2023 Week 7 – Lock-n-Load
Feb 27, 2023 – I just realized this post was still sitting in the Drafts folder!
The last two posts have had a lot of food content in them so I’ll start this one with just one piece of food news. According to Eater, In-N-Out is expanding eastward and opening up an office outside of Nashville, TN to oversee “expansion”. My son & I tried In-N-Out on a trip out west several years ago and while we both enjoyed it, we liked Del Taco better.
Given all thats going on in the world these days, I found it very interesting an Air Force General sent his troops a memo telling them to get prepared to go to war with China in 2025.
“I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me will fight in 2025,”Gen. Mike Minihan in a memo sent to the officers he commands and obtained by NBC News.
Gen. Minihan feels the upcoming 2024 elections are going to be a distraction where China will invate Tawain & provoke a war. I sure hope he’s wrong!
Here’s a link to a fun video about Keystone at the Crossing, the Fashion Mall at Keystone and the Bazaar (YouTube would not let me embed it into the post). The facility was opened prior to the completion of final leg of 465 in October, 1970 between Keystone and Shadeland Avenues. You can (kind of) see the 465 construction in the background of the arial shots. I visited it before it’s demolition in 1986 and only remember the wood paneling and the stairs everywhere (so many stairs)… Evidently the mall even had a Disco called Lucifer’s.
And finally… Speaking of history, it’s been 20 years since Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart during re-entry creating the largest crash site ever on record. The following is a very well produced video shoing what happpened.
2023 Week 6 – The Big Game
It’s finally here! After all the hype, today is Super Bowl Sunday! The Chiefs & Eagles kick off at 6:30 pm in what will, hopefully, be a close-fought game decided in the final seconds of regular time. Or it’ll be a blowout, and the only entertainment will be the commercials that cost an estimated $7 million for 30 seconds.
I don’t know what’s happening, but I’m finding a lot of new foods these days. Maybe the boredom of eating the same things over the winter has me unconsciously searching for new things. Sporked had a Cheese Puff Taste Test in October 2022, and I just happened to find one of the top-ranked contenders at Menards last weekend.
Herr’s Jalapeño Popper Cheese Curls tied for first place with Fresh Finds Cheese Puffs in the competition, and as I cruised through the food section, I spotted the bag in all its 17oz glory Of course, 17 ounces of cheese puffs is a BIG bag. We’re still snacking on it two weeks later.
The Herr’s Jalapeño Popper Cheese Curls are mildly spicy and delicious. Be sure to have a few extra napkins handy, as these will get cheese dust on your fingers just by looking at them.
I mentioned previously I’m not much of a breakfast person. We’re called “Intermittent Fasters” by those in the know. Who knew that skipping breakfast would be a trendy thing?
Over the winter, after a riveting episode of Below Deck, we turned on an older episode of Shark Tank that featured a segment on overnight oats from a company called Mush.
I’ve purchased a few containers, and so far, the Apple Cinnamon is my favorite, with blueberry being a close second. The texture is slightly chewy, and the non-dairy milk is refreshing and light. This is something I could see myself eating pretty regularly and breaking my fast well before noon on some days.
My local Kroger only carries a limited selection of flavors. Luckily Whole Foods downtown has all the flavors, including Peach and strawberry. I’m looking forward to picking some of those up when I get my next lunch salad.
And finally… If you still have Netflix, you should check out a 4-part series called “Cunk on Earth,” where Philomena Cunk puts the worlds leading experts on edge with her hilarious questions about historical events. You have to pay attention because the humor can sometimes be subtle, but it’s very funny nonetheless.
2023 Week 5 – Peek-a-Boo!
Pretty quiet week if you don’t count the Chinese “weather” balloon that made its way across the continental U.S. It’s reported that the balloon had some remote control abilities and happened to float over some sensitive military installations. After clearing the eastern seaboard, a U.S. fighter jet shot down the balloon off the coast of Myrtle Beach.
In food news, we made a few discoveries this week. While picking up a salad at Whole Foods, a young lady was at a display stand sampling Soy Sauce, and Chili Crisp made in Cincinnati. After tasting a little of the soy sauce on a veggie sushi roll, I bought a bottle (it’s delicious!).
CinSoy Foods makes several foods, including Tofu, Soy Sauce, Soy Salt, and Make at Home Miso Kits. I’m looking forward to trying their Soy Sauce in a few upcoming recipes.
If you’re craving Lasagna but don’t have the time or energy to make a big batch, I highly recommend the Giovanni Rana brand. It’s located in the refrigerated section at Kroger. The Meat Lasagna I picked up looked and tasted homemade. The package is vacuum sealed and has about a 3-week shelf life in the refrigerator before consuming or freezing it. I can’t see this lasting more than three days in my fridge. Giovanni Rana also has a line of fresh pasta and sauces.
And last but not least, RXBar added a new variation to its line of Protein Bars. The A.M. RXBar mixes in Oats to give the product a little more flavor and soften up the texture of the traditional RXBar. After sampling the Honey, Cinnamon, and Peanut Butter flavor, I immediately ordered a 12-pack from Amazon (for around $20). These have been my go-to light breakfast on mornings when I need something to hold me over until lunch.
And finally… The Economics Of Unused Gift Cards. The Hustle posted a video on YouTube about how companies make money on Gift Cards. I was surprised to learn Indiana is one of the states that allows maintenance fees to be collected after a period of time that will eventually render gift cards worthless.
2023 Week 3 – Sorry, Have a Salad and Warm Up
Sorry about those warm weather comments last week. I feel responsible for the snow we have now and, and the snow we’re supposed to get this week. Mea culpa.
Are people still into the Zodiac Sign thing? I hadn’t heard anyone mention Signs for a long time, then I ran across an article on Eat This, Not That. Your Favorite Fast Food Chain According To Your Zodiac Sign tries to match you, your sign, and the fast food chain you’re destined to become in another life. Mine was shockingly accurate, so maybe there’s something to all this!
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.
2023 Week 2 – 4% and Climbing
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.
2023 Week 1 – Happy New Year!
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.
2022-Week 53 – Year in Review
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.
Food in 2022
- Week 5 – Cast Iron Pan Pizza
- Week 6 – Fitzgerald’s Lunch House
- Week 8 – Triton Brewing Company
- Week 13 – Pig Candy BBQ in Cincinnati, OH
- Week 16 – Schnitzelbank in Jasper, IN
- Week 17 – Schwartz Family Restaurant in Eckerty, IN
- Week 24 – Biebs & Ash in Goshen, IN
- Week 25 – Blue Ash Chili in Cincinnati, OH
- Week 26 – The AMP, Turchetti’s Delicatessen, and Wild Ginger
Tech in 2022
- Week 5 – Bose QC45 Headphones
- Week 27 – iPhone 13 Pro
- Week 28 – KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker
- Week 30 – Roomba i7+ Robot Vacuum
- Week 32 – MX Keys keyboard
- Week 46 – LG Ultra-Wide Monitor
Travel in 2022
- Week 14 – Gazelle T4 Hub Tent
- Week 16 – Southern Indiana Roadtrip
- Week 25 – Jungle Jim’s – Cincinnati
- Week 40 – Leadership Exchange in Nashville, TN
Fun in 2022
- Week 2 – Don’t Look Up movie
- Week 9 – Logitech MX Master 3
- Week 11 – Microsoft Flight Simulator on X-Box
- Week 34 – Indiana Sports Corp Corporate Challenge
- Week 44 – Camping at Hardin Ridge
What’s in store for 2023?
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!
King Ranch Chicken Casserole
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.