Ben Wilson

Ben Wilson

ben wilson This is the blog of a one Ben Wilson, a Louisville, Kentucky native who enjoys baseball, beer, music, bikes, things that fly and good food. By day he pushes pixels and makes the Internet happen for a local advertising agency. His wife, Kelly is an Ironman, and his baby Amelia is the cutest thing ever.

Kelly, being the weirdo that she is, wanted to go to the Bodies exhibit at The Cincinnati Museum. She’s got a thing for anatomy and generally the gross side of medicine. Cut to scene where I tell here in no uncertain terms will I watch a show about a man with a rare skin disease while eating a quesadilla I had just made. Whereas most girls were excited to be taken to dinner or to receive chocolates or flowers, Kelly wanted to go see artfully-styled corpses. Who am I to argue?

Saturday, we took off up to Cinci (stopping at the GAP Clearance Center in nearby Florence (Y’all!). Using our futurephones and the surprisingly-good Windows Live Directions service we made a U-turn or two and then ran smack into a long, long line of cars just outside the Museum. Hmm… could this be for the Bodies Exhibit? 1 hour later, as the lad in the parking booth told me (in order) there would be a 2-3 hour wait just to get tickets (it was 2:30 PM, they close at 5 on Saturdays) and that they only take cash. Cocking my head to the side and saying “Hmmm” (loudly) didn’t help – he apparently had seen such a tactic before. I said “Well… I don’t think I can back up,” to which he replied that I could park in the temporary lot and get some money from the ATM. Not that it mattered though. He let me through the gate and I immediately found a parking spot – not that we could use it on account of us not having the time to see the exhibit, but it felt good to stick it to those bastards! (Editor: They aren’t bastards, really. He was quite nice considering the near-riot conditions). The exhibit runs through June or July or some such, so we resolved to come back and make a day of it and a Reds game sometime after the baseball season starts. Kelly, being the wonderfully easy-to-please lady she is didn’t mind – in fact, we have a term for a failed mission: “adventures”.

We bopped around town for a little bit, got lost, looked for some store in some mall and decided to hit two food stores that we don’t have in Louisville – Trader Joe’s and Jungle Jim’s. I had heard-tell of both of these from a number of people (and from listening to WOXY – a great independent radio station in Cinci) – essentially a Whole Foods sort-of thing, but funkier. Trader Joe’s was certainly Whole Foods, but smaller, and funkier – and I’d like to have one in Louisville, but the real cake-taker here is Jungle Jim’s International Market.

Jungle Jim’s is actually in Hamilton (hometown to Hollow-Earth theorist Capt. John Symmes) out on Dixie Highway, a ways away from the city and a loooong way from your average grocery store. Pulling up to the store, you immediately notice the monorail tram jutting from the side of the store, which my Googling skills tell me was King’s Island’s old tram! But… but… why?!? Parking in the lot and walking up to the entrance, I quickly decided to stop asking. I assumed there was food on the inside, but you really couldn’t tell from the outside, which looked like a mini-golf course crossed with a zoo and a waterpark. Even the entranceway felt like I was going to Mister Toad’s Wild Ride.

Through the modest set of doors and the ceiling of the place opens into a vast – and a bit overwhelming – paradise of food. A paradise of food with an animatronic soup can on a swing over the grocery area. And an animatronic Lucky Charms band sitting on a 40-foot shrimp boat next to the half-dozen live seafood tanks. Did I mention animatronic lion Elvis in the produce area? But ya can’t take photos – that’s posted clearly on the entranceway. Luckily, they give out photo passes to some lucky photographers, like this guy: Tim Gets a Jungle Jim’s Photo Pass.

Aside from the “attractions”, the food selection is mind-blowing. The Asian section (not to be confused with the Sushi bar) has some half-dozen or more sub-sections for China, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, Vietname, and a few others. Over near the Mexican section are the two 20-foot wide, 6-foot tall walls of hot sauces (with the “Adult Themed Sauces” in a shaded case. My personal favorite? Nuclear Nipples. Imagine the label. Nearby, the roots of a giant Robin Hood-themed tree form the ceiling of the rather large English food selection. Teas? Oh yeah.

