Today is Common Courtesy Day!

Yes, it is! So I wanted to put up this quick post and invite my vast readership to be really, really courteous today.

What?! You’re already doing that, 365 days a year?

Me, too!

So, here’s my fall-back plan: if you see anyone acting discourteously today, kindly tell them what day it is, ask them to forego being all mean and stuff and let them know they’re all-good to begin acting the fool again effective tomorrow!

Just make sure you do so in a very, very courteous way!

 

Your paragon of total courtesy, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Of Bread and Bread Bags

Of Bread and Bread Bags

Yes, that’s the fascinating title for today’s post. I think I better explain…

The part about bread, specifically, is that last Saturday, I messed up–badly. And I’m posting today to own up to what I did…

You see, last Saturday, the 23rd, was National Banana Bread Day and I didn’t… no, I did NOT bake any banana bread!

Not a single loaf.

Had all the ingredients on hand. The bananas were at the peak of ripeness… meaning almost black.

But still, I didn’t so much as turn on the oven!

I’m a complete failure as a home baker! A fraud, a phony!

As midnight approached, I felt worse and worse about this unforgivable omission.

I had even made a point to grab the newest batch of bread bags which had arrived from Amazon three or four weeks ago. I had misplaced them after the delivery and made sure they were around for my next loaf of my favorite fruit-bread combo.

And then, while taking a momentary  break from my self-flagellation over my supposed failure, I realized that I was starting on my second batch of bags… And that the bags come in lots of 100…

And it hit me! I’ve baked a hundred loaves of bread over the last fourteen months!

Well, that was a pretty cool thought!

I let myself down from that cross and realized that, although I hadn’t come through on “thee day”, it’s nevertheless true that Ben Been a busy baker and that when you look at the overall picture, I do belong in that proud gaggle of  committed, for-real home bakers!

Tomorrow’s the day for the next two loaves of banana bread. I have a regular Wednesday buyer and I’m not going to disappoint him.

And then a loaf of the delightful, round loaf of crusty, rosemary-topped skillet bread I love so well.

I need to buy more zucchini at the grocery today for the next loaf of amazing Lemon-Zucchini bread I’m just wild about…

Yeah, Ben’s not in the Baker’s Hall of Fame. But he’s for real!

 

“Baker Ben” Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

National Drink Wine Day 2019

National Drink Wine Day 2019

I’ll bet most of you didn’t know that today’s the day! I’m happy to do my part to let you know about really important things like National Drink Wine Day. It’s what I do. You’re welcome!

Sometime after 5 O’Clock, I’ll be doing my part to celebrate this momentous occasion.

If you pull your weight, I won’t have to drink an extra glass to compensate!

Whether you imbibe or not, I hope this Monday is a fine day for you; I’ll be checking in again in the near future with another post of monumental importance!

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

PS: I did have some thoughts on the fact that N.D.W.D. falls on the same day as Presidents Day this year, but I’m gonna keep all that to myself! Now where’s that Mascato? 

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Fighting Funny Food Phobias

Fighting Funny Food Phobias

Some of you may know that I spent a huge chunk of my working life as a server. At Disney, and many other places. Some well-known chains, some Mom-and-Pops, a pretty good cross section of restaurants.

And that’s one reason why I enjoy doing restaurant reviews. I love to cook and bake; being a foodie is a big part of who I am.

Now, sanitation is one of those things that everyone who cooks–whether at home or in a 5-Star establishment–thinks about.

When you’re in the business, a big part of your training is in safe food handling procedures.

And that’s as it should be. I’m not trying to say differently.

But some of our attitudes about food, how we prepare it and our relationship to it have become just a bit… shall we say, just a bit overly-sanitized.

Let me flesh that out a little: our ways of preparing and even thinking about food are a huge departure from how humans have done it for all but a tiny fraction of the time we’ve been on the planet.

Two brief anecdotes about my experiences with food and how we prepare it will help shed some light on this.

Unless you’re reading my blog for the first time, you know I love camping and just about anything else one can do outdoors for fun.

And I’m happiest when I’m cooking on my propane, two-burner camp stove. It’s just way too much fun.

This may seem funny, but you should have seen how hard I tried in some of my first outings in the great outdoors to translate restaurant “best practices” into the camping environment.

Yeah, it was pretty funny!

It wasn’t too long into the process that I gave up trying to always keep something more-or-less sanitized–even if just paper towels–between my cooking utensils and cutlery and those not-sanitized picnic tables.

It feels really good now to just cook my stuff, tongs and utensils, ladles and pot stickers, lids, grits and bacon bits, all flying around and coming to rest God-knows-where until the good stuff eventually comes to rest in my belly! Where it should go!

Even I am not OCD enough to prepare my food on one of those glorious forays into the Mom Nature’s back yard the way we do in a decent eatery or even in my kitchen, for that matter.

Last little story about this and how my awareness has evolved: I opened a container of brown rice the other day and found that some moth-like pests had paid a visit between the time I emptied a bag of rice into the jar and that moment I opened it up. And, yes, that had been a long time.

