Archive for April, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011 @ 04:04 PM

If anything, the events of the past few days or even months should be a warning sign to us all. You can’t be prepared for everything! You can only hope to be prepared in case of an emergency. Just having a place to hide underground, or in flooded areas, a place well above the water line is a blessing in itself.

Being prepared for an emergency, whether you have the time to grab stuff, is very important. In case of quick emergency, like a tornado, having a go bag can be critical. A small satchel with a change of clothes, a flashlight and fresh batteries, a first aid kit, a couple of water bottles and maybe some canned food and a hand crank can opener. There are lots of other things to think of, but if you have to dash quickly, hopefully you will have the bag close at hand to grab and go. If you live in an area that is known for tornadoes, hopefully you have an underground safe place. If so, that place should already have some emergency items already stashed and freshened every so often. Like checking the batteries the same time you change out your batteries in your home’s smoke detectors every year.

As far as other things go, for after a storm passes, there may be power outages and no running water for days. If you are a camper, odds are that you may already be somewhat prepared. (If you are lucky enough to not loose everything in the storm’s devastation). You probably have outdoor cooking gear, a hand can opener, tents, propane or charcoal, etc. If you have truly camped out of doors then you will probably be able to take care of yourself.

Not everyone is a camper. For those of you that have never camped out, YOU really need to get prepared. Emergency preparedness is nothing to shake a stick at. If you have a grill, always make sure that you have extra charcoal or propane. If you have a BBQ smoker grill, odds are it is fueled with wood or charcoal, so have extra wood or charcoal. If you don’t have a grill, get yourself something. A little Coleman table top grill with a little propane bottle even. Try to always have some water jugs full. Have a hand crank can opener. Have some canned food in the house. Get a flash light or candles. Make sure you have batteries and matches. Always have a first aid kit somewhere. A battery operated radio or even a hand crank one is not necessary, but can be helpful. Always keep your cell phone charged. A day or two supply of prescription medication.

There are many other things that can be thrown in a emergency bag. Look it up on the web. Find a Boy Scout. Get prepared. You can’t be prepared for everything, but even being a little prepared is a step forward.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011 @ 06:04 AM

I still find it fascinating, the ingenious ways that people tailgate. Some folks are just quiet and simple. A hibachi or card table with a table top grill, some burgers and a cooler out of a car trunk. Some people have taken a typical truck and made extensions and slide out rigs on the truck to go a little more extreme. I’ve seen people with trailers and motor homes. They bring full sized refrigerators, BBQ smokers, outdoor propane deep fryers and outdoor fire pits.

Then, the real hardcore fans. Not that the other folks are any less of fans. Maybe the phrase I am looking for is hardcore tailgater. These are folks that buy old ambulances, buses and fire trucks. They trick them out, add video and sound equipment that is better than in their own houses, and then paint everything to match their favorite team’s colors. Either that or they just make tricked out towable trailers that come equipped with everything from TV’s and beer taps to grills and deep fryers attached.

Some tailgate clubs have multi-talented people that can pull these rigs off. Other people need to rely on some of the companies out there that can put a rig together for them. A few of these companies are Freedom Grill, Freedom Trailers and  Imagi-Motive.

Freedom Grill on the lesser end of the extreme. They have grilling systems that attach into your vehicle via the tow hitch, so that they are outside of the truck for travel. That way you can store more stuff in the vehicle, chairs, coolers, friends. Then the uint swings away from your vehicle while you are cooking. They also have alternate hitch packages so that you can tow your boat or trailer and still have your Freedom Grill on the back of your truck. They also have tow-behind units that are have a nice big grilling area and some units even have storage compartments. These units are great for tailgating with large groups, or even for catering.

Freedom Trailers goes a bit more extreme. They are a company out of Willacoochee, Ga. They manufacture trailers. Not travel trailers that you would take to the campground, but more like hauler trailers that can be tricked out, tailgater style if that is your wish. A\C, TV, storage and counter tops, a couch, and all painted in your team colors.

Imagi-Motive out of Magnolia, TX. is way more extreme. They cater to smaller groups with Tailgate Party Box. The Party Box has the adaptability to allow consumers to bring “high media” to their tailgate without the need for a truck or any other vehicle. It was designed to fit in the back of an SUV, but is also able to sit on top of a table for those that don’t tailgate out of a vehicle. It has everything you need to throw a great party including flat screen TV, satellite system, surround sound system with DVD player and more. All of this is contained in a small, easy to operate box that sits inside the rear of your SUV or truck.

Imagi-Motive have also  stepped out of the tailgating trailer box and designed something that is more practical and customizable than your standard box trailer. This new innovation in tailgating technology allows for more accessible storage, 360 degree usability, and more options than your standard box trailer. There are many features that can be added, including  TVs, surround sound, satellite, grills, smokers, keg taps and cooling, running water and they will even throw in the kitchen sink. They encourage you to sit down and speak with them first about your own tailgating style and what your wants and needs are before the trailer plan is even designed.

These are the folks to take a bus, or old fire truck to and have it customized for your tailgating needs. If you are not a custom car builder or lack basic carpentry skills, they can do the job for you. They can take a travel trailer and re-work the unit so that it meets your tailgating needs. Whether you are tailgating once a week with your favorite college football team or traveling the race circuit doing 3-5 day tailgates, Imagi-Motive can do the job!

So there are lots of products out there. If you tailgate often, there are many ways to make your life a little easier. If you only tailgate occasionally then a table top grill and a cooler is fine. But if you are an extreme tailgater, are in a tailgating group, or thinking about starting one, get out there and check some of these fine folks out. Love to tailgate, just make it more convenient and easier to enjoy the party and the game.


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Saturday, April 23, 2011 @ 08:04 PM

My family has had some long standing Easter traditions. Typically Easter Sunday started out with a hunt in the house for a special basket with goodies and colored eggs.

As far as the main meal went, typically after a morning at church, or a sunrise service out on the Great South Bay we had a beautiful leg of lamb. Over the years, as I have grown older, I have tried to change up the menu in some ways. I have had smoked and spiral cut ham. I even roasted a leg of lamb in my Brinkamnn grill. This year I plan to roast a fresh ham on my grill.

Most of the traditions we had primarily came from my mother’s mom’s family. They were of German decent and were farmers in eastern Pennsylvania. Two of our traditions are actually recipes that we only make at Easter time.

One traditional recipe is actually a pickled beet recipe, but since I was a kid, I only knew it as pickled eggs. You make the brew and pour it over your beets, eggs and some sliced onion. Then you just need to let them set for a day or two before eating. They are a bit sweeter than your traditional pickled egg, but I like these purple eggs much better. The others are usually too vinegary for me.

Pickled Eggs:
1 can sliced beets
1\4 c water (I usually use the purple water that the beets were in…save the rest of the beet water too in case you need a little extra liquid)
1\3 c sugar
1\2 c white vinegar
1 small onion sliced thin or 2-3 pearl onions sliced thin
6 hard boiled eggs
1 qt sized large mouth mason jar

Peel eggs. Place eggs, beets, onions, alternately in mason jar.
Heat water, sugar, and vinegar to just boiling. Pour heated liquid over eggs and beets in the jar. (Now if you need a bit of extra liquid, pour some beet water in until everything is covered). Cover the jar. Let sit until cool. Place in the fridge. Let the eggs set for at least 24 hours before sampling.

I have also used this recipe for after Easter when we had too many leftover colored eggs. It is a better way to preserve hard cooked eggs.

Another traditional Easter recipe that came from my Gram’s family was orange drop cookies. My great grandmother’s recipe was big enough that all her 12 grandchildren always got a cookie or three.

Orange Drop Cookies:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2 c sugar

1 c shortening

3 eggs

juice and rind of 2 oranges (about 1\2 c juice)

1 c buttermilk or sour milk

4 1\2 c sifted flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

dash of salt

Cream the sugar and shortening. Add the 3 eggs, orange rind and juice, and the milk.

In a separate bowl sift the dry ingredients, then add to the wet mix.

Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cool the cookies, then ice with the following:

1 box confectioners sugar, 1 tsp melted butter, juice from 1 orange(about 1\4 c), and 1 egg yolk.

I have tried to pass my own family traditions on to my children over the years. We always colored eggs together, I had my kids hunt for baskets. We went to church and shared a nice meal together with family and friends. My own children are older now. Not old enough to have children of their own yet, but too old for Easter baskets and for coloring eggs with mom. I will miss those days, but treasure their memory dearly. Hopefully if my children are blessed with children of their own, they will share the traditions that I have shared with them.

Have a blessed holiday.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011 @ 06:04 AM

I am currently in Concord, North Carolina. I was watching the news the other day. I unfortunately did not get to see the whole segment because of time constraints, but they had a bit on an elderly man and his cast iron skillet. The man was adamant about his cast iron pan. He claimed that he loved this piece of cookware so dearly that he was going to take it to his grave with him. I am assuming that he wanted to have the skillet buried with him.

That is really unfortunate for this gentleman’s family members. I have found that cast iron cookware, when cared for properly, as I am sure this man’s pan is, will last for generations. It would be a nice hand me down to his children or grandchildren.

Many folks don’t know how good cast iron is in cooking. When properly seasoned, a cast iron pot is the ultimate in non-stick cookware. You don’t have to have special cooking tools so that you don’t scratch the surface. You can always re-season a pan when need be. You can’t re-Teflon a non-stick skillet. Cast iron pans heat more evenly and are extremely versatile. You can cook with cast iron anywhere: stove top, oven, grill, even in a bed of coals or over an open fire. You can deep fry, bake, stew, griddle, saute, barbecue and grill with cast iron cookware.

There are many people that are passionate about cast iron cooking. I do wish I had had the time to stay and watch the news segment on that old man and his cast iron pan. I dearly love my cast iron cookware and love to tell people about it. I bet that man had that pan passed down to him. I hope he changes his mind and decides to leave the pan to his favorite grandson, or something, and continue his passion for cast iron.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011 @ 08:04 AM

Something that I have found is that every region has it’s own deep fried particulars. Some regions share items but give them different names. For instance, there are spiral cut potatoes that are deep fried on a skewer. I’ve heard them called Texas twisters, tornado potatoes, spiral fried potatoes, tornado fries. They have many different names. And even though they are a big hit at North American festivals and fairs, they originated in South Korea.

Something similar, but a sweeter version, that I have found in North Carolina is deep fried, spiral cut, batter dipped apple. Why not? If they can deep fry candy bars or even butter, why not something a little healthier and deep fry fruit. It can also be done in slices instead of spirals. Abel Gonzales, the deep fry king from Texas has even created a deletable nosh of an apple wedge, engulfed in peanut butter, batter dipped and then placed in the deep fryer.

The world is limited only by small imaginations. Get out there and stretch your minds. Imagine big things. Deep fry an apple!

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Friday, April 15, 2011 @ 07:04 AM

Drag racing tailgaters still always amaze me. They are always extreme to the max. As far as racing tailgates go, to me drag racing enthusiasts take the prize. I have seen everything from small Habachis to big propane grills that look like engines. Table top stoves to big trailer pulled BBQ smokers. Outdoor propane deep fryers and turkey fryers. I have even seen the Queen of Philly Cheese Steaks show  up with a stock pot and outdoor propane patio cooker and make cheese steak for 150 people. I have even seen grilling competitions set up while the drag racing was going on.

Usually when at a great race venue, there are regular style camping spots to set up at. Full hook ups, even cable connections. Even if you aren’t showing up with a trailer or motor home, there are ways to get through 3-5 days of tailgating quite easily. They have places to buy ice and propane, they also have carts that go through the venue selling bags of ice. Some venues will even send around honey carts to pump your tanks if need be.

I did see something different yesterday at the drag strip. I’m quite sure that it has been done before, but it is the first time I have actually seen it. I saw a tailgating group. They had a motor home and hook ups. But tailgating for 5 days with a big group? Motor home refrigerators are not really that big. Even when I’ve done the 5 day tailgate we always had to store extra food in coolers, or leave the area to go back to a store. Yesterday, I saw a man with a full sized refrigerator that he brought along to set up right in the middle of his tailgate. How awesome is that?! Now coolers can be for just beverages and all your food and leftovers can be put in the outside fridge.

People come up with great ideas to make tailgating easier all the time. I just find the human brain fascinating!

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Thursday, April 14, 2011 @ 07:04 AM

There have been all sorts of new and different concoctions becoming popular in the deep fryer world. Deep fried cookies and deep fried cookie dough are two things that have come to light that not every one thinks about when they think deep fried food.

You can pretty much deep fry anything. Hot dogs, Twinkies, Snicker Bars, etc. At the Texas State Fair, a gentleman has created a deep fried eatery that fries everything under the sun. Cookie dough being one of them. He takes a blob of raw cookie dough, dips it in batter, and then into the deep fryer it goes.

Recently I have seen a baked cookie confection that I think would work out just as well deep fried. You start with a chocolate sandwich cookie like an Oreo, and surround the sandwich cookie with chocolate chip cookie dough. Then you bake it. I don’t see why you couldn’t take a fudge wrapped Oreo, wrap it in the cookie dough, dip it in batter and then deep fry it. I know of a local pizzeria that actually wraps fudge coated Oreos in pizza dough. They deep fry them and then put powdered sugar on them. Why not just add chocolate chip cookie dough to the mix.

Well, I think I’ve got my sweet tooth peaked. Time to go find something sweet to eat.

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Monday, April 11, 2011 @ 04:04 PM

I am going on a long race weekend. Tailgating is usually required in one form or another on a long race weekend.

If you are lucky enough to have a trailer or motor home, you are in like flint. Many race venues have an area for campers to set up, usually right on the venue grounds too. Some even with hook ups. This is a great way to go. You can tailgate to the extreme this way. BBQ smokers, grills, outdoor propane deep fryers, nothing is left to be desired when refrigeration is involved.

When you are working with tents, trucks, and coolers, this can get a bit more complicated, as coolers for 3 to 5 days worth of food can take up a lot of space. Besides having to fit your outdoor cooking gear in as well. Big race venues will typically have ice to purchase on the grounds somewhere throughout the weekend. Some places even have areas to refill propane tanks. I always suggest bringing multiple propane tanks anyway. If you don’t have to leave the grounds in search of LP gas or other fuel, then don’t. Traffic on race weekends is bad enough. Once you’re already in, it’s great if you can stay right where you’re at. If you don’t have to leave in search of food and beverages, that it a plus as well.

Even if you’re flying in to a race venue far away, getting a hotel, and renting a car, odds are you folks will be tailgating too. Getting into a track and getting to a parking spot is a chore all on it’s own. You’ll want to bring some water at least and possibly something to nosh on. Even leaving a parking lot could take HOURS. Hopefully your hotel is close enough that bringing a whole picnic lunch or dinner is not required. Make sure you’ve got something to nibble on just in case.

Let’s go racin’ boys!!!

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Saturday, April 9, 2011 @ 04:04 PM

I never really thought about it before. Most tailgaters that I know, cook right at the track, or in the parking lot. I’ve seen everything from small charcoal grills and table top propane stoves, to trailer BBQ smokers and outdoor propane deep fryers. I usually tailgate for race weekends. There is usually much more food involved when you are at a venue for more than 24 hours.

I met someone the other day that told me they cook all of their food before hand and just heat it up at the stadium. I mean, I’ve met people that do prep work ahead of time, or go real simple like burgers and dogs, but I never met anyone that made everything ahead of time and just warmed it up. It almost seems like cheating. But I guess that lends more time for drinking and partying. As I said I am usually at a venue for longer periods of time than one afternoon football game. Not everyone is the greatest grill cook or chef either. I suppose for some real adamant fans the game is more important than the food. To most tailgaters that I know though, the food is just as important. Menus are planned, certain items are divvied up between party goers, and there is usually one or two great chefs that bring it all together.

I like to go out of my way to make new and different things for every tailgate. There is no reason to have boring food just because you are out of doors, stuck in a parking lot for 2 to 3 hours or more. Why not have fun with it? I never really did ask the guy what they reheated at their functions. I was just a little surprised. He just said that they cooked it all ahead of time. They ate cold, then hot, and drank a lot of beer.

To each his own. I think I will stick to shaking up my race day menus and cooking on the spot. We have sandwiches and stuff too, but I like a hot breakfast and a nice hot dinner at the race track. Then I let everyone else clean up so that I can drink beer and get ready for more racing action.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011 @ 02:04 PM

It is getting time to get back off of Long Island. Yes it is a beautiful place to live, but very expensive.

I mean for starters, it is not like I live in the deep frying capitol of the world. Obviously a deep fried fish area, but we also have shellfish and crustaceans in plenty. We steam, broil, BBQ, and bake our fish here too. Some people even eat it raw. There is a restaurant in Brooklyn, which is still part of Long Island, but really considered part of New York City. They will deep fry anything you want there, from meat or pickles, to candy bars and Twinkies.

I have opportunity to go further north into New England, because you know they deep fry everything in the land of Sugar Maples. Just Kidding! Aside from being able to use a turkey fryer to cook down your sap into syrup, not much frying going on except at festivals and restaurants. Not every New Englander just happens to have an outdoor propane deep fryer to have a Friday night fish fry every week.

I do think that the cholesterol and health issues of eating fried foods all the time may have something to do with it. Not that people in deep fryer regions don’t care about such things. I think that people in other areas are just not so up tight as other areas. When you only have summer weather 2 to 3 months out of the year, it can make you a little bit grumpy. People in the south, where deep frying is more prevalent, are just more laid back.

I also have an opportunity to move southward, near the coast of  North Carolina. Still plenty of fish to go around. Lots of deep frying, from sweet potatoes and fish, to apples and french fries. Also the land of barbecue. They are big on pig in North Carolina. Pork ribs and pulled pork are a favorite of the whole state.

Well, whatever we decide to do, and wherever we decide to go, I am sure that we will bring our regional favorites with us to share, and we will learn some new ways of cooking too.

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