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.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A day full of life

My day started out going to the funeral of a dear friend's mom. A mom that had been one of my neighborhood moms. I'd hung out and eaten at their house too many times to count, and in fact just recently blogged that I ate lamb for the first time at their house. I endearingly called her Mrs. O., because calling her by her last name seemed too formal, yet I could never call her by her first name. 

God it was sad. And yet watching her six kids and her fourteen grandchildren talk about her life made my heart feel full, almost bursting, from the fact that one person can have such an effect on so many people. She was this extraordinary ordinary person who raised six kids, often alone while her husband fished up in Alaska, who survived an accident in her midlife so extreme, that she made it into the Book of World Records, and who, quite simply, loved every minute of life. She was a force in the universe. I imagine that somehow the solar system will be a little dimmer without her.

At the memorial, we listened to beautiful and heartfelt rememberences. I wanted to stay to hear them all, but I had my mother-in-law arriving at the airport, and was catering a wedding today. So I jumped in the car and headed to the restaurant to get the staff working on the packout (they were way ahead of me), and to get picked up by Eric and Grandma B.

It was a joy to see "the other grandma" and welcome her to our home. She met our little El in person for the first time. After a brief visit, I zoomed back to Pete's to finish packing out for the wedding.

The wedding was beautiful. They'd decked it out in a cool retro-travel theme, with homebrew bottles for the guests, and other details that made it stand out.

What struck me though, when they got the the speeches, was how much weddings and funerals are the same. At both we celebrate life with family and friends, food and drink, and by sharing stories. At weddings we tell stories of how the two met and stories that will help them in their new life together. Likewise at funerals, we tell stories about our loved ones to remember and celebrate their life. But like the send-offs we give to the fresh faced wedding couples, memorial stories help us too. We can live our own lives better by emulating those qualities of theirs we admired. By this we honor them, and they live within us, in our story.

And we eat. As a caterer I can attest that people eat more at funerals and weddings. I think emotions burn calories and at both we have a high output of emotions. Food gives us comfort: A belly full of hearty food feels warm, like a fuzzy blanket or a pair of arms wrapped around you on a cold day. Food celebrates life: At weddings and funerals, we bring out the special dishes, the family dishes, or just our favorites. Almost every person talked about Mrs. O's cooking. Her tacos, in particular. She was a great cook because she loved it. She loved making food that brought people together.

Today was full of life - one past, one present, and two future. If you noticed how long my day was, I'd have to say it was a little too full. Tomorrow I'll let life sink in more slowly. We'll make coffee, maybe some pancakes, and catch up with Grandma B. I'll call my friend and see how she's doing. I'm guessing the day after the funeral is a hard one. Tomorrow I'll honor Mrs. O. by being with family and by cooking up something good.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Next Week is Turkey Week on the "New" She-Smoke Blog!

Get ready to learn about smoking your own turkey next week. It is also the "unveiling" of my new blog format: Tuesday is Barbecue 101 day. Wednesday is News, Reviews and Interviews day. Thursday is the Weekend Warrior BBQ Recipe, and Friday, just for fun, is Food Poetry Day!!!

So.. for Turkey week, on Tuesday, I will cover the basics of brines, rubs, and smoking a turkey at home for our Barbecue 101 "class". On Wednesday, I'll interview Danielle Dimovski of the competition barbecue team, DivaQ. As a Canadian, she's just celebrated Thanksgiving. We'll see her TV spot on the Canadian version of the Today Show, and, well, talk turkey with her. On Thursday, I'll post a step-by-step smoked turkey recipe, and on Friday I will attempt a poem about turkeys. My hope is that you all will send in your food poems as well.

Can't wait! I just bought my all-natural turkey. I'll be putting it in the brine on Saturday and smoking it on Sunday. By then the pictures will be ready to post next week.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rethinking the Blog and Social Networking

Today I met with social networking guru, Greg Pincus. He is speaking tonight at our SCBWI-Washington chapter meeting and did individual consultations for those of us who signed up. Basically, I wanted him to answer the question, "Why Twitter?"

He gave me much more than that. My issue with the whole twitter/facebook/blogger communication and writing is that it feels like anytime I'm spending doing that, could be spent on actual creative writing. I also sometimes feel like it is noise and that the communications aren't very "authentic". One thing I loved about our meeting is that he said, "This is your platform. You set the rules as to how much time and energy you put into it." His mantra, one I love, is that these connections can form "happy accidents". I must admit that I've had a happy accident recently. A happy accident that you will hear about in the near future.

He also made a page full of suggestions on how to make it something that is both meaningful to me and to others.

I read my first post for this blog and like what I said I'd do: "My plan is to post at least three times a week: One detailed recipe, one barbecue or food news discussion, and one post dedicated to sides, sweets and fun. I'll plan a guest chef blogger each month as well as sprinkle in book news, Smokin' Pete's BBQ news, and the occasional post about motherhood."

While I do all these things in my blog, they aren't on any particular day. I think it would help me, and hopefully those reading this blog (hi mom), if there was a format. I'm going post regular topics, like weekly columns. Every Wednesday may be Foodie News and Interviews, every Friday may be the Weekend Warrior Barbecue Recipe. I'm still working it out and I'll post the schedule soon.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall Grill: Pork Chops with Grilled Apples

I love the crisp days of fall. Something about the air fills me with creativity. I write like crazy, I start new projects, I organize the house.

Case in point: I've been to the (damn!) Ikea stronghold three times this month. We have bins for everything now. I'm driving Eric crazy with my, "You put the Brachiosaurus in the hot wheel bin! He goes with the assorted animals. We also a new king size bed (because we are cry-it-out wimps and we have yet to keep El in her crib for a whole night). And new sheets. And a strange little handheld device that bubbles your milk that I would use if it didn't take some strange little Swedish batteries.

At any rate, I've never understood the frenzy over spring. Spring cleaning, spring renewal. For me, it's all about fall.

All that creativity pouring out of me (and the frustration of putting together Ikea bins) makes me hungry.
Pork chops on the grill are easy, delicious, and perfect for the hungry days of fall. Pair it with some grilled apple rings and you have a bit of bliss on a fork.

Rub the chops in olive oil, garlic, chopped sage and thyme, kosher salt and black pepper. Let them sit while making a medium-hot fire. If your chops are extra thick make sure to leave some "indirect space" on the grill. Cook the chops for 5-10 minutes on both sides, then move over to cook indirectly, with the lid down. This way they don't turn into hockey pucks on the outside while they cook thoroughly on the inside.

Core the apple, slice into thick rings. Rub a little canola oil - not too much - and grill directly.

Serve with some hearty greens or other root vegetable. Wash it down with a nice Gewurztraminer wine.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Guest Recipe on Holly Cupala's Blog

My writer friend, Holly Cupala, is posting a new series on her blog, Brimestone Soup, called "Book Cooks". She asked writers to send in their favorite recipes for the fall. This week she posted mine, Chicken Soup with Rice (is nice). I was inspired by a leftover smoked chicken, and Maurice Sendak's book, Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months.

Holly's debut YA novel, Tell Me A Secret will be released in 2010, followed by her second book, already in the editing phase. "Tell Me A Secret chronicles seventeen-year-old Miranda’s unexpected pregnancy and her gripping journey to navigate the labyrinth of her bad-girl sister Xanda’s life, unravel the mystery of her death, and free herself in the process." I can't wait to read it! Not only have I read early bits and pieces, which I loved, it's always exciting when a friend gets published.

What favorite soups are you making this fall?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

She-Smoke in Bust Magazine this month!

I'm thrilled for the huge shout out to my book in Bust this month. It's in a special section of the book reviews titled, "Three Hot Picks for a Bitchin' Kitchen". Yes! Reviewer Colleen Kane writes, "..She-Smoke author Julie Reinhardt, who co-owns Seattle's Smokin' Pete's BBQ, points out that in hunter-gatherer days, it was the women who threw the beast over a pit of smoking embers." She-Smoke is in good company too. The two other books listed are Forking Fantastic! and The Beginner's Guide to Preserving Food at Home. By the way, if you want to buy She-Smoke, we now let you choose on the website from whom you'd like to order -,, or

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Honey smoked a leg last night (that's leg of lamb, silly).

