|12 Days of Christmas|
Sunday, November 29, 2015
The 2013 Egg Nog Tasting
Family Holiday traditions are very weird, like how my family does an Egg Nog tasting every Thanksgiving... after dinner. You know, because we're still hungry and it's not like Egg Nog is filling at all. In fairness, it was a tradition born by accident. One year, literally everyone thought they were in charge of bringing egg nog, so they brought a couple and we ended up with, like, 15 of them. Since then, we've intentionally started doing this. Sometimes, this gets super complicated and involves blind tastings and whatnot, but the last couple years have been pretty informal. Check out some previous recaps: [2013 | 2012 | 2010 | 2008].
The past few years have represented an attempt to find different egg nogs instead of crowning the same two every year (usually local mainstays Wawa or Swiss Farms). This has been fine, but I don't think any of those actually beats our normal champions. This year, we returned to previous champions, and went for some new things too. Not a crazy number of entries this year though:
In an odd turn of events, Upstate Farms got under some people's skin and ended up taking the award for worst egg nog. I didn't think it was that bad, but it was clearly inferior to the top two, Wawa and Swiss Farms. Someone mentioned that Upstate had a sorta artificial, chemically character to it. I didn't really get it, but whatever! Swiss Farms took first place, and at this point, remains undefeated. Personally, I still go for Wawa, but that's just me.
It was fun, as usual, but it was a pretty low key year. Perhaps next year will be the year we finally break down and make our own egg nog. If we can get over our fear of making everyone sick, which seems likely? I feel like it should be simple enough, but we'll see. Otherwise, I want to find something I can bring to rival Swiss Farms. It's good, but I don't know that it's quite as dominant as its performance the past few years indicates. Until next year!
Sunday, December 15, 2013
The 2013 Egg Nog Tasting
A tradition born by accident, my family's Egg Nog tasting happens every Thanksgiving. One Thanksgiving many moons ago, thanks to poor coordination, everyone brought one or two Egg Nogs, and thus we ended up with, like, 14 different types. I'm not actually positive what year this really went into overdrive, but ever since that fateful year, we've actually planned to have that many Egg Nogs, and have even gone so far as to orchestrate a double blind tasting in order to determine the Best Egg Nog (the "worst" is usually a pretty easy and uncontroversial decision that does not require any real debate). I mean, we're not scientists here or anything, but this is pretty rigorous for a family gathering. I could have sworn I did a better job recapping each year's proceedings, but only a few previous tastings have been chronicled: [2012 | 2010 | 2008].
One thing we've noticed is that the same Egg Nogs tend to show up every year, and we've got a few that consistently win (notably local mainstays Wawa and Swiss Farms). Last year we made a rule that the previous year's winner (and "winner" of worst nog) could not return. This year we made a concerted effort to seek out completely new and obscure Egg Nogs. I was actually shocked at how well we did in this mission, though of course there were a couple repeats. So let's do this, the Egg Nogs of 2013:
But as bad as it was, Borden was still at least marginally identifiable as Egg Nog. One thing I've noticed about the competition for worst egg nog is that it is dominated by entries that aren't actually "egg" nog. They're always just "Holiday Nog" or "Seasonal Nog" or "Coconut Nog" or some such lie. These really aren't Egg Nogs, but they've got some nutmeg and they're trying to capitalize on the season. I guess that's fine for big Soymilk fans, but when you have these right next to real Egg Nog, that just makes them seem all the worse. This year's competition was between the Bolthouse Farms Low Fat Holiday Nog, which was packaged so deceptively that we didn't realize what it was until we nearly gagged on it. Silk was its normal self, but the real revolution in bad flavor belongs to Califa Farms Almondmilk Holiday Nog. It was so bad, I think it somehow hurt my eyeballs. The decision was unanimous.
The competition for best was a little better, though I do think the champions of years past (Wawa, Swiss Farms, Upstate Farms) would have trounced all of this year's competitors. Indeed, the normally middle of the pack Turkey Hill was a clear favorite heading into the blind tasting, which only featured three Egg Nogs this year: Turkey Hill, America's Choice (whose box sez "fa-la-la-la-yum", which became its unofficial name), and Promised Land (whose label proclaims "From the finest Jersey Cows"). It was close, but Promised Land came out the victor.
Posted by Mark on December 15, 2013 at 08:57 PM .: link :.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Holiday Link Dump
Things are getting festive around here, so here's a few quick links for your holiday enjoyment:
Posted by Mark on December 23, 2012 at 03:23 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
The 2012 Egg Nog Tasting
Every year, on Thanksgiving, my family has an Egg Nog tasting. It's a tradition born by accident. One year, several of us mistakenly thought we were responsible for bringing egg nog, and thus we ended up with, like, 8 egg nogs and devised an impromptu tasting event. In subsequent years, the number of entries rose and our methodology grew stronger. Oh sure, it's still not perfect, but even the attempt at a double blind taste test seems pretty good for such an informal event.
