Jim’s Coleslaw • Pennsylvania Recipe

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WHAT KIND OF SALAD DOES one most often find next to their sandwich at most diners and restaurants?  Another hint: It is packaged in just about every clamshell to-go (take-away, for you Brits) container, adding value to the entrée, along with your chips, rings, and fries.

You’ve probably figured it out from the title or the pictures.  Why are we discussing slaw?  Slaw is good for you. It is easy to make.  So today, we’ll cover the basic slaw recipe. With pictures!

Buy a nice clean head of cabbage.  Look at the base. If it is seriously discolored, it has been sitting for weeks or more.  Visit a produce market with lots of foot traffic.  An average medium head is about three pounds.  Shedding the outside leaves at the market, before paying, will save you a little money, as most people throw away the bruised and dirty outer leaves.

DSCF0923After sectioning and removing the core, we’ve dropped about half a pound.  For this amount of cabbage, we’ll use 1.5x the dressing recipe, as opposed to 2.5 (one unit of dressing per pound cabbage).  This makes for a tastier, lighter slaw.  Hey, tell your guests they have two choices: take it or leave it.  Besides, it is healthier.  One can add a little more salt or pepper if they want to punch it up.

It’s been thrown through the Cuisinart, along with a few carrots.  In a mixing cup, we’ve combined 3 tbs each sugar and tarragon-infused white wine vinegar, a couple tsp each salt and celery seed (we faked it with celery salt for this batch), a little white pepper (or regular pepper if it is all you have), a SMALL dash of yellow mustard, and as much mayonnaise as you can scoop onto a tablespoon. Add a little more mayo if you want, but not too much more. Whisk until liquid and solids combine.

A large Tupperware® is great for mixing.  Pour about half the dressing on the cabbage, close the container, and shake it up.  TASTE IT NOW.  You’ll notice it tastes like . . . cabbage. And needs salt.  That is good.  It means you are paying attention.  Add another quarter, shake, and you’ll probably add the rest of the mixture.  CAUTION: Do not add your dressing all at once.  A spicier dressing due to heavy hand on the seasonings, or less shredded cabbage than anticipated, can change the end product.  Add, mix, taste. Add, mix, taste.

Fridge it for a few hours, clean up, and turn it over before serving. Bon Appétit

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Ramon’s Taco • Planada CA

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DRIVING THROUGH THE ALMOND trees of the Central Valley can be hungry work!  You’re headed to or from Yosemite or Mariposa, and wonder, “Where can I get a decent burrito or taco?”.  Yes, the packing lot by the Mineral Museum sometimes has an excellent lunch truck, but if you can wait until you get to Planada, you’re in for a treat!!!

Hey, and there’s Ramon himself, in his sharp red truck!  Ramon knows his stuff, and now has several trucks.  I first discovered his truck when bringing a friend into Mariposa.  The vegetarian burro was a two-hander, and dripping with so much flavor, I’d of sworn it had a pork-based sauce within.

DSCF0043However good it was, the best has got to be the al pastor burrito!  He’s figured out how to punch up the ingredients to a new high of culinary pleasure! This thing is BURSTIN’ with flavor!  If I could eat every meal, I’d be the happiest of men!  The tacos are the same.  Not the Americanized TacoSmut version, but the REAL DEAL!

Stop in Planada or where ever you see Ramon’s vans.  He will personally return your money if you are not 100% satisfied!


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Casa Reynoso • Tempe AZ

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Highly recommended!   Headed anywhere near Tempe, Arizona?   Make the trip.  If you’re staying five days, plan to eat there four times.  I had the same thing every time.  A #5 Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 9.14.50 AMCombination plate smothered in enchilada sauce.  Enchilada, Taco, Burro Red Mixed.  Skipping the beans and rice on the plate is all that allowed me to finishtheir huge portion.

Easily overlooked, tucked as it is into the corner of a corner strip shopping plaza, overwhelmed by a Fry’s Grocery Store and a string of forgettable but, to some, necessary, retail and service providers,  stands a restaurant of impeccable pedigree.  For 30 years now, Antonio and Roberta Reynoso have prepared and served  old style cooking made famous by their mother, Salustia, of Marfa, Texas. 

Make the trip and cross off another line on the bucket list!

3138 S Mill Ave  Tempe AZ 85282   (480) 966-0776

Herbal Tea • Anywhere USA

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1 gallon honey weighs 11 lbs., 13.2 ounces.

DSCF0959There was a time when I could lay back on the couch, ignoring sports flickering on the TV, daydreaming while the world continues.  And polish off a six-pack of Coca-Cola®.  In one hour.  This excessive consumption of caffeine and high fructose corn syrup alarmed and frightened those around me, and, knowing better than I do, removed soda from the house and replaced it with sun tea.  Herbal, caffeine-free tea, chilled or outright cold.  Boring!

DSCF0941Sometimes it would taste better than other times, and I started to pay attention, until I was making a gallon of a rather tasty brew every day or so in the summer .  An interesting mix of teas, honey, and fresh mint make all the difference.  Steep times increased, and direct sunlight was removed from the process.

My best brews come from a gallon jug with 7 or 8 tea bags steeped 20 hours.  Two tablespoons of honey dissolved in half a cup of hot water.  A handful of mint from the garden, washed in hot water to  help bring out the oils.  Four hours in the fridge, and it is ready to drink without ice.  As God intended.  The Garden of Eden contained no ice, after all.

So buy a gallon jug of honey at the next farm show you visit.  Decant the honey into smaller jars.  Use the jug to make your own tea.  Don’t worry about your Coca-Cola stock.  They’ll think of something to prop up sales, no doubt.

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Más Taco • Red Lodge MT

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DSCF0887DRIVING OUT OF YELLOWSTONE over the Bear Tooth Pass Highway, one experiences a truly mortal encounter with their fate.  Motoring above cloud cover with little between the pavement and plunge?  Possibly the snow slows one down long enough to develop real appetite?  Either way, out of the Pass, the first few choices are typical tourist town smack.  Keep driving.  A little further.  To Red Lodge, my friend.

On the north edge of a very walkable business district, conveniently placed upon  a corner with plenty of parking, lies the answer to life’s riddle;  “How do I compete with the scenery of Bear Tooth Pass?”.  Begin with one Taco Carne Asada, designed and built by Mike Muirhead.  Then try a small burrito.  Or another taco, different flavor?  

The chips and salsa are a must.  This is not the salsa you gorge upon as a mini-meal; besides, you don’t get enough in their serving.  You do get a robust explosion of flavor upon their freshly-cooked chips.  A value at twice the price!

My first impression was that the food far exceeded my expectations.  The waitress explained the chef was from LA.  I spied it in his focused, steely eyes, from the start.  The passion for flavor.  Seriousness for the product delivered.  A professional making this one small taco joint his life.

509bfafed55cd.preview-620What makes it so good?  I called a few days later, and Jake gave it to me straight.  Lots of work!  The crew starts their day 5 hours before the 11am opening.  EVERYTHING is made fresh, from scratch, daily. Trim the steak, marinate in “secret” ingredients, make the masa (corn meal dough) fresh every day, cook it to order, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!!!! And this is just for my taco!  I was tired just imagining the amount of work involved!  Maybe I’ll pay the $2.95 per taco, and stick to plumbing?

Make it part of your life.  Find the time to make a trip to one of America’s great eateries.  The Bear Tooth Pass Highway will make an excellent addition to a perfect day!

 Mike Muirhead’s culinary journey has taken him from  Florence, Italy, to Beverly Hills. His Red Lodge restaurant, Mas Tacos, offers al pastor — served five different ways — as its specialty.

Mocha Madness • Pochatello ID

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On an early Sunday morning, I dutifully follow the metallic instructions from my Nüvi.  The historic district, however, was closed.  As was Main Street Cafe.  My loss, I’m sure.

But circling back, I return to a cheery AND OPEN stand-alone shop, and quickly make friends with the equally cheery barista, Stephanie.  Fresh coffee, clean floors, plenty of choices.  While the vittles were lacking due to the weekend gobbling, there was plenty of coffee and wifi.

Being a college town, Pocatello has it’s vibrant art and music scene.  And in the mountains, hiking and biking are tops.  Most surprising, one of the customers is gushing about the snow, soon to come.  Her bicycle is outfitted with snow tires, and she is raring to go!

Mocha Madness – worth the stop !!!