Tag Archives: Beef

Hamburgers vs. Meatballs vs. Meatloaf?


This thought came to mind while making hamburgers for the holiday.  I remembered the commercials for ranch burgers & I had a packet of the ranch dressing mix, so I looked up their recipe.  It contained breadcrumbs.  I always thought breadcrumbs belong in meatballs or meatloaf, but not hamburgers.  Then there’s egg.  I put it in meatloaf but not in meatballs or hamburger.  They’re all almost the exact same thing… but then they’re all completely different.

I generally always throw them all together without a recipe.  They’re easy to do that way.  I guess everyone has their own way to do things.  I make them all the same sometimes, but sometimes I add something different for fun.

I’m just wondering how other people do things?

I’d love some feedback in the comments below.  I’ll share how I generally do things.  These aren’t really recipes, and I don’t measure much, but this is typically what goes in each:

Hamburgers

Meatballs

  • Ground Beef (Sometimes Turkey)
  • Crushed Croutons (Whatever we have for the salad if we’re having one, or a nice mix of spices or whatever.)
  • Parmesan/Romano “shake” cheese
  • Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian Dressing (It spices them well, keeps them nice & moist!)
  • Black Pepper

Meatloaf

  • Ground Beef
  • Egg
  • Bread or crushed crackers.  (I like the bread ripped up more than the crackers.)
  • A1, Ketchup, Mustard, or BBQ sauce… or a combo of all of them.
  • Season All
  • Black Pepper

(Click here for a crazy meatloaf recipe.)

Of course sometimes I add garlic, or onion powder, or something crazy.  That’s the fun if it though, isn’t it?  So, what goes in your meatballs, hamburgers, or meatloaf?

Raw Ground beef

Raw Ground beef (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yinzburg makes some tasty BBQ for y’all…


YinzBurgh BBQ on UrbanspoonLast night before the band played a show in Bloomfield, my wife & I stopped with some friends at Yinzburg BBQ on Baum Blvd. in Bloomfield.  Last time I was in that building it was a Roly Poly, and it’s certainly a different place now.

Yelp | Pittsburgh BBQ

Yelp | Pittsburgh BBQ

I’m a huge fan of BBQ and I have been reading great reviews about the place online, so I was very anxious to check it out.  (Also, I’ve been in a BBQ mood lately.)  Of course with the whole shellfish allergy thing, I took a look at the menu online before we went down.  My mouth was watering at all of the delicious prospects.  Thankfully, there is no deathfish present on the menu.  I’ve sadly gone to places before that have had daily specials or menu revamps that aren’t online… so I decided to send them an email.  I was met with a quick, friendly & inviting reply from owner & chef Richard.  His philosophy seems to be summed up in his email signature:

1. Barbecue is a cuisine; Barbecue sauce is a condiment!
2. The sauce is served on the side.
3. The love is in the rub!

When we walked in we were greeted by a woman with a sweet southern accent who asked us if we had ever been there before.  We indicated that we hadn’t & got a lesson in the 4 main & 2 hot barbecue sauces.  I liked the vinegar one & the signature red…  And, I liked that you could get 2 different ones with your meal.  Next time I might get the mustard sauce.

I had the brisket & pulled pork combo with the signature red & vinegar sauces (served on the side, so you can apply or dip however you like), the coleslaw, and a root beer from Natrona.  I tried both meats sans sauce, and they were incredible.  I found myself having a hard time deciding which sauce I liked better with which meat.  The coleslaw was creamy and flavorful.  I also had a sample of my wife’s mac n’ cheese (she got a delicious looking half chicken), and our friends’ collard greens.  The mac n’ cheese was nice & creamy and the collard greens were delicious.  I’ve sadly never had any until now.  We even had a very satisfied vegetarian in our midst who seemed to really like the smoked tofu wrap.  It’s not every day you find a BBQ place that serves vegan and vegetarian items.

There were two 2-seater tables outside, and 2 tables with standing room only inside.  We stood as we dined,negotiating around the mountain of food in front of us.  Halfway through the meal, I was already planning what to order for my next visit.  Next time it’s chicken & ribs… maybe the black eyed peas on the side.  Next time will also be soon!  They asked us to tell our friends… and if you’re reading this… you’re my friend, and you need to go check this place out!

I was so enamored with the food… I forgot to take a photo to upload to UrbanSpoon… oh well, maybe next time!

A CONTEST FOR YOU! Gimme a recipe, win some Bronco Berry Sauce.


240 Packs of Bronco Berry Sauce!

Want 13 of these?

OK.  If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I have an entire  case (& a little more) of Arby’s delicious Bronco Berry Sauce just taking up space in my dining room.  I would eat it all if I could, but it’s probably not an achievable (or wise) goal.  Sadly, my Bronco Berry Sauce will have to go without its perfect partner Arby’s delicious Jalapeño Bites… as they have not yet returned to the menu here in Pittsburgh.  Perhaps there is still reason to Occupy Arby’s even if Hala asked me nicely not to?

I’m left with a few tasks… figuring out what to do with the sauce besides dunking Tyson’s chicken tenders in it, and trying to pawn some off on friends, family, and maybe even a busker.  It expires in June, and I’d hate for any (more) to go to waste.

I was thinking it may make an excellent glaze for meatloaf, or even as an internal ingredient.  It would also probably be good as a glaze on grilled or baked chicken, but I’m guessing the high sugar content would make it blacken quite quickly.  I wonder if it will freeze?  A Bronco Berry Popsicle could be either incredible or disastrous.  Would there be a way to work it into an icing (or again as an ingredient) in a chocolate cupcake?

My readers and commenters are obviously the most enlightened and intelligent group of people I know, so I’m turning to you for ideas.

I promise to wrap it better than my last gift from Arby's if I need to mail it to you.

I promise to wrap it better than my last gift from Arby's if I need to mail it to you.

Here’s where the contest comes in.  Give me your recipe for something including Arby’s Bronco Berry Sauce as an ingredient.  You may want to familiarize yourself with it if you’ve never tried it.  The name is misleading, it contains no berries or horses.  It’s sweet, it’s spicy, it’s awesome.  This will be like Chopped or Iron Chef, except instead of TV fame and butt-loads of money the prize is… Let’s say 13 packs of Bronco Berry Sauce, because I like the number 13.  Also, I’m not Alton Brown or Ted Allen.  If it’s really good, we’ll maybe eventually have to make copycat recipes to continue making the prize winner.

