Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Friday, November 6, 2015


Is that how one says it? As simply as that. "Craig is dead. Craig Henderson of DeMolay is dead." "The soup is hot; the soup is cold." "Craig is living; Craig is dead."

This post isn’t about food. It’s about my friend Craig Henderson, who died two weeks ago today. He was 49 years old.

He was one of the best friends I have ever had. Craig was a big man – with a bigger heart. I miss him, and I needed a way to vent my thoughts in the way Bob Siebold did with his beautiful eulogy. Bob couldn’t read it himself. I am sure that I couldn’t have either.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Remembrance of Things Past

I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either – Jack Benny
Yesterday afternoon, I was winding down after work and getting ready for a “date night” of Pho with my wife. A flag popped up on Facebook telling me that there was a message in the local Chef’s group. A message from Dustin Murphy one of the best young cooks in town, now at the helm of one of the areas better restaurants. You don’t get a perfect 10 from The News if you aren't putting out good product.

His message was simple:
“Anybody wanna kick it with some cool dudes tonight? We're down a guy!”

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

To B or not To B

In contemplating the present opening prospects in human affairs, I am led to expect that a material part of the general happiness which heaven seems to have prepared for mankind will be derived from the manufacture and general use of Maple Sugar - Letter to Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Rush, August 19, 1791
I have long proclaimed to the world my adoration for that true nectar of the Olympian Gods, that Elixir of Life, known as Grade B Maple Syrup.  I was introduced to it on our first of what became an annual family Syrup pilgrimage. That first tour started at Maple Glen Sugar House in Gowanda, a location that is also where I learned not to follow my wife's directions.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Do Not Rue The Day

Nouvelle Cuisine, roughly translated, means: I can’t believe I paid ninety-six dollars and I’m still hungry — Mike Kalin
I have been to Rue Franklin. It was 25 years or so ago. I haven't been back. I have lived in Buffalo on and off since 1976 - spent most of my adult life here. Throughout most of that time, the Rue was the number one destination for fine dining.

There were challengers. Oliver’s with its parade of  Blues-Brothersgreat local cooks. The Hourglass, with WNY’s best wine cellar. All the others mere pretenders.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

I can't cook. I use a smoke alarm as a timer - Carol Siskind
I have been aware of the limitations of the home ventilation hood since long before I became intimately acquainted with those in a professional kitchen. The latter, unconcerned with aesthetic or quiet operation, does a fine job of removing smoke and vapors. The inside surfaces, especially the filter screens become encrusted with grease and other airborne particulates. Cleaning becomes a dreaded, if necessary evil.

It does its job.

The same cannot be said of the standard home unit. It is underpowered and not particularly well designed. The filter may contain something like activated charcoal, but in most cases is overlapping layers of metal mesh. It does collect grease and needs to be cleaned regularly, but the grime that builds up on nearby surfaces highlights its limitations. 

The problem is two-fold: in addition to being underpowered the unit is mounted too low and because of this the skirt of the hood does not reach out far enough to cover the cooking surface. Otherwise you’d whack your head, and there are enough ways for me to do that.
The length of the skirt is especially an impediment if, like ours, your 14,000 BTU power burner is in the front. It's usually my first choice for cooking.

Enter the smoke alarm. Enough smoke makes it through the filter to set it off on a regular basis. You can reduce these problems if you are lucky enough to have a hood vented to the outside, but they still persist. I had one for the last 11 years, and still had to pull the battery out when I cooked.

Frankly, a passive chimney - centuries-old technology – would seem more effective.

Perhaps the worst system I have ever encountered was the Jenn Air, installed by my parents in our first new family home. Typical 70's build with a kitchen island, it was hoodless. The system was vented to the outside, but it drew downward - fighting both gravity and thermodynamics. Doh! IMG_3852
Until we moved, that is. The new home has the "convenience" of a microwave mounted over the range. The apron is shorter and the skirt is even lower than a standard hood. So low that my pressure canner blocks access to the microwave. Forget about using the back of the stove or a larger stockpot.

The filtration system is nonexistent. Using the fan makes it certain that the alarm will sound. Making things worse, the hood fan has a heat activated sensor. When that kicks on you can’t shut it off manually. You have to wait until it shuts itself off.

So, this has my vote for the worst home system ever. Did I mention that the exhaust for the unit is right in front of your face?

Smoke does get in your eyes.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -