Thank You

Some major life changes have been going down in the ramblin’ house the last few weeks. The most prominent is that I am now living alone. I have my trusty guard dog of course but I am devoid of another human under my roof. It is a good change for me, I assure you.

Change brings many challenges and this change is no different. My first order of business is cleaning and reorganizing everything in the house. An act of reclamation, if you will. As I work my way through the house I am also making a list of repairs that need to be done. Here’s the fun part: my neighbors are helping.

I came home one day to find my neighbors from both sides talking about what they could do to help. They had already decided that they would repair some of my fence and fill in the giant ruts that repeated tow truck travel had created (much better than their bake a cake idea if you ask me). How do I thank them for their time and sweat? A bottle of booze perhaps? No, that was given after they helped shovel up the trash left behind in the basement and hauled out seven bags of it to the curb. This called for something better by far. This called for BBQ.

So I am up early with two pretty pig pieces on the smoker. I can’t wait to share this with everyone! They’ve already done so much for this damsel in not-so-much-distress I look forward to thanking them with a full belly of tasty pulled pork.

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Foodie Pen Pals- August

The Lean Green Bean

I’ve hinted over the last few weeks about something called Foodie Pen Pals.  I remember having to write to a pen pal in school.  I think mine was from France.  He loved to tell me all about going on holiday to any number of countries in Europe.  Yah, I can totally relate to that dude.  Needless to say I didn’t keep in touch.  Take that concept and mix it with a box of tasty goodies and you better believe I’m interested!

The idea is simple and elegant in execution.  Fill out a form with your info, on the 5th of the month get assigned a pen pal to send stuff, send email asking about any dietary restrictions/allergies to new friend, shop/make stuff for new friend, send box-o-luv by the 15th (Helloooooo flat rate boxes!), send email with package tracking info like any good OCD person, wait for response.  In there somewhere is “stalk webpage of new friend” and “stalk page of person sending stuff to you”.

With all things awesome there are a few rules.  The dates are important!  The box-o-luv has a $15 limit! And posting of the findings are due on the last day of the month on your blog.  The official rules are on Lindsay’s blog.  And here’s a link to see what everyone else got this month too!

What did I get?

My new friend is Jay Travis from New York and I got a lovely collection of goodies from his neck of the woods.

Note from Jay. Love the carrot!

Instantly reminded me of “brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things!”

Maple Barbecue sauce, Saffron Aioli, and Miss Sydney’s marinade.

I’ve got some big plans with this haul.  The marinade was used with scalops and veggies in a stir fry (WOW!), the maple barbecue sauce has pulled pork written all over it, and I will be using Jay’s suggestion for the saffron aioli as topping to a chicken cutlet sandwich.  I might just sneak a few french fries into the aioli too but don’t tell.

Overall this was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to do it again next month!  Thank you Lindsay for creating such a fun program!  Thank you Jay for all of the goodies!

Ribs!

This was my first go at smoking ribs. I’ve smoked several butts and love them so much but what kind of backyard BBQ queen would I be of I couldn’t make ribs? With some guidance from some friends that are better than good at their own smokey endeavors I set out to try my hand.

Toss some secret rub on a rack of ribs, wrap in foil, smoke at 225 for 2 hours, unwrap, and continue smoking for about three more hours or until the bones are easily removed.

SUCCESS!!!! Now, I’m just waiting for the husband to come home from work before I finish all of these myself. Truth be told. I made two racks and have only tasted two ribs before placing them in a nice cooler wrapped in a towel to keep them hot.

Now I only have 8 more degrees till the two butts I put in are ready to come out.

Sister’s boyfriend’s birthday party is going to be yummy!

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Experiment Number Two

After such success with smoking the fatty yesterday I decided to try my hand at smoking a boston butt AKA Experiment Number Two.  I’ve read all over the internet about how to smoke this cut of pork and there’s a few debates on how to achieve pork perfection.  The consensus is as always “low and slow” and “it’s done when it’s done”.  I started with a 4.22 pound boston butt pork roast with the bone still in.  At roughly 90 minutes a pound I was looking at six and a half hours of cook time if I was able to keep the temp at the optimal 230*F.  Using lump charcoal and a few chunks of mesquite I started the fires at a quarter to 11.

My hot little friend

So far I’ve got to say that for about $60 this little smoker is working out really well.  It’s a Master Forge Charcoal vertical smoker that I picked up at Lowes to start out with.  I figured with there only being two of us here it was a good place to start.

After trimming off the heavy parts of the fat I used a coat of yellow mustard to help keep the rub on the pork.  The rub I based off of this recipe I used for a coating on some chick peas (don’t judge it, was damn good).  Placing the fat side up on the smoker I walked back to the house anxious to see how this was going to turn out (which way to place the fat side is a much debated topic).  I set my timer for every two hours so I could re-stoke the fire.  That’s one thing I learned from smoking yesterday.  This little guy starts to have a temperature drop right at the two hour mark.  Even using the minion method this is still a needed step.  Makes me wonder if the lump charcoal I was using was too varied in size.  Have to play with that.  During the cooking time I was really good about not peeking until it was about five hours in and needed to wrap the roast in foil (If you’re lookin’ you ain’t cookin’).  Apparently the foil step is also one that seems to be up for debate.  I went with it.    At no time did I flip the butt.  The lid stayed closed!  I didn’t lift it to look, mop, or even check it’s temp till the very end.  When I went to wrap it in foil this is the beauty that was looking back at me:

Hello Beautiful

I wrapped her up for the last hour until her temp reached a nice 195*.  From researching I know that if you’re looking for serving this as a sliced roast the temp should be around 180* but if you’re wanting to pull the meat for sandwiches aim for the 190-200* range.  I took the foil wrapped delicasy into the kitchen and wrapped it further in a large towel for about the next hour.  Ok, truth be told I could only wait about 45 minutes and the slight tingling sensation I’ve still got on my palms may force me to wait the full hour next time.  Maybe not.

A smoke ring is my second favorite kind.

Nice smoke ring, nice crust, and no sauce was needed.  I’m calling this a success.  And I’ve got the notes so I can (hopefully) duplicate the results.

Have to share Hubby’s response. “Man my wife really knows how to smoke some meat.  That didn’t sound right.”

Fatty Results

After three hours at almost a constant 220*F this smokey little devil is ready.  I can’t wait for the gooey cheese inside to cool so I’ve cut a slice and here’s what I find…

Will I make another fatty?  Sure.  Might have to find a way to make it a little less dense as my banded tummy can’t take more than just a few bites.  But a good learning experience and a hobby I plan on continuing.  Now, where’s that cinnamon whiskey?  I feel a toast coming on.