Category Archives: Food

It’s not JUST the food

When I went on my Texas BBQ Tour, I was reminded that good food is even better with people you love.  And then, a few weeks ago I took another food adventure that showed me yet another aspect of why food can be such a rich experience.

Some of my friends have called me a “foodie.”  I don’t think so.  I just love to eat.  Foodies, I think, have well developed palettes.  I enjoy exploring new foods and flavors, but I miss a lot of nuances (I’ve never tasted “chocolate notes” in wine – that just seems ridiculous to me).  Wikipedia says a foodie

“…is a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and who eats food not out of hunger but due to their interest or hobby . The terms “gastronome” and “gourmand” define the same thing, i.e. a person who enjoys food for pleasure.”

food quoteAnd then there is list of things foodies pursue.  Nope.  That’s not me.  I do not follow restaurant openings, don’t know the first thing about food distribution.  I might be bordering on gluttony, but not even close to this definition of a foodie.  But, I do take pictures of my meals and post a lot of reviews on Yelp!  (I appreciate other people’s reviews that lead me to good places, so it’s a way to give back – and especially to help you  avoid the really awful places.)

I did learn, on my trek to New York City to find Di Fara Pizza that there is more to the food than the food.  I learned of this place by watching food shows (lots of Andrew Zimmern and Guy Fieri, and of course it was recommended by Johnny T).  When I mentioned this to some of my friends, no one had heard of the place.  Really?  Wow.  But okay.  And when I told how I had to drive across Staten Island (at 5:00 in rush hour traffic), into Brooklyn, and find my way to the place, all the while fearing a long line and no place to park (neither of which happened, by the way), they asked – “Well?  Was it really that good.”

Well?  Was it?

Yeah, it was.  But it took me a little while to figure out why.  The pizza was good.  A very good margherita pizza.  But if I’d had that pizza in my kitchen, or at a local place, it might not have been that great.  Last week I heard an episode of Hidden Brain titled “Hungry, Hungry, Hippocampus.”  At some point it dawned on me why that Di Fara pizza was so good.  It wasn’t just a perfect combination of tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella on a perfectly cooked crust (all of which it was).  But it was the whole experience of realizing I was close to a famous place I wanted to visit, finding my way across Staten Island, cruising through the streets of Brooklyn, finding a parking spot by the front door (actually, two spots so I didn’t even have to back in to parallel park), no one in line, watching Domenico DeMarco making the same pizza he’s been making since 1964, sitting at a communal table and visiting with a local (who offered a few other visitor tips) – all of that together made that pizza really great.

On my trip to Philly, that roast pork sandwich was really good (best sandwich in America says Adam Richman), but knowing I wanted to try this sandwich, being directed by a friend on where to get the best one, again sharing a communal table with locals, and sharing the experience (via messages and pictures) with the friend who directed me there – all that made it even better.  The German food I had with a group of friends and colleagues was really great – but sharing it with those people was even better.

It’s not just the food.  It’s the whole experience, and most importantly the people involved that get you there or share it with you.

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Brotherly Love, History, and Food.

Last week I spent a few days in Philadelphia for a conference and then went to New Jersey for a day to visit a work location. Before I set out, I asked my friend Rich, a Philadelphia native, for his list of must see and do things in Philly.   After my Texas BBQ tour, he said he was waiting anxiously for my review of Philadelphia. So, here ya go.

My impression of the city is based on a limited view from Center City and places within walking distance of the convention center, with a few notes from my jaunt to Jersey.

IMG_3147Besides the usual historical sites (Liberty Bell, the mint, Quaker houses of worship, Betsy Ross’ house), there are some pretty cool, smaller interesting places – the building where girl scout cookies were first baked and sold, the North American Insurance building , Salvation Army in the BPOE building (with a copper elk head above the door), Philadelphia City Hall.  Walk around city hall and look at the ornate details WAY up the side of the building. The

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Philadelphia City Hall

Cornerstone was laid in 1874. I still cannot fathom how they got that ornate concrete and metal work up there without heavy cranes. Even with limited time, a walk down to the Liberty Bell is worth it. There is a lot of history in that area – and you can check out most of it in only a few hours.

The food. Oh the food.

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Tommy DiNic’s Roast Pork with Broccoli Rabe – THIS should be the Philly icon.

The cheesesteak sandwich is the icon of Philadelphia, but the roast pork with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe is like the smarter little brother that no one notices. It’s so much better, it’s hard to understand how the cheesesteak won the battle for icon status. (Caveat: it would benefit nicely from a shot of Crystal hot sauce, says the Louisiana boy, but it’s still good as is.  You can get it with Italian long hots, but those are really hot.)

Among cheesesteak places to eat, Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s are the most famous.  Surprisingly, they have only 2 and 3 stars on Yelp, respectively. A lesser known newcomer, Cleaver’s, has 4 1/2 stars. I

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Cleaver’s giant, stuffed cheesesteak

think I know why. Compare the pictures – Geno’s looks kind of thin. Even the corner dive bar by my hotel (Mace’s Crossing) was stuffed more than that. And both Cleaver’s and Mace’s sandwiches were very good (not just hefty).

The Reading Terminal Market is a crowded cornucopia of places to eat (and a few other little shops). If you have limited time, get the roast pork at Tommy DiNic’s.  You can get an authentic cheesesteak all over America, but an authentic Philadelphia roast pork is a local thing.  Rich had this at the top of his food list, and told me the memory of DiNic’s brought tears to his eyes. Now I know why.   Other notable choices in Reading Terminal Market are pastrami sandwiches at Herschel’s Deli, cannoli or tiramisu at Termini Brothers, and breakfast at the Dutch Eating Place (gigantic pancakes, and perfectly done scrapple). Skip the Peking duck at Sang Kee. It has lots of good reviews, but it’s just not great.

Find a diner for breakfast and get the scrapple. Don’t ask, just eat it. It’s good. I prefer mine sliced thick (too thin and it’s all crust), but any way you can find it, it’s good. There are also a couple of places you can get a good Irish breakfast if you are in the right area (Con Murphy’s is a good choice).

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Nathan’s Famous. Been there, done that. T-shirts extra.

If you have a little extra time, ease over to New Jersey and get a pork roll sandwich for breakfast. It’s not really spectacular, but it’s an icon of the state. You should be able to say “Yep, been there, done that.”  Of course, if you’re that close to New York, Coney Island is just a short drive away, and if you get a Nathan’s Famous hot dog on the boardwalk, not only can you say you’ve been there and done that, you can get the t-shirt at their shop next door.  (Don’t go there for a great hot dog – it’s just a dog – go there for the experience.)

But for the real bonus, if you’ve gone all this way, and you’re this close, you can’t afford to miss Di Fara pizza in Brooklyn. I don’t know if it is the best pizza in America (as several sources have claimed), but I know it was sooo good, and definitely worth going out of your way for. A simple Margherita with nothing more than tomato sauce (hand crushed San Marzano tomatoes), mozzarella, olive oil (all from Italy), and basil – but done so perfectly.  Even fighting traffic across Staten Island into Brooklyn – really, the traffic is not as bad as you think and the pizza is better than you think.  Bucket list item for sure. But you might oughta hurry – Dom DeMarco is 80-something years old, makes every pizza himself, and it’s unclear if he has taught anyone else how he does it.  I got lucky when I dropped by – a parking space right by the front door (in Brooklyn, y’all) and no one in line. No one.  But even if I had to park six blocks away and wait half-an-hour in line, it would have been worth it.

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Old Elks Building – note the copper elk head.

While I spent a lot of my time on this trip in conference seminars and cafes, I am reminded again that all of it is fun, but it’s a LOT more interesting with other people.  I shared a few meals with friends, and visited with people I didn’t know at bars and pizza shops.  And it’s those people who pointed me in new directions, reminded me why I’m doing some of the things I do (that I love to do), and made the whole experience more enjoyable.

