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Monday, October 20, 2014

Farewell to My Nokia. Now What to Do?

A couple of weeks ago, at Blissdom, disaster struck. I dropped my precious Nokia. It slipped out of my hand as I reached to exchange business cards, and it fell flat onto the floor. Face-down naturally, much like a slice of buttered toast always will. And given how tough and durable Nokias are, I initially.shrugged it off. But when I picked it up and turned it over I almost cried.

The phone is fully functional, but the glass screen is shattered. I taped it down to keep it in place and protect my fingers, but it's really too difficult to see anything, so I switched my SIM card out to my old iPhone 4.

Have you tried to text me lately or send me a Twitter DM? I'm willing to bet I missed it. Because I hate my iPhone and can't bear to look at it except when absolutely necessary. I never thought I would say those words, but after over a year with my Nokia I just can't go back. 

Windows phones rock!

Even without all the apps. I have more than enough different apps to do the things I need, and as I said before, it's probably a good thing there's no Candy Crush on this thing.

My calendar? I am lucky I'm showing up anywhere. I seriously miss my synched Calendar app. The live tiles? How did I ever live without them??

So now I have to decide - do I have this screen replaced, or do I upgrade to a new model? I'm currently not on contract, so I could go either way. Should I stick with Rogers and get a 1020? Or I could switch to Telus and get the new 830.  What do you think? Can the screen be successfully replaced? I've sent an email inquiry to the shop that once fixed my iPhone, but haven't heard back. Meanwhile I'm sure I'll survive. Serious #FirstWorldProblem here, right?

If you have experience with other Windows phones you'd like to recommend, or if you've had a Nokia 920 repaired, would love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

KFC's New Flavour Sweet Chili Crunch Arrives October 20 #sweetchilicrunch

We didn't eat out a lot when I was little, so when we did it was an extra special treat. There also weren't a lot of options for fast food in St. John's in the '70s, and we pretty much stuck to one of two places - if we were doing take-out to eat at home, it was always Colonel Sanders' Kentucky Fried Chicken. I have this vivid memory of one particular night when I found a really long fry in our order and thought it was the most amazing thing ever. But mostly it was that delicious, secret blend of 11 herbs and spices that I loved.  My mom always commented that she wished we could just order a bucket of the skin. (A pretty common wish I think!) To this day I still remove the crispy skin and save it for last.

KFC is still a favourite of mine, and I share it at least once every couple of months with my family. Hubs and I will fight over who gets the centre breast, so we always order an extra. Boo prefers the popcorn chicken. The Teen eats it all! (Surprised?) It's something we all enjoy, and with a location about two blocks from us it's a quick and easy dinner to pick up on the way home from a busy day. (They deliver as well!)

Last week I learned a little secret. Well, maybe a pretty big secret. KFC is launching a limited-time new flavour for their bone-in chicken. After extensive research and development work, looking at food trends and running focus groups with customers, KFC is launching Sweet Chili Crunch on October 20th, across Canada. I had the opportunity to visit the KFC test kitchen, along with a group of bloggers, to learn more about the process of developing a new menu item and to get a peek into how the KFC cooks are trained.

For the record, no one offered to share the secret recipe with us. Dang. We did however get training on how to bread the chicken just like the cooks do, and we were let in on the not-so-secret approach that rules the kitchen. KFC does things "the hard way." 

What does "the hard way" mean? Well, first and foremost it means taking the utmost care in preparation, for instance breading chicken by hand in store. KFC's chicken doesn't come prepped from a freezer. Chickens are sourced from local farms and prepared according to specific standards. They must be a certain size and are cut into 9 pieces - 2 each of legs, wings, thighs and ribs, plus that scrumptious centre breast (or keel). This is shipped to store where it is marinated and hand-breaded, then pressure-fried for your enjoyment. Every piece is inspected in the kitchen before it hits the breading mixture, to ensure it is up to standards.

Each of the bloggers in attendance were given a chicken to bread and fry. The Sweet Chili Crunch chicken is marinated for 12 hours, then double-breaded for an extra crispy coating. The breading process contains a number of specific steps, and serious training takes place to ensure consistency across the chain. Every cook must do this in the same way to maintain the Colonel's consistent quality and presentation. Also? The cooks must have awesome upper body strength, as breading the chicken can be quite the workout!

KFC Sweet Chili Chicken
Glazing the chicken. Trying not to drool.
Look how crispy these pieces look out of the fryer. The last step in the process is to apply the glaze. Even at this stage so much time went in to determining the optimum amount of glaze and the best way to apply it. A zig-zag pattern from a squeeze bottle won in the end. The glaze is applied immediately before the Sweet Chili Crunch chicken is served to the customer, ensuring the chicken will remain crisp and crunchy.

Naturally we had a chance to try the chicken we'd prepared. The folks at the test kitchen also brought out salads and fries to round out our meal.
KFC Sweet Chili Crunch Chicken
I made this. Can you believe it?
I think it really speaks to the quality and consistency of the product and the training
that even I could make the chicken come out this well on my first attempt.
It looks good, right? It tasted great as well. The outside is crispy and full of flavour. The glaze is a mix of sweet and heat, but not crazy spicy. The meat inside is juicy and also really flavourful; the marinating infuses the flavour right through.

Will this replace Original Recipe for me? No. The 11 herbs & spices are tangled up in memories for me, as well as being delicious. I wouldn't abandon that completely. But sometimes I want a bit of spice, and this certainly fits the bill. Variety is good, and this new flavour adds another option. The more options, the easier it is to please everyone at the family table, right?

But remember, this new flavour is only around until November 23, so check it out while you can. The sweet heat is a great for this cooler time of year. If you aren't sure, or aren't quite ready to give up on the Original Recipe, why not ask for a mixed bucket? You can combine the two flavours (they'll separate them) in one order for no extra cost. Best of both worlds :)

Check it out - I passed!

Disclosure: I am part of the KFC Sweet Chili Crunch Kitchen experience program with Mom Central Canada and YUM Brands, and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Join Us for the #TanaLovesShoes Twitter Party, October 22 at 8-9pm ET

I really am all about the summer months. I love the heat and humidity, the sunshine and beaches, It's the only season I care about. That is, until fall comes to town. As the weather cools and the leaves start to turn, I begin to yearn for sweaters and boots and cozy fires in the fireplace. I love fall fashion. And part of that each year is shopping for new footwear. Because a girl can never have too many pairs of boots.

Do you agree? Join us for the #TanaLovesShoes Twitter party on Wednesday, October 22, from 8-9pm EDT, where we'll talk shoe shopping and shoe care. The two must go together, as it's important to protect our investment in quality, beautiful footwear.

Be sure to follow our host, @MoeTurner, and moderators - @Mom2Michael (me!), @MrsLouLou, @LisaThornbury, and @Kidsumers and join in on the fun next Wednesday. RSVP below and participate in the party to be eligible to win the Grand Prize of a $500 Shoe Shopping Spree, or one of the secondary prizes, all courtesy of Tana. The party is open to everyone, but prizing is available to Canadian residents only, 18 years of age and older.

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