Monday, December 30, 2013

Ribs and Brats

Dec 29 2013

I took advantage of the warm weather today to smoke my ribs and brats for New Year’s kraut. I wanted to get some good smoke on the ribs but wanted to do them fast instead of slow. I was using Cookin Pellets 100% hickory and loaded my Amazin smoke tube with the same. I had just added some salt and pepper to the ribs. I got the tube going and the Traeger at 180 deg. about 200 at grill level. I was getting some good smoke and at one hour they were looking good, rib IT was 122 deg. I eased it up to 250 deg. and another hour they were at 150 deg. IT so pulled them and the brats.

The back ribs were some of the meatiest I have had and looking at the brats I decided they would be our supper! The ribs would be plenty of meat for the kraut. While the meat was cooling I went after some buns and stopped in at Sandmans for beer, a must for cooking! When I walked in the house I could smell the distinct aroma of hickory smoked pork! I had to pull some meat for a sample, a great smoke taste.

I toasted the buns and reheated the brats. I made French fries using my new Lodge basket for the first time in my 9 inch chicken friar; I had oil in it from doing the spring rolls the night before. The basket will work better with the 6 quart Dutch oven since it is deeper. I had to be pretty careful when putting the fries in until it settled down.

The brats were great with my homemade kraut, some of the best brats with more smoke taste than I usually get. I had been using my Amazin tube smoker mainly for ribs and pork butts; I think it will be used for brats now too.

The wife, daughter and I had mustard and kraut on the brats, they had malt vinegar on the fries and I just had salt. I also had some Leiny’s Hoppin Helles!

The ribs

After one hour of smoke


Close up

My Supper

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Philippine Chicken Spring Rolls

Dec 28 2013

I love deep fried foods but being not so healthy I don’t do a lot of it. A Philippine lady in town lost an Aunt and Uncle in the recent flooding in her home country and her son and four children survived floating near the ceiling for over a day in their home. The local newspaper ran a story on her and she was selling egg and spring rolls to help her family.

We ordered a dozen of each and she delivered them the week-end before Christmas. She had them frozen done up nice in plastic bags and included sauce. She only charged $8 a dozen, for 67 cents each I don’t see how she was making much money; we donated some extra for her family. The egg rolls were pork and the spring rolls chicken.  After eating the spring rolls tonight I am hoping she continues to make them! The rolls were each wrapped in paper.

My wife, daughter and daughter in law were running around shopping. I took advantage of the warm weather today, 45+, to vacuum up some leaves that had blown in my patio. Our son had to work so dropped the grandson off when he went to work. I fed everyone for supper.

I had Zatarains yellow rice cooking in the rice cooker and deep fried the spring rolls in my cast iron 9 inch chicken friar. I used just enough oil to come up half way on the spring rolls, did them about 2 ½ minutes on each side and drained them on a rack. I had a choice of salad or my sauerkraut. I had the sauerkraut with mine and used Mae Ploys sweet red chili sauce for dipping, it has a little heat.

The rolls

My Plate

Saturday, December 28, 2013

My New Year's Kraut is done

Dec 27 2013

I got a gallon of kraut fermenting on Dec. 3rd. it set for 24 days and was done so I put it in Mason jars and in the fridge to stop any further fermentation.  It tasted great I think the best I ever made; good and sour and not too salty. I got 3 ½ quarts from the batch. The two pint jars will be to give away. The half quart jar wen in the fridge for eating now. I will use most of a quart for my New Year’s Day good luck pork and kraut.

You get the best health benefits from it raw, after cooking I think you lose most of that. For my pork and kraut I will use it un-rinsed, we like it sour and it flavors the pork nice.

Putting it up in Jars

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

Dec 26 2013

Well Christmas 2013 is over. It’s always a great time but I am glad it’s over. It seemed like non-stop getting the food ready and then cleaning up! I had done all my outdoor smoking ahead. I had smoked some appetizers, almonds, pistachios and Cajun crackers. I smoked a 6 lb. Meijers chicken and shredded it for sandwiches. Meijers chickens are always moist and tender since they are already brined with 12% natural chicken broth.

We started off with Christmas Eve lunch, shrimp cocktail, (Texas Gulf wild caught), several dips, veggie egg rolls, Skyline chili cheese dip, snacks, candy and pumpkin bread. Our daughter was here, our son and grandson. Our daughter-in-law had to work and came at 4:00.

We ate at 6:00 I had the shredded chicken hot in the crockpot so all I had to do was make the sides, cheesy scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole and corn. I had regular, wheat and Kings Hawaiian buns for sandwiches. After we all got stuffed we opened the presents.

It was nice with all the family and I was happy to see everyone get their noses out of their Wi-Fi toys and play two games of scrabble! I don’t play since even the grandson would beat me! It seemed like the old Christmas’s before Wi-Fi!

Christmas Day the kids came for breakfast at 10:30; I baked some Cinabon buns, store bought, and scrambled eggs for all. Our daughter in law got a free honey cooked spiral cut 8 lb. ham from her work place. I heated it in the oven per directions and triple wrapped in foil, a towel and in a cooler for her family Christmas dinner in Toledo. They left at 12:30 for Toledo.

We got all cleaned up and I took a short nap! My wife’s sister and husband stopped in, at 2:00 on their way home from spending Christmas with her daughter’s family. They brought some of their leftover ham and with our leftovers we had late lunch. We had a good time visiting and exchanged gifts.  They left at 5:00; this ole man was overstuffed and tired! It was a great Christmas!

I didn't take many photos; I was too busy enjoying.

To all my viewers over the world may you have a Great New Year!

The Meijers Chicken

On my Traeger


Treats for the Cook

Ingredients for Skyline chili cheese dip

Christmas Eve lunch, before the table was full

My Christmas dinner, sandwich, potatoes, corn and green beans

Monday, December 23, 2013

Bone in Country Ribs, baby potatoes and cabbage

Dec 21 2013

I smoked my Cajun crackers so when they were done I could put the ribs on for our supper. I had brined the ribs for 8 hours in a half gallon of water, a half cup of salt, 2 Tbs. of blackstrap molasses, two garlic cloves, smashed and black pepper. They were just a tad salty so next time I would cut the salt to 1/3 cup.

I rinsed and dried them good after brining, coated with Stubbs Pork rub and in the fridge a couple of hours before smoking. I did them at 225 deg. grill level on my Traeger. After 2 hours I coated both sides with my butchers BBQ sauce and double wrapped each in foil for another 1 ½ hours. Then unwrapped and back on the grill for an hour brushing some more BBQ sauce after 15 minutes.  I went to 300 deg. for the last half hour. Total cook time 4 ½ hours, 2-1.5-1.

 I think this is the first time I have foil wrapped country ribs and liked them so will try again. When I was buying my chicken at Meijer’s I spotted this bag of baby red potatoes, all so small and knew I had to try them. I coated them with olive oil and some Penzey’s sandwich sprinkle. I put them on the last hour and was surprised they were not quite done so nuked them for 3 minutes.

My other side was some steamed red cabbage and some German rye bread and butter. I planned it all for 6:30; our daughter was on her way home and thought she would be here to eat. We called her and she was running late so I saved a dish for her.

Our daughter in law and grandson popped in as we were getting ready to eat. I had plenty of the potatoes and cabbage, our dil ate that, she is a veggie, and my wife shared her rib with the grandson. We all had plenty to eat and a great family time.

After the brine and adding rub

After two hours, ready to foil

Saucing and wrapping

Potatoes ready to smoke


All done

My Plate

Sunday, December 22, 2013

"Crackers" my second Holiday Cook

Dec 21 2013

So far my two cooks, nuts & crackers, for our Christmas Dinner doesn’t sound that great! The smoked almonds, pistachios and Cajun crackers will make some good appetizers.

I marinated the crackers overnight and did them on smoke 180 deg. for two hours.  When the crackers were done it was time to put on some country ribs for our supper.

My wife made some lemon bars but they didn’t set up right. She used too small of dish; she ended up with some good ones around the edge but had lemon pudding in the middle. She did make a batch of fudge that came out good.

It’s 45 deg. here in Ohio and windy; looks like winter will be back tomorrow. I am getting ready to go out and get a 6 lb. chicken on now; my third cook and sounding better. I will shred it all for chicken sandwiches on Christmas Eve.

Lemon Bars?

Cajun Crackers

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Nuts" to start My Holiday Cooking

Dec 18 2013

Christmas is getting close so I smoked some nuts today to have for snacks. I found a recipe for chili lime almonds at Katheryn’s Kitchen blog that sounded good. She did hers in the oven but I adapted it to my smoker to add some smoke flavor. I had 3 lbs. of almonds and the recipe was for one pound so I doubled it and did two pounds. I also had a pound of pistachios to do.

For the pistachios that I have done before I stir in two tablespoons of melted butter per pound and add seasoning. You could also use olive oil and your favorite seasoning, my favorite seasoning for them is Penzey’s sandwich sprinkle. It is salt, garlic, parsley and the Italian seasonings.

