Sunday, December 30, 2007

Food Fight - Only 1 Day Left to Vote!

While it doesn't appear there's any doubt about the outcome, I do feel some responsibility to point out that there is only 1 day left before the poll closes on our final bout.

Alton Brown holds a commanding lead over Giada De Laurentis. We've certainly heard loud and clear from Alton's Army, now let's see if Giada's Armada can come alive and try to close the gap.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Best of Your Stuff

Now it's time to take a look at yourself. Today I revisit some of your stuff that I've most enjoyed. The following posts will make your mouth water or curl into a smile.

The Chef From Hell - Lost in the Supermarket

Tummy Treasure - Breakfast Around the World and Cheesecake Anyone?

My GPS Camera Phone - How to Dig a Fire Pit

Fiery Foods - Weird Smokers

Homesick Texan - Comfort me with banana pudding

Barbecue Bachelor - Simple Salmon

A Good Beer Blog - Fact: Beer, Elephants And Electricity Do Not Mix

Thanks for the good reads!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Best of Friday Fun

Friday is the day devoted to fun on Sullicom blog. It might involve food, it might involve games, it might involve creative time wasting. Whatever it is, the purpose is to deliver smiles and laughs.

Among the fun favorites...

Simpsonize Me - meet my family and find out about another fun diversion that will show you what you'd look like if you lived in Springfield.

Bow Man - brush up on your bowmanship with this addictive little game I discovered on the "Say No To Crack" blog.

Ghost Story - one of my Halloween-week posts, I revisit an experience in a haunted inn.

Pez - is it the tiny, brick-shaped candies that's the allure, or the fun, collectible dispensers? Maybe both? Just be careful you don't turn into the crazy Pez lady.

Banana Pudding - who can resist one of the world's greatest comfort desserts? So delicious it has inspired songs and makes me feel like dancing!

Moon Pie - another guilty pleasure snack food. Variations abound, but there's only one Moon Pie.

Finger Safety - maybe the worst corporate video ever made, I hope they at least came in under budget. I wonder what ever became of Earl?

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Best of Comfort Foods

Thursday's the day devoted to comfort foods, be they for the tummy, ears or soul. I also consider this the danger zone, because it allows me to flirt with lots of foods that I should stay far away from unless I want to outgrow my pants.

But, I've braved on for your sake, dear readers. Perhaps you can eat, drink or listen to these offerings without giving into temptation. Or maybe your metabolism lets you cave without carrying the extra weight.

Here are the ones I've liked best...

Chess Pie - let me introduce you to my grandmother Lemma, a dear imp of a woman who lived to cook. Chess pie was one of her specialties.

Girl Scout Cookies - my annual battle with the temptation of having boxes and boxes of tasty little cookies in the house continued this year. Again, I lost.

Hot and Sweet - in a burst of energy one Saturday last fall, MoJo and I hit the kitchen and cooked up some hot sauce, then put up several jars of Concord Grape jam.

McIntyre's Bourbon Balls - my friend, colleague and fellow native of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, John McIntyre, has one of the best language blogs around. He also shares a fondness for bourbon and shared this family recipe for an intoxicating candy.

Webb Pierce - speaking of intoxicating, the late, great Webb Pierce sang one of the best-ever drinking songs, "There Stands The Glass."

Martha White - another post inspired by musical memories from my childhood growing up within television range of Nashville and the broadcasts of the Flatt & Scruggs Show and the Grand Ole Opry.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Best of Hot Sauce Wednesday

Hot sauce has proven to be more of a challenge to blog about than I would have guessed. One reason is that there are lots of realllllly good hot sauce blogs out there already and many of those bloggers are prolific. Another reason is that I don't have the system for constantly testing hot sauces. By system, I mean tongue, stomach and other parts affected by consuming too much fire.

But there have been some fun posts, especially if you extend the definition of hot sauce to include mustard. Here are my favorites...

Cholula - it's not rare, small batch or particularly fiery. But it comes in one of the prettiest bottles I've ever seen and tastes great on grits.

Boog's Hot Sauce - Baltimore baseball legend Boog Powell can still be found smoking beef at Camden Yards. And he can mix up a pretty tasty hot sauce, too. This one also has a personal connection I'll always cherish.

Cleveland Mustard series - this one bubbled up at the end of the baseball season and dealt with the Cleveland ballparks' famous mustards. The first post posed the question - is there more than one brand of mustard? The second included input from various Clevelanders. And the third (and final?) post was the definitive taste test.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Best of BBTuesday

Tuesday is the day I try to devote to my culinary passion - bbq, barbecue, bar-b-q or however you want to spell it. The smoked meat and sauce not only causes my mouth to water, but it also conjures up wonderful memories of my childhood and good times spent with family and friends.

Here are my favorite smokin' posts from this year.

Chef JP's Mole BBQ - one of the biggest pleasures of the year has been getting to know other bloggers. One of my first blogging acquaintances was Chef JP, proprietor of The Chef From Hell site. His site is witty and one heck of a treasure trove of great recipes. His submission of a mole bbq sauce in the first annual Sullicom Sauce Off brought him top honors.

Kentucky BBQ Dip - this was my own submission in the sauce off. Our old family recipe that instantly brings back memories of my dad lording over his bbq pit in our backyard in Madisonville, Kentucky.

Owensboro - this was a tribute to a town a short drive from Madisonville, where aunts, uncles and cousins lived, but more importantly, where the famous Moonlight Bar-B-Q Inn still cooks some of the best mutton, pork, beef and chicken in the world.

Arthur Bryant's - although I've never been there, this Kansas City restaurant is legendary among bbq joints.

Barbecued Tofu - yes, yours truly was once a hard-core vegetarian. But that doesn't mean I had to forgo the pleasures of bbq. This was once of our favorites from that era.

Enjoy!

Merry Christmas



Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Best of Food for the Soul

One of the things I've enjoyed most about this first half-year of blogging has been the Sunday Food for the Soul posts. These essays have allowed me to share with you some personal stories, thoughts off the news of the week, or just some curious observations.

Here are my favorites to date:

Tallpony - This was one of my earliest and the one where I feel I found my voice. Appropriately, the voice you'll hear is one with a sweet, syrupy drawl.

Peach - What's in a name? This post explains how Flannery Bliss Sullivan became Flannery Bliss Sullivan.

Papa - Another story from the family archive, this time recounting the amazing saga of Marcy's grandfather, Ben.

Vic Power - During the week the Jena 6 case flashed up in Louisiana, I found this short, but inspiring anecdote of how a baseball pioneer confronted racism with humor.

Survival Tips - Worried about getting bombed to Kingdom Come by Iran or North Korea? Never fear. My favorite from among a handful of posts culled from the wonderful Bull Cook Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices book.

Enjoy!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sweet Saturday - White-Chocolate-Raspberry Cookies

The Remarkable Marcy hasn't made these cookies for a couple of years, and there's a reason why. The last couple of times they were on her baking list, they were at the top of my eating list. They're simply irresistible and I can't keep my hand out of the tins when they're around.

