"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Lazy Pulled Pork

    I am deep in study for yet another professional certification, but I also need to eat, and I need to GREATLY reduce my junk food and salt intake. But I also want good food, not just dairy products and rabbit food, and I just do not have the hours required to accomplish all these targets.

    Perusing the local micro-mart I find that they have pork butt on sale, I may just take a page out of my father’s cook book… I’ll pull out the slow cooker and let it do all the work.

    At the lair I find I am out of BBQ Rub and BBQ Sauce. This may not turn out to be the usual slap-dash event that slow cooking has become, but I suppose I can spend a couple of hours away from my studies, and decompress in my kitchen. So I’ll include those:

    BBQ Sauce
    In my youth a good night out included dinner at the Real Pit BBQ in Harker Heights, Texas. The owner / operator made a special BBQ sauce. I remember all kinds of people trying to get the Recipe, to Include a U.S. Senator and Several Governors of the State of Texas.

    As these things go, I grew up and moved away, but did not forget that sauce. After a lot of trials and a lot of errors, I complained to my sister, that I just could not get that sauce right..

    Well seems, I have been upstaged in the Social Engineering department. My sister had gone to school with owner’s son and had actually helped them make the sauce on several occasions. The secret ingredient is… As I have said before:

    Again pit masters are a secretive about their bbq sauce recipes as they are about their rubs. The items you will see in this blog are “GENERAL IDEAS“, my own recipes were given to me by my mother, grandmother, and great grand mother… I’ll hand these down to my children at some point, IF they prove worthy.

    BBQ Rub

    Rubs are a must for any good bbq or smoke job. If you do not do this, you really are missing out on 1/2 the flavor and 1/2 the fun of BBQ or smoking. (Note: This is NOT grilling, any six idiots can burn meat over an open fire.) To weave the subtle components of meat, smoke and spice into a heavenly culinary experience takes knowledge, technique and skill.

  • Guacamole


    Tis’ the night before Cinco De Mayo, and through the States, tomatoes, peppers, avocados, and cilantro are been beaten into a unrecognizable pulp, to be served as guacamole..

    From Wikipedia:

    Guacamole, sometimes informally referred to as “guac” in North America, is an avocado-based dip or salad first created by the Aztecs in what is now Mexico. In addition to its use in modern Mexican cuisine, it has also become part of American cuisine as a dip, condiment and salad ingredient.

    And there is the first time I can remember, that I venomently disagree, with the Wikipedia Community.

    Guacamole, is NOT a dip, Guacamole IS a salad.

    But like almost all things “Americanized”, the concept has been abused and misused to the point of no longer being recognizable as the original product. Made with chunks of avocado, minced onion, finely diced tomatoes, and just enough Jalapeño or Serrano pepper to add a spice kick. No mayonnaise, no sour cream, no stick blender and for god’s sake, no mariachi bands.

    Guasacaca is a smooth green sauce, from Venezuela, made with avocados and vinegar, with a much stronger flavor and spice kick .. (But that is another post)

  • It’s Spring, Prep that grill

    Warm weather, no snow, ice, rain, high winds or flying reindeer. Time to grill, crispy crusts, tender meats, and that just hot off the grill taste…….

    BUT, before we can rush out, buy large slabs of meat and apply raw fire to char and cook, we must do all the work we have ignored since it become too cold to grill.

    Namely cleaning the grill, don’t lie to me, you rushed back into the house with that last steak, roast, burger, fish fillet, and did not think about turning the grill to high for 15 minutes to burn off the grates. Not that I would cook on those grates after the winter, they must be cleaned.

    Now one can pull the grates into the house, and “MAYBE” fit them on the dish washer, otherwise you get to scrub them in the kitchen sink, or prop them against the house and use a pressure washer. NONE OF WHICH really do the job right. To dissolve the melted / backed / burned on grease, you need heat, lots of heat, more heat than your grill can generate. (Without help) No, I am not talking about getting out the propane flame thrower and setting half the town on fire, all we really need is some heavy-duty aluminum wrap, and some science.

    Background
    Grilling or broiling is a form of cooking that involves direct heat. Devices that grill are called grills. Grilling is a pervasive tradition in much of the world.

    In the United States and Canada, use of the word refers to cooking food directly over a source of dry heat, typically with the food sitting on a metal grate that leaves “grill marks.” In the UK and other Commonwealth countries this would be referred to as barbecuing, although grilling is usually faster and hotter than the American sense of the word “barbecue,” which does not necessarily imply grill marks. Grilling is usually done outdoors on charcoal grills or gas grills, a recent trend is the concept of infrared grilling. There is a great debate over the merits of charcoal or gas for use as the cooking method, Electric indoor grills have also recently become popular.
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  • Healthy Sports Drink

    Thanks to Bryan Wells for the lovely graphic

    As spoken prior:

    Three days of 85+ heat, three days of rushing from client to client, on the street and in the heat, with a #50 pack. I am close to collapse from the heat, and all my joints and muscles are giving me cramps. I know I need food, it is so hot, but I really want something other than cold soups, cold cuts, and ice cream.

    When working in this type of environment hydration therapy is KEY to avoiding heat related illness, but as a former boss of mine discovered, water does NOT contain all the necessary items to avoid these illnesses. Various companies have made large amounts of money in providing garishly colored drinks that provide some salt and a hideous amount of sugar. Perhaps we can do a little better than that.

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  • Memorial Day Sides – Macaroni Salad

    One of the classic pasta salads, macaroni in mayonnaise dressing, with stop light peppers, celery, onion and seasonings. This is a southern dish that has global acceptance. A perfect companion for a Barbecue.

    Macaroni salad is a salad, served cold made with cooked elbow macaroni pasta and usually prepared with mayonnaise. Much like potato salad in its use, it is often served as an accompaniment to barbecue or other picnic style entrees. Like any dish, national and regional variations abound but generally it is prepared with raw diced onions and celery and seasoned with salt and pepper. Canned tuna is also a very popular ingredient.

    In Australia it is commonly known as pasta salad and is usually made with cooked shell pasta pieces and brought from supermarket delis.

    In the U.S. state of Hawaii, macaroni salad is often served with plate lunches, a local form of dining. Locals in Hawaii often refer to macaroni salad as “mac sal” or “mac salad”. The salad itself is usually just elbow macaroni and a heaping portion of mayonnaise.

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  • Meatless Monday – Fried Okra

    fokra

    In keeping with my home cooking, comfort food bend of mind, another favorite dish from you youth. Some people just rebel at the thought, but young orka, rolled in corn meal, and allowed to firm up, then deep fried is a sweet taste treat of a side dish.

    Background
    The name okra is most often used in the United States, with a variant pronunciation, English Caribbean okro. The word okra is of West African origin and is cognate with ọkwurụ in the Igbo language spoken in Nigeria. Okra is often known as “lady’s fingers” outside of the United States. In various Bantu languages, okra is called kingombo or a variant thereof, and this is the origin of its name in Portuguese (quiabo), Spanish (quimbombó or guigambó), Dutch and French, and also possibly of the name “gumbo”, used in parts of the United States and English-speaking Caribbean for either the vegetable or a stew based on it. In India and Pakistan, and often in the United Kingdom, it is called by its Hindi/Urdu name, bhindi, bhendi, bendai or “bhinda”. In Tamilnadu ,India it is called as Vendaikai.

    The products of the plant are mucilaginous, resulting in the characteristic “goo” or slime when the seed pods are cooked; the mucilage contains a usable form of soluble fiber. Some people cook okra this way, others prefer to minimize sliminess; keeping the pods intact, and brief cooking, for example stir-frying, help to achieve this. Cooking with acidic ingredients such as a few drops of lemon juice, tomatoes, or vinegar may help. Alternatively, the pods can be sliced thinly and cooked for a long time so the mucilage dissolves, as in gumbo. The cooked leaves can also be used as a powerful soup thickener. The immature pods may also be pickled.

    Okra is richer in potassium than bananas and has nearly twice as much calcium gram for gram as milk. 100g supplies a third of the recommended daily intake of magnesium (needed for energy release and healthy nerves) and more than 10 per cent of the RDA for iron. Okra is also a source of fiber – stir-fried okra contains much fiber as whole wheat bread. In addition it is quite a good source of vitamin C and the antioxidant betacarotene, which has a range of benefits, including protection against cancer and heart disease by helping to neutralise free radicals.

    Okra is one of those “binary foods” where people seem to hate it or love it, just like mushrooms, seaweed, and tofu. The hate is usually because of the gooey slime that coats the okra, but that is not a preordained fate

    Okra becomes slimy when cooked with a moist method—in a stew, curry, gumbo (in all these the sliminess helps to thicken the overall dish), or a steamer basket. Stir-frying or sauteing in hot oil, in contrast, keeps the slime within the okra pieces, or perhaps causes the moisture in the mucilage to evaporate, thus improving the pods’ texture.

    There are cooking techniques tol prevent your okra dish from being slimed. Indian food has many techniques of okra preparation, and I have three recommendations from my Indian friends.

    1. Trim just the very tip and the end of the okra and pan fry the whole okra pods until tender.
    2. Trim and round the pods then saute with onions and spices
    3. Trim SMALL okra pods, dredge in spices and corn meal / flour, and deep fry

    Note : After you wash the okra pods, wipe them dry with a paper towel. Controlling moisture is the key to controlling the slime.

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