In general, the egg nogs are judged for two awards: best and worst. Since the number of entries can get out of hand and you can only drink so much egg nog at once, we generally limit the competition to straight nogs, not those fancy flavored things (i.e. no pumpkin spice for us). This year, we added an additional restriction that last year's winner and loser should not be part of this competition. Since the same two brands seem to win every year, we thought this would yield some variety. So the field was a little smaller this year, but the tasting was as fun as ever:
The race for worst egg nog was also interesting. I expected the "So Delicious Coconut Milk Nog" to wipe up the competition, and there were definitely a few people who thought it was the worst thing evar. However, the Giant Light Egg Nog (70% less fat, 1/3 less calories!) won decisively in the voting. The Coconut Nog wasn't excessively bad in my opinion, though it didn't really taste like egg nog. It was like coconut milk with nutmeg, maybe a bit thicker. But the Giant brand Light Egg Nog was absolutely disgusting. A word of advice: if you're trying to watch your fat intake or calories, just don't drink egg nog. You'll be much happier.
All in all, another successful tasting. We'll have to coordinate better next year and get some better, high quality, more obscure options.
Posted by Mark on December 19, 2012 at 10:08 PM .: link :.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
'Tis the season... for cheesy horror movies! It's something of an annual tradition here at Kaedrin, though the pickings are getting a bit slim these days. Two of the three movies below are only slightly related to actual holiday scares. That being said, I always seem to have fun with these movies, even if they aren't so great:
Posted by Mark on December 18, 2011 at 02:17 PM .: link :.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Hope everyone had a great holiday, here's a few more links for your enjoyment:
Posted by Mark on December 26, 2010 at 05:49 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Early Christian history shows a lot of attempts by Church leaders to attract followers by setting their holidays to coincide with existing festivals and celebrations. In the case of Christmas, the Church chose December 25, as it coincides with pagan winter solstice festivals that were popular in most cultures. As such, most of the folklore surrounding Christmas is an amalgam of both Christian and Pagan traditions. Examples include Christmas trees, mistletoe, and, of course, Santa Claus.
Santa Claus, as we know him, can largely be traced back to the poem A Visit From Saint Nicholas, published in 1823 and written by Clement Clarke Moore. However, Moore was pulling from a long tradition of Christmas gift givers, which were, in themselves, pulling from older pagan traditions. And while our current vision of Santa is jolly, many of the precursors are more varied. We all know about the "naughty or nice list", but we generally shy away from graphic descriptions of what happens to the naughty. Many older traditions did not. Case in point, the Finnish "Joulupukki", which translates to "Yule Buck" or "Yule Goat".
One of the reasons pagan cultures chose to celebrate the Winter solstice is that the shortest days of the year are in December, and once you reach the solstice, the days start to get longer again. In Finland, these festivals would celebrate the return of the daylight and would often feature a personification of the evil spirits that were leaving as the days got longer. These spirits were often wore goat skins and horns and demanded presents. It was a loathsome creature, and it frightened children (which parents no doubt used to their advantage, getting their kids to act nice). Once the Christian traditions reached Finland though, this somehow got flipped around, with the spirits now benevolent and delivering presents instead of wreaking havoc.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is a new Finnish movie that wonders what would happen if we discovered the original "Joulupukki". According to the research of the film's main character, young Pietari, the original Santa was not a very pleasant character, so villagers tricked him into freezing water, then covered the resulting ice cube in sawdust and so many rocks that they created a new mountain. Cut to present day, and a crazy American businessman is attempting to find the real Santa, and is excavating a nearby mountain, much to the dismay of local Reindeer ranchers. Pretty soon, their Reindeer show up dead and children start to go missing.
This is not your typical holiday movie, nor even is it your typical holiday horror film, a subgenre I've been exploring over the past few years. It takes a while to get going and while I enjoyed the ending, it was a bit of an anti-climax, as you never really get to see the true horrific power of Santa (on the other hand, I do wonder if that sort of explicit explanation would lose something)... That being said, the film has a dark, dry sense of humor that isn't quite explicit, but which made me laugh out loud several times. This is the debut film of writer/director Jalmari Helander, and it's clear that he has a good eye for interesting visuals and while he does not resort to many horror tropes, he does manage some creepifying visuals, such as the weird wooden dolls that Santa's little helpers leave behind while they're kidnapping naughty children or, heck, even Santa's little helpers themselves.
