The Hampton Smoker

What's up wtih what's going down? Does a tree falling on the ocean with no one around make a sound? Barbecue, BBQ, Bar-b-que. It's all in how you sell it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tell it like it is: BackyardChef in the news

A while back I did an interview with an AP reporter about the new line of TEC/Char-Broil grills that are coming to market. The reporter, Elliot Minor was retiring that day after something like 30 years as an AP reporter.

My part in this article was cut down considerably, but it is still cool to be included. Mr. Minor plans to buy and RV and travel the country writing about his experiences. I look forward to reading about them.

Infrared burners are ready to barbecue
By Elliott Minor, Associated Press

ALBANY, Ga. — For a quarter century, chefs at pricey steakhouses have been searing meat on burners that cook with infrared energy. Now the high-temperature technology may be coming to a backyard barbecue near you.

With the expiration of a key patent, major gas grill manufacturers, including market leader Char-Broil, have scrambled to bring infrared cooking to the masses with models in the $500 to $1,000 range. Previously, such grills cost as much as $5,000.

"Infrared is really hot," said Leslie Wheeler, a spokeswoman for the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, an industry group in Arlington, Va. "They're great for searing and then either you turn it down or move over to another burner for cooking."

The grills are still powered by propane and have traditional gas burners that heat mostly by convection — or hot air. But they also can cook foods with radiant heat generated by one or more infrared burners. (Infrared falls between visible light and microwave energy on the electromagnetic spectrum.)

Char-Broil says its advanced burners operate at 450 to 900 degrees, hotter than the 450 to 750 degrees of standard gas burners. And unlike charcoal, which can require 20 to 30 minutes to reach its 700-degree cooking temperature, heat from the infrared burners can be adjusted quickly.

Most leading grill makers, including Solaire, Weber and Whirlpool's Jenn-Air, also offer grills that use infrared.

"It's terrific," said Wheeler, who owns an infrared grill. "Grills nowadays give you many options."

Cooks can sear steaks or hamburgers, steam vegetables and give their meats a smoky taste by tossing a few wood chips onto the burner, said Rob Schwing, a Char-Broil vice president.

"Infrared has done to the grill business what the microwave did to the indoor kitchen," he said. "It's presenting consumers with a whole new way of cooking."

Bill Best, founder of Thermal Electric of Columbia, S.C., developed the technology in the 1960s, primarily to give automakers a faster way to dry the paint on cars. That led to high-end grills for professional cooks and wealthy consumers.

When his patent expired in 2000, grill companies saw a future in America's backyards.

But original infrared burners — and some offered currently to consumers — contained ceramic material that was hard to clean, prone to flare-ups and fragile, Schwing said.

Char-Broil formed a strategic alliance with Best's company to develop a new generation of burners known as the Char-Broil TEC series. The fragile ceramics have been eliminated. They have a layer of glass to shield the burners from drippings and provide even heat distribution.

Seven years after Best's patent expired, those improvements are available at a price more affordable to weekend grillers.

"I think it's significant," said Matt Fisher, who tested one of Char-Broil's grills. "It really brings a whole new technology to the market for most people."

Fisher, who lives in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., maintains the
The Cook's Kitchen website and a blog devoted to barbecue.

Fisher said gas grills are convenient, but he still prefers wood and charcoal.

Barbecue and barbecue accessories are a $4 billion industry in the U.S., with 17 million grills shipped to retailers last year, a 15% increase over 2005, said the industry association's Wheeler.

Pomona, Calif.-based Cal Spas has been selling high-end grills with infrared burners since 2003. Nicole Lasorda, a spokeswoman for the company, said the faster and more predictable way the burners cook allows people to spend more time relaxing and less time cooking.

"More and more people are barbecuing now and they don't necessarily want to stand in front of the barbecue all the time," she said.

Associated Press writer Doug Gross in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Running on Empty: Birthday eating part 2 + internet life

When we left off, Hiroshi and I had just filled up on soup dumplings and scallion pancakes.

From there, we browsed the candy stores
But decided to go to the bakery instead...

From there, we made our way down Mott St. towards Mosco St. and the home of my favorite fried dumplings in the world....Fried Dumpling.

We were lured away though by a sign saying 'Grand Opening' and the look and smell of a pizzeria.

