Wednesday, April 30, 2014

*Cool* New Grill Brush

A surprise package came from Char-broil a few weeks ago - this cool new grill brush. It's to be used on a cold grill before you turn on the grill, or after it's been cool for awhile.

I normally brush my grill hot before and after a cook, but sometimes the after gets forgotten when everyone is hungry hungry hungry and I'm rushing to get something in the mouths of my little birds (and big daddy bird).

It worked great. I used it on a really sticky gross grill that someone - not me - hadn't cleaned properly. Not naming names, but there are only two adults in the household allowed to use the grill.... The nylon bristles were nice and tough and the slightly curved handle added leverage, which for a short person is really appreciated.

It also cleaned up quickly with hot water afterwards. I was afraid to use soap, but I'm quite certain that cleaning instructions came in the box. Only I didn't read them and it probably got recycled by now.

My only critique? I want the brushes to be blue and for it to say in huge letters COOL on the handle because I know that he-who-I-am-apparently-not-naming-in-this-post will use it hot. Totally inevitable. Even though I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and said, "DON'T use this brush hot! OK? It's supposed to be used cold!"

That last bit may have been dramatically enhanced for effect, but I did tell him. And he will forget.

The best part? The brush came with a spare head. Just like Red Dwarf!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Brisket on a Gas Grill? Challenge accepted!

I was recently challenged by the folks at Char-broil to smoke a brisket on my TRU-Infrared gas grill. They know I am a habitual charcoal and stick burner gal, but that I also love grilling on the Quantum two-burner they sent me to try out. I blog for them so it's important to get to know their equipment. I love grilling up recipes like Easy Baby Back Ribs and Lamb Skewers with Mint Parsley Sauce, or writing about being a locavore for their site.

That said, as a barbecue restaurant owner (up until recently) and caterer, I have my ingrained blinders when it comes to brisket. Brisket is for me is the pinnacle of barbecue. It's far more difficult to get right than ribs or pork butt. And to do it right, it has to be done with a real smoker, real wood, or at the very least charcoal. Right?

Wrong. Turns out, the brisket I did on my little two-burner Quantum was fabulous. It was tender, smoky, had a great smoke ring...all my brisket buttons.

Read the full recipe here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Have you played with Picassohead?

Here is a fun program I just wanted to share. My kids and I can't get enough of Picassohead! It gives you the same satisfaction of wasting time that Solitaire does, but with much better results. Obviously it's been around for ages, but oddly there are no others that have saved to the gallery since 2003. Well, it's new to me. Just like all those shows on Netflix. I missed almost a decade of TV, so now I get to catch up five seasons at a time.

Here is one of my creations, titled Girl with Pink Hair. Yep. Thinking about going pink again.I swear the minute I passed 45, the grey started pouring out of my head. Down with grey, up with pink!

Girl with Pink Hair by julie

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Grilled Planked Cauliflower That Isn't Boring

Sometimes I think of my refrigerator as a chilled composting machine. I buy bushels of baby arugula and wild dandelion greens, age them until they are no longer edible, and then compost them in the bins outside. Maybe I'm just doing my part to subsidize small farmers.

Grilling veggies is a great way to get out of the salad rut. It punches up the flavor and texture to help them fight for the main stage of dinner. That's a tough slot in my household of carnivores, and I would be completely lying if I said my kids thought this was better than steak. Still, it was eaten. That's pretty awesome.

Cauliflower, the vegetable's answer to beige walls, boring neck ties, and the cubicle, is an excellent candidate for grilling. It needs help. It needs fire and flavor and some grill marks to break up the off-white color. With this easy recipe, you can make cauliflower exciting in only about 10 minutes. That's more than I can say about some people. I shall not name names but you know who you are.*

This is all you have to do. I'm not even going to format this as a recipe. Plank the cauliflower carefully by slicing thick, even slices. The more stem the better to help hold your little tree together. It tends to break apart, which is fine as you can see some smaller pieces below, just more work on the grill. Drizzle it with sesame oil and lightly coat both sides. Again, gently so as to keep them in their planks. Sprinkle sea salt.

Preheat grill on high for five minutes, then turn down to medium high. Grill planks for three minutes then flip with a spatula. Turn down to low and close the lid. Let them soften a little on this side, about five minutes or so. Turn off grill with the lid down and let rest in the warm grill for another 2 minutes.

Serve with fresh cracked pepper.

*I had a really long tangent written here that I thought was funny, but then decided no one would get it so I erased it. And since only two of you are reading this right now, keeping the star and explaining what I did is a little like talking to myself. Publicly. Blogs are a little like socially accepted Schizophrenia. My hair is a mess and my shirt is dirty while I write this too. And just so we are clear, this isn't the really long tangent I'd written originally and deleted. I simply have a bad habit of writing really long tangents that no one wants to read, especially when I'm explaining really long tangents. Help. I can't stop. Someone? Cauliflower?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Out of the mouths of babes

I found this in my post drafts list today. I'm notorious for starting blog posts and not ever publishing them. I think there are about 35 currently in draft status. This one, though, made me giggle, because it's from years ago when my son was about five. Now my daughter is five and is cracking me up daily, so it's back to being a current post.

Like last weekend. after boozing it up with the preschool moms, my daughter asked if I'd had a lot of chocolate and salad. Yep, salad. Way too much salad, because that's what mom's eat.

Well, she was right about the chocolate. I'll give that to her.

Here's a precious conversation from my son. Note how easily he kills off dad and puts mom in a coma. He loves a good plot, that one. Wants to be author when he grows up.

"Mom, let's pretend I'm an adult, and you are my best friend, and we're going to get married soon."

"OK, honey. So...what do you do for work?"

"I run the restaurant."

"Really? Do you like it?"

"Yeah, it's great, except...well my dad died and my mom's been in the hospital for 16 years."

"16 years! And can't daddy just be retired?"

"Mom. You're not playing it right."

Classic. As a co-op parent I get to enjoy not only the awesome things that come out of my kids' mouths, but of 18 other kids too. They all are these incredible beings: aware and smart enough to make jokes and understand what is going on, yet it's like they are on some groovy trip where reality and imagination are completely woven together. I wish we didn't lose that. Didn't pull apart and separate those threads.

If you are a parent, I know you wish there was a way to write down what your kids say on a consistent basis. I started a just for me twitter account to write down my son's hilarious stuff, but of course I don't catch even a fraction of what comes out of that mouth, or update it often. By child #2 it's not even a concept to tweet the cool things she says.

What do you do? I'd love to hear if anyone has a good system or habit of writing down the wisdom out of the mouths of babes.