Skip to Content

Walnuts In Baked Goods: The Right Move, Or An Act Of War?

French bakers making bread
Marc TULANE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we're talking about QB numbers, sad songs, naming a street, Thanksgiving, and more.

Your letters:


My wife is an excellent baker. This past weekend, as she was whipping up some gluten-free cookies for our sister-in-law, I asked her opinion on walnuts in baked goods. I remember sometimes having chocolate chip cookies and brownies with walnuts in them as a kid and liking them. After I posed the question, she turned around with a look that combined pity, mockery, and disgust. She then informed me baking with walnuts is for 80 year-olds, and that she “would never ruin a delicious cookie by adding walnuts.” Now I’m not Mr. Walnut, but think they add something to a chocolate chipper when enjoyed on occasion. What are your thoughts?

PS—I just told her I was asking your opinion on the matter; she said I should have my subscription cancelled for even suggesting walnuts are good. I struck a nerve I never knew existed.

I was anti-nuts in my desserts for the first decade-plus years of my life. If you gave me a brownie with walnuts in it, I was like EWWWWW!!! True to form, my sons today are pretty much the same way. My wife asks if they want some chopped walnuts in their brownies (“It’s good protein!”), and they look at her like she just asked them if they’d like to eat a dead toad.

But I wager that my sons will drop their walnut hangup as they get older and their respective palates broaden. That’s how you grow and progress as an eater. You don’t think of eating as a skill; it’s just something you DO. Because of my older son—who was a picky eater well past normal and is only now coming out of that shell—and because of my own tasting disorder, I know that isn’t true at all. Tasting is something you learn, and no two palates are necessarily alike. So some people grow to like walnuts in dessert, some people earn their dislike of them, and some people are attacked by a stranger with a bag of in-shell walnuts when they’re children and never get over it. No idea where Tom’s wife falls in there, but I’m gonna guess she’s past the point where he’s gonna be able to change her mind on the matter.

On a related note, my wife and I sprinkle a little sea salt on top of our brownie batter before sticking it in the oven. We love it. But when we did it one time for her parents, they damn near called the police on us. Don’t go surprising senior citizens with food.


Jim Rome has the cadence of an open mic comedian, but it doesn't seem like he's telling jokes. He's on sports radio, but I never hear him talking about sports, or much of anything. It's like if Andy Rooney got hit in the head by a foul ball. Are there people who listen to Jim Rome? If so, walk me through their day.

If you live on the East Coast, you don’t understand just how huge Jim Rome has been out on the other coast, and how long he’s been big out there. It’s like trying to explain Mike Francesa’s lasting influence to someone living in San Diego. Those people could give half a fuck about Francesa, just as you or I might be all WHAT THE DILLY? when it comes to Rome still popping up on the cultural radar decades after Jim Everett tried to assault him on camera. But the appeal of the two is basically the same: both men are talented broadcasters who gives local sports fans something to listen to while they’re stuck in traffic.

I was one such sports fan for a very long time. I didn’t listen to sports talk radio because it was good, or because it was funny. I just wanted to hear people talking about sports, for better or worse. I’m a bro in that way. If I dislikes them, then all the better. Yelling at sports talk radio guys from behind the wheel is like having your own family right there in the car with you. Perfect road company. In the mid-90s, I listened to Mike & The Mad Dog on my way to work and back every day. These were two incredibly vain, annoying men, and they still are to this day. But they were talking about the shit I wanted to hear about. I didn’t want to listen to FM radio and hear a DJ pick some song that I hated. I didn’t want to listen to NPR. I sure as shit didn’t want to listen to Rush Limbaugh. And sometimes I was too lazy to stick a tape in the tape deck. Hence, sports talk radio.

Sometimes the category of content matters more than the content itself, which is how I once ended up listening to Colin Cowherd (back when he was on ESPN) for not just five seconds, but many of them. If I’ve just watched sports the night before or the weekend before, I don’t want to leave the sports at just that. I want more. I want debates to be embraced. If you’re reading this website, you likely do as well. You want more sports in your sports, and guys like Jim Rome are hardwired to give it to you. It’s not any more complicated than that.

The REAL upset is that Romey and his clones (if you’re not a clone, you wouldn’t understand) haven’t all been collectively redpilled. I’m always amazed by famous guys who seemed DESTINED to love Trump and then either stayed agnostic or went in the other direction. That list is Rome, Howard Stern, Axl Rose, and, like, Robert De Niro.


Can you rank QB numbers, 1-19? I don't have terribly strong opinions on this, other than I feel 12 is tops, 1-3 are best reserved for high school QBs, 7 is overrated, 6 is underrated, and 15 is GARBAGE. 

