Archive | January, 2013
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Sushi Cafe

30 Jan

Yeah, deer season was over for me this past Saturday! It’s officially suck up time for me. My wife has been a supportive wife while I have been gone most weekends for the past three months. Sometimes I have no idea how any woman could be married to me.

This is what I told my wife right before we were married:

“So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day.”

Then Ryan Gosling, aka Noah, goes off and uses my quote in the blockbuster hit “The Notebook”. I wold call Johnie Cochran but he’s dead. You can’t use my words Noah.

Here is my number one rule for date night with my wife, let her pick the restaurant. I am so thankful my wife picked Sushi Cafe, it was great!!

Sushi Cafe is owned by Daniel, last name unknown, but I expect him to be famous in Montgomery and only need one name. Hey, the Ninja Turtles all had one name. We first meet Daniel at Miyako’s where he was a sushi chef there for some time. It caught my eye that he had his own creations on the menu, named the Daniel Roll. He always seemed focused and took great pride in his art.
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The whole thumbs up really bothers me in this picture and the quality is just not good. I have way more hair that you can’t see because of the bad lighting.

When you walk in the place is clean, fresh, and welcoming. It really makes you want to throw a couple “Chinese Stars”, or shoot someone with some poisons blow darts. Which means the decor is spot on, a real Japanese feel to it.

A couple months ago we ate here and I ordered a quail egg. I thought it was going to be scrambled or something. It’s just not my favorite. Pretty but not to my liking. Now I don’t like carrot raisin salad either but that’s another story.
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As usual we sat at the Sushi bar and as usual we were alone. It was late but still a good crowd. This is an open invitation to invite more folks to sit at the sushi bar, have conversation with the chefs. They enjoy the one-on-one and I feel like I get better service. We know who is setting in the back ordering California rolls and telling everyone on Facebook you ate sushi last night. We see you. haha
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Our waiter was fantastic, very polite and helpful. I generally ask a lot of questions so I can get intel for my blog but mainly because I am just curious. Miller Lite for me and some white wine for my wife. Our appetizer was Miso soup for me and a side salad with ginger dressing for my wife.
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I have a bottle of Japanese ginger dressing in my fridge, always. TONTON Ginger is a great dressing, you can get it at CostCo.
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Now my wife is on this CrossFit Paleo kick so her menu options are limited. We scanned the menu looking for options we thought we would like. One option we did not get but it’s really good is Daniel’s signature roll. If you like the big fancy roles you should give it a try.
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Another roll that’s great is the Black Pepper Tuna Roll.
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My wife chose the Avocado Sunrise. Now my wife is Mexican/Hispanic so she knows her Avocado, we both grew up eating a ton of avocados. These avocados must have been flown in over night because they were perfectly ripe. Which is hard to do with avocados. The tuna was firm and flavorful. A nice surprise was the bed of shaved Daikon radish under each avocado. It was crisp and juicy, slightly peppery.
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Nigiri sushi is what I prefer. Nigiri sushi is a type of Japanese dish made with sushi rice and fresh fish. The sushi rice is hand formed into a small clump, and the fish is sliced and pressed on top of it. But I do order a roll of some type from time to time. Right now I am a big yellow-tail fan. The yellow-tail from Sushi Cafe was firm, clean, fresh, and slightly sweet. Some of the best yellow-tail I have eaten. You know it’s good when you take that first bit and look at the Sushi chef with a smile.
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My next favorite is the Eel. This is actually mostly cooked, the chef fires up the blow touch and sears it. Which gives it a warm smoky flavor. It’s almost BBQ like. Really really good. My wife and I split this dish.
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Two happy customers!
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Now due to a bad case of mono when I was in the 6th grade, I was unable to travel with the Bad News Bears to Japan. So technically I am not the authority on top grade quality sushi. But I do know what’s good and what I like, I think you will like it too. So give Sushi Cafe a try and order something outside the box.

https://www.facebook.com/MontgomerySushiCafe

Address: 3004 Zelda Rd, Montgomery, AL 36106
Phone:(334) 819-7060

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Cajun Rabbit

25 Jan

This rabbit has been in my freezer since last season. Frozen in a block of ice. I shot this rabbit in a green field with my good friend Mike McMillan of Brent, Alabama. Not one for letting game go to waste, I skinned it and threw it in my cooler. Here is the jist on rabbit, it really does taste like chicken. Now not the steroid, HGH, Lance Armstrong chickens we buy at the store. more like a yard bird. A little tougher than most of us are used to. Think of this, if you were in a fancy French NYC restaurant this rabbit would have cost you about $25 bucks. Now it would have been braised in a light wine sauce with some organic embryo carrots, so I guess you got your money’s worth. I kicked this rabbit out of a briar patch and got it for the price of a 22 long-rifle. Anyhow, rabbit is good, just ask the French.

First thing I do is soak it in milk for about 8hrs. Buttermilk is the best but I am not going to buy buttermilk just to soak one rabbit. Use the milk you have if you want to save a buck. After a good milk brine in the fridge I take it our a couple hours before I cook it so it’s not ice cold when I drop it in the grease. Now the recipe.

Create you a good egg wash with a little bit of hot sauce. I like Louisiana but Texas Pete or another will work.
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Now set the egg wash to the side, I am getting ahead of myself. Season the rabbit a little before you add the batter. I chose the Cajun Seasoning from Southern Flavor Seasonings out of Selma, Alabama. This is a family owned company that makes a great product, their charcoal seasoning is awesome on steaks. Check them out at http://www.southernflavor.com.
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Now here is the trick to a good crust. A rabbit really has no skin like a chicken does, so it’s hard to get that good crispy crust. So first you want to dredge the rabbit in flour. This picture has a special meaning to me, after I took the pic I had one of those flash back moments of good memories. You see my grandmother “Sophie” always told me to use White Lily flour, she said it was the best. My Big Mama and Memaw had a flour shiftier, just like the one you see in the picture to make homemade biscuits. I purchased this one at an antique store some time ago.
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Put a little fresh cracked pepper in your flour.
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Here it is real simple. Flour, shake, egg wash, more flour, shake, cook in grease!!

The double batter is the trick when you have no skin.
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Two choices for a cooking vessel, iron skillet or electric skillet. I like both, if i have a ton of frying to do I go electric skillet. The rabbit was crying for the iron skillet, just to get that good char.

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Cook time is around 5-6 minutes on the first side and about 4 on the other side. A little over medium on your electric range or about 400 degrees if you want to get technical.

Check out this golden color. Looking good.
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I like a good crunchy rabbit so I like to drain on a rack instead of a paper towel.
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When it comes out of the grease I sprinkle a little more Cajun seasoning from http://www.southernflavor.com.

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This recipe is a storyboard, start at the top and follow. Everything can be substituted. I used vegetable oil because that’s what I had. Use what you have and don’t drop 30 bucks trying to follow the recipe to the T. Hope you enjoy!!

Breakfast in Bessemer at Raggedy Ann’s

14 Jan

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This weekend I went with my daughter to her first Crossfit competition.  Crossfit is similar to a cult, or it must be because my wife and daughter are both addicted.  If you really want to get in shape quit your regular gym right now and find a Crossfit box.

As we rolled into Bessemer I was hit with a hunger attack.  The Special K bar at 4am had worn off and I needed some fuel.  Rather than hit the McD’s at the exit, I drove deep into the heart of Bessemer.  Bessemer is a city left behind from it’s heyday when iron ore and coal flowed from it’s hills.  Bessemer is solid working class people, a city were both black and white do what’s necessary to survive.  The most famous person from Bessemer is the great Bo Jackson.  No tellin how many Bo stories have been told at the Raggedy Ann.

Driving down the bumpy streets I noticed a diner that was slammed packed, I mean not a parking spot in sight.  My eyes light up because I knew the food had to be good in this place.  I made a quick u-turn and took my wife and daughter back to the Crossfit competition and made sure my wife told me the correct time I needed to be back.  Great, be back by 9:30am I had over an hour to burn.  Plenty of time.  

As I pulled into the parking lot I found a parking spot out back where the workers park.  Always a good sign.  Walking in the door I noticed the crowed was older and 75% of the patrons had on Alabama Crimson Tide shirts.  Not an Auburn shirt in sight.  

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Alabama had won the National Championship the week prior and the Bama fans were beaming with pride.  A waitress motioned to me that I could sit anywhere.

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My waitress handed me a menu and said coffee or tea was included with the breakfast plates.  This is always a bonus because most places get you for an extra 2 bucks on the drinks.  The menu was obviously printed during one of Alabama’s recent tornadoes   It was a little jacked up.  I ordered a sweet tea and continued to look over the menu, trying to glance a stare at what the other folks were eating  

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The sweet tea was swwweeeetttt!  It was perfect!  A great Alabama sweet tea.  So far it’s starting off on a high note.  I choose the “Breakfast Special”, two farm-fresh eggs, two pieces of toast, two pieces of sausage, and hash browns.  Grits are usually a staple for me but I passed.  The breakfast special was $3.95.  $3.95 WITH A DRINK!!  Are you freakin kidding me.  This is why American’s are getting screwed by corporate fast-food giants.  I just paid less for a good home cooked meal than the #1 at McDonald’s.  Get on your smartphone, drive 5-minutes off the exit and try to find good food.

While I am waiting for my order another waitress stops by to see if I needed to order, then a different waitress stops by to top off my tea.  This tells me the employees working here are family and they care about their job and their customers.  Their boss treats them well.  These are “Waffle House” waitresses, ladies that live paycheck to paycheck, love their man and work extra hard to give their kids a better life.  Much respect.

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My waitress brought my breakfast special in record time and I knew it was going to be good.  I cut into my over-eases and they were cooked perfect.  Makes me jealous of the cook because I can never get my over-eases just perfect.  I took one bite of the eggs and my first reaction was “best eggs” ever.  I will need a second taste test before they can take the title but they were just plain good.  The two pieces of sausage had a nice char on them, which I like.  The hash-browns had a good crust on top.  The bread was a hair under-cooked, it needed another 30 seconds in the toaster to give it a good crunch.  But this small misstep was overcome by the butter that was bleeding off my bread, the combination of butter and the grape jelly was a good marriage.  Excellent for slopping up the egg yolk.

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Standing in line to payout I could see my waitress getting ice for other customers, making a pot of coffee, wondering if her kids were up yet and if they let the dog out.  I felt a little emotional about the whole experience, the senior citizens who were proud to call themselves Bama fans and debated who was the better coach, Saban or Bryant.  The elder gentleman who was busting tables and the black cook i just knew had cooked my eggs.  Regular folks putting in a hard days work on Sat. to give me this wonderful experience, I felt privileged.  My waitress gave me a big smile when I gave her my tip.  Glad I could make her day.  

So if you are close to Bessemer, take Exit 1 off 459 and make your way to Raggedy Ann’s for breakfast.

Address
  • 1030 4th Ave N
  • Bessemer, AL 35020-5571
Phone (205) 425-8415

 

 

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Deer Summer Sausage

2 Jan

Deer Summer Sausage

Summer Sausage is always a stable around the holiday season at my house. We purchase meat and cheese boxes from Auburn University every year. Glad to help out the enemy (Roll Tide!). Summer sausage is basically fatty meat smoked or cooked at low temperatures so the fat does not render. It’s my favorite type of sausage. My wife’s dad mixes it with peppers and salsa in the morning for breakfast. Sloop that oily goo up with a homemade tortilla and you are in heaven.

Since Santa Clause brought me a new smoker for Christmas, I knew the first thing I would make would be Deer Summer Sausage!

Add a comment if you want the how-to. 🙂

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