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.