April 3–10 Feedings

One of the things I was most excited for when moving out of the dorms was being able to cook meals for myself and try new  recipes. I’m here to share the recipes I try with you and offer some variations and critiques.
Here are the recipes we tried last week.

For family dinner on Sunday night, we tried this lemon chicken stir fry recipe from Lil Luna. Instead of using asparagus like the recipe calls for, we used broccoli and it was great! I used this recipe from The Adventure Bite to make my own teriyaki sauce for the stir fry. I did the “more flavored” sauce option but left out the rice vinegar and pineapple. So good. We would definitely make these recipes again.

Sam’s rating: B+ Emily’s Rating: B
On Monday, I made this southwest spice rub pork tenderloin from The Kitchn. We liked this recipe but want to play around with it because we think it has so much potential. We’re thinking about adding cocoa or coffee to it!

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Sam’s rating: B Emily’s Rating: B+

We got take-out on Wednesday night from what may be my new favorite restaurant in town, Rodeo. I’m surprised a restaurant so cool exists here. We’ll have to do a review of it in another post. But for now, here’s a snapchat of my tacos.

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On Friday night we invited some friends over and made this pepper steak from Gimme Some Oven with rice noodles. It had quite a few steps so it took awhile to prepare, but the results were worth the wait.

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Sam’s rating: A Emily’s Rating: A

That’s what we fed the Beast last week, folks! Happy feeding.

 

Charlie’s Piggin’ N’ Grinnin’

On a quick weekend meet up in southern Michigan, we visited Charlie’s Piggin’ N’ Grinnin’ (such a great name!) in Benton Harbor, MI. This was our second visit to the restaurant; we tried them out back in November and were so enamored that we jumped at the chance to come back. Both times we ordered ribs and a pulled pork sandwich. We decided to forgo the sides the second time since we were not overly impressed during our first visit (I’m telling you, we’re really picky about our sides).

The atmosphere of Piggin’ N’ Grinnin’ threw me the first time. There are bare concrete floors. The seating is an eclectic mix of old wooden tables, metal chairs with vinyl-covered seats, and tables with aluminum legs and formica tops. You order at a counter from a handwritten, dry-erase board hung from the ceiling. I was underwhelmed when I first walked in. But after tasting the food, I was sold on the whole thing. Bring on the quirk—and the barbecue!

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The ribs were to die for on our first visit. Tasty, falling off the bone, succulent: everything you ever wanted in a rack of ribs. Unfortunately, when we went the second time, the ribs came with a side of disappointment. They seemed either undercooked or overcooked. We had to work to get the meat of the bone and the flavor just wasn’t there. They seemed to be lacking a coating of barbecue sauce all over. However, because their first impression was spot on, I’ll be willing to go back a third time to give them a chance to redeem themselves.

On the upside, the pulled pork sandwich was as marvelous the second time around. Tender, juicy meat. Excellent flavor. It is served sauce-free on a standard bun. The meat does not need to the assistance of sauce and is only improved by it. I quite enjoyed it and I think Sam agrees.

(our scores will be an aggregate of our two experiences at Piggin’ N’ Grinnin’)

  • Ribs: Samuel B  Emily B–
  • Pulled Pork: Samuel A  Emily A
  • Sides: Samuel C Emily B–
  • Dessert: n/a
  • Atmosphere: Samuel B+  Emily B+

Bird’s Smokehouse BBQ

Emily and I decided to start a new Valentine’s Day tradition and so we ventured to Muncie in search of the classic American comfort food: ribs. We had trouble finding the first restaurant and didn’t want to drive much further because the snow was severely limiting visibility. But with a slight lull in weather, we ventured south of Muncie to the quaint town of Daleville, IN, and to Bird’s Smokehouse BBQ.

When we entered, the atmosphere was exactly what one would expect. All the furniture was wooden and there was a large fire in the hearth. Glass windows by the ordering counter allowed us to see the smokers in the back.

Emily and I decided on the Valentine’s Day Special: a full rack of ribs with our choice of spicy or mild sauce, two dinner rolls, and four sides.

I decided on the mashed potatoes and southern cooked green beans and Emily on the baked beans and potato salad.

Less than five minutes after ordering, our food was brought to our table. At first glance, the ribs scared me, as food usually does in a new place. It appeared charred and I worried that it might be burnt and dry. However, the first bites delivered some of the best pork-rib meat that I have ever had in my life. The meat, while slightly dry, had obviously been infused with sauce throughout the entire cooking process. This resulted in a delightful layer of crust that had been cooked almost to a caramel. The meat itself fell clean off the bone and melted in my mouth. The dab of barbeque sauce was delicious. It is clearly homemade and together with the pork, is a symphony in your mouth.

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After finishing my half of the rack in no time, I ordered the pulled pork sandwich to see if it compared to the quality of the ribs. Emily and I were split in opinion on this. While I found the taste equally delightful, Emily found the texture dry and disappointing. A look under the bun revealed that barbeque sauce had been applied almost as an afterthought. While delicious, I would have liked it better had the sauce been infused with the meat somehow, moistening it before serving.

The sides were all subpar. The potatoes had not been made with real butter. I could only manage a few bites. The Southern Green Beans, while admittedly not my favorite in general, lacked salt and were still soggy. Emily didn’t particularly like either of her sides, but she has high standards for baked beans and potato salad.

The meal ended on a high note, however, as we tried the peach cobbler. The flavors were delicious and complimented the meal well.

  • Ribs: Samuel A Emily A
  • Pulled Pork: Samuel B+ Emily B
  • Sides: Samuel C– Emily C
  • Dessert: Samuel B+ Emily B+
  • Atmosphere: Samuel A– Emily B+