The ending of the film escalates into the absurd, but in an entertaining and welcome way. My favorite part was when young Pietari suddenly turns into an 80s action hero and starts dropping one liners like "It's either me or Santa. I suggest Santa." (OK, fine, that was 2 lines, but still.) I'm still not entirely sure what to make of the epilogue, though it's still a wonderfully absurd notion.
In the end, I don't know that this is up there with the Christmas horror classics like Black Christmas, but it's probably still an upper tier picture, and it's well worth a watch for fans of dark holiday shenanigans. ***
Update: After the movie, I headed over to the local beer bar, Eulogy, and had a nice Austrian beer called Samichlaus. Guess what that translates to.
Posted by Mark on December 22, 2010 at 08:29 PM .: link :.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Holiday Link Dump
It's that time of year, enjoy:
Update: Added some links...
Posted by Mark on December 19, 2010 at 08:08 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The 2010 Egg Nog Tasting
Well, it appears that I've missed the opportunity to partake in the annual 12 Days of Christmas Posting, but while I won't be posting every day like I've done the past few years, I'll still try to make some holiday posts. I'll start with the annual family egg nog tasting. I've documented this for the past few years, and this year started out in similar fashion, with 13 different varieties of eggnog:
For reference, these are the eggnogs pictured (from left to right):
When it came to judging for "Best Overall Eggnog", things were a little more interesting. This year's tasting started out in our traditional, completely subjective manner, but then we narrowed the field down to 5 finalists (Wawa, Swiss Farms, Wegman's, Upstate Farms, and Target), and prepared a blind tasting methodology where our panel of 6 judges would rate each eggnog on Taste, Appearance and Viscosity.
The cups on the right were the "palate cleansers" and consisted of Rice Dream Rice Nog. It was surprisingly effective. Now, don't get me wrong, this test was still far from scientific, but the methodology was much more thorough this year... and yet, we came out with similar results! Last year, there was a tie between Wawa and Swiss Farms Egg Nog. This year, Swiss Farms takes home the prize, but it only nudged out Wawa by a small margin.
The best tasting note of the day came from my sister-in-law's sister, who claimed that Southern Comfort Traditional Eggnog (I think) tasted like suntan lotion. Once she said it, I couldn't not taste the suntan lotion. Disgusting. Anyway, it was a good year, and I'm looking forward to next year.
Posted by Mark on December 15, 2010 at 07:49 PM .: link :.
Friday, December 25, 2009
12DC - Day 12: Merry Christmas
In 1897, Virginia O'Hanlon sent a letter to the New York Sun asking a simple question: is there a Santa Claus? You see, she had a bad father. He didn't want to answer the question, so he transferred his fatherly responsibilities to the newspaper, claiming that "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." An editor at the Sun, Francis Pharcellus Church, took the opportunity to answer Virginia's question and also addressed the deeper philosophical quandry. His now famous response can be summed up as "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."
Merry Christmas, all!
Posted by Mark on December 25, 2009 at 01:38 AM .: link :.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
12DC - Day 11: The Night Before Christmas
This 1933 Disney short is a bit... unenlightened (check out that soot gag), but it was a different time then.
That's all for tonight. Merry Christmas Eve!
Posted by Mark on December 24, 2009 at 11:48 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
12DC - Day 10: Santa Slashers
Last year I checked out some holiday horror films and found myself enjoying them quite a bit. This year's crop turned out alright as well, though I wasn't able to get to Don't Open Till Christmas (very long wait on Netflix - the same fate that befell Silent Night, Deadly Night last year).
Posted by Mark on December 23, 2009 at 05:42 PM .: link :.
12DC - Day 9: Rantlers!
Sometimes brilliant moments in cinematic history appear in the most unlikely places. Case in point, Rocky V, where Rocky coins a new holiday term: Rantlers! Take a listen:
Posted by Mark on December 23, 2009 at 02:34 PM .: link :.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
12DC - Day 8: Eggnog!
Last year, I posted about my family's eggnog tradition. Every Thanksgiving, we all bring a few eggnogs and have a tasting. We're pretty bad about organizing it, but this year things went reasonably well, with 12 varieties and even a few new ones. I'm determined to do a true double blind taste test next year... Anyway, here's this year's lineup:
For reference, these are the eggnogs pictured (from left to right):
Wawa brand and Swiss Farms brand eggnogs came out on top, with 5 votes apiece. For those of you non-East-Coasters, Wawa is a popular convenience store (a la 7-Eleven, but better) and dairy farm, and their Eggnog is great. Swiss Farms is also a local dairy, and their stores are these strange drive through affairs... Their eggnog was a new addition this year, and obviously a successful one. It's quite good. On the other end of the spectrum, there was a unanimous decision to crown Rice Dream Rice Nog the most disgusting, though quite surprisingly, Lucerne eggnog did quite poorly. I'm not sure how Rice Nog would compare with Silk Soy Nog (last year's loser), but they're both pretty foul.
