Sunday, June 27, 2010

A-Z Munchin' Monday: What Else?

After what seems like WEEKS of travel, it is good to be back here at Streetpolo World Headquarters on a Sunday night to take care of business. And this week's letter, as we creep toward the end, is W. So I figured, with Independence Day USA coming up this July 4, and all the picnics and backyard barbecues and such taking place, what better food to symbolize our patriotic picnicing than the WATERMELON? Who doesn't enjoy it when you dig into one of these green and red babies and discover that perfect texture and sweet, sweet taste? Plus, in the standard, traditional version, you get those slick little seeds that are great spittin' if you are, indeed, outdoors somewhere, and wantin' to rile up Betty Jean over there by shootin' a seed into her hair.

They have come up with seedless versions. In my experience, those mutations are usually just not as good and sweet as the seedy kind. I usually find it worthwhile to abide by the seeds.

Remember when the big news was the Japanese coming up with a cubic version of the watermelon, easy for stacking and storing? Somehow, I do not believe those little boxes of goodness ever really caught on, or maybe they are priced too high. In any case, I have never actually seen one, and I view it skeptically as man messing with something that nature has already perfected. Maybe as a cheap building block or something.
Japanese cubic watermelons

I cannot conclude my W report without a shout-out to one of nearby Lake Erie's finer products, the Walleye. It's a fine sport fish up there, and pretty good eating too. A couple counties away, up in Port Clinton, every New Year's Eve, they lower this twenty foot, 600 pound walleye for their big Walleye Drop. Gimmicky, perhaps, but a fine way to start the new year. So here's a toast to the Walleye.
Port Clinton Walleye Drop

For those so inclined, have a Wonderful Fourth (and all the other days this week, while you're at it!). And check out other Wonderful food concepts via Jen's blog.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A-Z Munchin' Monday - way early - V

V this week stands for VERY HOT FISH. While up in Wisconsin's Door County, we enjoyed the thrill of a uniquely local custom called a FISH BOIL. They've been doing this up there for 150 years or so. They heat up this kettle of freshly caught Lake Michigan Whitefish, potatoes, and nice mild onions. Then after 25 minutes or so, the man in charge hollers "Overboil!" and tosses some fuel upon the fire, making a mighty volcano out of the whole thing. They remove the food from the kettle, and serve up one heck of a delicious meal. I understand a lot of butter and salt is involved...Anyhow, I believe the pictures tell the story, so here it is.

I've been home 24 hours and have to ramble on again, and leaving my computer home for others to use, so I am posting this now, since I may not have another chance before Monday.
Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


What a brilliant marketing poly. This restaurant out here in, I think, Sister Bay, back in 1973, went for a sod roof, and loaded some goats up there to graze as tourists walk by, note the goats, pull out cameras, and more than a few decide to stop in and eat. And no, they do not serve goat meat. These guys are for show only.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Munchin' Monday: U

I admit it; I am stumped as to a good "U" food. So, I am just going to report on my utterly, ultimately, ultra-fine dinner I just had downtown in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin up in Door County. It was baked salmon with just the right amount of butter and spices, a baked potato, and a nice mix of veggies (hmm..."veggies" week?) They talked us into splitting an Unbelievably fine desert too, a sort of chocolate bundt cake with some ice cream, but it doesn't start with a U either, except for being uber-tasty!

Meanwhile, down the block, they were wrapping up this weekend music festival which raises money to save their old steel bridge across Sturgeon Bay. This kid couldn't have been more than 10 or 12, but they introduce him and he strolls up to the microphone, says "This first song is called "Crossroads", and he proceeds to rip into the old Robert Johnson blues standard. I'm thinking "He's maybe twelve. How has he felt the blues enough to pull this off?" But he did. Followed it up with a Jimi Hendrix song, too.
Here's a shot of the steel bridge fest venue with the object of the fest in the background...
..and a little bit of our more peaceful surroundings up here...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Badger Comes in to Port

The Badger is the last of the steamers to ply the waters of the great Lakes, making the Luddington MI to Manitowoc WI round trip twice daily. We watched it dock in Manitowoc this morning.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The New (to me) Athletic Center at Kenyon College

Checked it out at the reunion last weekend - the place is awesome. The reunion was fun, too.
Always good to get back on "the magic mountain"...

Monday, June 7, 2010

A-Z Munchin' Monday: Grandma's Toll House Cookies

I knew all along what I had to pick for the letter T: Toll House Cookies. And not just any toll house cookies. These would be the toll house cookies baked by my Grandma back on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

We spent much of our childhood summers at Grandma's house in the woods, on the water, and there was lots for a bunch of cousins with fertile imaginations to do, inside and (mainly) outside. But at the end of the day, when we were tired and weary from a day of hard play, there was absolutely nothing better than to sit down in the kitchen with a glass of cold milk and a plate of Grandma's fresh-out-of-the-oven toll house cookies. That was the best.

Actually, so was Grandma. She was the embodiment of that old adage, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything." Except she never, to my knowledge, had anything bad to say anyway. To Grandma, pretty much, it was all good.

And so was the time at her house in the woods, on the water. It was pretty much an idyllic place to visit while growing up. She eventually moved to a ranch style home in town. Easier to get around, and no need for that drive in to shop or take care of business. But the cookies were still just as good.