I can rank ‘em, sure. I’ll divorce names from the numbers in my head, because then otherwise I’d get Brady and Rodgers tied in with 12 and move it down the list accordingly. I’m ranking these strictly based on their numerical aesthetics:




















20 and above

That was pointless but fun. The main takeaway here is that I like single-digit jerseys for QBs over double digits. You’re the quarterback. The BMOC. 18 doesn’t suit you.

(Twelve was my favorite number growing up, by the way. This old Sesame Street video is probably the reason why.)


What are the odds you’ve interacted with a foreign government secret agent/spy in your lifetime?

100 percent. I live in the DC suburbs, man. You can’t fall down without crashing into a spook around here. I once knew a guy in the area—an incredibly nice man—who said he worked for the US government in Afghanistan. And I was like, “Oooh, to spy?!” He laughed me off and said, “Oh no no, strictly in a diplomatic capacity.” A LIKELY STORY, MISTER BOURNE.  

Speaking of spies …


It’s work Thanksgiving potluck time. We are a government operation, so those limitations apply. What should I bring? What would Drew bring?

IT’S A STING! THEY’RE DOUBLE AGENTS SENT BY THE KREMLIN! THAT TURKEY IS STUFFED WITH MICROFICHE! Or, at least, that’d be MY reaction to being forced into making a Thanksgiving side dish for people at work. I don’t even like making that shit for relatives, and now I have to make a whole sweet potato casserole for the accounting department? Fuck outta here. I would bail on that party if you can. Failing that, just go to Boston Market and pick out something that tastes like cardboard. Save the GOOD Thanksgiving stuff for your own.

And it IS good stuff. Now that we’re just over a week away from Thanksgiving, here’s your PSA warning you that turkey haters WILL start appearing again, if they haven’t already. They come around every year (“Thanksgiving food is so boring! We love to make lemon paprikash instead!”), they think you haven’t heard the take before, and they won’t stop until you agree with them. If you spot one out in the wild, stab them in the face. If you’re like, “but turkey IS bad, Drew,” then stab yourself in the face. Big fucking helping of dirt for you this year, Sergeant Buzzkill. Stay the fuck off my plate. Gonna put walnuts in the bread pudding just to fuck with you.


Listening to “Shooting Star” by Bad Company. Pretty depressing song. What’s the saddest song ever? Don’t say “Don’t Take The Girl.” country music is stupid.

“Shooting Star” is depressing? I’ve never even bothered checking the lyric sheet:

Well Johnny died one night, died in his bed
A bottle of whiskey, sleeping tablets by his head
Johnny's life passed him by like a warm summer day
If you listen to the wind you can still hear him play

LOL okay that’s pretty dark, but I wouldn’t say it’s got the hook the match that tragic end. It’s just a peppy AOR staple that you hear while buying a new wrench at Home Depot. No one studies Bad Company lyrics unless those lyrics are about fucking. If you want some REALLY depressing shit, you need the musical accoutrements to go with it: eerie pianos, pained singing, etc. That’s why my vote goes to “Videotape” by Radiohead. It’s a great song. I also learned the piano riff for it, played it in our living room, and then watched my kids IMMEDIATELY beg me to stop playing it. They knew a funeral march when they heard it. I love Radiohead, but I also know that they excel at songs that are engineered specifically to arouse dread within you. It’s why I couldn’t listen to “How To Disappear Completely” for years after first hearing it.

Elsewhere, there are sad songs that actually make you feel all warm and snuggly. Bon Iver’s entire early catalog is full of pain and heartache, and yet I find all of it deeply satisfying. That’s the key to a good sad song: it has to remind you of all the times when you secretly enjoyed the pain; wanted your heart broken because feeling love of any kind is so intense. That’s the sweet blue spot.


Is "Yeah no" becoming the default answer to any question that attempts to elicit a negative answer? I can't stop hearing this in everyday conversation. Even on things which one would not remotely think of answering "Yes" to, they have to throw that in first before they proceed to give the real answer.

Am I crazy?

a. Yes

b. Yeah/No

Yeah no, you’re not crazy. I say “yeah no” all the time. I write it all the time on this website, because it sounds more conversational. That’s also just how language evolves. We’re all still relatively new online. We’re all still sorting out how to talk to each other through this medium that’s, popularly speaking, barely drinking age. So if you say to me, “Tom and Gisele aren’t ever getting back together, right?” I’m answering that with a, “Yeah no, they’re not.” I’m affirming you before joining you in the denouncement of whatever it is you’re denouncing. We’re teammates now on that take. Gisele ain’t ever taking him back. 

I also use that expression if I want to tell you “no,” but I don’t wanna sound dickish about it. I’m letting you down easy. “You’re not gonna make it to my wedding, are you?” “Yeah no, I have surgery that week. I’m sorry, man.” Or I can twist it to make it sound EXTRA dickish and pedantic. “Drew, are you coming to my wedding?” “Yeah no, I’d rather not.” See? Such an incredible language we have.



What are the fixings you always have on hand for a sandwich?

I’m so basic when it comes to making sandwiches that all I have on hand for them in this house is cheese, mustard, butter, pickles, pesto, and maybe some hot pepper spread if I remember to buy it. There’s mayo in the fridge too but I avoid that like COVID-19. I don’t buy lettuce for salads; I just grab a leaf if we happen to have some. Ditto slices of tomato. If all of that goes against the little walnut lecture I gave up above, I apologize for my inconsistency. For me, a sandwich is a delivery device for getting as much cured meats and slices of provolone cheese into my body as quickly as possible. The fixings are beside the point. Except for maybe the pesto because, like the deli meat, it’s also horrible for you. Pesto is useful like that.


I want to make chili that is both delicious and hot enough to melt structural steel. Thoughts?

You mean in terms of spiciness and not temperature, right? It took me a very long time to admit that I was not a Spice Bro who buys indie hot sauces with names like Jock Itch and what not. Also took me a long time to admit that I don’t like Tabasco or sriracha. I need other flavors to balance out the heat, because pure heat tastes like shit. At a certain point, you’re just holding eating a Test Of Strength carny game that’s been poorly disguised. It’s OK to admit that you have a spice ceiling, especially if you’re as white as I am.

That’s why I prefer Frank’s to Tabasco, and why I only like sriracha when it’s an ingredient and not a standalone condiment. So if you wanna make some super spicy chili that isn’t a sweaty chore to finish, you need flavorful hot sauces in there (or, better yet, dried chiles that you ground up on your own), plus sweet, starchy, and acidic elements to balance them out: brown sugar, beer, white vinegar, etc. And FAT. Buy the high percentage fat ground meat, or make your chili using a whole pork shoulder. The fat’ll smooth that heat out across both your tongue and your bowels. You’ll still shit your brains out an hour after dinner, but at least it won’t burn quite so hot.

I’ve posted my chili recipe here many times, but one thing I didn’t tell you is that I always crumble up a bunch of tortilla chips and stir them right into my bowl. That also helps balance out the heat, AND it adds 300 empty calories to the proceedings. A win-win.


What's worse: shitty election results or misuse of the word literally?

The former. I’ve given up on trying to get people to use literally correctly. Everyone uses it for cheap emphasis now, as they do “really” or “very.” This means that we need to expand the definition for literally and then let it be. Otherwise I’ll just keep gnashing my teeth when someone goes “That was literally the bomb!” after walking out a screening of Black Adam. I don’t have that fight in me anymore.

I’ve learned this lesson because my mom still tries to correct my objective pronoun usage. If I say, “That’s him,” she’ll sternly say, “That’s HE.” And then I tell her, “Mom, I’ll never say it that way, so just give it up,” and she won’t. So I’m not gonna issue the same linguistic demands to people. I’m too busy reveling in Kari Lake eating a bucket of shit.


I have a friend that is building a house (well, paying other people to build his house) and our town is telling him he has to name his driveway, because it abuts onto someone else's land and they could also potentially build a house there someday. The plus side? He gets to name the street. Should he go for a boring street name, like his last name, which is an easy to spell English name (think Wallace Street, or Rogers Road), or do some sort of pun? My suggestion of Carlito's Way was vetoed. Shakedown Street? Thunder Road? This is in very rural Maine, if that makes a difference.

Naming a street after yourself is something an asshole would do. Musk Boulevard, etc. Making it a silly pun would be amusing for two days and then insufferable every day thereafter. No one thinks you’re as clever as you think you are. So if it were me naming a private road, I’d use the name to pay tribute to someone or to something else. Let’s say my dad’s name is Jay (it’s not). I could name my street Jay Street, or make the tribute an Easter egg and name it Blue Jay Lane. Or I could name the glorified driveway after Bob Mould, or Defector, or Justin Jefferson. Bunch of people in Caribou Maine turning onto my street and going, “Ay yah why is this street hyeeah named Minnesota Vikings Avenue?” You’ll never know, you fucking hayseed. That’s my street and I can do what I want with it.


My preferred drinks have usually been standard liquor-with-mixer fare: gin and tonic, vodka and soda, rum and Coke, screwdriver, etc. I'm also a big fan of root beer because I'm a middle aged man with the palate of an old man. While I never hear of is people drinking root beer with well liquor. Part of me thinks root beer with a more exotic/odd/trashy liqueur (Aperol, Jager, something like that) might be okay. Is there a way forward with root beer as a mixer, or is this a path of sadness? 

A cursory Google search turns up any number of root beer cocktail ideas, but I don’t trust any of them. “Move over ginger ale, root beer is what you should be mixing with bourbon.” The hell I should. I fucking hate food copy that doubles as bougie marching orders. That’s some real Bon Appetit shit right there.

Anyway, there’s a very good reason that you never see people ordering root beer cocktails out in the wild, and why most bars/restaurants don’t offer them. They’ve clearly been tested by the general boozing population and been soundly rejected. Root beer and whiskey has real “You and your best friend are home alone at 15 and mixing together whatever drinks your parents have around to see if it works” energy to it. It’s like mixing vermouth and Sunkist.


What percentage of sports hats are owned for non-fandom purposes? Leave aside quibbling over "real" or "fair-weather" fans -- I'm talking about completely non-sporting rationales. I wear a Dodgers hat as my go-to despite not having watched a baseball game in at least 10 years and having grown up a Yankees fan. I grew up in Jersey but live in LA now, and just view the hat as a general endorsement of the city. ("Los Angeles, it's good!"). I own other hats for teams I actually like, but the Dodgers hat is also just aesthetically better. Am I crazy?

No, you’re all right. Plenty of people do that, and plenty more will as the hypebeast economy expands in the coming years. Sports merch can be a fashion statement and not just a declaration of team loyalty, so go ahead and wear whatever hat you want. You might get a drunken Giants fan at the airport screaming FACK YOU! as you walk by in your Dodgers cap, but then you can just produce your spare Giants hat from your carryon and short out every last circuit in their brain.

My daughter owns a Yankees hat and could give two fucks about baseball. She just loves New York and thinks the hat looks good on her, which it does. If you can pull off a dash of hat polygamy, go with God. I won’t judge you for it, unless it’s a Notre Dame hat. Fuck you if try that shit.


I’m part of a group text with my brother and close friends that started during the pandemic when we were all at home as a way to talk about our online Madden season and evolved into sports chat, life talk, and general silliness. Two years in, one friend added (without asking) a sixth member that he went to college with that the rest of us don’t really know well. This resulted in way fewer texts and the new guy calling us strange for sharing poop stories or whatever. Two months later, my brother removed the sixth guy without asking and now there’s a little awkwardness with the friend who had added the sixth guy. What’s the etiquette here?

There is no etiquette. Your brother did the right thing and sacrificed a scrap of good will in order to make your group text fun again. There’s no sense in explaining it to the aggrieved party, or going, “We don’t even like that guy, Jim!” That’ll just make things worse. Let the one friend seethe over it for a while. He’ll eventually let it go. And if he doesn’t, then have your brother kick HIM out of the group text, too. Silence is incredibly useful in this kind of social situation, and I never, ever remember that when it counts. All I do is flap my gums and make everything worse. I’m a splash of gasoline thrown onto a house fire. It makes me money online, but in the real world it’s not the best practice.


When did we stop capitalizing “internet”? I’m a little younger than you and distinctly remember that in college it was capitalized (MS Word would red underline it if the “I” wasn’t capitalized). I don’t have a problem with that development, just interesting to see the evolution of a word from proper to common noun.

There’s a firm answer to this question, and it’s 2016. That was when the Chicago Manual Style, among other places, changed that word to lowercase. And thank god they did, because for a while we were living in a confused world where terms like “internet” and “world wide web” counted as proper nouns when they had long since been adopted into the general vernacular. This literally drove me crazy. I threw feces at people and everything. Dark times.

Email of the week!


Everyone talks about rock stars as the kings of debauchery, but my vote goes to jazz artists. For example, I recently watched the documentary "Bayou Maharajah" about famed New Orleans jazz pianist James Booker that included this anecdote: 

"Booker toured East Germany wearing an afro wig stuffed full of marijuana and once appeared on stage at Tipitina's in New Orleans wearing a nappy fastened by a huge gold pin. Musician David Torkanowsky recalls the moment: "From behind the nappy, Booker pulls out a .357 Magnum, puts it to his own head and announces to the audience, 'If somebody doesn't give me some cocaine right now, I'm going to fucking pull the trigger.'"

Which musicians would you wager has the highest percentage of drug/alcohol issues?

How can I pick anything other than jazz after hearing that story? I sure hope that man got his cocaine.

If you liked this blog, please share it! Your referrals help Defector reach new readers, and those new readers always get a few free blogs before encountering our paywall.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter