Dining for America’s Pastime: Strap On the Baseball Feedbag

4 04 2009

Today is only two days away from the official (we’ll disregard the Sunday games) Monday start to the 2009 Major League Baseball Season. It’s about time! Forget about the ticket prices at the stadium… forget about market blackouts because of cable contracts… and forget about watching network news! baseball-1-blogIt’s baseball season and we can all wrap ourselves up in our favorite team… our favorite team colors… and embrace the official beginning of baseball dining.

One of the strongest associations to baseball season for many is the smell of hot dogs. Another sense that puts us in baseball mode is the auditory… hearing the vendors in the stands shouting, “Hey Peanuts!” or “Beer Here!”. Today’s blog post is designed as a guide to help you through the 2009 baseball season without being embarrassed. A compendium, if you will, of the newest terms associated with FOOD at the ballpark. Baseball is ripe with exclusive terminology dealing with every aspect of the game… and food is no exception. It would be a shame if you went to the concession stand at the stadium and ordered ‘Chicken Nuggets’… they would laugh you right out of line!!! They’d say, “Do you mean Fowl Balls?”. baseball-2-blogYou might make the mistake of asking for two hot dogs and a beer when, in fact, you should have shown your ballpark foodie moxie and just said, “Let me have a Triple Play please.”.  The following is an extensive list of terms that are either this year’s names for ballpark food (or at least what they should be), or terms that vendors at the stadium use to describe certain fans, or other baseball/food related terminology. This is for your own good…

 

2009 Baseball Foods Explanation
Baltimore Chop Salad stadium version of trendy steakhouse salad
Backdoor Sliders an order of trendy mini-burgers
Forkball any meatballs NOT served on a roll
Bases Loaded Baked Potato ballpark version of trendy steakhouse side dish
Batter Up funnel cakes served at the stadium
Bullpen Session two mounds of ground beef served warmed-up
Fowl Balls stadium chicken nuggets (dipping sauce: mustard)
Pepper Games jalapeno poppers
Farm Team veggie burgers w/ tofu cheese
Sacrifice Bunt Cakes small, over-priced half-round cakes that look like a baseball’s northern hemisphere
Bean Ball vegetarian ‘meatball’ sandwich
Small Ball Swedish meatballs served by the Minnesota Twins
Ground Rule Double two all-beef patties served on a sesame seed bun
Triple Play two hot dogs and a beer
Basket Catch fried shrimp-in-a-basket
Shoestring Catch fish & chips (very thin chips)
RBI BBQ pork riblets (pronounced Ribee)
Throwing Smoke pulled-pork BBQ at the ballpark
A Peel Play banana split (no argument here)
Power Pitcher x-large cup of Red Bull
Squeeze Play fresh lemonade from a stadium kiosk vendor
Suicide Squeeze Play when the vendor juices the lemons for a ‘Squeeze Play’ w/ a paper cut on a finger
On Deck a multi-level turkey club sandwich
The Perfect Game roast duck w/ bing cherry sauce (only served in luxury boxes)
Hit and Run hot dog w/ chili & onions
Scorching Ground Ball any meatballs ordered well-done
Grand Slam a ballpark big-meal sampler consisting of one hot dog, one Italian sausage sandwich, one slice of pizza, and a beer
The Sinker an extremely juicy Sloppy-Joe sandwich that should really only be eaten over the sink
Dying Quail Cajun-style chicken cutlet sandwich
Frozen Ropes ice pops in those long plastic tubes for young fans
Relief Pitcher big, ice-cold pitcher of any summer beverage
Starting Pitcher the first pitcher of beer served in a luxury box
Vendor Terms Explanation
Fungo adding mushrooms to any sandwich by request
Clearing the Dugout the act of finishing soup served in a breadbowl
Switch Hitter any fan who can eat a hot dogs and beer in either hand (although usually better w/ one hand than the other
Charging the Mound term used by nacho vendors when customer pays w/ a credit card
Bush League any fan who orders a salad at the concession stand
Blocking the Plate to stop serving beer to fans who have over-indulged
Cutoff Man the beer vendor who actually has to ‘Block the Plate’ and say NO to the over-indulgent fan
Disabled List term used by beer vendors to describe fans who have been officially ‘cutoff’
Caught in a Rundown term used by stadium coffee & coca cola vendors to describe fans who make purchases in the late innings
Flash some leather term used to describe a really fast & efficient hot dog vendor
Dogging It name for fans who only order hot dogs
Brock for Broglio whatever amount of money you need to pay for Dippin’ Dots in a miniature batting helmet doesn’t matter because the deal is still lopsided…Dippin’ Dots is still the better deal (you may need to research this one!)
Caught Looking when another fan catches you ‘eyeing’ their Dippin’ Dots lustily
Late Inning Pressure Situations dealing w/ excessively long lines at stadium restrooms after the 7th inning stretch

