Jacs Dining and Taphouse

I find some of the spam I get on this blog funny. Who comments ‘first’ on a post that is a week old?

Jacs Dining and Taphouse
I’m not sure why this place hasn’t gotten more (any) mention in the gluten free dining world of Madison. We wanted to go out for dinner Friday night and I had narrowed it down to Jacs Dining and Taphouse on Monroe St and Coopers Tavern on the Square. In a fit of new behavior, I actually called each place to see how well they could handle me. Normally I just wing it and hope for the best. Jacs had the single best answer I could hope for. When I asked the woman who answered the phone how well they handled gluten free food she told me ‘Oh! There are only three things on the menu we CAN’T make gluten free. We have gluten free bread. And a dedicated gluten free fryer.’ I was sold. We’ll hit Coopers Tavern another night (they can handle gluten free, but weren’t nearly as enthusiastic about it).

It ended up being three friends and the ManBeast and I. While we’d aimed to get there for 7, the place was packed and we were told it could be 45 min until we got a table for 5. The place is pretty small, so it was understandable. They’ve got a decent bar area, but the place isn’t that big, so there aren’t all that many tables you can shove in a small place. We made ourselves cozy at the bar and were served by bar tenders that were actually *nice* and *smiled* at us. Gasp! I don’t know how long it actually was until we were seated, but it didn’t feel like all too long.

Our waiter was knowledgeable about their gluten free menu and was able to rattle it off without needing to refer to anything. Somehow, all 5 of us ended up with one version or another of their 2 burger selections. Their bread comes from the Silly Yak Bakery, which is decent, but quickly becoming nothing special. Unlike Monty’s Blue Plate though, Jacs toasts their bread a bit, which meant that it didn’t fall apart as I was eating my burger. The burger itself tasted like it could have used a bit more flavoring to the meat. However, the rest of what was on it made up for that, as their aioli was quite tasty. Their fries were also quite tasty. Nice and crisp with a fair bit of some mysterious flavor. Even compared to the ones we make at home, they were quite good.

Overall, we gave the place a solid B. The food was good, but nothing out of this world. The drinks were reasonable and the ManBeast was pleased with their beer selection. We did feel their prices were a bit high for the quality of food. That said, we’re still planning to go back to try some of their other dishes. We liked the atmosphere and all the staff we interacted with were some of the more friendly we’ve come across. And I can’t help but want to support local establishments that are HAPPY to accommodate and welcome gluten free diners.

Caveat: While I was fine Fri night, I’ve been off and not feeling the greatest this weekend. I’m showing some mild glutening symptoms, but I have no clue from what. It could have been Jacs, but it could just be something else entirely going on. So as with anywhere, if you’re gluten free and eating out, eat at your own risk and make sure you ask the questions you need to.

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Asian inspired herb roasted pork

The was good, and is likely on our make again list. But I’ll probably tweek it further next time. I couldn’t really taste the sage over the glaze, though I LOVED the glaze. In fact, the glaze is pretty damn close to the recipe we use for our sesame chicken (which I still need to get the ManBeast to dictate to me so it can be documented). So you might want to either up the sage, or try some other herb combination.

Asian inspired herb roasted pork
1. Set a 3 lb pork sirloin roast, bone in, in a appropriate sized glass baking dish. Ideally yours should be thawed fully.
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Combine: 1 tsp dried sage, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 t salt, 1/4 t pepper, and mash together. Add 2 T grapeseed oil and combine.
4. With the roast fat side down, slather some of the herb/oil mix onto the roast and rub it in. Turn the roast over and rub in the rest of the herb mix.
5. Bake for 1/2 an hour.
6. Meanwhile, in a small pan combine: 1/2 c brown sugar, 2 T cornstarch, 1/2 c balsamic vinegar, 1/2 c water
1/4 c soy sauce, 1 clove garlic minced, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1 T sesame oil. Heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to bubble and thicken slightly. If yours in anything like mine, it will look like nothing is happening, until all of a sudden it does. If you don’t like spicy hot of any kind, omit the cayenne, if you love it and can tolerate it, you might want to double the cayenne.
7. After the first half hour of roasting, brush some glaze over the roast every 10-15 min, to finish up a full hour of roasting.
8. At an hour, you should start checking the roast for doneness with a meat thermometer. Some will tell you to take it out at 145, others will insist upon 170. Use your discretion.
9. Slice the roast. I left the extra glaze separate so that we could flavor to our liking.