I had planned for only one slice, but wound up with two. The pepperoni was great, the crust was thin. It was a good slice, but a lack of 'zing' in the flavors of the sauce and cheese kept it from greatness. I would go back.

At this point a bit more walking was required. We needed to get away from the 'target rich' environment of Chinatown. So, we headed up Lafayette Street towards Union Square. Along the way, though, we made a few was for Spanish imports and tasty sausages at Despana. Hiroshi likes blood sausage. Me...not so much.

From there, we dragged ourselves over to the awesome Eileen's Special Cheesecake for one last treat...

I picked up a small-ish cheesecake that The Wife and I demolished that night after the rotisserie chicken and sides, and that half a box of Whitman's dark chocolates. Alas, my daytime eating had come to a close and damage had been done to my insides. But not the wallet.

Lastly, dear friends, I am looking for any online cooking and food forums/communities that you love. I know about some of the big sites like Chowhound and Egullet, but where do you hang your hat? I'm looking for a new online home to haunt....

Have a great weekend!!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Walking with Jesus: Dim Sum Birthday and thensome

On my birthday, my sister, father, brother and I went to Chinatown for my birthday brunch. It was a great start to the day.

We went to Oriental Garden on Elizabeth Street. I love that place. They have some wonderfully fresh seafood.

From there, my brother and I took off on foot for more quick, inexpensive snacks. We didn't have far to walk.

Around the corner from Oriental Garden is New Green Bo, which has some delicious Soup Dumplings. No dice. It was packed. So, we hoofed it across the street to New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe. The dumplings were mouth-scaldingly delicious with a wonderful rush of broth and a generous, flavorful meatball in the center.

Soup Dumplings, which are slightly amber, and Pea Shoot Dumplings. The Pea Shoot dumplings weren't as fresh and peppery as the Shrimp and Pea Shoot dumplings at Oriental Garden, but they were tasty. We really enjoyed the Scallion Pancakes, though Hiroshi later found them "a tad oily." I don't know about that.

Part 2 is next.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Day In The Life: Birthday eating and the 4 Corners of Barbecue

I don't have the photos loaded up yet, but Sunday was my birthday (35 going on 75) and I did my annual cheap eats crawl. Chinatown for dim sum, soup dumplings, scallion pancakes, pea shoot dumplings, coconut tarts, buns, and 2 slices of pepperoni pizza at Mosco Pizza. And then, home for rotisserie chicken, potatoes, sweet plantains, rice and peas, half a box of Whitman's dark chocolates and half of a small-ish cheesecake. My stomach was not happy.....hmmm...

People often ask me about the differences in regional bbq styles and then, if I'm not mistaken, they zone out about halfway through the explanation. Anyway, MSN's City Guides just recently ran an article called The 4 Corners of Barbecue that talks about some of the 'cue destinations of the USA and how the regions differ stylistically.

Take a tour of the regional capitals of American barbecue—Memphis, North Carolina, Kansas City and Texas.
By Zanne Schmalzer for MSN City Guides

Kick-off for the 2007 super bowl of swine will be on May 17, 11 a.m., in that city of music and meat: Memphis. That’s when The Best Little Boar House in Memphis, Natural Born Grillers and the rest of the smokin’ field will compete in this year’s World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, part of the city’s Memphis in May festival.

As Memphis prepares to fire up the competition pits, MSN City Guides is taking a tour of American barbecue, offering a little background about the varying styles that arouse fierce loyalty as well as introductions to some iconic barbecue joints you won’t want to miss.

The Four Corners of Barbecue
Barbecue takes on regional flairs, and in the U.S. there are four corners of it. In Memphis, pork ribs in sweet sauce reign supreme. Carolina barbecue is almost exclusively pork, and the shredded pork sandwich for which North Carolina is famous inspires pilgrimages from near and far. In Kansas City, Mo., it’s all about diversity and mixing styles. And in Texas cattle country, where pit masters have become known for dry-rubbed, slow-smoked brisket and beef ribs, thanks largely to Texas-style cookouts at the White House during the Johnson administration.
You might think all the barbecue action in Memphis is at the fairgrounds at Tom Lee Park, but you’d be wrong. Outside the gates of Memphis in May a barbecue tradition awaits 365 days a year. Known around the world for a style that incorporates all the greatest barbecue traditions—wood and coal fire, direct and indirect heat, vinegar- and tomato-based sauce—Memphis has earned its moniker, barbecue capital of the world.