You have until Friday May 4th to get your recipes to me.  I’ll post them in a blog, put up a poll, and have the readers vote.  We’ll close the poll & pick a winner on May 13th.  You can enter multiple times within reason.  Voting will happen with the little poll widget here, so encourage your friends, neighbors, family, and even enemies to vote for you.

The only way to enter: You can email your fantastically delicious recipe to world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com with the subject containing the hashtag “#Bronco13” & the name of your recipe.  We’ll annoy people with it on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, & wherever else hashtags work.

In the event of a tie, both of you will get 13 packets of Bronco Berry Sauce.

What are you waiting for?  Get to work!

Super old music scene rant… Unprofessionalism [2005]


I just mentioned this in a blog, and then I found it.  I think this was on my MySpace blog, but I can’t find it there.  It’s an old rant from 2005 that I emailed to myself for some reason.  I don’t know if I ever posted it anywhere?  Maybe I did then deleted it?  It’s incredibly whiny and laced with profanity.  I sound like a little crybaby.  That’s what happens when you go on the internet & rant, I guess.

Русский: Jim Dunlop - Original Crybaby (GCB-95)

Wrong kind of crybaby...

I felt like posting it since I did reference it.  It wasn’t exactly on the same topic, but it is a guy in a band whining about stupid show-related problems.  When it all comes down to it, I just have fun jamming.  None of this trivial BS outweighs that.  I can’t express that enough.  I’m glad to have a current band that rocks & is a continuance of such fun.

Maybe I made this private or didn’t post it because I named names.  None of the band names or venues exist, or are at all relevant any more, which I guess says a lot.  Maximum effort, minimal results.

-✍-

Unprofessionalism

Is that even a word? Well, now it is. Everyone’s always complaining about the Pittsburgh “scene”, and stating what the problems are or what-not… Okay… not everyone… just people involved in it who like to complain I guess. Well, I have another complaint to add to this mysterious master list that bites my ass… and I don’t know how to put a tag on it other than “Unprofessionalism”. Really, before you pick the term apart… I realize that most bands on the local level & most bands that we deal with aren’t doing this “professionally” per se… they’re not making a living at it, they’re doing it more as a hobby or fun activity. Well, good for you… I do it because I love it too. Sometimes, some people (musicians & booking people) make it hard to love.

People, unintentionally or not… can be assholes. Now, I’m a very laid back kinda guy (ask anyone). Although, I guess I get uptight at certain things… like when I can’t get straight answers… and when things that my name (or my bands’ name as an extension of that) are attached to go otherwise than according to plan.

Two ball-breakers hit for this weekend’s double header.

First one, not so big of a deal, but annoying as all hell in my eyes. We’re put on a last minute show. Okay. No biggie. No notice? Someone pulled out? Okay. All I ask is that I get the details, as I guess I’m the self-appointed show-pimper(-nazi). When I mean details… I mean time, cost, address, website and/or phone # of venue, name of venue, name(s) of band(s) playing, and said bands’ website url’s. Not particularly toilsome information to provide, right? Well, apparently this is the most difficult task to ever assign anyone who calls themselves a musician, booking agent, or club owner. No one ever knows the ☠⚡☣☢ing answer to anything. The ‘confirm the date and I’ll get back to you’ shit is stupid… they get back to you the week before hand, and expect you to have a place packed with your fans and friends. People need to know what the hell is going on before they commit to something. People (me) need to know what the hell is going on before the show… a month before… so they can advertise, flyer, talk about it, get the word out.

Why are the other bands important? Well… people are more likely to go out to a show if there’s 3 bands they like vs. just one. Which brings me back to the point where I think I was going before I got to a rant inside of a rant inside of a rant…

The early show at the Spider Lounge… we were given a list of bands that’re playing. I start promoting on last minute notice that there’s a show going on, we’re playing, & this is who else is playing… The Abbitoir Murders see said advertising… and they’re like… “Hey, we’re not on that…” Apparently, one guy is even going to be out of town, so there’s no way they could. Turns out they were asked the vague ‘wanna play a show’ question, never heard anything as far as details, and assumed it went kaput. Now, this is not their fault. It’s the fault of whoever set up the show. Who did set up the show? I dunno. I thought we had set up a central booking guy in order to keep all of the shit in line… so all details & info could go through him and he could ask the right questions… but apparently no one passes show info to him other than me. There was a reason for my madness that apparently no one else sees here. The way I see it though, I’ll play anywhere… so I go along with this, even though I have no idea what the ☠⚡☣☢ is going on. Don’t blame me if we can’t bring any people out because I can’t answer any detailed questions. One thing I hate more than other people being dumb, is looking dumb myself. I get word out on everything I know… then everything changes, and I look like an idiot that doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.

In with this gripe goes websites… I ask for band or venue urls.., and I’m surprised at how many have none or incredibly out-dated information. It’s 2005. Everyone knows someone with the internet. There are free sites out there, like this one, that can get information about your place up & out. Message me if you want help with this. I’ll do it gladly. That way… when people are like “I don’t know”, we can go to the website to check out times, directions, schedules, lists of bands, etc… but even at that, the shit changes so often because bands are pulling out, or people are saying the so-and-so band is gonna be there when what they meant is that they were thinking about asking that band to maybe play… so what’s the f’n use I guess? Then I get the band’s “too new” to have a website. Well, if you’re too new to have a website, you’re too new to play a show. Get the word out there before you play. Start some hype. Tell people about yourself.

In with all the above is what I call the AMC/Club Angel’s Phenomenon. This includes some strange practices indeed… the AMC part is where you book three bands after telling the club you’ll take care of it… then you get there and 3 more bands have been added to the show, yet it’s set to start at the same time as previously advertised… and somehow, the bands that were added go on 1st, take way too long to set up, play for 45 min., and the bands you’ve booked & your bands get ☠⚡☣☢ed into short sets and playing after PA’s teen-driving curfew time so no one’s left to watch you anyway… not even the fans that were pissed that they came out too see you & had to leave before you went on, or face the possible wrath of a bored state trooper, or irate parent. The Club Angel’s side is where they call you and put you on a show… tell you the names of 2 other bands that’re playing… so you advertise those bands… get there, and find there’s five other bands on the show… none of which are the two you’ve been advertising.

