Sunday, September 30, 2007

Food for the Soul, Sept. 30, 2007


Gather 'round, children. It's time for a family meeting to discuss important matters.

Your blogger is worried that our country's lack of hospitality to the "petty and cruel dictator" of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, during his recent junket to our country could have dire consequences.

But, never fear. We have the Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices to tell us what we need to know to prepare for the worst.

I first introduced you to the Bull Cook in early August. It's as much a survival guide as it is a cookbook. It was published in 1960 by George and Berthe Herter. At that time, lurking behind every day was the fear that we were going to be bombed into oblivion by the Soviet Union. Today, the former Soviet countries are too busy fighting amongst themselves to be much of a threat. The Chinese have found dog food and toys to be more effective weapons than bombs. Iraqi WMDs are still in hiding. And the North Koreans are (for the moment) behaving themselves. So, our main concern turns to Iran. And although Ahmadinejad says bombs are so yesterday, you can never be too sure. Especially in the wake of a severe public dressing down.

So I rushed to the bookshelf, pulled down the Bull Cook and turned to its final entry - "In Case of a Hyrdrogen Bomb Attack You Must Know the Ways of the Wilderness in Order to Survive."

George Herter warns that if we do have a bomb attack, every major city and most of the rest of the country will be wiped out in less than 30 minutes. Then he begins to debunk conventional wisdom about attacks and shares with us his insights and personal intelligence on how to survive the holocaust:

In reading some of the official rot put out about survival in case of a bombing attack it shows that the people putting it out have no first hand knowledge of what they are talking about. I am just going to take the time to say a few words about it here as if an attack comes I do not want my friends dying needlessly. I have been through bombings and have talked to people all over Europe that have been bombed out and what I say here are the true facts of the matter not political dribble.

He warns that basements, sewers and other urban hiding places will be far too dangerous for various reasons. George's best advice - If at all possible get in a cave.

Stock your cave well, advises George. Make sure you have lots of wood, blankets and food. Here is his shopping list of essential items for your cave:

Have a reserve of food consisting of dried beans, dried peas, dried potatoes, dried milk, bacon, canned shortening, sugar, peanut butter, powdered coffee, and tea, chocolate, salt, pepper, macaroni, flour and baking powder. Have at least 1,000 matches in a waterpfoof container. In World War II matches in some countries were $25.00 a box on the black market when available.

George also warns that bombings bring looting and the looting is done in most cases by so-called friends that live near you. For this, he suggests that your cave be equipped with a .22 caliber rifle and at least 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

Also needed will be 6 number 1-1/2 traps and 2 twenty foot coils of woven picture frame wire for snares; 100 fish hooks in assorted sizes; 200 yards of nylon fishing line in a variety of weights; a half pint of iodine; and a year's supply of laxative. Although he didn't mention it, a year's supply of laxative should probably be accompanied by a year's supply of toilet paper.

He also recommended stocking 5 one-pound cans of tobacco. This is your fortune. If there is any food or material available that you need, the tobacco will get it for you when money will not. Remember, this guide was written in 1960, when everybody smoked. Instead of tobacco, maybe today's cave should be stocked with crack or Starbuck's.

Of course, also make sure you take your copy of the Bull Cook with you. And while you're comfortably nestled in your cave, watching the nuclear ash float to the ground, take a moment to say thanks to the Herters.

That's it for now. I'm off to hoarde matches.

Good luck.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mailbag, Sept. 29, 2007


Cubs win! They clinch the NL Central Division title. So, I'll quit whining. For now. A worst-case scenario for our household - a World Series matchup between the Cubs (my team) and the Cleveland Indians (Marcy's team). Has there ever been a World Series in which both teams lost? Is that whining? Sorry.

A good stream of comments on this week's recipes. Chef JP was flattered that we tried out his Mole BBQ Sauce, saying that "One of the highest compliments any cook can receive is to have another cook actually prepare of of their recipes." Well, recipes aren't just for reading, they're for following. It was our pleasure.

Take My Word for It

Here are a few favorite posts this week from my Good Friends and Cool Places links.

Prince's Hot Chicken Shack Video (Barbecue Bachelor)

Weird Smokers (Fiery Foods)

Jalapeno Cheese Bread (Homesick Texan)

Overly Sensitive Drunken Rats Only Acting Normally (A Good Beer Blog)

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday Fun, Sept. 28, 2007 - Curse of the Billy Goat

The baseball year is coming to an end and my Cubs are doing their best to kill me. They're dangerously close to losing their division lead with only three days left in the regular season, and bedeviled Cubs fans like me are wondering if the Curse of the Billy Goat is at work again.

The curse can be traced back to the Billy Goat Tavern on Lower Michigan Avenue. It's a historic bar and grill that's literally under Chicago's Magnificent Mile.

The Goat, as it's familiarly known, was the model for the old Saturday Night Live's Olympia Cafe skit. They really do shout, "Cheezborger! Cheezborger! No Pepsi - Coke!"

As in the skit, patrons line up in front of the lunch counter where their orders are taken and then famously called to the cooks. The food isn't great, but is sufficiently greasy to coat your stomach in defense of the many glasses of Schlitz or shots of Early Times (or both) you can drink in the perpetually dark, underground bar.

The Goat has long been a hangout for Chicago's journalists, many of whom are memorialized on the walls. The late, great columnist Mike Royko was a regular and his "Wise Guy's Corner" is still there.

During our 11 years in Chicago, it was one of my all-time favorite places to drink and socialize. But there's that darn curse.

The curse started when the Cubs' owner, P.K. Wrigley, prevented the tavern's owner, William Sianis, from bringing his pet goat to game 4 of the 1945 World Series. Sianis was so upset, he cried, "The Cubs ain't gonna win no more!" Well, it was effective. We're still waiting to get back to the series for the first time since the curse was invoked. You can read the full history of the curse and more about the Billy Goat Tavern here. And my former colleague, Rick Kogan, wrote a terrific book about The Goat, called "A Chicago Tavern: A Goat, A Curse, and the American Dream."

Now excuse me while I curl up in the fetal position for the rest of the weekend.

Go Cubbies!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Refried Beans

When we made Chef JP's mole bbq sauce last weekend, one of the side dishes we added was a staple of any Mexican or Tex-Mex meal - refried beans.