I’d probably just sit and eat the meat and glaze if left to my own devices. I served this with brussel sprouts.

If you’re using a different size roast, the suggestion I saw was that you should give it 20 min for every pound of meat. Ours was right on 3lb, hence an hour cooking time. In hindsight, this timing likely doesn’t include a bone, nor the roast not being fully thawed. It ended up taking closer to 1.5 hours. Glazing should be done in the last half hour, adjusted for how big your roast is.

Lamb chops with Balsamic sauce

I’m a fan of lamb. I like the general texture of it. I like the taste. But I’m not fond of the price tag in the grocery store. Thankfully Bucky Butchery usually has various cuts of lamb, all reasonably priced. So I get to have my lamb fix on my graduate student stipend. Weeee!!!

Lamb chops with balsamic sauce
I used lamb arm chops for this recipe. Honestly, I don’t suggest them. They were incredibly fatty, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for how much fat there was, there wasn’t much meat. I made two large chops with this recipe, and ate both of them myself. So if you’re going to try this, I suggest some other chop version. I’m sure this would also work well with pork.

1. In a small bowl or cup, combine 3/4 t dried rosemary, 1/4 t dried basil, 1/2 t dried thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
2. Rub this mixture all over 2 thick cut lamb chops and set them aside to marinate for a bit.
3. Chop up half a small onion.
4. Heat some bacon fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the chops for about 3-4 minutes per side, slightly longer if you want your meat more well done, slightly less if you want them more rare. Remove and set aside, covered with aluminum foil to keep them warm.
5. Add the onion to the skillet and cook for a few minutes, until they are slightly browned.
6. Stir in 1/3 c balsamic vinegar, scraping up bits from the bottom of the pan.
7. Stir in 3/4 c chicken broth and cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, until the sauce is reduced by half. Or longer, if need be.
8. Remove from heat, and stir in 1 T butter. Pour over the lamb chops and consume.

Hot slaw – no mayo!

The ManBeast is not a fan of mayonnaise, so when we decided to have slaw with dinner tonight, I had to search for a non-mayo based recipe. I also wasn’t fond of the idea of cold slaw, it is only 4F outside after all. I really liked the idea of the slaw recipe from Purely Primal, so I made do with what I had on hand, and changed it to fit what I thought might be good. Here’s what I ended up with.

Hot slaw
1. Chop up a half a head of cabbage, 1 red bell pepper and shred one carrot. Mix together.
2. Slice in half moons, one small onion.
3. Mix together 2 T vinegar (I used rice vinegar and apple cider vinegar) and 2 T honey.
4. Melt 2 T bacon grease in a large pot, saute the onion until it is slightly soft.
5. Add half the cabbage mixture, and saute stirring regularly, cooking for maybe 3 or so minutes, more if you want it softer, less if you want it crunchier.
6. Add about half the honey/vinegar mixture, stirring well.
7. Transfer the cooked mixture to a bowl and set aside.
8. Melt another 1 T bacon grease and saute the remaining cabbage mixture for a few minutes.
9. Combine the two batches of cabbage mixture and add the remaining honey/vinegar mixture. Add in about a 1/2 tsp salt.

Next time I’ll probably add a touch more salt, and some sort of herb, though I’m not sure which one.

Gluten Free in Des Moines, IA

While we don’t own a TV, the ManBeast has become a fan of Man vs. Food (thank you internet TV!). Sometime shortly after Thanksgiving he mentioned wanting to travel down to Iowa to go to Jethro’s to have an Adam Emmenecker sandwich. Des Moines is the closest place the show has visited, and as it was only a 5 hour drive from Madison; we decided it was doable. While Jethro’s didn’t exactly fit my gluten free dining needs, who am I to deny the ManBeast the chance to eat a crazy big sandwich? He’s changed his eating habits a great deal so that I can eat safely, and I compromise by being okay (and supportive!) with his beer hoarding tendencies and his desire to try new foods.

Our plan was to drive down last Friday morning, arriving for lunch at Jethro’s, check into our hotel, and then have a gluten free dinner for me. I found us a great last minute deal at Extended Stay that only cost us $40 for the night. Not only the cheapest I could find advertised for Des Moines, but also pretty decent thanks to a small kitchenette and a quiet/warm/clean place to sleep.

Our drive did indeed take 5 hours; there was absolutely no traffic. But there were a bizarre number of cars wrecked on the side of the highway, including one tractor trailer on it’s side in the middle of the median. We stopped at a HyVee in Altoona to buy a camera. I wasn’t able to find mine before we left and the ManBeast wanted pictures. Being the people we are, the ManBeast checked out their beer selection, and I checked out their gluten free section. Now I know, if I ever find myself in Altoona, I could live quite comfortably, as their gluten free section rivals many even here in Madison (though Woodman’s on the west side still has them beat).

We found ourselves at Jethro’s right at the tail end of the lunch crowd. The ManBeast’s comment about his sandwich was that the food itself wasn’t anything special, though the buffalo chicken tenders on it were quite tasty. He was able to finish about 2/3 of the sandwich, which is pretty impressive. He’s requested we return during biking season so he can do the actual challenge. I had some sort of salad, which wasn’t anything special, but I didn’t get glutened, so I guess that’s a plus.

For dinner, I picked out Shane’s Rib Shack from the options available on Urban Spoon. I knew going in that Shane’s was a chain, but it had such great reviews and a gluten free menu. And I LOVE ribs. What I didn’t know was that this is the sort of place you walk in, place your order at the counter, and they bring the food out to you. I was a bit disappointed, as I wanted a more sit down, waiter/waitress, order food sort of place. But my ribs were damn tasty and I didn’t get glutened. The ManBeast didn’t order anything, as he was still full from lunch, but he concurred that the bite of my ribs he had was good.

So, one can be gluten free in Des Moines, Iowa, and live a decent life. If our budgets were a bit more, there were other restaurants I would have loved to try, but considering I wasn’t the focus of this food adventure, I was quite pleased with the foods available to me. And quite pleased that I didn’t get glutened.

500 Fruits: update #6

As I put up my 2011 to do list the other day, I thought it might be helpful to also update my fruit list here, as one of the things I’d like to do is try 100 new fruits this year. The hard thing though, is that I lost my printed out fruit list. When I do a major update to my spreadsheet, I print out a new version, fold it up nice, and stick it in the little card holder on my key chain. This way I can remember what I’ve had when I’m standing in the store, and I have a place to hand write new fruits. Thankfully I only ‘lost’ 9 fruits. Well, 8 of them because I can’t remember 8 of the 9 I know I had hand written on my list. For whatever reason I remember having the meyer lemon. I have a feeling a few of them were pear and apple variants. Oh well, it just means I get to have them again. Just in case. So I ended 2010 at 79 (quince was the last one). And I’m off to a good start in 2011, as I’ve already had four more, and I’ve got kumquats sitting in the fridge. Here’s my up to date list. I also added that #1 started May 2010. And #80 starts 2011.

39 Africot, Black Velvet
82 apple, arkansas black
67 apple, cortland
64 apple, crab
81 apple, haralson
72 apple, honey crisp
80 apple, northern spy (2011)
65 apple, paula red
61 apple, WI gala
14 Apricot
26 Asian pear
17 Avocado
6 Banana
44 banana, red
31 Blackberries
18 Blueberries
58 cactus fruit
29 Cantaloupe
46 cherries, dark sweet
28 cherries, Rainier
38 cherries, sweet red
37 Clementine
77 cranberry
70 date, medjool
51 eggplant
56 gooseberries
32 Grapefruit
50 grapes, black
55 grapes, concord
20 grapes, green seedless
10 Grapes, seedless red
5 Guanabana
7 kiwifruit
52 lemon
78 lemon, meyer
34 lime
42 lychee nuts
62 mandarin, daisy
2 Mango
60 mango-nectarine
53 melon, horn
47 melon, sprite
36 mulberries
15 Nectarine
41 nectarine, white
83 orange, blood
12 orange, navel
4 Papaya
9 passion fruit
11 Peach
54 peach, donut
43 pear, bartlett
24 pear, D’anjou
76 pear, Harrow’s delight
30 pear, Packham’s Triumph
27 Pear, red Anjou
73 pear, seckel
63 pear, star krimson
71 pear, tosca
25 pepper, bell (red)
33 pepper, jalapeno
74 persimmon
35 pineapple
22 plum, black
48 plum, dapple dandy
66 plum, egg
3 Plum, purple
21 Plum, red
45 plum, yellow
23 Pluot
40 Pluot, Red Velvet
75 pomegranate
59 prune plum
79 quince
13 Raspberries
57 star fruit
8 strawberries
19 tomato, grape
69 tomato, heirloom
68 tomato, roma
16 tomato, vine on
1 Watermelon (May, 2010)
49 zucchini

2011 to do list

Every year for the past 7 years I’ve made a yearly to do list. This isn’t resolutions. Rather, if there is something I think I’d like to change, rather than resolving to change it, I think of something I can actually do to get to that end, and then that item gets added to my list. I also include things that I generally think I would like to, or think I should, do over the coming year. I’ve gotten better at making the items on my to do list achievable, if I actually aim to get them done. I usually hit around 50% completion, and that’s good enough for me.

So here is this years to do list. There are a few items you’ll see a number for, but no item. These are things that I don’t feel comfortable making completely public. This year I’m also experimenting with dividing my list into things that I think should be easy for me to complete, somewhat challenging, and a few things that I think will be hard to do.

Easy
1. Ride my bike to campus when the weather is nice.
2. Visit a state I’ve never been to before.
3. Go to Picnic Point.
4. Go to a concert on the square.
5. Go to a hockey game.
6. Go to a women’s basketball game.
7. See the butterfly exhibit at the Botanical Garden.
8. Get Rascal to the vet.
9. Get Thor to the vet.
10. Make an educated vote in a local election.
11. Get my license switched to Wisconsin.
12. Read 12 books.
13. At least 3 books should come from the banned book list.
14. At least 2 should be science books.
15. One should be in Spanish (can be a kids book).
16.
17. Continue my savings plans. (Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec)
18. Donate $ every month. (automated for the year)
19. Finish the edges on the bed frame.
20. Put the last coat of finish on the end table I built.
21. Write to two of my elected officials.
22. Learn to build a fire and actually build a fire.
23. Take a dance course (not one class, but a 5-6 week series).

Medium
24. Be able to do 30 sun salutations.
25. Complete the 100 push ups program.
26. Get my weight back below 150.
27. Do an East Coast trip #3.
28. See my parents at least once.
29. Finish putting my pictures in the album I started.
30. Go to the dentist.
31. Celebrate my birthday.
32. Host an actual dinner party, Thanksgiving can’t count this year!
33. Get no parking tickets.
34. Get no speeding tickets.
35. Get two new stamps in my parks book, one local, one out of the area.
36. Only charge to my credit card what can immediately be paid off.
37. Pay off $3500 of my student loans.
38. Try at least 100 new fruits.
39. Make a list of things to do when I’m depressed that might help me feel better.
40. Do the ten things ten days of gratitude.
41. Be able to carry on a decent conversation in Spanish.
42. Do something for at least 12 friends birthdays that lets them know they are important to me.
43. Build a liquor cabinet.
44. Roll over my traditional IRA into a Roth IRA.
45. Start a CD ladder AND/OR contribute some of that money to my Roth IRA.
46. Learn how to swim under water without holding my nose.

Hard
47. Stop picking my skin.
48. Run a 5k.
49. Make one new friend.
50. Discover one new thing that brings me joy.
51. Let my parents know what I want done with my body if/when I die.
52.