In re: Bric-a-brac / speaking American


Spent a few hours yesterday running some errands, including a few stops at thrift shops looking for a typewriter (long story for another time).  In the course of entering/exiting and walking through  a selection of Columbus’ thrift shops encountered a variety of individuals from cross sections of Columbus I don’t always see.  For the most part nothing too interesting to report on and in general the shops were pretty nice and clean and had pretty decent stuff for sell (not just bric-a-brac despite the sign above from the Salvation Army store on South High St.). Two things that kind ofstuck in my head was how much crap (and I don’t mean crap to mean its junk – plenty of good pots, pans, glasses, clothes, electronics or whatever) our country must go through that we can donate this stuff in such volumes.  Some of the stuff is clearly headed to new homes where it will have a good 2nd, 3rd or 4th life.  Some of the electronics though are destined for doom (no chance in being sold) – one example: old Ameritch DSL modems that originally come free when you sign up for service.  I don’t know maybe somebody breaks theirs and needs one but these things don’t seem like anyone will be coming to buy one.  But actually some of the stuff really sells – VHS tapes?  Actually yes – there sure seemed to be a lot of folks combing through the pretty expansive offerings that are out there – so if your looking to get into a nice collection it seems like just the time.

My over analytical view of the world after visiting all these shops:  Partly sad to see all the extra junk we have put out there and how the exciting new electronic which once was the latest and greatest and was the center of our universe is sitting on a  shelf with a grease pencil $1.99 on it, but partly happy seeing how affordable living in America is if you go pick up a electric hand mixer for $1.99 and another buck for the metal beaters and how we do reuse a lot of the stuff and second homes are found (there were even dumpster divers going through the rejected donations).

The other constant on the trip around thrift shops was seeing Columbus’ immigrant population out in force and then running into someone thinking I wanted to chat w/ them about the need for these people to ‘speak American’ (as a side note the person he was upset about was speaking English and the guy had just been nice about holding the door for the non-American speaking man, so not the worst person ever to be fair), but still the comment sickened me and I wish I had retorted with some witty comment about this ‘American’ language he was talking about or something about his ancestors – presumably non-English speaking bringing a copy of Rosetta Stone w/ them on the boat ride over to be so well prepared.  But I didn’t sadly, and I say sadly as I am not sure these people get the fact that our country has never been such a purely English speaking nation as they think and that to thrive Columbus needs to be reaching out to immigrants and growing these populations.


In re: Winter miracles

January 7th in Ohio doesn’t usually bring with it 50 degree weather – but this year it did and that meant the bike path was full of bikers and walkers, the tennis courts even had people in shorts.  We took advantage of it and headed off on a nice long walk with the dogs in the peak of the amazing weather.  On the way back the urge for a coffee came upon as we neared the Caribou, but alas no wallets were to be found.  Would there be two miracles today?  Yes – just like the miraculous weather we were able to scrounge up $1.67, just 2 cents short of a small cup of coffee and with the kind aid of the staff I was coached into the right answer to the trivia (Caribou Coffee in pig latin, which is Ariboucay offeecay) which brought it down to $1.59 – enough to leave a tip even!  So with a second cup to split up the cup and a dash of half and half we were out on their patio enjoying the amazing day with our coffees and dogs – a winter miracle I’d say.

In re: Cider braised chicken with Ohio apple brandy

picture from Cooks Country

Saw this recipe the other day on WOSU our local PBS station on an episode of Cooks Country. The recipe is for Apple Cider Chicken, which uses bone in chicken pieces, seared in a pan, where a braising sauce is then made, with the chicken then going back into the pan to finish in the oven in a kinda shallow braise allows the skin to stay super crispy and for an amazing sauce that braises the bottom half of the chicken into deliciousness. The recipe is quick to which is nice on a weeknight and was on the table in no time leaving us a nice lunch of leftovers for the next day. (I used a whole chicken the I cut into a fairly standard 10 pieces – legs, thighs, wings, and cutting each half breast in half again to give four quarters of the breast meat – all left on the bone of course).

The technique in the recipe is one that is really useful and could be used in countless other ways, using the pan to sear, sauce and bake makes for easy cleanup (something I am not very good at).  The other reason the recipe sounded  so good to me was to achieve the apple flavor the recipe uses apple cider, apple brandy and apple cider vinegar and we already had some Ohio cider already sitting the in fridge as well as a bottle of Ohio’s own Tom’s Foolery Apple-Jack (recently made available here in Columbus at Weiland’s – where and enthusiastic clerk pointed it out to us and didn’t take any convincing on his part to take it home).

