30 April 2008

BBQ SAUCE OF THE WEEK: BBQ'n Fools Barbecue Sauce



After talking last week about how regionalized barbecue (and barbecue sauce) is, this week I am going to go an completely contradict myself. But hey, life is like that, right? Rules were made to be broken.

This week's sauce is from a competition team in...Southern California! Just the fact that there are barbecue teams and barbecue events thiving in SoCal is a testament to just how boundary-less the Art and Science of barbecue is becoming in our day and age.

The BBQ'n Fools are two-time California State Grand Champions and the 2000 Southern California Barbecue Association Team of the Year. But their barbecue sauce tastes straight outta the deep south. It's a slick ketchup-based sauce with a nice vinegar-enhanced tanginess. It's got a little bit of brown sugar sweetness, a little bit of smooth bourbon warmth, and a lot of red pepper spice. This sauce has a serious bite for a sauce not labeled "hot". All in all, though it could be a bit overpowering, it's not a bad sauce.

Grade: B

29 April 2008

Bacon

Today's Topic: Bacon

50 Ways to Use Bacon

Unfortunately, the list excludes a few essential ways to use bacon.

Such as:
1. Bacon wrapped bacon
2. Bacon wrapped sausage
3. Chicken Fried Bacon (see video)




If you ever cut and or burn yourself while cooking bacon, try these bacon bandages. I have never been one for themed band-aids, but I could be down with walking around wearing a bacon bandage.


Can't get enough bacon? Get the sensation of bacon all day long with this gummy bacon.


This is a must have for anyone that wants to smell bacon any time they get in the car.


No office professional is complete without the bacon briefcase. What's in the briefcase you ask? Papers, ya know, just papers. Uh you know, my papers. Business papers. And what do you do, sir? I'm unemployed.


The next best thing to dressing as Jon Burr for Halloween is to come dressed as a piece of bacon.

28 April 2008

Winchester 2008 Report

The 21st Annual High On The Hog Tennessee State BBQ Championship
Winchester City Park, Franklin County, Tennessee
April 18-19, 2008

This was the third year for Ulika to head into Winchester, the home of the team's competitive debut in 2006. Always a favorite and nostalgic event for the team, High on the Hog regularly brings out some the country's best competitors. With the loss of Fred Gould (the much loved and highly respected original Winchester contest rep), there was certainly sadness around the event, but there was also great excitement as the field was stacked with 52 teams ready to compete in the traditional four meat categories along with the "Creative Sausage" (sponsored by Wampler's), "Anything But" and Dessert ancillaries.

High on the Hog is a larger scale event as it includes a Kids-Q competition (watch for future Jr. Ulika domination), a live band on Friday night (watch for a full report from BP), a field of local vendors and a full scale carnival complete with midway games, rides and the all important carnival food. This year, the weather was much better than it had been in years past as a few brief hours of rain on Friday night were nothing compared to the biblical downpour that took place for three days straight in 2006. It was mostly sunny and warm with a little wind, and all in all a nice weekend.

Ulika was thrilled to receive its highest number of stage calls this year, taking 5th Place in Chicken, 9th Place in Ribs, 7th Place in Brisket and 7th Place Overall.

Congratulations to Grand Champion Bareknuckles BBQ and Reserve Grand Champion Team Bobby-Q! Visit the KCBS High on the Hog Event Page to view the full results.


Winchester 2008: Ron Harwell visits the Ulika tent to check out the Stumps.


finishing the chicken


sampling pork pieces


pulled pork


the "Sea Ray" pirate ship ride


the spinner


the ferris wheel


Despite the ever-attentive ride operators and that comforting accreditation by the West Virginia board of amusement and thrill rides, team Ulika members chose not to ride any of the attractions.


Congrats to Team Bobby-Q on Reserve Grand!


Congratulations to Wade and the Scenic City Smokers on that first place finish in pork! What a way to debut!


We're pleased to own our first HOTH cutting board - a few particular Ulika team members have coveted these for three years now.

27 April 2008

BBQ IN THE NEWS: World Record Attempt



Well, well, well...it looks like the upcoming competition in Pulaski just got a little more interesting. From today's Tennessean, columnist Gail Kerr has announced that the Giles County Kiwanis Club is going to attempt to make the world's largest barbecue sandwich.

