Why hello there, and welcome back to Kitchen Catastrophes Edible Adventures, which, I guess, is still our titles for food-based taste tests? I’m unsure. I thought I had changed the name, but a quick bit of research shows we actually haven’t HAD one since the previous Boomerang post. And a quick bit of research is all I have the time or effort to throw in, because let me tell you: I am feeling catastrophic.
I’m Jon, by the way, in case this is your first post; in which case, I heartily recommend you leave and go read a different post first, because I am NOT at the top of my game today. I would say I’m running at…low 70’s, high 60’s level of ability.
To be fair to me, MOST of the 60’s was pretty high.
I don’t know what it is, precisely. As I framed it this evening, “I don’t feel sick, I just feel like shit.” Apathy, headache, lack of energy, I am having a shitty time. I have a GUESS for what it is, and 20 seconds of Google searches suggest I might be right! Which is…problematic. See, the problem, is the cat.
Don’t eyeball me, you little monster.
As I…FEEL I’ve mentioned on the site several times, but can find no proof beside a single comment in my Stout-tasting post: since late March or early April, our house has been host to my brother’s cat, from when he returned home to help care for our father. As part of that move, since he might have been caring for our father for months, he ended his lease, and brought his cat with him. When our father passed much sooner than even his nurse anticipated, my brother had to return to work…without an apartment. He found living quarters, but could not take his cat with him, who has thus been with us for the last 9 months or so.
And a fun addition to that tragic narrative is that I am ALLERGIC to cats. Not like, deathly allergic, but if I spend time petting the cat, my eyes will itch and water, my nose will clog, etc. Or, in a more vivid example, “when Kato scratched me last year, the wounds puffed up and I kind of passed out.”
A more frightening form of “puff, puff, pass.” But I mean, they don’t puff TOO much.
Since then, my allergies have actually been much milder, in a fun twist. (A virologist friend of my brother’s explained that the scratch got the cat protein into my blood, causing a mass reaction that has killed off many of my histamine receptors, or something to that effect).Since that event, I’ve actually been scratched by multiple cats, without the same intense reaction. However, in the last few weeks, my contact with the cat has sky-rocketed for an array of reasons. (She prefers to hang out with Nate, but Nate now has a job. Then I come back from my fall abroad, and then we decide to shave her fur the same week the polar vortex decides to devour America,)
So for the last week, the ONLY room in the house with a consistent and normal level of warmth has been MY room, and she’s been particularly susceptible to draughts given her freshly shorn nature. So she keeps coming into my room to cry for attention, jump onto my lap, refuse to stay on any surface that isn’t immediately inconvenient to me, and generally being a normal needy cat…and in return my nose clogs shut, my scalp and neck get itchy, and, as the College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology tells me, potentially experience a vicious cycle of fatigue, where allergic reactions cause me to feel fatigued, but itching and poor breathing make my sleep uncomfortable.
Which explains why it took me until after midnight TODAY (technically) to start this post, because…I just couldn’t do it. But we’re doing it now, because my duty as a blogger calls me onward, so let’s talk about my Aussie hand presents.
Shut Your Pie Hole
In case you missed our first post last year, and didn’t click the link in our opening paragraph, some background: Boomerang Hand Pies are an American company producing hand pies, as the name implies. They’re also the first company I’ve ever actually contacted about reviewing their product: Legally, since I’m offering my opinion or critique of the product, I don’t HAVE to reach out to a company to do this (in America, at least. Other countries have different copyright and review laws), but I reached out to them because…well, because I was stuck at home trying to pass a kidney stone, and wanted something to distract me.
I know of at least TWO award winning plays about women dealing with trauma and pain through pie creation.
They were very positive about the idea, and even offered to mail me some coupons to buy further pies for free so I could review the whole set, as I mentioned that I wanted to review their product completely, but funds were low due to my father’s treatment costs. Now, those coupons never materialized, but that’s not something I hold against the company: a simple typo may have sent the coupons to some other household in the area, and I failed to follow-up telling them that the coupons never arrived, because right around the time I became SURE they weren’t simply delayed, my father’s cancer returned, and that pushed the pies right out of my mental sphere. Since then, I’ve thought about completing the review, or re-contacting them, but only as a quick aside while shopping.
