Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Do you find this funny or cute? This label did catch my attention. I believe that using profanity in labels is inappropriate. Words that were once considered dirty language are now acceptable and used in the labels of some rubs, hot sauces and bbq sauces. I even heard G*d D*m on network television the other night. I use profanity regularly but only when I am around my pals. I know what the taste of a bar of soap tastes like administered from my mother. There is a time and place to use profanity and it is not in advertising in my opinion. We all vote with our dollars and I will not be voting for this product.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
"Like a kid in a candy store"
As some of you may know, I have a sweet tooth. My Achilles heel in life is my passion for cheesecake. When I found out that an old friend from my working days at the salt mines opened a sweet shop in Hayward California, it was time for a 'Sweets Adventure'. The Racing Honda detoured from our journey home from the Asparagus festival. Our destination was 'Charlotte's', located in the revitalized downtown Hayward. Parking Karma was on hold today but we did snag a spot in the public lots one block away.
We walked through the doors and the old saying never rang truer; I was 'like a kid in a candy store'. Fudge, truffles, cakes, and candies in all their beautiful sweet splendor were on display. Are you ready for this? There was a refrigerated display case that had at least a half dozen different flavored cheesecakes. Wow!. The fudge is house made like a lot of the other candies. I have forgot to mention ice cream. What sweet shop would not be complete with out it?
Ron Rivera is an old work friend and owner of Charlotte's. Ron has a laid back personality and may have one of the best jobs in the world. Ron and his wife started making home made fudge and selling it at festivals. Their passion led to the opening of Charlotte's. Ron and I shot the breeze and he told me more about his shop. He casualty told me about the chocolate covered bacon. What? Chocolate covered bacon was not on display. I jumped up and politely asked the counter clerk to break out this secret chocolate covered bacon stash. Hallelujah! This Mad Meat Genius was one happy camper.
We left the store with salted chocolate caramels, apple streusel topped cheesecake, truffles and of course chocolate covered bacon. Charlottes's is a destination Sweet Adventure. We shall return again and again. I now have a mission to try every flavor of cheesecake. Ron Rivera has a sweet gold mine of fantastic candy treats. See you there.
1049 B St
Hayward, CA 94541
Friday, April 22, 2016
Mars, Venus and the Moon will align on very rare occasions and one will find parking in San Francisco with about the same frequency. This is not the case when we are on Meat Adventures. I am blessed with a certain skill and possibly luck in finding hard to acquire parking real estate. I like to contribute this savvy to a belief of Karma. Parking Karma has attached its benefits to our adventures. Once again Parking Karma blessed us with a spot right in front of Black Bark BBQ. I know this pains,'The Great White Hunter' but here is the proof. We also had a fantastic meal to gild the lily.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
We are having lots of fun trying recipes from ‘SmokingBacon & Hog Cookbook’. It also helps that we have some of the best ever ‘Maple Smoked Pork Belly’, made from this books recipe collection. This bacon that would make anything taste fantastic. The recipe we are trying today is called ‘Pig Shots’. This is an appetizer comprising of sausage, cream cheese wrapped in bacon and smoked. These are bite size shots of fun. As of any recipe, we will be using the cookbooks recipe as a guideline and throwing in Mad Meat Genius twists. Let’ fire up the smoker.
1 lb bulk sausage (We used garlic sausage)
1 lb thick cut bacon (slice slices in half)
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature ( We used whipped jalapeno flavored cream cheese)
! cup brown sugar
A little sausage ball (approx. 1-2 oz.) is wrapped with the half slice of bacon. Flatten the sausage ball and secure this with a toothpick skewering the base. The next layer is cream cheese. I suppose a piping bag would work but I just spooned a tablespoon and smeared it with my clean fingers. Top this with a heaping teaspoon of brown sugar. Finally top this with a little dollop of bbq sauce Place all in a disposable aluminum pan. . They are ready for the smoker.
The smoker was set to 275 degrees. The cooking time was 90 minutes. You will know when they are done when the bacon is crisp and golden. Remove and try to let them rest for 15 minutes. I know that may be impossible because they smell and look awesome.
Several of our Pig Shots opened up in the smoker because we did not do the best job in securing them with the toothpick. That was not a problem because I devoured them as a perk of being the cook. This is a decadent fun treat for the senses. I like the twist of the jalapeno cream cheese because it left a little tease of wonderful jalapeno heat. The bbq sauce and brown sugar gives this savory treat a sweet component that is a complement to the richness of this combination. These appetizers would be a hit at any gathering. Oh yeah!
Sunday, April 17, 2016
Joey 'Jaws" Chestnut and Matt 'Megatoad' Stonie were not there to battle in deep fried asparagus eating supremacy. The name and the venue have changed but asparagus is still the king at the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival. There was an asparagus eating contest Friday night, but, it was more a local event and did not have the national eating stars. The Asparagus festival has scaled down in in scope but not enthusiasm to celebrate the 'Spears of Spring". Ms. Goofy and I walked the fair and had a couple of asparagus snacks which we would like to share with you.
