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Lake Geneva Country Meats Review, Lake Geneva Wisconsin

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Lake Geneva Country Meats ReviewI have been known to take road trips in search of small producers of processed pork products, especially hams. Jumping off the interstates, traveling back roads, stopping in diners to inquire about local products. Never disappointed.

The other day, I had been to a “pick your own” tomato farm, had a bushel of the beautiful red fruit, stopped at a great bakery and scored a loaf of rustic bread, so I knew I needed one more thing, some bodacious bacon to make BLTs (I had lettuce in the garden at home).

And with great delight, I happened upon Lake Geneva Country Meats, on State Road 50, a few miles east of the beach in Lake Geneva, WI.

The establishment is a large store of meats butchered and processed on the spot (factory/store picture below), dozens of kinds of sausages, hams, chops, beef, as well as specialty grocery items. It’s a modern, spacious, sparkling store, with friendly and knowledgeable help.

I scored the bacon, as well as an outrageously good ham steak. Both products were nicely cured with seasoning and just the right amount ofLake Geneva Country Meats Review
smoke. The thick cut bacon had great flavor and was very meaty.

Products are a little bit on the spendy side, but I’m good with that, to get diligently prepared products that actually taste like the animal they come from. I’m a snob about that. So much of the mass produced pork product in groceries these days doesn’t resemble actual pork in either taste or texture.A real disappointment.

Lake Geneva Country Meats is open from 8 AM Monday through Saturday.

Most importantly, pay them a visit. If you can’t, follow them on FBTwitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+. They have regular specials with good discounts. They sell some house-made rubs and spices on their website as well and there are some good recipes.

Family owned since 1965. P.S. The char on the ham? No, I didn’t burn it. I like it that way!

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

Prepared Bacon

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

 

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

Reward! Ham & Eggs!!!

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

Store Front

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

State of the art plant

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

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Fricks Ham Review, Missouri Processor

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Fricks Ham ReviewI love ham, and I’ve been fortunate to run into some great ones lately. Most recently the notable one was local, from All Grass Farms.

But I screwed up this week, didn’t do my research, and tho I was going to be close to a Missouri processor named Frick’s Meats, whose product I have enjoyed before, I completely spaced on it, missed an opportunity, other than to pick up a ham steak in a nearby grocer.

I had the ham once before, as a sliced half-ham product, and I liked that. I also had a Fricks product in Aldi’s braunschweiger.

Now I want more, and regularly.

The ham steak is a half inch thick, and charred up nicely in a cast iron skillet.  It’s smokey and salty with texture you’d expect from quality pork, and the flavors that remind you of a lengthy cure.

I’d buy it again, don’t usually see it in my local stores, but I’ll look again. If you can’t find Fricks in your store, they do sell a few products online.

Fricks Ham Review

Out of the package

Fricks Ham Review

5 mins each side

Fricks Ham Review

Washington, MO Factory

 

 

 

 

 

Fricks Ham Review

Fricks Ham Review

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Meijers Frozen Pizza Review – Grocery Store Brand

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Meijers Frozen Pizza ReviewMeijers is a regional hypermarket chain, with over 200 locations in the Upper Midwest, with the majority in Michigan. They claim to have invented the “supercenter” concept in 1962 (groceries and merch in one store).

For me, the stores are a little too big to navigate for a standard grocery run, but once and awhile I like to poke my head in and see if they have any new products other stores don’t, and occasionally, they do

I picked up their store label thin crust frozen pizza, “Sicilian Style” the other day, with a three cheese blend, and Italian sausage, salami, and capicola ham for toppings. This one weighs less than a pound and ran in the mid-range for frozen pizzas, at $5 +.

If you’re an occasional reader of this site, you know that I work hard to find something redeeming to say in every piece. I look for the good
at least.

Well, I’m gonna disappoint you this time. This pizza is awful, and a terrible value at the price. Skimpy on flavorless toppings, a crust that doesn’t crisp up, not enough cheese. This pie belongs in the value priced category, like Totino’s or Jack’s. Needs to be like 5/$10.

At least in my part of the Midwest, these pies are made for Meijer by Palermo, a Milwaukee brand, with plants in both Wisconsin and Chicago (pictured).

That makes sense, because the bottom end of the Palermo brand is pretty dreadful as well, but they do have some premium brands like “Screamin’ Sicilian” and “P’Mos” which are quite good. They also make “Urban Pie” and “Sasquatch.” I’ve reviewed about every line of Palermo’s here, skip to them by using the search box above.