Writing a blog focused on food brings dinner to a whole new level. You can't just cook something and eat it, you have to photograph it and remember what you put in it! Sometimes things taste good, but don't photograph well, like one of my barbecue leftovers last week. On the flip side, it's easy to cheat, and hide mistakes with the camera. My Harvest Cake was delicious, but it fell in a few spots. I was going to come clean in that blog post, but it was already getting too long. I'm confessing now:

Last night honey came home with lamb to smoke. You can imagine my glee: I love smoked lamb, and I love when dinner is "postable". This dinner embodied the trifecta - it looked great, tasted better, and Eric took some great shots for the blog. All I had to do was show up and eat (and write a little, which is never a chore).

One of the reasons I love barbecue lamb is that I think the wood smoke enhances the meat and makes it better. We never ate lamb in our family. My mom rarely strayed from the basics of chicken, pot roast, ground beef and fish. Pork chops and ham were occasional items, but mom was always a little scared of pork, unless it was cooked to white-grey overdone. Lamb was way out of her comfort zone.

I tried lamb for the first time as a teen at a friend's house (whose father was a halibut fisherman). Her mom served it up fairly often, prepared simply roasted in the oven with a little salt, pepper and maybe garlic. I liked it then, but it was a little gamey and chewy for me. Smoking it mellows the gameyness and brings out the wonderful flavor of the meat. Cooking it at a lower temperature also helps keep it tender.

RECIPE (of a sort)
Lamb leg, however, is great either smoked slow and low, or at a higher temperature. It doesn't have loads of connective tissue like brisket or pork shoulder, which needs time to break down. Eric smoke-roasted this leg on the Weber at about 350 degrees. He first stuffed it with rosemary and garlic cloves, then rubbed it in kosher salt. It took about 2 1/2 hours, cooked indirectly from the fire, with the lid down. I'm guessing he used a mix of grapevine and hickory wood, because that's what I see lying around the yard.

While the lamb cooked, he made a perfect cucumber salad to accompany it. The quantities are a bit of a guess. Getting Eric to write down a recipe is a bit like getting Willie Nelson to pay his taxes.

Cool Greek Cucumber Salad
2 cucumbers, seeds scooped out, sliced
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup vinaigrette salad dressing from the fridge (or equal parts olive oil and lemon juice)
2 oz. feta, crumbled
2 green onions, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Serve the lamb with grilled pita bread and the cucumber salad. You'll gobble it up before anyone can take a picture. Lucky you!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

American Royale Barbecue Weekend

Today marks the last day of the American Royal Barbecue Competition. It's the World Series of barbecue, held in Kansas City and hosted by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. I wish I were there. I could drink beer this time! Last year I went as part of my research for She-Smoke. I was pregnant -7 months along - and could not imbibe in the liquid festivities. My dear dear friend Amy came with me to the Royal, acting as assistant and stand-in for me at the beer line.

I met so many wonderful people, including the venerable chef Paul Kirk, but by far my favorite "barbecue connection" was with the gals of Squeal of Approval. I'd read through the list of competitors in search of female teams to interview for the She's Smokin' sections of the book. We walked right into their full o' pink set up (even their smoker trailer is pink), and they stopped everything to talk with us and share their beer. As I write this, they are most likely taking a good luck shot right before their first turn-in. Turn-ins for the open begin at 12:00 noon. Betsy and Allison, I'm sending you good barbecue vibes right now.

The results for the Invitational are already in here. I'm interested in the team that placed 4th overall - Mt. Dora Bar-b-que Co. I have some family who used to live in the small town of Mt. Dora, FL.
Here are just a few pictures of my trip last year. Many were unfortunately lost with my laptop, but a few made it on to the stay-at-home computer.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My New Blog Crush

I'm in love with a new Northwest blog - CheriePicked. Is it possible to have a blog crush? It's not just because she just posted a wonderful review of Smokin' Pete's BBQ, and an interview with me, but because her blog is about great food, sustainable food, local food. She seeks out restaurants and people that do the same. And she posts delicious recipes. And she loves bacon. She is also a wonderful writer.

To clarify - my crush is new, but Cherie has been blogging for about three years. So go check out her blog and read the really cool review and interview here (in case you missed the above link). Or just read a delicious Rosemary Shortbread recipe here. I love savory shortbread and I'm planning on making this over the weekend. We have a HUGE rosemary tree that we beat back every year. I can't imagine ever buying rosemary. It grows like a weed in our climate. This shortbread will help keep it trim (but do no such trimming of my middle). Yum!