Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Comet



These days there doesn’t seem to be much that people agree on. Here’s one thing we can all agree on: whoever hurt this dog last fall is a piece of shit.


 

Because I am currently incapable of committing to having a dog around forever, we’ve been fostering dogs once in awhile. In mid-December, we took in an about 6 month old Comet. When I met Comet, he was shaking. He had just had surgery that attached a metal rod to one of his hind legs to repair a badly broken bone.  In order to get the surgery, the dog needed to be surrendered by the original owners and the bill was picked up by a dog adoption organization. There’s no proof a lawyer would call solid, but I feel confident that piece of shit I mentioned earlier kicked Comet hard enough to snap his leg. I figured the shaking when we met was a combination of cold weather/shaved leg from the surgery, new people and a general lack of understanding of what was going on around him. Looking back, as I reached through a car window to pet Comet on his head, I’m sure the shaking was fear. Comet was completely terrified of me.

I’ve never seen this kind of fear in a dog’s eyes. When I came home, I was greeted with angry barks that felt like they were meant to warn everyone else that the monster was back. Wide eyes waiting for an attack that never came. Tail down, tucked between his legs. I was met with the same behavior every morning too starting the second I appeared at the top of the stairs. As I made dinner, I could hear Comet’s footsteps approach then see him as he kept tabs on my location before trotting away…only to be back about a minute later to check back in on me again.

The piece of shit that hurt Comet was a guy. Sad truth is it doesn’t take Columbo like instincts come to that conclusion. Dog has absolutely no problem with females, freaks out around all males. Here's an absolutely fascinating side note: Comet didn't give a transgender person a second glance. The dog's assessment of her was non-threatening female while he continued to closely watch some nearby males and huff at them whenever they walked past the doorway.

Based on a few other things, I believe that Comet saw this piece of shit hit women too. On Christmas Eve, an uncle raised his arms as he walked towards his niece to give her a holiday hug and Comet went nuts. Attack mode NUTS in making sure he didn't hurt her. Comet has seen stuff. Bad stuff. I think Comet’s injury was sustained while he heroically sacrificed his body jumping into harms way to protect someone from the piece of shit. I also like to think he got a few painful bites in while doing it. He's a protector. I took this picture of Comet protecting my youngest from that stomach bug that went around over the holiday break.


A trainer told me to keep Comet on a leash looped around a belt while I made dinner and occasionally drop treats. Even if he didn’t eat the treats right away, he would know they came from me plus he’d have to watch me not doing anything. It didn’t really work. Comet often ignored the treats and was mostly terrified of being attached to me. Pretty sure there were a few times that my presence literally scared the shit out of him. A weird twist is that if I was sitting down, I wasn’t as bad. Comet actually fell asleep on me a few times. 


But the second I stood up, it was back on. There’s an expression, “If my dog doesn’t like you, I probably won’t either.”  After the first week, I was pretty sure Comet and I were never going to be best friends. But I did not expect the complete and total rejection of a dog to be as demoralizing as it was. Almost all of my offers of friendship were refused. In his eyes, I was just like the a piece of shit that broke his leg. Comet would let me know that. Several times a day. In my own house.  After awhile it just wears you down.

Comet needed to take it easy for 6 to 8 weeks so that the screws in his leg healed. Apparently if the leg is over-stressed, the bone around the screw can shatter and that is a much harder break to fix. Through a miracle, Comet didn’t re-injure the break while he stayed with us. Unless he was sleeping, Comet was moving. And once the leg pain went away, Comet was fast. And a jumper too. Gates were just a recommendation. We had put him in a pen and went out for a bit. When we got home, Comet met us at the door. That little guy cleared a 42 inch tall pen wall with about 2 feet to build up speed for the jump. We returned the pen and got a crate.

After his stay with us, Comet spent a few weeks with a trainer/behavior specialist. He got better with other dogs and people. From there he moved onto a few other foster homes. Honestly, I didn’t know if Comet was ever going to find a permanent home. But a few weeks ago he did. We saw him recently with his new family. They clearly had already fallen in love with Comet. Comet looked happy too. I think he is still a little hesitant around men but his behavior was much more relaxed than when he moved on from our house. Comet smelled my hand and seemed to remember me. No barking or huffing. His tail never stopped wagging and he looked content. The huge eyes that used to be filled with fear were just excited puppy eyes wanting to play.

Good for you, Comet. You deserve it.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Tour de Burger

There should be a saying about families that go on food tours together...

Daniel at FUSSYlittleBLOG lead a tour of seasonal stand burgers this weekend. And now that they've done a few food tours, I don't have to drag the family. They come willingly. One thing that struck me as new for this tour was that I had already been to all of the stops. I had only had ice cream at two of them, but usually these tours have me exploring new-to-me places.

I'm not going to crunch the numbers this time. You'll have to wait for Daniel's tour results for a numerical analysis. The more I look at our score sheets, they more confusing they get. Unlike the ice cream tours where it was easy to get the same thing at every place, we went with a slightly different plan plus we had 4 people splitting an order. A quarter of a little burger isn't a lot. The plan was to get 1 plain cheeseburger and 1 specialty of the house burger. And a small order of fries because when's the next time you're going to get to try fries from 5 places in the same day? Too good an opportunity to pass up.

The first stop was Jack's Drive In in Wyantskill. The specialty burger there is a cheeseburger with fried onions and ketchup. That went along with a plain cheeseburger and a small order of fries for $6.97.



I liked the plain cheeseburger. Toasted bun. little greasy. It's what you expect at at roadside burger stand. The fries were nothing special and unsalted. You've got to hit the fires with salt right out of the fryer. Although, as the tour progressed, they're not alone in leaving the salt up to the customer. Where they lost me, was the fried onion and ketchup. I'm not the biggest ketchup guy. This was way too much of it and mixed with the onions, it just didn't work for me.

Amy -  thought the burger was tasteless, the unsalted fries took away from their taste and the specialty burger had twice the amount of onions than burger. She would have like them cooked more and the ketchup should be optional (it is, I did the ordering and this is considered "One, with"). She also noted the fast service. It was pretty quick.

Allison - Needed to add salt to fries, fries should be a little more cooked, alright, fast service.

Casey- On the onion burger I didn't even know it was a burger. I thought it was only onions.

A short ride brought us into Watervliet for a stop at Mac's Dive In. This is one of the ice cream only previous visits. It didn't win our vote as the best soft serve on the last tour, but it was our runner up. There didn't seem to be a specialty burger so we went with one cheeseburger, one bacon cheeseburger and a small hand cut fries. This order came in at $10 even.


Yup, that's a small order of fries. The order took a few minutes to make and was clearly made to order. My impression while I was eating at Mac's was that everything was pretty good. Nothing amazing. I started to appreciate Mac's more as the tour continued. I kind of wished I had some turkey gravy for the fries - only because it would be delicious, not because I thought they should. The burgers aren't what I think of when I think road side stand. The patties are bigger than most seasonal stands.

Amy - Super friendly, the fries were a huge portion, homemade and hand cut. The cheese was good and substantial and the burger fit the bun. The bacon was crispy (yeah!) and lots of cheese. The bun was good, maybe grilled a little, nice size.

Allison -  homemade fries, small fry was really big, bacon on bacon cheeseburger was good, bacon cheeseburger was bomb! Really good service, everything was good!, fries were bomb!!!

Casey - Employees are really nice, when you order a small homemade fries it is really big.

Quick ride into Latham brought us to On The Farm. If I am not mistaken, On The Farm won the first Tour De Soft. We didn't go on that tour. We've been here several times for ice cream, never the food though. There was a little confusion when we ordered. We had thought they had an OTF (On The Farm) specialty burger so I ordered the OTF burger, a plain cheeseburger and a small fries. This came in at $9.50. What we got was a cheeseburger, a plain burger and a fries because there is no OTF burger.


Now, I'm not holding that miscommunication on them, that's on me. It would have been nice to compare bacon cheeseburger to bacon cheeseburger, but it wasn't meant to be. That said, the plain burger was under seasoned. The salt from the slice of American cheese really helped the cheeseburger. Bacon would have helped too.  The fries were unsalted and improved with some added on top. All in all though, they were decent, greasy burgers. Definitely needs the cheese and would probably be even better with bacon.

Amy - Would have liked to try a bacon cheeseburger but got the OTF, Meat was good and flavorful, fries OK but not great, needed to be salted. Bun good.

Allison -  Fries needed to be cooked more and they needed much more salt, burger was pretty good but no OTF burger :(   (side note: I hope it isn't weird that I'm proud of her French fry assessment)

Casey - needs salt; didn't put salt on when the fries were warm so salt kept falling off. (I think Casey was more into the French fry portion of our tour)

Three down, two to go. A quick trip up the Northway to Exit 8 and we were at the Country Drive In. They are pretty well known for their onion rings so we added that to the order and got a cheeseburger, a CDI (Country Drive In) burger - which is where the confusion came from earlier, a small fries and a small onion ring. This came in at $16.59 but if you take off the $3.99 onion rings that brings it more in range with the other stops.


Again, no salt on the fries and they weren't very good. I thought the onion rings were good, but not amazing. I didn't like the cheeseburger at all. This was the first flamed broiled burger of the day and it had that off char taste you get from cooking a burger in grease flare-ups. The CDI burger was better, it was a bacon cheeseburger on grilled toast (although Steve N made a good point that technically it's a patty melt and not a burger). Overall, I was underwhelmed but I'm curious about the ice cream side of the drive in.

Amy - Unsalted fries would have been SO much better with salt. The CDI burger was a nice burger on the bread, nice balance of cheese & bacon with burger & bread & grease. ONION Rings were grand! Crispy, tasty and large portion.

Allison - CDI burger wasn't on a bun - it was bomb! had lots of cheese, cheeseburger was dry, fries were unsalted, onion rings are bomb! (the girl likes her onion rings and apparently saying "bomb")

Casey - CDI burger was unique and tasty.

Off to the last stop, Jumpin' Jack's in Scotia. We come here at least a few times a year. It's on the way to my in-laws and we've come for a water ski show too. Little bit of history - the first time Allison really got "walking" was at Jumpin' Jacks. I messed up the order and forgot the fries. So I went back to get them. One cheeseburger, one Jack burger - which is a double decker cheeseburger with cole slaw and then the fries. This was $12.




More unsalted fries. I thought everything was disappointing. The cole slaw really helped the Jack cheeseburger. I usually get a clam roll and onion rings when when I'm here. I think Jumpin' Jack's is more about the memory than a great burger. I can't go there without looking at where Allison teetering around and getting some speed. There a sense of nostalgia to the place. Like it's lost in time, but the food isn't great.

Amy - unsalted fries, Jack burger was nothing special, just OK. Burger had some flavor.

Allison - No salt on fries, but when we put salt on them they were good. burger was really good, beef was just alright; they always have long lines.

Casey- (she ran out of things to say and left this one blank)

The final part of the scoring was "Which was your favorite and why:"

I thought Mac's had the best burger, best fries and was a decent value. I'm surprised. I much rather pay $10 for the Mac's experience than the $12 Jumpin' Jacks. And I was also surprised by how little I liked Jumpin' Jacks when compared side by side to other stands. At the start of the day I thought Jumpin' Jacks would be my favorite. I expect to be at Mac's at least a few times over the summer.

Amy: Mac's. The bacon cheeseburger was the best. The bacon and homemade fries made it!

Allison: Mac's because their burgers were good, the bacon was awesome and the fires were salted and good.

Casey: Mac's because they gave you a large amount of fries and had delicious bacon cheeseburgers. The employees were also very kind to their customers.

We voted as a block again. I'm not sure how much that skews the whole tour. There was a pretty good turnout so Daniel has his work cut out for him in tallying up some results. I look forward to seeing how other people scored the day. I'll post an update when the official results are in.

UPDATE: Here's a link to the official tour results.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Cookie Season

This year's Girl Scout Cookie season has come to a merciful end. This year the troop focused more on booth sales. I've actually gotten pretty good at moving a lot of cookies around with a hand truck. Anyhow, one afternoon the troop had two booths set up in Crossgates Mall and it wasn't a very busy day at the mall. In order to have a booth sale, you need to pre-buy the cookies. We left the that sale, which was supposed to be the last one, with over 100 boxes of unsold cookies. Now I like Girl Scout Cookies, but I wasn't thrilled with the possibility of eating 10 cases of them.

This year, the troop also added a booth in a retirement community. The women of the Greatest Generation...they were Girl Scouts. And for the most part, they like Thin Mints and the new S'mores cookies.

Instead of looking at just my family's sales, this year I'm breaking down the entire troop's cookie sales.

At the bottom of the list, Savannah Smiles (lemon cookies) and Toffee Tastic (gluten free) were tied for 3% of the sales.

The next grouping was Do Si Do (peanut butter sandwich) and Trefoils (shortbread) with 7% of the sales. S'mores was next at 8% but we only bought 5 cases of them. Troops were unable to re-order S'mores cookies so you made a guess and hope you sold them. Our troop bough 5 cases and they all went. I think more would have sold, but I'm not sure they would have made it to double digits in percentage of sales.

Tagalong (peanut butter with chocolate) were 17% of the total sales.

Next up were my personal favorite, Samoas (coconut caramel) with 24% of the sales.

And the Undisputed Champion and winner every time I have done this cookie analysis, weighing in with 31% of the sales: Thin Mints (no need to describe them, you know what they are).  A number of times, someone would buy a box of Thin Mints and then excitedly cradle the cookies like they had something precious. In most multiple box orders and purchases, Thin Mints are one of the boxes. People love these cookies and apparently eat them by the sleeve. No judgements here.

Monday, April 17, 2017

It Really Tweaks My Melon



Anybody remember the Pauly Shore movie Son In Law from the early 90s? It’s not worth tracking down to watch but there’s one scene at the end (SPOLIER ALERT! If you are going to waste 90 minutes of your life watching this movie, skip to the next paragraph. The movie was released almost 25 years ago, so I’m not sure this actually counts as a SPOILER ALERT!) where the grandfather comes to Pauly Shore’s defense and says, “It really tweaks my melon to see a buff bro like Crawl here get wheezed on by a greasy scumbaaaaag like you.” I don’t know why I remember the “It really tweaks my melon” line, but I do. Maybe this came to mind because I heard an interview with Pauly Shore last week. I guess what I’m trying to say is, here are a few things that currently tweak my melon.

Fearless Girl: Shut up already. The Fearless Girl statue is fantastic. I don’t think either piece of art should be moved but if one must go, lose the bull and have Fearless Girl stare down something else. I don’t go to New York City frequently. Even less frequently with the whole family. If we all go down there, I don’t give a give a damn about seeing the bull statue but I’d make a point to bring my daughters to see the Fearless Girl. And yes, I’d snap a picture of them standing next her. Much like freaking out about anything that isn’t heterosexual, losing your shit over Fearless Girl says more about you than you probably care to admit.

Health Care: The entirety of the situation that started this train of though isn’t really important. The basics are I was at an event, someone needed emergency care and while others assisted this person I was on the phone with the 911 dispatcher. There are two things that tweak my melon about this experience. When I saw someone in need of help, I was quick to get there to be of assistance. However, once there I had no idea what to do. I am completely unprepared for a medical emergency. Totally useless. Frozen deer in the headlights useless. The only help my initial reaction provided was alerting people that actually knew what to do that their services were needed. And there was more than one person in the crowd that knew what to do. So I simply played messenger between the competent people and a 911 operator. Unlike first-aid, I am very prepared to use a cell phone.

The other thing that tweaks my melon about is wondering how hard an event like this might hit the person needing medical attention financially. No idea if this guy has insurance but he left in an ambulance. I’ve got to believe he spent at least some time in an emergency room and possibly a hospital room too. I don’t know what the medical bill ended up being, don’t even know the guys name, and can’t even definitively say what was wrong. It isn’t hard to imagine the billable cost of an ambulance ride, treatment in an ER and some time in a hospital be being over 10 grand. Maybe more. If you are able to just pay that bill in cash, you more than likely have insurance that will pay most of the bill so the cost to you will be much less than10 grand. If you don’t have that in a bank account, that’s the kind of debt that could impact your family for years. And that’s not right. It's been over two weeks and I still think about that guy regularly.

Ed Sheeran:  Awhile back anything that broadcasts music played Ed Sheeran’s song “Thinking Out Loud” on a repeat for what felt like an eternity. Personally, I believe “Thinking Out Loud” took the music from the absolutely classic “Let’s Get It On” and turned it into a generic, sappy wedding first dance song. It’s something I argued should be a crime that involves jail time. My wife thought I was over reacting. Sheeran’s new song, that is currently being played non-stop on all things that broadcast music, is called “The Shape of You” and the music sounds like it was taken from the intro to the television show So You Think You Can Dance.

Taxes: Trump should release his taxes. Regardless of your politics, who you voted for (or against), or where you get the information that helps to form your opinions, you should want to see them…or at least have someone where you get the information that helps to form your opinions see them and tell you about them. And no one paid me to have that opinion.

Pineapple: Until recently, I would have said, “Never put pineapple on pizza. That’s gross.” The topic of pineapple on pizza has come up a few times online. Here, here, and here. It's a important global issue. I was standing by original position and still thought it was gross. Then I saw a pineapple pizza I’d try. Sure it was made in Rome by a very famous pizza maker that only uses the finest ingredients but it definitely made me flip flop from my initial opinion. Maybe I’m opposed to pineapple on pizza if the pineapple is from a can. If there was a wood fired pizza truck parked on the north shore of Oahu making their house specialty pizza that included fresh pineapple…yeah, I’d try that. But I’m still a firm NO on the 7-Eleven spam sushi I saw under a heat lamp when I was there on my honeymoon. Looked like it had been there for 3 days. And I'm not anti-Spamity Spam. Just that Spam.

I made a conscious effort not to do this, but this Tweaks My Melon list is starting to feel like a Chef Dominic “Snippets” rip-off.  Perhaps I’m being too hard on Ed Sheeran. Sorry, Chef.

Monday, April 3, 2017

It's not in the cards...yet.



Back in the early 90’s, I had my first Tarot card reading. It wasn’t done by a pro or anything. It was done by a roommate and there was a lot of consulting a book of card meanings. We may have been were drinking. I was told to think of a general life question while shuffling the deck. I’ve always been a little superstitious and I took it seriously.  I mentally repeated the question while giving the deck a really good shuffle. I shuffled awhile. Probably close to a minute.

The reading was mostly positive things, I remember one thing was upside down which was interpreted as a positive thing that would require work or effort. I look back on the reading without remembering the specifics other than what I just wrote, but to this day, I have a general feeling that the reading was accurate. Really accurate. Kind of scary accurate.

The question was, “Will we be happy?”

My girlfriend was sitting next to me. We’ve since gotten married and have two kids. Unless she’s told you something else, we’re pretty happy with each other.

Last week I was scrolling through Twitter and noticed that Pirate Jeni was looking to brush up on her Tarot reading skills and was offering several 3-card readings to anyone that was interested. I have never met Jeni. I have looked over her blog. No idea if she has even seen mine. We’ve had a few Twitter exchanges and when we were moving I ran my mortgage plan by her. That’s it.

Jeni’s form needed a question, a birth date and an email address to send the reading. I got the reading late Saturday afternoon. The superstitious side of me was reluctant to even open it. But I did. And I read it. Then read it again. And then I went online and looked up more about the three cards. Then I read it again. Wow.

Knowing my question should be kind of general from my first experience. I asked, “Should I change careers?” You know that feeling you are sitting at your desk and you aren’t interested in what you are doing so your mind drifts and you start to daydream about doing something else? I’ve been getting that a lot lately. When my mind drifts, I think about (you’ll never guess…) a pizza restaurant. But I’m in my mid 40s with both family and financial responsibilities. Long term, I was thinking of a mobile pizza business for my retirement. I currently think it would be fun to pull up a wood fired oven somewhere close to a college campus and make a lot of pizzas for students Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Twenty years later at a reunion someone might say, “You remember that crazy guy that sold pizzas near even in February? Those were good pies.” Did I mention it’s easy to daydream sitting in a cube? The general question, “Should I change careers?” has overtones of leaving my current job and opening a pizza shop.

Jeni pulled 3 cards, “one to represent you and where you are currently, one if you were to change careers and one if I did not.”


The center card, “the King of Swords represents you as you are now. Confident in what you know about your current career. I feel you’ve been at this awhile and people look up to you and respect you and your knowledge. You are on top of your game.”

I am confident about what I know about my current career and I have been at it awhile, a bit over 18 years. I wouldn’t say people here look up to me like as a role model, but when things come up in my area of expertise I believe my opinion is respected. There are several of ways to interpret “top of your game.” One that applies to me is that I have reached the top level in my section. A promotion wouldn’t necessarily be a career change, but it would mean leaving my current unit.

“The card on the right, the Eight of Swords, represents the choice to change careers. I feel that this would be a difficult time for you should you decide to make a change. It’s a sense of putting yourself in a very uncomfortable position. But it would certainly light a fire under your butt! Essentially, a change would not be pleasant unless you are up for that kind of stress.”

Yeah.

My daydream may be a dream, but it isn’t ignorant. Running a restaurant or any food business is tough. I’ve read a lot about it. And if I was giving up the financial stability of my paycheck, that would be some serious stress. This is the card I read the most about online. Tarot card images are very detailed and filled with symbolism. At first glance, the person is blindfolded with bound hands. But the hands aren’t bound with anything. So the hands are tied, but it’s more of a mental rope that can be escaped. With free hands, vision can be restored. There’s a beast (maybe a business) and flames (which totally means wood fired oven to me) in background behind a cage of 8 Swords. If you look closely, there’s an opening in the cage. You can get out. You’re trapped, but it is a self-imposed trap. Some descriptions of the card: fear of failure, afraid of making the wrong decision, not trusting in yourself enough.  So yeah, pretty much all that.

“The card on the left, the Ten of Cups, represents the choice to keep things the status quo. The Ten of Cups is a “happy result” card. The feeling I’m getting with this is that there is a lot of safety and security in keeping the career you have. Staying where you are will allow you to keep doing the things you love outside of your career and your job.”

That last sentence is a sentiment I have expressed almost as a direct quote more than once – “allow you to keep doing the things you love outside of your career and your job.” I showed that to a co-worker and he said, “Yeah, you’ve said that.” I thought it even back in the early 90’s when I was torn between going to a culinary school or a university. My decision back then was to go for a job with regular hours and throw dinner parties. If one of my kids gets sick at school, I can leave to get them. My oldest daughter just made a softball team. I can go to the late afternoon games, most likely something that wouldn’t be possible with a restaurant. Plus health insurance. No idea what I’d get if I quit. There is definitely safety and security in postponing career change.

One website said the Ten of Cups is the “happiest card in the deck.” It can be interpreted as happiness, well being, experiencing good fortune, counting your blessings and feeling grateful, happy endings and having it all. I like the look of the card – four people under a rainbow. My immediate family is four. In other decks, the Ten of Cups is pictured with a husband and wife with two kids playing in a country meadow with a house off in the distance.
 
 (image is from Wikipedia)

I like to think that’s us. There wasn’t anything in the reading that I didn’t already know. I have no idea how Jeni knew it too.  Reading what she sent me did help me organize my thoughts and feeling about a career change. It also helped to clear my mind up about the direction I was already heading. Deep down I knew I wasn’t going to start putting together the pieces of a restaurant in the near future.

I wouldn’t say a commercial pizza venture is completely eliminated from my future, and I don’t think that’s what Jeni was saying either about the uncomfortable position and stress. The cards seem to say now isn't the best time. You don't need special powers to see that - there's fire on one side and Eden on the other. And the cards are right. This isn't the time. I already knew it. The future is still unknown. Things will be different. Ten years from now I might need to send Jeni another career change question.

Keep doing what you love outside of your job….Last night I fired up the oven and made a bunch of pizzas for some extended family. Towards the end, we were all outside. Kids playing with dogs, the weather was great...it was really nice. Kind of like the Ten of Cups card.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Saint Patrick's Day Surprise

So it's Saint Patrick's Day and I did what a lot of people in the area do today. After dinner, we piled into the family truckster and head over to Stewart's for a 50 cent single scoop. Kids went with Firecracker in a cup and Mint Cookie Crumble in a cone. I tried out the limited time Carrot Cake and my wife went with Peanut Butter cup.

We sit down at one of the tables and we're eating our ice cream and my wife notices the pink, Inside Scoop sales flyer on the table.


Then she says, "Hey, that's you."

Huh?

On the flyer is a tweet taken out of a conversation from last year. I'm part of the first tweet under the Sweet Tweets heading.


How cool is that?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Making Dinner with Stella

Anyone that knows me isn't surprised by the idea of me grilling straight through the winter. Most years, I try to grill burgers during the first snowfall. I forget what was going on this year, but grilling dinner wasn't an option that day. That hasn't sat well with me. If you don't do them, they're not traditions.

My last night of league curling was Monday and after leaving the club I stopped by a Hannaford to pick a few more things to have in the house during a blizzard. There was plenty of produce left after the pre-storm grocery store rush. Unless you wanted a banana. Then you were out of luck. The only bananas left were going to be ripe next week. I knew eggs, milk and bread were storm necessities. Bananas are new one for me.


We woke up to everything being closed. Around noon, I looked at a deck rail and it looked like there were about 4 inches. In reality, the wind was blowing the snow off the railing and there was about a foot outside. Off I went for Round 1 on snow blowing. The tent/tarp system I have over the oven didn't look happy about the weather. Hell, even on a nice day, that pop up tent doesn't look that good. It was not meant for this kind of abuse. Hang in there tent. You can do it.


A little after 5, I cleared a spot in the driveway for the grill and lit a chimney of coals. It took a little doing but the coals finally caught.



The nice thing about cooking burgers in crappy weather is that the don't take too much time. It also helps if you can duck into the garage between steps. Dump the hot coals out of the chimney and spread them around, pop the top grate on and give it a few minutes to heat up.



Throw the burgers on.



Flip. When I flip, I also throw a pan on the grill to heat up. Bringing the burgers into the house on a hot pan keeps the burgers hot.



I usually flip again and add the cheese. Once the cheese is on, I put the lid back on the grill. In 20 seconds or less the cheese will be melted.


Dinner is served. Lately I've been using Stewart's buns for burgers. They are the best cheap white bun in my book. If I'm going all out, I'll use a Prinzo's hard roll as a bun.


In the middle of grilling a contract plow truck drove by to clear a neighbor's driveway. I got a "You are out of your freakin' mind" look from the driver. The burgers were good. The look was priceless.