The recipe is yet another from that treasure trove at Better Homes & Gardens. We first picked off this one sometime back in the mid- to late-90s. It combines three of God's greatest gifts to humans - cookies, raspberries and white chocolate.

BHG has the recipe on their site in a form you can print out, so I'll just send you their way for the details.

Enjoy!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Fun - Bozo, Ho, Ho

The photo at the left comes from a gallery titled "Santa Trauma" that we have on baltimoresun.com in which readers can upload shots of unhappy visits to St. Nick. I don't know who the terrified tot is, but I'm sure many of you can relate.

I can. Of our three kids, Courtland, our oldest, was the one who was most spooked by Santa. He was also suspicious of the Easter Bunny and Bozo the Clown. Perhaps the most traumatic event of his youth involved both Santa and Bozo.

We lived in Chicago when Courtland was born. And if you've ever spent time in that city, you might know that Bozo holds a special place in the hearts of Chicago residents. For years and years the clown had a Sunday morning show on WGN TV, and getting tickets to the show was nearly as difficult as scoring front-row seats to the seventh game of a World Series (but who in Chicago would know that?).

WGN was and is owned by Tribune Company, which also owned the paper where I worked. Every Christmas, the company held a party for employees' families, during which children lined up to visit not only Santa, but Bozo. They were seated side-by-side - a double whammy that was certain to scare the bejeezus out of nervous little tykes.

Courtland fretted while we stood in line with him and his sister Flannery, but he held it together pretty well during the dual lap-sittings, as you can see from the photo at the right. His trauma came afterward.

The party started winding down and we were on our way out of the building, walking down a long hallway. As we neared an intersection with another corridor, suddenly spinning around the corner was Bozo and his entourage!

Courtland stopped dead in his tracks, as did the clown, who in his big Bozo voice said, "Hi there!" All the color drained from Court's face and he stood stone still and silent, his fingers clamped vise-tight on my hand.

A few seconds later, Bozo and his posse took off. Marcy said to Courtland, "That was so cool! Bozo stopped and talked to you!"

Courtland quickly corrected her. "No. No he didn't. He was talking to dad."

The boy was obviously shaken by the encounter, so we didn't say anything else about it and went on out to the car.

As we're driving home, from the backseat, Courtland finally says, "Did you see his hair? It was really red."

Marcy and I looked at each other. "Yes. It sure was red."

A few more minutes of silence.

"Did you see his feet?," Courtland asked. "They were really big."

"Yes. They were really big," said Marcy.

And that was it.

There's little reason to fear Bozo these days. His show's been off the air in the Windy City for several years. Courtland's 12 years older now and we live in Baltimore. Even if Bozo were to show up this Christmas, with that hair and those big feet, he'd never fit down our chimney.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The People Have Spoken

Fight on!

I heard it loud and clear from all of you who left comments that we should let this food fight continue, regardless of how ugly it gets. As I write this, Alton Brown has a lead of more than 100 votes over poor Giada De Laurentis - and there's still more than a week left in the poll!

I'm curious - what do you folks think about waterboarding?

Anyway, I also wanted to give you a schedule of some of my upcoming posts. This is the time of year we in the nooz biz love because we can fall back on "year-enders," compilations of best-of lists. So, next week I'll be revisiting some of my favorite posts from this first half-year of the Sullicom blog.

Here's the sked:
- Monday: Best of "Food for the Soul," my whatever-comes-to-mind essays.
- Tuesday: Best of "BBTuesday," the day I share bbq recipes, restaurant reviews and bbq-related music finds.
- Wednesday: Best of "Hot Sauce Wednesday." That pretty much says it all.
- Thursday: Best of "Comfort Food Day." Most of the time it's food related, but once in a while I toss in some comforts for the soul.
- Friday: Best of "Friday Fun." Could be food, could be games, could be jokes. Whatever it is, it will make you smile.
- Saturday: Best of "Take My Word For It." This is your stuff. Things I've seen on other blogs and shared with you and others.

I'll be back on my regular schedule on Sunday, Dec. 30. And of course, New Year's Day I'll have a special post that reveals the winner of the Food Fight Final. I'm sure that'll be a big surprise. Yeah.

Really, thanks for all your support. It's been fun hearing from you Alton fans. And to that Giada fan who's voted six times - well, you've got your work cut out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Food Fight - Should we stop the carnage?

Wow! This is getting pretty ugly. As my buddy Pete said, it's a "bloodbath."

I'll leave it up to you guys - should I step in and stop this massacre, or let it play out and see just how far ahead Alton Brown can pull?

Leave me your comment and we'll make the call Thursday morning.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Food Fight, Results of Semi-Final 2

And the winner is...Giada De Laurentis!

No "BAM!" for Emeril in this Food Network Food Fight. This bout was relatively close compared with other recent runaway bouts. The queen of Italian cuisine took out the garlic king, Emeril Lagasse, 17-10. As I pointed out before, the big E has been looking a little paunchy lately and likely ran out of gas against his smaller, younger opponent.

To celebrate her victory, here's a link to one of Giada's holiday recipes that comes from her Dec. 17 "Everyday Italian" program. This one's for her side dish, Raffy's Turkey Sausage and Chestnut Stuffing. And, no, I don't know who Raffy is.

Giada's win sends her to our final, and it's going to be a good one. Miss De Laurentis now goes head to head with the Good Eater, Alton Brown. Mr. Brown's wins have been absolute blow outs thanks to the overwhelming show of support from Alton's Army. I'd recommend that any of you Giada fans out there send up a flare, rally your friends and family to get out and vote.

The polls are open. Voting runs from now until New Year's Eve. Let's have a good, clean fight!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sweet Saturday - Date-Nut Bars

This holiday cookie is one of my stealth favorites. By that I mean it's not one that immediately comes to mind when I start to get excited about the Remarkable Marcy going into baking mode. But inevitably, it quickly moves up the list of cookies I sneak from the tins.

Dates are one of the food world's more unappetizing-looking items. Brown, wrinkly, a little slimy. Sort of like mutant raisins at best, a little like cockroaches at worst. But when chopped up and put into these cookies, they're very tasty.

Date-Nut Bars

1 8-oz. package pitted, chopped dates
1 cup chopped raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp grated orange peel
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/4 lb. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbl orange juice
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two baking sheets and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir dates, raisins, walnuts, orange peels, cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar until fruit is coated with sugar. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter, the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt and orange juice. Add the date mixture and stir until blended. Do not over mix!

The dough should be stiff. Divide into four portions and shape two logs on each baking sheet. The logs should be 12 x 2 x 1/2 inches.

Bake 15 minutes, then cool 15 minutes after taking them from the oven. Slice the logs diagonally into 3/4-inch bars and dust with powdered sugar.

Makes 64 bars.

