Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Original Pancake House

We don't normally eat breakfast. We just grab a cereal or granola bar. But, since we are on vacation this week we decided to go out for breakfast. We went to the Original Pancake House in Fishers, Indiana.

We've never eaten here even though it is about 3 miles from our house. The reviews we've read about it are mostly positive.

Anita ordered the bacon pancakes. I believe there were about 8 or so pancakes. She said they were delicious.

I ordered the ham and cheese omelet. The waitress messed up my order and I got the bacon and cheese omelet instead, which is quite fine by me. The omelet was huge. Seriously huge. Mega huge. I barely ate half of it and the 3 buttermilk pancakes that came with it.

The Original Pancake House isn't cheap, but the food is decent. The portions are huge, though, and we ended up bringing half of our breakfast home. The service was ok. It got better after the waitress realized that she'd made a mistake with my order.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Manchego Cheese and Garlic Dogs

We found a recipe in Bon Appétit magazine for Manchego Cheese and Garlic Dogs. Manchego Cheese is a Spanish cheese made from sheep's milk. We couldn't find Manchego cheese so we substituted with Pecorino Romano cheese. The recipe is below. I also made fingerling potatoes. I tossed them with olive oil, S&P, garlic powder, onion powder and fresh dill and baked them until soft and the skins crisp. Mike made corn on the cob on the grill and grilled the hot dogs.

Printable Recipe

Manchego Cheese and Garlic Dogs
For the relish:
  • 2 large heads of garlic, top 1/2 cut off
  • 5 tsps extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup diced drained roasted red peppers from jar
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • Course kosher salt
Hot Dogs
  • 6 grilled hot dog buns
  • 6 grilled hot dogs
  • 2 ounces Manchego cheese grated
  • Sherry wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar (we skipped adding either of these)
Relish: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place each head of garlic, cut side up, in center of square of foil; drizzle each with 1 tsp oil. Enclose garlic in foil. Place packets on oven rack and roast until garlic is tender for about 45 minutes. Open packets and cool for 15 minutes.

Squeeze garlic cloves into small bowl. Mash enough roasted garlic to measure 1/4 cup. Transfer 1/4 cup mashed garlic to bowl. Mix in 3 tsp oil, red peppers and parsley. Season with coarse salt and pepper.

Hot Dogs: Arrange buns on plates. Top each with grilled hot dog, then cheese, garlic relish and drizzle of vinegar.

Rudy's Smokehouse in Springfield, Ohio

While we were in Springfield, OH, the other day we swung by Rudy's Smokehouse for lunch. It's the only BBQ joint in Springfield.

The place wasn't very crowded. The McDonalds's next door was doing good business.

Anita had the pulled pork platter with scalloped corn and coleslaw. I had the pulled pork platter with cole slaw and a salad.

The pulled pork was very tender and moist, and they did not skimp on the meat. I didn't detect any rub or spices in the meat. They had 3 sauces on the table: sweet, hot, and mustard. The sauces were very good with just the right consistency.

The side portions were huge. For around $20 for the two of us, we walked out stuffed with some good BBQ. It made me want to go over to those people at McDonald's and tell them they were definitely at the wrong restaurant.

Next time we're in Springfield, or even just driving through, we'll stop at Rudy's again. Last I looked, the comments on Trip Advisor were also favorable.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Heart of Ohio Antique Center

We went to the Heart of Ohio Antique Center in Springfield, Ohio on Saturday. This is a huge antique mall. They have over 600 dealers. This was our second visit. We love looking at all of the retro stuff. I loved seeing all of the pieces of Fiestaware. I bought a Homer Laughlin Virginia Rose creamer at a very good price. I also bought a couple of vintage bracelets pictured below.

My bling!

Grilled Cactus

We went to Jungle Jim's, north of Cincinnati, this morning.

We bought lots of different things. Our goal was to get things that were new to us.

In the produce section we picked up a papaya, bitter melon, two Hawaiian plantains, and a cactus leaf.

