It has been a long time. I almost forgot I had the site. Always having to post about food makes it difficult. So, a little something different. I've been working on some video stuff lately. This is a quick one about a fall walk in the woods. Enjoy!
I know, I know. It has been forever since the last time I posted here. Life has been busy (which means I have been lazy and distracted). Well...I'm taking an online photo class. This week's assignment called for light as an artistic element. I grabbed a slide viewer, some fruit and my camera. The results are above. The recipe below: Recipe for Lightbox Photos
I woke up this morning set on making sausage. I got kind of a late start, right at the time of day when Sophie is really getting bored out of her mind (which is almost all the time). So we made sausage together. It is probably the first time we have really cooked something complicated together. Sophie was responsible for picking the thyme, pressing the garlic, and manning the "stuffer", forcing the meat into the grinder on the KitchenAid. She was thrilled.
We made a traditional garlic sausage out of the book Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman, the current bible on the subject. I read this book and dream about all the yummy, porky things I am probably never going to make. Despite my passion, I cannot seem to find a dedicated space in my house with a 60 degree constant temperature and 70% relative humidity, suitable for curing large pieces of meat. Some wackos I see on line dedicate extra refrigerators in spare rooms to meat preservation. I don't think these guys are married...or employed.
So, my dreams of being a charcuterie master are probably just that at the moment. For today, however, sausage served as a means to be close with my daughter. It could have been apple pie making, pottery, bug hunting, pumpkin carving, or bike riding...but today it was sausage. Whatever...it was nice.
When I first started this blog, I had the idea that I wanted to create a map that showed all of the great places I have eaten. Truth is, the map technology was a little cumbersome and I didn't really complete the job. Well...Google has released a real easy mapping tool called "My Maps" that has simplified the process. I spent some time, and although this is probably not all my great meals (I keep remembering more), it is a good start. Just click on the map above to check it out. Or, you can always click on the link to the right.
When I gto everything on the map, there is a HUGE gap in the middle of the country. High density if you zoom in on New York or Chicago, but the heartland is a little vacant. I guess that is something I need to work on. Hopefully soon!
OK...So it has been quite a while since I posted to this blog. There is something about being behind that makes it difficult for the procrastinator in me. I think about all the posts that are necessary to catch up, and it seems overwhelming. However, I want to get back on track. So...just one post... all the most recent info and pictures. Then, I can get back to regular posts...hopefully.
Tucson This is not really a food thing. Earlier this summer I went to Tucson for business. I visited the airplane junkyard, and Saguaro National Park, and I took some decent pictures. It is a beautiful landscape.
Earlier this spring, Stephanie and I made a trip up to Cleveland. We started with a visit to the Chef's Garden, an incredible farm that supplies top restaurants all over the country. It was an incredible visit with great people. The next day we continued on to Cleveland and visited the West Side Market. A great variety of produce, meats, cheeses and ethnic items. I wish we had something like this in Dayton. I would shop here every day. We also ate at Lola, a restaurant by Michael Symon. What a great meal! Asparagus with pork belly , prosciutto and poached egg was probably the dish of the summer. I'm looking forward to going back.
Outer Banks Earlier this year we went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina with the Garners, some good friends of ours. We had some great food, swam, basked in the sun, and I got up real early for some incredible sunrises. One day we 4x4'd out to a beach north of Corolla, and parked right on the edge of the surf. The kids learned to boogie board, and although the water was freezing, it was exactly what I'd imagined this coast would be like.
BBQ So far this summer we have participated in two BBQ competitions. One in Kettering, OH, and one in Madison, IN. The Kettering competition was a new one this year, and we did pretty well. 1st in chicken! that was great. The Madison competition was much more challenging. 64 teams. Many nationally ranked and a few that have made it onto shows on Food Network. We placed dead middle. 32 out of 64. 16th in ribs isn't a bad finish. Overall, both these competitions reinforced my love of the craft. I'm hooked.
Finally the weather cooperated, the date was adhered to, and the smoker was dragged out. In case any of you don't know, I am on a team with a few other guys that last year started competing in BBQ competitions. We currently compete under the name "Gem City Smokers", and did OK in a few contests last year. We even placed 6th in the rib category last year at the Indiana State Championships out of 56 teams! We compete in contests sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, and it has turned out to be a great way to spend some time together. We cook on a Lang 60 Deluxe, which is a fantastic smoker, and produces some great barbecue.
Anyway, last weekend we had a party for about 40 people at Mark's house in Oakwood (which means Mark had to get up early and start the fire). Lots of great friends were in attendance and they were treated to some pretty good 'que, if I do say so myself. Also, there was a plethora of fantastic sides...my favorite potato salad, cucumber and tomato salad, baked beans (with homemade bacon) and delicious desserts. There was also an appearance by one of my favorite sides, ramen noodle slaw. For those of you who haven't tried this (I assume very Midwest) specialty, it is a cole slaw , mixed with raw ramen noodles (yes, the $.39 ones), and a dressing fortified with the seasoning packet. I know...it sounds crazy...it is delicious. I ate it straight out of the bowl in the kitchen after the party was over. Thanks Molly.
Well...the air is warm, the cherry wood is cut, the rub is made, and there are lots of barbecues on the horizon. Life is good.
April, 17...sunny...72 degrees...6:00. After my (justified) weather rant a
few days ago, Mother Nature has redeemed herself. This, however, is central Ohio in April, and it is
going to get cold and rain tomorrow (who saw that one coming?). For this one
night, we sat on the deck, and basked in the warmth.
Stephanie made a dish perfect for a warm spring night. A riff on the classic Chinese dish Mapa Tofu. An aside: Several times when we went to her hometown in Texas we would regularly drive past a particular Chinese restaurant. She would often share stories about meals at that restaurant when she was younger. Her grandfather would always order Ma Pa Tofu. It is funny how the foods of our childhood often find their way into our modern repertoires.
Ma Pa Tofu is a saute of minced pork and tofu in a deep brown sauce (a basic recipe here). Stephanie's version is delicious, and I'm sure a considerable bit spicier. It is also much tighter and less saucy than some restaurant versions. Paired with bib lettuce leaves, a salad of julienned cucumbers and jicama and some sriracha sauce it is a real winner.
After dinner, Sophie found a small flower in the lawn and showed it to me. What a beautiful night. I love spring. To bad tomorrow it is going to rain.
It is April 14th...35 degrees...a steady drizzle of rain. My yard is a swamp, and my dogs are going stir crazy. Tomorrow it might snow! This is just not right. We deserve better.
So, we decided to defy the season and have a taste of the tropics inside. The initial inspiration was a post I was reading by the Homesick Texan about the perfect flour tortilla. It got me thinking about tacos (I know...again...I'm kind of obsessed). I was craving something fresh and spicy.
I started by making those fresh tortillas, which turned out so delicious and chewy. I filled them with grilled shrimp marinated in a Caribbean marinade that I adapted from Dunstan Harris' book Island Barbecue: Spirited Recipes from the Caribbean (adapted means I didn't have some of the ingredients). The shrimp was roughly chopped and topped with a slaw of green cabbage, mango, red pepper and cilantro. The final touch was a creamy "fish taco" style dressing that included some of the marinade. We dished it up with a side of black beans well fortified with smoky bacon.
I'm telling you what...this meal brightened this dreary day. It was one of the tastier things to come out of our kitchen in a while.
Oh...I almost forgot. You can't have a Caribbean meal without a icy Mojito. I had to make a last minute run to the store for some mint to make that possible.
This will definitely make an appearance again. Hopefully next time I don't have to grill in the rain.
Jerked Shrimp Tacos with Mango Slaw (serves 4) 8 Fresh Flour Tortillas (find the recipe here) 1 Pound of fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined 1/2 Cup Jerk marinade 2 cups Mango slaw 1/2 cup dressing
Toss shrimp in 1/4 cup of Jerk marinade and store refrigerated for at least one hour. Reserve some marinade for the dressing. Grill shrimp until done. Chop shrimp into large pieces.Distribute shrimp evenly between taco shells. Top with slaw and dressing. Serve with a slice of lime.
Jerk Marinade (adapted from Island Barbecue by Dunstan Harris) 1 tsp allspice 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions 3 Jalapeños stems removed, cut in 1/2 retaining seeds 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar 1/4 cup Soy sauce 2 Tbls vegetable oil 1 Tbls Salt Pinch garlic powder
Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree.
Mango Slaw 1 Cup cabbage,finely shredded 1 Mango, peeled and seed removed, julienned 1/4 Cup red pepper, julienned 1 Tbls cilantro finely chopped Pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients and set aside fro at least 1/2 hour.
Dressing 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise 1/4 Cup Sour Cream 1/8 Cup Milk 1 clove garlic minced 2 Tbls Jerk Marinade 2 tsp hot sauce 1/2 tsp salt pinch of cracked black pepper
Just a quick post about a recent project I worked on. For the International Pizza Expo we gave away a custom painted pizza mixer. This beauty is a HL662 Hobart pizza mixer. It has a custom paint job reminiscent of a vintage hot rod, complete with the Hobart Logo from that era. We met a real nice guy named Terry McCall from McCall Custom Colors in Kettering, Ohio, who did the paint job. Even close up this is one sweet machine. It was the hit of the show. People wanted their pictures taken with it...I'm sure it was the most photographed item there.
The guy who won was a real nice pizza operator from St Paul, Minnesota. 30 year old Hobart mixer, and in the business 20 years. He couldn't have been happier. Enjoy the pictures.