I usually smoke the pistachios at 170 deg. for two hours; they are already roasted so you don’t need much heat. Reading more on smoking almonds I found for them it is best to smoke at 225 to 250 deg. for 2 to 3 hours when using any surgers in the seasoning mix, marinade. It’s also best to let the almonds in the marinade for several hours in the fridge before smoking. To save pellets and time I did the pistachios along with the almonds but just for an hour and 15 minutes. I did the almonds for 2 hours and 20 minutes.

The pistachios came out great but I didn’t think my almonds were as chili or lime tasting as I thought they would be. They may be better done as the recipe in the oven on parchment paper so they set in the marinade and caramelize. I think I lost a lot of the seasoning and marinade in the perforated pan I used.

Our daughter is coming from the Chicago area and our son, wife and the grandson will be here and we are having dinner on Christmas Eve, holidays are the only time I call it dinner instead of supper. I am smoking chicken and then shredding it for chicken sandwiches. My sides will be cheesy scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole and some fresh corn I have vacuum packed and frozen.

We will start with a late lunch having some appetizers, shrimp cocktail, and some egg rolls and spring rolls. Then we will work into having dinner about 5:30. The spring and egg rolls I ordered from a local Philippine lady who is selling them to help her family back in the Philippines. She lost her Aunt and Uncle in the recent floods and other family members lost their home. She delivers them frozen for $8.00 a dozen. I got a doz. of each and will donate some extra. I will know that the extra will go directly to some who really need it.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it and for all who don’t; may you have a Happy New Year’s Holiday.

Ingredients for the almonds

My favorite juicer

Marinade sauce

Almonds ready to smoke

Pistachios ready to smoke

On the smoker and the pistachios are done

The Chili Lime Almonds

Ready for Christmas

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Time for Comfort Food

Dec 14 2013

Like a lot of you in the winter northern climates I kind of slow down on cooking outdoors and need some comfort food. We have had a week of 20’s weather and it warmed up to 32 deg. for an overnight and daytime snow, about 4 inches. I got the drive and front walks cleaned out in the morning. By noon the snow had stopped so used the shovel and went over the drive and walks again.

I had three nice pork chops from my butcher, some steamer red potatoes and some cabbage left over from making kraut so that would make a good supper. This would be about as simple as I could make it.
I put a layer of the red potatoes in the bottom of my Crockpot, a layer of chopped cabbage. I browned the chops, a little salt & pepper on top.  They went on top and added about a quart of chicken stock. The chops would steam on top. I got it on at 12:30 on high for 1 ½ hours then on low until supper time.

I had my kitchen cleaned up and was just finishing shoveling snow when the dil came to do some Christmas baking. That girl can do a lot in a short time, by 6:00 she had several kinds of candy snacks made, about 6 small and 1 large pumpkin breads baked and my kitchen all clean. She and the grandson went home for their supper.

Our supper was ready in the Crockpot, served with some cheese focaccia and butter. I had mine with the potatoes mashed and some butter, salt and pepper over top. That hit the spot!

Browning the Chops

All in the pot

My Plate

Monday, December 16, 2013

My New Schmitt German Fermentation Crock

Dec 13 2013

I did a lot of reading when I started fermenting sauerkraut last year.  The more I read the more I learn and here is a link to the site I have found the best info so far. Click here for the link
It shows a chart for the fermentation times at 65 deg. F (18 deg. C) to get the optimum kraut is 20 days.

Some people like to try and cut the amount of salt but it is needed to get good fermentation. Here is a good explanation from the site. “Adding salt not only draws out juice but also creates hostile conditions for spoilage bacteria. Commercial producers add around 2.25%, home producers add usually between 2.25 and 2.50% salt by weight. Adding salt between 2-3% will produce quality sauerkraut. To meet 2.5% salt requirement, 25 g (4 tsp.) of salt is added to 1 kg (2.2 lb.) of cabbage.”

Thursday I bought a pint of organic Greek yogurt to make whey for my kraut. The best explanation I can give is the whey speeds up fermentation. My recipe for the Cortido, (S.A. style sauerkraut) called for it. This will be the first time I have used it.  I placed a colander over a bowl, added two layers of cheese cloth and the yogurt to drip overnight.

Friday I had all my ingredients ready, my whey, and my new Schmitt fermentation crock to use for the first time. I have a gallon of kraut in my glass jar that will be ready for Christmas and New Year’s Day.
I wrapped the yogurt in the cheese cloth and squeezed out what water I could. Left over is yogurt cream cheese. A lot more healthy than the store bought processed cream cheese.

I grated the carrots in my food processor, sliced the onions and cabbage on my mandolin. My recipe is for two quarts so I had doubled it for the crock. I mixed one batch in a stainless stock pot. I let sit 15 minutes then stomped and worked with my hands. I let set another 15 minutes and then repeated with the second batch.

I let it sit about a half hour and then packed it in the crock. I used a wide mouth funnel and it helped keep the rim of the crock clean. After it was all in I packed it down firmly. I made sure there were no bits of cabbage on the sides above the cabbage and added the clay weights. I let sit about an hour and added filtered water to cover the weights.  After reading more this afternoon I now know I should have let it set a day or two before adding the water and should have used salted water, 4 tsp. per quart. I will mix up a quart tomorrow and if I need to add water I can and use it in my water seal too.

I just now realized I forgot to add the garlic! Too late now, I think I will add some when I put it in quart jars for storage. In spite of myself I have had three gallon batches that turned out good, tasted like good kraut and no one got sick! I hope the two batches I have going now will be good too.

I know our parents and grandparents made kraut in an open crock, a plate over it then a cloth and a stone or brick for weight. Air (oxygen) is the worst enemy for making good kraut so the only two containers I would recommend is a glass jar and lid with air lock or a fermentation crock with a water seal lid.

My glass jar with air lock has worked well, the only disadvantage I have seen is I have trouble the first 4 or 5 days keeping the cabbage down under the water. After that is over it is just a matter of making sure the air lock has water in it until it is done.
This is my first time using my German, Schmitt fermentation crock. One disadvantage is the cost, pretty expensive for making kraut a couple of times a year! It sure is a beauty though and if I quit using it, it will be a nice decoration that fits in with our early American deco! The only other thing might be keeping the water seal filled properly. We have baseboard electric heat and it is dry, I might have problems with the water evaporating so will have to keep watch on it.

I ended up with a little over six pounds of the cabbage mix. The crock should hold about seven pounds and still have some good head room left. The instructions say not to fill over four fifths the total height of the crock. I took this to include the stones and water too.

Cortido Recipe:

1 med. head of cabbage, shredded
1 small head of red cabbage, shredded
2 cups grated carrots
2 Med. Red onions, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbs. dried oregano or 3 Tbs. fresh chopped
¼ to 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. sea salt

½ cup of basic whey, I used organic Greek yogurt to make mine.

Making my whey

The whey and yogurt cream cheese

Cortido ingredients

Mixed up

Stomped and set a while and adding to the crock

Funnel helped keep the rim clean

All in the crock

Weights added

Water added

Monday, December 9, 2013

Pork Shoulder Al' Diavolo

I am a little behind on this post; this was done last Saturday for our supper. There was snow on the ground and a cool 25 deg. F. thanks to my Maverick remote probe I could monitor the cook from inside.

Dec 07 2013

I found this recipe for a pork roast at Bon Appetit; it sounded good and I was hungry for a pork roast. Searching the net for pork Al Diavolo only brings up a few hits but all the recipes looked about the same. I could not find the origin but Giada of Food Network has a recipe for shrimp Diavolo so I assume it is an Italian dish. I adapted the recipe for my Traeger smoker and cut back on the heat some.

It calls for a boneless butt; all I could find small was a 4 lb. blade shoulder roast so that had to do. I got the roast coated with the marinade and in the fridge Friday before noon so it would set 24 hours in the fridge.

I got the roast in my Traeger at 1:00 PM Saturday and cousins from Fla. stopped in for a visit at 3:00.
When I took the roast off about 4:00 I was busy talking so didn’t get a photo of the finished roast with the nice crust before slicing and in the Crockpot. The cousins would have stayed but had prior plans for supper with friends.

My sides were scalloped white yams and potatoes and some fresh corn I had frozen and vacuum sealed.
The yams and potatoes I sliced thin and coated each with a half cup of half and half cream. I placed a layer of half the yams in casserole dish, a handful of shredded five cheese Italian blend and seasoning. Then a layer of potatoes all the cream went in too, another layer of yams more cheese and seasoning. I sprinkled on some parmesan too then in the oven covered for 1 hour and uncovered another 15 minutes. The corn I heated in a sauce pan with some half and half cream.

Some crusty bread and butter completed the meal. It all tasted good, the pork was tender and had a great savory taste of the marinade.

Printable Pork Recipe