Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lucy is Juicy

The inverted cheeseburger

There are two bars in Minneapolis, MN that have squabbled since the dishes debut as to who originated the Juicy Lucy or Jucy Lucy. Which bar you believe depends on which bar, the 5-8 club or Mat's Bar one frequents. The story goes a man walks into a bar and wants a Juicy Lucy. When asked what the hell a Juicy Lucy is, he says two patties of meat molded together with the cheese inside – and so the Juicy Lucy, Jucy Lucy was born and the feud between “Jucy” Matt's Bar and “Juicy” 5-8 club began.

I suspect a child invented the original Juicy Lucy. Kids love to experiment with food, especially jamming different types together, starting with the ubiquitous peanut butter sandwich. I remember the entire lunchroom in grade school smelled of peanut butter. Only natural a kid would look at two burgers and cheese and wonder what would happen if you jammed the cheese in between two pieces of meat. My curiosity was piqued as a child after my folks brought home frozen “Joe's” pizza burgers for my brother and I for dinner while they went out to eat decent food at a restaurant. What else could one hide inside that beefy cheesy delicacy?

In the end it doesn't make any difference who came up with the idea first or who has the original, it is easy to bring this delight to your very own kitchen. It is so simple a chimp could do it, but make sure her washes his hands before you let him touch the meat. I like to use the forbidden hamburger meat – the stuff that is 86%, meaning lots of fat. Hey we're going to stick a huge hunk of sharp cheddar cheese in between two patties creating an enormous hunk of meat, so this isn't a diet dish to begin with. I suspect that eating them now and again won;t hurt anything, living on them would bring on Arterial blockage and make the heart go on strike in short order. The fatty burger sticks together better so I use it.

Place one patty* down on a flat (and preferably clean) surface. Place a thick slice of the cheese of your choice in the middle, ensuring there is plenty of burger around the edges, and gently press it into the meat. Then mold the patties together to from a cheese tight seal (like water tight, only with cheese). Some cheese will inevitably leak out a bit, but calm down – we'll all live. I use a cast iron grill pan, but tossing them on a the grill outside and introducing some nice hickory smoke would be the icing on the cake. I salt (Kosher) and pepper (fresh ground) the side facing up and do the same to the side now cooking when it is time to flip. When finished, slap them on a bun and decorate to taste and there you go.

Don't be afraid to hide other treats in the Lucy. Sauteed mushrooms, bacon, pepperjack and Jalapenos, and pizza sauce with provolone come to mind almost immediately. All right, now I am hungry after all this food talk so it's back into the kitchen for me – meanwhile you all enjoy!!

* If you don't know how to make a hamburger patty, sue your parents for neglecting to pass on the necessary life skills and use the money to check into the home for the terminally stupid.

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Life and times of a restaurant reviewer

Reviewing places to eat is kind of tough, I mean it all boils down to taste and as we know taste I is subjective. Even beyond one persons take on a type of food are the likes and dislike. For instance I hate meatloaf, beets, and lima beans. There are others, however, for whatever reason that really love those foods. Overcoming my prejudices is tough. The joint may have the world's best meatloaf, but I'd never know. To be honest I will eat the foods I mentioned, but would rather not. Anybody how has seen me in person knows I am not a finicky eater.

Then we get down to the finer point, my taste versus others. I like my food very spicy – the hotter the better. I could go into a restaurant and try their food and to me it would be rather bland, but to others it might be just right. The Red Robin restaurant for instance serves what they call an “Angry Burger” with pepperjack cheese and jalapenos. I tried one and found that while it was fine for all the little girls in the joint, there was nothing angry about it. If I pan the burger some readers would think I was crazy.

The final problem lies in the fact with limited resources (AKA money) and appetite I generally only sample one dish. In truth I may not have gotten the best thing on the menu, though I do try to ask for the dive's specialty. There is a small Mexican restaurant near here and I tried their taco rolls, which turned out to be deep fried pieces of crap. There specialty was Carne Asada, that may have been all right, one never knows.

The bottom line is to use reviews as a guideline and bear in mind that the reviewer may have some food prejudices, have different tastes, and has only sampled a bit of the restaurant's fare. Use several reviews to get a better idea but in the end one has to try it for him or herself to be sure.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Art of the snapshot

The snapshot, usually taken with a simple camera, gives the viewer a millisecond thick slice of a person, place, event, or scene out of every day life. It is a raw, from the hip picture, that shows life as it was just as the shutter clicked. There's no going back in with software to tamper or add elements – if the ex shows up in the picture the photo has to be torn to remove him or her. The art is in the reality and the unassuming candidness of the picture.

Most were meant to be just memories of an important person, or remarkable moment in life. Generally stuck in albums with stick-on photo corners, placed on a shelf and forgotten, or at best to be reviewed during reunions. Aunt Martha may have been an ugly old cow with the personality of a wood chipper, but the spontaneity of the shot and the fact she's there frozen in time is where the art is apparent.

The snapshot is an accessible art, anyone can create one, especially since the advent of the camera phone. Some photographers are better than others, carefully framing so as not to cut heads off, a sense of design so the picture is pleasing, but all being said and done each shot has it's own merits, some value at least to the person pressing the shutter release.

Back in the day long periods of time elapsed between the click and the pic, there were still pictures on the camera, so the film wasn't dropped off to be developed, followed by the wait for the finished prints to show up at the drug store to be picked up – oh the anticipation. Not all the snapshots were keepers – a nice photo of the photographers thumb case in point. But many were (and are) time locked in a small gem.

The best advice is to shoot away and damn the garbage cans in the shot. Shoot form the hip and take the bad with the good, there’s no expensive film involved in today’s photography. Fill up the memory card until bursting and slap in another one, shoot 'til the battery is dry and take them as they come. True there'll be some clinkers and the folks at the reunion may tire of the constant camera in their faces, but keep shooting and the reward will come in the end.  

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Ever since Lipps Inc. released the song “Funkytown” in 1980, philosophers, Disco Historians, and groovemeisters have been searching for the location of the mythical town. It couldn't be Minneapolis, the city where the song was recorded, because the song clearly indicates the seeker of funk “Gotta make a move to a town that's right for me,” and later repeats the mantra “Gotta move on, gotta move on.” Besides Minneapolis, though a nice city, is colder the the frosted edges of Eskimo hell in winter -- tough to groove when you're frozen solid.

Some postulate Funkytown never existed, but rather is a state of mind, but then why move? Others believe Funkytown was the East side of Atlantis, and slid beneath the waves long ago. Unfortunately Disco died before the exact location could be found. The song gives no clues, only that the the singer wished to go where he/she could move and groove with some energy. Three Mile Island had energy, but wasn't a groovy place to go, Russia was still the commie infested land of no fun of any kind, so those locations are out. Washington DC is full of oily politicians (hard to believe a pack of tax fed hyenas can get their groove on), down South they only have both kinds of music, Country and Western so that's out.

Funkologists have started a dig outside Detroit, and after making it past a layer of rusted out hubcaps, discarded medical supplies, sand spent balloons of coke have found some promising evidence that the Motor City might have been the seat of Funkytown. Several deteriorated record labels were unearthed that indicate that there was some funk going on. The only completely readable label was entitled “Super Freak.” In a way it makes sense as the city was the center for Motown, another music phenomena that has survived long after Disco was relegated to You Tube. An interesting find, but hardly concrete proof that anyone was moving and grooving.

The search continues, even though video has killed the radio star, there is hope in the hearts of the funky and town less that they will soon find the legendary town. Until then they'll keep movin' on...