In the fall of my freshman year of college, the universally sought-after "care package" arrived one day. It was toll house cookies from Grandma. They were beat up a bit, smacked around and crushed into small, bite-size pieces. But it didn't matter at all - they tasted wonderful. It was a huge boost to a freshman missing some of the comforts of home.

To this day, I love it when I come upon a plate of toll house cookies, especially if they come close to resembling Grandma's. Not only do they taste great, but they have the power to transport me, at least in my mind for a moment, to a certain house in the woods, on the water.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Random Ohio

I saw a feature in a magazine ("American Demographics", it was called) once where a guy drove across the USA in an old Lincoln and took a picture every X miles (I forget - maybe every 10 or 20). It turned out the USA is pretty boring when you randomly slice it up that way, but today I found myself 130-some miles from home, with a camera. So I figured it would give me something to do (besides drive...) if I snapped a picture every 10 miles. The rule was it had to be when the trip odometer hit the exact multiple of 10.0.

Oh, also, this is the quickest way from McConnelsville (in SE Ohio) to my house (in NW Ohio), and it happens to be mainly along 2 lane state highways. It took three hours, almost even.

Mile 0.0. We start in the town square here in McConnelsville. I've grown to really like this little town. It is an island unto itself, out in the middle of nowhere.

Mile 10.0. Just happened to be crossing the county line into Muskingum County (as depicted on the sign there). This is State Route 60 headed north. The Muskingum River is just out of sight to the left, paralleling the road.
Mile 20.0. Further up 60, headed for Zanesville. Lots of little extraction businesses around here, mining the sand and gravel out of the earth.
Mile 30.0. This last leg got us pretty much clear through Zanesville. I was hoping for a shot of some City sight, like crossing the river, or the big ol' Genesis hospital I passed, but you gotta play by the rules. This is the "outer reaches" of the city on the northwest side. That smear on the windsheild was bothersome; I took care of it when i gassed up in Mount Vernon.
At mile 40.0, I shot this picture on the fly through the right window. There in the middle of the field, walled like a fortress, was someone's family cemetery. You can see one of the larger obelisks (?) poking up there. Kind of odd, I thought, how history treats places like this.
Mile 50.0 Nothing spectacular; just an intersection somewhere south of Mount Vernon.
Mile 60.0. Closing in on Mount Vernon. I passed through the small town of Martinsville or Martindale; never can remember what follows "Martins". Maybe it's Martinsburg. Yeah, that sounds right. Anyhow, here we have "Yoder's Cider Barn", out the left window. Sounds Amish, and Amish abound in the area, but with these trucks sitting around and what looks like an RV over there on the right, I'm thinking it is not very high order.
Add ImageMile 70.0 and over halfway home. Ah, the urbanity of it all! The sprawl of it all! Coming into Mount Vernon. It is that city's bad fortune that my random odometer reading came up in this relatively ugly,nondescript, could-be-anywhere location, rather than a mile back, with lovely old homes and Mount Vernon Nazarene College, or a mile further, in their lovely central business district. I do have some emotional attachment to this area though, as it is roughly the location of what was Beck's ice cream establishment. In my college days, bunches of us would visit Beck's for the best ice cream sandwiches I've ever had. Now it's Golden Arches, kids.
Mile 80.0. Inexplicably, around Fredericktown, State Route 13 goes all four lane, limited access on you. Not sure why; the traffic counts are not spectacular. It just blosssoms into a highway of some note, then four miles or so later, it's back to the two-lane again. This cannot be due to the incredible local traffic generated by Fredericktown; trust me on this! But someone must have known a Congress person or something around here to get this feat accomplished. Pork!
Mile 90.0. Drove right through Belleville, a nice little town that used to have a smorgasbord everyone knew about, famous for its frogs' legs. The place is out of business now, and the Belleville frogs are sighing in relief. Anyhow, here we are north of Belleville on the road to Mansfield.
Mile 100.0 even. Coming out of downtown Mansfield. It was a roll of the dice with this place; could have shown some unsavory areas, or could have seen the fairly nice central park area. All told, for Mansfield, this ain't too bad a shot...
Mile 110.0. back in the "sticks" again. A fine little slice of Americana here further up 13.
Mile 120.0. Oh, the hours I have spent over my lifetime waiting at this particular crossing! They are slated to build an overpass here some day, but evidently not soon, since they are in the process of paving the road right now. The trained eye will spot the pavement texture indicating that it has been stripped for a new coat of asphalt.
Last shot at mile 130.0. This little guy was welcoming me home, I guess. Not that this barn or farm is home. But I live less than ten miles from this spot, so the random experiment in capturing Ohio was over right here.

I draw few conclusions from the whole enterprise, aside from the fact that it sort of kept me occupied and made the trip go a bit faster. I do not recommend it to anyone, as I suppose there is some danger in photographing the landscape while piloting a car hurtling along a country road at 55+ miles per hour. I didn't really work too hard at looking at the image on the screen, and pretty much just took what I got; I've done this a lot over the years, for various reasons.

I guess one conclusion is that, for the most part, this state is pretty dang rural, acreage-wise. I could have taken the Interstate, but it zig-zags to get up where I needed to be, not very much as the crow flies. Maybe a severely impaired crow that had imbibed a bit too much of the corn squeezin's. Anyhow, along the Interstate, you still would have seen woods and fields in most shots; just a lot more concrete and a lot more traffic.