Tag Archives: cooking

A Weekend of Smoke

A Weekend of Smoke

This past long weekend, I took a day off from edits and spent a pleasant day reading and hanging out by my grill and smoking a variety of foods. While I enjoy posting about my fiction, writing, fictional swearing, inspirational quotes, weird plants, mapping projects, or my historical research, sometimes it’s nice to take a break and share just random happenings—occasional incidentals. This Smoke Report™ is one of those random happenings.

My cheap but effective offset smoker—they’re not the easiest to learn on, but they’re fun.

In total, I cooked for about six hours, keeping the temp around 225º for the duration of the smoke—I was delighted with the results. I’m getting pretty good at maintaining a constant temperature with chips and chunks and only experienced a few flareups which I was able to quickly control. Preparation is key to doing this right. I like to soak most of my wood overnight (I used mesquite for this go-around), but I like to have some dry wood handy as well. I find that being able to quickly shift a fire’s momentum is important in maintaining a constant temperature.

Smoked wings
My smoked wings were rubbed in the Sweet Sizzle rub from For the Love of Spice which added a nice base flavor.

Chicken wings were the first thing off the grill. These were namely a snack/lunch break while we waited for the main course—a three-pound pork butt—to finish. I think they turned out really good. I brined them for an hour before smoking, and I’m glad I did, it kept the meat juicy while the outside crisped up nicely. Afterward, I ended up turning the remains into a bone-broth, It’ll probably end up in a risotto.

Smoked onions, garlic, and corn—be sure to soak vegetables in water for at least an hour before smoking
Smoked onions, garlic, and corn—be sure to soak vegetables in water for at least an hour before smoking.

Along with the meat, I smoked garlic (fresh from our garden), onions (also fresh from our garden), eggs (not pictured), and corn (from the grocer.) The garlic was terrific and became soft and spreadable like roasted garlic but with an added kick of smoke. The onions were much sweeter and less smokey than I expected but an excellent little addition to the feast. The corn on the cob turned out well although it’s still early in the season for corn and the ears weren’t the high-quality corn we’ll find later this summer.

I’m not sure if I’d smoke eggs again—they get an interesting texture and color. The outside turns a golden yellow-brown, but they really don’t carry a lot of extra smoke flavor. Outside of looking unique, I don’t think smoking eggs adds all that much.

My excellent pork butt sitting atop a Ruby Pear Woodworks cutting board.
My excellent pork butt sitting atop a Ruby Pear Woodworks cutting board.
The pork butt sliced up and ready to eat.
The pork butt sliced up and ready to eat.

As far as the main course went, this was easily the best pork butt I have ever smoked. I dry rub all my smoked meats—I tend to prefer it over sticky/saucy barbeque.  It finished about an hour earlier than I expected so I wrapped it for an hour while I finished everything else. This only helped tenderize it further. The final result was incredibly tender with a fantastic flavor thanks to a solid smoke ring.

Grilled flatbread with olive oil, rosemary (from our garden) and salt
Grilled flatbread with olive oil, rosemary (from our garden) and—of course—salt.

At the very end, I grilled homemade flatbread and some beautiful turnips (sadly not pictured) which were also great. It was a delightful little feast all in all and a relaxing day. It’s fun to take days like this to test recipes of perfect techniques. I learned a bunch, and I am quite happy with my results.

Below, I’ve shared my dry rub recipe—it’s great for pork, but it’s a solid all-around rub that works across a variety of food from vegetables like cauliflower steaks or a protein like chicken. It’s also easy to manipulate so throwing in your favorite spice can add a unique and personal spin. Enjoy!


My Dry Rub

  • 4 tsp Seasoned Salt
  • 2 tsp Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Dry Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
  • Pinch of Ground Ginger

Can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month.


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Anthony Bourdain

Bourdain

Since the news broke about the suicide of Anthony Bourdain, there has been a bloom of posts, tweets, and articles across the internet. Reflections, reminiscences, and stories told from those who knew him and those who admired him. This will be another—albeit one more personal. I suppose these are what happens when someone’s life touched so many people in so many unexpected ways.

I don’t usually get worked up about celebrity news—I never met Bourdain in person, but I felt like I did. He was something different; open, honest, and unwilling to hide. Bourdain was a masterful storyteller with a raw and unapologetic voice. Reading Kitchen Confidential felt like I was swapping stories with him at a seedy bar in Manhattan. It made me appreciate food and cooking in a way I hadn’t considered.  A Cook’s Tour and No Reservations opened up the world and made me want to travel. Parts Unknown and Medium Raw were continuations of those early lessons.


“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

Anthony Bourdain


There was something about Bourdain’s punk-rock unpretentious attitude drew me in as a young man. To many, he came across as abrasive, but below his sarcastic steak was a profoundly earnest and empathetic man who cared about people. He also allowed himself to be ugly. Bourdain made mistakes, he owned up to them, and he didn’t dismiss his past. He showed many of us that it was okay to screw-up, and it was okay to love screw-ups.

I’m going to miss his writing, his authenticity, and his observations on life. I wish his last mistake hadn’t been so permanent. Often, when an author dies we mourn the loss of a voice—and that is true with Bourdain. But his writing remains, his show remains—his voice might be gone, but his life was too loud to go silent.

I’ve seen depression’s impact on more than just celebrities like Anthony Bourdain. I’ve seen it hurt friends, family, and fellow authors. Depression is a wicked beast of a thing. It tricks your mind. It lies to you. If you’re ever thinking of hurting yourself, please remember you’re loved. Seek help. You matter. We need you here. Talk or text a friend or loved one. If you can’t do that and live in the US, call 1-800-273-8255. (You can find international numbers here.)

Friday Link Pack 06/12/2015

Friday Link Pack 06/12/2015

It’s Friday, and it’s my Dad’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Dad!), and it’s my parents wedding anniversary (Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!) Also, it’s time for the Friday Link Pack! The post where I share a few links I’ve found over the last few days. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Let’s get to it…

WRITING:

25 Reasons Why You Don’t Make Any Money At Comic Cons
Absolutely fantastic post. So often I see professionals, very talented artists, and writers, doing the exactly what is being listed here. It’s all good advice. Take it. [Thanks to Lola for sharing this.]

Dear Authors: Don’t Respond To Goodreads Reviews
Frankly, you shouldn’t respond to any reviews. Ever. At all. If you need to respond to anything, respond to your email. That’s important.

Top 5 Literary Languages
In this old post, The Stage discusses their favorite made-up languages. Which is your favorite? Anything you think this list is missing?

Cthulhu The Wimp
This week I wrote a guest post for Michael G. Munz’s blog. In it, I pick on everyone’s favorite old one. What do you think? Am I right, or am I way off base? Check it out and let me know.

Red Litten World Cover Reveal Giveaway
The giveaway ends in just a few days! Enter for your chance to win signed copies of The Stars Were Right and Old Broken Road, as well as a Bell Caravans patch, swag, and a $50 Amazon gift card. Entering is easy and there are a lot of ways to increase your chances to win. Do it today!

ART:

20 Contemporary (Women) Artists You Oughta Know
From sculptures to painters to photographers. A handy guide of some of the best women artists working today.

The Photography Of Gautier Pellegrin
I’m in love with these photographs. The more and more I look at photography, the more I am attracted to photos that really drive home emotion. For me, Pellegrin’s work does exactly that.

Pejac In Hong Kong
Absolutely love some of these pieces from the street artist Pejac. The window work stood out in particular.

RANDOM:

51 TV Writers Reveal Their Favorite Thing They’ve Ever Written
This is a fun list. There are a few shows on here I loved (Parks and Recreation, Veronica Mars, The X-Files, Portlandia, Scrubs) and it’s always neat to see which parts the writers were most proud of. [Thanks to Mike for sharing this.]

The Future According To Anime
Hopes & Fears compiles a list of their favorite predictions from anime, from World War 3 to space travel. Only time will tell if anime got it right.

How To Cook Turmeric Chicken, Rice, And Peas. In Space
Admit it. You always wanted to know.

WEIRD WIKIPEDIA:

Aachenosaurus
“Aachenosaurus is a dubious genus of prehistoric plant. It was named based solely on fossilized fragments of material that were originally thought to be jaw fragments from a duck-billed dinosaur (a hadrosaur). However, the fossils turned out to be petrified wood, to the great embarrassment of the discoverer.”

LOVECRAFT STORY OF THE WEEK:

In the Walls of Eryx
Here’s something you don’t usually see from the grandfather of horror. A near future science fiction tale on the planet of Venus!

GIF OF THE WEEK:

Haters need hugs