with food, there’s always something new

Archive for July 2008

End Of An Era

Charles “Jug” Eckert, founder of Jug’s Catering, died Wednesday at the age of 73.

Long before it became fashionable for big-city chefs to traipse out to the countryside and slaughter pigs, Mr. Eckert was cookin’ up Rocky Mountain Oysters for his Indy clientele. According to the Star profile of his illustrious life and career

Those “Rocky Mountain oysters” — or hog testicles — were staples of a popular male-only party Eckert hosted with Early for 17 years. The last party was in 1991.

Early estimated that, at the party’s height, they purchased 1,000 pounds of testicles for 1,500 guests, not counting numerous party-crashers.

At one time, we figured we were the biggest buyer of hog testicles in the United States,” Early said. “That’s quite an accomplishment.

Who sez’s those Republicans don’t know how to have fun?

Condolences to his wife, Beatrice, his family and many, many friends.

Adieu Mr. Eckert.


Written by Susan Gillie

July 25, 2008 at 5:40 pm

Posted in bloggage

Fishers Puts on a Party

Fishers is putting on a big party and you’re invited. Sponsored by Fishers Chamber of Commerce and Community North Hospital, the town will host Flavor of Fishers on Saturday, August 2. Enjoy the wine and beer garden at The Old Town Ale House. sample more than 30 restaurants, and listen to music and high school bands for a price than won’t break the budget ($5.00 for adults, students 14-18 $3.00, children under 14 free).

Fishers wants you to come and check them out.

I’m a big fan of Fishers. It’s home to Frasier’s Gourmet Foods, Peterson’s, a Target SuperStore and my favorite Indy Aldi’s.

Thanks to Erik Deckers of LaughingStock by Erik Deckers for letting me know about this event.

Written by Susan Gillie

July 23, 2008 at 3:34 pm

Posted in food as fun

Good Karma

Everyone nagged me to get a mobile phone. I’ve had them before, but I’m not a phone person. They’re an unnecessary hassle, something to lose, a wasted expense.

A week ago Friday, though, I drank the kool-aid. Along with 999,999 kindred souls throughout the world, I signed up for Apple’s new 3G iPhone. News coverage made it sound like a digital tsunami-people waiting in line for 12 hours, activation problems, system crashes, trouble with iTunes, the list goes on and on.

I experienced none of that. Yes, I waited 20 minutes in line, but I was in and out of the store in less than an hour. Activation time, five minutes tops, with no hitches or glitches. And by a stroke of luck, or good karma, I got the last phone in the store.

A new gadget is like a kitten or puppy. You adopt your pet, take it home, play with it for hours, and marvel at every cute, silly thing it does. Then off you go to the pet store to buy a collar, some food, catnip or a rawhide bone. You don’t just buy the basics, you pick up a 5-tier cat perch or pewter St. Assisi ID tag for the pooch.

iPhoners went shopping at the virtual reality equivalent of PetSmart.

Apple’s AppStore is an online big-box warehouse of iPhone applications, minisoftware programs written by third-party developers. A few apps improve or enhance iPhone’s features, but most of the 800+ apps are games and toys.

iPhoners managed to download 10-million apps from AppStore last weekend, in spite of activation problems and system crashes. I was no exception.

What was I looking for? Foodie stuff, of course.

There’s not much (yet). Apple markets iPhone to young, male, technogeeks (best sellng app, Super Monkey Ball) so don’t expect recipes from Epicurious or globe-trotting food adventures from Saveur.

Still, there are some possibilities.

1. Urbanspoon. New York Times food writer Frank Bruni gave the restaurant locator a mixed review.

After I downloaded it, it wouldn’t work for two days and is still unreliable, but it’s fun and uses iPhone’s GPS and accelerometer (motion sensor technology) to locate restaurants in a clever way.

2. Wine apps. I found three, Wine Log, Wine Snob and WinePad. Prices range from $2.99 to $4.99.

3. Cocktails. With over a thousand cocktail and mixed-drink recipes, this app is smart-alecky, show-offy. Chicago Tribune’s The Stew says  “Cocktails – much like its namesake – is pricey: $9.99. But the convenience, and the thoroughness, can make you laugh.”

4. Diet and nutrition. There are several, but I recommend Restaurants and Nutrition (free). It gives nutritional information for national chain restaurants and allows you to track your caloric and nutritional choices. By syncing to, you can customize your database.

Apps like FatWatch, Diet, Calculate Points are food logs, but so is Weight Tracker, which is free.

4. Organizer apps. Pick and Choose Groceries ($4.99) lets you point and click food items to create your grocery list.

5. iBeer ($2.99) No, it’s not a log for beer geeks. It’s a beer!


I vowed I’d only download free apps, but this one’s tempting.

As disappointed as I am that there’s no food-news aggregate or Chez Pim How-to-Find-the-Best-Pad-Thai-In-Bangok app, the iPhone is custom made for food lovers.

In a few weeks, I’ll be sniffing Indiana tomatoes in full season and squeezing eggplants. I’ll close my eyes and imagine making spiced eggplant salad. Then I’ll panic, what all goes into that salad?

I’ll flip on the iPhone, click on Amateur Gourmet and find it.

Written by Susan Gillie

July 19, 2008 at 9:11 pm

Posted in food as fun


Last week as one commenter noted, I made a bold statement about Brazil, slavery and meat.

Good friend and Indy’s Nancy Drew, Ruth Holladay, called Fogo de Chao’s local restaurant and discovered their meat is raised and processed in the U.S.

I’m following up this week to confirm this information and find out about the meat served in their Brazilian restaurants.

In the meantime, many of you are interested in the issue. This is a food blog meant to be light-hearted, quirky, fun and informative. 

So, I’m adding a separate page (Brazil, Slavery, Soybeans & Meat) which will describe the situation and provide you with articles and sources of information about this serious and growing problem. 

Written by Susan Gillie

July 7, 2008 at 12:55 pm

Posted in food as power

Pasta Salad

Two of my favorite food writers are Sara Dickerman and Kim Severson. So much food-writing is over-the-top, lifestyle fluff that has nothing to do with the joy, sorrow and glory of real cooking.

Not with these two women. Dickerman was a professional cook; Severson started her journalism career covering school boards in Oregon and cops in Tacoma, Washington before turning to food.

They go wherever there are good stories.

Just last week, I gave up on pasta. I’d purchased a high-priced bag of it, cooked it lovingly, tossed it in aged. artisanal cheese and adorned it with fresh herbs. It tasted okay, but for the price I paid, I could be eating lamb chops.

I thought, I just don’t like pasta anymore. Maybe if I went to a restaurant in Italy and somebody else made it for me and had to wash all those pans, I’d like pasta again, but otherwise, I’m done. Cross pasta off the list.

Then I read Sara Dickerman’s article “The Pasta Salad Manifesto” in Slate magazine.

Just in time for the 4th of July and summer picnics, she walks us through twelve easy steps to rescue that chronic underachiever–cold pasta.

As always, her article is power-packed with practical advise. Cool the noodles quickly, use oil not vinegar as the main element, choose the right noodles, limit textures, stay away from mayo and balsamic vinegar, use tender herbs, and above all else, stay away from the “festive” look.

I perked up–I’d only used half the bag of pricey pasta and had a bunch of asparagus that needed roasting. Maybe I could resurrect my love for pasta. I put the pot of water on the stove to boil and started rummaging through the refrigerator and freezer. Along with the asparagus, I found a red pepper, some shrimp and a red onion.

The asparagus, shrimp and pepper, doused with a dash of olive oil, got roasted. The pasta got cooked al dente and cooled exactly as the Manifesto dictated.

Now all I needed was a sauce, some tender herbs and cheese. The pasta has a creamy quality so I decided to skip the cheese and fresh chives grow in pots on my front porch. That left the sauce.

I wanted to follow Dickerman’s advice and use preserved lemons, but I didn’t have any. They take a week to prepare, so that was out. Then I remembered the quick standby for preserved lemon’s, John Ash’s Roasted Lemon Salsa.

Roasted Lemon Salsa is a great recipe. It’s the recipe equivalent of five greatest songs ever written. It’s simple, it’s uses inexpensive and easy-to-find ingredients, and even though you have to let it marinate for a few hours, it’s much faster than preserved lemons.

Don’t get me wrong, Roasted Lemon Salsa is not the same as preserved lemons, but it’s a good substitue.

So this morning, I tossed everything together–pasta, roasted ingredients and lemon salsa, sprinkling it with chopped chives. I’m headed to Bloomington to spend the 4th with my family.

Before I put the salad out, though, I’ll remember the last piece of advice, taste it one last time before serving because you’ll need more salt. I tucked a small bag of kosher in the picnic basket.

Happy 4th of July to all of you.

Roasted Lemon Salsa

  • 2 large lemons
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots or green onion (white parts only)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons losher or sea salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, or to taste

PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 400 degrees F. Cut the lemons in half and pick out the seeds. Lightly coat the lemons with a tablespoon of the olive oil. Place the lemons cut side down in a baking dish and roast uncovred for 25 minutes. Remove, cool, and cut the lemons into 1/4 inch dice.

In a bowl, combine the lemons, the remaining olive oil, shallots, sugar, and salt and stir gently. Cover and set aside for at least 3 hours so the flavors can marry and mellow. Initially, the lemons may seem a little harsh or bitter but as they sit the flavor changes markedly. Taste it a couple of times throughout the rest peiod and you’ll see. Adjust the seasonings with additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Store covered in the refrigerator for up  to week.

John Ash, Cooking One on One, Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher.

Cook’s note:  Instead of halving the lemons, I quarter them. It makes it easier to discard the seeds. Also, I use honey instead of sugar.

Written by Susan Gillie

July 4, 2008 at 4:24 pm


Written by Susan Gillie

July 2, 2008 at 1:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized