Tag Archives: Beef

Non-Italian Wedding Soup Recipe


So, I have always wanted to make wedding soup, but have never tried it.  Until now.  Skip to the end if you just want the recipe and none of my shenanigans.

Wedding Soup à la AiXeLsyD13

Wedding Soup à la AiXeLsyD13

Soup Collage #4

Wedding soup recipes abound on the internet.  Some people are vehement that theirs is the “right” way.  Apparently the inclusion of pasta is a beans-in-chili-like debate.  I would guess that it depends on your region, heritage, and family traditions.  I have none of these ties.  I’m just a yinzer that likes food.  I did reach out via Facebook to see how others do it.  I wanted to try to make the soup because of the tiny pasta, I think.  I may have also made some other “controversial” decisions.

Pasta.  Even though real Italians apparently don’t include pasta in their soup, I am not Italian.  Not remotely, even.  Seriously.  My wife got me the DNA thing for my birthday a few years back and I’m apparently super English, Scottish, Welsh, & Irish with a bit of Scandinavia and the Iberian Peninsula thrown in.  I had to Google the Iberian Peninsula. So, as a Yinzer I am making a stand with pasta in the wedding soup because that’s how I have seen it.  Orzo looked too much like rice,and rice in soup is gross.  (I know, it is an entirely different consistency.  Just accept the fact that rice in soup is gross, you’re wrong if you disagree, and read on.)  I did most of my shopping at Aldi, but they had no tiny pasta… so I went to Giant Eagle and got Acini De Pepe.  I could have also easily gone with what Barilla calls Pastina (neat tiny stars!) and apparently is not even a thing or it’s a generic thing.

I chose to make the meatballs myself, because I like making meatballs.  They’re big-ass meatballs because I have poor portion control and couldn’t use the mellon-baller to effectively help reel it in, and who wants a little tiny meatball anyway?  I used beef, because cows are tasty.    I typically don’t do the lamb/veal/pork mix in any meatballs or meatloaf, so why start now?  I also opted for ground beef in lieu of chicken or turkey, because beef.  Sheep are for making blankets, not eating… unless you like eating meat that tastes like wool blankets.

Would you just look at the size of that thing?In my meatballs, I use Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian dressing & crushed seasoned croutons.  I also tossed in some extra spices (onion & garlic powder, salt, pepper, and whatever “Italian Seasoning” is), two eggs, and parmesan/romano “shake cheese.”  (Does anyone else call it that?)  I generally crush the croutons with my hands, but since I was apathetically trying to make smaller meatballs and my 3yo was my helper, I put some in a sandwich baggie and smashed to crap out of them with the shake-cheese bottle.  Why use bread crumbs when you can smash stuff?  I could totally skip the dressing & toss in whatever spices… but I tried this one time with meatballs to go with spaghetti or lasagna and we liked it, so it stuck.  We cooked them in 2 frying pans, because it seemed quick.  I like to bake meatballs sometimes too.  This really could be a 7-day damn project of soup.

meat n' veggiesA lot of wedding soup recipes call for shredded chicken.  I never really noticed it in the wedding soups I had eaten until at a recent wedding where they left the chicken in sizable chunks.  Maybe it was an accident?  I have no idea, but I liked it.  I felt like I was taking a bite of something instead of creepy little chicken strings being used as a garnish.  Also, I decided to cheat and not make stock… or I probably would have roasted then boiled the shit out of a chicken carcass and produced some shredded chicken as well as tasty stock.  I grilled the chicken in the manliest way possible outdoors over an open flame like our cavemen ancestors.  OK, I cooked it on a counter-top panini grill and attempted to give it some nice criss-crossed grill lines before letting it cool and cutting it into “cubes” with less knife skills than Stevie Wonder.  I wanted to know I was eating chicken.  I probably put some season salt on it.

MirepoixI made a mirepoix, I think.  I put some butter in the bottom of the soup pot, and heated up some finely chopped carrots, celery (stalks and some of the leafy top), onion, & a bit of parsley and the lazy-people chopped-up-already in a jar garlic.  Did those last two mess up the mirepoix?  Salt and pepper went in there too, because the Food Network says to season every step or something like that.

Then I added some random boxes of stock & broth from Aldi.  Really.  I couldn’t decide.  So, I got lowfat (that’s all they had) chicken stock, chicken broth, and low sodium chicken broth.  They were all those creepy giant juice-boxish containers that no doubt every chicken aspires to reside in someday.  I almost bought a vegetable stock, but didn’t.  How do you get vegetable stock anyway?  Isn’t that just broth?  Isn’t the difference between stock & broth the inclusion of bones?

After that, I added the meatballs and chicken and let it boil for a bit.  Maybe on like 7 or 8?  I hate when recipes say “medium-high” heat.  Give me a number, damnit.  There are numbers on my oven.  Are they there for no reason?  How long?  I don’t know.  Long enough to chop up the “fresh” spinach.

My helper.I went for the fresh spinach in a plastic box at Aldi.  I didn’t see any with the produce, didn’t catch it in frozen, and bought a can as backup just in case.  They didn’t have any endive or escarole that I noticed.  I wasn’t sure about Kale but may try that next time.  I probably could have added the canned spinach too… it could have used a bit more maybe?  Although, my meatball helper who crushed about 4 or 5 meatballs after we cooked them wasn’t a big fan of the soup itself because “big kids don’t like spinach sometimes.”  She will eat pasta, grilled chicken, carrots, and meatballs all day every day.  But the spinach was a no-go I guess.  I think I added about 4 cups of water and 2 chicken bullion cubes in there somewhere.

I added the spinach and the box of acini de pepe at the same time.  I let it go for the recommended 9 minutes.  I know I had been advised to not do it that way.  Cooking the pasta separately first then adding the rest of the soup over it in a bowl would be the level-headed thing to do.  I was ready to eat by that point though, so in it went.

It was delicious on the first run if I do say so myself.  Upon having leftovers, the acini de pepe swelled to ridiculous proportions.  Ha ha.  Next time I will cook the pasta first or only use half of a box.  Or, I will do it the same way and have wedding pasta.  Your soup means nothing to me!  My total meat and carb domination can not be culled.

Well, on to the recipe if you even made it this far:

 


Non-Italian Wedding Soup Recipe:

This is not your ordinary recipe.  I don’t measure much.  I just throw stuff into a pot, especially with meatballs and soup.  Obviously, use whatever you have on hand.  Make substitutions.  This is a recipe in the loosest sense of the word.  This is how I did it this time.  I may do it different next time.  There probably are some good details above that I neglected to mention down here.

Thanks, Alfred.

The Meatballs:

  • 3 lb. Ground beef (I think it was 80/20?)
  • Seasoned Croutons (grab your favorite)
  • Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian dressing
  • Seasonings
  • 2 eggs, beaten.
  • Parmesan/Romano “shake cheese”

One day when making meatballs, I grabbed the dressing & croutons because they were on the counter.  We were probably having salad with our spaghetti or lasagna.  It’s just breadcrumbs & oil with some seasonings in it.  I usually smash the croutons by hand, but crushed some of these with a plastic sandwich bag & the Parmesan cheese container since I was trying to make smaller(ish) meatballs.   I added some more  spices (see below) with the beaten egg, and mixed the meatballs by hand.  I used a fancy mellon-baller with an ice-cream-scoop like trigger mechanism that my mom had given me for a few of them, to measure… but they got out of hand easily and I had my 3yo helping.  So, they were probably bigger than they needed to be.  How much dressing and croutons?  Eye it.  I do.  I like meatballs that are mostly meat, not bread.

The Soup:

  • A few handsful of Carrots (I started with the baby-cut ones because the kids snack on them.)
  • Maybe ⅓ of a bunch Celery? (I chopped up the stalks & some leaves.)
  • An Onion
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Spinach – I got a box of the “fresh” stuff from Aldi.
  • Grilled & poorly diced Chicken Breasts (I did mine on the panini grill)
  • Home-Made Meatballs (…or use frozen ones from the store.)
  • 3 creepy juice-box-like broth/stock containers. I literally got 3 different kinds of chicken broth.
  • 4-sh cups water
  • 2 chicken bullion cubes
  • Minced garlic in Olive Oil (because I’m lazy & don’t want to mince my own.)
  • Butter (enough to cover the bottom of your soup pot when it melts)
  • Parmesan/Romano “shake cheese”
  • Shredded Parmesan (Aldi had a fancy little container.)
  • De Cecco Acini De Pepe

Mmm...I started out with the butter melting on the bottom of the soup pot, then added the carrots, celery, onion, & some parsley.  I sauteed that for a bit, then dumped in the 3 weird juice boxes of chicken broth/stock over top of that and brought it to a boil.  I reduced the heat a bit, and added the chicken and meatballs.  I let it get back to a boil and added some of the shredded Parmesan & Parmesan/Romano shake cheese to the broth.  I let that simmer for a bit and eventually added -ish more cups of water and 2 chicken bullion cubes.  (Maybe beef bullion would have been cool here?)  Once that boiled again, I added the pasta & spinach & boiled for another 9 minutes.  It was tasty.  I burned my tongue.  Let it cool.  Be patient.

Spices…

  • Season All
  • Paprika
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Crushed Black Pepper
  • Sea salt
  • White Pepper
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Parsley Flakes

When I refer to seasonings or spices, it could have been any combination of these.  I just grab & shake whenever.


Please, let me know if you tried your own inspired by this one.  Let me know if you do your own a totally different way.  Let me know what I did right, or let me know what I did “wrong.”  Thanks for reading!

Boiling Soup

Check out some of my past recipes:

 

Those Other Stuffed Peppers


So, tonight for dinner I made a new (to me) one.  The wife has made it several times and it’s always a hit with the kids.  I think her original recipe was entitled Santa Fe Stuffed Peppers.  This takes out a bit of the spice and she’s not a huge fan of black beans (which I would have included).  Everything here came from Aldi, except the slices of white American cheese.  We just had that on hand, and no shredded cheese.  It worked well.

Our 3 year old daughter wolfed down about a pepper and a half worth of filling, skipping the outer pepper for some reason.  (She would possibly eat it all, or just the reverse tomorrow.)  She said that we should have it every night for dinner.  I noted that she really likes these, and her mom’s homemade Manwich-like sloppy joes, and that we should start a food truck that specializes in ground meat and call it “Ground Around Town.”  She said we have to paint it pink.  I asked if she wanted to cook or wash dishes.  She chose cooking.

Out of all the stuff you think kids might be picky about, they gobble this up.  (3 yo & 18mo).  I like these better than the more traditional meatball w/ rice stuffed in a green pepper & covered in spaghetti sauce or tomato soup.  For some reason, I can dig the rice & ground meat mixed… but I do not like rice in meatballs.  The red, yellow, & orange peppers are very sweet too.  I like them more than the green ones.  Also, if you mention that you like your peppers stuffed with sausage, you can just close this tab and move on.

These were really easy to make…

All I did was…

Cook the rice & set it aside.  I used the liquid from the can of tomatoes & a beef bullion cube in the water.

Cut the tops off of the peppers, pull out seeds & weird white stuff off of the inside.  (Bethany parboils them first, I didn’t.  I liked them a bit crunchier.)

Brown the ground beef, season to taste.  I added onion powder, garlic powder, & seasoned-salt.  (We have also used ground turkey for this.  It’s delicious.)

Mix the fire-roasted diced tomatoes into the ground meat after draining the fat off.

Mix the rice & beef/tomatoes together.

Put the peppers in a glass baking dish.  Pack the peppers with the tasty rice & beef goodness.  Two didn’t stand up well on their own, so I made little foil stands.

I cooked them in a preheated oven at 375° for 20 minutes, then added the slices of cheese for 5 minutes.

Like I said, Bethany parboils the peppers so they’re a bit softer, so she cooks it at 325° for 20-25 minutes.

Next time, if I make this, I may cook the rice in tomato paste or other tomato flavoring, and add the black beans.  Not sure what the kids would think.  Maybe a little bit of heat would be nice too?  This reminds me of Spanish rice in a pepper.

 

 

Do you make anything similar?  Do you do stuffed peppers a different way?  Do you stuff acorn squash like this?  Do you do different seasonings?  Make ’em meatless?  (Toasted garbanzo beans & black beans might be really good in this!)  Let me know in the comments!

#MeatballSub #Recipe


So, I’ve been hungry for meatball subs.  They’re so simple to make, but we just never seem to do it at home.  I shared the photo on social media, because I’m weird like that and it annoys people, and some people seemed to dig it.  wanted to share how easy it was with a minimal amount of effort.

#MeatballSubs make a good lunch after playing in the snow! ❄

A post shared by Eric Carroll (@aixelsyd13) on

So, the wife got a pound of ground meat from Aldi the other day, and I picked up the rest of the stuff that we didn’t already have at Giant Eagle on my way home from work.  I probably could have gotten all of this from Aldi.

So this is what I used…

  • 1 lb. of ground beef
  • a handful or two of finely shredded fancy 6 cheese “Italian” stuff – I started with a 2 cup bag.  We always have this or something similar around.
  • Whatever “shake cheese” you put on spaghetti. I have Parmigiano-Reggiano because they think it needs to sound fancy.
  • A handful of crackers.  We had “club” crackers from Aldi
  • Italian Dressing (we seem to really dig Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian)
  • A jar of cheap-ass pizza sauce  (I probably should have used some better marinara sauce)
  • Spices (Season All, cracked black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, Italian seasoning, paprika …whatever floats your boat.)
  • Brown sugar
  • Sub buns (I like the Cellone’s or bakery ones, but I was being cheap this shopping trip and got some weird mass-produced ones.)
  • EVOO
  • Butter

And this is what I did…

Meatball Subs

MEAT.

Turn the oven on first so you don’t have to worry about it later.  Put it on 375° because that’s always what they seem to say to put it on.  I don’t know why.  I don’t even know who they are.

I made some meatballs with the meat, some hand-crushed crackers, a dash of the pizza sauce, a dash of Italian dressing, a dash of whatever spices I grabbed off the rack (probably pepper, season all, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika), a bit of the Parmesan shake cheese and the mysterious “six cheese Italian” stuff.

I put some spices on the outside because why not, and tossed them into a frying pan with EVOO and a small pat of butter on the bottom.  I pre-heated it to high, then turned it to 6 before I tossed in the balls.  6 is at about 6:00 on my stupid electric stove top.

I melted a bit of butter in the microwave.  I quickly cut open the buns, put them on a baking sheet, spread on some melted butter with a brush and added… garlic powder, onion powder, a dash of shake cheese, and “Italian seasoning” to the buns.  No Italian seasoning for my wife, and no garlic powder for my 2½ year old.  I popped them in the 375° oven on the middle rack for a bit.

I used tongs to turn the meatballs over & popped a lid on the pan.

I dumped the remaining pizza sauce into a soup cup (it was a little jar), and added a sprinkle of brown sugar.  I nuked it for 45 seconds or so.  Why?  I like sweet sauce, and grandma always said “it cuts the acid.”

I turned the meatballs on to an undone side, and got the sub rolls out of the oven.  I knew they were done because… I didn’t even look at them.  I just took them out.  They looked fine.  Plus, we’re not totally finished.  I added some pizza sauce and some of the finely shredded awkwardly named cheese to the buns.

I made sure the meatballs weren’t going to kill us with the food thermometer.  They weren’t.  I put those on the buns and added more sauce, shredded cheese, and shake cheese.

I set some meatballs aside for my 10 month old.  The sandwich was a little much for him, but he will eat just about anything you put in front of him.  Seriously.  even if it’s not edible.

I put the now built subs into the oven and cranked the knob to 400° because I am impatient and my 2½ year old kept asking if lunch was ready.  I turned the light on in the oven and watched the cheese melt.  Not only was that fun, I could also make sure I wasn’t going to burn the bejesus out of things.  I didn’t.  I took it out in time.

Well, some of the cheese that fell on to the baking sheet burned, because I made a mess.  Oh well.

These were pretty good, although next time I will use different/better sauce.  That squeeze stuff isn’t bad.  Maybe I can make a simple marinara.  Also, homemade-ish deli rolls or Cellone’s are worth it… and I would cut a little triangle out of the top like Subway used to, before we were over-saturated with them and they started to serve terrible cream-of-deathfish.

At any rate.  This is easy to do.  You could buy your own meatballs or bake your own bread or use cheese slices to make this as easy or as difficult as you like.  I cut my 2½ year old’s into 3 sections so she had sliders.  I cut my wife’s in 2.  I ate the whole thing in one big sandwich like a hungry hungry pig.  I refuse to apologize.

Share photos of yours or links to your own blogged recipe in the comments!

 

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...

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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.