Wow… all of that ranting and confusion from one little show?

The next show… we’ve had planned for how long? I dunno… a long time. Us, Moment of Tragedy, & the Have Nots. This show? Jason booked it so we have all the bands set, all the details set, things were confirmed, flyers were made & put up, and all is good to go. No problem, right?

Well, today… (the day before the show) We’re informed that the Have Nots are no longer a band. Okay. The Have Nots are a great band. They’ve put us on shows before. I love to watch them play. They all seem like nice guys. But, seriously… WHAT THE ☠⚡☣☢? I know, shit happens. You might not get along anymore. You might not have practiced a lot lately. All things that don’t happen overnight… so this falls under “Things that should have been brought to our attention prior to yesterday” (to paraphrase Robbie the wedding singer). And… again… this show has been planned for a while. Is there no such thing as being honor-bound to play, or finding someone to take your place? We still haven’t gotten “official” word. Were they just gonna be a no-show tomorrow had Mike not talked to Ed?

I’ve only ever backed out of a show one time… that’s when Boner & Ben quit AiXeLsyD the morning of a video shoot that we were to have at Angry Johnny’s for “Stand Up” in order to appear on Pittsburgh cable show The Venue. There was a whole lot of chaos going on that day, so it was understandable IMO. Other than that, any time shit arose… we either played w/o a band member, got someone to replace a band member & learn a set within weeks (Thanks Jake, now of the Last Hope, for helping form the Fismits and opening for the Undead when AiXeLsyD couldn’t do it!), and An-Die and I have even played acoustic sets when a drummer bailed. The Rally Ally loved that shit. Even that day we cancelled… I called around like a mother-☠⚡☣☢er trying to get someone out who knew our drum parts… and then, eventually called everyone putting the show together and told them we couldn’t make it. I’d never just bail & not pass the word on.

Is there no code of honor among musicians? No common bond? No feeling of being on the same team or striving for the same goal? Get some convictions, people.

The whole booking thing before… I could get involved in our whole deal with Shadrag’s Entertainment, but I digress… and we’ll save that story for another day.

So… in conclusion (you were following that I was making a point here, right?) maybe all the Pittsburgh scene needs is for all of us to get our shit together. We need to plan, organize, and follow through. It’s not that hard. Well, I know it’s hard for artists of any type to do anything so regimented… but if you stay regimented in this facet, maybe it will push you to be even more free on the artistic side. Who knows? Try it, you might like it. If we all got our facts straight before we answered questions, if we all advertised the same shit for the same day & time, if we all stuck to our commitments, and if we all communicated better… we’d have a hell of a lot more fun in a less stressful environment.

The night view of Pittsburgh skyline from Moun...

Yinzburgh

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So, Pepto-Chili may not be a good idea…


pepto

Pepto!

Made some chili the other day.  I don’t think I’ve ever made it the same twice, but I dig that.  This time, I puréed some fresh & roasted peppers, and added hominy.  Next time, I’ll try less tomato stuff.  Maybe less spices.

This batch caused some absolutely ridiculous gastrointestinal distress.  I had to employ both Vernor’s & Pepto.  Serving leftovers over some creamy buttermilk mashed potatoes helped a little, but not much.

Chili à la AiXeLsyD over mashed potatoes... topped with shredded triple cheddar.

Chili à la AiXeLsyD over mashed potatoes... topped with shredded triple cheddar.

Anyone ever use anything in your chili to cut down on heartburn or any other side-effects?  I rinsed the beans (black & kidney here).  My grandma said baking soda may help, but I think that’s for gas from the other end.

Classic Vernor's logo with "Woody", ...

Vernor's Ginger Soda

I think the peppers or spices are what got me here… maybe the garlic.  I burped so much after drinking a little Vernor’s that I actually amazed myself.  Where did all that air come from?  Surely some spectacular chemical reactions where going on inside my stomach.  SCIENCE!

Can;t wait for that coal-black Pepto poop.

Think Vernor’s would be a good ingredient in the chili?  What about Pepto?  How about some Tums?

OMG. WTF? BBQ!


My PCP is going to hate this post.

I love barbecue, or BBQ or Bar-B-Q or whatever you want to call it.  This isn’t going to be a blog about what you think the “real” definition of barbecue is (wet/dry, smoke/no smoke, slow & low/fast & hot, sauce/no sauce, charcoal/gas, grill/pit)… the purists all claim to be right, and the term can be applied to the meat (or veggies I guess), the cooking, the spices, the sauce, or the gathering.  If you want to argue/learn about the differences, check out Wikipedia.

Since I’m just a fan of barbecue, not a professional BBQ cook, and live in Pittsburgh not the south*… I won’t take a stand on the issue.  I like all varieties.  (Although, would chipped ham barbecue be “Pittsburgh Style” BBQ?  I’d support that.)

I was inspired to write about BBQ today because I recently had an excellent dinner form the Pittsburgh Barbecue Company.  It reminded me of my three favorite barbecue joints.  I was just wondering what other people thought of them, and what other awesome local BBQ joints might not be on my radar.

Rowdy BBQ

Rowdy BBQ

Rowdy BBQ
Brentwood Express Rowdy BBQ on UrbanspoonTagline: “We think of you when we pull our pork!” – I swear this place used to be called Brentwood Express or have it in the name somewhere…  but now the site’s commercial strictly says “Rowdy BBQ”, so we’ll go with that.

At any rate, this is my favorite barbecue sauce.  I love this stuff!  It’s a sweet yet spicy sauce.  They have a killer menu with all kinds of fun things like “The Big Pig”, “The Whole Hog”, and the “Knuckle Sandwich”.  I usually get the ribs/chicken combo with some fries and eat just enough to make myself almost sick.  The ribs are always cooked perfectly, sometimes the chicken is dry, but not “ooh I can’t eat this” dry.  The fries are awesome, and this is the only place out of my 3 favorites that even has fries.  (They used to have excellent pierogies, but I don’t think they’re on the menu anymore.)  I’ve had the Big Pig & the brisket sandwiches, they are awesome.  I want to try the cheese steaks, but at pulled to the BBQ offerings every time I’m there.  I want to buy the sauce to bring home, but then I won’t have an excuse to go there. The parking lot is chaos, and you’re eating about 5 feet away from the traffic on Rte. 51 when you’re on the one site… but I can never wait to get home to eat, gotta eat it there!  (And, I’d miss the rowdy rooster!)

