Sunday, May 31, 2009

She-Smoke Book Launch Tomorrow

I'm getting nervous. Tomorrow is the big day - the launch party for She-Smoke! A part of me just wants to get back to barbecue and post some recipes here. I have a back log of posts, but can't seem to find time or space to put them up. I laughed a month ago when barbecue Diva Danielle exclaimed, "Gotta get my recipe count up!" for her blog, but now I know what she means. I'm way behind on my recipe count. I want this to be a blog that people come to learn and discuss barbecue and other slow cooked or made-from-scratch foods. Lately it feels like it's all about promo for the book and the restaurant. Oh well, it only happens once in a book's lifetime, right? A book launch is like a christening.

So...She-Smoke news of the week...Suzie Rugh of the Seattle Weekly wrote a wonderfully feisty post about the book launch and contest. Read about it here. I also spoke with reporter Loretto Hulse of the Tri-City Herald about lamb. Grilling it, smoking it, and buying it. The American Lamb Board is running a video contest. I'm going to enter - so should you. In fact, just talking about lamb got me hungry for some so I'll be grilling up some lamb chops tonight. You'll probably see that in a few weeks, at the rate I'm going.

On the menu for tomorrow? A plethora of barbecue "appetizers" for the crowd - mini pulled pork sandwiches, a smoked cheese platter with grilled veggies & mint pesto. Thai chicken skewers, and Aunt Sandra's Three-Week Slaw. There will be other things - I'm about to go shopping to see what looks good. And cake. We need cake. I'll have to beg our cook and baker, Ethan to make me a cake. His cakes are soooooo good.

It's off to market to buy a fat pig! I'll post about the launch party next.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Smokin' Pete's BBQ Voted 7th Best in the West by Sunset Magazine

Great news! Sunset Magazine voted Smokin' Pete's BBQ in their top 10 Barbecue Joints in the West (June issue). We have the lucky #7 slot. Needless to say, we are very happy about the rating and article. We knew there would be something in Sunset, but didn't know what. The journalist, Sara Dickerman, who interviewed us a few months back, knows her 'cue, so it was great talking to a woman writer who knows her smoke.

Here is what Sunset had to say:

"7. Seattle ― Smokin’ Pete’s BBQ
Barbecue attitude might be brash, but the meat doesn’t have to be: The dry-rubbed, hickory- and cherry-smoked barbecue at Smokin’ Pete’s in Ballard is juicy with a subtle, almost haunting quality. Owners Eric and Julie Reinhardt are proud to share some of their wood-fired knowledge: In Julie’s book, She-Smoke (Seal Press; $17), coming out June 1, she encourages women to take up the BBQ tongs.
You gotta try The platters. You can’t err with the generous portions of 14-hour brisket or “singin’ man” pork spareribs ― dab the meat with a little of the tangy original sauce. "

To read the whole article, click here.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Rebekah Denn's Eat All About It Interview

On Friday food writer Rebekah Denn interviewed me about the book and the contest. If you are from Seattle, you remember her as one of the long-time Seattle PI's food writing stars, but she is recognized nationally: In 2007 she won the James Beard award for Journalism for her restaurant critiques. Now she is busy freelancing and posting to her blog, Eat All About It.

After the interview, I felt a little giddy. I realized why. She was the first person (other than the publishing goddesses at Seal Press) that I've spoken to who has read my book. In fact, I only received a copy of She-Smoke today. Today! What struck me the most is that she really read it cover to cover. And liked it! She's no stranger to the smoker, either.

I'm honored, Rebekah Denn. I've followed your restaurant reviews for years, but of course never had the opportunity to speak to you. There lies a necessary barrier between restaurant owners and restaurant critics. How lovely, then, to talk as two writers who are passionate about food. Read all about it on Eat All About It!

Friday, May 22, 2009

She-Smoke Contest Round Up -Week One

What a week! I just got off the phone with Rebekah Denn with Eat All About It. Many of you know her from her food writing days with the Seattle PI. She is a household name in foodieville. Now that the PI has closed it's doors (sigh), Rebekah is continuing to write about food around town and beyond at her blog as well as freelancing at a bazillion publications. Look for her interview with me this weekend!

Launching the She-Smoke contest brought a flood of interest and cool contest supporters. In case you missed it, click here to read all about it or go to my website.

A shout out to these bloggers who posted the contest:

The Diva, Ms. Dimovsky, on her Diva Q blog:
The lovely Holly Cupala on her blog Brimestone Soup
Heifer International, Portland
Grill Gal, Cyndi Allison on her Barbecue Master blog. Cyndi also has a great website -

We've also lined up some exciting interviews and events for the book. These are also on the website:

-June 1st: Launch event at Smokin’ Pete’s, 6:30pm, co-sponsored by Secret Garden Bookshop. RSVP to

-June 6th: Radio interview on Cooking Outdoors with Mr. Barbecue, Time TBD, Bruce Bjorkman, KXL radio

-June 8th: Radio interview on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Morning Living Show, 6am

-June 9th: Cooking demonstration/author event at Third Place Books, 7pm

-June 16th: radio interview on The BBQ Central Show, Time 6pm

And finally...big news....that I will post about tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

She-Smoke Contest Update -We have a Grand Prize from Traeger Grills!

Great news! , Bruce Bjorkman, aka Mr. Barbecue, called me from Traeger Grills. They are donating a Junior Traeger Pellet Grill for the She-Smoke Virtual Barbecue Contest Grand Prize! Valued at $399, this grill is perfect for the home barbecuer. Thank you Traeger!

It's been quite a first full day of the contest. Greg Rempe mentioned the contest on his Barbecue Central radio show tonight and earlier booked me for an interview on June 16. More details about that later. Former PI Food Writer Rebekah Denn and I will be talking on Friday for her wonderful blog Eat All About It.

Heifer International is jazzed about the support and aims to spread the word to their supporters. If you haven't read about the contest and fundraiser, see below or click here. Don't forget - even if you aren't ready to enter yet, post comments and rate the trailer. It all helps getting visibility on YouTube. And most of all...tell your friends. Think beyond borders because a virtual barbecue can happen anywhere. We are hoping to cross as many borders as possible.

Monday, May 18, 2009

She-Smoke Virtual Barbecue Contest!

Today we launch the She-Smoke Contest as part of the book launch festivities. We want to create the largest virtual barbecue in the world and need your help. Why? Because barbecue, the event, is all about community, and we want to bring this wonderful community together in a new way. Additionally, the contest serves as a fundraiser for Heifer International to fight world hunger. I can't think of a better way to fight hunger than by eating barbecue!

Here's how it works:
1) View the contest trailer HERE.
2) Post a nice comment (please) and then send the link to all your friends. Remember, a virtual barbecue isn't limited geographically. Let's see how many borders we can cross!
3) Have a barbecue and video tape it.
4) In your 1-3 minute video tell us what you are smoking or grilling (we're not going to get too hung up on definitions here), and tell us what barbecue means to you.
5) Upload your video in response to my trailer.
6) For every entry we will donate $1 to Heifer International.
6) Contest dates are now through July 7 so upload it by the deadline. We will announce winners by July 11.

Categories are:
1) Best looking barbecue (we can't eat it virtually, so make it a feast for our eyes!)
2) Best Video
3) Best Party - let us feel like we are there!
4) Most Interesting Smoker
5) Best Overall Entry/Grand Champion

Winners will recieve a signed copy of She-Smoke: A Backyard Barbecue Book, and the Grand Champion will recieve other fabulous prizes.

For more information, go to my website at Please forward this on to as many people as possible.

Thank you!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It Pays To Be Late: On Writing and Barbecue

I ran into the SCBWI conference looking for the line. They said there would be long lines if we arrived after 7:45. It was now 8:30 and the registration desk stood empty.

“Wow,” I said, “no line. How lucky is that?”

“It’s because the conference has already started,” replied the teen volunteer, with a touch of reprimand in her voice, mind you.

I shrugged it off, recalling my father’s sage advice, “It pays to be late.” It’s practically his mantra and something my husband, an Army brat, can’t wrap his head around. My dad hates to wait, so his idea of a perfect arrival is to slide right in at the last minute. Things don’t always time out perfectly, though, which means I spent most of my childhood missing the beginning of the movie, the first act of the play, or having to reschedule my doctor’s appointment.

But a few key incidents of tardiness that resulted in reward cemented this notion in my father’s mind. I know it goes against the grain. Being late doesn’t work in many situations...job interviews, your wedding, airplane trips…well actually being late to an airplane once in 1978 was probably the most significant incident from childhood that led to dad's belief that good things come to those who are late.

We were headed to see to see the grandparents and cousins in Alabama. In OJ fashion, back when you could do things like that and when OJ was just an American football star, our family of six sprinted to the gate.

“We gave your seats away,” said the stewardess when we arrived disheveled and out of breath. My father’s face must have fallen, like, 5 floors down, because her next sentence was, “But we can put you in first class.”

First class. As a family of six we had never made it out of the very middle of the center section of coach. You know the place; once you go in, it's dirty looks and complete row upset every time you need to pee. And this was first class in the seventies, on a jumbo jet. We ascended to the second floor, found a swivel seat, and put our feet up on groovy white lounge tables. Sweet. My dad was never on time to a function again.

What does all this have to do with writing or barbecue (the apparent focus of this blog)? I want to give people permission to be late. No matter what the creative endeavor, be it writing a picture book, or smoking a brisket, give yourself enough time. Just like I’ve had a brisket stall out on me for 5 hours (that means it just won’t get past 160 degrees to the ideal tender 190), I’ve had stories stall out on me for years, to be revived and loved later after spending time in the drawer. Some things just need to cook a little longer. It may not be ready when you wanted it, but giving it the time it needs will result in delicious writing or barbecue or whatever it is you create.

I heard this sentiment a lot at the conference. Here are some other nuggets that hold true for writing and barbecue, and what I took away from them:

Author/Illustrator Nina Laden: “If you don’t make mistakes, you won’t make anything.” (just keep working, even if it stinks).

Editor Connie Hsu on working as a red carpet journalist: “Angelina Jolie is like an alien. She just stares at you.” (if you're not following your path, you will feel alienated...or surrounded by aliens that look like Angelina Jolie)

Illustrator Kevin Atteberry: “I never say, ‘Oh shoot, I have to draw today’.” (do what you love and it won't feel like work)

Editor Connie Hsu: “I only like stories with dead animals…There are plenty of other editors who like their animals, you know, breathing." (there are no absolute rules in creative work)

Author Richard Peck video quote: “At some point in a novel, you have to grow- have an epiphany – and then act that out in the novel.” (be open to the aha! moments)

Author Ellen Hopkins: “Write those books that are scratching from the inside.” (feed yourself with the work. In barbecue that can be quite literal!)

And lastly, yet another quote from Ms. Hsu (can you tell I liked her?) when asked how long we could submit work to her: "Forever? I'm not going to give a deadline on creativity. Take the time you need."

Take your time. Be late if necessary. Remember: It pays to be late.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Smoked Turkey Soup with Fresh Baked French Bread

Yesterday we woke up to a Northwest spring day - grey, rainy, and that muffled quiet that feels like a giant blanket has been thrown over the world. A perfect day to make bread and soup.

Most of those of us of the barbecue religion have myriad baggies of leftover meats in the freezer. It's because it's just as easy to smoke large quantities of meats as one item. And because practice makes perfect. I had some smoked turkey just begging to be thrown in the pot with the many not-so-fresh-picked vegetables in the bin.

My son Xander decided we were making "Lemon-tongue bread", and, not knowing how to make that, we turned to Julia Child for her basic French bread recipe. I craved the crunchy exterior and soft inner chew of French bread. I knew Julia's recipe in The Way to Cook would serve it up right. She is (was) so thorough in her explanations. The key to French bread? Three risings. Good thing we started early.

We made the dough by hand (Julia's recipe calls for a food processor, but I can't find my dough hook. Xander likes to play with it), kneading it until smooth and elastic, and set it in a covered bowl on top of a warm oven.

After it doubled, we punched it down (big fun for X), folded over and kneaded it again and set to rise. After punching it down a second time, we divided it into two loaves, kneading a bit more, and folding and pinching it into place. We dusted the bottom with cornmeal and let the loaves rise a bit more before baking. I don't have a bread baking stone so we baked it in our large cast iron pan.

I've made a vow to bake more bread. In part because the grocery store bread I like is now $5.99 a loaf. (!). It's also because baking bread is as good as any meditation and something I can do with a baby in the sling and a 3 year old. No resolutions here, like "I must bake bread once a week!", because that would surely nix any hopes of future bready yumness. Just "more often". And because my bread baking lately has been "next to never", I've already made good on my vow.

The soup was easy. I made a simple stock with the thigh bone, some onion ends, celery and carrots. After straining, I added new carrots, celery, leftover smoked turkey, some thyme, salt and pepper. When the loaves were on their third rise, I cooked off some rotini pasta to add to the soup at the end (otherwise it gets mushy).

You know what? By the time dinner was just about ready, the sun came out. We ran to the park to get some fresh air and shake off the rainy day. Daddy put the bread in to bake so when we came home good and hungry, everything was ready to eat. Mmmm.

Care to share your favorite soup or bread recipe? E-mail me and I'll post it sometime in the coming weeks:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New Menu: Keeping it fresh and finding new ways to reduce our footprint

We are excited about our new menu. Two new sides are hushpuppies and Island Slaw. Both of these sides are in She-Smoke, and we wanted to feature some of those recipes at Smokin' Pete's. In addition to our two new sides, we have a new sandwich - The Carolina Slow. Made traditionally, Our Slow Joe Pork is mopped and sauced with our Carolina Sour Sauce, topped with slaw, and served with hushpuppies.

All sides will now be a larger, 8oz size. Part of our reason for doing this was because it is easier to find recyclable or compostable containers in this size. We will be researching different containers so you may get a variety of containers for awhile. You may not know it but Smokin' Pete's BBQ composts all of our food waste and compostable paper goods. Almost everything left on the plate (though most of our customers leave pretty clean plates!), such as bones, dirty napkins, any food left over, are things we compost. Even used paper to-go boxes can be composted. As a result we have reduced our garbage by over half! Our smoker drippings and fryer oil get made into BioDiesel, too. We are thankful to live in such a progressive city.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Smoked Trout with Cherry Tomatoes

This recipe is a simple, yet full of flavor favorite at home. It's in the book, but here is tonight's version:

I often serve this with a simple starch like polenta or cous cous. Tonight we ate this dish delish with hushpuppies (brought home from Smokin’ Pete’s BBQ –one of our new sides), and green beans. I had planned to steam the beans – passing on the butter to help get the baby weight off – but Eric took over the dinner at the end. The beans were so tasty, they clearly were not just steamed. “How did you do the beans?” I asked Eric. “Cooked them with some of the leftover rib drippings from last night,” he replied. So pork fat, basically, is what made them so special. Take some perfectly healthy beans and fry ‘em up with rib lard. Sigh. I did have two helpings of vegetables tonight, though, and our 3-yr old happily gobbled them too.

1 whole trout, book cut
Cherry tomatoes, about 10-15
1 ½ t Kosher salt
Chopped fresh rosemary (about 2 t)
Lemon wedges
Equipment: I usually just do this on the Weber, but tonight I fired up the Weber Smokey Mountain bullet smoker because I can move it under the deck (it was raining), and our Weber grill is pretty well stuck in our wishing well brick “pit”.

Wood: Smoked with grape vine tonight. Any mild wood will do as trout really takes on smoke because of its oil content. We happen to have an old vine clinging to our alley fence that we clip back each year and season for smoking.

1) Book-cut trout by cutting along both sides of backbone without slicing through as you would when cutting a fillet. This way it lays nicely flat.
2) Sprinkle 1 t kosher salt on inside of fish.
3) Make fire for indirect-medium heat and “get your smoke on”. In this case I put seasoned grape vines directly on coals. No soaking. Aim for a slightly lower medium heat of 275-300 degrees. Place fish, skin side down, on indirect side and cook for 40-45 minutes with the lid down. Cut cherry tomatoes in half, toss with ½ t salt and chopped rosemary. Spread on top of the fish. Serve with squeezed lemon.

Monday, May 4, 2009

It's All In The Hair (and the chair)

Tomorrow (weather permitting) we are re-shooting some video for a book trailer contest we'll launch in a few weeks. I'm really excited about the contest, but don't want to say anything until it's ready. Jaime Temarik made an amazing trailer with footage we shot last week, but I felt I was a little soft in some of the bits. I'm a writer, not a movie star, but I think I can step up my game.

To help boost my confidence in front of the lens, I'm headed to the salon to put back the pink, purple, and red in my locks. I had to let the hair go for a long spell because of babyland, but mama's gotta get her girl on.

It's not just for the sake of vanity, however. Two writer friends of mine and I have a theory - writing success is all in the hair. We jest of course, because we know success in writing is really about sitting in the chair each day and getting to work. But all three of us have experienced a peculiar parallel with hairdos and writing sales.

It all started when Holly Cupala went from natural blond-brown to a cutting edge pinky-red. She landed the agent of her dreams, and has recently blogged about "How to Hook A Hotty" agent. Next, in light of my impending 40th birthday, I washed away the mommy-tail with a new doo of purple, pink and fiery red. The call from Seal Press asking me to write She-Smoke came soon after. Annie Gage said, "I want some of that hairdo mojo!" She rinsed henna o'er her head and almost immediately received a letter in the mail from Highlights magazine with news of her "Talent Night" story's publication.

If it it just stopped there, I might not be a believer. But about six month's after landing her agent, Holly chopped ten inches off her lengthy locks and donated them to Locks of Love. Three weeks later she landed a two-book deal with Harper Collins. Her first novel, currently named, A Light That Never Goes Out will be published in 2010.

Just a coincidence? Perhaps. But why not head to the salon anyway. Even if you don't land a book contract, you will have fabulous hair.

I'm back now, and I love what stylist Jessie did at Derby Salon. Here it is:

Do any of you have a hair success tale to tell? We might be on to something.