What Gadget Is Worth a Dumpster Dive?

Last month I went “camping” with my parents on Assateague Island. The second night I was there, we of course had a multi-course meal, consisting of crabs, shrimp, corn and — of course — crabs again, finished with BLTs (normal to end a meal with BLTs, yes?)

But between crabs round one and crabs round two, something horrific happened. We somehow lost our beloved crab crackers (red, seen above). I don’t like them that much, but they are my dad’s favorite.

Our worst fear: that they were already in the dumpster, rolled up with the newspaper and crab shells.

There was about 5 minutes of panic. What would we do? How were we going to eat the rest of our crabs tonight and for life? How could we possibly go on, having thrown away an important gadget? I suggested we find another tool. Like a beer can or one of the 1000 tools in my dad’s truck. But my dad couldn’t be reasoned with. He was in serious distress, and said he was going in the dumpster.

Luckily he was about 15 Miller High Lifes in at this point, so he was moving rather slowly. But he didn’t stop repeating “I’m going in” as he tried to get up from the table. In a few minutes we found them, hidden under the second layer of newspaper.

This brought up some startling realizations about our priorities. If you accidentally threw away a kitchen item in a moment of crisis, would you dumpster dive to save it? Would would you go in for? What would you let go?

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Top 10 New Foods at the 2011 State Fairs

It’s America’s favorite meal — the state fair! Every year, the fairs across this great land compete with each other to invent bigger, badder, greasier fair food. But after Texas stepped up its game last year with deep fried beer, this thing hit a whole ‘nother level. The 2011 state and country fair foods have been more insane — and more amazing — than ever. Here are our top 10 favorite finds.

10. Chocolate Covered Corn Dog – Orange County Fair

Could there be anything more American than dipping a hot dog in batter, deep frying it and eating it off a stick? Why yes, there could be. You could cover it in chocolate and put sprinkles on top, a treat that was found at both the OC Fair and neighboring San Diego County Fair. My Burning Kitchen has more on food at the San Diego fair. (Photo: www.myburningkitchen.com)

9. Deep Fried Kool-Aid – San Diego County Fair

In another strong showing for California’s other great fair — and originator of last year’s hash brown covered hot dog, San Diego debuts what is surely the trashiest food ever conceptualized. It’s just unclear why they didn’t wrap it in bacon. (Photo: Cuttlefish)

8. Deep Fried Butter on a Stick – Iowa State Fair

Texas may have invented deep fried butter at their own fair a few years back, but Iowa thought to put it on a stick. See, America, we can do great things when we work together. Yes, this involves frying an entire stick of butter, and yes, you simply have to watch the video for full effect.

7. Buffalo Chicken in a Flapjack – Texas State Fair

The first of several entries from the Lone Star state, this monstrosity is a chicken strip, coated in pancake batter and jalapeño bread crumbs, then deep fried and…you guessed it — eaten on a stick. (Photo: State Fair of Texas)

6. Red Velvet Funnel Cake – Florida State Fair

Funnel cake has fallen behind on the list of outrageous fair foods recently. After fried beer and fried Coke, plain old fried dough starts to look pale by comparison. But this year we saw funnel cake get a new southern fried twist that injects some new life into it…and probably injects all kinds of chemicals too. Why eat fried dough when you can eat red fried dough? (Photo: Bob B. Brown)

 Next: The Top 5 state fair foods

 

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Success with Southern Biscuits

I am a west coaster born and bred; my family hails from San Diego and I happen to live in Seattle, which in many ways is the antithesis of the deep South. That being said, I don’t know how it happened — maybe Paula Deen is a long-lost-great-aunt-twice-removed or something (fingers crossed!) — but I harbor an intense love for Southern comfort food. Sadly, up here in the somber Northwest, I am rarely presented with the opportunity to try my hand at whipping up a grand dixie feast. With the exception of my impressive cole slaw making superpowers, I am pretty inexperienced in cooking Southern food.

So when ES was presented with the opportunity to preview Nathalie Dupree & Cynthia Graubart’s newest cookbook, Southern Biscuits, I knew this was a perfect chance. Fresh off the heels of an authentic creole food binge, I figured it was only fair to prove my love by giving Southern cooking a go myself. Southern Biscuits addressed a double whammy of insecurity, actually — not only am I lacking in the Southern cooking department, I am also mildly suspicious of baking in general. It involves so much precision, patience, adherence to directions…basically all of my weaknesses. Though Nathalie is a James Beard winner, she certainly had her work cut out for her with this book. Teaching a baking-skeptical Seattleite how to craft perfect Southern biscuits is no small feat.

Plus I had been slightly dubious about the breadth (no pun intended) of biscuit options. I mean, how many variations could there be? Turns out, about a million. After it covers the basics, Southern Biscuits also includes recipes for things you can do with biscuits, such as breakfast sandwiches, casseroles, bread puddings, etc. While some of the more complex recipes in the back of the book were tempting, I knew I shouldn’t get too overzealous. I decided to go with an intermediate biscuit recipe that included one of my very favorite ingredients: sweet potatoes.

