Ian Casselberry is a freelance writer, currently based in Asheville, NC. He is an editor at The Comeback and Awful Announcing

Previously, he has been a contributing writer for Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew, and SB Nation. In addition, he was a lead baseball writer for Bleacher Report. 

You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook, where he craves your attention.

He still plans to write that novel someday. 

("Pearls Before Swine" © 2005 Stephan Pastis)
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Entries in food (6)


Cooking and eating: Edward Lee's collard greens and kimchi

As you might expect, collard greens have become a much bigger part of my diet since moving to the South. Perhaps I just didn't notice before or things have changed since leaving Michigan, but I don't recall collards being plentiful at the grocery store and farmers markets, and certainly not at restaurants. 

I was a slow convert. The greens were typically a side with whatever barbeque meal I ate. Some places made the greens too heavy with pork and pork fat, while others took a lighter touch which I preferred because you could taste the vegetables. 

But since going to a low-carb diet, I've tried to mix up my vegetables as much as possible to avoid getting bored. So I've been eating more collards for those days and weeks when I just can't have another salad or any more broccoli. There are different ways to cook them, and I often prefer more Asian flavors like soy sauce and sesame oil with mine.

This week, I tried a recipe from Edward Lee on PBS' The Mind of a Chef (one of my favorite shows, especially season three, which features Lee) in which he adds kimchi to the collards and it's become an instant hit with me. 

As Lee says while cooking, the kimchi adds a crunch to the soft, wilted greens, which makes for an appealing combination of textures. But more importantly (at least to me), the tang and spicy punch of the Korean staple provides a nice contrast to the sweetness of the greens and the saltiness that comes from the country ham. (I also used some leftover bacon that I had in the fridge.) 

Lee uses lard here, but I couldn't quite bring myself to do that. (I'm just not willing to go that Southern, maybe.) I used olive oil, which I hoped would keep the dish a bit lighter. And I actually forgot to add soy sauce, but with the salty pork and kimchi, I didn't really miss it. 

Collard greens and kimchi are my eating jam for the week. Here's how my version of the dish turned out.


Taking that sandwich construction seriously

To my fellow podcast listeners out there, do you have some shows that you periodically stop listening to regularly, yet end up coming back to later on? For me, that podcast is The Sporkful

While I am frequently amused (and informed) by host Dan Pashman's deep analysis of what makes the optimum eating experience with a variety of entrees and dishes, it can sometimes be a little tiring as well. Sometimes, you just want to eat a plate of nachos without putting too much thought into it. Yet... don't you also want those nachos to be as tasty as possible?

But I do lean more toward being amused, because Pashman talks about things like building a hamburger in ways most people probably don't. For instance, I'm not sure I've ever discussed putting the cheese on the bottom bun of the burger while at a cookout. 

I've recently gotten back into The Sporkful based on a video Pashman did for Slate, in which he talks to the executive chef of Subway about how they put together their sandwiches. 

If you took the time to watch it (the clip is five minutes long), there was some interesting stuff in there about how to lay the cuts of meat and cheese along the bun, whether the vegetables should go on top of or below the meat and so forth.

Of course, appearance is also important. But how many people care about how their Subway sandwich looks before they unwrap that paper and start chowing? 

Ultimately, I love it when Pashman throws out terms like "coverage," "bite consistency" and "bite variety" to make things geeky.

People who really think about stuff — even if you think they're putting far much thought into that endeavor — are far more fascinating to me than those who just accept things for what they are and roll with it. Maybe that's a simpler way to get through life, but it's not nearly as interesting. 


Reading stack: Bacon cheeseburgers, Superman and credit unions

 I've never listened to "The Fast Food Show" on Sirius XM, mostly because I don't subscribe to Sirius XM. But it sounds like an enjoyable show, hosted by Jon Hein of "Jump the Shark" fame.

So here was the argument posed on a recent show. Does bacon on a cheeseburger "ruin the integrity" of the cheeseburger? I know some love it. Me, I prefer a pretty plain burger. (Lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion.) Toppings have gotten out of control. Onion rings? Pineapple slices? No thanks. []

 Superman's jawline and hairstyle have undergone another adjustment with the new DC Comics reboot that features a younger Man of Steel. (By the way, I've read a few of those comics and keep meaning to post some thoughts here.) 

No more hair lacquered down with pomade and molded into that signature spit-curl. That looked particularly ridiculous when Superman was adapted to live-action, as with Brandon Routh in Superman Returns.

Artists also tended to draw him with a receding hairline that made him look way too old-fashioned. Then there was that mullet he had in the '90s. Awful. But he's got a full, tousled head of hair now. NPR's Glen Weldon does a... super job of cataloguing it all. [Monkey See]

Until this week, I was pretty happy with SunTrust as my bank. They had branches and ATMs all over Asheville, which seemed convenient. The people at my local branch are really nice. And their online banking features are pretty user-friendly.


