Saturday, June 16, 2012

What a year/ Happy Father's Day

Wow, can't believe I haven't posted in almost a year.  In that time I have worked at a BBQ joint and gotten through a six month intensive massage therapy program.  My clinicals are done and I have one week of class to go, then it's a board exam and state licensure.  My life is in a constant state of flux, and I love it.  As I look forward to a new career that I am absolutely in love with, I'm planning a special day for myself tomorrow on Father's Day.  I will be getting up at the crack of dawn to get my smoker going and start water for a batch of my Ambler Asbestos Ale.  The boston butt is dry-rubbed in the fridge, I will also be jumping on the bacon-wrapped-date bandwagon with fresh pork belly slices that I'll be smoking.  I'm also planning on smoking garlic for some kale and cold smoking goat cheese for a salad that will include broccoli sprouts, mixed greens, pine nuts and heirloom tomatoes.  If all goes according to plan I will be done brewing and cooking by about noon, with a much needed break for breakfast prepared by my three year old, then I'll sit back and relax with my amazing family and wait for the dinner bell.
I'm so incredibly grateful for all that I have, it truly is a magical world we live in, even with all of its faults.  That's all for now, I'll take pics tomorrow and post.
Be Well, Give Always, Take Care of Yourselves and Your Love Ones, Spread Peace!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Brewing tonight

I'm slightly modifying my hop schedule in a single malt, single hop pale ale and also experimenting with using a muslin sack for my grain during the mash/sparge process.  Hopefully I can extract the same sugars with less mess...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New baby survival quick dinner!

Dinner tonight is as quick and easy as it gets for us.  With a four day old baby time is short, but we still need nutritious energy to keep up with our two and a half year old.
Here's the result;

Broiled panko crusted hake with fresh greens and herbed brown rice.

The Hake

16oz of hake filets
1 cup panko
1 tbsp Chachere's(see below) or mix of cayenne and salt
1 tsp curry powder
1 egg

Rinse and pat dry filets.  Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, beat egg in another.  Dip and coat filets in egg, then coat with panko mix.  Place on a baking tray and broil until slightly blackened.

Herbed Brown Rice

1 bag frozen whole grain brown rice
1 tbsp herbs de provence
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Mix herbs with rice, heat in microwave, when done toss with olive oil

I made the rice while the fish cooked, and then placed fresh greens, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a pepper grinder on the table.  All told, about 15-20 minutes including prep and a very healthy meal.  I made this while my wife was nursing and my older daughter was sitting on her potty watching dora.  We like multi-tasking.

As you may have noticed these recipes are more like a blueprint that can be modified to your tastes or easily experimented with.  Enjoy!

Here's a link to the number one secret flavoring in my kitchen- I don't cook with salt, unless I'm using Chachere's...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Yummy grapefruit sorbet!

Last minute brew...

Quick post from my new phone.  As our second child's due date rapidly approaches, I'm trying my second all grain beer, an imperial IPA.  This will be my first kegged beer, and should be ready in about 10 days.  Good times!  Will post more soon..

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Dinner!

Happy Holidays!
I wanted to share the food I made, (and the dessert my wife made) for christmas this year, as I did my best to throw down, and as it marked the tenth anniversary of my father's passing. It seems like many people I know have lost a loved one recently, and having to deal with death near the holidays can make the loss much more poignant, as well as tinge future holiday celebrations with a sense of futility, or as was the case for me for a number of years, anger and self destructive tendencies. The point, if there really is one to be made, is that good or bad, holidays are usually a time of spending time with loved ones, and I find that food can be a center for me, especially cooking. I think that many folks, while they might argue at the dinner table, or drink too much and tell others things that might have been left unsaid, can find comfort in a familiar dish, or good conversation over a hot stove. Well, that's my two cents, on to the food!!!

I decided to smoke a prime rib as the main course, since there were only 4 adults. I did a 4.5 lb hunk of meat, it took around 6 hours to reach 155 degrees. I didn't marinate it, but made a paste out of:
Tony Chachere's
Curry Powder
Chili Powder
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
The juice of one lemon

Rubbed the whole chunk with that, seared it all around in a cast iron skillet then put it on the grill, (I have an offset smoker box, so it was indirect heat, about 200 degrees)

I served that with a Horseradish Cream Sauce made from 8 oz whipping cream, 1/2 cup horseradish, juice of 1 lemon, and salt and pepper.

Since I wanted southern sides, and others in the family wanted traditional sides, I made both.

Here are the results - I won't give recipes unless you ask, since these were either made up on the spot or I'd like to keep them secret....

Margie's Cheesecake

Rosemary and Sausage Stuffing

Collard Greens with Smoked Oxtails

Red, Kidney, and Black Beans, southern style

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Sweet Potato Casserole

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pics of food from the last few months!!!

Seafood salad with fresh local grouper, shrimp and mussels in Grand Turk

Pear Salad with Dolce Gorgonzola, also Grand Turk

They just happened to have champagne pate and a great selection of meats and cheeses too.

