Sunday, December 25, 2011

Jolly Good Food and a Merry Christmas to You

     Merry Christmas Blog world!  Jesus is born!!

     If your day was anywhere near as successful as mine, you should be exhausted.  But it was all worth it, wasn't it?
     I've been waiting to cook this meal since Thanksgiving!
     Patiently I've game planned what I'm going to cook and how I'm going to cook it.  It was an easy decision really.  I received a Weber smoker about a month ago from Home Depot.  One of my friends, Ryan P., works there and told me about this stellar deal they had one day.  I decided to tell my parents about it.. (a $350 grill for $40..I tweeted it. and sent text messages about it...)  Anyways, they decided they would surprise me with it as "an early Christmas gift".  What a present!  I would repay them with some smoked meats.
  One 12 lb turkey (spatchcocked)  and a city ham smoked for roughly 3.5 to 4 hours (As you can see in the photo on the right, the turkey is on the bottom grate, closer to the coal).
     Spatchcocked turkey means cutting out the backbone so the bird will lay flat.  I used some pepper, salt, cayenne, paprika, brown sugar and butter as a marinade.  The ham is diamond cut and smoked for 3-4 hours at 250 then I put some stuff on it. The ham's final step is to put it into an oven at 350degrees for 30-40 minutes.  (All the details of this city ham recipe can be attributed here to Alton Brown.  However, I spice things up a bit with SPICY brown mustard and my bourbon of choice is Jim Beam.).   This is what it looks like after a little smokin'!

     If you're looking for something to do while the meat is on the grill, walk around your neighborhood and look for birds.  Although this probably sounds extremely lame to most people, you would be surprised at the amount of birds you will see and what they do.  A HUGE thanks to my parents for hooking me up with a 55-300mm lens for Christmas!  Here are some birds I saw while waiting for the Christmas bird to finish cooking:

Mourning Dove

Male Cardinal

Great Blue Heron

     I also saw a hawk tearing apart food, some Mexican Squealers, and some kid shooting his new BB gun into a tree at moss.  Other things might include:  Enjoying a home brew (if you're old enough), watching Season One of Big Bang Theory, or bake a dessert.  [Special shout-out to Jeff for giving me a delicious BBP Bourbon Barrel Porter to enjoy for Christmas!  It went great with the meal!]
     After 4 hours in the smoker, or when the turkey has reached 170 degrees, it should look something like this: 
it looks like a GIANT frog
     Wrap this in foil and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.  While you are waiting for that, let's get the pork ready for its final destination.  Less typing, more pictures.  

Baste it with the mustard

Sprinkle on dark brown sugar, then spray on the bourbon.
then sprinkle on the broken ginger snap cookies.  I think it looks like an ant mound.  This mound of joy goes in the oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  

Ok, so now that the turkey has been resting for 30 minutes, CARVE IT UP!
Does anyone else see a face? 
After you're finished carving the turkey, move onto the HAM!
Time to dish up the plate!

     It was quite the feast!  We missed all the extended family from BR, PR and Nevada, but know y'all were on our minds the whole day.  After a long day of cooking, present exchanges and enjoying family time, I have some "quiet time" (we're watching Rise of Planet of the Apes) to reflect once again on how blessed I am with family and friends.  Thank you to everyone for reading my posts!  May God bless you with everlasting joy, peace and love!

Happy Plates!  (even though the puppy ate a dead squirrel during dinner and it brought up some entertaining conversations...)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

     Every once in a while we experience moments in life that will leave an everlasting impression and memories we are not soon to forget.  These moments are everywhere; patiently waiting for us to notice them.

      I was at Sam's Club two weeks ago shopping for matches of all things when I noticed a "RETURNS" section of ridiculously marked down electronics.  On the table was my Christmas present, a Nikon D60.  It was marked down $250 so I decided to buy it- if I liked it, I finally had the DSLR camera I had been waiting for, or I could easily sell it on ebay.  Anyways, I liked it.  I've created a facebook album with some of the pictures if you're interested in checking them out.

     Cooking has been put on the back burner recently with the business of the Holiday Season. 
     Advent is a time for waiting; a time to refocus our lens and take some new pictures on what matters most.  
     I'm looking forward to Christmas- and cooking up some good grub. 

     A neighborhood park in Katy stocks rainbow trout every winter.  With fishing rods in hand, we (my brother, sister-in-law, and sister, Clare) set out on our adventure.  Without too many of the details, the fish weren't biting our lures and bait.  Fortunately for us, they were biting though.  One of the older gentlemen around us was kind enough to give us the fish he caught.  He said he wasn't interested in keeping them and would be glad to give them to someone who would "cook them up right." 

