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Showing posts from September, 2020

Herrin IL: Rob's Pit BBQ

Rob's Pit BBQ has turned out to be an excellent stop in the Marion/Carbondale/Herrin area. I didn't get a chance to try these BBQ egg rolls but I understand they were tasty. My ribs were smoky and tender. My fried okra was a Southern treat. The other side is corn fritters, a childhood favorite. Thanks, folks!

On The Road: McDonald's

I needed a quick bite to eat outside of St. Louis. McDonald's had the shortest line so I went there. This little snack kept me going for several more hours. Thanks to the McDonald's team for being there to help!

The Take-Out Lifestyle: Peking Palace in Harrisburg IL

What better way to spend a late summer evening than a drive? Harrisburg is a small, cute city in southeastern Illinois. The road there was peaceful in the way we hope that all country roads will be. Peking Palace turned out to be a great way to get a convenient way to get a tasty, healthy dinner. Their service is take-out/delivery only. The dining room was shut down but looked to be a nice place. The owner was very friendly and helpful. My curry vegetables were very tasty. The curry spices came through very clearly with just enough heat to enliven my mouth. The vegetables were soft with just enough tooth to provide good texture. I quietly enjoyed my meal and the sunset. Thanks, folks.

Pot Roast

I needed a dinner that was tasty and easy to prep. Pot roast fit the bill. Browning in flour gave just enough thickness to the gravy. Carrots are always one of my favorite parts of a pot roast.

Canning Lids

Everyone I know reports the same thing I've seen---canning lids are extremely hard to come by. This is a case of lids plus rings at a store in southern Illinois. This is better than nothing but somewhat frustrating to someone who already owns a giant pile of lids. And even this much can be hard to find. I bought a case of jars in August just to get the lids. Canning is a great activity at any time, particularly so now. But this is one example of continuing supply chain issues. Even if you can get 90 percent of what you want, one missing item can bring your plans to a screeching halt.

Dinner at Giant City State Park

Giant City State Park is located a few miles outside Carbondale IL. Their beautiful lodge was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Their restaurant is very well known for its fried chicken dinner. And what better way to enjoy a fried chicken dinner than sitting outside in the beautiful Illinois woods? The chicken was excellent, the sides were superb, and the setting was food for my soul.

Sourdough Bread

I don't often make white bread but I decided to make a fairly traditional sourdough loaf. I used the formula from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I shaped a long loaf using towels. I put a bowl of water in the oven to add steam. The result was pleasing and comforting: dense crumb, thin but hard crust, great flavor.

Treats from Taiwan

My friend Steve sent a box from Taiwan filled with Taiwanese treats---candies and baked goods. Wow! Taiwan has a wonderful tradition of sweets.

Steaks On My PK Grill

I bought a new PK Grill and decided that steak was the perfect inaugural meat. Here are the coals getting ready. I had plenty of room for three large steaks. I put the lid down after a couple of minutes to reduce the flaming. The thermometer registered 350 degrees but I could still touch the lid with my bare hand. All that heat stayed inside. The steak was delicious---char on the outside, medium rare on the inside. I plan to explore the range of application for my new grill.

On The Road: Gates BBQ

Gates BBQ on the east side of Kansas City is becoming a standard stop. It offers easy access to the interstate, excellent food, a very welcoming staff, and plenty of space to eat. On this trip I ordered a half rack of ribs. I very much enjoyed tearing into the meat after a long drive.

On The Road: St. Louis Bread

Panera goes by the name St. Louis bread in that city. I stopped at a location on my way through town and had a very enjoyable, healthy lunch. I ordered my usual: half Casesar salad, half tomato soup. I ate in the parking lot. Delicious, filling, not at all heavy. The entier experience was refreshing and a great way to commence an afternoon of driving.

Sweet Roll Rolls for Breakfast

I wanted a low effort treat for breakfast. My solution was to pick up a roll of Pillsbury sweet rolls at the grocery store. My sweet roll was warm and fresh, plenty tasty. The omelet added protein for balance. I am grateful for this simple pleasure.

The Drive-Thru Lifestyle: Just Hamburgers in Paducah KY

The name Just Hamburgers was particularly appealing around dinner time. The restaurant is located behind Kentucky Oaks Mall in Paducah. The service was efficient and staff friendly. I ordered a classic double burger and was rewarded with the classic burger taste that I craved. The meat was filled with umami and just the right texture. The bun was soft, big enough to complement the meat but not so big as to compete. I also snagged a couple of excellent onion rings. This restaurant is a hidden gem, clearly decided to the craft of burgers. Thanks, folks!

Marion IL: Ice Cream at La Galeria

A tip led me to La Galeria. It isn't obvious to find. It is in a strip mall next to Wal-Mart and located around a corner that makes the sign just a little harder to see. I'm really glad that I was told it was there. The restaurant has two sides, one for food and the other an ice cream parlor. I concentrated on evening ice cream and plan to go back for lunch or dinner. My mango ice cream was spectacular. Both the cream and the fruit came through very clearly. This was a superb ice cream treat.

Steak and A New Grill

I decided to cook steak for dinner. I used a Char-Broil portable grill that turned out to be very handy. It was large enough for both steaks but took only a very small amount of charcoal. I cooked partly with the lid off and partly on. The result after five minutes pe side was a very nice medium rare. The only downside to the grill was that I couldn't close it off enough to save the coals---everything burned down to ash.

The Simple Pleasures of Dairy Queen

Diary Queen was made for late summer evenings. I stopped at the DQ in Metropolis, Illinois on an evening drive. My cone was both simple and wonderful. The egginess of the custard came through perfectly balanced with the milk. I enjoyed it one lick at a time...

The Take-Out Lifestyle: Ned's Shed in Vienna IL

Ned's Shed is a Johnson County, Illinois institution. Lunch there is always a treat. I went inside to order my BBQ sandwich then went back to my car. The owner cheerily brought it out a few minutes later. I took it home to enjoy. The Shed's BBQ is flavorful and moist. Their signature relishes add their own flavor palate and are some of the best I've had anywhere.

The Take-Out Lifestyle: Bob Evans

I wanted to get out of the house so I took a drive to Marion, Illinois. Bob Evans is a reliable choice for dinner. I went for the pot roast dinner, savory and comforting. The looseness of the meat matched the informality of eating on the sidewalk next to the car. The carrots added a note of sweetness. The mashed potatoes and gravy were a balm.

Vienna IL: Wildfires

I was in the mood for a satisfying dinner after a long day of driving. The fried chicken dinner from Wildfires hit the spot. The chicken had a great crust and was nicely moist on the inside. The classic collection of sides were also great. I really enjoyed the mashed potatoes and gravy.

Nebraska City: Apple Barrel

I needed gas and dinner. The Apple Barrel at Sapp Brothers was at the right place and the right time. My burnt end dinner was pretty satisfying. The onion rings were crunchy and fun.

The Drive-Up Lifestyle: Lunch at Taqueria Limon

I needed to go out for errands at lunchtime. I used the opportunity to visit one of my favorite spots, Taqueria Limon. I joined several other carloads of people enjoying a lunch in the outdoors. I ordered my typical cheese pupusas, excellent as always. The cup was something new---corn topped with cheese. This turned out to be an outstanding choice and a new favorite. The corn is sweet enough to serve as dessert without being overly sweet. The cheese brings a touch of savory for balance.

Sacher Torte

I've been thinking about making a Sacher torte for awhile now. The recipe (Epicurious is my favorite) is in the classic style, before the invention of baking powder. The cake is lifted by foamed eggs whites into which the flour is folded. Once that technique is mastered, the cake is pretty straightforward. Apricot jam makes the filling. The chocolate glaze pours on and smooths itself out very nicely. This is a wonderful cake, rich but not overstuffed with ingredients.

The Take-Out Lifestyle: Lunch from Mr. Hui's

I don't order takeout very often these days but I was in the mood for something different. Mr. Hui's is one of my favorite restaurants in Lincoln. Not only is their food great but their take-out service is wonderfully efficient---they bring my bag directly to my car. The kung pao tofu lunch is one of my favorites. It gives me that peanut sweet umami with the digestible protein of tofu. The sauce is just hot enough to get my attention. Thanks, folks!

Chile Relleno

I found some Hatch chiles at Super Saver and saw my opportunity to make a chile relleno. I filled the pepper with a combination of mozzarella and ricotta, the cheeses I had on hand. I made a batter of egg, flour, and baking powder. The oil was a little hot at first, one of the problems of frying very small batches. The chile still made a great meal with refried beans and rice.

Peach Shortcake and Omelet

I had some shortcakes in the freezer. I pulled out two and baked them for breakfast. I added some sliced fresh peaches, a squirt of whipped cream from a can, and an omelet. A wonderful breakfast tasting of summer for which I am grateful.

Roast Pork Dinner

Roast pork from the freezer, home fried potatoes, fresh corn on the cob. A wonderful dinner and celebration of the harvest.


A hearty but not overwhelming meal was in order. Meatballs fit the bill. I wanted to make fresh pasta but pressing business kept me with a box of Ronzoni. Dry pasta was still excellent. My corn-on-the-cob was wonderfully sweet and tasted like summer. Another meal for which I am very grateful.