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I am a retired State Park Resort Manager/Ranger.
Anyway, as to my years in the State Park System (retired now), I was responsible for 4 restaurants/dining rooms on my park and my boss at Central Headquarters said I should spend less time in my kitchens and more time tending to my park budget. I spent 25 years in those kitchens and worked with some really great chefs over those years, (and some really awful ones too!)
I spent THOUSANDS of hours on every inch of that park and adjacent state forest (60,000 acres) and sometimes I miss it. But mostly I miss being in that big beautiful resort lodge kitchen. I miss my little marina restaurant down on the Ohio River too. I served the best Reuben Sandwich (my own recipe -- posted on 'Zaar as The Shawnee Marina Reuben Sandwich) in both the State of Ohio and the Commonwealth of Kentucky down there and sold it for $2.95. Best deal on the river!
They (friends and neighbors) call my kitchen The Ospidillo Cafe. Don't ask me why because it takes about a case of beer, time-wise, to explain the name. Anyway, it's a small galley kitchen with a Mexican motif (until my wife catches me gone for a week or so), and it's a very BUSY kitchen as well. We cook at all hours of the day and night. You are as likely to see one of my neighbors munching down over here as you are my wife or daughter. I do a lot of recipe experimentation and development. It has become a really fun post-retirement hobby -- and, yes, I wash my own dishes.
Also, I'm the Cincinnati Chili Emperor around here, or so they say. (Check out my Ospidillo Cafe Cincinnati Chili recipe). SKYLINE CHILI is one of my four favorite chilis, and the others include: Gold Star Chili, Empress Chili and, my VERY favorite, Dixie. All in and around Cincinnati. Great stuff for cheap and I make it at home too.
I also collect menus and keep them in my kitchen -- I have about a hundred or so. People go through them and when they see something that they want, I make it the next day. That presents some real challenges!
No question as to my favorite dishes -- seafood; however, my cooking specialty is Native Appalchian dishes and techniques.
I also specialize in outdoor and camp cooking, only in a gourmet sort of way. I have experimented with about 30 different woods for smoking meat dishes outdoors and I'm always happy to advise newcomers to these outdoor methods.
I also like to use the Dutch Oven and the wok quite a bit. Some day, I hope to be able to spend more time studying (East) Indian and Persian cooking ingredients and techniques. I think that doing them over an open fire could lead to some wonderful results.
I have accumulated quite a collection of cooking devices, from yard sales, antique stores, flea markets and similar venues. I utilize my unique collection at least once a week, summer and winter, in my outdoor cooking adventures. I have mashers, skewers, grills, dippers, unusual knives, huge stainless pots and the list goes on -- about a hundred items in all. Pots excepted, they hang on the wall of my back porch so I have to rinse them good before each use. My dearest prize is a tall stainless pot (about 36 tall and about 14 across), that I drop into another big pot (filled with water) to make a giant-sized double boiler. I use this over a large campfire to make the very best potato soup, using 10 pounds of potatoes and a bag of white onions (and LOTS of butter). It's a joy to not have to worry about scorching the soup and it comes out perfect every time! The pot originally came from an old dairy farm (I dug it out from under a mountain of straw-covered junk) and was used to hand-carry the fresh milk from the barn to the dairy-room.
I do wish that I could find some good recipes from India for traditional roti bread and also for curried cabbage dishes. I'm interested in the practice of eating such dishes communally which I believe enhances a meal and one's family life as well. It's hard, these days, to recognize what recipes are actually straight from India and what ones have been tweaked. I'm especially interested in knowing about what specific region these respective recipes come from and some first-hand information about each of these areas. And, some day, I'm going to discover the very best curry spice recipe.... I hope!
Oh, yeah..... my top-rated restaurant? The Three Crabs out on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Heavenly.
A revision! I have since been told that The Three Crabs has gone downhill since my last visit in '94. Very sad! (Change of ownership they say).
So, my next favorite is The Emmitt House in Waverly, Ohio. They have a great prime rib as well as a shrimp fettucine in Mornay sauce. Yum!!!
Another revision: The Emmitt House closed, re-opened, and now isn't as good [sigh...] -- So I'm not visiting restaurants so much these days.
There IS a superb Mexican Restaurant in Waverly, Ohio (family owned and run, not a chain) these days (*not* Toro Loco, which has gone downhill) but I cannot recall it's name -- but it won't be hard for you to find since there are only two Mexican restaurants in Waverly. :) Try their Chilis Rellenos (or try mine) -- they're terrific!