It's not like it's hard to find find ready-made refries in the store. They come in multiple varieties in cans or in dehydrated mixes. But homemade refries aren't hard to make and, like everything else you make on your own, there's a certain satisfaction, not to mention an authenticity, you just can't get by dumping them from a can or box.

The recipe we use comes from Annemarie Colbin's wonderful "The Natural Gourmet." I didn't realize how many of our favorites come from this great book until I started blogging, but it seems I turn to this valuable reference about once a week to share one of its nuggets with you.

Refried Beans

3 cups dried pinto beans, soaked 6 cups water 1 bay leaf 1 carrot 1 teaspoon sea salt 3 medium onions 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano 1 heaping teaspoon dried basil 1 tablespoon ground cumin Tabasco or hot sauce to taste (optional)

1. Drain the beans. Place them in a 4-quart pot. Add the 6 cups water or enough to cover by 1 inch. Add the bay leaf and carrot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, or until the beans are soft. Add the salt and cook for 10 minutes more, then remove the carrot and bay leaf. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid.
2. Chop the onions; you should have about 2 cups. In a large skillet, heat the oil, add the onions and saute over medium heat for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until soft. Add the oregano, basil, and cumin.
3. Continue to saute for 5 minutes more, adding about 1/4 cup of the bean liquid so that the onions do not burn. When the onions are sweet and soft, add the beans and mash to a thick paste. Cook over low heat, uncovered, for about 5 to 8 minutes, adding bean liquid to keep the beans from drying out and burning. If you wish, season with Tabasco or hot sauce to taste. Serve hot.

A couple of notes from our experiences with this recipe. It yields a LOT of refried beans. If you're not committed to serving an army or eating them with every meal for a week, you might want to cut the recipe. Also, make sure you keep the bean liquid handy. The beans tend to dry out quickly and the liquid is important for keeping the beans from burning and thinning them to an appetizing consistency.

Bean-eatin' Music

As I did with the mole bbq sauce review, I leave you with the Texas Tornados, offering a little "Guacamole" to go with your beans.



Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Celebrity Hot Sauces

A few weeks ago we were planted on the couch watching a show on VH1 and Joe Perry from Aerosmith came on and started talking about his side career as a commercial hot sauce maker.

Joe's signature brand is called "Joe Perry's Rock Your World", and he sells two sauces, "Boneyard Brew" and "Mango Peach Tango".

It made me wonder how many other celebrities were either making or lending their names to help market hot sauces.

A quick Google search turned up a couple of other celebs. Cheech Marin of Cheech and Chong has his name and face on a trio of sauces - Smokin' Chipotle, Gnarly Garlic and Mojo Mango. I also found a sauce being sold by porn relic Ron Jeremy. I was overcome with a bizarre combination of embarrassment and weird civic pride to find out that his sauce is made and distributed by a company here in Baltimore.

I decided to order the Joe Perry and Cheech sauces. But there's just something incredibly unappetizing about a food that's using the image of an old, overweight porn star on its label, so I'll skip Ron Jeremy's sauce for now.

I'll report back soon on these first sauces. In the meantime, if you know of any other famous people hawking hot sauces, let me know and we'll let you know if they're worth the attention.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

BBTuesday - Sauce Off, Week 2


Holy Mole!

Oh, he's a happy pig.

This past weekend the Remarkable Marcy and I kitchen tested the first entry in the Sullicom Sauce Off - Chef JP's Mole BBQ Sauce.

It was a tasty hybrid of barbecue and Mexican flavors and was spicy as hell, which should have come as no surprise considering JP's also known as The Chef From Hell.

The preparation time was about an hour, most of that given to cooking time. Start with sauteing chopped onions, garlic, fresh cilantro and dry spices (see photo at right), mix in the wet ingredients, then add the mole paste, which gives the sauce its thickness and dark brown color.

We decided to go with chicken breasts on the grill, adding the sauce during the last couple of minutes to keep from burning. We turned the dinner into a Tex-Mex feast, serving the chicken with some homemade refried beans, long grain rice and avocado slices. There was plenty of extra sauce that we put on the table and poured over the chicken, rice, beans, fingers, etc.

Marcy, who likes mole more than bbq sauce, was impressed by the combination of flavors. I loved the kick that the bbq sauce and Mexican spices added to the nutty smokiness and hint of chocolate brought by the mole.

My only issue with the recipe is based on a personal prejudice against sauces that use ketchup. But I'm willing to overlook my own sauce-snootery here because the outcome was so tasty.

Next Up: Jason's Lemonade Mustard Sauce

My search for a mustard sauce took me to a new blog, Jason's BBQ Adventures. The site just launched this month, but it looks very promising. Jason offers up an intriguing Lemonade Mustard Sauce, that rides atop a lemonade rub on a beer can chicken. We'll road test it next weekend and share the results.

BBTune

Here's a little Tex-Mex music for you to listen to while you enjoy your mole bbq sauce. The clip is an Austin City Limits performance of "Hey, Baby, Que Paso?" by the Texas Tornados. The Tornados, who were based in Austin, were Doug Sahm (remember the Sir Douglas Quintet?), Augie Myers (an SDQ alum who gave that band and this one the distinctive Vox organ sound), Freddy Fender (yes, that Freddy Fender) and Conjunto legend Flaco Jimenez.




Grab another cerveza and enjoy!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sept. 24, 2007, In the News


Welcome to the first week of fall. We've already had a taste of cool nights and mornings here in Mary Land, but are still dealing with some lingering heat and humidity during the days. That's good, because without it, we wouldn't have much to complain about, and complaining's one of our favorite pastimes.

Here's this week's find:

Baboon Pirates - I found this site thanks to the BBQ General. Baboon Pirates brought us last week's tasty (?) but unusual recipe for roast possum with apples and sweet 'taters. The blogger goes by the handle, El Capitan, and describes his site as "Scribbles and scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate." The blog features a little bit of this, a little bit of that and the occasional bit of laugh out loud mischief. El Capitan is a Texan, a proud one, who even offers his own Texas Prayer. Before you categorize that as extreme, I can tell you from living in the Lone Star State for five years and witnessing school children start their day with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of Texas ("Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible.") that it's just another reason why you "Don't Mess with Texas."

And now, the news:

I hope he didn't bend the rack. Guy beats girl with grill.

If you get in a car with this guy, make sure the windows are open. Tim Janus, aka Eater X, downed nearly 11 burritos in 12 minutes to win the world championship. Janus has quite an appetite. We noted him before in a post back on Sept. 3 when he set the tamale-eating record.

Unusual recipe of the week:

No wonder British food gets a bad rap. Here's a recently unearthed recipe for roasted hedgehog. Suggested side serving: nettle pudding.

Have a great week everybody!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Food for the Soul, Sept. 23, 2007

In the wake of this week's news out of Jena, Louisiana, I thought I'd share the following short, but relevant tale.

I'm currently reading David Maraniss' excellent biography of Roberto Clemente. In it, Maraniss tells the story of Clemente's fellow countryman, Vic Power, who was the first black Puerto Rican to play in the Major Leagues.

Here is a passage about Power's clever and graceful approach to dealing with racism:

What he did, often, was use humor as a shield to protect himself from deadly serious discrimination. His stories about how he confronted racism in the South have become a part of baseball lore, accurately reflecting social conditions in 1950s America even if some might shade into apocrypha. When a waitress told him that her restaurant did not serve Negroes, Power replied, "That's okay, I don't eat Negroes. I just want some rice and beans."

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Mailbag, Sept. 22, 2007


I'm all excited because today Marcy and I are going to the store to stock up on stuff to make Chef JP's Mole BBQ Sauce. We've got a couple of special sides we haven't made for a while, too. We'll report in full in the BBTuesday post as we move forward in the Sullicom Sauce Off.

Checking this week's mailbag reveals that Moon Pies, those chocolate-covered hubcaps, generated the most response. Several of you wrote in to note that there are - or were - variations on the theme depending on which region of the country you lived in. I guess I'm not surprised. Like I said, they aren't the tastiest things ever made, but they are kind of fun.

A couple of my favorite cartoonists checked in. My friend Alan Silberberg was among the commentators in the Moon Pie string. You can go to his blog to see a couple of animated videos that Al has created. Also making a stop this week was speenal, our friend from Newcastle in the UK. It was good to see that he's posted more of his work on his blog. Very funny stuff, but leave the kids at home before you link over.

I was glad to see that Rev. BigDumbChimp at Pork and Whiskey was back at his blogging machine after a couple of weeks of silence. And he was back with a vengeance. Ribs, tenderloin, ham, bourbon (see below) and a beer review tossed in as a bonus. He notes that he and his wife are celebrating their fifth anniversary this weekend. Stop by his blog and wish them well. I just hope that when they married she kept her maiden name.

Take My Word for It

Here are a few favorite posts this week from my Good Friends and Cool Places links.

Kentucky Burgoo (The Chef From Hell)

(more) Kentucky Burgoo (White Trash BBQ)

Cheesecake Anyone? (Tummy Treasure)

Rowan's Creek Bourbon (Pork and Whiskey)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Fun, Sept. 21, 2007 - Moon Pie


Take a little cardboard, some foam insulation, cover it with chocolate and what do you have? Something pretty close to a Moon Pie.

I'm a GooGoo Cluster man myself, but have eaten my fair share of Moon Pies - both chocolate and banana. I always found the flavor much less satisfying than I had hoped, but there's something about them that just oozes fun.

Maybe it's the name - Moon Pie. Say it three times, slowly. It's like jumping jacks for your mouth. Your lips pooch way out for the "Moon" part. There's a satisfying "P" to pop as you go into the word "Pie," which stretches the corners of your mouth to the limit. Ah, doesn't that feel good?

The treat has even been immortalized in song, most notably Vic McAlpin's "RC Cola and a Moon Pie," covered by NRBQ, Big Bill Lister (heard here off a link from an NPR story about Moon Pies) and by bluesman Nelsen Adelard, seen below in a performance at B.B. King's Blues Club in Hollywood.



If you've worked up an appetite for a Moon Pie but can't find them around you, here's a recipe for a homemade version off the allrecipes.com site.

Enjoy!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

There Stands Webb Pierce


Grab a glass of your favorite brew. Today I'll introduce you to, or reacquaint you with, one of the all-time great drinking songs.

I can't remember which song it was that steered me to Webb Pierce a couple of years ago, but I remember going to Amazon to listen to what else he'd done and was knocked over by the fact that it just kept getting better and better with each one I listened to.



This clip features Webb singing one heckuva drinking song, "There Stands the Glass." The storyline involves a man struggling with his problems, succumbing to one to drown out the others. One of the things I most like about this song is his delivery of the words, "There stands...". It's kind of elastic and squeaky, reminding me of a spring on a screen door that's being opened and shut.

If you saw the movie or heard the soundtrack from "Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?", you'll recognize the song in the clip below. "In the Jailhouse Now" is an old Jimmie Rodgers number. In this particular clip, Webb is joined by Red Sovine and one of the Wilburn Brothers.




Enjoy (responsibly)!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Spicy Peanut Sauce


I've found a few favorite recipes over the years that make surprisingly good use of peanut butter. One of the nice things about PB is that while it's delicious on its own, you can dress it up with a number of mix-ins, including hot sauce, chili powder and more. In a post from a few weeks back, peanut butter was a key ingredient in the barbecued tofu recipe.

This post from Dave DeWitt's Fiery Foods site gives you way more information about the peanut than you'll ever want to work into a cocktail party conversation. But if you're patient enough to read down to the recipes, I promise you'll be rewarded.

Now that football season has started and baseball playoffs are almost here, it's time to dust off one of our favorite appetizer spreads. It's especially great on crackers and celery, but also works well when thinned out as a topper for rice and other grains. We purloined the recipe from "The Natural Gourmet," by Annemarie Colbin.

Spicy Peanut Sauce

1 tablespoon unrefined sesame oil or unsalted butter
1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon shoyu or tamari
1 tablespoon maple syrup
4 to 6 tablespoons water, as needed
2 to 3 cloves garlic (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or Tabasco, to taste

1. In a small skillet, heat the oil or butter and add the spices, stirring briefly. Remove the pan from the heat.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter and the sauteed spices. Slowly add the shoyu and maple syrup, whisking constantly. Add the water, a tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
3. Peel the garlic and mince it very finely, or put it through a garlic press, and add it to the sauce, if desired.
4. Season to taste with the cayenne or Tabasco.

