Friday, July 31, 2009

Have You Ever Had A "Burn-out Moment?"..

Nearly a week after the BB-Q contest, I am still in free- fall... Competing in anything- from sports, gambling, oh Heck! Anything! Takes a toll. When you win, you are geeked! Invincible, will never lose again, learned from your mistakes... But anyone who competes in anything will eventually lose. If you ever competed, you know this... I always tell people, if you don't try you will never win. Being scared of failure, keeps some really excellent people from competing. Fear is what? When you ask someone: "What is the worst that could happen?" By their own words.. not much..
Failure teaches:
1. Humility. Other people are capable too.
2. Respect. How can you not respect a person, that has bested you at what you are good at- fairly?
3. Knowledge. How you can not learn from someone that knows more than do you?
4. Philosophy. When you win, you don't think. When you lose, you do. Point one, two, and three above will help you win, and be gracious when you do.

Competing in contests is how I got many of my friends into something they could take a personal pride in.
Winning and losing became less important to me, when I found out I could give a sense of joy to people, who needed something to take pride in..themselves.
P.S.- Don't think I will take a beating and like it- ever!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Proud, Other Times Embarassed.. Cooking Highs, And Lows..

Do you remember your greatest cooking success? Do you remember the worst cooking disaster? Boy, I got a few...
Mini-meme today..
1. What was the best, most complimented dish you ever made?
2. What was the worst kitchen disaster you ever had?
I will admit, you tend to remember the defeats longer than the successes... we tend to be our worst critics!
Me first!
1. I have had many, ranging from pizza to BB-Q, but once I made a chili that people could not get enough of!
2. A peppermint cheesecake that tasted like mouthwash. A prime rib that was tougher than Kelsey's nuts. A green bean casserole you should have eaten with a spoon. Evolution is learning from our missteps.. Natural Selection is stupid people being weeded out of the gene pool!
Keep learning, people... I don't want any of my blogger friends to be weeded out!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

2009 BB-Q Contest...

Well, Let me start by saying we could have had a better year.. We didn't screw up any of the 8 dishes we prepared, but really didn't place very high, either. Beans- low. Dessert- in the top third of the pack. Veggies- about the same.. Potatoes- in top ten. Chicken, Ribs in top half of field. Beef Brisket and Pulled Pork scored low.. The span between team scores seems to get tighter every year... Some of our friends, and people we have competed with over the years, didn't score very high either.. Sorry, no pictures of food- we get hectic at turn-in time! A few photos of various teams and some of our team and family.. First two were our BB-Q "neighbors" that day.. Dragon Spit Team, Missing Mike's daughter Sam, my sister and her husband, etc.. The last photo was a mistake- and I'm too tired to take it off the blog!
I definitely am whipped afterwards- and don't much feel like cooking today!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Into The Fray...

I am headed out to the KCBS sanctioned BB-Q cook-off we have in Grand Rapids this time of year... Wish me luck! My son Craig (Cody- Craig Owen DeYoung), my friend Missing Mike, and the Buffalo Dick hisself will compete in all 8 categories: Potatoes, Veggies, Baked Beans, Dessert, Beef Brisket, Pork Ribs, Pulled Pork, and Chicken... We aren't the best team there, but remember "It ain't the dog in the fight, it's the fight in the dog"! Sunday, a post on the event! Adios, and have a good week-end!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

An Almost Vegetarian Easy Summer Casserole..

I am preparing for the State of Michigan's largest KCBS sanctioned BB-Q cook-off. The night before the four main meat categories, there is a contest involving what they call the four side dishes- potato, veggie, baked beans, and dessert. Over the years, our team(The Buffalo Brothers!) has placed:
1. Potatoes- two first place, one second place, and in the top ten a lot!
2. Veggie- One first place, top ten a few times..
3. Beans- Fifth once!
4. Dessert- Third a couple of times, and a few top tens..
With that being said, we tend to play around with new recipes before the contest, to see what might work. I bought an eggplant, and a couple of zucchinis, to see what they could do for us... We decided to go with our "zucchini boat", which took 1st once, so what I had bought sat for a few days in the fridge going nowhere! I checked the Internet for recipes that used both these veggies, but found nothing I liked. Both zucchini and eggplant work well in Italian dishes, so I came up with this...
1. One medium sized eggplant, skinned and diced into 1/2" cubes.
2. Two zucchinis, cut length-wise, then sliced into 1/4" thick pieces.
3. One can(12oz) of diced tomatoes, undrained.
4. One lb. of seasoned loose ground beef, browned with one cup of diced onions. Seasonings used: salt, black pepper, garlic powder, dried basil, dried oregano, marjoram. Drain before adding to casserole.
5. 8oz. of dried rigatoni, uncooked (This was my leap of faith!)
6. 2oz. of grated Parmesan cheese
7. 4oz of shredded Mozzarella cheese
Combine all above ingredients, except the Mozzarella cheese, in large casserole dish, cover and bake for one hour at 350F. Uncover and bake for another 15min or so, to make sure all liquid has been absorbed by the pasta, but still moist.
Sprinkle the Mozzarella cheese over casserole, bake until melted(approx 10 min.)

