Mom cleans house, and road trip, continuedMom cleans house, and road trip, continued

Okay, I just spent a couple of hours throwing away mysterious grains, flours, and spices that I haven’t used since we moved into the “new” house in 1999. At my age I can no longer count on being able to put anything into an unlabeled container and remembering what it is unless it’s something like sundried tomatoes. Even dried blueberries can be a little hard to tell from currants, and dried cranberries and cherries look pretty similar, too. A lot of the spices, seeds, and herbs weren’t even fresh when we moved in here, and while pitching them I was reflecting on the shift we’ve made in cooking, even in the past few years. At one time I tried to have just about every spice or herb in existence on hand in case the urge to cook something exotic should strike me; I’d be prepared for anything. But as a result some of those seasonings sat on my shelves for 10 years or even much longer. No matter what the chefs advise, it’s hard to throw spices away that have never even been opened. Now I realize it’s better just to buy the ones I use frequently in fairly small quantities that can be replenished often, and get the exotic seasonings when and if I plan to cook something special.

But back to my weekend—one reason we planned to break the trip up in Beckley, West Virginia was specifically so we could eat at Tamarack, an odd-looking, crown-shaped building on Route 19 where it bypasses Charleston, West Virginia. Tamarack bills itself as housing the “best of West Virginia” and has a food court that is supervised and manned by chefs from the famed Greenbrier Resort. All we care about at Tamarack is the food; the rest of the building is filled with quilts, woodworking, pottery, and all manner of crafts that hold no interest for us and are undoubtedly overpriced as well. Other folks obviously don’t feel that way as the place was swarming with people buying dried flower arrangements, rustic-looking “Welcome” plaques, and other artisanal junk.

What I can’t understand is why more travelers don’t take advantage of the cafeteria there; it’s never crowded, even on the weekends, and the prices are more than reasonable. On the trip down my husband had the sautéed brook trout with lemon butter and I got a chicken breast with porcini mushroom sauce. We both love their braised kale with sweet onions and always get it. I tried the fried green tomatoes, which I didn’t like but Bill did. I thought they were fried in some kind of oil I don’t like, maybe grapeseed or canola, although they were nice and crisp. The key lime pie was perfect: tart and creamy, and the right color—golden green, not the lurid neon green you get with the artificially dyed “key” lime pie mixes. On the way home we stopped again and I got the trout this time while Bill ordered West Virginia fried chicken (he hadn’t had his fill of fried chicken in North Carolina!) Completely forgetting my goal of extreme skinniness by next weekend I topped it all off with a slice of their coconut cream pie. They have great coffee there, too.


I use your new spice strategy (only buying the exotic ones for a special recipe), and I still end up with dozens of things I don’t use like coriander and cardamom, etc. Although I do enjoy grinding whole cardamom pods with my coffee beans, as it makes for an exotic and refreshing brew.

i love braised kale. it reminds me of my childhood, i hated being forced to eat it but now I have grown to love it.

The cafeteria sounds great. I will be traveling to an annual, compulsory yawn of a meeting next week with some friends from work. It is in State College PA, where we’ve been a few too many times-though it certainly beats Harrisburgh-the Commonwealth’s other favorite gathering spot for its employees.
We amuse ourselves on these occasions by seeking out diner food.Hope there will be a few spots we haven’t already hit.In any event there’s always the Ag school Dairy and its fabulous ice cream.

I am always amazed by the popularity of kitchy “country” craft items. I wonder what it is people are seeking when they buy, say, a cutesy painted wooden sign with a homily or jokey quote on it?

The Tamarack cafeteria sounds great, although I am still trying to puzzle out what it is that is “Best of WV” about key lime pie…


Lindy, have you been to Clem’s BBQ? Very near State College in Port Matilda and the ribs and pulled pork are amazingly good.

Jenjen-Thanks for visiting and commenting on our blog; it’s true, I, also would have hated kale as a youngster. Your blog is beautiful. So many blogs, so little time!

Leland-You’re right, even with that strategy you still wind up with little used spices that get stale and grimy sitting there. Did you discover the cardamom thing because some was left on the grinder you use for your coffee, or did you do it on purpose?