Credited with developing the modern dry rib rub (a remarkably accessible combination of salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, chili powder and paprika—for color and a little smoky flavor) Charlie Vergo contributed significantly to the myth of Memphis barbecue. Serving close to four tons of their celebrated pork ribs each week, the Rendezvous is the essence of this eclectic approach.

The Carolinas: The Cradle of ’Cue
Ask Jim Early, the president and CEO of the North Carolina Barbecue Society and author of “The Best Tar Heel Barbecue: From Manteo to Murphy,” how North Carolina became known as “The Cradle of ’Cue,” and he’ll spin you a yarn about a Carolina beach party on June 20, 1584, when college boys and European explorers dug a pit and threw on a whole hog. Then he’ll laugh and say, “It’s as good a lie as I have got.”

The truth—and Early knows and tells it well—lies somewhere in the confluence of cooking techniques brought to Carolina by Native Americans, European settlers, slaves and Jamaicans, among others. The result of these diverse influences: cooking meat (specifically pork) in a pit at low heat (200 to 250 degrees), very, very slowly.

Such a time-consuming process can become a hunt for flavor. As Keith Allen of Allen & Son Barbecue in Chapel Hill, N.C., describes it, “The taste that I am chasing is the best the meat has to offer.” Each morning Allen fires up his pit with whole hickory logs. Patience, he says, is what it takes to get the most out of “low-rent” cuts of meat.

Allen seasons his chopped pork with a runny, cider-vinegar-based sauce that isn’t much to look at. But when you combine its spicy kick with 300 pounds of meat, a gastronomical memory is formed. “When I taste it and that tang wakes up those taste buds, I know I did it right,” he says.
North Carolina barbecue is famously divided by an “east versus west” controversy. To the east, they typically pit-roast the whole hog, dress it with a lightly seasoned vinegar-based sauce and serve it with a white slaw. To the west, they use pork shoulder, dress it with a lightly seasoned tomato-based sauce and serve it with red slaw.

But Early says he has had enough of the feud. “It’s time to stop the war,” he says. “We want a wedding.” This fall, look for news about a North Carolina barbecue classic this fall that will both sides under one roof.

Texas: It’s All Beef—and Occasionally Goat
By now you might be considering opening your own barbecue joint. Naming your place is easier than you might think. Just follow this formula: First, signify pride in your product by using your name—Sonny’s, Pete’s, Bubba’s, Chip’s or R.J.’s. Next, get those salivary glands working with an evocative product description—Smokin’, Lip-Smackin’ or Red Hot. (Here, you might also refer to a regional style or note any awards your product has won—Championship, Award-Winning, Blue Ribbon.) Finally choose your preferred spelling—BBQ, Barbecue, Barbeque or Bar-B-Q. Don’t laugh: This worked for
Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano, Texas.

Over the years, several styles of barbecue have evolved in Texas. Cooper’s, with its open pit direct-heat method exemplifies the cowboy style of Texas barbecue.

Cooper’s was founded by George Cooper. “My grandfather opened the first Cooper’s in Mason in 1953, and almost 10 years later my dad, Tommy, expanded by opening in Llano,” says Barry Cooper, president and co-owner of Go-Q (a new offshoot of the family business). Currently operated by close family friend Terry Wootan, Cooper’s Llano is chiefly famous for the distinct flavor of its beef brisket and sausages, but its pork chops and goat offerings are good sellers, too.

While Texas barbecue is primarily associated with brisket, Luke Zimmerman, chairman of the Central Texas Barbecue Association and proprietor of Ruby’s BBQ on Guadalupe, in Austin, says he would be remiss “not to mention the presence of sausage that started in the meat markets in this region.” Many of the area’s best barbecue joints started as butcher shops, and many still operate meat counters. These markets turned leftovers and scraps into smoked meats and sausages. “A lot of Czech and German immigrants came to Texas, and many of them worked in the meat markets.” Zimmerman says. “They brought their traditions with them.”

Kansas City: Where It All Comes Together
Whereas Memphis, Central Texas and North Carolina have something specific that typifies their regional styles, Kansas City has taken a different approach. The city’s embrace of diversity makes it “the melting pot of barbecue,” says Carolyn Wells, executive director of the Kansas City Barbecue Society.

Culinary historians believe Kansas City barbecue is the result of its geography and myriad culinary influences. Early on, the railroads and the Missouri River brought a supply of livestock to the city known as “the Heart of America.” From the south, Texas cowboys on cattle drives brought their method of cooking over open campfires. From the east, Carolina pioneers introduced the slow cooking style they adapted from the plains Indians. Finally, African and Caribbean cooks contributed their firing techniques and seasoning styles.

Kansas City grillers believe one does not live on pork alone. “If it moves,” Wells declares, “we cook it.” Here you are as likely to find chicken or lamb on the menu as beef or pork. “In Kansas City you can go 10 different places and get 10 different products, and they will all be great,” says Wells.

If you’re hungry for beef ribs or brisket, beeline to Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue. In this unremarkable building you will find what essayist Calvin Trillin called “the single best restaurant in the world.”

Related: Memphis in May
Sound off:
What's your favorite barbecue?

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

School's Out: Brooklyn Brewery PigFest 07 Pictures

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are invited to cook as part of the team for the Brooklyn Brewery Pigfest this year. It was quite an honor to be invited to cook the spareribs for the event.

The location was amazing-- the Old Tobacco Warehouse in DUMBO, down underneath and between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. Our Atom's Ribs team volunteered for the overnight shift that no one else wanted. I was awake for 40 hours straight and was lucky enough to keep the fires going on 4 wood burning pits and one gas pig roaster overnight. Fun! 3 of the wood pits had pigs and so did the gasser. I was the only one who didn't sleep until the event was over. When I did, it was for nearly 23 hours straight. Here are the pits all lined up (our site is far left): and from a little further out:
Sam Barbieri of the Waterfront Ale House works the pig:
Robbie Richter of Hill Country NY going whole hog:
There WAS food at one point:
Despite running out of food, the weather was beautiful and we had a blast. We would be honored to come back and help out again. Thanks to Sam, Robbie, Ronny, Danny, Thaddeus, Robert, Amy, Jeff (of the Smokin' Grill), Josh O., Barry, Seth, Erica, Amy and Jon for making it a great day.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

In the Still of the Night: Cold Smoking and bbq for the ages

The fog of depression lifts like smoke rising gently upwards toward the moon and just like that, peaceful waves fill the void.

We've been busy, busy, busy. This past weekend our Atom's Ribs crew worked our tails off as part of the team for the Brooklyn Brewery Pigfest. I was invited by Sam Barbieri of the Waterfront Ale House who was the main caterer for the event. Sam, Robbie Richter (of the soon-to-open Hill Country NY, Jeff Riley (of The Smokin Grill) and I were there as support. I got to cook Spareribs, Rob cooked Texas sausage and Sam was responsible for more ribs, chicken and the 4 250 pound pigs. I'll report back on this event with more pictures in the next day or so. It was great fun until we ran out of food.

The weekend before that was another weekend of cleaning out my parents' house and cooking as much as we could on the smoker. We cold smoked some mozarella and cheddar; cold smoked, then seared skirt steak and made ourselves fat and happy.

Cold smoking fire:

Chipotle-Mojo Smoked Skirt Steak:

Spareribs and Beef Short Ribs:

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Pinball Wizard: Paul Kirk's Pitmaster Secrets

The current issue of Food and Wine magazine has an article from the legendary KC Baron of Barbecue, Paul Kirk. Paul dishes up some recipes and tips on how to make the lip-smackin' cue we all love so much. Having organized one of Paul's pitmaster classes, I can tell you that this man knows his barbecue inside and out, and his claim of being able to read, analyze and improve a recipe without tasting it, is true. He knows more about bbq than just about anyone you'll ever meet. And his restaurant is fantastic.

Thanks to my friend, Andrew Fischel, of RUB BBQ for the heads up on the article.

For the recipes that accompany the article, click HERE or see the links to each at the bottom of the article.

Cook Like a Pit Master

Paul Kirk, the baron of BBQ, gives the lowdown on brisket, chicken and his famous burnt ends.
By Paul Kirk

Some people insist on a lot of fancy equipment to make great barbecue, but they’re wrong. I should know: Since I entered my first barbecue contest in 1981, I have won more awards than I can count (maybe more than 400 of them), and when I compete, I use an $18,000 custom-designed cooker. But to make competition-worthy barbecue at home, you need only a basic kettle grill, a chimney starter and a cooking thermometer.

When I started competing, I didn’t want to share my secrets. At 2 a.m., I’d be at my pit with a penlight in my mouth to hide my work. But other competitors would wake up to watch. Now I conduct master classes, and I don’t win as many contests because my students beat me. I continue to compete because I love great barbecue: slow-cooked, tender, moist and packed with intense flavors. One student, Andrew Fischel, convinced me to help him open
RUB (Righteous Urban Barbecue) in New York City in 2005. This summer we’ll open a second branch of RUB in the Rio casino in Las Vegas. We’re not the only ones who love great barbecue.

Whether you’re a pro or a beginner, the technique is the same: low and slow. Compared to grilling, which means cooking quickly over high heat (400° to 450°), barbecuing takes four times as long and almost half the heat (anything below 250°).

Choose your fuel wisely. If you are new to barbecuing, use plain charcoal briquettes, because they burn more consistently and evenly than hardwood lump charcoal, which comes in many different sizes. I start the fire with 50 briquettes—and I am so fussy as to actually count them. Light them in the chimney starter, not with kerosene, or else your meat will taste only of fuel.

The cardinal rule of barbecue: Don’t peek into the cooker unless you have to. Open the lid only to turn the meat, baste it or add more fuel.

Paul Kirk is the author of Paul Kirk’s Championship Barbecue and headmaster of his traveling School of Pitmasters.

RUB, 208 W. 23rd St., New York City; 212-524-4300.

Paul included 4 tips for great bbq, which are located HERE

Recipes: Brisket and Burnt Ends; BBQ Chicken; K.C. Style Sauce; Grandma Kirk's Baked Beans

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Makes No Sense At All: Southern Barbecue and Life

Life is changing too fast and too much these days. My blog has recently turned into a bit of a downer. This was not my intention at all. Maybe it is my mother's cancer that has made me reconsider things, but it is time to take a pause and reassess what, and who, matters in life.
Here's an article from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin that gives a good introduction to 'southern' barbecue.

Decoding Southern Barbecue
By: James G. Wiles , For The Bulletin

Myrtle Beach, S.C. - You can tell where a Southern boy's from by the kind of barbecue he likes. There are two things to pay attention to, the meat and the sauce. We'll talk about the cooking process later.

In Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia, barbecue is pork, usually - but not always - pulled pork shoulder. In Kentucky, it might be lamb (mutton). In Texas and Kansas City, it's beef. But that's only the start of the variations. In Virginia and North Carolina, the sauce is mostly vinegar and red pepper flakes. South Carolina prefers a mustard-based sauce. In Texas and Kansas City, the sauce is tomato-based. And in Memphis, they don't use sauce. They have "dry barbecue." Which means a rub.That makes us the United States of Barbecue. All different, all good. So says Fred Thompson (no, not that Fred Thompson) in his new book, Barbecue Nation (Taunton Press 2007). All 'cue-heads should go out and buy it.

How to make sense of all this? My personal approach is the same as you take to marrying the right wine to the right meat.Tomato-based sauces go naturally with beef. Astringent sauces - including the wonderful, bitter-orange barbecue sauce which Cubans use for their traditional, open-air Christmas Eve roast half-pig (lechon asado) - go best with pork. Ribs, whether beef or pork, again, seem to go best with a tomato base, although making the mighty fine Chinese barbecued spareribs requires honey, soy sauce, ketchup and garlic.

Having lived for two years in North Carolina, I swear by the North Carolina style of barbecue. A pig in a pit and a sauce of vinegar and red pepper. If you're driving down I-95, once you cross the North Carolina line, you'll begin seeing billboards for the local barbecue.

There are actually East Carolina- and Lexington-style barbecue, which are different. But you'll have to go to Carolina in the morning to find out which is which.

So, with pork shoulder, I don't think anything but vinegar and red pepper flakes work. As the late Bill Neal (Southern Cooking, University of North Carolina Press 1985) says, "To my taste, it is a classic, hardly interfering with the smoky roast ... and that's just setting it up."

Neal's point, I think, gets to the real distinction: What's the meat? The next is: How do you cook the meat? The last is: When do you apply the sauce?

The Western (tomato-based) sauce is best applied on the grill while the meat, usually beef, is cooking. In Texas, they call that the "moppin' sauce." Same with the South Carolina (mustard-based) sauce. The North Carolina style is applied after the meat (pork, in this case) comes off the grill.

Which gets into how to cook the meat. In Memphis, they apply the rub and then grill it. In Texas and Kansas City, they sometimes also use a rub, although to most this is heresy.

In North and South Carolina, they use a pit, usually cooking a shoulder or half a pig at a time. Around there, the rule-of-thumb is, if you can't smell the 'cue when you pull up in your car, keep going. They don't have a pit.

I agree with that. Although barbecue roasted and smoked in an oil can can be mighty good. Just drive up Ridge Avenue some warm Saturday night in July and smell.

The other argument is over what type of wood to use for the fire. I leave that to the experts. Some of the variations are pine, applewood, hickory and mesquite. Or plain charcoal.

A little bit on the history of barbecue. Og the Caveman would rightly say that the idea of cooking meat over an open fire originated with him. The word "barbecue" derives from the Spanish "barbacoa," which, in turn, has a Native American root. The Indians did barbecue. And they had peppers and tomatoes. But they didn't have vinegar, which comes from wine. They also didn't have pork, beef, chicken and sheep, all of which came from Europe.

That's why barbecue may be the most American of dishes

You can apply rub before grilling. You can apply rub, as they do at the numerous Stubb's restaurants in Central Texas, and then apply a mopping sauce (baste) while the meat cooks and then offer more sauce at the table.

One other approach, from the wonderful Knotty Pine restaurant in Tulsa, Okla. (3301 W. 5th St., 918 588-0191), is simply to cook any kind of meat - sausage, turkey, chicken, beef, pork, etc., in a pit over hickory wood and then offer a selection of sauces at the table.

Finally, what do you eat with it? 'Round here, it's 'slaw or french fries. In Texas, it's buttered garlic toast. Or baked beans.

Printed nearby are some classic barbecue sauces for your consideration. I hope your family starts your own, distinctive barbecue tradition.

Have a great summer.

Bill Neal's North Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce

1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
½ to ¾ cup water
1 teaspoon sugar
2/3 cup minced onion
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, crushed
2/3 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 to 3 teaspoons dry mustard
4 to 6 teaspoons cold water

Combine all the ingredients except the last two in a small saucepan. Bring to a rapid boil, then simmer five minutes. Remove from heat. Dissolve the mustard in the cold water; then thin it out with some of the hot vinegar sauce. Stir the mustard into the sauce. Let cool, bottle, and store in the refrigerator.

Fred Thompson's South Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce

1 ½ cups yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce like French's
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon crushed garlic
½ cup tomato paste
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
5 tablespoons cider vinegar
Simmer over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bottle.

Fred Thompson's Kansas City-Style Sweet and Hot Barbecue Sauce
2 cups ketchup
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 clove garlic, mashed
1 teaspoon paprika
½ cup chili sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons hot sauce
kosher salt to taste
1 stick unsalted butter

Simmer over medium heat until butter and sugar dissolve. Bottle.

James G. Wiles is a Philadelphia lawyer.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere

Well, my mom is still in the hospital and they're trying to decide if she will need surgery, which would be exceptionally difficult in the recovery process. It's a last resort (edited to add: to treat the infection in her chest). Her spirits range from abject fear to upbeat depending on the pain and the news, so we enjoy the good times when we can get them. It's unclear when she would leave the hospital whether she had surgery or not.

Still cleaning out the house to get ready for selling and in general life pretty much sucks. I try to keep myself distracted (or heavily medicated) to get on with the living part of life, but it aint easy. My mood swings are off the charts.

My cat's in the early stages of kidney disease, we just spent over $500 for new tires, work is insanely busy, we're tired all the time, selling the house where the majority of my best memories of life have been framed, I'm afraid for my mom....there's actually so much crap happening that I would need to keep a checklist to keep track of it know, when your life feels like it is just falling apart and you are just generally hurting...

Here're some food pics....brisket and babybacks....not much else to say right now.

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