Sunday, September 30, 2007

Homebrew 'n Fry Sunday

Giving it a Stir

Well, after getting the "important" things out of the way, we took time today to play. Of course after "playing" all day, I wish my idea of "playing" was doing nothing...I'm tired. Anyways, I have been wanting to brew for, oh I don't know...a year! So much for great plans. With my keg conversion complete and my new valve installed, I figured it was high time.

Just right...


The first good, actually the only good omen of the day, was finding a bottle of marzen that I brewed a year ago for ManNight. It was hidden with a bunch of empties. Oh joy. It was good then, it was great today. Of course since my note taking is horrible when it comes to brewing, there is no chance of really replicating it.

I went total kit and extract today. It is an Irish Stout. I have low hopes. I keep wanting to do a full boil, but when dealing with steeping crushed grains, you have to step up to 5 gallons and I did not do that.

What makes homebrew easy


The best part of the brew was being able to use my valve to move the wort out of the kettle, through the wort chiller and into the fermenter. As my friends with calloused and burned fingers can attest to, the old method of using a copper gooseneck siphon was abysmal. Not anymore. This process was painless.

Unfortunately, my pick up tube in the keg, which I soldered today, was a little high. Well not just a little high....very high. I probably left a gallon of wort behind. I will fix that before I brew again.

Well, three to fours weeks from now, we will see what happens. This will be a batch that I keg, because it will not be worth the time to bottle.

Fryin' Fish

Since I had the burner stand setup, we ended up frying fish. Cod and catfish in a beer batter. Not bad, not bad at all.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pool Closed

Wow, it is hard to believe that summer is about over. It seems like just yesterday we pulled the cover off the pool and jumped in for the first time. In our never ending quest to do things ourself, we closed the pool on our own. Actually, Zoe was busy resurfacing the driveway while Keith and I closed the pool. With a wee bit of a learning curve, we got the job done. Next year will be much, much easier. We figure we may have a business plan on our hand. Like we need one of those! Oh well, one less thing to keep track of as the days grow shorter and the air becomes cooler. Good, because we need some downtime.

What's on the Grill #45

Grilled Pizza! Alright, after some grill stone experimentation, I have finally hit my stride....sorta. For certain, no direct heat can be applied to the stone. Unfortunately, the amount of indirect heat I can generate with an 18 inch square stone under the hood is limited. I maxed out around 450, even with the smoker burner running on full. Nonetheless, the pizza and calzone turned out great, if not a little on the less than crispy side.


Pizza on Stone

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why I Hate Plumbing

Well, I have not posted in the last number of days because of a "small" side project: our broken well pump. I was hoping to sit here and say "After 4 days of back breaking work, I got our well pump going and all is well with the world". Unfortunately, I am sitting here typing, "After 4 days of my life I will never get back, we are going to pay for a new submersible well pump because plumbing that does not work is thanks to the devil".


Long story short, we live in an 80 year old home (partly at least) and have a well and septic tank. Almost everything in this house has been replaced or updated...except the well pump. The other day, we found the thing running continuously and leaking. Bad sign. Having replaced the pressure switch before, I figured replacing the entire unit would be no problem. We jaunted down to Sears, found the same style jet pump on clearance(!) and picked it up. Now mind you, Bob & Wendy where still here. So for Bob's last two days...he hung out with me in the basement and was great help in getting me to where I am now. Seriously, he was great help. Unfortunately, the problem is out of both of our hands.

I love electrical work. It either works, or it doesn't. If it doesn't, it is because you drywalled over an outlet and didn't realize it until the inspector pointed out (Or so someone once told me...). Plumbing, which I never do, and now remember why, is not the same. Plumbing either works, doesn't work or leaks. I am not so thrilled about that middle gray "leaking" area.

So, after screwing around with a pump that was impossible to seat fittings into. After messing around with an air tank that has probably been around since the Lincoln assassination, re-sweating copper fittings and adjusting the pump fittings, I am done. I ended up and called a local pump guy to help me out last night. He did great, but I learned today that it was just not enough. I guess a submersible is the way to go and the drip of pressure we have now will be gone.

