Friday, May 31, 2013

The Versatile Mason Jar

The Mason jar was invented and patented in 1858 by Philadelphia tinsmith John Landis Mason. Among other common names for them are Ball jars, after Ball Corporation, an early and prolific manufacturer of the jars; fruit jars for a common content; and simply glass canning jars reflecting their material.

The Mason jar is one of the most versatile items invented; at least to me. Their uses are unlimited; we use them daily, wide mouth pint jars are our everyday water glasses. I have canned some over the years and pickled food. I use them a lot for food storage; some other uses that comes to mind are, flower vase, to water flowers, a pencil holder, to clean paint brushes and to store parts in. My favorite use would be as a beer glass! The pint is perfect for a beer.

Our home is decorated early American. A lot of our furniture and decorations were bought at auctions over the years. I have a quart and a pint Mason jar with the original patent date of 1858. The quart jar has an original zinc lid. My favorite color is the dark aqua, blue green.

Our vegetarian daughter in law uses them to store her grains and pasta in.

When I saw the commemorative set of six small mouth pint jars at Amazon I knew had to have a set. I checked at Walmart but they didn’t have them so I ordered them from Amazon. Also shown were lids with a battery and solar collector to use the jars as a night light. They come in brown or silver so I ordered three brown , two for me and one for our daughter in law.

The night light lid is a perfect way to show the jar. They come with a plastic insulator on the battery so you have to remove it for them to work!

Two jars with the original patent date of 1858 are on the right, two new ones are on the left

As a night light

Smokestack Wings

May 30th, traditional Memorial Day and our son’s birthday; he is 41. I was hungry for some wings and Smokestack wings are his; and my favorite so I fixed them for his birthday meal.

I found the recipe at Smokestack was a restaurant in Kansas City founded by the Fiorella family in 1957. I think it is now called Jack Stack’s BBQ.

For my sides I chose Suzie’s spinach salad and Zatarain’s yellow rice, two sides that everyone likes. I got the wings seasoned up and in the fridge for a few hours. I did 10 wings with the Smokestack seasoning and 6 with just some Lawry’s seasoning salt for the wife and grandson. Our daughter in law would just have the salad and rice.

I steamed some eggs to have with the salad and had some crumbled bacon to add. I made up the salad early, it is best if it sets a few hours before serving.

I got the wings on the smoker at 4:15, 225 deg. for one hour. I tossed 10 of the wings in the hot sauce and brushed some melted butter on the other 6 wings. I then went to 325 deg. for another half hour.

I had the rice cooked in the rice cooker and served all up at 5:45. We all enjoyed the meal. After supper our son opened his gift. He already had his regular gift but my wife had kind of a joke gift for him. It was a Moose in a tub statue; looked like the cartoon caricature Bullwinkle.

Our grandson had a baseball game at 7:15 so they all went to his game and had some Dairy Cream after the game. Ole grandpa was too tired to make the game; his team won their 4th straight game!

Printable Wing Recipe



After one hour at 225 deg.

Spinach salad

Wings are done

My Plate

Monday, May 27, 2013

Corn and Pepper Lasagna

It was kind of a cool Memorial Day week end here in Ohio. Other than the lasagna I didn’t do any cooking out as usual. Our daughter was home from Chicago for the week end and it was busy so we just ate out or had carry ins.

I cook a lot of meat and potatoes, but sometimes I like something a little lighter and healthier. Since my son and family live in town now I try to fix a vegetarian dish for my veggie daughter in law once in a while. I found this recipe on food network and sounded good to me. I changed the recipe and procedure some from the original.

I served it with some good crusty whole garlic bread, served warm right out of the oven. After baking it with the foil on top I added some shredded mozzarella and provolone cheese before broiling.

Everyone loved it. This would also be good with some Mexican style seasoning to kick it up a little and with ground beef for meat lovers. This would also be good done on a pellet smoker. I think there is enough sauce to do it without the foil to get a little smoke taste.

Printable Lasagna Recipe


Charred peppers peeled and sliced


Done and serving

My Plate

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Leftover Meat Hash over Rice

Here in the Midwest when you talk hash you think of corned beef hash. I recently watched a BBQ show and Sweatmans in South Carolina was featured. Some great looking BBQ and one of their favorite food served was hash. It was made of different cuts of meat with sauce all cooked down to a thick consistency and served over rice.

