Columbus, Indiana

So we started making our journey westward to Iowa, with our first waypoint being the Amish Cheese Shop in Cambridge City, Indiana.

20131230-183132.jpgWe were barreling down the interstate at speeds just above the posted limit and found ourselves gazing at the big sign on the side of the road.

20131230-183332.jpg At the same instant we both said “Let’s stop and check it out”! Three minutes later we were getting out of the car for a stretch and a shopping spree.

20131230-183519.jpgI should call the Food Network and get a show out of this kind of thing. Not to get anyone sidetracked or anything, but I couldn’t help taking a picture of this “sweet ride”.

20131230-184055.jpgThe Amish Cheese Shop has artisan cheeses made from cows milk collected from Amish farms. The cows are not fed artificial hormones or additives and the herds average 40 head instead of 400 or more like the large factory farms. This is the only milk used in their Amish cheeses. I didn’t even realize it happened like this but as soon as we got inside I found myself mesmerized by this certain species of cheese.

20131230-184251.jpgI wonder why??? Papa is a pretty busy guy it seems.

20131230-184554.jpgWe ended up taking a few prisoners along the way.

20131230-184840.jpgSpeaking of cheese here’s a few other specimens we got from Grandpa’s Cheese Barn in Ohio.

20131230-185020.jpg I apologize for not posting their pictures with their respective makers, but hey….”It ain’t easy bein cheesy”!

20131230-185147.jpgOh and we had to get something other than cheese so why not get the next best thing ?

20131230-185313.jpgCouldn’t pass this up either

20131230-185445.jpgThe Troyer Family has been making and smoking bologna for over a century now. They must be doing something right. In 1912, Michael Troyer created a unique special formula which consisted of a blend of seasonings to make a delicious all-beef bologna. Four generations and over 100 years later, the Troyer family continues to produce tons of genuine Trail Bologna daily. This isn’t bologna

20131230-185912.jpgBut it sure looked good. It’s coming with. So after a quick stretch and a little shopping, we were back in gear and headed west. few hours later we found our stopping point of Columbus, Indiana. What an awesome place this is. We found ourselves in a small town with population of about 44,000 people. Very cool people. From the very moment we got out of the car and checked into our hotel we knew this was going to be a great experience. We got some coffee, and headed out for some dinner. We hit downtown Columbus and found the Columbus Bar.

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20131230-190714.jpgThis place is one of Indiana’s oldest continually operating bars. It is nicknamed the “CB”. It’s a very eclectic full service family oriented brewpub and restaurant where they put their own twist on home cooking. They pride themselves on quality and purchase many of the items they serve locally. naturally we had to sample as many of their menu items as we could, and I am glad we did. We had Mini chicken dogs wrapped in honey corn breading

20131230-191241.jpgKraut Balls – Sausage, kraut, onions, and cream cheese rolled in Panko bread crumbs and fried to a golden brown served with horseradish mustard sauce

20131230-191536.jpgA wicked rendition of Tots……outta this world……

20131230-191940.jpgCB’s version of Canada’s famous Poutine….with mushroom gravy and fried cheese

20131230-192208.jpgMac and Beer Cheese – Steaming bowl of house made mac and beer cheese made with 2 Dave’s IPA topped with locally made smoked sausage.

20131230-192421.jpgAfter hearing the story of their pork tenderloin sandwich and how it was twice honored by the NY Times, we had to try one of those too.

20131230-192532.jpgAll of this paired exceptionally well with their brews, my favorite being Diesel Oil Stout

20131230-204419.jpgThis beer is a social lubricant, a beer that lives up to its name. This is a black stout beer with a firm brown head. They add a little bit of lactose for ballast. Columbus is home to Cummins Inc., makers of diesel engines. This beer is dedicated to the hard working men and women of Cummins!

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20131230-204645.jpgThere is one item we didn’t try but were quite intrigued by

20131230-205144.jpgIt’s called the 8th Deadly Sin. I guess I’m left with two choices; go back for a visit or try and create it myself. I think both are in order. Special thanks to Mike and “Rock Star” for making our visit to Columbus and the “CB” most excellent.

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Exit Ohio, Enter Pennsylvania

So we crossed the state line into Pennsylvania and immediately noticed a change in climate. This started falling from the sky

20131229-050351.jpgand when it stopped / slowed down days later it looked like this.

20131229-050512.jpgWe found an awesome place called The Brewerie (note the spelling of “brewery” in Erie, PA is actually spelled “brewerie”!)

20131229-051025.jpgI started with this liquid libation

20131229-051211.jpgand holy schnikes was it good!

20131229-051314.jpgIf you haven’t guessed what flavor that was then I’ll gladly say it was a glass of The Breweries finest seasonal brew “Shittersfull Molasses Brown Ale”. Soooo good. The next two treats we found at a local coffee shop.

20131229-052120.jpgSpinach , Artichoke, and Tomato Quiche, 4 out of 5 stars, and this Pizza Stuffed Pretzel

20131229-052345.jpgNow don’t get the wrong idea, there was a shitload more of awesome eats we experienced, I was so overcome with glutton and good company that I forgot to take pictures of a lot. Regardless, we ate our way thru Northwestern PA! I promise to be a better blogger in the next few states. Stay tuned.

On The Road…Again…

So it’s that time of year when tradition says you visit family. It’s Christmas. This years voyage takes us from KCMO to Pennsylvania to Iowa and finally back to KCMO. Stay tuned to this channel for some of my culinary finds. Buckle up, it’s a bumpy ride at times! The first stop was Grandpa’s Cheesebarn in Ashland, Ohio.

20131228-072154.jpgThis place is Bad Ass!

20131228-072324.jpgIt’s filled with the finest cheeses, homemade dips, spreads, chocolates, and specialty items that a person could want.

20131228-072433.jpgCars pull off the highway and make their way to Grandpa’s all day long. Check out these pictures and you’ll see why. They have literally hundreds of different cheeses

20131228-072747.jpgCured meats

20131228-072926.jpgreally good jerky

20131228-073035.jpgDips & Spreads

20131228-073216.jpgevery kind of vegetable you can dream of, made into a chip

20131228-073330.jpgcookies that are O M to the G

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20131228-073540.jpgCan’t wait to recreate those bad boys- Anyone want to be my tasters? Grandpa even makes sodas.

20131228-073738.jpgAnd finally, the best and tastiest delight that put Ohio on the culinary map

20131228-074228.jpgYes they are as good as they look!

Rueben Soup

I was a lowly Chef Apprentice at a Country Club in Southwestern Pennsylvania where there was. and still is, a dominant Polish / German influence on food. Once I experienced Rueben Soup for the first time I knew I would need to master this one and keep it in my back pocket for special occasions.

20131202-144629.jpgI know is sounds weird, strange, even intimidating, but once you try it you’ll be in La La Land. The first time I tasted this decadent bowl of comfort I knew right then and there I had a new friend, a keeper, one to take home to Momma!
It’s so simple and easy to make, takes less than an hour, and doesn’t leave a huge mess to clean up afterwards. This stuff is so rich and filling that you will feel like you’re eating a sandwich in a bowl. After all this unique and decadent soup has all things Rueben in it – Sauerkraut, Corned Beef, and Cheese. Can’t go wrong there! You will no doubt get lots and lots of compliments when you serve this one to family and friends.

Start off by melting some butter over medium heat in a large heavy sauce pan.

20131202-144854.jpgSaute some onions and celery until soft, stirring often to prevent browning.

20131202-145016.jpgAdd some chicken broth.

20131202-145141.jpgAdd cornstarch and water mixed together and bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium.
Add half & half,

20131202-145303.jpgCorned beef,

20131202-145417.jpgAnd chopped Sauerkraut.

20131202-145533.jpgStir and simmer for 14 minutes.
Add the cheese and stir until melted.
Stir in pickle relish,

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And 1000 Island Dressing.

20131202-145807.jpgSeason with salt and pepper. Serve topped with croutons if desired.
Take the leftovers, if any, and use as a dip for crackers or bread, or a unique pasta sauce.

Cabbage Soup, Enjoy The Go!

Hearty, Healthy, Satisfying, and super easy to make. There are many variations of this soup, and just as many reasons for eating it. Some say simmering cabbage in a spicy broth is a cure for the common cold. Some say they eat it to lose weight. I’m not sure about the curing of the colds, but I can tell you that Cabbage Soup CAN actually help you lose weight. There is even a diet plan based on Cabbage Soup – – It’s based on eating large amounts of Cabbage Soup, which has very little calories, for a period of 7 days. The Cabbage Soup Diet also entails eating certain specific foods on certain days during that week long period. You’re only supposed to follow this diet for a week, and chances are that you will, mostly because it is so boring that you will quickly get tired of it. There’s no magic involved and cabbage isn’t a “Super Food”, its all based on the low calorie content of Cabbage Soup. Most people that follow this diet will lose weight rapidly in a week. The trick is to be able to keep that weight off and not put it right back when you start eating normally again. Whatever you do, don’t follow this diet for more than a week because it will leave you with a severe lack of nutrition, and that’s not good for anyone.
I made my version of the age-old folk remedy the other day. I took diced onions, celery, and carrots (mirepoix – meer-pwah,to those in the culinary world),

20131203-215104.jpgboiled them in some vegetable stock

20131203-215218.jpgfor 30 minutes to soften the vegetables and extract some more flavor.
Then I added chopped green cabbage

20131203-215320.jpgand boiled some more, about 30 minutes until the cabbage is tender to your liking.

20131203-215413.jpgAt this point you want to season your broth with garlic, black pepper, red pepper, oregano, some diced tomatoes, and a touch of salt. I like to add about 2 tablespoons of white vinegar for a special punch. Simmer the soup for an additional 10 minutes and adjust the seasonings.

You can add other things to the soup, as long as they are low in calories and high in fiber. I have added potatoes, barley, farro, green or yellow wax beans, and even sauerkraut.
Serve and enjoy!

20131203-215533.jpgOne other thing – make sure you have plenty of Charmin on hand, and enjoy the Go!

RECIPE

Empanadas de Argentina

The other day we had some guests in the hotel that were from South America. Argentina to be exact. I like to do what I can to make our guests feel at home so I made some Argentinian Empanadas with a “Steve From Scratch” twist.

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Empanadas are a very popular street food in South America. Basically an Empanada is a half moon shaped “hand pie” with a filling. Empanadas are fried or baked, and may have as many fillings as there are letters in the alphabet. The fillings vary from meat to seafood to cheese and even fruit, depending on the country or region. Almost every part of the world and every culture has their own versions of the empanada. The Indian culture has their Samosas. Afghanistan has their Bolanis. In Bolivia they call them Saltenas. Brazilians make Pastels. Cubans make Pastelitos. In Jamaica they serve Jamaican Patties. Jewish people make Knishes. In Poland they make Pierogies. And in the United States Hot Pockets are a popular version. The one thing they all have in common is that they were derived to be portable and make a hearty meal for the working people.
I made a traditional ground beef filling that you would find from a street vendor in Buenos Aires, but, I had to tweak it just a little. I added some green onions, cilantro and grated orange zest to the filling as it cooled.

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20131202-153119.jpgThe orange zest played well with the sweetness of the raisins and got along just fine with the tangy green olives and garlic. Mixing sweet and savory ingredients together is a traditional Latin American flavor combination. Try it and it may very quickly become your new favorite, too!
This recipe that I made has a filling that is most popular in Buenos Aires, but you can fill an empanada with virtually anything you please, from savory to sweet, so be brave and have fun with it. You can be 100% authentic and make your empanada dough from scratch, but you can find it ready to use in the frozen pastry section of most specialty or Hispanic groceries. If you are in a rush or just feeling lazy, frozen puff pastry dough is an acceptable substitute.

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20131202-153555.jpgNeedless to say the guests loved them and were thrilled at the fact that they were treated so thoughtfully. Score another one for Steve From Scratch!

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Apple Cinnamon Water

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Did you know both apples and cinnamon raise your metabolism? Try this now famous drink, and any day can feel like fall. Fuji and Honey Crisp apples work best as they are the sweetest. Keep in mind this drink has a hint of flavor, should you want it stronger add more apples or slice them thinner.

Boost your metabolism naturally with this ZERO CALORIE Detox Drink. Put down the diet sodas and crystal light and try this out for a week. You will drop
weight and have TONS OF ENERGY! Sounds good,right? This is the time to get motivated before you fall into that trap of holiday splurging. Do it now and you’ll feel better when the new year is here.

Makes one big pitcher, re-fill with water 3-4 times before replacing apples and cinnamon.

2 Quart Pitcher (I used a gallon jar)
Ice Cubes
1 Apple thinly sliced
1 Cinnamon Stick

(I also added a chunk of peeled fresh ginger for added flavor and digestive health.)
Drop the apple slices in the bottom of the pitcher or jar and then add the cinnamon stick. Cover with ice about 1/2 way up then add water. Let sit for a couple of hours.

Nutritional Info:

Calories 0
Fat 0
Fiber 0
Protein 0
Carbs 0

Your taste buds will never be bored with water again!