Check ‘em out on the web: Website | Facebook 1 | Facebook 2 | Urbanspoon

Pittsburgh Barbecue Company

Pittsburgh Barbecue Company

Pittsburgh Barbecue Company
Pittsburgh Barbecue Company on UrbanspoonTagline: “That place on Banksville…” – This place is the closest to home for me, and is pretty damn tasty BBQ.  The sauce is a little more tangy than sweet.  I go for the brisket or pulled pork here more often than the ribs… but the ribs & chicken are damn good.  I like their mac n’ cheese.  It’s got a tasty homemade feel.  They have a pretty minimalist menu, but I really like that.  They know what they do, and they do it well.  My wife Bethany loves their baked apples side.  The cornbread is excellent too.  They seem to be a little expensive here, but again, it’s worth it.  You definitely get what you pay for… the meat portions on the sandwiches are huge.

The sauce is nice & peppery.  I get a spicy tingle every time we dine here.  There’s also a nice outside dining area, and although sparse like Rowdy BBQ, you’re not eating amid exhaust like you are on Rte. 51.  It’s got a nice little log cabin/shack feel inside.  They also tout a bunch of “#1’s” on their site, most recent being Pittsburgh Magazine’s “Best in the ‘Burgh 2010″.  This place is no secret, even if it is hiding back off of the main road.

Check ‘em out on the web: Website | Facebook | Twitter | UrbanSpoon

Clem's Cafe

Clem's Cafe

Clem’s Cafe
Clem's Cafe (Hardwood Barbecue) on UrbanspoonTagline: “Home of the nice racks, big breasts, juicy thighs, and warm buns! ” – This one is way out there, but really worth the drive.  They have an excellent tangy sauce… I can taste the vinegar in it, but it blends well with the overall flavor.  The best part about Clem’s is that hands down the meat is always falling off the bone on the ribs… and always always juicy with the chicken.  I like the mac & cheese here, and the ability to get the Boylan’s root beer or birch beer.

The dining facilities are great, it’s always a nice place to sit & eat.  They have a concise menu, again not too much, you know exactly why you’re there… for the BBQ!

[I need a YouTube video for these guys!]

Check ‘em out on the web: Website | Facebook | UrbanSpoon

Which Pittsburgh (or SWPA) BBQ place is your favorite?  I’d love to do a blind taste-test of all their sauces some time.

There are other places I have in mind that I’d like to try, like The Flame BBQ, Two Brothers Bar-B-Q, & No Bull Bar-B-Q. Anyone been to any of those? Thoughts?

So, where else should I try?  My #1 criteria in finding a cool new BBQ place is that they don’t have shrimp (or any other shellfish) on the menu… like Rib Cage BBQ.  I like the BBQ places because of the limited menu & no chance of cross-contamination.  It’s nice to be able to completely relax at an eating establishment.

I would love to be able to get some turkey at a BBQ place though… either deep-fried & topped with some sauce… or in a pulled-pork style or brisket-style sandwich… or turkey legs.  Man, I love turkey legs.

So, flood me with commentary!

*There are a number of people around here that do indeed think we are a southern state… “Pennsyltucky” and all…

McMummy Meal


Heard about this on the radio, saw the link to this article on Yahoo! this morning.  Creepy:

McDonald’s Happy Meal resists decomposition for six months

 

Day 180 | Davies Happy Meal Project | October 7, 2010

Day 180

 

Not that this is really all that surprising or life-changing… just makes you pause to think about the absurdity of it all.

From an art perspective, this is very fun & funny.  From an experimental perspective, this needs a little more control.  I’d like to see the meal left to sit still in between photographs, and perhaps even from a camera that sits on a tripod in the same spot every time.

I’d also like to see meals from other chains like Burger King, Wendy’s, Steak N’ Shake, as well as a home-made patty cooked from fresh ground beef… and even a store-bought pre-made hamburger patty.  Hell, why not even throw a Morning Star Farms or Boca veggie patty in there too?

You can follow the project directly on Flickr here:  Davies McDonalds Happy Meal Project

I find the comments from Theresa Riley at McDonald’s to be the most absurd part.  “Completely unsubstantiated?”  Have you seen the photos?

Also, Dr. Michael Doyle going on record saying “no hamburger would look like this after one year unless it was tampered with or held frozen” is kind of goofy.  Has he done this experiment?  Does he know for sure?

I do have to say that environment has a lot to do with it.  The fate of the burger & fries may be markedly different in an apartment in Florida vs. one in Alaska or Arizona… and then is there heat, A/C, or other environmental control going on in that apartment?

I’d love to see this as a Mythbusters episode.

More than 6 ways to cook a hot dog.


A while ago, I blogged about stumbling on to an article listing 6 ways too cook a hot dog.  We all know there’s more.  Here’s a much better list.  OK, maybe not better… but bigger. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions submissions here and on Facebook, I hope to include them all here.

Oh well, on to the list…

  1. Grill ‘em. The general consensus seems to be that if you’re going to cook a hot dog, it needs to be grilled.  I would agree with this.  I usually don’t break out hot dogs unless I’m already grilling burgers.  They’re there for those weird non-burger people, or a topping for your burger.
    • Charcoal Grill – This is old school grilling, get it hot let the flames & coals cook the dog with some nice grill lines or looking like the victim of a flame-thrower accident.  There are good instructions on grilling w/ gas & charcoal here (as if you need them).
    • Propane Grill - It’s a little easier to control the heat, & you’re less likely to produce the same flame-thrower victim effect if you keep an eye on ‘em. There are also good instructions on grilling w/ gas & charcoal here (again, as if you need them).
    • Foreman Grill - Or any of the imitators & whatever they’re called.  I’ve seen a Hamilton Beach one, I’ve seen them called electric grills, counter-top grills, whatever… you know what I’m talking about.  I’ve had little success with the Foreman Grill & hot dogs… which is odd, because it cooks other stuff quite easily.  Here’s a video on how to cook ‘em on the Foreman Grill, …because I can’t find good text for it anywhere.  They don’t list a time for hot dogs in the book that comes with it.  Maybe they assume their grill is for convenience, and it’s more convenient to nuke or boil your dogs.  If anyone has $99 to spare, I’ll take the USB iGrill from Think Geek.
    • Infrared Grill – I know nothing about this newfangled contraption.  It looks like you can burn a hot dog in 0.5 seconds on one.  Learn about infrared grills at Wikipedia.
    • Griddle/Flattop Grill – If you have one in your house, you are awesome.  You can certainly cook a hot dog on one, and don’t need me to tell you how.
  2. Open Flame. Who doesn’t love hot dogs (or anything really) cooked over a campfire? …Or a bonfire, trash barrel fire, or while the neighbor’s house is burning down? With these methods, You can also wrap the dog with biscuit or croissant dough from those creepy popping tubes, and it will cook nicely over an open flame.  If you want to get really crazy, slice it down the middle & stuff cheese in it, or wrap some cheese around it before the dough.
    • Skewer – We use roasting forks or or just sticks.  You can get the forks at any sporting goods or camping store, in a store that has a camping section, or in a store near your camping site.  You can get sticks in the woods, or from a lone, sad tree.  You can also get inventive, like this guy.  Be careful choosing sticks and being inventive… you don’t want anything that will poison your hot dog… like toxic wood, metal treated or painted with anything, and of course plastic.  I can’t seem to find a guide online of safe & unsafe tree branches to use when cooking over a fire.  Anyone have a boy scout handbook?  (I asked Yahoo!, apparently nothing out there will kill you, but stick with a non-sappy wood.) With this method, get your fire going, and hold the hot dog over it… but not in the flame unless you like black crispy possibly carcinogen-laced hot dogs.  If using a store-bought fork, it’s up to you if you want to put the dog on long-ways, or double/triple ‘em up the forks.
    • Pie Iron – If you’ve camped with me, you’ve cooked with a pie iron… or you’ve watched me cook with one.  My favorites include pizza ones, and Reubens… but I’m sure you could stuff a hot dog into one.  They also have ones that are shaped to cook hot dogs.  This would most likely result in a nicely cooked dog without the singe marks, maybe flavored with some onions (gross!) or sauerkraut.  If you’re buying  a pie iron, buy one made of… iron.  This sounds dumb, but they make aluminum ones, and I have melted them with no problem.  I don’t think you want aluminum flavored hot dogs.
    • The Cage – Burger basket, grill basket, vegetable basket – all different names for a similar utensil.  I’d use it like I would a fork for hot-dog cooking… may be sort of useless unless you have a burger in it too.
    • The Rack – If you can find some sort of rack or grate that you can secure safely over the fire that’s also safe to cook on, you can cook like it’s a charcoal grill if you’re more comfortable with that.  Just make sure the flame isn’t eating your hot dog before you do.
    • Foil Pack – You could use the bread dough & any toppings/sides here as well.  Wrap the dog & even the bun in foil, and place it on a grate over the flames, or in the coals around the bottom of the fire like you would with a baked potato.
    • Oven Burner – That’s right.  Pit it on a fork or roasting fork, and hold it over the flame on your stove top.  This might not be safe, but I bet it would be fun.
  3. Boiled – I’m sure you’ve all had ‘em like this.  I think it even suggests to heat ‘em this way on the pack.  I’m not a fan of boiling anything any more, unless it’s soup or pasta.  It just seems like a lot of flavor goes into the water… and where hot dogs are concerned, it’s not like you have a lot to work with to begin with.  I’d suggest boiling hot dogs in beer, even though I’ve never tried it… it sounds pretty awesome.  You can even get crazy with beer, ketchup, and brown sugar.  Maybe some beef broth or bullion would be cool here too… but that may make ‘em to salty?  I dunno.  Boil at your own risk.
  4. Nuke ‘em – I guess that besides grilling, this would seem to be the most obvious method of cooking hot dogs.  On the last pack we bought, this method was featured larger than the other methods.  Just 30 – 40 seconds in the microwave … wrapped in a paper towel?  I never use the paper towel.  Is that to hold in moisture, prevent explosions, or what?  Apparetly there’s an art to this, because I have found the articles How to Cook a Hot Dog in a Microwave and the possible passive-aggressive How to Cook a Hot Dog in the Microwave Without Exploding the Ends.  As I write this, I have an urge to make some hot dogs explode in the microwave.  I may be developing a disorder.
  5. Lovin’ from the Oven – You can certainly cook hot dogs in the oven, you may split ‘em open or poke them with a fork first.  This method would be ideal for the croissant-wrapped hot dogs, smothered in some awesome cheese.  Just make sure if you use the 1st linked method, that you put the foil in the oven before you heat it up (like they so diligently mentioned)… or don’t do that, burn yourself, and stay off of the internet.
  6. Deep Fried – They call these Rippers in New Jersey, no?  I don’t have a fryer… but I suppose I could do this in a pot on the stove, or in my turkey fryer.  I’ve never had one, but I’d imagine it’s a pretty good thing.  Corn dogs could be lumped in here too, I guess.
  7. Steamed – This seems to be a popular method, but I know I’ve never done it, or really seen it done.  I guess there are commercial steam cabinets for hot dogs… but I bet you could steam it like you do with vegetables if you have a steamer.  Perhaps, like boiling… you could steam it with beer…?
  8. In the Skillet. – Or frying pan.  Just fry it on the stove top with a little bit of oil.  I guess you could slice it open first if you wanted to, so it doesn’t pop on you.  Or, you can elevate it to an art form.
  9. Crock PotPop ‘em in the crock pot with some sauerkraut (maybe along with some beer), and you’re good to go.
  10. Car EngineWhy not?
  11. In Stuff – Okay this isn’t one specific method, but I didn’t feel like all of these should have their own #’s on the list.  You know you’ve chopped ‘em up and added them to baked beans, mac n’ cheese, or even done a hot dog & potato bake.  Here I’ll also inject that I once got the SpaghettiOs with hot dogs.  They were inexplicably gross.  This is your final warning.
  12. Goofy Single-Purpose Appliances – I have hot dogs only occasionally.  I can’t imagine getting one of these hot dog cookers that serves only one purpose.  Our counter-space is quite limited.. and I can’t see that breaking one of these things out would be worth the novelty after more than a few uses…
    • The Hot Dog Toaster - Besides looking creepy, these also apparently cook hot dogs.  It looks to be just a toaster with hot dog-shaped holes and bun-shaped holes.  I wonder if it really cooks the thing through very well?  May be quite convenient.
    • Solar Hot Dog Cooker - This might be fun for campers or science geeks.  Solar ovens are pretty awesome, this one and this one are especially geared for hot dogs… this one might work.
    • The Roller – These apparently come in several varieties, but all look to be the same concept… Cooked on rollers like the ones you see at the convenience stores.  Brookstone makes one, there are a bunch of professional ones, and Nostalgia Electrics offers the Roller & “Ferris Wheel” varieties.
    • The “Roast My Weenie” guy – More of an accessory, this really just needs to be seen.
    • Electrocute it – My cousin told me a tale via Facebook of a hot dog cooker for electric chair, taser, and Tesla enthusiasts… called the Presto Hot Dogger.  Mad scientists can try it at home with a few things from around the house.  This actually looks pretty awesome.  This vintage one looks like a torture device.