But I got a letter this week telling me that I'll now have to maintain a minimum balance to avoid a monthly fee. The letter informed me the fee was implemented as of Nov. 10. I got the letter on Nov. 28. When I went online to view my transactions, I saw I'd been charged the fee on Nov. 23, even though my account had the minimum balance. However, it was under that amount on Nov. 1. So I got charged. But didn't the fee go into effect on Nov. 10? By then, I had the minimum balance.

The whole thing is making me consider taking my money to a credit union. It's not my statement against big corporate banks. I understand we got a good ride the past decade with free checking (except with those harsh overdraft fees), and banks need to make money. But I just feel like my bank's not being straightforward with me. Would that be as much of a concern with a credit union?  [Slate]

I'm obviously biased, but I think I have the cutest baby niece on the planet. The kid could totally go Gerber if that's the way her parents wanted to go. I tell her how cute and beautiful she is every chance I get. (Except when she's pulling my hair and throwing blocks in my face.)

But this essay by Lisa Bloom definitely gave me something to think about for the future. When Baby Niece gets older and is able to have conversations with us bigger people, do we need to stop talking about looks and stuff like that? Does that eventually contribute to self-esteem issues with little girls?

I'm not terribly worried. We already praise Baby Niece often for how smart she is. (She's getting a little too smart, if you ask me.) Besides, she seems more likely to sock someone in the face if they're not talking about what she wants to talk about. The kid loves when we read to her, and I'm betting she'll enjoy discussing books with us big kids in the future. [Huffington Post]


Me vs. a Pomegranate

A link to an article about how to seed a pomegranate popped up on my iGoogle home page the other day.  I wish I'd have seen it last weekend, before I tried to eat a pomegranate I spontaneously picked up at Whole Foods.  (It was on sale.)

What a disaster.  Seeds popped out everywhere.   Juice dripped all over the counter.   There was slipping.  There were sticky fingers.  (Thankfully, no stained t-shirt.) 

The seeds were tasty, and I'm sure I got my proper dose of antioxidants that day.  But the ordeal to get them took away from the enjoyment.  By the time it was all done, I wished I'd just eaten an apple instead. 

Maybe I'll try again some other time, now that I'm better informed.


Hopefully, This Cake Doesn't Smell Bad on the Outside

I don't think I'd ever heard of a groom's cake until my sister got married.  Sure enough, it's kind of a Southern thing.  I can't remember if there was a groom's cake at my sister's wedding or the rehearsal dinner.  And the whole thing seems kind of unnecessary to me.

But I might warm up to the idea after seeing this:

That, my friends, is a cake of a dead Tauntaun, with Luke Skywalker hanging out of its belly.  The cake was created by a local chef, which is what made it a story for

The only thing that might make this better was if Bill Hader served the cake while doing his impression of a Tauntaun.

Here's more on the cake from The Official Star Wars Blog.


My Kind of Nutrition Writer

So I've been reading a lot of nutritional and healthy living types of columns over the past couple of months, trying my best to eat right with the exercise I've been doing.  But some of it makes me feel a bit unmanly.  I mean, have you ever read any of Ellie Krieger's stuff?  She has some good eating and cooking tips, but her motivational advice gets you in touch with your softer side.

"Your bedtime routine might mean taking a warm bath or curling up with a favorite book for a few minutes."

"Incorporating a short bout of play into your day — by doing any activity that is fun for you — is one kind of "minivacation" from the demands of your daily life."

"Today I want you to think about the relationships you have with people outside your family — your friends, co-workers, neighbors, and others you have daily contact with."

That last one was fantastic, by the way.  I hit the weights really hard after thinking about people.  People.  Ugh.

But last week, I think I found the food/health/nutrition columnist for me: The Washington Post's Jennifer LaRue Huget.  Why's that?  Because she knows where my head is.  When writing about the benefits of corn and the... cleansing features it offers, she just got right down to it:

Insoluble fiber, which our bodies can't digest, scrapes the sludge out of our gastrointestinal tracts. Those big kernels are like snowplows, scooping stuff up as they move through your intestines. When the kernels leave your body, so does a lot of material your body doesn't need.

Which brings me to corn poop. You'd be hard-pressed to find evidence with your naked eye of any other grain's having moved through your system intact. But with corn, it's all too clear.

Any writer who works "corn poop" into her article is a winner with me.  Like I said, this woman knows where my head is at.  Nothing tells you more about a food's effect on you than what you might find the next day. 

As if I didn't already need a reason to eat corn at this time of year, when you can pick up a whole bunch of Michigan sweet corn at the market for mere cents.