However, recently their product was part of a “Buy 6 things, save $3” sale at Fred Meyer’s, our local Kroger outlet. (In case you’re unaware, there’s a variety of supermarket and restaurant chains whose name changes as you travel across America, for complicated reasons, mostly related to one chain buying out another. Thus Ralph’s, Smith’s, Loaf ‘n Jug, Fred Meyer’s, and at least a dozen other supermarket chains across the country are all owned and run by Kroger’s) which, since I had just recently made an Australian pulled pork recipe, I thought would be a “Strike while the iron is hot” moment to jump back on the band-wagon. Thus, I bought the six pies the store had for sale, and set forth to have a tasting with my family.
4 Boxes, and one foot.
And immediately ran into a problem. Not a huge problem, but a minor one: see, of the six pies I bought, two are breakfast pies. And it felt a little weird to mix “sausage egg and cheese” in the same batch as “steak and potato” or “pepperoni”. As such, I decided to hold off on cooking the breakfast pies, and eat them myself over the coming days. THEN I discovered that there’s at least 2 more flavors I didn’t know about and haven’t tried, so I figured, “EH, maybe we’ll do a third post, and I’ll actually email the company about it again.” SO HERE’S PART TWO OF OUR BOOMERANG REVIEWS, NOW WITH MORE VOICES.
Today’s options are what I’d consider ‘classic dinner’ choices: Classic Chicken, Steak and Potato, Spinach and Mushroom, and Pepperoni. And let me establish something first: the way we eat these is NOT the optimal way to consume them, as you’ll see from the pictures. These are Hand Pies, they’re meant to be eaten by HAND. Cutting them into thirds to split between three tasters obviously makes them cool faster, and damages their structural integrity. Hell, it almost damaged MY structural integrity, as I almost stabbed through my own hand trying to get the point of a steak knife through the bottom crust, and succeeding far more than anticipated.
Knife blade highlighted in red, to better illuminate just how penetrated my hand would have been.
SO, without further, ado, the Panoply of Pies!
I mentioned that this system damaged the structure of the pies. The CHicken pie was the most damaged. Or maybe this is an avant-garde exploration of what exactly a pie is.
Nutritional Information: 330 calories, 10 g fat, 9 g protein.
As the name suggests, this is a classic Chicken pot pie filling. I should also note that, while my mother and I ate the pies together, with some comments during consumption, Nate prefers to eat alone in his room, so he can watch more Youtube videos. Not a choice I begrudge him, as, if my computer and ability to watch Youtube videos were just down the hall, instead of down two flights of stairs and a hall, I might do so as well. Thus, all of Nate’s opinions are delivered after the fact, and all specifics had to be dragged out of him by questions from me.
In my opinion, this is a perfectly fine chicken pot pie. I think there’s some element missing from the sauce, some minor touch of salt, or thyme, or something, but overall it’s pretty good, and I like it.
My mother concurs, though she notes that it’s a perfectly FINE pot pie. She likes it, but she doesn’t believe it compares to the higher end products you can get. (You know, like the 10 oz Marie Callender’s pies, almost twice the size of these ones.)
It’s Nate’s favorite of the line-up, with no elaboration.
Steak and Potato
“S&P’s the choice for me.”
Nutritional Info: 390 calories, 10 g fat, 10 gram protein
For some reason, this pie didn’t get as warm as the others did. Probably just a cool-spot in our oven that we didn’t know about, so nothing they could have done about it.
Thus, when I say that my steak was just a TOUCH too firm, we can probably chalk that up to it not fully heating through, and give them a pass on that.
Now, an interesting thing occurred here, where, in my mind, as noted, the Chicken Pot Pie was just a touch bland, a decision I made eating it second, after the Steak and Potato. My MOTHER ate the chicken first, and the steak second, and felt that the Steak gravy was a little bland. So I don’t know if we just hold the two relative sauces to different standards, or if there’s something about the relative gravies that makes the other a bad follow-up.
