Half-Mind Weblog

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Seventh Rule of Cooking Club (On On Gourmet Hash House Harriers)

Outdoor grilling and smoking requires every bit as much planning & preparation as cooking in the kitchen.

Yesterday’s bimonthly meeting of the On On Gourmet Hash House Harriers was a grilling cook-off. Ditalini and I were the designated hosts, so we set up a new Fortress of Smoke™ on the concrete pad where our hot tub once resided: a charcoal kettle grill, a charcoal smoker, and a gas grill.


The Fortress of Smoke™

A lot of the planning & prep was making sure the right grilling tools and pans were in place. Late in the morning I fired up the smoker to prepare our contribution, a large brisket of beef and a rack of pork spareribs, pre-rubbed the day before and stored overnight in the refrigerator. The meat, ready at 4 PM, went into a warm oven, wrapped in foil so it wouldn’t dry out.

Other On On Gourmets arrived at 5 PM and we got to work on the rest of the grilling. This wasn’t our biggest turnout, since some of our members were away for Easter, but our core group was there: in front, left to right, Anitra Spezzatino & Ditalini deMenthe; in back, Manzo Spezzatino, Magret de Canard, & yours truly, Crouton deMenthe.


On On Gourmets

Magret made a grilled vegetable platter with asparagus, carrots, red pepper, and summer squash: marinating the vegetables at home and cooking them, with Manzo’s help, at our house on the gas grill. Anitra also prepped her dish at home and cooked it on the gas grill: ginger-soy-lime marinated shrimp.

When everything was ready, I cut up the ribs, carved the brisket, put a bottle of home-made barbecue sauce on the table, and we sat down to our feast:


Brisket & ribs, marinated shrimp, grilled vegetables

I said it was a cook-off, and I’d like to say we were all winners, but actually we were all supposed to use grilling recipes from celebrity chef Bobby Flay, and since Manzo & Anitra were the only members who followed the rules, I guess I have to say their shrimp won! But really, everything was fabulous.

Thanks to good planning & preparation, that is!

Our next cooking hash will be in May, and this time we’re going to do something different: rather than cook at a member’s house, we’re going to go out to a famous local Spanish restaurant, Casa Vicente, for tapas.


SWP Again!

Our friend Horn-E had a Suspicious White Powder run-in with Cook County’s finest yesterday and posted this rant to the hash list:

When will the paranoia stop. No one is spreading handfuls of anthrax in the woods on trees and on the ground and all of the BC letters and F letters and checks etc.?

Horn-E here. Busted just before the finish of laying a Bushman Hash trail in the woods. We’ve only been laying trails in the woods in the Chicago area since 1978, our first hash. Duh!

Two citations requiring court appearances:

  • Polluting and littering: Subject was knowingly and willingly spreading a white powdery substance on the trails from a laundry detergent bottle at Linne Woods and Prairie.
  • Disorderly Conduct: Subject knowingly and willingly made an improper disturbance, breach of peace by spreading a white powdery substance on several trails at Linne Woods.

I was walking through the woods, about 90% finished laying trail when across the prairie comes a County police officer. “What are you doing?” I’ve had this happen before. A simple explanation of “laying trail for a running club. It is only flour” usually works with reasonable police officers. No real harm. Have a nice day.

He had to call it in. This situation went ballistic. Some woman called it in. “When will this paranoia stop. Just because you live next to the woods, doesn’t make them yours.” I digress.

Anyhow, he had to call it in to his boss. The dreaded White Shirt. Then we march a quarter mile across the prairie and we meet the boss. We’re giving you a citation. Hazmet was just about to be called out. That costs thousands of dollars. (It really doesn’t. It is in the March Madness in America. Basketball championships all over TV. All of the Hazmet people are sitting in a fire station watching basketball. They either sit there or go out on a call. They are getting paid either way. Same cost plus gas.) But again, I digress. They are there to stop terrorists like me setting a hash with flour.

But, I respect the police. They have to do what they have to do. It is the paranoid civilian who causes it all and the paranoid politicians and press that keep it up. Do you have a permit. A permit? We had four hounds today. Give me a break. Notify them. We’d have to do that so often they’d get pissed and ignore us. We tried that in Chicago. Just after 9/11. Let the local station know what we were doing. “Sounds like fun. Have a nice day.” A half hour later we had two hares spread eagled across the back of a squad car.

There were three officers involved with busting me. It took the one officer, (actually a nice guy when he figured out what it was about, but he was under orders. He drove me to the start of trail so I could send everyone off) then I stood in the cold for about 40 minutes so he could write the citations. He also had to confiscate my remaining flour and a piece of drywall used to make marks in the parking lot. Then as I ran off to get beer, he hung around looking over the parked cars. (I wonder why, but it is what it is).

Now I will have to get up in the middle of my night, cross half the urban area (probably over two hours) on public transit to go to a court hearing to defend myself or get fined some unknown outrageous sum for having a good time hashing. We are just so horrible for enjoying the woods in an unprescribed manner, in the woods instead of proscribed paved areas, in an unacceptable manner as prescribed in forty seven pages of regulations that no one understands.

Due to the paranoia of the sheltered masses, we get closer and closer to the day when we can take down our flag, cut off our now useless nuts, wrap them in a flag and mail it to ISIS telling them they win, we surrender, please spare us, we’ll convert.

Now I’m afraid to set our next scheduled woods runs. Next Fri, Next Sat. and because yesterdays trail was a monthly all woods hash, next month’s trail.

I remember right after 9/11, President Bush told us to go back to doing what we were doing. Well, we were hashing.

End of rant.

Many hashers assume our SWP problems started after September 11, 2001, but we had run-ins with the law before that. The first SWP incident I know of went down in the early 1990s, when residents of a predominantly black area in Dallas called the cops on white skinheads who were running through their neighborhood while shouting, throwing white powder, and targeting certain homes with chalk symbols. The skinheads, of course, were Dallas H3 hares, and all they were doing was marking trail.

Clearly, though, 9/11 made civilians and cops even more suspicious of strange people doing strange things with suspicious white powder and chalk, and we had so many encounters with the authorities I eventually quit writing about all but the most serious incidents, the ones where hashers actually get into legal trouble.

Like this incident. Horn-E’s been hashing longer than most of us put together, and I’m sure he can explain hashing to the judge, but the fact that he has to appear before a court in the first place is disturbing. All it takes is one do-it-by-the-books cop (or one asshole cop, assuming that’s two different things), and virtually everything we hashers do is technically illegal. Laying flour? Littering at the very least. Chalk marks? Defacing public property. Shouting “On On”? Disturbing the peace. Upsetting civilian onlookers? Ditto. Holding a circle and singing rude songs while drinking beer? Mega-ditto.

Horn-E is absolutely correct about the cost to the taxpayers. Cops, firefighters, and hazmat teams are drawing the same wages whether they’re sitting at the station or answering calls. He’s also right that notifying local cops and emergency responders before setting trails is largely a waste of time. Even if the authorities in your area know about the hash beforehand, they still have to respond when citizens freak out and dial 911, and if they get irritated enough, they can cause us all kind of problems, as they did a few years ago in New Haven, Connecticut.

And it wasn’t like Horn-E was making suspicious marks in a shopping mall or near a nuclear powerplant. He was in the fucking woods.

I guess what I’m saying is, stay on your toes. You never know when you’ll have an SWP encounter with law enforcement. When it happens, keep your cool at all costs. And let me know what happens, so I can help spread the word in the hashing community!


Pedalfiles Bash Trash: 2/28/16

Somehow or other we missed bashing in January, so the February meetup was our first event of 2016. We kicked it off right with a big crowd of bashers, including some rarely-seen jHavelina hashers and a group of Monthly Cycle bashers who drove all the way up from Sierra Vista.

We met at Tucson’s Himmel Park at 10 AM. It was a perfect morning, as you can see:


Our hares were Deep Dish and Is It In Yet?

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It’s odd how whenever these two hare, we get a crowd. I think it’s because 3IY is so damn cute, don’t you?

We also have to give credit for the big turnout to Arthur Gash & Fuck Me, who’ve been talking up the Pedalfiles at neighboring bashes in Sierra Vista and Phoenix. Way to represent, you two!

Trail took turn after turn through the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Arizona and Tucson Medical Center. Along the way the pack was convinced the beer check would be at Schrier’s, then at Deep Dish’s house, then Shooter’s, but instead we wound up at Old Chicago Pizza on Campbell. The second leg took the pack to the Tucson Hop Shop and another refreshment break. The third leg led back to Himmel Park and on-afters at Bob Dobbs’.


Two words: bloody awesome! Next month’s hares, Gash & Fuck Me, have their work cut out for them!


Sixth Rule of Cooking Club (On On Gourmet Hash House Harriers)

When doubling Cajun recipes, don’t double the cayenne.

