Friday, December 19, 2008


Organs. Offal. Variety meat. Whatever you want to call them, I find them delicious. Just ask Peyton, he made it a part of his Best Man speech at my wedding. I think it's unfortunate that others don't have the guts... hmm... I mean desire to try some of these items. They are not necessarily offensive tasting or gross to look at, OK some are gross to look at, but they are part of animals that we eat everyday.

The American food culture has weaned us off of these tasty and frankly very nutritious meats and replaced them with boneless skinless chicken breast, ground beef, and supermarket pork chops. Don't get me wrong, every food item has a place where it can shine, but I think people should venture out of their comfort zone a little and try something new. It won't hurt you, you might even like it! After all what's more gross: eating hot dogs (by the way when they say "All Beef Franks" on the package, that mostly means ground up and re-formed bull penis) or eating something like... sweetbreads!

Why are they called sweetbreads? Because if you saw them on a menu called pancreas and/or thymus gland then people would probably throw up a bit in their mouths. Here's my most recent journey cooking and enjoying this tasty offal. Maybe I'll inspire a few folks to try something new?! If so, you can follow my steps below for a real treat.

Step 1: Remove the sweetbreads from the package and give them a quick rinse under cold water. This is the step where most people will freak out a little. They are kind of soft and gooey and don't exactly look appetizing.

Step 2: This step is entirely optional, but it helps remove some of the blood in the organ itself which helps with presentation. Soak the sweetbreads in cold, acidulated (lemon or vinegar added) water for about 1.5 to 2 hours changing the water a few times.

Step 3:
Take the sweetbreads out of their soaking liquid and add them to a sauce pot containing clean water with the juice of one lemon and bring them to a simmer over medium heat. When the water begins to simmer cook them for 2 to 5 more mintues depending on their size. After the required time, remove them from the pot and plunge them into ice cold water. This stops the cooking process. Allow them to cool for a few mintues in the water.

This is the sweetbreads in the ice cold water after simmering.

Step 4:
We're finally done with all the water and all the pots! Now remove the sweetbreads from the chilled water and remove any fat, connective tissue, veins, sinew etc. that is on the surface of the sweetbreads. I've never had any significant problems with this, I think the sweetbreads I buy are already fairly well cleaned.

Place the sweetbreads on a plate lined with a thick wad of paper towels or a kitchen towel. Place another plate on top and then place a weight on top of that to press the sweetbreads (canned goods work well here). This step removes some of the water and firms the sweetbreads. It is also optional but without this step you will end up with a more spongy, less desirable (in my opinion) texture. Put them into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

Step 5: Cook! This is where you can get creative. Sweetbreads are very versatile and can be cooked via several applications. Common methods are to fry them, saute them, grill them, or braise them. I find that when sauteed over high heat with butter or bacon fat, they are superb. I like the thin, brown crispy exterior contrasting with the creamy interior. Grilling would also work nicely. With mine, I dusted them in flour and sauteed them in butter.

Step 6: Enjoy! Now I'm not the best at presentation, so bear with me here, but I served the sweetbreads for our Saturday lunch over a mixed greens salad with grape tomatoes (most of the tomatoes are hiding) dressed with extra virgin olive oil, a balsamic vinegar reduction, and salt & pepper. On the side is a sliced bosc pear and a couple slices of toasted and buttered baguette. Hey, Olivia ate it so it can't be that gross...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Heritage Turkey for Thanksgiving

Me in the AJC!

Bourbon Red Turkeys

Photos by Jamie Gumbrecht

This year for Thanksgiving we got an extra special bird. We bought a heritage breed turkey from Tim & Liz Young of Nature's Harmony Farm in Elberton, Georgia. If you don't know what a heritage breed turkey is, search for it in Google - there's plenty of info out there. Tim and Liz are new to the farming scene but they are most certainly doing great things. I won't simply repeat all the newspaper info, but if you're interested in reading more about these guys, visit their website above or check out this AJC article here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Finally... Beer!

Never mind the scary looking thing on the bottom left, it's just a beet trying to steal a taste.

So I've been going a little overboard on the squirrels and I've been ignoring the obvious: beer. The title of the blog is Squirrels & Beer after all, and I do drink gallons of the stuff each week...

My first beer blog is about Terrapin's latest "Side Project" beer called Gamma Ray. Terrapin is by far my favorite local brewery out of Athens. Sweetwater gets lots of fame and larger distribution, but Terrapin has bigger balls! Take this beer for example: Terrapin has been brewing a series of what they call "Side Project" beers. These are limited release, hand bottled, one-time, small batch brews. Once they're gone, they're gone. This one is aptly named Gamma Ray because this stuff shoots right through your system at 11% abv (alcohol by volume). Other beers with that high an alcohol percentage are big, heavy brews that take a while to get through. Surprisingly though, while no sissy light beer, it is quite drinkable and quickly sneaks up on you! It is a wheat wine style which I had never heard of. If you've ever had a barley wine style beer, this one is similar in body but has the soft amber color and taste of a wheat beer. Oh, and they added 700 lbs of tupelo and sourwood honey from the Savannah Bee Company to the tank so it's got a nice, but not overpowering sweet honey flavor. It has all the usual wheat beer flavors coming through; banana and citrus are the most prominent that my palate detects... and of course the honey. So if you're looking for a nice sipping beer go by your nearest liquor store and grab a bottle or 2. This one will not dissappoint!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Well it's been a month and the last time I typed something I was "single" and in New Orleans on business. My how times have changed! Olivia, my sweetie pea and I were married on October 18th, 2008. It's hard not to be biased, but I think the Grammer's did a primo job on that reception. I will post some pictures when we get them in but I wanted to write something.

Oh - squirrel count is 64.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Back in NOLA

I am fortunate enough to be back in New Orleans again for the second time in about a month. What a fun city. I'm glad the dire forecast for Hurricane Gustav spared NOLA, although it did considerable damage to the north and west of the city. Walking through the back streets away from the crowds you get that patchouli, sandalwood & stale beer smell that wafts up every now and then that somehow reminds me of Black Crowes concerts. Good memories.

I ended up having a nice dinner at the Bourbon House Seafood & Oyster Bar. It's hard to stay away from the tourist traps here, especially on Bourbon Street, but these guys did a good job. I had a 1/2 dozen oysters on the half shell (ended up being 8 because they were in a giving mood I guess) and a redfish entree. I finished it off with a bourbon milk punch. I would go back if I had the option.

I was tempted to go spend some time and money at a jazz club but after a few drinks I figured I would save face and money and wander back to the hotel. I feel bad missing out on some good jazz, but we get some good music in Atlanta too. I plan on hitting The Black Keys concert tomorrow night in ATL. Yeah, I know they're playing in New Orleans as I type but I've got friends going to the Atlanta show so I'll wait and see them there. If you don't know The Black Keys, prepare to get your ass blown off. Thanks to NOLA for a good evening.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

More Backyard Wildlife

Here's our newest backyard pet. A black rat snake! I've spotted this little guy (or girl) before, but until now it's been so elusive I've been unable to snap a picture or two. Today was a different story and I was allowed to get real close. Anyway, hopefully Mr. (Miss) Snake will chow down on some chipmunks.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


As a person who enjoys music and concerts, I have respect for many different musicians/groups in lots of different genres if their music is written with originality and performed with talent. The person shown in the video below is most certainly not one of them.

For those of you who were watching Saturday Night Live this past weekend (or caught it on DVR like myself) you were no doubt horrified by what you saw and laughing your ass off at the same time. Lil Wayne played a song called "Lollipop." Watch the guitar solo at the end of this song. This guy is an absolute, worthless joke.

Thankfully, Kings of Leon will be on next week...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Just to prove that I don't kill everything in my backyard here is our newest resident, a female ruby throated hummingbird. I just put up our feeder and I'm thrilled that we have a tiny little bird! I hope she stays around for a while. As a reference, the brown bar that is holding the feeder is a 1/2 inch in diameter. Tiny!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Orleans

I was in South Louisiana this week on business. I flew into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport on Monday and drove to a few cities in and around the area. As Hurricane Gustav spins towards the Gulf of Mexico many were wondering if lightning can strike twice in The Big Easy. Time will tell...

I got to visit my cousin Tyson and his family (Sarah, Elizabeth, Cornelia, and Henry) in Baton Rouge which was nice, and I got to hit New Orleans for a couple hours on Wednesday morning. I figured if I was in the area I better saddle up at Cafe du Monde and Central Grocery if nothing else... so I did. Enjoy the pictures - I'm keeping the Muffaletta.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Beware the White Squirrel

I saw something horrible today. At first I thought it might be a squirrel ghost coming back to haunt me (squirrel kill count is at 54) but then I remembered a conversation I had with a coworker about white squirrels in the Brevard, North Carolina area. I'm up here working and I saw one of the little guys while I was driving through town.

The story goes that these squirrels were accidentally introduced to the wild after a carnival truck overturned in the area back in the 1950's. The squirrels got out and the rest is history. The folks here love them. In fact, in 1986 the city passed an ordinance that states this:

"The entire area embraced within the corporate limits of the city is hereby designated as a santuary for all species of squirrel ( family Sciuriadae), and in particular the ' Brevard White Squirrel'. It shall be unlawful for any person to hunt, kill, trap, or otherwise take protected squirrels within the city."

I hope they know what they've gotten themselves into...

Don't believe me? Here are some links.

Brevard White Squirrel Festival

White Squirrel Research Institute

History of the White Squirrel

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fast Food in L.A.

Here's an article from the New York Times about a year long moratorium on building new fast food restaurants in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Conversely, there are incentives for people and businesses that open new grocery stores or table service restaurants in these areas. I think it's a great idea. Quite obviously there are some people out there who are unable (or unwilling) to find good grocery stores with quality items to feed their french fry eating machines, I mean children. You can see here the son of the Michelin Man reaching for more fries. Enjoy the article.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Woodfire Grill & Chef Michael Tuohy

Chef Michael Tuohy gazes at the wood fired grill before his last service at Woodfire Grill on Tuesday. Photo: Marcus Yam, AJC

Woodfire Grill has been one of my favorite restaurants to visit in Atlanta. I say that like I've been there numerous times. Actually, I've only been thrice. The first time was with Liv in the Fall of 2002. We had started dating more seriously at the time and it must have been only a few months since the restaurant had opened. She lived in the area and I had driven by Woodfire Grill and noticed the dark wood and brushed aluminum signage and smelled the wood smoke. It seemed like my kind of place. When we got there we were a few minutes early so we took a seat at the bar and ordered a couple cocktails and snacked on the Spanish almonds. I think we both had Woodford Reserve on the rocks... who was this girl that kept ordering straight bourbon? Anyway, we were eventually seated and had a great dinner. We ordered a salmon Carpaccio appetizer and split a Rocky free range chicken with steel pan greens. There was a bottle of Pinot Noir in there somewhere too. I know I had a 3 course cheese plate for dessert, but I'm not quite sure what Liv had... my memory must be fuzzy. Liv and I ate there two more times, once on New Year's Eve a year or 2 later and once with Lauren, Kevin, Dad, and Marilyn.

The reason I'm posting this is because this past Tuesday, August 12th was Chef Michael Tuohy's last night as executive chef and owner at Woodfire Grill. He is moving back to his native California to accept a position as the executive chef at The Grange restaurant inside the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento. He has been in the Atlanta area for the past 20+ years but seemingly came into his own while at Woodfire Grill. He gained attention and admiration in the Atlanta area and throughout the Southeast because he promoted and practiced using fresh, local, organic, seasonal produce and meats (aka: farm-to-table) whenever possible. I know there are countless chefs and home cooks including myself, who watched Chef Tuohy and have been inspired by his mantra and seek out these ingredients whenever possible.

Woodfire Grill will continue to live on with new owners and a new executive chef Kevin Gillespie, promoted from within, but it is sad to see Tuohy leave Atlanta. I wish I could have had one last dinner there with him at the helm, but I'm glad I got to experience his cuisine more than once while he was still here. With that said, Atlanta says goodbye. Go buy yourself a local free range chicken, fire up your charcoal grill and open a crisp bottle of sauvignon blanc to celebrate the upcoming weekend. Thanks for the great meals and memories! Good luck to Chef Tuohy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hot Damn! Bigfoot!

As you can see from the image, a couple of guys have found the body of a creature most commonly known as Bigfoot. You know, Sasquatch. Here's the website: The story goes that a couple of guys in North Georgia (of all places) came across the body in the woods. Maybe I should change the title of this blog to Sasquatch & Beer and buy a bigger pellet gun.

In all seriousness though, I doubt that these guys found much of anything, but if they did I'll truly be amazed.

DNA and photo evidence will be released in a press conference this Friday the 15th.
Below are some statistics:

*The creature is seven feet seven inches tall.
*It weighs over five hundred pounds.
*The creature looks like it is part human and part ape-like.
*It is male.
*It has reddish hair and blackish-grey eyes.
*It has two arms and two legs, and five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot.
*The feet are flat and similar to human feet.
*Its footprint is sixteen and three-quarters inches long and five and three-quarters inches wide at the heel.
*From the palm of the hand to the tip of the middle finger, its hands are eleven and three-quarters inches long and six and one-quarter inches wide.
*The creatures walk upright. (Several of them were sighted on the same day that the body was found.)
*The teeth are more human-like than ape-like.
*DNA tests are currently being done and the current DNA and photo evidence will be presented at the press conference on Friday, August 15th.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Working Nights

I'm in Alabama working the night shift at several Walmart stores this week. Walmart is a pretty big client of ours and when you're #1 on the Fortune 500 list, you tend to get what you ask for. I started this past Sunday and I'll finish up after my Friday night shift. I start around 8 p.m. and work until about 3 a.m., sometimes later depending on the work load. After that I still need to complete paperwork and send off emails so I'm not in bed until around 4:30. It's not too bad, it's even kind of fun. The only downside is being away from home for 6 days in a row... that and I'm now working during the time when I'd usually be having a beer. I think I was made to work hours like this. I adjust to the hours almost immediately. Maybe I should apply to work at a gas station or something. Back in college I would stay up until 5 or 6 in the morning and sleep until the mid-afternoon, when I got the chance. That was back in the days when Dumb & Dumber was on regular rotation on TBS. Right now I can catch the late night re-runs of the Olympics.

Anyway, I hope you're enjoying the week.

Friday, August 8, 2008

What's in a Name?

Why squirrels and why beer?

The beer is probably self explanatory, but after killing squirrel #52 yesterday I thought it was a good time to explain the title of this blog. For those of you who haven't heard (where have you been?) I've been killing pesky squirrels in our backyard since February. After 6 months, it ends up being about 2 squirrels per week. Some weeks are better than others... Now I've dispatched 52 of the little rodents. Anyway, it started off as a population control measure because squirrels were EVERYWHERE. In the front yard, in the back yard, on the roof, digging holes in the garden, eating my birdseed - just all over the place. It's now become a bit of a hobby, but in truth I still feel that I'm helping keep a natural balance. In fact, just this afternoon there were 2 squirrels chasing each other through the backyard in what I could only imagine was a territory issue.

Now you might ask, "Why not leave the poor furry squirrels alone? Who cares if there are a few running around the yard?" First, squirrels are the sons of Satan. Don't believe me? Look here: They are nowhere near as cute once you get to know them. Second and more seriously, you might have missed one crucial location where these squirrels were running and frolicking... on the roof of our house. Get into a conversation with someone and you might find out that they have had squirrels in their attic. Then ask them how much it cost to rid their attic/home of squirrels. The cost can very easily run into the $2,000-$4,000 range. That is if you still have a house to rid them from. Squirrels love to chew on electrical wires which can cause house fires. I don't know about you but I don't think either a burned up house or $4,000 out of my pocket is desirable. I decided that a $50 pellet gun from Walmart was not only fun, but truly useful too. The dead squirrels have created quite an interesting situation in our backyard, but I'll get to that in later posts.

So that's my squirrel story. I hope next time you see a squirrel running across the road you hit the gas, not the brake.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fall TV

Like many people, I too look forward to the new season of Fall TV. I mean what's more American than spending a few quality hours staring mindlessly at the television? Got any favorites? I'm a big fan of The Office, Heroes, and while not exactly scripted programming... football. There's just something about waking up late on a cool Sunday morning, starting a fire, and popping open a few beers. In a couple years (2010) I'll even be able to get up on Saturdays and get behind my alma mater, Georgia State, as they start a college football program of their own!

Anyway, as many of you know I'm also a big fan of cooking shows. None of them have yet to tackle cooking squirrel - maybe there will be more on that from me this fall (?!). Now that The Food Network is 99% full of bullshit programming like Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Paula Deen, Down Home with the Neelys... (get a fucking room, you two) etc., I've turned most of my attention to PBS. There you can find some great food shows and none look greater than a new show coming this fall called "Spain... On The Road Again." It looks more like a documentary than a how-to cooking show, but I'm betting it will be fantastic. The show follows Mario Batali, Mark Bittman, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Claudia Bassols on "the road trip of a lifetime" through Spain. How cool is that. Even the theme song is recorded by who else, Willie Nelson, doing a Spanish inspired version of "On the Road Again."

Watch a preview below.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

First Post

Here's my first post on my first blog. It's about nothing in particular, just my journey through life and the things I find interesting along the way.

I'm writing this a couple days after a relatively small earthquake (5.4) hit Chino Hills, California. While some earthquakes can be destructive and deadly, this one was just strong enough to knock some stuff off shelves and "rattle" some nerves. In that light, I found this video kinda funny. Enjoy.

Earthquake Rocks Chino Falls - Watch more free videos