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BBQ and Wine More than Bread and Butter

BBQ and Wine More than Bread and Butter

I’m a wine guy. I know it’s probably limiting to classify people according to their preferred beverage, but if I’m talking about myself, I can confidently declare that I’m a wine guy. Whatever I choose to drink on a given day, I always return to wine. I like the complexity of the flavor, and the smokiness and aroma of a good dry red wine, and the fruitiness and lightness of white wine, I like it all. If you’re asking me, wine is the perfect companion to BBQ. Beer is also up there somewhere as well, but, personally, I lean towards the wine.

It has taken a significant amount of trial and error to learn which wines pair well with which BBQ. I have to say, though, that I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I actually kept a notebook for each experiment and I took little notes so as to know which direction I should go next. For example, if I felt that a certain dish would be pared much better with a wine that was slightly more on the tangy or dry side than the one I was having with it at that moment, I’d write that information down and then make that pairing later.

Some pairings are easier to be made than others. For example, it’s pretty obvious that the full flavor of pork chops would go best with the fruitiness of a Pinot Noir, or even the sweetness of a Riesling if you want something more refreshing. I did try to experiment and pair some seemingly discordant flavors, but it’s just impossible. There were some nice surprises there, but after a while, and after a few successes and failures, you find that the flavors guide you themselves.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the Tempranillo. It’s a Spanish quality red wine that has a very distinct flavor. When young, it is more fruity and fresh, but as it gets older, the smoky, leathery, vanilla flavors come out and it’s amazing. I was lucky enough to have a few glasses from an old bottle at a dinner party and I was blown away. They served it with sausages, which gave me an idea to do this at home, now that I bought a new meat grinder via Appliances Reviewed.

Rosé is also a great lighter option, even when it’s full-bodied and has a bolder taste. It goes well with both turkey and fish, for example, and even veggie burgers, even though I make these rarely. A sparkling rosé, like the Mirabeau La Folie, is very decadent and a great choice for the summer.

So, now all that’s left to say is that BBQ and wine are superior to bread and butter, don’t you agree?

6 Surprising Foods that taste better Grilled

6 Surprising Foods that taste better Grilled

Grilling is one of my favourite hobbies these days. I took a grilling kit, smaller in size but the fun and taste it offers is mind-blowing and incredible. If you too are a fan of grilling, then here is a list of the fantastic food you need to try grilling and tasting. This article is a spotlight on those foods you would never think could be consumed after a grill.

1.     Watermelon

I remember watching a video about fired watermelon skin. There was a dessert made out of fried watermelon. I used the same ingredients but different technique, trust me. My first trail was spectacular, and my friends loved it. Many think that how can a cold piece of melon taste better after grilling, to find out the answer grilling a slice of watermelon is a must.


2.    Peaches

If you want to enter the world of sweet and savoury, then trying out grilling peaches is the best idea. The excellent taste of peach is enriched and provides you with that zenith of a feeling that you will cherish after a bite of flavour. Take a peach cut in into two halves and clean the pit. Grill the open side of the fruit on high flame until you seek the grill marks. Take off the peaches and cut into the desired shape and serve with delight.

3.    Poundcake

If you are a fan of pound cake, I am very sure you must have tired at least one different dish made out of it. In such a case, why don’t you take up the challenge of making the cake better and tastier? Cut a small pound of cake and grill it on one side. Let the grill mark get absorbed by the face of the cake. Add a scoop of ice cream on it and impress your guest by your skills.

4.    Avocado

No matter what the season is, my all-time favourite fruit is Avocado. I have tried nearly more than 50 ways of consuming Avocado. Because of the number of health benefits the fruit possess. Many people highly use it. Take the butter fruit, cut it into half, clear eth pit and the cover. Place the open section of the fruit on the grill. Grill it in a medium flame. Remove the grilled fruit and serve it with lemon drops, honey and cream. You cannot find more healthy food than this.

5.    Donuts

The whole world is a fan of the doughnut. Making it tastier can be considered as a task of heaven. Take a doughnut, grill it and serve it with cream and sauce. It is the best doughnut service ever.

6.   Pineapple

Grilling pineapple is the Einstein method of doing it in style. The tangy and sweet flavours of pineapple rush out as you cut a piece of grilled pine inside your mouth. You can even combine it with fried ice cream ball or just the consume it naked.