One of the funniest things about Rice Dream was a little warning label that was on the side. I took a picture, but Kelson's is much better, and I won't ruin the surprise.
Anywho, it was a good year, and I'm looking forward to next year's tasting!
Posted by Mark on December 22, 2009 at 06:10 PM .: link :.
12DC - Day 7: Treevenge!
On Saturday, I posted a picture of the traditional Kaedrin Christmas Cactus. I've been delayed a bit due to some server host issues, but today we're going to see a reason not to have a tree (though honestly, in my case, it's more due to laziness than to what you're about to see). It's a short film made by Canadian filmmaker Jason Eisener (he also made this bit of insanity, which I may have posted during the 6WH last year), and a word of warning, it starts out pleasant enough, but it eventually gets very gory, so proceed at your own risk.
Of course, that's complete fiction. Everyone knows that our bloodthirsty lust for Christmas trees leads to the extinction of the pine tree.
Posted by Mark on December 22, 2009 at 05:13 PM .: link :.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
12DC - Day 6: The Christmas Cactus
Last year, the strand of lights I had on the cactus burnt out, so I had to replace it... And now I remember why I never took lights off the thing before. Taking them off and putting them on can make for a painful experience. In any case, I present you with the 2009 traditional Kaedrin Christmas Cactus:
There you have it. Later in the 12DC, we'll go over some reasons not to have a tree (even though, hey, I love Christmas trees too).
Posted by Mark on December 19, 2009 at 06:00 PM .: link :.
Friday, December 18, 2009
12DC - Day 5: Friday is Holiday List Day
Even though it is infrequently observed, Friday is list day, so here's a couple lists...
Not So Random 10
Holiday music generally gets overplayed, but let's see what comes up:
Holiday Link Dump
Posted by Mark on December 18, 2009 at 07:57 PM .: link :.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
12DC - Day 4: Christmas Light Hero
Apparently only 1.1 million of you have seen this, so I better do my part:
That's a lot of lights. I'm disappointed that the kid is only playing on easy though!
Posted by Mark on December 17, 2009 at 12:24 AM .: link :.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
12DC - Day 2: Peter's Christmas Album
I think one of the funny things about this clip is that it appeared in an episode that was aired in September (i.e. not even close to the Holidays). Typical Family Guy.
Stay tuned for this year's edition of Incidental Christmas Movies...
Posted by Mark on December 15, 2009 at 12:06 AM .: link :.
Monday, December 14, 2009
12 Days of Christmas: Day 1 - Tarzan, Tonto & Frankenstein
It's that time of year again, and in keeping with the tradition of seasonal posts (i.e. last year's 12DC and the 6 Weeks of Halloween), today marks the first of twelve holiday themed posts. As with last year, most will be short posts (usually just a pic or video), but Wednesday and Sunday posts will tend to be longer. And so we begin with a bit of a softball, but for some reason one of my favorite SNL holiday gags growing up. I give you: Season's Greetings from Tarzan, Tonto & Frankenstein!
I don't know why, but this seriously cracked me up. Another vid in the extended entry (unfortunately, the best part gets cut off at the end, but it's still awesome).
Posted by Mark on December 14, 2009 at 09:32 PM .: link :.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
And so we come to the last day of the twelve days of Christmas. I hope you had a good one! To mark the occassion, here's Eric Cartman's rendition of "O Holy Night":
Merry Christmas all! And now we return to our normally scheduled posting...
Posted by Mark on December 25, 2008 at 06:15 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
12DC: Day 11 - The Night Before Christmas
Today, we kick it old school with The Night Before Christmas, a 1905 silent film (loosely) based on the classic poem by Clement Moore.
Only the big day remains! See you tomorrow...
Posted by Mark on December 24, 2008 at 08:26 PM .: link :.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
12DC: Day 10 - Seasons Eatings
I'm sure you've already seen this, but it's always worth watching again:
Aside from holiday balls, 'tis also the season for Pizzelles (or Italian death cookies, as my friend Dave calls them)... alas, I do not have any good pictures of my mom's famous Pizzelles. Perhaps later. Anyway, we're getting close now!
Posted by Mark on December 23, 2008 at 09:41 PM .: link :.
