Friday, December 18, 2009

Food Poetry Friday: Christmas Cookies

In honor of cookie week, I wrote a poem called Christmas Cookies. Without further ado...

Christmas Cookies
by Julie Reinhardt

Green cookies
Red cookies
Candy cane stripe cookies
Drop cookies
Dot cookies
Sprinkle a lot cookies
Spritz cookies
Mince cookies
Peppermint chip cookies
Cut-out cookies
Eat-‘em-all-up cookies

The rhythm/internal rhyme scheme is one of my favorite for children's poems. Someone who does this wonderfully is Denise Fleming in her book, Beetle Bop. She illustrates her books by a method called pulp painting in which she creates the entire page by pouring shapes into handmade paper before it sets.
I had the amazing oportunity to attend a picture book workshop a few years ago by this hilarious and vibrant woman. She kept us laughing and cutting, cutting, cutting. Not paper, however, our words. Many of her picture books are under 100 words so every single syllable counts. Listen to a few stanzas from Beetle Bop:
Buzzing beetles,
humming beetles
steadily drumming beetles.
Big beetles
small beetles
crawl-up-the-wall beetles
Here is an excellent writing exersize to get a feel for the brevity needed in most picture books: Go to the library and check out a bunch of Denise Fleming's books. Type each one of them out in a separate document. Read them out loud. Once you are done, eat a few Christmas cookies.

Today's Poetry Friday round up is hosted by Susan Taylor Brown.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cookie Week: Kicking it up to high production

Baking with a friend is fun, and cookie exchange parties are sweet, but when I holiday bake for real, I like to be alone in the kitchen, flour flying.
For those of you who like to have a hearty holiday cookie assortment on hand, or plan to gift your goodies, the key to making it happen without burning out (or burning the cookies) is to have a master plan. Here are a few things to consider in your plan.
  • What are your cookie needs?  If you are mailing the cookies, some travel better than others. Will you be giving them to friends, or just need some on hand for company? Having cookies you can make ahead and freeze can reduce your task list so you can enjoy the holidays.
  • Choose an assortment that is varied both in taste, shape, and color. That way, you only need 4 or 5 different cookies to look plentiful.
  • And finally, the most important for production, pick an assortment that has a mix of short and long prep times. Many holiday cookies need to chill, so pick a few that don't while waiting for doughs to set.
This holiday, I decided I would NOT mail any cookies, but I wanted to make some ahead that I could either pull out of the freezer, or bake off a little at a time. When I mail cookies, my single most favorite cookie to make is a BOURBON-BALL. This cookie just gets better (and more potent!) with time. I'll tell you where to find that recipe below.

I chose four cookies for my assortment: A CHOCOLATE-PECAN PINWHEEL cookie, a CHERRY-WHITE CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD, which I talked about earlier in the week, a NO-BAKE CEREAL CANDY COOKIE, because it was super-easy and something I could make while waiting for other doughs to chill, and some CLASSIC SUGAR COOKIES, because I could make these with my son. We haven't actually made the sugar cookies yet, but the dough is ready in the fridge, and the sprinkles are in the cupboard, for when we need some distraction from the rain. I would have liked one more cookie that was on the more unusual side of flavors and/or colors. A lime-honey shortbread, a peppermint or colorful spritz cookie, or a dried fruity sort of thing. But four is enough for what I need this year.

Once I decide on my recipes, I like to make a master ingredients list. That way I don't get caught in the middle of things short on butter or other ingredient. Here is my chicken-scratch tally.

Before I begin, I lay out all the ingredients for all the cookies, get all the equipment out, and make my space. Plan to do the longest prep time cookie first. In this case it was the CHOCOLATE-PECAN PINWHEEL cookies because there were a number of steps and the dough needed to be chilled. Once those were complete, I moved on to the shortbread. While the shortbread baked, I whipped together the NO-BAKE cookies.

Because the PINWHEEL cookies are the type you can cut and bake as needed, I kept these in the fridge for a number of days before baking any of them. We've now baked off one big roll, and I still have a large roll in the refer to bake next week for Christmas, and two more in the freezer.

For the few cookie assortments I'll give away this weekend, I will add some chocolate kisses, wrap them up in cellophane, tied up with a bow. So how about some recipes?

For starters, try the WHITE CHOCOLATE-CHERRY SHORTBREAD cookies I entered in Gourmet Girl's Cookie Crawl.

Next up is the CHOCOLATE-PECAN PINWHEEL cookie. I have to say that long ago I had the perfect recipe for this cookie. Alas, I lost it. Every year I try a new recipe in hopes it will be as good as my lost recipe. This year I tried quite a few cookies from the Better Homes and Gardens cookie magazine. It didn't even come close. I re-tweaked it on my second attempt. They are pretty, and adding the orange zest and juice got them close to my lost cookie, but still not perfect. I do like the fact that they aren't as sweet as some of the other holiday cookies. Again, I doubled the quantity. You can store the dough in the refrigerator for up to three weeks, or freeze for up to three months.

Makes about 90 cookies

16 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 T all purpose flour
4 T strong coffee
2 T grated orange rind
2 T fresh squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
6 T milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Make Filling
Mix cream cheese, powdered, sugar, cocoa, coffee, 2 T flour, orange rind and juice. Stir in pecans and set aside.

Make dough
Mix dry ingredients - flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar, add eggs, vanilla and milk. Add in dry ingredients. Form into 4 balls. Wrap in plastic and chill for 2 hours.

For each ball, roll out to 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Make it as rectangle and even as you can. Spread 1/4 of the filling evenly, leaving a 1/2 inch border on the long sides. Roll the long side and smooth the dough at the edge with a little water. Wrap in wax paper and chill for another two hours, up to three weeks.

To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice off a little thicker than 1/4 inch cookies and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes.

For the NO-BAKE CEREAL CANDY COOKIES, I mixed 1 cup of a mixed Kashi cereal. I think it was Good Friends or one of their other cereals that has a mix of shapes in it. I threw in 1/2 cup of craisins, 1/2 cup of mini marshmallows, and  melted 8oz candy "yogurt" coating. Stir in the warm candy coating to fully coat the cereal mixture and drop spoonfuls of the mix onto waxed paper. You can vary this however you like: add chocolate chips, nuts, granola...whatever is tasty in the pantry.

The BOURBON BALLS I make every year come straight out of Rose Levy Beranbaum's cookbook, Rose's Celebrations. You've probably heard of her Cake Bible, and her Bread Bible. Celebrations, however, is one of those cookbooks I cherish because it's so beautiful. She organizes the recipes by holiday, with full color, full page photos and recipes noted both by volume and weight. Titled "BOURBON-PECAN BUTTER BALLS", in the Christmas section, the only thing I change is I add more bourbon! Incidentally, the balls use ground up cookies. Rose suggests one of her recipes or "packaged chocolate wafers". I usually find a great deal on a chocolate cookie wafer at Trader Joe's each year.
I know it isn't barbecue, but I do intend to try some savory smoked shortbread on the grill this weekend. I'll share it with you if it turns out, and just pretend I forgot if it doesn't, OK?

Happy cookie baking everyone. Please share your own favorite cookie recipes in the comments, or e-mail me a picture of your cookie assortments for me to post (

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We have a winner!

We have a winner for the first annual She-Smoke Barbecue Gift Pack Holiday Contest (was that a little much?). As you can see, I enlisted the help of my fabulous assistant, Xander, to help pick the name...DRUM ROLL PLEASE... Marjorie Nye!

