Aug 29 2007

Championship Grits, Again

We couldn’t let August go away without reporting how we fared at the Dillard, GA Bluegrass and BBQ contest held the first weekend in August. First of all, as usual, we enjoyed the wonderful mountain air (especially since Savannah had been sweltering in the high 90’s and low 100’s with ultra high humidity). Also, the hospitality of Jane and Steve, the organizers, was amazing as it is every year and this was our 11th contest in a row with them…so you know they have something going on. Sixty teams gathered, some from as far away as Texas and all of the teams were “heavy hitters.” Last year we tied for second place overall, even though in the standings we placed third, so we were looking for another good showing. Buckhead Janet, our teammate came up from Atlanta, and we went about our usual prep.


We decided to enter two ancillary contests as well as the regular KCBS sanctioned one. Same as last year, Grits and Cabbage. TLW used the same recipes for both. Last year she placed third in Cabbage and first in Grits. It is very difficult to repeat your success from one contest to another, we were just looking for respectable placements. Unfortunately, the judges did not enjoy the cabbage entry and we placed low in the standings. However, her
grits won first place again. Not bad for a Yankee!!

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As far as the rest of the contest, we finished 7th in Chicken, but 9th overall. We were very surprised since we didn’t get a call for our ribs, pork or brisket…but we were right in there near the top 10 places. We were very pleased with our showing since we only compete two times a year and some of the heavy hitters are on the circuit 2, 3 or even 4 times a month. All in all, we didn’t come home with a lot of prize money, but we did come home with smiles on our faces!


Aug 29 2007

A Neat "Hat Trick"

No, The General has not taken up ice hockey! Let’s face it cooking…especially BBQ…can be a messy pastime. Over the years TG has collected hats from all over the country. All are valuable in the memories they provide, but most of my favorites had become too dirty to wear. I originally thought taking them to the dry cleaners may work…but that is pretty expensive. Here is an almost cost free way to get your hats clean…put them on the top rack of the dishwasher and hit the on button. Yes, you can have dishes on the bottom rack. When the cycle is complete, take the hat out and stuff a towel in the crown to retain its shape. Let it air dry and you are finished. I have done almost a dozen hats this way and even the worst ones have come out looking as good as new!


Aug 29 2007

A Fishy Story

Try to get to know your local fish monger…not just retail store…one that supplies restaurants with portion controlled fish. Such as the case here in Savannah with Matthew’s Seafood which supplies many local restaurants with seafood. Restaurants call for specific cuts (4 oz, 6 oz, 8 oz, etc). So what happens to the trimmings? TG recently bought some trimmings and made some outstanding kebobs for about half the per pound price of the fish itself.

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I sauteed the vegetables in a small amount of olive oil and sprinkled with some seasoned salt and black pepper. This allows the veggies to soften up a bit before going on the grill

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Aug 8 2007

Failure of Big Bucks

It is fairly human to think that ‘if I just had enough money then I could be successful.’ How about if you had a 73 unit BBQ chain and enough money to have at least 2 Southern Prides in each location and all the latest restaurant equipment? But….you failed.


Such is the case with Smokey Bones restaurant chain owned by Darden Restaurants, owners of Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, etc…


According to Nation’s Restaurant News, July 9, 2007, Darden has closed 54 locations since May and has put the rest up for sale. I can’t help but feel somewhat of a personal disappointment because The General was indirectly involved with the start up of the first unit in Orlando. My friend, Brian K., did the initial spec work for the prototype store and the thought of having a national chain doing BBQ was quite exciting.


So why couldn’t money buy success? In TG’s opinion, there were several factors that brought on their demise. First, the food was just simply off. They never could get their brisket down correctly and from what I hear, they consulted with regular food service consultants …not barbecue people. What sticks in my mind is one of the biggest negatives…they originally tried to turn SB into a sports bar. When they did this, in my opinion, they eliminated a big part of their customer base…women. Think about it-George comes home on Friday night after work and says, “Honey, I want to take you out to dinner tonight and let’s go eat BBQ at a sports bar!” He may get away with that once, but Honey isn’t going to want to spend a lot of quality/romantic time with George at the sports bar. BBQ has always had a male macho image…although there are plenty of good female BBQ chefs out there!


A lot has been blamed on the lack of success of the Smokey Bones chain due to the regionality of BBQ flavors. But I have always believed that good BBQ is always cooked essentially the same with the sauce denoting the region and that can always be adjusted. In certain areas, like California with its tri-tip, cut from the sirloin and Texas, with its beef brisket, those meats are predominant BBQ items. That, too, could have been addressed by SB.


What I believe wasn’t addressed is the fact that they did not have enough variety in their overall menu to make non-BBQ eaters want to go there.


The General works on this constantly doing grilled shish ke bobs, BBQ pizza, fish on the grills, wraps, etc. Of course, TG does not own a 73 unit chain!


Aug 8 2007

Out from under the rock

In May of this year we finally received a contract on our property in Atlanta after it being on the market for over 2 years. That was the good news. The horrible news was that 23 years worth of “stuff” still remained in the house. Three dumpster loads later and a garage sale finally reduced the house to sale-able condition. If there was a lesson to be learned, it would be that none of us humans need the amount of “stuff” that we think we need. We are all so encumbered by it. Yet, it is truthfully hard to see it go, although we are still dealing with some of what we moved here to Savannah.

Combine this factor with a series of out of town guests and the loss of our beloved 11 1/2 year old German shepherd Radar, this might just begin to explain the General’s absence from the blogosphere.

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