Okay. That’s it. After this, I promise to stop focusing on and planning my trips around food.

Well.  Maybe. I do have a couple of places bookmarked for my trip to Connecticut next year (if it actually happens).


Texas BBQ Tour

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Brisket, sausage, and dry cured sausage at Kreuz Market

A long time ago I saw an episode of 60-Minutes on family feuds.  The one story I remember was about Kreuz Market in Lockhart, TX.  (Google it, you can find a lot of stories about the story).  What I remember most was that the barbecue was served on butcher paper, with no plates, no forks, and no sauce.  The guy said “Good meat don’t need no sauce.”  And I have had Kreuz Market on my bucket list before bucket lists were a thing.

Since the explosion of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network, and Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel, I have added a few other Texas BBQ joints to my bucket list.  Last week I finally checked off some of the places on that list – and a couple of places that weren’t on my list – and discovered a lot of things about Texas, barbecue, and friendship along the way.

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Sitting by the fire at the Blanco County Inn

A friend and I drove from Fort Worth and spent a couple of nights in a renovated 1930s motel in Blanco (if you are ever in Blanco, check out the Blanco County Inn – you  won’t be sorry).  We had outstanding ribs and sausage at the Old 300 BBQ in Blanco, did a little antique shopping, walked around the park, and spent a little time in Bible study with the local Church of Christ (good people – very welcoming and friendly).  Before hitting the trail the next morning, we had some of the best klobasnek and cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had.  (What’s a klobasnek?  It’s what we usually call a kolache – but apparently the Czechs who created this delight insist that a kolache is fruit filled and a klobasnek is the meat filled version I love).  The German and Czech influence on the food in the Texas Hill Country is just wonderful!!

While I thoroughly enjoyed the barbecue in all the places we visited, I learned a couple of things that any smart, thinking person would probably have known without making such a trip.  But, making the discovery, and spending time with a cherished friend…well…there’s just no substitute for spending time with friends.

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Open Pit BBQ at The Salt Lick

We drove over to Lockhart and had a sampling of the barbecue at both Kreuz Market and Black’s Barbecue (in business since 1900 and 1932, respectively), did some more antiquing, stopped off at the Wimberely Glassworks and watched an incredible display of glassblowing, and then made our way to Driftwood for a sample of the smoky goodness at The Salt Lick.  This is one of those iconic places you see on TV that makes you crave a visit, and then when  you come away you wonder what all  the fuss was about.  It was a neat experience, and that barbecue pit is really awesome to see, but the food is not the best you can get in this area – if you’re gonna drive that far out into nowhere, go on over to Blanco and hit the Old 300.  (But if you’re with friends who are dying to go, be sure you go early in the day, and during the week – on the weekends, you could be in for a two-hour wait – it’s good, and fun, but it ain’t that good.)

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Brisket and Ribs at Railhead Smokehouse

When we headed back home, we had to take a break from the barbecue and sample the German food in Fredericksburg and then head on back to Fort Worth.  While the Austin area and the surrounding Hill Country is known for having some of the best, most iconic barbecue in Texas (and therefore in all of America), I was pleasantly surprised to find some of the best barbecue of the whole trip at Railhead Smokehouse in Fort Worth.  And that brings me around to what I learned – or maybe what I confirmed – on this bucket list trip.

  • You don’t have to go to the most iconic places on the map to get the best food, but it sure is fun to see what all the fuss is about.
  • Even if your bucket list trip doesn’t work out exactly as planned (my “list” is still pretty long), you can find some unexpected gems along the way (the fire pit at the Blanco County Inn, German food in Fredericksburg, glass blowing in Wimberley, a bin full of extra Scrabble letters in an antique shop – to replace the ones we’ve been missing for 10 years, an old run-down dance hall where some really famous people have played, and some beautiful bluebonnets and scenery in the Hill Country).
  • No matter where you go, what you see, or what you do, going with a friend will make it an unbeatable experience.  Even if you are an introvert who prefers to spend time alone.  Go with a friend.  You’ll be glad you did.  And you’ll be ready to go again real soon.

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(note: if you want a detailed review of all the places we ate, check out my reviews on Yelp! – Old 300 BBQ, Kreuz Market, Black’s Barbecue, The Salt Lick BBQ, Railhead Smokehouse, Auslander Biergarten, The Deutsch Apple, and Main St. Donuts and Kolaches)


Unconventional Wisdom

“Think outside the box,” they said. “Question Authority,” they said.  So, here I am, thinking outside the box, challenging the “authorities.”  Sticking my neck out, putting my reputation on the line.  All for the sake of making progress.  Well…I hope it’s progress.

Last week I submitted a proposal that challenges a world of conventional wisdom in the field of industrial safety and personal protection.  It was a bit unnerving to put the proposal in writing and send it to the people who can gather up the money to test the theory.  Not just because it’s a new idea, but because it is an in-your-face challenge to a LOT of history and heavy hitters in the world of personal protection.

And since I’m out of the box already, I started a bit of research on something a bit less important, but with conventional wisdom that is at least as well established.

Last week, I was the blessed recipient of a brand-spanking new combination gas/charcoal grill and smoker.  And since I’ve never owned a bona-fide, wood-fired smoker (I did have a little electric one that served us well), I had to give it a go last weekend.  And I did all the things you are supposed to do when smoking meat – marinated some of the meat in a salt/sugar brine, and cooked it low and slow (which is a good plan) with thoroughly seasoned and soaked hardwood chunks to create some nice smoke.  The result was fantastic.  Something I plan to repeat as often as I can.

But….next time, I might try something new, too.

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Orange Wood Chunks

Before I got busy smoking meat, I had to do a little yard work which included “trimming” my Satsuma orange tree.  There was this one big branch hanging way too low (dragging the ground), so we cut it back to the stump. Doing that yielded quite a few thick limbs that made the perfect size chunks of wood for the smoker.  And while searching  the interwebs for confirmation that using orange wood in the smoker was okay, I found a few other bits of information that fly in the face of all the conventional wisdom I had learned about smoking meat.  (By the way, it is okay to use orange wood in the smoker.  As it happens, you can even buy it commercially.  Lucky me – all I had to give was half-a-day’s worth of sweat, blisters, and sore muscles.)

The good people at Epicurious say that marinating your meat is wasting your time (and maybe even ruining your meat).  Get the details here.  In summary, the marinade does not penetrate deeper than the outer layer, it does not tenderize your meat, and it does not make your meat juicier (it might even lead to steaming instead of searing and make your meat soggy).  Quality meat, ample fat, and proper cooking will make your meat juicy and wonderful (which is pretty much what happened with my ribs and Boston butt last weekend – even the pork shoulder I brined wasn’t really juicier than the Boston butt).  I like a nice dry rub on ribs anyway, so I think I’ll just skip the marinating business from now on.

But now for the real myth busting.  Meathead Goldwyn over at AmazingRibs.com says to stop soaking your wood.  Like the marinade, he says the water only penetrates the outer layer and dries out nearly as soon as you put it on the fire anyway.  His testing showed wood chips only absorbed 4% water.  And you need dry wood to get blue smoke (a thing I never heard of, but apparently is what you really want when smoking meat).  If this is true, I no longer have to guess at how much wood to soak to be sure I have enough.  I can just get a chunk or two from the bucket and toss them in as needed.

Meathead also says that pink smoke ring isn’t actually created by smoke penetrating the meat, but by a chemical reaction.  And you can’t make it go deeper into the meat by smoking it longer – but you can get more flavor and more tenderness by cooking longer.  So stop worrying about whether your “smoke ring” is think enough – you can’t change that anyway.  (That pink ring is the result of the reaction between myoglobin, and nitric oxide and carbon monoxide – he’s got a lot of science there to support this theory.  Just go with it.)

It is also conventional (or at least common) wisdom that you should remove the bark from your smoking wood.  But the bark on my orange tree is so thin and tightly bound that I think it would not be worth the trouble.  But then I read numerous discussions, like this one, that suggest there are some widely varying opinions on this issue.  I think I’ll leave the bark on and see what happens.

After submitting my proposal on personal protection, it turns out that numerous people have come out of the shadows saying “yeah, I’ve been thinking that, too.”  Maybe they didn’t see a need to challenge the accepted wisdom, or didn’t have the energy to dig into the details, or maybe they just didn’t want to rock the boat.  Who knows?  But give it a try.  Think outside the box, turn the world upside-down, and challenge the conventional wisdom.  You could be surprised what might happen.


The Jambalaya Chronicles, Part 2

Since the last time I wrote about jambalaya, those people over at Tasty posted this video recipe and called it jambalaya.  And there was a quite a backlash by my own transplanted Yankee kids, and certainly by the serious South Louisiana jambalaya aficionados.

“…wouldn’t know what graton is if it hit him in the face.”

What’s graton?  It’s that yummy, browned, crunchy stuff on the bottom of the pot that you gotta deglaze to get all the flavor (and color) from.  If you don’t get a good graton, your jambalaya might look like…well….like that pan of rice and tomatoes those people at Tasty called a jambalaya.  I’m still working on getting a good graton, and a good, dark brown jambalaya – but according to the feedback I get, the taste is worth coming back for.

A couple of weeks ago, I caught the tail-end of a section on one of my favorite food shows (I think it was on “Bizarre Foods” – but I watch so many of these shows) and they mentioned a “chicken bog” in South Carolina.  The picture they showed looked a lot like a good jambalaya.  So I searched the interweb for chicken bog and found something quite amazing.

I showed this picture to my daughter and  she said that it looked like a good jambalaya.ChickenBog

Not only does it look like a good Gonzales jambalaya, it has nearly all the same ingredients.  Chicken, smoked sausage, onions, salt, pepper, garlic, and rice.  Except they boil the chicken first – ack!  But still, the finished product looks, um, tasty.  It appears that chicken bog is limited to a small area in South Carolina (around Myrtle Beach), but some other folks are making chicken perlo, which is nearly the same thing.  And, like a jambalaya, some folks like to add bacon to their chicken bog.  One blogger said:

The defining factor for good chicken bog, is moist, greasy (hence the bacon) rice. While greasy hair may be a turnoff (unless you’re an Alabama fan), greasy chicken bog is highly desireable, so be sure to err on the wet side when measuring your broth. Unlike rice pilaf or pilau, chicken bog should clump to your fork when eating.

(note: pilaf and pilau appear to be alternative spellings/pronunciations for perlo – or maybe perlo is how they say pilau in “South Curlina.”)

What I find so interesting in all this is that all over America – all over the world – people have come up with their own, unique  – and nearly the same – ways to cook up rice and meat.  The first time I had paella (in Puerto Rico), I asked my host if he knew about jambalaya, and he said “Yes, yes!  It’s the same.”  (Well – sort of – they both have rice and meat, and if you do it right, you can’t make just a little.)

Ten years ago when our new Medical Director (from Scotland) spent two days with me driving to our plant in Alabama, we talked about a lot of things.  I had to ask about haggis.  I suggested it sounded pretty rank, but that I might try it someday.  He reminded me that every culture has a way of using the offal and low grade cuts of meat that used to be trash.  And I then thought about our Cajun boudin.  Pretty much the same thing as haggis, but with rice instead of oatmeal, and pork instead of sheep.

I’ve watched a lot of food shows, and eaten in a lot of cities across America (and a few in Europe), and it turns out – it’s the same all over.  To be sure, the bratwurst and curry wurst is better in Berlin, Texas and Carolina BBQ can’t be beat, and the best jambalaya is in Gonzales, Louisiana.  But, all over the world, we’re all feeding ourselves with pretty much the same things – and in their own way, most of them are yummy.  I’m still not down with that quinoa jambalaya, or the Tasty version with shrimp and tomatoes, but otherwise….let’s eat, y’all.

Next time I make a jambalaya, I think I’m gonna have to record the steps and straighten out those folks over at Tasty.


The Jambalaya Chronicles

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The Louisiana Cajun-Yankee line of demarcation (we don’t know about Mason and Dixon – that was way too far north).

Although I am a native of Louisiana, I am a Yankee from Shreveport.  When I moved to South Louisiana, someone told me that Shreveport was almost Louisiana.  And I freely admit that Shreveport is the capital of East Texas.  North Louisiana really is culturally and geographically more like East Texas and South Arkansas.  If you want to talk about Cajun and Creole culture and swamp land, you have to go South – and some say you have to go South of Interstate 10 (and by that standard, I’m still a Yankee by 1.2 miles).

But, since becoming embedded in the southern Louisiana life, and more particularly the culture around Gonzales, I have become obsessed with making a good jambalaya.  All cities worth their salt around here have some festival dedicated to a local food or legend (mostly food).  And each one lays claim to being the world capital of said food.  It’s really no different than anywhere else.  I mean no one honestly believes that the Magnolia Blossom Festival is the home of World Champion Ribeye Steaks…or is it?  Whatever you believe, those are some of the best steaks you will ever eat.  And they have become a qualifying event for the World Food Championships with Adam Richman.  So, maybe they are the world capital.

Likewise, Gonzales, LA is the self-proclaimed Jambalaya Capital of the World.  Living in such a place one gets exposed to a lot of different jambalaya recipes.  And one begins to lean toward a favorite.  During our time here I have had the opportunity to work in a few concession stands at football games.  As you might imagine, in a place like Gonzales, jambalaya is a concession stand staple.  Any stadium worth going to on a Friday night in the Fall is selling jambalaya made by a volunteer parent or grandparent.  And the Dutchtown High School stadium is a fine example, with Mr. Mike making one of the best jambalayas around.  It’s so good, even my Yankee kids get excited to know they’ll get a bowl.  People have come to the concession stand and asked if Mr. Mike made the jambalaya this weekend.  And if he didn’t, they order a hamburger.

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One of my first, full 10-gallon batches for the college group.

And so when I asked for a 10-gallon jambalaya pot for Christmas, I also asked Mr. Mike if he’d give out his recipe (which is kind of like asking for the keys to Fort Knox).  But he was happy to share.  Turns out that his recipe is a very simple, very rustic kind of thing and that’s what I like.  If you enter the Gonzales championship cook-off there is a very limited list of ingredients you are allowed to use.  I think they are trying to determine only two things:  can you cook rice, and can you make it brown and yummy looking without using artificial coloring (like Kitchen Bouquet).  To that end, most competitions around here do not allow artificial coloring or parboiled rice.  Using those two things is considered cheating.

I have learned that there are a thousand ways to make jambalaya, and that like everyone else, I think I’ve got the best recipe.  I have a simple, old-school recipe that is a descendant of recipes used by past champions, and I am a traditionalist.  I can accept that there are lots of ways to make jambalaya and people have different tastes.  Some people like to put in Pickapeppa sauce, and Tiger Sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, and on and on.  I got a recipe from one guy that had 20 different seasoning ingredients and a couple of different cream soups.  You can find a LOT of different stove-top recipes on the internet, and most of them look pretty good.  I’m not so sure about this quinoa version with turkey sausage, but just about anything else looks pretty tasty.  But I still prefer a traditional, simple recipe with salt, pepper, garlic and hot sauce.  And no seafood (save that for the boiling pot).

My Dad, working on 10 pounds of onions.

My Dad, working on 10 pounds of onions.