Best Girlfriend Ever

I like nothing better than a weekend in the country with my girlfriend who seems to enjoy life to the fullest. She has an exuberance and zest for life that makes her unique and endearing. She is game for any adventure and initiates many herself. She will go camping, hiking, sledding, river rafting, or even play basketball. What she did recently was beyond words. She took me to a fabulous, quaint bed and breakfast—basically a family-run inn—with cozy and comfortable rooms and bedding. It was near a food and wine festival we wished to attend. As both of us are foodies and each enjoys that special glass of wine, this was our territory for sure. We relished the idea of exploring what we love best. We promised to take notes and share our opinion at the end. There was plenty to do—all centered on the festival. There were vineyards to see, out of the way restaurants, and places to buy fresh baked goods. There were farm stands featuring local produce and delicious sauces made by farmer’s wives.

We both have good hybrid bikes that we found here, ergonomically engineered for perfect performance and comfort due to the proper proportions for men and women riders. Naturally, we brought them along and in our spare time decided to take a bike ride. After hours at the festival, it was great to get some outdoor exercise and do something other than eating. That was the highlight of the trip, of course, but biking gave the whole weekend a different temperament. We had such a good time that we made the bike trips twice each day. We came across hidden treasures of the region that were not on any map. We got off our vehicles and walked around taking loads of photos. It was very picturesque and the perfect backdrop for some couple portraits to post on Instagram. I made more notes about the colorful region in my notebook to add to my favorite foods at the fair. We wanted this to be a tight-knit weekend where we did everything together. We liked the outings enormously to our surprise. Sure we had gone bike riding before at home in our neighborhood or some of our more challenging city trails; but this was different in that it was a new context.

If you like a bike that seems made for your height, the width of your shoulders, and the length of your torso, by all means get a hybrid. It feels absolutely custom made. You can ride for hours without feeling that the seat is a piece of stone. It is all about comfort and performance. Research online and select one with good reviews that suits your budget. There are many specials and discounts to take advantage of. Then you will be hooked as I am on weekend bike trips. Your girlfriend might, too. It is the perfect sport for more than one person. No loners invited!

Summer BBQ Tips

Come summer, I get particularly excited. It is barbecue time. I do a lot of it every year and I have gotten tips from the food network—show hosts like Bobby Flay who certainly knows his stuff. No store-bought sauce for him. He makes his own. I like that he tries different types. I also like to invent them so no one who is invited over gets the same run-of-the-mill taste. Sauce isn’t everything. You have to have the right charcoal or wood. It makes a difference in flavor.

Come summer, it’s time for guests. I have already laid out my favorite recipes and have gotten new ideas on grilling corn and even potatoes. You put them in aluminum foil after you have laid down a track of butter, salt, and pepper. You can cook almost anything in foil. Fish is one of the best things to grill and people just don’t know about it. It is always steak, steak, steak, and occasionally hot dogs and chicken. Try putting fish in the foil covered in salt, pepper, lemon, a touch of olive oil, and parsley. It is simply delicious and will be a surprise for most guests. If you don’t want to use foil, you can include most vegetables on their own on the grill such as yellow and red peppers, even large tomatoes sprinkled with cheese and oregano. Dessert is always s’mores because it gets requested 99 per cent of the time. People love coming over and I set a nice table. I prepare the patio, sweeping it off and watering it down. I clean the pool with my handy dandy above ground pool cleaner. I have a system of vacuuming, adding natural non-toxic chemicals, and skimming the pool surface for leaves.

An outdoor summer barbecue is not just setting up and preparing your grill. It is not just shopping for ingredients after you decide on the menu. It not just about timing the meat so it is ready shortly after the vegetables and side dishes. It is making the yard look inviting. Perhaps after dinner a few people will swim, especially if it is a hot day. Swimming in the evening is always relaxing and fun. The pool is big enough for quite a few people. I made sure of that when I bought and installed it. I also took advantage of some of the accessories like attachable trays so the adults could enjoy an after dinner glass of wine. If there are kids, they use them for snacks. A barbecue is a whole environment. You have to have comfortable patio chairs or at least a concrete or wood bench near your buffet table. Then, as I mentioned, you start playing around with ingredients for new sauces. Some people like brown sugar added for a touch of sweetness or they may substitute honey. Others like the sauce tart and concentrate on A1 sauce or a similar product. Tomato base sauces are great for chicken and cheese and chili for the hot dogs. Start planning. Summer is eventually coming.

Gone Fishin’

I love to grill just about any food and I vary my dinners in the backyard from chicken and steak to fish and kabobs. There is no end to what you can cook. I particularly love grilled corn—the wonderful way the kernels get almost charred, ready to be loaded up with herb butter. Vegetables are yummy on the barbecue and even potatoes can be grilled when wrapped in tin foil. I have become a master chef with a particular specialty. Guests and family members never turn away an offer to indulge in my creations. I try different sauces and cuts of meat so no one ever gets bored.

