Friday, August 31, 2007

When drywall sanding gets the best of you!

Monday, August 27, 2007

His name is Lancelot...He likes to dance a lot...

Thanks to a good friend of ours, I scored tickets today to Spamalot...again! After seeing the show in London, I can not wait to see it again. Especially now that it will not be a surprise and I can actually look forward to it.

Unfortunately, we have to wait almost 8 months until it comes to Dayton...uggh.

Eric is going as my "date", so it should make for an interesting evening!

Until then...Feche la Vache!

What's on the Grill #36

Pizza! I have been wanting for sometime to add a pizza stone to the grill. As I have talked about before, we are huge fans of homemade pizza. After using pizza sheets in the oven for years, I decided to move the operation to the grill. However, I refused to pay one hundred bucks for a fancy pizza stone cooking accessory. Actually, the money was only part of it. Size was the other (isn't it always?). Most stones I came across were only twelve inches. We always serve up pies that are eighteen inches, so I knew I needed to have an adequate sized work surface...among other things.

So, where do you turn for a DIY solution? Lowe's, where else! I picked up an eighteen inch natural stone tile. Price? Six dollars and some change. Based on the one hundred dollar Williams-Sonoma stone, that leaves almost ninety three dollars for beer!

I did a little research and learned that the only thing I needed to be careful with is that the stone is heated slowly. With the power of the 650, I decided to heat it in steps and it worked just fine.

The result? Probably the fastest cook and the crispiest crust I have yet to experience at home. We make the dough from scratch and I must say, on the stone, it was great. Zoe crafted her favorite artisan pizza of feta, sage and onion in the oven. Although, it too was really good...I stole a piece...don't tell her, I think mine was a tad better. Come to think of it, don't tell her that either.

The only thing I need to invest in to complete the grilling pizza process is a peel and a really good Italian accent.

Friday, August 24, 2007

What's on the Grill #35

Duck! This was supposed to be a quiet out of the way dinner. Zoe does not like duck. Not because duck does not taste good, but because when she thinks of duck, she thinks of Donald, Daffy, bow ties and sailor suits. When I think duck, I think 180 degrees and moist. I guess in this area, we differ a little.

Anyways, her evening plans changed, so what was supposed to be a secluded night of duck grilling turned into a night of me hiding the duck I was grilling. She knew I was doing it, she just did not want to see it. Bless her.

Anyways, I love duck. That fatty dark meat is fabulous. Tonight was a typical "production" as Zoe has started to call it. I didn't start until after 6 and did not eat until around 9. A little late, but well worth it. Fortunately, she had already eaten. For the feast, I did not do anything fancy. I stuffed the cavity with crushed garlic and periodically mopped the duck with a apple cider reduction. In my haste, I keep forgetting that sweet things burn: i.e. apple cider. The skin turned out to be a little burned, but the meat turned out pretty good. This was not my best duck, so in order to improve, I guess I will have to do another!

The best part about the down time with the rotisserie? I had time to make Thai Salmon cakes with the leftover Salmon from the night before.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Little Arrogant Bastard

The Drew

The Drew, originally uploaded by Another Pint Please....

Even "The Drew" is there to enjoy a pint!

Bottom's Up!

Bottom's Up!, originally uploaded by Another Pint Please....

I am at Boston's Bistro tonight with Brian & Gary to meet Stone Brewing Company CEO Greg Koch. Good stuff. Currently in my pint class: Stone's Russian Imperial Stout. Don't forget Boston's was Stone's most Arrogant Pub in 2007!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Format War Continues

Last post of the night...I used to read The Digital Bits constantly, but in the last year I have relied so much on RSS feeds and Google Reader, I stopped reading it by accident (No RSS feed). Tonight, I was led there by a post over at AICN that indicated how Paramount/Dreamworks were going to go exclusively HD-DVD. I checked out The Digital Bits and learned that this was because Microsoft, a HD-DVD supporter, basically paid off Paramount. As usual, The Digital Bits had great commentary and data to support their conclusion that Blu-Ray would eventually win out. A good read if you get the chance.

What's on the Grill #34

Rain! Yes, when you have to grill, you grill. Even if it means dodging lighting and getting drenched in a shower. Why the fuss? None really, except that I was hungry and had something planned. Dinner was veal, with a lemon/caper butter I pulled out of the Red Book.

Fillet Prep

While we spent a great weekend with Tim, Kathy, Samantha and Kara, I also got the chance to document my dissection of a beef tenderloin. Whenever we plan ahead, we like to buy a cryo-pack beef tenderloin, otherwise known as a PSMO (pissmo).

Whole tenderloins are often sold as PSMOs (pismos), which is short for peeled, silverskin, and side muscle left on. The PSMO is vacuum sealed in plastic, and can be safely refrigerated longer than many other cuts of meat. PSMOs also offer considerable savings over smaller cuts as they require little handling by the butcher, but obviously require more preparation on the part of the chef. (Wikipedia)

cheese steaks and at our house, By doing some quick butcher work, you really do save some money, at least several dollars a pound. The process is simple and the results are always so good. The best part? That would be the "chain". It is a long piece of beef and fat that runs the entire length of the tenderloin. It is the absolute best for making philly steakd and at our house, philly cheese steaks are always on a pizza!

Step One: Photograph your Prize!

Step Two: Using your hands, start to remove the tenderloin from the chain and excess fat.

Step Three: Once you work away as much as you can manually, start to use your knife. Think of the process like playing the game of Operation...minus the glowing nose and buzzer of course.

Step Four: After the chain and excess beef is removed, it is time to remove the silverskin. The best way to do this is by sliding your knife just underneath the silver skin to separate it from the surface. Then, peel the silverskin off the tenderloin. I often use a paper towel on the silverskin to maintain a good grasp. The stuff is slippery and tough.

Step Five: After the silverskin is removed, cut away any large areas of fat. Your final result should look like this:

Step Six: Either cut up your tenderloin into fillets, or keep it whole to grill as roast, or do both! Remember, just about everything you pulled off is usable, so don't let it go to waste.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

You know yer'n West by God Virginia when...

Your neighbors illuminate your entire neighborhood with a 105 foot blow up outdoor video projector! As we finished our quiet evening of dinner, we noticed a Close Encounters of the Third Kind type light emanating from the backyard. Upon closer examination, we discovered a Skymall advertisied outdoor movie show...with nobody watching. Well nobody except us and my Zoe's trusty camera. Geez, they could at least fastforward through the commercials...

What's on the Grill #33

West Virginia Addition Edition. Fillets! Tonight was a collaborative effort. We fired up Tim's Vermont Casting Grill and grilled fillets for the family. In order to grill the meat to everyone's specifications, I opted to put cross grill marks on the medium-well done and single marks on the medium rare. Zoe's well done...I undercooked as usual.

I'm Not Alone!

Just to show that I am not the only guy who believes in documenting the glorious event known as a "grill unboxing", I present Mike from NY. As a fellow griller and homebrewer, Mike knows exactly what it is all about.

Click the picture to find his Flickr Set.

Down Home in West Virginia

We arrived effortless early last night in Martinsburg. As suburban sprawl continues, it is hard to believe that Martinsburg is now identified as a suburb of DC even though it is an hour and fifteen minutes away. Tim & Kathy's new home is beautiful and Kara is absolutely adorable. Kara has been a little fussy with gas, but then again so has Tim. What's new?

Anne flew in on Thursday and is staying till Tuesday. Seeing that she lives on the west coast, it is always nice to get an extra chance to see her.

We fired up Tim's Vermont Casting grill and Dad prepared Margarita Chicken Breasts. I grilled some peppers and worked on drinking beer. Everyone was left to the task they excelled at. And yes Tim, I like your grill!

Samantha lured me downstairs to play a little Dance Dance Revolution. That was something that I did not excel at. Yes, I like rhythm. However, getting that rhythm to my feet is an entirely different matter. I caught Zoe surreptitiously filming me at one point. If that were ever to get out, I would have to move to a deserted island out of shame.

Today has been nice and easy. We went for an early morning run to check out the area. There is so much rock and red clay here, they have to blast in order to excavate basements.

Zoe is working on pavlova for dessert and we picked up a Tenderloin I plan on cutting into fillet's for dinner. It should be good eats.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Only the Medium Has Changed...

Twenty years ago I would have asked. Today, I sent a text message from the back seat: Are we there yet?
The funniest part, to me anyways, was that it took her a minute to realize it was her phone and then another minute to "find the message".
And yes, I have already given her grief about using a map in a car with a navigation system.
Meanwhile, I am going to enjoy our ride in the backseat. Now, where is the next Stucky's?

Doing it inside...

This article in the Onion reminds me of something my sister would look forward to:

The Onion

Indoor Grill Owner Can't Wait For Start Of Autumn

ELGIN, IL—Indoor-cookout enthusiast Tom Lafferty said Monday that he is looking forward to the arrival of autumn so he can "plug in the old...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Heading Out!

We are trekking to West Virginia this weekend with the parental units to hook up with my brother Tim's family to visit with their newly adopted baby girl, Kara. Anne is also flying in from California for the quasi reunion. Tim checked in today to see if we have any sort of culinary breakfast requirements and to also quiz me on our beverages of choice. In the beverage department, I asked Tim if they had anything local and special. Tim replied if I was referring to moonshine. No, just beer Tim, just beer.

Thai 9

To make up for the crap dinner of Tuesday, we make last minute plans for dinner and traveled to Thai 9 with Mike & Jen on Wednesday. After a couple of bottles of Singha and a beautiful plate of Red Curry Duck, I was set.

What's on the Deck?

Well, I had a last minute dinner planned of a spatchcocked chicken covered in a curry/lemon paste to be accompanied by a bowl of grilled corn and black bean salsa. Driven by my haste and lack of countertop space, I placed the bowl of salsa ingredients...that I just painstakingly cut up...on the railing next to the grill. Well actually, it was right behind the grill because when I opened the lid of the grill to check on the chicken...kerblam! The bowl flew off the railing and spilled its grilled goodness all over the deck. I could have cried.

To top things off, although the chicken cooked well, it lacked flavor and really did not do anything for me. What a sad night. At least the beer was good.

Monday, August 13, 2007

What's on the Grill #32

Lemon Curry Rotisserie Chicken!

I am becoming obsessed with rotisserie chickens. It is not because they are so easy to do, it is because they are so good and easy to do! The lemon curry paste that went on the chicken about 6 hours before cooking simply permeated the skin creating the most wonderful aroma. This will definitely be a repeat!

What's on the Grill #31

Rosemary Crusted Steaks with Grilled Potatoes on Watercress!

There is no better way to spend a Sunday night than with a little bit of red meat. Tonight was quite the collaborative effort. For the grill, we went with the typical his and her cuts. T-bone for moi and fillet for her. Each piece of meat was rubbed with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary from the herb garden. Zoe is quite the prep artist and prepared the grilled potatoes on watercress salad. It is smothered in blue cheese and is an incredible Bobby Flay recipe. Definitely one of our faves.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sammy A

There is no doubt that Samuel Adams has helped push the American craft beer revolution. Since I believe in putting my money where my mouth is...literally, we bought some shares of the Boston Beer Company several years ago. Interestingly enough, around here, our Sam Adams is brewed locally down in Cincinnati.

Besides the Sam Adams name, Boston Beer has been producing malternative beverages under the Twisted Tea moniker. The point of this is, I was reading an article on the Motley Fool talking about Boston Beer and how they should pull back a little on Twisted Tea. The article concluded with what I believe to be the best summation paragraph ever:

After all, beer has been brewed since the time of the pharaohs; malternatives were introduced during the Clinton administration.

True, true, true...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Early Adoption

When we visited the Children's Museum in Indianapolis a few weeks ago, we looked through a large display they had on Star Wars collectibles. As a child of the seventies, this is something not to be missed! While looking through the displays, I laughed as I saw an old VideoDisc cartridge. If you do not know me and have not figured out by now, I am king geek. I love technology. My idea of a gift is either something I can cook with or something that runs on electricity. So, the sighting of this old video format really took me back. I remember in junior high the old RCA players. You would push the sleeve into the player and the disc would remain in the player. After side one was finished, you would put the sleeve back in to flip the disc over and finish your movie.

Since I was a child of the seventies, I was also a teenager of the eighties and thus, a participant of the videotape format wars. I guess I developed some of my geek status from my Dad. Except for the parts that allow my Dad to fix his own computer problems apparently (that's another story). Anyways, we were early adopters of a BETA. Yes, when all of my friends families got VCR's, they got VHS. Not us...nope. It was almost if as a family, we shared talking points to prove that BETA was the superior format. The picture quality is better! Our push button TV channel selectors react quicker! Our corded pause button remote is four feet longer than a VHS machine's corded remote! Unfortunately, as we visited our local video store in Northern Virgina, where we lived at the time, it became quite obvious that as the VideoDisc and BETA sections got smaller, VHS was going to win out. At some point, we ended up caving into defeat and purchased a VHS VCR. The sad thing is, Mom & Dad still have a boatload of BETA tapes and a working BETA VCR.

Well, as technology changed, LaserDiscs made a comeback. By this time in my life, I was headlong into movies and LaserDiscs brought something that VHS did not: widescreen, original aspect ratio format. You could actually see a movie the way it was meant to be seen - in glorious analog video and stereo sound quality! This time, I felt we were on the cusp. Sure, you still had to get up and flip the disc half way through the movie, but that picture on our old analog television was glorious. As progress rolled on, I was lucky enough one Christmas to get a LaserDisc player that flipped sides all by itself. In reality, it was the laser that changed sides, the disc remained the same and it took several minutes...but I didn't have to get up! What next portable computers that fit in your lap?

By this time, I was in college at Purdue. I was blessed to find a movie rental store that catered to moviephiles and rented LaserDics. Besides owning StarWars and of course, the Naked Gun films, I was able to rent a wide variety of movies and watch them like never before seen on VHS. I was set.

Then one day came a little thing called a DVD. My Dad, once again determined to be on the right side of technology, went out and bought a DVD player at Circuit City that played a disc called a DivX. Ever heard of a DivX DVD player (The player, not the codec)? Probably not, it failed. The idea was that you buy a disc for cheap and after watching it five times, you throw it away...or something like that. The quality was nice, except if memory serves me right, they were all pan and scan. Eventually we got a "proper" DVD player and life was good once again.

Truth be told, I still have my LaserDisc player and only disconnected it once Star Wars was released on DVD. Until the release of the non-special editions, I was glad to know that I still had the version of Star Wars where Han shoots first.

So here we are in 2006 and there is talk of High Definition DVD. Once again, a format war looms. I have followed this battle for some time and feel that since Sony's PS3 includes a Blu-Ray drive, there is no way they can lose. So far, that appears to be happening. We purchased a PS3 last Christmas and have been periodically buying Blu-Ray discs, hoping they do not go the way of BETA. The release of 300 last week and the start of Blockbuster to rent Blu-Ray in stores shows that Blu-Ray is picking up steam. Needless to say, the Blu-Ray experience takes me back to my first days of watching a LaserDisc after watching years of videotape. We may just have a winner this time. Oh, I almost forgot. The picture quality? Incredible! The sound...great, but I have yet to experience true HDMI audio because of something I will leave to another post.

Funny enough, Zoe was lamenting over the lack of Blu-Ray selection at Blockbuster last week. I reminded her back to when we first had our DVD player and no one rented DVD's because they only had VHS. Now look at the rental stores. I then thought back to my LaserDisc rental days and my BETA rental days. As formats change and technology progresses, I will always be there. It is the geek code. All I can say is that I just hope they are no BETA missteps in my future. No excuses Dad on just how good the picture is!

What's on the Grill #30

Fajita's! A Friday night with some downtime calls for nothing else. I picked up a skirt steak after work and after a little time with some rub, threw it on the grill. Absolutely delightful. Next, I took an onion and a green pepper and cut them down in order to grill them. After they are nice and marked, I cut them down even further. If they are too small from the beginning, I am fairly adapt at loosing food through the grates. Not a good idea. Next, I took the tortillas and placed them in aluminum foil to give them a little grill time. To round everything out, I grilled some tomatillos. They have the most delicious slightly tart taste and make a great addition when thrown together with the rest of the ingredients. As a splurge side dish, I took vegetarian refried beans and mixed them with some chipotle puree.

For some reason, this is becoming one of my favorite quick summertime meals.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

What's on the Grill #29

Tonight's a "Two-fer"! Although seeing I only used the side burner, maybe it really is only a single entry. Anyway, the theme of the evening was leftovers. Both the use of leftovers and the creation of leftovers. For the use of leftovers, I used salmon from last night to make Thai Grilled Salmon Cakes. It is a quick and easy "day after salmon" dinner or snack. To create leftovers, I resorted to my fav spicy grilled pork wrapped in bib lettuce. I pulled the recipe from a page in Bon Appetite. The pork I make in the wok and is always good.

Must be nice...

While some of us work through a heat wave, others choose to taunt us via web cam from Hilton Head. Enjoy your beer Mike!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What's on the Grill #28

Tonight's dinner was pineapple themed. For the main course, it was drunken salmon and grilled pineapple. For desert, there is nothing better than grilled fruit. By continuing the pineapple theme, I whipped up grilled pineapple topped with fresh blueberries, creme fraiche and a butter rum sauce. It is incredibly easy and incredibly good.

Creme fraiche is somewhere between sour cream and heavy whipping cream. Around here, we can pick it up at Dorthy Lane Market. I have yet to see it at Kroger or Meijer. For the butter rum sauce, I mix together 1/4 cup of butter, 2 tablespoons of rum and around a half teaspoon of cinnamon. I heat it up on the grill next to whatever I am grilling while being careful not to slosh to much over open flame....or BOOM. Try it sometime...the sauce, not the boom.

What's on the Grill #27

This is by far one of most favorite Bobby Flay recipe's. It is a cumin rubbed filet on watercress with hot tomato dressing. The tender fillets coupled with the watercress and dressing make one of the most satisfying dishes. Zoe throws together the salad part and I handle the fillets on the grill. This recipe is where I first discovered the joy of chipotle puree. Ever since, I have added it to everything from mayonnaise to scrambled eggs. Absolutely wonderful.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

King of the Camp

After a slight hiatus, Eric is back with a great post on a recent camping trip that he had. Good stuff...and so true!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Simple Things

After a night of little sleep and fifteen hours at work, it is wonderful to come home and appreciate the simple things. I opted for that as a title, instead of "What's on the Grill" because sometimes the simple things are just more important...and precious.

So, with a little help from my sous chef and his Smokey Joe, we grilled some burgers with grilled onions and a batch of cumin grill fries. For the three of us, it just hit the spot.