Live lobsters. Live rainbow trout. Live catfish. Live bluegill. Spanish foods. Greek foods. French foods. Fruits I’ve never seen before. A relatively modest (in comparison to the rest of the store) but varied beer selection. A huge wine selection. An amazing selection of micro-brew colas, ginger ales and root beer.

And while I initially grasped Kelly’s arm in mock fear when I first entered the store, I found myself wandering off constantly, being beckoned by whatever new and fascinating foodstuff I saw. I would later ask Kelly if we could live there. We’ll be back for sure – after all, there is only one Jungle Jim’s.

Our final cart:

Breckinridge Vanilla Porter 1 bottle Gale’s Root Beer
4 boxes Pulparindo Mexican Tamarind Candy
1 six-pack Bison Chocolate Stout
1 bottle Arcadia Ale Coco Loco Chocolate Stout
1 bottle Flying Dog Collaborator Doppelbock Open Source Beer
1 bottle Breckenridge Vanilla Porter
1 bottle Dave’s Ultimate Insanity Hot Sauce
2 cans Mexican soda, one “Champagne”, the other “Coconut”
1 tub of hummus
1 container Mediterranean salad thing

Listen: NPR on Jungle Jim’s International Market, Oct 4 2003

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Feb 17 2008 ~ 11:05 pm ~ Comments (2) ~

I don’t know when Kelly and I decided to start baking bread, but I think it was while watching the splendid Stranger than Fiction in which Maggie Gyllenhall plays a baker to Will Ferrell’s IRS agent. We discussed it later, and figured that, you know – it’s just water and flour and some yeast. How hard could it be? It’s not, really. Chatting with Mom during her annual New Year’s Day Black-Eyed-Pea Party, she told me that she used to bake all the bread we ate as kids, so I hit her up for some bread recipes, which I promptly left at her house…

Later: Kelly made some delicious, if dense, whole wheat bread that we ate with a red sauce I made from scratch (thanks, Mario Batali) with onions and carrots as a base and healthy dose of thyme. Later, while Kelly was off doing god knows what, I cooked up an Indian-inspired dish of shrimp and chicken in a simmering sauce (bought at Target… shut up, it was delicious). I also took advantage of the wonderful Southeast Asian cookbook I was gifted by my Malay boss (and fellow food nerd) in that I made some naan (Indian leavened flatbread). It was delightful. Also delightful – having the time during these long hard days of winter to spend the time to make your own food!

Last night, Kelly and I did another little dinner tango – she made Butternut Squash and Apple soup and I went to town on some Rosemary bread. They both turned out great!

Bread is a simple thing, and perhaps that’s why I’ve enjoyed it so much – it’s a little like making your own beer. There is a bit of simple cooking, a bit of waiting and then a couple hours later (or weeks, in the case of beer) you might have screwed the whole thing up. But, like homebrewed beer, the first loaf will be the best you’ve ever made.

The Rosemary bread I made turned out to be pretty delicious – though there are a few things I’d like to do better. I need to slice the top of it to make sure it doesn’t “mushroom” in the oven, and I’d like to find a way to get a thicker crust. Cracking that oven open to see the golden, brown and delicious (GBD) loaf is worth it all! Also, bread is just pretty sometimes:

Rosemary Loaves, Unbaked

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Jan 6 2008 ~ 11:28 pm ~ Comments Off ~

Taco Town!

It’s been making the funny rounds here at work… Pizza?! Now that’s what I call a taco!

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Oct 5 2007 ~ 3:32 pm ~ Comments Off ~

Acorn Squash with Spiced Pecan Butter BBQ Recipe

Acorn Squash with Spiced Pecan ButterOn cool autumn nights, a sweet, buttery glaze over tender acorn squash is about as comforting as food gets. If you like, substitute butternut squash for equally good results.

