CHINA WUHAN VIRUS PICNIC !!!!!

Changes have been made to my schedule, some good, some bad, but it still sucks a lot.

BUT !!!

I am not complaining.  I have a job and am working unlike 25,000,000 people because of moronic decisions made by imbeciles.

I actually had a real day off and I had my brother come over to do a little plumbing work for me and it was a great day to grill out.  My dad came along as well.  He’s 80 years old and this “stay at home” crap is killing him !!  Most of his life revolves hanging around with the guys for coffee half the day and he usually eats all of his dinners out !!  So with no open restaurants and no coffee club, not a whole heck of a lot for the old guy to do.

End of April so I think I was mostly on schedule for hard cleaning the grill.  Once a season I take the grill apart and give it the full job.

Wuhan_002

Lots of greasy bits in there !!!

It was a good opportunity to make some kick ass beans too.

No secret recipe or anything like that.  Couple of cans of good baked beans, Tabasco to taste and some kind of pork.  I had bought a bag of bacon jerky for snacking on my overnight drives but I completely forgot to eat it so into the pot it goes.

Wuhan_001

This gets cooked for about 4 hours on the stove top on the lowest heat until it is as thick as wallpaper paste.

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My grill outside has a side burner, but I cannot set the heat low enough to cook this outside.

MEATS !!!!!!!!!!!!

Doing the plumbing and cooking out was on short notice and I told my brother I had pork chops to cook and that I would also pick up some steaks.  He told me that he would bring the steak and some venison.

Wuhan_004

Pork chops, venison and a big sirloin steak.  Now, I’m not much of a fan of store bought sirloin but this was not from the store and it was great !!!!

The venison was fantastic.  This was the back strap.  A friend gave this to my brother so he didn’t make the decisions on the butchering, but we both would have liked to have had the pieces cut thicker.

Good Eats At Rocco Vino’s

Way back in January, before we managed to hit “PEAK STUPID” every day with the China Wuhan Virus , we had an “out of towner” that we had to entertain for a few days and the good  best part of that was we got to expense a pretty good dinner.

Rocco Vino’s

There were six off us and we ordered three appetizers:

Bruschetta, Calamari, Toasted Ravioli.

All very good !!

Roco_001

For my main course, it was a coin toss between the Linguine & Clams or the Zuppa.

I went with the Zuppa.

Zuppa di Pesce….$26
“Scallops, calamari, shrimp, octopus, mussels &
clams with linguine in a tomato herb sauce”

Roco_002

Man, that was really good !!!

When I ordered it, the waitress asked if I wanted it with “red sauce or white sauce” and as soon as she finished saying that she said, “Honey, nobody orders the white sauce.”

Hmmmm, I really thought about the white sauce, which would have been interesting if it were an Alfredo, but not sure if I would want it if it were a white wine sauce.  So I got the red.

I had a dish very similar to the above before.  Similar but not the same:

Acquaviva Winery

I remember the Zupp di Mare was really good but it was so long ago that I wouldn’t be able to say which dinner was better.

Using search engines on the intertubes, I can’t find any difference between Zuppa di Mare and Zuppa di Pesce.  It might just be a personal or regional difference.

CHINA WUHAN VIRUS FOOD UPDATE !!!

I’ve been working overnights since the CHINA WUHAN VIRUS pandimainia began.  I’m not complaining, because I’m still working and 10,000,000 other people have it far worse than I do.  I’m mostly just frustrated with what I’m doing is a colossal waste of time and resources.   I drive around to about 25 remote locations and check that they are not on fire or being looted.  I’m doing about 125 miles a night.  The good news is that the roads are virtually empty.

I try to pack grub for the night’s driving but have had to stop at the gas station(s) and there are a few 24 hour drive thru’s open.  One of them is White Castle.

To say that I am not a fan of White Castle is a gross understatement.  The hamburger sliders they sell are most foul !!!  I do kind of like their chicken sandwich and when fresh, the fries are pretty good.

I stopped one morning about 02:30 and there were six cars in line and it was moving slow !  It took quite a while for the person in front of me to place his order.  He pulled up to the first window and I placed my order.  I pulled up behind the car waiting in front of me and sat for two minutes.  I then see the White Castle lady leaning out the far window, waving.  I flashed my lights and honked a couple of times but the guy in front didn’t move.  The White Castle lady waved for me to pull around and when I did, I could see the driver was either asleep or passed out !!  All I ordered was sack of fries so off I went.  My receipt had a buy one, get one coupon on it so I saved it and stopped in at the same place a couple of days later and got a breakfast slider and breakfast toast slider.

BREAKFAST SLIDER:

Not much to it. fried egg,cheese and I chose sausage for the meat on a soft bread roll.

Not too bad, the sausage was pretty good.

WhiteCastle_001

BREAKFAST TOAST SLIDER:

Not much to it, fried egg, cheese and I chose bacon for the meat on toasted white bread.

Not too bad, the bacon was cooked correctly.

WhiteCastle_002

The good news is that there was not any negative gastrointestinal issues after consuming.  The better news is that the receipt had another buy one,get one coupon and I might have to stop in again and try the BELGIAN WAFFLE SLIDER.

 

New Belt Busting Burgers At McDonald’s

McDonald’s to release smaller and bigger Big Macs

 

The fast-food chain will release two new versions of the iconic burger Wednesday: the Little Mac and the Double Big Mac.

The Little Mac has just one beef patty, while the Double Big Mac has four. They’ll both still be topped with cheese, lettuce, pickles, onions and Special Sauce.

The Double Big Mac comes in at 720 calories; the Little Mac is 320 calories — the same as a medium fry.

Though the burgers’ prices will vary regionally, McDonald’s is recommending a price of $2.29 for the Little Mac and $5.49 for the Double Big Mac, McDonald’s spokeswoman Morgan O’Marra said.

 

“Double Big” is kind of an awkward name to use when ordering, but I guess if more McDonald’s go to self serve ordering, it’s moot.

I think I would have gone with “Mini Mac”, Big Mac” and “Mega Mac”.

 

Meat Candy !!

Ahhhhhhh !!!

I pan fried a couple of pork chops for my lunches this week.  Put a nice sriracha rub on them with a nice, subtle flavor.

The best part of the chop is shown below in the box.

I call it “Meat Candy.”

It has all the best parts, some good fat around it and on the bone.

WOW !!!

How great would it be if you could buy a package of just those bits to cook !!

Meat_Candy

Popeyes Chicken Sandwich

On my way one evening to a candidates debate and I needed to find a place for dinner.

A “Popeyes” was on my side of the street so I thought I would give it a go.  I do not think That I had ever eaten at a “Popeyes” before.  I like fried chicken sandwiches and have heard a few things in the news in the last six months about some kind of super good spicy chicken sandwich at Popeyes.

Well, I checked the men and it was a coin toss as to get the spicy chicken or the regular chicken and I went with the regular combo.

Popeyes Chicken

A pretty good sandwich.

A good crunchy fried coating.

What I didn’t like was that the sandwich came in a foil package that steams the bun.

Don’t like that at all.  The bun should be toasted.

Pretty good seasoned fries as a side and a lot of them !!

I will probably find my way back and give that spicy sandwich.

 

 

 

Beyond Meat (Free Stuff At Work Day)

Free Stuff at Work Day !!

Weeeeeeeeee!

We had a sponsored luncheon put on by :

Beyond Meat:

Overall , completely Meh !

For both the sausage and the burger, it was a texture issue.  Both items are like pate, completely smooth and ground up.  There needs to be a slight toughness, snap and resistance when eating a sausage or burger.

The only thing I could taste from the burger was fake charbroil.

The burger meat might be OK if ground up in chili, spaghetti or tacos.

I got some free coupons for the burgers but certainly won’t go out of my way to get them.

Beyond Burger

Chinese Food Porn

I have been doing “fairly well” with watching my caloric intake and had not been to a Chinese buffet in quite some time.

Below is “Plate # 1”

I usually judge the quality of a Chinese buffet by their egg drop soup and their crab rangoons.

This was a new place for use to go to and they scored an “A” for the soup and rangoons.

Buffet

Pee Green Soup

The old 5th grade joke:

Person 1 “Say ‘pea green soup’ after everything I say.”

Person 2 “OK”

Person 1  “What are you going to have for breakfast?”

Person 2 “Pea green soup.”

Person 1  “What are you going to have for lunch?”

Person 2 “Pea green soup.”

Person 1  “What are you going to have for supper?”

Person 2 “Pea green soup.”

Person 1  “What are you going to do in bed tonight?”

Person 2 “Pea green soup.”

But seriously, Split Pea Soup is one of my favorite go to comfort foods to take for lunch at work.

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A quick rinse in the sink to get the dirt off.

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I can use many, many different kinds of pork for the soup and today about 3/4 pound of bacon gets fried up.  I leave a few teaspoons of the drippin’s in the pot and remove the bacon.

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I start with beef stock.  Why use beef stock? Because I can’t find pork stock.

About 4 big shots of Tabasco for a little heat.  Sometimes toss in a few red pepper flakes or even some fresh ground black pepper.  Don’t need too much as far as seasonings go.  The pork adds enough salt and the split pea taste is what I am going for.

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About 2 1/2 hours on low and it’s ready to get creamed.

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Run it through a strainer to get the bits of hulls and small rocks.

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That’s all the “stuff” you don’t want to eat.

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Four cups of LUNCH !!!!

If you look at the black square and see the spillage, that’s actually pretty darn good for me !! Usually there’s a much bigger mess.

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Toss the bacon back into each container, and four great lunches for the week.

STOP !!! WALK AWAY !!!!!

We have a really nice cafeteria at the building where I work and one of my favorite items to get is a “Big BLT.”  There is a regular lady that runs the kitchen named “Edith” that does a great job of making my sammich.  You can customize the sammich with your choice of bread and I always choose a french roll, that really turns it up to “11.”   They don’t skimp on the bacon and I usually joke that it is a bacon sammich with a little salad on top.

There are times in life you you are doing something normal, not special or unusual in which something in your head says “STOP !!!!!!   WALK AWAY !!!!”.  I’m not talking about the “Hold my beer and watch this” or someone says “I bet you can’t….”     Just something normal.

So, “Edith” was back in the kitchen working and there was a newcomer at the counter.

“I would like a BLT on a french roll.”

“What is a “french roll?” (in an almost undecipherable foreign accent)

“STOP” 

She picks up a piece of ciabatta and looks at me and I pointed to where the french rolls were.

“Do you want mayo on the inside?”

“WALK AWAY !!!!”

Sigh, I didn’t heed the warning.

Below is the BLT that she made.

Walk away

It was a fine bacon sammich, but certainly not a BLT !!!

Sometimes you do have to listen to the voices in your head !!

Bulldog Ale House

Bulldog Ale House

There is a location not far from where I live and we went out for dinner.

 

Bulldog_001

A pretty good burger:

Fried egg, bacon, pepper jack cheese.

It was the messiest burger that I have ever had !  Not that’s a bad thing.  I had to eat most of it with a knife and fork.

The fries were really great.  I like mustard with my fries.

Bull dog

As good as the food may have been, I will not go back.

This signage is not valid in Illinois and I carried while having dinner.

But, if this is the attitude of the people that own/operate Bulldog, I don’t feel welcome.

 

 

Vacation Bacon

VACATION !!!!

I took the Fourth of July week off.

I didn’t have any plans  except to smoke some homemade bacon.

I actually get quite a bit of time off, but I have a hard time getting away from work and I don’t usually take time off early in the year, and it’s not uncommon for me to have 3 full weeks of vacation time left in October/November.

Smokin

That’s my little smoker.  I think that was my 15th anniversary award from work about 6 years ago.  This is the first smoker that I have had and it’s a good beginner model to learn and to see if you have the chops to smoke your meats!!

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Not in the habit of using additives to the fire, but my father in law gave me this bag of hickory pellets so I thought I would use it up today.

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Made up two packets.  One will go on the bottom and the other on the top of the charcoal.

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The bowl of unlit charcoal gets set inside on the bottom.  I have to hand feed replacement charcoal though that little door on the side and I pick out the biggest lumps from the bag so it is easier to reload the charcoal.  I’ve smoked with lump and briquettes and not sure there is a huge difference in using either one.

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This little piggy went to get smoked !!!

The good news is that I have found a local source for getting my pork belly rather than having to go some distance to find the pork belly, but the bad news is that they only have chunks of the pork belly, not the big slabs.  I would rather have the big slab, but this works for me !

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Charcoal burning and the pork belly is on the grill.

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VIOLA !!

About 2 1/2 hours later, WE HAVE BACON !!!!

It will go into the refrigerator overnight and we will start eating it the next day !

This might be about the 8th time that I have made my own bacon, and I am still learning but just nibbling on a tiny bit of this, I think this might be my best !!

https://bacontime.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/homemade-bacon/

https://bacontime.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/making-bacon-part-iii/

https://bacontime.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/making-bacon/

 

Toaster Bacon?

reddi-bacon

Making bacon in the toaster?

Yep, it was tried in the mid 1960’s.

Just drop the foil package with precooked bacon into the toaster and just 60-90 seconds later, hot bacon.

toaster_bacon

I can think of at least two possible problems with this idea:

  1.     Obliviously any grease leaking out is a fire hazard.
  2.      There are several way of opening the package that I could easily see someone         carelessly spraying hot grease around.

The approved way to cook bacon:

bacon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My First Chick-Fil-A

Chick-Fil-A moved into my area probably 10 years ago and I had never taken the opportunity to eat there.  We had some errands to run and my daughter wanted to eat at Chick-fil-a so we did. (She’s eaten there before)

I ordered a # 1:

Chick_fil_A

First, I didn’t like that the chicken sammich was served in a foil bag.  Seriously?  That’s just going to steam the bun to mush and uncrisp the fried chicken.  The waffle fries were great.

Not saying this was a bad sammich, but it didn’t really impress me.  Oh, I will definitely be going back and trying some more food and hopefully it will impress me !!

16 Minute Steak

Outside of family, I don’t cook for many people.  When I do, I think I get a lot of polite compliments on whatever I cooked.  Now, I am the kind of person that has a hard time accepting compliments unless I have done something remarkable.  I’d much rather I be told the truth, even if it means I didn’t do something right. (That’s how you learn to do better)

But I do get compliments from family when I cook steaks.

Someone asked what my secret was.

“Meat and heat”, really not too difficult.

Lots of people have some sort of “secret” way of preparing steak.  I have a couple of different ways of preparing steaks (but no secrets involved!!)

In the video below, as long as you have a known temperature, it’s just timing and it’s easy to adjust for rare and medium rare.  Yes, those are the only two choices for cooking steak.

The in-laws were over and I made some really nice boneless Strip Steaks.

ENJOY !!

Homemade Bacon !!!!

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve made some homemade bacon.

One of the problems is the time.  It takes a week to “cure” the pork belly in the fridge (yes, that really is rather simple),  but because of the time it takes to smoke the bacon, it doesn’t take much to screw up the schedule at home and not have the time !!!

Well, that was certainly the case this time.

I had plenty of time off during the recent holidays but it was way too cold and wet for me to go outside and smoke.

So, instead I just did it inside in the oven.

As my daughter said, this was the best bacon so far !

Two things were done differently.

Obviously doing it in the oven gave me far better and consistent temperature control  and also, I left the pork belly uncovered in the fridge overnight to get completely dry.

I also ended up making over six pounds of bacon, quite a bit of which I gave to some special people at work.  You know you’re special if I share my bacon or ammo !!

Enjoy:

Open Water Grill: Avon, NC

Open Water Grill

Open Water Grill was literally a stone’s throw from the condo.  Now, the original website I found for OWG did not have a menu on it and when I googled around, I found a Yellow Pages site that had the menu.  My daughter was excited that  there was BBQ brisket on the menu. (Our last vacation last year was to the Wisconsin Dells and we had dinner at Paul Bunyan’s and we had the BBQ brisket and she was quite taken with it.)  Well, turns out that menu was from 2015 and there was NO BRISKET !!!!

2_Fish n Chips

 

My daughter ended up getting chicken tenders and hush puppies.  They were really good she said.  I got the fish ‘n chips.  They are made with the catch of the day and I’m not sure what it was, but it was great.  The crust was kind of a combination of breading and batter.  When cut with a fork, it didn’t all crumble and fall off.  Came with an unusual spicy kale slaw that was good.

This was an expensive dinner.  With tip it was about $70.  That’s how the food bill adds up quickly !

The 16 Minute Steak

Everyone has their own super secret way of cooking a steak.

I don’t have a secret.

It’s really just not too difficult.

I use a gas grill, have for almost 30 years.

I like it for the convenience and the ability to control the heat.

So here I go with my 16 minute steak:

 

 

On this day, it was filet.

Never my first choice and one of my least favorite cuts of the cow.  But the in-laws were coming over and the grocery store had filet on sale for $4.99 for 6oz.  Much higher than my price point for steak, but that’s what I got.  Filet is just always too dry for my taste.

There are just two ways to cook a steak:

Rare

Medium rare

Anything beyond that and you should just go have a boneless skinless chicken breast.

 

Bacon Fried Mashed Potato Pucks

So for Easter, I made a nasty good bucket of some of the best mashed potatoes that I have made in quite some time and there were plenty of leftovers.  Rather than just eat “plain” mashed potatoes, I thought I would try frying them up.  This batch of spuds was already great, but frying them should turn it up to “eleven!”

I suppose I could have just plopped a pile of the potatoes right into the skillet, but I wanted to do this with them:

Puck_001

I’m using two cutting boards as rails so I can roll out the potatoes to an even thickness.

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Using the biscuit cutter for the pucks

The ultimate edible playdoh !

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I don’t like to fry in the house, so outside on the side burner of the grill while I cook some burgers.

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Tops and bottoms got a nice buttery crust on them

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Off the grill with some “tasty burgers.”

Now, here’s where I lied (just a little).

I didn’t use my stash of bacon grease.  Quite literally I have not added to the stash or used the stash in about a year.  It sits in a jar in the very back of the fridge, completely hidden.  I opened the jar and it did not smell rancid, but I wasn’t really sure what the time limit was of grease going bad, so I didn’t use it.  Instead I used some Ghee that I had.  Potatoes fried in butter, that’s almost as good as frying in bacon grease.

Home Ground Beef, A Tasty Burger

 

 

 

We often watch “Cook’s Country” on television.  Their forte is taking well known or classic recipes and try to make them better.  One episode they wanted to recreate the classic greasy spoon, roadside restaurant fried burger that was popular in the late 50’s and early 60’s with people taking long car trips.  The interesting part of the recipe was that they ground their own beef with a food processor and it was something we wanted to try.  Now, my wife had tried it a couple of times and it wasn’t really that good.  The biggest problem was she was using “petite sirloin”.  WAY TOO LEAN and there is too much gristle and other connective tissue left on that cut and the meat was still to chunky.  So, I wanted to try it again, this time using a piece of boneless chuck.

Ground Beef_000

Starting with a nice piece of boneless chuck.

Ground Beef 001

Cut them into about 1 inch cubes

Ground Beef 002

The cubes go into the freezer for about 10 minutes just to give the chunks a slight firmness.  Other wise, when they get run through the food processor, they might just turn to mush.

Ground Beef 003

I ran the meat through the processor twice.  I first used the slicing attachment.

Ground Beef 004

Then the meat meets the real chopper blade.

Ground Beef 005

I did a couple of batches.

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By golly !! Dang if that at least doesn’t look like ground beef!!

Nothing like nice bright pink beef !!

Ground Beef 007

Now, because the meat is actually small bits and pieces and not long fibers like real ground meat, there is a lot less cohesion and because I do not pack my burgers very tight, these would probably not do well out on the grill.  I only want to have to touch these once when I flip them so the don’t fall apart.  Do you see the dimple in the middle of each burger?  That’s so when they cook, they don’t expand up and end up like meatballs.

Ground Beef 008

Some tater tots done on the waffle iron.  Mmmmmm, crispy !

There are a whole bunch of websites/blogs that show what can and cannot be cooked on a waffle iron and tater tots was a good one.

Ground Beef 009

Lightly toasted bun with a little lettuce and some thousand island style condiment.  Another burger tip, toasted buns provide a little buffer so the juices of the burger don’t make the bun soggy as fast.

Despite all of the food nazi warnings about under cooked ground beef, I still LOVE my burgers PINK.  An interesting thing about grinding the meat this way is that because the bits and pieces are small, I think the burger can be cooked a little more closer to medium and it would still be good because there is not a lot of bite resistance.  It doesn’t fall apart like a sloppy joe but it has a good chew.