Not sure if they were able to get in there–it was a very cheap container–or if they were larvae who “came of age”. Rice and grits and pantry pests! It’s a thing.

Don’t know. Didn’t have to know.

The “me” before my camp cook’s epiphany would have gone “yuck!” and then summarily thrown out the rice.

The “me” after illumination picked out the corpses of the moths or weevils or whatever the hell they were, cooked the rice and enjoyed the hell out of it.

A little onion, garlic, cumin and weevil protein–loves me some o’ dat!

So I’ve tried to get past some of my silly food phobias and feel like I’ve come a long way.

But I’m thinking that if you go back just a bit further–in terms of human evolution, I mean–our forebears would have handled the bug-in-the-rice thing a bit differently.

No doubt in my mind, that they would merely have picked out the bugs and eaten them! 

Dead or alive!

I guess at the end of the day, I’m actually a pretty modern camper!

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Basile

 

 

Only One Breakfast Choice Today

Only One Breakfast Choice Today

I found out last night that today is National Pancake Day. So, of course, this puppy was going to have pancakes for breakfast no matter what!

As it turned out, I had no milk in the house, so I ended up at my favorite eatery in the whole wide world. That would be Cracker Barrel.

Here’s the disclosure: I do work there, so you might think that’s what’s behind my glowing recommendation.

But that’s not the case. I did not come to love it after working there; I work there because I loved the place.

I love everything about it. The food, the distinctive Southern theme and ambience. The consistently excellent service. Love it all.

And the yummy pancakes are a part of that!

Now, it doesn’t matter at all how or where you celebrate National Pancake Day! I care not one whit about that. IHOP and Perkins would also be excellent choices today!

But you must shove pancake matter and some awesome flavor of syrup into your pie hole before the clock strikes midnight!

You simply must!

And if you’re not sure where you want to get in on the fun, remember Cracker Barrel is open until 10 PM and we serve breakfast right up until we turn off the grill!

 

 

Full of pancakes and contentment, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Additional note: this blog posting is based on my own impressions and opinions of a well-known and well-loved American restaurant chain and is not any kind of official communication from CBOCS Inc.

 

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

 

Searching for the Meaning of Life

Searching for the Meaning of Life

This brief blog entry simply cannot be appreciated or understood unless you’ve cast your eyes over the accompanying photo. And, yes, I took the pic myself. No issues about ownership, copyrights or any such thing. And, if you must know, this humble sign adorns the north wall of the bar in my fave barbecue joint. In my fave beach town.

Having gotten the preliminary stuff out of the way, let me state for the record that I do not believe that the true meaning of life can be found in this lighthearted aphorism; it’s merely there to keep the wall from looking bare and, perhaps, to amuse the drunks who spend way too much time and money reading silly plaques tacked to the walls of our many infamous watering holes here in the Sunshine State.

The message of that damned sign does not seem to grow more profound with each lager lifted to my lips. I’ve never shared this barroom bromide with friends, nor incorporated it into an update on Facebook. (No need going to my Facebook page to verify that statement!)

Let’s be real. Life’s true meaning cannot be divined by reading this sign no matter how much beer you’ve quaffed.  I just like it because, as I stand right on the threshold of qualifying for social security, I think it just might be true! Not sure my doctor would vouch for that, but, it could be!

Now I think I’ll ponder that message one more time as I order one more beer…  Ashley!

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

This gem is coming back around because today’s National Beer Lover’s Day. It debuted back in July of 2016. It’s NBLD and it’s a Friday. No better day to enjoy a cold beer!

© 2016 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

 

 

National Fried Chicken Day is…

National Fried Chicken Day is…

This auspicious day is the perfect occasion for me to reflect on the importance of regularly consuming vast quantities of… well, of fried chicken, of course!

One of life’s mysteries which I cannot explain is that I’ve loved fried chicken for as long as I can remember even though it was never served at home.

That is just a bit weird, isn’t it?

And even though I eat it frequently, I don’t make it at home, either.

I know my way around the kitchen and make all kinds of other stuff. But not this life-giving delicacy.

As great as it is, it’s certainly true that frying this fowl at home is no light undertaking.

You need a Dutch oven, or at least a skillet with some serious depth to it.

And getting a good result means giving up a very considerable quantity of high-quality cooking oil, and not one of the cheaper ones. Peanut oil or coconut oil are preferred.

And then you’re left with a vast quantity of used oil. Yes, it’s not too different from the situation we shade-tree mechanics face when we’re thinking of changing our car’s oil in the driveway. And what to do with it after… yeah, that can be an issue.

So maybe I’m not the only one; maybe lots of lovers of what just might be America’s favorite dish head to KFC or Popeye’s in huge numbers but eschew tossing chicken pieces n’ parts into their skillets at home!

This wonderful feeling of relief, of knowing I’m not so different from my chicken-lovin’ friends, will buoy my spirits 30 minutes from now when I’m standing in that long line of hungry guests at that KFC right around the corner from me!

I wonder if they know what day it is?

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile