Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I'm Ridin'

...but not the Storm Out...never mind.

Anyway, over the last few years, I've been itchin' to buy a bicycle. Always rode one as a kid and did so living in NY. But coming back from NY I stopped in Indianapolis and someone cut the chain that held & locked my bike to the bike rack and stole my fairly new mountain bike. This was back in '94. Haven't been on one since.

So, I bought a GT Timberline. Got it home, assembled it, hopped on and immediately bit the side of the house. I'm sure the neighbors are still laughing their ass off and don't care so much now that my grass needs mowing. I never rode a bicycle while intoxicated, but now I know what that would feel like. That "just like riding a bicycle" saying is bullshit. I came to the conclusion it wasn't me...and it wasn't really the bike. This bike has front shock absorbers on it, they were set really loose from the factory (felt like a damned pogo stick) and it made the front end really squirrely plus I set the handlebars a bit low which didn't help things. So, after a fine display of my ability to string together a seemingly endless tirade of curse words, I made adjustments and all is reasonably well. The only thing about this bike that I sense me having an issue with is the brakes. It has the strangest brake set-up I've seen and I don't know if I trust it completely. Have some more light test driving to do before hitting the streets.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

National Health Care

Illinois Senator and Presidential candidate Barack Obama has announced that he has a plan for national health care. Personally, I think this is great, but with reservations. As someone who didn't have health coverage from the ages of about 21-40, I'd be happy if everyone had some coverage for accidents, basic health needs (yearly doctor check-ups, dental check ups, etc.) and catastrophic\emergency care. So, please don't give me grief about not knowing what it is like not to have insurance. It always weighed on the back of my mind.

However, a few questions come to mind about the good Senators plan. He is asking all businesses, consumers and government to "chip in" and pay for it. Yet, he says it will save me about $2,500 a year in premiums. So, out of that $2,500 I'm saving, how much is going to be my "chip in" part? I dunno...doesn't it just sound like the government if they save you money on one front, they'll want it back on another?
I'm very fortunate that the company I work for has awesome health benefits for a ridiculously low amount. I'm not bragging. Actually, I would gladly give some of those benefits up to increase my take home pay. But if I can't "save" $2,500 a year as I don't even pay that much in, where will my "chip in" part come from? Something that makes me go "HHHHMMMMM..."

"Those who can't afford coverage would get a subsidy on a sliding scale depending on their income, and virtually all businesses would have to share in the cost of coverage for their workers." Mr. Obama states that there will be a sliding scale based on income. Naw, lets make it on net worth. Why? If you are a drug dealer that has no reportable income, but floats around in a tricked out $100,000 Escalade, obviously you have financial means, but no income to base your insurance on. And, to the other end of the spectrum, the ultra rich hiding money in their kids', dogs' ex-wife's names, (hmmm...your 5 year old son is worth $8 million...how'd THAT happen? Sellin' his toys off on E-bay?), off shore accounts, real estate, dummy corps., etc. would be put to a microscope. In other words, base it on what you are worth, not what you make. The government already knows how to do that ...they just need to ask the IRS how that is done as the IRS bases your ability to pay back taxes on your worth, not your income. Personally, I think it would keep the rich from hiding and those who "play" the system not to be able to do so, as easily.

Wow, first a significant increase in the minimum wage and now partially pick up the tab on employee heath care. BIG strain on small business owners. Remember the movie Demolition Man where the winner of the restaurant wars was Taco Bell?

I know that some people go to the emergency room for health care as they can not afford to go to a private doctor. I understand this. In the +\- 19 years I didn't have health care, I thankfully only once had to encounter this situation. My concern is that insurance or none, there are people who run to the doctor for the smallest reason. Oh, gee this hangnail hurts like hell. I think I got acid reflux from my pet hamster. You know the type. I have to worry about the overload on the health care industry if there isn't some limit on what constitutes health care. Not to pick on Matt, but how many extra staff, etc. is he going to have employ, etc. because some child's hair hurts?

I look at a country like Germany which has national health care. Since I'm not a researching wizard, I have to wonder if the staggering amount of taxes that drive gasoline to $7.15 gallon in Germany goes in part to fund health care? They do pay higher income tax rates and I wonder how much of it goes to health care?

Hey, but as long as the government bans smoking and transfats in restaurants, we should all be healthier, right? (Ok, cheap shot.)

I understand the need, I was part of the need at one time, but why do I see the small business owner and the middle class getting kicked in the privates over this?

Monday, May 28, 2007

More "Who Cares?"

According to Yahoo! news: "Rosie O'Donnell said she may never speak to Elisabeth Hasselbeck again following their now-infamous confrontation on "The View" on Wednesday.

Who cares?

I'm sure Elisabeth Hasselbeck is relieved....and probably could care less either. Now if we could all piss off Rosie so none of us would EVER have to listen to her again...

Tom Selleck got it right years ago.....

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Illinois HB 429

As many of you probably have read, I'm on a tear against HB 429. I guess I should have got a human billboard or two to wander around the Race For The Cure like some folks did. NOT!! Anyway, for those who may have zipped past those posts, HB 429 is a bill that is trying to ban wine shipments from out of state retailers into Illinois. My bitch is that local or even state distributors can't and in some cases won't bring certain wines into Illinois. So if I want these, how do I get them if not through an out of state retailer or the winery doesn't sell over their website. HB 429 is designed to keep Liquor distributors in tight control of what comes into the state AND what is most profitable for them.

I mentioned that I wrote all Illinois House members asking them to vote NO. I said I was disappointed that I didn't hear back from MY representative, Aaron Schock. Now I see this:


5/17/2007 House Added Co-Sponsor Rep. Aaron Schock

Now, my question is "which bandwagon did he jump on"? Proponent of the original bill or the newest version (Amendment 3 proposed by 18th District Rep. Julie Hamos) which would allow out of state retail sales? Getting part of that $5.4 million that Illinois liquor distributors have been lining legislative pockets with or doing the right thing?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I mentioned in the post below about my ranting about various TV chefs using extra virgin olive oil with which to cook. I have to wonder who is in bed with whom or if Tony Soprano is making some payoffs.

Why do I say this. You can go look this up on Wikipedia or wherever you want if you don't believe me, but here is goes. Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil is just that. The olives are stored at cool or refrigerated temperatures and then are slightly crushed to produce oil. Sometimes bottled as is, sometimes filtered to produce clarity or minor alterations to preserve its fruity, aromatic flavor. The olives are then warmed up, maybe slightly heated and some extra squeezing is involved and you come up with olive oil. The remains are then treated to some extra heat, maybe some chemical persuasion, and some cranking down that would have rivaled Arnold in Conan the Barbarian. It is usually filtered or spun in a centrifuge to clarify it. This is pomace olive oil.

So, here is the scenario: You have this nice pork loin chop. It is nicely seasoned. You heat up your 10" Calphalon skillet, you add your extra virgin olive oil and it almost immediately begins to smoke.

Now, why would you do that? Because Rachael and Mario do? Why would you add extra virgin olive oil to a hot pan and immediately destroy the fruit, flavor, purity, delicacy and aromatics that the olive oil maker tried so hard to preserve? The extra virgin variety has a very low smoke (flash) point (the temperature that oil begins to smoke, thus pretty much ruining its integrity to do the job it is needed to do) and if far better suited in warm or cold food applications to maintain those beautiful flavors.

Don't believe me. Get out your bottle of extra virgin olive oil. Taste it. Put some in a hot saute pan and get it to just barely smoke and keep it at a "barely smoking" temperature for a few minutes. Cool it off. Taste your cooked oil versus the "raw" oil and see what you have done to your $25+ 1/2 gallon of extra virgin olive oil.

Me? I rarely cook with any olive oil. Clarified butter or veggie oil. If I want that pure, beautiful extra virgin olive oil flavor, I'll start with veggie oil, cook the dish and after it is off the heat, stir in some of the extra virgin olive oil so I can taste what the producer intended it to taste like. You can use pomace olive oil to cook with also. As it has already been heated and it has a higher smoking point than its expensive sibling although not as flavorful, but will impart some olive flavor though not that of the extra virgin variety. I'm sure the health benefits would be about even.

Ok, I'm done. Back to my regular time wasting measures.

Monday, May 21, 2007

I've Been Tagged! Why I Blog

Pammy over at Lollygaggin' has tagged me to explain "Why I Blog". So I need 5 reasons and 4 four more people.

This may get wordy.

1. I started because I wanted to do restaurant reviews. One will now say "Chef Kev, you haven't done a review in ages." This is true. But several reasons why I haven't: one is that I simply am in a rut to enjoy my favorites. As I've said many times, if you like a Reuben-style sandwich, go to Fedora's and get a New Yorker. You'll be full enough you won't need to eat for the rest of the day and you are out for $8 including a drink. And it isn't just a lot of food, it is a lot of REALLY GOOD food. And since the PJS or other publication isn't picking up the tab, well, I'll be a guinea pig when I feel like it on my dime. Two is that I've been cooking at home a bit more. Sometimes for necessity, sometimes for fun (this recipe would be better if I did this to it) or for recipe development as I'm (very slowly) working on my first cookbook. 3. I've been asked if doing reviews is a conflict of interest as I work for a wholesale food distributor. The last time I was asked that, it sounded more of a threat to "out" me than a question. But I've never written a "bad" review, so maybe the person who asked just had a stick up his ass. 4. There is almost always food at work....why pay to go out to eat?

2. I wanted to be informative about the culinary world, about Peoria or food topics in general. Right now my rant is with Rachel Ray and EVOO. But that is another blog.

3. Expand the "Chef Kevin" mantra. As I teach cooking classes, do some catering, etc. I'm always looking for creative outlets as I don't cook anymore for a living. Different venues require different culinary needs and it keeps my culinary mind from becoming a big pool of pooh. And the ultimate goal is to develop a large enough fan base to sell my cookbook to and come to any events I'm associated with.

4. I've always have liked to write.

5. It wasn't to express various opinions on certain subjects, but now it is.

Ok, that is my five.

Now to tag four people. As did Pammy, I'll stay local.

Diane Vespa at Peoria Rocks

Angie (I'm in Jamacia, mon) at Angie's Drama

I'm going to give my "Blogmentor" a kick to update her Jazzwriter site at Jazzwriter

Scott at O'Brien's Briar Patch

D-D-D-DAAAAAAAAAATS AAALLLLLLL FOOOLLKKSSSSS.

See You Around The Table.......

Saturday, May 19, 2007

$7.00 Per Gallon Gasoline

I'm sure that got your attention!! No, it wasn't a (very) bad dream I had. But I did notice that is what my relatives in Germany are paying per gallon. $7.08 is the average cost per gallon of gas in Germany. $7.08 a gallon. Makes $3.39 look like deal, huh? I know it doesn't make you feel any better. I know it cost me $51 to fill the Monte early this week, but that is far better than $114!! Imagine filling your 16 gallon tank and it costing $114!!

But really, we spend far more per gallon on other things. A $1.25, a 20 ounce Pepsi out of a vending machine is costing you $8 a gallon. Buy it by the case of cans (including tax) and you are right around what a gallon of gas costs. How was that bottle of Yellow Tail Chardonnay at $35 a gallon? That 12 pack of Sam Adams for $8.05 a gallon. How much for a good gallon of paint? $12? $18? A gallon of vegetable oil $7. Extra Virgin Olive Oil $24. If a 20 ounce Starbucks Mochafrappacrackowackocinno is $7, new math tells me that is $44.80 a gallon. How about $22.68 for a gallon of Aussie shampoo (which the first ingredient is water)? $13.50 for a gallon of Salsa. I really don't want to calculate that $3 a tube Crest toothpaste. I'll cry.

You get my point. I guess we pay more than $3 a gallon for stuff every day and just don't really think about it. Still doesn't make me feel any better. No, I'm not sticking up for the gas companies. But we've had it "easy" as gas in Germany has been in the $5-6 a gallon range for several YEARS!

Anyone else scouring the classifieds for a 1993 Chevrolet Metro?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Just Give Me The Fat

Recently, I needed a pork loin for a culinary function. I bought one and processed it into various chops, roasts, etc. that I needed. Looking at a chop, I noticed very little marbling. I looked at the packaging and it said "96% fat free".

I am a dumbass for buying something like that. Even with my culinary abilities, it is going to be a challenge to fully cook a 96% fat free pork loin so it isn't tough. Let me explain.

When meat cooks, the protein bonds cling to each other. Too much protein clinging is going to make meat tough. That is where fat comes in. When you look at a USDA Prime NY Strip Steak, it almost has a white-ish appearance to it. Why? It is very finely dispersed fat running throughout the meat. I'm sure you've heard the term marbling. The finer and more marbling, the more tender the meat. Why? The fat keeps those protein bonds from clinging to each other while slowly melting away. And as Emeril screams over & over & over again..fat adds flavor.

