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This Is The Year The Streak Comes To An End. No, Not THAT One...

This is the year, sadly, that the streak comes to an end.

No, not that one about Virginia Tech and Virginia in football. I’m talking about the streak I’ve held in our household for Thanksgiving dinners.

My wife and I are celebrating our 38th Thanksgiving dinner Thursday since getting married back when the dinosaurs roamed the planet. And every year, no matter where the dinner is, I’m the guy who carved the turkey. This is due to the fact that 99 percent of the time, the dinner has been in my own house, which has allowed me a tremendous home court advantage.

I even have a special carving knife that’s the size of your arm, and you can just hear Crocodile Dundee saying “now THAT’s a knife” as I pull it out of the kitchen drawer.

But not this year. My wife’s mother mentioned in passing late last week that her plans for Thanksgiving hadn’t really panned out, so she was just going to stay at home. Alone. On Thanksgiving.

This, of course, is roughly equal to driving a stake through my sentimental heart, so I suggested to my wife that we just drive to Roanoke for the day to address this. Because of everyone’s schedules, the only option was to drive down Thanksgiving morning and make it a day trip, which will allow us to spend the day there, but won’t allow time for cooking.

Or carving.

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Dave Scarangella

Happy Thanksgiving Wade!

Bring some Thanksgiving magic to Blacksburg Friday!
Thursday, 22 November 2018 07:56
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Meet The Dennis Rodman of Canines In The Kitchen...

Rebounding in basketball isn't so much about jumping. It's about position. Knowing where the ball is going to end up landing. Being ready for the opportunity.

Based on those qualifications, if my dog Schnoodle had played basketball, the old girl would have made the hall of fame. No dog can read the kitchen, come up with a plan, and be where the odds are best that a mistake will be made. She doesn't look for food scraps. Food scraps fall in front of her. She is the Dennis Rodman of kitchen canines.

Today is a rainy day in Ashburn, and neither my wife nor daughter will eat leftovers (or even something twice in the same week). So since it is so dreary outside, I'm cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer of older foods coming up on an expiration date. I've turned three chicken breasts into chicken salad for sandwiches for the next few days; I have taken 1.5 pounds of ground beef and made it into a chili/taco meat mixture to go on hot dogs, baked potatoes or other assorted options over the weekend; yesterday I found this beautiful pork shoulder minding its own business in the back of the freezer. It has been appropriately bathed in a dry rub, had garlic inserted into it, and is peacefully resting until tomorrow.

Making these three dishes so there's plenty to warm up and eat on a moment's notice over the weekend involved doing a lot of chopping and mixing in various places in the kitchen. Schnoodle moved when I moved and always found the right spot. Making this more amazing is she lost her sight several years ago. But that does not hinder the pooch, as she has a nose with abilities the CIA would envy.

She's 15 years old and she unfortunately never got to play basketball. She could have been a contender. Instead, she roams the kitchen like a BOSS. And when it comes to kitchen scraps, she's the real MVP 😃

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Now Here's A Great Reason To Visit Mississippi Or West Virginia...

Even though it’s the day after election day, here's something going on across the nation that I think is far more interesting.

It’s the rankings for fattest state in America, the battle to see who consumes the most sugar, pork fat, gravies and otherwise delicious foods at meal time. It was compiled by Wallet Hub and you can see the full rankings here.

The winner? Mississippi, come on down, as you have easily secured the top spot. The land of deep-fried catfish, barbecue, opossum and even more deep-fried catfish is No. 1. You're not fat, as they used to say, you're just big boned. You may be No. 1, but obesity doesn't run in your family. Nobody runs in your family.

West Virginia came in second, while Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee round out the top 5. Louisiana, Alabama and South Carolina were just a belt notch away from joining the XXXL club. Dead last? The state that thinks it's a good idea to eat sheep testicles and call them Rocky Mountain Oysters: Colorado at No. 51

You might look at that list of states at the top and notice a trend, and no, it’s not that they are all southern states (which they are). But I spent many decades as a sales and marketing road warrior travelling this great country, and while in those states I noticed a couple of similar situations.

For one, you won’t meet a lot of people in those states who eat kale or arugula. That’s not to say they don’t exist, but when you meet one, there’s usually a term for them: “Health nut” or “Yankee” top the list.

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No, Brits, This Is Not What Americans Typically Eat At Football Games

I normally stay out of the whole "fake news" debate. If a story doesn't seem all that accurate, I just leave it alone and let others offer a counter opinion.

But I had to draw a line on this one. As you can see, Darren Rovell is reporting from London, where the NFL was playing its annual game this morning. He says the the above picture is what the British are being told is authentic football fare: A two-foot long Mac & Cheese dog at Wembley Stadium today.

This, of course, is patently untrue. I don't know ANYONE who would put ketchup on macaroni & cheese 😃

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No, Arby's Name Is Not Based On Initials For "Roast Beef"

I have been seeing this recurring post on social media saying that Arby's got its name from the initials for roast beef (R.B.'s), and people responding "oh, that makes so much sense." Have probably seen it three times a day on Facebook and Twitter the past week.

It's a nice story, but it's not true. It's close to the truth, but the name has nothing to do with roast beef. Instead, the chain was started by Forrest & Leroy Raffel, so they named it after the initials for "Raffel Brothers", (R.B.'s) not roast beef.

And if you wanted to know what roast beef has to do with a ten gallon cowboy hat (which is the shape of the Arby's sign), turns out they originally wanted to name it "Big Tex." The name, however, was taken so they went with Arby's while still keeping the sign shape they designed for "Big Tex."

So in your next game of anything involving trivia...

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The Finished Product...

Since I've been trying to encourage everyone to try making pulled pork barbecue this weekend, I did not want to appear to be one of those "do as I say, not as I do" kind of people. So here's my finished product.

It turned out great, particularly when paired with  cole slaw, baked beans, deviled eggs and potato salad. My wife said if I posted this, I better credit her for making the beans and not "steal her bean glory." So she made the beans and they were fantastic.

Hope yours came out as well. Now it's time to find a sofa and watch the Indy 500...

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It's Time For Memorial Day BBQ. You Can Do This...

Every time about this year, I run into younger friends who say how much they love barbecue. Each time I hear it, I usually counter with “if you love it so much, why don’t you make it at home so you can have it more often.”

This is usually quickly followed by a look from my younger friends that suggest I’ve just asked him to go dig up some uranium in the back yard.

So let’s go over this. One. More. Time.

Making pulled pork barbecue is about as easy as it gets. It’s only about a quarter step up from boiling water. And when it’s on sale, you can make as much as you could probably eat in a month for 10 bucks.

The cut of meat you need to make barbecue from is called either a pork shoulder of a Boston Butt. It normally sells for between $1.79 to $1.99 pound and around holidays like Memorial Day, it’s usually on sale. Harris-Teeter, for example, is selling a Smithfield pork shoulder/Boston Butt for 99 cents a pound this week (what you should see at Harris Teeter should look exactly like the picture above), which means WE are having barbecue this weekend. For you folks who skipped math, that means a good sized 8-pound shoulder is going to cost under $8. Or about what you’ll pay for one barbecue sandwich at a Nationals game.

After you’ve purchased one, you need to allow two days before you plan to serve it. I bought one today, will follow this process, and we will have it for lunch on Sunday. Here’s what you do:

A shoulder tastes best when slow cooked with a dry rub applied, so you need to make one. There are a lot of ingredients you can use, but they usually fall into three categories: something sweet, something salty and something savory. The something sweet is easy: brown sugar. The something salty is pretty easy too: salt. The savory includes things like garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, maybe even cumin. Add equal parts of the sugar, salt and the savory ingredients you like and mix together.

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Welcome To National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day....

Since every day is apparently national SOMETHING day (yesterday it involved pets), today we honor melted cheese between two slices of bread: National Grilled Cheese Sandwich day.

I always wondered who decides these things, because there’s a national day for just about every kind of food, animal or occupation imaginable. And there are far more than 365 foods, animals or occupations, so clearly there’s some overlap.

I struggle with grilled cheese because if I’m going to invest a lot of cheese, a flour-based product like bread and grill/bake it, I’m going to  make a pizza. It’s is nature’s perfect food, and why mess with what God has already perfected?

But there are times when a toasted grilled cheese sandwich – served with a mandatory bowl of tomato soup – can be pleasing. My issue, as is the case with everything I cook, is I use too many ingredients. I have to have significant amounts of American cheese, swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, and if I have any in the refrigerator, provolone. As a separator, I will put a thin slice of ham between the various types of cheese, and occasionally will even add a few thin slices of pepperoni.

See? I end up making a pizza again.

I Googled the topic to see just how serious people take this manufactured holiday, and the answer is pretty serious. The first story to pop up is titled “9 ways to honor National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day on Thursday.” Of course it’s from a newspaper in Milwaukee, and in Wisconsin they do take their cheese extremely serious. But with that kind of reverence, you’d almost think they have a “Tomb Of The Unknown Cheese Curd” or something there too.

So enjoy National Grilled Cheese Day...until tomorrow...when it's National Peach Cobbler Day...Blame Someone Else Day...International Skeptics Day...and Friday the 13th...

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Eating Some Of These Sandwiches WILL Make You A Po' Boy

While waiting for the Nationals’ home opener to start, I found myself browsing through Twitter, reading of everyone’s experiences in the cold downtown near the Navy Yard. Over about a 10-minute timespan, the pics you see at the top were posted, and you couldn’t help but notice the contrast.

On the left are pics posted by The Washington Post’s Scott Allen, whose assignment today was to go around and sample all the new foods, with no worry of their cost. Today, it was good to be Scott Allen. But Scott, while giving his reviews of the culinary offerings, also posted signs that showed the prices. Scott posted another pic of his meal of a Nashville hot chicken sandwich and some mac and cheese, and while I’m sure it was wonderful, it looked no different than what I could get at Chick-Fil-A.

According to my math, Scott paid $22 for those two items. Usually when I spend that much for an entrée’ at lunch, they bring a steak knife and serve it with dishes like potatoes lyonnaise. Dire Straights must have been thinking about this meal when they sang, "Money for nothing and the (Nashville Hot) Chicken ain't free"...or something like that.

While these pics were coming over Twitter, the pic at right from Augusta National was posted. There is no more exclusive ticket on the planet than going to see The Masters. They could literally charge whatever they wanted and people would pay it. But they don’t. The make a fair profit and leave it at that. Just like when you would go anywhere in the South, a sandwich is 3 bucks. A drink is 2 bucks, etc., etc.

I get the whole paying more for convenience factor at sporting events. But there should be a limit of just how much of a premium you charge before it’s crossing the line. A soft drink should be $2. A hot dog should be $4. Charge all you want for the gourmet, free-range, organic, gently massaged chicken used in a specialty sandwich, but be realistic with the concession stand staples that are part of the ball park experience.

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