Is it worth it to pay for a study abroad????? AKA I went to Eurussia on the cheaps

Gordy Yates had the big fat dream of going to Eurussia and having a cray cray vacay.**** So, he bought a plane ticket to Russia and started saving his money (lol — really he just stopped going out to eat and buying deodorant). He left, traversed all across the Eurussian wilds for 24 blissful days, and returned a happy and fulfilled young gentleman. Do you want to make your cray cray dreams come true?

Looking so happy and so fly in Moscow.

If you want to make your cray cray dreams come true and want to get a small itsy-bitsy baby idea of what it might cost, here’s a little break down:

  • Multi-city (aka open-jaw) ticket to Eurussia (San Diego –> Moscow, Dublin –> Salt Lake) (United Airlines/Lufthansa): $903.26
  • Traveler’s insurance (probably a smart idea even though I don’t know what it’s for): $49.95
  • Russian visa (Thanks, Obama/Putin): $351.90 (I got it through Travel Broker, which is a company that basically does all the paperwork for you and you pay them $100ish. So I could have gotten the visa for cheaper, but I really don’t know how, so it was worth it in my oponion.)
  • Flight from Moscow (Domodedovo) to London (Gatwick) (EasyJet): $158.53 (could’ve gotten it for, like, $50 if I’d bought it a month or two sooner :(((((( )
  • Flight from London (Standsted) to Oslo (Rygge) (Ryanair): $24.51 (#unbelievablycheap)
  • Flight from Oslo (Rygge) to Milan (Bergamo) (Ryanair): $21.09
  • Bus from Austria/Germany back to Milan: $25.58
  • Flight from Milan (Bergamo) to Dublin (Ryanair): $29.43

I bought all this (minus the bus ticket) BEFORE going to Europe.

Total pre-Euro costs: $1,564.25

Once I got to Eurussia, my bank charged me $5 every time I withdrew money at an ATM or 3% every time I used my debit card to pay for things. I always withdrew cash and avoided using my card. Some countries, like Norway, have chip cards instead of magnetic strip cards, so American cards don’t always work, so I used cash 99.99% of the time. At the start of my trip, I withdrew in increments of $50ish, but by the end of trip, it was increments of $150ish.

A harbor in Norwegia. Literally so pritt.

The total amount I withdrew while in Europe was $1,295.15, which combined with $55 in withdrawal fees, is $1,350.15.

What did I spend all that $$$$ on? I didn’t keep an exact record, but according to what I remember/train tickets and phone cards I saved (none of this is exact, y’all):

  • Food and chocolate: $388.43
  • Intercity transport (long train and bus rides): $189.56
  • SIM cards and data: $186.50
  • Housing: $160.50
  • Public transport (short train and bus rides): $101.64
  • “Cultural experiences” (museums and junk): $100.50
  • “Souvenirs” (pants, sweater, hat, socks, and an extra bag): $81

 

So, in total, it cost this little boy $2,914.40 to make his dreams come true for 24 days in Eurussia. He thinks he’s a winner.

A sample of the exotic cuisine this little boy sampled in the Eurussian wilds.

I went to BYU’s Kennedy Center website and compared this to what it costs to do a study abroad in Europe. I always thought, “Why pay tuition AND pay to travel? That must be a crap-ton expensive!” but I never knew for sure if I was right.

Well, after a quick survey, I found out that I’m right. A study abroad that’s 33-days-long and visits 8 countries (I went to 9) is $5,200-5,600 NOT INCLUDING airfare, public transport, museums, and most meals. So, crap, that’d probably be, like, three times more expensive than what I did in the long run.

Of course, there are other study abroad options that are cheaper/might be more worth it (like a water study that’s only $2,200-2,400 in Belgium and The Netherlands INCLUDING airfare and museum entry) and if you have a scholarship, it would be cheaper for sure. BUT if you’re like me, you’ve never had any luck getting a scholarship (#BaveragestudentatBYU) and you love figuring things out for yourself without The Man interfering (we all know I like to avoid hanging out with The Man).

So, yeah, I’m a major … I mean Gordy’s … a major winner. Go Gordy, right? And I coulda done it cheaper!!!! (keep an eye out for those blogs l8r)

Joy that cannot be contained. Honestly, my eyes creep me out in this pic.

And the adventure’s not over yet! Maybe some Taiwan or South Amricka this summer? And keep an eye out for #EURUSSIACRAYCRAYVAYCAY2016 next March. And give me money maybe so I can go?

****Urban Dictionary spells it both “vaycay” and “vacay,” just FYI. Not sure which I prefer — vote below!

Station Twenty-two (and Three Quarters)

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You know a sandwich is good when it takes you a day and a half to stop thinking about it. This story is about one of those sandwiches.

There’s a tale of boy who runs into a train station wall and is magically transported to a magical school. I don’t know a whole lot about magic (JK — I do), but running into Station 22 is almost as magical as running into a wall.

This little sandwich shop is located on Center Street, which means that eating here is a hipster adventure. The vibe is a step more hipster than Guru’s: the menu is shorter and seasonal (meaning it’s based off of ingredients available during that time of year), the space is smaller (giving it a cozy feel), it’s filled with the randomest knickknacks (like cowboy boots and toy ships on shelves, sheet music used as light covers, and hunting mounts hanging on walls), and you drink out of MASON JARS. But, like Guru’s, it’s not a gross hipster place (I’m sure the people here wash their hands and take showers).

The specialty here is sandwiches and the prices are pretty reasonable. Most menu items run around $10.

I ordered the Memphis Chicken Sandwich. This sandwich is made of the crispiest, juiciest piece of fried chicken you can imagine, topped with red cabbage coleslaw and a spicy butter glaze, placed lovingly in a ciabatta bun. I was a little nervous about the red cabbage slaw since, for the most part, I don’t believe in pickled foods, but it worked on this sandwich.