The idea for this "event" was apparently conceived by KCBS judge Al Knowles as a way to boost lagging attendance at the Sun Drop Country Barbecue Cookoff. Organizers are hoping that both competition teams and the general public will want to be there to be a part of history.

So just how big of a sandwich are we talking?

This one will be at least 100 pounds ("Off the record? I think we could go 150," [Knowles] said) of top-notch Boston butt, donated by the Piggly Wiggly store (of course). It'll be cooked slow and low for up to 14 hours. Then it will be pulled by hand into one gargantuan pile of delicious sweet meat.


The would-be history makers are procuring a giant bun from a local bakery, and the pork butts are coming from Piggly Wiggly. So who's going to cook all that meat?

"We're going to get the cooking teams involved," he said. "We'll give them a couple of butts each to cook, if they so desire, so everyone will have a piece of it. So to speak."


So there it is: Ulika could be part of history in less than two weeks! Check back here for exclusive photos!

My only complaint is that I wish they would just ante up and pay the Guinness people to certify this so they can get in the book (apparently they're not, so the record will be "unofficial"). If you're going to go to all the trouble of making a 100 pound barbecue sandwich, why not go all the way and get recognized for it?

Until next time...

24 April 2008

MUSIC THURSDAY: iPod Russian Roulette



As you may have already surmised, musical inspiration is a key part of what makes Team Ulika tick. It's crucial to have good tunes in the air in the test kitchen, at a practice, or especially at a competition, to keep everyone properly motivated and in good spirits.

Just how we go about bringing those tunes has evolved considerably, from the boombox in year one to the iChair in year two. This year, in light of the fact that I recently uploaded my entire music collection (upwards of 1000 CDs) onto iTunes, the DJ duties have fallen largely on the shoulders of my new 160GB iPod.

The extensiveness of my music collection has proven to be both a blessing and a curse. While I still contend that every CD I own has some redeeming value, SOME people just can't deal with having the Spice Girls or MC Hammer come on every once in awhile. So we've grown used to having the skip button within easy reach when the iPod is on shuffle, so the mood won't get ruined by, say, some traditional music of the Inca empire, or a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr, or ABBA.

So what I will attempt to do in this segment is to try and make it through 10 songs on shuffle without embarassing myself. Let's begin.

1. "Creep" - Radiohead Radiohead is definitely a Ulika favorite, but truthfully, we usually don't venture this far back in the catalog. Pablo Honey, their first album, showed but glimpses of the juggernaut they would become as the nineties progressed. This band has made some of the best albums of our generation and they are still the best live band I've ever seen.

2. "T.K." - Clinic This one's from Internal Wrangler, though to be honest, all of their early EPs and this album all kind of run together in my mind. It definitely reminds me of a certian time in my life - a time when I had a pipeline to this type of cool new music. Clinic are known for performing on stage in surgical masks.

3. "Ain't Wastin' Time No More" - the Allman Brothers Band I've always felt that the Allman Brothers, more than any other band, are in my DNA. They were my dad's favorite band, and as far back as I can remember, the Allmans were played in our house. This is one of my favorite songs (I like it when Gregg plays the piano!) on one of my favorite albums - Eat a Peach. Little known fact: Gregg and Duane Allman actually grew up in Middle Tennessee.

4. "For You" - Joe, Marc's Brother JMB are (were?) a local group. They were never the coolest, or edgiest band of those halcyon late 90s days in Nashville, but they just may have been the most talented. And they definitely had some great songs, many of them from The Pennsylvania Sessions, from whence this song came.

5. "In the Shallows" - Moneypenny Two local bands in a row! I think that, in their heyday, Moneypenny would have been prime candidates to be the Friday night live entertainment at a barbecue cookoff.

6. "Born Again" - Nathaniel Levi Natalina, I swear I'm not making this up! This is the beauty of the iPod shuffle. Out of 11,000 songs, it brings up the one song that features Ulika Team Mother Natalina on background vocals.

7. "Wishful Thinking" - Wilco Wilco is another Ulika favorite. This album (A Ghost is Born) has grown on me over the years. It sounds like if John Lennon made an album with Neil Young playing guitar on it and Ryan Norris producing.

8. "Think I'm in Love" - Beck He pretty much has the Midas touch, doesn't he? It seems Beck can make pretty much any album he wants and it comes out a winner. This one, 2006's The Information, effectively melds the two styles he's been waffling between for the last 10 years (cRaZy and introspective). P.S. This bassline (or variations of it) has been used so often through the years, it's now pretty much officially part of rock'n'roll lexicon. If Paul McCartney could have copyrighted that thing, he'd be...even richer.

