Bulldog Ale House

Bulldog Ale House

There is a location not far from where I live and we went out for dinner.



A pretty good burger:

Fried egg, bacon, pepper jack cheese.

It was the messiest burger that I have ever had !  Not that’s a bad thing.  I had to eat most of it with a knife and fork.

The fries were really great.  I like mustard with my fries.

Bull dog

As good as the food may have been, I will not go back.

This signage is not valid in Illinois and I carried while having dinner.

But, if this is the attitude of the people that own/operate Bulldog, I don’t feel welcome.



Vacation Bacon


I took the Fourth of July week off.

I didn’t have any plans  except to smoke some homemade bacon.

I actually get quite a bit of time off, but I have a hard time getting away from work and I don’t usually take time off early in the year, and it’s not uncommon for me to have 3 full weeks of vacation time left in October/November.


That’s my little smoker.  I think that was my 15th anniversary award from work about 6 years ago.  This is the first smoker that I have had and it’s a good beginner model to learn and to see if you have the chops to smoke your meats!!


Not in the habit of using additives to the fire, but my father in law gave me this bag of hickory pellets so I thought I would use it up today.


Made up two packets.  One will go on the bottom and the other on the top of the charcoal.


The bowl of unlit charcoal gets set inside on the bottom.  I have to hand feed replacement charcoal though that little door on the side and I pick out the biggest lumps from the bag so it is easier to reload the charcoal.  I’ve smoked with lump and briquettes and not sure there is a huge difference in using either one.


This little piggy went to get smoked !!!

The good news is that I have found a local source for getting my pork belly rather than having to go some distance to find the pork belly, but the bad news is that they only have chunks of the pork belly, not the big slabs.  I would rather have the big slab, but this works for me !


Charcoal burning and the pork belly is on the grill.



About 2 1/2 hours later, WE HAVE BACON !!!!

It will go into the refrigerator overnight and we will start eating it the next day !

This might be about the 8th time that I have made my own bacon, and I am still learning but just nibbling on a tiny bit of this, I think this might be my best !!





Toaster Bacon?


Making bacon in the toaster?

Yep, it was tried in the mid 1960’s.

Just drop the foil package with precooked bacon into the toaster and just 60-90 seconds later, hot bacon.


I can think of at least two possible problems with this idea:

  1.     Obliviously any grease leaking out is a fire hazard.
  2.      There are several way of opening the package that I could easily see someone         carelessly spraying hot grease around.

The approved way to cook bacon:










Homemade Bacon !!!!

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve made some homemade bacon.

One of the problems is the time.  It takes a week to “cure” the pork belly in the fridge (yes, that really is rather simple),  but because of the time it takes to smoke the bacon, it doesn’t take much to screw up the schedule at home and not have the time !!!

Well, that was certainly the case this time.

I had plenty of time off during the recent holidays but it was way too cold and wet for me to go outside and smoke.

So, instead I just did it inside in the oven.

As my daughter said, this was the best bacon so far !

Two things were done differently.

Obviously doing it in the oven gave me far better and consistent temperature control  and also, I left the pork belly uncovered in the fridge overnight to get completely dry.

I also ended up making over six pounds of bacon, quite a bit of which I gave to some special people at work.  You know you’re special if I share my bacon or ammo !!


Saturday Morning Roller Skating

Wow !! haven’t  had a Saturday morning skate in almost 30 years !

My mother had won some free admissions to a local skating/fun center (Funway) and as they were expiring, we used them on Saturday morning (9:30-11:30 am).

I took my daughter and her little group of friends:

We’ve taken this group of girls here about 6 times in the past couple of years.  They are all doing pretty well on wheels.

Stepping into the way back machine now!

One of the jobs I had during college was working at a roller skating rink.

This was one of the best jobs that I have ever had in my life.  Although, most jobs when you’re 19 years old that don’t involve adult responsibilities are great jobs.

My housemate at the time was already working at the skate rink as the assistant manager and suggested I apply there. (Since the my roommate would be doing the interview, it was a sure thing.)

I was a fair skater when I started there and ended up being pretty darn good at it.  At the time that I worked there, there were probably less than 10 employees.  A couple of DJs, 1 girl that ran the snack bar and about 4-5 skate guards.  We could all do each other’s jobs except for the girl at the snack bar, she couldn’t skate and she wouldn’t go anywhere near the DJ booth!!!

During the school year I think we were open every night and matinees on the weekend as well.  During the summer it was mostly Friday and Saturday nights with a Sunday afternoon skate.  The break even point was 21 paying customers.  There were a few times on Sunday afternoon we would only have about 10-15 customers and several of us would punch out and work off the clock rather than send the people away.

Also, there were many Friday or Saturday nights that after we closed at 11 pm, we let few of our favored clients stay locked in with us and we would play roller hockey to the wee early hours.

Since the margins on soda and popcorn were astronomical, employees got those for free.  About once a week we would breakdown the popcorn machine to clean it out and don’t you know that just before we did that, we accidentally made two batches of popcorn that would have to be “thrown away.”  Thrown away is in quotes because although the popcorn was put in a garbage bag, it would end up in our house in front of out TV and we would eat popcorn all night watching MTV until our lips were bloody from the salt !!!!  A little fact for you kids today…………… MTV used to show music videos, 24 hours a day !

Good times indeed.

One summer my housemate and I both worked at the rink and at the college.  He was on the landscaping team and I worked in the bookstore.  We got paid every two weeks.  For the first 4-6 days, we lived well.  The rest of the days until payday were tight, very tight.  It’s not hyperbolic to saw that we actually had to save up to get a quarter to play the pinball machine at the skate rink.  When you’re 19, living on the edge is fun, but sure don’t want to be doing that when I’m old.


Below is a photo of a Halloween skate we had.

Probably the only existing photo of me from a 4 year period.





Smokin’ !

SMOKIN’ !!!!

Things that have been on the smoker.




Turkey Wings:

I’ve bought smoked wings before when they were marked down at the store before and I saw these wings were marked down as well.  I shredded the meat and had them with rice for my lunch for the week.  They turned out really well.


Lamb Shanks:

I’ve bought lamb shanks before on sale and thought they were fine when I cooked them.  Thought I would try smoking them.  They turned out “OK.”  I haven’t eaten a lot of lamb in my life but I do like my lamb rare and theses were well done.  Shanks also have a lot of tendons and connective tissue and makes a bit of work to eat.  They tasted fine, but doubt I will smoke shanks again.


Yep. another slab o’ bacon.  The last one I made had too much brown sugar on it so this time I went with a bit less.  Also, I had to use table salt instead of kosher salt and I did not use enough.  No salty flavor at all.  But, the good thing is even if the bacon is a failure, I still have smoked pork !!!

Making Bacon Part III

This will be the third time that I have attempted to make Homemade Bacon.


The first two times were less than impressive.


I have decided to try one more time.



Pretty simple for the seasoning:

Coarse Salt

Fresh Ground Pepper

Brown Sugar

Thyme and Rosemary are optional so I left them out.




About a 3 1/2 pound slab of pork belly with the skin on.





All the parts are ready to go.

I cut off about a quarter of the pork belly and plan on cooking that separately.



Seasoning rubbed on and into the zip-style bag

This stayed in the fridge for a week, and once a day it gets turned over.

Now, this may be just another boring bacon disaster post after having tried twice before to make my on bacon.

BUT !!!

This time I have a secret weapon……………………………….

Meet Mr. Smokey !!!!!



For my fifteen years of service at work, I was given this smoker.

I’ve been cooking with gas for about 20 years (and I love it), but I started out way back when grilling with charcoal.  I also had never used a chimney starter.  Back in the day, it was just gasoline poured on to start the charcoal.  The chimney starter works well to get the coals going.



Lit charcoal ready to go………………………..



Back to the pork belly.

Rinsed off in the sink and patted dry.




