasant food. It’s hearty, it’s simple, something you’d picture two grizzled cowboys sharing over an open camp fire after a long day of driving cattle. Or, think of it as something to enjoy after coming in from a game of family touch football on a crisp New England fall afternoon. Maybe mom started the chili when you and dad and your cousins went out to play, and now that you’re done you come in, put on a cableknit fisherman’s sweater and sit down by the fire with a warm bowl of hearty chili, maybe discussing with your grandparents how your studies at Exeter are going this semester, and yeah ok I have no idea how those people actually live. Regardless, this chili is neither simple nor rustic. It’s tedious.

What it is, however, is chili so good that your friends will smack their own thighs after every bite. Chili so flavorful and savory that if you notice the crockpot’s missing, it’s because one of your guests has snuck off into a corner with it and is naked and crouched over it like a caveman, slathering it all over their body and forcing it into their mouth with their hands. That’s what I knew it would take to win, something with a crazy strong, savory, umami punch to it. That’s why there are approximately 1500 ingredients. Also, because I made it up as I went along.


 1.25 lbs ground meat (any animal) 1/2 small can tomato paste Sriracha
1 can crushed tomatoes 2 onions Beer
1/2 can black beans All of the garlic 1/2 package of mushrooms
1 tiny can baked beans Soy Sauce Chili powder
Garlic powder Onion Powder Cumin
Red wine Dr. Pepper Ground coffee


Yeah, like I said, it’s a lot. The good thing about this chili is that instead of making the whole batch on the stove and having to baby it for several hours, once the prep work is done everything goes in the crock pot and you can leave it alone until you’re ready. Let’s make some chili.

Step one: Brown your meat. Do not do this the same way you would for meat sauce, which is to say do not plop your entire cake of ground beef into the pan and break it up with a spatula. Instead, use a knife to cut the meat cake into oh, say, 5 slices. Then using your hands, break each slice up into the hot pan one batch at a time. The goal here is for heartier chunks of beef. The other goal is to get the meat fucking brown, not grey. Get the pan good and hot, and get a good, crackly char on at least one side of each batch. Don’t worry, it’ll soften once we get the liquid in there, but for now we need that charred flavor. Each time a batch is finished, drain the grease off and shovel it into the crockpot, and then prepare the next batch. While each batch works, use this time to dice both onions (keep them separate) and mince all of that goddamned garlic. Don’t be afraid, I’m talking 8, 10 big cloves. Mincing garlic by hand is a colossal pain in the ass, so if you have a mincer or a food processor, I suggest using it.

Step two: Create the base. Using any leftover beef tallow (or just oil), get once of your diced onions sweating over medium heat. A little salt here might help speed things along, but use it sparingly. Once those look like they’re close to where they need to be, add all of that damned minced garlic and cook until it’s fragrant and getting soft. When that happens, dump in a bunch (A tablespoon? A tablespoon and a half?) of chili powder and mix it around to coat everything.

(A note on chili powder: In this case, I’m using store bought stuff. It probably doesn’t add a ton of flavor, per se, but it does create some incredible aroma and adds color. If you’re the kind of foodie dweeb who wants to make their own powder or base from your own dried chiles, be my guest. You’ll probably need a lot less of it, in that case.)

Once the chili powder has filled your home with the smell of TexMex, plop in a good tablespoon of tomato paste and mix that around to coat everything. Let that go until the color has mellowed a bit ad you can smell it, and then dump the whole mess into the crockpot with the beef. Mix it all up.

Step three: Go ahead and add the rest of the “standard ingredients” to the crockpot, which you can go ahead and crank to high at this point. Half the can of black beans, rinsed thoroughly. Not quite the whole can of crushed tomatoes. Lots and lots of cumin. Plenty of garlic and onion powder. Take your mushrooms and rough chop them into, I don’t know, 1/4″ square pieces (Leave larger if you like bigger, meatier chunks of mushroom. My wife does not). Go ahead and put these in raw, because the liquid they produce will both add a meaty punch and help with the consistency of the final dish. Pour in about 2/3 a bottle of beer.

Since this is a summer chili, I wanted something that would add floral and citrus notes, in which case the New Belgium “Rolle Bolle” in my fridge worked nicely. Sam Adams Summer Ale would probably be good here, as would Blue Moon. There’s nothing wrong with using plain old Budweiser if that’s all you have, but it won’t bring a whole lot to the party. Anything brewed for summer is best, stopping short of something as fruity as a Shandy beer. Finally, add just a few glugs of cheap red wine to restore some of that iron-y, meaty flavor we cooked out of the meat.

