Propane Prices Increase

26 05 2008

Keeping with the holiday cooking theme, WILX has a story today about propane prices.

“It used to be $17.99, now it’s $18.99,” said Teha Jones, a cashier at the BP in Grand Ledge.

That’s for a propane exchange, the price of a 20 lb. tank of propane also went up from $47.99 to $48.99 at the BP in Grand Ledge. Customers say even the $1 increase can take a bite out of the family barbecue over time.

Simple solution.  DON’T USE PROPANE!  Why cook out in the first place if your just going to be using gas.  The flavor comes from wood.  I don’t care if they warm up faster, they’re easier to control and they’re just prettier.  It’s an inferior cooking device.  Take some pride in your food and burn wood.

And seriously, as a side note.  One of my biggest pet peeves is the way the word “barbecue” was used in this article.  Throwing burgers on the grill is not barbecueing….it’s grilling.  BBQ is slow cooking a cut of meat using smoke…you don’t BBQ with a propane grill anyway….you BBQ with wood


The Great BBQ Sauce Debate

26 05 2008

Well, it is Memorial Day and pretty much everyone, including me, fired up the grills for lunch.  I stayed away from anything that needed sauce, but the Lansing State-Journal stirred up the debate in this morning’s paper.

The core of the barbecue sauce debate is simple: vinegar-based vs. tomato-based.

It’s strictly a Southern squabble, the battle line starting with the vinegar crowd in eastern North Carolina. As you move west, tomatoes take over. And the closer you get to Texas, the sweeter and darker red the sauces get.

But for non-Southerners, it’s hard to understand the fuss over a sticky substance spread over a chunk of meat.

It’s not strictly for Southerners.  I hate when I see people drowning ribs in a Kansas City style sauce.  My preference is actually somewhere between vinegar and tomato based.  I use a sauce similar to what Neely’s BBQ in Memphis uses.  It is a tomato based sauce heavy on ketchup (which is vinegar based itself), but I add a lot more cider vinegar.  I probably double or triple their recipe.  I like the sweetness of the ketchup, but I really like the tanginess of the vinegar. 

Memphis BBQ joints really showcase the differences in sauce.  There’s Neely’s which uses a thin tomato based sauce.  Rendezvous uses a traditional southern vinegar mop sauce made up of pretty much just vinegar and pepper.  Then Corky’s uses a thicker tomato based sauce.  Once you reach the Memphis region and beyond, your starting to get more variety.  Sweetness starts to take over from tangy and brown sugar, molasses, and honey start getting added.

Keep going west to Kansas City and you’ll run into a totally different animal.  KC Masterpiece is the standard as far as Kansas City sauces go.  Really think tomato based sauces that are really messy.  Head south to Texas and your somewhere in between Memphis and KC.  I would suggest reading the LSJ article for a detailed explanation of the different regions.

And just think, we’re JUST talking about sauce here.  We haven’t scratched the surface as far as BBQ. There’s the ribs vs. chopped pork vs. pulled pork vs brisket debate.  There’s baby backs vs. spare ribs or St. Louis ribs.  There’s secret rubs….and everyone has a strong opinion either way.  For me, heaven is a rack of baby backs with a chili pepper based rub with a thin, vinegary, tomato based rub.  No matter what, I’ll take  great BBQ, whether it’s mine or someone elses, over a salad anyday.

Pisanello’s Pizza

26 05 2008
  • 110 N. Main St.Pisanello's Pizza
  • Mt. Pleasant, MI 48854
  • (989) 773-9906
  • Website
  • Menu

I had family in town for the Memorial Day weekend.  On Sunday night, our two options were either sit on the couch and watch the Sprint Cup Race or we could pack up and head to Mt. Pleasant and spend a few hours at Soaring Eagle.  Gambling is always a good option with my family so we headed north.  I didn’t realize Mt. Pleasant was 75 miles from Lansing when we started.  I put the address in my GPS and after a few minutes, I looked at the miles and thought “Oh crap!”  I told everyone it was only a half hour or so.  After a quick conference..actually, I just asked my dad, he said “Go,”  so I went.

It was about 7:45 when we left Lansing and the only other meal we had eaten was at about 2:00 when we ate at Wendy’s, so finding a restaurant before we hit the casino was a must.  I had read somewhere about a really good pizza place in Mt. Pleasant…and like gambling, pizza is always a sure bet in my family.  I did a quick Google search for “Best Pizza Mt. Pleasant, MI” and Pisanello’s popped right up.  I figured this had to be the place.  I didn’t realize it until I started writing this review, but Pisanello’s is actually a small chain with nineteen locations in Ohio and Michigan with the original being in Alliance, OH.  The Mt. Pleasant location is located in a small building in downtown.  There were just a few booths and one table big enough for our party of seven.  We noticed a sign that said “order here” so my mom and I went up to the register to place the order. 