Memphis Chicken Sandwich with fries

The chicken is the best piece of fried chicken you’ve ever tasted: tender, juicy, and crunchy all at once; the coleslaw gives the sandwich the tiniest taste of sour, the cabbage adding a delicate crunch to every bite; and the spicy glaze gives the whole ensemble the slightest little zing. All the flavors stand out from each other, but they simultaneously work together. This sandwich was deeyyyuuung good — I literally couldn’t stop thinking about it all the next day (the fact that I was in church until 4:30 may or may not have had something to do with that).

The fries were good: crispy, delicious. I’ve also sampled their sweet potato wedges and those are DANG good. However, the fry sauce here is gross — I can’t eat it. It tastes too mustardy and Gordy don’t like mustard. I asked for barbecue sauce instead, but even that was gross — it tasted bitter (come to think of it, they may have given me Worcestershire sauce instead of barbecue sauce … not sure why). Best to stick with ketchup ’round these parts.

I came here on a date and my date ordered the Club 22. She say it was good (like, she really liked it). I’ve been here a couple times on dates and neither me nor my dates have ever been disappointed (but I will say I prefer their sandwiches to their burgers).

Club 22 with sweet potato wedges, photo cred to special guest photographer Paige Bennett

So in this back-to-school season, if you want to take yourself on a magical journey, run into Station 22. It won’t suck, promise.

The back of cafe has a wall full of soda. I don’t support soda, but it’s pretty nift to look at.

Sub Zero is okay

So I went to Sub Zero Ice Cream on Friday after the stupid BYU football game. I’d never been, but I’d heard lots of things about it. Mostly, I’d heard that it was real sciencey, so I was intrigued by that. Heads up, though: it’s way overpriced (like, $7 for a small bowl). But liquid nitrogen IS expensive, so that’s fair.

Sub Zero’s thing is that they use liquid nitrogen to freeze your ice cream right before your eyaz. You choose a base (normal premium cream, lowfat cream, custard, yogurt, nondairy milk, soy milk, or rice milk), choose a flavor (they have a plentitude to throw in — choco powder, fruity flavors, and other junk), and then maybe some mix-ins (like brownie bits or fruit chunks or whatever), then they spray it with the liquid nitrogen (or whatever — I don’t know how it works, but here’s a video of the scientific process), then they scoop it into a cone or bowl for you.

Cool process, but how does it taste?

I chose premium cream because it was obviously gonna be the best/tastiest. Then, because I’d been using this super-good-smelling mango and pomegranate soap all week, I chose mango flavor. I didn’t get any mix-ins because they cost 70 cents a pop and I’m a cheapskate.

Mango, yo.

The texture was terribly creamy. Just cream on cream on cream rolling through my mouth. I loved it.

Unfortunately, the mango was super fake-tasting and I don’t like super fake. I like my ice cream like I like my women: real and THICK. Even though it was creamy enough, the mango tasted like waxy chapstick. After the first couple bites, I got used to it, but it didn’t taste like how I liked that soap. So sad.

I sampled some other flavors to see if just the mango was sad. Chocolate was legitimately good, cheesecake was super sugary, and raspberry was good too.

Brownie batter. Mmmmmmmmm.

So if you want to take your tongue for a stroll on the sciencey side, take it to Sub Zero, but maybe ask someone there for a flavor suggestion.

Bahston pizza

Once upon a time in a place called America, there was a city on the east coast where free-blooded Americans and awful British people or, as they were known in that day, Tommy Redcoats, lived together. The Tommy Redcoats lived terribly happy lives, but only because they spent all the times oppressing the free-blooded Americans.

One day, the free-blooded Americans decided to do something to get rid of the Tommy Redcoats. They knew that the Tommy Redcoats really liked tea: they drank it for breakfast, lunch,dinner, and teatime. The free-blooded Americans thought that if they hid all of the Tommy Redcoats’ tea, they would leave for good.

So, on Christmas Eve when all the Tommy Redcoats were sleeping, the free-blooded Americans snuck into the Tommy Redcoats’ kitchens and took their tea. Then they ran to the local harbor and tossed the tea into the ocean so that the Tommy Redcoats could never find it.

When the Tommy Redcoats awoke in the morning, they went to have their morning spot-o-tea, but couldn’t find any. They looked in all their cupboards, but there was no tea to be found. So, they walked up to the American President and asked where they could find some more tea. He said, “Not here. Maybe in British England.”

So the Tommy Redcoats packed up all their things and moved back to England, leaving the free-blooded Americans to be freer and bolder than ever before.

This event came to be known as the Great Boston Tea Party and is still written about in American history books today.

Thankfully, the free-blooded Americans and the British (as they are known today) became best friends by means of a young ambassador named Harry Potter and fabulous garden parties between Thomas Roosevelt and Margerie Thatcher.

And that is how the city of Boston came to be world-famous.

Our very own Provo has a restaurant that honors this famous city’s cuisine: the Nicolitalia Pizzeria (or, as the younger generation calls it, the NCMO-italia Pizzeria … boom chicka chicka). I went to visit this landmark of Provo patriotism with an authentic person who once lived in Boston. It was a special special special special special special dinner time. And the person was a girl.

Here, everything is in Bostonian which, as my girl-person told me, means you put a really pronounced “A” sound in random words. So instead of “appetizers,” here’s it’s “appetizAHs,” instead of “paremesian,” it’s “pAHmesiAHn,” and the like.

Anyway, I asked the girl-person what we should eat and she, being the Bostonian she is, suggested we got the Nicolitalia Special. We got a large (14”) pizza and a side of breadsticks. The total was about $20 and there was definitely enough to fill both of us up.

The Nicolitalia Special is basically a combo pizza. Sausage, onions, peppAHroni, mushrooms, and peppAHs deck this pizza out. According the the girl I was with, these toppings make the signature Boston pizza. I’ll take her word for it. As far as I’m concerned, it was just a dAHn good pizza.