But OH GOD!!! We can't have fat in our food. It will kill us. Our hearts will look like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. Our arteries will expand larger than I-75 going through Atlanta. So, what do meat producers sometimes do to eliminate fat but help keep those protein bonds from clinging together and get tough? (And you say, WOW, that was a tender pork loin, steak, chicken breast so you buy their brand again?) Injections, sometimes called marinade or "pump" of a water, salt, sugar, papin and other ingredients that a registered dietitian with a PhD in bio-chemistry would have to explain to you into the meat to replace that nasty old fat. So instead of fat slowly cooking away, the water, salt, sugar, papin and Dr. Jekyll's chemistry experiments do.

Yummm EEEEEE.

And some "pump" is up to 15 to 18% of the weight. So you are paying $4.95, $7.95, $22.95 a pound for water, sugar, salt, papin and three chemicals to be name later in lieu of a second round draft choice....

Just give me the fat, dammit!!

See you around the table.........

Friday, May 11, 2007

I Go Outside To Get The Mail.......

and what did I observe around noon today? Children riding bikes, etc. around the street. Others playing in their yard.

If they didn't LOOK like school age children, I wouldn't have given it a second thought.

I'm not going in search of D 150 or any other schools "days off" list. But is it Good Mother's Day? Open campus for lunch?

WTF...why aren't kids in school at noon on Friday?

Someone Saw Something!!

There were a couple of shootings Wednesday in Peoria. And in a miraculous event, some one SAW something!! To quote the PJ Star: "Police questioned a group of men seated outside the home, at which the gunman reportedly fired.... The suspect vehicle was described as a two-door, red Oldsmobile Cutlass or Pontiac Grand Prix driving with its lights off. It allegedly drove by the house once before returning and opened fire on its second pass. The car was last seen headed west on Republic."



Oh, sorry. I fell over. Had to get up to start typing again. But, it was just a shooting. If someone actually had gotten killed, no one would have seen anything. But silly question here: How many people remember what kind and color of car that passes by your house that if it comes by again, you recognize it?

I'm sure if it was a POLICE vehicle, they would have had the plate number, car number, badge number, make of tires, the smallest dent or scratch, type of beverage being consumed, cake vs. glaze, eye & hair color, brand of watch, gun, shoes, styling gel.......

Record Ameren Profits

The Peoria Journal Star reports today that our "good friends" at Ameren posted a first-quarter net income of $123 million, compared to first quarter 2006 net income of $70 million.

Wow. $53 MILLION more in profits and is that AFTER they cleaned up behind the devistating ice storm that went through Missouri and Illinois? The stockholders, which greedy Rainwater and his ban of whiny "we're going to go broke" corporate cohorts probably own ungodly shares, also got a 25 cent per share windfall.

But they still have money to advertise (Why? They are a monopoly.) They help sponsor itsentirelyup2u.com (which after paying their outrageous electric bills, there is no money left to buy a new energy efficient furnace. Maybe Mr. Rainwater can cash in a few of those lucrative stock divs and buy me one). They still have money to underwrite costs of community events. "Wer'e going to go bankrupt" Boo f-in' hoo. Let me see if I believe that. NO.

But yet they needed a 55% increase so they won't go broke. I think about 20% might have been a more realistic number. I don't begrudge any business a profit so they can stay in business, but when I see 53 MILLION in ONE quarter after all the winter weather expense they occurred; bullshit.

All I can say is when they get to hell, I hope Satan gets a 55% increase to turn up the heat.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Why Is This News?

Ashley Judd got her college degree (in French) It made the front page of Yahoo news: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070509/ap_en_mo/people_ashley_judd_4;_ylt=A0SOxYr2SENGNagAogFkM3wV

Big F-in' deal. She is more special than other college grads?

The Best......in Peoria

I know we all see these Billboards around town during a certain time of year proclaiming the "Who's Who" in certain Peoria business segments. Yawn.

Now don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed hosting the bloggers bash and I'll do it again, but a thot popped into my head.

What if we had a blogger bash (some neutral site) and every blogger who participates, brings a sandwich from a local eatery and we have a "taste off"? Same thing with ribs. Or Chili. Think burgers and pizza would be rough.

Thots? Hosts?

See you around the table.............

The Lack of Blogging

Obviously, I've been keeping up with what other local bloggers have been blogging about as I have been leaving comments here & there. But I haven't been blogging myself.

