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Odd Fellows plan fundraiser Sunday to benefit many

The Athens Odd Fellows Lodge No. 961 has the skillets handy for a fundraiser on Sunday.

The organization will be cooking up chicken fried steak and some sides from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Odd Fellows Lodge is located at 1301 Cayuga Dr. on the southwest side of Athens.

“After church, you can come by, and join us for some good food and fellowship,” Odd Fellows member Dan Reynolds said.

The chicken fried steaks and gravy head up the menu that also includes mashed potatoes, a vegetable and bread. The cost is $8 for adults, and $5 for children 12 and under.

“The money raised will benefit the scholarship fund, local food pantries, volunteer fire departments and other charities,” Reynolds said.

For more than 25 years, the Athens Odd Fellows and Rebekah Lodges have been presenting scholarships to graduating seniors from local high schools. The Odd Fellows team up with Trinity Valley Community College to fund the scholarships.

In May, the lodge presented checks to seven students who will be attending Trinity Valley Community College in 2017-2018.

Odd Fellows recently presented a check to the Henderson County Food Pantry in Athens, and from time-to-time gives checks to other area food pantries.

The Odd Fellows No. 961 website said the organization offers “a unique environment of caring and supportive folks to learn and grow with. We strive to become better people. Odd Fellowship is a way to support many local, national and international charities.”

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows or Odd Fellows is a non-political and non-sectarian international fraternal order founded in 1819.

Some goals of the organization are to improve and elevate the character of mankind by promoting the principles of friendship, love, truth, faith, hope, charity and universal justice, and to help by aiding each other in times of need. That’s done through organizing charitable projects and activities to benefit the less fortunate, the youth, the elderly, the environment and the community.

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Cabo Joe’s

After a name change and a couple of location changes (two east locations), Cabo Joe’s has revamped its image and menu. Gone are bikini-clad waitresses (with the exception of private parties and special events) for a more family-friendly experience. There’s still an “El Paso Tex-Mex” theme, but boiled seafood has been added to the menu.

While you take in the new menu, munch on complimentary chips and salsa; warm tostadas are accompanied by a red and a green salsa, both packing a subtle heat. There aren’t as many appetizers as before, but you can still get a mound of nachos topped with their signature queso and garnishes on a trashcan lid, sanitized of course. Wings can be ordered in different increments, crispy or grilled and with your choice of sauce – lemon pepper and jalapeno-teriyaki stand out. Burgers, all served with two quarter-pound beef patties, come with a side, as do tacos and smothered burritos. Tacos are served on corn tortillas and can be filled with steak, grilled shrimp al pastor or fish (grilled or fried). On weekdays, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Cabo offers lunch combos that allow you to choose two items from a list of tacos, quesadillas, burritos, tortilla soup and salad.

What really stands out is the addition of seafood boils sold by the pound, just like in New Orleans. Your “catch” is boiled and tossed in a plastic bag with cajun spices, potatoes, corn on the cob and sausage slices, and accompanied by King’s Hawaiian rolls and whole, pickled jalapenos. Catch options include shrimp, mussels, clams, snow crab legs, lobster and chicken wings, but you can also choose one of their combinations that includes three items. If that’s not enough food, order up a side of charro beans, cole slaw, dirty rice with chorizo, Mexican corn in a cup or Margarita fries. Cookie skillets will appease those with a sweet tooth.

This is still a fun, laid-back spot to meet up or watch sports with great drink specials, but now you can enjoy a NOLA favorite with Cabo Boils to #GetDirtyByThePound.


7942 Gateway East Blvd., 915-519-0264, 1700 N. Zaragoza, 915-231-6600, eatatcabojoes.com$4-53, Not vegetarian friendly, save for a couple of side dishes.

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Home bakers in NJ stew over country’s last ban

TRENTON – There’s only one thing preventing baker Mandy Coriston from selling the Irish soda bread she makes from her great-grandmother’s recipe inside her old cast-iron skillets: She lives in New Jersey.

