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!).
It’s time for the 2022 Devour Indy Summerfest to begin on August 22 and run until September 4, 2022. Over 100 participating restaurants will have three-course, value-priced menus available. While not a huge savings from the standard menu prices, it’s a chance to save a few bucks and maybe check out a new place. Be sure to make reservations if you can because this event attracts a lot of attention.
Wired magazine had a great review of The Best Laptop Backpacks for Work (and Life), and it sent me down the rabbit hole of Tom Bihn bags. I used to carry a backpack with my work gear in it for years after using a messenger bag for as long as I can remember. I’ve since switched back to the messenger bag but find it a little limiting and uncomfortable to carry for long periods.
After a little YouTube research, I placed an order for a Tom Bihn Synic 30 with a Grey shell and yellow liner. It was NOT a cheap bag, but if it lives up to the hype, it might be the last bag I’ll ever need. I’ll report back in a few weeks after I get it in hand and have time to put it through its paces.
Last weekend was the 2022 Indiana Sports Corp Corporate Challenge. As a consultant, I could never participate with my clients, and my company never participated (engineering nerds). With over 4000 people in attendance, it was a HUGE event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). The map they gave us before the event made it look like it was just going to take up a small part of the IMS infield, but it actually took up at least 50%. The best way to describe the event is a giant Field Day for adults. It would be great if they held it on a Friday and had some events go into the night, but they typically do it on Saturday mornings. Events include:
- 5K Run
- 10K Run
- Basketball Shootout
- Cornhole Tournament
- Cycling Time Trial
- Football Toss
- Frisbee Toss
- Home Run Derby
- Team Obstacle Relay
- Total Body Fitness
- and lots more…
As you can see, they have something for just about everyone, and it’s a nice way to compete against friends at participating companies. I ran into several people I knew from around the Indianapolis area and had a lot of fun competing for points with my coworkers.
MacMost posted a video a while ago showing several ways to Search for Photos on your Mac. Some good stuff in this video that you’re sure to learn something new.
Although I’m no longer employed in tech, I’m still a tinkerer. So when the latest Beta versions of the next Apple operating system became available to the public, I was already in line & ready to download. Furthermore, since my Mac is no longer my work machine (I moved to Windows 11 on a smoking fast HP Z-Book in June), I can play around with the beta software and not be too impacted if I encounter a bug or two.
This was the case this morning when I encountered an issue when I pressed the Alt-Tab key to switch to another app. It just didn’t work. I was scratching my head & immediately thought something was wrong with my new MX Keys keyboard. After some troubleshooting, I realized I had a 3rd party app that makes the Alt-Tab command on the Mac work better (it shows minimized windows). Unfortunately, it was crashing with the latest macOS beta. After a brief search on Reddit, I discovered I wasn’t alone. After I disabled the app, all was well again in the Alt-Tab world (but I was missing the features the utility provided).
Such is life when you test Beta software. You’ll encounter little bugs along the way, but you also get to see some of the latest and greatest features before the general public. You also need the patience to work on figuring out issues as they pop up.
If you’ve put fuel in your vehicle this summer, you might disagree with the following article, but in the big scheme of things, the U.S. has some inexpensive gasoline prices compared with the rest of the world. Nowhere as cheap as $0.20 a gallon in Iran but less than the $8.50 a gallon price in the U.K. The Hustle Issue #220 had an interesting article titled “Why gas is actually cheap in America.” The section detailing traffic deaths based on fuel price was fascinating, in my opinion too.
And finally, it’s time to get a little nerdy and discuss the differences between what we in the U.S. call vegetables vs. what they’re called in the U.K. True Food T.V. has a fun video explaining it all.
I’ve only used delivery services like GrubHub and Uber Eats a few times and was disappointed each time due to lukewarm food, ridiculous fees, and price markups. They are nothing like the excellent, albeit limited, service you get from ClusterTruck. I’m super fortunate to be able to order from ClusterTruck from home and the office downtown. Out of 50+ orders, I’ve only had one issue: they delivered my food to the wrong location. However, they re-did the order and credited my account as soon as I reached out. That’s great customer service!
Amazon Prime members can now get 12 months of GrubHub+ for free! GrubHub+ is usually $10 a month and gets you $0 delivery fees applicable on orders with a $12+ subtotal (before tax, tip, and fees). After signing up, I looked at the restaurants on the GrubHub app and found quite a few I didn’t recognize in the area. After a little Google Maps searching, I discovered all the “new” places were Ghost Kitchens inside existing restaurants. Evidently, this is quite common & Chuckie Cheese is even in on the action with their Pasqually’s Pizza listing. It’s worth doing a little research if you’re unsure of the pace you’re ordering from.
If you’re a subscriber to Apple News+ and a foodie, you might have noticed Cooks Illustrated (CI) is now available to read on the service. CI is one of those magazines I subscribed to for years. It always seemed pretty skinny with no ads, but it’s actually fat with content. It features articles from the Americas Test Kitchen and Cooks Country staff (shows you can find on PBS’s “Create” sub-channel), product reviews, and some fantastic seasonal recipes. So if you’re looking for an unpretentious cooking magazine, this is the one to check out! Apple news replaced the Texture App, and I was a little unsure about that at first, but it’d turned out to be a better platform with a LOT more content, all for $10 a month. I can’t tell you the last time I read a physical magazine (except for Consumers Reports which I get as a yearly subscription from my father).
And finally… You can’t escape it. The Chicken Sandwich is one of the top-selling items at America’s fast food restaurants. And with good reason, they’re delicious! CNBC had an interesting piece about How Chicken Became an American Obsession.
Shorter post this week as I have a lot going on these days. I’m planning a trip to Toronto in the next couple of months and the Canadian entry requirements seem to be a moving target. As of last week, Canada now requires you to get pre-approved with an app called ArriveCAN. Hopefully, nothing else changes prior to my visit. I’m holding off on making actual reservations until the trip gets closer, just in case they lock things down again.
Have you tried ClusterTruck yet? Chris Baggott, formerly of Exact target, and founder of ClusterTruck, and Tyner Pond Farms, is on to something. In my opinion, he’s completely changed the delivery industry and has reliably, and deliciously, fed me for the past several years while working in Downtown Indianapolis.
The key to ClusterTruck’s success is technology. In a nutshell, they don’t start making the food until they know they have a driver ready to pick it up as soon as it’s done cooking. This results in hot and fresh food every time. In fact, the only issue I’ve had out of the approximately 100 orders was a Cuban sandwich that they forgot to press. It was still hot though! The delivery radius is small but they have kitchens scattered around Central Indiana and Columbus, Ohio. I’m fortunate to be in the delivery area of one of them just about every day.
If you’re curious, you can use my referral code and get a discount on your first order (Full disclosure, I get a $5 credit on my account too).
And finally, Gastro Obscura had an interesting video titled A Legacy of Wine in Cincinnati that details the history of winemaking in the Cincinnati region.
Kate MacDonald is on a mission to make wine that connects to its place, and that’s just what she’s done with Skeleton Root. This winery was created to resurrect American heritage grape varieties that filled her hometown of Cincinnati in the mid-1800s, starting with the wines that put America on the map: dry still white Catawba and Catawba bubbly.Gastro Obscura
Welcome back to part-2 of the first camping trip of 2022. Last week we continued south in search of some famous pretzels after both Disc Golf courses we planned to play were too wet…
Tell City is an interesting little river town. However, if you follow the traffic pattern (towards the Ohio River Bridge), you’ll miss the best part of the town, the downtown area. I’d estimate 95% of the traffic traveling on Indiana 66 (The Ohio River Scenic Byway) bypasses Mainstreet and misses a nice part of this little city. Many shops, restaurants, and other locally owned businesses line the 1.5-mile stretch.
I was here for the Tell City Pretzels only to find out they had moved the retail location to the back of a clothing store called “Logos/Scrub Corner.” This must have been a recent move, as Google Maps was still showing the old location (the official website is up to date, though). While cruising Main Street, I spotted a little Bakery and stopped in to check it out. Since it was later in the day, the items had been picked over, but I walked out with a Blueberry Scone and a piece of Coffee Cake with an espresso crumble on top.
Time to head up the road and set up camp. The morning started out clear, but the clouds were building as the day progressed.
Check-in at Indian-Celina is always a smooth process. Of course, it helps to have a reservation, and I always make one to get the spots I like. Firewood is $1 cheaper ($7 a bundle) than years past, so I grabbed 3 to ensure I’d have enough for the evening. The plan was to sit around the fire, enjoy a few pints of my favorite Sun King beer (Orange Vanilla Cream Ale), set up the Short Wave radio, or watch a movie on the iPad Pro.
This trip was the first one where I got to test out the new Gazelle T4 tent. To say this is an upgrade is an understatement. While I loved my previous tent, the Gazelle offers so much more room, and it totally changes the camping experience. There are tradeoffs, though. The T4 is BIG, and it’s HEAVY, but the setup time is only a few minutes, thanks to its hub design. That extra space came in handy as I started to get alerts from Dark Sky about rain in the area. Yep, the weather had turned…
Throughout the week, the weather was showing clear and warm, with a high in the low 70s and a low of 50-degrees. That’s just about perfect camping weather if you ask me. The temps held but the sky decided to open up just in time for dinner. Luckily it was not heavy rain, but it was enough to require shelter well into the early hours. So, after setup and loading everything into the tent to keep it dry, I set off for the local family diner to grab some dinner.
Amish Style food will fill you up. It’s carb and meat-heavy and always has several sweet dessert options. The Schwartz Family Restaurant in Eckerty, IN, is no exception. I’ve passed this place on my way to the campsite several times, but this trip was my first time visiting. You have to be careful about time in this part of Indiana. The campground is in Central Time (Perry County), and the restaurant (Crawford County) is in Eastern Time. I’m glad I left when I did because the restaurant closes at 8 pm and I arrived after 7 pm. The cafeteria-style establishment is VERY clean, and you can tell it’s a favorite of the locals. It’s one of the few places to eat in the area, so they have little competition.
Friday night was Fish night, but I chose the Chicken Tender dinner (meat & 2 sides for $14.99). While they had several pieces of chicken on the steam table, the young lady behind the counter insisted I get some from the fresh batch being cooked in the back. So I chose mashed potatoes/gravy and mac-n-cheese for my two sides.
I had finished my sides before the chicken came out, but I can report it all being very good, and I would not hesitate to re-visit and try several of their other dishes. It’s nice to have this as a dinner option when I don’t feel like cooking at camp. It could be a good breakfast option since they’re open early on the weekends.
The rain didn’t let up until about 2 am, so I set up a little seating area in the Gazelle and hunkered down with a James Bond movie and some podcasts later into the evening.
As you can see, I had plenty of room in the Gazelle and kept warm and dry throughout the night. So if I’m going to be stuck inside, this is the tent to do it in. Next time I need to get my Kelty Noah tarp strung up between the trees to give me a covered area outside the tent.
As usual, the birds were up before dawn chatting with each other, but the rain had stopped, and the temperatures were mild. So I packed up camp and headed out to check on some new camping locations in the area before heading back to Indianapolis.
This was a quick overnight trip, but it was worth it to test the new tent. I wish I had ordered one of these before my Allegheny National Forest trip last year, where we saw rain daily and were pretty miserable by the week’s end. Having a larger shelter makes all the difference, and being able to stand up is a game-changer.
That’s it for this week; thanks for reading. We’ll be back to the normal format next week, but I have some travel plans soon to share.
The NFL season is over, and the sports were a little limited this past week. I’m not much of a basketball fan, so I was down to a few soccer games to follow. However, this weekend marks the return of NASCAR with the Daytona 500 on Sunday afternoon. NASCAR is one of those sports I like to turn on in the background while doing housework and getting ready for the week to come. Last season was pretty interesting with teams fighting for the championship, so I hope the 2022 season is the same. Speaking of racing, we’re about 100 days away from the Indianapolis 500!
As I spend more time working in the Lawrence area, I’m starting to find some good locally owned places to try out for lunch. Since it was open at lunchtime I tried a new lunch place last Friday. Triton Brewing Company and Bistro are located in the Historic Ft. Ben area of Lawrence, Indiana. They have limited hours (only open for Lunch Fri/Sat/Sun) and are usually closed when I’m working in the area. The Bistro inside the brewery has a nice variety on the menu (PDF). I was torn between the Fish and Chips and the Tenderloin but my server said if I was hungry I should try the Tenderloin.
As reported by The Tenderloin Guy back in April of 2021, this is an outstanding sandwich. The breading was well seasoned, and the meat was tender and juicy. This was a filling sandwich that I will be getting again soon. Service was prompt, and the atmosphere was nice and open. I could see spending some time working from here on a Friday afternoon.
And finally, this week, Simply Tech posted a video about Tim Cook. I found it quite interesting & I hope you do too!
I’m not sure what took me so long, but the Sun King Tasting Room at Fishers District has become a regular hangout lately. I’ve eaten from the three rotating food stalls since its inception but never really stuck around much more than that. However, now that I’m writing more and looking to get out of the house this winter, I’ve been visiting the Test Kitchen at least once a week to enjoy a Sun King Orange Vanilla Cream Ale and something from one of the three food vendors. You really can’t go wrong with any of them. You have Smash Burgers, French Bread Pizza, and Tacos/Tortas. These all fill a need one way or another, and on any occasion, at least one sounds good to nosh on. I can only imagine how popular this place will be in the warmer months when the upstairs bar and outdoor deck are open.
After seeing it on many cooking shows, I had to make it a point to source the spreadable pork sausage known as ‘Nduja. I was able to find it at Whole Foods (in the cheese section), where a 4 oz tube costs $6.99. The brand I purchased says it’s “Spreadable Proscuitto,” which sounds a little more appetizing. We broke out the crackers and went into this with an open mind… It was DELICIOUS! The flavor reminded me of a mild pepperoni that’s been blended to a smooth paste. The spice takes a long time to build and never gets too uncomfortable. Paired with a nice white wine and some cheese, this makes a great little appetizer that should prove to be a hit. (UPDATE: Smoking Goose makes their own version that I will be picking up next time I’m downtown)
We received our first measurable snowfall last Saturday in Central Indiana. I could still see the grass, so it wasn’t much of an event. After an unusually warm December, I hope Spring gets here early as I’m ready for a few road trips. Inspired by the always amazing 36 Hours In … series from the NY Times, I have been thinking about hitting up Toronto in the late spring. Have you been? Is there anything I should be sure to see while I’m there?
And finally, do you know how the fire pole originated? Fire poles in firehouses were originally installed to allow for faster descent than the houses’ narrow spiral staircases, which were themselves installed because horses kept climbing to the second floor and getting stuck.
It’s the NFL Wild Card weekend, and there have been some great games played these past two days. But, unfortunately, the Colts blew their chance to go to the playoffs last weekend with an embarrassing loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The only thing I like about the cold winter weather is the food we fix during that time. Comfort foods like casseroles, stews, and pot roasts seem to taste better when we’re stuck inside on a winter day. I just updated my Pot Roast recipe that’s been on the site for years to now include dried mushrooms (vs. fresh) and tomato paste. This adjustment resulted in a much more flavorful broth and some nice textures from the rehydrated fungi. If you end up trying the recipe, let me know what you think!
And finally, Marques Brownlee and his team took a Tesla, a Mustang Mach-E, and a gas car on a 1000 trip to see which car could make the trip the fastest. The results were interesting & show just much more infrastructure is needed to make (non-Tesla) electric cars viable.
It’s the week before Christmas, and we’ve had some amazingly warm weather lately. I was looking at the long-term forecast, and it says we’re going to be in the 60s on December 25th… In INDIANA! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 60-degree Christmas in the Midwest.
The Bearded Bagel opened up a brick-and-mortar shop on 96th St. in front of Sam’s club. I haven’t been yet, but they specialize in steamed bagel sandwiches like Broad Ribble Bagle (BRB) serves. Not as big of a menu as BRB but a lot closer. The food trucks have been around the city for a while now and have a pretty decent following.
Speaking of Carbs, the Chef/Owner of Northside Social plans to open a biscuit place around 96th and Keystone. I’m keeping my eye on that as it’s really close to my office (and I love a good biscuit sandwich).
Staying on the food topic, The Union Jack Pub in Broad Ripple has opened a new location across the street from their old locations. They own the building, so they should have a little more control of future costs. I’ve had lunch at the new location twice this past week. For the first lunch, I ordered a Cuban sandwich with a salad. It was very good, and I would not hesitate to get that again, but the guy sitting next to me ordered the 7-inch personal deep dish pizza, so I knew I needed to return.
This was a solid little pizza that was absolutely delicious. LOTS of cheese and toppings with a very flavorful sauce and light doughy crust. All I was missing was a side of garlic butter to dip that crust in.
I’ve been a little less serious about the Low Carb diet these past few weeks and have found myself “cheating” a little more than usual. I’m still eating better than I was earlier this year and have seen the benefits of lowering the carbs and sugars in my overall diet. I can’t remember the last time I had fast food, and I’m totally OK with that!
And finally, here’s a little bit of food trivia I learned about this past week. Did you know Wolfgang Puck lived in Indianapolis? In fact, Indianapolis was his first American home, and he worked here for a couple of years in the ’70s. He still has a presence in Indianapolis with a Wolfgang Puck Express located in the Indianapolis International Airport (IND).
At the age of 24, Wolfgang took the advice of a friend and left Europe for the United States. His first job was at the restaurant La Tour in Indianapolis, where he worked from 1973 to 1975.https://wolfgangpuck.com/about/
Enjoy the next to the last week of 2021, and Look for our year-end recap next week.