#handmodelstatus

The sausage was just a tinge spicy, the onions were juicy and flavorful, the peppahs were fresh, and the peppahroni and mushrooms blended into the background, enhancing the flavor and texture of the overall pizza. Also, the crust was perfect: just a bit crisp on the outside, yet chewy and fluffy on the inside. Derng.

Proof that we ate it.

The sauce and cheese were also good. The sauce was flavorful, but there wasn’t too much of it (a good thing). It seems that the cheese’s primary purpose was to keep the toppings attached to the top of the pizza. There was just enough of it to cover the whole surface of the pizza, yet not so much that it wasn’t dripping from the pizza. Get out of town, Tommy Redcoats! America’s got this pizza under control!

The breadsticks were also good. They were all different, definitely made by hand at the restaurant, not some made-in-China box. Some were skinny, some were lumpy, some were skinny and lumpy. They were all very soft and chewy, definitely not as crisp as the pizza crust. We ordered the house sauce (a mix of marinara and ranch dip) to dip them into. It was a pleasurable experience.

In order to appreciate America’s rich heritage of not drinking tea and getting rid of people we don’t like, all free-blooded Americans must go here. The pizza’s real good and so are the NCMO’s boom chicka chicka.

Get rid of the stressmester

Doesn’t going to BYU suck sometimes? If you’re like me, you flew by in high school (and community college), but doing real college is a lot harder. What make it so hard?!! What’s the secret?

Well the secret might be:

1) Before the end of this month, you’ll probably have taken at least one  midterm, written two papers about stuff you didn’t even want to read about, and read two books you’d never heard of before.

2) Don’t forget you’re a Mormon, which means you probably need to write a talk, visit your home (or visiting) teachees, and plan a ward activity before the end of the month too.

3) Add to this the twenty hours of work you squeeze in on a weekly basis and:

Your life is a jungle gym of stress, complete with monkey bar midterms, relationship slides, and that spinny-wheel thing that gives you a headache and makes you want to throw up.

 Although you may feel stressed enough, there’s one more thing you have to do which is all-too-often ignored: Family History work. Joseph Smith said, “We without [our ancestors] cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:18). Recent Church leaders have particularly encouraged youth and young adults (i.e. the computer-literate generation) to be actively involved in Family History research. So basically, do your Family History or go to hell. No pressure.

But when you hear a talk about Family History, you’re kind of like:









or

Understandably, Family History work gets pushed to the sidelines in your life. You might go to a Family History class or attend the temple periodically, but aside from that, the hard-core, nitty gritty of researching your ancestors gets pushed back to “someday when.” “Someday, when I don’t have homework anymore,” or, “Someday, when I’m retired.”

Oy vey! With all the fraking things already attacking your attention, what are the effects of doing Family History research on your stress level?

As a student entering my fifth year of college (anticipating my effing sixth), I’ve tried a lot of methods of de-stressing myself. Some, like regular exercise and temple attendance, have been effective. Others, like spending four hours a day on Facebook or watching movies all weekend, have not been effective. I think the reason has something to do with this: if I’m taking a break by doing something I know I should do anyway (like exercise), then I feel less stress. If I take a break by doing something I know I should do sparingly (like check Facebook), I’m just going to stress myself out more. I’m no genius or anything, but it turns out I’m on the right track.

According to the Internet, having a productive hobby can simplify your life by reducing the pressures you feel from other obligations. The Internet says, “Serious hobbyists feel less anxiety, depression and hostility, and enjoy more positive moods than people who spend their time in other ways.” A stress-relieving hobby should be challenging, but not so hard that it makes you want to give/throw up. However, passive hobbies, such as watching TV or having a one-man pizza-eating contest, are bad hobbies.

How many nights have you postponed homework by watching a movie, playing a video game, eating a bowl of cookie dough, or staring at your roommates doing their homework, just because you needed some time to de-stress?


A truly effective method of de-stressing is by participating in a guilt-free hobby. Why not do Family History as a guilt-free, stress-reducing hobby?

Family History is hard, but the hard part of Family History work can largely be eliminated if you’re a BYU student. Major resources at BYU are available for freeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!

  • First, the BYU Family History library is open seven days a week (except for the first and third Sundays of the month) and offers Family History classes.
  • Second, Ancestry.com, the world’s LARGEST database of genealogical documents, can be accessed for freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee when you’re hooked up to BYU Internet. Whoa.

As with many hobbies, getting started on your Family History can be hard, but it becomes easier the longer that you do it, and, when you do it at BYU, starting isn’t as awful as it could be.


Also, you could start with an easy part of Family History, then move on to the hard parts as you gain more experience and confidence. Different aspects of Family History include:

  • keeping a personal history (easy)
  • interviewing family members on the verge of death and recording their stories (easy)
  • indexing (never been a fan)
  • digitizing old photos and sharing them online (you’d get legit kudos if you did this)
  • doing the research for your own ancestors and taking their names to the temple (my favorite)

As you get tired of doing one certain part of Family History work, you can move on to a different part, gaining new skills and knowledge the whole way. #winning

When you do start working on the nitty gritty research for your own ancestors, have a specific goal for a specific ancestor instead of trying to do the work for multiple ancestors at once. Otherwise, you’re gonna have a bad time. Also, don’t research your ancestors ONLY to do their temple work. The real benefits come from learning who your ancestors actually were.

Family History is totes a worthwhile distraction from school. By spending an hour or so doing Family History research each week, I’m able to find information about ancestors that no one in my family has known before. I’m able to reunite families that have been separated for centuries. Heckfire, doing Family History research and taking my ancestors’ names to the temple is a lot more satisfying than going to the Testing Center has ever been.

If you’ve served a mission, how great would it be to take a break from the constant nagging of homework by feeling the way you did on your mission? Even if you haven’t served a mission, you’ll find that a servicful hobby is much more rewarding than scrolling through Facebook or eating a carton of ice cream.

