Thursday, December 31, 2009

It just ain't Christmas without cheese grits


The wildest wild goose chase I went on this Christmas was a Christmas Eve hunt for a roll of Kraft garlic cheese to make cheese grits, a Southern Christmas specialty if ever there was one.

First, I went to the little Foodland market at which I always purchased my holiday garlic cheese in the past. When I couldn't find it there, I should've known something was up. I then went to Publix, and they didn't have it. Right there I really should've known that something was up. Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I trekked to Food Lion and Kroger only to be skunked two more times.

Little did I know that Kraft's patented garlic cheese was taken off the market last year. "What the **** am I gonna do now?" I said aloud to no one in particular before I had a revelation: "I'll bet I can use a jar of Cheese Whiz and some garlic paste!" And that's exactly what I did.

First, here's my recipe for garlic cheese grits, which is actually my mother's recipe for garlic cheese grits (which she has recorded on a bank deposit slip from a bank my parents used about, oh, 25 years ago):

Garlic Cheese Grits

1 1/2 cups grits, uncooked (do not use instant grits)
4 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 roll Kraft garlic cheese
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Paprika

Cook grits in salted water. When water is absorbed, add butter, garlic cheese, cheddar cheese and Worcestershire sauce sauce. Stir until cheese is well incorporated.

Pour mixture into a greased shallow casserole dish and sprinkle with paprika. Bake in 350° oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Here's what you use in place of Kraft's garlic cheese roll:

Pour 1 8-ounce jar of Kraft Cheese Whiz into a microwave-safe bowl. Warm on "defrost" for about a minute and a half. Add 1 teaspoon of Amore garlic paste and stir well. If you want more garlic flavor, add a dab of garlic paste at a time while stirring and tasting. Now be warned: a little garlic paste goes a long way, so don't overdo it. Just be sure to keep adding dabs and tasting as you mix. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

J'adore le jambon de pays!

Today's Tennessean has a great article about the Power of Pork:

If you believe the trend forecasters at Epicurious.com, pork will be passé in 2010.

But in Tennessee, surely that's like calling Johnny Cash uncool, or pouring out the Jack because it's proclaimed a passing fad. Some things just can't go out of style.

And even if the bacon-wrapped craze of '09 falls apart next year, many Southern cooks will no doubt stick with tradition on New Year's when bits of smoky hog jowl flavor pots of collard greens and black-eyed peas with hopes of bringing good luck.


Speaking of pork, there's nothing I like better than quality country ham, like the country ham I recently purchased at Rice's in Mt. Juliet, TN ...


For those who don't care for country ham because it's too salty, or because it's too tough when fried, I have one word for you: Coke. Place three or four slices of country ham in a shallow baking dish and pour a half-can of Coke over the ham. Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake in a pre-heated 350° oven. Cook for about 25 minutes and you'll have you some tender, not-so-salty ham that'll make you want to slap your pappy, guaran-damn-teed. [Note: Do not use Diet Coke ... trust me.]

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Joltin' Django's Mac N Cheese


Per an impassioned e-mail request, here's how I make mac-'n'-cheese (the pic above is from my Christmas Day kitchen counter):

Joltin' Django's Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

1 lb elbow macaroni
6-8 cups cold water
1/4 stick butter
12 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed (DO NOT use light or 2 percent)
1 1/2 cups WHOLE milk (see previous post)
4 cups mild cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add macaroni, bring water back to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high. Simmer macaroni until very tender (12-15 minutes). Remove pot from stove and drain.

Return macaroni to pot. Add butter, Velveeta cheese, one cup of cheddar cheese, milk and A LOT (at least one heaping tablespoon) of black pepper. Mix until no large lumps of cheese remain.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour macaroni mixture into a deep baking dish. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.

Place dish in oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese on top is completely melted and smooth. Place oven on broil and allow cheese to turn golden brown (should take no longer than 2-3 minutes). Remove dish from oven and allow mac-and-cheese to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Apology

I promised the folks at Caesar's Ristorante Italiano that I'd have a review up today. Due to a f-ed up camera, it's gonna be later in the week before said review is posted.

Sorry.

"My" cookbook

Joltin' Django was surprised to get this cookbook in his Christmas stocking ...


This's the first recicpe I'm gonna try ...


Stay tuned.

(Click pics to enlarge)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Eat, drink and be merry this Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Quote of the day

"Take that, vegetarian f***wad."

-- Chef Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations Christmas episode

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Some folks love 'em some grilled cheese

Would you get a tattoo for a discount on grilled cheese sammiches?

Ohio eatery offers discount for sandwich tattoos

An Ohio restaurant is offering lifetime discounts to people willing to make an indelible display of their love for grilled cheese sandwiches.

Melt Bar & Grilled in the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood specializes in spins on the grilled cheese and says anyone with a tattoo of the classic sandwich will get 25 percent off.

The restaurant has hooked up for the promotion with a tattoo shop, which is offering its own discount on grilled cheese designs. John Forgus of Voodoo Monkey Tattoo says he's been getting creative, giving one person a tattoo of Popeye holding a grilled cheese sandwich instead of a spinach can.


Here's one of the tats (pic courtesy of Slashfood):

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The taste of Taste of Home



Whenever I see a new Taste of Home recipe magazine (TOH) at the grocery store, I immediately start flipping through it. Nine times out of ten I buy it. Indeed, I'm rapidly acquiring a collection of TOH magazines that rivals my impressive collection of cookbooks.

The last TOH mag I purchased was the "Potluck" issue. It's chock-full of casseroles and dishes that remind me of what I dug-into at church suppers when I was a kid. Here's the first recipe I whipped up:

Taste of Home's Taco Noodle Bake

Ingredients

2 cups uncooked yolk-free wide noodles
2 pounds lean ground turkey
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
1 envelope reduced-sodium taco seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1/3 cup sliced black olives, drained
1/2 cup taco sauce
1/2 cup sour cream

Directions

Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, cook the turkey over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, green chilies, taco seasoning, onion powder, chili powder and garlic powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Drain noodles; place in an 11x7-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread the turkey mixture over the top. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Top with the lettuce, tomatoes, olives and taco sauce. Dollop each serving with 1 tablespoon of sour cream. Yield: 8 servings.

© Taste of Home 2009

Three things:

I took two liberties with the recipe: I used ground beef instead of ground turkey; and I substituted a half-cup of Goya sofrito sauce for tomato sauce.

TOH's Taco Noodle Bake looks like a mess when it's completely finished (see above pic), but believe me it tastes great. Here's what it looked like before I added toppings (nice, huh?):



I took my casserole to a Christmas party and, well, let's just say every noodle, olive and shred of lettuce got eaten. That tells you all you need to know, n'est-ce pas?!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Le Lion de Nourriture

For my money -- and I'm real picky 'bout how I spend my money in the age of Obamanomics -- Food Lion is the best chain grocery store when it comes to butchered meat (sorry Publix).

I've never purchased a bad cut of meat at Food Lion. Indeed, even the mark-down cuts of meat I've purchased there have been first-class. Like the ones I cooked tonight ...


I bought that $6.38 package of chops for $3.12 at the Antioch Pike Food Lion ("Purchase By" date: 12/20). I seasoned 'em with some Szeged Chicken Rub (!), and I slow-grilled 'em for about 25 minutes ...


