Cherry Pie

You know, it is really hard to beat cherry pie.  I enjoyed a most excellent surf-and-turf Valentine’s Day meal – topped off with a slice of cherry pie and some piping hot coffee.

photo of cherry pie

Of course, as spring approaches, I anticipate with gusto the strawberry pies that will be available.  And maybe some fresh strawberries in a meringue shell with a scoop of ice cream on top.

Later there will be blueberry pies and pecan pies and coconut cream pies.  But for now I am enjoying one mighty fine cherry pie.

Before we part, please mark your calendars for Pi Day.  I know it is irrational but it is fast approaching and gives us another reason (excuse) to celebrate.

Homemade Bacon

Homemade bacon ranks right up there on the 9th level of ecstasy or maybe even the 11th level of enlightenment.  Almost any bacon is good but when you make it yourself you can really fine tune texture and taste.

I had a BLT sandwich tonight using bacon from the first batch I cured at home.  The slices are thick – the hickory smoke present but not strong – the meat firm but not chewy.

first blt

Nine days ago I started with some pork belly.  I bought a heavy pound at the market (1.38 pounds).  After I trimmed off the skin there was likely a pound of good meat going into the cure.

first bacon 01

The cure is a mixture of salt and spices.  It takes surprisingly little salt to cure a pound of bacon.  After slathering the cure mixture on the pork belly slices I put them into a zip lock bag and placed the bag into a deep glass dish.  The whole thing goes into the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days.

first bacon 02

Once a day, every day, you flip the bag over and massage the cure solution around the meat.

first bacon 03

After three days the pork belly looked like this.  The meat is beginning to get more solid and some fluid is being drawn out by the cure.

first bacon 04

After 9 days I took the bacon pieces out of the bag and rinsed off all the curing solution.  You must give them a real good rinse or they will be quite salty.  Then it is into the oven at 200 degrees until the bacon center temperature is at least 150 degrees.  This is likely about an hour and a half.

first bacon 05

After the bacon has cooled – I put it back in the refrigerator for a few hours – just slice it up and fry it in your favorite skillet.

first blt fixins

Stack up the fixins and prepare to dine on some mighty fine homemade bacon.

 

Small Steps To Lose Weight

Who wouldn’t like to lose weight?  At least a few pounds.  After all, we just finished the holidays – think of the feasts and the football – and summer is still a few months away – so we actually have time to get something done before we hit the beach.

The Department of Health and Human Services used to run a website called smallstep.gov.  On that site they shared 100 Ways To Lose Weight.  These 100 tips were actually quite easy.  They were not original as I found a list in my books from some years back that was almost a perfect match other than the use of English English spelling – but they are still good tips.

I repeat the list here as I think we all benefit by incorporating small, simple, easy changes into our lives and these are well worth considering.

100 Small Steps To Lose Weight

1. Walk to work.
2. Use fat-free milk over whole milk.
3. Do sit-ups in front of the TV.
4. Walk during lunch hour.
5. Drink water before a meal.
6. Eat leaner red meat and poultry.
7. Eat half your dessert.
8. Walk instead of driving whenever you can.
9. Take a family walk after dinner.
10. Skate to work instead of driving.
11. Avoid food portions larger than your fist.
12. Mow lawn with push mower.
13. Increase the fiber in your diet.
14. Walk to your place of worship instead of driving.
15. Walk kids to school.
16. Get a dog and walk it.
17. Join an exercise group.
18. Drink diet soda.
19. Replace Sunday drive with Sunday walk.
20. Do yard work.
21. Eat off smaller plates.
22. Get off a stop early and walk.
23. Don’t eat late at night.
24. Skip seconds.
25. Work around the house.
26. Skip buffets.
27. Grill, steam or bake instead of frying.
28. Bicycle to the store instead of driving.
29. Take your dog to the park.
30. Ask your doctor about taking a multi-vitamin.
31. Go for a half-hour walk instead of watching TV.
32. Use vegetable oils over solid fats.
33. More carrots, less cake.
34. Fetch the newspaper yourself.
35. Sit up straight at work.
36. Wash the car by hand.
37. Don’t skip meals.
38. Eat more celery sticks.
39. Run when running errands.
40. Pace the sidelines at kids’ athletic games.
41. Take wheels off luggage.
42. Choose an activity that fits into your daily life.
43. Park further from the store and walk.
44. Ask a friend to exercise with you.
45. Make time in your day for physical activity.
46. Exercise with a video if the weather is bad.
47. Bike to the barbershop or beauty salon instead of driving.
48. Keep to a regular eating schedule.
49. If you find it difficult to be active after work, try it before work.
50. Take a walk or do desk exercises instead of a cigarette or coffee break.
51. Perform gardening or home repair activities.
52. Avoid laborsaving devices.
53. Take small trips on foot to get your body moving.
54. Play with your kids 30 minutes a day.
55. Dance to music.
56. Keep a pair of comfortable walking or running shoes in your car and office.
57. Make a Saturday morning walk a group habit.
58. Walk briskly in the mall.
59. Choose activities you enjoy and you’ll be more likely to stick with them.
60. Stretch before bed to give you more energy when you wake.
61. Take the long way to the water cooler.
62. Explore new physical activities.
63. Vary your activities, for interest and to broaden the range of benefits.
64. Reward and acknowledge your efforts.
65. Choose fruit for dessert.
66. Consume alcoholic beverages in moderation, if at all.
67. Take stairs instead of the escalator.
68. Conduct an inventory of your meal/snack and physical activity patterns.
69. Share an entree with a friend.
70. Grill fruits or vegetables.
71. Eat before grocery shopping.
72. Choose a checkout line without a candy display.
73. Make a grocery list before you shop.
74. Buy 100 percent fruit juices over soda and sugary drinks.
75. Swim with your kids.
76. Flavor foods with herbs, spices, and other low-fat seasonings.
77. Remove skin from poultry before cooking to lower fat content.
78. Eat before you get too hungry.
79. Don’t skip breakfast.
80. Stop eating when you are full.
81. Snack on fruits and vegetables.
82. Top your favorite cereal with apples or bananas.
83. Try brown rice or whole-wheat pasta.
84. Include several servings of whole grain food daily.
85. When dining out, choose a small or medium portion.
86. If main dishes are too big, choose an appetizer or a side dish instead.
87. Ask for salad dressing “on the side”.
88. Don’t take seconds.
89. Try your burger with just lettuce, tomato and onion.
90. Try a green salad instead of fries.
91. Bake or broil fish.
92. Walk instead of sitting around.
93. Eat sweet foods in small amounts.
94. Take your dog on longer walks.
95. Drink lots of water.
96. Cut back on added fats or oils in cooking or spreads.
97. Walk the beach instead of sunbathing.
98. Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of emailing or calling them.
99. Carry your groceries instead of pushing a cart.
100. Use a snow shovel instead of a snow blower.

Good luck.  See you on the beach.

Bachopuille 2

We had so much fun with our first batch of bachopuille that we made a second run.  These were sinfully good – especially after being smoked with central Kentucky hickory.

The chops were nice and thick.  The andouille sausage fit in easily and the bacon wrap accents the complete chop.


Cooked low and slow – about 225 degrees in a steady stream of hickory smoke.  These took almost two hours to reach 170 degrees center temperature but we all know good things take time.

The potato bombs were an aside.  They were stuffed with Johnsonville cheddar brats.

Bachopuille

Yes, it’s a bachopuille.  That is a pork chop (thick cut of course) stuffed with an andouille sausage and wrapped in bacon.  Roast this in your oven or give it the magic treatment in your smoker and you will be very glad you did.

The ingredients are simple:

pork chops – preferably about 2″ thick

Andouille sausage – I like aidells, you could use a Johnsonville brat

bacon wrap – thick cut, smoked or whatever you prefer

rub with seasoning – I generally use some of Paul’s BBQ Rub but the choice is yours

If you smoke these I’d keep them at about 225 degrees until the center temperature is 160 degrees.  If you roast them I might go as high as 350 degrees and again until the center temperature is 160.  Generally the bacon will crisp about the same time as you reach the desired center temperature.

The proof is always in the eating.  To further tempt you here is a photo of the slice.  Mmmm, Mmmmm, Good.

The bachopuille is related to the classic dish the turducken.  A turducken is a de-boned chicken stuffed into a de-boned duck, which is in turn stuffed into a de-boned turkey.

Planning for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is only one week away.  It is time to finalize those menus and lay in the provisions.  I get to join several celebrations this year which will be great.  Lots of food, lots of fun and oh, yes, all those tales of what everyone has been up to over the year.

Gobble Gobble

We’re planning turkey or should I say turkeys.  One will be oven roasted in a rather traditional way.  Another will be smoked in hickory – low and slow.  We’ll probably try a third swaddled in bacon – just because we can.  And if someone offers a deep fryer – we’ll go for the fireball.

Turkey bacon

This is probably not what most folks have in mind when they mention turkey bacon but for now I’m sticking with this.  Gobble, gobble.

Simple Man

It’s a mellow Monday – raining – so this simple man is chilling on household chores.  That stack of papers has been put away, the bills are all paid, the laundry is all done.  Life is simple if you just live it – as a simple kind of man.

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Simple Man

Now, it’s time to get those tools sharpened and ready for the super productive week ahead.  There is something mighty calming to honing a fine edge on that axe or a chisel.  There is something rather exhilarating about sharpening that chain saw and tuning it to just that perfect growl.

Rober Frost with and axe

A wise man once said good fences make good neighbors.  I finished the fences a couple of weeks ago and if they need any attention I’ll be right on it – simply.  If you need something else just stop by for a cup of coffee.  I’ll take mine black and hot.

Geräucherter Schinkenspeck

I like to eat and am certain you do too.  I am especially fond of well prepared pork.  One of the best means of preparation I can think of is smoking the meat – aaahhh, aroma.  And among the various cuts of pork it is hard to beat a good ham or some bacon.  Everything is better with bacon – yes?  If you want a real treat, straight from heaven, try geräucherter schinkenspeck.

Schinkenspeck

Geräucherter schinkenspeck is the German term for smoked ham/bacon.  A great definition is posted on recipetips.com.  As I can’t improve on their definition; I quote, “Originating in Germany, this meat product is made from a lean cut of pork that is processed into a small slab of ham. It is dry-cured, aged and seasoned with juniper berries as well as other spices. Since Schinkenspeck is dry cured, it is ready to eat and can be served either hot or cold. In German, the term Schinken translated means ham and speck means bacon, which is a common use for this cut of meat. The shape of the cut makes it a natural size for bacon, as it can be sliced easily into long thick pieces for frying. When served cold, Schinkenspeck is prepared as thin slices of meat, similar to proscuitto, for use on dark and crusty breads with cheese or served as a meat to be made into an appetizer.”  Tell me that you can look at the picture above and not feel hungry.

Try schinkenspeck and melonballs on a stick at your next party.  It’s not my fault that all your guests will insist on staying for breakfast.

 Schinkenspeck Melonballs

Atomic Armadillo Eggs

There are lots of folks out there who celebrate meatless Mondays.  Now I’m not saying there is anything wrong with having a meatless Monday but I like to celebrate meaty Mondays.  That is good old USDA approved, stick to your ribs, drips blood when you start to prepare it meat.

This Monday we are featuring Atomic Armadillo Eggs.  The guys at BlackForestBBQ.tv really did us a favor when they shared their superb recipe.  Grab your pepperoni, your peppers, your cheese, your favorite rub, and of course (natürlich) bacon.  Everything tastes better with bacon.  These are called armadillo eggs because the patty formed in this process looks somewhat like a rolled up armadillo.  The atomic part correlates to your choice in peppers – go hot or go home.  And don’t forget you’ve got to drink some good German beer while you are cooking these – low and slow.  Zum Wohl!

Atomic Armadillo Eggs