This is really easy, and comes out tasty! By omitting the ground beef and substituting the cheeses, vegetarians might enjoy this too!
The picture isn't the best, but we were hungry!
The two other photos- we went up North for the week-end, and while driving the back road my wife pointed to a just harvested field and said; "We should take a picture of that", so I pulled off and did! The last photo is just a bowl of fresh steamed green beans, with bacon added.. The produce we see in Michigan this time of year is great!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Cookie Inspired Mini-Meme!

Lately, I have found I am reading more... well heck! I call them Food Blogs..these people are far more than just good cooks, they are intelligent, knowledgeable, and interesting at many levels beyond feeding family and friends! I never fail to learn something new everyday, by reading your well-written posts...
The way we all can learn new and interesting stuff, is by sharing the information we collectively have gathered, with each other. Big world out there, most of us will never meet in person! I have learned by reading Paul Kirk, an award-winning cook and author on BB-Q, but I have also learned things about this subject from Chris, who comments on my blog, and worships something called a Green Egg...(just kiddin', bud!) Doggy Bloggie... I have learned many innovative cooking techniques from him, and facts about foods I have heard of, but never prepared! I don't know if my friend and ally in cooking is obsessed, or possessed, as he is passionate about food, and it's preparation! G-man can cook like a guy with the best of them! Heff just did a outdoor cooked Pork Nuclear Weapon- go see it! Ladies, you are next! Darn good cooks I respect; Marjie, Marmie, Donna, and her more reserved(wouldn't take much, Donna!)sister Denise, Katherine, Tavolini, Pinknest, Over40, My adopted blogniece Snow Elf has gotten the cooking bug, ChefE, and our very own favorite vegan (soon to be published!), Urban Vegan, and really too many to name- but you know who you are, and don't feel slighted if you didn't see your name! Stay with me, all of this rambling is leading to a point!
A Cookie Mini-Meme!
1. What is your hands down favorite cookie? Elaborate, or share the recipe, if you wish..
2. What cookie do you dislike the most? Comments about overcooked, undercooked, burned, or raw, are permissible... I'll go first, to inspire the newbies to my blog..
1. Favorite? Toll House Chocolate Chip... When done right, they are simple and, arguably, the most popular cookie in America... with a hint of cinnamon in the batter- Heaven!
2. Any cookie that uses those damn butterscotch flavored chips! Overly sweet, with the most artificial flavor you can imagine- they suck! My preferred substitute is Heath bar bits- chewy, good flavor, and a nice texture in a cookie...My wife eats raw cookie dough- how many of you do this too? Blucka! Burned cookies should never go anywhere but from the oven to the trash bin...
Have fun with this today! I plan to learn something about cookies or you, or both, so get busy!
We are headed up to our place in the woods, hit a casino or two, and watch a couple of movies we rented... see you all when I get back!
P.S-I am attempting to make a zucchini/eggplant/pasta casserole tonight... using the liquids from the veggies and tomatoes to soften and cook the pasta.. New techniques are how we learn, too!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Oatmeal, Cranberry, Walnut, White Choco Chip Cookies..

The master of overkill lives! These cookies were great, without the addition of white chocolate chips.... One, I don't really believe there is a thing as "White Chocolate Chips!" I do like them though... With the dried cranberries and walnuts- well, they worked out pretty OK! I like cookies to be crisp and soft at the same time- not always easy, but great when you nail it! I won't lie... these were crisp, and soft....but too soft.. They broke up easily, and didn't hold their shape as well as I hoped.. Flavor was great, a good mix of crunchy, sweet, and soft!
I am not the baker I wish I was... Baking is far more exacting and demanding of measurement than cooking! My hat is off today, to the people who visit here, and bake so beautifully!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday, 1 P.M. And Nobody To Cook For- Sort Of..

My wife has to go to a baby shower(Thank God men never got this one going!)my son is working, and I'm here with my just trimmed Airedale, Clara, my Calico cat, Willow(who just doesn't care), and my blog....
I did decide to charcoal grill some marinated boneless, skinless, chicken breasts- Primus, to feed my son who works about 5 minutes from my house, and Secondus to make a batch of chicken salad for sandwiches this week.. The marinate was basic; olive oil, red wine vinegar, a touch of tomato juice, basil, oregano, garlic, pepper, and salt. Charcoaled to just done, they were tender and full of flavor- and this is not my favorite cut of chicken! I had a bologna and cheese sandwich- really! It just sounded kind of good, and no one was watching...
My son got one large chix breast, some egg noodles Alfredo(with a bit of ham in it!)and fresh (steamed lightly) green beans.. He was a happy guy- it had all the things he cares about: It was hot, tasty, on time, and free! Later, I may make some dried cranberry/choco chip oatmeal cookies- If not today, tomorrow...
Enjoy your up-coming week!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Wednesday Night Stir-Fry- Sweet And Sour Scallops???

Occasionally, I get annoyed with the standard issue of food offerings.. I, like all of us, have left-overs or surplus food, and this is probably where I do my best work!
I took 12oz. of sea scallops, a pineapple looking for a place on this Earth, leftover brown AND white rice needing a purpose.... and helped them all!
I love the flavor print of sweet and sour Asian sauce... my wife- not so much! I created my own version of this sauce using orange juice, pineapple(finely minced), soy sauce, tomato paste, rice vinegar, brown sugar,sesame oil, hot sauce, crushed garlic, and corn starch (as the thickening agent!).. This sauce was bright, tangy, and yet had a sweetness you need to make it balance... Stir-fried green pepper chunks, onion, mushrooms, and more pineapple- to soften a bit, but still leave crunchy... Added thickened sauce, and sea scallops to mix and brought to heat, until scallops were done but still tender! The rice was micro'd until hot, and dinner commenced... I will cut the crap here and now- I am my toughest critic, but found no fault with this dish! My wife simply ate and went "Mmmmm-mm" a lot! Total cost of meal(with enough left-over for my wife's lunch tomorrow!), about $8.00...- which works out to less than $2.70 for each meal! Look at the photo, and think about it the next time you go into McDonalds... There is a better way to live, we just have to remember that!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

4th Of July- Four-Hundred Posts, Food, Fun, And Forgotten Items!

Well, I made it to 400 posts! It took me about 2-1/2yrs of blogging, but I must say- It was fun, rewarding, and met a lot of neat people along the way! Thank-you all for stopping by over the years, reading and commenting...
Friday the 3rd, my wife didn't have to work, so the day was mostly spent in preparation of Independence Day- the 4th of July! The first two photos were an Asian-flavored skewered shrimp I broiled quickly and serve with a side of white rice...Really hit the spot while putzing around the kitchen making brines, mops, and sauces for tomorrow's food offerings..
The 4th of July around here was as busy(or busier!) as anticipated, with smoked BB-Q chicken and pork ribs, sauces and of course- fireworks! The 'Que was cooked for about 5 hrs total at, low, slow temps.... 4 whole chickens got brined/marinated for 12 hrs previous to their beer can up the butt (Chicken on a Throne recipe!)and smoking in a hickory/charcoal heat.. Sprayed with olive oil/water/red wine vinegar mix during cooking (for moisture) the tenderness and flavor achieved was incredible.. A BB-Q sauce touched up with lemon pepper, and orange juice made a tangy, light sauce ideal for chicken! The ribs were dry rubbed with spices, and slathered with mustard before resting overnight in the 'fridge.. They were tender, tasty- but a touch dry for my taste... the sauce was a Big Moe's base, with dark molasses, liquid smoke, sour mash bourbon, and white vinegar added.. Made for a K.C. style sweet/smokey/tangy flavor that was a hit!
The fireworks were incredible this year, with our group more than holding it's own against 3 or 4 others on the lake shooting off their nukes! We had some mishaps, which fortunately were not injurious to anyone- but caused some not needed excitement none the less... Younger guy didn't block a 16 shot cake right, which caused it to tip over and shoot sideways, until after three shots fell into the water.. Stay tuned, this story ain't over! He then threw the wet firework into the bonfire, which we have always done AFTER a firework was done. The thing dried out, and about a dozen more shots came flying out of the fire- where I was sitting! About a half-dozen of us were running like North Korea had finally shot one at us... No one hurt, but a good lesson was learned! That kid now knows I will kill him if he ever does it again!
On to the forgotten items.... 1. My camera. I had hoped to take photos of the fireworks for you, but couldn't..sorry! 2. A jacket. It got cold after dark(which is why I was so close to that damn fire!) 3. A flashlight. Shooting fireworks off the end of a dock goes better with light to see by...
A good day was had by all, and I hope yours was as fun as mine- only safer! Tell me about your holiday experience!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Handy Food Product Of The Day!

We are, like most Americans these days, eating and enjoying Mexican and Tex-Mex food a lot more than ever! The products available for making versions of this cuisine have never been more plentiful, with quality being higher in freshness, and more convenience!
When it comes to tacos, my wife prefers the hard corn shell, where I like the soft flour based tortilla more than she does... One product we discovered at our local grocery store is one we both agree was an excellent idea- the stand-up Taco Shell from Old El Paso brand!
When you get tacos from a chain restaurant to remain nameless, you need about 4 or 5 of them to get enough to satisfy your hunger- sometimes even more than that! These shells from Old El Paso were designed to hold substantially more ingredients and toppings- 2 apiece is plenty for us! They are easier to eat.. you can enjoy them without ending up looking like you were in a Mexican cantina food fight... You also can produce them at a higher quality than a fast food restaurant for less than a buck a piece (and remember, they are twice as big!).
This is my 399th post... my next will of course be 400! I plan to include smoked BB-Q, and possibly fireworks- as I will post Sunday morning about the great Independence Day we plan to enjoy! I hope all you Americans have a great 4th of July this year!