Those chops you see are right off the grill. I covered 'em in foil and let 'em sit for about 10 minutes ... and then I made a simple gravy with the juicy juices that leaked out of 'em.

Wish you'd been here to partake. Come on over tomorrow if you'd like some o' the left-overs!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pretty snappy, en effet!


I heeded an AMGE reader's advice and visited my local Snappy Tomato's pizza buffet today. I'm more than glad I did.

When it comes to pizza buffets, Snappy Tomato don't hold a candle to Angelo's Picnic Pizza's buffet. It is, however, far superior to Fletcher's pizza's buffet ... even if it don't have cole slaw on its spread. Here's why:

I didn't bother trying Snappy Tomato's pasta and salad 'cause, well, as soon as I saw pizzas garnished with jalapeños, I had nothing but pizza on the brain. After grabbing a plate, I got me two slices of jalapeno-'n'-peperoni, a slice of peperoni-'n'-sausage, and -- as always -- a shaker full o' red pepper flakes. Then I sat down ...



When it comes to "cheap" pizza buffets*, Snappy Tomato just might be the best I've ever had. It's better than Fletcher's, and it's far better than Mr. Gatti's. The crust is fresh tasting; the cheese and toppings are first-class; and, by God, any pizza joint that puts-out slices with hot peppers as the first offering on its buffet is a-okay in my book.

*Regular price is $5.99. Watch your local paper and you'll find dollar-off coupons 'bout every three weeks.

Snappy Tomato Pizza
493 Old Hickory Blvd.
Brentwood, TN 37027
615.333.0555

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Time is absolutely runnin' out



If you like country ham, you need to get yourself out to Mt. Juliet sometime between now and Christmas Eve. Just so you know, Ed Rice's country hams are ... well, by God, they're the best country hams in the whole, wide world. (Don't trust my word --just look at all the ribbons he's won.)

Stay tuned for pics of my Ed Rice 'n' Son ham. You'll see 'em, oh, about one week from today.

Edward Rice and Son
12217 Lebanon Road
Mt. Juliet, Tennessee
615.758.2362

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oh, dear God

I've not eaten a McDonald's chicken McNugget since, oh, about 1997. Even after watchin' this ...



... I don't care if another twelve years goes by before I eat another'ne. Indeed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hey, I've been there!

Be sure to check out tomorrow night's Man Vs. Food on the Travel Channel (9 p.m. CST). Host Adam Richman will be visiting Ted's Restaurant in Meriden, CT. I visited Ted's last year and wrote about it here. A pic from my adventure:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hagar 'n' salted cabbage

I was all prepared to post this funny with an I-Love-Sauerkraut tag (click it for a big-view) ...



After looking at the funny in question online, however, I'm pissed that the Tennessean saw fit to edit the f-ing thing (which didn't need no editing).

So much for me talking about kraut. Maybe later ...

Happy Hanukkah!


Them's some good thin-'n'-crispy Joltin' Django latkes (seasoned with my Hanukkah salt shaker).

More 'bout the Festival of Lights, from Slashfood.com:

It took Hanukkah celebrants more than 2,000 years to hit upon the dish that's now considered the quintessential holiday food.

Potato latkes, as inextricably linked to the wintertime festival as dreidels, menorahs and chocolate gelt, are such a relatively recent addition to the Hanukkah canon that food writer Mimi Sheraton -- who grew up in a Jewish family in Flatbush -- was 30 years old before she realized the oily pancakes were connected to the holiday.

"Though my family observed that holiday with the weeklong lighting of the silver candelabra ... I never knew those marvelously crisp, hot, onion-scented latkes had anything whatsoever to do with the celebration," Sheraton wrote in 1981.

For many years, they didn't. While food plays a ritual role in many Jewish holidays, the only edible tradition associated with Hanukkah was the rather loosey-goosey custom of eating something with oil in it.

The practice -- intended to commemorate the miracle at the heart of the Hanukkah story, in which one day's worth of oil burned for eight days -- was variously interpreted by Jewish communities across the globe: Jews in Greece celebrated with loukoumades, little orbs of deep-fried dough soaked in honey; Jews in Spain made yeasty bunuelos; Jews in Russia ate buckwheat pancakes and Jews in the Middle East enjoyed fried jelly doughnuts.

When a New York Times reporter interviewed a Tangiers native about Hanukkah traditions in 1959, he discovered "the nearest she could come to remembering specifically the foods served was to describe a pastry that was something like a fried doughnut, dipped in honey and sprinkled with cinnamon."

To the reporter's evident exasperation, his other sources provided similarly unsatisfying insights: "Several persons, asked what they remembered about the foods they ate for Hanukkah when they were young, had only the haziest recollections," he wrote.

The collective culinary obliviousness that took hold of Sheraton and the unnamed Moroccan immigrant was probably rooted in Hanukkah's official status as a very, very minor festival. Long observed by only the most devout Jews, Hanukkah is the religious equivalent of Flag Day.

"Not even the Zionists make a fuss about Chanukah," the American Jewish Chronicle confirmed in 1916, in a passage quoted by Jenna Weissman Joselit in her definitive "The Wonders of America: Reinventing Jewish Culture, 1880-1950."

Hanukkah might have slipped off the modern Jewish calendar entirely were it not for a lucky stroke of timing. Although Hanukkah's starting date moves with the moon, it almost always falls in December, when most Americans are fixated on Christmas. Eager to lure their congregants away from the Christian holiday, rabbis in the early 1900s began touting Hanukkah's charms.

Since no holiday celebration is complete without treats, Jewish homemakers scrambled to create dishes that might conceivably compete with roast turkeys, plum puddings and mincemeat pies. Joselit quotes from 1941's "The Jewish Home Beautiful," which included recipes for egg salad sandwiches trimmed to resemble Maccabean fighters and "menorah fruit salad," a molded cream-concoction shaped like the holiday's signature candelabra.

But mostly they made latkes, a fixture of Ashkenazi cookery since the 16th century, when potatoes first appeared in Eastern Europe. Potatoes were so plentiful in the Pale of Settlement that when Rabbi Abraham Shemtov's family couldn't afford a menorah, his father "cut a hole in a potato, and poured the oil into the potato," he told the Times in 1977. Eastern European Jews ate potato pancakes year-round, but the delicacy -- typically fried in schmaltz, or goose fat -- almost always surfaced around Hanukkah. American Jews seized on the practice, making latkes a compulsory component of holiday celebrations by the 1950s.

By 1958, Los Angeles' Montebello Jewish Educational Center had begun throwing an annual latke party, featuring songs and dances from "The Nutcracker" and "a traditional meal of potato pancakes and all the trimmings."

The "trimmings" probably weren't as fancy as the Los Angeles Times implied -- latkes are typically accompanied by just two condiments: applesauce and sour cream. Among eaters who made their first super-greasy latkes as children under the tutelage of a patient Hebrew School teacher, serving potato pancakes with ketchup is still considered as uncouth as smearing mayonnaise on white bread.

But the conservatism that clings to latke condiment selection doesn't seem to extend to the latke recipe itself, which has been updated and tweaked thousands of times over the last half-century. Jewish publications have taught their readers to make spinach, eggplant and ricotta cheese latkes (a dairy variation that harkens back to the pre-potato Diaspora.)

Yet the single greatest innovation in the latke's short holiday history occurred in 1973, when Cuisinart introduced the first food processor for home use.