For the butter:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To make the butter: In a small bowl, combine the butter, pecans, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and pepper. Mix well with a fork.

For the squash:

2 acorn squashes, 1-1/2 to 2 pounds each

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the squash: With a large, heavy knife cut the squash in half lengthways. Remove the seeds with a spoon. Lightly brush the exposed flesh with the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Put the squash halves, cut sides down, on the cooking grate and grill over indirect high heat until grill marks are clearly visible, about 30 minutes. Turn the squash halves cut sides up. Spread the exposed flesh with the pecan butter. Continue grilling until the flesh is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

plucked from here…

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Aug 5 2007 ~ 5:32 pm ~ Comments Off ~

Oh man, it’s that time again! Fall isn’t here yet, but it’s right around the corner and you know what fall is – CHILI SEASON. And let me tell you, it’s ON this year with a capital “O”.

Last year, I helped to organize a Chili Battle at work and we raised some $500 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Light the Night Walk. We had a dozen chilis and 60 eaters compete and we had a ball doing so. I ended up taking 3rd place and Interactive Department colleague Shareen took 2nd. We were both bested by a GE Team-entered white chili! We vowed then to take back the coveted chili trophy!

This year, we have expanded the competition to include 4 categories: Traditional (meat and tomato-based), White (not tomato), Hot and Other (veggie, ethnic, etc). There will still be a Grand Prize winner, which we have termed “the Best of Bowl”. Today at lunch, I made flyer for the 2006 Chili Battle – and I really like it.

As far as my chili this year goes, I’m not sure what I’m going to cook. I’ve flirted with a Thai-style chili as well as a Greek-style chili, but I’m thinking of sticking closer to last year with another dark chicken chili. But this year, after much soul-searching and demographic investigation, I think I have just the thing to sway the Power people into my camp!

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Sep 12 2006 ~ 12:23 pm ~ Comments Off ~

Got a call from my younger brother Nick yesterday (which is a little unusual), but he was all excited on the other end of the line, so I figured something was up. He was at the Best of Louisville awards where his restaurant, Seviche just won a “Best New Restaurant” award! Head chef Anthony Lamas was out-of-town in France, and so Nick (one of two sous chefs) accepted the award from host Terry Meiners.

I’ve eaten at Seviche a couple of times, and it has always been fantastic, and not just because my lil’ brother is cooking. It’s been a long road, but he’s really stuck with cooking – and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Congrats, Nick!

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Jun 27 2006 ~ 1:36 pm ~ Comments Off ~

Took a late lunch today, and I have this to share:

I don’t know if ALL Thornton’s around town are going to switch over to the abomination that the Blankenbaker Road store have become, but if they do – be forewarned.

I occassionally would walk over there to get a tasty sandwich (of my own choosing) from Subway. The old ladies (angry) who worked there were a constant source of amusement and scorn for us here at Power. “What kinda bread you wont?” “I got 3 different kinda cheese here, honey!” All shaking their fists at the system that has entrapped them and relieved them of their dreams and wishes and what-not. Such was their ire that occassionally they’d Peter North your sandwich, despite your tearful pleas of “go light on the mayo”. This back-and-forth required a certain skill. Those uninitiated were always welcomed to try their hand. Eventually you’d master that skill and you’d get a tasty sandwich of your choosing. This whole human drama, for whatever reason, has been put to an end.


Gone are the clear sneeze-shield and brass rails that decorated the Subway. Gone is the underground-themed wallpaper. Gone are the 5 loaves of bread to showcase the wealth of choice. Tthis has been replaced with an opaque stainless-steel hood so high that you can’t see the hands of the people making your sandwich. Also, the counter is set some 4 feet back, thus only separating you further from the people that will make your sammich. The real deal-breaker — the real slap in the loaf is this: YOU NOW ORDER VIA KIOSK.

Part of the reason I went to Subway (aside from the cheerful banter with the Subway hags) was to actually SEE my sub being made to the specifications I had previously uttered to the sandwich artist! If I said “hey, I’d like light low-fat mayo” I could see them putting the mayo on there and say “WOAH WOAH WOAH” when I had enough. But now I can’t see the sammich before it’s done and for all I know those ladies could be naked from the waist down (GAH!)

Back to the kiosk… when I was about ready to finish my order, some Thornton’s-clad douchebag strolls up next to me and starts pointing and explaining to me what to do next. I stopped him mid-sentence and said “Thanks, but I think I can handle this.” Turns out he’s some executive from Thorntons. He then tore off my receipt as if I couldn’t do it myself and handed me a coupon to get the deal for the day. All of which were within arms reach to me, and made painfully obvious.

So I get my food, which turned out to be a Turkey Sub and some waffle-cut fries (that was their deal for the day). I noticed they didn’t pull the fries out of a fryer like you would expect, but instead pulled them out of some oven-like contraption. DAMN. That stuff is straight-up frozen! And judging by the wide array of other foods they sell (pizza, toasted subs, corn dogs, etc) most of that crap will be frozen as well. I’ll tell you that I was not looking forward to this sammich at ALL.

The food was acceptable, but only because I paid $3.79 for the whole lot of it. Subway is far, far better and I certainly didn’t get EXACTLY the sammich I wanted like I would have normally. I only plan on going back to attempt to push that crap-worthy system to it’s very limits. Like asking that all the condiments be put on “lightly” and demanding that I see the sandwich after each step. Hopefully my skills of sammich-banter will incite a riot, or at least some accusatory remarks from the former Sandwich Artists that are now relegated to impersonal food contruction. As Charlie put it: “It’s like a vending machine with someone trapped inside” (paraphrase). Yeah, that’s it exactly.

While paying for my food at the main checkout, the cashier and I started up a conversation. As she was struggling with the new computers to run my card through as credit, I remarked “Modern convenience sho’ is grand, isn’t it?” She leaned in close (as to not be heard by the Thornton’s execs) and said “We are all about to friggin’ snap here…”

Note: this is repost of an email I sent out ot my friends. It was well received and made a girl giggle on her birthday, so I guess it’s worthy of mass broadcasting. And yes, while I was formulating this rant I did feel like Pat from Achewood.

Further note: This new-fangled Subway replacement is called SubWorks!. To quote the Thornton’s website: “The SubWorks proprietary food program allows customers to order top-quality sandwiches and other food items via a touchscreen menu—and then to receive orders in three minutes or less.” They forgot to mention the subjugation of human interaction.

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Jul 19 2005 ~ 2:06 pm ~ Comments Off ~

Time has probably lost the name of the first person to ever eat an artichoke, but they were an adventurous and probably terribly hungry soul. The artichoke in it’s natural form is not terribly inviting, and the heart that is normally eaten is smallish and hard-won.

Anyway, I love artichoke hearts, but a while back I went to Dallas on work and we ate at a Cheesecake Factory. Surprisingly, they make excellent food aside from cheesecake. For an appetizer, we had some sort of sesame-grilled artichoke. The artichoke was split in two, grilled and had the “choke” (the flowery center) removed. Surprisingly, the normally discarded leaves were slightly “meaty” and good for dipping and eating. Fast-forward to yesterday, when I announced to Kelly that I was going to attempt such a thing for dinner. So, on with the recipe…


  • 1 artichoke
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes, or 2 whole tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and fresh-ground pepper


  • 1. Fill a pot with cold water, lemon juice, salt and the artichoke.
  • 2. Bring the water to a boil, and boil for 30-35 minutes. If the artichoke isn’t fully covered by the water, try and rotate it so the whole thing is fully cooked.
  • 3. Remove artichoke from water, let cool and cut in half.
  • 4. Remove the flowery “choke” from the center, but be careful to not destroy the whole thing.
  • 4. Preheat grill, lay the halves on a plate, and baste with the vinaegrette.
  • 5. Grill on each side for two minutes.
  • 6. Serve on plate, pluck leaves for dipping into remaining vinaegrette. The inner leaves have more “meat” on them, which you scrape off with your teeth. Have another plate handy for discarding the leaves hard skins.


  • 1. In a blender, add tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil and garlic and puree
  • (As with any sauce, taste for yourself and make adjustments)
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Jun 13 2005 ~ 6:08 am ~ Comments Off ~

Lately, I’ve been more into cooking and eating fish than I ever have before, and it being prime grilling season, I have ventured to make some tasty fish dishes for my lady.

While looking on teh intarweb for tasty ways to cook salmon, I noticed a recipe for “Maple-Balsamic Glazed Salmon”. Oh daaaaaang that sounds good. I had some tasty Vermont straight-0utta-the-tree maple syrup in the freezer, and some really tasty Balsamic vinegar, so I set out to try it. The recipe is as follows:


  • 2 salmon filets (approx. 6-8oz each)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (you can substitute the sugar-free stuff)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • optional: 1 tbsp coarse mustard


  • 1. Whisk together the ingredients well. If you are going to bake this, it’s perfectly acceptable to cook this sauce down to a glaze.
  • 2. Use half of the sauce to marinade the two salmon filets in a shallow bowl. Anywhere from 1/2 hour to a few hours would be nice. Keep the other half for basting.
  • 3. Over a medium-hot oiled grill, place the salmon flesh-down and cook for 4 minutes
  • 4. Flip onto the skin-side, baste, and cook for 3 minutes.
  • 5. Baste again, flip onto the flesh-side and cook for 3 minutes.
  • 6. Remove from grill, and apply the other 1/2 of the sauce.

I’ve made this twice in the last month, and both times it has turned out wondefully. I still need to get a feel for grilling fish, but the sauce has turned out very nice. Give it a shot!

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Jun 6 2005 ~ 8:02 am ~ Comments Off ~

What it is, cats and kittens! I know I’m posting late for Fat Tuesday, but I made this hell-of-tasty Chicken Sauce Piquant dish for work’s Mardi Gras luncheon last night, and I had to make sure it was a winner before I went public with it.

ben’s chicken sauce piquant


  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup + 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 2 chopped green bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons minced jalapenos (more or less to your taste)
  • 4 regular cans of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 2 quarts of chicken stock (either from liquid stock or bouillion cubes)
  • salt
  • creole seasoning to taste
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons parsley

Step one: Make the chicken

Put the 4-6 chicken breasts, 2 quarts of chicken stock, 1tbsp thyme, 1tbsp garlic, 1tbsp oregano and 3 bay leaves into a large pot.
Bring to a boil, and then simmer over low heat for an hour, or until chicken juices run clear.
After the chicken is done, remove the breasts from the stock, and shred roughly with a fork.

Step two: Make the sauce piquant

In a sautee pan, heat the 4 tbsps of olive oil over high heat.
Add the onions, green pepper, jalapenos, garlic, thyme and oregano.
Season with salt and pepper to taste (I prefer the pepper).
Saute for two minutes, or at least until the onions turn clear.
Stir in tomatoes, bay leaves, Creole seasoning to taste, pinch of crushed red pepper and 1 quart of the remaining stock.
Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and transfer this mixture to a blender and drizzle the 1/2 cup of oil into the mix while it’s running.
Transfer to crock-pot or whatever vessel you choose and stir in parsley and chicken.


I loosely based this on an Emeril recipe for sauce piquant, but despite my loathing for that guy, I did think in my head “BLAM!” as I threw in the jalapenos. Note: yes, I know he says BAM, but BLAM is much more awesome.

filed under Recipes and then tagged as ,
Feb 8 2005 ~ 9:22 pm ~ Comments (8) ~
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