I am on a trend now to grill fish. As a result, I decided to go fishing on the lake in my brother-in-law’s new inflatable boat. It is really fantastic and not that small as you would expect. I want to catch some big fish so I can have a fish fry for dinner for both of our families and friends. Besides, I love fishing just for the fun of it—being in the outdoors, lazing about as you wait, listening to your headphones and even taking a nap. We spent an entire day at our enterprise and refused to leave until we had reached our quota. It took about a day. We made good time getting home and we could smell the fish in the back of the van as they lay in deathly torpor.

The inflatable boat was rather a novelty. I am not used to relying on this kind of construction as most people have wooden or plastic boats for fishing. This one was sturdy and comfortable and easily had room for two or more people. There were cushioned seats inside and a ring on one end to attach the boat to the dock if you wanted to take a break and get off for a while. It is easy to deflate according to my brother-in-law and takes up little room in the garage when you want to store it. It has an air pump all its own so when you are ready to use it again, it takes only minutes.

The family was gathered and waiting for our arrival. Someone had prepared the grill and the coals were glowing embers. We cleaned the fish and prepared it for cooking. We started one batch and then kept on going until we had enough for everyone and some second helpings. We got a lot of praise for the grilling, but frankly there is plenty of flavor just in the fish alone. We didn’t need to get fancy with a sauce although we did have a nice salad to accompany our catch and some side dishes. Dessert was s’mores of course and they topped off a happy evening. By ten o’clock I was starting to get a little tired after such a long day and was ready to retire when the guests had left.

Will on Tour!

It’s that time of year when the beach beckons and the waves call. The sand sends out messages to test its warmth on your toes. The sky is blue peppered with small white clouds. The air is crisp and clear. The sun sprays its glory everywhere so no one is left out. You bask in the perennial sunshine as you walk briskly along the strip of sand adjacent to the sea.

The months go by in spring and you start thinking a bit about what is to come. It’s time to plan a vacation to the shore and enjoy the splendor of summer. While I have many choices of places to take a few days off, I would rather go to the beach than most anywhere else. Sure the mountains are lovely and boating on a lake is sublime. Camping is the choice of many and hiking the preference of most. To each his own. Every vacation has its advantages as long as you are relaxing and taking time off. Maybe rotate where you go year to year to get some variety, but I seem to come back to one place consistently without fail.

As for me let me grill some BBQ steaks and chicken at the designated allowed places at the beach, and I am in summertime heaven. I know my favorite vacation spot. There is nothing as fun as cooking outdoors. While swimming and bodyboarding and riding the waves are part of the attraction, there are other activities I love. Cooking out is one of them for friends and family. You can make anything from the mundane hamburgers and hotdogs to more elaborate fare.

When I am chef supreme of the domain of the sand, I have to be prepared and ready. It takes more than toting the food. The grill is there so you have to have the charcoal and lighter fluid. Cooking utensils sure help. I have a beach cart upon which I load all of my condiments and supplies. It is a great organizer and helps me have everything close at hand. When I first got it, I didn’t know what a godsend it would be. It is easy to load at the car and transport it posthaste to my selected grilling spot. It makes the BBQ experience easy and fun. I can maneuver everything with ease.

Some people like a big picnic basket and a cooler and they are fine as well. The more stuff you bring with you, the more you have to pack up. At least with my friends, there is never any leftover food. We all share cleanup chores after the last BBQ morsel has been consumed. I like a beach cart with a compartment so you can store food that needs a bit of refrigeration. You can put in it those pre-frozen packets to keep things fresh. You can also use the cart after grilling to help serve your meals. You can layout the plates, utensils, and accompanying salads or dessert. It is a handy item to have at the beach if you are going to do some serious cooking.

Kitchen Calamity

Have you ever had a real kitchen calamity? I have. Anyone who prepares food has had something unforeseen happen when you least expect it. All it takes is to burn an entrée with fish and the odor is overwhelming. It just doesn’t dissipate quickly on its own. As a professional or even amateur would-be chef, you don’t expect such mishaps, but it can happen when trying out a new dish or technique. Even a new pan can be daunting if you don’t know how to use it. Are you supposed to use butter, oil, or salt for frying? In any case, when the particular calamity occurred of which I speak, I ran for the air purifier to tackle a really terrible smell. It is a good thing I had a big one suitable for a large kitchen space. The small portable ones are okay for bedrooms, but don’t work as well over a couple hundred square feet. Ridding the air of odors is the job of the filter-toting appliance so any restaurant or home kitchen should have one. You don’t just go about spraying with air deodorizer that has a perfumy smell that only compounds the problem. When odors linger, you will scare the customers away. You can try making a new dish and hope that it will be fragrant enough to offset the bad odor. But what would you actually make that would save the day?

It is par for the course when you are cooking in volume. Sooner or later, something is bound to happen and go wrong. But there is a solution. Sometimes I think, “Why didn’t I grill outside?” Of course, that’s a great idea for fish in particular, but it isn’t always convenient. It takes special preparation so you can poach it in foil. People love my BBQs, as frequent as they occur, and I put on a good show for family, friends, and neighbors. When the results are fine, it reminds me to always work outside when smells are at issue. Good smells do go with the BBQ territory however and it is what lures people over to my backyard. Who doesn’t love the smell of meat grilling outside? I love to watch the shows on the food network that specialize in grilling. You get dozens of ideas and you see the food in all its glory. Plus, when I pass a restaurant that is preparing food this way in my neighborhood, I stop and linger. I am a loyal patron of such places and search them out, or at least I let my nose do the leading.

So just take this blog as an object lesson in what is possible when it comes to the world of food and good eats, and be prepared. Foodies like to try new things, regardless of the consequences. If you have an air purifier handy, you just don’t need to worry about telltale odors that let the world know you have erred. I don’t know many people who have invested in an air purifier unless they have allergies to dust and/or pollen. Big mistake. Let me tell you that if you enjoy using the kitchen, wherever it might be, an air purifier might save the day.

Dinner and a Show

I had company coming over this weekend. You know I had to wow them, so I planned a delicious menu that would also be easy for me to both prep and cook. I made a honey BBQ marinade yesterday and then put some steak in it overnight – I love marinades because I can do the prep work when I get home from work, throw tomorrow’s dinner in there and just let it hang out in my fridge overnight, getting tastier and tastier. I also made a fantastic compound butter with garlic and fresh herbs for the corn. Of course, I also had some potatoes wrapped in foil ready to go, too. Can’t serve steak without potatoes, now can I?

With my prep work done, I headed out to the backyard. I do what other people call a “spring cleaning” on the grill in my backyard fairly often; I am a bit of a clean freak that way. The first thing I do is break out my portable air compressor. I use it to clean out cobwebs and blow any gunk off. I am sure there are other ways to do this, but this is probably the manliest. And if, say, you are afraid of spiders, this will blow them clear and you won’t have to worry ‘bout ‘em. I used the compressor to do a quick blow-over of the patio set, too, since we’d be out there most of the weekend. Once they were both dust-and-bug-free, I scrubbed the grill top and the patio table til they shined.

With my grill clean and the next day’s meal chillin’ in my fridge, I was able to get a great night sleep.

In the morning, I headed out to pick up a nice Cabernet Sauvignon to go with the meal. I did some quick table setup: I put some nice unscented LED candles on the table in lieu of a flower arrangement because I don’t like the floral smell interfering with the smell of the fantastic dinner I worked so hard on! I’m not big on aesthetics, I guess, I am more scent-oriented.

After everyone got here, one of my friends made a comment about how clean everything was so I told them my air compressor trick. He told me I could actually start a pretty nice coal fire with it, too, so we decided to test out that theory. After about three seconds, I decided this wasn’t the smartest idea we’ve ever had and put the compressor safely back in the garage. We compromised and got out a hair dryer. Believe it or not, he was right. It worked like a charm, and it was like a little pre-dinner theater, including special effects!

I threw the baked potatoes on and sat with my company for awhile. That’s the beauty of baked potatoes, they take forever. The steaks and corn went on next, and in short order, everyone was complaining about how hungry they were. I just laughed, because the smell was even better over at the grill and it was difficult not to drool over everything. I brought everything to the table family-style and let the guests serve themselves while I opened the wine.

If you’re wondering how everything tasted, I’ll say this – there wasn’t a single scrap of food left when we were done. Now that’s the sign of a good meal.

Best Ways to Cook Pork

Best Ways to Cook Pork

Pork sausage can be a tricky meat to cook as you need to assure it is fully done as food borne ailments can result from under-cooked pork products. Assure that your grill is at a medium level to start. You don’t want it too hot as not to burn the outside and leave the inside too raw. Allow the meat to slowly brown, turn it and repeat. At the end of this process, turn up the heat a little to get those nice grill marks on it and remove from the fire.

Pork chops are best breaded and fried with just a small amount of oil as not to saturate the meat. This will seal in the juice and keep the meat tender. If you prefer to bake your chops, still add a bit of oil to assure the breading won’t stick. This will assure that the outer coating stays on, which is filled with amazing spices and Cajun goodness. At the end of this process, seal the juices in the broiler for a perfect ending.

Slow-cooking your pork is a nice way to go, especially if you have a lot of people you are feeding. A nice shoulder cut will work well. The important thing again, is temperature. You don’t want it to cook too fast as the inner parts of the cut won’t cook through. There are many great spice options for this cut and the smokiness of the cooking process will be a rich and delicious combination with potato and corn sides.

Chinese dishes using pork is another wonderful way to cook your pork. Thinly slice your pork and lightly fry it adding your vegetables slowly. You have the option of noodles or rice for an authentic specialty. This is a nice and quick way to go if you are in need of dinner on the fly. Use soy sauce sparingly as there will be some salt in your pork. Keep an eye on the meat as it has a tendency to cook a lot faster when sliced.

Pork loin cut thin and grilled to perfection is an easy to clean and easy to eat recipe for cooking pork. It can be paired with just about anything. This is a nice way to use your grilling skills.

Marination will assure a tangy and mouth-watering experience and it is easy to accomplish. Set the raw slices in the marinade overnight to allow the flavor and the liquid permeates the meat. You can grill, fry or bake the meat—even skewer it for a nice touch. Peppers and onions are a great choice with a marinated pork slice.

One of the best memories that I hold dear to my soul is attending a pig roast. It was amazing. A huge wedding/cook out was the occasion for some real down home folks that my father, God-bless-his-soul, knew when I was a teenager. It was fantastic. A smoker had been rented and set up in the back yard. It was a little crazy looking at first, and it did take a long time to get to the correct temperature, but this was the most tender, well-seasoned, delicious chunk of pork that I have ever tasted in my life. At one point in the afternoon, I noticed how everyone was sipping on their drinks and swigging down some beer just surrounding the smoker waiting for the meat. It was reminiscent of centuries past when man would spear their prey and drag it back to the village for the celebration of the hunt. It was a real experience that I remember fondly.

The nice thing about pork is that it is extremely versatile. The only real rule is to start off slow and finish hot for flavor and sealing in the juices. Doing this, you will never go wrong.

Scoping Out the Farmer’s Market

Supporting the local community and farmers are the only way for me. I love when the farmer’s market is in full bloom with the rainbow of vegetable and fruit carts, the best fish and cuts of meat. I have been lucky enough to experience some of the nicest open markets in the country, including Pike’s Place back in the 90’s. It is a gorgeous time walking around the open air exploring the booths and their products of plenty.

I enjoy speaking to the farmers and discussing the way they care for their animals and produce. I prefer items such as free-range chicken as I have seen the horrors of factory farming first hand and am uncomfortable with the abuses that abound at these places. I have visited many local farms over the years and do my best to buy locally whenever possible. Our farmers here in town often get overlooked and too many people are just not “in the know” regarding the amazing options available right in town.

The freshness and creativity of the items at a local farmer’s market never cease to amaze me. I spent a summer when I was in college working for a turnip farmer selling his food at the market along with a wonderful tungsten peeler taking off that tough skin to expose the delicious inside of this tuber. It was great fun and a lot of laughs and many people bought these turnips along with a peeler for easy preparation.

There are other products at a farmer’s market that are deliciously special as well. Honey and fruit preserves as well as baked goods are always on my list. If I came home without some homemade fudge and pastry I would be in the dog house-for sure! My kids love the hand made candies and other bonbons that line the shelves in their pretty cellophane packages ties up with ribbons.

I have done some traveling to Massachusetts when I was younger and visited a famous apple orchard and couldn’t believe the smell of cinnamon baking into each bite of the apple turnovers. The gooey pastry is served with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream from the local dairy. It is heavenly. I have also visited a great fair in Pennsylvania where the Amish sell their handmade candies and produce. They are a lovely people that continue the traditions that have been all but forgotten by our digital culture. I just was so charmed by them.

When I was in grade school, I visited some relatives in France and went to an open market in Paris. It was a fantastic trip and the food in Europe seemed to taste better. The melon was sweeter; the limes were more sour and the vegetables riper and fresher. The tomatoes in particular were a tasty treat and my French cousin made some hard-boiled egg sandwiches with lettuce and sliced tomatoes with just some salt and pepper. The bread had been baked that morning and the crispy outer later was flaky and perfectly salted.

Wherever you may live, do your level best to buy locally. Not only is it good for the community, small businesses and the farmers, but also the planet as a whole.

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