But perhaps you feel that all of your Family History work has been done already and, therefore, taking up Family History as a hobby would be pointless. My BEST FRIEND Kaden Taylor is the great-great-great-grandson of John Taylor. You’d think he wouldn’t have any Family History work to do, but of course he does, just a bit less than the average Mormon.


Kaden tells me that having less ancestors that need temple work allows him to focus his research. He also likes the idea of finding information that no one in his family has known before. Dang, he’s great.

Doing Family History was something specially designed for our generation. We’re pros at Facebook-stalking our crushes and googling random crap that we NEED TO KNOW. Why not do the same thing for our ancestors?

“It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies,” Elder Bednar said in the October 2011 general conference. “The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation.”

As a Latter-day Saint, you’re also a pro at deciding what’s important and devoting your energy to that. For example, even though money is a very necessary part of life, you set aside ten percent of your income to give as tithing, still having enough to pay the bills and go on dates. You’re also capable of fulfilling a calling, a commitment that’s sometimes a full-time job at other churches, while still fulfilling work and school obligations. Heck, you may even be so good at time management that you set aside work and school obligations for eighteen months to two whole years in order to serve a full-time mission. Being a Latter-day Saint is to your advantage when it comes to setting aside time to do Family History research. Time management and making priorities are something you’ve been doing your whole LDS life.

Adding Family History to your list of priorities is not something that will drag you down and drown you like a sack of unwanted puppies. Family History is a sure-fire way to take your mind off your hectic day-to-day life and allow you to think about what matters most.

Your life is busy and you’re doing your best to meet all your school, work, and Church obligations. Thankfully, you have Family History to take your mind off things every now and again. Take advantage of the resources available at BYU to make Family History research a guilt-free break from your stress-prone life.

Saucy pants

Okay people, so I thought I’d try the thing where I try to teach y’all how to make food again, but this time, I decided to do something that I legitly know how to cook.

Tomato sauce is something that I eat sometimes. It can go on pasta, lasagna, or homemade pizza (but I’d use less warter in the sauce if I made a pizza).

I learned how to make my own sauce when I was in the Russia. We always bought tomato paste, so I learned by ear how to mix the right amount of water and spices to make the perfect sauce. And this sauce is perfect. You start with a tiny can of tomato paste and end up with a whole ton of suited-to-you tomato sauce. Look at you, fancy pants.

Turn this …

 

… into food.

 

Ingredients

6 oz. can of tomato paste
1 cup water
A fistful of onion (about 1/4 of a large-ish onion)
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 Tablespoon basil
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teapsoon pepper

Step 1: The onion

Onions are the basis of taste in so much food. They’re a staple to basically any stove-top recipe. A lot of the flavor in soup, sauce, and stir fry recipes is dependent on the onion. If you’re cooking something and it’s lacking that flavorful boom chicka chicka, chances are you’re missing your onion (or garlic, but that comes later).

Start by peeling your onion. Onions are like ogres: they have layers. The top layer (or two) is papery — you don’t want that. Peel it off and throw it away. The layer beneath that is rubbery. You don’t want that either; throw it away. The layers beneath that should be crisp and easy to cut through: that’s what you want. (This may be “duh” to some of you, but having lived exclusively with guys for the past four years, I know that things like this aren’t always intuitive.) Cut a quarter out of your onion and chop it into baby pieces (like, a quarter the size of a french fry or smaller). Throw it into a pan greased with cooking spray, oil, or butter. Heat it to a quarter or half heat. Cook until the onion pieces start to become transparent. You don’t want them to turn brown or crispy-looking.

I used red onions, butt it doesn’t matter.

Step 2: The sauce

While that’s cooking (you can do this step while the onions are cooking if you keep your eyes on them), y’all need to mizz your water with your tomato paste. Dump the insides of your can of tomato paste into a big-ish bowl (like, a big cereal bowl, nothin’ huge, though). Once you did this, dump that 1 cup of warter on top. Mix with a fork (or hand) and you’ll get a saucy mizzture.
It looks like tomato poop lol.
Tomato diarrhea!

Step 3: Get the Spice Girls

Next, you’re gonna want to flavor your sauce. You can just pour the seasonings into the bowl with your tomato-paste-now-tomato-sauce.

1 1/2 teaspoons of Garlic Powder: Like onions, garlic powder is a necessary part of ANYTHING tasting good. Life would be so bland without it. I hear tell it’s more flavorful than actual garlic but doesn’t make your breath smell abhorrent. Wow. If you cook something, but it’s lacking something, throw some extra garlic powder in to fix it.

1/2 tablespoon of Basil: A delicate herb, it’ll make the sauce taste fresh.

1 1/2 teaspoons of Oregano: Given my extensive knowledge of Italian cooking, I can say that oregano is THE Italian spice. Your tomato sauce won’t taste like tomato sauce without it. Likewise, if you ever has a pizza that needs a pick-me-up, sprinkle some oregano on it.

1 teaspoon of Salt: Not too much, but just the right amount with make all the other flavors come out (#everysundayschoollessonever).

1/4 teaspoon of Pepper: Packs a punch that your sauce will be boring without.

Mixzz all the seasonings with your tomato sauce and stick your finger in it to see if it tastes how you want. #magic

Step 4: Mixzz

Pour your bowl of seasoned sauce into the pan of now-cooked onions and heat until the sauce is warm. Then put it on pasta and eat it.

You turned a tiny can of tomato paste into a panful of tomato sauce. That’s a big deal, saucy pants.

So this is a super easy recipe that’ll save you all the monies in the world and allow you to make a sauce that really speaks to you. Obviously, you can add anything to it that you want (like cooked ground beef or veggies). Is this great or what?

In the Red Bluff

As many of you are possibly aware, American Christmas was this last week. As such, BYU decided to ruin er’body’s lives and schedule finals for the week right before Christmas. It’s like going to school in the atheist Soviet Union where they don’t care about Christmas or how cold it is or how many stray cats are wandering around on the streets unloved. I got some issues I got to talk to Cecil about.
I think finals should finish AT LEAST ten days before the Christmas holiday to allow Gordy adequate time to think about how great Christmas is. I just need a moment to get ready for Christmas WHATEVER.
So I’m in a California city called Red Bluff for Christmas break and the weird thing is it’s where I’m from. One of the brightest jewels on California’s I-5, gateway to Mt. Lassen, home to the largest rodeo on the west coast — every time I come home, it’s hard to believe that I was raised here.
Anyway, my daddy decided to love me more than the rest of his children and take me out to lunch today. We went to the best restaurant in the greater Red Bluff area: M&M Ranch House. M&M is located in what we call “Cow Town”: a collection of little stores on the outskirts of Red Bluff next to some nut orchards and the Tehama County fairground. My sister and I actually used to go to school there in a jumble of old, abandoned offices. We would do PE on the cement slab at the end of the parking lot and take walks through the nut orchards. You could call it idyllic. You could also call it unforgettable (if something’s hard to forget, that means it was really enjoyable).
Closed on Sundays. I don’t believe I want to live in a country where you have to stay open on Sunday to do business.
If you’ve ever had a burger with me, you know that I ALWAYS order the western burger wherever I go, which is a good-bad thing. It’s good because western burgers is nearly always the best burger on any menu because it’s covered in BARBECUE SAAAUUUZZZEE. It’s bad cuz always ordering the western burger prevents me from trying new things. BUTT I like what I like so sue me WHATEVER.
I’m not the only one who thinks M&M’s is ridicucray delicious. Every year, the local paper sponsors a food chompotition to see which restaurant makes a particular food item the best. One year, it was to see who made pancakes the best. Another year, it was salad bars. M&M won the chompionship for having the best burger in the greater Red Bluff area. The M&M western burger officially known as “The Ringer” is, supposedly, the best hamburger in Red Bluff. It’s a tastey little number with (What else?) barbecue sauze, onion rings, lechuga (Is that “lettuce” or “milk” in Spanish?), tomatoes, bacon, and your choice of cheeeeez. They also put a nasty pickle on it, but you can get rid of that business by saying, “I don’t want no dang pickle on my masterpiece burger deliciousness.”
Naturally, when Father took me out this afternoon, I ordered (without question) The Ringer. This place is so fancy they asked me “how” I wanted my burger. I got it medium well, because well is dry and rare is really dross. I also requested pepper jack cheese because it’s a quality cheese that adds a little zing, but not too much of a zing, as if the cheese were trying to surprise you, but not too much (like a Mike Wazowski scare).
Mein Ringer. There’s a knife in the top!! This place is cRaZy!!
Hot dangaroo. This burger tastes like how I imagine the Red Bluff Roundup Rodeo would taste (I’ve actually never been, but I’ve spent a fair amount of time at the fairgrounds since I also went to school there during my freshman year). It’s smothered in barbecue sauze — almost too much, but it’s that edginess that keeps you interested (like a classy lady or PG-13 movie). The cheese is melted perfectly, the softness of the cheese contrasting with the perfect crisp of the bacon. Add to this the flavorful, barbecue taste of the patty, and you’ve got yourself the perfectest burger in the whole greater Red Bluff area. It’s as if the fires of Smaug* have been blasted upon this burger to make all of it’s elements an adventure of taste and texture that slide down into your tummy to make the most rocking party your inner parts have ever experienced.
The lettuce is crispy, the tomato is juicy, and the onion rings are crispy juicy. The bun isn’t toasted, which is something to which I usually am adamantly opposed, but this bun stays together well even amidst the crazy adventure of burgery goodness that goes inside of it (although I would not be opposed if Smaug* turned his fire to toast the bun as well).
Along with your burger, you can order tots, fries, or crisscut fries. I had just read the Napoleon Dynamite script on the train to California, so I naturally ordered the tots. They were crizpy and good and me and Daddy liked them.
Now, I’ll be on a train back to the Utah freezing cold come Monday, so don’t worry about the future of PFB. I’ll be back in Provo eating food next week, so be thou excited. Bingo dingo!
License plates and bull horns. #proofiminredbluff

The restaurant gets its name from the founders, a husbo/wife combo both named “M,” but they decided to decorate with tacky M&M candy figurines. Fancy.
My padre what loves me more than anyone.

*Disclaimer: I don’t encourage nobody to go watch the new Hobbit movie. Why would I?

Denny’s and free food what?!!

I’m totally not going to do a restaurant review of Denny’s. While it is good food, PFB is dedicated to restaurants unique to Provo (at least, restaurants that aren’t in California), so I’m totes not gonna talk about the food.

As anyone in Provo/Orem knows, you see a crapton of out-of-staters with their missionary sons/daughters on Wednesdays, which is the day new missionaries arrive at the Provo MTC. They’re crawlin’ all over the Walmart grabbing whatever they forgot to pack. They’re all over the temple taking pictures with their families right before they go into the MTC. And they’re also eating out, filling their bodies with fake, greasy food since they won’t get enough of that in the MTC cafeteria (#sarcasm). (It’s actually smart to make sure your missionary has something to eat, since they go into the MTC at noon o’clock-ish, but the MTC doesn’t feed them until 4-ish. Four hours of no food?! That’s not American.)

My wonderful cousin Juanita Marple flew into town yesterday so that she could enter the MTC today (Argentina, baby!). But before we took her to the MTC, we decided to go to Denny’s where they give missionaries entering the MTC FREE food. It’s kind of a sweet deal. All we had to do was say she was a missionary and that was it (she was dressed as one, anyway). I had to pay for my food, but the girl got her food for FREE. Daaaaaaanguh.

Nita and Carol. I can’t tell who’s more excited for Nita’s mission to start. Daaaaaanguh

After dropping her off, I googled where else in Provo missionaries canst eat free on Wednesday. Here’s a little bit of a list:

  • Sizzler’s in Provo
  • IHOP in Orem
  • Chuck-A-Rama in Provo
  • Olive Garden in Provo
I haven’t double-checked whether all these restaurants actually do give missionaries free food; the Internet just told me. Some of the websites I read hadn’t been updated in a couple of years, so they may not be 100% completely accurate.
BUTT if you have a friend coming to the MTC in Provo and want to show them a good time before they leave you for two years, check out some of the Provo’s hospitality/holy restaurants.

Slabulous

Sometimes, people talk about how undiverse BYU is. And when they do that, I think they’re liberals.

As per the request of frequent reader Cari Beut, I decided to go to Slab Pizza, located just beneath Campus Plaza Apartments and right beside the Duck Pond/Rape Hill in scenic south Provo.

To me, it’s one of the most perfectest restaurants to go for a date. The romantic locale, the smell of pizza crust baking, a huge flat screen that’s always showing some sport so I can show off my sport knowledge whilst my date slowly befalls into my deep brown eyes.

Actually, the first time I went to Slab was on a brthr/sstr date with Carlos when she first moved to Provo. The Slab people messed up her order, so they made her what she’d actually ordered AND gave her the order they messed up. I’ve loved Slab every day since that day; that’s quality you can taste.

Slab is proof that BYU is diverse and tastes good. At Slab, they make lots of different types of pizzas. Each pizza is 20” and cut into four equal slices or “slabs.” There are normal flavors like cheese and pepperoni, then crazier flavors like Hawaiian, BBQ chicken, and vegetarian, then REALLY crazy flavors like chicken Cordon bleu, real Hawaiian (including SPAM), and breakfast. You order by the slab, so you don’t have to get a full pizza if you don’t want to. Each slab costs 4 to 7 dollars, depending on how crazy the flavor is.

Some of these flavors might sounds like they wouldn’t be good on a pizza, but that’s the great thing about Slab: they make pizza in the sense that there’s a crust, sauce, cheese, and toppings, but depending on the flavor, it may not taste like pizza at all. My favorite is the chile verde. It has a super good enchilada/salsa-type sauce that’s covered in cheese, chiles, and slow-roasted pork, dabbed with sour cream, and topped with a bit of cilantro (I love cilantro). It literally tastes like a taco and I love it love it love it. Last time I went, I got the Thai chicken. It was super good too: it had some type of curry for the sauce, cheese (but not too much), super delicious chicken, onions, peppers, peanut sauce, and cilantro (I LOVE cilantro). It tasted like I was sitting in Thailand, eating real Thai chicken while petting a tiger. Whatever you order, the crust is thin and baked so that it’s nice and crispy. If you like pizza, you’ll love Slab, and if you hate pizza, you’ll like Slab because you can order something that doesn’t taste like pizza.

Slab is great for me cuz it keeps me from spending all my money. Usually when I go out to eat on a date, I order an entree and a side because I want my date to think I have lots of money and therefore will be able to support her when in case we get married. At Slab, though, the menu is super simple: the only thing on the menu is pizza. Hence, I don’t have to show off my money bags to the ladies. Cha-ching.

“You should be a picture, Gordy, cuz you’re hot.” – My date lol

So people who think BYU is undiverse: come to Slab and see how freaky diverse BYU can be. #realtalk

That time I ate healthy for four months

So people, I decided back in June that I was going to do something cray-cray: I decided to stop eating processed foods and only eat things my ancestors would have been able to make themselves. This means produce, nuts, dried fruit (with no sugar added), beans, and meat were the ONLY foods allowed to enter my stomach chamber. It also included rice and whole wheat flour, but I don’t really eat very much of those unless I’m following a recipe or something or other. Eating completely unprocessed is a little crazy, but it’s also way healthy. (Some people might call this the “Paleo Diet,” butt I don’t know cuz I never looked it up/cared about the rules.)

Now, a lot of you are probably wondering why I wanted to do a “diet.” I know a lot of you (girls) are thinking, “But Gordy! You’re so hot! I want my husband to look exactly like you! You are the fairest of all the males I have ever seen. Y’all don’t need no diet.”

To this, I reply: I know. I had considered doing this “eating healthy” thing before, but always decided against it because, like you said, I have a really hot body. REALLY hot.

So why come I did it then? Right you asked, Internet people, because I’m about to tell you why.
I was visiting my homeland of northern California for Sister #3’s (or Sibling #4, whatever you want to call it) wedding in June. Whilst I was there, I did the normal things I do at home: dancey dance time, watch Netflix, watch my mom watch Netflix, go to Walmart, and watch Golden Girls with the gma.

I also ate NONSTOP. Eating is one of my favorite things and I consider it to be a good thing (I have a food blog for hecka crying out loud). But while I was sitting there working on a bag of chips and salsa one day, I couldn’t help but wonder:

And then I began to realize things about my attitude toward food. Being raised in a house with six siblings was kind of like living in the Hunger Games:

So that dinnertime is kind of like this:
To the point that whenever there are leftovers, things get a little bit like this:

Considering this, I recalled times when I was in my apartment (back in Provo), cooking and eating dinner for hours. Also, eating my roommates’ food if they left it out too long. Also, making sure to eat all the food possible whenever someone invites me over for dinner. Also, accidentally biting my iPod nano once because I thought it was a piece of candy. For me, eating was something like this:

I also thought about all the times I went to parties and ate as much food as possible just because it was there.

Eating wasn’t something I did to become full or even enjoy myself. It was something I did because I was a food robot that had to eat all the food.

So as I sat there on that chip-and-salsa June afternoon, I decided to do something with myself. I decided that from July 1 until November 1 (four months!), I would ONLY eat unprocessed foods. Here were my rules:

1) Eat only unprocessed foods. That means lots of cooking from scratch. If I didn’t make the food myself (like if I was buying bread or butter or yogurt), I had to be able to identify all the ingredients that went into the food as originally unprocessed.

2) I was allowed to use seasonings in the stuff I cooked/baked. I don’t know how unprocessed a lot of the seasonings I used are, but I didn’t care: I wasn’t giving up flavor. Most of the seasonings I usually use are salt, pepper, basil, cumin, and chili powder.

3) I was allowed to eat processed foods at restaurants to do this blog and on dates.

4) If I was at a party or other such social gathering, I was allowed to eat whatever I wanted just for the sake of not being “that guy.”

5) Also, as noted in PFB’s Guide to Travel, if I was on vacasheaux, I was WAY allowed to eat anything I wanted. That’s why it’s called “vacasheaux.”

6) Cheat days: I decided to do cheat days as follows: One day good (July 1), one day cheat (July 2), two days good (July 3 and 4), one day cheat (July 5), three days good (July 6-8), one day cheat (July 9), etc. Also all holidays were deemed cheat days (so really, July 4 was a cheat day … oops). But this was really nice because I was able to ease myself into this “healthy eating” thing, like a Russian going into the water on the Day of Baptism.

The first week was pretty easy because of the plentitude of cheat days. Things got harder as the cheat days got farther and farther apart, though. The first month was the hardest because I cheated on lotsa days when I wasn’t supposed to and I was like, “Can I even do this?!!!” But I persevered. By the time it was September, I was excited because I’d made it so far and I only had two months left (only two months, I am so positive).

Eating “healthy” did things to me. Since I had the rule that I could only eat unprocessed food, it kind of put me into “fasting mode.” You know how when you’re fasting, you always are about to go eat something, but then you’re like, “Whoops, I’m fasting! Not gonna do that!” That’s basically how it was. I’d want to eat something processed, but then I’d be all like, “Oops, can’t do that right now, I’ll just eat an orange or two or five.” Obviously, since I couldn’t eat all the things I wanted, I ended up eating less, which is something most Americans should be doing anyway.

Also, I didn’t notice before, but when I was a food robot, my stomach always felt like it had a live mouse running around in it. When I stopped eating so much, my stomach quieted down. On cheat days, if I ate too much, that crazy rodent would come back and make me feel just as sick as I used to feel. It’s weird how I used to feel so sick all the time but never noticed until I stopped eating all the bad food.

When I did eat, I ate a lot, but I also got full more easily. This is probably because 1) I started eating less, so my stomach shrank and 2) the food I was eating was more filling. As Americans, most of our diet is made up of grains (crackers, cereal, granola bars, chips, sandwiches, cake, brownies, pasta, pizza). While it’s true that grains are on the bottom of the food pyramid and, therefore, we needs lots of them, we also eat a disproportionate amount when compared with the rest of our diet. We also need plenty of fruits, veggies, dairy, and meat in order to give our bodies all they need. Eating unprocessed made me put less emphasis on the less-filling grains, and more on filling, balanced eating.

My taste also began to change. Eventually, I stopped buying salted peanuts and salted butter because it began tasting too salty for me. I know that sounds cray, but it’s true.

So what did I eat? For breakfast, since I’m king of waking up as late as possible, I usually had a couple pieces of fruit (oranges and apples) or a tall glass of milk as I ran out the door. If I had time, I would make this really good oatless granola. I ate it so much that I hate it now, but it was good at the time.

For snacks, I’d eat fruit or homemade trail mix (peanuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, and almonds).

For lunch and dinner I ate practically the same meals because they’re kind of the same in my head. I would either cook chicken with veggies (onions, carrots, and tomatoes), make some kind of hash (beet beef hash isn’t too bad), bake chicken and potatoes, make some eggs, or make soup. I made A LOT of soup. Soup is WAY easy to make and you can make it out of anything.

When did I have the time to make all this?  I cooked a lot on Sundays and saved the leftovers in the fridge. That usually lasted me until Wednesday or Thursday (my weekend starts on Thursday, so…).

I was excited for November to come (really, October 31, since Halloween was technically a cheat day) and boy am I glad it’s here. I can make and eat any thing at any time. It was nice to be so strict for a while, but I DON’T think I could do it FOREVER.

After four months, though, I think I learned valuable things about eating in a more balanced, healthy way. I don’t see myself as a food robot anymore, and that’s a good thing.

I can think of three reasons why I was able to go the full four months:

1) I know how to cook and cook GOOD. If I didn’t know how to season/cook meat correctly, I deftotes would have hated this a lot more than I didn’t.

2) My mommy always taught me to eat healthy things (I never saw an ice cream carton in my house unless Dad could sneak it in).

3) Once I got used to the food, it wasn’t hard since I could eat AS MUCH as I wanted (and I did).

So this was a good time. Kind of a like a party in my tummy.


As for how it affected my physical appearance/buffness, here are some before-and-after shots:

before
after

So there was some, but not much, improvement.

Guys, 5 Guys

I hope that the guys at Orem Food Blog won’t get mad at me, but I ate at Five Guys and wanted to tell you the people all about it. Besides, I figure that Orem and Provo are basically the same city (except Orem has Walmart, so it’s just a teeny bit classier).

Five Guys is located up the hill by the mall and the theater (now showing “The Saratov Approach” … homeboy can’t help but make a shout out to his biopic!). I went there with two of my associates from work: T-ravisaurus Rex (my boss) and Juancho Libre (my Venezuelan). Being an Orem native, Travis had been there prior to and was, therefore, the expert. Juanchito and I were the newbies. But, man, it went swell and I’ll tell you why come.

