Saturday, October 23, 2010

Chili today, HOT(Dawg) tomorrow...

Chili - good. Hair of the Dawg - great.  Hair of the Dawg Chili?  Off the chain! Those who know me well know that my Chili seldom tastes the same twice.  I have a general formula that I follow, but modify according to my mood or whim, so here's my outline.

Hair of the Dawg Chili
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 - 28 oz. cans Muir Glen Fire Roasted diced tomatoes
  • 4 - 15 oz. cans Black Beans
  • 2 - 4 oz. cans diced Green Chiles
  • 1 - 32 oz. bottle Hair of the Dawg Chipotle Bloody Mary Mix
  • Chili Powder, to taste
  • Cumin, to taste

Brown ground beef with onion and garlic.  Drain grease.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Cover and simmer 1-2 hours to allow flavors to develop, stirring occasionally.  Serve with Fritos, shredded cheese and sour cream, or other garnishments of your liking.

Some modifications that I've tried:
  • Stewing beef in place of ground beef
  • 1-2 Tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • A bottle of a good Stout or Porter Beer

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ode to the Dawg...

This week one of our newest fans in Chicago was so moved by our tasty mix, that he wrote the poem below.  If any of you are likewise inspired, please share with us!  Thanks, Bryan!!  

Hair of the Dawg

Man, what a night
Laughing and feeling no pain
But now this incredible pounding
Is coming from deep within my brain

I know I’ve been there before
Yet here it is, half past ten
And with the sun now piercing my window
I swear it won’t happen again

I moan and I think my hair hurts
I can’t even stand my own skin
The damage I’ve caused myself
Should certainly be a sin

The only hope I have now
That will deliver me from this fog
Is a time tested family recipe
And it all starts with Hair of the Dawg

Ahhh, that’s so much better
You know, I’m starting to see the light
And as I declare myself recovered
I wonder what's happening tonight.

Bryan Bradley
Buffalo Grove, IL

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Last 2 Days

We waited out the rain in Waterloo, and got a very late start (for us) around noon. By then the skies were blue but we had a pretty hefty tailwind.

RAGBRAI has a completely different feeling when you are bringing up the rear... no crowds, very few food vendors still open and a wide open road. But it was nice. We took a fairly leisurely pace with our friends Gary and Gwen, stopping at our Dawghouses and hearing at each one what a hit the Bloody Marys were.

We ran into the guys from our favorite bike shop, which was a lucky meeting for us... we lingered a bit longer than we should have at the later stops and found ourselves pressed to make it in by sunset, with no lights. Geoff's tucked us into their peloton, and we flew into Manchester just as night was falling.

We were scolded by the Sag Queens but were quickly forgiven and headed downtown Manchester to listen to the Nadas before tucking in for the final day.

Day 7 is defined by mixed feelings. Ready to get off the saddle and out of spandex but not ever wanting it to end, torn between lingering to take it all in and hurrying in to pack it up and get home to your own shower and bed. But if you linger too long, you will be hard-pressed to find a bite to eat along the road, so we opted to hurry along to Dubuque. As we passed through each town the lump in my throat grew larger, and by the time we were descending the long hills through the scenic Mississippi River valley I couldn't keep back a few tears.

As we descended into Graf the lump in my throat crashed down into the knot of fear in my stomach, knowing what was ahead. The dreaded Potter Hill. A few weeks ago we were in Dubuque on business and went on a reconnaissance tour of this legendary killer. Over a mile of climb averaging 6% grade, but ramping up to a vicious 19% in the middle. I have literally lost sleep thinking about how to tackle this monster.

I gave myself a little pep talk as I started up the hill, and did my best to save my lower gears for the steepest part. Unfortunately, I had gotten through all of them by the time I got there. I toughed out another 20 yards or so before crying Uncle. For those of you who don't bike, the danger on a grade like that is if you reach a point where you can't pedal one more stroke, it's too late to unclip from your pedal, so you just fall over. Trudging up the side of the hill, I marveled at the brave souls charging ahead on their bikes. But the most impressive of all was Team 6 on 1. Dad, Mom, and a young child on a tandem, pulling an even younger child on a Trailgator, and 2 more little ones in a Burley. Two other walkers, pushing their bikes, got behind with one hand each on the Burley to help the family up the hill. And they made it. I'm still in awe.

Adding insult to injury, there were still a number of challenging hills the last 10 miles into Dubuque. The closer we got to the river, though, the more people appeared curbside with cowbells, banners, whistles and words of encouragement, and darned if that lump didn't reappear. For anyone who has never experienced it, you may never understand the mix of exhaustion, pride, pain, camaraderie and love for the state and people of Iowa that makes this such an unforgettable week. Hopefully in the next few days I will get a RAGBRAI swan song put together to try to help you understand. Now, only 357 days until the next annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. I better start training for the next Potter Hill.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Days 4 & 5

Between full days of riding, catching up with our saggers and having iffy internet access, I haven't blogged for a while, but remember, I didn't make any promises. Reading my last update, I failed to give credit where it was due, so I want to go back to Day 3 for a moment.

As I mentioned, Johnny's Bar in Wesley was rockin' when we got there. What I didn't mention was that Team Draught and the Regulators were the ones who led us astray there. I mean, how do you pass up a party like this???

On Day 4, lower temperatures and humidity with a light breeze from the North provided welcome relief from Tuesday's 100+ heat index. We had a little later start than we had planned, however, and I need to digress for a moment. Two years ago on RAGBRAI, we sagged one rainy day on Team Evil Eye's bus. Mark behaved so impressively, dancing and mooning at the front of the bus, that he earned himself a pair of monkey beads. Completely oblivious to the significance, he wore those beads proudly every day. On the last day, we ran into his cousins in the next to last town, and one of them was wearing the same beads. He laughed when he saw Mark and asked, "What did you do to earn the dumbass beads?"

So now, 2 years later, those beads have finally changed hands again (the wearer of the beads keeps them until someone else tops his/her dumbassery). So. Wednesday morning I decided it was time to reorganize/repack the car. And I did a spectacular job of it. We had said our goodbyes to my sister and brother-in-law when I realized I hadn't seen the car key in a while. I vaguely recalled setting the key on the folded-down seat when I opened the car. Forty minutes, two unpackings and repackings later, we finally pulled up the seat to find it lodged down inside the seat. I didn't even wait for it... I just marched over and took the beads off of Mark.

A late start isn't always a bad thing... with the majority of riders already gone, it leaves the road wide open, and with a moderate tailwind, we flew down the road. The Rockwell Chamber hosted a beer/bloody mary (Hair of the Dawg, of course) garden, where we caught up with the Regulators again for a couple of refreshments. Heading down the road again, we made a cornfield stop and couldn't have timed it better. As we rolled back onto the road, the Regulators passed us in a draft line. We caught the tail of it, and flew down the road with them. Thanks for the pull, guys!

Near Cartersville, we came upon a farm where I'm guessing nearly 5,000 riders had pulled over for a hell of a party. A platform led up to a swing where bikers were lined up to swing out over a pond and drop in. We watched for a while before rolling on... rumor has it the party really cranked up there, including the requisite RAGBRAI nudity.

We took a leisurely ride into Charles City, stopping at the Rockford Golf Course, where riders were shuttled on golf carts from the road to the clubhouse to enjoy a cold beverage and some shade. We rolled into the Wildwood Golf Course in Charles City, another Dawghouse, and found a text message had come from one Sag Queen 1, letting us know that my ownership of the monkey beads was to be short lived. It seems Sag Queen A had to do a little dumpster diving to retrieve the car key, lost for the second time that day! As of this writing, she is still wearing them.

We met the Queens at our accommodations for the night. While I am always grateful not to have to sleep in a tent at the end of a long ride, this night may have been the exception. The Best Budget (aka Bed Bug) Inn was, at least, good for a laugh (or several). Suffice it to say we were happy the Sag Queens had brought plenty of extra bedding. Other patrons of the same hotel reported finding mold in their sheets. At least the vending machine was loaded with tasty snacks for us:

Thursday was a long day - 82 miles. But it was my day to hit the wall. My legs refused to work, and there wasn't a spot on my saddle that felt good. Shoulders and neck hurt, head threatened to throb... sagging seemed like a good idea. We met the Sag Queens in Parkersburg, loaded our bikes, and sagged the second half to our reward for the night at the Bed Bug Inn... the Isle Casino in Waterloo. A swim, a hot tub, and a Hair of the Dawg Margarita were just what we needed to fire up for the last two days of riding.

