Sunday, August 28, 2011

Italian Brat Burgers & fried squash blossoms

I got off to a pretty good start today, on the deck. I did get the roofing on today but have more nailing to do & some trim work. Then some stain sealer & railing and will be all done. It looked like I had enough squash blossoms for one more mess, so bought some Italian brats, to make patties from. I had some pasta left from the other day & some tomatoes to slice up, so that would be our supper.
About 10:30 I took a break from working on the deck & cleaned up my Traeger for tonight. I had some smoked sausage & ring bologna that needed used up so thought I would just throw them on the smoker & it would make a good lunch. I did them at 180 deg for an hour then went to 225 for another half hour. A piece of each, some sliced tomatoes & crackers made a good lunch.
At 4:30 I quit working on the deck; I had two sheets of roofing on & nailed down good enough until tomorrow. I put all my tools away & cleaned myself up. I removed the casings & made two patties from the 4 brats. I had done hamburgers at 300 deg for a half hr. so thought I would do these at 225 to see how they come along. I got them on at 5:30 & at 6:00 didn’t look done enough for me so went to 300 deg. At 6:00 checked IT, flipped & went to 325 deg, another half hr should do it. I went inside & got the pasta ready to reheat, sliced up some tomatoes & got the fixins ready to fry the squash blossoms. I would use an egg, milk wash & dip them in Panko bread crumbs, then fry in some olive oil & a couple pats of butter. I like those Panko bread crumbs for breading. At 7:00 the brat burgers were done, 160 deg IT, so turned smoker down to 180 deg & fried up the squash blossoms & nuked the pasta. After the blossoms were browned I turned them & went outside, added Swiss cheese & the buns to the burgers, pulled after 2 min & the squash blossoms were ready too. My wife had dill pickle & mustard on her sandwich. She will add dill pickles to about any sandwich, I only like them on roast beef sandwiches & they have to be claussen kosher dills. They taste like the ones you used to get from pickle barrels, they have never been heated so you will find them refrigerated at the grocery. I had a slice of Vidalia onion & mustard on my brat burger. My wife had bought onion buns & tasted good. The last of the squash blossoms tasted good & by the time I finished my 5th one I was wishing for at least 5 more. The Italian brat burger was almost too much for me, but I ate it all!
Note: I can't tell much difference in brands of yellow mustard but Plochman's is the only one with an acceptable spout.

My lunch

Blossoms, egg wash, & Panko bread crumbs

Pickles, mustard, & sliced tomatoes

Squash blossoms frying, note one has a baby squash attached.
The cook got that one!

Brat burgers done

My supper plate

Smokin Don

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cedar Planked Chicken

Today I took a break from working on my deck. I had grass to mow & needed to change the sugar water in my hummingbird feeders. I seen a recipe I think on Betty Crocker site for cedar planked Greek style chicken breasts. I had some new cedar planks so wanted to try it, but would do mine Italian style. My first use of cedar planks was with salmon I did on the Traeger at 300 deg for 40 min. At that temp I didn’t get any charring on the planks so no cedar flavor. However I think it helps keep the fish from drying out & keeps it moist so I have reused them on fish. I just run them through the dishwasher. I figured I would use the new ones & save for chicken.
When I went to get chicken breasts I saw an organic chicken, Harvestland, so I bought it, & some Kens Steak House Italian dressing for the marinade. I bought asparagus and a tub of Kraft Philly cooking crème to use on pasta.
I spatchcocked the chicken, removed the breast bone, & split in half and got it marinating in the Italian dressing. Marinade time was about 7 hrs. I put the cedar planks in water to soak, then went to mow grass. I finished up the yard & changed the hummer water, then relaxed with a cold one until time to cook. At 3:00 I trimmed the asparagus, drizzled w/olive oil, white balsamic vinegar & some garlic salt to marinade awhile. About 4:30 I fired up the Traeger & set it to 300 deg. I got the chicken on about 4:50, added salt, fresh ground pepper, & garlic powder. At 5:20 I inserted my two temp probes then at 5:30 brushed on some marinade & went to 325 deg. I went inside & cooked my pasta and sautéed some orange pepper & onions to add to the pasta. I put the onions & peppers in a pan, I had sprayed w/olive oil, added the cooked pasta, a handful of shredded Italian blend cheese & about a half tub on the Philly cooking crème, stirred & placed in a preheated 200 deg oven to hold. The chicken was at 165 deg IT so went to 375 deg. to finish up. When the chicken was 170 deg I added two bundles of asparagus, wrapped with silicone elastic bands turned after 5 min. & added two slices of bread I had brushed w/olive oil & a little garlic salt. At 6:20 all was done, total cook time was 1 ½ hrs. I plated breasts for the wife & I. All tasted great. Was there any cedar flavor, I don’t think so even though I noted I was getting more smoke at 325 deg than usual from my Traeger and continuous smoke when I went to 375 deg as you can see in the photo below. I had black char on the bottom & edges of the cedar planks so threw them out. At $4 for the planks I don’t think I will use them for chicken anymore. I didn’t note any cedar flavor & don’t think it kept the chicken any moister. I will still use them for fish though.

Smoke from Cedar Planks

Cedar planks


Chickens On

Peppers & onions for the pasta

Chickens done

My Plate

Smokin Don

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Am Out - Building a Deck

I probably will not be posting many cooks for a week or so. I am building a 6ftX6ft deck w/roof so I can cook in any weather on my Traeger. I wanted to do a larger one but had issues with my undergraond electrical service. It will be large enough for my Traeger, my small cabinet, & a chair for me. Thanks for stopping in & I should be back to cooking out soon. I will post photos of my progress. Smokin Don

Today is Aug. 14th, Sunday, a day of rest, and I sure needed it after 4 days working on the deck! The 2 pieces sticking out are just temporary, to hold all square until I get the roof rafters installed. A little slow going, but I am pleased. Not too bad for a 69 yr. old!

A start!

Corner Stones set. Most of the brick you see, are old street pavers.

Four Days work

Day 6

After 6 days of work & a lot of breaks this is my progress building my deck. I will take a day off from working on the deck. I need to mow grass & trim after a few rains. That was one nice thing about the dry period; I didn’t have to mow grass. I went to my butchers looking for a nice chuck roast to smoke & use for shredded beef. I could be cooking it while doing the yard work. He had a couple of nice ones he calls an English roast. Along one side was the ribs & rib meat. I took the smaller of the two, 4 ½ lbs.

Day 7 & 8 I got the corner braces, floor joists, & one piece of floor on.
Coming along, slow but sure

Day 9
I was busy today, early I went to Lowes & bought 6 bags of stone, a bag of sand, & 2 stepping stones I would use for a step. I finished the ground in front of the deck with a row of bricks, put the stepping stones in place & added the 6 bags of stones. I needed 4 more bags to finish so went to Lowes for them. I ate lunch, cleaned up & we went to my Mothers to give her some of my shrimp boil & other leftovers. After a short visit came home & added the other 4 bags of stones, a total of about 400 lbs. That was enough for a coverage of 1 to 2 inches. I watered my garden & flowers then finished off some of my shrimp boil for supper. Tomorrow I should get the flooring installed.

Day 10 & 11
I finally got the floor in, working 2 days on it. Besides being old & slow it is taking longer since I am using all deck screws, no nails. I need to mow grass today & have a chicken in marinating in Italian dressing to do for our dinner. I will get back on the deck tomorrow.

Here I made an insert so I can close off my crawl space vent in the winter.

Updat Aug 30th
Just about done, by tomarrow I should have the railing up & my smoker in place.

I am sure glad my covered deck is finally completed. Being retired it seemed like I went back to work! About halfway into the project I told my Mother; this work is not as fun as it used to be. I started this on Aug. 10th & finished the 31st. Some evenings I was dog tired & went to bed shortly after supper. I can now use my Traeger, rain or shine and the roof should keep some of the snow off for winter cooks.
When I had the floor finished, it looked plenty large; it is 6 ft X 6ft. After I got the smoker, cabinet, small table, & my chair in, you wouldn’t want it any smaller. The plans & construction method was all in my head. Originally I had planned on railing on three sides, then just on the front & back. Leaving it off the other end would make it walk through & I would have easy access to my gas grill if I was using both. Then I decided the one across the front would do.
I used all treated lumber. The corner posts are 4X4’s bolts & deck screws fasten them to a 2X8 frame. Floor joists & floor are 2x6’s. Galvanized hangers were used on the floor joists & roof rafters. Edge trim for the roof are 4/5 X 6. All are screwed together with deck screws, the only nails are in the roofing. Plywood & shingles were out for the roof, I would have no way to fasten up under the eave. I decided that 4x8 sheets of Ondura would work & I just needed two sheets from Lowes at $19 each. I could use purlins, 1x4’s spaced at 12” centers. I could fasten the last one using an offset allen ratchet wrench under the eave. I predrilled the roofing & used the offset ratchet to fasten it to the purlin under the eave. The Ondura is an asphalt impregnated material with a hard finish that comes in 4 colors. It made for what I think is a good looking roof & should outlast me!
I don’t enjoy working with treated lumber, even if you pick out straight looking wood, it just might warp if you don’t use it fast. My railing was premade from Lowes, 6 ft. section & bought a top hand rail for it. I bought it one day, stained & installed the next day. After installing I seen where it was bowed out ½ inch in the middle, I would never get the top cap installed. I added a 2x4 to the other side & used two ¼ inch allthreads to pull it straight. I glued & screwed the top cap in place. I am going to leave it in place over winter, by then it should be dried out & settled in place. The stain I used was Cabots semi-transparent, Mission Brown.

Now I can get back to serious cooking!

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Shrimp Boil

Our 45th Anniversary was just Mom & Me, no parties just a celebration together. We treated ourselves to some fine eatin over the week-end. Friday evening we had 3 of our favorites, BLT’s, fried green tomatoes, & fried squash blossoms. On our anniversary Saturday we went to Red Lobster & had lobster tails. Today we had a shrimp boil. Fresh corn is about done for the year so Sat. I bought 2 doz. Ears. Since I had the pot out to do the shrimp I would first do up all but 4 ears & the wife cut it from the cob & bagged to freeze for later in the winter.
Seafood boils are popular in all the coastal states, New England have their clam bakes, Maryland have their crab boils, South Carolina & Georgia have their Low Country boils, Louisiana have their Crawfish boils, Wisconsin have their fish boils. Most include, sausage, potatoes, & onions. I would do mine with cabbage for the first time & it was a good addition. I guess you could call this Don’s Ohio Shrimp Boil! My gas cooker & turkey fryer pot w/basket is ideal for doing this. I seasoned a pot of water with, salt, Old Bay seasoning, Zataraines shrimp boil, & a few shakes of Cholula hot sauce. Cut a small head of cabbage into wedges, leaving the core in to hold it together, added that to the boiling water for 45 min. After the cabbage was on about 15 min. I threw in a slice of bacon. Then added the red potatoes, sausage, onions & garlic for another 20 min. added the corn for another 5 min. then the shrimp for the last 5 min. Served with some crusty bread & butter for the taters. This was plenty for the wife & I, a meal for my Mother, & left overs for tomorrow night. Now let me tell you this is some fine eatin & my recipe would be plenty for 4 people.

Printable Shrimp Boil Recipe

Ready to do the corn

Fixins for Shrimp Boil

In the Pot



My Plate

Smokin Don

Saturday, August 20, 2011

BLT's fried green tomatoes & squash blossoms

Today my wife, Nancy & I have been married 45 years. I sure don’t know where all those yrs. went! We had a great time raising 2 children, a boy & a girl and we have a grandson. I have done some good cookouts in the backyard over those yrs. Some good brat & pulled pork parties while the kids were in high school & college. I sure miss those days.
Tonight we are going to Red Lobster & treat ourselves to some lobster, a favorite of ours.
Last night we had 3 of our favorite summer foods, BLT’s, fried green tomatoes, & squash blossoms.
I did up 10 slices of Kah’s bacon on the Treager earlier for our sandwiches, 300 deg for about 40 min. I had ciabata buns left to use & I broil toasted them w/a little olive oil. I dipped the green tomato slices in flour, egg & milk wash, then Panko bread crumbs & fried in olive oil & a little butter. I repeated this process for the squash blossoms. I did both at med heat. The sandwiches were the toasted bun, bacon, a slice of beefsteak tomato, Romaine lettuce, & Hellmann’s mayonnaise. It might not have been heart healthy, but it sure do taste good! This was the first batch of squash blossoms I did & hope to get at least one more picking this summer.

BLT fixins, green tomatoes, & squash blossoms

Some good eats!