Five Guys makes the classics and the classic only: burgers, fries, dogs, and grilled sandwiches. But it’s the classics with a twist: you can put anything from their specially-selected toppings menu on your burger or dog without extra cost. That means you can have a burger with either some or all of the following: mayo, pickles, tomatoes, barbecue sauze, grilled mushrooms, onions, or hot sauce (just to name a FEW menu items). That’s a dandy deal because there are those people that like their burgers plain and simple and those people (like me) who literally like all of the everything.

I ordered a burger and fries (kept things classysimple, just like the Five Guys menu) and warter (gotta keep that carbonated corn syrup out my system). I ordered a double cheeseburger with mayo, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, grilled mushrooms, bacon, and barbecue sauze. I got my fries Cajun style, which means they were covered with all sorts of seasoning stuffs. (I’m still not entirely sure what the definition of “Cajun” is, btw, if anyone cares to enlighten me.)

First, the burger: I haven’t had a legitimately tasty home-style grilled burger since I moved away from home four years ago, but this thing was the exact equivalent. Lots of burger joints talk about being fresh, but Five Guys’ tastes as fresh as an Idaho farm cow shot in front of a school bus of children. The patties literally taste like Dad just flipped them straight off the grill on the Fourth of July.

The toppings were just all as fresh as the patty (tomatoes nice and juicy, lettuce very crisp), but if I were to go back, I would do without the mustard and grilled mushrooms because 1) too many people like mustard so I hate it and 2) the mushrooms weren’t cooked completely/didn’t have enough butter (#PaulaDeenprobz) (#isthatCajun?). Also, I think I might try the jalapeno peppers next time.

Cajun fries

I have one thing to say about the Cajun fries: DON’T. They were way too salty/paprika-y/peppery/whatevertheheckelsewasonthem-y. I tried some of Travis’s normal (not-Cajun) fries and they were acceptable. Even though they had been deep-fried, they tasted just as fresh as the burger. (In defense of the Cajun fries,  since Five Guys is so fresh and tailored, Travis said how good they are depends on who makes and seasons them that day, so maybe I just got them on a bad day).

Dern! Five Guys be so fresh, they even tell you from whence the French-fried potatoes come!

Five Guys was great and I for sure need to go back someday. They got my barbecue, they got good burgers, and their fries taste like actual potatoes, not just deep-fried pieces of mush. If I were to suggest one thing to them: AVOCADOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. That would be a dream come true. But does barbecue sauze and avocado mix? Someone tell me plz.

Magelby’s vs. Kneaders: French Toast Wars

I hate to get controversial, butt guys I had to answer the question all of Provo’s been asking for years: Which is better: Magleby’s or Kneaders French toast?
Both Magleby’s and Kneaders are similar: bakeries, both in Provo, make delicious food, I’ve eaten there, my Mom’s never been there, I’ve had dates at both places, they’re managed by humans, and (the big one) they both have all-you-can-eat French toast breakfast deals.
But which French toast is the best? Where should you hanker your hankering for French toast?
To spare you the headache (stomachache) of trying to figure it out yourself, Monsieur Gordy decided to do some investigating of himself to get the answers for you the people.
In order to adequately explain why which is wonderfulllest, I will examine several things to explain the deliciousness level of each French toast.
Kneaders
French Toast @ Magleby's Fresh
Magleby’s

Thing #1: Bread

Kneaders: Made out of something called “chunky brad.” I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s chunky and cinnamony and super delicious. The texture is light but full, kind of like eating a pillow. It pulls apart real easy in your mouth. It’s kind of like eating a cinnamon roll, but not as sweet. And did I mention that these things is THICK! The most I’ve ever eaten is four slices. That’s saying something, folks.
Magleby’s: Made out of some kind of bread, probably white bread. There’s nothing super fancy about. It’s not pillowy but it is easy to chew. The egg is tasteable (a little too tasteable for my taste buds). (Btw: Just for future reference, should I spell it “tastable” or “tasteable”? Comment below to let me know what you think.)

Thing #2: Syrup

Kneaders: Good. So good. Kneaders gives you a little shot of caramel syrup to spread over your French toast every time you go up for a refill. I shouldn’t love it as much as I do, but I just can’t get enough of this syrup. It’s warm and thick, but not too thick or obnoxiously sweet like store-bought syrups. I live for it, man.
Magleby’s: Lezbeonist: I don’t like me buttermilk syrup very much. The first time I had it was on my mission. Initially, I liked it because it was kind of a novelty and I thought it was a clever alternative to maple (which is unavailable in Russia … God bless America and the 51st State!). After a while, though, I realized it was just melted butter mizzed with sugar and buttermilk, so it went from “novelty” to “drinking butter gives me the squirts.” Anyways, Magelby’s employs the method of using buttermilk syrup on its French toast. It’s not bad, but it’s WAY runny and doesn’t even taste good.

Thing #3: Fruity Freshness

Kneaders: With your first plate of French toast, Kneader’s gives you a couple sliced strawberries on the side. They’re fresh and juicy, sir. And they taste great when they’re covered in caramel syrup.
Magleby’s: So here’s where I tell all the truth, y’all: I’ve had the all-you-can-eat French toast at Kneaders, but I’ve only ever had the French toast platter at Magleby’s. As such, I don’t know if you get the same toppings with the all-you-can-eat deal or if it’s different if you order just get the platter. Anyway, the platter comes topped with caramelized strawberries and bananas. Sounds good, right? But it isn’t too good. It just tastes like old strawberries and old bananas. Not nearly as fresh and delicious as Kneaders.

The Winner!!

Kneaders! Sorry, Magelby’s, but your bread is too thin and your syrup so runny, it just makes everything soggy and less-than-saintly. On the other hand, the combo of Kneader’s pillowy “chunky brad” with it’s perfectly sweet caramel syrup and fresh strawberries make me want to eat a million slices of French toast even if my stomach maxes out at four. If you are missing anything in your life, a couple plates of this French toast will fill whatever void you might have.
What other Provo restaurants are similar but different? Comment and let me know which restaurants you think should go head-to-head next!