Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday Cooking

It has been a busy holiday season for me. This has been one of the few years that I have worked at my day job through Christmas and New Years without taking significant vacation/holiday time off. Still I have been busy in the kitchen making my usual holiday treats and some other not so holiday fares.

Additional Christmas cookies filled with "Hope' for 2009.

G has also been very busy at work along with his staff. He requested I smoke some ribs for them. I smoked 7 racks on my WSM for them. Enjoy guys.

These are the spares cut St. Louis style. I also did some baby backs. The only thing they were missing was some of my Four Q team members special sauce.

Just to be different, I prepared a table top cooking meal of sliced beef, chicken, short ribs, seafood (scallops and shrimp)and veggies.

Chile! Four Q will be competing in a Palm Desert Competition in February. We have an option to also do a chile cookoff. Not sure if I have the right stuff, so this was my first practice. Actually turned out quite tasty. Lesson learned includes leave out the sugar and add more heat. No beans in this chile.

Cookie ornamemts on my Christmas tree. Secret- the cookies were made last year and the year before. Stored in an airtight container, the colors still look great. I wouldn't eat these but for ornaments, fantastic.

Another 22 pound vertically smoked turkey for Christmas dinner. Came out just as good as the one I smoked for Thanksgiving. A technique I am going to keep.

Happy Holidays to you all. Hope and change are coming in 2009. Hang in there, it is going to get better.



Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Meal 2008

My menu doesn't diviate very much primarily because my family has expectations that the holiday meal should be as it has always been. I can add a few more entrees but can never take away the standards. This Thanksgiving the standards included turkey and dressing, mac and cheese, corn pudding, greens and yams. I added monkey bread, brussel sprouts, cauliflower mash and a rack of pork.

Just a few pictures of our holiday meal.

Thanksgiving 2008

Happy belated Thanksgiving to all of you. Once again, my family had a lovely day eating more than we should have. I did all the cooking except for desserts.

Forgive me for not posting. I have been trying to upload my photos since Thursday night, but for some reason Blogger and Flickr are not cooperating.

I'll keep trying.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gumbo- Free Style

A couple of weekends ago I was rumaging through my freezer. I found a ham bone left from some holiday. My goal was to develope a meal around this ham bone. I took it out of the freezer to thaw and went off to do my weekend chores.

First I had a hair salon appointment. En route it hit me...make a gumbo. While waiting for my always behind stylist, I wrote out a listing of things I needed to make this gumbo. This included shrimp, andouille sausage, crab, chicken, celery, onion, bell pepper, minced garlic, salt, pepper, creole seasoning, flour, vegetable oil, shrimp stock, chikcen stock, green onion, okra, file powder, rice and whatever else was in my refrigerator.

I purchased a package of Trader Joes seafood blend with shrimp, scallops and calamari plus a package of frozen shrimp, and turkey andouille sausage. I had some chicken wings which I cut into wings, drummettes and tips.

I started out with my ham bone to develop a stock- simply simmer in some water.

I then took my time to develope a rich dark roux made from 1/2 part each of vegetable oil and flour, slowly browned to a dark mahognany color. Lots of care not to burn the roux.

Trinity- Onion, bell pepper and celery. No specific amounts. I diced one whole medium sized onion, 1 green bell pepper and 3 stalks of celery.

Add trinity to the rich mahogandy roux and cook to vegetables are slightly limp. I then added the simmering ham broth.

Red Pepper and Bay Leaf- I think next time I'll cut back on the red pepper. The creole seasoning I used also had cayenne in it which resulted in a spicy gumbo. G and I loved it, but the faint at heart for heat would have a problem.

Chicken Wings- cut into drummette, wing and tip. I did add the tips to gumbo to better flavor the broth.

Sliced Andouille Sausage, tomato sauce and diced tomato was added and the gumbo simmered for about an hour.

I browned the okra in a separate skillet with a little oil, salt and pepper. This to minimize the slim from the okra. Some like the slimmy effect to thicken the gumbo but I don't. I do like okra though.

The okra, and seafood were added last. This simmered for about another 20 minutes.

Something I learned from my son was to concentrate the gumbo broth. I took about 4 cups of the broth (actually already gravy like) and reduced it to 2 cups. This was added back to the gumbo. I adjusted the seasoning with a little salt and pepper.

