Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Trifecta: A Giveaway, My House Band, and Hamburgers

When I introduced the Avett Brothers as my house band, I promised recipes coupled with their music. Today I begin to make good on that promise. I'll ramble a bit and the journey will be rough because I lack focus this time of year, so be patient. Just click below and listen to a little music while I wander. As you know, music is the perfect rambling companion.

Salina, I'm as nowhere as I can be
Could you add some somewhere to me
Ahh Kansas, I'm kneeling, Ah Kansas, please

"Salina" by
The Avett Brothers

On my favorite Avett Brothers' album Emotionalism, there's a song titled "Salina." The song is about how geographic locales evoke different emotions. If you're a regular reader of The Greasy Skillet, you know that I'm partial to this idea, and you also know from my post about Fred Eaglesmith's song "Kansas" the Great Plains spurs a lot of soul searching. However, I don't want to talk about that. Instead, we'll talk about something trivial, and then we'll conclude with some trivia and a giveaway.

I want to talk hamburgers, specifically the little sliders they serve at The Cozy Inn in Salina. Hamburger aficionados from all over America travel to Salina to dine at The Cozy Inn. Their burgers are little bombs of freshly ground beef, grilled onions, and salt & pepper. Don't ask for cheese because there is none. It's a small place with just a few stools at a counter. Most patrons order a sack of burgers to go. However, if you do this be prepared to smell like onions and grease the rest of the day. The smell saturates everything, your pores, the interior of your car, and possibly your DNA. They don't make my favorite burger, but if you find yourself traveling I-70 and passing through Salina, it's worth picking up a sack of these sliders.

If you can't make your way to Salina, you'll be able to replicate the burger at home by using the following recipe:

Onion-Entangled Griddle Burgers

  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 2 onions, shaved
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 buns
  • preferred condiments


  1. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Divide meat into six equal loose portions. Gather a handful of meat and plop into the pan. Repeat, working in batches as needed. The burgers should be free-from lumps.

  2. With a spatula, push the burgers into a round. After 1 minute, pile on all the onions, add salt and pepper, and then smash the onions into the meat. Cook another minute and then flip. Smash the burgers again.

  3. Drain the grease that collects. Sprinkle more salt & pepper and cook until you smell the onions starting caramelize.

  4. Serve on a bun with preferred condiments.

Now for the trivia question:

What Alfred Hitchcock movie has a character who is from Salina, Kansas?

Post your answer as comment. On December 29th at noon, I'll post the comments and draw a winner from all the correct answers. Keep in mind that I'll only accept one answer from each person, so make your first answer good.

The winner will receive a copy of Kansas Curiousities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff by Pam Grout.

Tramping a perpetual journey,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cranberry-Walnut Bread

I often approach cooking with the enthusiasm of a boy who meets a girl, immediately falls in love, and gets that girl's name tattooed on his chest. My unbridled enthusiasm often prevents from seeing the big picture, and I often put the cart before the horse. In the end, I scratch my head and mutter, "I guess, I didn't think about that."

This was the case last we week when I started to prepare a cranberry-walnut bread. I started the bread at 4:30 on a weekday afternoon. After preparing the starter for this bread, I realized that it would take an additional 7-8 hours to finish the bread. Since I'm a guy who needs all the beauty sleep I can get, staying up to finish the bread wasn't an option. I shortened the rise times for this recipe, and fortunately the bread turned out great.

I've been making this bread for three years, and each time I make it, I'm impressed with its rustic appearance and how it's the perfect companion for a toaster.

Cranberry-Walnut Bread
(Recipe adapted from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum)

tramping a perpetual journey,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why Did the Deer Cross the Road?

In an earlier post, I suggested good conversation topics for those who might be hosting a dinner for a group of Kansans. Today I'm offering one more topic: Deer. In Kansas we like to talk about deer, especially this time of year. We talk about: deer spotted, deer shot, deer almost shot, deer hit by vehicles, deer narrowly missed by vehicles, deer sausage, and deer jerky.

Even though I possess a keen appreciation for wildlife, I find it odd that Kansans discuss deer so frequently. I should conduct some scholarly research on the topic, but that would cut into my baking time. It's easier to just play along with my fellow Kansans, so I offer you this:

A doe ran into the side of my car, so instead of blogging, I've spent a lot of my free time dealing with the fallout that comes with such trauma.

keep your eyes peeled,


PS. . . I'm sure deer are discussed frequently in other states, but since I haven't lived anywhere else, I can't be for certain.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Festival of Trees

Wednesday evening the family traveled downtown to view the Festival of Trees, a fundraiser for The Shelter, Inc. The festival ushers in our holiday spirit.

There were traditional trees.

There were a few trees decorated with a culinary flair.
The entire family liked this Candy Land themed tree, but isn't wasn't our overall favorite. In the end, we couldn't reach a consensus when choosing a favorite, so we all chose our personal fave to share with you.

My wife's favorite tree was this darling knitted tree.

It was cutely decorated with tiny mittens, sweaters, and scarves.

Little Miss Pickyeater liked the following tree:

When asked about her choice, she said, "I like it because it's pink."

I and Mr. Crankypants liked the following tree because it was artfully scrapped together, and we're both fans of junk:

We liked the Kansas license plates, and
the Studebaker part topping the tree.
may your hot chocolate be rich and steamy,

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Bearded Brethren

The other day I mentioned to my wife that when I retire I might grow a beard, put on a few pounds, and be a professional Santa Claus. She promptly clipped the wings of this dream by informing me that I'm not jolly enough for the job. She's right. Jolly would never be an adjective used to describe me, unless I'm drunk, but we all know that no one wants a drunk Santa with a margarita salt crusted beard who enjoys twirling tiki torches. I can still dream though, and I definitely can grow a belly and a beard. I'll look on the bright side: I possess 2 of the 3 traits essential for being a Santa.

I enjoy growing a beard this time of the year. It's a perfect blend of aesthetics and function.

Subconsciously, I probably picked The Avett Brothers as my first unofficial house band because they've been known to sport some mighty fine beards.

Today I thought I'd share a abbreviated timeline tracing my fascination with beards.

I can probably trace my fascination with beards back to this portrait hanging in the Pomona United Methodist Church sanctuary:

Who wouldn't want to possess that glow? Is it the beard or something divine?

Around the same time I was introduced to Jesus, GI Joe entered my life.

As you can see, at one time he possessed a beard.

Later one of my favorite TV shows was Grizzly Adams. Mr. Adams along with his pet bear, Ben, might have been the hairiest duo to ever appear on television.

Finally as a teenager, I aspired to someday have a beard like Robert Redford in the movie Jeremiah Johnson.

Today when it comes to beards, the Avett Brothers are my role models. Watch the following video, admire their beards, and while you're at it, enjoy the great songwriting.

Beards or no beards, I love the last two verses of the song:

If I get murdered in the city
Go read the letter in my desk
Don’t worry with all my belongings
But pay attention to the list

Make sure my sister knows I loved her
Make sure my mother knows the same
Always remember, there is nothing worth sharing
Like the love that let us share our name
Always remember, there is nothing worth sharing
Like the love that let us share our name

don't go revengin' in my name,

PS . . . I'm in the process of making a cranberry-walnut bread. I'll post later this week.