Enjoy!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Fun - Lileks and Moore

I don't mean to sound like Scrooge, but the holidays rarely put me in a jolly mood. So, I set out this morning in search of a few good chuckles.

Always a sure bet to make me snicker is one of my favorite sites, lileks.com. I first introduced you to James Lilek's hilarious site back in August. He's recently redesigned the site and added a few more fun galleries.

Lileks has gathered lots of cultural relics from the '40s, '50s, '60s, and '70s, like advertisements, cookbooks and postcards. He also has a very funny blog and podcasts.

What I particularly enjoyed on this visit was the Coffee & Chrome gallery, a visual feast of postcards and ads for restaurants and diners - the types that most anyone from my generation remember from years past. It's a great, fun time trip.

The Stupidist Angel

Another quick fix for the holiday blues is Christopher Moore's book, "The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror."

For anyone unfamiliar with Moore, he's been compared with Carl Hiaasen and Douglas Adams. His books are far-fetched and funny, and he's got a wise-ass attitude that gives them a delightful edge.

I first discovered Moore through his book, "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal." This thoughtful fiction about Jesus' missing years is funny, insightful, playfully irreverent, but overall is respectful of the Christ story.

"Stupidest Angel" is a delightful, quick read about the chaos that ensues in a Pacific Coast village during the Christmas season. It involves angels, zombies, a former action-film actress, a hyperactive dog and more. Many of the characters are familiar from other Moore novels.

It's been a long time since a book has made me laugh out loud, but this one did more than once.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Chinese Food on Christmas

Brandon Walker, a Baltimore songwriter, is getting some buzz for this soon-to-be holiday classic, "Chinese Food on Christmas."

Thanks to my buddy Sam Sessa for pointing out this nugget.



Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Food Fight, Results of Semi-Final 1

And the winner is...Alton Brown!

It was a merciless smackdown! In an avalanche of votes, Alton Brown took out Paula Deen by a margin of 46 to 6. He beat her like an egg! He whipped her like cream! No contest.

Going into this competition I had felt that Ms. Deen might have been a favorite to take the crown. I obviously underestimated the support base out there for Alton. If I were a politician, I'd be trying to track down Alton's Army to help me get out the vote. And if I were Alton, I might consider going into politics. Very, very impressive.

Our practice is to feature a recipe from the winner and here's a good one for cold days from Alton's vault - Curry Chicken Pot Pie.

Our next Food Network face off features Giada De Laurentis against Emeril Lagasse. The poll is open. Come out and keep it clean!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

BBTuesday - Smoked Scallops and Salmon


Today I turn over the blog to a friend, co-worker and serious smoker, Towson Tim. Tim and his wife Gail recently purchased a new smoker and have been busily breaking it in. I suggested Tim take notes and photos and share it with you good folks. And today, he does just that.

Smoked Scallops and Salmon

For those who love to smoke meat and seafood, this is a delicious, easy hors d’oeuvres dish. We had a few of the neighbors over on Sunday afternoon to, hopefully, watch the hated Steelers lose and cheer on the Ravens. This dish can be done ahead of time, which pleases my wife, the amazing Gail, to no end.

Scallops
Marinate large bay scallops (frozen work just fine) for 24-48 hours by covering them in the following brine:
2 parts of your favorite whiskey (mine happens to be Jameson Irish Whiskey)
1 part water
About a cup of maple syrup.

Marinate the salmon for 24-48 hours in the following brine:
1 part white wine (Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc)
1 part soy sauce
1 part water
Brown sugar (at least a half cup)
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Fresh ground pepper

After the salmon and scallops have soaked for a day or two, it’s time to smoke.

Because we relish the quality of life in our later years (translation – I am getting lazier), we use an electric smoker – NWTF brand purchased on the internet from Bass Pro Shops. It has a thermostat and timer, a top-side vent, four small smoking racks, a water pan and a wood chamber overtop the heating element.

Set the smoker temperature to 220 F. Put the scallops on the top rack and the salmon on a middle rack.

Scallops are very delicate, so they only need to smoke for about 45 minutes. The salmon takes a little longer – about 2 hours.

Right out of the smoker, wrap the seafood in aluminum foil and let stand at room temperature for about a half-hour. After it has had a chance to cool and the moisture has settled into the meat, put in the fridge until you are ready to make the platter to serve to your guests. Dress the platter with dill on the salmon. Serve with minced onion, capers, hard-boiled egg and horseradish sauce, all on the side.





Thanks Tim and Gail. Looks great!




Monday, December 10, 2007

Food Fight, Results of Bout 4

And the winner is...Emeril Lagasse!

BAM - no contest here. Even though he's looking more and more like the Pillsbury Doughboy lately, Emeril put away Bobby Flay with little effort in the first shutout of our Food Network celebrity chef showdown.

Emeril now moves on to the next round where he'll be paired against Giada De Laurentis.

In recognition of his win, here's the recipe for Emeril's Candy Cane. Be forewarned - it's not candy. It's a seasonal cocktail that should do fine in taking the edge off the holiday madness.

And now it's on to the semi-finals and our first bout pits Paula Deen against Alton Brown. This one could go the limit based on the support each chef received in the opening round.

The bell has sounded. Make your vote now!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Tragedy and Legacy

On Thursday morning I learned that a colleague's house had caught on fire.

It was early in the morning when it happened. He, his wife and their two children living at home were all asleep. It's uncertain whether the smoke alarms went off, or did so and went unnoticed by anyone other than a dog, whose barking wakened my colleague.

By that time the house was engulfed in smoke. His wife was able to scramble out of their bedroom window onto a roof over a porch. He went back to try to reach his son and daughter, but was unable to do so. Finally, almost overcome by smoke, he escaped.

His children did not. Their 11-year-old daughter died on the scene. Their 16-year-old son was rescued, but never regained consciousness. He remained on life-support and passed away yesterday morning. My colleague, who was in critical condition from smoke inhalation and a broken hip, had been in a different hospital, but was moved to the same site as his son just hours before the boy died.

As many of you know, I work for a daily newspaper. We deal with these kinds of stories almost every day of the year. Most of the time we do so with a hard-learned disconnect that allows us to handle the parade of tragedy without it emotionally driving us into the mud. But every now and then something like this happens. A familiar name bores through our shields. It reminds us that we're participants, not just spectators in life.

I've spent a lot of time the past few days watching my own kids. Hugging them a lot. Telling them that I love them. At work, I've noticed everyone is a little more considerate of one another. But shouldn't this be the way it's supposed to be every day? Perhaps that will be the legacy of this awful tragedy.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Be Back Soon


Events of the past couple of days have me down and out.

I'll be back with you soon.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Food Fight, Results of Bout 3

And the winner is...Giada De Laurentis!

By a 7-2 margin, voters indicated that the little queen of Italian cuisine would have no trouble dispatching stylish Sandra Lee. I suspect there was some pre-fight carb-packing that worked in Giada's favor.

My advice to Ms. Lee is go whip up one of those fru-fru drinks you make at the end of Semi-Homemade and forget about the loss.

Giada now moves on to the quarter-final round, where she'll have her work cut out for her against the winner of the Emeril Lagasse-Bobby Flay throwdown. Voting for that bout is now open and runs through Sunday.

To celebrate Giada's victory, here's a recipe that will air on the Dec. 10 episode of Everyday Italian that blends Christmas and Chanukah flavors - Parmesan Potato Pancake.




Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Happy Chanukah


Sundown today signals the start of Chanukah, the festival of lights. We'll celebrate this tradition from the Remarkable Marcy's side of the family as we always do: the lighting of the menorah as prayers are said, the unintentional off-key singing of a couple of songs, a few spins of the dreidel and the opening of gifts.

While we've raised the kids in the Christian tradition, we've always felt it was important that they understand and respect the traditions of their Jewish heritage. Marcy has done a typically remarkable job explaining the stories behind the holy days and why we do what we do to observe them. The kids have embraced these lessons and traditions. Especially when it comes to Chanukah. That's because they get stuff.

We try to keep to an "enlightenment" theme with Chanukah gifts, usually going with books, games or music. Oh, yeah - and they get gelt, the chocolate money that has nothing to do with enlightenment. It's some of the worst-tasting chocolate ever made. Perhaps one of the Chanukah miracles is that people not only willingly, but joyously eat the gelt.

So, tonight we recognize the Jewish side of the family. And we remember those with whom we've celebrated past Chanukahs who will be with us in spirit when the candles are lit.

And if you want a real taste of Chanukah tradition, here's a link to a good potato latkes recipe, along with a story about that tradition.

Chanukah Song

This isn't one of the traditional tunes we sing around the menorah. But it does bring a smile to our faces every time we hear it.




Enjoy!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Food Fight, Results of Bout 2


And the winner is...Alton Brown!

In our second showdown between Food Network celebrity chefs, the host of Good Eats gave a good beating to the Ace of Cakes, Duff Goodman. Voters gave Brown an 8-4 edge in the poll. My analysis is that the sight of Alton riding a motorcycle on his series, Feasting on Asphalt, telegraphed a toughness that was simply too much for Duff to overcome.

That moves Alton into the first quarterfinal match against Paula Deen. That should be a good one.

In the meantime, we've got unfinished business in round one. Our next match pits the queen of Italian cuisine, Giada De Laurentis, against Semi-Homemade's Sandra Lee.

The one thing I've always noticed about Giada is that she has the fattest fingers I've ever seen on a small woman. That could suggest a tightly packed mass of muscles under the skin that Sandra should watch out for. Or it could just mean that all that pasta settles in her fingertips. Sandra, while lithe, is likely to throw just about anything into the fight, just as she does in her recipes. If I were Giada, I'd watch out for anvils, horseshoes, ketchup bottles and who knows what else.

This is a quick one - only two more days to vote - so pick your favorite now!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sweet Saturday - Snickerdoodles



It's holiday time and there's magic in the air. Wait - that's not magic. It's the cozy aroma of cinnamon, which means that the Remarkable Marcy has started baking her Christmas cookies!

When I pitched this seasonal series of Saturday cookie recipes, sweet daughters Flannery and Mo demanded that I start with Snickerdoodles, a cookie almost as much fun to say as it is to eat.

The shortbread cookies topped with sugar and cinnamon are fairly ubiquitous. But I say this with an admitted bias and pure honesty - Marcy's 'doodles are the best I've ever had. They're soft, moist and highly addictive.

The recipe she uses comes from the wonderful James Beard American Cookery book, which also includes a brief historical sketch of the cookie. Here you go:

Snickerdoodles (aka Snipdoodles, or Schneckenoodles)

1 cup soft butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Topping
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon

Cream the butter well, then cream in the sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs. Add the milk and the flour sifted with the salt, soda, and cream of tartar. Stir to combine well, easiest done with an electric mixer. Form into rolls about 1 inch in diameter and chill in the refrigerator. Cut off in 1-inch lengths and roll in the palms of the hand to form balls. Drop into the mixture of sugar and cinnamon, or dip only one side of the ball in the mixture and bake dipped side up. Place on a buttered cookie sheet or baking pan, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. (These cookies can also be made without chilling the dough. When mixed, dip up with a greased teaspoon, scrape off with the back of another greased teaspoon onto buttered pans, then sprinkle the tops with the cinnamon and sugar.) Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven until a delicate brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Loosen from the pans while still warm. Makes about 40 to 45 cookies.

Yummmmm. Enjoy!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Fun - Bow Man

For a period of two or three years in my early teens, I was a mighty deer hunter. Not just a deer hunter, but a BOW hunter. Manly stuff. Arrows, big curved stick with a string on it. Yep, that's me at the right. Nice tush, huh?

About this time of year, along with Brother Dave and our friends Rudy and Clifton, we'd head down to Kentucky's Land Between the Lakes, a magnificent outdoor recreation area in the western part of the state. We'd camp out at night, which was lots of fun, then hunt during the day, which wasn't fun. Sitting in a tree all day in December is uncomfortable.

I wasn't much of a threat to the deer. Frankly, I didn't even see many, which amazes me now because almost any morning I can look out on the hill in our backyard and see one or more deer trespassing in our garden, eating whatever plants we've grown.

Even had I seen one back then, I don't know that I would have had the nerve or heart to get off a shot. I know I certainly couldn't shoot a deer today.

However, shooting arrows is fun. But if you don't want to shoot at deer, what can you shoot at aside from a bale of hay? Well, how about another person?

Obviously, shooting at a real person is not only a problem, it's against the law in most states. And I suspect not many of you have a bow and arrows sitting around in the closet or garage. Lucky for you, I've got a solution.

I first encountered the game of Bow Man on the Say No To Crack site. The game is actually one of many freebie games you can find at Armor Games. Start by playing against the computer. It takes a few turns to figure out what to do (click on Bow Man, pull back the cursor, select the angle and release). But once you get the hang of it, it's hard to stop.



Have fun - but be careful!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Chili Nights

Remember that silly e-mail recipe chain letter I made fun of a couple of months ago? You know, it actually yielded a few nuggets.

Now that cold weather has wrapped itself around me like a wet blanket, I'm in the market for some good warm, comfort foods. Chili is pretty much a can't-miss in this category, and here's a good recipe that came in the chain from Karl and Karolyn Williams.

Black Bean Chili on Rice

2 Teaspoons Butter
2 Medium Onions – Chopped (1 Cup)
2 Teaspoons Finely Chopped Fresh Garlic
1 (15-ounce) Can Black Beans – Rinsed & Drained
1 (8 ounce) Can Plain Tomato Sauce
2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
2 Tablespoons Canned Chopped Green Chiles
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
4 Cups Hot Cooked Rice

In a 2-Qt. saucepan melt butter; add onions and garlic.

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and lightly browned (5 minutes). Add beans, tomato sauce, chili powder, chilies and cumin. Continue cooking until heated through (5 minutes).

Serve over hot cooked rice. Top with sour cream, chopped fresh tomato and chopped fresh cilantro (optional).

Yield: 4 Servings

Can be served over baked potatoes, pasta or grains. We also sometimes serve it as a dip with corn chips.

Thanks!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Food Fight, Results of Bout 1

And the winner is... Paula Deen!

The kickoff bout in our Food Network Food Fight to determine the toughest celebrity chef on TV wasn't much of a contest. Paula nearly shut out Rachael Ray in the voting, taking the bout 10 votes to 1.

Deen, the queen of Southern comfort foods, had no problem dispatching Ray, who was evidently worn out from overexposure.

In honor of her victory, and considering it is a Hot Sauce Wednesday here in Sullivanistan, here's a link to Paula's recipe for Fiery Cajun Shrimp.

Next up in the first round is a showdown between the Good Eater, Alton Brown, and the pride of Baltimore, the Ace of Cakes, Duff Goodman. Get your votes in now!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

BBTuesday - Arthur Bryant's

Kansas City has a well-earned reputation for good music and great barbecue. Perhaps tops among the great restaurants in town is the renowned Arthur Bryant's Barbecue. Calvin Trillin, a KC native and writer for the New Yorker, called Bryant's, "The best restaurant in the world." The place has fed presidents and celebrities who have gone out of their way to stop by for a bite when visiting KC.

Bryant's can trace its roots back to Henry Perry, a Tennessean credited as being the father of Kansas City barbecue. Perry opened a restaurant in KC, then hired George Gates and brothers Arthur and Charlie Bryant to run it when business took off. Gates eventually moved on to open his own famous bbq joint, Charlie Bryant died and Arthur took over the place on his own. The restaurant thrived under his watch, and after developing his signature sauce, he was crowned with the title, "The King of Ribs." He ran the restaurant at 18th and Brooklyn until his death in 1982. That site, plus two others carry on the tradition of slow cooked meats smothered in that famous sauce.

The restaurant's rep has been built on pork slab ribs, but it also offers beef, ham, pork, turkey and chicken, along with bbq baked beans, slaw and fries on the side. You can order Arthur's rubs and sauces from the restaurant's Website.

What I know about Arthur Bryant's Barbecue comes from numerous favorable mentions in lists, spotlights on television shows and write-ups in books. I haven't had the pleasure of eating at Bryant's, but if you have, please leave a comment below and share your experience.

BBTour

No tune this week. Instead, I found this fascinating piece on the history of barbecue in KC.






Enjoy!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Computer Problems Persist

I hope to be operational soon.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Food for the Soul, Nov. 25, 2007


The computers here at the Sullicom World Headquarters have been under siege the past 24 hours. Whether malicious, mischievous or merely coincidental, the result has put me in a very foul mood.

I don't know if this was a hacker attack of some sort, a virus or simply one of those perfect storms that can happen when little fingers frequently share the keyboards. Regardless, both computers went down yesterday, albeit with different maladies.

The basement PC, the older of the two, seems to have picked up some downloaded programs that while pledging to zap spyware, do more to invite it. It became near impossible to do anything on that unit because of the frequency of pop-ups. Even the desktop background has been overtaken by some demonic graphic that I can't get rid of. I've been running an anti-virus scan on that unit for 17 hours now.

That PC is usually the one reserved for the kids. But since it wasn't working, they moved to the one in the office. Last night, after a couple of hours of cursing at the situation in the basement, I went into the office to check e-mail, only to find that a system file in that PC had been corrupted or deleted and the thing wouldn't even boot. I tried running the system repair program off the boot disc, but that wasn't working either. Another hour of expletives followed before I finally gave up and went to bed.

This morning, as the scan was still running downstairs, I managed to install an old version of Windows on the office PC, which has at least allowed me to regain access to the Web.

In the meantime, somewhere in a currently unaccessible region on this computer are important documents, precious family photos and hundreds - if not thousands - of dollars worth of music downloads.

Of course, I'm trying to fix the situation myself, rather than spend good money to call in someone who actually knows what they're doing. It's kind of the same feeling I imagine I'd have if I were dropped in the middle of a bad part of town. At night. Naked. I'm not sure if the things I'm doing are making the situation better or worse. However, I have managed to reconnect to the Internet, so I guess that's a small victory.

This isn't the first time we've had predicaments like this. Just the first time they've happened simultaneously.

During the summer of 2006, one of the kids left a laptop sitting on the floor in the family room, where it was stepped on by our son, Courtland, with one of his size 13 feet. The foot won.

Three years before that, in what I consider Courtland's "coming of age" summer, he and his buddies used to retire into the office behind closed doors and "play" on the computer. That was when we had our first infestation of porn pop-ups. It set the stage for one of the inevitable father-son talks, as well as a long-term ban from his use of that computer.

And that's pretty much where we are today. I've banned the kids from using the computers until I say they can use them again. Not that it much matters because the dang machines still aren't working the way they should.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Segue Saturday - Food Fight

It's time to put Thanksgiving behind us once and for all.

Starting next weekend, my Saturday posts will be dedicated to the art of baking Christmas cookies. That's one of skills that makes the Remarkable Marcy remarkable. You're in for a real treat.

Thanks to everyone who voted in the Thanksgiving side dish poll. Stuffing was the decided favorite among voters, but green bean casserole and cranberry sauce had their fans, too.

Food Fight

Now the new poll is up. It's actually the first in a series of micro-polls I'll run through the end of the year. I'm curious to see who you think would win fights between various Food Network celebrity chefs. I don't mean which chef has the best show or recipes. I want to know who you think would come out on top in a regular old hair-pulling, clothes-ripping fist fight.

There are more than a few beefy contenders in the contest who look like they could pack a wallop. But there are a surprising number of physically fit chefs whose speed and agility might just wear down their larger opponents.

Our first match pits Paula Deen, known for her heavy menu of Southern comfort foods, against the thrifty and ubiquitous Rachael Ray.

The schedule of bouts is listed below. I'll report the outcomes on Mondays and announce the Grand Champeen on New Year's Day.

Paula Deen vs Rachael Ray - 11/23-11/28

Alton Brown vs Duff Goodman - 11/28-12/2

Giada De Laurentis vs Sandra Lee - 12/2-12/5

Emeril Lagasse vs Bobby Flay - 12/5-12/9

Quarter final 1 - 12/9-12/12
Quarter final 2 - 12/12-12/16

Semi final - 12/16-12/24

Final - 12/24-12/31

Keep it clean and may the best chef win!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Fun - Cool Places

I'm sitting here, having just come out of my turkey coma and waiting for the Alka Seltzer to kick in. I feel like I gained 10 lbs. in a single day. Maybe I did. I'm too afraid to step on the scale and find out, though.

Food is about the last thing I want to dwell on today, so I thought I'd share some very funny blogs with you. Some I've visited often and others I've just recently discovered. But all are worth a few minutes of your time and should leave you laughing out loud.

Say No To Crack - a humor site with lots of funny videos, cartoons, games and amusing observations.

Olga, The Traveling Bra - I linked to this one just a couple of days ago. A deliciously readable travel blog, which the blogger describes, appropriately, as "Keeping the World Abreast of All My Exciting Globe-Trotting Adventures!"

Neatorama - another arcade of eclectica. Videos, games, curiosities and odd items. Make sure you check out the Kitty Conversation post.

Thinking Out Loud... - the blogger, Valerie Morrison, serves up "ramblings, humor, news, motivation, parenting, rants, technology, finance... plus a whole lot more." Essentially, it's whatever the heck she feels like talking about and most of what she has to say is very entertaining.

Treat yourself to something other than leftovers today and check out these blogs.

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving

Thanks for my wife and children, who mean everything to me - Marcy, Courtland, Flannery and Moira. Thanks for our pets, who make our house smell, uh, interesting - Sharon the cat, Daisy and Gypsy the dogs, Big Guy the mutant goldfish, Bunny the bunny, and Buddy the hamster. Thanks for our siblings and their families - Dave, Jan, David, Erika, Emily, Dave, Flavia or Flavius (due to join the brood in April), Rhonda, Dave and Cullen. Thanks for all of our other cousins. Thanks for our parents, no longer with us but always with us - Frances, Courtlan, Rita and Sheldon. Thanks for our friends. Thanks for our home, our jobs and the food we have to eat. And thanks for the all the other blessings in our life, including good books, good music, fishing, baseball, drinks that make you feel good (in moderation) and anything else that brings a smile to your soul.

And thanks for stopping by. Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Have To Share This With You

It feels good to laugh out loud. Through a series of blog links, I arrived at Olga the Traveling Bra's blog. Check out her Turkey ala Olga post.

Holiday Horseradish Sauce

I've got one last little side or appetizer for you before we all chain ourselves to the stove tomorrow. Here's my adaptation of a cranberry horseradish sauce that's great on turkey, but when served with chips or crackers also keeps the football freaks at bay until the main course is ready.

Holiday Horseradish Sauce

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 small onion
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp. orange zest
2 Tbs. horseradish
3 oz. bourbon

In a food processor or blender, mush the cranberries and onions together. Put in a bowl and add the sour cream, sugar, orange zest and horseradish. Add 1 oz. of the bourbon and mix everything together. Take the remaining 2 oz. of bourbon, toast yourself for being a jolly good fellow, and drink. Cover the bowl and put in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

BBTuesday - Turkey

Gather around, children. It's time for your history lesson. Today Uncle Sullicom is going to tell you how the turkey was lucky enough to wind up as the symbol and main event for our Thanksgiving feast.

As I recall, it was around this time of year back in 1621, when we lived in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Gov. William Bradford decided we should have a day of thanks, with a feast to go with it. However, it having been declared a holiday, all of the stores were closed. So, we sent several men into the woods, to "go fowling" as we called it. I wasn't much good at fowling, so I stayed home and watched football until the others returned.

The "fowlers" came back, loaded not just with turkeys, but with ducks and geese, too. We cooked them all up, along with loads of sweet potatoes, stuffing and that green bean casserole with the little crunchy onions on top. The next day, when it was time to dig into the leftovers, we discovered that of all the cooked birds, it was the turkey that tasted best when made into sandwiches, with a little mayo slathered on top.

Ever since then, the turkey has been inextricably linked to Thanksgiving. This year, Americans will eat 690 million pounds of the bird at this feast alone.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

For those of you adventurous enough to want to try to smoke your turkey this holiday, here's a link to Steven Raichlin's recipe for brined and smoked Thanksgiving turkey.

And if you want a seasonal sauce for your turkey, here's a recipe for a cranberry barbecue sauce from the Shoalwater Restaurant in Seaview, Washington.

BBTune

And now, a word from the bird.



Have a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Nov. 19, 2007, In the News

Life is good. I'm still basking in the Buckeyes' win over Michigan on Saturday, I have a few days off from work to recharge and Thanksgiving is just a few days away. No complaints here.

And now, the news:

Double Duty. This qualifies as both a news item and the unusual recipe of the week.

Chug-a-Lug. South Dakota man sets hot sauce drinking record. This link has item, plus video from previous record holder.

Hot Sauce Health Update. Docs using capsaicin for pain relief.

Take My Word For It

Here's the Thanksgiving edition of favorite posts from my Good Friends and Cool Places links.

Thanksgiving. (Very Short Novels)

Nailing Down Turkey Dinner. (Tummy Treasure)

How to Smoke a Turkey. (White Trash BBQ)

How to Carve a Turkey. (The BBQ Guy's BBQ Blog)

Apple Pecan Bread Stuffing. (The Chef From Hell)

Badly Burnt Bird but Great Giblet Gravy. (Homesick Texan)

Have a great week!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Side Dish Sunday - Creamy Brussels Sprouts

Sorry for the one-day delay in getting the side dish posting up. Saturday ended up completely given over to the Ohio State-Michigan game. Fortunately, Sunday lets me keep the alliteration intact.

Anyway, for those of you who didn't run away shrieking at the mention of Brussels sprouts, you're in for a treat. This is a dish we assimilated into our Thanksgiving feast in recent years, the Remarkable Marcy having plucked it from the pages of Better Homes and Gardens. After trying it almost as a favor to Marcy since she went to the effort to make it, I found myself going back for seconds and thirds, then scraping what was left of the sauce off the sides of the dish with my spoon. If you're not quite up to doing sprouts, you can substitute green beans.

Creamy Brussels Sprouts

Non-stick cooking spray
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. butter
2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved, or green beans, trimmed
1 tsp. snipped fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 1 1/2-quart oval gratin baking dish or baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a 12-inch skillet cook onion and garlic in butter over medium heat for 3 minutes or until softened. Stir in Brussels sprouts and thyme. Cook for 4 minutes or until onions begin to brown. Add broth. Bring to boiling. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes or until broth is nearly evaporated. Add whipping cream and nutmeg. Cook for 4 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Stir in half of the cheese, all of the salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are tender.

Enjoy!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Yea!

We won!

Serious posting returns Sunday.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Fun - Ohio State vs Michigan



The Game is in Ann Arbor this year, thus robbing more than 100,000 fans of the experience of watching - and feeling - the Best Damn Band In The Land's stirring ramp entrance into Ohio Stadium.

At Ohio State games, the band is as much a part of the experience as the football. And no true fan would show up late enough to miss the band entrance. You literally feel it happening. The band gathers under the stands in the closed end of the horseshoe. Then you start to feel the rumble as the drums start pounding. The drum squad then marches down the ramp and assembles on the north end of the field as the thousands of fans clap in unison. Once they're in place, the rest of the band marches out to join them. As soon as all are in place, they begin to play "Buckeye Battle Cry." Then the drum major high steps onto the field, moves through the middle of the assemblage and takes his or her place in the front. The major slowly arches backward until the plume of his or her hat touches the ground. At that point the place goes wild and the band begins marching down the field with fight song blaring.

This sort of tradition is what makes college football sooooooo much better than the pro game. Being there and soaking in the spirit of these sorts of soul-stirring rituals gives me goose bumps and often brings a tear to my eyes. I've been to a few NFL games and the experience can't hold a candle to a college game. It's overly commercialized, overly sensational and at times approaches soft-porn. Give me a college game - any college game - anytime.

Michigan Jokes

I was delighted, but not amaized (pun intended), to see how many sites there are devoted to Michigan jokes. I've included links to the source of each one listed below. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

Q: How many batteries does it take to beat Michigan?
A: 1-AA

Q: How do you make University of Michigan cookies?
A: Put them in a big Bowl and beat them for three hours.

I hear that Lloyd Carr is only dressing 25 players this Saturday. The rest can dress themselves.

A guy in a bar leans over to the guy next to him and says, "Wanna hear a Michigan joke?" The guy next to him replies, "Well before you tell that joke, you should know something. I'm 6' tall, 200 lbs., and I am a Michigan alumnus. The guy sitting next to me is 6'2 tall, weighs 225, and he's a Michigan alumnus. The fella next to him is 6'5 tall, weighs 250, and he's a Michigan alumnus. Now, you still wanna tell that joke?" The first guy says, "Nah, not if I'm gonna have to explain it 3 times."

Q: What did the Michigan grad say to the OSU grad?
A: "Welcome to McDonalds. May I take your order please?"

And there are so many more...

Beer Me

If you want an authentic Ohio beer to swig while watching the game, try to find an eight pack of Little Kings. These 7-ounce bottles of ale are brewed by Cincinnati's Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewing Company. It's a cream ale, so it's not the lightest drink you'll find. But they go down dangerously easy and provide a decent kick after a few. So, if you're driving, surrender those keys before the first sip.

When I was in college, I worked as a bartender at a campus bar that, alas, is no longer there. Thursday nights we had a special deal of three Little Kings for $1.25. We kept the bottles in 30-gallon trash cans filled with ice and we must have sold thousands of them every Thursday. I still have calluses from opening those suckers with wet hands.

Enjoy your weekend and The Game!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Go Buckeyes!

It's the weekend of "The Game." You'll never convince me that there's a bigger rivalry in college football than Ohio State and Michigan. I realize that being a Buckeye alumnus makes me more than a little biased, but this game, more often than not, has one or more major implications tied to it.

Before last week's loss to Illinois, the game looked like it was going to figure into a national championship bid by Ohio State. But even now, the conference title and a Rose Bowl berth are at stake.

I started following the series in the midst of the "Woody and Bo Show," the years when legendary coaches Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler were butting heads. In most years then and now, this game is the climax of the season and anything that follows is merely afterglow. Maybe that's because so many times the winner, and frequently the loser, too, have gone on to lose to some other conferences' top teams in bowl games.

The Wolverines lead the series all time, 57-40-6. Ohio State has had the advantage in recent years, taking the last three and five of the last six games. Last year's game was the first time the teams met holding the top two spots in the polls. The Buckeyes won in Columbus, with Michigan playing a day after the death of Schembechler. The Bucks then went on to get drubbed by Florida in the national title game (see previous paragraph).

No matter which stadium hosts the game, it's an experience you won't forget. More than 100,000 fans in either venue, non-stop screaming and shouting, two fabulous marching bands, every play capable of sending the place into a frenzy.

The most memorable game for me was in 1979. The Buckeyes that year, their first under Earle Bruce who had replaced Woody, were undefeated and ranked number 1. Yet they were underdogs going into the game in Ann Arbor. Michigan built up a lead, but Ohio State got a third-quarter touchdown. Then, with time running out, Buckeye linebacker Jim Laughlin blocked a Wolverine punt. The ball was recovered by DB Todd Bell, who ran it in for the score. Final - Ohio State 18, Michigan 15.

I still remember those names and moments. That's part of what's special about these games. Moments forever seared into the collective memories of fans of both schools.

As we were leaving the Big House after the '79 game, I remember seeing a Michigan fan, on his knees with head in hands, in the middle of the road. He was crying and bellowing, "Ohio State can't beat us in Michigan!" Well, yes we did. And yes we will.

Go Bucks!

Buckeyes

To get in the mood for the game, here's a bit of OSU tradition. These sinfully rich little candies look just like their namesake nuts, as you can see from the photo at the top of the post.

2 cups peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1 stick butter or margarine, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients together. If mixture is too wet, add more powdered sugar. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on wax paper on cookie sheet. Freeze for at least 15 minutes.

1 package chocolate bark coating
or
1 package chocolate chips
1/2 cake paraffin

Heat in a pan until melted.

Stick a toothpick in the peanut butter buckeyes and dip into the chocolate, covering all but a small part of the peanut butter. Return to the wax paper-covered cookie sheet and return to freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Script Ohio

There's no better way to end this post than with "The Best Damn Band in The Land" doing Script Ohio.



Go Bucks!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thanksgiving Hot Stuff

Digging through our cache of Thanksgiving recipes, I noticed that they were all showing lots of wear and tear. I guess that's what happens if you make the same standards year in and year out.

They're good recipes and I couldn't imagine a Thanksgiving without them. But I wondered what's out there to add a little spice to the table.

Here are a few nuggets I found.

Our friends at the Hot Sauce Blog review Three Hot Tamales' Cranked Up Cranberry Sauce.

One more from the Hot Sauce Blog - a recipe for Fiery Sweet Potatoes.

In this article from USA Today, comfort food queen Paula Deen includes a sinful suggestion for jazzing up cranberry sauce.

And, from the New York Times, here are a handful of recipes including one for stuffing that features Vietnamese chili paste to give it a kick.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

BBTuesday - Andy Nelson's


One of the things I like best about Baltimore is Andy Nelson's Barbecue. The place has the authentic look, feel and taste of one of those old roadside joints I remember as a kid.

Located in north suburban Cockeysville, Andy's occupies two old, unassuming buildings. When you walk into the main shack, the wall to your right is lined with bottles of barbecue sauces and hot sauces. The rest of the walls in the place are decorated with homages to pigs, Elvis and the owner's career with the old Baltimore Colts of the '50s and '60s.

Andy was a defensive back for the great Johnny Unitas-led Colts teams, playing in Baltimore from 1957 to 1963. He was pretty good, too, making the Pro Bowl in 1960. He played a final season in 1964 for the New York Giants before returning to Baltimore to open up his restaurant.

The food and atmosphere are heavy on Alabama, where Andy grew up, and Memphis, where he went to college. The meats are slowly smoked over hickory fires, then simmered in a spicy sauce that was adapted from an old family recipe. I prefer the pulled pork, but there's also beef brisket, pit beef (this is Maryland, after all), pulled turkey and chicken breast sandwiches; Memphis-style ribs, whole or sectioned chickens; Dixie wings; and a hearty selection of sides, including slaw, bbq beans, potato salad and my favorite, greens.