But it could be Saggy Friday. The reason I've finally found time to catch up on the Blawg is that it's pouring rain, and we're having trouble talking ourselves into getting on our bikes. I think we're going to have to tough it out... we have 5 Dawghouses on the route today. We were VERY well-represented yesterday... 4 Dawghouses in Clarksville and at least as many in Parkersburg. Everywhere we stop we hear about how good our mix is, making every blister on our butts worth the ride.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Days 2 & 3

Day 2 we woke again to blue skies and moderate temps. Our hosts live closer to Varina, the first town out on the route, which seemed like a convenient enough excuse for some of us to cut out the first 16 miles.

For all of the hills we battled the first day, day 2 was flat, flat, flat. The wind had picked up, but out of the East Southeast, and the route meandered enough to give us almost an equal amount of head/crosswinds and tailwinds.

Pocahontas was our first Dawghouse of the day, and the Hair of the Dawg was a big hit there. Later in the day we stopped at a golf course for a beer (we can't drink Hair of the Dawg ALL day!). As we approached the beer stand one of the bartenders shouted, "Hair of the Dawg!! I love your mix and have it at home!"

We rolled into Algona around 4:00 and went straight to Berte's Back Nine, our final Dawghouse of the day. They had an extra bar set up, where thirsty riders were happy to find a refreshing Hair of the Dawg margarita or mojito. They sold tons of them there. We were so lucky to find this spot. Not only did owner Leann promote our mix... she opened her home to us, complete with swimming pool! What a great way to end Day 2.

Day 3 we woke to find bodies all over the house, and poolside. Turns out Geoff, the owner of our favorite bike shop, and his team were camping out at Leann's as well. One of the guys gave me the forecast... 90+ degrees and wind gusts of 30 mph. Ugh.

The route was again, fortunately, flat flat flat. We set out to Wesley, and found the town, and Johnny's, Dawghouse #1, rockin'. We stayed maybe a little longer than we should have, and paid for it most of the rest of the day.

At a roadside stop, our riding companion and old friend from Mason City, mentioned a shortcut from Garner to final destination Clear Lake that would take 13 miles off the long last leg. I announced that I would complete the whole route, but by the time we got into Garner I relented. The sun and heat were brutal!!

I was happy to ride into Clear Lake, my home town, and spend the night at my sister's house, along with almost 50 campers in their back yard! As I'm typing this, bad weather threatens to the North. Hopefully it will slide off in a different direction so the thousands of campers in town have a dry and restful night. And now it's off to my own restful night, with hopes for cooler temperatures and tailwinds tomorrow!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The First Day

It couldn't have started out better. After an evening in Sioux City on Historic 4th STreet, with entertainment by Smashmouth followed by an amazing fireworks display, we woke to blue skies, mild temperatures and just the right amount of cooling breeze.

Sag Queen 1 and Sag Queen A woke early to prepare breakfast burritios for us before we headed down to the Missouri River for the traditional rear tire dip with our new friends, Dr. Doug of Spencer, IA and brothers Mark & Marty of Grand Rapids, MI. Pure adrenelin fueled us through the hills of Sioux City (but what was up with that never-ending hill that didn't even look like a hill??) and Leeds (where we hooked up with 'Hood friend, Jim) out to the open road.

Somewhere along the route we lost Jim, a slightly less-trained rider than the rest of us, and assumed that he had fallen way behing or stopped for rest or nutrition. In Quimby, we reunited with Sag Queens 1 & A, refueled with Gatorade, water and bananas, and settled on a plan to meet at Dawghouse #2 - Puff's in Storm Lake. The first rider in was to be awarded the Yellow Duck beads... the equivalent of the coveted Tour de France yellow jersey.

I was definitely losing steam finishing the ride (a long 23-mile finish into Storm Lake from Quimby), but did my best to go for the gold (or yellow). Much to our surprise, we walked into Puff's to find Jim, the supposed lost one, sitting there in the Yellow Duck beads.

All along the road and at all stops, Hair of the Dawg was getting rave reviews and we were getting many requests for jerseys, tattoos and mix. We were even announced by the DJ in Washto as we were riding through town.

And the day is winding down perfectly at the home of our hosts, John & Sandy. We have bellies full of pasta and sweet corn, and comfortable accommodations for the night. This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience... a great Iowa tradition, and one we hope you can all take part in some day. G'night!

Missouri River Dip

Rolling into Kingsley, IA

The Yellow Duck

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dawgs on Wheels!

I know it's been a long time since our last entry... but we have a good excuse! Since our last blog we've been busy setting up distributors in five states, and three more will be added soon! AND we've added three new mixes to our line: Chipotle Bloody Mary, Strawberry Margarita/Daiquiri and Madras (cranberry-orange) Mojito. Start watching for those in stores over the next few weeks!

