Well, that turned out well. Got some poblano from the garden this week. I mixed some bacon bits, minced garlic, shredded cheddar cheese, and steak seasoning into some cream cheese, cut the peppers in half, stuffed with the peppers with the mixture, sprinkled more cheddar on top, wrapped with bacon, & baked on a sheet pan at 375° for 40 min.
Some fresh snap beans from the garden. Steamed, then tossed in with some sautéed mushrooms, French fried onions, minced garlic, a pinch or 2 of flour & fresh cooked bacon pieces. (Used the leftovers from the peppers.)
Had some straightneck squash that grew a bit too big while we were at camp. I had it in my head to prepare it sort of like eggplant parmesean & fried zucchini. I didn’t want the stacked lasagna version, I wanted something with a bit of crunch.
I sliced then up, dredged in flour/cornstarch, egg/buttermilk. & coated in regular & panko breadcrumbs with a bit of parmesan “shake cheese” mixed in. I seasoned each step with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, & black pepper.
I baked them for about 25 or 30 min. on 400°, then topped with provolone & mozzarella slices & a bit more parmesan. They went back in for 10 min.
Served with bowtie pasta & covered in our favorite slightly doctored sauce.
Added the needed flavor to the overgrown squash and I actually preferred the consistency to eggplant.
All in all, I was really pleased with the results, and I think the family was too.
Do you have some good recipes, tips, & tricks for these garden ingredients?
So, recently I got a smoker attachment for my Char-Griller grill as a gift for Father’s Day. I tried it out today and the results we fantastic. I hit up the Google machine and some non-BBQ-ing Facebook groups for advice, tips, & tricks. (I imagine that they are as intense as guitar groups and I am just not ready yet.) I kept getting advice on the 3-2-1 method of smoking ribs. There are many variations of that technique. I think it went well. I tracked my progress with the #AiXeLsyDBBQ hashtag. Maybe I’ll do some more next time.
The quick and dirty of this method is…
Get your coals to 225°-ish. (I used a chimney to avoid lighter fluid and it was awesome.) I added some wood chunks in the chimney, and on top once I spread on the coals. I did not soak the wood, but I may next time. Control the temp with your vents. Open a bit warms it up, closed cools it off… all because of airflow.
Put the ribs in the grill part if you have an attachment, or not on the heat for 3 hours.
Pull the ribs out, wrap in heavy duty grilling foil, add some apple cider, apple juice, vinegar, pop, or whatever. I added some Straub. Unfortunately I made 2 racks and used the whole bottle, so I drank one myself.
Put them in for 2 hours, smoking really isn’t necessary at this point if your wanna save your chunks or chips.
Pull them out and unwrap them. I should have saved the drippings for the barbecue sauce on the side, but I did not. Shame on me. Do that.
Sauce those ribs up. Liberally. Like, and obscene amount.
Put them back on for 1 hour.(3-2-1… get it? Guys! They said the thing!)
Always check with a thermometer for done-ness. They should be pretty damn done at this point, arguably overdone.
I know fall-off-the-bone isn’t competition style. A bone did pull right out of one rack, but the meat was in tact, not falling completely apart. I know the foil wrapping bit is then steaming not smoking… but, rules are made to be broken and a healthy dose of anarchy warms my little punk rock heart.
I would definitely do the ribs like this again. I may try a homemade sauce. This was pretty basic store-brand stuff from Shop ‘n Save with some dry mustard, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper, and Straub American Amber Lager. I may try different chips, or a smoker box, or to soak the wood. I even read some people eschew charcoal in favor of all wood once the fire is going.
I also threw on some baked potatoes, turkey legs, grilled veggies, and sauce on the attached burner.
Can’t wait to try out a turkey, pork loin, brisket, and whatever else I haven’t thought of. Mac n’ cheese? Jalapeño poppers? Meatloaf? Bacon?
What do you do in the smoker? What are your go to foods? Got any tips & tricks worth sharing? Do you click the tongs twice or three times? Before, during, or after?
