HB 4163 Wednesday Update

28 05 2008

The House of Representatives has already ended their session today without voting on HB 4163There was discussion of the bill when they were voting on HB 5074 which bans smoking in college dormotories.  There was a discussion of why they need to pass this bill if HB 4163 would pretty much ban smoking in all workplaces.

UPDATE – The Lansing State-Journal put an article on-line saying the House DID in fact pass a smoking ban bill this afternoon. However, it was not HB 4163 which was sent back to by the Senate.  I went back and looked at the text of HB 5074 as passed this afternoon and it is THAT bill that was passed with the same language as the original HB 4163.

This is why I should pay attention when I’m watching The House.  I heard them talking about the the smoking ban during the discussion, but the bill title was about college dorms.  If you look at the enrolled bill and the passed bill, they don’t even resemble each other other than the word smoking.

So, to make this clear, what happened was the House passed the same bill they passed originally exempting Casino’s, bingo halls, and cigar bars.  The bill goes back to the Senate which will now have to vote, again, on the same bill they’ve already amended and sent back to the House.  In short, things have probably hit a permanent road block.

The Best Ice Cream in the Country….

27 05 2008

….is from right here in Michigan.  Moomer’s Homemade Ice Cream in Traverse City won an on-line poll conducted by ABC’s Good Morning America according to the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Jon and Nancy Plummer, owners of the store on North Long Lake Road in Long Lake Township, received word from the ABC-TV’s morning news show’s producers Friday afternoon. Moomers bested three other ice cream stores from around the country in the on-line poll contest.

It’s time for a road trip!

Could the House Vote on the Smoking Ban Tonight?

27 05 2008

I’ve got House TV on in the background and at 7:45 PM, they’re still in session.   I’ve heard from friends in the media that phone calls to both caucuses and the Clerk have had some wierd answers.  The Democrats caucused for quite a while late this afternoon and as of this writing, the House “At Ease At The Call Of The Chair.”   I’ll keep the video feed up while I’m watching TV tonight to see if anything happens. 

8:07 PM – The House has been called back to order.

8:20 PM – I’ve been told by that same friend that the House has “a lot of business” to deal with and they are planning on staying late into the night.  Still wouldn’t answer whether HB 4163 would be called tonight or not.

8:29 PM – In another surprise move, the House in now voting on SB 776 which is the Partial Birth Abortion Ban, so it looks like they really are expecting a long night.

10:54 – They are STILL in session.  They just announced there will be no further voting tonight, but the House will be back in session tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at 10 AM instead of their usual 1:30 PM start time.

Gardening “growing” in Popularity

27 05 2008

It used to be I got depressed watching the news because all they covered were car accidents and murders (hey, I grew up in Chicago’s DMA).  Now, I get depressed watching the news because it reminds me how I rising prices are effecting everything I do. News stories are now starting to focus on people’s changing habits when it comes to saving money.

Adam Lenz has worked at Wenke Greenhouses for the past three years, and says one section of the business has recently seen a major boost.

“We’ve noticed a rise in the last year or so in our vegetable sales,” said Lenz. “A lot of people are trying to see to grow their own to keep the cost down a bit.”

I don’t eat nearly enough vegetables to justify growing a garden.  Oh yeah, plus I live in an apartment complex.  I don’t think management would like that too much.  While it doesn’t make sense for me, it does make sense for some people.

Beudrie says the reason she’s starting her own garden is because she can’t afford to spend $200 on groceries every week for her family.

“It’s getting really expensive and the whole grocery budget is going through the roof,” she said.

To start up her garden, it will cost Beudrie less than a weeks worth of groceries, and over time, it will end up saving her much more.

Gardening is another one of those things that has kind of become a lost art in recent years.  Growing up, my grandma always had (and still does) a garden.  A lot of my friends parents did too.  My family  never did, but we didn’t eat a lot of vegetables either.  In some ways, these rising prices are a good thing.  It’ll bring families back to the table.  Their own table.  Not Applebees table.  We got lazy in the last decade or so when it comes to food.  Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing after all……

Stanley Cup Wager

27 05 2008

I love it when dignitaries make wagers like this.  It’s pretty much commonplace among Mayors….but who would want to wager with Kwame Kilpatrick….and usually the winner gets food from loser.

LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today placed a friendly wager with Pennsylvania’s Governor Edward G. Rendell on the 2008 Stanley Cup finals between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Adding a note of friendly competition to the Red Wings and Penguins Stanley Cup final series, Granholm and Rendell have agreed that the governor of the losing team must be photographed enjoying a meal from the winning state while wearing the winning team’s jersey.  A photo of the occasion must be publicly released.

