Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Backyard Barbecue Class, June 2

Photograph of Barry CB Martin aka Chef Barry host of Welcome to the Cookout!Photograph of Lynnae Oxley - leader of Sugars Championship BBQ TeamPhotgraph of Julie Reinhardt author of She Smoke and co-owner of Smokin' Peat's BBQ Joint.

Want to hone your barbecue skills? Come join me and two amazing teachers - Barry Martin and Lynnae Oxley - on June 2 at Smokin' Pete's BBQ
Chef Barry is a grilling master, long time grill spokesman, and has been on myriad cooking shows, most recently a series of spots on the Weather Channel. Lynnae is the pitmaster of Sugars Barbecue and will be on the upcoming Barbecue Pitmaster's television show.
We have two sessions, a morning and afternoon, both of which will serve a meal at the restaurant. We'll go over all the basics of hot and fast grilling and slow and low barbecue to help you wow your friends and family at your next barbecue. 
Please check out the full website with bios, class info, and the registration form. It's only $100 for a four hour class with three instructors and lunch! We wanted to make it easy for you to sign up. So sign up! If you can't come, do tell your friends in the greater Seattle area about it. We're smokin' for ya!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Shrimp on the Grill

Having come back from a trip to Jacksonville, Florida, communing with the folks at Char-broil, this week was all about catching up on sleep. I had early flights both ways and lost nearly two full nights of shut eye. I'm not someone who can go to bed early on command, nor am I disciplined enough to get my work done ahead. It's 2 am or bust for me the night before any trip.

Suffice it to say, some of the household chores didn't get done this week. I needed an easy dinner and what better inspiration than Florida! We ate so well there, but my favorite meal was grilled shrimp served with cheesy grits at a local seafood restaurant. So after playing in the park late, because it was sunny, and you have to maximize your exposure to the sun when it shows up in Seattle, I bought a mess of shrimp at one of my favorite local fish stores, Wild Salmon Seafood Market. My kids were thrilled as they love pretty much anything from the sea  - even octopus and eel - so shrimp on the grill needed no upselling.

I cleaned them, but left the shell on because my kids think peeling shrimp is fun. I then doused them with a little of Girard's Champagne dressing. Love the stuff. I am usually a make-your-own-dressing girl, but I always have a bottle of Girard's in the fridge for a quick salad or marinade.

I fired up my TRU-Infrared Char-broil grill, given to me because I blog for them, but also a grill I truly love. It's just too easy and with the infrared design, nothing falls through the grill grates. These shrimp can be grilled on a skewer, but really, it's just an extra step.
Go ahead if you like the aesthetics of a skewer, but my family eats shrimp so fast, skewers just get in the way. Three minutes or so on each side and dinner's ready.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Squid Sausage: One of many takeaways from the Char-Broil gathering

You might wonder why there is a bowl of lemons at the start of this post, when I've teased you with squid sausage in the title. The reality is that my photo of the squid sausage wasn't up to par. It's a new par, a far higher bar than my previous one in selecting what photos are worthy of posting. And this bowl of lemons is about the only photo that passes from my two-day Char-broil All-Star gathering in Jacksonville, Florida. Barely.

I do so love lemonade. And while the reality that my photography wasn't cutting it in this image heavy brave new world produced a fair amount of uncomfortable stomach acid, I know that good lemonade is a mixture of acidic lemon and lot's of sugar.

There was plenty of sugar at the Char-broil All-Star gathering this year. We meet with the Char-broil team to learn from each other, discuss the new product line, and to grow as bloggers. The sugar is we do all of the above with lots of amazing food, a good deal of colorful liquids to wash it down, and belly laughs through every meeting. I come away with inspiration and both new items in my toolbox, and sharper tools.

"Sharper" is a key word, because this year's gathering focused primarily on photography and being on camera. We all have different talents - angles from which we come to this place of food blogging. Mine is writing and being in the barbecue food business. Others are amazing photographers who are also talented home cooks, or award-winning barbecue competitors. But let's face it, the web is a noisy place -  a buzzing hive, an ocean of fish - and one of the best ways for a writer to be heard is to wave a big pretty image flag to catch the hive's attention, a visual hook to reel in the fish.

So my first takeaway this year was going to a "Photo 101" class with some of the best photographers in our group. I can't wait to put all that I've learned into some photo practice. Just the simple instruction of lowering my camera from where I was previously holding is huge, but I also got tips on setting up a mini food "studio." Nothing fancy. A few lights with a white board to diffuse reflections when taking night shots. Doh!

What about the squid sausage? We have a little cooking competition each year too. A mini "Chopped" with mystery ingredients and a time limit. This year it was naturally seafood-heavy with squid, shrimp, Grouper, sun dried tomatoes, a blood orange, collard greens and chocolate. Lemon, oil, seasonings and assorted herbs were stocked at all stations. I was lucky to be teamed with Christo of Chez What? He's the only real chef among us and won by a landslide last year.

The squid sausage, 100% Christo, should have won. It was amazing. I intend to recreate it in a blog post. Stuffed with grilled shrimp, shaved chocolate, finely chopped sun dried tomato, thyme and Italian parsley with a white wine and blood orange vinaigrette, we finished it off on the grill (a Tru-Infrared grill, of course). But the competition this year was also weighted with the name of our dish, the final photo, the team name...in other words, all the parts that go into a good blog post. And the victors, who name themselves Diva Q and The Dame, knew how to sell the whole package.

So I leave you with a two photos of the squid sausage. They were taken in almost dark, with a Droid. They are blurry. But you can see the original photo, and how through cropping and post editing, I've at least improved them.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Earth Day: 12 Ways to be a Locavore

I remember when Earth Day meant bouncing a huge earth ball around a circle of barefoot college students. Today, it's more of a sober concept because we all know that only by changing our daily habits will we be able to create the kind of change we need to sustain our planet.

Here is a post I wrote for Char-broil about 12 ways we can help planet earth as locavores. I love writing posts like this because I am reminded of how I want to be. I don't always walk the walk. Life gets pretty busy around here and sometimes convenience rules the day. But the act of writing it down helps me steer down the road I want to travel.

What about you? What does Earth Day mean to you?

Friday, April 12, 2013

How much food? Planning for a party.

By the intensified volume of the Smokin' Pete's e-mail inbox, I know that this is one of the key times when people work on their summer party plans. It's after Easter, right before spring break and Mother's Day, so there is a window, right? A little window of time to work on your family reunion, graduation party, or more casual wedding.

We sell a lot of barbecue by the pound for pick up in our restaurant and the number one question I get asked by people is how much food to order for their group. You don't all plan huge parties every day, and it can be very overwhelming, and somewhat mysterious, figuring out how much food to make or purchase.

Because of this, I recently wrote a post on Char-broil that breaks it all down. After all, it's just math. Get our your calculator and read the full post here. I promise it won't be difficult, overwhelming or mysterious.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New Meat Labels - Meathead's said it all

Yesterday, while flying through the grocery aisles with one of those monstrous car carts, the kids content with "driving" the front end of the racing striped beast I had to maneuver through hordes of shoppers, I was shocked at seeing a pork roast labeled "pork brisket."

'Oh dear,' I thought, 'someone is new at the label machine. Don't they know? If I had a dollar every time I had to explain to customers that brisket is beef, not pork...'

But that flash of a thought was interrupted by the kids arguing about who had more room, and a major traffic jam in the yogurt section. I didn't have time to alert the store of their error; I needed to get home with the groceries before everyone imploded from low blood sugar.

Later I read the announcement that pork cuts were being re-labeled to be more "consumer-friendly." Names like "Pork Rib-eye chop" and "Pork New York Chop" are coming/have come to your grocer, as well as gawd forbid, pork brisket. While I might find a way to work the Pork New York into a haiku, it all seems like a way to make pork fancier, which translates to more expensive.

Before I could muster much more hubris than that, Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn's post about the subject showed up on my blog roll stream. As usual, he's said it all on the subject on his most excellent website, Amazing Ribs. Go read his agitated post about the new meat labels, and put your two cents in here or there as you see fit.