Posts Tagged ‘Hard Times’

Spice Rack Breakdown

Posted by The Editorial Desk / Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

My latest pride: my spice rack.

After moving into a new apartment, I’m finally getting closer to unpacking all of my things and was beyond ecstatic to get this baby set up. My beloved spice rack was given to me by my sister and brother-in-law, and it’s been hands-down the best kitchen companion I could ask for.

At first, I felt a little overwhelmed by the amount of unfamiliar spices on this revolving monster: cardamom, caraway, marjoram, what?! But after some time I grew to love the thing, how it spins so swiftly with a flick of my wrist and I can pull out whatever color of the spice rainbow calls out to me at any given moment.

I have to admit, having this spinning savior can get a little dangerous, too. I find myself tempted to put a dash of this and a shake of that in everything (to my pan of scrambled eggs– a little bit of paprika? sure, why not!). So to spare anyone else from going spice crazy overboard, here’s a brief breakdown of what you can use different spices for.

Allspice—used in many baked goods; smoother and milder than cloves
Anise—a mild licorice flavor, used in cookies or other baked sweets
Basil—slightly sweet and herby, used in Italian and Mediterranean cooking
Caraway Seed—herb seed of the parsley family; slightly bitter, this is the seed of rye bread
Cardamom—rich and flavorful; used in Indian cooking
Cayenne—also known as red pepper; hot and spicy
Chili Powder—blend of dried chilis and herbs, not spicy like cayenne
Cilantro—fresh tasting herb; used in marinades, salsa or fresh dips such as for fish tacos
Cinnamon—mild sweet flavor; used mostly in sweet desserts, but also really good in chili, such as Hard Times’ Cincinnati Chili
Cloves—very strong and bitter flavor; used in desserts or sweet vegetable dishes
Coriander—citrusy, sweet and tart flavor; dried seed of cilantro; used in curries, soups and stews
Cumin—aromatic strong and hearty flavor; great with tomato dishes such as chili
Curry Powder—spice blend of typically cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom
Dill Seed—herb used in pickles, dressings, or potato salad
Ginger—sharp and sweet flavor; used in sweet baked goods or curries
Fennel—licorice flavor
Marjoram—similar to oregano and mint, but sweeter and more subtle
Nutmeg—sweet and nutty flavor
Oregano—used in Italian cooking; mild herby flavor
Paprika—from sweet peppers; gives a bright red color and slightly smoky flavor
Parsley—fresh flavor, often used as a garnish
Rosemary—needle-like texture with strong flavor, used in Italian cooking
Sage—herb member of the mint family; typically used in stuffing
Tarragon—mild licorice flavor
Thyme—very strong herb; used in Greek and Italian cooking
Turmeric—natural yellow color and mild flavor of the ginger family

See the complete list here.

And just for fun:

-Julia Harbo

Virginia Government Moving to Ban Winter Harvest of Blue Crabs

Posted by The Editorial Desk / Friday, July 29th, 2011

(Image: Shutterstock/Aleksey Klints )

Chesapeake Bay watermen aren’t making any money.

Even though this year’s harvest of blue crabs has been strong, consumer demand for the ugly, horned (but tasty!) crustaceans has been low–maybe them being stupid expensive has something to do with it. Low demand means that wholesalers aren’t shilling out as much to the fisherman as they once were, which means that fishermen are out of luck.

Their bad luck doesn’t stop there, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission has announced that it will hold a public hearing to extend its ban on the Winter Dredge for a fourth year.

Many fishermen rely on the Winter Dredge—where they scoop hibernating crabs from the bottom of the bay—as a means to sustain themselves through the cold winter months, but the practice was banned in 2007 when the bay’s crab population dwindled to twenty year lows.

Despite a lot of moaning from the docks, the ban has been effective in increasing the crab population. Last year’s combined bay harvest yielded 89 million pounds of blue crabs, the highest the region has seen since 1993. But with crab populations up, retail prices too high (says I), and wholesale prices too low, it’s a safe bet that extending the wintertime ban for a fourth year won’t go over too well with anyone.

Except maybe the crabs, they’d probably be okay with it.

- Kris King

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Posted by The Editorial Desk / Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Unfortunately enough, the official end of the professional football season is upon us. There’s some serious talk of a labor strike next season, so we might as well try to enjoy it while it lasts. The game itself could potentially be a bore to those of us who don’t have ties to or an affinity for certain metropolitan areas in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The advertising may be something to look forward to, but several websites will archive them all the following day. My point is that if you don’t plan on hosting a party, you might as well go out to have a good time. Restaurants and sports bars across the region are gearing up for what could possibly be one of the busiest days of the year. Rest assured though, they will reward you for your business with discounts and prizes.