You might not have many jambalaya competitions where you live, but around here that’s how people raise money.  Little League baseball teams stand out front of Lowe’s hawking jambalaya lunches, families of kids with medical problems have benefit fundraisers with jambalaya lunches.  The Kiwanis Club in your town is probably selling BBQ chicken dinners to raise money.  In this area, it’s jambalaya.  And usually from a gigantic pot – lots of fundraisers and competition cooks are using 30 or 40 gallon cast iron pots to cook in.  Mr. Mike told me he has a pot that will hold 110 pounds of rice (enough to feed 600 or 700 people).  The amount of jambalaya you cook is measured by how much rice you are using – a 10 pound jambalaya means you are using 10 pounds of rice.  It also means at least 10 pounds of everything else – 10 pounds of sausage, 10 pounds of chicken (or pork), and 10 pounds of onions.  If you are cooking for a fundraiser, keep it simple and straightforward to keep the costs down (we’re trying to raise money, here).  If it’s for family, add more sausage and meat.

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Competition style (again, it was not a winner, but it was yummy). (P.S. I do not recommend wearing sandals when cooking jambalaya).

And so with my simple recipe and my 10 gallon cast iron cooking pot, I have found a few local fundraiser competitions to enter (football booster club, United Way, Komen Race for the Cure).  I’ve also cooked a little for the college church group, and a fundraiser for the Winterguard team.   When I entered my first competition, I was told I could not win because I did not have the right last name (look at the list of winners in Gonzales – Ulton Diez, Edward Braud, Fatty Lessard, Tibby Lambert, Tee Wayne Abshire, Norbert Loupe – I’m not Cajun enough to win). But I have had a few people tell me they like my recipe.  I wasn’t real sure if they were being sincere or just neighborly.  Not until a few weeks ago

DSCN3768Me and Randy Fuson got together and entered the Komen Race for the Cure Jambalaya Cook-Off in Baton Rouge to help raise a little money for breast cancer research (BIG thanks to Dräger for sponsoring us).  As we passed out samples for tasting, some of the people told us they liked ours better than the other competitors.  Nice.  Thanks for that.  (Really?  Are y’all just being nice?  Are you telling everybody that?).  But then, a group of about five or six ladies came back to our table and asked if I had a card.  They wanted my number so they could hire me to cook for their event.  SCORE.  YES, it really is good.  Maybe not the best, but “the best” really is  hard to define.  It depends on how much pepper you like, and if you like the brand of sausage we used, and if you like a lot of complex flavors or something simple and rustic.

I’m not looking to start a catering business, but if you need to feed 100 people (or 50 or 20) and you want a good, simple, rustic jambalaya, let me know.  I can hook you up.  And if you need to feed more than that, I know a guy.


Science Diet

Scientifically, losing weight is a simple proposition:

  • use more energy than you consume.

That’s it.  Nothing more than a simple energy balance equation.  All the fad diets, and all the so-called scientific breakthroughs really come down to this single, simple equation.

The real challenge is motivation.  I’ve also discovered another scientific principle that seems to be related to this weight loss challenge.  Newton’s Laws of Motion.

  • First Law: “An object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an external force”
  • Second Law: “Force equals mass times acceleration”
  • Third Law: “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

According to the first law, once you get started going in one direction, you will keep going until an external force pushes you in a different direction.  The second law suggests that the size (power) of that external force will determine how far you are pushed “off track.”  Not sure yet how the third law applies here.

In my dieting motivational experience, once I get started it’s pretty easy to keep it going, until my routine is changed – like when I travel.  And once I get off the dieting track, it’s hard to get back on it.  I’ve got a good start down this slippery slope (according to the standard calculations, I’ve had a 28,000 calorie deficit since January 1.  I’ll let you figure out how many pounds that is).  But the travel challenge looms over me this week, and I don’t yet have a real plan for pushing back against it.  Maybe this is where the third law comes into play – I need to find a force I can use to push back with so I can maintain downward momentum.