Thursday, June 24, 2010

R & R in the woods at Index

After two busy-as-heck weeks at Smokin' Pete's, we took a few days to rest. There is really only one place I can completely forget about the business, e-mail, and the house list: the woods of Index, WA. It's almost scary how easily I forget it all here.

It's easy to "unplug", because there are no plugs. No cell reception. No running water. No street lights. Just peace. I won't say quiet because the birds sing symphonies all hours of the day and night, the wind stirs the trees into a breezy boogie, and the Douglas squirrels chirp like it's 1999.

We go every year about this time. Once the graduation parties are done, schools are out, and before summer camps begin, most folks spend time with their family. That means they generally don't need catering and we get a slight break before the onslaught of the 4th of July and the rest of the summer.

Our little slightly-bigger-than-a-bathtub shack still needs a floor, so we camp. It's near the North Fork Skykomish river, which is, in my mind, the most perfect river in the world. I am almost always inspired to write poetry while sitting on its rocky shores. Much of it stinkier than skunk weed, but I kind of liked the poem I wrote this time.

The huckleberries are just starting to turn red. In a few weeks we need to get back to pick some serious berry booty. My 17 month old can now say "Bewwy!" She's indiscriminate, happily gulping down salmon berries, huckleberries, and grapes (she calls those berries too), followed by her favorite word and sign: "Mo'!"

Blue Huckleberry
And there are wildflowers. Lupin and Foxglove and Columbine, Oh my!

I love how kid-friendly nature is. I mean, look at this happy one-eyed monster rock.

Or the scary guy next to him:

We made a baby wading pool off the river in no time at all.


So where do you like to unwind? What helps you unplug? And when are you going there?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

She-Smoke chosen as a "Washington Reads" selection

Up until now, I've never won an award. I got close in a third grade spelling bee, taking home a hot pink certificate for second runner-up. I earned a vacuuming badge once, solidifying me as a feminist at the age of ten.

I was voted Most Spirited in high school basically because I was a spaz. I wasn't a cheerleader or on the pep squad, didn't go to many football games, nor was I in the marching band. I think I was voted most spirited because I giggled a lot.

When I saw the very large envelope from the Secretary of State, I thought, "Oh dear, did I misfile something for the restaurant? Why did it come to my house?" I didn't open it for a week. When I finally did, I saw the golden seal and immediately felt like Charlie, peeling back the wrapper on his golden ticket.

Let me share my chocolate with you.

The Washington State Library chose She-Smoke as one of its Spring Washington Reads selections! I'm a bit giddy. It says, "This honor is bestowed by the Washington State Library, recognizing your contribution to Washington's cultural heritage." This spring the theme was "The Tastes of Washington, Part 2".

You can find out about the other books chosen here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Catering Season is Here!

We are in the middle of an incredibly busy two weeks at Smokin' Pete's. I have a backlog of blog posts, none quite finished, but I can at least show you what I'm doing.

Here are just a few catering shots from this week. We catered a party of 450 on Saturday, plus had about 6 large pick up orders in the restaurant. This time of year, we pretty much have a job every day, with multiple events most weekends.

Our most popular catering salad:

This Thursday we have our largest catering of the year, 2000 guests. The quantities are a little daunting, but it really is just math. Besides, since we've done the event before, we aren't as nervous as the first year. The way we got this job was doing a small delivery for 16 people. I always tell my staff, "There are no small jobs!" You never know who might be in the crowd and what other functions they might be planning.

Getting set up this weekend:

Some of our meats and sides:

Admittedly, I don't take great pictures when I'm at work, I'm busy! I'll post a ton of fun stuff...after this week :).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hanging out with Eggheads in Kent

Saturday, the rain parted for a day, just in time for the Pacific NW Eggfest. I spent the day cooking MOINK balls on a Big Green Egg, and sampling what other "Eggheads" were cooking.

Here is my "Egg for a day"

You wouldn't believe the variety of foods cooked on these all-in-one smoker grills. Besides the "regular" barbecue fare of all things pork, I had bites of omelet, cornbread pudding, salmon, pizza, and even french fries!

There were plenty I didn't get to try, like this man's apple pancakes.

It was nice to see so many egghead women in the ranks. Some brought their kids, others wore tiaras.

This BBQ Queen Bee is Renee O'Harran, the Director of Food Services at The Northwest School. She smoked up her own brined bacon.

The next egglady, Jill Van Berkom, is truly a Jill of all trades. She's an artist AND she churned out fabulous pizzas all day. Notice her hand crafted bead...of a Big Green Egg...on her necklace.

The Fire Fighters For a Cure won everyone over with this CUTE watermelon egg. Like we need any more reasons to drool over the fire fighters. Their makin' mini eggs out of watermelons, raising money for breast cancer, saving lives, all while in uniform mind you.

But the best, in my humble, chocolate addicted opinion, was the dessert by father and daughter team Troy and Hayley. They baked this out of donut dough, mixed with chocolate and who knows what else (I need to ask for the recipe), topped with ice cream. Oh yeah. You see them slicing like mad because they had a line out their tent.

What a fun day. If you get a chance to come to Eggfest 2011, do! I know I'm going to be there.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Only in Seattle: Even our spiders like coffee

This morning I noticed a spider had started a web over yesterday's grounds in our coffee cone. Maybe he likes his flies caffeinated.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Recipe: MOINK Balls ala The BBQ Grail

For those of you following, you know that this Saturday is WORLD MOINK BALL DAY! In honor of that, I made MOINK balls this week, and will be making them at the Smokin' in Seattle Eggfest.

I made them according to the recipe by the MOINK master himself, Larry Gaian of The BBQ Grail. Besides sharing these tasty wonders with you, and preparing for the Eggfest, I had a third motivation: I want my MOINK ball certification.

Certification? Yes! As Barry "CB" Martin explains on the Char-Broil blog, Larry will send you a commemorative certificate if you follow his three simple instructions listed there by June 7th. Hey, maybe you could pass it off at work as a "continuing education" credit. It's worth a shot.

On to the MOINK balls. First, see Larry Gaian making his MOINK balls on Fox 40 Live here. If you want to read the whole story, recipe, and background of the MOINK ball, check out WikQuepedia.

Per the recipe, you must buy all beef, fully cooked meatballs. Finding meatballs without pork or "soy protein" can be tough, but I found a nice product at Trader Joes.

Another must is a thick sliced and meaty bacon. Cut the bacon in half, and wrap a half slice around each meatball. Secure with a toothpick.

Rub generously with rub of your choice. I used my own "Cocoa Bliss" rub from She-Smoke, because I have a lot of it in the house. That is so important in barbecue. Use what you have. Innovate from the shelf.

Smoke at 225 degrees on a charcoal or wood smoker. I didn't pay exact attention to the time, but I think Larry's estimate of 90 minutes total cooking time is what I did. After about an hour, I turned the balls. It's not necessary, but I wanted my bacon a little crispier.

I made a simple glaze of BBQ Sauce and grape jelly (I used the sauce Pork Barrel BBQ gave me at Memphis in May. Thanks guys - it's delish!). The original BBQ Grail recipe calls for a Chipotle-Raspberry-Balsamic glaze, but I wanted to keep mine mild for the kids.

I dipped each MOINK in the glaze and cooked them for another 20 minutes or so. OMG! I ate way too many. I can tell I'd better get a lot more meatballs for Saturday. They are going to be devoured.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Psychic MOINK Balls

The planets have aligned and two spectacular events are colliding together on Saturday, June 5th. You guessed it: World MOINK Ball Day AND the Smokin' in Seattle Eggfest.

When the Big Green Eggfest folks invited me to "come on down with some books and cook on an Egg", I immediately thought, "I know, I'll cook MOINK balls. Those bacon-wrapped, rubbed-n-glazed meatballs will draw the crowd to me like trouble finds Charlie Sheen."

Then, at Memphis in May, I had the pleasure of cooking (and losing) to Larry "MOINK Ball" Gaian, the inventor of the tasty meaty treat, who informed me that June 5th is in fact, WORLD MOINK BALL DAY! How did I know? I must have tapped into some collective world consciousness, or something.

Was that a shiver I saw run down your back?

Seriously, I'm totally egg-cited. I love the Big Green Egg and have never attended an Eggfest.

OK, everyone who has no idea what I'm talking about, raise your hand (hi mom!). Let me back up.

1) A MOINK ball is a delicious barbecue appetizer that is a beef meatball (MOO), wrapped in bacon (OINK), dry rubbed, smoked, then finished with a glaze of one's choice. MOO + OINK = MOINK!

2) An Egg, or formally, A Big Green Egg, is a ceramic charcoal cooker that can be used to smoke slow and low, or to grill on high heat. It looks like an egg. People who love cooking on BGE's are called Eggheads. Gatherings of people who like/buy/sell/cook on BGE's are called Eggfests.
Come find me Saturday, from about 10-2pm in Kent (click on the link above for more info), and try some MOINK balls.

Tomorrow I will post a batch of MOINK balls with a link to Larry's recipe.