A lot of time of late has been spent on the landscaping & re-landscaping my back yard. For those of you who attended the blogger bash at my house, the landscaping\rock garden didn't look like that last year and now it doesn't look like it did at the bash.

I've been working on moving this blog to my webpage (chefkevincooks.com). It is slow because Go Daddy & I just don't have a very good understanding: I don't understand why I can't get it to do what I want and it doesn't understand I'm going to yank the thing in another day or two and ask for my money back. I want it to look reasonably like what I have and with all their fancy schmancy layouts, etc. one would think it would be remotely possible, but it is a pain in the ass just to get the sidebar laid out the same.

I know some of you read this and know I do some work with Dan & Cris Willett and Willett's Winery in Manito. We're working on a few things. Lot of things over the fire, but nothing is definitely cooking at the moment. All hinges on some outside variables that we are looking into.

I have eaten at a few spots, but didn't blog about them. I know, I'm slipping.

And I've been following HB 429 very closely. I know I've gone off about it here and other people's blogs. Within reason, name one LEGAL item, if you can not find it in Central Illinois or heck, Illinois, that you can't go, find and buy it on the web? (Greedy) Illinois liquor distibutors won't get me a few wines I want, but want to make it illegal for me to get them myself. THIS IS BULLSHIT TO THE HIGHEST DEGREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, I'm writing lots of letters, etc. to see where this goes. HEY, ILLINOIS LIQUOR DISTRIBUTORS!!! Show me the 2005 Ken Wright "Abbott's Vineyard" Pinot Noir at $50 and 2005 Knebel Winninger Rottgen Spatlese at $25 and I might, just might shut up. That is until a really get serious about a bottle of 1962 Pichon Lalande which I KNOW you people have NO access to and has to be bought on the secondary wine market. Occasionally, a huge west coast retailer might come across something like this as they deal directly with the wineries (chateauxs) or buy out a private cellar. And since this would be a rare find even in the United States, let alone, Illinois, how would I obtain it via your stupid law? I couldn't and I am going to call all of you and any legislator who votes yes for this bullshit law DAILY to find me one for my 50th birthday if you make it impossible to find one on my own. OOps...time for my Prozac.

Well, that is it. Besides work, that is where all my blogging time is going. Now, to water the new sod.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Do Your State Reps Care.

A few posts ago, I posted that the greedy liquor distributors in IL want it to be illegal to buy wine, etc. from out of state retailers. I guess I could understand that IF they would be agreeable to bringing in, at a reasonable cost, any wine I wanted. But they won't. I was told it "wasn't profitable". The day I can walk into a Peoria area liquor store and buy Knebel Winninger Rottgen Spatlese or Ken Wright Freedom Hill Pinot Noir or Palari Santa Ne or Turley "Rattlesnake" Petite Sirah maybe I'll STFU. Probably not. Another bitch is that we do it to avoid paying sales tax. Hell, I don't buy the wine to avoid sales tax; I'd be happy to pay the tax to get the wine I want...screw the tax. The day I can walk into a Peoria liquor store to buy a magnum of 1962 Pichon Lalande to celebrate my 50th B-day (which is still several years off), I'll be MORE THAN HAPPY to pay the sales tax. Hell, I'll pay it THREE times as it would still save me money over insuring and shipping that bottle from CA or NY. I'll buy the wine in Peoria (or Illinois) and pay the tax IF you just GET IT HERE!!! If you won't, then you have no room to complain, so STFU!

Ok, that rant is over.

Anyway, so I e-mailed every state rep. to oppose HB 429 or ammend it to include retailers.
HOWEVER, I got the list of e-mails off a State of Illinois site and I bet 20% have come back as UNDELIVERABLE. That makes ya go Hmmmmmmm.......

That is the end of the post unless you care anything about this Liquor distributor greed bill. For those who do care or are interested:

18th District State Representative Julie Hamos sent me a return e-mail saying she has filed an amendment to HB 429 to include retailers which forced the bill back to committee. Thank you 18th district Rep. Julie Hamos!!! You get this amendment added and passed through to include retailers and I'll send you a bottle of Knebel Winninger Rottgen Spatlese and you will realize why you have done a great thing!! (Only 180 bottles of this was imported in 2002...so little that even the great wine critic Robert Parker didn't get to review it, but I got 5 bottles). I received a few others back that SEEMED personalized. Of course, I got a bunch of form e-mails. I didn't hear an f-ing thing from our own rep, Aaron Schock....glad to hear I'm important to him.