A second interesting thing occurred where, for no apparent reason, right as I finished this pie, heat engulfed my mouth. Not physical, but a pervasive chili-spice not unlike a ghost pepper’s burn, though not nearly as strong. It was sudden, surprising, and It actually gave me the hiccups for a minute. There’s no real reason, looking at the ingredients, that this pie SHOULD have done that, and no one else got the effect, so the only thing I can think of is maybe I got some hot sauce on my hand while moving my newest bottles around.
Nate’s second favorite pie.
Spinach and Mushroom
Which, I’m not going to lie, looks a little evil. The Veggie gravy, the little hole looking like a lurking eye in the shadows.
Nutritional Info: 340 calories, 12 g fat, 9 grams protein
This is where my mother took an opinion on the structure of the pies: so far, all of HER slices had been structurally sound, and easy to eat by hand. However, she felt that the filling of this pie was a little too liquid to safely consume that way without some small mess.
The pie took third in Nate’s rankings, with a note that he felt it was a little too salty. (interestingly, it’s solidly middle of the pack in terms of ACTUAL sodium: the Steak and Potato is higher, and it ties the chicken, with, somewhat bafflingly, the PEPPERONI being the lowest)
I thought the spices and flavors involved were a nice blend, though again I wanted just a hint more of something I couldn’t place.
Which is…a little worryingly solid, here.
Nutritional Info: 420 calories (nice), 18 g fat, 18 g protein
This one I have the most complicated relationship with: as I noted in the first post, the nutritional information for this pie is somewhat complicated to put in context: Compared to a Pepperoni Hot Pocket, the pie has more fat and calories than the Hot Pocket, but it’s also straight up BIGGER (6 oz versus 4.5) thus, per oz, It has less fat, fewer calories, more protein and fiber, and a lower sodium load.
And it honestly TASTES like a healthier Hot Pocket. I personally got a lot of saucy flavor, and certainly liked the reduced amount of grease that oozed out as I held it, but I did note that there was a vague feeling of ‘restraint’.
My mother thought it was perfectly adequate, noting that she’s not really a fan of MOST pre-packaged pizza products (though she offered that she thought it wasn’t quite as “pizza-y” as Totino’s Pizza Rolls, a surprising statement from her.)
Nate ranked it the lowest of the bunch, but also revealed that his rankings this whole time have held between 5 and 7 out of 10. None of them were bad, in his estimation, just different levels of “fine” to “good”. He also noted that he felt they’d probably all rate higher if they had been microwaved, as then he’d be mentally measuring the results against “this only took 3 minutes to cook” versus “Jon baked these for 25 minutes”.
Overall, we were satisfied with the flavors we tried. And if I can hunt down the remaining 2 flavors, maybe we’ll have a day tasting the last 4 options we haven’t covered. Especially since one of the options is Mac and Cheese with HAM, adding meat into my current favorite option from the bunch. Until then, we’ll bid farewell to Australian dishes for now, and try our hand at other food stuffs.
If the notes we’ve given had motivated you to try a pie, be sure to check out the Boomerang’s website, where they have a store locator for your area. And it appears…EVERY grocery store in my town carries them. Damn, that almost feels like targeted marketing. Still, check it out if your interested!
MONDAY: JON FORGOT IT WAS VALENTINE’S DAY, AND NEEDS TO COME UP WITH SOMETHING ROMANTIC. UNFORTUNATELY, HIS FAMILY SCHEDULE STILL STOPS HIM FROM ANY KIND OF MENU PLANNING BEFORE FRIDAYS, SO HE’S UNSURE. HE THINKS IT’LL BE A DESSERT THAT’S SURE TO SIZZLE.
THURSDAY: LITERALLY VALENTINE’S DAY, HUH? LET’S TALK ABOUT…CHOCOLATE. SURE, THAT TRACKS.