SatC + J&J = Audrey!


It’s not exactly news that our entertainment, these days, comes from more than just movies and television. On the personal-sized screen of our laptops we’re able to access all manner of information–both professional and just plain fun. What you might not know, though, is that there are plenty of people creating shows–called webisodes–geared directly for that super-small screen.

WIGS (, launched earlier this year, creates scripted dramas with strong, female leads. All of their series can be found on their YouTube channel. Today, October 29, a new series begins starring Kim Shaw (How I Met Your Mother, She’s Out of My League), who plays a Carrie Bradshaw-esque character, Audrey, whose more interested in food that shoes, or anything else for that matter! Think Sex and the City meets Julie & Julia. WIGS describes their style of show as provocative and edgy, so expect some harsher language and adult situations.

You can watch the first episode of Audrey here.

While browsing  the channel, though, I came across this behind-the-scenes feature that showcases the work of Speedy, the Craft Services guy on the set of Audrey.

(Direct link for the feed readers: Audrey–Behind the Scenes: “Speedy” Craft Services)

Accidental Bananas


Who knew you could grow bananas in the Florida Panhandle?

Both houses Todd and I have shared, so far, have had banana trees somewhere on the premises, but they’ve never bloomed and I thought I’d read or heard something them being purely ornamental in all but the most tropical of locations.

Imagine my surprise, then, when the new neighbors joked that we’d need to trade bananas for lemons (their home has a massive lemon tree at the side–did you know lemon trees have thorns?) and there they were, little green bananas hanging down in several places in our little rain forest just off the porch.

From what I can tell, once the individual “hands” have filled out and have turned slightly more yellow-green than pure green (and definitely before the first frost) its time to cut them down and hang them someplace cool. Which will probably be the garage. And, then, once they’ve all been harvested it’ll be time to cut down the stalks that flowered this year, as they only produce once (but the little shoots that pop up just as the old ones die could).

I’ll be sure to keep you posted if we actually get any edible bananas from this year’s “crop.” Since I had nothing to do with their planting, and they seem pretty self-sufficient to have gotten this far, I hope my notorious black thumb won’t prove their downfall, now that I’ve noticed them!

Sun, Fun and Disaster Prepared?


June 1 marks the beginning of Hurricane Season in our neck of the woods and even though it’s been simply ages (knock on wood) since a storm of considerable size has come anywhere near Tallahassee, it’s not a bad idea to start assembling a basic disaster supply kit–aka Bug Out Bag–just in case this is the year we get one.

What needs to be in that kit?

According to, your basic disaster supply kit should contain:

  • At least 1 gallon of water per person per day, for at least 3 days (72 hours) for hydration and hygiene; don’t forget pets if they’re part of your plan!
  • A 3-day supply of non-perishable foods, enough for all the humans and pets you’re responsible for.
  • Manual can opener for canned goods.
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio, with extra batteries–a NOAA Weather Radio is even better.
  • Flashlights and extra batteries.
  • A first aid kit (make sure to keep a back-up supply of all prescription medications, too!).
  • Whistle to signal for help.
  • Dust mask, plastic sheeting and lots of duck tape!
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and twist-ties or zip-ties to safely handle sanitation needs.
  • Some basic tools: wrench, pliers, hammer, screwdriver, etc.
  • Maps marked with your evacuation route should you need to beat feet to a safer location.
  • Cell phones, chargers, and car adapters.

A generator and fuel is a nice thing to have, along with a converter that plugs into your car’s lighter or accessory jack (we had one of those for car trips and it meant not needing to rely on my laptop’s battery alone–nice!). Some extra fuel for your car wouldn’t hurt.

Since this is a food blog, can you go beyond mushy canned goods for your food stores? That’s something I’ll be exploring more in-depth this summer, but I’ve heard good things about today’s MRE (Meals Ready-to-Eat) packs. Adding a camp stove and some fuel canisters can greatly increase your options for stuck-in-the-dark meals, just remember to add extra water and fuel to your stores if you’re depending on dry rice, beans or pasta as part of your food supply.

And who says you can’t go gourmet in a storm? Check out the The Storm Gourmet, which I first heard about in 2006 on NPR, where they shared a salad nicoise made entirely from canned and jarred items.

Do you have a hurricane plan or other disaster supply kit prepared?

Nibbles: PB&J, Candy and GABS-ing


Scattered thoughts after a very busy weekend means it’s time for a few nibbley tidbits:

April 2nd is National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day

I can’t think of a pb&j without remembering the scene from St. Elmos Fire. Mare Winningham’s character, Wendy, has finally stood up for herself, moved out, and is living her life on her own terms.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night to make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich… and ya know, it was my kitchen, it was my refrigerator, it was my apartment… and it was the BEST peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I have had in my entire life.

Love that scene.

And I’m willing to bet that we’ve all had a PB&J moment like that in our lives, food-related or not.

As humble as the lowly peanut butter and jelly sandwich may be, every now and then it’s nice to go back to the basic staple of the childhood lunch. Whether for nostalgia or just because nothing else sounds good at the moment, a pb&j on white bread can really hit the spot.

But what about jazzing up the standard pb&j? Sure, you could be “daring” and opt for something other than grape jelly (I’m partial to strawberry, myself) or really go wild with the smooth vs crunchy decisions, but why not try something really different? Maybe a fancy bread, a wrap or flatbread? Substitute the peanut butter for almond butter, cashew butter or sunflower seed butter. Mix a little honey or syrup into your peanut butter and go jelly-less. Or skip the bread entirely and alternate spoon-fulls of peanut butter and jelly straight from the jars.

What, like I’m the only one who does that?

I Want Candy

baritone horn, sheet music, parade beads and a candy headband

That song has been stuck in my head for 2 weeks and I’m hoping, now that the Springtime Tallahassee parade is over, that I’ll get a respite from it.

Saturday was the first time I’d “marched” in Springtime Tallahassee since 1994. As part of the Lofty Pursuits Community Marching Band we walked the hilly parade route playing the fitting tune, as Lofty is not only a local toy and game shop, but our very own old-fashioned soda fountain–complete with jerks–and classic candy shop.

It’s a pretty sweet gig, you know. The pressure is low, the music is fun, the uniform is a t-shirt and the funny hat of your choice (I whipped up a fabric candy headband for this parade), and we get “paid” in ice cream! And on Saturday I think the stroll down Monroe Street helped us work off the ice cream calories well before we’d consumed them!

Great American Bake Sale

Share Our Strength has a goal, through it’s No Kid Hungry Campaign, to end childhood hunger in America by 2015. That’s a pretty tall order and they’ll need help to do it–who better but food bloggers to pitch in?!

On Saturday, April 28th, bloggers across the country will be hosting their own Great American Bake Sale to help further the work Share Our Strength is doing to “[connect] children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives” through “federal nutrition programs,… community organizations fighting hunger, [teaching] families how to cook healthy, affordable meals and [building] public-private partnerships to end childhood hunger, at the state and city level.”

Team Helper Monkey! will be hosting the Tallahassee bake sale at a location to be named as soon as I nail down the particulars. We’ll be accepting donations throughout the month of April online as well as hosting a physical bake sale on the 28th. If you’re in the Tallahassee area and want to join us online, contribute baked goods or take a shift on the actual day of the sale, please contact me at randomactscomics[at]gmail[dot]com.

And if you’re not in Tallahassee, check out the Great American Bake Sale map to find a sale in your area or sign up to start one yourself!



They are a hallmark of bygone days, incredibly retro and subject to some of the most odd flavor combinations and texture experiments ever born. Most consider them a novelty, at best, and something to be avoided at the family reunion at the very least.

I’m talking about the humble molded salad. Mixtures of reconstituted powder, canned fruit, whipped cream substitutes and who knows what else.

And I’m on a mission to find the good ones.

I’ve never been a huge fan of gelatin desserts but there was just something about the ones I had last month that really appealed to my taste buds.

  • They were sweet without being heavy.
  • The basic ingredients–gelatin, fruit, cream–aren’t inherently bad for you.
  • They are cold, perfect for the summer heat.

Oh, sure, there are some scary specimens out there. We’ve all seen them. Maybe even made some.

I tried to be inventive and use some of the things we had in our pantry to make my own version. We had cherry jell-o, canned fruit cocktail and a jar of marshmallow fluff (the latter leftover from a holiday project–honestly, I don’t usually keep these sorts of things around). I thought that the fluff would stand-in okay for the Cool Whip that seems to be a standard.

I thought wrong.

The fluff did not… mesh well with the gelatin. Oh, it tasted fine, but the texture was a bit off and the portion of the gelatin that I mixed with the fluff didn’t fully gel again, there was a bit of wateriness going on that made serving it with a slotted spoon a necessity.

There’s tons of these recipes on the ‘net–far too many for me to test and weed out the diamonds among the roughage–so I’d really love it if you’d point me in the direction of your favorites, the ones you’ve tried, your tricks with them. I’ll test the ones that seem the most promising and share my findings. This goes for the next month and a half–til the end of summer–but don’t wait. Even *I*, with my voracious sweet tooth, can only test so many options in the next 6 weeks!