This is an asparagus corn dog.It was one of those novelty items that just had to be experienced. The batter must of had an asparagus purees. When bitten into the batter had a greenish hue. This food item was not as good as the bacon wrapped asparagus but filled the bill for a carnival food experience.
I personally got a smile from this vendor who was selling security systems. His display had a lifelike 'Barney Fife.' ;
Andy Taylor: What are you doing?
Barney Fife: Gun-drawing practice, ten minutes every day. If I ever have to use this baby, I want to teach it to come to papa in a hurry.
Our friends, Rob Ryan and wife Medeiros from the BBQ community were there selling their rubs and sauces. They were thankful for the large crowds buying their 'Robs Smokin' Rub & Frog Sauce.' There was a lot to see and do at this event. One of my favorites was watching the roller-derby girls do battle in the oval ring. You know that pavement has got to hurt. Maybe Ms. Goofy someday will don the rollers.
Lastly, I would like to leave you with a little disturbing mascot. What is it? The San Joaquin Asparagus festival has scaled down from its past glory years but is still a fun event. There were a lot of people enjoying the day and asparagus. We had a fun time. How can you go wrong with bacon wrapped asparagus?
Thursday, April 14, 2016
Bill Gillespie from the bbq competition team “The Smokin’ Hoggz” has written a comprehensive guide to cooking pork from the whole hog. Bill started this book as a bacon cookbook and expanded it to include more than 100 recipes to include every part of the pig. This is reflected in the title “The Smoking Bacon & Hog Cookbook. He had me at bacon. The good people at “Page Street Publishing Co.’ have sent me a book for review. This should be a lot of fun because some of you may know; I love bacon. Let’s take a look and try a couple of recipes.
I opened this book and immediately hid in the back room. I hid because these images of food porn throughout this book made me think of guilty food pleasures. I jest, but Wow! What a feast for the eyes. I leafed through the book before even reading any text. After wiping the steam off of my glasses, I then browsed the seven chapters. The introduction gives a brief run down on types of swine and different bbq equipment to cook such. The next chapter, my favorite was “The Belly of the Beast”. Bacon, bacon, bacon, how to cure and smoke with recipes to boot gave me inspiration. The next chapters covered ribs, chops, loins and every other part of the hog imaginable. There was even a chapter titled “Going Whole Hog” on how to cook a whole pig; With each cut of pork many easy recipes were offered.
The recipes included with each cut of pork are easy to follow with great instructions.We are going to share two recipes of ‘Maple-Smoked Pork Belly’ and ‘Loaded Potato Potato salad with Bacon”. The maple bacon takes a week commitment of time but is worth every iota of effort. Ms. Goofy, my wife and I loved the potato salad. Let’s get cooking.
Maple-Smoked Pork Belly
Maple-Smoked Pork Belly
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
1 tsp pink salt
For The Smoking Process
3-4 pd pork belly
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ maple sugar
2 tbsp Smokin’ Hoggz All Purpose Rub (recipe is included in book)
3-4 chunks sugar maple wood.
I have condensed the original recipe from the book. The book is more comprehensive and detailed. I took the cure and rubbed a 4 pound rind-off belly all over. It was covered and put in a refrigerator for 7 days turning over every day. After 6 days the belly was rinsed of the cure and returned to the refrigerator overnight. The smoker fueled by charcoal and spiked with chunks of sugar maple wood ran at appox. 225 degrees for 3 hours until the internal temperature of the belly hit 150 degrees. The bacon was removed and cooled.
Have you ever smoked your own bacon? This can be a heavenly experience. The smells are intoxicating and oh so seductive. This recipe was the perfect mix of sweet maple, smoke, salt and pork. With just a short time commitment you too can have some of the best bacon ever. This should go fantastic in our potato salad.
Loaded-Potato Potato Salad with Bacon
3 tbsp white vinegar
1/3 cup chopped red onion
¾ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped bread and butter pickles
½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 lb russet potatoes , peeled , cut in ½ pieces, cooked and chilled
3 large hard boiled eggs, peeled and dices
1 lb bacon chopped
1 cup shredded chear cheese.
Combine all ingredients and chill before serving. Wasn’t that easy!!!!
‘The Smoking Bacon & Hog Cookbook’ has been a great inspiration. With its beautiful illustrations and easy to follow recipes, it will give hours of food entertainment. We only shared two recipes with you but there are so many more that we are going to try. Bill Gillespie is respected in the bbq community and has written a wonderful all-inclusive book about cooking everything from the hog. As I said, Bill had me at bacon and has the recipes to back it up. The Maple Smoked Pork Belly’ is a recipe that I will be repeating. The Loaded-Potato Salad with Bacon was a loaded potato lover’s dream. We loved it. We used our maple bacon for a delicious salad that would be a hit at any gathering. I cannot wait to try some more recipes.
The Smoking Bacon & Hog Cookdbook
‘The Whole Pig & Nothing But The Pig BBQ Recipes'
By Bill Gillespie
With Tim O’Keefe
Sunday, April 10, 2016
The weather was not cooperating today. It was raining throughout the day. This did not dampen our commitment to creating a feast that was all prepared with our black iron ovens. We had a small platoon of pop-up tents. This provided shelter to slice and dice meats and vegetables for cooking. There was a slight haze of charcoal smoke from all the chimney starters. It was quit the scene.
It is amazing what can be prepared in a Dutch oven. Can you prepare a certain dish in your home oven? That same dish can be prepared in a Dutch oven. Meats, side dishes, desserts and my specialty breads were prepared today. We were shooting for a 12 noon lunch. Participants were timing their cooks to make this time goal. There were a couple of late arrivals to the D.O.G. So we had a second seating of dishes scheduled for one o’clock.
We had a brief meeting at noon; welcoming attendees and taking care of some IDOS business. It was time to eat. Are you ready for this long list of scrumptious dishes? We started with a meatball crostini. Some of the main dishes included; lasagna, pulled pork sliders, red beans & rice, several chilis’, beef stew, vegetable stew, lamb, and a potato sausage casserole. The bread department had some monkey bread and my signature dish of jalapeno cheese bread. Desserts included a peach cobbler and an apple ‘dump’ cake. This was only the first sitting. I had prior commitments and missed the second offering of Dutch oven cooked delights. WoW!!!!!!!!
What a fun day. It was great to gather with a bunch of Dutch oven enthusiasts. We swapped ideas, stories and Dutch oven knowledge. We were situated in beautiful surroundings of a vineyard. I can guarantee nobody walked away from this event hungry. I cannot wait till the next D.O.G.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
The dutch oven team of "The Meatmen" will be reunited this weekend for a dutch oven gathering. (D.O.G.). The trusty black iron needed to be taken out of storage and given a little TLC in anticipation of the event this Saturday. I wanted to shake a few cobwebs out and have a practice cook. I also wanted to try a new/old product from Lodge.Mfg; Dutch Oven Liners. This is a pre-cut piece of parchment paper that fits inside your dutch oven. This guarantees that food will not stick and will aid in the removal of the cooked dish. Let's build a fire.
My usual duties of the Meatmen is to create a bread dish. My signature dish is jalapeno cheese bread.
One aspect of cooking this bread is removing it from the pan after it has been cooked. There is always a little anxiety that some will stick to the pan and ruin the presentation. Hopefully these liners will remedy this situation. I also have the question will the bread brown through the paper? The recipe was followed normally. I placed the liner in the pot and trimmed excess paper to fit. It was time to cook.
The moment had arrived The bread was done. Will it stick? OH MY GOSH!!!!!. The bread lifted out of the pan with the greatest of ease. I removed the parchment paper and the bread was a beautiful golden brown. Dutch Oven Liners are the best thing since sliced bread or Maple Bacon Pop-Tarts. This product is a no-brainier. I wish I had discovered this years ago. Stay tuned, I hope to share images to you from the D.O.G.
Sunday, April 3, 2016
Welcome to the 5th Annual Santa Anita Winners Circle BBQ Championship. I started this collection of images with the word; Magic. There is just a magical feeling at this competition. The venue, surrounding San Gabriel mountain's scenery, weather, happy crowds, race fans and the most fantastic bbq competition all add up for a weekend of fun in the sun. How can I explain the excitement of judging some of the best ribs ever and hearing the roar and thunder of the horses racing so very close by. This was our second year of attending and we would like to share a few images with you.
I had never seen the Weber Smoky Mountain insulated covers in action. These insulated blankets help maintain constant heat in lower night temperatures. It sure looks fancy and a little spaceship like. The image above shows an assortment of smoking woods. It sure pays to be prepared for all flavor profiles.
This event attracts a large crowd of bbq hungry patrons. They were able to purchase bbq and then vote for their favorite dishes. I saw a lot of bbq smeared smiles in this bunch.. You can see the line for the famous television bbq personality Harry Soo. He competed and vended some award winning bbq. He also had his lineup of sauces and rubs for sale. In between races you could listen to a rocking live band. There was a lot to do. This venue even has a special area just for childrens attraction. This is perfect to occupy the young ones while placing wagers.
This is a statue of the famous Sea Biscuit. The racing grandstands are a tribute to old school elegance. One feels like they have stepped back in time with this immaculate and historic race track. You can even have your car valet parked at the 'Turf Club'. We loved it.
It was bound to happen. Somebody dumped live coals into the dumpster. The staff was on it liquidity split. The staff and racetrack personnel ran a tight ship to make this a smooth running event.
It had been a long day of festivities. The teams assembled for the awards. I missed the memo to wear red at this juncture of the day. We cheered the winners. The promoters and 'reps' had done a fantastic job to pull off such a fabulous event. The Grand Champion "Rooftop BBQ' was awarded a plaque and a wheelbarrow full of cash. Maybe not a wheelbarow but I am sure it was a sizable amount. We cannot wait til next year to experience the magic again.