I cut the skin off.

OOPS !!!!!

I shouldn’t have done that until after cooking.

Oh well.  Not likely to be my only mistake of the day !!



This is about after 4 hours on the smoker.

The pork belly looked a little lonely so I put a small piece of beef ribs on to keep it company.

The beef ribs were fantastic !!


OK, once again it at least looks like bacon at this point.

It stayed in the fridge overnight.



Slicing it up, it looks even more like bacon. (We know looks can be deceiving and disappointing)

The sliced bacon looks and feels different from the two other attempts.




Well, here goes everything !!!

Time to fry it up.


Well, my daughter said it was the best bacon ever !!

Woo, high praise indeed.

The wife said it rivaled the specialty bacon that a local person sells at the farmer’s market. (I’ve never had that so I can’t make a comparison)

I thought it was very good. It definitely wasn’t what I expected (not very salty like modern processed bacon.)  It was definitely good.



Well, the good news is that I know exactly how much bacon my cast iron will hold.  The bad news is that my bacon hoard is exactly that much less !!



Putting the homemade bacon to good use !!

Some overall notes:

It’s nice being able to slice the bacon thick.  My slices are about 1  1/2 X thicker than the thick cut bacon you buy in the store.

This bacon doesn’t shrink very much.

This bacon is not easy to overcook and burn like processed bacon.  It cooks up to the almost perfect mix of not crispy/crispy but not burnt.

This is the third time that I have used my smoker and I really like it.  It’s not a “set it and forget it” device.  I need to maintain the heat by putting more charcoal on.

This smoker is kind of a poor design. To me, one of the biggest problems is that when the coals burn down, there is no where for the ash to go and that hinders getting new coals going.  (I can fix that I think !!)

I hate smelling like I sat around a campfire all day when I use the smoker.

I’ve probably inhaled more carbon monoxide than a small Chinese village.

Bonus Feature:

I cooked up the other piece of the pork belly and it was great !!




Bacon: Pizza and Soup

So many years ago when I got married, a regular feature for myself and the wife was “Pizza Night” on Saturday night.  This usually involved homemade pizza, reading the Sunday Chicago Tribune and watching a movie on TV.  Now with my 10 year old, we have been dong the same but with a DVD/Blu Ray.

So we have a pound of some fresh, thick cut bacon and I had planned to put some on my pizza and use the rest for making my split pea soup on Sunday for my week of lunches.


Sometimes I cut it up to start, and sometimes I leave it whole and cut it up after cooking.  Does it make a difference?


Mmmmm, getting crispy !


With the bacon all done, I can fry the sausage.  Pork sausage fried in bacon grease !!!!  Woooooooooooooooo !!!


Sausage, bacon and some green olives.

The wife has come up with a pretty good (and easy) recipe for the dough that is very good for thin crusts.


Now, on to the next day and making my infamous “Split Pea and Bacon Soup.”

While at the grocery store I saw on the discount cart the the beef broth marked down to $1.00 and thought that I could find a use for it.  I thought that perhaps it would add something to my split pea soup.


Very simple ingredients.  The onion flakes are a new item for this soup.


Sigh !!!

Since I live in a house with bacon moochers, this is all that was left of the bacon.  Enough to nibble on, but not enough for the soup.


Now, when I poured in the first container of the BEEF broth, I realized right away that I had “overbeefed” the soup.  I mean whoda thunk that “BEEF Broth” was going to be so beefy??

So, what to do??

BEEF !!!

I had a package in the fridge and thought that it would be interesting to now try that.  There was $2.00 coupon so it was also cheap beef.


I only used one of the pieces of beef for the soup and saved the other for another dinner.


I never learn sometimes.

No matter how I cook my soup, it always boils over and makes a mess on the stove.

Yes, I cleaned this up.


I am putting the beef in raw, so when I reheat it at work, the meat will be just right, not over cooked.


My daughter was watching me cook and she wanted a sample of the soup:

“That’s good soup daddy.”