Archive for September, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010 @ 05:09 PM

You may think that Thanksgiving is still a long time away. By my count, there is about 8 weeks left to go. If you don’t use your propane turkey fryer on a normal basis, it’s time to dig it out of the garage NOW! Dust it off, check your hoses & regulators for leaks. Fire it up & make sure everything is in proper working order. Take it for a spin. You don’t even have to deep fry something in it. Cook up a pot of chili, steam some corn, or just boil a pot of water. The point is, you want to make sure it is in tip top shape for turkey day! Make sure you have an extra propane tank on hand and an all purpose fire extinguisher. Decide what seasonings you plan on using this year.

It is never too early to start planning for the big day. That includes making sure your deep fryer is up to snuff. You don’t want to be all ready with your beautifully rubbed and injected turkey, go to start your outdoor propane cooker, and find out you have a leaky hose. The hardware store is not going to open Thanksgiving Day. Take a spare moment to check these things out. Deep fried turkey is one of man’s greatest creations. Take the time to honor it properly. You want the preparation to go off without a hitch, so that you can eat, loosen your belt, kick back and watch football with your family and friends. You don’t want to have to put a bird in the oven at the last minute adding 17 minutes per pound of cooking time. That is adding hours of cooking time on. Even if you settled for the grill at this point, because the oven is loaded with pie & side dishes, you’re still talking hours.

So go find your deep fat turkey fryer. Clean it up and use it. Don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can do today!

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010 @ 11:09 AM

Here is another great camping or tailgating breakfast. These are all individual omelettes that can be customized by each person or just made and doled out.

Set up your Brinkmann grill for indirect grilling. If you are using a charcoal grill, place a drip pan, or foil pan in the center of your bottom grate.Arrange your coals around the drip pan & get the charcoal going. Place the cook grate on the grill & when the coals are ready, place the food over the drip pan. Voila…indirect grilling. If you are cooking with a propane grill, don’t light all the burners. Place food over the unlighted portion of your grill.

6  4 1\2″ foil tart pans, sprayed with cooking spray

12 large eggs

2\3 cup milk

1\4 tsp each of pepper,salt, and garlic powder

The elements of your omelettes  are up to you;  strips of bacon pre-cooked and crumbled, some pre-cooked ground sausage, chopped green and red peppers,chopped  scallions, any kind of grated cheese. As I said, you can decided and just make them or let each person decide how they want theirs.

Once your mini omelettes are prepared, cover with foil, place on your indirect grill spot, cover the grill and cook for about 20 minutes or until the eggs are set.

Serves 6.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 12:09 PM

I have been surrounded by fresh seafood all of my life. Coming from a little Dutch fishing village on the south shore of Long Island, there was never any way around it. My father was a full blooded Dutchman. My mother on the other hand, was the quintessential American melting pot. She was a mixture of Dutch, German, Welsh, Irish & Scottish heritage and a few other assorted things. Today I would like to share a couple of  recipes which honor both sides of my ancestry.

The Dutchmen in my area were well known for oystering & clamming.The town the I come from housed one of the most well renowned oyster companies in the world. The Blue Point Oyster Company was located in West Sayville, NY and I had many ancestors that worked the bay.

Ireland, being surrounded by water, has a great love of fishing and seafood as we do here on Long Island.  In honor of The  56th Galway International Oyster Festival that was held this past weekend, in Galway, Ireland, I share these recipes, with you.

Many people prefer their oysters raw on the half shell. Some people like them deep fried. These recipes are both done in an oven.

Oyster Pan Roast

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

24 oysters on the half shell

8 slices of bacon

1\3 c minces scallions

1\3 c minced green pepper

1\2 c fresh chopped parsley

Juice of 1 large lemon

Take the oysters from the shells, scrub the shells with a wire brush, to clean & remove any sand. Return the oysters to their shells. Place on a baking sheet.

In a cast iron skillet, fry the bacon over medium high heat, just partially cooking it. (Cook until translucent.) Remove the bacon from the skillet & cut each slice into 3 pieces; set it aside.

To the bacon fat in the cast iron skillet, add the scallions, parsley & peppers. Saute 1 minute. Spoon the vegetables over the oysters evenly. Top each oyster with a piece of bacon & a sprinkle of lemon juice.

Roast in the preheated oven until the oysters are hot and the bacon is crisp.  Serve immediately with a plate of raw vegetables and buttered soda bread.

Angels on Horseback (Bacon wrapped Oysters)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

12 large, shucked oysters

Juice of 1 lemon

Freshly ground black pepper


6 slices of bacon

Drain the oysters. Sprinkle with lemon juice, paprika & pepper. Cut each bacon strip in half crosswise. Wrap each oyster in bacon & secure the ends with toothpicks. Arrange the oysters in a pan. Cook in the preheated oven, turning once. Cook until the bacon is crisp and brown, but the oysters are still juicy… about 6 minutes. Remove toothpicks, serve with buttered brown bread. (These can also be woven onto skewers and cooked on the grill.)

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Sunday, September 26, 2010 @ 07:09 AM

As I wandered the parking lot at Dover International Speedway, looking for tailgaters, I met lots of nice folks. Most had table top grills and nice free standing propane grills. I came across a man that had a new tailgating idea. It’s not a totally new idea, but it had some differences that I had not yet seen in any tailgating rig to date.

The rig dealt with sliding drawers and grills attached and an umbrella. I will not give too much more info as it is patent pending.

I did not come across any BBQ smokers, or outdoor propane deep fryers. There were no slow cookers that I saw either. There were many trailers though. Quite possible a slow cooker was set up inside one of them. I always set up my slow cooker on the table outside so that I don’t have to move it later on. All you have to do is show up with spoons and bowls. There were many people eating brats, dogs, and sausages. Some people told me about there breakfast which included sausages and eggs. It really seemed a bit boring. Maybe tomorrow things will perk up menu wise. My tailgate menu is usually off the hook. Pulled pork, chipotle tequila lamb, grilled orange chili shrimp, bacon wrapped scallops are just a few of my past tailgating menu items. I even made beef stew once. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve made brats & had cold cut sandwiches, but put a little imagination into the menu. I’ve seen tailgaters at the NHRA track, that would put these NASCAR tailgaters to shame! They not only bring charcoal & propane grills, they bring BBQ smokers & outdoor propane deep fryers.

So, we will see what tomorrow brings.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010 @ 07:09 PM

I am currently on a NASCAR tailgating race weekend. We are seeing some races at Dover International Speedway. On the way into the track this morning I saw a motor home set up on the side of the road with 2 huge BBQ smokers. I took mental note of it and decided to stop in and check it out after the races.

I parked and walked over and met a very nice gentleman named Clint. I asked all about his smokers. He had built them himself. He told me that he learned everything that he knew about cooking from his grandma, Phoebe. Side note, he told me that his great grandma, his mom & his sister were all named Phoebe too. He had side dishes like potato salad too, but he opened one of the smokers for me and I saw visions of beauty. Pork butt and ribs were covering the grates. The smell was wonderful. My senses were reeling! I took some ribs to go and I reheated them when we got back to camp. The flavor of the smoke and rub were perfect. Clint had given me some homemade BBQ sauce, but I’m a dry rub kind of girl. I like my ribs naked. I saved the sauce and will try some later. I can’t deny Clint, or Grandma Phoebe, the honor of not at least trying it.

So if you are ever in Delaware and see some roadside smokers with an old motor home, and the sign says, OH Phoebe, make the time to stop in and see Clint and say hello & try his awesome fare.

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Friday, September 24, 2010 @ 08:09 AM

Jambalaya is a very hearty Louisiana style dish. It is loaded with vegetables, meat and rice, a filling, stick to your ribs kind of meal. There is no set method or set recipe. You should still start with your basic celery, onions, peppers and garlic and go from there. It can have one type of meat or multiple types of meats. It can be spicy or not. It can have tomatoes, or can be made without tomatoes. Supposedly tomatoes are the major difference between a Cajun jambalaya and a Creole one. Cajun jambalaya does not have tomatoes. Traditionally the rice is thrown raw in toward the very end of cooking to absorb the wonderful flavor & juices as it cooks.

Jambalaya is a very versatile dish… pretty much a whatever sort of dish. It doesn’t just have to be cooked in a large cast iron jambalaya pot over and open fire for the whole church congregation. It can be cooked for a small family in a cast iron pot on your stove top. It can be made in a slow cooker on your counter top. You can make it tailgating with your traditional turkey fryer in the stadium parking lot. It’s a great meal for a cold November football game.

The recipe that I will include here is from my friend Lenny. He has visited Louisiana and New Orleans many times. It is geared toward making in a slow cooker for a small party, but it gets all of the basics in. It is very flavorful. You can also add other meats like crawfish, or oysters if you want. It’s whatever you have or feel like having. Make it spicier if that’s what you want. It is a great recipe to start with and experiment & make your own.

12 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

2 green peppers.

1 medium onion.

2 stalks celery sliced.

4 cloves garlic minced.

One 14 1/2 oz. can whole tomatoes.