Next week we'll take a break (sort of) by taking part in the greatest bicycling event in the US of A: RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). Thousands of bikers, from every corner of the country and from abroad will dip their back tires in the Missouri River, then head East over hill, dale and county road across the state to the mighty Mississip, and we'll be among them.

Along the way, we have set up "Dawghouses" where thirsty riders can stop and sample a little Hair of the Dawg. To see the list of Dawghouses, check the Where to Fetch page of our website and download the map. It's my hope (I know better than to promise) to blog about our progress each night. So stay tuned for pictures and stories of the Dawgs on wheels!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

An Arizona Adventure

We flew into Las Vegas last night for the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show. The show doesn't start until Tuesday, but needing a break from Iowa winter, we flew in a few days early. Neither of us gamble, and we tend to get a little overwhelmed by the commotion, so a few days out of Sin City seemed in order. Bright and early yesterday morning, we rented a car from Dollar, and headed south on Hwy 93, with the Dawg in tow.

Our route took us across the Hoover Dam. Big and impressive, yes, but really not our kind of sight-seeing, so we stopped long enough for a few quick photos and hit the road again. Down the road a ways we saw "The Last Stop." It looked promising, and we believed the sign, so we pulled over only to find that the saloon was closed. So we grabbed some provisions and cheesy souvenirs at the mini mini mart. After waiting in line for what seemed like an hour while the cashier resolved a credit card issue on the phone and then explained the entire Arizona lottery system to the man at the front of the line, we were finally on the road again.

After leaving "The Last Stop," we traveled a long distance of oh...2 miles to the next stop - Rosie's Den. This looked like our kind of place! We stopped for a bite to eat and to sample a Grand Canyon Brew (the pale ale was really good!), and spent some time visiting with Scott and Season, the bar managers. They promised to carry Hair of the Dawg when it becomes available in their area!

We still had plenty to do, so we jumped back in the car to get to the Grand Canyon West. All the way I was stunned by the landscape, as larger and larger mountains and bluffs came into view...beautiful! At the Hualapai Reservation, we hopped on a tour bus, which took us out Eagle Point (can you see the eagle in the picture below?) and the Grand Canyon Skywalk. Seeing it for the first time, the canyon is just awe-inspiring. The bus then took us to Guano Point, where we saw the remnants of an old tram, which carried guano "miners" 8800 feet across the canyon (4000 feet in the air) to a cave where they mined for...bat poop. Nice work, if you can get it, huh? No thanks.

Wanting to reach Kingman by 5:00, so we could do a little exploring around the Route 66 town, we took off, and in Griswold style, ended up driving 40 miles on a dirt road. But at the end of it, there it was...Route 66! We stopped for a celebratory High Life at the Outpost Saloon, where Roberta the bartender gave us some tips for the next day's itinerary.

18 more miles to Kingman. We drove into town anticipating vintage neon, great nightclubs and kitschy stops, and were disappointed to find that many of these stops have gone by the wayside. So we stopped at a wine bar for a snack and to ask the proprietor for a restaurant recommendation. He suggested Mattina's - an italian place just around the block.

Jackpot. We knew by the lovely, garlicky aromas when we walked in that we were going to love it. But that wasn't the best part. The hostess stopped by our table to chat. She reminded us SO much of our friend, Kirby, it was uncanny. Kirby and her husband, Kevin, are two of our favorite travel companions. When we travel together, we fly by the seat of our pants, and always find a great adventure. I can't tell you how many times that day we had said, "I wish Kevin & Kirby were here!" So it was especially gratifying to find her doppelganger at the end of the road. We learned also that her last name was Bono, so I had to ask. To my surprise, her answer was, "Yes, Sonny was my husband's first cousin." We left Mattina's with full tummies, and a promise to be back. Time to call it a day.

And now, I better sign off. I gotta' go get my kicks, on Route 66!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Big Week!

Hair of the Dawg is a little over 90 days old, and while the whole process of getting it out on the market has been exciting and fun, last week was off the charts!

Over the past 3 months, we have achieved distribution across the entire state of Iowa (many thanks to our distributors and fans for all of your support!). On Wednesday, we had a meeting with a company that is interested in getting the Dawg into 10 other states, and the great thing is… they courted US! There are details to be worked out, and contracts to sign, but it should be happening soon.

On Friday, we paid a visit to our co-packer’s facility in Melrose Park, IL to work on the formulas for Margarita and Mojito mixes. Several friends and fans have volunteered to help with this process, but let me tell you, it’s not as fun as it sounds. Don’t get me wrong... I love spending time with Larry in the lab, but almost four hours of sampling citrus and sugar mixes (without the alcohol, mind you) is tough on the tummy.

First we worked on the Mojito. I told Larry that by the time we were done we’d have sour stomachs and fresh breath, but I do think we came up with the perfect limey, minty mix. After a much-needed break for lunch, we returned to the lab to perfect the Margarita. By 4:00 that afternoon, my stomach ached, my cheeks were locked in a pucker, and my right eyelid twitched every time I took a sip. But again... success! All that remains to be done is to finalize the labels (they’re going to be SO cute!), and the new mixes will be on the shelves in time for a long-awaited turn in the weather.

To top off the week, on Saturday we attended the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City American Advertising Federation’s ADDY Awards. The mission of the ADDYs is to recognize and reward creative excellence in the art of advertising (the local competition is the first step in a three-tiered national competition). The deadline for entries was in November, when Hair of the Dawg was just a week old. A good friend convinced me to enter our label, and I’ll be dawggone... it won...a gold! A “Best of Category” or “Best of Show” entry is automatically forwarded by the local AdFed club to the District competition . Gold awards are also eligible for consideration at Districts, but are sent in at one’s own expense. What the heck...why not?

So as weeks go, this was one to celebrate. With a little Hair of the Dawg, of course.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Lesson from a Friend

Live well. Laugh often. Love much. A phrase so often used on wall hangings, embroidered on pillows or forwarded in pass-along e-mails it’s become a bit hackneyed...but one never better exemplified than by the subject of our first Dawg Blawg.

We met our friend Doug and his wife when we were running a restaurant in Okoboji, a lake resort town in Northwest Iowa, where they had a vacation home. As often as we were able, we spent time with Doug and Barb...bicycling, hot-air ballooning, engaging in water combat with our restaurant staff, or just enjoying each other’s company over a cold beer or two...and ALWAYS laughing.

At the end of that year, we moved to the opposite corner of the state, and grew inexcusably out of touch with our friends. A few years later, we were invited back to Okoboji for a wedding, so we called Doug and Barb to let them know. They immediately cancelled their own plans to attend a wedding and welcomed us to their lake home. When we pulled in, they met us in the driveway, Doug in his trademark Hawaiian shirt and easy, wide grin and Barb with her infectious laughter and huge hugs. Time had stood still, and over a martini we picked up our conversation...and laughter, right where we had left off. They crashed the wedding with us.

That weekend, Barb and Doug introduced us to ‘The ‘Hood,’ a group of neighbors and friends who share the same spirit and philosophy of life...and laughter...and love, who soon became our friends, too. We had so much fun with the ‘Hood we began making trips to the Lake almost quarterly, for Winter Games, an annual bike ride, weddings and wedding showers, or whenever we just needed a dose of the ‘Hood.

One weekend I made my Bloody Mary mix and the ‘Hood loved it. Mark threw down the gauntlet and challenged my mix to a taste-off against his. As difficult as it was to admit, his won. Hands down. Doug, always my champion, told me mine was just as good, but I suspect he was just trying to make me feel better. After that, Mark was not allowed to come to the ‘Hood without his mix. Thus was born our test market. The ‘Hood encouraged Mark to pursue his dream to sell his mix (Doug the loudest cheerleader of them all), so he began to look into it.

Last year we made our annual trip up for Winter Games, but missed Doug, who had stayed home because of back pain that had been nagging him for months. A few weeks later, when the pain had still not subsided, he had an MRI and we all prayed that he wouldn’t have to have back surgery. If only. On Friday the 13th, Barb called with the diagnosis...metastatic bone cancer, primary site unknown. Doug fought it like the true Marine he was, never willing to give up and never letting it crush his spirit or his faith. When Doug lost his battle barely 5 months after the diagnosis and a few weeks after his 61st birthday, it was then that I realized what a mighty disease cancer is, to take the life out of someone like Doug.

When Doug came to the realization that the disease was tougher than he, he admonished us all to live for him. Maybe what he (and we) didn’t realize was that all along he had been teaching us to live like him...always game for mischief and fun, with a childlike joy and open mind, a kind word and a ready smile, laughter every day, and heart and arms wide open. So threadbare as the phrase may be, we pledge to live well, laugh often (though sometimes through our tears) and love much...for Doug, for Barb, for the ‘Hood, and for ourselves. We hope you will too.