Marjorie is a fabulous writer and school teacher. She said in her comments that she bought my book for the first night of Hanukah and was going to try the stuffed Cornish Game Hens. Can't wait to hear how your smoked hens turned out, Marjorie! She'll have another book to give to someone, plus Smokin' Pete's BBQ Spice Rub, and a bar of Barbecue Soap.

Congratulations, Marjorie!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cookie Week! First stop: Gourmet Girl's Cookie Crawl

I love to make cookie assortments for holiday gifts, and who doesn't love getting cookies? This week I'll be posting as many cookie recipes as I make. My hope is four or five different recipes. And don't worry - I plan to barbecue a cookie too! We'll try a savory shortbread on the grill for the weekend.

But first, a contest. Gourmet Girl Magazine is hosting a virtual cookie crawl contest. People from around the world enter their cookies, a photo, and recipe. Gourmet Girl then tests each one and decides on the winner. I didn't win at my first cookie contest of the year at the SCBWI-WA meeting, so I'm hoping for a big win this time. Well, not really, but I'm making cookies anyway. Incidentally, my friend Holly Cupala won first runner-up at the SCBWI contest and posted her Peppermint Cookie recipe.

This first cookie is an adaption of Better Homes and Garden's White Chocolate-Cherry Shortbread cookie. I'm in a shortbread phase, and I knew my 4-yr old would enjoy the marachino cherries.

Here is the recipe. From the original, I changed the amount of cherries, added chocolate chips around the edge, upped the sugar a tad, nixed the red food coloring, and doubled the recipe. Christmas cookie recipes always say "makes 60" or more and they never never do. Not even close. Maybe they make cookies the size of my toenail, but I like a normal size cookie. Not as big as your face, but bigger than a toenail. Admittedly, these are some of my first attempts. The next batch was much more uniform and pretty. But the camera battery died and I couldn't run out and buy more, so what we have here are some delicious and very, erm, homemade cookies.

Note: I used a food processor for just about everything in this recipe. The BHG had it all done by hand, but the processor made it a snap. You can hand chop and hand mix, if you had to, but don't if you have the equipment.

1 1/4 cup maraschino cherries, drained and finely chopped. Drained again.

5 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/3 cup sugar

2 cup cold butter

24 ounces white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon almond extract

4 teaspoons shortening

Mini chocolate chips (about 12 oz)


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Using a food processor, pulse in the butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained cherries and 8 ounces of the chopped chocolate. Stir in almond extract and, if desired, food coloring. Pulse until mixture forms a smooth ball.

3. Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar, flatten balls to a 1/4 inch. Smooth the edges.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until centers are set. Cool on cookie sheet. You can transfer to a wire rack. (I didn't but I made them at work and our prep room is so cold it's almost a legal refrigerator).
5. In a snon-stick saucepan, combine remaining 16 ounces white chocolate and the shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Dip half of each cookie into chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Roll dipped edge in mini chocolate chips. Place cookies on waxed paper until chocolate is set. Makes about 60-80, depending on how large you like 'em.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Food Poetry Friday: The Master Jack Prelutsky

I've had three nights in a row with next to no sleep due to one of those baby "growth spurts", so rather than first share one of my own poems, I'm going to jump right to a master poet, Jack Prelutsky. Named our country's first Children's Poet Laureate in 2006, Jack has over 30 published collections of poems. He also happens to live in Seattle so neener neener neener to those of you that don't. (I apologize for the Morkism. See above note about lack of sleep).

His Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant is one of our family regular reads. He combines machines with animals and insects, like my son's favorite - the Panthermometer. I opened his book this morning and it fell to a poem about toast. I love the poem and it just so happens I love toast.

The first four lines of  THE POP-UP TOADSTERS make me laugh every time, but what gets me excited about them as a writer is they are so deliciously perfect in rhythm, rhyme and word choice. This is what Mr. Prelutsky does in his peotry - he makes it effortless. In this particular book, he has taken on some very diffiicult combinations, like The Limber Bulboa, The Eggbeaturkey, or the Circular Sawtoise, and yet we do not stumble over the words. Have a listen:

The POP-UP TOADSTERS hop and hop,
Then startingly, abruptly stop
And place in slots atop their heads
Fresh slices of assorted breads

I 've been known to respond to the question, "What's for breakfast?" with "Fresh slices of assorted breads," waving my Vanna arms.

Carin Berger's paper collage and paint illustrations compliment the collection beautifully. Interesting, I often am drawn to this type of mixed media illustration.

What happens next in the poem? Once the toast pops, they are snatched by shrieking TOASTERNS. Ha!

It is my goal in 2010 to read a lot more of Jack Prelutsky's poetry. I will not cry like The Tearful Zipperpotamuses, but read them methodically, like the Clocktapus.

How about you? What is your favorite Jack Prelutsky poem or book? For those of you interested in Poetry Friday, each week a different blogger hosts the round-up. This week's Poetry Friday Round-up is Random Noodling.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

From Hallowmas to a Magical Metal X-mas.

For those of you that are facebook friends of mine, you may know that my 4-yr old son Xander announced after Halloween that for Christmas, he wanted to be Wolverine, and that he thought his baby sister should be a zombie. We then dug out the Christmas decorations and hung ornaments in the maze of webs covering most of our livingroom. Hallowmas was born.

"I want to put more and more and MORE decorations up all over the house, Mommy," he said. And so we continued to hang angels and Santas and shiny red balls in the hall, 'round the lamps, and on the stone gargoyle's foot.

At a certain point, however, the sheer scale of Christmas upset the delicate balance of Hallowmas. The paper spiders and tissue ghosts couldn't compete with the two-foot nutcracker or the glass cowboy Santa holding a cactus. The webs sagged, then fell with a crash from the weight of the decorations.

I decided it was time to make the transition from Hallowmas to a more traditional setting for the coming holiday.

Late one night, I took down all but one small web and a few scary paper cats still on the refrigerator. I plugged in the Christmas lights in the window, still up from the previous year, and even draped some new lights on our big jade plant.

The next day, however, Xander's best friend and neighbor showed us his Christmas tree. A colorful star-shaped bulb suddenly went off in my son's head. Without any prompting, in fact just the opposite, Xander "got" Christmas. And when I say he "got" Christmas, I mean he grasped on to the crass part of the season that includes a never-ending supply of tinsel, presents and candy. He began asking how long until Christmas and whether he could open a present NOW.

I played along with it, thinking it was funny because we'd tried to downplay the holiday with our aversion to the commercialism, the forced pageantry, and the once-a-year zealots that find Jesus just in time to get something other than coal in their stocking. Also funny, I giggled, because while my husband is a not-so-secret athiest, I secretly love Christmas. Xander and I baked cookies, made a gingerbread house, wrote Santa a letter, bought a gorgeous tree, and decked the halls, the walls, and the gargoyle's other foot.

It is now December 9th.

Today when I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, my 4-yr old son immediately piped in,
"A drippy monster puppet."

"OK," I said, unfazed by this request. I could bang out a drippy monster sock puppet in no time. In fact, I could used a part of my somewhat failed drippy monster Halloween costume. Maybe Hallowmas still had a fighting chance as a holiday.

"Anything else?"

"Hmm." Xander stopped doing flips on the couch to really ponder this serious question. He tapped his finger to his mouth, having learned from a book that that was a way to show a person was really thinking hard.

"For my special present, I would like a metal X."