Monday, December 22, 2008
12DC: Day 9 - One of these is not like the other...
Seen while Christmas shopping:
Apparently T2 has entered the ranks of Christmas Classic. That endoskeleton skull fits right in on that shelf, doesn't it?
Posted by Mark on December 22, 2008 at 04:06 PM .: link :.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
12DC: Day 8 - Holiday Horror
It seems that even after the Six Weeks of Halloween horror movie marathon, I couldn't really stop. It doesn't help that there are plenty of Christmas themed horror films... though I must admit that I wasn't able to get to the infamous Silent Night, Deadly Night (very long wait on Netflix). Oh well, there's always next year. In the mean time, here's a trio of other Christmas horror films...
Posted by Mark on December 21, 2008 at 01:10 PM .: link :.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
12DC: Day 7 - Weird Holiday Music
The 12 days of Christmas continues with a couple of strange Holiday songs for your enjoyment. First up is an animated Bob & Doug McKenzie singing The 12 Days of Christmas:
Next is the Carol of the Bells as performed by guitarist Gary Hoey:
Ok, so not that weird so far, but here's a genuinely odd one from Jonathan Coulton (with Paul & Storm) called Chiron Beta Prime. Just his description of the song, before he even starts singing, is worth watching...
Well that's weird enough for me. Special thanks to Widgett, who is one-upping me by doing 13 days of Christmas. Anyway, he's responsible for the Bob & Doug McKenzie and Jonathan Coulton songs and has a few other demented holiday songs too...
Posted by Mark on December 20, 2008 at 09:35 AM .: link :.
Friday, December 19, 2008
12DC: Day 6 - The Spirit of Christmas
During my freshman year of college, a friend called me into his room to show me this video he downloaded from the internet (Dude, it was 50 megabytes! That's huge!) The video featured crudely animated kids with hilarious potty mouths chearing on a fight between Jesus and Santa Claus. This was probably among the first internet video memes out there, and it's fully deserving... A few years later, the creators of this short got their own TV show, which became South Park. This original video still holds up though, even after all these years...
Posted by Mark on December 19, 2008 at 10:23 PM .: link :.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
12DC: Day 5 - It's an MST3k Christmas
There are lots of great Christmas movies, but of course, there are lots of really bad ones too. This is why these Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes are so great - they make bad Christmas movies into great experiences. Without further ado, here are the full length episodes of both Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (with Joel Hodgson and including the infamous Patrick Swayze Christmas carol) and Santa Claus (with Mike Nelson).
Over 3 hours of brilliant stuff going on there... enjoy!
Posted by Mark on December 18, 2008 at 09:14 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
12DC: Day 4 - Eggnog
A family tradition has grown over the past few years. Every Thanksgiving, we have an Eggnog tasting. Nothing fancy or scientific (though perhaps that can be arranged next year!) and we're pretty bad about organizing this. Point of fact, this year, we only had 4 varieties to try out. Last year, however, was a different story. Again, due to poor planning, several people brought several different varieties, which lead us to have 14 different brands of eggnog.
For reference, these are the eggnogs pictured:
Up until this event started, I'd never been much of a fan of eggnog. There's just something unappealing about a substance that is so scary-bad-for-you that you can only consume it for a limited period of the year. But I've grown into it and am looking forward to next year's tasting...
Posted by Mark on December 17, 2008 at 07:05 PM .: link :.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
12DC: Day 3 - The Christmas Cactus
What do you use, a tree? Pfft!
The traditional Kaedrin Christmas cactus strikes again. Also striking again, my poor photography skillz! More to come...
Posted by Mark on December 16, 2008 at 06:45 PM .: link :.
Monday, December 15, 2008
12DC: Day 2 - The Lost Ending of It's a Wonderful Life
A few years ago, the lost ending to the holiday classic It's a Wonderful Life was found. It's brilliant.
Tomorrow, we'll handle christmas trees... sorta.
Posted by Mark on December 15, 2008 at 06:40 PM .: link :.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
12 Days of Christmas: Day 1 - Incidental Christmas Movies
In keeping with the tradition of seasonal posts (i.e. 6 Weeks of Halloween), today marks the first of twelve holiday themed posts (not all will be about movies, I promise!) We start off with what I'm calling Incidental Christmas Movies, meaning movies that take place during the holidays but aren't about the holidays.
Posted by Mark on December 14, 2008 at 07:19 PM .: link :.
Where am I?
This page contains entries posted to the Kaedrin Weblog in the 12 Days of Christmas Category.
Kaedrin Beer Blog
12 Days of Christmas
2006 Movie Awards
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Weird Movie of the Week
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