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Downtown Grand presents Freedom 2 Brunch event

Downtown Grand presents Freedom 2 Brunch event

31 July 2017

(PRESS RELEASE) — Already established as Downtown Las Vegas’ premiere 24/7 restaurant, where the tastes and tunes of the American road are always on the menu, Freedom Beat at the Downtown Grand Las Vegas Hotel Casino unleashes a weekend-long celebration offering the Freedom 2 Eat (all you can eat), the Freedom 2 Drink (bottomless and always pouring), the Freedom 2 Rock and, most importantly, the Freedom 2 Brunch all weekend long.

Launching 5 August and available every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Freedom Beat’s new Freedom 2 Brunch is turning up the decibels on the traditional brunch offerings with unlimited small plates and skillets paired with a freedom-busting price of only $20. Besides the never-ending food offerings, the Freedom 2 Drink means $10 bottomless mimosas and a $10 Bloody Mary bar. And with music in its DNA, the brunch at Freedom Beat is paired with live entertainment featuring the tunes of Las Vegas’ best local musicians, including a month-long Residency featuring “The Voice” season six finalist Ryan Whyte Maloney every Saturday through the month of August. Other acts slated to hit the Freedom Beat stage include Rick Duarte and Peter Love.

Created and tuned-up by Chef Scott Commings (Season 12 Hell’s Kitchen champion), each brunch begins with a freshly prepared, hot and sticky signature Monkey Bread accompanied by a crisply sliced fruit platter (the yin and yang of any good meal). From there the choices are as unlimited as the plates and skillets that will spill over your table.

  • IPA Slider Fries
  • Biscuits Gravy
  • Chicken Biscuit
  • Red, White Blue Velvet Waffle
  • Silver Dollar Pancakes
  • Maple Walnut Brioche Toast
  • Classic Benedict
  • Pot Roast Benedict
  • Crab Cake Benedict
  • Pastrami Hash Skillet
  • Classic Eggs Potatoes
  • Fish Chips

While the food is the star on the stage, the Freedom 2 Drink is taken as seriously as the food on the table, and Freedom Beat’s brunch features the always popular bottomless mimosas, as well as introducing a custom-made Bloody Mary bar featuring a selection of tasty ingredients and over 30 assorted hot sauces. Both offerings are just a $10 add-on to the meal.

“We didn’t want to offer another brunch in town, we wanted to have the best brunch in town at the best price,” says Commings. “Instead of an outrageous price with limited offerings, $20 will literally buy you more food than you ever thought you could eat in one sitting. Unlimited food, never-ending drinks and tunes on our stage. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Gaming News

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Melamine, touted for its durability and versatility, is making a comeback

Maura Graber, vice president of Graber Olive House and an etiquette instructor, sets the table using melamine dinnerware at the Graber Olive House in Ontario. (Photo by James Carbone for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

Matched china sets and crisp ironed napkins aren’t making as many guest lists this summer. Instead, particularly for outdoor gatherings, the latest hostess craze is setting the table with melamine, that oh-so-familiar sight from the past.

The trend of curating (designing table settings), embraced by everyone from decorating legend Mary Emmerling to Southern California party planners, caught on some time ago. Now there’s an added twist — freshening up tables by mixing china, everyday ware and melamine or even going full out with melamine settings.

Designers such as Martha Stewart and Jonathan Adler now have their own labels of melamine, and retailers including Macy’s and Sur La Table have been selling it. And while the melamine of the past was durable yet basically boring, all that has changed. Today, dinnerware, trays and platters sport fruit, geometric patterns and nature-inspired designs. You might even find yourself asking, is it real (china) or melamine?

The versatile tableware that back in the day was more likely to be found at picnics and campsites is branching out.

“Melamine has been back in fashion for a few years now and it’s not your mother’s melamine from the 1960s,” said Maura Graber, vice president of The Graber Olive House in Ontario and owner of The RSVP Institute of Etiquette. “It’s gone upscale.”

Graber ordered quite a bit of melamine for the Olive House’s gift shop.

“The designs are just beautiful,” she said. “I never thought I would be excited about melamine, but I am.”

In the past, it may have been seen as a second-rate, one-season-and-done type of dinnerware/serveware. Now it’s engineered to last. And though melamine can be made to closely mimic ceramic, the difference is that there’s no limit to the colors that can be applied it, said Katelyn Carroll, media relations specialist for Pier 1 Imports.

“In the last five to six years, melamine has really risen to the top with the new looks and structure behind it, and this material has really been the new innovation in the tabletop category,” she said. “It’s easy to take care of and works into today’s casual lifestyle while giving your tablespace the vibrant or classic look you’re going for.”

