Friday, July 31, 2009

Easy Spaghetti Dinner

Why would anyone get the least bit excited about a spaghetti dinner you might ask? Well aside from the fact it was darn good, maters is still at their peak for many of us and everyone wants to get the most bang for their buck with the luscious vine ripe, home grown maters the way I think this dish does. Add to that the task of cooking something on a work night that is better than average without breaking your neck and putting it on the table late to boot and that describes why I wanted to tell ya bout this dish. Turkey sausage never tasted so good! I started by removing the sausage from the thinnest casings I ever seen and crumbling into a skillet with a good amount of EVOO and quickly seasoned it with some good poultry rub. I poured the fat off a couple of times to keep it from washing off the rub and I didn’t want it in the finished dish. When the meat had enough browning I added chopped onion and garlic and cooked a few minutes then added two smashed and chopped maters with juice and all. Cooked till the liquid was reduced by about half and added enough jarred sauce to make it as thick as I wanted. We had some whole wheat pasta and added basil and parmesan cheese at the table, served with bread and pesto. Hmmmm

Monday, July 27, 2009

Work and Play

I don’t know why we have weekends for, as they are just another workday. Saturday after getting in my 18 holes, I came home and pulled up two rolls of green beans, plowed and laid off 3 rolls for some purple hull peas. Sue attended “another” shower while I showered and proceeded to burn nearly a whole pound of thick sliced Wrights bacon to a rich deep dark black crisp. It was suppose to be for our BLT supper and I had it all jacked up with brown sugar and red pepper flakes that I had meticulously rubbed on the slices before putting them in the chubby. Me thinks I dozed off and the 45 min I thought was needed turned into 1 hr and 45 min, hence the stiff as a board, black as the ace of spades, and hard as a rock pig candy. Well I was not through with chores around the house and I sure wasn’t about to be denied my pig candy because I had another dish to use it in that I have been thinking about for some time. Yesterday morning after the Antique Road Show and Adrian Rogers preaching we headed to the Wal-Mart for a few items needed in my cook, but stopped on the way at the flea market mainly just for some breakfast. I was blown away when the little Mexican joint there served up our Tortas de Carne Asada after running it through a Pannini Press and it was dang good too. We didn’t buy any fleas or hang around long after inhaling the sammiches. With our list of items for the days cook in hand we headed home for more work before I could start the cook. I hooked up the 50 ft soaker hose and ran it all around the azaleas while Sue put the peas in the rolls I made for her Saturday. Then she mopped the trailer and started cleaning the windows that we stripped some stick on race looking stuff off that was suppose to block the light. While she was doing that I was hauling all the stuff we had taken out of the trailer and stored in the building back to the trailer so she could help organize it better this time as I had it in a mess last time I did it. Now with all the chores done it was finally time to cook and I had a spatchcock chicken and mater pie I just had to fix. I have been seeing a few different versions of mater pies and one I remember seeing was with a mixture of spinach, cheese, bacon, and artichoke hearts. I thought some steamed home grown green beans would be as good as spinach and I believe I was right as my favorite food critic gave it a big thumbs up. Everything turned out wonderful and I didn’t even burn the Pig Candy this time.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


If you put a huge emphasis on “today” that statement would be correct. No, I’m not even thinking about never needing a steak knife again or bbq sauce for my pulled pork, but I do enjoy garden fresh home grown vegetables in the summer. In fact I will go one step further and say I enjoy them every bit as much as that seared just right over a charcoal fire Ribeye, or pulled pork with a nice sauce over it. What I’m saying is kinda like my good friend Gary aka “Rawtalent” said recently “good food done right, that’s what it’s all about”. Gary has a wonderful blog Club Eclectia that you would enjoy following as I do. The fact that I love garden fresh vegetable however is not what this post is about. I happened to think about my Dad while enjoy the meal last night because he was as close to a vegetarian as you could get and not actually be a full fledged, dyed in the wool veggie nut. He did enjoy fish and seafood including (raw oysters) and bacon, ham, or sausage for breakfast but I don’t think I ever knew of him eating a steak. I kinda think a couple of things along the way explained why he was that way. He grew up during the great depression (not the one we are in now) and I don’t think folks around these parts had a lot of beef of any kind at that time, depression or not. The other thing I think might have brought about his lack of interest in meats was his time spent in the Army during WWII. He arrived in Okinawa one or two days after the fighting had ended and after a few days spent making sure there were no Japanese snipers left doing their dirty deeds, he was assigned to operate a bulldozer. If you guessed the bulldozer work that needed to be done was burying the enemy in mass graves you would be right. I have seen pictures that he brought home with him of the many dead enemy soldiers but I think we can visualize this and I don’t have the pictures now anyway. I really loved my Dad and he taught me some lessons that I have never forgotten. I kinda think boys grow up in all kinds of ways and circumstances and become men of their own choosing. Yes, I know how important parental guidance is especially in the younger years but I have also seen parents that put forth more effort into it than anything else in their life and doing an excellent job of it and yet have those children turn out rotten as all get out. I guess what I’m saying is “Thanks Dad, for teaching me how to enjoy home grown vegetables in the summer and all those other lessons too.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How High Is The Water Momma?

Cal Thomas is a pretty good conservative columnist and his article today used the Johnny Cash song "How High Is The Water Momma" as an analogy of our most illustrious current president and his wonderous works he has done and continues to do for this country. It is an apt analogy to be sure and if we are going to use it the water is indeed very high. Anyway now you can read the article and hear the song both right here!

Click Here to read the article

Monday, July 20, 2009

Smoked Catfish Tomato Stacks

I did this dish for the Addicted To BBQ forum Summer of 09 Iron Chef contest. Obviously a key part of a cooking contest is missing in this due to it being judged solely by viewing the pictures of the cooks and not being able to taste the cooks. It’s still a pretty fun thing to do and you can easily see that each contestant is serious about the contest and it brings out their creativity and their best work (most of the time). I say most of the time as my entry here is in doubt if you ask me. While it may have been an excellent cook and look decent it seems less than great which I think is what will be needed to win.

I started with Q-Babe’s recipe for smoked catfish dip / spread and combined that with the idea of a fried ripe tomato stack with the catfish spread sandwiched in the middle. The ingredients required by the contest rules were Catfish, Tomatoes, Lemon/Lime, and an optional 4th ingredient, “Boca-Burger”. I find the Boca Burger meat to be plain out nasty and revolting so I came up with a plan to have this optional ingredient to be “optional” when eating the dish. I soaked the veggie burger meat that I had cubed in Fish Sauce for several hours and then basted it with Oyster Sauce when grilling. Panko bread crumbs were used to make the best possible outer crust for the tomatoes and the dish was assembled first then fried. To make sure the catfish spread did not get hot while frying the tomatoes on each side the spread was placed in the freezer a few minutes first. The combination of Q-Babe’s Smoked Catfish Dip and the outstanding panko crust on the home grown ripe tomatoes was a good choice and whether you want to go to the trouble to prepare this the way I have here or not, you absolutely owe it to yourself to make Q-Babe’s Smoked Catfish Dip. We didn’t use it all and a couple of days went by before we took it to work and ate it with crackers for lunch. I believe the cream cheese in the dish took that long to have the full flavor of the smoked fish to take over because I could not believe how good it was and all I could think about was why didn’t we fix more than we did.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How I Made Pizza From Scratch

Using a recipe for basic pizza dough but not using a food processor because I thought I had nearly K.O.'d our brand new mixer last time, I managed to mix this up and have it turn out completely sucessful. Using 3 cups of flour but starting with just 1 1/4 cups at first added to 1 cup hot water, 1 pack yeast, 1 tbs salt, 1 tbs honey and mix for 3 min. I just did this with a whisk and switched to a spoon when I started to gradually add in more of the 3 cups flour. For more flavor I added a tbs dried oregano to the hot water / yeast mixture. After adding all the flour and mixing till dough pulls from sides of bowl I poured it out on a floured work surface and kneaded for 3 or 4 minutes then placed in a greased bowl and covered with plastic to double in size before finially punching it down and cutting in half to make one 12 in pizza (we'll use the other half for a friday night pizza). Until we buy a big mixer this will probably be my preferred method for the home made pizza dough but the pre-made dough is pretty hard to beat. It kinda depend on how good the toppings are and last nights leftover steak made a dang good pizza.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Paul "Barney" Barnett

I started thinking about my Dad’s cousin Barney last night while eating some Chuck Eye Steaks. First time I’ve tried this cut of meat and the fat in em reminded me of the great steaks Barney use to serve at his home in Mableton, Ga back in 1965 or 66 when I spent a big part of the summer with him and Betty Sue. I thought of him more as an Uncle and him and Dad were pretty close and in fact his wife Betty Sue was one of my Mom’s friends and neighbors when they were growing up. I have a picture of Dad, Barney and me eating watermelon in the kitchen of our apartment when I was 3 or 4 years old and they both looked an awful lot like they were consuming more than watermelon and having a good time. Seems like Barney gave me my first motorcycle ride when he still lived close in to town in Atlanta in a backyard garage apartment where the neighbors weren’t at all happy with his motorcycle coming in and out and would try to block him in with their cars. He would just go between them or around them in the grass just like he did that day and we were off. I didn’t get scared and I don’t think he was trying to scare me but he sure wasn’t letting no moss grown under us neither. Fast forward another 6 or so years and you would find Barney running his very own Standard Oil Co service station on the corner of the famed Peachtree and Collier right next to the big blue medical building. He also had a just bought a 3 bedroom 2 bath home with half basement in Mableton that we all thought was a mansion mainly because it even had a central intercom / radio system in it – WOW. Betty Sue wanted that basement to be a full and he told her that we all just needed to carry a bucket at a time out and it would be finished before she knew it. They let me stay the summer when I was 15 to work in the station and boy o boy what I didn’t learn that summer didn’t need learning anyhow. Do you remember when MINI SKIRTS first started? I believe all them gals around Peachtree Street started that fad and I sure was glad back then to have found myself smack dab in the middle of it all. My money came from washing and waxing cars and the wives and girlfriends of them doctors had a lot of washing and waxing and I even waxed a brand new red Jaguar for a lady one the was wearing one of them mini skirts. My head was spinning trying to look at the car and the gal. One day Barney daring ways about us both in trouble, as he wanted to take Betty Sue out on the town and to get an early start he took his cloths with him and cleaned up at the station and had her meet me and him at the road where you turn in to his house. He waited till she pulled up to tell me I was going to take that old red Rambler on home and I had driven a car a total of ONE other time at that point but, hey, at 15 you know I’m game. Problem was I had to back the car about a block on the sandy gravel road and just about fish tailed that old Rambler going backwards. When I got it stopped the first thing I could see was him looking at me laughing his head off and I knew all I could do was try it again and I did better and got on home without killing anyone. Barney loved steaks better than any man I ever knew and he always bought the best, usually thick T-Bones or Porterhouse. The first thing he would do would cut off a big piece of the fat off the side of one to start his meal and eat that first. Yep the fat tasted just like butter last night in the chuck eye steaks same as I remember from Barney's steaks. The most important thing about Barney though was that he was a damn good man and I will always remember him.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Golf, Lawn, and Pizza

Having these new Backwoods Smokers around has my mind spinning with things to cook. I can’t say which spurred this pizza cook on more, Old Dave’s wonderful cooks in his Backwoods, knowing I have two 15 ½ in Primo pizza stones, or the leftover burgers in the fridge. When I make burgers I season them heavy from inside out you might say. I add the seasonings to the meat before making the patties so the seasoning is inside and those highly seasoned and grilled burgers really added a lot to this pizza. Being a pizza lover I couldn’t find a way to resist all the temptations and I used the little bit of time left in my golfing day off yesterday to mow (bummer) and then fix this pizza. I started with a recipe of basic food processor dough which I thought was a complete disaster until the one hour rising time had finished. It turned out great and it also allowed Sue to fix a couple of sausage (can’t remember the name, con____ something like that) turnovers full of mushrooms, peppers onions. Next after the mowing was sautéing the onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms (just sliced the Jalapenos real thin and didn’t sauté them). I used store bought roasted garlic Alfredo sauce and was hoping it would work with my idea of having the pizza taste something like a “hamburger” and the fresh tomato was suppose to add to the hamburger flavor idea. If I’m fixing or buying the pizza it’s gonna have them little dead and hairy fish (anchovies) and you can barely see those on the pie. Think I’ll take this whole idea a few steps further with some lettuce, pickles, mustard, and mayo one day and see how that goes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ribs Cooked On The Fatboy

I’m pretty sure I’m going to love cooking on the FatBoy. The spares were top notch and I pulled a lil bit early as one rack was being vac sealed for bil which I think is bout to pull the trigger on a smoker. I need to remember to remove the RED cutting board when making pics. The rib cook was after Saturdays 18 which was the first time on the course in SIX MONTHS. I had a good time but lost a whopping 50 cents on close ups but pared the 18th hole to win the last six for me and my partner.

Cooking Chicken In The Chubby

Yesterday it was time to rub the Chubby down with oil and fire it up for the first time and do a chicken cook. The chicken turned out real nice but I didn't load enough lump and I used lump instead of briquets. Ran out about the time to glaze em and had to reload. I was using water during the cook as I wanted to let the cooker run an hour or two at 350 after coating the inside with oil. I could have finished if had used a full load of briquets. I know most everyone cooks chicken in the Chubby without water but I wanted to burn the cooker in with the water pan and didn’t want to change the setup before starting the chicken cook. I can’t wait to do them the other way – hopefully next weekend. We had plenty of pulled pork so a combo chicken & pork plate was ready around 6:30 yesterday. Wonder what you'd pay for that plate at a Q joint?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Backwoods Smoker - First Cook

I have been looking forward to doing the first cook on my Backwoods FatBoy from the moment I placed my order for my cookers with Backwoods Smoker. I thought it was a great start to have them arrive just over two weeks ahead of schedule. Having been active on a number of Boards for quite a while, some folks may know that I’ve cooked on / with a number of different cookers and I have to say all have been good quality. I think the more you cook the more your understanding of cookers increase which would explain why this newest one is so good and why I have not been significantly disappointed in one so far. I unloaded my intial order of cookers Monday June 29 and took a Fatboy and Chubby home to burn in and season and do some practice cooks with before mounting inside my cooking trailer in a few weeks. At 9:55 a.m. yesterday I lit a full load of Royal Oak Lump with a weed burner in each of the 4 corners of the fire box and once in the center. Since I had rubbed the entire inside of the cooker down with Pam and a cotton cloth and planned to run the cooker at 350 I thought lighting it this way would speed up the process. My only mistake was forgetting that these cookers have two bottom vents and after starting the guru (mounted on left side next to water valve) I forgot to close the right side until I finally figured out why the guru was over shooting the set temp. continued…

The temp never exceeded 450 but I had to shut it completely down to hold it to 450 and it was 2:00 p.m. before the temp came back down close enough to the 230 pitt temp I wanted so I could put my two 7.5 lb butts on. I used 3 lg chunks of hickory and 1 maple. I probed the meat (see pic below) at 5:30 and the meats were at 148 and 152 and that matched my thermopen.

When I checked it at 7:20 p.m. to see if I should foil or not I didn’t feel like it had enough bark on it, but looking at the pic now they look barky enough. That butternut squash had been in our tater box too long and took the place of the remote probe clip I couldn’t ever find.

They were foiled when they reached an internal temp of 175 for one and 180 on the other at 8:40 p.m, about 10 min after I added water for the 1 and only time to the cooker. . They were removed from the cooker to rest at 12:30. In the pic below you see them after they were pulled and they were both removed from the cooker to rest at the same time with the one in the first pic at 197 and the second one was 195 internal and you would think they would be identical, yet the first one seem cooked more because it pulled easier and you could slice those little rounds you see off of the second (less done one) easier.

If I had these at a contest, I would be feeling mighty good right now with my chances.
I know I’ve said this before about other cookers but this is the best cooker I have ever had bar none. I did add Stubbs natural briquets to the firebox after the seasoning as I thought it could not go the entire cook without them after running 4 hrs at 350 – 450 and when I checked this morning I still had briquets as well as lump. For those that might be considering a Backwoods but are hesitant about using a cooker with water (as I was), my advise is to forget that if it’s your only issue as I only added water once and it takes seconds to do and the cooker is back up to temp as fast as any cooker I’ve ever used. The clean up will surprise you too – unless you use pans to catch your grease, any cooker will have you cleaning the grease out but with Backwoods your not scraping burnt on grease. We just let the old grease water out and added some hot soapy water back to it and brushed the bottom (kinda like washing a pot or pan). If you could see me now you would be looking at a BIG SMIILE!