Pulling No Punches

 

ImageI recently watched the movie “Fearless” starring Jet Li in which a couple of fight scenes in the movie featured fighters who pulled their punch, and for good reason. I can’t say I am in the mood to do that right now, but just because I could be mean, doesn’t mean I am going to be either.

I stopped for lunch at Wendt’s Pork Palace the other day while on my way to a assignment with high hopes of a very tasty lunch. I like pork bbq, no, love pork bbq. Now I realize there are many different ways people cook their bbq depending on where you live in the country and who makes and what you like. With that in mind there are a couple of things that are essential, and that mainly comes down to the seasonings you use and the time you take to cook it. In this case, the slower the better, until the meat just falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. After that is where personal taste and preference comes greatly into play. Me, personally, I like sweet things, so I like my pork with a nice thick, rich, heavy sweet bbq sauce on it. Some like theirs drier, some like it a bit more vinegary.

So, lets get down to it. I ordered the pork bbq sandwich and some fries to go with it. It looked pretty good when I got it, although I was hoping for a roll rather than a hotdog bun. I took a bite, and was immediately disappointed. The sauce was a bit runny, the seasoning wasn’t quite there, and the amount of grease soaking into the bun made me think of my arteries.

Now the flavor may not have been to my liking, but I will give them credit because the meat was cooked right. It was tender, moist, not chewy, and fell apart like it was supposed to. And yes, I did finish my sandwich, I hate to waste food, and I will say, I did not go away hungry, just disappointed.

I give Wednt’s Pork Palace bbq 3 out of 5.

Really Good Chips

 

ImageLately it seems I have been craving salty goodness to go along with my sweet tooth. I know all of this may catch up with me sooner or later but my wife makes sure I eat a few green things here and there to balance it all out.

I picked up a sweet looking bag of BBQ chips that had a vaguely familiar name, Route 11 Potato Chips (probably because we have a Route 11 in our area) and boy am I glad I did. First, I actually did check the nutrition contents of them, yes, on a bag of chips, and was pleasantly surprised. They were kettle cooked in sunflower seed oil, the salt content was reasonable, and I could actually read the ingredient list without wondering what it was I was eating.

Now there are a few things in my opinion that go into a good chip, crunchiness, flavor, the grease factor, and saltiness. These are some pretty rugged chips, they were thick, super crunchy, and they actually did not fall into a million pieces despite coming in a bag. The BBQ flavor was super, a good combination of spices and tang with a bit of zip as well. For a extremely pleasant surprise, my hands were actually not greasy after I ate them, sure they had a little bit, and some crumbs, but compared to most chips you get, I didn’t feel like my arteries were clogged after I ate them. Now for the salt factor, yes, they did have salt on them, all chips do, but it was not over the top. The flavor of the BBQ and spices actually came through and the salt was just used as a enhancement for them.

I have yet to see these in a grocery store around here, maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough, but these will probably be my go to chips from now on when the craving strikes.

I give them 5 out of 5 chips.

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Chocolate Pie

 

ImageWhen I was a kid and used to go to my grandparents farm for Thanksgiving dinner one of the things I would always look forward to was the chocolate pie. It is now one of the things I miss most because most of the chocolate pies I have had since have been, well, to put it nicely, lacking. Enter Dan Ross and his Tudor House Pies.

Sometimes my job has perks, and when one of those perks is starting your day in the morning with a slice of chocolate pie, you know it’s going to be a good day. Not all chocolate pies are created equal however. Some people seem to think putting pudding in a pie crust constitutes a chocolate pie. Other people who do actually try to make a real chocolate pie just can’t seem to get it right. It’s either to runny, to sugary, to just…..well, not right.

Dan Ross however can make an old school chocolate pie. The crust truly reminded me of those many thanksgiving dinners growing up. As for the pie filling itself, it was nice and firm, but not chewy, it had a good chocolate flavor, was sweet but not over the top, and the cream topping was a very, very nice treat.

If you want to find one of these pies, you need to get over to the Lewisburg Farmers Market on Wednesdays, and probably pretty early before they all sell out.

I give it a 4 out of 5 rating.

Ball Park Dogs

I don’t get to photograph a lot of sporting events these days, and for the most part, I don’t miss it a ton. There are a few things that I do miss however, and one of those things are hot dogs at spring baseball games.

See, there are very few things in life that go together better than baseball games and hot dogs. I think it is the combination of the two that enhance each other. The smell of the grass and the grill can be intoxicating. Generally speaking the hot dogs you get at local high school sporting events are not gourmet, but they aren’t bad either, as long as you don’t go in expecting the best hot dog ever.

Finally though on Monday I was able to get to a game, in fantastic weather, probably the best we had up to that day this spring, and I downed two dogs for dinner after I got done photographing. I have to apologize though, I was so eager to eat them, that before I could even think to get my camera out to take their picture, they were in my belly and comforting my soul.

So my advice to all of you is this, take advantage of the good weather, find a game at your local high school, get yourself a couple of dogs and enjoy a few innings of fun. It won’t cost you much, and it will take you happily back to childhood bliss.

 

To Share…Or Not To Share…

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As a general rule of thumb, I always tell my kids to share their toys. It’s just the nice thing to do, and if you don’t share, then no one wants to share with you. Sometimes though sharing can be hard, even for grownups. Like tonight. I am not feeling in a very sharing mood to be perfectly honest.

You see, I tried a new banana bread recipe. Simply said, it’s the best I have ever had. It is not my own recipe, I read about it in a bon appetit magazine my parents gave to me. It’s called Julia’s Best Banana Bread, and I think it should really be called, Julia’s World Best Banana Bread. I’m not sure how to describe it really, I can’t do it justice by any means. It is moist, rich in flavor, sweet, and very banana-e. ( Yes, I know that is not a real word ) A Bakers Notation: The bread does brown up more than some other banana breads I have had, it can even get a bit of a crust on the outside, but I actually found that enjoyable, and it can probably be altered a bit so that does not happen. 

So there’s my dilemma, my family obviously gets to have some, that’s a given, but after that….. See, I always like to share what I cook, to get feedback, and to make others happy, and I suppose I could always make another loaf, but then I would be in the same dilemma as I am now, do I really want to share it. This is not a simple case of all things shiny and new are great, this is love at first bite and I am in deep. Sadly, my belly is telling me not to eat any more of it tonight, but my heart is craving its warmth and flavor. I know that I will catch flack from my co-workers if they read this and I don’t come in with a loaf for them this week, so with that said, I better get some more bananas at the store.

The recipe is a simple one, the best ones usually are. You can find it hear.

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2013/03/julias-best-banana-bread#ixzz2PiNjUs5x

See, I am sharing, just not my bread, yet….

My Wing Girl

ImageMy four year old daughter Amelia loves to help me cook in the kitchen, and yes, it’s the big kids kitchen, not the play kitchen. Now at four years old, she can’t run the burners or use sharp knives, but she helps keep count of measurements, crack eggs, and lately, her personal favorite, cut the butter up into chunks. That’s some serious cooking for a four year old if you ask me.

On Friday we whipped up a batch of blueberry muffins from a recipe I got off the internet. Now I have never had much luck when it comes to muffin making. It’s not that they turn out bad, just never the way I want them to, big, light, fluffy and of course, sweet. This recipe promised to give me those deli style muffins, and while they tasted just fine, again it left me wanting more out of my muffin. I realize you take a chance with any random recipe you get off the web, but if you take a look at the ingredients going into before actually cooking it, you can get a general sense if it will at least be edible.

I’ll be honest, I like the muffins you get from Giant and Dunkin just fine, they are usual big, light, fluffy and sweet, but tend to be a bit dry, and they just don’t have that homemade thing going for them. I am a firm believer in homemade tastes better, not just because of the ingredients or health reasons, but because of all the intangibles that go into the food. I love it when my daughter helps me cook. She is great company and not only does it help her counting skills and cooking skills, it’s just good family time. I’ve realized over the years that I am not the worlds smartest man, would never be able to be a doctor or a nurse, couldn’t pass a bar exam even if I wanted to, and I sure can’t run the 40 in 4.3 seconds. There are some things I am halfway decent at though, and you better believe I am going to try and take the time to do those things with my girls including working in the kitchen.

For centuries people have been passing down recipes in their families, bonding together over food, and hatching new ideas for who knows what. We can’t survive without food, so what you eat might as well taste good. Take the time to share what you know with your kids and they will be better off for that, and so will you.

So, if anyone has a muffin recipe out there that will get me those deli style muffins from scratch, please, please, I beg of you, pass it long and I will give it a try.