Any excuse to drink beer and play with fire all day is a good excuse to me. Plus, the family was awed by my hereto unknown skills with smoked meats.
What music are you playing while you’re grilling or smoking?
Think they’ll come back from this, or is it just best to replace?
Also, we planted some swiss chard from my daughter’s school science class, some snap beans, some yellow onions, and garlic. We also had 1 volunteer squash pop up in the yard, and 4 back by the compost pile. Not really sure what they are. I have had some WEIRD hybrid stuff in the past. When you grow multiple varieties they can cross-pollinate and the seeds can make some wacky stuff. They could be that wacky stuff or just pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash or zucchini.
I ordered it from AliExpress. It seems to be a copy of the Oktober version. I think Jerry & Doyle originally worked with Rand to build the guitars… then Oktober made a run but Doyle has publicly and often decried their quality. Word on the street is that Dean will be making a production model. Doyle’s have been made from wood, graphite, and metal… with bolt-on sides since he can be a bit rough on them.
Check out Empire Music if you want to see some really nice high-end Fender, Gibson, Martin, Taylor, & more guitars. Check out some of Aaron’s work on his Instagram, he gets to see some beautiful axes! If you’re in or around Pittsburgh, I highly recommend him for all your guitar repair, revision, and setup needs.
This year, I had some big help in the garden! These two have been gardening since they could walk, and I think they’re enjoying it and really getting the hang of it.
The kids have their own YouTube channel now, with a little hep from some old guy that blogs occasionally. Check out their gardening how-to:
I also made a map, and decided to make a chart of the suggested harvest dates on the tags just to see how accurate they are. I have been gardening since I can remember, and don’t know if I ever paid attention to that. We just picked stuff whenever it appeared & ripened.
We made sure to get all the tags & try to document it all. The kids are loving math & science, so why not incorporate it into the garden? We can see if the harvest dates noted on the tags are anywhere near when the plants are actually ready.
I’m excited to see how it turns out! And, yeah, we got some more jalapeño since they liked it last year… and this time we’re trying some poblano too!
Whoa, Instagram is a trip down memory lane with these kids and gardening!
If 1999 me had been able to get a hold of this, I may have went down an entirely different path. I would have surely journeyed down some sort of horror punk and goth rabbit hole.
I have been a fan of the Misfits ever since a buddy of mine played a Collection I CD for me. I think we heard of them through Metallica and backwards from Danzig. When I started to play the guitar, I just gravitated towards the “Well, I could do this!” vibe of the stuff. The melodies. The campy lyrics. It takes itself way too seriously. I love it though. Doyle has been a huge influence on my in style and even stage presence. (Although my friend An-Die once remarked that when I stood next to Jerry Only & sang “I Turned Into a Martian” with my recently broken nose still in a cast… I had stage presence, and Jerry had stage presence, but they did not mix together well. I guess I will never know what that means unless video of that day at the Crowbar in Penn State surfaces!)
I dug the OG stuff, and I was a fan of the Misfits ’95 era stuff too. Those were some of the most memorable and entertaining live shows I have been to, and I saw a lot of them. AiXeLsyD & Gasoline Dion regularly covered “Dig Up Her Bones” and “I Turned Into a Martian” among others. I was even part of 2 different Misfits cover sets, the latter being captured on video in 2004.
Doyle has one of the coolest guitars that fits him perfectly. I look like a doofus with it no doubt. It elicits pure joy when I play it though. Doyle’s originals are one-of-a-kind. They have gone through several incarnations over the years. From graphite, wood, to bolt-on metal wings so they aren’t so easily destroyed. One of the original Rand Annihilator guitars was put back together with something that you’d find in a hardware store. There are many legends about the real thing that Jerry & Doyle crafted at Pro Edge. He has a unique rig for sure. BC Rich was going to make one I think? Ed Roman has one listed on their page, but only as a reference to the weird stuff they can make. Oktober Guitars did make some, but Doyle has stated publicly several times that he was not impressed with their quality and craftsmanship so they’re no longer a thing. It’s an open secret these days that Dean is next on the list to make a production model.