The selected meal from Michigan that Governor Rendell would enjoy includes, Faygo Rock and Rye pop and Kowalski Kowality sausage, both companies are headquartered in Detroit. For a sweet treat, Michigan-grown cherries would also be provided to Rendell.  Hot dogs from The Original Hot Dog Shop, a Primanti Brothers sandwich, and Smiley Face cookies from Eat ‘n Park restaurant, all Pittsburgh establishments, have been selected for Governor Granholm.   

The Detroit Red Wings have won 10 Stanley Cup championships throughout history, more than any other franchise based in the United States.  Game one of the finals is scheduled for Saturday, May 24, at 8 p.m. 

To make things even more interesting, Governor Rendell should get his Faygo sprayed on him by The Insane Clown Posse…..looks like it could happen by this weekend too…

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.

Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger – Ann Arbor

25 05 2008
  • 551 S. Division StBlimpy Burger
  • Ann Arbor, MI 48104
  • (734) 663-4590
  • Website
  • Menu

Not only is Blimpy Burger the oldest burger joint in Ann Arbor, it’s also one of the most famous places in town.  The humble little shop on the corner of Packard and Division Sts. is voted best burger year after year by a variety of publications and they’ve even been featured on Food Network’s Diner’s Drive-In’s and Dives which somehow I missed. 

I was in Ann Arbor the Big Ten Baseball Championships and needed to find lunch before crew call at U of M.  I had heard of Blimpy Burger and thought it would make a good lunch.  Apparently, half of Ann Arbor thought that too.  The line weaved around the tables inside and right to the door.  The building is small. There’s only room for a handful of tables that line two walls and a couple free stand tables next to the counter.  The service is described as cafeteria style.  You actually walk up to a counter where the cook asks you what you want and he cooks it right there in front of you.

Ordering is a tradition in itself at Blimpy Burger and something I thought was going to be really intimidating.  On their website, they give you instructions for ordering and those same instructions are posted in the restaurants.  For the most part, they’re just to keep the line moving.  It starts out simple.   Everyone who’s ordering must order themselves.  You can’t just send Mom up to get food for everyone.  Your first stop in the process is the deep frier.  A fry cook asks if you want anything deep fried.  Your choices are fries (which are steak fries) or vegetables like onion rings or mushrooms.

After you get your fried food, you make your way to the grill.  The cooks actually put on quite a show and this part can be fun to watch.  The cook will first ask what you want.  Adults have to get at least a double and they go all the way to quints (that’s five burger patties) and beyond.  All the meat is fresh.  What they do is take a disher and make little balls out of fresh beef.  The cook puts those balls on the grill then slams them down into patties.  He had probably five or six orders going at one time with all of them being at least triples.  The patties aren’t huge.  Once slamed down, they’re pretty thin, so a triple isn’t as huge as you’d think.

After the cook asks what you want, the next question is “Do you want any grilled items.”  By this, he means bacon, onions, etc.  Don’t say cheese.  Cheese isn’t grilled.  The guy in front of me made that mistake.  I didn’t want anything, so he moved on to buns.  The regular bun comes standard, but they also have choices of onion or Kaiser rolls for an additional charge.  As the burgers are just about done, the cook turns around again and asks if you want cheese.  They have five choices.  I went with cheddar although the bleu cheese option was there.  The burgers cook a little longer then they are passed on to the cashier who finishes the burgers off with condiments.  There’s even a correct way to handle this process.  Wet condiments first then everything else.  I passed altogether as I just wanted to taste the burger.  The cook appreciated that.  He turned around and said most people don’t do that, but they really should.

It took me about a half hour to get through line.  I elected to take my burger to go since the place was packed, but quite a few people were grabbing trays to stay.  Once I got to my destination, I chowed down.  The burger was delicious.  Blimpy Burger is NOT all hype.  They really do have good food.  The triple was about the size of a double most places.  The cheese was melted into the burger and the burgers were so moist they were just falling apart.  I actually had a hard time finishing the burger and fries which almost never happens.  I just got the small order of fries and with the sandwich, the total was just over six dollars.

Blimpy Burger is an absolute must in Ann Arbor.  Make sure you have plenty of time as I imagine it’s always busy like it was the day I was in there.  This place lived up to the hype as a classic burger joint.  Their slogan is “cheaper than food”…..they could also add “better than food”