Friday, February 25, 2011

Rudy's Can't Fail

My apologies to Joe Strummer and The Clash for an obvious misuse of their song title.  But, if you want some authentic Texas barbecue, you could do a lot worse than stopping at one of the Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q.

Rudy's has several locations in the southwest. I was down in Austin earlier this week and decided that I had to feed my need for some Q.  I went over to Rudy's to pick up some dinner.  Rudy's is a rustic sort of place, somewhat pre-fabricated to look like the country stores and gas stations of 1950's west Texas.  Now while this decor may sound a bit kitschy, rest assured the meat is authentic.

Rudy's does not have table service.  You don't even get a plate.  You stand in line and order meat at the counter and they give it to you on butcher paper.  Yes, meat, not a meal.  You can purchase sides of potato salad and slaw, but the meat is the real feature.  They also throw in several slices of white bread to go along with the meat.

I ordered a half pound of brisket and half of a sausage link.  They included the white bread as noted above.  To round out a complete meal, I got some sauce (contain tomato) and pickles (cucumber) on the side to serve as vegetables.  And a container of banana pudding for good measure.

The meat was delicious.  Smoky, but not overwhelming.  Tender, lean, and moist.  Rudy's has a nice sauce to go along with the brisket, tomato based and spicy.  I like a sweet and vinegar type sauce on pork, but this sauce is a perfect match for the brisket.

Some detractors will claim that Rudy's is a chain.  Well, it is.  But it's a good chain and a good franchise.  Any investor's out there?  I'm ready to open one up in St. Louis.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2011 Event Update

You may have noticed a new tab at the top of the page.  I am planning to compete in several races this year, mostly for fitness motivation purposes. My friend and occasional running/cycling buddy Kate had posted her race schedule on here blog and I thought it was a good idea.

Friday, February 11, 2011


If you're a Clydesdale, what would you eat for breakfast?  Oats, of course.

One of the new food trends is steel cut oats.  Most of the oats we ate growing up were rolled oats.  Old-fashioned rolled oats took a while to cook, while quick or instant oats were partially cooked and only needed brief exposure to boiling water to finish the cooking process.

Steel cut oats are not rolled flat.  They are cut by blades. They look like whole grains that have been cut by a blade, which is what they are.

I have not found any evidence that steel cut oats have any nutrional advantages over rolled oats.  However, there is certainly a difference in taste and texture.  They also take a bit longer to cook.  Being a food trend, I have also found wild disparities in price.  At Dierberg's (local St. Louis grocery chain), Quaker steel cut oats were $6.29 for a 24 oz. can.  In the bulk aisle, they were $1.29/lb.  I bought two pounds of the bulk and found that I had gotten an additional discount when I check out, lowering the price to $1.00/lb.

I have tried two different cooking methods for the steel cut oats, both of which have turned out well.

Stovetop:  Bring 1-1/2 cups water to a boil with 1/2 tsp. of salt and 1 tablespoon of butter.  Stir in 1/2 cup of oats, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Serve with brown sugar and half & half.

Crock pot:  Fill crock pot with 10 cups water and 2 cups oats.  Add 1 teaspoon of salt and a half a stick of butter.  Turn the crock pot to low and cook for 8 hours.  Note that slow cookers differ greatly on heat output.  I have found that our big crock pot works well for oats, but only when cooking on "keep warm".  The oats burn on low or high.  You might need to experiment with cooking times and enlist the use of an automatic timer.

With either recipe, you can add dried fruit to the beginning of the cook.  I have found that dried cherries and blueberries work well.  You can also stir in frozen fruit at the end of the cook.  Just allow a little extra time for the fruit to come up to temperature.

Two cups of cooked oats with cream fuels me for a 10 mile training run or a 40 mile ride.  Note that your mileage may vary.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Tires and Pedals

It's time to start getting the bike ready for spring.  Last weekend, I attended the St. Louis Bike Expo over in Collinsville, IL.  There were a lot of shops out selling new equipment, plus clubs and other selling used and "vintage" equipment.

I was looking for tires and pedals.  I needed new tires because one of the relatively expensive Bontrager Hardcase tires on my bike has developed a bad "bump".  The tire is starting to come apart from the inside out.  This is very disappointing, as the tires do not look to be terribly worn otherwise.  And even though the tire was a bit heavy, I had zero flats over 3500 miles.

Anyway, I did not find any tires I liked at the expo.  I did order some tires this week from Jenson USA.  I am fond of 700 x 28 tires, and Jenson has some Serfa Seca's on sale for $9.99.  But they are pink.  More specifically, they have a pink stripe and lettering.  I ordered them anyway.  They should contrast nicely with the sky blue frame on the Gary Fisher.

Back to the pedals.  I have been looking for pedals since I broke two different sets last year.  I had been using SPD-type mountain bike pedals.  My shoes had drillings for either SPD or Look-type pedals.  I remembered that I had a set of Look pedals from 1985 that had served me well until 2000.  I also had an old set of shoes with the cleats.  I replaced the cleats on my shoes and cleaned and re-packed the bearings on the pedals. 

I had forgotten how great of a pedal design these things were.  Look was the first to make a clipless pedal.  They orignally made ski bindings and adopted a design for cycling pedals.  I believe these were first used in the Tour de France by the La Vie Claire team in 1984, led by Bernard Hinault and Greg Lemond.

Easy in, easy out, and secure grip.  I remember purchasing these after my feet came out of a toe clip during the final 200 yards of a race.  These were great pedals, even though they were a little heavy (518g).

So, as I was wandering around the expo, I found a guy with a bin of these, including two pair of the original white with the removable axle cap on the outboard bearing.  Here's a page from the 1985 Performance Bike catalog.

I bought two additional sets of these pedals at $5/pair.  Provided I can keep finding the replacement cleats, these "vintage" pedals should take me well into my my twilight years of cycling, even after my son tries to put me into the home and I keep escaping on my recumbent trike.

The Look pedal is one item that no one has been able to improve over the past twenty-five years.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Little Surprise

Some of you have had the chance to eat my pulled pork along with my special secret barbecue sauce.  What's so secret?  Well, it's made specifically to go with pulled pork, a balance of sweet and sour and spicy, with the appropriate consistency to distribute itself through the pork and not sit on top or run through and soak the bottom bun.  Actually, the recipe is not so secret anymore.  My mom published it in her church cookbook with a brisket recipe.  It's good sauce, but it really doesn't go with brisket.

I made a big batch of barbecue (pork shoulders and picnics) for my son's Eagle Scout dinner last weekend.  I was low on sauce and needed a new batch.  I usually use ground red pepper flakes.  We were out and I substituted ground chipotle pepper.  I didn't think the smokiness would detract and I thought the Scoville units should match.

It turns out the Scoville was much higher on the chipotle.  The sauce was still good, just packed with an unexpected extra kick of heat.