Monday, April 26, 2010

Small, but meaningful

I'm pretty stoked about this. Check out Weber's new home page and let me know if you happen to recognize the bald fool sprawled out across a large brown box.

Weber Summit S-650

The very nice folks at Weber's PR firm contacted me late last year and inquired about the photo. I believe it is being used elsewhere too, but this is the first I've seen of it.

I find it quite ironic, that out of all of the photos I've taken, they happen to use one Zoe took and I was in. Regardless, I'm humbled by the experience and even more happy it made my blog legitimate by making some money off of the capture. A very cool gesture by a company I happen to respect a lot.

In the end, the shot sums up the un-boxing day of the 650 and several years later, I still feel the same way.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Back to the Backyard

My favorite shirt

As I predicted earlier in the week, when the Backyard Brewing Association gets together to brew in the dead of winter, it's sunny outside. When we try it in April, it rains. Fortunately, we chanced fate and returned to the backyard (versus the garage) and missed most of the rain. It was a great day.

Fattys on the Grill

With over a year of our joint brew sessions now under our belt, we've learned some important things like serving food at the beginning and end of the day. For our brewday "appetizer", I grilled two fattys (assuming that's how you spell fatty as a plural...I find it is something you say far more than you write).

Sliced Fatty

One fatty was stuffed with cheddar cheese and wrapped in store bought bacon. The other fatty was stuffed with basil and feta and wrapped in home cured maple bacon. They were both gone in 10 minutes.

You can't homebrew, without homebrew

One of the nice benefits of brewday is enjoying homebrews from brewday past. I recently tapped Bean's Buzzy Bear Beer and shared Hoptacular from February. BBBB needs to mature more, but Hoptacular was well received. Dave and Eric also brought recent efforts, and both were really quite good.

Eric checking his starter

Today's brewday also set a brewday record. Eric brewed two extract batches. He only started an hour early, and managed to finish both right on time.

A bit of honey

Drew brewed a witbeer, I brewed a hefeweizen, Jay brewed something I forgot, and Dave brewed an imperial stout. As of earlier today, Dave's fermentor had blown its lid three times...and he was using a blow off tube. It looks like his well taken care of starter had its desired impact.

Dave filling the fermentor

Along with all of the good beer we also, according to Eric, ate every kind of pork imaginable. Drew brought 3 foil wrapped, dry rubbed, spareribs. Keith brought a Boston Butt, which I cooked all day, and Eric supplied 2 racks of baby backs, which we also threw down.

Drew & Gregg

Drew's ribs turned out great. I never foil wrap my ribs, so it was nice to try something different. Besides, I used too much cayenne in my rub, so Zoe immediately voted Drew's best!

Racks on the 26

The Boston Butt hit 190 on the button after about 9 hours. I cooked it on the Performer, and maintained 225-250 with almost no vent movements. Thankfully, when I've got 10 other things going on, a steady cook makes my life much, much easier.

Pork 'n Pan

At some point I will have to stop blogging about our brewdays. I'm afraid I am starting to sound like a broken record: We drank great homebrew, we hopefully made more great homebrew, and we ate really, really well.

The Assocation

Thanks to Zoe for putting up with us, and thanks to our new "Associate" members who stopped by to check out the fun.

Indicator of a Good Cook

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Would you like a little Yeti in your beer?

This Saturday will be our third brew day gathering of the Backyard Brewing Association's 2010 series. As has been the trend the last year, if it's cold outside, expect sun. If it's warm outside, expect rain. Rain is, of course, on tap for the weekend.

Although rain or shine, Saturday shall provide more maintainment than usual. Drew and I will have a quasi dry/wet rib cook-off and we will discuss ideas for a brewing association shirt. In somewhat related news, we will also quash any ideas Eric has of renaming our brewing group "The Butterflies". I wish I could say I was kidding, but I'm not.

As with any brew day, I sauntered down to our local home brew shop, Brewtensils, to pick up my grain bill. Also, as any of us will attest to, a trip to Brewtensils, also means a visit next door to Dayton's premier craft beer shop, Belmont Party Supply. While there I picked up a 6 of The Point's Amber Classic and a bottle of Great Divide's Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout.

Oak Aged Yeti from above...

I picked up The Point for two reasons. One, we have family in Steven's Point Wisconsin, where The Point is located: win. Second, Dad sent me this article about some of the winners from the World Beer Cup in Chicago. Unfortunately, The Point style that won was their wheat, and not their Amber: Fail.

Glass 'n Bottle

Anyway, I cracked open the Yeti and wow, what a beer. I love Imperial Stouts...I mean seriously love them. The Oak Aged Yeti hit all of the right notes: carmel, roasted malt, the woody oak, but the hops...the hops were too much for me in this style. I love hops too, but if the Oak Aged Yeti's Stout/Hop combo where a Reese Peanut Butter Cup, I would want your chocolate out of my peanut butter, pronto.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What's on the Grill #170: Cajun Pork Loin

This past week, with the unseasonably warm weather here in southwest Ohio, we have been spending an excessive amount of time outside. The timing couldn't be better, as we are using it to ready the house for spring. There is nothing better than spending all day under the sun working in the yard, knowing at the day's finish line will be good beer and a grilled dinner.

Tonight, dinner had a slight change of scenery. After skipping a year, we decided to strip and re-stain the deck. This multi-step backbreaking "adventure" resulted in temporarily moving the grills to concrete. Needless to say, it was quite enjoyable working the kettle on the "ground floor".

Who is that?  Oh, it's me...

All the moving also revealed that the Performer is starting to show signs of wear. Keep in mind, this is the second bowl I have had. I replaced the first red one 6 years ago.

Evidence of some use...

Dinner is a mix of several different recipes from Weber's Charcoal Grilling cookbook. Since I couldn't find a pork tenderloin at the store, I opted on just a pork loin. Along with the loin came the necessary (at least to me) brine:

1 quart of cold water

1/4 cup kosher salt

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

I soaked the loin in the brine for about 5 hours...while still stripping the deck.

Once most of the outside work was done, I went back to working on dinner. I was going to say "thinking" about dinner, but truthfully, I never ever stop thinking about it!

Cajun Spiced Pork Loin with Red Bean Salad

Adapted from Weber's Charcoal Grilling

For the rub:

2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp granulated garlic

1 tsp granulated onion

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp light brown sugar

3/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Remove the loin from the brine. Rinse and pat dry. Coat the loin with approximately 2 tbls of dijon mustard. Mix the rub ingredients together in a small bowl, then rub the loin with the rub. Hmmm, seems there is an almost excessive amount of rubbing going on here....anyway, I digress.

Who rubbed my loin?

Allow the loin to rest at room temperature, prep your grill for indirect, and feed Tessa. She would really appreciate it.

Little Ms. Tessa



1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp dried oregano

4 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 tbls fresh lime juice

kosher salt

In your trusty cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano and cook until the garlic begins to brown, which is about a fast minute. Stir periodically.

Cast Iron, grill pan of choice

Immediately add the remaining salad ingredients.

Dropping in the lime

Mix well, remove from the heat, and set aside.

Dual Accommodations

Meanwhile...back to my loin

Grill the loin over direct heat for about 10 minutes, turning every few minutes. Once the outside is well browned, move over to indirect heat and grill for an additional 20-30 minutes.

Loin moved indirect

The loin is done when the internal temperature is 150 degrees. Be sure to check it with a thermometer. When it is done, allow it to rest several minutes, then slice and serve.

A slice of the loin

The loin turned out moist and delicious. The salad...well, the salad was just amazing. Both worked well as leftovers too, which is one of the great things about grilling a "big" meal for only two people. There is plenty left for lunch throughout the week.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What's on the Grill #169: Stuffed Fatty

I would like to think this blog, at times, kicks out food from the upper end of the culinary scale (Of course I sometimes dream I have hair too). So, in between fun with lamb, fish, and Thai, I also like to grill things that by name alone cause your heart to either miss a beat, or just plain stop. Enter tonight's feast: The Stuffed Fatty.

For the uninitiated, a "fatty" is BBQ vernacular for a rolled, stuffed, and BBQ'd sausage. These are easy to make, taste good, and frequent consumption will knock off more days from your life than walking against a crosswalk signal.

Special thanks to a poster at the Q Joint for his plastic bag rolling idea. It works great!

Stuffed Fatty

1 lb sausage

1/2 cup shredded cheese

6 slices of bacon


1. Place your sausage inside a gallon sized plastic bag.

Sausage in the Bag

2. Leave the bag open and with a rolling pin, or perhaps your forearms if they're big enough, roll out the sausage flat.

Roll it out


3. With your sausage rolled, take a knife and cut through the sides and top of the bag.

Cut the sides

4. Peel back the plastic bag.

Peel it back

5. With your sausage exposed...uhhh, let me rephrase that, with your plastic bag removed, throw a little rub and cheese on to the middle of the roll.

A little rub

6. Starting at one end, roll up the sausage.

Roll up the cheese

7. Once done, you will have your "log".

It's Log!

8. Prepare your bacon by spreading out 6 slices. If I had more bacon, I would have done a weave. However, I'll save that for next time.

Align the bacon

9. Place your roll one end of the bacon:

Start the roll

and roll it up:

And roll it up

10. Once you have rolled it, you will have a bacon log! Wrap it in plastic wrap, so that it will keep form and throw it in the fridge.

Once again, it's log!

11. Set up your grill for indirect medium. Once ready, grill your fatty indirect for about an hour, or until the internal temperature hits 160 degrees.

On the Grill

12. Serve and eat!

Ready to eat

For something so easy, and in a way, incredibly deadly, the Fatty is incredibly good. I didn't have much on hand for tonight's, but have grand plans for Fatty's for our next brew day. Can you say goat cheese and basil?

The Fatty

Fatty's make a great appetizer, an easy meal, and even better, great leftovers. In fact, a Twitter friend of mine, Marc (who's from the Netherlands!), already cranked out his own after seeing my Flickr pics pop up over the weekend. His looked great, and so will yours!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Brewing & Grilling

For early April, we had unusually warm weather this week. With Bean wrapping up his Spring Break, I was lucky enough to plan a 4 day weekend with him which overlapped this sneak peak of summer. So with ridiculously hot weather, what are two men about town supposed to do? If you guessed brew and grill, well you must have visited this blog before!

Winky winky

We decided to brew a Scotch Ale, which Bean found on my iBrewMaster App. I am fairly certain he picked it by the name, Buzzy Bear, and not by the recipe composition or style.

Thanks to a fast trip to Brewtensiles, we picked the grain, of which Bean crushed all 11 grains. Since this was so last minute, I didn't even have time for a yeast starter. This was extreme brewing at its best.

Brew Day Prep: Bean crushing the grain

Well one thing is for certain, it's a hell of lot more fun to brew when it's 70 degrees out versus 20 degrees! I also find I clean things a lot better when I'm not worried about getting frost bite. The temperature change from our February brew session to today is massive.

We went through the science of brewing, as Bean moved from mash to sparge.

Master of the Vorlauf

He became the master of the vourlaf and worked the mashtun valve to get the first runnings into the kettle.

First Runnings

As we moved into the boil, Bean worked the kettle to avoid boil over and dropped in the hops and irish moss. By the end he was an old pro and even got some time behind the lens.

On the other side...

Compared to my last batch, the Double IPA: Hopular, this Scotch Ale was straightforward with a grain bill of 2 row, wheat, and a touch of black patent. My pre boil measurements was only two one hundredths below target. Thanks to Bean's help, this batch looks to be a success.

Hopp Toss

But whoa, we're not done yet folks. Since it seems I can't brew without BBQ, I awoke the 26 inch Weber from it's winter hibernation and fired it up for 3 racks of baby back ribs.

The 26 in the Sun

I really like the 26 a lot, but I'm still working on mastering it. It seems when I go indirect, I have trouble getting equal burns on both sides. I used the modified minion, but one side always burns much slower. Fortunately, I easily keep 250, but something isn't right. This will require further investigation. Or perhaps a modified grate like the 22.

With a little Double Bastard...

Double Bastard

and some hungry friends, this turned out to be a great day from beginning to end.
Matt's really hungry...

Spring Racks

I could easily enjoy a whole summer of this.

Cut Ribs