Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 5, 2014

Tim Preston: Big dogs, massive safes, whole milk and strange tastes: 01/05/14

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — I was running around in Huntington recently and found myself with a few minutes to stalk out a quick lunch. I somehow managed to make it through the afternoon without getting lost and was tracking my way out of what had traditionally been one of that city’s roughest neighborhoods looking for the path to the VA Medical Center. I pulled over to plug some information into my phone’s GPS app and realized I was right in front of Hillbilly Hot Dogs at 1501 3rd Ave.

Since I was already parked and looking for something to eat in a hurry, I decided my lunch decision had been made. I knew the menu at Hillbilly Hot Dogs had many options, although I was a bit overwhelmed by the choices once I glanced at the list. A nice guy, who I later determined was co-owner Sonny Knight, who runs the place along with his wife Sharie, seemed to sense my indecision and suggested I try their “Thundering Herd” dog with Habanero sauce, nacho cheese, chili sauce, jalepenos, onions and slaw.

I found a seat and was enjoying the unusual decor when my Thundering Herd dog arrived at the table. It was a little on the sloppy side, but, I have to say, it was an outstanding, and especially spicy, hot dog experience.

The best part of the hit-and-run lunch, however, was listening as the owner explained their 15-ounce “Home Wrecker” dog, and their even bigger “Widow Maker” (which is two feet long and weighs about four pounds — custom made by Logan’s Meat and Packing). The owner pulled frozen versions of each weenie out for inspection and my fellow diners were so amused they even had their pictures taken with the oversized sausages.  

 Knight said several have tried to finish a Widow Maker, although only one has been consumed in a single sitting. The first person who ordered the extra big dog needed about 55 minutes to eat it, while a local television crew caught the action. Knight said the Widow Maker is the latest round in an ongoing rivalry with rock star Alice Cooper, who also happens to own a hot-dog restaurant.

“The weeny war is still on,” he said when I called back last week and asked about the competition with Alice Cooper’s “Big Unit” dog. Cooper has not yet responded to the Widow Maker, Knight said, although he hopes the rocker will put an even bigger dog on the menu at his Alice Cooper’stown in Phoenix, Ariz.

Hillbilly Hot Dogs, which sustained a heartbreaking break-in and burglary last week, is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

For more information about the Huntington location, call (304) 522-0044.

J&S still open

Philip Walters and the rest of the family at J&S Jewelery at 222 16th Street in downtown Ashland  report they still have plenty of merchandise to move before closing the doors at the longtime business, especially for those seeking good deals on golf equipment.

The family had originally planned to close shop with the new year although, in hindsight, Walters said that “was ambitious,” and they still have plenty to get done.

“I’ve got a ton of golf stuff — jewelery, watches, knives. collectible die-cast cars, baseball cards ... and a handful of guns left,” Walters said, adding they have started “pulling stuff out of the back” and being surprised at what they found hiding.

“It’s funny what we’ve been finding,” he said, noting they uncovered an old and broken neon sign that said “WATCHES” which had been in the back since either a car or a bread truck smashed into the front of the building.

Despite the fact the neon tubing was long gone, Walters said a customer was tickled to get a good deal on the old sign.

Old typewriters, adding machines, electronics and other semi-antiques have also been added to the store’s inventory in the final days, Walters said, adding he’s also selling the displays and fixtures in the family business.

Like practically everyone else who enters the business, I was super impressed with the pair of massive floor safes positioned behind the counter. The safes, built by Hall’s Safe & Lock Co. and believed to have been installed when the J&S Jewelery space was a local bank, feature hand-painted scenes of forests and ships at sea

“Everybody asks about these safes. I haven’t made up my mind what I’m going to do with them. I’m not going to leave them,” he said, estimating each of the two antique safes weigh about 2,000 pounds. “If I took them home, I could probably only roll them into the garage because they would crash through my floors.”

Walters said he has not yet set a closing date, although he’s sure it will be an emotional experience when that time comes.

For more information, just stop by the shop.

The good milk

I was the lucky person next in line last week when I went to pick up some meats from Real Foods Market at the Kyova Mall and discovered someone had failed to pick up their order of milk and yogurt from Snowville Creamery. Since the cartons couldn’t be allowed to just sit in the cooler and go bad, I got to claim the order and take that good stuff home instead.

It is difficult to convey just how good that milk is, although I will say I poured a big glass of it (ice cold) and used it to wash down about five pounds of Christmas cookies and candy within a few hours of popping it into the fridge. If that wasn’t enough, I also found a half box of breakfast cereal in the cabinet, generously applied the whole milk and finished that off too.

Snowville Creamery, based in nearby Pomeroy, Ohio, produces an entire line of dairy products from grass-fed cattle and without the use of rBST (artificial bovine growth hormones). Their milk is not homogenized, so the cream will rise to the top and you have to shake it up really well before pouring.

If you’re interested in learning more, I found myself fascinated by some of the information on their website at snowvillecreamery.com.

The Real Foods Market has been an ongoing effort, and it still isn’t as far along as volunteers had hoped. The group does maintain a space at Kyova Mall, just off the food court, and schedules pick-up times for orders, including ASH-free meats produced at Carter County’s Rolling R Farms, as well as Snowville products, and spices and breads and other locally produced “healthy” products.

The store space is also used for classes I suspect may be of interest to many in the area. The all-volunteer buying club is actively seeking additional volunteers, as well as members ($35 per year for membership gets you a 15 percent discount).

For more information, visit the club’s page on Facebook or attend one of their regular board meetings, at 6 p.m. on the first Monday of each month.

Odd combinations

In response to last week’s column about unusual combinations of junk foods, Ron Conley Sr. wrote about a personal favorite countertop creation. I’m not certain that I will personally test his favorite pairing, although I had to pass it along for others.

“Since the ‘60’s, I’ve been making and devouring one of my favorite late-night snacks. I’ve always loved peanut butter and I’ve always loved mustard, so one wonderful day I combined the two,” Conley reported. “Ker-Boom! ... a lifetime favorite was born!”

The sandwich artist advises “one must lay on at least 1⁄4 inch of peanut butter, then add at least 1⁄8 inch of mustard.” If you want to kick it up a couple of notches, he says “I’ve learned that by adding a thick layer of hot crushed peppers (another favorite), the ‘Worlds Best Sandwich’ is even better!”

It does seem odd to follow a note about healthy foods with a note about a peanut butter and mustard sandwich, but let’s face it — sometimes we all crave things which aren’t really too good for us.

“I sometimes consume three or four of these delicacies with a couple cans of Cola-Cola while watching games on TV or a couple in the middle of the night when hunger sometimes strikes,” Conley concluded. “Try it ... you just might like it!!”

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.