9. "Diamonds, Babies, and Cars" - the Himalayans This was Adam Duritz' band before he formed Counting Crows. Aside from his unmistakable voice, it's very different from CC. It sounds like those really bad 80s Matthew Sweet albums. Or like very a very bad imitation of Peter Gabriel. Don't waste your time.

10. "Ten Years Gone" - Led Zeppelin Ah, Led Zeppelin. I think Keith Lowen described it best - "Led Zeppelin is like your first girlfriend. At the time, she was incredible. As the years have gone by, you've discovered new and better things, and you hardly think about her any more. But there will always be a soft spot for her in your heart."

Well that actually wasn't so bad. If Nathaniel Levi was as questionable as it got, then trust me, Dear Reader, it was a good day. No Gary Glitter, no Captain and Tennille, and no Lion King Soundtrack. Until the next time...

23 April 2008

BBQ SAUCE OF THE WEEK: Cowtown Bar-B-Q Sauce



Barbecue sauce, like so many other things, is prone to geographic tendencies. Generally speaking, barbecue sauce gets darker, thicker, and sweeter as you move from east to west. Eastern Carolina sauces are little more than straight up vinegar and pepper, while Western Carolina adds a little bit of ketchup. By the time you get to Memphis, the sauce is ketchup-based and usually involves some brown sugar. But barbecue sauce reaches its logical extreme in Kansas City, which is defined by sauces that are thick, dark brown, and molasses sweet. Funny thing is, though, that when I visited KC's two most famous barbecue joints last year, each had a sauce that was distinctly different from the KC Stereotype.

This week's sauce is much more like what I would expect a typical Kansas City barbecue sauce to be. Cowtown Bar-B-Q Sauce comes with quite an impressive KC pedigree. It's the product of one of the city's most touted barbecue restaurants of recent years - Oklahoma Joe's. The sauce won "Best Sauce on the Planet" at the 2001 American Royal. That's not some trumped up superlative, Dear Reader - that's a title from one of KCBS's premier events.

It's easy to see how this sauce could win over a judge's taste buds. It has a rich and tangy tomato-based taste with a very smokey accent (maybe a little too smokey in my opinion, but I understand that smoke sells in Kansas City). The sauce's sweetness is understated, and it has a very nice spicy kick that starts mild and swells to a medium burn in the aftertaste. The sauce is rust colored and thick, but still easily pourable.

In a sauce-lover's town, it's easy to see why this one has risen to the top.

Grade: B+

Links:
Cowtown Barbecue Products
Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue

19 April 2008

High on the Hog Results

We had a great time in Winchester this weekend. Here are the results.

Chicken - 5th
Ribs - 9th
Pork - 36th
Brisket - 7th

Overall - 7th out of 52 teams

Congrats to all those that got calls.

I will post some pictures later.

15 April 2008

Rub: The Salt Lick


A few years ago, my friend Matt brought me some rub from the Salt Lick in Driftwood, TX. The Salt Lick is one of the most famous bbq joints in Texas...so much so that they have a Salt Lick location in the Austin airport.

At the time, I was just getting into bbq and I thought "oh, rub from Texas equals brisket rub." So the first time I used the rub, I used about half a bottle on a brisket flat. We sliced the brisket and it was one hot piece of meat. Little did I know that one of the primary ingredients was cayenne pepper. I like things spicy, but this was almost inedible. After that experience, the Salt Lick rub sat on the shelf for a while.

Then one day, I decided I want a spicy steak. Usually I would reach for the cajun spice, but I was out. I decided to try the Salt Lick rub, going with a much lighter coating this time, and the steak turned out great. I like a spicy rub for my steak and this one is just about perfect, used regularly when I grill steaks on the Egg. Thankfully, Matt took another trip to Texas recently for SXSW and he brought me back another bottle of rub.

Most steak houses and some steak purists prefer a steak that is seasoned with just salt and pepper. The Salt Lick rub starts with these basics - the primary ingredients in this rub are salt, pepper and cayenne. Also listed under the contents is the proverbial nondescript ingredient referred to simply as "spices." On the whole, this rub is simple. It doesn't have a wide range of exotic flavors. When applied carefully, it's just a good, solid rub with straight, steady heat that doesn't take away from the flavor of the meat.