Simple fare, pear topped pork chop, asparagus with parmigiano reggiano and basil couscous

Cupcakes my wife made for our daughter's 2nd birthday.

Curried potatoes for the grill.

Heirloom tomato pizzas

Hello, I'm a leg of lamb stuffed with garlic and herbs. I'm about to be smoked for 8 hours...

Nothing like dirt and worm cupcakes!

Evil vampire watermelon filled with punch - lemon lime seltzer, vodka, watermelon innards and orange sherbet. Yes!!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

I'm 'a bloggit sucka

Okay so I've not written in a ludicrously long time. And I'm breaking that silence with two grammatically incorrect sentences in a row.

All sorts of things have happened in the interim, but the biggest news has to do with our family. We are currently 20 weeks into being pregnant with our next baby! We may find out on Monday what the gender is, the last two ultrasounds were either too early or the wee one was covering it's genitalia with their hand. My wife is happy and healthy and so is the fetus, so all is well.

Also new since last time, I got a fantastic job working in a coffee shop. I know for many people that might not be the ideal career move, but stay with me here. I am making more money than the supervisors at my last company, I work two blocks from my house, and I am one of four employees, two of whom are the owners. I started as the business opened, so I am considered family, (their words) and have an equal contributing opinion on all food or beverage decisions. I was the only one with extensive coffee knowledge, and they realize my value, so it works out for all concerned. This also allowed us to donate our junker car and cut back on insurance, fuel, and even food costs as I get a comp meal with every shift. Overall we're living on a little bit less, but the absence of work related stress for me is more than worth it for our whole family.

Rather than continue with a list of all the crazy things happening in our lives in the last few months, I'll write out an incredibly simple but very good fall recipe, and promise to write more regularly from now on.

Traditional crock pot pea soup!!

One 1-lb bag of split peas
2-3 carrots, chunked up to your preference
1/4 - 1/2 an onion, chopped
4-6 oz pre-cooked ham, diced or a small piece of salt pork

After rinsing peas, (sometimes there are little stones so inspect them well) place all ingredients in the crock pot. Ours is really big, so we usually double this recipe.
Pour in 7 or 8 cups of water.
Cook on low for 10 hours, stir and serve with fresh ground pepper.
This makes quite a bit of food.
This is a very basic version, play around with the proportions to get the consistency and flavor you like. If you want it veggie, put a little liquid smoke in it, you could also substitute smokey tempeh, but I wouldn't put it in until the last couple of hours, as it might disintegrate.

Cheers, I'll post soon with pictures of my latest brews and food that we have made in the last few months. Also I'm changing my brewing process so I'll do a step by step of the next ale I make with pictures.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Been a few days...

Well today I bottled 2 cases of a 3-hop IPA, and bagged up 118 wings to marinate for the contest on Saturday. I have a couple leads in the job hunt, but nothing that's knocking my socks off just yet. Since I promised twice and haven't delivered I'll give a brief recount here of my first tangible memory. I hope this is at least a bit entertaining, if not the glimpse into my early psyche that I'm sure you all are hoping for...

When I was just about to turn three, my parents went to take a look at at house that they would eventually buy. I know that they seriously considered another house, one that was located on a farm, but the location and affordability, along with a certain amount of charm helped this 3 bedroom brick ranch win the day. The house is located on an acre of wooded property, half of which is a steep hill from the front porch down to the the street. The back half is cleared in the center with a barn, and at the time, a compost heap/dog-run sans dogs. Like I said, it was quite charming. My memory consists of seeing the house for the first time, and going into the backyard where a little boy was playing with a fire engine. This wasn't your average toy, this was a beautiful thing that people are too dumb to manufacture anymore. Not only could you sit in the fire engine, but it had pedals! It also had a ladder that could be elevated and turned with the help of a couple nifty looking cranks. The best part - all metal! My little heart raced in anticipation. I wanted to get in that thing and take off, sirens blazing! My guess is that the other child was about three or four also because he wasn't having a bit of the whole sharing thing. I asked my parents if I could go in the fire engine and they said that I had to ask permission from the little boy. He said maybe when he was finished. I knew that we didn't have all day - my parents weren't going to wait around just so I could have a turn on the most awesome piece of machinery I had heretofore laid my eyes on. I distinctly remember asking why his parents didn't make him share. My parents explained that he didn't have to and then the rest dissolves into a haze of frustration and tears.

What strikes me now is the absence of my brother from this memory. Knowing him, he might have thrown the kid out of the fire engine just to teach him a lesson, but I've never remembered him being there, and he doesn't remember it either. Pity my parents aren't around to ask...

Well that's the first therapy session, not too explicit or painful, those memories will surface as time progresses. Stay tuned for news of the contest, (again Saturday from 12-2 at Sweetbytes in Ambler, PA) and I'll most probably be cooking something tasty for Mother's day.