"Lately, knuckles skinned on the grater are no longer the battle scars of the devoted latke maker," Florence Fabricant crowed in 1977. "With a food processor, you can ply your family with latkes for each of the eight nights of the holiday. The machine grates the potatoes in a twinkling. They do not even require peeling."

Armed with their tater-grating machines, Jewish-American cooks churned out latkes at an unprecedented pace, solidifying forevermore the brand new bond between Hanukkah and a plateful of oil-drenched potato pancakes.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"I'm hungry now!"

Here's a man who's really gotta eat ...

Friday, December 11, 2009

"It's a grade A meal when I'm in the mood"

Cowpokes'll come from a near and far
When you throw a few steaks on the fire
Roberto Duran ate two before a fight
'Cause it gave a lot of mighty men a lot of mighty might


-- Rev. Horton Heat, "Eat Steak"

Earlier in the week, I picked up a couple of Ledbetter bacon-wrapped beef chuck fillets at Publix. The price certainly seemed right: they were on sale for $2.99 a piece. I threw 'em on the grill tonight ...


... and I gotta tell you they were mighty tasty. Tasty and tender.


I'll admit that I wasn't expecting much from a $3 fillet. I was very impressed with the quality of my $3 steaks, however, and Ledbetter fillets now have the Joltin' Django Seal of Approval. Indeed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Re: Mashed potatoes

From the Omaha World-Herald:

Creamy mashed potatoes rank almost as high as turkey and pumpkin pie on the list of must-haves for Thanksgiving dinner.

They can't come from a box of dried flakes or a mystery freezer bag plunked in the microwave.

They must be fresh and mashed with butter and cream — not chicken broth and not skim milk, says Claudia Grisnik. ...

Grisnik, 60, makes the luscious style of mashed potatoes that families crave on Thanksgiving. And she gets lots of practice throughout the year.

Most days, she makes several batches to accompany meatloaf, pot roast and rib-eye steak at Taxi's Grille & Bar near 120th and Blondo Streets. She has been cooking since age 11 and working in the restaurant business for 30 years.


I agree with Ms. Grisnik's affinity for real butter and hand-mashers; however, I take issue with her insistence that heavy cream must be used to make "real" mashed potatoes.

Now, you can make mashed potatoes with cream if you want, but be warned: your taters will taste sweet ... and the sweetness will overpower the flavor of whatever "style" o' potatoes you're using.

My Granny Ruby taught me to make mashed potatoes with whole milk. (Yes, whole milk is sweet, but it's not as sweet as heavy cream.) That's how I make it to this day. I've served my mashed potatoes to hundreds of folks -- sometimes at one sitting -- and I've never heard a single complaint.

If only I could introduce Claudia Grisnik to my Granny. Her taters-must-have-cream theory would go right out the nearest f'ing door ... like a rocket.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Yeah, baby

After watching this commercial ...



... I don't know if I want to eat a plate o' Mr. Spriggs' ribs, or make sweet, sweet love to 'em.

(For the record, Mr. Spriggs BBQ is in Oklahoma City, OK.)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Channeling my inner Ben Matlock (redux)


Just so you know, Nathan's hot dogs are on sale at Food Lion right now (buy-one-get-one-free). I stocked up on cheese franks -- Food Lion doesn't carry the dogs with casings.

Please to enjoy a short piece I wrote last year 'bout Nathan's Cheddar Cheese Beef Franks:

It's no secret that I love Nathan's with-casing hot dogs. They're my favorite store-bought hot dogs. Until today, I'd never had Nathan's Cheddar Cheese Beef Franks. I'd seen 'em in the "dog section" of my local Publix, but I'd never even thought about giving 'em a try. You see, I'm pretty loyal to them Nathan's with-casing hot dogs. (Did I mention they're my favorite hot dogs?) ...

I was never a big fan of cheese-infused hot dogs when I was a kid. I guess that's 'cause pre-packaged "cheese dogs" were a menu staple at my elementary school. I'm pretty sure the hot dogs were made out of soybeans and sawdust, and I don't even want to think about what was in that cheese. All I know is the wrinkly-looking things smelled like holy hell after they came out of the microwave. That was enough to turn me off of cheese dogs for a long, long time. Hell, it's amazing that I didn't develop a lifelong revulsion for hot dogs after smelling and looking at those wretched meat-and-cheese tubes in a bun.

Well, Nathan's cheese dogs are nothing - and I mean
nothing - like the cheese dogs of my youth. They were full of Nathan's beefy goodness, as one would expect, and they were infused with a semi-sharp cheddar that provided a perfect balance of cheese and dog. That is, there wasn't so much cheese that you couldn't taste the dog; and, likewise, Nathan's signature mixture of beef and spice didn't make me say, "Where's the cheese?" I guess what I'm trying to say is this: I had me one hell of a hot dog tonight. Actually, I had two.

Usually when I eat a hot dog, I top it with chopped onions, a quality mustard, or some Heinz Piccalilli Pickle. A Nathan's Cheddar Cheese Beef Frank is so good, it don't need none o' that. Indeed. I ate my Nathan's cheese dogs with no adornment other than a bun. And I kinda felt guilty about eating the bun.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Vegans et al., part three


Back in September, the Tennessean's Jessica Bliss got all worked up vegan corn bread with jalapeños. I decided to give it a whirl tonight (first time in my life I cooked with/consumed soy milk and flax seeds). Here's the recipe:

Vegan Corn Bread with Jalapeños

Ingredients

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
6 tablespoons water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup soy milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1-2 jalapeños, sliced into rings

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Spray 8-inch-square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan.
4. Add the ground flax seeds, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the ground flax seeds in the water for 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
5. Set aside
6. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt until well-combined.
7. Add the ground flax seed mixture, soy milk and canola oil to the flour mixture.
8. Beat just until smooth (do not over beat).
9. Pour into prepared baking pan and top batter with jalapeño rings. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
10. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes; invert corn bread onto wire rack, then turn right side up and continue to cool until warm, about 10 minutes longer.


Two things you need to know: I didn't have have (!) any fresh jalapeños, so I skipped that part; and I couldn't bring myself to cook corn bread in a baking dish, so I cooked it in a skillet ... you know, like God intended.

So, how'd my vegan corn bread turn out? Well,it made a pretty picture (see above), but it tasted like -- how shall I say this -- raw cornmeal seasoned with dirt. Why I expected "tastiness" from anything seasoned with soy milk and flax seeds is beyond me. Surely my Granny Ruby is Up There laughing at me right now.

That said, I thank GOD that I didn't waste a single jalapeño trying to season-up my skillet of fluffed-up you-know-what. But I hate that I wasted several pats of good BUTTER trying to choke down the same fluffed-up, er, stuff (the irony of that endeavor is not lost on me ... en effet).

Saturday, December 05, 2009

On vegans et al., part two

When it comes to the vegans and vegetarians that I have encountered over the years, I think what I've most disliked about 'em is (a) their insufferable self-righteousness, (b) their authoritarian tendencies, and (c) their abject hypocrisy.

Two personal experiences 'bout (a) and (b) follow, and you can check this out to see what I mean 'bout (c).

I was working for a trucking company when my great-grandfather died at age 94. When I got back to work following the funeral, I started telling a co-worker about my great-grandfather's career as a hog and tobacco farmer. I also happened to mention that my great-grandfather probably didn't eat 20 meals in his entire life that didn't include pork, or something that was seasoned with pork, and that's when the company's resident vegan decided to interject himself into the conversation.

The vegan in question was famous for opining about his decision to give up meat whenever conversations, even conversations in which he hadn't been invited to participate, turned to food. But he didn't just opine, he proselytized. He would get so worked up about the evils of hunting and meat-eating that I often joked that one of his close family members must've been bludgeoned to death with a deer carcass in a sausage factory.

Now, when I was talking about my great-grandfather, Mr. Vegan took it upon himself to tell me this (I remember his exact words because it remains one of the stupidest fucking things I've ever heard in my life): "[My great-grandfather] maybe could've lived to be a hundred if he didn't eat meat."

The man lived to be 94-years-old and a vegan has the balls to tell me ... you see what I mean 'bout self-righteous?

That said, 'bout three years ago I went to see Against Me! at Nashville's Exit/In. (I prefer not to discuss how I ended up at that show, so don't even ask.) Upon entering the club, I spied two merch tables. At one table you could purchase Against Me! T-shirts and CDs, and at the other table you could buy all kinds of left-wing books and videos. I couldn't help but check out Table No. 2.

A small TV/DVD player on the "2" table was showing a video in which various kooks - and I'm being charitable by simply callin' 'em kooks - were extolling the virtues of the vegan lifestyle. One particular kook, a greasy-looking sombitch who had "vegan" tattooed on both forearms, said "carnivores" should be "stopped by any means necessary." (Oh, and when he said "by any means necessary," he sorta leaned his massive 125-lb frame toward the camera.)

I was tempted to get the left-wing-merch guy to explain what necessary means should be employed to get carnivores to stop eating meat; however, I decided that drinking a cold beer at the bar was a better way to spend my time than trying to butt heads with an idiot, so to the bar I went.

If you'd like to know why disliking -- or should I say, having no patience for -- vegans and vegetarians is a noble endeavor, I encourage you to read Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. He'll set you right in a jiffy 'bout the folly of not eating meat (apologies to Ernest T. Bass).

Friday, December 04, 2009

On vegans et al., part one

A few weeks ago, I received a jackass e-mail from a feller or gal named Melky85 who said that the only reason I repeatedly take digs at vegans and vegetarians here at AMGE is 'cause I have a "problem" with folks who choose to "eat healthy." 
 
As I explained in my response, I don't have a problem with anyone choosing to eat anything, whether it's meat, fruits and vegetables, or cardboard.  What I do have a problem with is folks who try to dictate that others should eat fruit, vegetables, and soy-based crap that tastes like cardboard.

Dictating is what most vegans and vegetarians, a great many of whom profess to be "pro-choice" on other matters, are all about these days -- and that's why I like taking deserved pot-shots at the don't-eat-meat crowd.

So there.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Still can't do it ...


I have some very good friends who hail from the U.K. A decade ago they tried to get me to appreciate eating baked beans and eggs and toast for breakfast. To borrow a phrase from George Costanza, it didn't take.

Now, I like toast and I like fried eggs and I like baked beans, but eatin' 'em all for breakfast just don't do nothing for me. I once fried some fine-ass Wilson County country ham for my U.K. amis, and eatin' such didn't do nothing for them. In fact, they admitted to hating every bite.

All that said, Slashfood.com has up a story 'bout the British classic breakfast. Even though the feature pic looks really pretty, it don't make me want to partake (sorry Peter and Sandra). To wit:

A staple of British food culture, baked beans appear regularly in breakfast menus across the U.K., but rarely grace food counters stateside. Whereas American baked beans traditionally include molasses or brown sugar, the British Heinz variety strictly includes white beans and tomato sauce, creating a much more savory dish.

Here, blogger Luscious Temptations created this blissfully easy, hearty breakfast dish, topping the carb-and-protein plate with a hearty drop of Maggi seasoning and a generous dash of white pepper for kick. The dish may be simple, but definitely disproves the stereotype of British food lacking flavor -- this is easy comfort food at its best.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

L'olio d'oliva è molto buono!


Looks like extra-virgin olive oil is good for more than one kind of noodle ...

Oleocanthal, a compound that occurs naturally in extra-virgin olive oil, can alter the structure of toxic proteins in the brain that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

A study by researchers at Northwestern University and the Monell Chemical Senses Center found that the change inhibits the ability of the toxic proteins, called ADDLs, to damage nerves in the brain.


Read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A gong-bangingly good rice cooker


For reasons I won't go into here, I've always detested Aldi grocery stores with a purple passion. Alright, I'll tell you one reason: I got really sick one time after eating a hamburger made with ground beef, lettuce and tomatoes purchased at Aldi.

Now, you will never, ever catch me shopping at my local Aldi; however, I have to admit that I have some newfound respect for the place.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me if I wanted a rice cooker that he'd never used. I like me some rice, and I liked the idea of having a gadget to cook the stuff; and when my friend told me that said gadget had never been removed from its box, I said, "Yeah, I'll take it."

It was only after I'd said "I'll take it" when I learned from whence said rice cooker had come -- you guessed it, Aldi. Since I didn't want to look like an ungrateful ass, I didn't un-agree to take the rice cooker. I simply ran through my mind's Rolodex® wondering upon whom I could unload a rice cooker purchased at the worst grocery store in the U.S.A.

Before giving the thing away, I decided to give my rice cooker what I figured would be a one-and-only whirl the night before Thanksgiving. I fully expected the thing to either overcook or undercook my rice ... or blow up and leave the walls in my kitchen studded with cheap-rice cooker shrapnel.

Well, to say that my fears were unjustified is a big, honkin' understatement. My kitchen emerged unscathed after I'd cooked rice in my Aldi cooker, and, by God, Ms. Lucy never cooked rice that turned out as fluffy and fine-tasting as what I got outta my little Aldi pot.

UPDATE: After a few Google clicks, I now know that my Aldi rice cooker retails for $9.99. To borrow a line from Eddie Murphy, what a bargain!

UPDATE II: Bumper sticker I seen on my way home this evening ...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Something that needs to be brung out ...



A few weeks back, I found myself in possession of a coupon entitling me to a free small order of Wendy's chili. I'd never had Wendy's chili, which was surprising 'cause (a) I love chili, and (b) there's a Wendy's within walking distance from my home.

With cool winds now whipping 'round Nashville, I decided to make use of my free chili coupon ce soir. I wasn't expecting much when I began to dig in; and when I was finished, I wasn't too awful impressed.

Now, Wendy's chili has some good things going for it: a thick, rich "broth"; lots o' juicy ground beef; plenty o' beans; and big hunks o' onions, tomatoes and celery (!). However, I'd be willing to wager that all of the fish sticks and chicken strips served in Nashville's elementary schools today packed more heat than a cup of Wendy's chili.

I'm sure Wendy's corporate hacks long ago decided that "bland chili" would appeal to the vast majority of fast-food consumers who think black pepper is hot. (That's Marketing 101, and it's completely understandable to this former étudiant de sciences économiques.)

But what about Wendy's patrons who like their chili on the spicy side? How come the folks at Wendy's don't offer sliced pickled peppers, or hot sauce, or chili flakes -- or something -- to spice their chili up a bit?

As Goober Pyle might say, that' a question that needs to be "brung out."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eggos 'n' Mayo's, 'n' Django, oh, my!

As broad as my palate is, I've never, ever (no shit) had an Eggo waffle in my life. Thus, the following news rolls off me like water off of a, well, like water off o' something ...

The Eggo Company has announced a nationwide shortage of Eggo Waffles.

The shortage is connected to problems in two frozen waffle producing plants.A plant in Atlanta closed after unprecedented rainfall hit the area in Sept., but has since reopened. Another plant in Tennessee has closed due to malfunctioning production lines and it is unknown when it will reopen .

Eggo states that the shortage will last at least until summer, 2010. Eggo representatives have stated that they are working round the clock to restore production to normal levels.

I guess the world’s stoners and children will have to resort to Pop Tarts until this crisis is rectified.


Forget Eggo waffles. Here's all you need to know 'bout how to have a proper AMGE breakfast:

The only - and I mean only - time I ever regularly ate breakfast was when I stayed with my grandparents in the country. My grandmother would get up at the crack of dawn to make sausage, gravy, grits, and biscuits for my grandfather, who needed a hearty breakfast before starting a long day of farming or carpentering. The smell of all that cooking would sometimes literally jerk me awake.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hoo-ray for Mean Joe!

Almost thirty years after appearing in one of the best commercials of all time ...



"Mean" Joe Green is finally gettin' his. Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Now THAT's a pizza pie!


I get blue in the face tellin' folks that the best pizza in Nashville is served at Picnic Pizza -- aka Angelo's Pizza, Pasta & Subs -- in Antioch. Indeed, one of the very first AMGE posts paid homage to Picnic Pizza. Check it out here.

Just so you know, you can get an extra-large one-topping pie for $10 at Picnic Pizza every Monday and Tuesday. If you order it in-house, you can watch it get tossed before it's topped and shoved in the oven. And when it comes out, it looks something like this:


That, my friends, is the XL sausage pizza I dined on ce soir. And it was better than any XL pizza pie I could've ordered from the Papa, the Hut, or the Whatever Piss-Poor Pizza chain.

Oh, did I mention that Angelo's has a M-F buffet, and on said buffet you can get the finest grilled sausage-'n'-peppers-'n'-onions known to man?

What are you waiting for?! Get thee here, as soon as you can:

Angelo's "Picnic" Pizza, Pasta & Subs
2713 Murfreesboro Rd
Antioch, TN 37013
615.399.0010

Monday, November 16, 2009

Think you know vin?


Test your wine IQ here:

I did very well -- ten outta ten -- thank you!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kartoffelsalat!


Years ago, I happened upon canned German potato salad in a local Foodmax supermarket. I tried it several times and really liked it. When Foodmax disappeared from Nashville's grocery store scene, the German potato salad went with it.(Hell, I don't even remember the brand name of that tater salad, and a half-hour of Googling didn't help me none.)

Tonight, I endeavored to make a German potato salad as good at the stuff I used to buy at Foodmax. I kinda copied and pasted some recipes I found online which seemed to have ingredients that would yield a similar taste. Here's what I came up with:

Joltin' Django's Kartoffelsalat (German Potato Salad)

Ingredients

6-8 boiled red potatoes
5 tbsp. oil
5 tbsp. cider vinegar
5 tbsp. water
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 clove garlic, minced
3 strips bacon, fried and crumbled
Salt and pepper

Directions

In a saucepan boil potatoes until they are fork tender. Remove potatoes and allow potatoes to cool, 10-15 minutes. In same sauce pan, mix oil, vinegar, water, sugar, garlic, salt and pepper (to taste). Bring to a boil and then remove pan from heat.

Slice potatoes to desired thickness. Place potatoes in pan with crumbled bacon. Stir to ensure that potatoes are well-coated. Return pan to stove and warm on low heat until ready to serve.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bar-B-Cutie straightens up its act

I had some pretty rough things to say about Bar-B-Cutie this time last year. Well, what a difference -- and a free meal -- a year makes.

My boss bought me a Bar-B-Cutie sammich on cornbread last week, and, oh, what a sammich it was:


First of all, the 'que in my sandwich was a whole lot more juicy and tender than the pulled-pork I bought last year. I don't know what Bar-B-Cutie's done in the last year to improve the quality of their pork, but they need to keep it up.

In addition, the cornbread on which my sandwich was served was very, very good. My Granny Katherine - my dad's mother - used to make cornbread like that (as opposed to the skillet cornbread that my Granny Ruby made with every meal). One thing you need to know 'bout cornbread like that is the fact that if it sits around too long, it gets mushy as oatmeal. Bar-B-Cutie's cornbread wasn't mushy at all. In fact, it was crisp on the outside, and moist on the inside, and served as a perfect substitute for a bun.

I will be going back to Bar-B-Cutie for another sammich on cornbread ... even though I'll be paying next time!

Friday, November 13, 2009

"I feel like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight."

Slashfood has up a post featuring the "10 Catchiest Food Jingles We Love To Hate." This'n' got my attention:



I remember trying Chicken Tonight, once, and it was bloddy awful. No wonder it didn't stick around very long as a product (but I remember it sticking real good to the pan in which I cooked it).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wrap it up, I'll take it


I've told AMGE readers many times that Publix is my favorite supermarket. I now have another reason to like the place, which you see in the picture above.

I had to stop at Publix today to pick up a few things. As I was passing the deli, I saw some turkey and roast beef wraps that looked mighty fine, I tell you what. Since I hadn't had lunch yet, I quickly grabbed me a turkey wrap and never looked back.

What you see in that picture is a Publix wrap with Boar's Head turkey, marinated vegitables (onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms), green leaf lettuce, and feta cheese. Oh, and a Boar's Head pickle.

My turkey wrap looked so good, I tore into it in the car. I ate half of it then and saved the rest for dinner. Rest assured, the second half of that wrap got a good dousing of hot sauce (Tabasco® green sauce) before I took a bite. When I did take a bite, I remarked, to no one in particular, "Damn, that's good!"

If you're ever at Publix, and you're hungry, I encourage you to try a Boar's Head turkey wrap.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Well, well, well

Well, well
Well, hell, WELL


-- Hank Williams, Jr.

Whenever I cook a dish that calls for Worcestershire sauce, I always use Lea & Perrins.

I've often wondered what makes Lea & Perrins-brand Worcestershire taste so much better than, say, Dollar General's $1 Worcestershire. Well, now I know ...

A 170-year-old food secret was almost lost to the trash heap.

The original recipe notes for Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce have been unearthed in a dumpster near the sauce factory by former company accountant, Brian Keogh. It was unclear why he was digging through the trash.

The accountant passed away in 2006, but his discovery only recently came to light after his daughter Bonnie Clifford brought the notes to Worcester City Museums.

The ingredient list originally read as vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind extract, onions and garlic. The secret ingredients -- until now unknown to the public -- were simply listed as "spices" and "flavorings."

The recovered notes reveal that the secret ingredients include soy sauce, cloves, pickles, peppers and lemon.


Read the rest here.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Another day, another ...


I just smoked the Perdomo 826 from my Cigars International stash. Here's the verdict ...

Before it was lit-up, the 826 tickled my nose with a very pleasant leather/pepper aroma. After it was lit-up, however, it affronted my tounge with a harshness -- a "I'm smoking burnt rubber" harshness -- that I'd not endured since I last smoked a King Edward, when I was an undergrad working nights at a Nashville trucking company.

I'm going on record to say that the Perdomo 826 is the absolute worst "premium" cigar I've yet smoked.

Period.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hot, hot, hot! (Apologies to The Cure)

Asian soup ... hot ... lots o' noodles ...

This looks like something that'd be right up my alley, and then some:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Noodle with this caserole


I got creative while we were housebound during a snowstorm one winter...and used ingredients I had on hand to come up with this hearty casserole.

--Judy Munger of Warren, Minnesota

I'm a sucker for Taste of Home 's recipe magazines, especially the ones that have a home-cooking theme. Last one I got was the "potluck" issue, and Judy Munger's Taco Noodle Dish was the first dish I cooked up. I didn't take it to a potluck, but I imagine you'd be the hit -- or one of the biggest hits -- if you toted it to a potluck near you.

Two things: I substituted three-quarters of a jar of Goya Sofrito Cooking Base for taco seasoning and tomato sauce (I always have a jar of Goya Sofrito on hand 'cause it adds an extra-rich tomato flavor to Mexican-style soups, stews, and casseroles); and I added some heat by seeding and mincing two jalapeño peppers, which were thrown in when my ground beef/sofrito sauce mixture was cooking-through.

Taco Noodle Dish

Ingredients

2 cups uncooked yolk-free wide noodles
2 pounds lean beef
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 can chopped green chilies
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1/3 cup sliced ripe black olives, drained
1/2 cup taco sauce
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

Directions

Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, cook the turkey over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, green chilies, taco seasoning, onion powder, chili powder and garlic powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Drain noodles; place in an 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread the turkey mixture over the top. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Top with the lettuce, tomatoes, olives and taco sauce. Dollop each serving with 1 tablespoon of sour cream.

Postscript: Lest anyone say that my Taco Noodle Dish, based on the above pic, looks like a "mess" (I did kinda throw taco sauce, shredded lettuce, sour cream, and sliced black olives on it without once considering what the thing'd look like to AMGE readers). Here's what it looked like out of the oven, without taco sauce, lettuce ... etc.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mon chocolat préféré

I was introduced to British-made chocolate back in the late 90s. I immediately became partial to the Mother Country's dark stuff (I'm talkin' chocolate here).

You see, I have some good friends - Mr. P. and Mrs. S. - who hail from the U.K., and it was in their home when I ate my first Flake, Curly Wurly, and pack o' Buttons.

The main thing you need to know about British chocolate is this: it's richer and smoother than American-made chocolate, and you won't never have a chalky aftertaste on your tongue after eating the U.K. stuff. Guaranteed.

But don't just take my word for it. The Wall Street Journal recently ran a piece 'bout folks who like British chocolate. A relevant passage:

There are real differences between Cadbury chocolates made in Europe and the U.S.

Greg Ziegler, a food-science professor at Penn State University, says certain ingredient types -- say, condensed milk versus powdered -- can radically alter taste and texture. Also, U.S. government regulations ban the use of vegetable fat in chocolate, while European Union rules allow it.

As a result, the American product uses more cocoa butter, which makes the chocolate "harder, melt slower and deliver its flavor over a long period of time," says Mr. Ziegler, who has conducted research for chocolate makers including Cadbury and Hershey.


Read the rest here.

All that said, I recently ran across this bar o' chocolate in my local Publix's "international" aisle:


If you will recall, one of the things I most like about Publix is the fact that each and every store stocks a goodly portion of foodstuffs from across the Pond ... like chocolates from the U.K.

Main reason I bought me a Yorkie was its politically incorrect slogan, which you can see in the pic above. (I'm surprised a company can get away with such a slogan in today's PC-happy Europe, indeed.)

Now, I may've bought a Yorkie on a principled whim, but I'll buy me some more 'cause, quite frankly, it's one of the best candy bars I've ever consumed.

A Yorkie is very dense -- I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't have his or her original teeth. But it's also dense with whole milk and deep cocoa flavor. Next to a Curly Wurly, I have another favourite (!) candy bar.

Question: Since Yorkie's slogan is "It's not for girls," reckon Tony Blair's ever had one?! (I started to say Elton John but I figured that'd get me in trouble with one of Obama's czars.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who wants to be slapped?!

I had a great uncle who could smoke a hunk o' meat like nobody's business (he specialized in smoking pork steaks, whole chicken, and whole turkeys). When he was smokin' meat, my great uncle would often say something like this: "It's so good, it'll make you want to slap your pappy."

Speakin' of pappy-slappin' ...

This is interesting:

A pair of Cajun seasoning companies whose names allude to domestic rough-housing are now preparing to scuffle in court.

The makers of "Slap Ya Mama" last week sued the entrepreneur behind "Punch Ya Daddy," claiming the upstart brand infringes upon their trademark. William Stagg, attorney for the plaintiff, says it's not what's in the cartons of Kirby Falcon's proprietary South Louisiana spice blend that concerns his client: It's the name and logo emblazoned on their labels.

"We don't really know what the recipe is, but we believe the packaging and image my customer has created for Slap Ya Mama is unique," Stagg says. "We believe this brand is calculated to capture our market."

Falcon's attorney did not return calls seeking comment.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"[W]hat a damn fine cheeseburger it was ..."


My bestest bud Bruce and I recently hit a show at the Exit/In (you'll hear more 'bout said show at The Nigh Seen Creeder soon), and we dined beforehand at the Gold Rush 'cross the street.

I'd been to the Gold Rush a couple-dozen times prior to my most recent visit, and all I'd ever eaten there were assorted appetizers, several of their "famous" bean rolls, and one hamburger. I remembered that burger being pretty good, so I ordered this ...


That, my friends, is the jalapeño cheeseburger I ate at the Gold Rush. And what a damn fine cheeseburger it was. Here's why:

Cooked medium-rare per my order -- ain't many restaurants that'll indulge a customer's medium-rare burger order these days -- my Gold Rush burger was topped with expertly-grilled slices of fresh jalapeño (I was expecting canned jalapeños, but the Gold Rush went and got all fresh on my ass!). And the bun ... it was buttered and obviously browned on the same grill-top on which my burger'd been cooked. Très bon! (One of them Food Network travelling dickheads would've been very impressed if'n he'd been dining beside me, indeed).

Oh, I washed my burger down with a draft Yazoo beer, and I drank me another draft Yazoo beer when a well-dressed fellow Gold-Rusher bought me and every near-the-bar parron a drink of my/our choice. I ain't countin' on anything like that ever happening to me at the Gold Rush again. However, you can count on me eating another Gold Rush jalapeño cheeseburger in the very near future ... December 1, before the Billy Joe Shaver show.

You're invited to come with.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Django sez ...


A Man's Gotta Eat has kinda been on hiatus the past couple o' months. Not no more.

Stay tuned for daily updates ...

The return of Uncle Bud's

My heart sank a bit when I read this:

The rumor is true: Uncle Bud's will take up permanent residence in Nolensville.

Co-owner Craig Dever has signed a lease with property owner Vern Patterson to put an Uncle Bud's restaurant where Martin's BBQ Joint now operates. The timetable for the restaurant transition is a little muddy, so stay tuned. Once Martin's vacates, Uncle Bud's plans to set up its familiar trailer out front and will be open for business from 4 to 8 p.m. everyday. Meanwhile, Dever and crew will be setting up shop inside — moving in fryers, grills and décor, which is somewhat similar to Martin's décor.


Never fear, Martin's BBQ ain't closin'. It's just moving to more spacious digs.

That said, I'm more than a little indifferent about the return of Uncle Bud's. For those who don't know, Uncle Buds's is best known in these parts for its all-you-can-eat catfish 'n' fixins spread. At its apex in the early 90s, Uncle Bud's had a dozen or so restaurants operating in Nashville and Middle Tennessee. When the last Uncle Bud's went belly-up, well, I figured that was the end of Uncle Bud's.

I never cared much for anything that was served at Uncle Bud's. (I ate there many times -- more than I like to admit, actually -- but it was almost always at the insistence of family or friends who, thank God, picked up the tab.) The catfish was greasy; the white beans were from-a-can, and the hush puppies were from-a-mix; and the cole slaw ... well, let's just say that the cole slaw wasn't anywhere near as good as my Granny Ruby's cole slaw.

Now, Uncle Buds' wasn't all bad. They could serve up a fine plate of frog legs ... sometimes. Frog legs ain't chicken legs, lemme tell you. Leave 'em in a deep fryer two secends too long and they get hard as a rock. I never had bad frog legs at the I-40 Uncle Bud's; however, I had bad frog legs more than once at the I-24 Uncle Bud's, more than once. "Sometimes," indeed.

You can rest assured that I'll be visiting the new Martin's as soon as it opens. The new Uncle Bud's?

Unless you're paying, I won't be goin' there any time soon. So there.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Connecticut, By Rocky Patel


The state of Connecticut is widely respected amongst cigar-smokers due to the fact that a lot of domestic and semi-domestic premium cigars are wrapped in leaves that were grown in the Nutmeg State.

When you head south on I-91 outta Hartford, you pass lots of red barns in which Connecticut's famed cigar wrappers are cured. And if you're a cigar-lover like me, you reckon what it'd be like to own one of them red barns. My, what I could do with a barn of cigar wrapping leaves. I digress ...

I recently unwrapped and smoked another cigar from my Cigar International haul, this time a Rocky Patel Connecticut (RPC) toro .

Verdict on my RPC cigar: It was exceptionally mild, and it was a very fine smoke. Each puff tasted of cream-tempered black coffee, and not once was my tongue burned whilst smoking it (even though I smoked it down to an inch-and-a-half nub, which I almost always do).

RPC is a fine, fine cigar brand, and I just now placed an order for s small box of toros to replace the toro I already smoked. Ask nicely and I'll give you one.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Step over to Donelson and fetch Fletcher's pizza, pasta, and ...


Back in the mid-90s, I played in a sandlot baseball league in Donelson. It was my chance to re-live my glory days of pitching for a local high school, made even more glorious by the fact that I was playing with guys who were former college and minor-league baseball players. One of 'em even showed me how to throw a screwball ... and my elbow still hurts to this day 'cause of it.

That said, THE after-game haunt for me and my fellow base-ballers was Fletcher's Pizza. At the time, Fletcher's was located in an old strip mall on the corner of McGavock Pike and Lebanon Road. Six bucks would get you all the pizza, spaghetti and salad you could eat, and five bucks would get you a pitcher of beer (I think the options then were Bud, Bud Light, and Miller Lite). We went mostly for the beer, so I don't remember much about the quality of the pizza back then.

Don't waste your time looking for that strip mall. Ten or twelve years ago it was torn down to make way for a Walgreen's. (A feller could write a lengthy essay about parcels in Nashville that were torn down to make way for chain drugstores.) Fletcher's moved into a vacant building on Old Lebanon Road which, if memory serves, was a Hardee's back in the day. For years I've been threatening to give the "new" Fletcher's a try. I finally -- finally -- made my way over there last week.


Fletcher's surely will never win any awards for its pizza, mainly because the crust has a too-crispy-'cause-it's-a-frozen-crust taste to it. The toppings are pretty good, however, and there are a half-dozen different toppings options on the buffet (the pepperoni 'n' sausage and the pepperoni, sausage, onions, peppers, and mushrooms were standouts).

If you're looking for a reason to hit Fletcher's buffet, go for the spaghetti and the cole slaw -- yes, cole slaw. The meat sauce has a rich, slow-simmered flavor, and it's loaded with Italian sausage. In addition, fresh spaghetti noodles are frequently placed on the buffet, so you don't have to worry about getting mushy, overcooked pasta (which is usually a hallmark of buffet spaghetti).

Now, about that cole slaw ...

I don't know what possessed the folks at Fletcher's to put cole slaw on their buffet, but I'm certainly glad they did. It's mayo-based, with crisp cabbage and plenty of carrots, and it tastes a lot like my grandmother's cole slaw. That right there is enough to make me go back ... indeed.

Fletcher's Pizza
2715 Old Lebanon Rd
Nashville, TN 37214
615.883.1844

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ain't it funny ...?!

During the one and only episode of Green Acres that I ever watched in my life, Eva Gabor was accused o' ****in' up a pot o' "hot water soup."

Maybe I don't remember that episode right (I'm pretty sure I do); however, I couldn't help but think 'bout it when I seen this comic strip in a newspaper in Alabama some two months ago:


[Click the pic for a better view]

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Gimme $10 ..."

Gimme $10 and I'll make enough macaroni and cheese -- creamy noodles and cheese with one hell of a crispy crust -- to feed a dozen folks. And nobody will be asking for seconds, 'cause there won't be enough left for seconds.

I'll bet none of the mac 'n' cheese-making-chefs mentioned in the following article can make an equally bold statement, indeed:

Mac 'n' Cheese for Hipsters

Monday, October 12, 2009

En-chee-ladas!


En-chee-ladas!

-- Homer Simpson, "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy"

The Tennessean recently published one Lynda Cameron-Bayer's father's (!) enchladas recipe, which I tried ce soir. Here 'tis (my comments follow):

Dad's Enchiladas

Ingredients

4 cups shredded cheese (I recommend extra sharp cheddar, but a blend is also delicious.)
1 medium onion, diced small
2 small cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
Dash hot sauce (to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1/2 teaspoons crushed garlic (to taste)
1/2 cup water or chicken broth
12 corn tortillas

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cheeses and onion and set aside.

In a large skillet on medium heat, combine the tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder, hot sauce, salt and pepper, garlic and water (or broth). Let simmer for a few minutes with a nice rolling bubble. Turn sauce down to low heat.

Ladle enough sauce into a 9-by-13-inch pan to cover bottom. Place tortilla in sauce in skillet to coat it all over then pull it from sauce with tongs (it will be hot). Place it in sauce-covered pan and spoon cheese into the middle. Roll it up, seam side down (it should be cool enough by now). Be sure to get the edges moist, as they tend to dry in the baking process if you don't.

Continue with this process until pan is full. Ladle leftover sauce from the skillet onto the enchiladas. If it seems too thick, whisk in a little more water while it's still in the skillet.

Sprinkle enchiladas with leftover cheese and onion mixture. Cover in tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. Take foil off and brown for 10 more minutes. It should be bubbly and delicious.

Note: All of the spices in the ingredients are more or less to your own personal taste.


I followed Ms. Cameron-Bayer's dad's recipe to a "T." (The only liberty I took was a fresh cilantro garnish -- see above pic). I'm here to say that it was very, very tasty. If I cook up a batch of Ol' Man Cameron's, er, Ol' Man Bayer's, enchiladas again, however, I'll use a mild cheddar cheese, and I'll throw some cooked chicken into my corn tortillas as well. Stay tuned for pics ...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Two of my bestest friends in the world are expats from the U.K. who own a very successful pool-'n'-spa biz in Nashville. (If you live within 100 miles of Nashville and you have a television, you've seen their ads.) Some 10+ years ago they turned me on to British-made chocolate, and I ain't looked back.

Monday, October 05, 2009

I'll smoke 'em 'cause I got 'em

Back in August, I took advantage of Cigars International 's "20 Assorted Cigars for $20" offer in Investor's Business Daily. I figured it'd be a cheap way to fill my humidor.

The first smoke I, well, smoked from my 20-for-$20 sample was a 5 Vegas 6" torpedo:


Said smoke not only burned -- for some 10 minutes -- evenly, it left a very subtle "burn" on my tongue; and each puff had hints of dark chocolate and coffee.

"This was an eight-dollar cigar!" I said to myself when it finished. Damn Cigars International for selling it to me for a buck!!!

Just so you know, I paired my 5 Vegas with a pint of Guinness, but I imagine it would go just as well with a glass of red wine ... and a steak.

NOTE: Stay tuned for more smoke reviews from my CI Collection ...

New Seasoned Flour in town

As much as I like Kentucky Kernel flour for seasoning chicken and chops, I have a new favorite:


[What you see there is a boneless pork chop breaded in House Autry "pork" seasoning and fried to juicy-on-the-inside-crisp-on-the-outside perfection. Oh, it was good.]

What sold me on House Autry is this: It's loaded with black pepper. Not enough to offend the Frank Costanzas of the world ("Again with the pepper? What do you gotta use all the pepper for?"), mind you, but enough to make your Southern-food-loving palate stand up and take notice, for sure. It is the best pre-packaged meat breading with which I've yet breaded meat.

So there.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

"See how much fun they're having on those cooking shows? Don't believe it."


I produced enough hard pieces o' chicken (before I perfected my patented fried chickend recipe), and I totally wrecked my kitchen enough times, to know this is true:

Be warned, though, that the role of a cook is a lot more challenging than you might think, and not nearly as much fun as those on the TV cooking shows would have you believe.

Read the rest here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Joltin' Django can handle his hot peppers ...

Many o' my friends and co-workers can attest that it's nothing for me to eat 1-2 lbs of pickled jalapeños at one sitting.

That said, I ain't never acted like this after eating a hot pepper, I tell you what ...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"A really good pickle"


George: I've never had a normal, medium orgasm.
Jerry: I've never had a really good pickle.


-- Seinfeld, "The Heart Attack"

The best pickle I ever had in my life was a huge kosher dill I consumed at Katz's Deli in New York City in 2001. I've consumed many, many pickles - in restaurants and out of jars - since I ate that Lower East Side pickle. None of 'em, and I mean none of 'em, held a candle to a Katz pickle ...

Whilst perusing the butter and cheese aisle at my local Publix today, I spied a small display of very expensive pickles (6 bucks for a 16-ounce jar) name o' Bubbies. Intrigued, by the price more than anything, I picked up a jar of Bubbies and started checking it out.

The first thing that caught my eye was the label that proudly proclaimed "No Sugar, No Vinegar, No Preservatives." The whole "no vinegar" thing was enough to provoke me into buying a jar. Pickles are supposed to be "steeped" in vinegar, right? I mean, that's how Ms. Clara made her award-winning pickles.

Tonight, I made me a turkey sammich on honey wheat - with Duke's mayo and sliced tomatoes from my garden - and I garnished it with several Bubbies pickles. Here's the verdict:

Vinegar or no vinegar, Bubbies pickles are the best jarred pickles I've ever had. Period. And they're tastier than any deli pickle I've had since I returned from NYC in '01 (sorry Noshville).

Bubbies pickles have lots o' "snap" to 'em (forget that big white stork), and they tickle your tongue with lots o' fresh dill and fresh garlic (forget vinegar). Again, I've never had a store-bought pickle as good as a Bubbies pickle.

[Sidebar: Actress Hayden Panatierre, a little left-wing Hollywood nitwit (emphasis on little), expressed her "love" for Bubbies pickles in the July 27 People magazine. Ms. Panatierre might not know sh** when it comes to presidential politics, but at least she knows a good pickle when she tastes it!]

Maintenant, je suis retourné ...

Last week I promised to resume daily commentary. Weeeeeeell ... I lied. I was invited to do some serious dove-hunting not long after I penned my "I'm back" post, and, that's what I've been doing the past several days (sans computer, of course).

In the spirit of my recent huntin' exploits, please to enjoy a dove recipe I posted back in '07, which followed a snarky e-mail I received from a PETA fool who took me to task for "promoting" hunting here at A Man's Gotta Eat:

Baked Dove in Wine Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup flour
10 dove breasts
1 stick butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.

In skillet, melt butter or margarine. Add garlic and simmer 1 minute to release the flavor of the garlic.

Season dove breasts generously with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Brown breasts in skillet 2-3 minutes per side.

Place breasts in baking dish (do not overcrowd). Pour broth and wine over breasts and cover dish with aluminum foil. Bake 1 hour.

Remove dish from oven and baste dove breasts. Return dish to oven, uncovered, and bake for 10 minutes.

Serve with rice or egg noodles.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

"Carol" on my mind ...

Back in 2000, or 2001, a little meat-and-three opened up on Murfreesboro Road near the Tennessee Highway Patrol's HQ. It was called Carol's Place, 'cause a lady named Carol owned it, and it was very, very good.

Carol's Place had incredible macaroni and cheese. It was incredible 'cause each pan had a half-inch thick crust of cooked cheese on it, and 'cause the underlying mac-and-cheese was infused with lots o' course-ground black pepper. (To this day I put black pepper in my macaroni and cheese 'cause that's how Carol did it.)

Carol's Place also had great meatloaf, beef tips, and fried chicken ... and quaility green beans, smashed taters, and fried okra. One time, Mr. Jimmy literally jumped into the bed of my pickup truck to get him some Carol's Place meat and veggies -- that tells you how good it was back then.

Fast forward ...

Carol sold out to Hlina many months ago, and the little M'boro Road take-out place is now Hlina's Home Cooking Restaurant:



I recently ate at Hlina's when the meat choices were between baked chicken and beef tips. I chose baked chicken, with greens and mac-and-cheese (and a hunk o' sweet cornbread). Here's the verdict ...


Hlina's ain't anywhere near as good now as Carol's was back then.

The chicken was OK -- the skin was crispy and the meat was pretty moist.

The mac-'n'-cheese, however, wasn't very cheesy, and it didn't have the first ****in' flake o' pepper in it.

As for the greens, well, they were non-seasoned canned greens -- emphasis on non-seasoned.

The cornbread was moist and not-crumbly, but it was obviously made from a commercial mix.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Don't waste your money at Hlina's. Not even if Mr. Jimmy says he'll jump into your truck before you go ...!!!

Hlina's Home Cooking Restaurant
1609 Murfreesboro Pike
Nashville, TN 37217
615.361.7154