S. Donald Stookey “Mr. CorningWare”

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S. Donald Stookey   1915 – 2014

06Stookey-Obit-master675There does not exist within this great Republic of ours the kitchen absent of CorningWare.  The most important invention to modern cooking, Stookey’s ballistic glass became the temperature-resistant material from which have been fashioned billions and billions of cooking, serving, and mixing  articles.

Moving into new digs?  A quick trip to the corner 5 & Dime will supply all the Pyrex your kitchen will need.  And it has never been expensive.  Just about as cheap as any glassware, but infinitely more durable!

MidCenturyModernEamesEraPYREXClearWaterPitcher_zps0f5845aeNestling bowls are my favorite.  Whether creating pasta salad or reheating a Super Size Serving of chicken soup, Corning makes the item that works for both preparing and serving food.  And drink!  Here’s another favorite, which we wrote about a few months ago.  A Pyrex® pitcher in the Eames tradition.  Who knew glass could be both functional and stylish?

Missouri Hick’s Bar-B-Q • Cuba Missouri

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TUBING IN THE MISSISSIPPI from April to October, involvement in multiple competitive sports like softball and golf, and generally running around the beautiful countryside stirs up a passionate hunger in the local populace.  And every Sunday the town heads to Hick’s for the all-you-can-eat ribs.  But they always leave some room for cobbler.

I missed this event by a day, but did sample the meats, smoked over wild cherry.  Being a purist, I eschew sauces on my meats, and go for the true taste of the smoked product.  Missouri Hick’s does not disappoint!

And the cobbler?  That may be the hidden story of this BBQ  joint.  Although the recipe was sealed behind loyal lips, I’d bet there’s a little lard rolled into the biscuit that you find in your bowl under a mound of fresh fruit, itself cooked with butter and sugar.  A meal itself!

Missouri Hick’s is a MUST DESTINATION!

SPAM (canned meat product)

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Gentlemen-rankers out on a spree, Damned from here to Eternity, God ha’ mercy on such as we, Baa! Yah! Bah! –  Rudyard Kipling

There Is A Conspicuous Lack Of Gelatinous Goo Encasing My Spam 

124Hormel-spam-12oz-500x500The can of Spam sat awaiting release into the world of gastronomic excellence.  Waiting . . . and waiting . . . awaiting the pan . . . Two years passed before the urge to buy and the urge to fry.  But when finally opened, it was, as expected, factory fresh.  Ready to eat cold or hot.  I like mine grilled, served between white bread.

What was different?  The goo that used to slide out of the can with the Spam was absent.  Maybe it is a money thing?  Hormel realized that goo costs money?  Spam will fry up perfectly fine without the extra fat?  Unknown, Houston.  Do not care enough to call the manufacturer?  Maybe Hormel will comment on this blog entry . . .   And our interest is ???

JamesJones_FromHereToEternity1Reading the novel From Here To Eternity, I became impressed by Sergeant Maylon Stark’s order that all men be given a hot meal upon request at any hour.  This meal would be fried Spam and toasted cheese on bread with hot coffee.  A meal I’ve recreated a few times; it certainly does “hit the spot”.

Tell you what.  Get the book.  Buy a can of Spam (low salt, maybe?).  Read.  Eat.  Experience what James Jones was feeling when, after WW II, he penned one of his most famous works. 

Nalgene Water Bottles

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logoScreen Shot 2014-10-26 at 11.02.49 AMHYDRATE!  HYDRATE!  HYDRATE!  The mantra of physical fitness instructors, hikers, and survivalists.  Nutritionists, doctors, nurses.  But do Americans drink enough water?  The CDC says, emphatically, “No!  43% of adults drink less than four cups of water a day.”

Didn’t we learn in school, between six ways to say “Maybe” in French and two days spent on subsets, that we should drink eight 12-ounce glasses of water a day?  Has anyone studied a urine color chart to determine their level of hydration?  Lately?

8414092_f520What better way to remind yourself to have a sip than to carry water with you!  In your pack, car, truck, at your desk.  A nice-looking, new, BPH-free water bottle, delivered no charge* from an American manufacturer is a great start!  And when you fill up at home or at the YMCA, you’ll be saving plastic bottles from entering the rubbish stream!

Go to Nalgene’s website! Pick out two bottles and get free delivery! 100% satisfaction guaranteed!

Mid-1990s Guild Guitars

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Guild_G-Shield1TWO DECADES AGO, a man in his mid-30s went into a music store with a friend.  They each bought a new Guild D4 dreadnought guitar.  The dreadnought, so named by guitar manufacturer C. F. Martin & Co. in 1916, is a full-bodied guitar with a standard length neck.  Perhaps the most commonly purchased model, these days.

Guild made their guitars in Westerly, Rhode Island at that time.  The ’96 Guilds had magic in them.  Something about the wood and craftsmanship produced instruments of unusual resonance and tone.  Crisp and full of body with excellent projection.  A clarity which rivals many $2,000 guitars of today.

The young man and his friend each practiced songs with which they grew up.  The friend d4hrpersevered while the young man set his guitar in a closet after a year.  And it sat.  And sat.  Eventually the young man found himself in a large house with his pets but no furniture, no children, no wife.  A middle 50’s man in divorce.  Scraping for money, an ad was placed, the guitar listed for his buying price, and I showed up on his doorstep.

Even coated with grime, strings with little life, a neck out of adjustment, I heard promise in the guitar.  There was something.  Considering the cost of repairs and the risk I might be wrong, half his asking price was offered, and the guitar found a new home.

Several deep cleanings later with warm water, mild soap, and a damp, well-wrung cloth, with new strings and a straightened truss rod (to correct the neck), true tone burst forth.  As it once did in 1996, in a music store in Northern Delaware, for an optimistic young man,  this American Gem will inspire a new generation of musicians.  And with care and luck,  another beyond my years.

Mid-1990 Guild Guitars.  Excellent value.  Excellent tone.

Más Taco • Red Lodge MT

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Mas Taco Red Lodge MT jim sergovic


DRIVING 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.

Mike Muirhead Mas TacosWhat 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.

The American Road Trip • Part II

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Northern Arizona Route 87AOUR WORK DONE, THE 6′ X 12′ U-Haul trailer safely delivered, unloaded, and returned, the American Road Trip continues northward, a streak of joyous abandon.  No timetable, almost.  Pick a road, any road.  The plan?  End up in Montana to visit a dying friend.  A thousand miles of choices.  I decided on less traveled US-89 for scenic beauty and history.  Sometimes called the National Park Highway, U.S. 89 links seven national parks across the Mountain West.

I roll into Gardiner MT in a few days to Pete’s  small ’30s bungalow tucked against Yellowstone.  Found my friend almost blind and eating discount TV dinners but still defiant. No radio or TV, house not cleaned since his stroke 4 years ago. Naturally, I stayed in the extra room.  What’s a little dirt among bachelors?
Residence Peter Burr Folks Gardiner MT 2014
We consume mass quantities, like old times.  A ’40s Victrola and a stack of wax from the ’20s thru ’50s made our reunion a party.  No wimmin, and he was couch-bound, so I danced with the dog between cranking the Victrola or strumming the guitar.  The 1930’s home was rocking to 1930’s music from a period Victrola.  The memory will forever bring a tear to my eye.

Leave two days later over the Bear Tooth Highway at 7am; snow and clouds encountered but the view was tremendous. Tremendous!  Bear Tooth Highway closes for the year on October 15th at the latest. Bet they close early this year.