New Jersey is now the only state in the U.S. where people can’t sell home-baked goods after a Wisconsin court this month invalidated that state’s ban.

Wisconsin officials have said they may appeal the judge’s decision, but the state Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would allow home bakers to sell without a license.

A push by a group including Coriston to overturn New Jersey’s law has drawn plenty of supporters over the last eight years, but one state lawmaker has so-far blocked it from being considered because of concerns over public health issues.

The home-bakers group says they want the right to sell some of their goods to earn a living or just to make some extra money without having to open storefronts or pay to work out of commercial kitchens.

Coriston points out that it’s legal in the state for people to sell baked goods at charity events, but not for those who want to run a small business using the same products.

“Same ingredients. Same kitchens. Same bakers that want to do this for profit,” she said. “But the second you put a price tag on it, that baked good becomes illegal, it becomes contraband basically.”

Erica Jedynak, who runs the New Jersey chapter of the conservative Americans for Prosperity, said that the ban is an example of special interests trying to “control competition and limit enterprise.” The group is helping the home-bakers group lobby lawmakers.

“These women can give their baked goods away for free,” Jedynak said, citing a lobbying day earlier this year where 500 cookies and cake pops were distributed at the statehouse. “No one was poisoned, there was no health issues. The lawmakers ate it all up down in Trenton.”

State Sen. Joseph Vitale, a Democrat who has so far refused to bring the measure up for consideration in his Senate committee, said that he had a good meeting with the group and is waiting to hear back from another lawmaker about concerns over licensing, which he thinks should be stricter.

“I’m just trying to do this the right way,” he said. “If these were individuals who are trying to be entrepreneurial, I’m just trying to make sure the public is protected.”

Supporters of the measure point to a $50,000 cap on income and also to changes since the bill was originally introduced that would require home bakers to take food safety courses.

Coriston, who lives in the rural northwest part of the state, cooks artisan cookies and breads from recipes passed down by her grandmother and great-grandmother. She said she has modernized the recipes, including using higher-quality and locally sourced ingredients. She uses eggs from her friend’s farm, and cans her own apples for her apple sauce cake.

Coriston makes her living as a pet sitter, but said that running her own small business with baked goods would allow her to spend more time at home with her 3-year-old daughter.

She said she hoped that Vitale could be swayed by their argument including data on food safety, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

“But we’re not giving up,” she said. “We’re very encouraged (by the Wisconsin decision) and also a little disheartened because that does leave us alone.”

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Outstanding quality at Black Oak Restaurant

For mouth-watering, homemade meals prepared fresh everyday, the Black Oak Restaurant and Tavern, 9630 S. Pulaski Road, in Oak Lawn, has local residents giving it rave reviews.

Offering full-service breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Black Oak has quickly made a name for itself since it opened in February of 2016. It is under the direction of local residents Greg Trusk, Joanne King and Juan Castillo, and they are dedicated to providing only the best homemade food.

The name of the establishment comes from the earliest known name for the area, Black Oak Grove, later abbreviated to Black Oak, which became the city of Oak Lawn.

All the menu items at The Black Oak are homemade. They use only the best ingredients and never freeze their meat.

The staff takes pride in the outstanding quality of their food, and they feel that The Black Oak stands alone from other restaurants on taste, quality and portions.

In addition, they have completely built from scratch an all-new interior, with new dining room, bar area and washrooms.

Customers have praised the comfortable new look, and the owners feel that they’ve brought a Lincoln Park atmosphere to the South Side.

The Black Oak opens every day at 7 a.m.

For breakfast, the menu has all the favorites, from eggs to omelets to skillets and Eggs Benedict to breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, French toast and more.

For lunch or dinner, the appetizers are amazing and include fried calamari, pretzel bites, wings, tacos, nachos and Southside Sliders.

And don’t forget to check out Mama’s Mac-n-Cheese Station with its three-cheese blend of blue cheese, Romano, cojita and aged cheddar, topped with Focaccia bread crumbs—and for a nominal extra charge, you can add any of the following: brisket, pulled pork, applewood bacon, chili, pulled chicken, pork belly or buffalo sauce.

Black Oak has a wide variety of soups and salads, all fresh and homemade.

Entrees include the Black Oak Burger, an 8-oz. charbroiled and well-seasoned handmade patty consisting of black angus beef topped with aged cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and chipotle aioli on a brioche bun.

Folks will also love the pulled pork sandwich, chicken sandwich or talapia sandwich.

Steaks, chicken and tilapia are featured entrees, and they’re all so delicious that choosing one can be a challenge.

The Black Oak also offers a full-service bar, draft and domestic beers, martinis and an amazing Bloody Mary. It features whiskies such as Jameson Caskmate, Glenlivet 12yo, Bulleit Rye, Evan Williams, Laphroaig Scotch, Glenfiddich Single Malt and many more. An outstanding wine list featuring several varieties is also available.

Happy Hour at The Black Oak is Monday through Friday, from 3 to 6 p.m., and the Black Oak also offers video gaming.

For an outstanding dining experience, visit The Black Oak. It is open until 10 p.m. on Sunday; Monday to Thursday till midnight; and Friday and Saturday till 2 a.m.

For more information, call Black Oak Restaurant and Tavern at (708) 572-4500 or visit the website at blackoaktavern.net.

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Flavors: Neal’s Cafe Summer Edition

For this week’s Flavors, we were at Neal’s Café in Springdale, they have been serving up great food for 72 years.

This Springdale staple serves a large crowd, but not just to Northwest Arkansas.

Don Neal is a 3rd generation family member who stands behind his family’s food.

“We have people come in from St. Louis, Kansas City, Dallas, Oklahoma City, we serve the best of better foods and I believe in that with all of my heart,” said Don.  “We have the best food anywhere.”

Neal’s daily specials will have you wanting to eat there every day of the week.

“Sunday’s we serve chicken and dressing, we are closed on Mondays, Tuesday was have chicken and dumplings, Wednesday we have a meatloaf, a wonderful meatloaf, it’s my favorite,” said Don.  “Thursdays we have turkey and dressing, Friday a chicken pot pie, and Saturday we do a smothered steak.”

Aside from their daily special they have a core menu that is too good not to try.

Not to mention the chicken fried steak comes from a local butcher and is hand breaded daily.

They also feature their famous fried chicken.

“We fry out chicken in iron skillets and I don’t know anyone who does that around here,” said Don.

For this week’s Flavors, I’m Megan Graddy.

Segment Sponsored By: Neal’s Cafe

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San Diego restaurants say olé to National Tequila Day, Comic-Con 2017 – The San Diego Union

Comic-Con food and drink specials

Editor’s note: Most Comic-Con menus and cocktails are available Thursday through Sunday, unless otherwise noted.

Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant has crafted a Treky-inspired cocktail, “Comic Khan,” in honor of comedian and Comic-Con veteran Conan O’Brien. With flavors and colors inspired by O’Brien’s famous hair, the drink is made with barrel-aged Genever (juniper-flavored liquor), Ancho Reyes (a Mexican liqueur), five-spice carrot honey and garnished with a carrot top and five-spice lemon wheel. 2202 Fourth Ave., San Diego. $10.75. (619) 231-0222 or bankershillsd.com

Bleu Bohème has added a new superhero to its menu with the introduction of “Femme Fatale.” The cocktail, inspired by the charm and mystery of female superheroes and villains, is a mixture of Campari (herb and fruit liqueur), Fernet (an Italian liqueur), grapefruit juice, simple syrup and Montsarra Cava Brut (a Spanish wine). 4090 Adams Ave., San Diego. $14. (619) 255-4167 or bleuboheme.com

Cafe 222 is saving hungry Comic-Con devotees with its new Captain America shield-inspired waffles. This month’s featured dish, the golden-brown malted waffles are topped with fresh berries and whipped cream, and will be available on the children’s menu, in limited supply, during convention week. 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. today through Sunday. 222 Island Ave., San Diego. (619) 236-9902 or cafe222.com

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Column: Gadgets and gizmos galore – Reporter

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