Lindy-You might want to look for some raw milk while you’re in that part of the state, with all the farms and dairies there must be some. I couldn’t agree more about the ice cream at the Creamery and have enjoyed it many times when I’ve gone there for shows with my husband. Actually, it’s too bad you’re not going to Reading because he’s performing there on the 21st and maybe you could have caught the show!

Marcy-Ha! I suppose in West Virginia it should be all ramps and morels, but whatever the Greenbrier chefs want to prepare probably counts as “best of” as well. And you are right on with your Clem’s Barbecue recommendation; it’s terrific and we have been known to stop at both of them between Pittsburgh and State College.

yummy looking pie!

When I moved from my last house I threw out many bottles of spices, some which had to be almost 15 years old. I only buy things as needed for a recipe but there seem to be plenty of things (mace, for instance) that I never use enough to get anywhere near using up even the smallest amount.

I’m taking note of Clem’s — we usually drive to Mike’s mother’s house on 322 so perhaps I’ll get to check it out this summer.

Beckley, WV is a place I don’t think I’ve ever been near but it’s too bad because the Tamarack looks fantastic.

I did the cardamom thing on purpose after reading about it somewhere. Actually, I read that you should put a pod in your coffee pot, but I find the flavor is more controllable when you grind it with your beans. And then I read that in North Africa, some cultures measure hospitality and wealth by what percentage of their coffee is made from cardamom.

Rachel-Thanks for visiting our blog, and commenting; I guess you like lime, huh? :)

Julie-Leland said the same thing about getting stuck with spices you can never use up, even if you buy them in relatively small quantities. Too bad there’s not some neighborhood spice rack you could just grab a teaspoonful of ground mace or cloves from the 2 or 3 times a year when you needed them.

Leland-I have accidentally flavored my coffee with cardamom after using the coffee grinder to grind spices; I’m not specially fond of that flavor in my coffee. Do you toast the cardamom first? I think chai often has cardamom in it.

There are places in the country where they would drag you behind a pickup truck just for calling this garbage BBQ.
The signs say “Real BBQ”..which is blatant false advertisement.
The truth is, the ribs are thrown on a GRILL* until they have char marks, then thrown in a vat of cheap tasteless sauce where it simmers FAR BEYOND the point of OVERCOOKED.
Contrary to popular belief, rib meat is not supposed to FALL off the bone. The entire reason for slow smoking is to make the connective tissue of the meat transform into a succulent geletain. The meat should PULL from the bone with a slight resistance.
Rib meat “falls off the bone” when that geletain is cooked out, due to improper temperature and cooking methods.
Too high of a heat will make the connective tissue even tougher, instead of breaking it down.
And HONESTLY!…you don’t have to drown ribs in sauce if they are cooked properly. People drown ribs in sauce to hide the fact that they cannot cook ribs.
I made the mistake of stopping there once. I paid about $10 for ribs, and what I got was a styrofoam container of bones and chunks of overcooked rib meat drowned in what appeared to be Cattleman’s BBQ sauce. There was no smoke flavor because the ribs were NEVER SMOKED dispite the huge pile of firewood being wasted.
I would have fed the whole mess to my dogs, but I happen to LIKE my dogs…and besides, my dogs are too smart to think this is “REAL BBQ.” They’ve had real BBQ.
You could only pass this off as BBQ in the North.
These ribs are for people who don’t like ribs, but absolutely LOVE the flavor of cheap discount club BBQ sauce. Why you’d want to waste the money on the ribs is beyond me, when you can just drink red sauce from the bottle and get the exact flavor, and nearly the same texture.
It’s a shame to see a man waste so much pork and firewood.

BBQ= slow indirect heat and smoke. Precise temperatures kept.
GRILLING= placing meat directly over fire.
Clems uses a GRILL pit..not a BBQ pit.
BBQ implies the cooking method. Please stop calling this boiled/grilled/steamed junk BBQ!

Hi, Hungry – Welcome to the blog! It’s always good to get a comment from someone who is an expert in their field, and no one knows barbecue like a southerner. I have eaten barbecue at great places like B’s in Greenville, N.C. and you’re right, Clem’s isn’t in the same league, but us northerners either go without or eat barbecue that’s not even fit for the dogs!

Somehow I managed to be born and raised in northeast Georgia without knowing barbecue’s sacred definition until I moved to “the North.” And read about it in The Evil New York Times. Right now my mom, also born in Georgia, is probably throwing chicken on the grill for her weekly “barbecue,” as she dares to call it. Please don’t drag her behind any trucks.