1. Kalypso’s Sport Tavern is a family-owned restaurant and bar that has been located in Reston since 1965. Ten high-definition TV’s are strategically placed for everyone’s viewing pleasure. The menu offers a variety of Greek, Italian, and American cuisine, but there are some guaranteed deals you don’t want to miss out on. These include discounted buffalo wings, chicken quesadillas, half-priced burgers and complimentary chips and salsa. Generous giveaways are always a possibility, but there’s no word on what they might be. Maybe beer?

(image: Kalypso’s)

2. Hard Times Cafe’s can be found all over the NoVA area. Specialty dishes are their delectable wings and Texas-style chili. They’ve always offered a multitude of afternoon specials like a $5 lunch menu.  Flat-screen TV’s dot the walls of every expansive location. Pool tables and dart boards are always an option if the game doesn’t live up to the hype, as it often doesn’t.  Don’t forget about the beer! Pitchers are normally around $8, but domestic pints are never more than $2.

(image:Hard Times)

3. Velocity Five is a chain of upscale sports bars that has expanded in recent years to meet the demand of the region. Most locations boast at least 50 high-definition TV’s, a state of the art sound system, and a menu for discriminating tastes. They may specialize in steaks and seafood, but don’t miss out on the deals offered throughout the game. $3-meals, half-priced burgers, and cheap pitchers are just a few of the specials you can look forward to. The majority of them have scheduled live music to begin right after the game.

(image:Velocity 5)

4. Kilroy’s has been one of the most popular family-friendly bars in Springfield for almost three decades now. Sunday brunch has become one of their busiest times of the week, but they welcome all NFL fans to come enjoy the game afterward. Along with the numerous high-definition TV’s on the walls, you will find a festive atmosphere and game day specials. These include, but are not limited to half-priced burgers and discounted buffalo wings. There’s always an extensive list of wine and beer available.


5. Glory Days Grills can also be found in multiple locations that alphabetically range from Burke to Woodbridge. Don’t miss a minute of the game with over 25 flat screens to choose from. The menu features old-favorites like discounted wings, burgers, sliders, soups, and chili. All of which are served with your choice of seasoned fries or beer-battered onion rings. Be sure to take advantage of the $5 appetizers and $1.99 domestic drafts that are available until closing time.

(image: Glory Days)


The list could go on…

As my wise parents always say, “Have fun, responsibly.”

-Ryan Robertson

Football + Food + Fun = Great American Past Time

Posted by The Editorial Desk / Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

The college football bowl season is finally winding down, but the NFL’s postseason is just getting started this weekend. Not to mention that the NBA, NHL and college basketball seasons are in full swing.

Watching the games at home is all well and good, but Northern Virginia is home to a multitude of bars that cater specifically to sports fans. You may go with no intention of eating, but it’s been my experience that many of these establishments turn out to be restaurants worth trying more than once.

One of my personal favorites is Crystal City Sports Pub, located a little over a mile from the Crystal City Metro Station. It has three floors and flat screen televisions everywhere you turn. A definite must at a sports bar! Alumni associations like to meet there, so there’s always that chance you’ll run into someone you know from your alma mater. It’s fairly easy to make new friends with similar loyalties too. Game day experiences here can make up for the fact that you weren’t able to go to the actual game. You can cheer or jeer as much as would like, with plenty of others doing the same.

A typical football game can last over three hours, so I recommend trying a few things off the menu while you’re there. Tasty appetizers include spinach artichoke and buffalo chicken dip. If you’re still hungry afterwards, feel free to try one of the many entrées that are guaranteed to hit the spot. You can’t go wrong with one of their mouth-watering burgers or saucy chicken wings with your choice of ranch or bleu cheese dressing. An assortment of salads are also available. Sufficed to say, there’s something for everyone.

Don’t forget about the growing list of beers on tap you can try while enjoying the game. Five domestic bottle buckets are a usually a better deal than pitchers. You can save yourself up to $2, and get a little more beer in the process.

I’ve also had pleasurable experiences at the Hard Times Cafe in Fairfax and Lucky’s Pub in Alexandria. Whether it’s the spicy chili platters at Hard Times or ultra competitive arcade games at Lucky’s, I’ve always enjoyed myself no matter what. Most sports fans will too.

-Ryan Robertson

Crystal City Sport Pub's Third Floor

Crystal City Sport Pub's Third Floor (image: