Saturday, February 05, 2011

Honey-Teriyaki Burgers

Okay, I spent 20 years in food service in a combination of both manager and employee. In that time, I have become a pretty handy guy to have around a kitchen. One of my talents that throws my wife off to no end is my ability to take disparate items and make a tasty meal out of them.

From that skill comes my love to experiment with food. It doesn't come often, but occasionally my culinary creativity rears its ugly head. Sometimes, it's only to modify a recipe I already know (like taking my mother's good, but bland, taco recipe and adding my own twist to it (see below)). Other times though... idea springs almost fully formed in my head. It may get a tweak or two the first couple of time I try it, but my first try is pretty spot on. This was one of those times...

Hawaiian Honey-Teriyaki Burgers ala GopherDave


Basic Burger

2.5 pounds of ground beef
5 ounces of clover honey
5 ounces of teriyaki sauce
1 package of onion soup mix

Full Effect

Slices of provolone cheese
King's Hawaiian Sweet Sandwich Rolls
Green Pepper(s), cleaned and cut into rings
Red Pepper(s), cleaned and cut into rings
Pineapple Rings

1-- Take the ingredients for the Basic Burger, throw them into a large enough bowl, and mix them well.

2 -- Dole out the meat in 1/2 or 1/3 pound portions and flatten. You don't want them to be paper thin, but you will want them thinner than you average burger of that weight.

3 -- Cook them however you wish (pan-fry, bake, flat grill, gas/charcoal grill). Be VERY careful to make certain that the burgers are done on the inside. The teriyaki sauce, once heated, gives the burgers a dark red coloration that makes them look more cooked than they actually are. Don't be fooled like I was the first time I made these and bit into an almost raw burger.

These first three steps will get you a good burger that's a bit different from the norm, and a nice change of pace. If you really want make it shine, proceed to the Full Effect.

3 -- Cook the burgers on an outdoor grill. Keep a bottle of water handy to squirt down flames as the honey/teriyaki sauce bleeds out of the burgers and makes the fire flare up. Again, watch to make certain the burgers are actually as done as you want them and not undercooked.

4 -- After the first flip, place pepper and pineapple rings on the grill. About halfway when you think you're going to flip the burger, flip the veggie/fruit rings.

5 -- Just as the burger is getting done, place a slice of provolone cheese on the burger to get it to start melting. Once the cheese is soft, take the pepper and pineapple rings and place them on the burger, on top of the cheese.

6 -- Take the whole mass when it's done and place it on one of the Hawaiian sandwich rolls.

Other condiments (ketchup, mustard, pickles etc.), while an option, are actually NOT encouraged. I give you my word that this burger, when done to Full Effect, is good enough to stand on its own with no help whatsoever. Trust me.

Beyond that, enjoy!

-- GopherDave


[NOTE: This is one of the first entries in my previous blog, Maniacal Ramblings. GopherDave Abides actually got started for two reasons; One, I was experiencing a sort of rebirth and wanted to convey that in the blogging sense, and two, I couldn't remember the password to 'Ramblings. The reason why I haven't ported over posts before now is that I wanted to actually make GDA its own animal, and to have at least as many posts of its own as MR did before I brought stuff over. However, looking MR over, this is the only post I want to repeat. So enjoy!]

One of the things I like to do every now and then is cook. Usually for a whole bunch of folks at once. Whenever I do, I break out my taco recipe and go to town. Now I will warn y'all that this recipe is NOT for the casual taco consumer. It can be considered hot though not so hot as to be inedible by most humans. Also, the recipe makes a LOT of food. Thus you have been warned...

Tacos ala GopherDave


5 pounds of ground beef
20 ounces of medium salsa (I use Tostitos Thick 'n' Chunky)
16 ounce jar of jalapeno slices in water/sauce
1 package of taco seasoning (mild intensity)

Step 1 -- Place the ground beef into a pan large enough to hold the contents. Drain the oil from the jar of jalapenos into the pan. Brown the ground beef (with the jalapeno oil) over medium heat. Once all of the meat is a nice brown color, reduce the heat and drain off the grease and oil using a large strainer. Once drained, place the cooked meat back into the pan.

Step 2 -- Place the jalapeno slices into a food processor or blender and fire it up to puree. Once you have a green paste, stop the machine and scrape the spicy baby food into the pan with the meat.

Step 3 -- Add the salsa and taco seasoning to the meat-paste and mix well. Cover and simmer all of this on low heat for about ten minutes or so.

Once this is done, heat up some tortillas (I use flour tortillas), gather some toppings (cheese, lettuce, olives, sour cream, and such) and chow down.

I have found that this recipe creates tacos that are flavorful and possess a slow-burn to them that lingers for a bit.

Try it out and then drop me a comment to let me know what you think.

peace... GopherDave

[Monday Music] -- DEVO/Something For Everybody

            This is an album that practically no one who knew them thought would happen. After 20 years away from the field, in 2010, the Spuds from Akron released a new album. Something For Everybody is the ninth (non-compilation) studio album from Devo, and after two decades away, it’s almost like they never left us.

            Those looking for the art noise of Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO! or Duty Now For the Future will not find it here. The sound is squarely in the New Traditionalist/Oh No! It’s Devo era, with modern, made for digital production values.

            What we get with Something is twelve slices of modern Spud-tunage, with lyrics filtered through the satirical sensibilities of a couple of 50-year old guys. Does it work? Yes… mostly…

            If you liked Devo prior to this, Something For Everybody will almost make you forget Total Devo or Smoothnoodlemaps. While those last two albums had some good bits, they were NOT good overall. As a Devo fan, you will like this album. If you were ambivalent or had no real use for the band before now, then this record will not change your mind. It’s very much a Devo record for Devo fans, and that’s not a bad thing…

            Something For Everybody opens up with “Fresh”, one of the most listenable songs the Spuds have ever done. It’s catchy, danceable, driving, and hummable. It does not, however, really say anything. “Fresh” is one of those paeans of overwrought lusting after the female of the species that Devo has done before. Granted, they do it well, but it’s not a fresh subject for them.

            Next is “What We Do”, another driving track, although with annoyingly fake “yells”. Lyrically, Devo hits more of the mark, neatly pointing out that, if you hadn’t noticed, life is repetitive as hell. We do our things, following our routines until something (usually human) disrupts them. This was another famous area for Devo to tread in, that of social observation, in this case, the routine of life. As relevant as it was when they first brought it up thirty years ago, it becomes coldly so in the age of electronic disconnect.

            More social observation rears its head in both “Don’t Shoot (I’m A Man)” and the semi-title track, “Sumthin’”. In the former, the protagonist does his daily routine while remaining acutely paranoid about the dangers of the world, both perceived and real. The latter track opens up with the very familiar drum beat from Whip It, but turns the focus on the “leader of the western world” and how rhetoric sounds great, but that enacting what you say and promise is much easier said than done.

I’m here to fix it so it runs like new,
But the bankers tell me “no can do”.
I’m facin’ problems way beyond control…
I’m talkin’ smooth, but I’m deep in the hole, now…

“Tell me what I say”
Sounds like a line…
Trust me, every word is true…
Just don’t ask me why, I’ve got…

Somethin’ For Everybody… (x4)

            Then, our leader realizes that he’s just a target for everyone’s derision, and a scapegoat for it all, whatever all might be.

Psycho-pundits keep on fannin’ the fire…
Spin the story, then they call ME a liar.
Telling me how I should do my job,
Dropping crumbs for the angry mob.

Al-Qaeda and the Taliban,
Fundamentally way out of hand.
I keep tryin’ to turn it all around,
But the new world order wants to take me down, they’ve got…

Somethin’ For Everybody (x4)

            Elsewhere, “Cameo” is one of those songs that just annoys the crap out of you, and the type of song that Devo tries to put one of on every record. I equate it to “Pink Pussycat” or “Speed Racer”. Songs that seem pointless, until you realize that they are reminders not to take the ideas contained within the rest of the record too seriously. Devo is here to make us think about the problems around us in the world, not sonically beat us into depressive submission over them.

            What follows “Cameo” are probably two of the best songs that group have ever recorded. “Later Is Now” is a sweeping, majestic reminder that our social debts are coming to collect, and that day might be closer than you think. Next is the plaintive “No Place Like Home”. With it’s haunting piano melody and synthesized strings, the song builds up to a crescendo of drive while reminding us that the world will be alright when we’re completely gone.

            Like any other Devo record, there is filler. “Step Up” and “March On” are catchy, but mediocre. They might snag your interest initially, but you’ll quickly move on to the meatier stuff on the record.

            So, after twenty years gone, how does new Devo stack up? Actually, it stacks up pretty well. It’s not a half-bad Devo record AND it’s not a half-bad record, period. Better than expected, and will leave most Devo fans waiting for more with baited breath. Whether the Spuds will give it to us…

GopherDave Grade: 7.7

Track Listing

01. Fresh
02. What We Do
03. Please Baby Please
04. Don’t Shoot (I’m A Man)
05. Mind Games
06. Human Rocket
07. Sumthin’
08. Step Up
09. Cameo
10. Later Is Now
11. No Place Like Home
12. March On

Lyrics Copyright © 2010 by Recombinant Music, BMI. Used without permission, with intent of infringement.

Day 36 of 362

Another six-hour nap later...

Nothing much is happening at the store today. We have the MtG: Mirrodin Besieged Launch Party going on. It's three round booster draft, so it should be quick. Later we have our GINORMOUS World of Darkness game that is made of around thirty people. They pretty much take over the store when they are there. My beautiful wife plays in it, though, and that means an early day for me.

What will I do with the extra time? Probably come home and give you guys the Monday Music that I owe you for this week and (more than likely, write next week's entry to actually get ahead of the curve. Go me!

Beyond that, that's pretty much it.

Later... Gopher Dave

P.S. -- The back end of most cuff links SWIVEL to a "pin" position so they are easier to put on. I wish I had known this the first time. Duh.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Day 35 of 362

The usual... took pics... don't have time to post them right now. Will do so when I get home. Right now looking at about a 16-hour day. Go small business owner! =P

Home now...

...turns out I was correct. About a 16-hour day, punctuated by dealing with FedEx to give us product they should have had to us on Thursday and having to call 911 due to one of Gophers having a seizure during Friday Night Magic.

Dealing with FedEx was maddening, but after I got to the fourth level of "delivery hell", things were moved along and we got our product. If you count the time I was waiting for the truck to actually bring us the order, it was a 2.5 hour ordeal punctuated with a happy ending.

Coping with the other situation made me proud of our community. The Gopher that had the seizure is a 15-year old young man who plays Friday Night Magic with us on a regular basis. He's had some health issues recently, so he's been gone a bit. The last two weeks are really the first time he's been back in a while. Things were proceeding nicely with the two FNM events when another Gopher shouts "call 911". Our son quickly hands the phone to me and I dial digits. While I'm talking to dispatch, the other Gophers have cleared tables away from the area, laid him down on some coats, and were talking him through and trying to make him as comfortable as possible as he rode this out. Overall, everyone was on the ball, and this made things smoother. The ambulance came and took him and his older brother to the hospital, where their parents were already en route.

Later, the remaining Gophers took a store bag and folks signed it with a "get well" message. Then they took up a collection and bought our ailing Gopher some MtG: Mirrodin Besieged packs, while we threw in a free Fat Pack from the store. We realize that a batch of game cards won't cure what's going on with him, but hopefully they'll lift his spirits and cement in his mind that he's one of us... ...a Gopher...

...and Gophers take care of our own.

Proudly... GopherDave

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Day 34 of 362

Not much new to report. Got an update on our product from Wizards of the Coast. Probably a Monday or Tuesday arrival for product that's supposed to be here by today. Our other suppliers took the initiative to insure us this product would be here on time, so why can't a huge company like WotC?

Beyond that, life is as it ever goes. We have a Pathfinder RPG, some MtG players, and my Deathwatch game going on at the store tonight. Deathwatch will be simple as four of the seven players have to make new characters. The bulk of our time will be doing that. The plus side is that they get to integrate material from the new Deathwatch book, Rites of Battle. Rites of Battle contains some very tasty and some very overwhelming stuff within its pages, and I'm certain my players can't wait to use it.

I know I owe y'all a Monday Music for this week. I may have to do two next week, although my lovely wife, Loquacious just showed me how to schedule posts the other day. That means if I get on a roll, I might be able to do two or three reviews at a time and be good for a couple of weeks. Hmmmmmm...

Until later... GopherDave

Winter War 38 - 2011

Well, I've written about it a bit, but I figured I'd post some pictures from the convention we attended this past weekend, Winter War 38.

Some of the pictures are a touch blurry. As you've seen from some of the clothing pics, I'm NOT the best photographer. If it goes much beyond point and shoot, I'm about useless. Hand me a video camera, on the other hand...


Some games going on in the main room on Friday Afternoon.

More games, same day, with the added bonus of someone browsing at our booth!

Now, Friday night games have begun.
Another random Friday night shot from our booth.

Early stages of a game of Power Grid. The guy running this magnified the board and uses different colored touch lights to determine ownership of power rights. Way Cool!

Close-up of the same stage.

Later on, with more lights.

As the game plays on, the board gets both prettier AND more headache-inducing.

A shot of a *PARTIAL* layout of a big Space Hulk game.

A couple of Genestealers menacing some Space Marines.

A swarm of 'Nids looking for juicy, bio-engineered humans! We taste just like chicken to them! Honest!

Overview of the Blind Sniper map. The various pop can tabs are objectives. Sometimes, GMs get so "cheap" with the materials they use. (Guilty).

Robo-Rally... A great little game of spatial relationships and destruction.

Some of the Gophers playing Le Boomb on a Saturday night!

Some more Robo-Rally...

Looks a little different than before, hmmmm....

That's because they're playing it on a giant cube! How cool is that?


Not certain what game was going on here, but it looked neat!

One Tom Reed's always-enjoyable Desperado games.

This is Rockville, which was invaded by Zombies, Aliens, and Mutants all in the same day!


These are some of the other dealers we see each year at our convention. For many of us, it's the only time we get together. Many times we trade customer stories and business strategies, but mostly, we just have a good time reconnecting.
This is Elaine Oldham, one of our local artist friends.

Paul Hassebrock from Mecca-Anime (Springfield, IL) at his booth. Great guy!

Scott Thorne from Castle Perilous (Carbondale, IL). Scott was my FLGS owner when I went to school at Southern Illinois University. He's still at it, and it's great to see him each year. I've learned a great deal from watching Scott and his operation grow over the years.
Sally Kinsinger from the Game Room (Washington, Illinois). Her husband, John, was off wandering. John's dad and stepmother owned the store before John and Sally took over. Dave and Sue are both missed by many long time Winter War attendees, but John and Sally are just as fun!

Pathfinders deep in thought... "Just how DO we kill this thing?"
LFR Players in the back of the CIRCA room.
More Pathfinding... More killing...
DIE DIE DIE!!! Foul creatures!
Different pathfinders... same basic results...

Although it looks like someone is getting flanked by mummies. Bad times... bad times, indeed...
...And this is how we spent our last weekend. Selling games and reconnecting with friends new and old. Jealous yet?

peace... GopherDave

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Day 33 of 362

Okay... so "Snowmageddon" wasn't all it was hyped to be. It's still REALLY cold and makes me all the more glad of my adoption of the sweater vest as part of my store uniform.

Not much is going on today, and I expect not much will be going on at the store since all we have going on today is a couple of RPGs.

Right now, my largest worry is whether or not the shipment from Wizards of the Coast gets here in time for the release date of MtG: Mirrodin Besieged. My other distributors shipped early due to the weather. Not WotC... "Our shipping hub is down here in Texas and we're just fine, so all you Midwestern folks can just jump into one of your copious snowbanks... We'll ship as normal and y'all can HOPE it gets to you on time."

I love it how WotC gets all bent out of shape when a store breaks street date on product because doing so gives a store an "unfair advantage". However, shipping some stores said product late is perfectly okay because "they tried". Oh wait... no they didn't, and that's why the bulk of our MtG product might be late.

Sometimes,  I love this business... sometimes...

peace... GopherDave

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Day 32 of 362

Well, this is what I wore to work at the store today. However, due to the blizzard/ice storm happening currently, I decided that I'd rather be safe than sorry. So while the store isn't open today, I still look good. =P

Take care, Midwest folks. Stay warm... Be safe...

- GopherDave

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Change of Plans...

It's been no secret that my wife and I have been looking for a new place to move our storefront. I've blogged about it enough, after all.

So, we have been traipsing about looking at various places. Some places we go alone, and some we've been taking a few Gophers with us for advice and a different set of eyes. We actually found a place that would be absolutely perfect. So perfect that the spouse and I were ready to set things into motion to secure it.We were so confident that we sent three of our most trusted friends to go look at it.

What they came back with surprised the hell out of us, and it hurt a little as well, but in the end, I had to admit that they were right.

They agreed with us that the spot is a great fit for where we want to be in the future. The location is good, the parking and bus access are more than acceptable, and as the first tenants into the (currently unfinished) spot, we could pretty much dictate the layout of the place. Then they told us that we were not ready for it. That was a gut shot.

To support their argument, they pointed out that the fixtures we currently have are pretty much the ones the original owners of the store started out the store with. We've added a couple of shelves and some other pieces, but they've been pretty much in line with what we already had. The fixtures themselves are generic, and in some cases, starting to fall apart. Thinking about it, the original owners started the place on a tax return, and some borrowed and scrounged up things to get them a bare bones start. Currently, we don't look like much more than a bare bones place that's had a little bit of success.

These friends also told us that we could be better within our current spot, then proceeded to lay out ideas on how to do that.I think the most surprising thing for me was that I listened to them. Frequently, I'm not even willing to listen to my wife, let alone anyone else. I considered and am still considering what they said to us. The wife and I are pretty much decided that we are enacting many things that they suggested.

Basically, what they are suggesting is a continuation of what has been going on with myself. There has been a slow, inner transformation within myself which has manifested in the outward transformation that I have been blogging about for the last month. We need to take the next step and give the store a face lift, so, we're going to put ducks in a row and make that happen...

...because the Gophers are worth it.

-- GopherDave

Day 31 of 362

With the convention over, now begins "convention recovery". Due to oversleeping, I'm running way behind today. My fantastic spouse and some of our friends are currently doing inventory at the store, and I'm about to leave to join them. Also, with it being Monday, she will send me home early to get out of her way while she blows folks up with her Black Templar army.

With the early evening, I'll probably come home and start posting convention photos. Monday Music will probably become Tuesday Tunes for this week. With another busy week and weekend coming up, things should be settling back to normal sometime next week.

I'll probably post some post-convention ruminations tonight, but for now, it's time to let an "open secret" just be open...

I'm GopherDave, and my wife and I own...


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day 30 of 362/Winter War, Day 3

This was my first time experimenting with a collar bar...

...and cuff links. Like the picture above, I'm still a bit fuzzy on how I feel about them yet.
Day three of three-hour naps. Still stylin' and profilin'... and still very, VERY SLEEPY. Overall, it's been a good weekend with great friends.

We've had lots of help and encouragement from the Gophers (our friends and customers), and that has made things run a lot smoother. Now if they could only sleep for me, I might be okay.

I will expand this post later, as I am running late because I took a three-and-a-half-hour nap. Bad GopherDave... No biscuit. =P

Until Later... GD

It's later...

The convention is over. A good (and profitable time) was had by myself and the rest of the Gopher crew. I have a few pictures to go through before I post some of the better ones on the blog.

Overall reaction to my new look was positive. I received many compliments on the whole cuff links/collar bar look for today. After wearing the two items all day, the jury is still out on them. I feel like my arms are practically swimming in a french cuff shirt. I'll probably try it a few more times to really get a feel for it. As it goes, if I'm going to do this on a regular basis, I should get more than one pair of cuff links, just to keep things interesting and open up options.

The collar bar thing is actually pretty good, but I think I have to get the bar replaced. When they electroplated it one end was semi-fused closed. I managed to get it open, but there is a rough spot in the opening that will play hell with the shirts. We'll see what can be done.

Now... I'm exhausted... It's bed time...

-- GopherDave