Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cheese and Burger Society

Memorial Day is upon us and hopefully you will be taking some time off to spend with family and friends while remembering the good men and women that have fought for our country.

And keeping in tradition with this long weekend I'll be fanning the flames on my grill in hopes of feeding many a hungry stomach.

A few years back, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board launched a web site to encourage grill masters everywhere to use real cheese on burgers. In keeping with this topic, a continuous conversation that I have with one of my best friends who enjoys grilling as much as I do tables on the flavorless slices of cheese packaged in individual plastic wraps. They are horrible and serve no purpose of any kind that might benefit one single solitary taste-bud. The only thing worthwhile about them is the fact that they are individually wrapped. But come on. Are you kidding me? Are we all that freagin' lazy that we can't go to the market, pick out some great cheese and slice up something interesting for our next cheeseburger?

Aside from this recipe taken from the Cheese and Burger Society titled The Honky Tonk, I would encourage everyone to visit the actual site. It has 30 recipes for cheeseburgers that all include specialty cheeses from the great state of Wisconsin. And I am here to tell you that just adding some great cheese on your burger will make all the difference in the world.

This weekend, fire up the grill and cheese up the place. Wisconsin will thank you.

The Honky Tonk

A smoky bar and an ice cold beer. Some live music and a mechanical bull to boot. If this is your idea of a night on the town, then The Honky Tonk is the cheeseburger for you. This good old boy is loaded with the stuff that can turn a boy into a man and a man into a living legend that songs are written about.

The Toppings and Fixings:

Wisconsin Brick Cheese
Beef Patty
BBQ Sauce
Peppered Pork
Onion Rings
Boston Bibb Lettuce
Toasted Sesame Burger Bun

For more recipes from the Cheese and Burger Society, visit their web site below.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Texas Summer Sangria

Peaches will be ripening soon which means my father will be on the move with his usual deliveries. Like Santa delivering presents, my father delivers peaches and I along with the rest of the worthy East Texans will receive a golden box of goodness ready to slice and eat.

As funny as it sounds, there is nothing in this world like getting a big box of peaches. It's one of those unexpected gifts that you don't think about as I really don't keep up with the ripening of peaches. That's like Almanac stuff and who has the time to read that? So when I do get peaches, it's like I won the lottery and I become a kid ready to plan my next kitchen experiment.

For those of you not quite ready to experiment, here's a tried and true recipe that's sure to add some flavor with your backyard cookout this summer. It's a real Texas treat and it's extremely easy to make. Especially in big batches and I'm all about the volume which translates into friends over which translates into a really great time.

Texas Summer Sangria 

1 liter white wine
1 lemon or lime, thinly sliced
3-4 tablespoons of sugar or honey
1 fresh peach, sliced into wedges
1 seedless orange, thinly sliced
4 to 5 sprigs of fresh mint

Mix the wine and lemon slices with sugar or honey, and stir until dissolved. Add the peaches, oranges and mint. Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

Refresh yourself.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Mother of Rock and Roll

Whatever it means to be marketable has been the constant hurdle for many a musician.

These days, it seems you have to have an entire dance routine or some sort of theatrical gimmick to land in the lap of Barbara Walters or be featured on the Grammys. Although I was very happy to see Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers perform this year along with a very aged Bob Dylan. It's proof positive that some folks still care about the music and not the show.

This Mothers Day, I would like to pay tribute to the ultimate mother, Big Mama Thornton.

Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton was born on December 11 in 1926 and in my opinion, gave the keys of rock and roll to Elvis Presley himself.

In 1952, she recorded a hit song in the Rhythm and Blues world selling two million copies and the name of the song would be "Hound Dog". It would be three years later when Elvis would pick up the song, record it and the rest, as they say, is history. The blues would now become the very backbone that provided the foundation for early rock and roll shooting Elvis to stardom.

Big Mama had more than one set of keys though. In the late 1960s, she would dig down in her pockets and hand over yet another song to Janis Joplin titled "Ball "'n' Chain" which skyrocketed for the late Port Arthur, Texas girl.

Big Mama's introduction to music started in Montgomery, Alabama at the Baptist Church where her father was a minister. She had six siblings who all began singing at early ages within the church.

Thornton would leave Alabama at the age of 14 and join the Sammy Green's Georgia-based Hot Harlem Revue which lasted for seven years. In 1948, she would settle in Houston, Texas where she joined Peacock Records in 1951. While working with Johnny Otis, she recorded "Hound Dog" and it went straight to number one on the R&B charts giving her instant fame within the black community.

When soul began to evolve in the 1960s, her career would begin to fade away like so many other blues artists. She would move to San Francisco where she played mostly local blues clubs until her death in 1984.

Big Mama Thornton was an American icon and truly deserves the recognition of helping create and launch one of the largest music movements in the world. She was indeed the mother of rock and roll and has had many children. Children that have carried her torch on the stages of the world for over sixty years.

Happy Mothers Day Big Mama!