Tag Archives: food

The New, and Not Improved, Starbucks Rewards

My Starbucks Rewards operates on a fairly simple premise: go to the store and buy things 12 times, and earn a freebie (coffee, food, pastries, etc.).  The programme has changed a bit through the years – you used to be able to get free syrups in your drinks if you were a Gold member, but only got a freebie every 15 visits – but it’s always been about frequency of visits, not how much you spend.

Now that is changing.  The new Starbucks Rewards, according to an email sent out today, works as follows:

You’ll earn 2 Stars for every $1 you spend on coffee, food, drinks, mugs–and more. As a Gold member, once you earn 125 Stars, you’ll be able to redeem them for anything on the menu.*

Doing some quick math, you earn a free reward for every $62.50 spent at Starbucks.  Over 12 visits, that would average out to $5.21 per visit – which is far more than the average “handcrafted espresso beverage,” and, actually, more than almost any item on the menu excepting food items.

What does this mean for you?  If you typically go to Starbucks and order multiple items, you will earn freebies a bit faster.  For everyone else, it will take about 18 tall cappuccinos or mochas to earn a reward.

While this is being billed as a bonus for those who buy coffees for the whole office and now get extra stars for it, most customers will spend a lot more money to get the same rewards.


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Love Your Body

Stacy McCain, who has an eye for crazy, found an internet exchange between Adam Richman, the former star of Man v. Food, and self-proclaimed fat activist Amber Sarah.  Long story short: Richman lost seventy pounds and showed off his new (and very hot) body in Cosmo; he tweeted it out and used the hashtag “thinspiration,” which is apparently some pro-anorexia (no, not making this up) thing; and fur flew. Here’s Richman in Cosmo:

Adam Richman

Anyway, fat activist Amber Sarah jumped into the fray, and Richman lost his show. So readers can get the human interest side of this story, McCain helpfully links to Amber’s blog, wherein Amber Sarah promotes fat acceptance and loving your body as it is (except when she doesn’t).

I’m all for loving your body, but love comes with responsibility.  I love my cat, which is why I feed him Taste of the Wild instead of Friskies, keep his litter box clean, and pet him and play with him. People who actually love their bodies will try to have something resembling a good diet (which is completely different than being on a diet), see a doctor every so often and make a passing effort at following the advice given at the appointment, and get some exercise. When you love something or someone, whether it be your car, your kid, or your body, you take care of it.

Screaming about discrimination isn’t cardio and carrying around grievances isn’t weight training.  Amber Sarah and I both agree that people should love their bodies, but she’s referring to an emotion, and I’m referring to actions.


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What’s with iced green tea these days?

I’m a green tea addict.  Love the stuff. Often buy the gallon jugs of it (with white tea and mint) from Trader Joe’s. I also really like the glass bottles of Honest Tea (especially Moroccon Mint). There is all of five grams of sugar per serving (ten grams per bottle), and the tea cleansing goodness really shines through. But if you get green tea in the plastic bottle, there are 18 grams of sugar – the tea version of Coca Cola.

Tazo is even worse, with thirty grams of sugar per bottle.  Panera’s medium iced green tea has twenty-two grams of sugar.  Obviously, there’s a market for this stuff – otherwise, it would never be sold – but it is a bit disheartening that the “Just green tea” market is better served by Dunkin Donuts (amount of sugar or sugar substitutes in iced green tea: zero grams) than by Tazo, Honest Tea, or Panera.


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Recipe: Shooting Star Cocktail

I heard of a cocktail named “Shooting Star” when I read Cocktails for Three and thought it would be a great pre-meteor shower dinner accompaniment.

An online search lead me to some horrific monstrosity invented by Kenny Chesney involving rum and energy drinks; a sweet concoction that is basically a Sex on the Beach with added grenadine and Sprite; and a cocktail involving gin, Peach Schnapps, and coconut milk.  Lacking lychee juice, I declined to make this version of a shooting star and grain alcohol “cocktails” are so under-21 universityThis recipe, however, seemed promising: champagne, bourbon (which Mr. Velociraptor and I both enjoy), and the citrus garnishes could be replaced by slices of starfruit.

Under the theory that a Shooting Star is apparently whatever the heck you want it to be, I tweaked the latter recipe a bit and came up with my own version of a Shooting Star cocktail for two:

1 small bottle of champagne (we used a 187 mL of Korbel)
3-4 shots of bourbon
juice of half of one lemon
a dash of sugar
slices of starfruit

In a cocktail shaker, mix bourbon, lemon juice, and sugar with ice. Strain into martini glasses; top with champagne. Put slices of star fruit on rim of martini glass or floating on top of the booze.

For those following along at home, it’s basically a Champagne Americana without the bitters and with the addition of starfruit.  It is also delicious and stunning with the starfruit and bubbles.

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The blatant political hackery of the “food desert” map

Austrian Anarchist points us to a USDA map which allegedly shows “food deserts” (i.e. places wherein it is hard for people to access grocery stores and food). (Hat tip.) I say “allegedly” because one such “food desert” in Knoxville includes a Food City grocery store, farmer’s market, Trader Joe’s, Target that has a grocery section, several ethnic food stores, and a bus system.

I perused the USDA “food desert” website and found that my beloved alma mater, Tufts, is a food desert!  So much for having two dining halls, a take-out dining hall, and four on-campus cafes: it’s a “food desert” wherein people are completely unable to access healthy food. Tufts, rated as having the second-best food in the nation, is a culinary wasteland.  Thank you, USDA, for bringing this travesty to our attention.

The USDA determines “food desert” regions primarily by having a large proportion of low-income people.  Then they also factor in grocery stores by distance (i.e. if you are in a low-income neighbourhood, then you are in a “food desert” if you are more than a half-mile from the nearest grocery store).

This is the sort of statistical nuttery that bears no relationship to reality.  People are considered to be in “food deserts” even if the bus or subway leaves from their front door and deposits them 0.6 miles later in front of a grocery store.  College campuses are “food deserts” because they have dining halls instead of supermarkets.

The entire concept of defining “food desert” as not being within a half-mile of a grocery store is absurd: there are precious few areas with the population density to support that concentration of grocery stores. There is no government policy in the world that is going to convince supermarkets to build so many stores so close together.  It also ignores other sources of food (e.g. farmer’s markets, ethnic food stores, dining halls) and means to access food (e.g. mass transit).

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Tofu, the easy and tasty way

When I first became a vegetarian, I tried to learn to cook tofu and usually ended up with either gelatinous and tasteless goo, semi-burnt briquettes, or over-seasoned salty not-so-goodness. For those learning to cook tofu, I recommend a different approach: learn from those who have gone before you.

Catherine Newman (not my fav mother blogger, but a lovely recipe-blogger) has a delicious  recipe for soy-glazed tofu. I used lime juice instead of lemon juice and cooked it in the oven in my Le Creuset – first with the butter, then with the glaze – and it came out beautifully.

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Boo to the Boloco Passport

I’m not a fan of carrying around loyalty cards: in this day and age, it seems like we should be able to somehow have that information stored on our cell phones or one master card.

That said, I’m not thrilled about Boloco’s switch to a “Passport” app that replaces the Boloco cards. (Those who know me “in real life” can attest to my Boloco addiction.) Here’s the sticking point:

when you sign up, you’ll be asked to link a credit or debit card to your passport account. paying with the passport charges your credit or debit card, so you can order, pay, and earn rewards (and redeem them automatically!) in one easy step. boom! you’re good to go.

Call me paranoid, but I am leery of having a business store my credit card information on its servers permanently, and am even more leery of having that information somehow accessible from my phone. Not that I’m worried about a phone thief running up a burrito bill, per se, but this is the kind of thing I like to nip in the bud.


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