It looks like this kind of hash is popular in the south, some cooked with a BBQ type sauce and some with a mustard based sauce. One of the Sweatmans said the recipe for hash changes every 30 miles in S.C.

I had some leftover meats in the freezer I needed to use up. I had about a pound of pulled pork, a pound of beef, ½ pound of chicken, and ¼ pound hunk of my homemade goetta. I ground it all up in my grinder with the coarse die. I chopped a Vidalia onion, sautéed in olive oil, added some dried garlic flakes. I added in the meat and about a quart of beef broth, salt, pepper, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce and four dashes of Cholula hot sauce. I brought it to a boil and then a low simmer. It took about two hours to cook it down, stirring often.

It took a little prep but my final meal was quick and easy. I cooked some Zatarains dirty brown rice in my rice cooker, about 45 minutes. I heated up some of the hash and served it over the rice along with some cheese bread and butter. I had some chopped Vidalia onion on mine.

My wife and grandson liked it. The grandson said it’s a little spicy but it’s good. The heat was from the dirty rice. I didn't tell them it had some goetta in it or they might not have liked it. I thought it was pretty good but might like the mustard added.

Meat ground

All cooked down

Ready for the fridge

My Supper My Plate

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Italian Beef Sandwiches and Spinach Salad

I made some Italian beef Friday. I used a package of Louie’s Italian beef seasoning for the au jus. I had a recipe that was getting pretty good but Louies makes it a lot easier and tastes great.

I like to use a beef eye of round roast, all nice lean meat. My butcher didn’t have any cut but had this rolled rump roast in netting that looked good so I bought it, 3 ¼ pounds

I did the roast up Thursday. I seasoned it well with salt, pepper, dried garlic and onion flakes and oregano. I did it on smoke mode 175 deg. for one hour then went to 250 deg. for the rest of the cook. 3 ½ total cook time. I pulled it at 135 deg. IT and let it cool unwrapped. I then wrapped in saran and foil and in the fridge overnight.

Friday AM I got the roast sliced using my new Chef’s Choice Mod. 610 slicer for the first time. I would recommend it for a good light duty slicer.

I mixed Louie’s seasoning pack w/a cup of cold water. Sliced a red, yellow, red pepper and a med. Vidalia onion. I layered half the peppers and onions in my Crockpot, half the sliced beef and a couple Tbs. of sliced pepperoncini’s with some of the juice. I poured half the Louie’s juice over then repeated the layer. I added enough water to almost cover. This was at 11:00 AM. Cooked on high for an hour then low until supper time at 6:00.

I made up our favorite spinach salad to serve along with the beef sandwich. We got the recipe from my wife’s cousin Suzie. I’m not sure where she got it but I have been making it for over 20 years at least. If you like fresh spinach this is delicious.

I prefer hard crust buns for the Italian Beef to soak up that good au jus; but had some soft mini subs to use up. I toasted them before; ladled the beef and au jus over both halves so it was a knife and fork sandwich. Tasted great with the spinach salad.

The rolled rump roast was very tender even though some of it was sliced with the grain.

Printable Spinach Salad Recipe

Roast seasoned and ready to smoke

Done at 135 deg. IT

Ingredients for Italian Beef

Slicing the beef

Peppers and onions added to the Crockpot

All in and ready to slow cook

Ingredients for spinach salad

Dressing ready to mix

Spinach salad

My sandwich and salad

Friday, May 17, 2013

Brats and Kraut W/Mac and Cheese

Today was a warm 88 deg. and windy. I trimmed grass this afternoon so I wanted something fast and easy for our supper. I went this morning to my butcher, Kah Meats and got some brats. I had a little of my homemade kraut left that would go well on a brat. I had some shredded cheese, several opened packages, to use so I would make some use up your cheese mac and cheese.

When the grandson got home from school he said he would eat with us. I had a couple of hamburgers thawed so I made him a cheese burger. At 3:30 I cooked some elbow macaroni, mixed in some sharp cheddar, mild cheddar, mozzarella, and provolone cheese. I put it in a casserole dish, added some half and half cream then topped with some shaved parmesan.