Would I buy this again? Nope. I had three pieces and then did something I never, ever, do. Toss the rest.

This might be exactly what you’re looking for in a frozen pizza, it’s just not to my personal taste.

Meijers Frozen Pizza Review

Out of the packaging

Meijers Frozen Pizza Review

12 min – 450

Meijers Frozen Pizza Review

Palermo Chicago Factory

 

 

 

 

Meijers Frozen Pizza Review

Meijers Frozen Pizza Review

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All Grass Farms Review – Supplier of Sustainable Proteins

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All Grass Farms ReviewIf you’re even an occasional reader, you know how much I like great ham. Fresh from the farm type ham. Ham that tastes like a hog.

I’ve driven around the country in search of great suppliers, so I was delighted to be driving down a back road just outside of Chicago the other day, and spotting a hand painted sign with the inquiry “Got Pork?”

“Why no, I don’t,”  sez I to myself, so I turned in the driveway.

All Grass Farms is a small producer in Dundee, Illinois, who can take care of your beef, pork, poultry, eggs and raw milk needs 7 days a week, from a little shop they have on site.

These are grass fed animals, hormone free, and you’ll note the difference in taste and texture.  I picked up a slab ‘o ham, and it was spendy, but worth it. The carmelization you see is causing not by burning it (tho I like charred ham) but by the fact brown sugar is used in the cure. It’s also nicely smoked.

The muscle texture is superb, it hasn’t been pulverized to death by tenderizers or “brine injections.” I loathe meat like that. I’ll but this again, and may even venture into a quantity of pork. I’m certainly going to get some raw milk in the future, which you can’t find in main line grocers, but if you do have some you can make great cheese and butter at home, lickety-split. Or lemony snicket.

You can order online, but they don’t ship, you’ll still have to pick up. They’re open daily from 10-6. If you’re looking for something specific, you might want to inquire prior (847-852-7081) to making the trek – they do run out of popular items on occasion.  They can also set you up with bulk packages – say if you wanted half a hog or cow.

The meat is processed about 60 miles west by Eickman’s Processing Company, Seward, IL.  They also have a small retail shop on site, which is open until 5:30 Mon – Fri, and noon on Saturday.

It’s nice to know where your food comes from, especially these days when Washington is proposing eliminating many of the safe regs and inspections we’ve relied on in the past.

All Grass Farms Review

All Grass Farms Review

Store at the farm

All Grass Farms Review

Eickman’s Processing Co  – Storefront

All Grass Farms Review

Eickman’s Processing Co – Aerial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Usingers Linguica Sausage Review

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Usingers Linguica Sausage Review

Usingers Linguica Sausage ReviewLinguica (ling gweeza) (also called “Portuguese Sausage) is a slightly spicy pork sausage in a natural casing, which has traditionally been featured in cultures that speak Portuguese.

Its popularity has been expanding, and it’s widely available in Hawaii and California. It’s even on the menu at McDonalds in Hawaii.

I first experienced it in Cali years and years ago and really liked it, so now when I see it offered I generally get it.

I’ve had it on pizza in Oregon, and for breakfast at the Black Bear chain and a local legend in Petaluma, CA. You’ll frequently find it at those AYCE Brazilian steakhouses.

Iconic Milwaukee sausage purveyor, Usingers, has their own version, and it’s all pork, seasonings, in a hog casing. Very few of those long word Usingers Linguica Sausage Reviewingredients that you have no idea what they are, anyway. I often buy Usingers. I am very fond of their NC hot dogs. Quality. You can have their products shipped. They have nice holiday gifts too.

So I had high expectations for the linguica, and I wasn’t disappointed them. They are a little hefty to be served on a regular hot dog bun, but I gave it the old college try, anyway, with yellow mustard only. They would be fantastic on the grill.

The sausage is smoked, garlic and paprika, a coarser grind than you usually see in mass market appeal meats, the flavor was great, as was the heartiness of the casing.

I’ll keep some on hand. They’d be a nice change at breakfast.

Usingers Linguica Sausage Review

Usingers Linguica Sausage Review
(Wisconsin Factory)

 

 

 

Usingers Linguica Sausage Review

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Marie Callenders Biscuit Mix Review

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Spoiler alert. I could give a shit about biscuits. One of my biggest fears is seeing them included with a menu item and the words “no substitutions” appear right beside that notation.