"A metal X?"

"Yes, a super strong metal X that nothing can break but that can stick anywhere."

"Wow," I said (scratching my head, thereby showing I was really stumped by this request), "So would it be made of steel, like Superman?" You see, I thought we were just playing.

"No, not like Superman," he rolled his eyes.

"Well steel is a really strong metal," I quipped. That cheered him out of his sulk.

"Knives are made of steel and we have knives, so you could make my special X out of those."

At this point I realized he was serious and that he thought I could weld. As if I had any chance of actually making this item, I asked him "And when you say it sticks to everything, what do you mean, like Velcro?" In my head I was already googling "metal paper weight" or "metal letter key chain", thinking I could slap on some velcro or double stick tape and call it a Merry Christmas.

"No. Not velcro or tape or anything sticky. But it can stick to the couch or the wall or anyplace."

"How?" I ask.

"By magic."

I don't know what your Christmas shopping list looks like, but I've got "magical metal X" on mine and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to find it at Macy's.

I miss Hallowmas already.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NRI Wednesday: BBQ Gift Contest


Win a barbecue gift ensemble for your favorite person (you can be your favorite person :)). Gift pack includes a signed copy of She-Smoke: A Backyard Barbecue Book, Smokin' Pete's BBQ Spice Rub, and a bar of barbecue soap. Barbecue soap, you ask? Yep. I make barbecue soap - it's a regular olive oil based soap scented with hickory and sandalwood. The packaging says, "For the manly man that wants to smell fresh out of the smoker." I know, I of all people shouldn't exclude women, but it's our best selling stocking stuffer at Smokin' Pete's.

The package will be gift wrapped and mailed to the person of your choice, as long as the winner gets me an address immediately upon winning. Contest runs now through December 14.

To enter: Post a comment on this blog with your name and whether you've been naughty or nice this year. I'll put all names in the hat. (I don't discriminate like Santa - even the naughty ones get to enter the contest). Enter no later than midnight on December 14. One entry per person. I will announce the winner on December 15.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Food Poetry Friday: The Day After

I started writing this poem with my first sip of coffee this morning. After eating too much the night before, I am reminded that 49 million Americans had food shortages in 2008, and 17 million Americans had recurring difficulty putting food on their tables this year. I poke fun of my complacency, but hope you will read to the links afterwards.

The Day After
by Julie Reinhardt

Today I wake up with the clear-eyed vision
of sleep and digested food,
A cup of coffee under my (loosened) belt
After the night-before stuffing,
Where I was basted with the feeling of abundance
Glazed over with thankfulness
Injected with the sense of family and love
I am starkly aware of my
City-fied sense of harvest
and my mild modern notice of winter edging in
That hardly means more than grapefruit from Texas, pineapple from Hawaii
Rather than the tightening of belts, of shortage, lack
I take a stand
For those stomachs around the world, bloated by hunger
And skip the hordes in protest of the gluttony of the next holiday
“Take that!” I say, (flipping the pancakes)
Even though I’ve never shopped the day after, detesting crowds
I can once again feel satisfied,
Brimming full with my good deed to those in need
And, connected to that ancestral winter
I go back
To sleep

Here are a few organizations fighting the good fight against hunger around the world:

Heifer International
Your local food bank (Greater King County listed here. Google your county to find yours)
Northwest Harvest
United Nations Food Programme
The Hunger Project

Other things you can do to learn and act:
  • Read an interesting article in the Seattle Times today
  • Read what Ariana Huffington wrote about the "silent tsunami of hunger"
  • Volunteer or find a non-profit job at
  • Read through Idealist's list of over 3000 organizations dedicated to erradicating hunger and donate time or money.
  • Grow food in your own garden or at a local P-Patch and donate your harvest through Solid Ground to give fresh fruits and veggies to hungry and "food insecure" families.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Barbecue 101: Feeding a Crowd

We are swimming in gravy at Smokin' Pete's right now. About 37 gallons of it. That will accompany 101 turkeys, 140 pounds of garlic mashed potatoes, 130 pounds of stuffing, hams, ducks, and even a smoked goose.

Those numbers may seem staggering, but the math is no different from feeding, say, 10 people. A lot of you are orchestrating the largest feast at your households for the year. If you are anxious, maybe I can help with your shopping and prep lists and put you a little at ease.

#1. Make a menu list. Put your meats or main dishes as one heading, list your sides separately.

#2. Meats: People will eat more at Thanksgiving than other meals, plus everyone wants to take leftovers home. When purchasing your turkey, buy 1 pound of turkey per person to feed them, then add more for leftovers. If you are serving other meats or main dishes, factor 2-4 ounces per person in addition to the turkey.

#3. Side dishes. Generally people will not eat more than a total quantity of 1 pound of sides. Double that for lots of leftovers. That is a lot, but at Thanksgiving, we tend to overindulge. For our complete Thanksgiving dinners at Pete's, we give 8 ounces of the four side dishes they choose.

The more side dishes you serve, the less quantity per person you need to make. If you have six side dishes, you will need to make 4-6 ounces of each per person.

Here is a sample sides menu with quantities for a 10-person dinner.

1) Garlic mashed potatoes. This is going to be one of the most popular dishes. 8oz X 10 people = 80 oz. Divide by 16 = 5 pounds of garlic mashers. If you use a lot of cream and butter (and I bless you for that), remember they are part of the weight equation. If you cook 5 pounds of potatoes, you will end up with about 8 pounds of the good stuff.

2) Stuffing. Note that we have two kinds of stuffing. Split the quantity of the two, unless your family favors one more than the other. Skew accordingly. I suggest 4 oz X 10 people=40 ounces. Divide by 16=2.5 pounds. Split THAT number and get about 1.25 pounds of each kind of stuffing.

3) Oyster Stuffing

4) Sweet Potatoes or Yams. 4 ounces per person = 2.5 pounds.

5) Green Beans with Almonds. Green beans are a good example of when "weight" and "volume" is not the same. There is a lot of air in between those beans. I check sides by weighing one portion because when I'm calculating for 100 or 200 people, a miscalculation can get me in trouble. You don't need to do this. Figure 5-7 beans per person, then eyeball it in the store.

6) Spinach Salad. Obviously we are not going to make 4 ounces of spinach salad per person. That would be monstrous. Again, see what one hearty handful of spinach looks like, then eyeball it as you purchase.

7) Cranberry Sauce. 1-2 ounces per person is plenty.

Which brings us to the final and most important tip for this Turkey Day:

#4. You can never have too much gravy. Make a ton of it. No matter how much we make at Smokin' Pete's, we are always scraping the barrel at the end of Thanksgiving. God, I hope 37 gallons is enough this year.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Interview with Katy Viswat, Seasonal Sous Chef at Quillisascut Farm

I've always knowlingly romanticized the life of the small sustainable farmer. Then I think about getting up at the crack of dawn, or butchering a chicken and I remember that I'd rather be a customer of the small sustainable farmer. Because of my cityfied wimpyness, I decided to interview one who has walked the walk at the remarkable and sustainable Quillisascut Farm. Katy Viswat cooks and teaches at the Farm School during summer. It's had a profound impact on her life and culinary profession. Katy is a chef that has worked at restaurants and catering companies such as Baci catering and Tom Douglas catering. We are thrilled she is working at Smokin' Pete's BBQ, bringing her expertise to both the restaurant and our catering department. She and I also share a birthday so we usually answer each other's questions before they are asked. For the general public reading this, however, I'll write out the questions (grin).

Hi Katy, thanks for joining me to talk about Quillisascut Farm. Tell us a little about the farm.

Hi Julie. Thanks for having me in your blog studio today. (Ha!) The farm is owned by Rick and Lora Lea Misterly and they have homesteaded there since 1982 when they bought it as raw piece of land. Today they have a herd of 40 milking goats and six billies. The farm makes cheese through out the year and sells it to local destinations.

What all do they do there?

We raise and grow pretty much everything we eat. We also have chickens, turkeys, ducks, cats, dogs... Lots of chores and a lot of petting goes on around the farm. Summer time offers multiple work shops. All dealing with sustainability to some degree.

What is the physical layout like? Where is Rice, WA?

Quillisascut is tucked away in Northeastern Washington. Very close to the Canadian border. The farm is named after a creek called Quillisascut. Old beautiful ponderosa pines highlight the landscape. And the Huckleberry mountains tie in the incredible views.

How did you first get involved?

I was working for Baci catering at the time with Karen Jurgenson ( farm school chef/instructor) and she pretty much changed my culinary path. So after the first year she asked me if I wanted to be sous chef for a summer and well, the rest is history. Very addicting.

How did your perception/experience of the farm change when you went from student to teacher?

My perception has always been as a teacher. But with that being said it changed my perception on food and where it comes from three fold.

What is the farm's overall goal or mission?

The farm's mission is to open up all your senses when visiting. We all think we know what a carrot tastes like, well that is soooo not true. Carrots right from the ground are sweet, and snap when you bite. To me that is connecting...Also the importance of buying local.. Less traveled tastes better, and you're helping your local farmer.

I had that experience just the other day with a carrot. The moment I bit into it, I immediately remembered my grandmother's garden. Then I thought, 'Oh yea, this is what carrots taste like. I haven't tasted one in years!' Exactly.

So what is a typical day like? Is there an actual rooster waking you up?

Yes! Every morning 4:30 on the button Mr. Bardly the rooster is letting his voice be heard. Then Mr. Bud from the upper garden is echoing Bardly's call. This is how I start my mornings. Could it get any better? Plus my room is in the barn. So great. Time to make coffee, and get the students going. Day one of a retreat is generally butcher day. On the first morning we are killing a goat. I join Rick with the kill. Very clean,quick and calm. The whole process takes about two hours. While the students work with Rick on the goat, I take off to feed the birds. My favorite time of the day.. .The rest of the day is preparing for lunch and dinner.

What is something most people don't know about the farm?

I think one thing people do not realize is how much work there is to do. The students get a taste of this from day one. Going to bed at nine is amazing, you really feel like a lot has been accomplished. I hope this gives you a little bit of insight to what the farm is about. You can see the cheese cellar and other farm pictures I've sent. Please feel free to ask more questions.
 Thank you, Katy! And for anyone that does have questions for her, please post them in the comments. I'll make sure she gets them and posts a response back.

For those of you who want to see if you have the right stuff to be a farmer, you can take one of the farm's many classes and workshops, like Intro to Farming, and The Sustainable Kitchen. I can tell you from experience that the cheese is to die for. It's amazing, but when I ate it the fact that I knew someone that helped make the cheese brought another level to my senses. It actually heightened my taste buds. I think this is why people get so excited about the slow food movement, farmer's markets, and personally knowing those that grow our food.

And finally, Katy will be opening a booth in one of Seattle's farmer's markets, called The Farmer's Kitchen, featuring her delicious homemade soups and comfort food. I'll post an announcement when she officially starts.

What's that? Where is my Weekend Warrior Recipe that I'm supposed to post on Thursday? Here is my recipe: EAT YOUR GREENS! If we're going to eat all this barbecue, we need to eat our leafy greens people. It's about balance. This week I ate out-of-the-ordinary greens. Arugula, Pea shoots, and Beet greens. I even found this website called "Five Reasons to try Pea Shoots". I feel like I could overturn a truck I have so many vitamins coursing through my veins. So get out there and try new greens at your local farmer's market. Ask the farmer how to prepare them if you don't know, I guarantee you the other people in line will pipe in with their favorite recipe.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

BBQ Central Radio Interview Tonight

Tonight at 6pm PST I'm talking turkey with Greg Rempe, host of the BBQ Central Radio Show. You can listen to Greg's great show on-line here. This is the show that barbecue fanatics and pros listen to. What I also love is that you can catch all his shows in the archive. I'm often working at 6pm on Tuesdays, or putting my little one to sleep, so if I miss his show live, I can listen in the wee hours. the BBQ Central Radio show is also on Twitter (@bbqcentralshow) and Facebook, for those of you who need more BBQ Central!

Barbecue 101: Brisket terminology

Welcome to Barbecue 101 class. Today I'd like to talk a little about brisket terminology. Here are some terms that will help you when reading recipes or discussions about this fine hunk of meat, favored by Texans.

Brisket: Perhaps we should start with what it is. The brisket is the chest meat of the cow. It is full of connective tissue, that gives it a full flavor, but that also makes it tough. For this reason, and the fact that it is inexpensive, makes it a good cut for slow and low barbecue.

Whole Packer: A brisket has two parts to it, which you will read below, a whole packer includes both parts. It weighs anywhere from 10-14 pounds.

Flat: The leaner, and er, flatter part of the brisket. It is connected by a channel of fat to the "deckle", or "point".

Deckle: One of two terms for the fattier part of the brisket that sits on top of the flat. Deckle can also just mean the fattier marblized meat of a brisket, rather than the cut.

Point: Another term for deckle. This part of the brisket has a raised point on it, hence the name.

Grain: The direction the meat runs. For brisket, we always cut against the grain. To learn how to carve a brisket and to see the two parts separated, click here.

Burnt Ends: Ah, the tasty bits on either end of a brisket. These are more heavily spiced and on the crispy side of heaven. Prized by many (including moi), there rarely are enough burnt ends to go around. On Thursday, I'll post a recipe on how to "make" burnt ends. It's a classic cheat to get more endy bits out of a brisket.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Food Poetry Friday: Barbecue Poetry!

When meat is cooked to a perfect tenderness, and the sweet smoky scents mingled with spices and hidden flavors dance on your tongue, it is like poetry to the tastebuds. It's no wonder that barbecue inspires those of the smoked religion to write poems. My poem this week is less smoky-dreamy, more kvetchy. The "Eck" and rhythm was inspired by a poem I read to my son in Judy Sierra's book, Antarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems . It's about a baby penguin trying to find his mama, by her special call. Following my ecky kvetchy anti-injecting barbecue poem, I'll talk about one of my favorite kid lit foodie writers - Amy Wilson Sanger. Her board book, A Little Bit of Soul Food, is one we read often.

Please comment, leave your own poem in the comments, and enjoy!

Eck. I Don't Inject
by Julie Reinhardt

Eck. I don't inject.
Don't put needles in my meat
Before you cook it on low heat
I can always always tell
From one bite or just the smell
In my mouth there is confusion
From your "secret mop infusion"
Was that brisket I just ate,
Or an orange-soda-red-zinger-tea-brown-sugar-ginger-saffron-jalepeno-oil sponge upon my plate?
Eck. I don't inject
If you do, out of respect
I invite you to object
Tell me, reader, why you think
Your 'cue needs the kitchen sink?

Can you tell that meat injecting is a peeve of mine? I can immediately tell when it's been done and it feels like Frankenstein is in my mouth, not barbecue poetry. I want to taste meat, without a dominant flavor coating my tongue. OK. Enough already. Let's talk about one of my favorite children's writer and artist, Amy Wilson Sanger.

Sanger combines perfect poetry with collage and papier mache. She wrote the groundbreaking baby boardbook,  First Book of Sushi, but her A Little Bit of Soulfood is one that reminds me of family gatherings in the South. Each family member contributes to the potluck...listen.

"Ssss, Pop! Daddy's cooking, I hear the oil spatter. Crunchy hot fried chicken makes a tower on our platter." and later, "Here come's Grampa's famous chitlin's and a pan collard greens."

Incidentally, her collage includes designs inspired by the ladies quilts of Gee's Bend, Alabama. Gee's Bend is one of the poorest counties in the country, and for socializing, the ladies there get together and quilt. I was lucky to once see an exhibit at the Whitney Museum in NYC of the Gee's Bend quilts. It was powerful seeing all those huge free-style quilts hanging together against the stark museum walls. One quilt was simply made with worn work jeans running opposite each other. They were work pants of men who had died. If you've ever loved a pair of jeans, you know that it's because they fit you, just you, perfectly. Something of a person imprints in a pair of jeans worn so often and in that quilt you could feel the essence of the dead.

Sanger is the perfect example of how every single word matters in a picture book or board book. She manages to cover an entire family potluck in less than 200 words. You can really sink your teeth into her effortless text that sings with emotion.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Weekend Warrior Recipe: Yogurt Sundae

Ice cream is something I take seriously. Seriously in that you'd better not eat mine. I'm pretty sure that 70% of my first pregancy weight was due to Haagen Daas. For my second pregnancy, I decided to be healthier. I ate yogurt. Greek honey yogurt. Lots and lots of Greek honey yogurt that incidentally has the exact same 18 grams of fat per serving as Haagen Daas. Which is why it is so darn good.

Pair it with Alki Girl granola and some frozen berries and you have a fabulous Yogurt Sundae. I like to layer the three ingredients in a wine glass and eat it with a long spoon. Here I am, by myself, eating my fancy and healthy (don't you say it isn't!) treat. Yes, I know it's not exactly a "recipe", but since I was sick last week and had to take antibiotics, yogurt is really what my stomach wants right now.

To the weekend, warriors! Don't forget to stop by for Food Poetry Friday tomorrow. We (at least I hope it will be a we, and not solo mio) will be posting Barbecue Poetry tomorrow. I'm almost done with mine. Hope to see y'all soon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

News, Reviews & Interviews Wednesday: Alki Girl Granola

This week I want to introduce a great new product here in the Northwest - Alki Girl Granola. It's not barbecue, but we all need a good breakfast. Alki Girl uses local ingredients, and is so delicious that I can't stop snitchin' at it. I interviewed creator Carrie Duncan a few weeks ago as she was just shipping out her first batch of granola to a bunch of Metropolitan Markets, who just picked it up. I've known Carrie for years because Eric cooked with her when she was the chef at a past Madison Valley restaurant called Gypsy and through her many years in catering. She's passionate about food, a localvore, and can work some serious magic in the kitchen. Without further ado...

Tell us, Alki Girl, when did you first think of selling your granola to the public?

I first thought of selling my granola wholesale after I was laid off at my corporate job. I had prior experience in the food industry and was looking for a way to get back into that field where I could set my own hours and be my own boss. After making granola for years for friends and family I realized that there was an opportunity to offer a local granola that wasn’t only made locally but uses local ingredients. I also wanted the name and logo to follow suit on the local theme.

How did you come up with your recipe?

I started with the basic ingredients and just revised it several times over the years. The base has always remained the same (Oats, honey, nuts, etc). I think the main thing that I really tried to focus on was using unsweetened dried fruit and quality ingredients throughout.

How did you source your ingredients?

I really try to look for local ingredients and go straight to the source. I knew I wanted my first two flavors to really reflect Washington and knew they had to revolve around apples and cherries. I had been buying Bare Fruit dried apples from Omak for a few years and just loved the product. The Bing cherries, oats, and oat bran are from Oregon and the honey is from Moses Lake.

What was the process of getting certified to sell wholesale like?

The most time consuming process were the labels. To sell wholesale and be certified through the Department of Agriculture, I had to make sure that all necessary information that is required appears on the front and back of the labels. Other than that, actually applying and having the Department of Agriculture come out to the kitchen and review everything took about a month.

What was the most surprising thing about starting your own business?

All the licenses you need!!!! Other than that, just the gratification that I get knowing that I started this company and created this product from start to finish. I’m very proud of the product I created.

What is the highlight, thus far?

Seeing the granola displayed on the grocery shelves next to brands that I’ve been seeing for years.

Where can people buy your granola?

At your nearest Metropolitan Market (Admiral, Queen Anne, West Mercer, Sandpoint, Dash Point, Tacoma).

Do you by chance have a recipe your could share that uses your granola, like, say, an apple crisp?

I don’t really have a recipe but I ALWAYS recommend trying it with Greek Gods Honey yogurt and fresh fruit. That’s what I have almost every morning.

We like to make Yogurt Sundaes here at the Reinhardt house, using Greek Gods yogurt (also locally made), Alki Girl Granola, and frozen berries from Remlinger Farms. I'll post it tomorrow as the Weekend Warrior Recipe of the week. It's easy, kid-friendly, and perfect for breakfast, dessert, or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Thank you, Carrie! And to all of you out there, buy a bag of this granola. It will make you happy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Barbecue 101: Five Tips for Smoking a Perfect Pork Butt

This week I'd like to come back to pork butt, the Boston Butt cut of the pork shoulder. I haven't talked about pulled pork lately on the blog, ironic because it is true barbecue, or considered the first barbecue. My post on Smoke Ring on Your Pork Butt is also the most visited of my blog, so I know it is what people searching for barbecue topics are most interested in. This week I give you my top five tips on smoking the perfect pork butt.

Five Tips for Smoking a Perfect Pork Butt

1) Rub Generously. Give a good coating of spice rub and pat rather than rub. This will help the pork form a tasty bark, or crust, that will add flavor and seal in the juices as it cooks.

2) Get your smoke on early, but back it off at the end. I like to hit the pork with wood smoke for the first three hours if using a charcoal smoker. If you are using an electric smoker, then keep the wood smoke going for about 5-6 hours. What wood you use will add subtle differences. Fruit woods are always a good bet with pork.

3) Get in and get out. Do your fussin' all at the same time so that you keep your lid on as much as possible. In other words, when you add already hot coals to the fire, also mop quickly (I like to use a spray bottle to quickly coat my pork with a mixture of half apple juice and half apple cider vinegar).

4) Use a remote thermometer. A remote thermometer can monitor the inside temperature of you smoker. Toward the end of the cooking time, I insert the remote thermometer into the meat. For a butt to be done, but not over done, shoot for 180 degrees. Then give the finger test, my tip #5.

5) You don't want your pork to be a contender. A good, non-technical way to tell if your butt is good and tender is the finger method. Push a finger just a bit into your pork. If the pork "fights back" like a bouncy ball, it's not done. If it seems like your finger will push on through the bark, then it's ready.

And here is the Bonus Tip. Let the meat rest before you pull it. I like at least 20 minutes before I put on my gloves and pull. Sprinkle it with some Lexington Sauce, or your favorite barbecue sauce and dig in.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Food Poetry Friday: Lunchtime Blues

Today for Food Poetry Friday, I'm posting a poem I wrote that is about food, friendship, and one horrific cold. Since I have been waylaid this week by a whopper of a cold, I thought of this poem. This originally appeared in an on-line magazine called Fandango.

Lunchtime Blues
© Julie Reinhardt

Ellington squished his tuna fish
Martha squeezed her cheese
Jennifer popped her soup can top
And Winnifred stopped a sneeze

“I think we have the lunchtime blues,”
Said Jason to the group.
“We need excitement and a change
From tuna fish, cheese and soup.”

Ellington heaved a heavy sigh
Martha tapped her toes
Jennifer slurped a sip of soup
And Winnifred blew her nose

“How about some tetherball?
Why not take a walk?
Let’s pretend we’re in the zoo
Or anything! We could talk!”

Ellington put his sandwich down
Martha took a stand
Jennifer stopped in mid-soup-slurp
And Winnifred wiped her hand

Ellington looked at Martha’s cheese
Martha eyed the soup
Jennifer sniffed the tuna fish
And Winnifred coughed a Whoop

Ellington gave his tuna fish
To Jennifer with a grin
Martha handed him the cheese
And took the soup cup tin

Jason shook his head again
Winnifred’s head shook too
“Winn would you play tetherball?
“Lub to,” Winn said, “Hab Cheeeewwww!”

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Julie is out sick this week...

For those of you keeping track, Julie has missed two of her blog posts this week due to a wretched cold and sinus infection. She promises to be back for Food Poetry Friday and promises to stop speaking of herself in third person.

Julie just might post an interview she did with Alki Girl Granola later this weekend, if the drugs start to work. Alki Girl Granola is really yummy. Julie promises it will be a more in depth interview than that.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Barbecue 101: How to Butterfly a Chicken

Let me just say that I love Barbecue 101 day here at the blog. There is so much to cover, and my only challenge is picking which entry to do each week. I was going to discuss burnt ends today, since we did how to carve a brisket last week, but I've come down with a wretched cold and must fall back on photos I already have. I took these photos last year while writing She-Smoke to give the illustrator reference. I sent over 100 reference photos and think Tim McGrath did a bang-up job in illustrating the book. This is one of three methods of cutting up a whole chicken I discuss in the book. The book goes into slightly more detail, but here are the key points:

How to Butterfly a Chicken
I love the presentation of a whole butterflied chicken. It also speeds up the cooking time. Use this method for either barbecue smoked chicken, or grilled chicken.

1). Lay chicken breast side down. Cut along along one side of the backbone.
2) When you hit the hip bone, score the skin and meat away from the back with the tip of your knife to expose the hip joint. Cut through the joint.
3) When you cut through, be careful not to cut all the way to the other side, thereby nicking the breast meat.
4) Open up the cavity. Cut the backbone out from the other side, keeping the knife against the edge to avoid cuting out any flesh.
5) Score the breastbone and cartilage with your knife. Lay knife down. With both thumbs just above the breast bone, press down to pop it out. Dig out the breastbone and cartilage.

6) You now have a whole flat butterflied bird. Later this week (Thursday's Weekend Warrior Recipe) we will smoke a butterflied chicken.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Food Poetry Friday: Trick or be Treat

Welcome to the second Food Poetry Friday here at the She-Smoke blog. I wanted a way to connect my foodie friends with my writing community. Here is the deal: Food Poetry Friday, (or FPF as I like to call it to annoy my husband), has two parts. Every week I will try to post an original poem that has something to do with food. I will fail often in this endeavor, but will always post the second part, which is discussing a poem or a picture book text that grabbed me that week.

It is my greatest hope that you will leave your own food poem in the comments, or join in the conversation. It's meant to be lighthearted and irreverent. I write most of my poetry for kids, but all forms and genres are welcome. Some weeks I may spotlight a particular kind of poem to help shape our creative juices.

I sat down yesterday determined to write a Halloween poem. As someone who can work on a poem for years, this was a rather rash endeavor for me. No matter how much I wanted pumpkins or candy to be the central theme, the mouse kept getting in the way. Here it is. Don't laugh. No do, just not at me.

Trick or be Treat
by Julie Reinhardt
Cat howls, moon prowls
Sneaks down pumpkin row
Little feet, trample beat
Candy bags in tow
Scurry mouse, hidden house
Walls that she can eat
Cat JUMPS, pumpkin bumps
Will mouse be trick or treat?

A Halloween picture book I absolutely love and have been reading every night thanks to Suzanne at Secret Garden Books  is And Then Comes Halloween by Tom Brenner (Holly Meade, Illustrator). This is the kind of picture book I want to write. The word choices are delicious and full of images and sounds. Listen to the opening lines...
"When nighttime creeps closer to suppertime,
and red and gold seep into green leaves,
and blackberries shrivel on the vine...
THEN hang dried corn,
still in husks all crinkly and raspy
sounding like grasshoppers"
Every page calls and responds like this, building up to the day, then the night of Halloween until it says,
"THEN grab your bag or bucket and sit and stand and pace and peep out the window and sit again and stand again."
Doesn't it just take you back to the fidgeting for trick or treating to begin? The face paint itched, the wig kept shifting, the heat was on and it was too hot and you just couldn't wait to get out into the cold night to hunt for the horde of candy treasure. Come to think of it, my wigs and face paint still shift and itch. And Then Comes Halloween is Tom Brenner's first published picture book and he's from Vashon. Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Holly Meade's paper cut and watercolor is a perfect match for the text.
I still love Halloween best of all holidays. Happy Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Homemade Halloween

I’ll never forget the Halloween when my best friend said, “Let’s be cats!” Oh boy, I thought, We’ll look so great in our matching costumes. It was sometime during years 7-14 of a girl’s life when she has to be exactly like her best friend.

My best friend was a single child from a family of means. I grew up with three brothers and usually one or two “strays” living with us. Her house was elegant and ultra modern for the seventies – they had an ice maker and a trash compactor. My mom wallpapered the kitchen herself. While I hid my diary on a 7-day rotation with a stealth that could be a model for the CIA, she didn’t even bother hiding her diary.

It was serene at her place. The house overlooked a landscaped Japanese garden. My house, comparatively, was like entering a 24-hour zoo/circus. I remember the tension in my stomach as the school bus neared my house. I never knew what to expect. My brothers could be playing a soccer game in the yard, could be half killing each other by the stream in a game of war…or they could be waiting for me. Her mom seriously offered me sanctuary any time “those brothers got really bad.” I recall sprinting to their house directly from the bus stop many times.

So our costumes. My best friend said her mom was “working on it” at least two weeks before Halloween. Did I mention her mom was quite a seamstress? I reminded my mom, “We’re going to be cats, mom, you have to make my costume.” Though mom usually put in a good effort on costumes, she always said her sister got the “sewing gene”. She was a fan of making costumes cheaply with what she had on hand. Clearly she had very little on hand that Halloween. When she unveiled the painted shopping bag with a "Tada!", I knew it was not going to look anything like my best friend’s costume. As you can see in the photo, I was right. I must have made a face because mom said, "It isn't done yet!" She felt my head with the bag on it and made a few marks. Then she took it off and cut out the eyes. Pure Charlie Brown.

The past few nights I’ve been busy hot glue-gunning scraps of material to a towel for my son’s requested “drippy monster costume”. I didn’t get the sewing gene either. It's right on par with my mom's costumes. Actually, I didn't get her art gene so my costume has less flair. It doesn’t really matter. He’s four and a boy, right? Then again, his best friend across the street has a very talented artist dad. Their house is filled with hand-drawn charcoals and cut outs of skeletons, ghouls and other decorations. I already hear “T has better toys than I do!” so I wonder if the drippy monster costume is going to fly. What do you think?

I shouldn’t leave you with the idea that my childhood was a horrible string of events with a distracted mom and wretched brothers. It was a joyful noisy life and I was happy in the chaos. I also hid out under the stairs a lot, squeezed behind the furnace. There was a tiny room with a tiny door just my size under those stairs. It was a little hot, but I had books, a lamp on a long extension cord, some stuffed animals, and a notebook back there. The best part? My brothers were too big to get past the furnace. Bliss.

My best friend wanted nothing more than to be at our house, getting chased by my brothers, and eating out of the stuffed refrigerator in our garish seventies kitchen. I've recently reconnected with her after all these years. She's still a better dresser than I am and remodels homes for a living, among other talents, so she has me beat with my glue gun. I'm going to be a pirate-witch this year. I wonder what she's doing this Halloween?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween Week Barbecue 101: Carving a Brisket (can be scary).

Roll call! Class is in session. Today, in honor of Halloween week, we are tackling the sometimes daunting and even scaaaary task of carving a whole brisket. The challenge with carving this 8-14 pound hunk of meat lies in the fact that there are two parts to a brisket, the flat and the deckle (also called the plate and the point), and the grains of these two parts run in different directions. Below is a whole brisket. Notice the curve of the deckle sitting on top of a flat part under it.

While you can cut the whole brisket at once, curving in a smile pattern so that you hit the grain shift at the "bottom of the smile", I prefer to just separate the two parts and then slice. It's cleaner, easier to find the grain, and I think gets more meat/less waste out of the brisket. Before you begin, lay the "flat" on the bottom with the curvy "point" facing toward you. A thick channel of fat runs between them, connecting the two parts. With your knife point, find this channel of fat and begin to cut in, hollowing out the curve. It should give you very little resistance.

Next, once you are "in", lift up the deckle and continue to cut away the fat. You will come to the end of the fat channel, where the two parts meet. Slice through and separate.

Here are the two sections. Notice that the flat is kind of kite-shaped. To slice, start at a corner and cut off a triangle. Continue cutting on an angle against the grain. Most of you know that we must cut against the grain, but what does that mean? Here is a piece trimmed of fat and bark. Notice the grain of the meat running vertically.

To cut against the grain, we will cut across the grain, in a horizontal cut. Like so:

In general, cut slices the width of a pencil. If your brisket is a little overdone, cut thicker slices, a little underdone, cut thinner slices. Lastly, don't try to carve a brisket "at the table" like a roast. It's far too messy. Cut it in the kitchen, or out on the patio, and display the slices on a platter.

Any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments, or e-mail me:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Turkey Week Wrap-up: A few other sites for your journey

I'd like to spend two weeks just on turkey, so I'm sneaking in another blog post about it. I just want to leave you with a few resources to further your journey in smoking the perfect bird. Remember, smoked turkey isn't just for Thanksgiving, and you can brine and smoke a turkey breast for a smaller portion any day of the year.

1). The Eat Turkey Website. It's a massive database of turkeydom.

2). Check out Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn's website of everything barbecue, called Amazing Ribs. Here is a link to his Ultimate Smoked Turkey recipe. Craig is so giving with his detailed recipes, tips, and barbecue research. I love that his dog is watching in the background of his turkey pictures, too!

3). Here is a Honey Brined Smoked Turkey from the Food Network's Alton Brown that looks delicious. I usually use brown sugar in my sweet brines, but I'll have to try this one sometime soon.

4). Danielly Dimovsky of Diva Q, whom I interviewed earlier in the week, posted her turkey recipe on her blog.

5). For a picture of what your turkey should look like, "four hours in", stop by Fat Johnny's Front Porch for a lookly-loo at his turkey on the grill.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Food Poetry Friday (OK, it's Saturday): October Berries

Here is my first poetry post for the new Food Poetry Friday. I know, I know, it's late on Saturday. Technical difficulties delayed my poetry post. That and the fact that I tried to write a Turkey poem. Let's just say I didn't want to gobble gobble it up when I read it. It was about as stinky as that pun.

So here is a poem I wrote last October. Please feel free to post your own food poems in the comments, or perhaps your October berry stories...

October Berries

by Julie Reinhardt

August is the time to find
Juicy berries on the vine
Until your mouth is purple and
You’ve red stained fingers on each hand

But now it is October, yet
I hunt for berries, cold and wet
I pick as if they were like gold
These left behind, fruit not sold

For though they are not plump and sweet
As August berries that I eat
October berries are the last
Until next August comes to pass

Friday, October 23, 2009

Weekend Warrior Recipe: Smoked Turkey with Sage Rub and a Maple-Butter Glaze

It's recipe time for Turkey Week. We smoked this turkey last Sunday. I say "we" because Eric and I took turns passing the baby and passing the turkey interchangeably. Our two little butterballs. It was a cold, crisp fall day and Grandma had just come to visit from Georgia. Because we will miss her at Thanksgiving, the day turned into an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner with friends, wine, roasted root veggies, and a tender smoky bird.

If you didn't read earlier in the week, we brined the turkey first. Rinse the turkey out of the brine and pat dry. While it is air-drying a bit, make your rub. I started out throwing around some wild ideas for the rub, but Grandma and Eric voted for traditional flavors. You may smoke the turkey on just about any equipment - a Weber grill with an indirect space and a drip pan underneath, or any type of smoker. I used the electric smoker on this turkey, because why? Because we wanted to go to a puppet show with Grandma and the kids! While we watched the Russian witch Baba Yaga try to eat poor Ivan, our dinner smoked away. We made it back in time to add more smoke and prepare the glaze.

RECIPE: Smoked Turkey with Sage Rub and a Maple-Butter Glaze

The Rub
1/2 cup dried ground sage
3 tbls all spice
1/2 cup kosher salt
3 tbls cracked pepper
Olive oil and/or butter
4-6 garlic cloves, cut in half

Inside Cavity: Wedges of oranges, grapefruit, garlic, bay leaf and fresh sage

The Turkey
All Natural, no solutions added. Because we brine our turkeys first, we don't want any other flavors or solutions added to the turkey (and besides, ew.)
Size should be 10-16#. If you want to smoke a larger turkey, then you must start it at a higher temperature to get it up to a safe internal temperature. I suggest smoking two smaller birds.

The Glaze
1 stick of salted butter
3/4 cup maple syrup
If you want to add a kick - 1 tbls of cayenne pepper.


Before you apply the rub, we must discuss the one danger of a smoked turkey...rubbery skin. Smoking it at the low temperatures needed for barbecue doesn't let the skin crisp up. This first tricks will make that skin a skin-picker's heaven. At the end of the cooking time, we'll turn up the heat to crisp it up a bit more. You may also "start high and end low" as does Danielle of Diva Q.

1. Gently lift up the skin of the turkey and rub olive oil between the meat and the skin. Add butter pats in the pockets along with garlic cloves and 1/3 of the rub.

2. Add the citrus wedges, garlic cloves, fresh sprigs of sage and bay leaf inside the turkey cavity. You can't stuff a turkey for the smoker because it won't get up to the proper internal temperature quickly enough.

3. Rub olive oil on the outside of the skin, in all the nooks and crannies. Spread the rest of the rub over the bird on both sides.

4. Use a skewer to lightly close up the cavity and to pin back the wings.

5. Make your low charcoal fire or preheat your electric smoker or gas grill and "get your smoke on". Add a water pan and include some orange wedges and sage in the water.

6. Smoke turkey for 4 hours at 200-225 degrees. Heat the glaze ingredients on medium-low until blended. Apply the glaze every 30 minutes until turkey is done (about another 2 hours for a total of 6 hours cooking time). The internal temperature when done should be about 180 degrees, but at least 160.

7. For the final 30-40 minutes, add coals to your fire to get the temperature up to 350-375 degrees. Add the glaze liberally. This will crisp up the skin even more. If using an electric smoker, put the turkey in a preheated oven for the final skin crisping.

8. Let turkey rest 20-30 minutes before carving.

Technical difficulties

Yesterday I could not post the Weekend Warrior Recipe due to error messages on blogger, so I am moving everything back one day. In a few moments, I will post the recipe. By tomorrow, I will post the Food Poem Friday.  In the meantime...I give you a photo of my mother-in-law's totally bitchin' socks.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Interview: Talking Turkey with a Diva

It's time for our News, Reviews and Interviews day, Wednesday! Today I'm inteviewing Danielle Dimovski, leader of competition barbecue team DivaQ. Danielle was on CTV Canada AM recently (the Canadian equivalent of the Today Show), giving tips for smoking and grilling an entire Thanksgiving dinner. I thought she could give us some tips for smoking the perfect bird.

Hi Diva, thank you for talking turkey with us today. You recently celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving on October 12. What are traditional Thanksgiving dishes for you?

Turkey, sweet potatoes, parsnips, stuffing, mashed potaotes, gravy, and glazed carrots.

Pretty much the same as the US. What non-traditional dishes do you like to prepare?  I keep it traditional.

Obviously, we are focusing on smoked turkey this week. I spoke about brines yesterday and know that you talked about brines this month on the show. Besides brining, what are your top 3 tips for smoking a perfect turkey?

OK, #1, Butter under the skin is awesome, #2 use aromatics in the cavity, and  #3 don't ever stuff your turkey.
And the reason we don't stuff our turkeys bound for the smoker is slows down the cooking process and makes it so the internal temperature of the turkey stays too long in the "danger zone". We don't have this problem when cooking turkeys at a higher temperature, but the barbecue zone of 200-225 degrees just can't get a stuffed bird hot enough, soon enough inside.

On to the skin. I'm a skin picker, I'll admit it. Rubbery or tougher turkey skin is one thing that can happen when smoking slow and low. Diva, what is your favorite way of combatting rubbery skin?

I start high and finish low. I use butter in mass quantities under the skin and canola oil on top. I always end up with nice crispy skin.

I kind of glazed over when you said, "butter in mass quantities", but starting high and finishing low is interesting. Tomorrow I'll be posting a recipe that starts low and finishes high. I can see the benefit for crisping up the skin first, though, so there is no fear of overcooking the bird at the end. I use olive oil and butter under and over as well. It's really a must-do with smoked turkey, in my opinion.

So like I said, Diva recently talked with the folks on CTV Canada AM. I was wowed by her command of the show. I was also impressed by how much she covered. Having done one TV show in my life, I know that tiny things can "eat time" and it's tough to get all that you'd planned in. For those of you that missed it, here is a clip.

Danielle, can you tell us what it was like preparing for the show?

The day before was spent prepping all the side dishes and all of the turkeys. Basically I did an entire thanksgiving meal on the grills and then warmed it up on the show. Plus an additional two show turkeys were brought to showcase techniques (brining and injecting).

Were you nervous? (If you were, it didn't show!)

No I don't get nervous doing TV anymore. It is easy when you are talking about something you love - BBQ!!

Danielle competes all over the US and Canada with her barbecue team, Diva Q. Last year she competed at the exclusive Jack Daniel's Invitational. Danielle, have you ever prepared smoked turkey for a competition as a specialty meat?

No, actually I have never done it for competition. I think it would be an excellenct choice as an "anything butt" or part of a black box competition.

For those that don't compete, or follow barbecue competitions, the "anything butt" category is kind of a free-style barbecue entry that is anything but the four competition meats - pork, chicken, ribs or brisket.
Danielly, I know you are working on a cookbook, which I can't wait to get (no pressure), how is that process different than how you practice for competition, or is it?

It is much more time consuming. As I work through the various recipes I have to constantly stop, take notes, and revisit the ingredient list. It is taking much much longer than I would have liked. Life for me right now gets in the way sometimes but it is stull really enjoyable. I have been fortunate to receive some really good advice and guidance from some very accomplished BBQ writers. They have been making the process much easier.

And finally, what's next for the year and the future for DivaQ?

We are off to Georgia in a couple of days travelling slowly through the US and stopping at many BBQ places on the way. The competition is in Douglas and it is the BEst of the BEst invitational and open. It is a terrific couple of contests. Very well run. Other than that I have some projects, competitions, travelling and we've already lined up for next year more TV opportunities. Plus one of the cookbooks may be finished and then off to hopefully be published. That's it in a nutshell - non-stop work!!

You go girl! I met Danielle in writing She-Smoke and have truly enjoyed continuing to talk barbecue with her. Someday we will actually meet in person, Diva. Until then, I'll see you soon on the interwebs.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Barbecue 101: Brining Your Bird

For Turkey Week today the Barbecue 101 class is about BRINES.

What is brine? It is a combination of water or other liquids, with salt and often sugar. Brines add flavor and more importantly, moisture to the meat.

How does it work? For a brine to do it's magic, it must a) fully cover the meat and b) be saltier than the meat itself. The meat draws in the salt, and the liquid with it, to equalize the salt ratio. It makes sense, when you think about it. There aren't "salty spots" in an ocean, or "almost fresh water" areas. Salt water is salt water. I know there is a scientific answer for this, but it's late while I'm writing and I don't want to get on an oceanography google fest tangent. If any of you want to chime in, please do.

What goes into a brine? Water and salt are all you really need, but it's fun to add other flavors. A large turkey isn't going to take on much flavor inside the meat from a rub. That will remain on the skin, or just under as we will discuss in the Thursday recipe. A brine is an excellent way to infuse other flavors into your turkey. Sugar and vinegars are popular. So is beer or other alcohols. I like these on large cuts of pork or beef, but find they overpower turkey.

I get surprisingly traditional at holiday time. I just can't teriyaki my turkey. I love the simple flavors of citrus, garlic, and herbs. Below is a variation of the Citrus and Clove Brine featured in She-Smoke (pg. 63). For examples of other brine recipes, click here. My turkey was pretty big for smoking (14lbs), and I used a 5-gallon bucket so I made a brine batch and a half. If you fill a large plastic bag with your brine and turkey, you can make less brine solution.

Holiday Turkey Brine
2 gallons water
2 cups kosher salt
3 tbls. pepper corns plus 1 tbls. ground pepper
1 red onion, cut into wedges
1 orange, cut into wedges
1/2 grapefruit, cut into wedges
1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves

As a general rule, you need to submerge a turkey an hour for every pound, for a maximum of 48 hours. Too long in the brine and the meat can get mushy. Once brining is done, rinse the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels before adding your rub and cooking. The Thursday recipe will cover preparing and smoking a turkey.

Any questions, class? Please post them in the comments so that everyone can benefit from the discussion.