Graber also touts its versatility.

“Mixing and matching is part of the fun of using melamine due to the fact that it is inexpensive compared to china, porcelain or glass,” she said. “You can buy solids to mix with patterns and have some real fun expressing yourself and your unique style.

“Many times, at pre-set tables, your guests won’t even realize the plates are melamine, due to the beautiful designs and the heavier weights. Just make certain that you use real glassware and flatware.”

One new trend Carroll loves is melamine that takes on the look of other materials such as faux wood, marble and ceramic. Pier 1 Imports’ marble melamine dinnerware is a good example.

Brianna Clark, an associate buyer tabletop for Sur La Table, says the company’s Floreale and Tropical melanine collections sport the look of ceramic but are durable and can easily be cleaned in the top rack of a dishwasher.

“Break-resistant melamine is perfect for outdoor and indoor dining and entertaining,” Clark said.

Though leisurely entertaining may not require crystal or sterling, acrylic or plastic glassware and flatware is a no-no, Graber said.

“Glassware is currently available in a nice variety of colors, and a wide range of prices, too,” she said. “Investing in a mid-range-priced line of colored glassware this summer, especially the new stemless wine glasses, will help you fill all your entertaining needs well into the fall.”

Instead of using tablecloths, consider setting the table with lightweight, straw placemats, table runners or paper placemats.

“The paper placemats come in a great variety of designs, prints and solid colors,” Graber said. “I have laminated my favorites so that I can reuse them over and over again in my etiquette classes. They even have a place setting design on them that helps teach the students table-setting etiquette.”

Paper napkins also come in an elegant array of styles, and some of them even feel like fabric. They make for easy cleanup if you are entertaining indoors. Outdoors, however, fabric napkins are still preferred. If the evening is the least bit breezy, paper napkins can easily fly off of laps and into neighboring yards.

RSVP Institute of Etiquette

What: Summer entertaining seminars.

When: 2 p.m. Aug. 11 and 25.

Where: La Casita at The Graber Olive House, 315 E. Fourth St., Ontario.

Information: 909-923-5650,

Online Resources

Sur La Table:

Pier 1 Imports:

The Graber Olive House:

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Dick Martin: Camping the solution to cheap, fun vacations

Vacations seem to be more expensive every year, especially if you like to travel a bit. A night in a name brand motel can run $125-150, and meals and entertainment raise the tally even more. But there’s a simple and inexpensive answer to the problem – go camping and best of all, simple camping.

For many years I did my traveling in a six cylinder pickup truck with a single seat and a full bed behind. I put an ordinary cap over the bed, one tall enough that I could sit up in it with plenty of head room and when I wanted to go someplace, I tossed in a mattress and sleeping bag, a cooler, little two burner camp stove, and a box with canned goods, a skillet, and other cooking gear. When my son was a youngster, we invariably made a summer trip to Kelleys Island and Scott loved those trips.

For a several day visit to Kelleys Island State Park we’d go up on a Monday to be fairly sure of getting a lake side campsite, and I’d add a light little canoe and 1.2 horsepower motor. During the day we swam, walked into town, explored old stone quarries and hunted for unusual driftwood. In early mornings I’d launch the canoe and paddle around the point to spend a couple of hours casting white Roostertail spinners and small crankbaits into near shore rocks for smallmouths and the occasional huge white bass. And in the evenings Scott would cast for white bass right in front of our campsite while I cooked up some dinner. Then come twilight we both fished for channel cats, again right from our campsite. It was fun and very inexpensive. You can still do much the same today.

Now and again I’d go even more primitive on camping trips. Once long years ago two friends and I hiked into Ohio Power Lands in southeastern Ohio. We carried backpacks with a light tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear and two gallons of water, and plenty of fishing tackle. We hiked far back into wild country, found a lake a reasonable distance from the little road and set up camp. Then spent several days exploring and fishing, living mostly on bass, bluegill and the occasional channel cat. There were no other people seen during our stay, and the trip was peaceful and quiet. I liked it fine.

Readers can do much the same on the shores of any farm pond, and it’s a no cost way to have a fine short vacation. Set up a tent or use a pickup cap as I often did, forage for firewood, fish for your dinner, and enjoy the pleasures of early morning coffee and bacon and eggs touched with wood smoke, then spend the day doing anything from frogging and setting lines for snapping turtles to seeking woodchucks. Do it in the fall and you can add squirrel hunting to the fishing and enjoy skillets filled with crisp fried squirrel. A good way to spend a short vacation.

Dick Martin is a retired biology teacher who has been writing outdoor columns for 30 years. You can reach him at

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It’s a Louisiana kitchen in a Mississippi home

Capt. John Falterman, Jr., the noted Lake Pontchartrain-Biloxi Marsh fishing guide, has moved to Mississippi. Gently rolling hills, blueberry bushes, pecan groves — it’s all part of the Picayune, Miss., landscape where he lives now.

But the Harahan native and long-time Slidell resident still cooks Louisiana style. So does his mom Debby, who made her weekly jaunt up the country to visit grandkids and decided to make her favorite salad for us while John cooked his corn and crawfish soup.

Debby grew up in the New Orleans suburb of Kenner, but her father’s parents were north Louisiana folks, residing in Summerfield in Claiborne Parish. That’s at least partly where her cooking style originates.

“John (her husband) and I have different cooking styles,” she explained. “He cooks Cajun. I cook country — roasts, rice and gravy, and fried chicken.” Some of her cooking style came from her mother Glenda Bays too, who was originally from Melville.

“She was an excellent cook.” John Sr., sitting nearby nodded his head emphatically in agreement. “She could make a hubcap taste good.”

“Now I avoid cooking a lot,” Debby volunteered. “I have an excellent cook at home,” she snickered, referring to John Sr., her husband.

John Jr. shook his head at his mom’s comments, “She was always a good cook. I wasn’t fat for no reason.” The fishing guide had filled out to 280 pounds before losing a third of his weight — and keeping it off.

Young John explained the move to rural Picayune. “My wife Kelle and I already had horses when we lived in Slidell. We just decided that we wanted to be with them all the time rather than have to run to see them.”

The couple has 5 horses on their 24 acres.

Each step seems to take them further from the heart of New Orleans. The move from Harahan to Slidell occurred because Kelle had a Slidell job. Slidell is situated on the eastern end of Lake Pontchartrain. 

With his interest in fishing, it was a natural step for John to get his charter captain’s license in 2008. The business name, Therapy Charters came from Kelle’s occupation as a child counselor. 

Our original slogan was, “come relax with us,” he grinned. “To my knowledge we still have the only handicapped-accessible charter boat in the area.”

As for his culinary skills, John gives credit not only to his mom, but to his father and his grandmother Glenda. “She was a country cook — cast iron skillets for cornbread and all that.

“I really got to be a cook by cooking with my dad at deer hunting camps. He does things like sauce piquants, gumbos, étouffées; things like that.”

As for big John’s cooking; stay tuned. We plan to cook with him in the near future. 

Falterman Salad with Fried Oysters

Debby Falterman first ate a salad similar to this one at a Mother’s Day brunch at Ginny Galpin’s house. “It was delicious,” she exclaimed. “So I got the recipe from her. It’s sweet; it’s salty; it’s crunchy.

“It’s just a simple little salad with Asian ingredients,” she added modestly. “We serve it for every holiday or family main event, usually as a side salad.”

“It’s quick and easy,” chimed in her husband. “There are never any leftovers to store.”

“It’s usually the first thing to go,” agreed her son.

Debby has a couple of tips. Do not pour the dressing over the salad until ready to serve as it will cause the salad to become wilted. Also, be sure to allow the noodle mixture to cool completely before adding to the salad. 


5 strips thick sliced bacon

1/4 cup chow mein noodles

1/3 cup slivered almonds

2 tbsp. sesame seeds

1/2 cup cooking oil + oil for frying

1/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp. distilled vinegar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 tbsp. onion, minced

2 Romaine lettuce hearts (or equivalent mixed salad greens)

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 10-oz. bag of Louisiana Seasoned Fish Fry

2 dozen oysters


Fry the bacon until it is crispy. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Mix noodles, almonds, and sesame seeds in a pan and toast in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Combine 1/2 cup oil, sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper, and onion in a small bowl. Mix well to blend and set aside. Cut lettuce into coarse pieces and break the pieces into bite size. Place the lettuce in a salad bowl, and crumble the bacon into it. Add the noodle mixture, toss, and set aside. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and milk to make a wash. Dip the oysters in the egg wash then dredge them in the fish fry. Fry at 350º F until golden brown. Spoon the dressing over the salad and divide it onto individual salad plates. Top each salad with 4 to 6 oysters. Serves 4-6.

Crawfish and Corn Soup

This is a really quick and easy recipe. Like so much Louisiana home cooking, it relies on a cream soup, an effective short cut. Food snobs try to look down their noses at canned cream soups as an ingredient, no matter how delicious the end result is. 

Of course, a lot of them don’t cook. They just eat — and criticize!

John says that he has been cooking corn soups for 20 years. He used to use shrimp, until he had some crawfish left over after a boil and decided to use them instead. It worked!

“Use leftovers if you have them,” he coached, “but if you don’t have them, the recipe has liquid seafood boil in it to give the same seasoning pop.” 

John cooks this recipe 4 to 6 times a year and doesn’t have a written copy. “I know the main ingredients and I just add other ingredients to taste,” he says.

Yup! He’s a Louisiana cook!

A couple of tips: First, when using leftover boiled crawfish you may want to remove the seafood boil in this recipe since the crawfish are already seasoned. Secondly, this recipe will work with any kind of seafood, so feel free to experiment. 


1 bunch green onion tops, chopped

6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

4 tbsp. butter

3 15-oz. cans cream style corn

2 29-oz. cans whole kernel corn, drained 

2 52-oz. cans cream of mushroom soup

1 tbsp. liquid seafood boil

2 lb. crawfish tails

1 4-oz. jar sliced mushrooms

1 pt. heavy cream

1 cup half and half


Sauté the onion tops and garlic in butter until tender. Add the cream style corn, whole kernel corn, cream of mushroom soup, crab boil, crawfish, mushrooms, heavy cream, and half and half. Simmer over medium heat until the soup reaches the desired thickness. Serves 15-20.


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Ultimate Kitchen Creates Soap Dispenser Video Guide –

( — July 30, 2017) Coeur d’Alene, Idaho — Ultimate Kitchen is a well-known producer of knife sets, decorative coffee presses, silicone baking mats, kitchen sink faucets and other kitchen accessories. Customers can easily find their products online on Amazon. Ultimate Kitchen sells their products on this online shopping platform exclusively, as they want to reach every client in every part of the world. The Ultimate Kitchen stainless steel sink soap dispenser is also available on Amazon. Moreover, now it goes with an installation video.

The cooperation with Amazon also make the purchasing process easy and quickly for Ultimate Kitchen customers. Purchasers can also save shipping costs if they use Amazon Prime free two days delivery feature. The Amazon guarantee that customers will receive the nicely packed product in time. Customers mention the high-quality delivery service in their positive reviews on Amazon.

“I received the soap dispenser very quickly,” said verified Amazon purchaser Shawn Bengry about his new Ultimate Kitchen satin soap dispenser. “I am waiting to install it until the faucet I ordered arrives too. But it’s action is solid and it appears to be of good quality. The color matches the pictures in the post. Sorry, I don’t have much more to add just yet. But based mostly on the speed of delivery and the quality of the description and photos, I will give it five stars.”

This soap dispenser model comes with a 3-inch nozzle to reach over the sink and a 17oz. soap bottle that does not require dismantling the dispenser to refill. This model could be refilled from the top. It also comes with a 5 year warranty which is a standard for Ultimate Kitchen’s soap dispensers and a lot of other products.

Ultimate Kitchen design and produce functional kitchen accessories that do not require professional hand tool to install it. Moreover, they provide two sources of installation information with their sink soap dispenser the detailed printed instruction and the step-by-step installation video.

Customers highly appreciate the fact that they can install this sink soap dispenser without spending money on the professional plumber and can do it by themselves. The video instruction doesn’t contain specific terms or professional slang. So it could be understood by a person with zero plumbing experience. It starts from the very first point of opening the box and describes every step of installation in detail. The video takes just three minutes. The installation video instruction could be better than a printed one because a customer can install the soap dispenser while watching it. The installation guide could be also replayed and stopped if needed.

Another five star Amazon reviewer said, “This product looks nice, seems sturdy (although it’s only been installed for a few days, so time will tell if it’s durable), was well designed from an ease of installation standpoint, and the customer service from the seller was excellent! So far, I highly recommend this product!”

Ultimate Kitchen’s built in sink soap dispenser is available online on Amazon for $22.99 along with other kitchen products by Ultimate Kitchen.

About Ultimate Kitchen

Ultimate Kitchen branded products are a part of the Ultimate Home collection of high quality kitchen products ranging from sink soap dispensers, kitchen faucets, chef knives, and food vacuum sealers. Ultimate Kitchen products are available at and

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Power Rankings: 3M Championship

Vartan Kupelian is the PGA TOUR Champions Insider and a PGATOUR.COM contributor. Each week, Kupelian will size up the field and provide his top 5 players going into the tournament, based on factors such as the player’s strengths, the course setup, recent performances, etc.

Bernard Langer goes after his fifth victory of the 2017 PGA TOUR Champions season this week at the 3M Championship.

Langer added his third major victory of the year last week at The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex at Royal Porthcawl in Wales to go along with the Regions Tradition and the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. Jack Nicklaus is the only other golfer to win three senior majors in a season (1991).

Langer also won the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai and has a massive lead in the race for the Charles Schwab Cup.

Joe Durant will defend the title he won last year at TPC Twin Cities in a playoff against Miguel Angel Jimenez. Durant shot 19-under 197 with closing rounds of 64 and 63. On the first extra hole, Durant made a 10-foot eagle putt for the victory. The win was the second for Durant on PGA TOUR Champions.

Langer missed the playoff by 2 shots. He put himself into contention with a quick start – six birdies on the first seven holes – before his momentum stalled with a bogey at the 14th hole. He tied for third with Kevin Sutherland.

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Exploring Outdoors Kansas: We have a state what???

I try hard to color within the lines, not to run with scissors and overall just to keep my mouth shut. But sometimes I find myself posing the questions that everyone else wonders but is afraid to ask. Questions like “How do they get Teflon to stick to the skillets when they make them?” Or “Were there really flies and mosquitoes on the Ark, and if so, why?” and “Why do states feel the need to have state symbols like state bird, state tree, etc?”

Steve Gilliland

Any Kansan worth their Wheaties knows that the Kansas state flower is the Sunflower, and the Kansas state bird is the Western Meadow Lark. Most Kansans know that the Kansas state tree is the Cottonwood and many probably know that the state animal is the American Buffalo (Bison.) But how many of you knew that we also have a state insect, a state reptile, and yes, even a state amphibian, plus two state fossils?

Sometime in the mid-1970s, Jeff Woods, a 7th grader attending Edgewood Elementary in Coffeyville, evidentially decided we as a state were incomplete without a state insect, and suggested we give the honeybee that distinction. Called “white man’s flies” by the Indians, honeybees are thought to have been brought from Europe by the pilgrims and soon inhabited the entire United States. I have to admit that if we felt the need to have a state insect, we could NOT have done better than the honeybee, because life as we know it might not exist without them. The state legislature has the final say in such important matters, and in 1976 the honeybee became the Kansas state insect.

In the mid-1980’s to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Kansas’s statehood, Larry Miller’s 6th grade class in Caldwell decided we also needed a state reptile and nominated the Ornate Box turtle for the job. The Ornate Box turtle is a dry land turtle which probably makes it the most visibly abundant turtle in Kansas. It’s found from the prairies in the west to the forests in the east. I have absolutely no idea what a state reptile has to do with celebrating our 125th anniversary as a state, but on April 14, 1986, Governor Carlin signed a bill designating the Ornate Box turtle as the Kansas state reptile.

In the spring of 1993, Alice Potts 2nd grade class at Wichita’s OK Elementary School was studying animals with backbones, which somehow triggered them as a class to begin a campaign to make the Barred Tiger Salamander our state amphibian. When Alice’s class contacted their legislators they were told it was too late to get a bill into the current legislative session and the project would have to wait a year. In the meantime, their zeal proved infectious and by the following school year the entire school plus parents was involved.

A trip to the statehouse by Alice and a handful of students got Senate Bill 494 written and passed in the Senate. However, the bill ran into a little trouble in the House; it seems some Representatives felt there were more important legislative matters (go figure!) Never fear though as Senator Mike Harris came to the rescue and attached the salamander bill to another to insure its passage (now what’s that called…oh yea; Pork!) On April 13, 1994 Governor Joan Finney signed the bill designating the Barred Tiger Salamander the Kansas state amphibian.

In 2014, Gov. Brownback signed a bill designating Tylosaurus, a giant marine predator, and Pteranodon, a giant, flying, cliff dweller as co-state fossils. Amazingly, Kansas geological deposits have provided the most complete skeletal remains of both of these critters ever to be found.

In honor of the process that salvaged the salamander bill, maybe the Kansas Wildlife and Parks should capture one and name him or her Porky. Or maybe the process of attaching legislative bills to other bills should now be known as “salamandering.” Anyway, please excuse my cynicism and my disregard for pomp and ceremony. I guess if even one person is made to feel better about our state by having these symbols, then so-be-it. And maybe this will get more people Exploring Kansas Outdoors looking for Barred Tiger Salamanders and Pteranodon fossils!

Steve Gilliland, Inman, can be contacted by email at

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