Well, those are all the methods I can think of right now.  Well, other than going to Sheetz or Dormont Dogs… you should be able to get your hot dog fix by one of the methods described here.  If you have another technique, please list it in the comments below!

If you need more info… check out the list of hot dog variations.

Also up for discussion… now that you know how to cook one, what do you want on your hot dog?

Papal Participation in Lenten Lunacy


A while ago, I decided to write a goofy letter to the Pope about shellfish & Lent.  It was surprisingly very easy to find the Pope’s email address online.  I wrote an email, and again got some editing/revision help from Dave, and sent it off to the Pontiff himself.  Here’s that email…

from ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
to benedictxvi@vatican.va
subject My struggles with Lent & dietary concerns…
mailed-by gmail.com

Good Day Your Holiness,

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to find your email address with a quick Google search! I find it fascinating as well as endearing that you make yourself so accessible to the world, and embrace this new technology. I’m not sure if this is monitored and directed by yourself, or your trusted staff, but either way… I salute your effort. Also, I’m not sure if this would need to go through translators, or not. Perhaps I should use Google translator and post the results after my message in English?

I’m sure you are quite a busy man, especially in preparation for the upcoming Easter holiday, so I will try to make my point as succinctly as possible.

I would like to express my frustrations with the Lent season and the proliferation of seafood specials on Fridays at nearly every restaurant where I would otherwise be happy to dine. You see, I have a severe shellfish allergy, this makes dining out an adventure under normal circumstances. During Lent, restaurants that normally have minimal or no shellfish selections seem to produce them out of nowhere. This really hampers my ability to dine out comfortably, if at all.

With any cross-contamination, I can go into anaphylactic shock almost immediately. This means if I have a steak or piece of chicken that touches a grill where some lobster was just cooked, or if I have onion rings from the same fryer that was also cooking shrimp; I would begin the process with an internal itching/burning sensation in my Eustachian tube and rapidly closing bronchi.

I would like to ask if you could perhaps add shellfish (and possibly even regular fish) to the list of recommendations of things that one ought to give up in observation of lent. They are part of the “big 8″ allergens in the world today. It would really help out a lot of followers & non-followers out there, being able to dine during the Lenten season in complete comfort! I figured that as the Pope, you’re in the best position to propose and act upon a movement of such magnitude.

You might even be able to offer up an explanation at why people have been eating fish for the lent season for so long, now that it’s no longer really an inconvenience. This would be in line with your call to return to stricter Christian values, no? Perhaps it would dispel the rumors that the Catholic Church of yore was in league with a local fishmonger and pushed fish on lent solely (pun intended – would that pun translate well into German? See, “sole” is a type of fish, and is also the root word to “solely” meaning singular…) to raise profits for the fishmonger, who in turn would up the amount of his tithe to the church. I can only assume that this is a rumor, as I find different versions of the tale on the internet, and no real concrete evidence to back any of the allegations.

I’m not Catholic myself, but am a Protestant (United Church of Christ, more specifically). I would say that in recent times we’re “on the same team” though, wouldn’t you agree? Perhaps Peter didn’t intend to include shellfish when he repealed the laws of clean and unclean animals put forth in Leviticus? Perhaps something was lost in translation?

I have one final idea. For Lent, all devout Christians ought to revert to a strict kosher diet. This would certainly strengthen ties with our Jewish friends and put more emphasis on the kind of Passover meal that Jesus would have had with his disciples at the last supper. I would think that this is wholly appropriate for this time of year, and it certainly helps me with my dining problem. Perhaps I ought to just convert and stick to kosher delis and grocery stores? Ha ha ha.

I would like to thank you for your time, and truly cannot wait to hear your thoughts on the subject at hand. I also look forward to a possible continued dialog about faith, shellfish, and allergies.

Humbly,
-Eric

Google translation:

Guten Tag Eure Heiligkeit,

Ich war angenehm überrascht, wie einfach es ist, Ihre E-Mail-Adresse mit einem schnelle Google-Suche finden! Ich finde es faszinierend wie liebenswert, dass Sie sich so der Welt zugänglich zu machen, und die neue Technologie. Ich bin mir nicht sicher, ob dies überwacht wird und von Ihnen selbst gerichtet, oder Ihren Mitarbeitern vertrauen, aber so oder so … Ich begrüße Ihre Bemühungen. Also, ich bin nicht sicher, ob diese müssten durch Übersetzer, oder nicht. Vielleicht sollte ich Google-Übersetzer zu wenden, und nach den Ergebnissen nach meiner Nachricht in Englisch?

Ich bin sicher, Sie haben völlig ein viel beschäftigter Mann, vor allem im Hinblick auf die bevorstehenden Osterferien, also werde ich versuchen, meinen Standpunkt ebenso knapp wie möglich zu machen.

Ich möchte meinen Frust mit der Fastenzeit und der Verbreitung von Meeresfrüchte-Spezialitäten am Freitag um fast jedem Restaurant, wo ich nicht anders ausdrücken würde sich freuen, zu speisen. Sehen Sie, ich einen schweren Schalentiere Allergie haben, das macht einem Dinner ein Abenteuer unter normalen Umständen. In der Fastenzeit, Restaurants, die normalerweise keine oder eine minimale Auswahl Muscheln scheinen zu ihrer Herstellung aus dem Nichts. Dies behindert wirklich meine Fähigkeit zu speisen sich behaglich, wenn überhaupt.