     Pan Friend Rainbow Trout

soaking in milk, hot sauce, and some tony's

pan fried in an electric skillet at 375 degrees

served with corn and green beans

the table's is Christmas after all!
Thank you for reading my blog.  Now, go outside and try something fun.  You never know what awaits just around the corner....

Happy Plates!!

Monday, November 28, 2011


Warning:  These pictures may be disturbing to some viewers.  

     Ever have those moments in life where you challenge yourself to do something that some people view as outrageous?  I'm not talking about jumping out of airplanes or bungee jumping off bridges.  I'm thinking of feats in the kitchen (or backyard) that few will conquer.  After much research and contemplation, I decided I was going to roast a pig back in 2007.  5 years and 4 pigs later, I think we have THE PROCESS down.  

     Below are some pictures from this past weekend's pig roast.  My hope is these will challenge you to think outside the box and try something new this week.  Whether it be another culture's cuisine or your neighbor's nachos, get out there and eat something you might usually pass up!       

the tools

43 pound pig.  note: you have to cut the backbone in order for the pigs to lay flat

cutting the backbone.  Place the knife on the vertebrae and gently hit it with the hammer.  Follow this all the way down the spine. 

For this pig, I used a mango/habaƱero injection 
Be sure to inject this stuff all up inside the pig
post injection, I used a garlic/oregano/cumin/salt/pepper rub to seal in the juices

      After your pig has been injected and rubbed down, give it some time to soak up all the flavors.  My pig sat in an ice-chest on top of some freezer packs for approximately 18 hours.  The freezer packs work really well because- unlike ice- when they melt, they do not get the pig wet and soggy.

     Our family celebrated Thanksgiving in Baton Rouge this year.  So we packed up the family van (pig and all) and made our way east.  My cousin Margaret cooked the food and it was good; just wish we had more!  It was a blessing to spend time with the relatives!
stuff...but no stuffing :(
       Once the family meal was over, my next set of business was upon me; ROAST THE PIG!  Pictures continue the story...
using the leftover rub, I created a basting sauce with mostly butter and some other secrets...
sorry for the dark pic, but here is our cinder block pit.  It has been adjusted over the years, but this seemed to work the best
Barton made me this cage to hold the pig while it cooked.  it eliminated the need for a grate and worked really well as a double sided grill top/holder
Coals underneath and coals on top.  we transferred the coals from the top to bottom while flipping the pig; every 2 hours on average.
this is the pig after 9 hours of roasting. We tried to get it out to the tailgate in one piece, but it completely fell apart.  Exactly what we set out to accomplish.
good job was a true pig hunt!
Andrew, Barton and Me.  Pig head on a stick- Lord of the Flies style...this created quite a buzz!

      Overall, the pig was by far the best one we've cooked.  Weekend in a nut shell:  Thanksgiving celebration, successful pig roast, LSU dominated after a 14-0 start, celebrated Biscuit's birthday, watched a lot of football, and enjoyed the small things in life.
the weekend tired him out!
Happy Plates!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

You're Sweet But...

     If you're looking for some good, daytime television, look no further than the Cooking Channel (but stay away from anything Bobby Flay).  The pictures below were inspired by Alton Brown's show titled "Good Eats".  You can find the recipes by google-ing "Alton Brown Sweet Potato Pie Recipe" or by clicking the link I inserted for you.  Don't be afraid to be creative with recipes.  A quote for you today: More than half the mistakes in the kitchen are successful.  Below as examples of this, except I don't call them mistakes, I call them enhancements.  The one with pecans was drizzled (awkward word) with fresh bee honey instead of maple syrup.  And the one with marshmallows was inspiration from one of my historian friends.  Her name is Sarah and this is her shout out.


With the left over sweet potato mash, you can create a stuffed Mam Papaul's King Cake!  
CAUTION:  Make sure you have people around so you don't eat the whole thing!

I think I need to bake more often....

So I need to work on my presentation....once you bite into it you forget what it looks like anyways, right?

Big thanks to people for checking out my blog.  Keep on keeping on. 

 I leave you with a song/video.  New Radicals "You Get What You Give"

Happy Plates!

Monday, November 21, 2011


     Here's a dish I made last week called a Courtbouillon.  Usually prepared with seafood, I used chicken and sausage to show my cousin in Nevada how to cook it.  They are skeptical of seafood over there (not everyone, just a few).  
     Serve this dish over rice.  Its best when the weather is cold, but delicious all the time.
Thanks for checking it out!

Happy Plates!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What happens in the oven...

     My blog is by no means sponsored by Kroger; however, I find myself realizing how nice of a store it is when i cook on a regular basis (Mostly because it is close to home).  Last night I cooked a pizza on bread.  Really simple.  Here is a picture walk through so you don't have to read me talk about nothing.  Put it in the oven at 500 degrees for about 15 minutes (But be sure to check it often).

Happy Plates!