Great stuff. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

BBTuesday - Sauce Off, Week 1


The pig is smiling. That's because the Sullicom Sauce Off is on and today you'll get the first recipe submission. Before we get going, I want to offer a tip of the hat to the Barbecue Bachelor, that runnin' machine who prepped for the recent Philly Half-Marathon by whipping up a batch of my very own family brew, the Kentucky BBQ Dip. The boy finished the race in the top 16%, an outcome aided, no doubt, by the kick in the sauce. Congrats, Bachelor!

And now, the main event...

Our first sauce comes from Chef JP, proprietor of The Chef From Hell blog, my favorite food site on cyber-earth. The Chef has dug into his ample recipe vault and produced a sauce with a Mexican spin. The Remarkable Marcy (a great fan of mole sauces) and I will give this a try this week and report back to you next Tuesday.

Chef JP's Mole BBQ Sauce

This is one of many barbecue sauces I make from time to time. This particular one is perfect for chicken breasts on the grill or to use as a condiment on some fajita steak burritos.


Ingredients:


3 TBS Olive Oil

1 Spanish Onion, chopped small

4 cloves Garlic, diced

2 TBS fresh Cilantro, diced

1 1/4 cup Ketchup

1 1/4 cup Beef Stock or Broth

1 TBS Honey

2 TBS dark brown Mustard

1/2 cup dark Molasses

1/4 cup Cider Vinegar

1/2 cup Mole sauce


Note: You can find Mole sauce at most Spanish markets or on the Internet through some sort of specialty food site. The brand I like the best is Doria Maria.


Dry Spice Mix:


1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

1 TBS dark Chili Powder

1 tsp Thyme

1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper

1 tsp Ground Cumin


Cooking Procedure:


In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the dry spice mix


Set this aside


In a medium sized pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat


Add the onions, garlic, fresh cilantro & the dry spice mix


Stir well & cook for 5 to 8 minutes; until the onions begin to turn clear


Add the ketchup, beef stock, diced cilantro, honey, mustard, molasses & vinegar


Bring this to a high simmer


Stir well


Cook this down for 20 minutes; stir from time to time


Stir in the Mole Poblano paste & reduce heat to low


Let the sauce simmer for another 30 minutes


Hoo Hah!


And "Hoo Hah!" back at ya, Chef. Thanks for a great recipe.

In addition to reporting back on the mole sauce, we'll also bring you recipe #2 next Tuesday.

Musical Interlude

Here's a little background music for you while you're making the Chef's sauce. You might not know that JP is a musician, a professional at that, who has a taste for the blues. Check out his band, the Freelance Vandals on their MySpace page. No surprise here that my particular favorite is their song, "Hot BBQ." So this clip's for him.

There's not much to the video, considering that the song was recorded in 1927 by Robert Hicks, aka Barbecue Bob. But it sounds good, and the number, appropriately, is titled, "Barbecue Blues."



Enjoy!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sept. 17, 2007 - In the News


The results are in from mini poll #2. Paper was the people's choice, pulling more than 50 percent of the vote over rock and scissors respectively. Responding to the win, paper said, "In an age of increasing electronic and digital choices, it's good to know that the majority of people still prefer paper." When asked how it was taking the loss, a distraught rock said, "It's hard, you know." Added scissors, which finished a distant third, "We just weren't sharp enough."

The new poll is up - vote for your favorite Stooge. I limited the choices to the four most popular, choosing not to include later Stooges such as Joe, Curly Joe and Iggy. Vote now!

Here's this week's find:

BBQ General: The BBQ General is Georgian Wiley McCrary, who says he's a champion BBQ chef who's mission is "Sharing the secrets old BBQers die with." Wiley's been at it since December 2005, offering recipes (straightforward meats, birds and fish tips; sauces; and a few unusual surprises), cookbook reviews, equipment tips and overviews, and musings about life. The recipes appear to be easy to follow and many are illustrated with photos. My main concern with this blog, as with some of the other great BBQ blogs out there, is that the posts are made infrequently and I'm left wanting more. He seems to go in streaks and it looks like he just finished a burst of inspiration early this month. Maybe if we all stop by and do a little begging he'll keep his momentum going.

And now, the news:

It's the pits. Here's proof that you don't mess around with someone's livelihood, especially if it's supported by illegal labor. A Texas jail administrator gets fired for snitching on his boss.

Place your hand on the Bible and try not to get sauce on it. Here's the oath to be a card-carrying Kansas City Barbecue Society Judge.

Unusual recipe of the week:

Did I mention the General offers some unusual surprises? I found this recipe for roast possum with apples and sweet 'taters from a link on the BBQ General's blog. The link goes to the Baboon Pirates blog. I'll have more on that one soon.

Have a great week everybody!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Food for the Soul, Sept. 16, 2007


Rosh Hashanah just passed and a belated l'shana tova to all.

Whenever the Jewish holidays roll around, the Remarkable Marcy and I take time to celebrate the people and events that have enriched her side of the family. That led me to write this tribute to her grandfather, Ben Landau, aka Papa. That's Ben with his first wife (whose name has been lost to the ages) in the photo to the right. An educated guess would put the year the photo was taken around 1919.

Ben, was Marcy's mom's father and was the first person I heard refer to my wife as "remarkable", a tag that stuck in my mind ever since. Ben was pretty remarkable himself.

A quiet man with a thick Polish accent, he rarely opened up about his past. But after Rosh Hashanah dinner in 1988, he felt like talking. As luck would have it, I had a tape recorder with me and was able to capture him telling his story. It was, well, remarkable.

Ben was born in a small village outside Krakow, Poland in 1891. He didn't talk about his childhood, but picked up his tale with his journey to the United States.

In 1919 he had just returned home after serving in the Polish army during World War I. Not long after his reunion with his wife and daughter, he learned that Russia was annexing Poland and he was being conscripted into the Russian army. Rather than report for duty, he decided to make his way to America, specifically to Cleveland, where he had family and friends. The plan was to get established in Cleveland, then send for his wife and daughter.

He first made his way to Germany, then to Denmark. In Copenhagen he discovered that he was unable to get a visa to travel to the U.S., but eventually managed to obtain a Canadian visa.