I’d rather have toast. Under any circumstances.

But you know, people come to be fed a lot around here and on occasion, they cry out for biscuits. I think I’ve made them once from scratch and they were a marked improvement over any package mixes I have tried.

Which brings me to today’s breakfast: Marie Callender’s Cheese Biscuit Mix along side “Sav-A-Lot” brand Sausage Gravy. I have no idea who either of these items found their way into my pantry. As I said, I wouldn’t normally purchase biscuit mix, and there isn’t a Sav-A-Lot anywhere near me.

Dollar store mystery, perhaps.

I’ve been in a Marie Callender’s once, and it was somewhere in Oregon, I was on a long drive and had to pee. Big endorsement, eh? I bought a pie tho, seems like it was close to some holiday and seems the chain was taking full advantage, cause as I recall, that pie was north of $25.

I got this at a dollar store or Big Lots, in either case it was a buck. Checked Amazon out of curiosity and they list the same package from $3.75 to $6.25. Wow.

Direction are to add ½ stick melted butter and a 1/3 cup of water, mix, and drop into FIVE pieces on a cookie sheet. FIVE? Who sells anything that makes a quantity of FIVE?

Baked them for the suggested time. Open oven, they are not “golden brown” after the suggested time, so I kept adding two minute periods. Quite a few of them.

Since I’ve never had these at the restaurant, I don’t know how the home version compares. Since I’ve already told you biscuits mean nothing to me, I’d put these at about #300 on my list. Pick them up and they crumble in your hand. I suppose some people like biscuits like that. Some people like them flaky. Some people prefer hockey puck style.

I guess they’d be OK to pour gravy over, which was originally my intent. The “cheese” flavor is barely noticeable. The predominant taste is flour, IMO.

No, I won’t buy them again. Can’t really suggest you buy them.

They’re made by ConAgra in Trenton, Missouri in a factory (pictured below) slated for closing this year. ConAgra is big in the fast growing heat and eat complete meal segment, as well as licensing restaurant brands. After a zillion years being headquartered in Omaha, ConAgra packed up their execs and moved HQ to Chicago this year. BTW? Trenton claims to be the world’s largest manufacturer of vienna sausages. In case you were wondering what 20170514_052037town deserved that title.

I had a mind to make biscuits and gravy. Canned gravy from Sav-A-Lot, have no idea how that got in the pantry, there isn’t a store anywhere near me. It actually looked pretty good, as did the ingredients. Lots of sausage.

But the biscuits put me off the project.

No, I won’t buy them again. Can’t really suggest you buy them.

Biscuit Ingredients: Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Niacin, Iron, Thiamin, Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Cheddar Cheese Bits [Corn Syrup, Flour (Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Corn Cereal, Cheese Powder (Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Cream, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Contains Less Than 2% Annatto (Color). Lactic Acid, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Cottonseed And/Or Soybean), Natural And Artificial Flavor, Salt, Turmeric And Annatto Extracts], Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate), Sea Salt, Natural Flavor.

Marie Callenders Biscuit Mix Review

Pre baking

Marie Callenders Biscuit Mix Review

After baking

Marie Callenders Biscuit Mix Review

ConAgra Plant, Trenton MO

 

 

Marie Callenders Biscuit Mix Review

Marie Callenders Biscuit Mix Review

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Broadbent Hams Review – Legendary Kentucky Producer

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Broadbent Ham ReviewI love ham. Good ham. Not that chopped, pressed and formed in a slurry, pushed thru a mold deli slices like at Subway or grocery deli counters.

No, honest to goodness hog muscle, carefully cured and aged. I’ve driven the backroads of Kentucky, Virginia and other states in search of small producers.

I’ve had the pleasure of consuming ‘melt in your mouth’ jamon serrano at the Museum of Ham in Madrid. Same with Italian prosciutto.

And now I’ve found an American producer I can really get behind, Kentucky’s Broadbent Foods.

They’ve had it figured out for over 100 years, so much so they are constantly winning state and national competitions.

Available in “country” or “city” styles (the latter being a milder cure), you can purchase Broadbent hams in nearly any type of configuration you choose: whole, half, sliced, cooked, bone-in, boneless, uncooked, steaks, biscuit slices, seasoning bits and ground.

They also produce some mighty fine bacon and smoked sausages.

I loved their country ham, purchased slices and steaks. The cure provides for a stronger hog taste (I personally think meat should taste like the animals it comes from, especially beef and pork), and great texture. The biscuit slices are uncooked, so you can saute them in a fry pan with a little water added if you’re going for red eye gravy.

And why not?

Purchase Broadbent products online.

Broadbent Hams Review

 

Broadbent Hams Review

 

 

Broadbent Hams Review

Broadbent Hams Review

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KFC Georgia and Nashville Chicken Review – Nationwide

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KFC Georgia Gold and Nashville Hot ReviewI’ve always been impressed at the vertical/horizontal menu expansions at Yum Brands restaurants (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC). Yum (formerly Trincon) was born in 1997 as a spin-off from Pepsi, who previously operated these businesses as the Pepsi fast food division.

They’ve flirted with expansion, acquiring and spinning Long John Silvers / A&W, and with start-ups (Super Chix, designed to compete with Chik-Fil-A) (since spun to founder).

But in the end, they are focusing on their core brands and international expansion. (KFC is in 125 countries, Pizza Hut in 100).

My reference in the opening sentence was particularly unique originally to Taco Bell. They take the same basic 6-8 ingredients, present it in different “shapes,” invent a “Mexican-ized” name for it, and push it thru the sales chain. I used to joke that I thought you should be able to order by shape at Taco Bell. “I’ll have the tube,” or “octagon,” or whatever.

Pizza Hut started to catch on with different types of crusts (thickness, flavored-sprayed, stuffed).

But KFC, for the most part, has either not gotten the corporate memo on the concept, or ignored it. Their in-house innovation has largely been limited to “Original,” and “Extra Crispy” but adding tenders, nuggets and sandwiches, but that’s about it.

But now KFC  may have discovered the key to the concept by adding ‘flavored’ chicken, like their current offerings of “Georgia Gold” (a honey-mustard flavored bird) or “Nashville Hot” (a hot sauce/peppery exterior).

I have no direct, inside knowledge, but it appears to me, having ordered both, that the flavorings are added post cooking, sprayed or tossed. I came to this conclusion by observing the pools of flavoring sauce in the bottoms of my serving containers. (I suspect also that’s not standard protocol – see pic below).

The “Georgia Gold” is meant to be KFC’s interpretation of the primary BBQ flavor of the SE United States, which heavily employs a mustard based sauce for BBQing, in lieu of the “red sauce” found in many parts of the US. The “honey” part is KFC’s addition.

The “Nashville Hot” is the company’s interpretation of a dish created in the Tennessee city, and anecdotally dates back to the 1930s, but generally its current popularity is attributed to a local business, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, which put the dish on the menu as early as the 1940’s. The Nashville version involves marinating the chicken first, then once cooked (fried or roasted), the pieces are bathed in a paste heavily laden with cayenne.

Pieces of the bird are served on white bread with dill pickle slices on the side. KFC passed on this part, giving you a choice of their usual sides and tossing in a biscuit. Three tenders, a side, a biscuit, a little north of five bucks.

I enjoyed them both, in the tenders version. The Georgia Gold was a tad to sweet for my taste, and therefore the mustard part isn’t all that evident. I would have preferred the reverse.

The Nashville is “hot” probably one of the hottest fast food offerings, and I’m generally a wimp about heat, but this didn’t bother me. Since both dishes rely on human interaction at the finishing stage, I can see where one limitation might be that some pieces would get either too little or too much of the flavoring (thus the pool of hot sauce in my tray).

But the brilliance of this is allowing KFC to run with the multiple offerings like Taco Bell employs, variations on same ingredients. I can see where KFC might try LTOs with varying flavors (BBQ, ranch, dill, whatever), or at least doing it with an eye (taste bud) towards regional tastes (A “California” style, for example). Siracha and Chipotle can’t be far behind.

I don’t know how long Georgia and Nashville are going to be around, but since they share a label on the packaging, they are likely to both vanish at the same time.

I’d buy them both again, but favor the Nashville. Flavorings are available on full sized chicken pieces, tenders or littles (sandwiches).

As evidence of the company’s international dependency for growth, there are over 5,000 KFC outlets in China, and about 2,000 Pizza Huts. I personally witnessed the openings of both chains there, and the immediate success they had with Chinese consumers.

KFC Georgia Gold and Nashville Hot Review

KFC Georgia Gold and Nashville Hot Review

Top – Gold, Bottom – Nashville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KFC Georgia and Nashville Chicken Review

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Tenutas Deli Review, Kenosha, WI

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Tenutas Deli ReviewI’ve been in a lot of great Italian “delis” all over the world. Two of my favorites (until this week) are Martinotti’s in Portland, OR, and Bay Cities Deli in Santa Monica, CA.

Both superb in their own right. I’ve hit a couple smaller ones in Chicago that are also enjoyable.

This weekend I ran across the best of the best, in my opinion, in Kenosha, WI of all places.

Tenuta’s has been operating since 1950, and have aisle after aisle of imported grocery goods, as well as locally packaged ‘fixins’ like many different kinds of pastas, herbs, spices and such.

In their deli counters, they have prepared Italian dishes you can purchase by the pound, as well as in-house made sandwiches and delicious items like meatballs. Fresh take n bake pizzas, too!

Not incidentally, they have one of the largest selections of craft beers I have ever seen anywhere. Rows of shelves and coolers that run the whole length of the store.

It was hard not to spend my kid’s inheritance there in one day, but I did manage to score some goodies.

Having lived in New Orleans, and always eager to eat the local NOLA sandwich the “muffaletta,” I was pleased to see Tenuta’s had their own version, and at about half the price you’d pay in New Orleans.

Their “small” will feed 2-3 people and comes in at a very reasonable $6.99. It IS their own version tho, if you’re used to have the New Orleans ones, which have a layer of “olive salad,” you won’t find that here. Instead they have opted for adding pickled green pepper pieces, and lettuce, neither of which you’ll find in the NOLA versions.

I also bought a container of meatballs, the ingredients listed include: beef, pork, breadcrumbs, textured vegetable protein, ricotta, romano, soy, flour, salt, garlic, spices, parsley, brown sugar and flavoring.I have to say, they are quite flavorful and the texture is to my liking. (I hate “mushy” meatballs). They come in different quantity packs, I got the ‘small’ which is 15 balls for around $7.

I don’t know what they include in their ingredients under “spices,” my personal preference, and how I make them at home, is to include a bunch of dried fennel seeds. It’s a strong flavor, and many people don’t care for it. Tenuta’s meatballs are perfect for the average consumer tho, nothing at all objectionable!

The store is open 7 days, and also does catering. It’s truly a wonderland.  I shall return. You should visit too.

Tenutas Deli Review

House made meatballs

Tenutas Deli Review

Meatball cross section

Tenutas Deli Review

“Muffaletta” Sandwich

Tenuta's Delicatessen & Liquor Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Tenutas Deli Review

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Applewood Farms Bacon Review – Aldi In House Brand

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Applewood Farms Bacon ReviewI’ve been a little hotter than usual for bacon. For about a year, I’ve been buying whichever pre-cooked brand was on sale.

Seemed like a no muss, no fuss opportunity to me, and often a lot cheaper than raw bacon.

Lately, I’ve noticed that most all of the pre-cook brands the slices are nearly translucent, and I like my bacon a little thicker.

Of course, there’s a certain joy of having that aroma waft through the house; it was one of the few ways I could motivate my ex to get out of bed. (At home anyway).

Applewood Farms is the in-house brand for bacon, sausages and ham at Aldi stores, a global chain of discount grocers. Aldi is part of the same German company that owns US lux foods retailer, Trader Joes.

I’ve reviewed a lot of Aldi products, including  braunschweiger, smoked sausage, ham, pre-cooked bacon, summer sausage, pizza and many others.

This bacon was more than satisfactory. Thick enough, flavorful, nice smokey aroma. I cooked the whole package at once, I bake bacon  (350 for about 12 minutes) on cookie sheets (some people cover their sheets with foil for quicker clean up).  There’s no flipping, less shrinkage, and your slices stay perfectly flat.

So I was happy. I’ll buy it again, as long as it stays price competitive, and with Aldi, you never have to worry about that.

Aldi contracts with established manufacturers to make products to its own recipes and specifications.  This bacon is produced in the Elkhart, Indiana plant (pictured below) of Plumrose USA, the American division of the European food company of the same name. Plumrose USA was sold in the past few weeks to the giant South American meat processor JBS.

They paid $230 million and picked up five plants and two distribution centers in the deal.

What did I do with my bacon? Why made a monster BLT of course!

Applewood Farms Bacon Review

Cooked Aldi Bacon

Applewood Farms Bacon Review

Impressive BLT

Applewood Farms Bacon Review

Plumrose Indiana Plant

 

 

Applewood Farms Bacon Review

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