May 31, 2009

The love of my life had one of those special birthdays and I wanted to have a surprise party for her.  It worked and I didn’t have time to take the usual food porn shots, but that really wasn’t what this was about.

 In this case, the cookout was merely a nice backdrop for a small family reunion, a birthday, and good friends being the best they can be.  2 Sisters and 1 brother are separated by geographical challenges and this was a good reason to come together and share their lives for an afternoon.  We added in a half dozen or so friends, the best friends anyone could ask for, and before we knew it there was a small crowd.  The weather is always a challenge this time of year and, fortunately, Mother Nature was in full cooperation mode yesterday.  It was as if she knew this was a special day for us.  Rain clouds moved around us all day and the sun shone brightly on the afternoon.  While we were putting together a little barbecue buffet I listened to the friends and family share tales of this and that.  I can’t put into words what that did for me and I could tell from my wife’s response that her feelings were 10 fold.  Y’all were great!!  She loved seeing you on her special day.

 I know it can be hard for some to understand and I, like others, enjoy good barbecue, but this is why I enjoy making barbecue.  It brings us together.  We take a few hours out of our busy lives and just tell tales and share with our friends and families.  And it doesn’t have to be brisket that took days to make... grill some hot dogs and folks will do the same thing; kick thier shoes off and sit a spell!  It’s a wonderful thing—barbecue.  In this case the birthday was sufficient, but give my philosophy a whirl some Saturday, you might be surprised if you let the Que work its Juju. J

 In the end it was a great day, maybe the best day ever... My wife’s family made it in from out of town, her best friend strung up decorations all over the house, my best friends showed up to do several menial tasks and make some killer deviled eggs, I stashed food in their fridge too, I was able to cook all day in our kitchen while she was at work and not have the wife know I did such a thing (that’s pretty amazing since I clean like $#!+), and we surprised her!  It was great... I wish you could have been there!  Some of you should have been there... 


Here are a few pieces of food porn... just so y'all don’t think I am slipping.  :)

May 10, 2009

Steelhead Trout

The local “members only” store had some Steelhead Trout that looked good and I had wanted to give it a try ever since a friend on a forum I frequent had recommended it.  I also had wanted to try this recipe, if you will, with Pesto between the fillets.  I say recipe, but this isn't a recipe, it’s just me throwing things together with inspiration-- usually is.  In the way of a little history and to explain the inspiration let me say this. I frequent a few Que forums and this was inspired by an excellent fellow that goes by the name of Don Marco.  He calls his Ying and Yang Salmon with Pesto and I think you can see how that could happen, but my execution of the presentation was poor.  The taste was great!  Big thumbs up DM!  I highly recommend a little pesto on your salmon. 

The wife was not feeling the pesto concept and wanted me to use an Asian inspired glaze that I put on a few things.  It's a mixture of honey, soy, brown sugar, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and lemon juice.  I didn't measure... mix it up and give it a taste.  If you like it... use it.  :)  I am sorry to say the photo of the glaze looked like brown liquid in a bowl and I suppose it was.  The glaze is applied several times toward the end of the grilling.  

It was getting late and I just used the gasser to cook it.  A fish/vege tray can be very handy to keep the fish skin off the grates.  Always be sure to apply some oil to the grill grates before you cook... especially with fish.  I apply vegetable oil with a folded paper towel and tongs.  Something about spraying PAM at a fire seems like bad juju to me.  :)

We picked up some fresh brussel sprouts, thick cut bacon, and an onion. While I was outside at the grill Mrs. Juju was making these scrumptious little cabbages inside. I mean how can you go wrong with bacon and onions? I say if it will make liver taste good it can make anything taste good. :) Sorry... childhood flashback. These were delicious.
Happy Que

May 03, 2009

Derby Day 09

Well... Derby is over.  The rain has returned.  :)  Derby was muddy for the horses, but it turned out dry here.  No rain!   I was amazed. :)  That makes 3 years in a row that they have said "rain, rain, and more rain” and we got squat.  It’s ok by me... I am not complaining.  So... those of us that were here put on some warmer clothes, found our favorite beverage (not mint juleps-- see previous post), picked horses, ate some Q, told some tales, and laughed.  Which in these parts passes for Eat, Drink, and Be Merry.

Since Mrs. Juju and I started cooking on Thursday we are immensely glad that Sunday is going to be a lot less busy than the last few.  You can see the slide show above but let me tell you a few things anyway.  Sauce making, cookie baking, and butt rubbing aside the serious cooking began Saturday morning.  As is our custom there was a hickory smoked fatty, cat head biscuits, and bloody Mary’s for breakfast; a good start to any day.  Lunch was more of a “snack on this till the race is over” dealio.  We had chips and salsa, mixed nuts, rat cheese, fruit and dip, spinach dip, Armadillo Eggs stuffed with cream cheese, smoked sausage, and Louisville Wings with a mustardy sauce. (This recipe is straight out of BBQ USA and it is worth the cost of the book.)

All of us found our chairs and started to decide on which horse we thought would win the Derby.  Might I say we were all terribly wrong?  We did have one person who picked Mine That Bird and she… well… she was quite happy!  We were happy for her, but not as happy as we would have been if we had hit the trifecta.  What a race…

Dinner time was normal BBQ fare by description, but much bigger in taste.  Deviled Eggs, Cole Slaw, Tater Salad, The Best Q Beans, and Pulled Pork Sammiches. 2 sauces; a NC vinegar sauce I make and a sweet and sticky sauce most folks like.  I won’t go down the sauce road right now.

We ate… We drank… and We were merry.  It has been said more than once—BBQ is good friends sharing good times and good food.  I may be able to improve on the pork or the beans or the chicken wings… but it don’t get no better than this.

Happy Que

May 01, 2009

Oaks Day

Well... it is that time again.  Thunder over Louisville is an echo, the Great Steamboat race has been decided, the hot air balloons have soared and dropped the Bluegrass seed on the target, and the Pegasus Parade is just a few hot dog wrappers blowing down the street.  Today is Oaks day.  A day unlike any other in this area.  It isn't a national holiday, but it certainly is a local holiday.  Schools are closed, businesses close early, and the track is the hot spot for the native Louisvillians to gather.  Today.  For tomorrow is Derby Day and only the rich and famous can go to Churchill Downs that day-- unless you want to camp in the infield. :)

There are 2 things that I think come to mind for many folks from other states when they hear about the Kentucky Derby, besides horses that is, and they are Derby Hats and Mint Juleps.  For the record... The hats do cost a car payment if you get them made at the local store.  If you want one from a designer... well... you can imagine.  So those of us here that purchased one, anytime in the last decade, wear it every chance we get-- subsequent Derby Days, church, weddings and funerals, the grocery, while we are putting gas in the car, and occasionally to bed.  :) And, more importantly, no one here that I have ever met has ever said... "Man, I'm parched, where can I get a mint julep?!?!"  Or... "I would like a nice adult beverage bartender!  Muddle together some mint and sugar and top with bourbon and ice and whatever you think would be tasty!"  Doesn't happen... Now, I can almost hear the Mint Julep Anti-defamation League gearing up.  They said... "We are coming to set the record straight and help our fellow mint juleps."  Truth is they just aren't that tasty, wish they were, but they aren't.  Here is a tip for you bartenders, chefs, and everyone else really.  Mint isn't good in everything.  Chewing gum, hard candy, and toothpaste.  That is where mint should be.  And that's why they will sell about eleventy billion mint juleps tomorrow and 9 the rest of the year.  

Whew... I feel better... do you feel better?  For those of you that have never met me... I was trying to be funny in the last paragraph... maybe it worked... maybe it didnt... you decide.  Except when I said mint juleps aren't that tasty and no one that lives here drinks them .  :)  Just kidding... where was I?  Oh Yeah!  BBQ!!

Derby is a great time in our city and most of us just get on with our lives with only a celebration in our back yards.  For me that is exactly what will happen.  Good friends will gather as the day goes by and I cant imagine being any where else.  We have a little larger crowd expected this year; subject to the weather I'm sure.  Some will be early... some will be late... some will come and go.  There will be one constant-- Fun!  It is going to be a lot of fun.  Always is.  We may be a bit more moist this year, but it wont dampen our spirits.
The butts are rubbed, the sauces are simmering, and the marinades are mixing.  Let the Q begin.

Stayed tuned for more on the festivities...  
Happy Derby Y'all!!
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