Serve over rice with a sprinkling of file powder and cut green onions.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Cookies- Boo!

One of my cooking passions is decorating sugar cookies. I primarily make them for holidays, birthdays and other special occassions. With Halloween less than a week away, I spent the day decorating a few cookies.

Flickr Photo Set Halloween 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Smokin' In the Park Results

Great time had with friends from the California BBQ community. I had a great time. Though we turned out some great BBQ, we were competing with some of the best. Four Q finished 27th out of 52. I have had a day to think about what I could have done better for pork (pulled pork). Usually we add sauce and seasoning after pulling. This time we felt the pork stood out in flavor as presented off the smoker with no added rub and we went with a simple presentation. Would a sprinkling of rub have added nore flavor and could my sauce have possessed a little more umpf, along with some tasty bark highlighting presentation? Next time!

Overall, I accept that judging is relatively objective and that comp to comp, you never know what taste pallette the judges will possess.

4th Annual Smokin in the Park
Alpine, CA
10/17/2008 - 10/18/2008

Grand Champion: Rhythm 'n Que
Reserve Champion: Sug's Shack BBQ

1 Rhythm 'n Que
2 Sug's Shack BBQ
3 Smitty's Smoke Patrol
4 Blakes BBQ
5 Slap Yo Daddy BBQ
6 Otis and the Bird
7 The Pit Stop BBQ, LLC
8 QN4U
9 Totally Que-Less BBQ Tea
10 BBQ By Dan
11 The Rib Doctor
12 Backstreet Barbeque
13 All Hogs go to heaven
14 BLQUE Cuttin Edge QN
15 All Sauced Up
16 Smokin Yankees BBQ
17 Papa's Smokehouse BBQ
18 Tops BBQ
19 Four King Q
20 Smith Family Robinson BB
21 Auntie Shoes Bodacious B
22 Rib Tickler BBQ
23 155 South Bar-B-Q
24 Hog Me Tender
25 BBQ Bullies
26 7 Kinds of Smoke
27 Four Q BBQ
28 Notley Que
29 Smoke-A-Licious
30 Hi-I-Que
31 Big O's BBQ
32 West's Best BBQ Team
33 Smoke Peddlers
34 Tropical Heat BBQ
35 Dragon Smoke BBQ
36 Carolina Kitchen & BBQ C
37 When Pigs Fly BBQ
38 Thom and Kyle
39 The Ramona Meat Rubbers
40 Smokin' Steve's Pit BBQ
41 The Change Smoker
42 A Series of Small Fires
43 Funtime BBQ
44 Team Braz-B-Que
45 Smokin' Hogs
46 Pirates, Pigs and Poultr
47 Meat Inc
48 Markys Smokin BBQ
49 T&H Prime Meats & Sausag
50 Bark-N-Chickens
51 Simply Marvelous
52 Chronic Smokers BBQ Team

Sunday, October 12, 2008

CBBQA BBQuers on San Diego TV

See the attached link to My BBQ for a look at one of the promotions for next weekends BBQ Competition. Hopefully the link to video will remain active this week. There is a short commercial before the BBQ segment.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Smokin' In the Park Viejas 2008 BBQ Competition

Four Q BBQ will be joining 49 other BBQ teams to compete. This is one of the largest BBQ competitions in California and with 50 teams is guaranteed to break records for the most teams ever competing in a California BBQ event.

For more information visit the attached link.

Smokin' in the Park

Date: Oct. 17th & 18th 2008
Location: Viejas Outlet Center
5005 Willows Road, Alpine, CA 91901

Four Q BBQ Team: Sylvie, Survival Gourmet, Professor Salt and BBQ Junkie

Friday, September 12, 2008

Beware of What you Use in Your Flower Beds

Ziggy had a close call Wednesday evening.

I came home from work around 7 pm Wednesday evening. My son (T) had Ziggy in the front yard with him as he washed his car. Ziggy's leash was tied to a post to keep him from chasing off down the street. I have always been afraid he would run off in the street and face an oncoming car. Yes, I have always been very protective of my Ziggy.

When Ziggy saw me approach the front door towards towards him, he greeted me with his uncondtional love, lots of attempted kisses and an excited passion. I greeted him stroking his fur and sang gleeful songs of I missed you too my love. He calmed down and I went inside to place my purse and lunch container. My standard home from work routine.

It was still light outside and the temperature was nice. I decided to do a little flower garden maintenance while my son continued to pamper his car. I have a raised flower bed in the front yard. I noticed some unwanted crawly things waiting to prey upon my remaining summer flowers. In a lapse of sound thinking and ignorance of outcomes of my act, I went to the garage to see what arsenal of chemicals were available to cease the destruction these crawly things might impose on my precious flower garden.

I sprinkled the metaldehyde pellets coated with a sweet molasses in this flower bed. I didn't second think that my Ziggy would find these pellets appetizing. I didn't think anything hazradous or potentially life threatening. I did consider that there were no immediately present edible vegetables that would be contaminted by this peticide and since my backyard garden was distant from this flower bed, I was creating no immediate harm.

My son continued to put the last glamorizing touches to his car while Ziggy remained on the grass content and happy he was outside. I went inside and prepared dinner. (after all this is a food blog.) My son wanted a salad with tuna and I only wanted something simple like a bacon and cheddar cheese sandwich on sour dough bread. Ziggy and T came in about 20 minutes later with one interruption by someone soliciting donations for a political purpose.

T and I ate dinner. He also gave Ziggy a few bites of grilled tuna as he requested/begged. We finished eating and cleaning the kitcen.

It was now about 9pm. Ziggy walked like he wanted to go outside and poopie. T took him for a walk and returned. He commented to me that Ziggy seemed to be lax and didn't want to walk. He took him to the backyard to hopefully finish what he did not do on the short walk.

T commented to me again that Ziggy was in the backyard and was acting funny. I went outside and got him. He was still and not his usual self. I took him inside and wondered what is wrong. He was obviously not feeling well. I sat holding him for a while. He started to tremble and could not be calmed. T took him on his lap and continued to stroke him. We did think maybe we should take him to a vet, but at the same time not equating any of my actions from earlier that evening with how he was reacting, I thought this to will pass. If he wasn't better in the morning, we would seek a vet. We gave him water by inserting small drops in his mouth. Nearly 11pm, I chose to go to bed as I needed to go to work early in the morning. T would nurse and watch Ziggy.

Around 1:30am T awoke me. Ziggy is worse. He is trembling and panting excessively. T ran back downstairs and then came back to me and said Ziggy had what appeared to be a seizure. I totally woke up and went downstairs. Ziggy looked to be dying. He was heavily panting and his whole body was shaking/trembling heavily also. We have to go to an emergency Veterinary clinic. I found one in the phone book, called and was directed to a 24 hour emergency animal hospital in Culver City. We were out the door in seconds. T drove while I held Ziggy. I felt he was dying and it was my fault because I waited so long to seek treatment.

We got to the care center, pressed the emergency access bell and were greeted by personnel who took an obviously sick animal back to the emergency treatment area. It is now about 2 am. T and I worked with the receptionist to complete the admit paper work. A request from the treatment area of the very helpful front desk personnel suggested the worst. I felt something was terribly wrong, broke down on my son's shoulder and cried hard. A few minutes later someone came out and let us know Ziggy had another seizure. He was given Valium and an injectable muscle relaxant, methocarbamol. He had a fever of 105 which the Vet described as life threatening and potentially may result in body systems breakdown and coagulation problems (bleeding).

They needed to know Ziggy's history and what led to what was happening now. After a few questions and walk through of the evenings activities, the face of a very professional and caring Vet concluded that Ziggy probably ate some of the snail bait pellets I distibuted in the flower bed.

Snail Bait- Metaldehyde poisioning is a common event leading to the death of many dogs. It is a stong neurotoxin with ingestion of as little as 1 teaspoonful per 10 pound dog can be fatal. The label warns to keep from pets.

We are so fortunate that Ziggy survived this event. From his estimated ingestion time to treatment (4-5 hours) he is very lucky to be alive. How much he ate and when he ate it, we will not know.

I am posting this experience to alert you all to be careful with your pets. It may not be your yard that is doused with these poisons so be aware.

I will now look for an animal health care plan. The admtting personel at the emergency medical clinic estimated cost could be as much as $1500.00. We were allowed to go see Ziggy in the treatment area after about an hour. He was more calm though still trembling. He was monitored by an EKG, had an IV catheter with fluids being administered and still looked severely ill though better than when we arrived. The Vet assured me that he was doing better and that she would call if there were any further problems. I went to work Thursday. I phoned the clinic and was assured he would be fine. He did not have any more seizures. We went back to the critical care animal hospital after work on Thursday evening. The final bill was $1066.00. In about 16 hours Ziggy was back to normal based on my assessment.

Though the Vet recommended he stay an additional night (at over $300.00 additional), I chose to bring him home. 24 hours later, he is fine and back to normal. The only reminder is his one shaved leg where the IV catheter had been placed.

T took a shop vac and removed all the pellets from the flower bed. He also water soaked the area to dissolve any pellets which could have been missed. We threw away the remainder of pellets.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Table Top Cooking and Dining

I woke up too early this morning due to a telephone call. Keep in mind it is Saturday and after a long hard, demanding and stressful week at work, I looked forward to sleeping in.

Yea, just for the purpose of documenting where this meal was in the continuum of my life, I must state that the hospital where I work just successfully went through an unannounced JCAHO survey. (That's where we prove we meet their standards and deliver quality, safe healthcare.) Medication Management (MM) is a huge component of this survey for which I ultimately become singly responsible for any failures but as an organization, share responsibility for any successes. Another story which has no place on my blog but there were many MM successes- yea Sylvie.

Back on subject, I arose early and placed first on my "to do" list a visit to the Santa Monica Farmers Market. I picked up some fresh vegetables in addition to some fresh roasted chilies. Next on my list was some shopping at Marakai. This is an Asian market where I know I can get good, fresh ingredients to put together a meal from Shabu Shabu to Korean BBQ and anything else on all sides of these choices.

I chose, thinly sliced rib eye, skinless/boneless chicken drum meat, shrimp, Kurobota pork thinly sliced and Korean style short ribs. Side dishes included kimchee and seaweed salad. Ok, G went fishing for the day and this meal would be for me. I decided to divide all meat choices into three servings and freeze for a later meal. Easy to do with plastic wrap and Gladware.

I set up my butane powered single burner with a cast iron skillet for cooking. (Note to self- buy a stovetop single burner grill pan). The side dishes and dipping sauces were arranged. I marinated the chicken but chose to season the other meats with the dipping sauces.

With Southern Iced Tea to drink (that's the soul fusion link), dinner was prepared and eaten.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Korean BBQ at Gyenari in Culver City

Downtown Culver City has grown into the place to go to eat. I remember a few years ago when it was a sleepy little community where I only ventured to go to the Trader Joes, Surfas or the Mann movie theatre. Now the streets are bustling with people, the outdoor patios of restaurants are filled, the parking lots are full with only parking on the roof levels, valet parking umbrellas in front of many restaurants and the air of this is the place to be.

Last night G wanted a whole fried snapper and thought about going to Pacificos for their Huanchinango. Why with all the new choices would we go to an old Culver City standby? We didn't get the memo that it is now closed (thank goodness, I didn't want to eat there anyway). We walked down the street looking for alternatives. Lots of good choices, some requiring reservations and others with long waits but Gyenari caught my eye.

We were told there was a 30 minute wait for indoors but we could be immediately seated on the patio. I ask, why would I go to a Korean BBQ restaurant to sit on the patio with tables minus the BBQ grill. They tried to convince me that that's ok as the kitchen would prepare the food. Obviously she misunderstood the reason I would choose to eat Korean BBQ. I want to cook it myself. We chose to wait. The wait turned out to be only 5 minutes. We were directed to a booth and sat down to experience Gyenari.

We ordered Shoju to drink and from the menu decided to go with the Prix Fixe G1 which accomodates 2. This includes gyenari galbee (beef short ribs), bulgogi (thinly sliced marinated prime rib), aged pork belly (thick cut Kurobuta pork marinated 2 days), flower chicken (free range in citrus marinade), japchae and the usual panchan.

I enjoyed myself and the food was good and of good quality. I didn't particularly like the feeling that we were being rushed to finish. A constant pick up of empty plates and cleaning of the table top may have been intended to be good customer service but gave me a sense of urgency to complete the meal. I would probably return though G may take some nudging. He thought it was quite noisy and not a very relaxing eating environment.


gyenari galbee, bulgogi, aged pork belly, flower chicken


Table Top Grilling