1/3 cup tomato paste.

1 can beef broth.

1 tblspn. dried parsley.

1-1/2 tspn. dried basil leaves.

1/2 tspn. dried oregano.

1 tspn. tabasco.

1 tspn. cayenne pepper.

1/2 tspn. salt.

1 lb. shelled shrimp.

3 cups cooked rice.

Add Andouille sausage if you like!

Directions: cut chicken into 1 inch pieces. Add all ingredients into slow cooker EXCEPT shrimp and rice. cover and cook on low 8-10 hours (high: 3 to 4 hrs.) add shrimp last 15-30 minutes of cooking. Stir in rice or (as we prefer here) serve on top of rice. ENJOY!

I did add the Andouille sausage and I also put in 2 small jalapenos & 1 chili pepper. I used beef stock that I had in my freezer & I used the over abundant grape & cherry tomatoes that I have growing in my yard, instead of canned. I did still use tomato paste. I cooked the shrimp separately with some Cajun spice in the water & I threw the shrimp in the pot at the very end. It was quite good.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010 @ 08:09 AM

There are many kinds of motorsports out there, but as far as tailgaters go, N.A.S.C.A.R. probably has the most. And as far as tailgating goes, it covers all ends of the spectrum. I’ve seen people just show up with a cooler of beer & a bag of chips. I have also seen people come from Thursday through Monday and park on the infield bringing sofas & easy chairs with them.

Most race tracks, that hold N.A.S.C.A.R. functions, will allow each person to bring in a small soft sided cooler. (I’ve seen bigger & wondered who they had to bribe to get it in. I’ve even seen motorized coolers with seats and steering wheels.) You can bring in plastic water bottles and canned beer. No glass allowed. You can bring your own snacks and sandwiches. Some people are fine with that. I personally, have no interest in lugging a cooler around with me all day. Cooler stays in the car for cold drinks & snacks before and after the race.

Less extreme tailgaters sometimes just bring a small grill. Some burgers & dogs to pass the time, (seeing as we had to get up at 4 AM to drive to the track so that we didn’t get stuck in traffic for 3 and a half hours and miss the beginning of the race! That is not an exaggeration. Come race day, a relatively small city becomes a booming metropolis overnight! For some odd reason it is a small miracle finding parking spaces for everyone.) Most stadium or venue food & beer comes with a pretty high price tag.  The food you cook yourself would probably taste better anyway. And that way you can save your money for a t-shirt of your favorite driver or a banner of your favorite team.

More extreme tailgaters come for the weekend. Now, when I say weekend, that could be just Saturday and Sunday. For some folks, they arrive on Thursday & stay until Monday, or longer. Speed week at the beginning of racing season is usually more like a month. And yes, spectators do go and stay for the whole month. A race weekend is hardly ever just a day. There are practice sessions to watch. Sometimes there are bands playing. They have autograph sessions with the drivers. Product displays with games and raffles. There are different classes of vehicles racing. Some of the weekend warriors with trailers and motor homes, will pay to park in the stadium parking lot (make shift campgrounds or specified tailgate lots). Some will pay businesses near by, to set up in there parking lots. Walmart, Home Depot & Lowes are typical camp & tailgate sites, as you can usually park for free. First come, first serve though. Some venues actually allow fans & spectators to park motor homes or tailgating vehicles on the infield, for the day or the whole weekend. I’ve see trucks with wooden platforms built on top for better viewing. I’ve also seen recliners & couches placed on top of those platforms. These are the extreme tailgaters.

Food for extreme raceway tailgaters, is rarely just burgers and dogs. The equipment is the same as an extreme football tailgater, but again we are talking 3-5 days. People bring charcoal grills & propane grills, table top & portable rolling cooking works of mastery, outdoor propane deep fryers, slow cookers, BBQ smokers, homemade & commercial, outdoor propane woks, I’ve even seen spit rotisseries set up. The fare ranging from regional favorites, like grilled lobster, clams, and fish, or chili & soft shell tacos, to rib eye roasts, deep fried turkey and pork tenderloin. Appetizers from pigs in a blanket to grilled scallops wrapped in bacon. Side dishes and dessert are usually included as well. Having a motor home with a refrigerator usually helps with this extreme form of tailgating but I’ve seen it done with lots of coolers and ice as well. Having a store nearby to get ice from is a must for a long weekend though.

Tailgating at the races is not just a N.A.S.C.A.R. thing either. Drag racing, Dirt track racing, Baja racing, Indie style racing, rock crawling, motor cycle racing, even speed boat racing have tailgaters. The Kentucky derby has a huge tailgate. People usually dress a little fancier and have been known to drink wine and mint juleps. N.A.S.C.A.R. tailgaters always seemed, to me, more over the top than the rest. Maybe it’s the large range of cultures and economic classes that follow the sport. Maybe it has something to do with N.A.S.C.A.R. races being more readily available to watch on T.V. You don’t need to have a special cable or satellite package to watch it. Maybe it’s just that N.A.S.C.A.R. advertises better than all the other racing sports. Whatever the case may be, the spectators seem to have the tailgate thing mastered. If you never get the chance to go to a race, the next time it’s on the telly, look in the back round. That sea of trailers & motor homes don’t all belong to drivers & team members. Most of them are extreme N.A.S.C.A.R. tailgaters.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 04:09 PM

There are many influences that go into Cajun & Creole cooking. Both originated in Louisiana, and were influenced by the many different cultures that had settled in the area. Some of these cultures include The French, Spanish, Portuguese, Africans, and even Native Americans.  Cajun cooking being more influenced by French Provincial peasants, and Creole being developed more in well to do homes, largely in part to slaves’ cooking influences.

Louisiana style cooking was also  influenced by the food available in the area. Fish, shrimp, crawfish, alligator, pork, game, and poultry were available. Gumbos typically contained fish, okra, and ground sassafras leaves for a thickening agent. Other outside inspirations came into play as more cultures moved to the area. Tomatoes, rice, beans, and hot peppers eventually found their way into the mix.  Smoking and deep frying of foods also played an important role and still do today.

One of the facts of this wonderful food, was that you could feed large groups of people with whatever you had on hand. This is when the cooking in large cast iron pots over and outdoor fire came into play. Church socials & political rallies, family reunions & weddings were all places that you could find what we now typically call Jambalaya Pots.

Many of the dishes that have come to be main stay in the area, are a jumbled up mix of both Cajun & Creole example. Regardless of whether it is Cajun or Creole, some wonderful dishes have come down through history and can be found throughout the United States today. Gumbo, jambalaya, & etouffee are no longer just regional favorites of The Louisiana people.There are millions of cookbooks and recipes out there available even to a Northern Yankee like me. They are restaurants all over the nation now serving Louisiana cuisine. The food is easy enough to make at home. You don’t need a large cast iron pot & a wood fire either. You can cook it inside in a slow cooker or on your stove top. If you are cooking for a large group though, get out your turkey fryer kit. You can make a huge pot of jambalaya right in the stock pot over your the outdoor propane patio stove that comes with it.

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Monday, September 20, 2010 @ 01:09 PM

This weekend I went to Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ. This was not a big race weekend pre-say. It was not the Nationals with a lot of spectators tailgating. This was a typical weekend or racing for racers and their families.

Some of these people came for the weekend. Some just came for the day. I met lots of cooks and tailgaters though. There will be a larger event happening in 2 weeks. Many of these folks were testing their cars and getting them ready for the big event. Some were there just racing against each other for money.

I plan on interviewing some of the tailgaters that I met, at the larger function. They all seemed to be quite willing to talk about their fare. One group I met with had just finished breakfast with a skillet on a table top propane grill. One gentleman was grilling some marinated pork chops on a small charcoal grill. One group that I met, was totally gearing up for the day. They had a few cars together and were planning on feeding a big crowd. They had a charcoal grill, already grilling up some sausages. A woman was getting a whole mess of drumsticks ready to deep fry in their outdoor propane deep fryer. They had a nice big BBQ smoker made out of a 50 gallon drum, and when I walked buy later on, I noticed that they had deep fried some french fries as well. I can’t wait to see what they will have cooking for a weekend long event!

So, stay tuned for The Shakedown at E-town. There will be more info & more pictures to come, and maybe a few tips and recipes as well.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010 @ 06:09 AM

I went to an outdoor Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day party at our local fire department yesterday. Technically, it was just a big Irish tailgate party.

This was the most stock pots & outdoor propane cookers  (more or less outdoor propane deep fryer kits) I’ve ever seen in one place at one time.

There was so much corned beef & cabbage & potatoes cooking. They also had a grill for hot dogs, burgers, & grilled corn. It was a well rounded party. Good food, good music & good beer.

The party started out slow, due to iffy weather. It never rained and the crowds finally showed. That would have been a lot of leftover corned beef if it had rained. The whole fire department would have been eating Rubens & corned beef hash all week.

It was interesting to watch theses tailgate cooks at work. There was certainly something to be learned. My tailgate party is usually on a smaller scale, but it is nice to know that I have a place to go for advise should I need to.

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