Tonight we’ll find out who’s going to Super Bowl LVII. The 49ers and Eagles start the action at 3 pm with the Bengals and Chiefs playing the second game at 6:30 pm. I’m predicting the Bengals and Eagles are headed to the big dance on February 12, 2023. I have a $5 Draft Kings bet on each matchup today, so just a LITTLE skin in the game to make it interesting.
I took a little trip to McCordsville yesterday to revisit Trax BBQ. I had been craving smoked meat for a few weeks and decided it was time. I ordered a 2-meat platter with pulled pork and brisket. BOTH were very tender and flavorful. For sides, I picked Mac-and-Cheese and Hush Puppies. The mac was nice and cheesy and went well with the pork and beef. The hush puppies looked great but had an off taste that I’m attributing to the oil needing changed in the fryer. I mentioned it to the counter staff on my way out, so hopefully, they were able to do something about it. I decided to try their potato salad and beans on the next visit. Oh, the house-made pickles were delicious, as were the variety of sauces ranging from sweet to vinegar to mustard to hot. You’re sure to find one that hits the spot.
The meal with a fountain soda and tip came out to around $24 which is not bad for the quality of the food (not counting the hush puppies). Trax BBQ is right next to the railroad tracks in McCordsville and shares the space with Scarlet Lane Brewing. Scarlet Lane has some interesting brews. I was initially planning on having BBQ and a Beer but nothing jumped out at me so I opted for the first Diet Coke I’ve had in about 6 months (it was good).
And finally… The boys over at Jolly set the scene for the 2023 Girl Scout Cookie season. These two Brits have a very interesting show on YouTube. They traveled to the United States last year and had quite an adventure learning all about American Cuisine.
I’ve been a fan of a good salad for as long as I remember. As a kid, one of my favorite things to do when we went out for dinner was hit the salad bar (*Cough*Ponderosa*Cough*). So Many Choices! When I’m working downtown I have 3 favorite salads I rotate through.
Cluster Truck has cured my hunger too many times to count, especially during Covid, when getting lunch delivered was difficult at times. The Cluster Truck Cobb Salad has been my favorite for a long time. I’ve also watched as the delivery of this Salad has risen from $19 to almost $24 today (with a tip). It’s a little on the pricey side but when I need a big salad and only have 15 minutes to eat, it hits the spot. This salad has chopped egg, bacon, diced chicken breast, romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocado, red onion, and blue cheese. It’s normally served with a side of balsamic vinaigrette, but I substitute that for their ranch.
A newer fascination of mine is Sweet Green. Having recently been disappointed by a “salads only” shop near my office, I didn’t have high hopes for this one. Several of my co-workers had visited and all were singing the praises of Sweet Green. I finally launched the app and was immediately captivated by their Buffalo Chicken Bowl. Consisting of: blackened chicken, chopped pickles*, tomatoes, cilantro, blue cheese, za’atar breadcrumbs, shredded kale, chopped romaine, sweetgreen hot sauce, caesar dressing, this salad packs a punch. The Caesar dressing along with the hot sauce are the real standouts here. *These are a new addition and I have not tried the salad with pickles yet, but I’m looking forward to it!
Finally, when I want a solid salad, and I’m ready for a short walk, I head a few blocks east to Whole Foods Market. Often referred to as “Whole Paycheck”, you can break the bank at the salad bar because you pay by the pound. Unfortunately all the good things on the salad bar are heavy. Mixed greens, cheese, olives, marinated mushrooms, roasted mushrooms, cucumbers, roasted chicken, bell peppers, bacon bits, and ranch dressing? Yep, that’s a big boy and I’m taking it down. My salads at Whole Foods average around $20 but I usually end up not eating dinner or just snacking later in the evening. PLUS it’s a good excuse to get some fresh air and walk away from the office for 30-minutes.
BONUS SALAD: If you’re ever in the Nora area I strongly recommend you go to Big Lug and order a Willie’s Special along with a pint of whatever brewers choice is on special that day. For $20 (before tip) you get a punch-in-the-face salad and a cold beer. The Willie’s Special has mixed greens tossed in ranch, topped with a choice of hot or mild fried Nashville chicken, black bean corn salsa, diced mozzarella, guacamole, & Frito salt. I HIGHLY recommend the MILD Nashville chicken. They make the sauce in-house, so I’m told, and it’s usually hotter than a true mild. I’ve also been told “it depends who makes it”.
OK, Special Mention (can you tell I’m kind of a salad junkie?): Sahms on 116th St in Fishers (same owners as Big Lug) surprised me last Friday with a Cobb that had diced grilled chicken breast (very juicy and well seasoned), capacollo, Roma tomatoes, crisp bacon, hard-boiled eggs, avocados, scallions, crumbled bleu cheese. The Chicken was still warm, normally a problem with salads, but it was not so hot as to wilt anything so it was a nice contrast to the cold salad.
So there it is, the 5 salads I’m thinking about when I’m thinking about eating a salad. As you can see, I’m not a micro-green and light vinaigrette kind of guy. When I was dipping my toes in the Keto diet I found that these kinds of salads are more in line with Keto than the Standard American Diet (SAD). That got my attention. But as I said before, this can be my one meal of the day and I’ll be completely happy. As someone who usually skips breakfast (now called Intermittent Fasting) I’m usually not hungry for anything before 10 am and by then I just wait for lunch.
And finally… You need to be nice to our future robot overlords. My suggestion is to purchase some Boston Dynamics stock to show your support.
We’re 4% into the year, according to @year_progress on Twitter, and it’s really hard to believe how warm this winter has been. We had a cold snap around the holidays, but it should not be in the 40s in mid-January. We checked out a new restaurant this week and dug into the history of mid-century telecommunications.
Benyue (Formerly Lucky Lou) has opened in the former Houlihans at the Castleton Square mall. If you’ve visited Saraga’s original location on the west side, you might have noticed Lucky Lou next door. It’s an extremely popular Duim Sum restaurant and one of the only places to get Dim Sum in Indy.
I stopped by on a Sunday, and the place had a nice lunch crowd. The restaurant itself is quite large, and there is plenty of seating. I was immediately offered several types of hot tea ($1.50), and I chose Jasmine. It was quickly served in a pot that held a lot more than I was going to drink.
Not knowing the portions (quite generous, by the way), I ordered General Tso Chicken, BBQ Pork Steamed Buns, and Shrimp Shumai. Every dish was served hot and tasted fresh. General Tso had a lot of dried chillis, and they added a nice spicy heat to the dish. The steamed buns were light and airy with a delicious BBQ pork filling. Finally, the Shrimp Shumai were perfectly cooked and full of ground shrimp.
If you’re looking for a new place to try, I’d recommend checking out Benyue. Their menu is quite extensive, and you’re sure to find something you like.
You have most likely seen an AT&T Long Lines tower and might have even wondered what it was. In the 1950’s AT&T used these giant ratio towers with specialized “Horns” to relay telephone (and television) signals across the United States via microwave. Garrett Fuller has a great article detailing the use of the long-forgotten (and now abandoned) AT&T Long Lines system. I found the following video interesting as well.
Welcome to 2023! I hope everyone had a nice New Year’s weekend and returned to the office with a new spark, ready to tackle what 2023 has to offer. I was off work for 2 solid weeks and was ready to hit the ground running when we all came back into the office last Tuesday.
It’s official! Saraga International Grocery in Castleton is FINALLY open! The grand opening and ribbon cutting were on December 23, but we were in the middle of an artic freeze, so I’m sure the turnout was pretty light. I had an invite but decided to stay home and stay warm instead. I stopped by after Christmas for a brief walkthru, knowing I would be returning later in the week for some more serious shopping.
If you’re looking for that hard-to-find ingredient or like to try foods from other countries, this is a place you must check out. It’s no Jungle Jim’s, but it will fill the need for a lot of items I would normally drive to Cincinnati for.
