Saturday, June 30, 2007

Of Mulberry Trees, Birds, And Life...

When we first moved to the house we live in(28 yrs ago!), there was work to be done. The previous family had 4 boys under 10yrs old, and they had beaten the crap out of about everything they could. The yard was nothing special, with some shrubs getting yanked, and others to plant. The edge of the property had a mix of trash trees(Chinese Elm, Willow, and Mulberry bushes). Nice shade from the willow-until one day, windy but clear, it blew over. We had it removed, along with the chinese elm-full shade to full sun in one week! For some reason, we just kept cutting the mulberry back, until we just let it grow. We now have a large tree in our back yard that once a year bears a bumper crop of mulberries! Too soft and small to pick sucessfully, and stains like nothing else on Earth- we pretty much let the wildlife have at them. Mainly birds of all varieties, they do have one thing in common- they crap purple on everything I own! From my computer room I can see thousands of berries, all red(not ripe yet!) knowing the crap attack is coming soon....
I used to get really mad at little things like this, but now I figure the creatures get a little treat and sustinence, and crap washes off

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Darn Close To 4th Of July!

I have always enjoyed outside parties, and REALLY enjoyed fireworks ever since I was young. Every year for many years, we have spent the day at our friends' house (on a little lake) eating, drinking, talking, and later shooting off fireworks, while the Lake Association does the same. If I don't bring bbq pork back ribs, a designer cheesecake, and fireworks to dazzle the crowd- they would think I had lost it! Traditions. Sometimes you inherit them, sometimes you create them as you go. I feel sorry for people who don't have traditions- one reason is because they look so lost when they are around people who do have them. People like to have a sense of belonging, and every year this party attracts people who know they can join in and be welcome. We long timers include the new people in some of the work, talking with them and getting to know them. We get some of the young bucks help with the fireworks, teaching them safety and the thrill of the big boom!
Independence Day is also a time to reflect on who we were and what we've become. It's time for this nation to re-read the Bill of Rights, and The Constitution-and start living it....

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Cut Of Meat I've Never Dealt With....

Boneless beef ribs. When I last ventured to the meat market, I picked up about 4 lbs. of this stuff. I really didn't know exactly what it was but it wasn't expensive, and looked interesting. Today, I opened the package to find what looked like narrow boneless rib-eye steaks. I'm pretty sure this is the meat between the bones of a prime rib, cut a little more generously. Looks and feels tender, so I'm going to marinate in a Korean mix(water, rice wine vinegar, honey, soy sauce, sesame seed oil, salt, red pepper flakes, garlic, onion powder, and ginger. Jusy plan to charcoal on high temp grill and see what happens.... Got to get the home-made bread going, too!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Planning For State BBQ Cook Off Begins...

Since its' inception, The Buffalo Bros. cooking team has entered this contest, always signing up for every event. Cooks from all over the country come to compete, with about 45 teams total. Some are sponsored by national chains like Famous Daves' or regional restaurants or caterers. Some are marketing their own sauces or dry rubs, but there is probably 1/3 of us there who just like to cook, and ain't too bad at it. Our equipment isn't in the same league with the big dogs, but every year we manage to win a ribbon or two- which drives them nuts! I really tried to buy a large trailer smoker/cooker, but delivery was out too far to get it in time (Damn Food Channel!).
Catagories Friday nite will be the side dishes; Potatoes, vegetable, beans, and dessert. The following day it's the main catagorie that count for money and points; Chicken, pulled pork, pork ribs, and beef brisket. It is sponsored by the Kansas City Barbeque Society and has certified judges that know the criteria to be a good judge. It's not until mid- July, but planning starts Saturday!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fathers' Day At My House....

What a great day! I fixed a meatloaf (herb based!) with a portobello mushroom sauce, hash-brown potato casserole, homemade bread and store-bought-but-excellent raisin oatmeal cookies! My son (in town one!) came over and ate the heck out of it! I then had a long, and good conversation with my son in K.C. about his excellent photography on his blog( . He is a top flight writer who has to get back to his strong writing/communicating skills! Please check out his photos, and encourage him to start writing along with those photos! You will not regret it!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Fathers' Day To All!

My own father passed away about 4 years ago, at the ripe old age of 85. He had a typical life growing up and living it out for those times- Young man in The Depression, married just before WWll, went to war for the duration, came home to start a career, and get to know his family again. He was a bus driver, worked at an industrial knitting works, assembled conveyors, sold life insurance, and for the last 40 yrs of his career proudly sold new Buicks. By the time I was born, my eldest brother was 13yrs old( I was called a surprise). By the time I was 6 the hard times were over, and we moved up into the middle class. Because of his job, Dad was not home at 5 like most Dads back then. It bugged me as a little kid my Dad was never at Little League, or any other event because of work. When I was older, and started working full time myself, I understood alot more. He was providing for a family to have a better life, and he did it. He had a good life for 84 yrs-The last year kind of sucked, but I was there for him, as well as the rest of my family. Call your Dad today if he's still around- he'll appreciate it!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Yestedays' Wanderings- Private Clubs(Not Golf!)

Friends of ours invited us to go to a private club(technically a "Benevolent Society") known in this area as Polish Halls, for their Burger Nite. A 1/2lb burger with anything you could imagine on it, with a side of Kapusta(kind of a sweet, shredded cabbage, cooked) for three bucks. Girls less than 12 yrs old as waitresses taking your order. Bar drinks so cheap, it's silly! I got there before anyone else in our party, and got something to drink. When I heard the bartenters' voice , I knew I had met her before. It was Sue, a woman my age who 20yrs ago was one of the premier bartenders in Grand Rapids! A delightful person I had not seen in at least 10yrs. We did a little catching up and it was a pleasure to run into her after all those years! These places are working folk/retiree hangouts, where everyone behaves and can relax. Good to know there are still friendly places to go and enjoy without pretentious people and high prices!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sunday Leftovers = Tuesdays Dinner...

Sunday, I marinated and barbequed over charcoal the last pack of Lamb loin chops I had vacuum-packed. As there was 16 good sized chops, leftovers were anticipated! Today, I took them, trimmed of bone and fat, threw them in with baby carrots, celery( chopped), baby Yukon Gold potatoes quartered, large chopped Vidalia onion, all in a chicken stock/brown gravy base. Seasoned, it all went into a crock pot for 6-8 hrs. Voila! Lamb stew ala Buffalo Dick. We have to be the only idiots having stew on an 88 degree day in June! And don't laugh at the stew base, it totally nailed the lamb stew flavor! Monday and Tuesday generally are the days we mop up the left overs, and our one rule is "Nobody should have to eat anything more than twice"!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Road Trip, Prep And Cook Day Today

We just got back from our tri-annual trip north to Birds' Market. As usual, packed with rural and cottage dwellers stocking up on the meat deals. Saturday morning is the worst time of the week to go here, but we knew that when we headed out. Half the fun of the place is people watching, while you wait your turn at the meat counter(avg 25 min.). Outlying areas always have had a mixed bag of super poor,poor, farmers, and well off people living on some lake in the area. Large women, missing teeth, with cheap tattoos, tanned, good looking women in designer beach wear, little kids who already need a bath and it's 10am, and working men hauled along to help lug stuff home on their day off. Darn near every one of them is friendly-at least when we talk to them. I bought the usual mix of beef and pork, scoring a whole beef tenderloin for $10.95 a lb. Came home, trimmed and cut it into steaks, then vaccuum packed it.
Next on the agenda is to get the white chocolate cheesecake I made out of the spring form pan, and vaccuum pack that before freezing it. I need the pan for the Creme de Menthe cheesecake I have to make that will go to the same party as the white chocolate one. Always something, isn't it?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Another Feed The Troops, (Customers) Day...

The weenie wagon rolls again! Last night planning and shopping for 40, today cooking on grill for same! Must chop onions, slice tomatoes, and tear lettuce this morning, as set up is 1030am-with lunch at 12. I hoped to have my own commercial smoker/cooker by now, but since the damn Food Channel came on BBQ smokers are sellling like mad, and I couldn't get a timely delivery. Usual picnic food-burgers,cheeseburgers,brats,potato and macaroni salads, munchies and cookies. Supposed to be hot today, so I anticipate a long ordeal! My company is getting more cranky if you complain about doing this, but it takes 3 people and about most of the day to get this done. We could send in pizzas and accomplish the same mission! Oh well, time to get busy!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Anniversary Dinner- Old Friends' Are Better Than Old Food...

My wife had to attend a baby shower that afternoon (The daughter of the friends we were going out with), and my buddy had to work, so he picked me up on the way to dinner. Their daughter-in-law was throwing the party, and lives even closer to the restaurant-so we picked up spouses there. Since the day we met, their daughter in law and I have been buddies, and it was good to see her! This is an extended family I've known most of my life that has probably seen more grief than anyone I know, yet maintain a good attitude towards life! Another old friends' wife had to attend the shower, so we invited them to join us for dinner.
The restaurant is the Clifford Lake Inn, on the shores of (all together now!) Clifford Lake. Old, comfortable place with a nice deck you can dine on-except a thunderstorm was going on! The menu was so predictable, I probably didn't have to open it. A good selection, but food service food out of a freezer or a bag. My grouper was overbattered and tasteless, wife had walleye that was OK, buddy Dan(always orders prime rib) had a good one. Other three had some kind of fish, again batttered and out of a freezer bag. I'd go back for the view, but not the food!
The friends, and the old memories we talked about were the gems of the evening- as well they should be....
Today, I'm looking forward to roasting a capon, stuffed with mushrooms and rice, draped with bacon. The drippings will go well on the fresh (not the free stuff!) asparagus!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Anniversary Weekend- Again.......

June 2nd, 1973 I became a married man. I was 20yrs old, she was 19. At those ages you would assume we "had " to get married. Wrong. We met when I was 17 and she was 16 on the first(and only!) blind date I ever went on. It wasn't love at first sight, we were a needed component for a double date (my buddys' girl was not allowed to single date) and as I loved to bowl, and as I had hormones in overdrive I went along with it. Blind date- by the time I had regained my eyesight, it was too late-we were going steady! 2 yrs at the local Junior College each, and then engagement, with marriage a year later.
After this many years, getting a present is something we openly discuss, because we both have stuff we literally have never used! We plan to go out with friends who married a month after us, to an out of town country inn for dinner Sat. night. I've been told the place isn't that great, but I guess that's not the reason we're going-is it? 34 years..... The guy in Shawshank got less time than I did...