Thank you, Bill! – Bill’s Smokehouse
Dec03

Thank you, Bill! – Bill’s Smokehouse

My husband and I have a lot of trouble eating out. Over the last ten years or so, we’ve become what I would call “at home chefs.” Between Food Network (with a heavy lean towards Alton Brown), ChefSteps (YouTube) and Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel, we’ve learned how to make phenomenal meals at home. We invested in an immersion circulator several years back and it’s changed our meat game like nothing else. We can pretty much make a restaurant quality meals at home, for a fraction of the cost, and have it cooked to perfection. Now, that’s kind of a double-edged sword . . . one, we don’t get the feeling of getting all gussied up and ‘going out’. Two, we don’t get to sit and relax and be waited on. Finally, the restaurants we might splurge on have disappointed us. Steaks aren’t cooked to the right temp. Asparagus is fibrous. Dishes were just lacking proper seasoning. I sound like a huge food snob, I’m sure, but when you can make food to a certain standard, you expect a restaurant to be able to hit the same standard, especially when paying so much. So, this brings us to Bill’s Smokehouse. Naturally, we were leary. We hold a special place in our hearts for barbecue. It’s smokey, succulent and just plain delicious. Also, it’s something we can’t do at home . . . yet. 😉 So we have our favorite place in town to get it and hold all others to that standard. As we walked into Bill’s on a cool, dark evening, we could smell the smokers from the back. The restaurant was quiet as there were only a couple other tables with guests. The room was moderately lit and looked nice with a classic, high-end look with a lean towards the a western theme. Booths and tables are both available and our booth was comfortable. Soon, we were the only table. Considering the menu is full of local, organic meats, it’s kind of hard to make a choice.We had a nice basket of corn bread while we made our decisions. While the inside was tender and sweet, the sides were dry. I went with the 28-day wet aged USDA choice tenderloin filet, six oz, a ⅓ rack of ribs, a side of apple slaw and fried Brussell sprouts. My husband got the pulled pork and brisket with sides of collard greens and green beans with bacon and onion. We also tried the sausage sampler as an appetizer. The sampler came with a smoked pork sausage, a chicken sausage, a couple cheeses and two mustards, as well as plain and...

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Planting Wholesome Roots with Cooking
Oct01

Planting Wholesome Roots with Cooking

  When I was growing up, (we won’t say how long ago that was), we only had a few cooking shows. From The Frugal Gourmet to Yan Can Cook and, of course, Julia Child, we sat and watched them make one delicious meal after another. I remember one particular episode of The Frugal Gourmet where Jeff Smith had characters from Sesame Street on. They cooked kid-friendly meals and played around a little. Fast forward to the late ‘90’s and we get an entire tv channel dedicated to cooking and baking. Shows like Great Chefs showed us the professional side of cooking and baking in restaurants, hotels, and theme parks. Emeril came on prime time with a Bam! The Two Fat Ladies taught us that no amount butter was too much. Then there was Iron Chef. The Chairman chose a high-qualified chef who, in return, got to pick an Iron Chef to challenge.   I believe that having family that cooked from scratch and access to these shows helped to grow my love of food and cooking. I love trying new foods, cooking in new styles, with new tools and creating my own recipes for my family to pass down. My kids love to cook, too! They’re interested in what dad and I are doing in the kitchen and often want to help. Sometimes, though, life gets busy. I don’t always have time to let the kids cut veg or help flip the pancakes. It gets hard to teach them everything I want to pass down. Also, I believe in having other influences to teach them. That’s where Wholesome Roots Cooking comes in. Wholesome Roots Cooking has cooking classes for kids. Meghan Hauser, owner and certified Healthy Hands cooking instructor, teaches kids hands-on cooking skills and that eating healthy can be simple! Her goal is to “plant wholesome roots for a healthy lifestyle.” “One of the best parts about my job is to watch students become inspired to create new food and feel proud of their accomplishments!” says Hauser. Wholesome Roots offers kids cooking classes publicly and also privately in schools, birthday parties and co-ops. They also offer a Homeschool Cooking Club where homeschoolers have a monthly class during the day on Tuesdays. Do you want to take a cooking class? Well, Wholesome Roots offers classes for adults, too! Just contact them via their website at www.wholesomerootscooking.com. While you’re there, you’ll find their class schedule as well as the types of classes they offer. Getting your kids involved in healthy cooking as young as possible will set them up for a healthy life so check out some Wholesome Roots Cooking...

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Wet Paint: Stain and Stencil
Sep24

Wet Paint: Stain and Stencil

One of the hottest trends in home decor is signage. Whether it’s a quote, a simple word or a personalized motto, signs are what people are looking for to tell their guests more about them and maybe as a reminder to themselves. Another trend is the DIY movement. People are trying all sorts of new crafts and having a great time. Whether it’s an evening with their friends or family or even alone, trying something new and getting creative is fun and relaxing. Stain and Stencil combines both of those trends into one. Their DIY sign workshops are perfect for new and pro crafters alike! You walk in and owner, Rachelle Harkenrider, and staff take care of you every step of the way. They’ll transform you from newbie to pro in just one sign! Once you’re in the shop, you’ll get to pick all of your color and stain options. The staff will teach you how to apply stain or paint and distress your board. Then, you’ll apply your stencil. The staff has lots of tips and guides for making sure you get it on just right. Then, you’ll paint in the stencil with the colors of your choice. Depending on your piece, you may or may not have a few more steps to finish. Rachelle and her team work hard to make sure you’re happy with your piece. To sign up for a workshop, simply go to their website (www.stainandstencil.com) look through their gallery and find a sign you’d like to create. Then find their calendar and an open workshop. If you’d like any customization, you can let them know in the registration process.  Have an event or a group you want to create with? Stain and Stencil will set up a private event with your group. As a unique small business owner in town, Rachelle has been eager to help and collaborate with other small businesses wherever possible. From sign projects, to cupcakes for customers, to the wine slushees she includes in your workshop, Rachelle is sharing the business wealth and helping other businesses grow along with hers. You can find Stain and Stencil on Facebook, Instagram and at their website, www.stainandstencil.com. Check out their social media what others have done with their signs, for specials, and upcoming...

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Market Wagon delivers the Farmer’s Market to You
May10

Market Wagon delivers the Farmer’s Market to You

I don’t know about you, but I go to a lot of different grocery stores each week. I like some stores for their prices, others for their products, and some for the quantity. One thing I’d like to work on is buying more locally grown food. My grocery says they’re buying “locally grown” but when I say that I mean around Fort Wayne, not Michigan. We do have a few farmer’s markets in town, but sometimes it’s hard to get to them when they’re open. Well, now we have a back-up plan. Market Wagon brings the farmer’s market to you. Order before Tuesday at midnight, and Market Wagon will bring you fresh, locally-grown and made products on Thursday. They charge a $5.95 delivery fee. To me, the fee is small compared to dragging three boys through a farmer’s market, making the time for the shopping, and the over-buying of pretty flowers, baked goods and other enticing items that I really don’t need. Also, it’s a pretty far drive to any of the local markets for me, so it helps me save time. Plus, it’s supporting yet another small business. Market Wagon sells meats, produce, dairy products and other items all from local farmers and makers. They began in 2016 in the Indianapolis area. In 2017, they acquired the Evanston hub and continued to expand. I thought I really needed to see this process for myself and check out the goods. So, I placed an order. Thursday, I got a text while I was out that it was delivered, and I found it right where I’d asked them to place it. My order came in two insulated bags to keep my products cool until I could get to them. The products were well packed and fragile items were on top. I ordered meats and eggs from Seven Sons Family Farm, Pastries Chefs Basil Pesto Butter, Brick House Creamy Garlic Herb Vinaigrette, Our3 Chicken Bone Broth, large basil and micro basil from The Mushroom Diva, arugula from Atom Acres, Summer Crisp Green Lettuce from Micro Farms, The Olive Twist‘s Garlic & Herb seasoning blend, and Egg Challah Bread (a family favorite for toast and french toast) from Pastries Chefs. Market Wagon included a checklist of my order, clipped onto the bag – it was nice to see they had ticked off each item as it was added. I used the ingredients from my order to make a delicious spaghetti and meatball dinner with two different garlic breads. We used ground beef, ground sirloin, Italian sausage, and eggs along with garlic and herb seasoning blend to make meatballs. I also used the...

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TinCaps begin 10th Season at Parkview Field
Apr05

TinCaps begin 10th Season at Parkview Field

Is there really anything more iconically American than baseball? The hats, the crack of the bat, crowds cheering, communities engaging with each other and all over a simple game. This “simple game” has a big place in the hearts of many Fort Wayne citizens who, like myself, look forward to the start of the TinCaps season every year. On April 7th, the Fort Wayne TinCaps will begin their 10th season at Parkview Field against the Lake County Captains. The TinCaps have brought back a lot of their coaching staff from their successful 2017 season, when they went to the Midwest League Championship Series. As an affiliate of the San Diego Padres, the top ranked farm system in baseball, the TinCaps are set to receive a lot of talent, including MacKenzie Gore. Gore, at just 19 years old, is the favorite left-handed prospect of the sport. Speaking of talent, did you know, that the players we see each year are batting for their chance at the majors? Between the Wizards and TinCaps teams, 159 players have gone on to make the big leagues! That means we’re seeing players get their starts, right here at home. Parkview Field has once again been ranked as the number one ballpark (out of 160!) for the fourth year in a row! Amazing ballplayers, top-ranked ballpark, what more could you want? Oh, some entertainment? Well, you’ve got it. They’re pulling out all the stops this season with all of our favorites like theme nights and “Jake the Diamond Dog,” and new additions like “Tyler’s Amazing Balancing Act.” Back with their delectable food, they’re adding even more like their play on a “walking taco,” the “Walk Off Taco.” This all sounds like amazing fun but what about cost? Their ticket prices continue to start at just $5. With top-ranked talent, ballpark, the food and entertainment, what more could you ask for? Well, they’re brushing up their already glowing customer service to shorten lines and serve you with a brighter smile. They’re also adding gift cards for purchase. They can be used to buy tickets, concessions or merchandise. To celebrate the 10th year of TinCaps baseball, John Nolan, Broadcasting & Media Relations Manager for the TinCaps,  said they’ll have a “10th Season Celebration Night” on Friday, April 20th. “We’ll be looking back at some of the most memorable moments of the last decade – both on the field and off it, remembering the Parkview Field is more than just baseball,” Nolan said. Like most of us, Nolan said he’s looking forward to seeing Parkview Field full again. “It’s a beautiful place to work year-round no matter what,...

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