Ben found passage on a ship that sailed from Denmark to Canada. As the boat neared port in Quebec, word spread that if the passengers didn't have $25, they would be sent back to Europe. Having no money and not wanting to return to Copenhagen, Ben and a friend came up with a plan. They took only what they needed from their steamer trunks and filled the pockets of their overcoats. When the ship docked, two gangways were put up, one for passengers leaving the boat, one for passengers boarding the boat. The exit gangway was littered with officials checking the necessary documents and finances. The entry plank, however, was free and clear, save passengers coming on board, and Ben and his friend took that route off the boat without incident.

Ben made his way to Montreal where he worked for three to four months. With cash in hand, he went from Montreal to Toronto, and then to Windsor, where one morning he boarded a ferry with Canadians who were going to Detroit to work in the auto plants. Once in Detroit, he took a train to Cleveland where he located his family and friends.

Unfortunately, the plan to bring over his wife and daughter was never fulfilled. Ben's wife was unable to travel after being diagnosed with cancer. She and the daughter stayed in Poland, ultimately being swallowed up into Nazi concentration camps where they died.

Ben started a new life and new family in Cleveland. He married a woman, Sadie, who had three children of her own. Together they had another child, Rita, who was Marcy's mom. For many years he owned and operated a small but successful produce store in Cleveland.

By the time I met Ben, he was well into his 80s and living with Marcy's folks in Cincinnati. Behind the house he kept a garden, and what a garden it was. Saying he had a green thumb would be a gross understatement. It was more like he had a green hand. I swear you could see his asparagus grow right before your eyes. There were also tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, garlic, onions, dill, and more. What wasn't eaten immediately was canned and stored for use throughout the year.

The picture to the left is Papa holding his great grandson - our son - Courtland in July 1991. Ben was 99, Courtland was two months old. Ben reached his 102nd birthday a few months before he died in the winter of 1994.

Among the least of his legacies are a few of his pickle recipes, one of which I offer below. It's a simple recipe from a man who was quietly complex.




Papa's Pickles

2 lbs cucumber pickles
5 cups water
3 cups vinegar
3 tsp pickling spice
3 tsp kosher salt
3 tsp mustard seed
6 cloves garlic
6 sprigs fresh dill

Wash cucumbers, peel the garlic and fill three quart jars with the veggies. To each jar add 2 sprigs dill, 1 tsp mustard seed, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pickling spice.

Mix the water and vinegar, then pour into each jar, filling to within 1/2 inch of the top. An option, if you want a little kick, is to put a dried cayenne pepper into the jar. Seal and refrigerate.

L'chiam!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Mailbag, Sept. 15, 2007


First off, thanks to everyone who dropped by for a visit this week. The blog is a little more than a month old and this was the best week yet for traffic.

My friend and former office mate Alan Silberberg offered condolences on the closing of Talita's Mexican Restaurant, an off-campus institution that has fattened Ohio State University students for nearly 40 years. Alan, a talented cartoonist, animator and author of the kids' book "Pond Scum" reports on his blog that his movie for the Disney Channel begins shooting in October. He notes that if you're going to be in Utah, they may need extras. He provides a link for more information. The working title for the movie is "Dadnapped," but he says that's going to change. He's also gearing up for an October author's tour to Texas, and again you can get more information on his blog.

I'll leave it at that for today. Summer is fading fast. I think I heard somewhere that this is national Do Something Day. Or maybe I just made it up. It's a great idea, especially for those of us with food on the brain and butts in front of computers. Get up, take a walk, ride a bike, fire up the grill. Do something.

I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Friday, September 14, 2007

More Fun


Here are a few more things to put a smile on your face as you head into the weekend.

When John McIntyre shared his family Bourbon Balls recipe, it led the two of us into a discussion of another candy I fondly remember from growing up in Kentucky - Divinity. Ironically, just a day or two later, I followed a link off The Chef From Hell's blog to Noshtalgia, where I found this Divinity recipe.

And speaking of The Chef From Hell, JP had this Kentucky Beer Cheese recipe posted Thursday. If you're looking for something to round out your weekend football food spread, this should do the trick.

Finally, much thanks to my colleague Elizabeth Large, the terrific restaurant critic for The Baltimore Sun. Elizabeth was kind enough to mention Sullicom on her wonderful Dining@Large blog. I hope I haven't disappointed her readers who have stopped by for a visit.

Oh, and the photo is one of my favorites of our youngest - MoJo - who you've previously met in posts about hot sauce and Boog Powell. She always makes me laugh.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Friday Fun, Sept. 14, 2007 - Finger Safety

Here's a little "finger" food for your funny bone.

"IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU". So reads the title card on what may be the worst corporate video ever made. More familiarly known as "Finger Safety," the video had gained cult status almost immediately after it was made in the 1970s.

The "talent" on the video is telephone guy Earl Tice from the Hiram, Ohio Long Lines Office. Poor Earl is clad in a navy blue leisure suit and is parked on a stool between a green curtain and a folding table. Earl, apparently inspired by a friend who lost a ring finger while installing some shelving, tells his fellow employees how they can avoid a similar fate. To help him, he uses a bunch of props he seemingly picked up at the local Woolworth's on the way to work that morning.

The best moments come when Earl pulls the Handi Wipes veil off secret props and demonstrates all sorts of dangers awaiting your digits.

I had a copy of this on VHS that I sadly lost in one of our many moves over the years. But God bless YouTube, which is like the box in the basement where you find every tape you ever lost. The site has several copies of this priceless piece of video, including the one below.

Hey, Earl - where can I get one of those company cars?



Thursday, September 13, 2007

McIntyre's Bourbon Balls

I cede the blog today to my friend, colleague and fellow native Kentuckian, John McIntyre. John provided me with the "Kentucky Drinking Game" I included in a recent post. His You Don't Say blog offers some of the wittiest, most informative commentary on the English language that you'll find anywhere.

John shared with me, and now with you, a classic Kentucky recipe and story.

BOURBON BALLS

Marian Early McIntyre, who died Nov. 2, 2001, in Elizaville, Kentucky, at age 84, had just laid in supplies for her holiday bourbon balls, a potent confection of sugar, chocolate and whiskey. They are not for sissies.

Like all family recipes, hers is sparse with details, and the technique of dipping the fondant in chocolate may take some practice. She made bourbon balls in the winter, insisting that warm weather was unsuitable. Though the recipe does not say so, her practice was to top the bourbon balls with pecans. You may want to do the same. If all else fails, drink the unused bourbon.

2 lbs. confectioner's sugar
1 stick butter (or margarine)
2/3 cup bourbon

Cream butter and sugar. Add bourbon; mix alternately with sugar.
Store in refrigerator until ready to dip.
Chocolate for dipping:
1 8 oz. block Baker's Chocolate (semi-sweet), melted with 1 in. square paraffin.

- John Early McIntyre

Thanks, John!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hottest of the Hot

Blair's 16 Million Reserve is hot enough to make the Devil sweat.

Blair's isn't a sauce, but pure "cap", or powdered capsaicin, the chemical compound that puts the heat in hot. On the Scoville Scale, which measures the hotness of peppers, Tabasco Sauce has a rating between 2,500 and 5,000. Compare that to pure capsaicin, which has a rating between 15,000,000 and 16,000,000. Yow! And Blair's isn't cheap, a 1 ml vial costs from $200 to more than $300 depending on its availability. Double yow!!

This excellent post from way back in 2005 on the Hot Sauce Blog offers a terrific review and photos of Blair's.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

BBTuesday - Sauce Off


A couple of weeks ago I announced the results of my first mini poll about bbq sauce. Tomato sauce edged out vinegar and mustard at the 11th hour as the peoples' favorite.

Now I'd like to take a bit more of a scientific approach to answering the question of which sauce is best, and I need your help. I'm looking for the best recipes out there for each type of sauce. If you have a special sauce of your own, let me know. Or if you have a link to a good one somewhere on the Web, let me know. You can drop the recipe or link on a comment or e-mail it to sullicom@gmail.com. I'll share them with you on Tuesdays throughout the rest of September and the first three weeks of October. I'll also report back to you as we experiment with the recipes and I invite you to try them out, too, and add your own reviews. On Tuesday, October 30, I'll announce the winner of the first annual Sullicom Sauce Off. The prize (if any) has yet to be determined.

I'll seed the contest with the first submission, my old family recipe (yes, nepotism is allowed) for Kentucky BBQ Dip, the vinegar sauce my momma used to mix with my formula. So, now the competition is officially on - send me your sauces!

Musical Interlude

Few foods have inspired songwriters to pick up pen in greasy hand like bbq. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of songs about my favorite food that I was able to find on YouTube. I'd like to share one that provided a real "aha!" moment when I watched it. It's a rockabilly number called "Barbecue Blues," performed in a bar by a German band called Rockin' Rhonda and the Rhonkeys. Rhonda's got this sort of cat thing going on with her outfit and face makeup which almost scared me away at first, but the video turned out to be well worth the 2:41 it took to watch.



Enjoy!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sept. 10, 2007 - In the News

A busy week coming up, so let's get right to it. Here are this week's finds:

White Trash BBQ: The blog, operated by an unnamed (not even a pseudonym) "fire-obsessed" guy from Brooklyn is very much pegged to bbq events and issues around NYC. And that's okay. Nice to know there's good q action going on in the Big Apple. As you may have figured out by now, good names are Sullicom bait and I kept seeing this blog pop up on other sites and thought I'd take a look. Among the first things that struck me is that this guy has some seniority - he's had his blog going since June 2004! Even with the New Yorkiness, I found it interesting to read about this blogger's efforts as he competes on the KCBS Championship Barbecue circuit. He shows his results and describes the effort - not always a smooth one. There's also some humor in his posts and he's not afraid to stand up for the little guy, as evidenced by taking issue with A&P for not just firing, but also suing a couple of kid employees who made a parody video that wound up online.

Very Short Novels: Most of the blogs I've spotlighted to date deal with bbq, hot sauce or comfort foods. But I try to seek comforts for the mind, too. And this next blog falls perfectly into that category. I mentioned this site in Saturday's Mailbag. It's run by David B. Dale (a pen name, the initial and last name in honor of his parents, Beatrice and Dale), who says that anything more than 299 words "would be a waste." An additional description on the blog notes, "Character, conflict, emotional impact. And sentences! Everything you want in a novel, without one extra syllable." Being the skeptical journalist I've been trained to be (sorry, David. Just a habit), I copied and pasted several of the stories into Microsoft Word so I could use the Word Count tool to see if maybe one or two of the stories came up a word or two long or short. Nope. All that I checked were exactly as promised - 299 words. And they're not drivel, either. As of the wee hours of this morning, the post atop the blog, Little Worm, is a poignant, creative tale. This month marks the year anniversary since David launched the site and since September 2006 he's posted more than 130 entries. February was his most prolific month with 15 posts, including my favorite, Bunting for a Hit, about a father watching his son in a baseball game (baseball is another of my sentimental weaknesses). It's a terrific display of creativity and writing discipline to be able to continue that sort of output at all, but again to hit the mark of 299 words over and over is pretty incredible. As I suggested in Saturday's Mailbag post, David's got some sort of writing juju going on. Check it out. (299)

And now, the news...

What's up with the Brits? Our friend Alan at A Good Beer Blog examines the possible factors behind a severe slump in beer sales in the UK.

Leapin' Lizard! Sullicom spans the globe to bring you this item, from Borneo via Brunei.

Must be the sauce. Port Orange, Fla. police are seeking a burglar who keeps breaking into area bbq joints. A surveillance camera caught him during his last visit.

Unusual recipe of the week - This'll get you going in the morning. Tex-Mex Savory Waffles from the Group Recipes site.

Have a great week everybody!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Food for the Soul, Sept. 9, 2007

It was like a death in the family.

My Ohio State fraternity brother, Rob Grinch, sent me a clipping from the Sept. 4 Columbus Dispatch announcing the closing of Talita's Mexican Restaurant.

Talita's has been an institution for nearly 40 years. When I went to Columbus in the mid 1970s, there were two locations, both delightfully cramped and tacky. The closest one was just east of campus in a seedy strip mall, situated between a coin laundromat and the Salvation Army Thrift Shop. It was where I learned to eat, and love, Mexican food.

I started with chalupas and advanced through the menu, ultimately crowning the bean and rice burrito as my favorite. Each meal was usually appetized by a flour nacho with jalapenos and chips and guacamole, and chased with a few Dos Equis to put out the fire from their house-recipe hot sauces.

It was the sauces as much as anything that distinguished Talita's. The red was savory with just the right amount of zing to open your sinuses. But the green was true three-alarm, steam-out-of-the-ears hot! I'm breaking into a sweat just thinking about it!

After Marcy and I married, our apartment was within a short walk of Talita's other location, just north of campus. The convenience was dangerous. It seemed that we were there every weekend and sometimes during the week.

The wait staff was as loyal to the restaurant - and its fare - as the patrons were. Over the years, we'd watch with amusement as new staff would come and grow fatter and fatter the longer they worked there. And I'm sure they watched with equal amusement as we did the same.

Eventually, things changed. The east location closed and the north location moved into a slightly larger space that had once been a Pizza Hut. A few years later, it moved again and experimented with a few Italian dishes on the menu.

We moved, too. First to Chicago, then to Texas and ultimately to Baltimore. In all those places - even in Texas - we measured all Mexican food by Talita's. We found other restaurants we liked, but none we liked better.

We'd return to Columbus a few times each year to visit family. And each time we did, it was understood that we would make at least one trek to Talita's.

The item in the Dispatch said the doors close Sept. 15. The current owner, daughter of the restaurant's founders, is now 61 and says she's ready to retire. She's turning over the family recipes to her brother, who owns a restaurant in Grove City, outside Columbus. He's also changing the name of his place to Talita's Mexican Kitchen. But it's just not the same as being near campus. I guess in some ways, what's happening to Talita's is the same as what happened to many of her customers. She's simply moving away.

Adios, Talita's.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Mailbag, Sept. 8, 2007


Lots of chatter about names and places this week.

Erika from Tummy Treasure left a nice comment on last Sunday's Food for the Soul post about how we arrived at the name Flannery Bliss Sullivan for our middle child. Erika's no slouch on names either, often posting on her blog about her kids Zander and Abigail. She also left a very funny comment on Friday's post about what she and her hubby used to tell people they were going to name their kids.

Chef JP testified on BBTuesday's post about Owensboro that he, too, has made pilgrimage to the Moonlight Bar-B-Q Inn. He says East Coast restaurants up his way have jumped on the bbq bandwagon, but haven't gotten it quite right yet. Ah, my friend, maybe they're better than you think. Once you've been to the Moonlight, your expectations for everyone else have been set too high!

You might have seen my very brief response on Friday to David's comment. My reply, which included a word count after it, was a lame tip of the hat of sorts to David's blog, Very Short Novels. Talk about truth in advertising - his site presents, well, very short novels, all of them containing precisely 299 words. Anybody who's ever tried to write anything knows how hard it can be. Creating something with a beginning, middle and end, that's worth reading and then nailing 299 words on the head with each effort is like some sort of magic trick. I hope you'll check it out and spread the word to others.

One of our dear friends from Texas, Kim, made her first blog visit and reported that she's been on the "Sullicom Trail" this summer, visiting some of my old Kentucky and Ohio haunts, including one of America's premier amusement parks, Cedar Point.

Take My Word for It

I thought I'd add a feature this week. After scouting the blogosphere, here are a few of my favorite posts this week from my Good Friends and Cool Places links. No description, other than to tell you to take my word for it that you won't be disappointed.

Lost in the Supermarket (The Chef From Hell)
The Brew Zoo (A Good Beer Blog)
The Best Carrot Cake So Far (Tummy Treasure)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday Fun, Sept. 7, 2007 - Simpsonize Me


Let me introduce you to my family. Left to right are Flannery, the Remarkable Marcy, MoJo, your humble blogger, and Courtland.

This lovely portrait was the result of much fun we had a couple of months ago with a site called "Simpsonize Me." The site was a promotion for the "The Simpsons Movie" and Burger King. You can upload a photo - headshots work best - of a person and the site will soon spit out a cartoony likeness. You have options to customize or tweak the caricature further, then can export it to your computer. We took each of our portraits, which are eerily spot on, and then Photoshopped them into the group shot.

The site is a lot of fun, but you need to make sure you've got the latest version of Macromedia's Flash to make it work.

Say what you will about Burger King, but they've got a sense of humor. While I'm not a fan of their food, they've put together a couple of the most fun promotional Websites I've found over the past several years. In addition to simpsonizeme.com, you should check out "Subservient Chicken." Here you'll find a man in a chicken costume standing in a living room. There's a command line in which you can tell the chicken what you want him to do. And he does it - or wags a finger at you if you request something off color.

If you're looking for wonderfully fun time-wasters this weekend, I heartily recommend both sites.

Emily and Dave's Roasted Reds

Our niece Emily and her husband Dave recently announced that they are expecting their first child in April. As you may have read in my Food for the Soul post from Sept. 2, names are not taken lightly in this family. The parents-to-be say that if it's a boy, the name will be
"Flavius Geddemannus Nikstaitis, King of Hackettstown." We are all hoping for a girl.

In celebration of their happy news, I offer you Emily and Dave's recipe for roasted reds.

- two large ripe red peppers
- two cloves of fresh peeled garlic
- about three tbsp of olive oil
- same amount of Balsamic Vinegar
- some fresh basil, cut into bits
- a dash of dried oregano (if you don't have fresh basil)

Take the peppers and roast them over fire, until the skin turns black all over. Dave says he does them on the gas flame of the stove, turning them regularly with tongs to get all sides burnt, holding them in the fire wherever it is still red.

Next, put the peppers into a brown paper bag, close the bag, and allow them to stand for quite a while, until they cool down. The steam and residual heat will cook them slightly.

Now take the peppers and run water over them while you rub off the skin with your hands and remove the seeds and skin. Cut them into serving size pieces, about 1" x 2" or so.

Put the pieces into a bowl, and add the oil, vinegar, sliced garlic and herbs. Toss and allow to marinate a bit.

This is best prepared ahead of time and allowed to marinate. Stir it around every now and then to get all the pieces coated well.

Serve with fresh crusty bread and some nice ripe brie cheese.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Texas Haiku


Marcy reminded me about this the other day. I wrote it shortly after we moved from Chicago to Austin in 1997 and it still makes me chuckle.

I hear the cows moo.
My neighbor's name is Elwood.

We live in Texas.

Hot and Sweet


Your blogger decided to get off the couch last weekend and putz around the kitchen. The end results were a decent hot sauce and a favorite jam that I haven't made for a few years.