The On On Gourmet Hash House Harriers met again Saturday night, this time at the home of Giacomo “Hercules” Mandriano, where we were joined by Giacomo’s brother, Washington DC refugee Giuseppe “Pastoso” Mandriano, hiding from the wrath of the Blizzard of 2016. I usually know what people’s names mean, but Pastoso was new to me so I looked it up. It means “mellow” in Italian. What an odd name. Anyway, here we are, posing for an Ellen DeGeneres-style group selfie:


L to R: Magret de Canard, Ditalini deMenthe, Anitra Spezzatino, Manzo Spezzatino, Crouton deMenthe, Giuseppe “Pastoso” Mandriano, Giacomo “Hercules” Mandriano

Our theme was Cajun, specifically the cooking of the late chef Paul Prudhomme. Magret de Canard made shrimp, the Spezzatinos a cucumber salad and a jambalaya, the deMenthes pecan praline candies for dessert. The brothers Mandriano helped with the prep, while I chopped peppers, celery, and onions; as we have done before, everyone participated in the cooking.

A few photos (sorry, I forgot to take one of the shrimp, which we gobbled up as an appetizer).


Ditalini’s pecan praline candies


Chaos in the kitchen, pt I


Anitra’s jambalaya


Crouton chops!


Chaos in the kitchen, pt II


Dinner a la Paul Prudhomme

It was a fabulous dinner, and spicy too (see Rule #6). We marveled over Giacomo’s kitchen and utensil collection, the biggest and best we’ve encountered to date, and we collectively thank him for his hospitality.

The next meeting of the On On Gourmet Hash House Harriers will be in March. Our theme will be outdoor barbecue and grilling, using recipes from Bobby Flay. Ditalini and I are hosting, which is only right, since it is I, Crouton deMenthe, who invented the Fortress of Smoke™.


HashSpace Changes

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Major changes and improvements to HashSpace are on the way and should be implemented in the next few days. Members will be getting an email from Sux2Blow soon, if they haven’t already.

Without giving away any surprises, I’m proud to say that Ra, current webmaster of the little hash site I started more than 20 years ago, is working closely with Sux3Blow and making key contributions to the new HashSpace.

Here’s to Sux2Blow and Ra, and long may they serve the hash!


Pedalfiles Bash Trash: 12/20/15


The hares, Wankers Aweigh & Subatomic Equipment, put out the word to meet at the Famous Sam’s on Silverbell & Grant. Word really travels, because Santa Gash showed up, all the way from the North Pole! Also there: Flying Booger, Loose Nut, Deep Dish, Fuck Me … and Hot Legs, to take our photo.

Trail led uphill to a beer check at Subatomic’s house near Gates Pass, where we enjoyed a fine view. Some of the pack pedaled all the way up the hill; some didn’t (including me, dear reader). The ride back to the start was all downhill, and those of us who cheated to get to the beer check were sorry we didn’t get the payback of a fast gravity-assisted ride on home. On-afters were at Rusty’s … thanks, Famous Sam’s, for letting us use your parking lot, but we’ll spend our beer money at your competitor’s place next door!

Since your scribe was one of the lazy cheaters, he doesn’t have many trail photos, but thanks to Deep Dish & Hot Legs there are some snapshots to share. Mouse over the thumbnails to see the captions, click to see the full sized originals on Flickr.

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IMG_2791 Untitled 12391415_10206801832537096_8513817630978707777_n

On On to January, when Master Meat Finder and Cock Stalker will lead us on another chase!


Not for Everyone

Hashers are like furries, weird and creepy.


On-On Gourmet Hash House Harriers

After a recent trail, while eight of us were cooling off at a local pub, our friend Master Meat Finder told us about the weekend she spent escorting a cookbook author who’d been a speaker at Tucson’s annual book fair. The author was Hugo Ortega, and he’d given MMF a copy of his new cookbook, Backstreet Kitchen. She had the book with her and we passed it around. Somehow the idea of starting a cooking club popped into our half-minds.

We decided to call ourselves the On-On Gourmet Hash House Harriers, even though the only trails we follow are culinary ones. We cook and consume dinners together, once every other month.


On-On Gourmets Hot Legs & Pick’n'Flick, making paella

I’ve been posting our cooking club hash trashes on my cooking blog, Crouton’s Kitchen. I realized today I should not only post new cooking club hash trashes to the Half-Mind Weblog, but also link to earlier hash trashes, since some Half-Mind Weblog readers may be interested. Here’s a list of links to the older On-On Gourmet H3 hash trashes:

The names in these hash trashes may be confusing. Every member of the On-On Gourmets is a named hasher, but we use a different set of noms de plume on the Crouton’s Kitchen cooking blog. Pick’n'Flick, for instance, is Ditalini deMenthe. Not to worry, I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

In the future I’ll post cooking club trashes to Crouton’s Kitchen and cross-post them here as well. I’m assuming hashers will want to read them here rather than at Crouton’s Kitchen, since most hashers I know wouldn’t be caught dead with a cooking blog in their browser favorites. And who can blame them?