Sunday, August 26, 2012

tri tip hamburgers

i've had an idea in my mind for a little while.  i think a part of it goes back to the book fast food nation, and the idea that a burger at a restaurant or ground beef at the market could have meat from 100 cows in it.  i realize the claim wasn't intended to be a fact, but it did get me thinking, and sorta stopped me from eating burgers fro a while.  in time, and after watching a lot of food network, i started to think about grinding meat and making my own hamburgers.  this lead me to thinking about burgers made from high quality cuts of meat.  this isn't that crazy of an idea, so i bought a meat grinder.

but we live in central california, where tri tip is king.  it seems like a local law that bbq places must serve tri tip in some form.  sliced tri tip, tri tip steaks, tri tip sandwiches, even tri tip salads.  but for the life of me, i've never seen a tri tip burger.  i started floating the idea out there among friends and everyone thought it sounded like a fabulous idea.  one friend did bring up the idea that it might be dry, as tri tip isn't the fattiest of cuts.  but, i solved this issue by getting a cut of tri tip that was untrimmed (i usually buy it this way, it's a little cheaper and i can trim the fat and decide how much i want to leave on for flavor in cooking).  i trimmed of the silver skin and away we went.

before grinding meat, it's suggested that you chill it in the freezer for a while.  this definitely made it easier to cut the meat into small chunks.  they also recommend you put the parts of the grinder in the freezer as well, although i'm not really sure why.  i still did it though.  speaking of the grinder, i considered a grinder attachment for our kitchen aid stand mixer.  however,  i eventually purchased a standard, hand crank grinder.  it was a little cheaper, but also bigger.  i'm not sure which i will prefer in the long run, but the grinder was easy to use, and fairly easy to clean up afterwards.  while grinding the meat, i added a few cloves of garlic.  that was pretty cool, just drop in a clove every so often while your grinding and it's in the mix.  i didn't add any other seasoning to this point.  after the meat was all ground i added a bit of pepper that i folded into the meat before shaping into patties.  here's the meat as i was finishing up grinding:

now, here's the part where i'm a bad blogger.  i didn't take pictures of the patties.  i was going to do it after they chilled and before i put them on the grill.  didn't.  then, i was going to take some pictures of the cooked patties. didn't.  nor did i take a shot of the finished burger.  lame, lame, lame.  what i can let you know is that they looked nice.  i made most of the patties about 4" across, with a bit of a dimple in the middle.  they cooked up rather well and at the normal rate for most burgers.  i also grilled a bit of romaine lettuce to go on the burgers.

to the flavor: the burgers tasted good.  i slightly overcooked them, which was my own fault, but they still stayed juicy enough.  i'm not sure that you could really taste that it was tri tip, but i still like the idea of a higher quality cut of meat.  overall, the process was worth it and i'll be grinding more meat in the future.

Friday, August 24, 2012

for a long time, i've had another blog that had my artwork on it.  it's still hanging around the internet, but now i'm proud to let you all know that i have a proper website for my art.  i've updated my sidebar link, and am promoting the site through my social media contacts. is my new art home.  i'm really excited for you to check it out.

jared jurcak did the work. he's local, he's talented, and yes, he's for hire.  so get at him.

the site currently has 24 of my paintings on it, but it's also got room to grow, so hopefully this will be a little bit of drive to get to work.  i have 2 paintings in progress, that have been in progress for a while.  they need to get done, and i need to get showing (& selling).

and maybe, just maybe, i will finally find a suitable wall w/creative fresno for a mural.  and at that time that sort of stuff can get there, too.

Friday, August 17, 2012

watts' grill chicken & waffles

i'm a fan of watts family grill.  i love their bbq, their sides, and they run a pretty good ship over there.  shoot, the other night, we went there to watch the historic 1-0 u.s. victory over mexico from azteca stadium.  today, i was craving fried chicken, and was thinking about going over to rudy jr.'s chicken man.  but, when we were @ watts the other night, we saw someone having the chicken & waffles, which i haven't had there.

i love chicken and waffles.  the spicing of fried chicken mixed with the sweet of waffle & syrup really does it.  so, i decided to hit up watts instead of chicken man.

this is the 2 piece, one waffle combo from watts.  it's $8.  i had wanted legs or thighs, but they were out so i had to go with just wings.  that's fine.  oh, yeah, that picture is also before i put on syrup.

upon ordering, they let you know that it'll take a little extra time because the fresh fry all their stuff - no sitting around.  the chicken comes out super hot, so i waited and worked on my waffle for a bit.  the waffle is pretty dang good.  i seemed lie a multi-grain type waffle mix, not just your typical waffle batter used to make a fresh waffle.  i liked the powdered sugar, but of course, i also used syrup.  when the wings cooled a bit, a dug in to them, too.  good stuff.  this is actually the 2nd time i've had the fried chicken here, and it's good stuff.

overall, i thought the chicken & waffle combo was a good mix.  it is definitely worth ordering if you want chicken & waffles, or if you want something different than your usual bbq order.

now, here's the real test in my mind: how do they stack up to Roscoe's?  the waffles are a bit different. roscoe's is a little more basic of a waffle, but they also give you a good amount of butter.  i think i actually like watts' waffle better.  but the chicken, man, roscoe's has them beat.  their chicken is ridiculous.  and, i love the gravy option at roscoe's.  this is no slight on watts at all.  it's just, roscoe's is my gold standard for chicken and waffles, and to dethrone the king you've got to really bring it.

chevron trick pricing

so, today i needed to get some gas, and i was in north fresno, away from the gas stations i usually go to.  i was heading south on north blackstone and saw that i could get to a 76 or a chevron.  i scanned the signs, and the cash price was about the same, or so i thought.  chevron was going to be a little easier to get to, so i pulled in, went inside, and gave the attendant my cash for the fill up.

and then, i realized i had been duped.

you see, on my experiences, and i'm sure yours as well, gas stations advertise their cash and credit prices.  so, in the picture above, i saw that the cash prices were $4.25, $4.17, and $4.25, with the credit prices 20 cents more at each level.

nope, at this station, those lower prices are for a gallon with a car wash.  with a car wash?  w.t.f.?

yes, it is my own fault for not being able to read that with car wash element when i was going by and eyeballing the prices.  i understand that.  but that is some chicanery by chevron, setting up their pricing advertisement just like every other station, but swapping in a variation of car wash instead of cash.

to be honest, i have no idea what it would have cost me had i been using plastic instead of cash.  i dread the thought that it would've been another 20 cents on top of the non-car wash price.  it's pretty devious to trick your patrons in that manner, especially at 20 cents a gallon.  since i ride a motorcycle, the car wash wasn't even an option, so i'm not sure what it would have actually cost in addition to the gas for the car wash.

today's lesson: i should have gone to 76.  and, never assume that the standard formatting is what you're getting.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

stringer bell raps

i can't say i know the band milk.  i can't say that i'm particularly fond of their maroon fivesque sound.

but i can say that when i heard that stringer bell (idris elba) was rapping on a track, i was like, yes please.

not exactly the best bars i've ever heard spit.  i really like the confused looks on the faces of some of the band.

btw, i know that mr. elba does some dj-ing.  i think i'll try and see if i can find some footage of that next.

Monday, August 13, 2012

pinot wine bar

so, i'm not a big wine person, so i've sort of stayed away from pinot even though it's in my neighborhood and i always like to find good, local food.  i also didn't think their menu was all that extensive.  anyway, a good friend had told me that they had been recently and that we should check it out, and that they dinner menu had changed a little.

i stopped by on a wednesday evening and it was crazy hot outside.  inside, very pleasant.  clean, cool atmosphere greeted us, and we sat with our friends who had gotten there before us.  the waiter brought out waters and menus, and gave us some time to look over things.

when he came back, i ordered a spatten off their beer menu - even though they're a wine bar they have a very nice beer menu.  not sure if they have much on tap, but have a good bottle selection and most are very reasonably priced.

anyway, my wife ordered one of the cheese plates and a dessert for dinner. she really liked it - the cheese was up to her expectations and it also came with fruit and nuts.  yeah, i know, this is basic cheese plate stuff, but it was still good.  i ordered the burger & fries.  the burger comes with fresh lettuce, tomato and choice of cheese. you can also add bacon or an egg for an additional charge. i wanted to taste their burger as is, so i just went with the standard order. i was impressed that it was cooked to order, and the chef actually cooked it right.  sounds simple, again, but often a cooked to order burger is still well done, which isn't my taste.  the burger had a very good taste. the fries were some simple shoe strings, but the tasted nice, and were finished with a sea or kosher salt.

i will certainly be going back for the burger again, but this time i'll be adding the egg for sure because eggs on burgers are the business.  probably the bacon as well.  the food menu isn't super large, and the other items seemed interesting and worth trying.  i have no idea about the wines.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

doughnuts 2 go review

i was looking for something different for lunch, and remembered that a little place down olive had bierocks.  That place: doughnuts 2 go (or maybe it's donuts 2 go, i can't remember).  for those that remember, this locale used to be a chinese food, burgers & donuts place, but a few months back it became Doughnuts 2 Go.  they still do multiple things, as exhibited by the fact that i went in and had 2 bierocks.  they were pretty basic (ground beef & cabbage) but good tasting and cheap - $1.99 each.  i was rather pleased with the taste.  i'm not sure if they make them on the premises or are buying them from someone else, but i'd guess they pre-make them and then heat them up.  anyway, they tasted good.