I knew I was getting a potential turd. I just wanted the shape. Luckily, I know a guy who has polished many of my proverbial turds (guiturds?) with great success, and he’s now at Empire Music. I feel a visit coming after I get some new pickups and maybe pots & other hardware.
I had issues with ordering in October of 2020, not getting it & cancelling by December. They kept sending photos of an unpainted guitar saying it was almost ready. I asked them to reach out when it was complete so I could reorder. They did in February 2021, and I had it in my hands by mid March,
The neck feels great. The guitars hangs perfectly. It could stand to have more heft, but a lot of people out there like light guitars. The action is HIGH.
I can hear it going out of tune as I play, but that may be my own ineptitude at the Floyd Rose system. Played through a Positive Grid Spark on the “Metal” setting with the bass all the way down and the treble cranked.
(Played a regular axe right after to make sure the amp wasn’t shitting out. 🤣 Also put it into the Orange Micro Terror and the sound did not jive. 🤣)
I have a quad-rail bought cheap online that I was itching to have dropped into something… but I feel like I need some real metal-y pickups in here. Do I get real Seymour Duncans? Who besides GFS does quality affordable pickups? Maybe I will just go with GFS. 🤷♂️
So, what kind of pickups should I have dropped into it?
Do you have an Annihilator? Do you want one? What’s next on your guitar list? What’s an axe that an influential player to you uses that you would also like to have? Is it crazy, or normal? Share in the comments!
I’m in a lot of guitar-related Facebook groups. I’m probably in a lot more guitar -related (and general music-related) Facebook groups that ought to be allowed. I see a lot of talk about guitars, and a lot of opinions about guitars. People are very strong and vocal about their opinions. (Did you see the guitar bingo cards?)
One post I see quite often is someone who is buying a guitar for their kid, or even one for themselves. It usually contains no details or insight and boils down to “I am buying my kid a guitar, what should I get?” or “I want to try playing guitar, what is the best one to buy?”
The responses come in swiftly and are predictably all over the place. Guitarists who frequent guitar-related Facebook groups are a wild bunch. It’s hard to get a good feel when advice is all over the place.
I am certainly no guitar expert. Hell, I’m not even that great of a player. Ha ha. I have, however, played a very large variety of guitars over the years. I happen to own a wide variety of guitars and am a bottom-feeder of sorts… All of which I feel plays well into qualifying me to dole out advice on the matter of a starter guitar.
First, you need to ask yourself some questions. We need more to go one than “Which guitar should I buy?”
What’s your budget?
What kind of music do you listen to?
What guitarists (or musicians, bands, artists) do you enjoy?
What would you like to sound like?
If this is a GIFT guitar, this becomes tricky if you want it to remain a surprise. You’ve got to do some homework. If a kid is dreaming he wants and Explorer or a Jaguar and you get him a Stratocaster or an SG, there may be some disappointment or it sitting in the corner for a bit.
What do you see yourself or what does the recipient see themselves playing? What kind of noise is yearning to be made? Get an idea of a shape in mind, maybe even a color… or whatever is there sparking that interest.
Check local Facebook sale groups too. I help moderate one for my area and it is a FANTASTIC place to get great deals on gear, ask, & answer questions, etc. It’s also all invite-only so it’s relatively drama free.
I’m largely ignoring acoustics, but that may be what you want. They are so versatile and a great place to start learning.
Go to a music store and pour over the stuff. (I know things are different right now with a global Covid-19 pandemic, but I hope they will eventually return to a much more normal state of existence. Please follow the guidelines in a store or if meeting someone to purchase via an online ad.) Play it all. See what feels good.
Soon you’ll have a Pinterest board for beautiful, weird, ugly, and random guitars you find on the internet.
All the references I can think of for name-dropping for guitar players are ancient. But if you want to play like Slash and you get a John Mayer guitar, it’s not going to be as exciting, right?
Get your budget set. I personally stick to cheap guitars and I love them. You can get some really nice guitars for $300. One group I frequent calls anything $500 & under cheap. I can dig that. You can also get some great guitars for $100 if you’re looking in all the right places.
Used gear is a great place to start. Stuff depreciates rapidly. Stores pay pennies on the dollar for value so they’re able to make a profit, so the best bang-for-your-buck may be some sort of local online sale. Although, Music Go Round seems to have reasonable used prices in person.
Avoid any listings online that say “great for beginners” or “great for a first guitar” or “great for kids.” Loosely translated this means “this guitar is a steaming pile of poop.” Usually it has terrible action, won’t hold a tune or even intonate properly, or has some other hidden issues.
If anyone lists something online for free and says “Make an offer” they are the worst kind of person, so just keep scrolling.
Don’t pay over $50 for a used First Act unless it was one that came with a Volkswagen. They were $50 new at Walmart. Some brands with great budget axes can include Squier, Lotus, Hondo, Dean, Hamer, Schecter, Ibanez, New York Pro, Galveston, G&L, Peavy, Epiphone, Kramer, and so many more outside of the ones everyone seems to know like Fender and Gibson. Don’t pay too much attention to the headstock logo though.
I would also probably be wary of new “starter packs” that come with a tiny amp. Do your research & read reviews on that kind of stuff.
Stick to your budget & play everything that you can that resembles what you’re looking at online. You might like a heavy guitar or a light guitar. You might like a wide neck or a skinny neck. You might like a thin neck or a heavy one.
If you want a cheap new guitar and are not concerned with the logo on the headstock, I cannot recommend Agile or SX and Xaviere enough. I hear nothing but good things and they’re just great axes. I have heard mixed reviews on Hard Luck Kings.
Whatever you buy, I suggest, and a I cannot stress this enough, get a pro setup. Find local music shop… preferably from work of mouth or asking locals online. Find someone that recommends a tech or luthier that does great work. This person will ask you questions. Give honest answers. I suggest getting a lighter gauge pack of strings at first. Tell them you want 9’s. I would say $75 for a pro setup and a few bucks for a new pack of strings will make even the rattiest of guitars into beautiful machines. Figure it into your budget if you need to.
If you’re close to Pittsburgh’s southern suburbs, I may even recommend the guy that has polished some of my proverbial turds and made them into rock n’ roll machines.
Amps? Well, amps are whole different animal. There are headphone amps, practice amps, and combo amps. It’s all in the budget/preference mix. Maybe that will need to be another blog post?
You (or the gift recipient) will fall in love with the guitar if you get the right one. Soon you’ll have GAS.
Don’t hesitate to ask me any specific advice here in the comments or with the contact form.
Feel free to add to my advice, or contradict it in the comments!
You’re a smart cookie. You’re a planner. You’re not waiting until the last minute to get your significant other a gift (or many gifts) for Valentine’s Day. As it turns out, the A-Maze Mug could be a perfect gift, or compliment to any gift. You read that they’re available, right? If you’re thinking of getting one, I have thought of some messages that you could use to go along with it on a gift tag or a card.
❤️ You’re a-maze-ing!
❤️ All my paths lead to you!
❤️ I am lost without you!
❤️ My prize at the end is you!
❤️ Finish this maze, then meet me in the bedroom!
❤️ Relax with this maze while I start making you some hot tea.
❤️ I’m a-maze-d that you’re mine!
❤️ I’m glad you’re with me along the way!
❤️ We can solve anything together!
You could also use it as a parting gift. Break up with class! Include messages like this;
💔 Get in the kitchen, and make me a coffee!
💔 This is maze is still less confusing than you!
💔 Sorry, it’s the end of the line for you.
💔 Luckily, you can erase the mistakes & start over on this mug. It’s been nice knowing you!
If you have any additional ideas for notes, please leave them in the blog comments below!