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Big Eats in the Big Easy

Editor’s Note: Food writer and new-to-ES-blogger Emily Teachout checks in with a look at one of America’s craziest — and tastiest — food destinations.

In honor of my birthday, I decided to check a long-time goal off my bucket list and head down to New Orleans to experience Mardi Gras. Let’s be real, though; while beads and booze were on my radar, I was most excited for a no-holds-barred culinary tour of the Big Easy. I figured if I’ve lived this long, I might as well test the limits of what my body can handle in greasy, spicy, cholesterol-ridden creole specialties. New Orleans did not let me down, and surprisingly, neither did my arteries.

The first “morning” in the city, after waking up at 12:45pm in our cramped yet exorbitantly expensive hotel room, two of my friends and I dragged our hungover selves out of bed in search of a belated breakfast in the French Quarter. Our prayers were answered thanks to a little alley cafe called Green Goddess. We had to wait 45 minutes for our outdoor table, but since drinking in the streets is allowed (and seemingly encouraged) we downed some $7 beers to pass the time.

To start, we shared the truffled manchego cheese grits you see above. With that sheen of grease, you know heaven is inside. My friend literally licked the plate. No shame!

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Sushi Takes Over the World

_MG_7334 big tyger

Why does sushi only come from Asia? Cultures all across the globe each developed their own varieties of noodles, sandwiches, sausages and stews. But only people in one corner of the world ever thought to roll all of their ingredients into one beautiful bite-sized piece. Until now. At Miya’s Sushi in New Haven, Connecticut, chef Bun Lai explores what the world might taste like if everyone made sushi.

Bun took over the kitchen at Miya’s a few years ago from his mother, who had already built a loyal local following for her traditional Japanese sushi rolls. But instead of sticking with the formula, he transformed Miya’s into what is almost certainly America’s most inventive sushi restaurant. He eschews traditional, overfished sushi ingredients like bluefin tuna, red snapper and unagi, instead focusing on sustainable species like bonito tuna and catfish, and incorporates them into a wide variety of inventive rolls listed on a magazine-sized menu that comes complete with historical footnotes and detailed eating instructions.

In the roll pictured above, Bun explores what it might have been like if sushi came from, say, north Africa. The roll encompasses ingredients found in Ethiopia: a tempura of rare tuna, goat cheese, flying fish caviar, apricots, avocado, pickled radish and a Berbere spice mix, all wrapped in a thin, housemade teff grain flatbread. Biting into it is like playing mindgames with your tongue — it has the texture and proportions of sushi exactly right, but with ingredients that just aren’t supposed to be there. If you can get past that, it also happens to be delicious.

And what would sushi taste like if it came from Guadalajara or Georgia? Keep reading…

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A Small Southern Town in Northwest Washington

hush puppy

D.C. has a long list of traditional southern-style restaurants, so you’d be forgiven for wondering why it needed another.  But you shouldn’t wonder after seeing Eatonville‘s unorthodox starter above — a single fried hushpuppy the size of a baseball filled with leek fondue and rock shrimp. It is seriously effing delicious.

Eatonville Restaurant

Set on the same 14th Street corner as sister restaurant Busboys and Poets, Eatonville is named in honor of Zora Neale Hurston, the Harlem renaissance author and playwright. Hurston grew up in Eatonville, Florida, one of the first southern towns created by African-Americans after slavery ended. The name really made an impression on me as I realized how thoughtful they’ve been in putting the place together. From picket fences and rocking chairs flanking the bar to drinks served in mason jars, this was more than another DC restaurant with southern fare… I felt like I’d hopped a train to a small town in the Deep South.

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How To: Becoming an Alcoholic in Myrtle Beach

myrtle

I know it isn’t as exciting as India or Japan, but if you want to take up casual alcoholism in the United States, move south. To celebrate summer’s start, here are my best recommendations for getting drunk in public without breaking the bank. Gone are the days of $10 martinis and handcrafted cocktails. This is Myrtle Beach —  If the drinks are more than $6, you’re probably paying too much.

Liberty Tap Room
7651 North Kings Hwy
Thoughts: Eat here and stay for trivia at 8pm on Thursdays. Appetizer, dinner, all-night-drinks for four — $105. Even better? We came in 2nd in trivia and had $25 taken off our bill as a prize. The bar is off the parking lot of the local Food Lion, so you can play with the carts when you leave. Trust me, it’s better than an amusement park.

The Streets
Anywhere and everywhere
Thoughts: Although I witnessed two men being arrested for public drunkenness, there are no apparent open container laws being enforced. Everyone walked around with beers and sometimes vodka in plastic cups.

River City Cafe
208 73rd Avenue North
Thoughts: Burgers, wings, beer and complimentary peanuts on every table. The only beer on tap is Natty Light (win), and is one of the most expensive at $4 for a huge glass. Free souvenir cups with purchase of soft drinks, but your server will be easily convinced to give them to you for your beers. These came in handy for street drinking (see above).

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