While this is in no way an exhaustive list of the new 2009 baseball season culinary adventures… it’s at least a good way to get some discussion going. 

hot-dog-blog

For all of us who have waited through the football season… followed by the arid months of hockey & basketball only… the beginning of baseball season is a blessed time. Not just in terms of following America’s true pastime… but also the chance to sink our teeth into the world of stadium food. Speak the language… root for your team (except the Red Sox!)… and dine on some diamond vittles! Life’s too short not too!

If you have some baseball foods NOT found on the list above… PLEASE SHARE any new ones by adding a COMMENT to this blog post!

 





The Crying Game: Onion Cutting Solutions Examined

25 03 2009

In a world where we can put a camera, an internet savvy computer, a phone, a GPS device, a calendar, a clock, a filing cabinet, a TV, a video monitor, a dictionary, entire music libraries, and much more … all into a single handheld unit smaller then a deck of cards… something’s not quite right. crying-onion

In a world where we can take a pill to stop sneezing, to stop itching, to stop smoking, to start breathing, to stop aching, to lose weight, to suppress urges, to feel happy, to feel ‘level’, to be ‘lovable’, to be more alert, and much more… something’s not quite right.

Not because a high-end cell phone is not REALLY cool… it is. Not because modern medicine has cures for almost anything… because that’s cool too. What’s not right, is that in a world with such incredible technical & scientific advances, we have such a hard time simply cutting an onion without crying.

In today’s blog I’ll explain why onions make you cry… explore the seemingly endless folk-remedies which supposedly alleviate the tears… and, unfortunately, offer the very few REAL solutions. The list of remedies I’ll put out there today are REAL suggestions… offered by folks who claim success with said advice… left for you to decide. (If you do try any and actually have success with them… PLEASE leave a comment).

WHY CUTTING AN ONION MAKES YOU CRY

Stay with me here, it won’t be too wordy and it’s not rocket science… it’s onion science. When we cut into an onion we break up cells which allow certain enzymes to react with certain amino acids which result in sulphenic acids. These acids, being unstable, create volatile gasses. When the gas reaches the eyes it once again changes states into a somewhat mild form of sulphuric acid which, although mild, can really irritate the sensitive membranes in the eyes. The body then causes your tear ducts to work overtime in an attempt to flush out the invasive irritants.

SO HOW DO WE EASE THE PAIN ?

I’ve broken down the supposed ‘remedies’ into several categories as follows:

  • The Mouth Remedies  scuba-mask
  • The Nose Remedies
  • The Eye Remedies
  • The Water Remedies
  • The Culinary Technique Remedies
  • The Location Remedies
  • The Science Remedies
  • The Wimpy Remedies
  • The Foolproof Remedies

The effectiveness scale of 1 – 10 is 1=totally ineffective & 10=works like a charm

Category Recommended Remedy Effectiveness
MOUTH Hold a tablespoon in your mouth while you cut 1
MOUTH Hang a piece of bread out of your mouth while cutting 1
MOUTH Only breathe with your mouth while cutting 2
MOUTH Clench an unlit wooden match between your teeth while cutting 1
MOUTH Chew gum while cutting   (ineffective and lowers perceived IQ) 1
MOUTH Put a toothpick in mouth (does nothing but you’ll look cooler) 1
MOUTH Keep a slice of lemon in your mouth while cutting 1
MOUTH Suck on a mint lollipop while cutting 1
MOUTH Hold a mouthful of vinegar… cut… then swallow 1
MOUTH Hold a pencil sideways under your tongue while cutting 1
MOUTH Lick the onion first… then cut   (then don’t tell anyone else!) -2 (c’mon)
MOUTH Bite on cardboard (like you’re blotting lipstick) while cutting 1
MOUTH Chew on raw onion while cutting (Then audition for role on 24… you tough-guy) 1
MOUTH Eat sugar cubes while cutting  (brings you closer to dentist) 1
MOUTH Put the ‘sulphur’ end of match in your mouth w/out biting 1
NOSE Breathe red wine vinegar fumes prior to cutting 1
NOSE Shove some tissue paper up each nostril … then cut  (Nice!) 1
NOSE Wrap a damp cloth around mouth & nose while cutting 1
NOSE Hold your breath while cutting… leave room to take new breath 1
NOSE Stick a burnt (cool) match up your nose business end first 1
EYE Wear a scuba mask and breathe through snorkel  (Yeah) 5
EYE Squinting while cutting   (caution is in order on cutting board) 1
EYE Wear good foam sealed swimmer’s goggles while cutting 10
WATER Soak onions in ice water 2 hours before cutting 3
WATER Peel onions under running water before cutting 3
WATER Actually cut the onions under water in large baking dish 3
WATER Boil the onions for 5 minutes… cool… then cut  (nice texture!) 2
WATER Hold your wrists under cold water before cutting  (Huh?) 1
WATER Wash your hands and leave them really wet  (nice knife grip!) 1
CULINARY Use a really sharp knife… a dull knife ‘crushes’ more cells 4
CULINARY Work faster   (improve knife skills & onion cutting technique) 4
CULINARY Remove the ‘bulb’ by cutting out cone shape from root 2 (wasteful)
CULINARY Cut off the root end first, then the top, then peel, then chop 1
CULINARY Don’t cut the root end at all 2
LOCATION Sit down on a chair while cutting the onion 1
LOCATION Stick your head in the freezer every now & then while cutting 2
LOCATION Place cutting board on cold stovetop & turn on exhaust fan 2
LOCATION Cut near a lit candle or lit gas burner so flame will burn gasses 1
LOCATION Cut next to a fan blowing across your cutting board 1
SCIENCE Rub your cutting board w/ white vinegar before cutting 1
SCIENCE Lime juice on the knife blade before cutting 1
SCIENCE Leave a slice of bread near the onions as you cut them 1
SCIENCE Stick a chunk of bread on end of knife while cutting  (clumsy?) 1
WIMPY Have someone else cut the onions earlier in the day 10
WIMPY Purchase onions that are already chopped 8 (restrictive)
FOOLPROOF Contact lenses (just plain soft lenses = ZERO crying) 10
FOOLPROOF Have someone else cut the onions earlier (wimpy but foolproof) 10
FOOLPROOF Wearing tight, foam-sealed swim goggles  (can fog up though) 10

THE RESULTS ARE IN:

While you may get some relief by employing a few of the tactics listed above… not only will you still be crying… but you could injure yourself as well.contact_lense Keep matches out of your mouth… keep your head out of the freezer… don’t lick onions before prepping them (unless you live alone and only cook for yourself and don’t mind still crying [not from loneliness, but from cutting onions] )…don’t shove tissue up your nose (it looks pathetic)… and don’t use a sharp knife with wet hands. C’MON PEOPLE!!! Here’s the bottom line: There are 3 ways to avoid shedding tears while cutting onions;

  1. Wear contact lenses
  2. Wear tight, foam-sealed swim goggles (they actually make ‘onion’ goggles but they’re just fancy swim goggles and cost twice as much)
  3. Have someone else cut your onions earlier in the day.

Please comment or contradict if you have some more REAL remedies !





Recipe Review Rules of Engagement

3 02 2009

If you’re like me… you spend lots of time exploring the multitude of recipes that reside on the web. On a continuous quest for the perfect Creole spice mix… or the best way to capture authentic taste of Puerto Rico in an Arroz con Pollo production. Whatever you search for, you can find a seemingly endless amount of postings… on a seemingly endless number of food sites. One of the potentially best features of many of these sites are the ‘recipe reviews’ that we… the ‘willing to try the recipe’ public… post after actually preparing the posted recipes. Unfortunately, this feature has yet to reach its full potential.

Here is the main idea of today’s post; When you review a recipe online… rate it as ‘great’… rate it as ‘hideous’… rate it as ‘pretty good’… but DO NOT rewrite the recipe in the review. I’ll give you an example. Let’s take a hypothetical food site… say… epicourteous.com. (don’t try to go there!). You find a recipe called: Beginners Vegetable Soup. Let’s say this simple recipe looks like this…

INGREDIENTS:    (please don’t try this recipe… it is for illustration only!)

  • 1 med  yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 med  carrots, diced
  • 2 stalk  celery, diced
  • 1 Tbl    olive oil
  • 4 cups  chicken stock
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  •    salt & pepper to taste

METHOD:

  1. heat oil in pan over medium high heat
  2. add all vegetables and saute until onions are translucent
  3. add chicken stock & bay leaf… bring to boil… reduce to simmer
  4. simmer for 30 minutes… taste… adjust seasoning w/ salt & pepper

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: serve hot in a bowl w/ crackers on the side

What happens next often goes something like this…

You notice that the recipe has received 4 FORKS at attention in the epicourteous.com community with 49 reviews. You click on the ‘reviews’ TAB and up comes a column of reviews (or rewrites as the case may be). Here is the 1st review:

4_forks This recipe (Beginners Vegetable Soup) was absolutely fantastic. It was simple to make, yet complex in flavor nuances. I made this with my 8 year old daughter and she enjoyed learning how to make a great soup. I made a few changes that really ‘kicked it up’ too. Instead of yellow onions I used turnips. I eliminated carrots and used sweet potatoes to replace the missing color. Celery doesn’t agree with my husband so I replaced it with zucchini. We’re vegetarian too… so I swapped vegetable broth for the chicken stock. I didn’t have any olive oil ($$$) on hand so I used canola oil (I think it tastes smoother anyway). My daughter thought that adding a leaf to the soup was gross so we used some Lawry’s Seasoned Salt instead. Since we had added the Lawry’s we really didn’t need to adjust the seasonings at all… it was perfect!  I would definitely make this soup again!  (Oh… and It didn’t even repeat on my husband!)

     Margaret214 from the Delaware area    on 2/2/09

I may be exaggerating a bit… but I’m not making this stuff up! It’s a little bizzare don’t you think. I would be annoyed if it didn’t somehow remind me of a twisted version of the Stone Soup story.  The coolest part is that she’ll MAKE IT AGAIN!

(please remember that today’s blog is fiction… and not based on any real people)

Feel free to join the discussion by jumping into the comments.





Isn’t SOUP the Ultimate Comfort Food?

2 02 2009

soup1In observing most polls & lists of Top 10 COMFORT foods, it appears that Mac & Cheese, Ice Cream, Grilled-Cheese Sandwiches, Mashed Potatoes, and Chocolate seem to always be ahead of any SOUP on the list. The highest rated soups (though almost always below the aforementioned comfort foods) seem to be Chicken Noodle, Tomato, and… if I may be so bold… Chili… which, while technically not a soup, finds itself at home under the ‘soup umbrella’ in my book.

Here are the questions;

  • Who among us does not have a primal need for a piping hot bowl of soup on a blustery winter day?
  • Who among us has not been overwhelmed with the need for a bowl of hot chicken soup (noodles or otherwise) when sidelined w/ a cold or flu?
  • Do you not long for soup in the aftermath of dental work?
  • If you’re looking for a lunch that’s not-too-heavy… yet filling… is not the choice obvious?
  • Who doesn’t love those round white cardboard pint containers filled w/ hot soup TO GO… and Split Pea written in Sharpie on the top?

