Peninsular Thinking

A conversation about Bremerton, Port Orchard, Poulsbo, Silverdale, Bainbridge Island, Kingston, Manchester, Seabeck, Southworth, Suquamish, Belfair, Keyport, Olalla, Bangor, Hansville, Indianola, Port Gamble, Allyn, Port Ludlow, Gig Harbor and every once in a while something about the good folks who don't have the good fortune to live here.
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What to do while we wait? Make chili!

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Ten days, 43 minutes and 2 seconds until our Seahawks meet the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. That is unless a snow storm “of massive proportions” plays havoc with the game.

In case you just arrived from another planet, kickoff is at 3:25 p.m. (PST) Sunday, February 2, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

I am the epitome of a fair weather fan. I’ve watched one football game start to finish … ever. And guess which it was? Lucky me.

Now, like everyone else, I’m counting down the days until the Superbowl. So I can relate totally to fans at the End Zone Sports Pub in Port Orchard, who have a strategy to make the waiting (and a weekend without pro football) less agonizing.

“What about the Pro Bowl?” I asked Janet Wilson, who owns the pub with husband Steve. “Doesn’t that count?”

OK well, you can see I’m a newbie. The feeling of the End Zone’s customers about the Pro Bowl is a unified, “Meh.”

So what are they going to do with all that down time? Make chili.

The End Zone plans a chili cook-off at 1 p.m. Saturday. It’s a tradition started six years ago by a handful of customers just trying to kill time’ til the Super Bowl. Last year, there were close to 25 entries. Most who enter are guys. There have been some husband versus wife match ups. Last year’s winner was Lisa Gilliand.

Variety (not necessarily heat) is the name of the game in this crowd, many who are hunters.

“We’ve had elk; we’ve had salmon; we’ve had chicken,” said Janet Wilson (no relation to Russell, unless I missed something). “We’ve had some horrible ones. A lot of them were men who didn’t know what they were doing.”

But they’ve come along, learned a lot over the years. “I think the guys generally want to be the best cook,” Wilson said.

There are no rules in this “customer driven” contest. The prizes are bragging rights, your name on a plaque and the chance to wear the Chili Crown for a day.

A panel of six judges makes the call on the best batch. There’s also a people’s choice award. Once the judging is over, they break out the cornbread and cheese and the feast is on.

Speaking of chili, I will now reprise a recipe for Uncle Dan’s Habañero Hellfire Chili given to me courtesy of Dan Saul. Saul, related to the owners of Hubert’s Christmas Tree Farm, was handing out samples when I did a story on the farm in December 2012. It was the perfect thing after stomping around in the cold and rain. Warmed you right up and then some.

Uncle Dan’s chili consists of little chunks of beef and pork swimming in a fragrant, spicy broth, with grace notes of chocolate and the kick of 15, count them, 15 habañero peppers (for a recipe that serves 20). Not so secret ingredients include bittersweet chocolate, strong coffee and a quart of dark beer. Is it hot? Heck, yeah!

Uncle Dan is a colorful character. You can read all about him in my original blog post about the chili.

Here’s the recipe for Uncle Dan’s Habañero Hellfire Chili. Don’t say you weren’t warned. (If you don’t need 20 servings, hopefully you can do the math to cut it down.)

Serves 20

Ingredients:

4 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 pounds ground beef
2 pounds ground pork
15 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
15 habañero peppers, seeded and chopped
20 Anaheim peppers, seeded and chopped
1 quart dark beer
4 cups coffee (strong brewed)
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
5 (16-ounce) cans chili beans
1 (six-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup chili powder
2-ounces bittersweet chocolate, shaved into fine pieces
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
3 tbsp. cumin
3 tbsp. smoked paprika

Directions
In a stock pot brown beef and pork over medium-high heat
Season with salt and pepper
While meat is browning, stir in all ingredients except beans
Reduce heat to simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally
Add beans and continue simmering for 45 minutes.

“Bon appetite,” says Dan.


How to speak the turkey’s language of love

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Some holiday traditions were made to be broken, but here’s one we can’t resist … pulling out this old chestnut from 2008.

Al Prante of South Kitsap is a champion turkey caller. In this video, he gives some tips on how to attract a female turkey by sounding like a proud and sexy male turkey. It’s really quite educational.

(P.S. Sorry I couldn’t get the links to our other turkey videos to work if you viewed an earlier version of this blog.)

Happy Thanksgiving to all … especially those who have to work on the holiday.


Bremerton High School students do some heavy lifting

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

On Friday, students from Bremerton High School lined up side by side along the roughly two-and-a-half blocks between the front entrance of the school and Bremerton Foodline’s warehouse. Police stopped traffic as the students executed their “food chain,” handing off boxes of canned goods, bags of potatoes and sacks of stuffing and other comestibles they had collected over the past few weeks.

The food drive is an annual service project for the school, spearheaded by its leadership class. This is the first year they undertook the special delivery. Patti Peterson, the food bank’s executive director, said the gift of food “meant so much more” given the very public display that accompanied it.

“Just look at this,” Peterson said. “This is the answer to sequestration, to budget cuts. It’s the community coming together. It starts with our kids in school and goes for every person, every neighbor, every person you see on the block.”

The students collected 4,392 pounds of food. That’s more than two tons. And given that each student handled each item, that means each one lifted more than two tons on behalf of the food bank. So, kids, how are your arms feeling today?

Here’s the video, in case you missed it. Happy Thanksgiving to all.


PO police pull crab pots

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Last week we heard from Jim Griffis who sent us this picture of Port Orchard Police Department’s patrol boat, with officers on deck pulling crab pots.
crabs
Griffis said the officers appeared to be taking photographs of the crabs and gear. He found it “very unusual” since the state Department of Fish & Wildlife has jurisdiction over crabbing regulations.

True, but the police help out as they are needed, according to Chief Geoffrey Marti. The city of Port Orchard has binding agreements with a number of different agencies, including Fish & Wildlife to assist with enforcement. Part of the reason is that grant money used to purchase the boat requires inter-agency cooperation with other jurisdictions.

One such agreement ensures help on the water from Port Orchard to the city of Bremerton, which does not have its own patrol boat. Fish & Wildlife has boats, but wildlife officers can’t be everywhere. Neither can Port Orchard officers, but if they see something illegal, they’re not going to turn a blind eye, Cmdr. Dale Schuster said.

“We’re not going to walk away from a violation that’s right in front of us.” Schuster said.

Schuster said the crabbing enforcement documented by Griffis happened on July 16 (a Tuesday) in Yukon Harbor, according to POPD records. Crabbing in this area is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (as in all of area 10 covering the Seattle/Bremerton region). Other regulations apply. The catch is limited to male crabs of a minimum size (depending on the variety). Gear must meet DFW specifications, and the catch must be recorded.

According to Schuster three illegal pots were pulled; two belonged to the same person. The third belonged to another person.

So the next time you see a law enforcement marine patrol boat checking out crab pots, you can be assured they’re not after a seafood dinner.


The Bay Street Report: works in progress

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Old buildings, they’re like that box of chocolates in “Forrest Gump” — you never know what you’re going to get.

The old Slip 45 building, now being transformed into a public market, has hatched more than its share of surprises. The discovery of asbestos caused a delay last year. A new hitch has impeded progress on the market — billed as a Pike Place-style venue — but the project is still on track, says local businessman Don Ryan, who leases the building from Seattle-area property owner Mansour Samadpour.

Samadpour in 2012 agreed to invest in renovation of the building at 715 Bay Street. Ryan had hoped to open the market last summer, but he and Samadpour, whose investment has crept from $300,000 to nearly $600,000, used the delay to improve the design. Ryan now is shooting for this summer … sometime.

The latest hitch, which has slowed work to a crawl, was the discovery of two walls back to back where the facade of the building is to be built. The property, although listed by the assessor as a single structure, is made up of at least two, possibly three buildings, Ryan said. The assessor’s office says it dates to 1935.

The wall configuration means the façade must be re-engineered or redesigned to meet city standards for structural integrity. Once the city of Port Orchard, construction can resume at full speed ahead, possibly by next week, Ryan said. Vendors will then build their own kiosk-style spaces inside the market, which will offer fresh produce and flowers, cheese, seafood, beer, meat and more.

Ryan remains intentionally vague about pinpointing an opening date, because you never know ….

Down on the 600 block, another project under wraps is chugging along, according to the couple who plan an “Old World-style” pub on the corner of Bay and Harrison Street (the former Jordan’s Western Wear store).

