We make homemade salt dough ornaments every Christmas. It’s a lovely tradition that we look forward to every year.
If you have never made them and want to, it is incredibly easy. Simply mix 2 cups of flour with 1 cup of salt, then mix in 1 cup of warm water. Roll out dough, cut out shapes, poke a hole in the top with a straw, then bake at the lowest temperature that your oven allows until the dough is completely dry. This can take several hours depending on the temperature and the thickness of the dough. Allow the ornaments to completely cool, paint, and add glitter glue if inclined. Lastly, thread a ribbon or string through the hole and tie for hanging. Done!
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup warm water
In a bowl, combine flour and salt.
Add water and mix together.
Remove dough from bowl and place on counter, shape into ball, and knead with your hands until thoroughly combined.
With rolling pin, roll out dough.
Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes. Using a straw, poke a hole in the top of the ornament. Continue to combine dough scraps into a ball and re-roll out until dough is used up.
Place ornaments on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Bake ornaments at 200F or the lowest temperature that your oven allows until the ornaments are completely dry. This can take about 2-3 hours depending on the temperature of your oven and the thickness of the dough. Allow to cool completely.
Paint – we use acrylic paints. Add glitter glue (if desired). Allow to dry.
Thread a ribbon or string through hole and tie for hanging.
The ornaments puff up at higher temperatures which is why I recommend the lowest temperature possible. My old oven could be set to 200 F but my new one only goes as low as 250 F. A dehydrator can also be used and gives very consistent results.
If the dough mixture is a little dry simply add a tbsp of water at a time until it comes together. If the dough is too sticky simply sprinkle and knead in a tbsp of flour at time until the dough is no longer sticky.
Are we in the heart of bbq country? Hell no – but even more reason to clarify the king of pig in this upper NY state city. After driving for several hours in a car with children, it is hard to imagine a time more deserving of bbq. Kids and parents alike go silent when the food arrives and there is no talk until the last finger gets licked. But there is nothing worse than looking forward to bbq and then eating less than perfect pulled pork, brisket or ribs. Admittedly bbq from a chain is kinda sacrilege but when you have kids, your expectations change and practicality reigns. Before we had kids we ate at places like the Pig Out Inn in Natchez, Mississippi, but it ain’t easy to get out that way these days.
Now, to main event, and so that you know where to go …
Famous Dave’s Barbecue
Famous Dave’s claims to be the most decorated barbecue restaurant in history with over 700 trophies. It also ranked 6th on the Daily Meal Top 25 chain barbecue restaurants for 2016.
Dinosaur began as a mobile bbq stand for biker gatherings. Good Morning America named Dinosaur BBQ the best bbq in America in 2009, but that is the most recent accolade, at least on the Dino website. Dinosaur ranked 15th on the Daily Meal Top 25 for 2016.
Call me whatever name you want. My heart and soul belong to the Carolinas but my belly, at least when it comes to bbq, resides in the Lone Star state.
Famous Dave’s: The flavour was solid, and the requisite smoke ring proved that the brisket had spent time in the pit. Still, it was dry and needed sauce. Luckily, Famous Dave has some great sauces but really good brisket makes me reluctant to employee any sauce at all.
Dinosaur: Very good flavour; sufficiently moist and just enough fat. Arrived drizzled with bbq sauce, which I don’t love as I like it naked first, and in this case the brisket did not require sauce so it’s a shame it came pre-dressed.
8 ½ /10
Famous Dave’s: Good pulled pork. Sufficiently moist, sufficient flavour. Not the best I’ve had, but above average.
7 ½ /10
Dinosaur: Very good pulled pork. Sauce again unnecessary, as the pork was very flavourful and moist. Quite good.
8 ½ /10
Famous Dave’s: Very tasty, slightly dry. Required sauce. Reminded me that we were at a chain restaurant and that the chef probably wasn’t doing it for love.
7 ½ /10
Dinosaur: Very tasty, but not the best cut I’ve had. Moist but still required sauce.
7 ½ /10
I will eat collard greens every chance I get. Other than meat, there is nothing I associate with bbq more than collards. Might make a vegetarian of me yet. Best thing about collards is that even mediocre collards are good.
Famous Dave’s: Super salty. In fact everything was salty. Okay.
Dinosaur: Good fries. Not special.
6 ½ /10
No I am not ashamed to finish my plate, Lizzie’s plate, and the girls’ plates. All for the sake of this review, of course; I took no pleasure in eating gluttonously, whatsoever.
Famous Dave’s: Good. On the topic of cluckers, Dave does use cage-raised chickens and eggs. He vows on his website to stop using cage-raised chickens by 2025. That’s like saying, “I’ll quit smoking when I’m dead.” Still, he addresses it publicly. Nowhere on the Dino site does it mention sustainable and ethical practices.
Dinosaur: Very good. Don’t know if they’re cage raised, but moist and tasty. Note that Dinosaur offers kids homemade apple sauce as a side. That’s sweet.
Famous Dave’s: Very good: our waitress was fun, appeared when we needed and disappeared when we didn’t. She was sensitive to the fact that we had kids with us, and they had their drinks quickly, and refills were supplied when a fight broke out over lemonade.
8 ½ /10
Dinosaur: Solid. Lizzie’s request for water required a second ask, as did a reminder that we had ordered a side of fries to share. All responded to promptly.
7 ½ /10
Famous Dave’s: 50.5/70
Dinosaur BBQ: 53.0/70
TKO – Dinosaur BBQ
They went toe to toe, but the winner of this cage match is Dinosaur Barbecue. It’s not perfect bbq, but it’s a chain that deals in satisfying meat that is properly smoked.
When in Rochester, the Dinosaur BBQ is located in the central business district. You can park on the bridge overlooking the water. If visiting with kids, book an earlier time. We visited at 5:30 which was just before the real rush. Do make a reservation: there is a wait for anyone who doesn’t plan ahead.
Famous Dave’s resides in Greece, NY, a suburb of Rochester. Easily accessible and lots of seating. When we left there was a bit of a wait, but tolerable.