Tag Archives: Texas

I Love the Smell of Antifreeze in the Morning (Or Whenever)

This Saturday, I’m taking a little trip to Paris, TX. I’m helping a Mercy Chef, a good friend of mine, with a cooking project. We haven’t worked together for a few months. The last time was a road trip to Colorado. Mercy Chefs was deployed to provide assistance after the flooding in September 2013.

The Colorado trip was probably one of the most eventful deployments I have been on. The funny thing is that the adventure was totally unrelated to Colorado, to floods, to feeding people, to anything we could have ever expected.

I left Shreveport around 10 pm and made it to his house near Dallas around 2 am. This happens to be the most normal leg of the trip.

We left town right after church. We had a lot of ground to cover. We were driving a big Dodge Ram 3500 something. I dunno. Is was a big diesel. We were pulling Mercy 1, our flagship mobile kitchen. Thirty-seven feet of kitchen. We certainly weren’t hauling a twelve foot Jon boat. I felt like Snowman on Smokey and the Bandit.

After a pit stop at Taco Casa it was my turn to drive. I was pretty jazzed. It was my first time pulling a trailer. I was doing okay, but the truck was acting strange. It was intermittent so we just kept cruising. We were on fumes and had to gas up.

Are you familiar with JIT? Just in time. It’s a manufacturing term. The JIT manufacturing philosophy requires a plant to have shallow inventory. Storing inventory costs money. Ideally, the plant will receive materials as they are needed. They receive it ‘just in time.’ No downtime.

Our fuel gauge was below the ‘E’ mark as we were pulling in Dumas, TX. To put it mildly, Dumas is a glorified truck stop. Nothing but rigs hauling cattle as far as the nose can smell.

Just as I was pulling into the truck stop, steam started emanating from under the hood. You never forget the smell of antifreeze in its gaseous state. It surprised me and I cut my turn too sharp. Skillfully using the trailer, I knocked out the trash cans next to the gas pump.

I could barely contain myself. It was hilarious! We are in a big fuming truck and I’m trashing cans. We finally stop and to fuel up and begin our radiator investigation.

It looks bad. Green fluid is pouring all over the ground. I was waiting on the EPA to declare a chemical disaster.

We found a mechanic next door and he tells us that we have a hole in the radiator and he has to order a new one. Great.  Time now to find a hotel.

For two days we take in the sites in Dumas. Time really seems to stand still in Dumas. I actually think Dumas is the initial singularity. As philosopher Scott Weiland said, “Big Bang Baby.” We were in a black hole.  (Just to be clear, I do not think the universe came from a big bang.  Or a big pow for that matter).

Two days later, we are back on the road.  After a really long time (not to get all technical on you), we reached our destination. I don’t remember anything out of the ordinary during our stay, but we did have a blowout on our post-Colorado travels. No, not a beer bash.  A tire that is flattened vigorously.  Good times.

The moral of the story: avoid Dumas if you know what is good for you. Take it from William Shatner…avoid Dumas. Okay, he didn’t say that, but he would have if he didn’t see that man on the wing.

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BBQ Chronicles: Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q–Tyler, TX

Every five years, Texas Monthly publishes their Top 50 BBQ joints in Texas. The last list was released about a year ago and I decided that I needed to visit all 50 joints before the new list is released. Good thing I don’t live in Delaware. That would be a lot of miles.

I think the search for the best BBQ feeds an innate need for accomplishment. I hate sports. Bass fishing has too much action. All that casting tires me out.

I like fishing, but I enjoy the type where you go to the lake, cast out without a hook, and take a nap. If you make the mistake by putting a hook on your line, some fish may interrupt your slumber. I also have a short attention span and thinking about fishing can interrupt blissful thoughts of eating tender barbecue.

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I’ve been to seven or eight joints on the list, and most have proven to be solid BBQ joints. Among my favorites (so far) happens to be only about ninety minutes from home.

Now, before we discuss some serious BBQ, I should let you know that I’m not a shill for this restaurant or any other establishment I may have discussed. I’m a hack. Big time hack. I’m so hackneyed that a college professor called me a hack. That professor was the Dean of the a humanities department. That makes me hack du jour. As far as I can tell, hacks do not receive promotional consideration. If I’m wrong about that, I need to get some free andouille and alligator meat.

Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue in Tyler, TX is well worth the drive. I haven’t been to any joint in Texas in the past few months because Dave Ramsey says we can’t afford it. If I don’t get any ‘cue soon I’m gonna have to tell Dave to shove it.

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Stanley’s had some incredible ribs even though the meat pulled away from the bone a little to readily. The fatty brisket was a treat. I had only recently learned that fatty brisket was a delicacy when I stopped by Black’s in Lockhart, TX. Now, if you are looking for beef ribs with a two pound clod of meat hanging from the end of it…oh, did I mention the beans? Stanley’s beans had a distinct black pepper flavor that set them apart from other establishments’ beans. They were certainly travel worthy.

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I also really enjoyed the mustard potato salad. The tanginess helped transition the palate much like ginger does when you eat sushi. I think it has similar health benefits as well.

There you have it. If you’re within three hours, I would say it is worth the drive much like Hutchins BBQ in McKinney, TX is worth a four four drive. I have considered that I am biased, but I decided that I am not.