i also wanted to try out the doughnuts, so i bought a apple fritter to eat later.  the doughnuts seem reasonably priced, and i think the fritter was $1.75 - but your average doughnut was under $1.  i'm not sure when they made the fritter (i'm assuming it was in the morning) but i ate it about 5 hours after buying it, and it still tasted really fresh and good.

they also do burgers & fries, and the prices seemed good, so i think i'll have to go back at some point and check out the burgers, too.

601 E. Olive
Fresno, CA 93728
(559) 443-1730

Friday, August 10, 2012

please help stop crime in the tower district: facebook folly?

i once was a part of a group on facebook.  it seemed like a pretty good idea.  neighbors wanted to help each other out.  they wanted to be able to let people what was going on, and help find solutions.  i don't know if this can ever really work, but i thought it was a good idea.  eventually, i took myself out of the group.

yes, i left the "please help stop crime in the tower district" group on facebook.

why?  well, despite the best intentions of the founders of the group*, it became a place to bitch and moan about the things that certain people didn't like.  i admit, i wasn't fond of some of these things as well, but i also didn't think that these gripes really met the purpose of the group.  yes, the tower community garden had become a mess, a nuisance, and some minor criminal activity was happening there, but overall, was that the problem of crime in the neighborhood?  and the voluntarily homeless that loitered around some of the businesses were bad, but again, were they the major problem around?  it was these sorts of frequent posts and ensuing comment threads that drove me out of the group, which, since it's a facebook group leaving was pretty easy.

the group continues on, as it should.  and, as i would expect, it has just gotten worse.  there are still some beneficial posts, stuff that actually alerts people about crime happening, but there is soooo much more.  somebody thinks they heard a gun shot.  someone saw some guy that looks "suspicious" in their neighborhood.  the cops arrested someone in fresno with a gun so i'm posting a photo.  i saw the cops, anyone know why?  little ceasars is a nuisance.  and the comments on most post, ugh.  they range from racist to threats of violence to the occasionally helpful.

i mean, i understand if you just saw someone committing a crime, and you're giving people the heads up.  but when there are continual comments and posts advocating open violence, i'm not sure you're helping to end crime in the neighborhood.  i'm pretty sure that advocating crime isn't going to stop crime.

here's a few actual comments from recent threads:  
"Forget the police. It's time to shoot a thief when they try to rob your place. Maybe if a few gang mutts were hung in front of the Tower they'd get the message and move on."

"Text me from now on since PD's "too busy", besides there's only one thing these guys understand and it isnt cell phone pics or threats to call the cops. Remember they didnt grow up like you and me, their moral compasses are off, the threat of the cops doesnt strike fear in them anymore because they know they'll be out within the hour... so maybe a 6'5" 235lb tattoo covered Marine confronting them would be the best medicine from now on"

"mark my words everyone, there will be a day in the near future when we will have to rise up and protect ourselves. Depending on a non existent police presence is not going to protect you or your belongings anymore. We have to watch out for each other, protect each other and stand up against this criminal element who is preying on us like we are baby gazelle. If we ALL stand up, If we all confront them in unison regardless of personal belief about how to go about it, then they will stop. We cant stand idly by anymore because we are too afraid to confront someone, we cannot let these people take our possessions so freely. Please meditate on my words friends. Because I will be standing with you should this be the case when I am out, I will be emphasis to your voice and strength behind your strength and courage. I hope that after reading this that we will start making a difference, and not allowing people to stand alone as victims any longer."

now, those last two comments are from the same guy.  who is he, bane?  

here's one from someone else
"it's typical entitlement society behavior. These street people think they can harass and intimidate people. Then when challenged they want to play the "homeless", "mentally ill' ,or "race card". It's time to teach them to stop messing with people. This cavepest makes the mistake of sitting on the ground in front of the post office in the afternoon. A good quick kick from a steel boot might teach him some manners. Old ladies might be scared of him but he better watch out. I's how they operate they target people they think are weak or they can intimidate."

yep, this is going to stop crime in the tower.
my favorite part of the page, though, has to be the post about cafe corazon not opening until 10 a.m., and all of these people that "love" the tower attacking a successful business family for their decision to keep the hours that work for them.  effing brilliant.  

*please understand that this post is in no way intended as a slight to the founders or their intentions. the idea may be good, but i'm critiquing what the page has become and expressing the why i've left & stay away.