Saturday, June 28, 2008

New Eggland Festival

So, when I bought my Big Green Egg, I had heard about these Egg Festivals that owners of BGE's go to, cook and generally have a fun time! It just happened to be my luck that this year, New England was going to host it's first annual Eggfest this June! It was only about an hour and ten minutes with a very patient, pregnant vegetarian wife with me, we headed up to find:A whole bunch of people who are just as nutty about their BBQ/Grilling as I am :) Here, Stephanie models her very first Egg Tshirt...I couldn't be more proud!

There were people cooking of all skill levels but everyone seemed to be having a super cool time. This family seemed to have unlimited, diverse selections of food that ran from ribs, to pulled pork to sun dried tomato dip.
It goes without saying that that the Curran family was one of my favorite stops that I kept looping back to...they seemed to have a lot of family members there who were hanging out and helping with the cooking.
As you can imagine, this was a family event...this little guy was loving the chocolate cake!
Of course, the real start was the BGE...I know I sound like broken record, but it truly is an amazing piece of BBQ equipment
This guy was part of Team Lunchmeat who are part of the New England BBQ society. It certainly looks like an interesting group to join...I have some literature that I'm going to review.
Steph just kept swiping the camera 'cause she got a kick outta me going around and trying the different recipes that people were coming up with.

It was about midway through strolling around when I noticed some mini sliders. Always a big fan o' burgers I had to try one.

When I looked up I saw:
Andy Husbands of Tremont 647 fame! Seriously...I had no idea he was going to be there, though Steph seemed to have read something on the website. We had gone to 647 for our anniversary and absolutely had a great time. We took a couple minutes to chat with him and he was very nice. However, more food called as we tried some incredible pizza.
Also, had some yummy ribs. I didn't catch this guys name but he was really nice as we chatted a while regarding some BBQ techniques.
Yeah...Steph took this one as I was trying some Curran family pulled pork....YUM!
There also were some interesting desserts including cooking some sweet potatoes in butter on the grill
That were turned into a yummy desert that had a sweet cream cheese filling...YUM!
There was also a desert made with some grilled bananas...yum.
Overall, I think the show was a huge was a very positive environment and it was really fun to be around people who love food and sharing BBQ techniques and tips. The thing that I dug was that it wasn't a competition, it was all about the food and sharing what you think would be fun for everyone :) I would love to say I'd be there to cook next year, but there is NO way I'm moving my egg off the porch! lol

****Just because I was feeling a little Nerdy***********

Orbital - Dr. Who Remix

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rubin' some Chicks

Now...when using Natural Lump Charcoal, I've learned that it is VERY important to not just light the grill but to let it get up to temperature before I even think about putting meat or anything else on it. A couple times before I was so enlightened, I would put meat on the grill while blue/white smoke was still coming out the top. These are the impurities that the natural charcoal is burning wait until the only thing coming out the top of your grill is HEAT! :D

So, I know from past experience that blog folks don't dig seeing raw meat so I didn't take any pix of the chicken prior to prepping. But here's a semi-wet rub that I created....take some concentrated tomato puree, add some Chipotle puree (about 1/3 as much relative to the tomato paste), dark brown sugar, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Let that sit for a little while to blend then added it to some chicken thighs to give some flavor. Now...most people (including myself when I don't have tons of time) cook thighs at around 350 'till done. What I did in this situation was to cook 'em low (200 degrees) and slow (3 hours). I hit it with soem reserved glaze from time to time but not too often...remember..."if you are lookin' you ain't cookin'". What came out I have to say was pretty damn yummy:

Little sweet...little spicay and really tender. I'd totally recommend the slow/low thighs if you haven't done it. Now...just so you can see what Boston has been up to last week.....I got outta work last Thursday at lunch to go see the Celtics celebrate their 17th championship:

The crowds were outta control, but it was really nice to be able to get out and enjoy a really nice day out with some nutty but fun sports fans. I know that people around here have been waiting since 1986 to celebrate a championship and as I was one of the kids walkin' around in the 6th grade with a Celtics cap, I had to smile and enjoy the moment.

**********GROOVY SLOW/LOW MUSIC****************

The Stills - Still in Love

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Local Saturday

So, when it's a nice Saturday in our beautiful town Stephanie and I will walk downtown to our common green and go to the farmers market. To date there hasn't been much in the way of produce but we still keep goin' so that we can see what is there. This Saturday Steph saw a sign for a yard sale so we decided to stop by and found:

Some old skool muffin tins for 50 cents (which we didn't buy but I dug). Steph found a steamer for 25 cents which we did buy!
Assorted pots and pans...vintage family stuff. As we aren't going to need for cheap pots/pans. The question of the day had to come from Steph when I pointed out a pressure cooker when she asked if I wanted to buy it and I replied "Sure I wouldn't mind a pressure cooker...just not the first 80 year old version of it!!"
My favorite item which we didn't buy was a full skeleton of some unidentified animal. I was thinking about asking...but I really didn't want to know ;) Moving on we went to the market where we stopped at the booth for Chestnut Farms. We try to support local industry as much as possible and I would implore you to take a look at the organic and humane ways the different meats are raised and processed. We picked up a pound of ground meat and a package of all beef hot dogs.
We then headed over to see Debbie of "Sweet Marissa's Bakery"
Now Debbie is engaged to a guy named Virgilio. One of my oldest and best friends is Dee, whom I cooked pasta with her Mom a while ago. Virg is Dee's brother and given how I feel a part of the family we always stop by and say hello. Regardless of the family connection, Debbie makes some great baked goods:
I had put in a personal request a couple weeks ago for the chocolate Pizzelle's and Debbie came through with flying colors. I'll just say this...we bought two packages of these cookays on Sat. morning and as of Sunday night there are no more. I also will point out that Steph isn't eating sweets right may discuss that amongst yourselves. For dinner that night...Steph put together an incredible salad of tomatoes/mozzarella/basil.
Yeah...we live on the edge eating tomatoes. I got the BGE (Big Green Egg) up to temperature and grilled up some Onions which I had seasoned with a bit of salt/pepper/cumin/ginger.
I prepped the ground beef by chopping up a little bit of onion, dicing some garlic and seasoning with chili pepper, cumin and cinnamon. I had originally put them on skewers but they fell off when cooked on the grill. This led, by my hand admittedly to some drier meat kebabs than what I wanted. I looked it up online and the meat that Chestnut Farm sells is 95% fat free! Not bad...but also needs care when cooking. What came out was a very healthy, mostly locally grown dinner...not bad for some Saturday grilling, eh?

*********My favorite band of 2008 hands down!************

Vampire Weekend - M79

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Smokin Challah

Ok, now I've got to admit, when we purchased our home the thing that I was most excited about was the ability to grill outside. Now I had a small propane grill that I've used to grill when I tailgate that I really love. We bought a small stand for it so that I could grill a little last fall when the weather was semi nice. As spring arrived, thoughts again turned to grilling outside and a new gril and the purchase of a new grill for me to make some real BBQ. At the back of me brain I remembered my pal William writing about making a ceramic cooker based on an Alton Brown design. This led me to do some research on Ceramic Cookers and specifically the Big Green Egg. Looking it over...I was totally hooked. I looked up all the Youtube clips, read as much as I could and saw a piece of hardware that could do the following:
  • Grill (at super hot temperatures!)
  • Smoke (at super low temperatures over a long period of time)
  • Bake
I really wanted a charcoal grill...that wasn't debatable, but I also wanted a smoker. Based on my research...the BGE was what I wanted as it did so much. Admittedly, it is a bit on the pricey side...but I'd rather buy a quality product that I would use all the time. So....we purchased my new baby in March and brought it home. With a ceramic cooker like the egg...the main drawback is the huge 140 lbs weight of lugging it around. Our yard was one big mudpit in March and our deck was only a glimmer of our imagination so we put the egg down near the back stairs.

I'm going to take an aside here and let you in on my plans for the blog...I really want this to show ya'll the evolution of me as a BBQ guy and not just have the successes. Having said all that ...I'll continue

As I was itchin' to try something on the Egg I decided that I would try to bake some bread. I've always wanted to try cooking Challah and thought this would be a good way to kick things off :) I found a recipe online and got rocking. I know most people probably are thinking that it's a strange thing to cook for the first thing on a grill...but that is precisely the reason why. I kicked off things by lighting the grill with my electric starter.

A lot of people think charcoal and they think what a drag it is to light, ash...all that. Seriously...with an electric starter it's not that big of a deal getting the egg up and running in about 15 minutes or so. Now, in order to bake, one needs to put a ceramic heat shield in which creates a convection oven. With some finagling I got the egg stabilized at the proper temperature and cooked away. What came out, I have to say was pretty neat looking:

Biting into the bread, however, produced not only the trademark sweetness of Challah but also quite a bit of smoky flavor. The crust was incredible as well...however, the bread really was suited only for making into bread crumbs. What I realized was that with the lump charcoal...have to let it burn for a a while to make sure that there isn't any smoke from the initial startup of the charcoal. Oh and learn...just wait 'till the pizza post...FAR better results :)

**************Smokay Bread Music****************

Band of Horses - Our Swords

Sunday, June 8, 2008

What up

Soo..some of you may be wondering what has been up with CforCooking. It's been forever and a day since I have posted and for a semi good reason. I was sitting in class writing a post for class when the database became corrupted and I couldn't recover it. At that point I decided that I was through hosting a blog in my own databases...just not worth the time, aggravation and general pain in the butt that upgrading the software/databases. Combine that with 2 needy classes and I was swamped through April and May. When I was in China, my roommate told me that 2008 was going to be a big year for me and he was totally right. To date 2008 has included:

  • Working on our new house (new deck, new kitchen!)
  • Going to China
  • Purchase of a Big Green Egg which I'm very much blaming on Wiliam Conway
  • Leaving my job of 9 1/2 years to go to a smaller financial software company
  • Completing my grad classes and graduating with my MBA on May 17th!
  • Birth of my niece on April 17th
Now...all of that is some pretty cool stuff but it pales in comparison to the bigger news that we received. Turns out that Steph and I are expecting our first child!! The due date is 12/31/08 and we couldn't be happier. I've set up a website that will hopefully keep family and friends informed and will get Stephanie in the blogging game. The website is and is very much beta right about now...however, we do have about 6 months to get it going :)

As for this site...since I've bought my egg I've been participating in some yummy BBQ/Grill action on my egg. So much so, that I'll be shifting the focus of the site for a while to grilling/BBQ' get ready for some fun times and if you have any suggestions for the site please let me know!