1. Join me at the Girl Scouts fundraiser Desserts First, Feb. 25

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    February 13, 2015 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    Samoas have never looked so good.

    Volunteering with the Girl Scouts for the past year and a half has given me the chance to help girls grow into independent thinkers and leaders. To help empower these young ladies, I’ve had to put on my big-girl pants and take chances.

    I camped for the first time in my life last year (it was in a lodge, BUT STILL). I learned how to build a fire so I could teach second graders about fire safety. And I’ve learned how to lead and cooperate with the eight wonderful women who co-lead our colossal troop of 45 girls. At some point between mediating a cheating allegation during a tense game of Marco Polo and holding my breath as I showed a timid girl how to light a match, I became a stronger woman along with my girls. So when the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana asked me to be a guest judge at their annual foodie fundraiser, a resounding “YAAAAAS” was the only suitable response.

  2. Chick Cow food truck brings farm-fresh dishes to the streets

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    February 4, 2015 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    A sandwich and fries from Chick Cow food truck. (Photo courtesy of Chick Cow's Facebook page)

    Food trucks brighten up the dreariest days of cubicle life. These mobile eateries are pretty easy to find in downtown Louisville — just look for the huddled masses. The trucks are often parked along Main, Market and Fifth streets to attract the cubicle crowd from the surrounding offices. My brethren and I welcome the options with open wallets.

    Recently, I came upon a food truck called Chick Cow on my way to grab some lunch. I had my sights set on taking a little drive to get an Ollie’s Trolley burger, but this new-ish food truck caught my eye and stomach.

    Since I was meeting someone for lunch, I bought the Kentucky Klucker, aka a chicken wrap, and the Uncle Henry’s Heehaw Burger, aka a cheeseburger, so me and my lunch companion could get halfsies of each. It was a wise decision, if I do say so myself. The chicken was grilled, juicy and tender, so it kind of felt like I was eating a healthy meal. I can’t say that about the angus burger that comes on a buttered bun — it tasted too good to be good for me, too. The burger and the wrap were $7.53 apiece, and they each came with an order of steak-cut fries.

  3. Bits and Pieces: Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, Comfy Cow and other Louisville food news, 1.30.15

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    January 30, 2015 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    I don't care how cold it is. I'll take some ice cream. (Photo courtesy of The Comfy Cow)
    Events
    • February marks the Comfy Cow’s Fifth Annual Chocopalooza to benefit local chapters of non-profit organizations. The ice cream shop has created a lineup of new chocolate flavors, and 10 percent of sales of the chocolate crop will go to Make-A-Wish, Gilda’s Club, Boys & Girls Haven and the Fund For The Arts. I have my eye on the Chocolate “Brownie Points” and the Chocolate “Chip Off the Old Block.” The Chocolate Lavender? Not so much. Check out all the flavor’s on Comfy Cow’s website. (The Comfy Cow website)
  4. The $10 Challenge: Manny and Merle

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    January 24, 2015 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    When I say "Brisket," you say, "Taco."

    I knew it was time to write about Manny & Merle’s when I panicked over what I thought was the restaurant’s closing. Rob and I happened to be downtown on a Monday evening and we decided to stop by this modern honky-tonk on Main Street. Instead of tacos and country music, we were greeted with a locked door. Dark had settled over the long, narrow restaurant. The tall seats I had climbed onto during some good happy hours were clipped upside down on the table. Was my favorite downtown spot was closed? I took to Twitter for answers to ease what I hoped was just an overreaction. Fortunately, the fine folks behind the Manny & Merle Twitter account let me know they’re closed on Sundays and Mondays, so I just needed to chill the eff out (my words, not theirs). But in that moment of panic, I realized that I had grown to love Manny & Merle.

  5. Sweet potatoes: an appreciation and recipe

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    January 20, 2015 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    That's me, desperately taking a picture with one hand and praying that I don't drop my phone in the water.

    A dish of sweet potatoes was special-occasion food in my family.

    They made regular annual appearances at Thanksgiving. My mother was a working, single mom, so Thanksgiving was an endeavor best tackled in stages. Mommy would buy a big bag of sweet potatoes a week before the holiday to get ahead of the crowd. A few days later, she or my Uncle Bobby would scrub the spuds, pile them precariously into the biggest pot we had, covered them with water, and let them boil for hours on the electric stovetop. The pot of potatoes bubbled away beneath the TV and the phone ringing and my family’s normal volume that was always set to “Yell.” As the house settled into the evening, the phone calls more distant and the talk a little quieter, Mommy or Uncle Bobby drained the sweet potatoes, peeled off the skin with a butter knife, sliced them length wise, and arranged them like shingles in a baking dish. That night, or the next day depending on how her full schedule was looking in those scant days before Thanksgiving, Mommy would cloak the naked potato slices in a layer of brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg dotted with pats of butter. The dish baked until it bubbled and the brown sugar formed a crust on the once exposed sweet potato slices. The smell alone was justification for 365 days of waiting.

  6. Strati Wild Italian unites the Pasta Partners

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    January 8, 2015 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    A small pasta bowl at Strati Wild Italian. And yes, it pairs well with a little bottle of wine.