I preheated the Traeger to 250 deg. and got the brats and mac and cheese on at 4:30. I put the burgers on 15 minutes later. At 5:00 I went to 275 deg. I checked at 5:30 and the meats were done so topped the burgers with some cheese to melt. I took all inside to serve after the cheese was melted.

I served the grandson a cheese burger and some mac & cheese. For my wife and I it was a brat, cut in half, a slice of crispy bacon in the middle, topped with mustard and homemade kraut on a mini sub bun and some mac & cheese. Sandwiches were great; I either cooked the mac & cheese too long or not enough half & half. It was a little dry and crispy on top. I kind of like it that way so for me it was all good!

When my daughter in law got there she had some mac & cheese and liked it too. I sent some leftovers with her for our son to have.

Ready to smoke

The brats

All done

My Plate

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Kassler Ham

May 12 2013

I don’t usually cook for just myself on Mother’s Day but I did this year. Our son took us all out for Mother’s Day on Saturday, a lot less busy. On Mother’s Day we all went to see my 91 year old Mother after lunch and took cake and a pie over to have dessert with her. She gets too nervous for all of us to have a meal with her.

Our son works a second part time job some evenings and had to work on Mother’s Day so our daughter in law and grandson came down to eat supper with us. They all wanted a broccoli pizza from Sandman’s carry out. I wasn’t hungry for pizza so I fixed my own.

I had some of the Kassler ham left so decided on a pablano pepper; sliced in half, a slice of ham, a slice of Swiss cheese, a slice of onion and wrapped in bacon. I made two more with just a slice of ham, a slice of Swiss cheese, folded over and wrapped in bacon. The pepper ones I seasoned with some Penzey’s Cajun, and the plain two with their sandwich sprinkle.

My side was Alexia brand frozen sweet potato fries seasoned with some Lawry’s seasoned salt. That is my favorite brand; I had plain but they also make spicy ones that are pretty good.

I did the peppers on a wire rack in a pan for easy cleanup of any cheese run over. The fries were in a wire basket. I preheated my Traeger to 325 deg. and put the peppers and ham in, twenty minutes later I put the fries in, they had set out for 15 minutes. In another 30 minutes all was done.

That hit the spot for me and everyone else was happy with the broccoli pizza. My daughter in law tasted the fries and said the best she has had and could taste the smoke.

Pepper stack

Ready for the smoker

All done

My Plate

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Kassler mit Kraut

May 08 2013

I made my Kassler ham and kraut today. This was a pretty easy cook. I had sliced the Kassler early today. I found a recipe for this dish at Most recipes have dry white wine added but this one also had milk. I would never thought of using milk with kraut; I had to try it.

The recipe called for doing this dish on stove top. I decided to use my Crockpot. I decided to do it 1 hour on high then low for about two hours.

I added two pats of butter to the Crockpot and enough chopped onion to cover the bottom. I added six slices of Kassler and topped with about 2 pounds of my homemade kraut. I added ¾ cup each of Riesling wine and milk. I cut back some from the original recipe. The wine was Lucky Duck Riesling rivaner Germany.

I had some red and gold potatoes to use up and added some Idaho’s for about two pounds. Peeled all but left some on the golden potatoes, diced to about 1 ½ inches and boiled for 20 minutes, drained and mashed with a stick of butter and some sour cream. I could reheat these at supper time.

I made some garlic toast and served some cold beats for a side.

I served it all about 6:00 pm. The grandson wanted to eat some pork and kraut. He had two pieces of the meat. Our daughter in law got here and had some of the kraut before they went home. My wife would have liked it sourer, the wine and milk had cut the sour some.

I liked it, the Kassler and homemade kraut makes it extra good. I had some of my homemade German mustard on the meat and the cold beats added nice color to the plate. I was going to have some fried spaetzel noodles too but Wing Commander suggested I drop those. He was right, really didn’t need them. Maybe he will let us know if milk in kraut is typical German.

Wing Commander is a friend and good cook who lives in Germany. We both belong to Lets Talk BBQ forum. He said that milk in kraut is not typical German. It’s nice to have input from someone who knows German cooking. That is the trouble with some cooking sites that say they are ethnic recipes they are really Americanized versions. So if you want to have Kassler mit Kraut and stay typical German omit the milk.

