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Memphis in May

May 16th, 2010

How does this sound for a weekend, fly down to Tennessee for Memphis in May, the Olympics of barbeque?  A weekend spent walking up and down the mighty Mississippi, binging on the best pulled pork and ribs, swigging cheap beer. 

Or so I thought.  As soon as we got to the festival, I noticed something was missing:  food.  I could smell pig, but I couldn’t spot any.  There were rows and rows of booths set up, each one cooking up something good.  Some were quite elaborate (like this throwback to M*A*S*H*).  They all had signs that read “Private Party” or “Invited Guests Only”.  it was like everyone in Memphis decided to throw a backyard  BBQ right next to each other, and not mingle at all.

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It took at least half an hour and a trip to the information booth (good ole Southern hospitality) before I could locate any food at all.  We could either get 5 (diminutive) samples of competition pulled pork for $4 or grab some funnel cake and a corn dog from a stand.  On our second day at the festival we finally spotted a tent that we liked.  A guy was standing at the front miming eating a sandwich and asking “Manjia?”  They had buckets of pork shoulder, baked beans with burnt ends, and bbq sauce and were sharing.  As they explained it to us, each team is scored by three judges and each judge gets their very own shoulder.  Since the judge only eats a little of the food, they had all this extra food and just gave it away.  Since they had food, they figured they should have drink too, so they had two taps, and coolers of “Hurricanes” and “Ice Picks”.  This was the self proclaimed “Hospitality Tent”. 

While wandering around Memphis we bumped into several other people that had come to the competition with the same expectations we had and were disappointed.  If you didn’t know any one then there wasn’t much of anything to do.  If you really like pork puns or you are already in Memphis, then head to the festival.  Otherwise grab a rack of ribs from Outback Steakhouse and save yourself the frustration.

Author: Josh Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

The Return of a Hero

September 30th, 2009

We put our ailing Magic Bullet to the test today.  Would it survive after yesterday’s smoking incident?  I am here to tell you unequivocally yes.  The Bullet is a hero in every sense of the word.  It has struck back against adversity and provided us with yet more smooth goodness. 

We went easy on it at first, but soon realized not to patronize the Bullet.  Magic Bullet, I applaud you.

Author: Josh Categories: Story, Uncategorized Tags: ,

Demolition Man

September 18th, 2009

Saturday was a busy day.  My landlords had decided that they wanted to renovate my kitchen.  They had also decided that I should help.  This makes a lot of sense.  My landlords are my in-laws.  So after a week of boxing up all of the plates and glasses, Saturday was slotted for day one of demolition.  For a point of reference, here are some picture taken Saturday morning.

Sink Wall  Counter Wall

 

The first order of business was my oven.  As some of you may remember, it had developed a bit of an odor during a failed encounter with milk.  It was being replaced.  Canned.  Fired.  Tossed aside.  We dumped it on the curb in the hopes that someone else would deal with it for us.  The fridge and the sink also got the unceremonious heave-ho. 

By the time we got around to removing the cabinets we noticed that oven was gone.  Some lucky looter had just snagged themselves a fully functioning oven.  They are in for quite the smell when they hook it up.  A little while later the sink was gone.  This makes sense.  It was a big hunk of metal and could easily be sold off as scrap for a couple of bucks.  The fridge, on the other hand, spent a long cold night on the street, unloved and unwanted.  But don’t worry too much about it.  He was taken away first thing in the morning.

The only thing that we would keep was the washing machine.  The cabinets, and the counter top were not thrown away.  They will live out their lives somewhere other than my kitchen. 

To celebrate our victory over inanimate objects, my father-in-law and I were provided with gifts of tribute from the lady-folk featuring a six pack of ice-cold Sam Adam’s Octoberfest and a delicious chicken dinner.  After that we went to bed exhausted.

Sunday proved to be more challenging.  After a trip to Home Depot to pick up some materials – plywood, sheetrock, and the like – we stared tearing the tiles off of the wall.  Armed with a chisel and  a hammer we went to it.  In software development there is something known as the 90/10 Law.  It states that 90% of the work takes 10% of the time.  The other 10% of work takes the remaining 90% of the time.  We found that this held true for the demolition as well.  Our first tasks was to remove the tiles from behind the sink area.  Most of it came right off, but there was a relatively small section that would not let go.  We had to get a smaller chisel and chip it off inch by inch.  In the pictures below, the section of bare cement is where the tiles were.

Once the walls were done we were able to pull out the ceiling.  Once that was gone we were able to clean out the space, shower, eat a quick bite, and hit the hay.  It was a productive but tiring weekend.

DSCF9912 DSCF9913

Author: Josh Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Coneheads

September 1st, 2009

I didn’t mention it earlier because I’m overly superstitious about this sort of thing, but The Girl and I have planned a trip to Paris. France, not Texas. She has a friend from high school who has been in France for the last several years, with a brief stint in the United States. The plan is to stay for two weeks and enjoy the sights, culture, and (for me anyway) most of all the food. Some of the non-food highlights on this trip include: Shakespeare & Co., an English language of book seller of some fame; Versailles, the home of a seventeenth century palace of some fame; and Jim Morrison’s grave.

So, when are we going on said trip? Yesterday. Today, we are here. Between the time difference and the fact that I am not currently connected to the internet, you may have to shift those dates slightly. We managed to get to our flight in Newark Friday night despite the traffic cops’ best attempts and being stuck at the corner of Nowhere and Canal St. for half an hour. The flight was over booked, so when The Girl and I checked in, we were not allowed to sit next to each other. Instead I was to sit behind her, which would afford me plenty of opportunity to kick her chair, but not to talk to her. And seeing as we haven’t been married for all that long of a time, I still really enjoy talking with her, especially on an eight-hour flight. Once boarded, we asked our three neighbors if they would mind switching seats with one of us. As it turns out, they did. We still had one out, one our neighbors had yet to show up. Maybe he/she would be kind enough? As it turns out, there were five empty seats on the over booked flight, one of them next to my wife. Once I heard that boarding had been completed, I moved up next to her. And then we waited. One of those five seats belonged to someone who had checked in, but decided not to travel at the last minute. This wouldn’t be a big deal, but they had checked luggage as well. We had to wait for the grounds crew to sift through the entire loaded luggage for this mystery person’s parcel, and then reload everything. Our 8pm flight didn’t leave the ground until 9:30. On the upside, I was sitting next to my wife, who used this extra time to get sleepy and fall asleep before we took off. Seeing as she doesn’t enjoy that part of the flight, it was a win-win for her.

And the good luck just kept coming after we landed this morning. We flew through customs and got to baggage claim as some of the first pieces of luggage tumbled down. One of them looked remarkably like ours. On closer inspection, it was ours. Baggage claim has never been this easy. After that we were picked up by our host and brought to her apartment in the 13 Arrondissement to unload our things and take a shower or two. At this point we were very tired from the long flight. Presented with the options of napping or going out for our first meal in Paris, we did the only sensible thing. We ate.

We went to a local bistro specializing in southern French fare. The Girl decided to go with her Eastern European roots and ordered the potatoes with ham. Lightly fried slices of potato topped with cold cured ham. The ham was great, kind of like a thick cut prosciutto, but it was kind of awkward to eat with the potatoes. Not to mention the fact that it over powered them.

I had a tough time deciding what my first meal of the trip would be. Escargot? Tempting, but that probably wouldn’t fill me up. Traditional French cold cut plate with cheeses? Sounds too much like a snack and not a meal. Pig’s intestine, which I was told is really good? Too daring for my first at bat. Duck confit with a chanterelle mushroom sauce? Yes please. Now, I’m no great connoisseur of duck. I’ve had it a few times in Chinatown and in French restaurants back home, not to mention the turducken I made. Overall, I wasn’t a huge fan. But this. This was different. It tasted wonderful. The meat was juicy and flavorful. The sauce accented it just right. I thoroughly enjoyed eating the skin/fat with a piece of baguette.

With our first meal down, we moved on to a café where we got a coke (we needed the caffeine kick) and two scoops of ice cream, mango and lime. The mango was good, but the lime was magnificent. The rest of the day was filled with some miscellaneous chores and wanderings. We made plans to visit the local market in the morning and then go out for brunch.

Our first day in the big city was perfect. I can’t wait for the next thirteen. But for now, it might be time to take that nap we had skipped a few hours ago.

Author: Josh Categories: Story, Uncategorized Tags:

Greenpoint Sausage

May 27th, 2009

Normally I would just IM this to The Wife and not bother you all with it, but she just signed off for the evening and I figured it was appropriate enough.  Barbara from Serious Eats New York wrote an article about Polish delis in Greenpoint, where The Wife grew up.  These are basically the type of store that surround me in Ridgewood.  Lots of sausage and pierogis.  The best part is you can get a hot meal for two that costs $5.  You get a large chicken cutlet, two healthy scoops of mashed potato and your choice of two salads, normally I go with beets and coleslaw (remember, this is a Polish deli).

Eating Crab

May 26th, 2009

The last time I tried to make crab cakes, I had some difficulty in extracting the meat from the shell. This past weekend, I spent some time practicing and want to share with you my no fail method for getting the meat out of the armor.

The most important step is selecting the crab. As you can see here, I went with the Bumble Bee variety this time.

With the handle of the can opener in your left hand, turn the lever clockwise. In my example, I assume you are right handed. If you are a lefty find a righty to help you with this step.

Once the top is removed, don’t forget to strain out the extra juices.

These crabs have a papery membrane running along their interior shell. This is not edible and should be removed.

Voila! Enjoy your fresh crab!

Author: Josh Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Steak Time

May 22nd, 2009

With the summer upon us, everyone’ s focus shifts to grilling.  This recent Washington Post article does a nice job of providing ideas for some of the cheaper cuts of meat.  What’s better than a great grilled steak?  Getting a deal on the steak.  It’s sure better than buying steaks out of the back of a truck in the city.

Author: Josh Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Smoothie Update

May 19th, 2009

Today when I went to make my banana smoothie there was one last piece of chocolate cake left in the kitchen. Must have been someone’s birthday. I didn’t even consider having a piece of cake with my smoothie.

I had chocolate cake IN my smoothie. Happy days.

Author: Josh Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Brownie Points?

May 19th, 2009

I need to make brownies tonight. Anybody have a good recipe?

Author: Josh Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Sugar Cube Health Analysis

May 12th, 2009

Have you ever wondered how much sugar is in the food you are eating?  Wouldn’t a sugar cube graph be the best way to display this information?  Some people think so.

So my two thoughts on this:

One: it’s only looking at one metric. Whereas sugar content is important, there are other things to consider.  Compare the sorbet to the ice cream.  Fat content is the major player in that game, not sugar.  Although the comparison of Cool Whip to ice cream as  apie topper was pretty interesting.

Two:  If you aren’t expecting to find sugar in spaghetti sauce (and yes, Prego is “spaghetti sauce”), then you don’t know how to make it.  Although you can substitute the sugar with a carrot or two.  Which, as we know, is about the same.

Author: Josh Categories: Uncategorized Tags: