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Archive for July, 2012

Liquid Sunshine

Liquid Sunshine

Summer season motorcycle events by nature tend to be outdoors affairs. It only makes sense; why be indoors during the riding season? This is especially true in the northern climes where winters are long, dark, dreary periods punctuated by snowstorms and ice. Friends and clients of mine in Wisconsin tell me they get something like 62 good days each year in the warm season. So it makes perfect sense that they pack a lot of outdoors fun, riding and rallies into that opportunity. This compressed reality applies to the whole Great Lakes region.

Recently I was blessed with the opportunity to be part of one of the fastest growing regional rallies in America – Roar on the Shore – in Erie, Pennsylvania. I was engaged to do two shows on the opening day, Thursday, July 19, 2012. I was pretty pumped about it since I always have a great time doing shows in that region, lots of good folks in western PA, western NY and Ohio. They know how to play and have fun, besides there are a lot of fiery food fanatics in that oft frozen area.

About a week to ten days out I made the final review with the rally planners and checked the weather forecast. All looked good. Their team was very professional and organized. Once all the bases were covered I felt I could move on and focus on other work. When my travel day arrived I headed out looking forward to a Great Lakes rally adventure.

Did you know that Erie, Pennsylvania is the third largest city in that state? I didn’t. But when I called it a nice small town while checking into the hotel, I got corrected. Since I arrived early the day before my shows I had a chance to visit the venue in advance. While nothing was setup for my stage, I got a good feel for where I was performing. I must say that I also got to watch the crews setting up a multiple block event venue in what looked like the center city green space or park. No doubt that the city of Erie was doing it right.

Come show day, I arrived early and got to meet almost all the city inspectors, except the Fire Marshal. I have grown accustomed to meeting Fire Marshals since I “Cook with Fire“, I can only guess that since I was electrifying and UL rated. I was not a fire hazard; tell that to the folks who ate the hot peppers! All was good after some tweaking of the stage and PA. They even had a nice popup tent to cover the stage, always nice to keep the hot summer sun off of us hot heads that are cooking.

Just before the 12:30 show the fickle summer weather turned from comfortably cool and overcast into a solid drizzle. By the start of the show it was just plain rain. Fortunately a short distance in front of my stage was a tent setup for bikini girls, who as fate had it were off somewhere else being exposed to the weather. Before the show was finished everything under my tent from stage floor to tabletop, even under the table was soaked. Damn good electrical setup, as not a single electrical shock coursed through me. Ahhh how nice to not be electrocuted! What was really great was the packed crowd under that other tent. They made the show for me.

After the show the rain slacked off for a while, but by 3:00 PM when I started the second show is was drizzling again. However now I not only had a full house under the tent but there was also folks standing under the open sky. We had a blast! We even had a group of what I guess were a summer school class and their teachers join the growing crowd.

The weather could not dampen the enthusiasm of the bikers or even the little children. Remember splashing in rain puddles as a child? It is that spirit of playfulness that comes naturally to children that motorcycling restores in adults. That is why seasoned riders don’t see rain; they see “Liquid Sunshine!”


The Great Unknown

The frontier spirit that built our great nation represented a common bond among we the people in our collective willingness to face the great unknown. We did not shy away from risk taking, nor did we expect the world to be delivered to our doorstep. Rather we ventured forth, throwing caution to the wind, depending on our own individual strength to carry us through.

We were connected to the real world. Long before the term “be here now” was coined we were there already, feet on the ground and living in the moment. That is not to say those past generations of Americans were not dreamers, indeed we enjoy the many benefits of the dreams they made into reality. But we lost something along the way.

Today we take for granted conveniences and bounty that would have been unimaginable a century or less ago. Virtually every foodstuff is always in season in our globally sourced supermarkets, all promised as fresh. In the dead of winter summer squashes and tender lettuces are displayed in the produce section along with tomatoes and fruits. Yet even if you are among the folks who eschew processed foods and rather cook your meals from the fresh produce, are you really experiencing FRESH food?

We would all surely agree that fresh frozen is not really fresh even if it is better than canned foods. If you take a moment and think about the logistics of moving food from farm to market, it is easy to see that fresh in the produce section could be two weeks old. Two weeks old would be young for storage vegetables like onions or potatoes. I would hazard a guess that most folks have never tasted real fresh potatoes. Oh sure maybe you got some at a farm stand from time to time. But were they picked that day or last week?

Today we have reached the edges of the old frontiers and settled the wilderness. The world for most Americans is sanitized, no more toiling in the dirt busting sod to provide sustenance. Fast food, or slow, few eat what they grow.

So, come with me into the great unknown. I want to share a food experience, not a fancy recipe but something lots of folks eat on a regular basis, yet they don’t know how much better it can be. Home fries! Yes humble breakfast taters. My wife Mary and I are avid organic gardeners. We grow a nice variety of veggies, including Kennebec potatoes. During the garden season we reap the experiences of veggies that are mere minutes from harvest to stovetop. It is well known that fresh corn on the cob picked while the water is already boiling, and immediately shucked, then quickly cooked and eaten is the ultimate corn. You probably have not heard about the joy of potatoes that fresh.

Taters raw and only minutes from the garden

Taters raw and only minutes from the garden

Warm from the sun drenched garden, the earth still moist on them as they arrive at the sink for a quick rinse. The skin was so tender and the flesh moist and crisp under the knife. Nothing fancy, just a bit of butter in the pan and a julienned onion.
Taters, onions and butter in the Pan

Taters, onions and butter in the Pan

Taters, onions and butter in the pan closeup

Taters, onions and butter in the pan closeup

Sautéing them in mom’s heirloom cast iron pan adds to the hominess of these fries. I started with a high heat then lowered it once I started to see some browning.
Taters and onions sautéing in the pan

Taters and onions sautéing in the pan

I covered them for the remaining time, stirring every minute or so while I set plates and silverware on the table. Then got the eggs going on a cast iron griddle. From shovel to table in about 15 minutes, the taste and moist tender texture is beyond words. It is simple pleasures like this that makes all the toil of gardening worth every drop of sweat.
Taters and onions ready to serve

Taters and onions ready to serve

Now all I need is a half dozen laying hens so the eggs can be still warm from the henhouse. That is the next great unknown to conquer!
eggs, the next great unknown

eggs, the next great unknown

Biker Billy goes for “Freedom and Unity”

Crossroads Rally

Crossroads Rally

“Freedom and Unity” is the state motto of Vermont where Biker Billy will be going for the Crossroads Rally.  Ain’t it the truth that “Freedom and Unity” is what bikers want?  Freedom of the road and unity with our fellow riders, give me both and all is good.  The Crossroads Rally will offer you that and so much more – good old time biker fun and entertainment.  You can enjoy everything from Jello wrestling to a painted lady contest and a Miss Crossroads 2012 competition along with classic biker games and a tattoo contest.  The list is as long as some of the pipes will be loud.

Adding to the hot fun in the sun this year will be two shows by yours truly, Biker Billy on Saturday July 21th.  The rally officially starts on Friday June 20, 2012 for two days of biker fun in the gorgeous mountains of Vermont.  Great riding roads and scenery that can’t be beat, plus fun places to stop and shop or eat surround the Rally.  You have to get yourself some of the famous Vermont Maple syrup and bring it to my first show because I will be making you some killer biker breakfast.  What you do with the extra syrup is all up to you and yours.

So pack up your scoot and your sweetie and ride over to the Crossroads Rally, I hope to see you there!

Biker Billy Roars to the Shore

Biker Billy at Roar on the Shore

Biker Billy at Roar on the Shore

Not the Jersey shore but the shores of Lake Erie for the sixth annual Roar on the Shore Rally.  This is one of the fastest growing rallies in the United States with over 80,000 riders attending each July for this three-day extravaganza.  Kicking off on Thursday July 19, 2012 Roar on the Shore promises something for everybody from rides to bands to bike contest and shows.  To get the weekend off to a roaring start, Biker Billy will be setting the stage ablaze with two shows on Thursday the 19th.  Just ride on down to the hub of the event venue and get a taste of the fire and a few good laughs as we Cook with Fire together.

This is more than just a rally that is fun to attend.  It is a major fundraising event for local charities in the Erie, Pennsylvania region.  It is also an area blessed with great riding and the beauty of the Great Lake Erie, so wherever you point your front wheel you will find adventure.  I invite you to ride over and enjoy the shows and spend the weekend in the beauty of northwestern Pennsylvania and enjoy the hospitality of the greater Erie community.  Till I see you there Eat Hot and Ride Safe!

Happy 4th of July – God Bless America!!!

Drunken Bean Dip – Try it on July 4th!

Seems like I can’t go to a party without bringing this dip anymore; it just blows everyone away. I call it drunken bean dip because after everything is sautéed to perfection, I drown it in beer and let it stew until all the beer is gone. Yes, the beans in this dip have enough beer to be way over the legal limit. But don’t worry; the only buzz you will get is from the chipotle peppers, since all the alcohol evaporates while it cooks. Enjoy the complex flavors of this dip and, if you decide to wash it down with a beer, leave the bike parked.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium-size onions, cut into matchsticks
3 canned chipotle peppers packed in adobo sauce, minced
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
Two 16-ounce cans light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
2 tablespoons dark molasses
One 12-ounce dark beer
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips

1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the onions and chipotles and cook, stirring, until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the beans and cook, stirring a few times, until the beans begin to stick to the pan, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, parsley, cilantro, salt, black pepper, liquid smoke, molasses, and beer and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the liquid is almost gone, 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Add the cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Serve immediately.

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

Recipe reprinted with permission from “BIKER BILLY’S HOG WILD ON A HARLEY COOKBOOK”, published by Harvard Common Press, Boston copyright Bill Hufnagle 2003.

Hope you enjoy this one at your July 4th Celebration!