Since the papaya and plantains need to ripen more, we decided to try the cactus leaf as a side with dinner (burgers and okra) tonight.

Anita cut out all of the spines from the leaf. This was our first ever exposure to cactus leaves. We made sure to be careful not to get poked by the spines. I got stuck several times when picking up the leaves at the store.

Next, we brushed the leaf with oil and threw a little S&P on both sides. Onto a medium grill it went. This was a pretty thin leaf. We'd read on the web that you need to grill about 10-12 minutes per side, but after about 6 minutes the first side was getting soft, so we went with a total of 12 minutes.

I think maybe 10 minutes would've been enough. I pulled the leaf off and sliced it. The most charred part didn't make it to the cutting board. We ate it before it could make it.

The taste and texture were really good. Something like a cross between a roasted green bean and a grilled green pepper. We really liked it. Something different, that's for sure, and something worth doing again! The leaf cost us 54 cents. You can't beat that for something different and good!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sweet and Sour Smoked Sausage

The wife wasn't keen to my idea of grilling smoked sausage kabobs for dinner tonight, so I had to come up with an alternative.

Sweet and sour smoked sausage has never let me down, so I went with that instead.

Printable Recipe

You'll need
  • 1 1/2 pounds smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced into long strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into long strips
  • 1 onion, sliced into long strips
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • S&P to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sweet and sour sauce (recipe to follow)
  • 1 pinch (or more) cayenne pepper
  • 1 dash (or more) hot sauce
  1. Place the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute for 5 to 10 minutes, flipping often, until well browned. Drawn excess fat and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet over medium heat, combine the peppers, onion, and butter and saute for 10 minutes until all veggies are tender. Add the sausage and stir together well. Season with S&P to taste.
  3. Add the sweet and sour sauce (see below), cayenne pepper, and hot sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 to 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend.
  4. Serve over rice.
Although the above calls for you to cook the veggies until tender, we prefer them a little more al dente. You can tell from the picture that the peppers aren't completely soft. You can put as little or as much sauce on top as you wish. We prefer just a little of the sauce so that it doesn't overwhelm the veggies and the sausage.

For the sweet and sour sauce you'll need:
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (we used Splenda brown sugar)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan.
  2. Cook over medium heat until thick, stirring constantly

Ted's Montana Grill

I went to Ted's Montana Grill today for lunch with some co-workers. I haven't been there since it opened, which is really a mistake on my part because the food there is really great.

I had the bison meatloaf. It comes with mashed potatoes, squash casserole and a roll, all for $12. The meatloaf was excellent, with lots of sauce that you could sop up with the potatoes. You could tell a difference between bison (less fat) and normal 80/20 meatloaf. I think the bison has a better flavor. The squash casserole was done perfectly. Service was good and attentive.

One of the things I really like about Ted's (besides their environmental approach) are the fresh dill pickles you get when you are seated. They are crispy and seasoned just perfectly, with just enough garlic. I could actually eat them all day.

Everyone in our party seemed to really enjoy their meal. We'll be back there soon.

Check out Ted's at their site. Hopefully, there's one near you!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Here are some of the flowers we have in our yard. Overall it has been a good year for flowers, even though they took a beating in the hail storm a few weeks ago.

Unknown bush behind the Weber Grill



Castle Scarlet
Purple Petunia

White Petunia

Day Lily

Pink Petunia

Red Petunia



Lamb's Ear

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

KFC Coleslaw Hot dog

I don't know why, but I can't stop eating grilled hot dogs covered in KFC coleslaw. Not the store-bought slaw, but a copy-cat version.

It doesn't look too terribly exciting, but there's something about the contrast between the hot-off-the-grill hot dog (I used an Angus beef dog) and the cold, crispy slaw. Great on a hot day like today!

Printable Recipe

To make the slaw:

  • 8 cups finely diced cabbage, about 1 head
  • 1/4 cup carrot, diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (I used Splenda)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (use the remaining buttermilk to make onion rings)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.
  1. Mix the cabbage, carrots, and onion in a large bowl.
  2. Place remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
  3. Pour mixture into bowl and mix well.
  4. Cover and refrigerate several hours or better, overnight.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shrimp Po Boy

Oh me these came out good! It's been probably 20 years since either of us has been in NOLA and had real Po Boys, but these will do in a pinch!

The shrimp were dredged in a mix of flour, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika and then fried up perfectly.

The remoulade sauce (you can see some peeking out at the front of the bun) was a mix of mayo, horseradish, pickle relish, salt, white pepper, garlic powder, paprika and fresh lemon juice.

Served on a fresh-baked lightly toasted hoagie roll with chopped lettuce and farmer's market-fresh tomatoes!


You can get the full recipe here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Borracho Beans

I made these a few days ago. We have really enjoyed them. They seem to get even better every day.

I took two pounds of pinto beans and soaked them overnight.

They then went into a pot with 3 quarts of water and a bottle of beer (I used Michelob Ultra Amber), where they were brought to a boil and then simmered for 2 hours.

When the beans were soft I added salt, 3 garlic cloves, and 3 minced jalapeños. In a separate skillet I cooked up 1 pound of bacon (cut into 1" pieces) until crispy and then added a chopped medium onion and let that cook until soft. The bacon and onions then went into the pot with the beans.

Finally, I added about 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro and 3 chopped Roma tomatoes, and let it simmer another hour.

The beans came out very, very tasty. We will definitely make this again.

The recipe states that you might want to skin the tomatoes before putting them into the pot. I skipped that step. I also used half the cilantro the recipe calls for. We like cilantro, but not in large quantities. I also wasn't able to find serrano chiles that day, so I went with 3 jalapeños instead of the 2 serranos that the recipe calls for.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lemonade 25¢, Water 50¢

Our little neighbor girl had a lemonade stand today. Mike and I laughed that the water cost more than the lemonade, but she had the last laugh because she made over $20. She had a really nifty cash register too. Mike bought the expensive water and I got the pink lemonade.

We loved the artwork on the sign.

Hi Snoopy!

Well, I stepped out the garage this evening and what do I see over the house?

Snoopy on the MetLife blimp.

I have no idea why he was around, but I waved anyway!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Capitol Q

This is another outstanding video on BBQ, this time concentrating on Capitol Q, a whole hog smokehouse in North Carolina that has been around since the 1830s.

CAPITOL Q from Joe York on Vimeo.

Thanks again to Chez John for this video jewel!

Dad's first peaches of the season

My dad, who lives in Augusta, Georgia, sent me this picture of the first of his peach crop for this year.

You can't beat fresh-off-the-tree peaches. He has 10 or so trees of differing kinds. Give me a bowl of these and some ice cream or just some sugar on top, and I'm a happy guy.

Won't be long until his strawberries, peas and okra will be ready to pick.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Taco Seasoning Mix Recipe

We're getting things ready for tomorrow's Father's Day lunch at my brother-in-law's house. We're doing a taco bar this year. We're bringing the taco shells, tortillas, ground beef, tomatoes, black olives, shredded cheeses and lettuce, taco sauce, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. Normally, I'd make more from scratch, but we won't have time to do that this year.

I went out and picked up 12 or so pounds of choice chuck and trimmed it into 1" or so strips. I removed some of the bigger pieces of fat.

I then ran it through our meat grinder from Northern Tool.

The end result was 6 pounds of ground beef that I'll use for making the tacos, and 6 pounds that I shaped into 8 oz burger patties for ourselves.

I'll fry up the beef with some homemade taco seasoning tomorrow morning just before we hit the road.

1/4 cup dried onions, minced
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon salt (or less)
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon dried garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cumin, ground
1 tablespoon red pepper flake (or more)
2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. I prefer to then transfer it to a spice grinder and give it a little grind so the resulting mix is a little finer.

To use, add 2-3 tablespoons to every 1 pound of ground beef, along with 1/3-1/2 cups of water.

The mix will keep for up to a year in an airtight container in a pantry or closet.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pickles, Round 2

We made a 2nd batch of pickles, this time two jars of half sour deli cukes.

They came out super crispy and really tasty good. We really liked them.

Have to say that our other pickles, the ice water pickles, were good, but a little too vinegary for us. Next round, we'll make more of these!

If you look at the pic real close you can see one mistake that we made... we added lemon slices just like in the ice water pickles. As good was these were, the lemons were a little over the top for me. Next time, we'll leave them out. These definitely had great texture and they were really crispy.

Another fine recipe from Chez John.

Half Sour pickles

12 pickling cukes (nice and stiff)
1 large clove garlic
6 sprigs fresh dill
1 tsp pickling spices
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 1/2 cups water

Cut the cukes in half and put in large bowl with garlic, dill, and pickling spices. Boil salt, water and vinegar for 2 minutes and pour over cukes to cover by at least an inch. Weigh down with a plate and can or something. Let them sit at room temp overnight and pack in jars and refrigerate. Best after a couple days. Nice and crisp like a NY deli.

Pack a garlic clove, cayenne pepper and a dill flower head (unopend) in each jar, if you wish. You can also skip the bowl deal and put the cukes in jars to start.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Whole Hog

Good friend of mine, Chez John, turned me on to this fantastic video on making whole hog BBQ and the lifestyle that goes with it. Well worth the watch if you are into what it really takes to make real BBQ.

Whole Hog from Joe York on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


The burnt pans were worth it! Here's the male ruby throated hummingbird coming by for a drink.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Grilled Watermelon Salad

Anita picked up a small watermelon yesterday. I threw it in the fridge overnight.

For dinner tonight, I grilled a slice of it over high heat just long enough to get a little caramelization and grill marks.

Plated with some farmer's market tomatoes, greens, fresh basil, and Feta cheese. Really, quite tasty and much better than we expected! The watermelon has a slightly different taste than just cold out of the fridge, and that cold inside really pops against the grilled exterior. You don't need a dressing as the juices from the watermelon are more than enough to make this a moist, tasty treat!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ribs and Rings

Oh boy, good eats tonight!

I fired up the WSM around 9:30 this morning. I had two racks of ribs that I bought last week for $1.98/pound. I bought one larger rack for us, and a smaller one for the neighbor's son, who's been taking care of his folks' house while they've been on vacation.

I trimmed up both racks. I need more practice at trimming them, but I'm getting there. There's an excellent video tutorial on how to trim pork spareribs into St Louis Style ribs at the Virtual Weber Bullet website.

Rubbed both racks down with Dizzy Pig Red Eye Rub and let them sit in the fridge overnight.

About a half hour before they were done, I put Texas Rib Ranger's Hot BBQ sauce on the ribs for the neighbor, and Rufus Teague's A Touch O' Heat on ours. I also deep fried some onion rings, using this recipe from Ina Garten on Barefoot Contessa.

Everything came out delicious! We ate way, way too much! We ate outside on the deck, making it an even better dinner!

I also threw a boneless, skinless turkey breast on the smoker. I rubbed it down with some Dizzy Pig Jamaican Firewalk rub the night before. After I pulled it off the smoker I did a fine chop on it and Anita made it into smoked turkey salad (by adding S&P, mayo, onion, and celery) for our lunches next week.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pickles, Round 1

We bought 2 pints of pickling cucumbers at the farmer's market today. First of the season's crop. This is our first time canning or making pickles. We hope they come out good!

About half the cukes are destined for NY Deli cukes, which have to sit out overnight, so I'll post them tomorrow.

With the other half we made ice water pickles. We quartered the cukes and soaked them in ice water for 2 hours. Then, in sterile jars we put lemon slices, onion, garlic, and in a few, chile peppers. Next go in the cukes. We then pour in a hot brine of cider vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seed, celery seed and dill weed.

The jars then cooled and sealed and were put into the fridge. We'll let them cool for a few days and then give them a try.

This pickle recipe came from a great friend, Chez John. Check out his awesome blog.