Archive for August, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 09:08 AM

Emergency preparedness is something we all need to think about. An emergency situation could arise at ANY time. I admit, that I have slacked on the subject myself. After Katrina, everyone in the U.S. should be overly aware of what could happen. I’ve been through a few hurricanes. I lived in southwest Florida when hurricane Andrew hit Homestead on the east coast of Florida. We got lucky because the storm weakened after landfall. I did have refugees from the storm stay with me for a time, as their own apartment had been destroyed. Not all disasters or situations are always predictable by the weather service. A tornado can pop up without very much warning. Some earthquakes of late have been quite noticeable, some not. There were some small quakes in Oklahoma just last week. Not a place you would really consider earthquakes to be. An ice storm in Maine could leave residents without power for weeks. Floods, volcanoes, tsunamis. Our mother earth can be quite unpredictable. You should be prepared!

Any good tailgater or camper is prepared for cooking at a moments notice. A bin of supplies, a grill to cook & bake with, a cast iron dutch oven or skillet that can be used over an open fire, but there are other things to consider. I mean,  any good barbequer will have extra propane or charcoal on hand any way. But, what about power outages. All that food in your freezer could go to waste. If you’re in an ice storm, chances are if outages last a long time you can put your food out in the snow and it will be ok. What if you’re in a summer heat wave black out? Having a gas powered generator & extra gas on hand is a great consideration.

As I said, I myself have been slack in my preparedness efforts. My sons were both Boy Scouts. We have an emergency bin. I know I have not replaced batteries, checked flash lights, or checked on change of clothes for size. I need to change out some canned goods, etc. We have a hurricane or two looming out in the ocean right now. They are somewhat predictable, but, not very at the same time. This is something that I should do at the beginning of every hurricane season, or maybe twice a year, when I change the batteries in my smoke detectors. We should all make a set date to redo, replenish, check our stocks & stores. Anything could happen at a moments notice.

You want to keep your family prepared. If you don’t have an emergency bin. Start one! It can be a family project. Make a list, get items together & start a pack, bin, box, whatever! In case of evacuation, you want to be able to grab it and take it with you. It may not come to that extreme , but it is a thought to keep in mind. Always make sure you have extra fuel, propane, charcoal, firewood. Know where there are candles and something to light them with. If you are depending on canned goods, make sure you have a hand can opener that works. Water bottles. If you know a storm is coming, stock up. Fill some empty jugs. Worse case scenario, fill the tub! If you live in an apartment and don’t have a grill or outdoor propane fryer…get yourself something. Even a little hibachi or table top grill. A small table top grill can pack away & fit right in your emergency bin! Think ahead! A change of clothes, dry dog food, a roll of toilet paper, a first aid kit. Make a plan. Every family should have an escape plan out of a burning house. The same should hold true for any emergency. Have a meeting spot. The neighbors house, the big oak tree on the other side of the yard. If you are unsure, go online. Get a list. Ask an Eagle Scout. Ask your local fire department. Maybe there is something on their list that you may not have thought of. The point is, just do it! You want your family safe and prepared!

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Monday, August 30, 2010 @ 08:08 AM

When I grew up, we always cooked with charcoal. When I was really little I don’t think gas grills were even invented yet. My Pop had a little hibachi grill and we got on just fine with it. He could whip up the perfect chuck steak on that thing. I know now that that particular cut of steak is quite inexpensive, but my Pop always made it to perfection. You’d have thought we were kings.  I actually tried to buy a 7 bone chuck steak when I lived in Florida & the grocery store butcher looked at me like I had 12 heads. Oddly enough, there was another butcher there from The Bronx. He knew what I was talking about, but said that they didn’t do that cut of meat in that area of Florida. I was rather surprised given the fact that that grocery store chain owns their own cattle farms & that I was not living in a wealthy resort area of Florida. When I lived in Florida, I cooked with charcoal.  I had a trusty old Weber kettle grill. We got it too hot one time & the legs melted off. The kettle was still fine. I set it in an old truck tire rim & it still worked just fine. When we moved back to NY, the whole thing came with us. Not only did it serve as a grill, but it was also our self contained fire pit. Who needs a chimenea?

Years ago, when they did finally come out with gas grills, they were only for people that had money. They were quite expensive in the beginning. We weren’t poor. I had a roof over my head & food in my belly, but we weren’t well off either. Heck, we didn’t even have a color TV until I was a teenager & it was a used one to boot. Same thing goes with our first gas grill. Someone was throwing one out because they couldn’t get it to work. That’s our society…kick it to the curb and buy a new one. Don’t even try to fix it. It wasn’t in the greatest shape, but all that was wrong were some spider webs in the burner tubes. Pop fixed that straight away and “Viola!”, we finally had a gas grill.

LP gas, is an ok way to grill & BBQ, but charcoal & wood make the food so much more flavorful. When discussing this topic, I always remember back to a certain prime-time cartoon family. The dad was a propane salesman & the family always grilled with propane. They were invited to a barbecue at a neighbor’s house. The neighbors  grilled with charcoal. The mother & child liked the flavor so much, they went out & purchased a charcoal grill and started going on secret outings just to charcoal grill a burger without the propane salesman knowing. I can relate. I ended up cooking with gas at my own home and giving up the charcoal out of necessity. I had 2 small grammar school aged children & an 8:30 to 5:30 or longer job. With charcoal, you have to wait for the coals before you can cook the food. If we decided to grill, sometimes the food would not be ready until 8:00 at night or later. Not good to feed little children & then send them to bed. Fortunately, gas grills were much cheaper at this point. With a gas grill, you’re ready to go almost immediately. Food is done quicker, and you can adjust the heat easier than with charcoal.You can even bake bread & pie with a gas grill. That would be a lot trickier with charcoal. Easier if you are a knowledgable cast iron dutch oven chef, but we can’t all claim that position.

To this day I am embarrassed to say that I still only have a gas grill. My kids are grown. Gas is still a necessity for a working family, but I can take more time to cook now. It doesn’t matter if I eat at 8:00 at night or later. It’s not good for me to eat that late, but I can do it if I want to. I don’t have a BBQ smoker either. I would love to have one. But I am limited on space. I already have a gas grill and an outdoor propane fryer. I know that I can smoke items to a degree, with a regular charcoal grill. And there are Brinkmann charcoal grills out there that are mulit-purpose. They are specially made to smoke or grill. Besides they tend to be cylindrical & won’t take up too much space. I would dearly love to have a whole outdoor cooking kitchen. A big gas grill, my propane fryer, a charcoal grill, and a big beautiful BBQ smoker that I could fit whole logs into and smoke meats for 10-12 hours. Maybe someday, when I’m old and retired, and out to pasture. At least with a pasture I’d have space for an outdoor working kitchen. I do miss charcoal very much though. It is time for me to go out & get a charcoal grill. Even if I only get to use it once in a while, it will be a nice change of flavor & pace. I’m a big kid now. I change change things up if I want to. And, I think I want to.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 09:08 AM

Storing your cooking gear for travel, to and from the game or track is very important. You do not want to get to the lot and find out that you have no lid for your grill or BBQ smoker, because it blew off on the interstate. You don’t want to get home after a great day of tailgating and find the same. Having to buy new equipment because something was carelessly tied down, in this economy, is not an option. We need to take care of the things we’ve already got.

Not everyone has a motor home or enclosed trailer to store their gear in. Some of us only have open utility trailers or the beds of our pick up trucks. In this case scenario, take the extra minute or two, and secure your stuff. Put your grill behind the cab of the pickup with the hinged side of the lid to the back of the cab. Tie it securely and bungee the lid too. It never hurts to take extra precaution.

I recently took my outdoor propane deep fryer to a local butcher to demonstrate the fryer to their clientele. The fryer comes on a rolling caddy which makes it quite portable and perfect for tailgating. The fryer unit does separate from the rolling caddy. For transport purposes, you should never travel with the fryer still attached to the caddy. All it takes is a screwdriver & a wrench, loosen 1 bolt & you can separate the fryer quite easily. Secure your fryer unit behind the cab, just like your grill. Never transport with oil in the unit either. (If you don’t have time to let oil cool, get yourself a clean metal Gerry can and a radiator hose. Get the appropriate end to hook up to your oil drain valve and you can drain the hot oil before you enter the stadium for the game. Store the Gerry can out of harms way & this will help your fryer cool down quicker as well).

If all you have is an open utility trailer, you obviously don’t have any wind protection. So…take the time you need to make sure your gear is secure!!!!Before & after the game.

Most importantly…have fun and be safe!!!!

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Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 07:08 AM

Today I will be demonstrating a Cajun Fryer at a local butcher. I attend a car cruise there once a week where they have a BBQ grill set up and they cook for all the car people. They found out about my outdoor propane deep fryer, so they asked me to come & demonstrate for them & for their regular customers.

I am not a big public speaker so I hope I can handle this. But it should be able to handle cooking for about 100 people over a 3 hour period.

When frying for larger crowds, a key thing to remember is allergies. Peanut oil is great to use in your deep fryer due to high smoke point. Many people are allergic to peanuts. So, unless you are frying for just your family, who you know are not allergic, use regular vegetable oil, like soybean oil. You should be safe with soybean, good smoke point, low on the allergy end of the scale.

Well folks. Wish me luck. Let’s hope I can look somewhat professional & not like a blithering idiot.

I just need to make sure my gear is stowed and packed properly, as any good tailgater should know. Off we go…and don’t be a cry baby…be a fry baby!!!!

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Friday, August 27, 2010 @ 12:08 PM

Something different for the tailgate…grilled pork chops. Bone in or center cut. Not everything has to be about the beef and brats, though I know some Texans that would beg to differ.

All you need to do is set up your Brinkmann grill and grill 6-8 minutes per side over medium heat.

Pork chops are versatile too. You can cook them up with just garlic powder & black pepper, or you can marinate them in many different ways. You can make them Oriental style by marinating with soy sauce, garlic, ginger & sesame seeds. Go Polynesian with pineapple juice & brown sugar. Cajun style with some hot sauce. Or even southwestern with chili powder, minced onions & a touch of cumin. Serve with BBQ sauce or without.

Who said the tailgate menu had to be just steak? Get out there and grill to your hearts content. If you can grill it at home, you can do it tailgating. Prep at home the night before is not such a bad thing. You can even get your marinade ready the night before & just pour it in bags with the chops on the way to the stadium parking lot. That way it won’t be too over powering.

I find the other white meat to be a great tailgating asset. It doesn’t have to be chops either. Grilled pork tender loin, pork cube kabobs, even pulled pork, from the slow cooker, are great at tailgating parties. Imagination is key!

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Thursday, August 26, 2010 @ 01:08 PM

Tailgating season is upon us. Time to dust off your gear, give everything a once over & replace & replenish. If you have a separate grill that you only use for tailgating parties, now is the time to clean it up, and fire it up for the season’s initial christening.

Me, myself, I tailgate almost all year long. Between, NASCAR, NHRA, and motorsports season, to concerts, the beach, the lake, car shows, and football. Not everything is about food. Some times the tailgate is just liquid.

The biggest tailgate I go to is the last NASCAR race of the season in Homestead, FL. Camping, tailgating, and racing all weekend long. Thursday to Monday. I have a trailer for that race though, so it makes tailgating much easier. Refrigerator and electricity are  a God send when tailgating for 5 days!!!!

I still cook outside of the trailer. Brinkmann grill, slow cooker, etc. Breakfast, lunch & dinner. I have now added an outdoor propane deep fryer to my tailgating gear. It’s a small one. 2 1\2 gallons, but we usually have a small group. This will broaden the horizons of my tailgate menu quite a bit. Wings, onion rings, fried turkey breast. Heck, I can even deep fry rumaki. I can’t wait until November for the race. In between time, the fryer is small enough that I can use it for back yard BBQ’s and picnics. It has been a very fun added addition to my backyard cooking station.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 09:08 AM

Most people are more concerned with the main course or the salty goodness & beverages of their tailgate menu. I have a sweet tooth. A simple easy breakfast or dessert food for your next tailgate is donuts. All you need is your outdoor propane deep fryer, or turkey fryer,  a can or two of packaged biscuits, powdered sugar & cinnamon, frying oil, a fryer skimmer, and a paper bag.

There are 2 ways that you can do the donuts. You can poke a hole in the center of each biscuit and make a full scale donut, with donut holes, or you can quarter each biscuit & roll them into balls, like donut holes.

To make regular donuts, lay out the biscuits on a cutting board and with a 1/4 to 1/2-inch round  biscuit cutter (or any small circle you can find, a shot glass for instance), cut out a hole from the middle of each biscuit.

Deep fry them in 350 degree oil until just golden and then flip with your oil skimmer to fry the other side.(About 3 minutes). Just a few at a time so as not to over crowd or lower your temperature too drastically. Make sure your oil stays at a constant 350 degrees. Too high of heat, your donuts will over cook on the outside & stay raw on the inside. Too low of a temp. and the donuts will absorb the oil instead of being sealed by it. We want donuts, not fat balls. Be careful not to cook them too long either.  Drain on paper towels. Toss  the cinnamon and sugar into a paper bag. (About 1/2 tsp cinnamon & about a 1\4 cup powdered sugar per can of packaged donuts. You can also add a pinch of nutmeg if you happen to have some in your tailgate bin). Place the still warm donuts in the paper bag & shake. Voila! Tailgate donuts! (You could also glaze  with a powdered sugar and milk mixture if so desired).

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010 @ 07:08 PM

This is a nice dessert to make at home or camping. Especially for the strawberry festival in June.

  • 30-40 fresh and large strawberries
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of pale ale or beer                                             
  • 5 egg whites
  • cream of tartar
  • cooking oil
  • powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Wash, dry and hull strawberries
  2. Heat cooking oil in stove top deep fryer or counter top deep fryer to 375 F
  3. In a bowl, combine 2 cups of flour and 1/4 tsp. of sugar and salt
  4. Add 1 1/2 cup of ale or beer and beat the mixture until smooth
  5. In another bowl beat 5 egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar until stiff
  6. Fold egg whites into beer batter, gently
  7. Dip strawberries into batter and deep fry a few at a time, (1-2 minutes or until golden brown)
  8. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels
  9. Roll the strawberries in powdered sugar
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Monday, August 23, 2010 @ 02:08 PM

2 lb  bacon
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1 can chunked pineapple
2 boneless chicken breasts or center cut pork chops, cut into bite size pieces
1 1\2 cup dark brown sugar
Bottle of Teriyaki sauce
Tooth picks or skewers

Place your brown sugar in a bowl, and teriyaki sauce in separate bowl. Set up a cookie sheet to place your wrapped rumaki when done. (If you prefer more intense flavor, marinate your meat in teriyaki sauce at least 1\2 hour prior to preparation.) Take 1 chunk of pineapple, 1 slice of water chestnut, dip them in teriyaki sauce and then roll in brown sugar. Take a piece of marinated or just dipped meat and roll in brown sugar. Take a strip of bacon & wrap everything into a nice neat package. Secure with toothpicks. Place on baking sheet & repeat until all the bacon is gone.(Some people prefer to cut the bacon in half, but I find a whole strip works best.) I also like to get teriyaki sauce and brown sugar on the bacon too. Bake on the cookie sheet in a 350 degree grill (indirect grilling)or oven for about 20-25 mins. turning at least once. (Can also be threaded on skewers & grilled indirect & direct grilling).

Versatile recipe… traditionally made with chicken livers, but I find some people to shy away from the liver….the flavor is fantastic, but again, not everyone likes liver. Can be done with scallops too.

My next trick is to make the traditional rumaki with the chicken livers, water chestnuts, bacon & no pineapple, &  fry them up in my outdoor propane deep fryer.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010 @ 01:08 PM

Ham hocks and beans is a very inexpensive but very flavorful dish. This is very versatile meal as you can make it at home on your stove top, in a slow cooker, or over a camp fire in a cast iron dutch oven.  You can also feed a decent sized  group with just one bag of beans. This would make a good Boy Scout camp out dinner or  a great cold weather tailgate item cooked in a traditional turkey fryer over an outdoor propane cooker.

Depending on your group size:

1-2 lb bag navy beans, soaked in water overnight.

4 celery ribs, chopped(optional)

2 cups chopped onion

1-2 lb bag of fresh baby carrots

2-4 smoked ham hocks

4-6 qts of water

And if you like it with a kick put in 2 minced chili peppers.

Put all of your ingredients in the pot you are going to cook in, stock pot, 6 qt. or larger dutch oven, whatever. Cover with water. Bring it to a boil & let it slow boil for about an hour, then simmer until the beans are tender, about another 2 hours. You can remove the ham hocks at this point and discard the grizzle and bones. Get out any meat that you can & put it back in the stew pot. Serve when the beans are tender. I like to serve this with warm biscuits or fresh corn bread.

If using a slow cooker, put everything in the crock. Set the cooker to low. Go to work, and when you get home, make some biscuits and dinner is served.

The smoked ham hocks give the beans a touch of saltiness & a nice smokey flavor.

A simple, easy, tasty & inexpensive meal that will go a long way.

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