    When I was a student at Western Kentucky University, my friend Beth and I dubbed ourselves Pasta Partners. The name came from our affinity for the pasta station in the dining hall in Garrett Conference Center. The student newspaper office was located in this building, which meant I spent more time here than any location during my undergraduate education.

    The dining room was in the basement of Garrett. The pasta station was located right between the door and the cash register at the end of a half-circle of meal stations. The Pasta Ladies were suited up in stained white chef’s jackets and hats to match, but their demeanor was more lunchroom lady than Top Chef.

    Beth and I loved the pasta ladies who made each dish to order. They squirted oil into a skillet and plopped in a small spoonful of garlic to begin each order. The scooped the meat and veggies we wanted for our pasta from black plastic containers nestled in ice. Penne noodles went in next, followed by a ladle of marinara or alfredo sauce or one of each for the adventurous among us. Once the Ladies tossed everything together over their individual burners, they slid the pasta onto black plastic plates and sprinkled a handful of cheese on top of it all. A hearty helping of carbs got Beth and I through many long afternoons and evenings in the newspaper office.

  7. The $10 Challenge: Momma’s Mustard, Pickles & BBQ

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    January 2, 2015 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    A pulled pork sandwich, coleslaw and french fries from Momma's Mustard, Pickles & BBQ.

    Now, I have a college degree under my belt and I’m working on one more. I’m smart enough to know that there is indeed rhyme and reason that explains how the folks at Momma’s Mustard, Pickles & BBQ get the skin of the restaurant’s wings crisp and flavorful while leaving the chicken meat moist and juicy. There’s probably some science to how long to cook their pork before a set of magical hands pulls the tender meat off the bone and onto a Klosterman bun. But I’ve come to believe in a little bit of magic after several visits to Momma’s. It’s the only way to explain how this restaurant produces consistently fantastic food that charms newcomers, pleases regulars and inspires the staff to deliver warm, down-home service that matches the meals they serve.

  8. Cue the confetti, the $10 Challenge returns today

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    January 2, 2015 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    Holy crap, it’s been a long time since I’ve done a $10 Challenge.

    It began as procrastination. Then, working on the book kept me from doing much in my free time, let alone write something that wasn’t related to the manuscript. Then, when I finally did have time, I was intimidated to get back into writing the $10 Challenge because I had been gone for so long. My blogging had become sporadic in the back half of 2014, and I was scared that 1) I had lost my $10 Challenge groove, and b) no one would want to hear what I thought about restaurants in the city anymore. A few weeks away from a blog is like an eternity in internet time. How could I make up for lost time?

  9. Take life’s lemons and make shortbread cookies, fancy ice cubes and more

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    December 30, 2014 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    Perfect for a bourbon on the rocks. (Photo by bestlexever/Flickr Creative Commons)

    The year has turned sour. Unfortunate events have bombarded me, my family and friends as we crawl toward the end of 2014. The challenges have been as small as an overweight pug stealing a cookie from my two-year-old niece (I’m watching you, Sampson) to a good friend’s cancer diagnosis right before the holidays. It’s enough to make even the most steady person shake their fist at whatever god in which they believe.

    A few years in adulthood have given me enough wisdom to know that life is a series of obstacles that sprout at the most inopportune moments, a depressing thought if there ever was one. But these years have also planted enough optimism in me that I am determined to demolish life’s challenges with the tenacity of an American Gladiator contestant.

    With the spirit of perseverance in mind, let’s turn life’s lemons into some awesome stuff. Here are some suggestions for what to do with the literal lemons in your life. And regarding to those figurative lemons, we’re all going to be OK.

  10. Bits and Pieces: Barbecue, beer and other Louisville food news, 12.12.14

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    December 12, 2014 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    Events

    BBC Taproom at 636 E. Main St. will offer $1 pints in exchange for a new, unwrapped toy for the charity Toys for Tots. I can dig it. (Insider Louisville)

    News

    In the corporate world, this would be called “synergy.” In my world, it’s a plain good idea. Great Flood Brewing Company on Bardstown Road has teamed with Grind Burger Kitchen on the brewery’s 100th batch. The beer, called G&G Blowin’ Smoke, will compliment the food truck/restaurant’s B&B, a heavenly burger of brie, bacon and habenero jam. I’m old enough to be secure in my dislike of most beers. However, I’m willing to give this one a try with my next B&B. (Insider Louisville)
    There might be a plant coming to the West End that will convert food waste to methane gas. This plant will be a part of the West Louisville Food Hub, “a 25-acre food distribution center being developed at 30th and Market streets.” (Business First of Louisville)

    Openings

    Feast BBQ, a restaurant located in New Albany, will open a Louisville location on East Market Street next Thursday, Dec. 18. This doesn’t help in my quest for reasons to visit southern Indiana. I’m a little weary of this communal dining concept, though (check out this slideshow). Everyone doesn’t need to see exactly how messy I am when I eat, especially barbecue. (Business First of Louisville)

Louisville Diners

My first book with the publisher History Press is available now!

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