Culinary no-no #638


This past Thanksgiving weekend our family was in Louisville. Kyla and fellow Irish dancers from Cashel Academy of Irish Dance (and others from 14 states) competed in the annual Mid-America Oireachtas.

We stayed at this fabulous place…

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One night we ate dinner with friends at the hotel’s new restaurant, Walker’s Exchange

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“From the crunch of our fried chicken to the sugary glaze of our cinnamon buns, Walker’s Exchange is an American Brasserie serving all the substantials and delicacies of our fair city.”

What to order?

I opted for the braised short rib, despite some apprehension.

Mr. “I’ll eat just about anything, I’m not fussy” was skittish about the cheesy grits that went with. To me, the thought and sight of grits reminded me of oatmeal that’s always been on my rather limited fussy list. So I never tried them. That night in Louisville a little voice told me “go for ’em.” After all, they had cheese.

My entree arrived with grits spread across the entire plate adorned with slice after slice of short rib. So tender and juicy was the beef that I put my knife down for the dinner’s duration. The grits? Perfectly cheesy, more like rice than cornmeal, an excellent go-with. Talk about a happy camper.  A nice Thanksgiving memory. My fear of grits overcome.

Then some short rib information from a local friend.

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That’s a photo from the 2018 Franklin Independence Day Celebration. Daughter Kyla and I are with Dave Bartels, the owner of the Franklin restaurant on the car’s sign.

A couple of weeks ago Bartels teased and promoted on the restaurant’s Facebook page that had me reminiscing about Louisville.

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Braised short rib sandwich served with caramelized onions, provolone cheese, and mustard on a French roll. Includes a side of seasoned fries, homemade chips, or coleslaw.

No grits. Understandable. Franklin is north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Confused? Scratching your head? What no-no, you ask?

This could be a Culinary no-no first. A no-no that has resurrected itself out of no-no territory. I’ll explain.

Short ribs have always been tasty. However when I was growing up and short ribs were on the dinner table that usually meant steak wasn’t in the preparation plans. Couldn’t have steak too frequently, and short ribs were a cheaper cut.

Today, short ribs and their diversity are now en vogue, no longer turning up noses. When did they become so popular? Certainly not yesterday.

In 2001 a NY Times headline referred to them as “lowly.” The article then proceeded to sing the ribs’ praises.

LATELY it’s hard to open a menu without finding short ribs: on the bone or off, in ravioli or risotto, roasted or even deviled, with a French accent or Korean seasonings. They’re this year’s osso buco.

But this is one cut of beef that does not need a professional touch to transform it into something irresistible. Even a novice is virtually guaranteed success with short ribs.

Cook them slowly and gently and the meat turns soft and succulent, with intense flavor and luscious richness; you don’t even need sauce.

More from

For years, American chefs tended to lump the rich, fatty, full-flavored and, frankly, ornery cut in with the similarly cheap meats likes oxtails, cheeks and tongues. Then came a renaissance, thanks to the nose to tail movement, and now something close to a short rib frenzy.

New food trends indicate short ribs’ popularity continues to heat up. Short rib volume in the food service industry was up a whopping 23 million pounds in 2017, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

It’s now 2020, and because the word is out at how good this dish can be, no matter how prepared, chuck short ribs and plate short ribs are not as inexpensive as they used to be, ranging from $3.50-$5.50/lb. Restaurants and their patrons will, indeed, pay, because short ribs are so desirable.

No surprise. I knew it. Mom was right all along.

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This no-no is being rolled back

For VD? No-no.

Are Girl Scout Cookies too expensive?

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Bring ’em on young lady!

Love those cookies!

Even at those prices?

The cost has definitely gone up.

To buy or not to buy was the topic of a Culinary no-no last year. Take a look.

And these are comments from social media this weekend.

Too expensive considering that Keebler and Oreo both have girl scout cookie flavors now.

Most anything you buy for a cause has high markup and only a small % goes to the organization. If you don’t want to pay, then don’t. 🙂

I just donate 2 bucks and tell them to keep the over priced cookies ! Win-win proposition for the Scouts ! 

Consider it is a donation to the Girl Scouts and a box of cookie as a thank you. People spend $7 for a coffee or cigarettes. Get a grip and support a good cause 

Our troop actually donates boxes to US military. Spends $$ to send cookies to soldiers. Fyi. 

Last year I was stopping everywhere in my area to find a certain cookie. Finally a scout told me my area is divided into 3 sections and each section uses a different supplier so the cookies I wanted were in a neighboring state and not mine. 

I thought the price was getting too high for where the money actually goes……until meeting boy scout popcorn prices. 

Sorry , there just not worth it. Give money straight to the troop. The cookies are just not as good as they once were. 

I can’t resist those Samoas! As to pricing? I just paid $40. for 2 (jumbo?) bags (about the size of 4 that you can but at the grocery) of popcorn. This was from my 9-year-old grandson, the Cub Scout! The same would have cost well under $10. at my supermarket and wasn’t anything special. People need to understand this is really a “donation!” 

I’ll try again this year but if I eat 6 boxes of them “THIN” mints again and don’t lose any weight I’m suing!!!😋😂😂😂 

I would much rather hand the cash directly to the girl scout group so they could use it for camping trips, and other wholesome activities. 

 $7.50 by the Walmart near me last year 

Buy the damn cookies. These little girls are working their butts off to sell these.

A new Culinary comes your way next Sunday.

Culinary no-no #637

As a way of introduction we revisit this blog from the spring of 2017.

It was rather prophetic.

Take a look, then please come back for the rest.

OK. Did you get all that?

I recall an old episode of famous TV chef Julia Child referring to critics who thought of Crêpes Suzette as “that old saw.” The same can be said about the constant calls for increases in the minimum wage, a regular page in one particular political party’s playbook.

My wife also blogs, and she has an update demonstrating that some folks just never learn, or admit to their failed ideas.


Gene Simmons does what?

The most popular Culinary no-no of 2019

Culinary no-no began on Father’s Day 2007, a beautiful summer day, when I wrote about grilling brats. And eating brats. And topping those brats. I was inspired by my wife, Jennifer who, in my admittedly unscientific opinion, ruins brats by squirting ketchup on them. Other dining taboos quickly came to mind. The original idea was to take this concept only a few months, till the end of summer and then pull the plug. Then the unexpected happened. People started reading Culinary no-no. Lots of folks. So we keep doing the no-no.

We’re well over 600 Culinary no-no installments since we first started almost 12 years ago.

The most popular no-no of the previous year was about one of Milwaukee’s best restaurants, one we love quite a bit.

How can that be?

Take a look.

And here’s a reminder from Culinary no-no #34.

Planning on quietly celebrating New Year’s Eve at home with a Champagne toast or two (or more)?

Remember, it may look and fizz and smell and taste like Champagne, but sparking wine isn’t the real thing.

Only sparkling wines grown and produced in the region of Champagne in France can truly be called “champagne.”

According to

“Never duplicated, unless you can move the entire region — rocks, stocks and barrels — to another country. Because make no mistake about it: it’s the growing conditions in Champagne which makes Champagne the best sparkling wines in the world. The proof? How about the fact that a number of the best Champagne houses – like Moet & Chandon, Roederer, Mumm, and Taittinger – have all established vineyards and sparkling wine facilities in the beautiful state of California, bringing their best people to apply all the skill and experience they have to make the closest thing to Champagne possible. The result? Strikingly Champagne-like wines – fresh, light, yeasty, and zesty. But ultimately, not nearly as deep and flavorful, not nearly as fine and delicate, and not nearly as pure and penetrating as the original stuff. Why? Because it’s grapes that make wine, and the grapes grown in California for sparklers will never be as fine as the grapes grown in Champagne. So in spite of the fact that even the lowest priced Champagne retails for $30 to $40 — the price range reached by only the finest California sparkling wines –it’s real Champagne that outsells the California copies by over 10 to 1. Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby.”

This is not to say you shouldn’t pop open an Asti Spumante New Year’s Eve. Hell, you drink what you like. Just don’t call it Champagne because it’s not.

In my opinion, it’s New Year’s Eve. Go for it. If it has to be a sparkling wine, don’t even think of Cook’s or Andre or Cold Duck. That’s like comparing a Coke to Fanta or Diet Rite. That junk is only good to drink after you just came in hot and sweaty from cutting the lawn.

Here’s the lowdown on Champagne from Randal Caparoso at

Whatever your toast du jour is New Year’s Eve, here’s looking up your address!
—Culinary no-no, December 30, 2007

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Culinary no-no #636


Quiz time. What are the foods you DON’T want to see on your Christmas dinner?

For me, and remember I’m not fussy, I would revolt against…No photo description available.

I’ll take  a pass on…

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My brother and wife love them. Nobody’s perfect. weighs in claiming the above are “a surefire way to make your beautiful dining room smell like a fart.”

Any Internet roundup of Christmas dinner disasters is sure to include…

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Lizz Schumer, a staff writer for Good Housekeeping writes “Why the traditionally dense, brick-like fruitcake even still exists is totally beyond me. It tastes stale right out of the pan, requires at least three cups of eggnog to wash down, and at this point, is more of a punchline than a treat.”

The hatred for fruitcakes is even greater than the disdain for Donald Trump. I like fruitcake, and send you all the way back to Culinary no-no #34:

“Sun-ripened California raisins, delicious pineapple, crunchy Georgia pecans, plump juicy cherries, freshly shelled walnuts and almonds, tangy lemon and orange peel….blended into a rich pound-cake batter…..baked to a golden brown.”

Now to me, that sounds pretty good. It’s from the website of the famous Claxton Bakery in Georgia, known for its fruitcake.

Of course, the fruitcake has become the Rodney Dangerfield of Christmas treats.

‘Fruitcakes make good door stops.’

‘Fruitcakes make good weights on a grandfather clock.’

‘Fruitcakes make good Christmas wreaths.’

‘Fruitcakes make good Curling stones.’

‘There is really only one fruitcake; it’s just been passed around for hundreds of years’ (a line attributed to Johnny Carson that supposedly started the attack on fruitcake).

Then there is this:

Some Great Things About Fruitcake
Patrick G Horneker
October 15, 2005

How many of you really enjoy eating fruitcake? Not many? I didn’t think so. Fruitcake is one of the most versatile foods anyone can (or should I say cannot) consume…and here are some really great things about fruitcake that you may or may not ever have heard about.

_ Fruitcake can withstand hurricanes, avalanches, blizzards, desert heat andother natural weather phenomenon.

_ You really need tools to cut and serve fruitcake, for instance, a jackhammer,a ginsu knife or a mallet and chisel.

_ Whose recipe for fruitcake is better Betty Crocker’s or Bob Vila’s?

Read the entire column here.

According to a Reuters story last month, nearly half of U.S. adults questioned in an online survey said they re-gift (or resell) holiday presents. Food and drink leads the list at 35 percent, and fruitcakes account for 15 percent of those items.

Why the fruitcake gets little respect is beyond me. Any food that has such great ingredients as sugar, fruit, sugar, nuts, sugar, raisins and sugar can’t be that bad.

I happen to be pro-fruitcake.

There are two kinds of this baked good: dark and light.

Dark fruitcakes are generally made with darker ingredients, such as molasses, brown sugar, prunes, dates, raisins and walnuts. They also may include a wine or a brown liquor such as bourbon or brandy.

Light fruitcakes are made with granulated sugar or corn syrup and contain lighter-colored ingredients such as almonds and golden raisins. provides this history:

As it turns out, fruitcakes have a rather-er, rich history, the earliest ones dating back to Roman times, when a dense mixture of nuts, barley mash and various preserved fruits served as long-term sustenance that did not spoil quickly–perfect for crusaders and hunters out on long voyages. When the dried fruits of the Mediterranean traveled to other parts of Europe, the cake evolved into a tradition during nut harvests: each year, a fruitcake would be made with the nuts of the harvest, which would be then saved and eaten the following year, to kick of the next harvest.

Unfortunately the popularity dwindled a bit when fruitcakes were deemed “sinfully rich” by the government in the early 18th century in Europe, and they were relegated to a special-occasion only cake (this is how it became associated with holidays); luckily, these laws became a little more lax later on in the century, and it became a staple of high tea in England.

While it’s pretty clear that the fruitcake is rich in tradition, we did not fail to notice that there weren’t many stories of it being beloved for its actual taste. In fact there is even evidence to the contrary: Queen Victoria is said to have waited a year to eat a fruitcake she received for her birthday because she felt it showed restraint, moderation and good taste. (Source: What’s Cooking America). Hmm, or perhaps it just wasn’t yummy?

The fruitcake is the ideal type of cake to send by mail:

1) It keeps well

2) It is impervious to most jostling

3) It stays fresh

It’s quite possible that with so many other goodies in the house like candy, cookies, gingerbread men and the like, the fruitcake gets overlooked.

That’s a shame because I find fruitcakes and stollens to be quite tasty, smeared with butter with a hot cup of tea.

So, if you get a fruitcake as a gift this year, don’t give it away.

And don’t be afraid.

Dig in!
—Culinary no-no #34, December 23, 2007


ICYMI, Culinary no-no #635

Culinary no-no #635

We begin this week with a trip to a few Milwaukee restaurants that are really good.

First, The Rumpus Room in downtown Milwaukee.

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Braised Pork Shoulder with Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potato and Apple.

Let’s stay downtown and head over to The SafeHouse.

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Nachos Camp Stanley. Or…

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Tradecraft Tacos: beer-battered cod with coleslaw, lime vinaigrette and chipotle ranch dressing served on flour tortillas.

And at Botanas and Botanas II…

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Ceviche, a Latin American recipe for raw fish and seafood marinated in citrus juice.

I would eat all of those. So why are they prominently featured in today’s no-no?

Previously on a culinary blog I noted that I’m not a fussy, finicky diner. There aren’t many foods I won’t eat. But I’m not fond of everything. That would include an ingredient that is mentioned on all of the above items on their restaurant menus.

I’d try to order the pork shoulder, the nachos, or the ceviche by inquiring if they could hold that particular ingredient. In the past I’ve also declined to order if I read that an entree or appetizer is prepared with it.

I’m talking about cilantro. Just don’t like it. I’ve tried. Not possible.

I am not alone. From the website Mental Floss:

Surprisingly controversial, cilantro (or coriander, as it’s known in other parts of the world) has sparked a level of vitriol unheard of amongst other herbs. From the online community at to the “I hate coriander. Worst herb ever” Facebook group, it might be the most polarizing leaf in the culinary world. What is it about cilantro that makes some people describe it as tasting like soapy pennies, moldy shoes, and cat pee, while others rave about its fresh flavor?

The answer is in the article.

Cilantro is considered to be quite healthy. That’s probably why I’d won’t go near it.


Why Christmas dinner keeps getting pricer

Can Popeyes make THIS a sell-out success?

ICYMI, Culinary no-no #634

UPDATE: Culinary no-no #499

Previously on This Just In…

Here’s the pertinent portion of the blog about preparing Christmas dinner:

You say you’re looking  for something a bit easier?

Less time-consuming?

This guy has a suggestion.

That’s London-born Theo Michaels who first gained fame during Masterchef 2014. Michaels made it to the semi-finals.

His specialty is modern Greek cooking. Michaels is an author, has appeared on several TV shows,  and is a regular on BBC Radio’s Weekend Kitchen with Nick Coffer.

Michaels’ super quick and easy Christmas dinner?

Let’s go the video!

“This is literally four inches of steaming Christmas dinner in a mug. And it tastes really good – so good, in fact, that my wife has had it for lunch several times since I developed it.”

Oh, and Michaels doesn’t mean just Christmas.

Wonder how that would go over with guests.

No need to employ any over-analyzing here. From my perspective I believe the British have a word for this.

— From Culinary no-no #499, December 11, 2016

The update.



Culinary no-no #634


To introduce this week’s no-no, Maestro, please!

This summer at the movies…

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Disney and Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo,  passed James Cameron’s 2009 behemoth Avatar to become the top-grossing film of all time at the worldwide box office.

We’re talking a couple billion dollars. Even so Hollywood’s coffers are down more than 7% from last year in the midst of the holiday movie season. I shed no tears.

You won’t find me too much at movie theaters, for a few reasons.

1) There aren’t many good movies in my view these days, so why would I go?

2) Tough to catch a movie with a  10-year old.


3) I refuse to spend my money regularly on those Hollywood pukes.

Folks I know attend movies every week. Sometimes twice a week. Conservatively that’s about 78 movies a year. Again, there just aren’t that good movies. The Oscars can nominate 7, 8, 9 films for Best Picture. Sorry. You couldn’t get me to agree there are that many that warrant the “Best” title. But people flock to the cinema each and every week, spending cash on mediocre movies and mediocre food.

Eating options have definitely exploded over the years. Good thing? Being waited on at your Dream Longer? A colleague told me some time ago that he ordered a personal pizza on a theater visit that was okay, but too expensive.

Yet the few occasions our family goes to a movie there’s generally a crowd gathered at the concession stand even though popcorn and Raisinets are about as costly as a martini in downtown Milwaukee.

Those movie-goers clamoring in line for snacks are being screwed.

By law theaters and studios split the profits of the movies they make and show. Is the split 50-50? Not even close.

The theaters will submit that from the revenue they take in they get to keep 20%, maybe 30%. The movie studios get the rest. So what recourse do the theaters have? Simple. Rip offs on concessions.

That doesn’t mean the customers have to line up like pigs for the slaughter. But they foolishly do for the fleecing. Week after week after week.

Finally, if that isn’t wasteful enough. Check out the theater floor when the movie’s over. Apparently patrons are a bunch of slobs that senselessly don’t pick up after themselves and dump too expensive popcorn everywhere.

I’ll catch a movie in the sanctity of my own home, thank you.


This Woman Caught Her Husband Cheating Thanks to a Restaurant Review in ‘The Washington Post’

ICYMI: Culinary no-no Thanksgiving leftover: Kids eating right