There is a triumvirate of sauces available. My favorite (big surprise) is the tangy vinegar-based Pig Dip. The peppery Bama BBQ Sauce and spicy Carolina Mustard Sauce are also good. I usually wind up squeezing a lot of each on whatever's on my plate. The sauces, along with a house salad dressing and rub mix are available online.

Part of the fun of going to Andy's is that it's somewhat of a shrine to Elvis, whom Andy says he and his wife used to see around town during their Memphis days. There's lots of memorabilia on the walls of the various rambling rooms throughout the main shack.

I heartily recommend this place to anybody visiting Baltimore or even locals who've never been. The food is terrific and the dining experience is like walking through a portal to a place and time that seems so far, far away anymore.

BBTune

Here's one Andy would approve of. Elvis Presley doing "Hound Dog."



Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday, Nov. 12, 2007

Mondays just keep coming. It seems like we just had one about a week ago. This one's particularly somber. Yesterday was the sad day I rolled the Weber from the backyard into its winter home in the garage. There it will sit, alongside bikes, garbage cans, baseball and softball gear, fishing rods and the lawnmower until Spring. (Notice there was no mention of cars. Our garage is just a big junk room.) Until then, I look forward to the Monday post which announces that I've rolled it out and back into service.

Take My Word For It


Here are a few favorite posts from My Good Friends and Cool Places links.

Gino's East vs Giordano's
(Barbecue Bachelor)
Brandy Alexander (Dave's Drinks)
Sweet Potato Cheesecake (Homesick Texan)
How to Dig a Fire Pit (My GPS Camera Phone)
A&W Baked Ham (The Chef From Hell)
About Those Pierogi (Tummy Treasure)
Thanksgiving (Very Short Novels)

Have a good week!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Food for the Soul, Nov. 11, 2007

November is finally in full color here in Sullivanistan. As eye-poppingly pleasant as it is at the moment, that simply means we're a few days and a good rain storm away of having the leaves beaten from the trees and the long, dark days of winter moving in for the next few months.

I've always had a love-hate relationship with this month. November is filled with milestones and memories, some good and some not so good.

Last Saturday we celebrated the Remarkable Marcy's birthday. It was also the anniversary of our first date, which took place many moons ago in Columbus, Ohio at a Muddy Waters concert. And yes, I categorize those as good memories. Very good ones.

But this is also the month my dad died. It was a day before Thanksgiving when I was a very young kid. He was only 49 when he died, just a couple of months away from turning 50. It was last November when I became - to the day - as old as he was when he died. His early death and my own mortality had become something of an obsession with me as I approached 50. It was a tough day, much tougher than my actual 50th birthday. It came and went, accompanied by high anxiety and heavy introspection on my part. But, I'm on the other side of 50 now and living my own life.

November also means Ohio State-Michigan games. As of yesterday, the luster is off this year's matchup, but it's still huge for football fans and alums. I'll share more throughout the week on some of my memories and traditions from games past.

And, of course, November brings Thanksgiving. An opulent orgy of food that triggers the even more opulent orgy of gift giving and getting that comes in December. I'll always have the tragic memory of my dad's death attached to the holiday. But even more than that, I have years and years and years of wonderful memories of family, friends and food. And for that, I am thankful.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Side Dish Saturday - Praline Sweet Potatoes

I've never been a great fan of sweet potatoes or yams. But once a year I plop a heap of them on my Thanksgiving plate. That's due to the following recipe, which turns the taters practically into a dessert. I believe this dish was introduced to our Thanksgiving tradition by a former girlfriend of my brother-in-law. While she never made it into the family, the recipe did.

Praline Sweet Potatoes

4 cups cooked sweet potatoes (about 4 potatoes)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla

Topping:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup grated coconut
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the sweet potatoes, brown sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla.

In a separate small bowl, mix the brown sugar, pecans, coconut, butter and flour.

Pour the potato mix into a buttered 9 x 13 casserole dish. Top the potato mixture with the crumb mixture.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden and crusty.

Enjoy!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Fun - Bunny Art

We have a house full of pets. There are two Labs (Daisy and Gypsy), Sharon the cat, Big Guy the gold fish, Buddy the hamster and Bunny the bunny. But only one has shown an aptitude for art.

It was Bunny who is responsible for the creation at the left. It started out as a cardboard box flap that I put in her cage for her to play with. A couple of days later when I went to feed her, I noticed that she had nibbled it into the shape of another rabbit. I guess I hadn't realized how much she wanted a playmate.

I've seen works from other animal artists. There are paintings by monkeys and recently on television I saw a story about a guy who dips worms in paint and lets them wiggle all over a canvas. But this is something quite different than random squirms or finger splats. Does Bunny have talent?

I sought out critical input from some artists whose work I admire and opinions I respect. Here's what they had to say:

From Alan, professional animator and published author: from the artist's POV - her eye for detail is matched by her desire to mix her creative juices with her digestive ones. Bravo bunny - you're on your way!

From Spleenal, talented cartoonist: i like it. the "cut out" shape elevates the bunny form to more of a symbol or icon. it also bridges the gap between "flat" art and sculpture and attains a cool 2.5D feel. but mainly i see a corruption of the playboy bunny symbol. in producing it out of cardboard is your rabbit trying to make a comment of how sex has been cheapened? and is the fact that it's not new card refering to the fact that much of what we see as new is nothing more that recycled ideas from the past? that's one smart bunny.

From Howie, accomplished artist and instructor at a prestigious art college: Well it's hard to get away from oneself. At Art School in Portraiture & Life Drawing Classes one often sees how one's own image keeps appearing. For example the live model gets up on the stand - The skinny guy ends up drawing a skinny model, the chubby student draws a chubby model, despite what the actual model really looks like. Also the reverse happens. The chubby student (wishful thinking) draws a skinny model, etc. ...........Since I don't know your rabbit personally, it's had to tell if your rabbit was re-creating his/her own image or a wishful representation of themselves........ You and your family and those close to the rabbit, (maybe only other rabbits) will have to be the judges of this. On another thought-----If one rotates the picture, then the boot of Italy appears, and artists often turn their artworks to get a fresh peek and new sense of their artworks. Did you actually see the rabbit working on it the way you present it?? Or perhaps the rabbit worked all around thus creating a different image from each side. And Matisse often looked at his paintings in the early morning dawning light claiming it allowed him to see them freshly, - so perhaps you should also examine your rabbit's artwork from all sides and at dawn.

Hard to argue with the those in the know. Have an opinion of your own? Share it with us in the comments. In the meantime, I wonder what she'd do if I put a block of granite in the cage?

Rabbit Opera

Moving from the visual to the performing arts, here's a golden oldie from another talented bunny, Bugs, from his operatic classic, "Rabbit of Seville."




Have a great weekend