Onions and butter added to the pot

Kassler ham added

Kraut added, then the wine and milk

Mashed potatoes

My Plate

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My 2nd Kassler Ham

May 06 2013

I made my first one from a half boneless loin last Thanksgiving. I thought it was really good. This time I did a whole loin cut in thirds.

I first read about Kassler ham at a forum about homemade sausage making. The recipe was by member Bubba. I ask him and he said it was fine to post his recipe. Thanks Bubba!

I had never heard of Kassler or Kasseler ham so I did some research. It is one German cured meat that never gained popularity here in the US but is still widely available in Germany. I could not find many recipes; most just looked like a copy of Bubba’s recipe. If you do a bone in loin it is called Kasseler Rippchen.

I liked the taste of it, I thought a little milder and less salty than a regular ham. Using a boneless loin makes it easy to slice up and save.

I was thinking I had brined the first one for 3 ½ days so went with 5 days on this one. I discovered I had only done the first one for 2 ½ days and maybe should have just done 4 days. I have to remember that I don’t remember as well as I used to!

I had one pot that just held the loins so the one gallon of brine was enough. After five days brining I rinsed and dried well then in the fridge overnight to air dry.

I got the loins on my smoker with the Amazin tube filled with 100% apple wood for an hour and half cold smoke. I removed the loins and lit my smoker on smoke mode. I went to 225 deg. and put the loins back on. I was using Traeger oak pellets, I wanted alder but my dealer did not have any. I was getting too large of temp swings at 225 so went back to smoke mode P-0 and held 225 deg. pretty close for the rest of the cook. This gave me 240 to 250 deg. at grill level.

It took 2 ½ hours for the two roasts on the right side, the hottest side on my Treager and about 25 min. longer for the other one. I double wrapped in saran wrap and foil then in my oven to rest for an hour. I then removed to cool some and in the fridge for two days.

Tomorrow I will slice and get some vacuum packed to freeze. Tomorrow’s supper will be Kassler mit Kraut, mashed potatoes, and fried spaetzel. I hope I didn’t brine it too long.

The loin

Brine ingredients


Loins in the brine

After brine and air dry

Cold smoking

About done

Friday, May 3, 2013

One Pork Butt and Two Sandwiches

May 02 2013

I smoked one of the two pork butts I bought the other day and put the second one in the freezer for later. The one I smoked was 9 ½ lbs.

I wanted to do it Wednesday but we had plans to try out a new restaurant just south of us. They were having a German buffet. It was not worth the trip, some of the worst food I have eaten at a restaurant.

With all the discussion lately on Lets Talk BBQ whether to foil or not, fat cap on or off and fat cap up or down. I had been doing fat cap on, fat cap down and foiling. I thought, don’t be stubborn try it different. So for this one I cut most all the fat cap off and did not foil. I put what was the fat cap side down.

Since I was not foiling I cut the butt in half; gave it a light coat of mustard and dusted with Penzey’s Galena Street rub. I got them on at 8:30 am.

I did it on my Traeger; used the smoke setting and P-#’s for the first six hours.
P-4 gave me 170 deg. average for an hour of smoke
P-1 gave me 225 deg. for 5 hours
Went to 250 deg. for another 2 ½ hours to get to 201 deg. IT on the butts
Total cook time 8 ½ hours
Temps above were from the RTD digital temp so grill level temps were about 25 deg. hotter
For added smoke I used the Amazen tube filled with apple wood and used Traeger oak pellets in my smoker.

I had planned for an IT of 205 deg. but at 201 my test probe went in like butter so I pulled them.
I placed them on a tray and covered with foil and in the oven to rest an hour. I uncovered and let set for a half hour then pulled it. It was plenty moist and had plenty of bark. I chopped it some after pulling. Even though it takes longer I may be converted to cutting the fat cap off and not foiling.

I was going to have baked sweet potato fries too but my oven quit so we just had sandwiches and a salad. My wife had yellow mustard and dill pickles on her sandwich. I had two sandwiches, one with some of my homemade German mustard and one with Bone Suckin Sauce. We both thought the pork was pretty darned good!

Two Pork Butts 20 lbs.

Fat cap cut off, 1 lb.

Cut in half

Ready for the smoker

After two hours

Both up to temp pretty even

Butts are done

Bone pulled easily

Pulled and fat removed

Coarse chop

My Two Sandwiches