The hot sauce came from the Boog Powell recipe I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. It's a pretty straight forward sauce - peppers, garlic, vinegar, salt and water. The pungent aroma released by the cooking filled the house, much to the chagrin of the Remarkable Marcy who was down and out Saturday with a stomach ailment.

The result was a flavorful, not overpoweringly hot sauce that tastes great dribbled over meats, eggs and just about anything else.

While the hot sauce was brewing, I started preparing some Concord grapes for jam.

I first made this recipe back in the early 1990s when we lived in Chicago. Our neighbors, Jorge and Migali, had a grape arbor that abutted the fence between our houses. In late summer and early autumn, the vines would be full and we were invited to take as many grapes as we wanted. So we did, and I became a jam man.

The jam recipe I used came from Carole Hupping's Rodale book, "Stocking Up III," a great resource for preserving foods of all sorts. It's a simple formula that makes a great jam.

Concord Grape Jam

3 pounds Concord grapes
1 1/2 cups mild-flavored honey

Wash grapes and place in large stainless steel of enamel saucepan. Crush them with a potato masher or a wooden spoon,, picking out whatever stems are easily extracted. When a little juice is released, cook grapes at a gentle boil until the center of the grape becomes tender enough to squash with a spoon. The point is reached about 10 minutes after the grapes come to a boil. Using a rubber spatula, force the grapes through a sieve to strain out the seeds. Press hard to extract all the pulp.

Return the strained pulp to the saucepan. Quickly bring to a boil and stir in honey. Stir frequently, but slowly, scraping all parts of the bottom of the pot carefully. Keep the temperature as high as possible, regulating the heat so that the grapes do not splatter wildly but boil vigorously. After about 10 minutes you should not be able to stir down the boil. Begin testing for the gelling point. The jelly will darken slightly and begin to feel thicker as stirred. You can lower the heat slightly as the grapes thicken. The jam should reach the gelling point 15 to 20 minutes after it begins to boil. Ladle it into hot, scalded half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace, and seal. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.
Yield: 4 half pints.

To wrap up, here's one of the hottest jam bands ever, The Grateful Dead with a 1989 performance in Buffalo of King Radio's (aka Norman Span) "Man Smart, Woman Smarter."



Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Doug Kershaw and Cajun Hot Sauce



When I was a teen in the early '70s, I spent a lot of time listening to the same popular music most of my friends listened to. But thanks to my big brother Dave, my tastes extended beyond the typical top-40 radio tripe. He exposed me to some well-off-the-beaten-path stuff, and among the albums I was wearing out was Doug Kershaw's "Spanish Moss". Kershaw, aka "The Ragin' Cajun", was my introduction to the music of the bayou.

Dave and his wife, Jan, had seen Kershaw perform live and were hooked. My first reaction upon hearing about Kershaw was that he was a country singer, and at that time I had absolutely no interest in country music. But then I listened to him. This was not country. It was flaming fiddles, syncopation and wild whooping unlike anything I'd heard before.

Kershaw often performed with his brother Rusty, and on occasion, his Mama Rita joined in. My favorite song on "Spanish Moss" had Rita sharing vocals on "Mama Rita in Hollywood." It was a rocking jam sung in Cajun patois with fiddle, squeeze box, grunting, screaming and shouting. It was the coolest thing I'd ever heard to that point!

Now and then Kershaw would pop up on television, and seeing him was even more fun than just listening to him. He wore red or purple velvet suits with ruffled shirts. When he sawed his fiddle he was swivel hipped and rubber legged, always in motion.

There are a handful of YouTube clips showing Kershaw in action, some from the early '70s, but most from recent years, like the one above. He's toned down the look, but he's still got the moves. It's good to see that he's still around.

Treat yourself to the Kershaw clip above. And here's a little lagniappe, a recipe from the SweatnSpice Website.

Cajun Hot Sauce

20 Large Fresh tabasco chiles (Stems and seeds removed, cut in half lengthwise)
2 Cloves Garlic, cut in half
1/2 Cup Vinegar
Salt to taste


-Place the chiles, cut side down, on a broiler rack.
-Broil for about 5 minutes or until the skin blisters and blackens.
-Transfer the peppers to a paper bag and let stand for about 10 minutes.
-Peel when cool.
-Place the chiles and garlic in a blender or food processor.
-With the machine running, slowly add the vinegar until the mixture is well blended.
- Add salt to taste.
- Keep covered and refrigerated until use.


Yield: 1/2 cup

Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

BBTuesday - Owensboro


When I was growing up in Western Kentucky, bbq was so ubiquitous that I didn't realize how lucky I was until I left the area. And I certainly didn't realize that Owensboro held the cachet it's earned throughout bbq circles.

My hometown, Madisonville, was a mere 50 miles from Owensboro. We used to make the journey several times a year to visit aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who lived in the bigger town, which sits on the banks of the Ohio River. We'd make the requisite house calls to all, sometimes go boating on the river, and then almost always end up eating bbq. More often than not, that meant going to the Moonlight Bar-B-Q Inn. And when you go to the Moonlight, you don't leave without filling your belly with mutton.

Owensboro was settled in the early 1800s by sheep farmers. Steven Raichlen, in his "BBQ USA" book notes that the first recorded mutton barbecue was held in the town on July 4, 1834. Since that day, mutton has been the meat that made Owensboro famous.

I left Kentucky in 1973 and only get back on rare occasions now. Unfortunately, most of those occasions are funerals. The aunts and uncles are all gone. The few cousins are scattered about the rest of the commonwealth, although one or two still live in Owensboro. It was during a funeral visit in 2005 that I made my last pilgrimage to the Moonlight. Closing my eyes and biting into the mutton sandwich I flashed back on all those childhood visits - the whole family was there. Food is a wonderful time machine.

Thanks to the Internet, the Moonlight's bar-b-q sauce is available online. But it pales to being there to enjoy it in person. If you ever happen to be in the area, it's a must-visit. And a good time to go would be in early May, when Owensboro hosts its annual International Bar-B-Q Festival.

Nothing beats being there to taste the real deal, but if you care to take a shot at making your own mutton, here's a recipe from the Dizzy Pig Barbecue Company's site. It includes a recipe for a mopping sauce, but if you want one that's a little more authentic to the region, try my family's Kentucky BBQ Dip that I posted a few weeks ago.

Enjoy!