I’m a slow riser in the AM & after getting a short news brief from NPR via the Alexa alarm, I like to scan the headlines before getting out of bed. There are some really good newsletters out there, and because of these, I can’t tell you the last time I sat down and watched the local news. Some of my favorites are:
Now, I don’t read all of these each morning, but I always have at least one in my inbox queued up for something to read when I have some downtime, like standing in line or waiting for my food at a restaurant. Do you have a favorite daily newsletter to share? Leave us a link in the comments!
And finally… When was the last time you watched a truck being built? It’s amazing the amount of automation in use these days, and the following video shows how they assemble the new Ford F-150 Lightning.
Where do we begin? 2022 was a wild year, full of food, tech, travel, and fun. The site stats continue to improve, with an average traffic rate of just over 5000 page views per month. Thanks for returning to read my weekly ramblings! With that, let’s go back and revisit some of the highlights from 2022.
While I can’t predict what 2023 has in store, I’m already planning several trips to new places around the US and maybe even an international trip, or two, later in the year. We’ll continue the weekly post schedule, as that seems to be doable on all but the craziest weeks. I have a lot of post ideas saved up, and I look forward to sharing what I’ve found and continuing with my thoughts and observations. Happy New Year, and we’ll see you again next week!
We all have a lot to be thankful for this year. I started a new job in June that I absolutely love, and I hope to be there for many years to come. I left the rat race that is consulting in favor of an operations position with a not-for-profit I’ve worked with for the past ten years. It was the easiest job transition I’ve ever made. One of the perks of this new job is they close the office between Christmas and New Year. So essentially, I have two weeks for R&R before getting back into the swing of things in 2023.
Delish has an article called “The Most Iconic Holiday Cookies In Every State,” I don’t know if I agree with the cookie they picked for Indiana. Still, I’ll give them credit for at least tying it back to an Indiana product essential to the ingredient list. On the other hand, they did nail Ohio with the ever-famous Buckeye (although I’d be hesitant to call it a “cookie).
The latest version of Google Chrome has a handy new feature that helps you search your Bookmarks, Open Tabs, or History simply by putting an @ in the search bar. I’m not one who usually has many tabs open, but those of you who do are sure to like this new feature!
And finally… I love a good episode of Hot Ones, where celebrities eat progressively hotter chicken wings while being interviewed by the host, Sean Evans. The End of Year episode is a good one, with none other than the Elf himself, Will Ferrell. Enjoy!
I’ll have to admit, this was a new one to me, and I wasn’t prepared to love it as much as I do. First of all, I’m not a fan of corn tortillas. I think their texture is odd, and the flavor can be overpowering. Secondly, there are not a lot of ingredients that go into this, so I was expecting something on the bland side. I was wrong…
King Ranch Chicken comes from Texas, known for BBQ and Tex-Mex. Some Texians believe this Casserole is the state’s “official casserole” if such a thing exists. All I know is it was much better than I expected, and we ate every bit of the 9×13″ dish over the course of a couple of days.
King Ranch Chicken Casserole
1 chopped green bell pepper
1 chopped onion
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups diced cooked chicken *
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can diced tomato and green chiles (Rotel works great)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
12 corn tortillas torn into 1-inch pieces
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese **
Sour Cream on the side when you serve (optional)
* I poached 2-3 chicken breasts in chicken broth and heavily seasoned it with Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning. Bring to a low boil and simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes, or until an internal temperature of at least 165 F. Let cool for another 30 minutes in the cooking liquid (off heat), then dice into bite-sized chunks.
** You can use more cheese; I certainly did.
Preheat oven to 350 F and adjust one of your racks to the middle of the oven.
Over medium-high heat, sauté bell pepper and onion in a large skillet for 5-7 minutes. Make sure your skillet can contain all the ingredients listed above (bigger is better here).
Add diced chicken, Cream of Chicken and Mushroom soups, Rotel, and all the seasonings. Mix well and heat through on medium-low heat.
Lightly grease a 9×13″ casserole dish and add 1/3 of the torn corn tortillas to cover the bottom. Add 1/3 of the chicken mixture and spread evenly. Top with 1/3 of the cheese.
Repeat 2 more times until you have used all the ingredients. This is where you can add more cheese or even a different cheese, like parmesan, if you prefer.
Bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes.
Serve with a small side of Sour Cream if you’re feeling adventurous.
This casserole reheats well in the microwave, and it should freeze well if you don’t eat it all in a couple of days. The corn tortillas really added to this dish; without them, the flavor wouldn’t be nearly as good. Some alternate ingredients are jalapeno peppers, fresh garlic, and more bell pepper.
What’s your favorite casserole? Share a link in the comments.
WOW, what a game. I just finished watching the World Cup finale between Argentina and France, and it was one of the best games of the event. I had a $1 bet on Team USA to go all the way, and that would have paid $175 (kind of like playing the lottery). All in all, it was a good World cup with the typical upsets. Unfortunately, we lost an American reported under suspicious circumstances.
I was planning on recommending an inexpensive last-minute gift or stocking stuffer, as I highly recommend the Leatherman Micra, which usually costs $20-30. I’ve carried one for the past 15+ years and use it regularly. I say planning to recommend it because when I went to post a link to it on Amazon, it’s now retailing for $66! This is crazy, and I can only imagine it’s due to the holiday demand.
Leatherman has it listed on their site for a more respectable $35, but it may not make it to you by Christmas. If you’re out and about, I’ve seen the Micra in Big Box and local hardware stores closer to the $25 retail price.
I love maps. They come in all shapes and sizes, and they do way more than tell you where you are. In fact, there are maps that explain all kinds of facts like this… “How many countries other than the United States do not use the metric system?” Two!
100 Amazing Maps of the World is an interesting site with a lot of great maps. I particularly like the map showing all of the rivers that flow into the Mississippi river.
And finally… What do you get when you take an 862HP Subaru Wagon, strap Travis Pastrana in the driver’s seat, and turn him loose on the streets of Florida? You get Gymkhana 2022. Pay special attention for a guest appearance by Cleetus McFarland.
About the only thing good about Winter is it gives me more time to read. I happened to catch a Joe Rogan clip on YouTube about Operation Paperclip (OP) with author Annie Jacobsen who wrote a book under the same name. As a history buff, I’m really enjoying the book and the details of OP are quite incredible.
Operation Paperclip was a secret United States intelligence program in which more than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians were taken from the former Nazi Germany to the U.S. for government employment after the end of World War II in Europe, between 1945 and 1959.
Here we go again… Real ID Deadline for Domestic Fliers is Extended. Again. In 2005, in response to the September 11 attacks, the US Government decided travelers needed to have more identification than an easily forged driver’s license. May, 2023 was the latest deadline but it’s been pushed out 2 more years because we’re still not ready to implement it. This is embarrassing, to say the least. It’s been 17 years!
And finally… What does your pet do when you leave the house? This pet owner strapped a GoPro to his Lab and left him alone for the first time.
It’s December & the year is coming to a close. I’m fortunate to work for a company that closes over the Christmas holiday, and I’m looking forward to 3 weeks of time off before I hit the ground running in 2023. I’m already counting the days until we get back to warmer weather so I can get back out and do more camping. I noticed today when looking at the calendar & there are 53 weeks in 2022 (because Jan 1, 2022, was on a Saturday), so we’ll have to do our year-end recap that week.
If you’ve left the house in the past 3 years you’ve no doubt seen and used a QR Code, most likely in a restaurant, to access a digital menu. QR Codes have been around for years, but it took a pandemic to make them mainstream (like video calls). But How do QR Codes Work? Review Geek has the details. Pro Tip, if you want to generate a QR Code to make it easier for guests to join your wireless network, check this site out.
And finally… Is real Parmigiano Reggiano actually worth the high price? Ethan Chlebowski breaks it down so you can make up your mind (TLDR, It IS!).
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