We started with an order of breadstix.  The order consisted of six breadstix dusted with parmesean cheese.  A marinara sauce came on the side for dipping.  There were six breadstix and seven of us, so as you can imagine, we tore through them in just a few minutes.

Next up were the pizzas.  We got two 16″ pies for the seven of us.  One of them we got half cheese, half pepperonni.  The other was half sausage and half bacon.  They were both a thicker crust, but not a Chicago style.  They were actually very similar to Papa John’s pizzas, but they tasted much better.  the crust was chewey and the cheese was piled on.  The pies came out smokin hot and the cheese was stringy, but stuck to the crust.  I had the pepperoni side of one of the pizzas and the pepperoni’s were cooked perfectly.  I like it when the meat has a little crunch to it and these did.  When all was said and done, there was one piece left between the two pizzas, so the portion was the perfect side.  As a bonus, both pizzas came with a cup of garlic dipping sauce (again, very similar to Papa John’s) for the crust.

The hit of the evening was definately dessert.  My mom noticed a “dessert pizza” on the menu and had to give it a try.  She didn’t have a very hard time convincing anyone else it was a good idea either. About the time we were finishing up with the pizza, the cook brought out the dessert pie.  A small pizza crust was covered in cinnamon sugar and vanilla icing.  I think we may have fought over this one a little bit….I think everyone at the table would have loved to eat the whole thing themselves.  It was delicious.  Everyone looked at me asked if I could do that at home.  I probably could, but I don’t think it would be as good.

My family is usually pretty tough to please when it comes to pizza.  Some of them like thin crust while others prefer the thicker crust.  Everyone left with the same opinion of Pisanello’s though.  It was delicious.  In the past, I’ve mention my quest for the perfect pizza.  This wasn’t quite that because it reminded me a lot of Papa John’s pizza which I also like, but don’t love.  Pisanello’s was a great choice for us.  Everyone was very happy with the food, but even better, we ate all that food for $30!

Wendy’s – S. Lansing

26 05 2008
  • 6620 S. Cedar St.Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburegers
  • Lansing, MI 48911
  • (517) 394-1341
  • Website
  • Menu

I know…Wendy’s is fast food.  What the heck am I doing stopping at Wendy’s.  I have a good excuse…really.  I had family come in to town for the Memorial Day weekend.  They drove four hours straight not wanting to stop for lunch, so when they got here, everyone was really hungry.  Since there’s a Wendy’s right around the corner, I suggested we stop there for a quick lunch before heading out to the malls.

It has actually been a really long time since I have eaten at a Wendy’s.  We used to go all the time for the salad bar (which I’m pretty sure they don’t do anymore) and Frosty’s (which they’ve upgraded..more later).  I remember Wendy’s as being super greasy burgers.  The last time I remember eating at a Wendy’s (about four years ago), the grease had soaked through the wrapper almost making the wrapper clear.  It was good, but it was messy and I know I probably knocked at least six hours off my life by eating that burger.

The Wendy’s on South Cedar Street has been undergoing some renovations recently.  I drive by it almost everyday and I’m never sure if it’s open as there is always work trucks there.  My girlfriend says she sees people inside at night when she comes home from work.  The interior clean and obviously new and the facade has been upgraded to the newer style Wendy’s getting away from the glass dining rooms near the front.

There were seven of us that needed lunch and we were putting it all on one order.   I got the Baconator combo.  Two fresh cooked burger patties, cheese and a mound of bacon were piled on the bun.  Unlike most burger places, Wendy’s does square burgers instead of round and to my surprise, this burger is NOT how I remembered Wendy’s burgers.  It wasn’t super greasy and it was really quite delicious.  They definately didn’t skimp on the bacon either.  The combo comes with fries and a drink.  The fries are just your average fast food fries and were a little on the salty side, but good. 

Pretty much everyone else I was with got some kind of burger as well. My aunt got a baked potato  which is what she gets quite often.  I’m not sure which one she got but ther are three options..sour cream and chives, bacon and cheese, and brocoli and cheese.  My dad and brother both got Frosty’s instead of drinks with their meals.  My brother just got the original chocolate Frosty.  It’s a little bit thicker than a milkshake, but made with real milk.  It’s kind of a cross between soft serve and a milkshake.  You still need a spoon, but it’s thinned out just a little.  My dad got one of the new Frosty shakes.  I’m guessing he got the Chocolate Fudge Frosty Shake.  They take the original Frosty and add a little fudge to it for a handspun Frosty shake.

While fast food is never my first option, I was really happy with Wendy’s food this time.  It wasn’t a greasy mess which is what I was afraid it was going to be.  It’s nice that it’s so close and it’s nice to know that there is a decent option if I’m ever hungry and just not in the mood to sit down in a restaurant for a meal.