Stacy Bronson and Dave Tagert, formerly of South Kitsap, opened the Devilfish Public House in Chehalis in 2007 and, emboldened by their success, are planning a second incarnation in Port Orchard.

“We’re not a bar or a saloon or a tavern,” Tagert said.
The Devilfish will be a quiet little gathering place that caters to an older crowd (35+), a place where you can engage in conversation without competition from the big screen or a loud band. The occasional acoustic group might be part of the mix. Microbrews from around the country and hearty pub fare (nothing fried) will be on the menu.

Tagert and Bronson are remodeling the interior themselves, and it will take as long as it takes, they say. Like Ryan, they are hoping to open this summer … sometime. Meantime, brown paper on the windows hides what’s going on inside the former deli.

Both veterans, Bronson and Tagert are looking to hire cooks and bartenders, with preference given to military spouses. The name Devilfish (for octopus) harkens to Tagart’s days as a commercial diver.

The building long owned by the Cohen family is now in the hands of Doug Zimmermann of Seattle.

The DeKalb Pier refurbishment, another Bay Street work in progress, should be complete by early July, said City Engineer Mark Dorsey. The city will replace the viewing platform and some of the crossbeams underneath, and make the platform handicapped accessible.


Amy’s on the Bay expected to reopen Friday after building issue

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Amy’s on the Bay in Port Orchard has been closed since Monday, due to an undisclosed problem underneath the building, owner Amy Igloi said Wednesday.

“It’s kind of a sensitive issue,” she said.

Beyond that, Amy was unwilling to comment except to say she is working with the Mentor Company, which owns the building, her insurance company and the Mentor’s insurance company on a resolution.

Jennifer Mills of the Mentor Company said it was a plumbing leak that has been fixed. The restaurant is expected to open soon, Mills said.

Amy is hopeful she’d be able to re-open Friday morning.

“My first and foremost goal is to open the doors and be in business,” she said. “But I have to ensure the safety of my customers and staff.”

Amy’s, a popular destination for both locals and visitors, will celebrate its seventh anniversary on April 28.


“You can’t legislate …”

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Fifteen schools in South Kitsap and Bremerton school districts have earned recognition for their participation in the Healthier US Schools Challenge, a voluntary program hosted by the USDA’s National School Lunch Program. This means these schools go above and beyond basic USDA requirements for student nutrition.

All but Bremerton’s West Hills STEM Academy (pre-K through 7th grade) are elementary schools. In Bremerton School District the remaining schools, including Mountain View Middle School and Bremerton High School, will apply to become Healthier US participants.

I bring this up because in middle and high schools there tends to be greater access to foods outside of those served in school cafeterias. I’m talking here about vending machines, student stores, fundraisers and other sources of what the USDA calls “competitive foods,” as in competing with regular meals and potentially with the “healthier” options served under USDA guidelines.

In South Kitsap, however, Ariane Shanley, director of South Kitsap’s food and nutrition services, is holding off on signing up the district’s three junior highs and high school for the Healthier US challenge, pending changes in federal rules on school nutrition.

The federal Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act, mandates standards for competitive foods and includes a provision that gives the Secretary of Agriculture authority to set guidelines on their availability and consumption. Will soda be allowed in vending machines? Will school stores be allowed to sell candy? Will pizza sale fundraisers become a thing of the past?

The USDA is taking comments until April from interested parties, and Shanley is one of them. Although meals at South Kitsap’s junior highs and high school already meet the higher criteria of the Healthier US challenge, she is advising principals at the school to wait until the dust has settled on competitive food guidelines. Shanley is concerned that imposing even well meaning guidelines on competitive foods could have unintended consequences.

“The conversation is bigger than child nutrition,” Shanley said. “We want to very cautious that we are not impacting other programs in a negative manner.”

Shanley takes a “holistic” approach to student nutrition. In reality, there’s only so much federal funding can do to influence individual eating behavior, she said. Schools can control what goes on in their cafeterias, and they can encourage students to bring home healthy eating habits through nutritional education. But ultimately, what happens the lunch line stays in the lunch line. Other “environments” outside the direct influence of schools include the home and social events.

“We’re only impacting our environment (schools) at this point,” Shanley said. “I know parents do the best they can, and every family has their own choices they make, and they should. … You can’t legislate the home environment, nor should we.”

That said Shanley, has done considerable research on trends, including the increased rates of obesity, heart problems and diabetes in the U.S. population, and what she’s learned worries her.

“I’m personally concerned that our next generation has a shorter life expectancy than you or I,” she said. “You cannot legislate a person. You would hope that people would take it on themselves to do one or two things a day to improve their health.”


Poulsbo restaurant makes national news for well-behaved child discount

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Brynn writes:

It was brought to our attention this morning that Poulsbo’s Sogno di Vino restaurant has been making national news lately. Although it largely hasn’t been named beyond being called a “small restaurant in Poulsbo, Wash.”

As the story goes a picture of a receipt from an evening out at the restaurant has made its way to the Internet and as a result national news organizations jumped at the chance to opine about the story (see Fox News, Huffington Post, Reddit, Babble, et. all.)

A local woman, who goes by the name LauraInk on the Reddit site, wrote on her “beer after tea” blog about the dinning experience where she and her husband, along with their three children (ages 2, 3 and 8), received a “well-behaved child” discount. It sounds like this is the first time the restaurant has offered the $4 discount for well-behaved “mini diners”.

Here’s excerpts from Laura’s blog post explaining what happened and her response to all the national attention about the discount:

“We were seated at one of the last available tables around 6pm and were greeted happily with menus and bread. We sat and discussed planets, racecars, zebra jokes and “Freckle Juice” until we ate our pizzas, pasta and aforementioned ragu. The food was lovely, our oldest, who is clearly in a growth spurt, ate her share and mine, and our littles munched happily while periodically stopping to notice the small fireplace in the corner and the window paintings on the wall of grapevines in Italy.

Near the end of our meal, our server visits our table to tell us how impressed the staff was with our kids’ behavior and that many of them didn’t even realize we had little ones eating with us. She then brought us a bowl of ice cream to share. When we received our tab, it had a discount listed for “Well Behaved Kids”. A pleasant surprise after a lovely meal.

We, as parents, lead by example and if we have to spell out what and how we’re doing something, we will. We don’t expect handouts for acting respectful of the folks who bring us our food. But it certainly makes you feel good when someone else notices your kids in a positive light.

It’s interesting to read some of the comments from other people who have heard this story — note the link to the Reddit and Babble sites offer more adult language than wet use here — the responses are mixed on whether a family should get a discount because their kids behave well, or as some argue “the way they should”, when they’re in public.

Regardless of where you stand on the decision to give the discount, the bottom line is a local family of five was the recipient of an unexpected act of kindness from a local business. That’s something that should make you smile.


“Hellfire Chili” a dish to warm U-cut tree hunters inside and out

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

I spent Friday morning fighting with my umbrella while scribbling notes in the wind and pouring rain. Perfect weather for picking a U-cut Christmas tree, if the families I followed up hill and over dale can be considered credible sources.

For most, the day-after-Thanksgiving hunt for the perfect tree is a time-honored tradition, regardless of the weather.

Stopping by a bright, red hut at Hubert’s Christmas Tree Farm on Seabeck Highway, I met the owner Randy Billick and his “Uncle Dan” Saul. Uncle Dan is a colorful character, whose offbeat comments kept everyone laughing. But his Habañero Hellfire Chili is really something to smile about.

Dan offered me a sample, like a dare. D’ya like hot dishes?” he asked with a sinister twinkle in his eye.

I took a bite: tender little chunks of beef and pork swimming in a fragrant, spicy broth, with grace notes of chocolate and the kick of 15, count them, 15 habañero peppers (for a recipe that serves 20). Not so secret ingredients include bittersweet chocolate, strong coffee and a quart of dark beer.

Hellfire Chili emanates the kind of heat that creeps up on you, and seeps out your nostrils and ears like something from a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. The chili blasted through my rain-induced chill from the inside out.

“Uncle Dan” travels all the way from Whidbey Island to cook for the crew at Hubert’s during the holiday season. Upcoming dishes include chili mac, Caldo de Res (Mexican Beef Stew) and Hungarian Hangover Soup.

Dan, in his 60s or 70s (he was kind of vague), works in The Soup Kitchen in Langley, that recently served up its 1,000th community lunch. Group officials estimate nearly 110,000 meals have been served at the kitchen since its inception nearly 10 years ago, according to the Whidbey News-Times.

It’s clear Dan enjoys feeding people, and he’s as generous with his recipes as he is with his dishes. His blog, Soups on at the Soup Kitchen or at Home, has been up and running since 2010. Try it you’ll like it. On the blog you’ll find assorted dishes including his Thai Mussels in Curry Broth, a 2003 Penn Cove Mussel Festival winner.

Here’s the recipe for Uncle Dan’s Habañero Hellfire Chili. Don’t say you weren’t warned. (If you don’t need 20 servings, hopefully you can do the math to cut it down.)

Serves 20

Ingredients:

4 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 pounds ground beef
2 pounds ground pork
15 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
15 habañero peppers, seeded and chopped
20 Anaheim peppers, seeded and chopped
1 quart dark beer
4 cups coffee (strong brewed)
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
5 (16-ounce) cans chili beans
1 (six-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup chili powder
2-ounces bittersweet chocolate, shaved into fine pieces
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
3 tbsp. cumin
3 tbsp. smoked paprika

Directions
In a stock pot brown beef and pork over medium-high heat
Season with salt and pepper
While meat is browning, stir in all ingredients except beans
Reduce heat to simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally
Add beans and continue simmering for 45 minutes.

“Bon appetite,” says Dan.


What’s the best way to eat a Twinkie?

Friday, November 16th, 2012

News Friday that Hostess Brands Inc., would be liquidating caused a run on Twinkies at the Wonder Hostess Outlet in Bremerton.

Manager Jean Price said her entire supply of the familiar oblong cakes with the pearly white filling was cleaned out by a single customer shortly after she opened up. Other Hostess goodies, too, were in high demand. All morning Donettes, Ho Hos, CupCakes, SnoBalls and Zingers were flying off the shelves at a steady clip.

“We’re all mourning,” said Linda Murphy of Bremerton. “I just got the last cherry pie. Look, I can hand this down to my grandchildren.”

You can read more about the closing of the outlet store, that has operated off Kitsap Way (behind Burger King) since 1962 in story to be posted soon at kitsapsun.com.

In the meantime, here’s a little Hostess history from the company’s website.
1901: Hostess established as a sweet goods baker.

1919: Hostess CupCakes (yes, that’s no typo) become the “best-selling snack cakes in history.” Not to take anything from the CupCake, but I wonder if that was because the history of commercially produced snack cakes was fairly limited at the time.

The website goes on,” It wasn’t until over 30 years later that baker Doc Rice added the signature 7 squiggles and vanilla-crème filling.” Varieties eventually included Chocolate, Golden, Orange and Strawberry.

1930: The Twinkie makes its debut. Invented by James Dewar (aka “Grandpa Twinkie”) in Schiller Park, Ill., the Twinkie was inspired by an ad for “Twinkle Toe” shoes. The treat sold two-for-a-nickel. Production at one point reached more than 500 million Twinkies per year. In 1999 President Bill Clinton included Twinkies in the millennium time capsule.

1947: Hostess SnoBalls join the line-up. The original SnoBalls were a white marshmallow and shredded coconut covered chocolate cake. Three years later the crème filling was added. Soon after SnoBalls were dyed the famous pink.

In the 1960s, other popular products were introduced, including Suzy Q’s (1961), named after the daughter of a company executive, Fruit Pies (1965), Ding Dongs and Ho Hos (both in 1967).

In 2007, the company bowed to the wave of anti-obesity zeal sweeping the country, with the introduction of “100-Calorie Packs.” Was this a good idea? You be the judge, but I say anyone in the mood for a good Hostess high is not counting calories. This may have been the beginning of the end for Hostess.

In 2010, Hostess followed with “better-for-you Smart Bakes line of muffins and streusel cakes” with whole grains and fiber.

I rest my case.

To some, the preferred method for eating a Twinkie is breaking it and licking the creme filling from either side. Some like to squeeze the filling out, kind of like popping a zit.

Don Gonzalez of Port Orchard has a more manly style. “I just shove it in,” he said.

How do you eat a Twinkie? And what’s your favorite Hostess cake? Take our poll on the Kitsap Sun.


Super Bowl XLIX

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