So what we now have is essentially a TexMex bolongese sauce, which is great but not at all chili. Part of that will resolve itself over time while cooking, and the rest we’ll sort out with the “secret” ingredients, as follows:

– Caramelized onions: These add a warmth and unidentifiable sweetness to the chili. When I say caramelized, I don’t mean “browned,” like you’d get at a burger joint that advertised them. I mean cooking an entire onion down to less than a cup of what amounts to onion marmalade, like you would for French onion soup. You can do this the old fashioned way over almost imperceptibly low heat, in which case your onions will be done sometime around the winter solstice. Or, you can follow Kenji’s lead over at Serious Eats and use higher heat and sugar combined with the occasional water de-glaze to speed things up significantly. Kenji got his time down to about 15 minutes; mine took about 20 because I wasn’t trying to mess with baking soda. Once they’re cooked down all the way, into the pool they go.

– Soy sauce: When I first started messing around with chili recipes a couple of years ago, this was the first “secret” ingredient I used to augment the initial recipe my mom provided. I use light soy sauce, because while it does add some needed salt to the dish, the real value is in the umami-y glutamates found in soy sauce. I’m not sure exactly how much I used, but I’d say somewhere around 1/3 of a bottle. Put it in little by little, mixing and tasting. I generally stop when the chili is closer to the burnt umber color of chili and less red.

– Baked beans: Lots of people opt for kidney or pinto beans over black beans in their chili, but I don’t know anyone who uses baked. Some chili recipes call for brown sugar and cinnamon, and while I’ve tried those with success, they’re too forward and warm in a summer chili. Baked beans give me the warm notes I want at a more acceptable intensity, add savoriness due to their bacon-cooked origins, and add further sweetness to help cut the tomato’s acidity. I buy and use one of those comically small cans they sell, sauce and all.

– Sriracha: Most people use cayenne to add heat, but my problem is that cayenne brings heat and nothing else in terms of flavor. Everything in my chili has to count, so a one-note ingredient like cayenne is out. Chipotle powder used to be my go-to, but it’s too temperamental. Not enough and you can’t taste it, but just a pinch too much and you’re overwhelmed with both heat and smoke. I put in several good squirts of sriracha, which adds not only an easily controlled amount of heat, but also the chile pepper flavor the dish is lacking at this point. Again, squirt, taste, and then adjust as needed.

(Note: I realize that I’m using a few distinctly Asian ingredients, which might lead you to believe this will end up tasting like Thai or Chinese chili. It won’t. Shut up.)

– Ground coffee: Odd sounding, but not so much when you consider that it’s often used in dry rubs for a lot of TexMex steak preparations. I happened to have mocha flavored coffee, which was nice seeing as how chocolate is found in mole, that distinctly Mexican sauce. When I say ground, I mean really ground, like into a powder (a spice grinder, blender, or food processor should accomplish this) because you don’t want anyone chewing on noticeable coffee grounds. You only need a teaspoon or so, and if you don’t have mocha coffee you can add some shavings of baker’s chocolate to make up for it.

– Dr. Pepper: This was the last thing I added, actually the day after it did most of the cooking because it still needed something. I used diet (because that’s what I had on-hand), and less than half a can. I can’t say it added any unique flavors of its own, but it did pull all the other flavors together and gave the finished dish what one taster described as a “left turn.” Again, this sounds super weird, but Dr. Pepper is a favorite braising liquid in some regional barbecue styles.

That’s it. Get it all into the crockpot, give it a stir, and let it go on high for a couple of hours. Once it gets to a low boil, turn it down to low and let it simmer until the sun collapses into a White Dwarf (or, y’know, 4 hours). This is a chili that definitely benefits from having some time to itself so the flavors can mingle. Once it’s done, let it sit overnight in the fridge, and when you go to eat it the next day, place a friendly wager with your friends to see who can go the longest before their eyeballs melt out of their sockets.

Tedious. Time-consuming. It’s everything chili shouldn’t be, but tastes like everything chili wishes it could be. It’s really more of a condiment than anything else, because it’s too flavorful to eat an entire bowl. Try it on a hotdog. Put some over pasta. Slather some on your lover’s private parts. It’s good on literally anything.