I don’t disagree with many of the standard comfort food choices; spaghetti, tuna-noodle casserole, meatloaf, p,b & j, fried chicken, and (in my case personally) chicken and dumplings. My contention is however… while all these foods are comforting to many of us some of the time… isn’t soup comforting to ALL of us MOST of the time. I contend that SOUP should be at the TOP of the list in all flavors!

Care to jump in to confirm soup’s ULTIMATE status… or to offer some opinion to the contrary? Please feel free to comment… and get the discussion going.





How elaborate should Superbowl food be?

1 02 2009

Your having friends over to watch the BIG GAME. You may, or may not, have any vested interest in either team playing… but it’s an event nevertheless. There’s the gazillion dollar advertisements… many of which are quite memorable and worthy of a celebration. Who doesn’t enjoy infants who can trade stock online… while chatting-up the neighbor babies on their cell phones or spitting-up? This is classic stuff.  So the question is…

Should the food you make for the Superbowl reflect a celebration of LIFE… where no food is off-limits…or be true to the game… and represent classic renditions of gridiron edibles? 

Superbowl FOOD possibilities looked at from both schools of thought:

Celebration of LIFE                             True to the GAME

Blue Corn Crusted Scrod                         Hot Wings w/ Blue Cheese & celery

Duck Confit w/ Avocado Foam                DeepDish Pizza w/ Pepperoni

Steak Tartare w/ Poached Egg                Bratwurst on a roll w/ Deli mustard

Blood Orange Mimosa Cocktails               something w/ Drinkability

duck-confit          bratwurst

For me it’s an easy call… TRUE to the GAME. That doesn’t mean you can’t work up a high-end Wing recipe… homemade blue cheese dressing… or fly in the nation’s best Brats from Wisconsin to treat your friends to.  Make your own deep dish pizza w/ imported pepperoni. That still honors tradition… it’s still football food . While there’s lots of fun in fancy food… your Superbowl party is not the right time. To which side of this debate do you lean? Just how elaborate is TOO elaborate? Please share your comments.





Shrimp Crusted Baked Haddock to share…

29 01 2009

Everyone’s being told to eat more fish these days. The health benefits seem clear, however, not everyone really likes fish all that much. They turn their noses at the ‘fishy’ smell of stronger fish and tend to avoid ordering it out or buying it fresh at the market.  I know lots of folks who ‘don’t like fish’ but somehow enjoy fish & chips. Granted crispy fried beer batter can make cardboard taste pretty good… dip that in tartar sauce (or malt vinegar for the purist) and you’re not complaining about eating fish. In fact, the batter and sauce dominates the really mild taste of the beautiful cod or haddock inside. Let me share a recipe for SHRIMP CRUSTED BAKED HADDOCK that gets even non-fish-eaters wanting more. They’re not challenged by a ‘fishy’ fish… but rather presented w/ a tender, white, meaty fish with a delicious shrimp sauce and flavorful panko crump crust. Let me know if you try this recipe. I’ve attached a video of the preparation of this recipe, as well as the actual recipe. Enjoy.

RECIPE

RECIPE

Shrimp Crusted Baked Haddock

Shrimp Crusted Baked Haddock





Topics to Discuss… FAVORITE FOOD QUOTES

28 01 2009

 

I thought I would get some discussion started with a few quotes about soup and dining. Please share your thoughts and any favorite food quotes as you see fit.

“Good soup is like a comfortable pair of shoes… You say “AHHHH!” when you experience both.”
2009 Chef Robert Seibert SUPPERMAN Personal Chef Service

“…it is the duty of every housekeeper to learn the art of soup making.”
1918 Fannie Farmer The Boston Cooking School Cookbook

“…but in eating soup he must dip his spoon away from him—turning the outer rim of the bowl down as he does so—fill the bowl not more than three-quarters full and sip it, without noise, out of the side (not the end) of the bowl.”
1922 Emily Post The Kindergarten of Etiquette

“Well, dinner would have been splendid…if the wine had been as cold as the soup, the beef as rare as the service, the brandy as old as the fish, and the maid as willing as the Duchess.”
Sir Winston Churchill

“I went on a diet, swore off drinking and heavy eating, and in 14 days I lost two weeks.”
Joe E. Lewis American Comic 1902-1971