Smokin Don

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Grand Champion Pulled Beef

Yesterday was a busy day for me, trimming & mowing grass plus smoking my English roast for pulled beef. Early I went to the grocery to get ingredients for my corn pudding. I had seen a recipe somewhere of cheesy corn pudding that also had tomatoes on the top. I did not save it & could not find it so I had to wing it & make my own. I had a yellow squash & some tomatoes from my garden to use in it. I also needed more pellets so stopped by my butchers to get some. He told me the roast I had bought came from the Grand Champion Steer of the Auglaize Co. Fair a week earlier. He had put the pressure on; I would have to do this beef with honor!
I would do this roast like Italian beef, but I didn’t follow any recipe. I decided to put some goodies in the center & fold over and tie. I seasoned half with, salt, pepper, oregano, chopped Vidalia onions, 4 cloves of garlic, & pepperoncinni peppers, folded & tied. Seasoned the outside w/salt, pepper, & oregano. I got it on my smoker, direct on the grates, at 10:30 on the smoke mode, 170-180 deg. I started my mowing grass. I did it on smoke for 3 hrs then went to 225 deg. In 4 hrs it was 165 deg IT, time to place in a roaster & foil pan. To the roaster pan I added thick sliced onions to place the roast on, a green pepper & a yellow banana pepper around the roast. I added 2 tsp. of better than beef bullion & a quart of beef stock, covered pan w/foil & went to 250 deg. I kept edging up the temp setting to 300 deg near the end. At 5:00 it was up to 200 deg so I pulled it, foiled & into a 180 deg preheated oven to rest. Total cook time was 6 ½ hrs.
I pulled the beef & munched on the rib bones, sure was good. I had done the Grand Champion honor! It had good bark, some smoke ring, & was tender.
I then proceeded to sauté the yellow squash & onions, added to a casserole, mixed up the corn & cheese, added over the squash, then sliced some tomatoes to cover the top. I got this on the smoker at 325 deg. along w/some baby yellow potatoes at 5:50.
The corn & potatoes were done at 6:50. I served the beef on an onion, poppy seed ciabata, bun along w/some Au Jus, onions & peppers over top of the beef. My corn, & a smashed potato, w/butter on the side. I dipped my top half of the bun in the Au Jus for a tasty sandwich.

English Roast

Goodies in the middle

Lassoed & tied

After 3 hrs. smoking

Ready for beef stock & back on the smoker

Ready to rest

Pulled beef

Au Jus

My Plate

Squash & onions for the corn pudding

Ready for the smoker

Just about done

Ready to serve

Printable Corn Pudding Recipe

Monday, August 8, 2011

Baked Sirloin & Baked Potatoes

I have been spending time at Cowgirl’s Country Life, blog, looking at all of Jeanie’s cooks. Now that gal had my mouth watering for some gravy! I do not make gravy well, even though I love it. My Mother-in-law used to make gravy for me, she was a great cook. I like it over bread and potatoes. I bought some nice pieces of sirloin to make baked steak on my Traeger. My Mother used to make baked steak; she browned up sirloin or round steak, with salt, pepper, & flour. Then in a casserole & topped with mushroom soup & in a 350 deg oven for an hour. Now Jeanie would have made her own gravy, but when you get old you use shortcuts. My gravy would be a can of Campbell’s mushroom, & a can of beefy mushroom soup mixed together, w/a little Gravy Master for color. I also wanted to try Jeanie’s baked potatoes, w/a slice of bacon & onion in the center & wrapped in foil. I would add carrots & onions to the sirloin & gravy.
I figured to cook all at 300 deg. on my Traeger & would do the potatoes for a half hour then add the skillet of steak & gravy for two more hrs.

When I started at 3:00 there were dark clouds in the NW so checked the radar & a front would come thru so it was a rush to move the smoker to my garage. I had rigged up a section of flexible dryer vent to add to the stack & vent the smoke outdoors. A step stool would hold the vent in place. We use the garage for storage & don’t want smoke smell all over. As soon as I get my covered deck built I won’t need this anymore. I prepared my potatoes & got them on about 3:30. I mixed my two cans of soup & browned up the sirloin. I added ½ the soup to a cast iron skillet & added the sirloin. Deglazed the other skillet & added some chopped onion to cook a few min. Added carrots to the meat then poured the onions & liquid over the meat. I then added the rest of the soup & some garlic granules over top. The skillet went on the smoker at 4:00 & I covered it with foil. All went well, the front went thru with a downpour of 8 tenths in about an hour for some much needed rain. All was ready at 6:00 the food was great, I had some of the gravy over my potato & a piece of bun for gravy bread. My hunger for gravy was satisfied, for awhile anyway!

My rainy day setup

Potatoes ready to foil

Deglaze & onions

Sirloin & gravy skillet

On the smoker

Ready to serve

My plate

Smokin Don