Mit eine Kreuzkontamination kann ich in einen anaphylaktischen Schock gehen fast sofort. Dies bedeutet, wenn ich ein Steak oder ein Stück Huhn berührt haben, dass ein Grill, wo einige Hummer nur gekocht wurde, oder wenn ich Zwiebelringe aus der gleichen Friteuse das war auch das Kochen Garnelen, ich würde den Prozess mit einem internen Juckreiz begin / Brennen in meiner Tuba und schnell schließen Bronchien.

Ich möchte fragen, ob Sie vielleicht könnten Muscheln (und möglicherweise sogar regelmäßig Fisch) in die Liste der Empfehlungen der Dinge, die man aufgeben, in der Beobachtung der Fastenzeit soll hinzuzufügen. Sie sind Teil der “Big 8″ Allergene in der heutigen Welt. Es wäre wirklich sehr helfen, von Anhängern und nicht-Anhänger gibt, in der Lage, die während der Fastenzeit im kompletten Komfort zu speisen! Ich dachte, wie der Papst, Sie in der besten Position zu schlagen und die Reaktion auf eine Bewegung von solcher Tragweite sind.

Man könnte sogar in der Lage sein Angebot bis auf eine Erklärung, warum Menschen wurden Verzehr von Fisch für die Fastenzeit so lange, jetzt, da es nicht mehr wirklich ein Nachteil. Dies stünde im Einklang mit Ihren Anruf, um strengere christlichen Werte zurückgeben, nicht wahr? Vielleicht wäre es die Gerüchte, dass die katholische Kirche von einst wurde in der Liga mit einem örtlichen Fischhändler und schob Fisch auf nur geliehen (pun intended zerstreuen – wäre das Wortspiel auch ins Deutsche zu übersetzen? See, “allein” ist eine Art von Fisch, und ist auch die Wurzel Wort “ausschließlich” bedeutet Singular …), um Gewinne für die Fischhändler, der seinerseits würde die Höhe seiner Zehnten der Kirche zu erheben. Ich kann nur annehmen, dass dies ein Gerücht ist, wie ich verschiedene Versionen der Geschichte im Internet zu finden, und keine wirkliche konkrete Beweise vorzulegen, um die Behauptungen zurück.

Ich bin nicht katholisch mich, aber ich bin ein Protestant (United Church of Christ, genauer gesagt). Ich würde sagen, dass in der letzten Zeit sind wir “auf der gleichen Mannschaft” aber nicht würden Sie zustimmen? Vielleicht Peter hatte nicht vor, Schalentiere, wenn er aufgehoben den Gesetzen der reinen und unreinen Tieren setzte sich weiter in Levitikus enthalten? Vielleicht etwas in der Übersetzung verloren?

Ich habe noch eine letzte Idee. Für die Fastenzeit, die alle gläubigen Christen sollten eine strenge koschere Ernährung zurückzukehren. Dies würde sicherlich zur Stärkung der Beziehungen mit unseren jüdischen Freunden und legen mehr Gewicht auf die Art des Passah-Mahl, das Jesus mit seinen Jüngern beim letzten Abendmahl hätte. Ich würde denken, das ist ganz angemessen für diese Zeit des Jahres, und es sicherlich hilft mir bei meinem Esszimmer Problem. Vielleicht sollte ich erst konvertieren und halten Sie sich Feinkostläden und Lebensmittelgeschäften koscher? Ha ha ha.

Ich möchte Ihnen für Ihre Zeit danken und kann wirklich nicht warten, bis Sie Ihre Meinung zu diesem Thema an die Hand zu hören. Ich freue mich auch auf einen möglichen weiteren Dialog über den Glauben, Muscheln und Allergien.

Demütig
-Eric

Yes, that’s a crudely copy n’ pasted Google translation, and I have no idea if it made any sense at all in German.  Judging by some of the bounce-backs that I received, it may have been stopped by some SPAM filters.

As expected, it went a couple of weeks without a response, so I looked up some other addresses at the Vatican, and for national & local Catholic organizations, and wrote this little forward to send to a bunch of them, along with the original email…

Hello Friends,

I recently sent an email to Pope Benedict XVI regarding some allergy concern issues that I have surrounding Lent, and possible modification of policies on the Church’s policy of not eating meat on Fridays.

I realize that the Pope is probably the busiest man in the world.  He is the head of an organization that transcends many country, political, and cultural borders… and he has many important duties, most especially in this holy time of year.

I was wondering if you would perhaps be able to direct me to someone who would be better suited to open a dialogue about my concerns noted below?

Thank you for your time, and thank you in advance for your help!
-Eric

Finally, we have a response, and not surprisingly, it’s from someone at a local level…

from Gretz, Rev James R <jgretz@diopitt.org>
to world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
cc “Bielewicz, Vy Rev Harry R.” <hbielewicz@diopitt.org>,
“Wagner, Laura L” <lwagner@diopitt.org>
date Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 1:15 PM
subject My struggles with Lent & dietary concerns…
mailed-by diopitt.org

Eric,

Peace and greetings to you.  Your letter sent to many in the Diocesan Offices eventually came to me as the Director of the Department for Worship.  I will attempt to answer your concerns as best as possible.

It is wonderful that our Holy Father is accessible via the internet.  He did recently challenge priests and the Church to better use electronic media for reaching out to people.  Thus my email response to you!

While I am not in marketing, I do see the proliferation of restaurants attempting to make a profit with the “target audience” each Lenten Season.  I guess that’s how business works.  At the same time, I do sympathize with your allergy plight.  Personally, I do not suffer with allergies, however, my late mother had one to lactose and it was very difficult to take her out to dinner.  I know of others who suffer with “celiac-sprue” – the allergy to gluten and wheat products.  That too is a horrible cross to bear.  My mother and the others solved it by frequenting only the restaurants that would gladly serve their needs.  I would suggest the same.

The discipline of abstinence, refraining from meat products, actually has an ancient history.  I too know of the truly legendary stories of fishmongers and their unions, if you will!  However, the discipline goes back to an extant document of the early Second Century known as the “Didache” or “The Lord’s Instruction to the Twelve Apostles”.  You mentioned the kosher diet.  So, yes, when we think of Jewish people, that dietary style comes to mind.  That was the intent of the Didache.  The early Church wanted to have their own dietary laws to make them distinctive as well, hence abstinence, especially on Friday, the day our Lord died for us, so that we too might suffer a little with Him.  That is our mark on the world, if you will.  I seem to recall that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops back in the 1990’s was discussing this discipline and perhaps returning it to all Fridays of the year.  The objection was that since many are refraining from red meat in general and more people are vegans, what does abstinence mean to the modern world?  Of course, the discipline remains for the Lenten Season, however, it is good to dream as to what the modern version of abstinence might be….

Which, then, leads me to your final thoughts about adopting the kosher diet for Lent.  Actually, if all people really embraced the meaning of the Lenten Season – a time for conversion and returning to the Lord – we would definitely have a much better world.

If you have any additional questions, do not hesitate to contact me.  Until then, I remain,

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. James R. Gretz

Rev. James R. Gretz, M.Div., M.T.S.
Director, Department for Worship
Diocesan Master of Ceremonies
Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh

2900 Noblestown Rd.
Pittsburgh, PA  15205
voice: 412-456-3041
fax: 412-456-3163

+++++++++++

Someone took this letter quite seriously!  I wonder if I’ll hear from anyone else… and I’m wondering how to continue form this point on.  It certainly is fun to see my W(aL)D insanity taken seriously.  It is fun to know that I got a response.  No offense intended here, but I always viewed the Catholic Church as a little “stuffy”.  Maybe they’re mellowing out in this digital age?

So, I made a meatloaf last night…


I was hungry for meatloaf, so the other day I asked my wife to pick up some ground meat and croutons at the store, and last night I decided I was in the mood to cook.

Every time I make meatloaf, I think of my mom & grandma telling me how my grandpap used to make it with hard boiled eggs in the middle.  I always thought that would be fun to try… but something pushed me into finally doing it.  A look at Wikipedia seems to indicate that the eggs-in-the-middle is a Hungarian, Phillipino, Bulgarian or Czech thing…  Thanks for the help, Wikipedia. As far as I know, that side of the family is mostly German & Irish… so who knows where it came from?  Not like people couldn’t come up with this stuff independantly… but I like to read useless information.

Whenever I make meatloaf, I never use a set recipe.  I always end up googling something like “How long and at what temperature do I cook a 2 lb. Meatloaf?” or going to Cooks.com and simply searching for “Meatloaf” right before I start.  This time was no exception.  I also usually end up calling my mom, to see what she would do as far as time/teperature.

I’m amazed at how many things you can do to meatloaf.  I’m gonna try shredded carrots some time.  And maybe I’ll even try soaking bread crumbs or croutons in milk before mixing them in.  I have used just chunks of bread, crumbled crackers, bread crumbs, and even mashed potato flakes… but too many bread crumbs or crackers and the meatloaf is just gross… more loaf than meat, and that’s certainly not a good thing.

This time though, I kept it pretty simple… except for the eggs, I guess… and the bacon…

Here’s what went into it…

  • About 2 lbs. ground chuck… I think it was the 90/10 stuff.
  • 2 handfulls of “seasoned” croutons… one crumbled, one not…
  • 1 egg (raw)
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs
  • assorted spices… minced garlic, fresh ground black pepper, whatever else I grabbed out of the cupboard… no real discernible measurements here.  I think I even popped in a little ketchup, A1, and Parmesan cheese…

All that got mixed together, well, without the hard-boiled eggs…  then I formed the bottom of the loaf in a glass pan, on top of 3 slices of white bread… made spots for the eggs, placed them gently in the raw ground goodness, and covered them over with the rest.

Eggs in meatloaf mixture, on top of the bread slices...

Eggs in meatloaf mixture, on top of the bread slices...

I picked up the meatloaf on top of slices of bread trick from my dad.  It serves a double purpose, it prevents the bottom of the loaf from burning, and soaks up any extra grease…  I needed a loaf rather than a few slices for this one, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Grandma used to usually put ketchup on the top of her meatloaf.  My mom said that my grandpap used to sometimes top his with some mashed potatoes & brown them for a potato frosting.  My meatloaf needed something on top…  my signature, if you will.

This is where we cross from odd into ridiculous.  I couldn’t decide, so I made a triple topping.  Typically I go with a glaze on top that’s a mixture of Ketchup, whatever honey mustard, and A1.  But the eggs in the middle told me to do something goofy… so I got out some shredded cheddar jack cheese…  Then the eggs reminded me of bacon… so I got that out too.

So for the top of the meatloaf we had…

  • Heinz Ketchup
  • Frech’s Honey Mustard
  • A1 Steak Sauce
  • shredded cheddar jack cheese
  • Bacon

The glaze is probably about 2/3 ketchup, 1/6 mustard, and 1/6 A1.  How much of each?  I dunno.  I eyed it & mixed it in a coffee mug.  I put that on top of the meatloaf.  It looked pretty good.  Then I sprinkled the cheese on top of that…  Still lookin’ OK, albeit a little brighter.

Meatloaf + Cheese & ketchup/mustard/A1 glaze...

Meatloaf + Cheese & ketchup/mustard/A1 glaze...

Then the “aaaaaaaaah”/choir of angels moment…  BACON.

I’ve used bacon-bits in meatloaf and chili before, but I’ve never wrapped anything in bacon.  There’s a first time for everything, right?  Of course, I had to top the bacon with more fresh ground pepper.

After reviewing a bunch of stuff on line, and talking to my mom… I decided to cook it for about an hour and a half and make sure the meat thermometer reached 160° F.  I had it covered in foil for about an hour, the last half letting it go uncovered to get the bacon nice & brown… maybe a little too brown this time, but oh well.

I realize this isn’t the most healthy meal in the world, but I seemed to offend the senses of some and become a champion of sorts to others simply by posting photos in photobucket and sharing the link on facebook.

Its... BACON!

It's... BACON!

My sister-in-law asked how many calories it was, and while I know it was in jest, it got me wondering, so I asked Yahoo!.

The finished product!

The finished product!

This is the meal of a carnivore, as it has stuff from three different animals… although one didn’t have to die in the process of harvesting its delicious nutrition.

Next time, I may not use so much bacon… because it made a pool of grease at the bottom of the baking dish that wasn’t all that appealing.

The eggs are a neat surprise, and a good way to stretch it I suppose… but I doubt I’ll do every meatloaf like this from now on.  But, at least I can say I’ve done it, and I know what it looks and tastes like.

I hope you enjoyed my tale of meaty decadence… and I hope to hear others recipes/ideas/surprise ingredients!