Unfortunately, in both the North and South anything with a red sauce dumped on it is called BBQ. It has been happening for so long that it is acccepted as fact. I would like to see the term reclaimed.
If I boil chicken on a stove, it is not BBQ, regardless of how much red sauce I pour on it. Yet it is called BBQ chicken simply because of that sauce.

Hello Hungry4DecentBBQ! Your dedication to Clem’s is appreciated. Everyone deserves to have an oppinion about the food they eat. Lots of places have different styles of cooking. We think we have a pretty good style that the people in this area appreciate. At Clem’s we sell 15,000 lbs of meat per week. How many pounds per week do you sell?

15,000 pounds of meat PER WEEK?? That’s a lofty claim, but then, so is “REAL BBQ”.
Even if it were true, McDonalds has served billions of quite possibly the worst hamburgers in the world, and Budweiser has sold billions of gallons of quite possibly the worst beer in the world. Statistically, 49% of the population is below average. That’s a large demographic to cater to and exploit. But for those who enjoy getting what they are promised (in this case “Real BBQ”) this is not the place to go. Sorry if that offends you, but that’s the facts. It is fine to like their food. I can’t personally understand it, but I will accept it. I take issue with calling it BBQ. It is not BBQ and should not be advertised as such.
I like to get what I am told I am paying for.
I don’t like being told I am getting crab legs, and end up with a plate of that rubbery fake stuff made from various processed junk fish.
Nor do I like to be told I am buying BBQ and end up with a styrofoam container of boiled, grilled, and steamed mush and bones drowned in sauce.
Just call it what it is.

Now, Hungry, I think you’re being a little harsh with your comments here. I appreciate that you are a barbecue purist (where do you come down on the sauce debate, with the thin, vinegary, peppery sauce or the thicker, tomato-based sauce?) but what about Clem’s chicken? My husband loves it. And I think calling the pulled pork “mush” is a bit of an exaggeration; it does have bite to it, and some crispy bits and pieces. And if one is forced to go to State College or the vicinity, like Altoona, like we are several times a year, where is one going to eat? The whole area is a culinary wasteland! I’m happy to hear about this Beulah’s and I’m definitely going to try it the next time we’re out there.

Actually, I prefer NO SAUCE. REAL bbq doesn’t need it. Generally a rub, along with smoked meat is tasty enough and doesn’t need to be covered up with ANYTHING, as there is nothing you need to hide. As I said, if people like it, so be it, but the problem I have is calling it BBQ. IT IS NOT BBQ. If they said “REAL GRILLED MEAT” which is what it is, then people looking for BBQ wouldn’t get suckered into wasting time and money.If it had been BBQ in any way, shape, or form, I could tolerate that it was different and could possibly appreciate it. But this is no better stuff than any novice could make on a gas grill. Add a foil bag of wood chips, and you can make your own chicken CHEAPER and most likely better. The sign says “REAL BBQ”, and that is what I expected. I got bones and overcooked mushy rib meat at the bottom of a swamp of sauce. That’s just my experience.
As for what to eat between SC and Altoona, I have to say (tongue in cheek…kinda) Dump red sauce on anything you happen to have laying around the car, and call it BBQ.

Give me a break!
My staff and I take pride in serving a bunch of great people that appreciate our BBQ. You certainly have the right to enjoy a restaurant that serves your style of BBQ. I believe BBQ is truly a great American institution. From the many traditional styles appreciated by purists as yourself, to our unique style, fully appreciated by not only our local customers, but many good customers from the South. By the way, I’ve stopped by at least a 100 BBQ’s, all throughout the country, and each one has their own style and flavor. I’ve enjoyed some more than others, but I’d never tell them how to run their business. Bottom line is that the market decides—which is also another great American institution. Again, enjoy your style of BBQ, we’ll continue to take pride in serving ours.

I have been to countless BBQ joints, also…and yes, most have their own unique taste. But I have never before seen ANYONE ANYWHERE toss a rack of ribs onto a GRILL until charred, then simmer it in a vat of sauce, and call it BBQ. You are correct. That is truly “unique”. To clerify, It is a unique idea to call it BBQ…but the cooking method is not unique at all. That very same cooking method, in most places is referred to as STEWING. Stew is generally made by searing meat, then placing it in a liguid until it nearly falls apart. And in STEWING that would be the desired result. BBQ is generally cooked with indirect heat at low temperatures for a long time because the goal is to NOT cook the collagen out and make the meat fall apart. It then turns into gelatin INSIDE OF the meat, giving it that familiar “lip smacking goodness” found in TRADITIONAL BBQ, and lacking in “Unique” BBQ. And in BBQing that would be the desired result. I was unaware that you could simply use the term “Unique BBQ” to replace the term STEW.
Sorry. My bad.
Glad you are having so much success with this “Unique Idea”.

We are no longer accepting comments on this post. This has gotten out of hand. You guys will have to take it to the streets.

Ahaaaa…come on mom….your no fun…just one more post:

Badwolf, Paul, or anonymous, (what ever) next time your in Port Matilda, stop in and say hello, it would be nice to banter with you (in person), clearly you are dedicated to the sport of barbecue. We like Beer, we’ll hook you up! (And mom you can join us)

Hey, Clem’s – don’t blame me! That’s my son who hates controversy; I am intrigued by all the barbecue squabbling. Not only that, but I learned about Beulah’s. I’m sure we will be stopping by your place for a pulled pork sandwich the next time the Billy Price Band is booked anywhere in the area. Whether we see HungryfordecentBBQ there is doubtful…

I swear on my immortal soul that what you are about to read is 100% accurate account of my experience.I went to Beulahs today, and as soon as I walked in the door, I got excited!! They actually had a BBQ!!!…not a grill and a vat of sauce…but a BBQ. I ordered a platter which was to consist of RIBS, BEEF BRISKITT and TWO SIDES. (I ordered the french fries and coleslaw) Now here comes the sad part…Right before my very eyes, the guy pulls out a small slab of ribs and places them in an OVEN. And then he takes out a slab of briskett, slices some off, and puts it in a MICROWAVE OVEN!!!! Thereby defeating the ENTIRE purpose of BBQing it in the first place!
Apparantly they BBQ their meat, put it in a cooler, then re-heat it as needed! The briskett was on a plate, covered in plastic wrap when he NUKED it, which, of course, cooked out all the juices, and surpassed the point of 225 degrees…which is where you stop calling it BBQ and start calling it ROAST. No respectable BBQ place would have done that. Sorry! Any respectable BBQ joint locks the door when they are out of fresh BBQ. I can respect that. On the positive side, it wasn’t the “pork stew” Clem’s serves, and it was actually smoked at one time. The fries were the best thing on the platter, and had a “secret seasoning” (think OLD BAY)wink and the slaw, I will not rate because no one’s slaw comes close to my mothers. The downside is, once they put it in a microwave, they may just as well have tossed it in the garbage where it belonged. There was no reason for it. BBQed meat will keep in a warming oven for a LONG time. There is no reason to cool it then re-heat it. It made me nearly cry…especially after paying $15 for it. But I choked it down just so I could report my findings here. They are as follows: Flavor: Smoky and decent. Texture: Completely destroyed by the re-heating process. Sauce: Decent, and not swimming in it, although I prefer BBQ that doesn’t have anything to hide. Would I do it again? Not on your life! I have paid half as much for PRIMO BBQ. The closest I have come to decent BBQ around central PA is Geo’s between Philipsburg and Clearfield on 322 near the Woodland exit of I80. It is a happy medium somewhere between stewed pork and the “near miss” stuff I ate at Beulah’s. That’s my HONEST evaluation, and my true experience. I didn’t WANT it to be that way…I really didn’t…but it was.

Hi, Hungry – Hmmm, I would have been a little leery of the microwave as well. But what about the “burnt ends”? Any sign of them? I thought they sounded good.

Burnt ends are usually very good. But if someone is putting meat in a microwave, I’LL PASS, THANKS!. Some things are done for a reason. BBQ is what it is for a reason. The sauces and rubs are open for interpretation or “unique style” but the methods are what dictate whether or not it is BBQ. Stew isn’t BBQ, nor is anything that comes out of a microvave oven..regardless of what process occurred before that point, or what “the market” is fooled into believing.I guess the difference is INTEGRITY.

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