General Archive

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

National Hot Dog Month

Chili DogJuly is National Hot Dog Month. The 22nd is National Hot Dog Day, but the big event is July 4th, the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. Last year's winner, Joey Chestnut, ate 62 hot dogs, buns and all, in 10 minutes. That's almost 8 packs worth!

There are tons of different toppings for hot dogs, but here's one of my favorite combinations, which also happens to be just a little out of the ordinary. Ellicott Dining Hall at University of Maryland used to serve them this way, but it's the only place I've ever seen that did, and they've since remodeled, so I doubt even they make these hot dogs anymore. Really, the recipe's pretty simple - a hot dog on a bun, covered with sauteed potatoes and onions, with a bit of spicy brown mustard. The potatoes have to be diced pretty small. Simple, like I said, but very good.

And if you really want good hot dogs, make sure you buy good hot dogs. You can't beat hot dogs in a natural casing for the little bit of crispiness when you bite into it. Here in Wichita Falls, I can find the Boar's Head brand with natural casings, which are pretty good, but they're all beef. Back up in the northeast, Dietz and Watson makes natural casing hot dogs, too, and theirs have pork mixed in (I'd buy those if I could find them down here). Of course, if you know of a good local butcher, go there.

I'll mention that I kicked off the month by going to a local place, Ronnie's, and getting a chili cheese dog with sauteed onions and jalapeƱos, and a side of fresh cut fries. It was pretty tasty, and worth going back (unfortunately, the dog didn't have a natural casing or pork). Probably my favorite hot dog joint is The O in Pittsburgh. Natural casings, plenty of toppings, and a mountain of fresh cut fries to go with it. When I had my internship back in college, there used to be a guy with a hot dog cart that would pull up to our building every day. I didn't go there every lunch, but it got to the point where I didn't have to order - once he saw my face, he'd just start preparing my regular. I've never seen a guy work so fast with toppings.

Anyway, there's no deeper meaning to this post. It's kind of frivolous, but I really like hot dogs, almost as much as potatoes, so I couldn't resist the opportunity to write about a whole month dedicated to them.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tastykake Follow Up

A little while ago, I mentioned that I'd found Tastykakes for sale at the local Walmart down here in Wichita Falls, Texas. Well, now our local Target has them, too.

Tastykakes in Target

Awesome.

So, I know I said in that previous post that I thought that once Tastykakes were available to me all the time, they'd lose that 'exoticness' that made me buy them everytime I went back up north, and that I'd end up eating less of them. Well, they have lost just a bit of that specialness, and I don't buy them all the time, but my daughter really likes them, so we probably buy a pack every month or so. In other words, I may not be gorging myself on Tastykakes, but I'm getting more than I would from trips back home. If you notice in that picture above, there are no more cream filled Koffee Kakes, because we got the last one.

Now, if only the stores would start stocking Utz Potato Chips and the Grandma Utz kettle chips (fried in lard), I'd have all my snack foods covered. Then I'd just need to get them to start stocking scrapple, shoo-fly pie, mustard eggs, sweet lebanon bologna, Taylor Pork Roll....

Thursday, March 1, 2012

National Essential Tremor Awareness Month

March is National Essential Tremor Awareness Month

March is National Essential Tremor Awareness Month. To quote from the International Essential Tremor Foundation, Essential Tremor, or ET, "is a neurological disorder that causes hands, heads and voices, and sometimes legs and trunk to shake." It is also referred to as familial tremor, benign essential tremor, or hereditary tremor.

To quote from Wikipedia, "ET is one of the most common neurological diseases, with a prevalence of approximately 4% in persons age 40 and older and considerably higher among persons in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Aside from enhanced physiological tremor, it is the most common type of tremor and one of the most commonly observed movement disorders." It's important to realize, though, that ET can occur in people of any age, even newborns.

Although there are some medications to treat the symptoms of ET, those medications are only effective in about 60% of people who suffer from the disorder.

To learn more about ET, visit the International Essential Tremor Foundation. Here are a few pages focused on information.

If you'd like to help, you can make a donation.

Friday, February 24, 2012

WooHoo! Tasty Kakes

I was in Wal-Mart this week, and look what I saw:

Tasty Kakes

Tasty Kakes! For those of you not familiar, they're a snack food company based in Philadelphia. They were the local equivalent of Hostess or Little Debbie. When kids in the cafeteria pulled out their dessert from their lunch bag, it was Butterscotch Krimpets, not Twinkies.

Ever since seeing that, I can't get the jingle out of my head. Here's the commercial I remember best from when I was a kid, but the jingle's been around forever.

Actually, since that commercial's mostly an instrumental, here's another one more typical of the jingle.

The weird thing is, now that there are Tastykakes here in Texas, I bet I'll end up eating less of them. As it was before, they were something special that I couldn't get here. So, every time I headed back up north, I'd buy a couple boxes as a treat. Now that they're here, I can buy them anytime. I'm sure as heck not going to eat them everyday, but there's no special event to trigger me to pick up a box.

It's the same thing when Jack in the Box came to town. Before, the only Jack in the Box I knew about was in Decatur, midway between Wichita Falls and DFW. So, whenever we stopped in Decatur to get lunch, we'd stop at Jack in the Box since it was something we couldn't get at home. Now that the Jack in the Box has been in town for over a year, I've been there maybe 3 times.

So, I've got a box of Butterscotch Krimpets and Koffee Kakes, and I'll probably buy some Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes once they're restocked, but that'll be my Tasty Kake fix for a while. Maybe. My daughter really likes them, and we buy her treats more often that we would for ourselves, so maybe once they're in the house my temptation will get the better of me.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fastnacht Day 2012

Fastnacht Day is once again upon us. I'll be busy making fastnachts tomorrow morning in celebration. Since I don't have anything new to say from previous years, I'll just quote and paraphrase a bit from older entries.

Doughnut Picture from Wikimedia CommonsDepending on where you are in the world, you may call tomorrow something else, like Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day. But from where I'm from in Pennsylvania, it's called Fastnacht Day. Traditionally, you make potato based donuts, called fastnachts, supposedly as a way to empty your larder of all the fatty, sugary foods in preparation for the Lenten fast. My elementary school even used to give out donuts with the lunches on this day. So, in celebration of Fastnachts, here's a recipe on my main site on how to make fastnachts, and a link to the (not so thorough) Wikipedia article.

You're supposed to wake up early to make the fastnachts on Tuesday morning (they're freshest that way), but I usually make them the night before. They keep pretty well in a brown paper lunch bag. I also like to put a little bit of powdered sugar into a ziploc bag, and a mix of granulated sugar and cinnamon into another one, to coat the fastnachts just before eating them.

To see just how popular fastnachts are back up in Pennsylvania, go read this article from 2009. Look at those pictures, and just how many fastnachts they're making. And according to this article from 2011, bakers in Hagerstown started baking on Sunday night to meet Tuesday's demand.

A guy I worked with from Chicago mentioned a similar tradition up there - paczkis, from the Polish immigrants. But instead of a hole in the middle like my family's fastnachts (not all fastnachts have the hole), they have a filling, usually jelly or creme. I guess lots of groups have invented traditions to allow indulgence before a 40 day fast.

Doughnut Picture from Wikimedia Commons

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