Tom’s Foolery Apple-Jack is an apple brandy made right here in Northeastern Ohio and the stuff is small batch (they say micro batch actually as they say it would take four years to maker the amount that small batch folks make).  Either way the stuff is fantastic (more fruity I would say than a calvados, but with the complexity and warmth you’d expect from a brandy) and finding out that there is another great local distiller is very exciting stuff and I am really pleased that Weiland’s down here in Columbus carries it (there aren’t too many places in Ohio to buy it – I think Weiland’s is the only place in Columbus).  Hopefully the trend of creating artisan spirits continues and people will continue to support the fantastic local liquor scene.

Ok so back to the chicken.  After about fifteen minutes cooking the chicken in the skillet, made the sauce by cooking the onions and scrapping up the fond from the chicken.  Next in goes some garlic, thyme, cider, the brandy and some diced apples, bring it to a quick boil and the chicken goes back in and into the hot 450 degree oven that crisps the chicken even more.  After the oven you finish the sauce with a bit more brandy and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.  The sauce is reminiscent of a good french onion soup (but applely) and was fantastic and worthy of eating on its own with a spoon.  Served it with some potatoes from the oven and some green beans that are easily prepared while the chicken is in the oven.  Forgot to take a picture of the results as we started to devour it so quickly, so the top picture is courtesy of Cooks Country.



In re: Battle of Ohio – Mustard edition

Over the Fourth of July weekend I went down to see one of the Battle of Ohio/I-71 Series/Indians v. Reds/whatever you want to call it interleague game between my Cleveland Indians and the Reds. Was a great time, a pretty decent number of Indians fans showed up, which helped add to the atmosphere. I can’t say I am a huge fan of the Great American Ballpark – nothing wrong with it, nice, clean, new, fairly generic stadium. I guess I wish they would have done something a bit more interesting and a bit more open to the river (on the lower deck you can’t see out to the river, which would be a nifty feature I think). Okay, well not to go on about the stadium, I wanted to mention the mustard. One of the truly great features of going to ballparks is local foods, unfortunately for quite a while the trend to go w/ a mass market food service provider and having national brands pushed a lot of these aspects out – but fortunately Jacobs Field, oops Progressive Field, up in Cleveland has not gone to only having yellow mustard (while they do have the ubiquitous Heinz yellow mustard) they also have the famous and popular Bertmans’s Ballpark Mustard.   Cleveland actually has two mustards (neither is made there) (Stadium Mustard is the other and is the one at Brown’s Stadium – and seems to be made in IL) and they are both great and they are the main reason you must grab a dog at the ballpark or a Browns game. There is debate among some Clevelanders about which is better, some folks don’t seem to know there are two or that there is a difference and both seem to claim to be the original (they share some overlapping history, when the one handled retail sales and the other was for the stadiums).  Some say that following a lawsuit Stadium Mustard got the name and Bertman’s got the recipe.  (see a Battle of two spicy mustards.   Hear more on the story about it on the Splendid Table Podcast – May 9, 2009) including how the two split, the legal battle between the two and how neither is made in Cleveland (Bertman’s is made in southern Ohio – go figure).

So back to the ballpark in Cincy, in one of the fun interstate rivalary elements they cooked up for the weekend the ballpark was conducting a mustard taste off, Cincinnati Reds stadium’s Uncle Phil’s (more on that later) versus Bertman’s Ballpark Mustard. I am biased towards the Bertmans so I voted for that, but Uncle Phil’s was pretty good too. Neither were yellow mustard so I was happy to grab a dog before we sat down and I put some Uncle Phil’s on it and enjoyed the Indians win and the hot dog. Not sure who won the voting or if they even counted up the slips.

Interestingly enough I got home and looked up Uncle Phil’s and learned it doesn’t have much to do with Cincy and that it hasn’t been around for a long time as the Red’s mustard and it seems like for a year or two they stopped using it as the mustard – but it seems to be back.  According to this article the Red’s featured Uncle Phil’s for 6 and 1/2 seasons (see here).  And is made in Wisconsin.  Funny enough that Bertman’s is the one that is made nearby Cincy – kinda wonder why they don’t get into using that one.

In re: Foodie cart spoted in Cbus

Food carts. They seem to be all the rage these days with taco trucks taking over the scene in Columbus and with all kinds of crazy carts getting attention in the ‘hipper’ cities. Despite that Columbus still had not yet got in on the crazier concepts or some really upscale food in a cart. That is starting to change. Not that its upscale, but the food at Foodie cart is pretty high quality and is pushing the Columbus food cart envelope.
So what is Foodie cart? Well the name sure doesn’t give it away, but its Japanese crepes. What you say again? well don’t fear that doesn’t mean its scary, actually it just means anything goes and goes it does. Jerk beef? Lemon pork belly? yes and yes and many more (both savory and sweet). Essentially a Japanese crepe is a thin, slightly crispy, crepe, which can be filled with essentially anything. Foodie cart can be found setting up shop around town and tweeting their location seems like a great idea. When I saw they were downtown I just had to check it out and was quite impressed. They face the slight problem of having only one setup for making crepes but its not a long wait.  It was worth it and since my first trip they seemed to have improved their work flow getting you a crepe without much wait even with a small line.  So find where they are and go grab a crepe.  For more on them and some photos see this post on alt.eats.columbus

Foodie Cart can be found at @freshstreet on Twitter or

In re: LeBronomics

While many if us in Ohio are still getting over Lebrons departure to Miami we gotta start looking to the future and move on.  So despite that one quick post on Lebron, well not really him, but rather the economics of Lebron.  But before that I will mention that I don’t mind him leaving if that’s what he wanted – but wished he could have done it differently. He could have hurt us less.  but oh well.

Anyway that’s not the point. I think I’ve mentioned but may not have that I love Plant Money an NPR podcast. They had a real interesting show on the economics of Lebron, including the conclusion that Lebron should not have gone to Miami (gasp).  Why?  Well Miami isn’t exactly a big city (compared to NY or Chicago) and to maximize happiness he should have gone to New York, in fact since they were so bad that he wouldn’t have to win for a while to make them happy – just being there would bring a lot of happiness for a large number of people.  Additionally putting all those stars together reduces the supply of stars and how much happiness they can provide (there is a limited amount of how much happiness the Heat can provide, presumably getting Wade and Bosh provides almost as much happiness as adding Lebron.

Anyway, check it out, a lot more interesting things about it (including the enjoyment rooting against someone may bring), check out some of their other pod casts (especially all the great episodes on Haiti – maybe you should check those out first actually.)

Lebronomics here and see planet moneys front page here

In re: Crew Stadium #1 stadium of the decade?

Crew Stadium Named #1 ?Stadia magazine is a pretty intense industry magazine from what I can tell on just what its says, Stadia.  It had ads for grass companies, seating and in-depth articles on the newest of those as well.  They recently in their 2010 showcase issue  celebrating their 10 years as a magazine had a list of “Ten from 10: In the last decade Stadia has chronicled the arrival of many new stadia, arena and sports facilities, but here’s our pick of the most notable facilities to have adorned our pages…”  Surprisingly, very suprisingly humble Crew Stadium here in north Columbus made the list, more surprising it was named #1.  Now of course it doesn’t compare in anyway size, feature, design, prestige, etc to most of the list that follows (the new Wembly stadium in London, the oversized larger than life Dallas Cowboys Stadium among others, but still they chose it #1.  The reason was more the impact the stadium has had on soccer in the US, being the first soccer only stadium in the MLS, being built as the vision of the late Lamar Hunt, and leading the trend so that now the norm in the MLS is to build a soccer only stadium.

While I appreciate just a bit more crew stadium now and am glad the crew isn’t playing in front of 90,000 empty seats in Ohio Stadium, I do think in my fantasy world that the crew should move to a downtown stadium the spot I propose is next to Abbot Labs just east of North Fourth St. south of 670 – I don’t even know if that is feasible for any number of reasons, land owner, if the lot is big enough, etc, but from my window it looks to be and would replace a pretty empty field, but would set it close enough to share the arena district resources, court casual soccer fans and add a vibe to the game of having pre and post game options in bars/restaurants that are not really a factor at the State Fairgrounds location.

So I guess it sounds pretty ungrateful saying all this after being named #1 and having a stadium and a team in the first place, but don’t forget that #1 was for being first and  now despite being not so old I think some people might be able to realize some improvements, aside from the location, building an urban, small and compressed stadium would allow our loud fans to have more impact and create an environoment where I think casual fans could learn the game and grow the sport.

Anyway, I got a bit off topic, but I did think the Stadia magazine top 10 was interesting and you can read the whole issue online which is kinda longer and more indepth then I was expecting, ended up reading some articles on plenty of strange topics I hadn’t thought about.  See the latest issue here: Stadia latest

The Black & Gold Standard (crew blog) has the quick list of the top 10 here:

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