So, four days I will never get back. I just hate it when a project beats me and I am officially beat. Although a "professional" may be able to knock it out faster, I figure that the extra time I spend is time I am not only fixing something myself, but learning how to fix something. But after smelling like something that has been living in a bus station for four weeks without a shower, I have little to show for my effort. That my friends sucks...sucks very much indeed. By the way, that is the new pump up top. If you get enough beers in me one day, I will show you the dirty little secret I have called "pictures of the old pump". Embarrassing indeed! Well 9:40 and off to dinner...I can about guarantee there will be no grilling this week!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thank you crackheads!

I had grandiose plans of brewing beer tonight. I recovered my brew kettle, with its new valve, and thought it would be a great end to the day. Unfortunately, the idea of using the stainless steel braid for a sink supply line as the strainer did not quite turn out. I could not separate the rubber line from the braid and did not feel like getting online to figure out how everyone else has had done it. As a work around, I am going to construct a copper pick-up tube. The best way of filtering the wort, is by using a copper scrub pad to keep the hot break out of my wort chillier.

So, as I am at The Home Depot, I remember that I need a copper scrub pad. I asked the orange apron clad associate if he could direct me to the copper scrub aisle (Yes, you read that right...I asked for directions. That is probably only the third time this year, so you may want to make note of it.) Anyways, he kindly directed me towards the cleaner aisle and kept calling me sir...which usually makes me suspicious. Alas, I found the aisle, yet no scrubber.

I worked my way back up front where he asked if I was successful. He had not moved from his original spot because he had apparently been designated red flag safety warning guy. A fork lift was meandering near him and he had the OSHA duty of keeping stupid people from ducking underneath the four foot high orange fence, while a fork lift operated nearby.

Anyways, he next direct me to the plumbing section. I told him that I was looking for a scrubber used on pots...you know the same type of copper filter that crackheads use to filter the crack cocaine in their pipes. Suddenly, a look of quasi recognition. "That's pretty funny," he said. "The truth usually is," I responded. By the way, they did not have the scrubbers. Great.

So, I head over to Meijer. It took several passes until I found them. I figured that thanks to the crack heads, the scrubbers were locked up like home pregnancy test kits and Sudafed. Nope, the only reason I missed them was because they were almost all gone. I guess there is a lot of pot scrubbing going on.

Night Grilling

Well, you can tell fall is here. The sun is setting sooner and my grills are covered in darkness at a much earlier hour. I was hoping the light I erected above the 650, would be adequate. Unfortunately, it is not. I tried Dad's Weber handle lights in Florida. Although I found them nice, I think I would rather run another flood over my shoulder. Hopefully I can get to that tomorrow...


Night Action

What's on the Grill #44

Crab & Lobster



Crustacean night! Wendy was craving shell fish and Bob and Zoe, who strongly dislike shellfish, wanted chicken. So, to bridge the culinary peace bridge, we grilled cedar planked lobster tails , steamed King Crab legs and chicken on a stick!

Cedar Planked Lobster Tail



I love crab and I like lobster, if it is cooked right, so I knew this would be interesting. The crab was great...it was steamed... you really can't screw that up. The lobster had great flavor, thanks to the cedar, but was a little overcooked. Go figure. The chicken? That turned out just right. Nonetheless, a good meal. The corn relish was nice too, although next time I will more finely chop those hard red onions.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What's on the Grill #43

Rack of Lamb

Grilled Rack of Lamb! This is from the night before last. Bob & Wendy wanted lamb...so Bob & Wendy got lamb!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Cooking with Beer

Tub o' Beer

For those that love to cook and drink beer, you can now use your new found abilities in both arenas and "Cook with Beer". There are ten interesting recipes over at Bon Appetit. For some reason, the leg of lamb and zucchini fritters sound really, really good.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

And then there were...crafts!


Well we made it back safe and sound. Today, was a nice jolt back to reality. However, for one of us, it hurt more than the others. You see, I lost a little bit of testosterone today. It is not easy to talk about it, but I will. Up until today, we had an exercise room. A nice Olympic weight set, some bar bells, a mirror, you know...that kind of stuff. Anyways, my gleaming room of male workoutness was replaced today by...a craft room. Yes, a craft room. Zoe...and her Mum by default, now have a place to sew. In fact, Zoe calls it a "sewing room". I call it a craft room. She said, "What other crafts do I do." I responded, "Well I am sure you will pick others up." She came back, "Like what?". "Shrinky Dinks", I said. Of course, that hit a cultural roadblock. I guess they didn't melt plastic in an oven in the UK and call it a craft.

Anyways, gone is my pristine workout equipment. Pristine because Zoe cleans so well, not because it was hardly ever used. Somehow, I shall recover.

Friday, September 14, 2007

And so it ends...

Well, the week is ending about the same way it began...Zoe at the doctor. 7 days later and she is still not feeling better. I feel miserable for her. This has been no vacation for her.

Tonight, Dad is making my arch enemy for dinner: boneless skinless chicken breasts! None to worry, since Dad is grilling and I am not, I am sure it will be good. Besides, he has a slew of sides ready to go and that always spells success.

So, as we prepare for our 12 hour march home tomorrow, here are a few last parting shots of the beach. I just left Bob & Wendy who were bouncing around down there like a couple of kids. Bob could not get over how warm the water was. As a side, Bob & I walked to the beach in the pouring rain this afternoon to go swimming. The gulf had turned into "seaweed soup", his words, because of all of the weather. When I came home, I probably pulled a pound of seaweed out of my trunks!


Sand and Sky




Working in

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What's on the Grill #42 - Florida Edition

Bob & Wendy were kind enough to buy dinner tonight and this is what we grilled:


Medium Rare

A 3-bone standing rib roast on a Weber Kettle. It was rubbed with a basil/rosemary paste and is the same thing we grilled at home a couple weeks ago. If it's good, it is good!

Propping a friend up



The hard part about tonight is ensuring that part of the beef is cooked well done. I took off one of the bones and started part of the roast ahead of time. After about thirty minutes of cooking, I added in the additional two bones. It grilled for about 2 hours and fifteen minutes, beginning to end. It was all good and as usual, I ate too much. Excuse me...

The Silver Fox

I can see why my parents like it down here so much. This is our morning perch:


Morning Perch



After Zoe checks her local news sites(typically IOW and SkyNews), I start checking my feeds through Google Reader. I could spend hours out here. Well, actually I do spend hours out here.

Every morning Mom & Dad go for their walk. One of the things I enjoy about being on holiday is watching other people. Studying them in order to figure out where they are from or what they do. It only stands to reason that people look at my parents and try to figure out the same thing. So, after watching them stroll off again, I am beginning to think that the average-guy-on-the-street consensus is: Old Man, Younger Woman, Second Marriage, Nice Car. The irony is that three of those are technically true (I will let you guess which three), but the generalizations each of them sum up take it to different extremes. A posted picture would probably help connect the dots (Although I don't have one....maybe later, I know some bushes I can hide in).

Dad's morning ensemble consists of anything that will hide his legs and that is made up of denim. Read: Jeans. Mom on the other hand is a myriad of color and style. I laughed this morning because she had on a different hat then she had on yesterday. Apparently she has three. She also apparently sweats, which I did not realize. So, as the two stroll out of here, I can only guess what others do think when they pass. Passersby probably just think Dad is walking to "show her off" when in reality, Dad is walking because "Mom wants to" and it is "good for his heart".

So, if you happen to see an older stoic man wearing too many clothes for 90 degree heat accompanied by a younger "looking" women who proudly wears the grey in her hair, that is my folks. To confirm it, "honk" and say "Hi"! Only one should wave back.

When good photographs go bad...

After this week, the "When good things go bad..." should be a regular feature around here. Anyways, I was looking to take an artsy beach photo this morning. Low light, few people, nice scenery and my gorillapod. I set the camera on the ground near the surf and....I get this:

Apparently there is this thing called "low tide". Now I am a land lover and was not raised on an island. So, as the waves rushed further into shore, my gorillapod suddenly found itself surrounded by water. A quick grab to retrieve the camera timed perfectly with the auto timer activating and I get that gem of a picture above. Nice. At least the shadow does a nice job of showing off my "beach bod".

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lightning


Lightning, originally uploaded by Another Pint Please....

Well the late afternoon and early evening turned hot and sticky when our power went out. After a nice afternoon on the beach of crashing into heavy surf, we were ready to take it easy tonight. Fortunately, power outage aside, Dad's salmon on the grill turned out just fine (It so nice to have good food and for a change, not have to cook it myself). Earlier on, I was a little worried that my constant opening of the fridge door for beer might cause some cooling problems since the power was out, but oh well...I didn't worry that much.

I almost forgot...


That is a big strawberry, originally uploaded by Brendan Plant.

I forgot to thank Ann for bringing desert last night. It was a Strawberry Margarita pie (I think) on a bed of broken pretzels. It was really good and I ate all of mine. Now normally, that would not be a big deal. But as most know, I do not like strawberries. That withstanding, Ann made a great desert and much to the shock of everyone in attendance who knew of my affliction toward that seeded red berry fruit, I cleared my plate. Now this does not mean I am going to start eating strawberries. Oh no. But, if Ann is at the wheel and there is some puree action and sugar involved...then I will do my part. Thanks Ann!

What's on the Grill #41 - Florida Edition

Well, Dad was at it again last night with this Cajun Bourbon Tenderloin (straight from the Red Book). After cutting up the PSMO's, the tenderloin was marinated for twenty four hours. This is one of Zoe's favorites and consequently, I have been forbidden from reproducing it!

Cajun Bourbon Tenderloin


Ben & Ann swung by for dinner, which was great. Since they live in Destin, our paths very rarely cross. You can consider Ben & Ann "ex-pat's" from Ohio. They did what so many people talk about doing: live at your vacation destitation. There is a long family history with Ben and his family(even longer if Mom tells the story). For instance, we borrowed the mini-van from Ben's parents back home (Thanks Dr. & Mrs H!) My Mom and Ben's Mom have been friends for thirty years. In fact, they met when Ben's brother and I were in pre-school together. Well, enough talk about that. The next thing you know I will be going on about how Mom used to sew our own clothes and...

So, it was a great meal on every front. Dad's tenderloin turned out great. It was of course partitioned into two pieces: the medium rare "American Side" and the well done "English Side". Ann also likes her beef well done, so she took up sides with the English. None to worry, I told her she was really with the United Nations and we wouldn't hold it against her. Nothing like peace at the dinner table.

Monday, September 10, 2007

What's on the Grill #40 - Florida Edition

Pulled Pork! After about seven hours of grilling, I reached 190 degrees and the shoulder was done.

Shreading & Pulling


The best part? That would be Mike's Perfect Pork Potion. Mike told me that he had originally named his sauce "Practically Perfect". But let me tell you, there is nothing practically perfect about perfection. It was absolutely delicious. So good in fact Wendy wants me to see if Mike will let her take it back to England with her!


Mike's Perfect Pork Potion

The Press Room

Riding Low

The low temperature is perfect for the pork shoulder housed within the sea air crusted kettle.


Riding Low

What's on the Grill #39 - Florida Edition

I should say Florida addition and Dad addition. That's right, last night I was riding in the backseat as the grill lackey. A role I relish when Dad is at the wheel. Fortunately, he has the southern command post Weberized.


Grilling Florida Style


On the menu: Grilled swordfish with peach salsa, asparagus and grilled new potatoes. The verdict? I forgot how much I missed having swordfish. Growing up in Virginia, I had it quite a bit. Looks like I will be looking for it back home too.

Swordfish, Veg & Spud

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Kalik

Kalik

Nothing says holiday like a bottle, or two, of Kalik.

When holidays go bad...



You know the week is not off to a good start when it is 11 PM and you are looking for an urgent care, or in this case the local emergency room...which for the record is an urgent care too (and a Level II Trauma Center). Zoe came down with what she thought was heat rash on Thursday, but by Friday it had not gone away. A trip to the doctor back home thought it was poison ivy. Well twenty four hours later, there was no relief, especially since it was literally all over her....yes, all over.

So, we took a trip to the local Fort Walton Medical Center. It was a very small, yet very friendly ED. In fact, Zoe was ready to run for the door she was so embarrassed. The first nurse we ran into practically begged us to stay. It must have been a slow night. Anyway, her friend who was working triage was supposed to be "really nice". Which she was! So, Zoe was triaged and shown to a bed. I followed along.


Oh I forgot to mention, we had dinner at Captain Dave's before all of this. I mean we had to eat!


So, if you can imagine a small four bed area where the walls are sheets, that is where we were. Seeing it was a Saturday night, I was certain we would hear some good conversations. So, let's recap: the woman next to us hurt her leg and when reaching for her purse, fell out of the wheel chair she was sitting in. All we heard was: (crash)shit, shit, shit...(shuffling feet). I think the guy diagonal from us had some kind of STD. Quiet talk, some antibiotics and he was gone. Although, after the Doc loudly told Zoe, "Wow, that's some bad poison ivy", I am rethinking the STD part. If that guy did have an STD, I am almost certain the Doc would have also proclaimed, "Wow, that's a bad case of the crabs!"


The Doc was quick to see us and was super nice. He did say, "Wow, that's some bad poison ivy" and ordered her shot and a few prescriptions. The administration of Zoe's shot to her derriere reminded me of that scene on the show House where Dr. House gave Cuddy her fertility shot in her rear. Except in this case, House was a woman and there really wasn't any sexual tension in the room...well maybe except from the guy with crab's.


So, with that we were off. Total time spent 90 minutes. She is starting to feel better today. I told her to play off the large patches of poison ivy as a crazy birthmark. No one would ever guess.

When Technology Fails You...

OK - We are in Florida. I thought I had posted a bunch of stuff yesterday during our death march fun family drive, but nothing seems to have gone through. So, let me briefly recap:

0600 Saturday morning - Dayton:

Under the cover of early morning darkness, a group of six people, linked together by a mixture of blood, marriage and bad luck, packed their way into a fully equipped minivan for what was sure to be the shared journey of their lives! That's right, for the next twelve hours, Zoe & I are driving to Florida with our parents. As we roll down the highway (actually when Mom drives, it is more of a sway), the six of us can grow as a family in 55 square feet of motor vehicle bliss. 1 hour down and 11 to go. I think I will wake up Bob & Wendy so I can start sharing.

1100 - Somewhere in Kentucky:

Granola Shortage!




Well, the English met the Kentuckians at a McDonald's and the language barrier erected itself quickly. When a cop walked in, I was certain that somebody was going to be asked for "papers".

Nonetheless, a quick stop and we were on our way. Unfortunately, Zoe discovered that in order for McDonald's to stay profitable, they had to strongly cut back on the amount of granola they pass out with their yogurt parfait's. Keep in mind that is an unopened bag in the photo. Yup, she enjoyed all six of those delicious little natural nuggets. I guess low-fat means we only give you a few.

1500 - Somewhere in Alabama:

Stuckey's!

Stuckey's


Like a sign from the heavens we pulled into a Stuckey's that was stuck right in the seventies...literally. The bathrooms resembled torture chambers (I know I heard screaming) and the aisles were filled with the greatest assemblage of vacation bricabrac ever!

1830 - Destin:

'

We finally arrived. For Bob, this is his first time to Florida and really, his first time cross country through the states. It made him lament that the twenty minute ride into Newport on IOW really isn't that long. Before crossing the Mid-Bay Bridge, I told Bob that the whole thing was really a farce. In reality, we have been driving in a huge circle and we had never left Ohio. In fact, as I checked my watch, I told Bob that we should be back home in just a few minutes.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ribs Go Round and Round

Tonight will be "What's on the Grill's: Face-Off!" For sometime, I have been thinking about trying a rack of ribs on the rotisserie. It was just one of those things that I thought I would try. In the middle of a thread over at BBQSource-Forums, a fellow griller brought up rotisserie ribs. With ribs already on the agenda for tonight, I figured let's have a little Face-Off! and see how they compare.


Rotisserie Ribs



So, Zoe had picked up three racks of ribs at Sam's. I prepped all three the same with a rub I threw together. I prepped cherry wood chips for the smoke and set up both the Performer and the 650. The magical moment had arrived. I skewered one rack of ribs and placed them on the 650. Let the spinning begin.


Done spinning



The rotisserie finished a little bit before the Performer. Not too surprised there. But, the most exciting part of the evening, besides the Face-Off!, was the sauce. Mike, a friend of mine from New York, sent me a sauce recipe awhile back and I finally got around to making it tonight. I knew from the beginning that when I saw Mike had combined the trifecta of sweetness: honey, molasses and brown sugar, that it was going to be good and boy was it. I brushed the sauce on for the last twenty minute of cooking. The results were incredible. If you can imagine a sweet, sticky and smokey sauce, that was exactly what it was.


A couple of racks



Now, the results of the Face-Off! We all agreed that the rotisserie ribs edged out the Performer ribs. I am not really too surprised either when you look at at how both are cooked. But of course, the real winner of the night was the sauce...that glorious sauce. Thanks Mike!

Monday, September 03, 2007

What's on the Grill #38

Chicken...again!

Chicken stuffed with fresh sage and lime.

OK, I love these things. Yes, all of the pictures look alike...and it is chicken, but man. Good stuff. Tomorrow night, Bob has requested ribs. Alright, now we are talking!

Duck or Grouse!

For the uninformed, Bob is a truly amazing wood carver. He also isn't too bad with clay. Anyways, last June we "commissioned" Bob to make a new sign for us. He has carved several in the past, including most notably his "Through these portals pass seekers of fine spirits and ales" sign. However, while at a pub on our last trip to IOW, I noticed a sign at the Bargeman's Rest that read "Duck or Grouse". Since the oldest part of our home was built in the 1930's, the basement has a rather low ceiling and getting to the basement means you have to "duck". What a better place for a sign? I know for a fact, a good bit of the skin off the top of my head adorns the ceiling to the basement...and I live here. Hopefully this sign will warn visitors, new and old alike:

Duck or Grouse

Raise the Colors!

Much like the Queen's return to Buckingham Palace, we too raised the colors to signal that the Johnson's were "home".

King George's Cross

The British are here!


Bob & Wendy arrived without a hitch. In fact, Bob wasted no time getting in the pool. All I heard him muttering was something about how hard it was being 40 61. Well to prove he still had it, he took a cannonball off the side. Later, Bob cited some kind of Victorian law about the English not having their heads in photographs whilst wearing bathsuits, swimming and fathing about. So, I was forced to post the above picture. However, after remembering that Old Vic died about one hundred years ago and Prince Charles has since set some new standards, I took the proper picture. Look at him go!

The British are coming, the British are coming!

Well, here we sit at CVG waiting for a couple red coats...err in-laws to arrive. Bob & Wendy are due in for a 3 week visit. We have been looking forward to it since we booked it in June. Boy time flies. I hope their flight went well and most importantly, they brought me some beer!

What's on USA Keith's Grill?


Pulled Pork Baby! I was purely a consultant on this one! USA Keith, showed off his ever growing grill prowess by grilling two pork shoulders for seven hours. He manned the grill, worked the rub and pulled the pork. He probably cut some cheese too, but that could have been Emma. Everyone ate it up. The occasion you ask? The baptism of beautiful Emma K. Zoe and I attended the baptism and then headed over to Keith & Katie's for an afternoon of grilled meat and frothy bevy's.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

What's on the Grill #37


Standing Rib Roast, originally uploaded by Another Pint Please....

Standing Rib Roast! Some friends of Zoe's were over on Friday, so we pulled an old favorite out. A two bone rib roast. By far, one of my favorite things to grill. It was served along with a blue cheese dressing and the typical accompaniment of grilled zucchini, asparagus and squash.