Here are some pictures of a Ribeye before and after, after alongside some homemade thin cut fries:



13 April 2008

ANYTHING BUT: PB&J(&B)



From the sweet-and-savory department of the Ulika test kitchen comes a sandwich fit for a king. Well, The King, actually. I recently came across this epic Elvis story (scroll about halfway down) about Big E flying to Denver in the middle of the night on a whim for a sandwich called the Fools Gold Loaf:

"An entire loaf of bread is warmed and then hollowed out. The sandwich is generously spread with peanut butter and an equally thick layer of jelly. Finally, lean bacon has to be cooked, at least a pound fried to crispness, to fill the reamining belly of the loaf."


While I wasn't quite feeling up to the challenge of eating the full version, it did pique my curiosity about how our old friend bacon would work on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I actually wasn't too worried about how bacon and jelly would get along (like my man Joe Baine, I am a longtime proponent of jelly on the sausage biscuit). But how would peanut butter affect the equation?

As it turned out, the peanut butter and the bacon combined to ratchet up the savory factor several intensity notches. I believe the Japanese call this umami. I just call it really freaking delicious. That mighty savory force is nicely tempered by the sweetness the jelly (I went with Tiptree Little Scarlet, but plain 'ol Smuckers ought to work just fine). MmmMmmMmm. Yes, Joe, this truly is where God lives. Here are a few tips for perfecting this delicacy.

1. For best results, lightly toast both pieces of bread, then assmeble the sandwich and fry it in a skillet with some butter until golden brown.

2. You'll want to use bacon that is relatively crispy. Less than crispy bacon will not allow you to take a bite without pulling out a whole piece of bacon.

3. Let the sandwich cool for a few minutes before eating it, so the peanut butter and jelly have a chance to re-solidify somewhat. This way they won't squirt out and burn you.

Note: I'm sorry my picture of the sandwich was so subpar. Natalina, one of these days, I'm going to take you up on the offer for those photography lessons!

11 April 2008

ANCILLARIES: Caramel Popcorn



What You Need:

- 1/2 cup of popping corn
- 3 tbsp. of oil
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter
- 2 cups of brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup of dark corn syrup
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla paste or extract
- 1/2 tsp. of baking soda
- a little salt

What You Do:

1. Place your oil and popping corn in a large pan. Cover the pan and turn the heat to medium on the stove top. Pop your popcorn, shaking the pan slightly over the stove until popping slows. Remove the pan from the heat.

2. Pour your popped corn into a large roasting pan and preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Search through the popcorn and remove any unpopped kernels - when you add the caramel, these tend to get hidden and no one wants to bite down on one!



3. In a medium saucepan, melt your butter. Over medium heat, stir in the brown sugar, the two corn syrups and a little salt. Stirring the mixture constantly so that nothing sticks to the bottom or sides, bring the mixture to a full boil. Once it starts boiling, hands off. Let it boil untouched for four minutes.

4. After four minutes, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in your vanilla and baking soda. When you stir these two ingredients in, the dark, boiling mixture will quickly drop and become a light, foamy cream.



5. Pour the mixture over the popcorn in your roasting pan and stir the popcorn to coat all of the pieces.



6. Bake the coated popcorn at 250 degrees for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow the popcorn to fully cool before your break it up to eat it.

09 April 2008

BBQ SAUCE OF THE WEEK: Blues Hog Barbecue Sauce



By now you might be thinking, "Gee, does BP actually like any barbecue sauce?" Well yes I do, and as a matter of fact, it gives me great pleasure to talk about one of my favorites this week - Blues Hog. I love Blues Hog. Ulika Head Cook Rob Marlow introduced me to the Hog, and after taking a small tupperware container of it home with me, I reported back to Rob that I thought I could eat toenail clippings if I had Blues Hog to go with it.

It's about as thick a barbecue sauce as you will come across, Dear Reader. It's almost the consistency of honey! And it's almost as sweet as honey, too. But if you've tasted your share of barbecue sauces, you know that it's easy to make a sauce really sweet. And it's not much more difficult to make a sauce both really sweet and spicy, which Blues Hog does to perfection, using just the right amount of heat to cut through the candy sweetness. But true greatness requires a certain something extra, and I'm here to say that Blues Hog has it. It's a unique and invigorating blend of spices which make themselves known right away, but flourish as the taste of the sauce continues to develop. After many tastings, I still cannot put my finger on exactly what gives this sauce its exotic twist. The ingredients tell us that tamarind is in the mix. And...anchovies?!! But I have a feeling the answer lies in the ubiquitous ingredient simply known as "spices". Whatever you're doing, Blues Hog, you're doing it right!

Grade: A


I had already written that review, Dear Reader, when we embarked on our epic Clarksville adventure. I could never in my wildest dreams have imagined that we would end up cooking right next to THE CREATOR of Blues Hog - Bill Arnold. As soon as we made the connection of who he was, I started geeking out. I have not been in the barbecue game long enough to have very many heroes, but THE CREATOR of Blues Hog is certainly one of them. I even had my picture made with him (he's the overall'd one).



So at that point, the weekend was already a success. But what made it even better was that Bill, as Rob as has already mentioned, was one of the kindest, most genuine people we have met on the circuit, and it was a real pleasure getting to know him better over the course of the contest. He is truly the "salt of the earth" and I hope this wasn't the last time we run into him. In the meantime, at least I have his killer sauce!

06 April 2008

Ulika 2.0 Debuts in Clarksville, TN

With the new Ulika setup (also referred to as Ulika 2.0), we headed to Clarksville last Friday morning. The forecast all week called for heavy downpours throughout most of the day and when we left the house, that forecast was holding true. Luckily, the rain subsided for about two hours just as we arrived, which was just enough time for us to get set up.

This was the first year for this event in Clarksville and it brought out some of the top teams from around the country. It was the first competition of the year for many of the local teams that we see at contests in this area, but some of the teams that compete in other areas of the country had already won contests this year.

To haul the Stumps, we rented an enclosed trailer. It was just a standard 12-foot trailer, but it served as a great shelter when the rain came back and was also used as a prep area. It is not as nice as what some teams have, but it is a big upgrade from Ulika 1.0.



Friday night, the butts and briskets went on and BP, Joe Baine and I hung out with our buddy Brockford Lee. We enjoyed a low county boil prepared by Wayne. Thanks Wayne. With little to do until Saturday morning, we went to bed early in order to get up early. This is one of the biggest advantages of Ulika 2.0. Sleep. I was able to get about 5-6 hours of sleep and awoke ready to prep the ribs and chicken and finish up the butts and briskets. One of the only things that went wrong this weekend was that I over cooked the pork a bit.

My wife came in on Saturday morning and did a wonderful job prepping our boxes. She is definitely one of our secret weapons. I never have to worry about a presentation score, because she can cover up any little flaw that I may have caused. Peter arrived on Saturday morning as well and brought back Brock as Joe's substitute to help out.



On to the awards. There was a nice pavilion at this event and they were very to-the-point when it came to announcing the winners. Chicken was first up. When they called out Ulika for first place, I just couldn't believe it. My first big goal for Ulika was to win a category and we had just accomplished that in a stacked field of cookers. It was such a great feeling. Our chicken scored a 175 which is just 5 points away from a perfect score! Ribs and pork were announced with no calls to the stage for Ulika, leaving brisket last. I felt really good about our brisket and felt that it was top 10 material - and we ended up taking third place (our highest brisket finish). Lastly, they began to call out the top 10 overall finishes. Receiving these 2 top 3 calls, I felt that we had a good chance of being in the top 10. However, when they got past 5th place overall, I figured that we must have bombed in pork or ribs or both. Just as I was saying that, we got called for 3rd place. We were overwhelmed to say the least. We have worked very hard to get to this point and we know that we still have a long way to go, but it was a very exciting finish.



Over the weekend, we also made a new friend. If you're a reader of this blog, you may have read about Blues Hog BBQ Sauce. Well, the man behind the sauce, Bill Arnold, was cooking right next to us. As Bill started to set up, we realized who he was and introduced ourselves. Bill cooks by himself (with his 3 daughters) and has won many awards for his cooking and his sauce. Check out his website:
Blues Hog BBQ

Bill is one of the greatest characters that we have met on the BBQ trail, and I hope to run into him again sometime soon. He even gave us the prototype for his new Raspberry Chipotle Sauce.

For a first year contest, the folks in Clarksville did a great job. Once again, Ron Harwell came through strong and lived up to the title of greatest rep in the south (and favorite rep of Ulika).

Adding to the success of Ulika 2.0, we finally finished a contest in the black.

Porkin' in the Park Results



Ulika had a big weekend in Clarksville at the first annual Porkin' in the Park BBQ Competition. We had our best competition to date receiving 1st place in Chicken and 3rd place in Brisket. This was our highest brisket finish while the 1st place finish in chicken was the first category win for Ulika. To top it all off, we finished the weekend 3rd place overall! This is Ulika's highest finish in any contest.

Congrats to Cool Smoke and Learn2Q for taking Grand and Reserve Grand! This was a very tough field of competitors and we met a lot of great people.

Link to the Full Results

Check back for a more detailed recap of the weekend...

03 April 2008

"Let's Smoke Some Butts, C'mon"

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Hello Monkeys. This week's jam comes courtesy of those 90's kings of indie rock, Pavement.

Same Way of Saying was a tossed-off demo from the sessions for their masterpiece, Crooked Rain Crooked Rain. However, it did get released to the people on the album's reissue in '05, which is a two disc affair with loads of demos and b-sides.

The reason for including this tune is the phrase in the first chorus, "Let's smoke some butts, Steve/Let's smoke some butts, c'mon..." Now given the band's slacker image and Northern California/NYC roots, I honestly doubt Stephen Malkmus is singing of the joys of dropping a big ole' pork shoulder onto the Stumps cooker, but does it really matter? For me it always reminds me of that inaugural Ulika season of BBQ competition. Good times, indeed. Here's to the '08 season!

Oh and for the easily offended, please note that there's an F-bomb dropped here or there in the tune.

Pavement - Same Way of Saying

ps I used to own that Pavement shirt pictured above in 9th grade. However, my bitchy English teacher, Ms. Jones, made me wear it inside out, given the fact that it kinda looks like boobs. I guess it does, but that's besides the point. She also made my friend Adam Fargason ditch a Sex Pistols "Never Mind the Bullocks" t-shirt stating, "I've been to England several times; I know what that means." What can you say? Just good ole' Alabama public schools.

02 April 2008

BBQ SAUCE OF THE WEEK: Maguire's Irish Barbeque Sauce



Did you know that barbecue sauce existed in 1645? Neither did I. Did you know that there was such a thing as "Irish" barbecue sauce? Yeah, me neither. It looks like we'll both learn something today. According to the label on Maguire's Irish Barbeque Sauce:
Adherence to Conor Patrick Maguire's (1645) recipe is as close as possible given today's availability of the original medieval spices.
Wow. And you thought your grandma's recipe carried some tradition!

Well, maybe the availability of those precious medieval spices is not very good in 2008. Or maybe C.P. Maguire's 1645 recipe just isn't all that stellar, because this sauce just does not impress. It's difficult to discern any significant flavors beyond the basic Worcestershire-enhanced tomato paste. The sauce is neither sweet nor spicy, and there is little to no vinegar flavor either. Quite frankly, this is as bland and uninteresting a barbecue sauce as I can remember tasting.

Grade: D

ANCILLARIES: Scottish Shortbread



This is a twist on traditional Scottish shortbread that includes pecans and walnuts for added flavor. Still using the basic sugar/butter/flour dough (with startling amounts of butter used to "shorten" the bread), it maintains the original, crumbly texture.

What You Need:

- 1 cup of mixed pecans and walnuts
- 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour (sifted)
- 1 1/4 cups of unsalted butter (softened)
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup of packed brown sugar
- 1/8 cup of raw sugar
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla paste (or pure extract)
- a little extra butter for the pan
- a dash of salt

What You Do:

1. Set your oven or Big Green Egg to 325 degrees and prepare your shortbread pan. For oven baking, you can use an 8-inch or 9-inch square glass or metal dish. For BGE baking, use a 9-inch diameter cast iron skillet on the plate setter. Line the pan or skillet with aluminum foil leaving a small amount to wrap over the sides. Generously (no really, very generously) butter the foil-lined dish.



2. Lightly toast your pecans and walnuts in the oven, the BGE or over a grill - just until they are a little warm and golden. This just brings out the flavor.



3. In your food processor, pulse the sifted flour, 1/2 cup of the nuts and the salt until the nuts are finely ground.

4. With a stand mixer or hand beaters, cream your butter together with the white and brown sugar for about 3 minutes. Add in the vanilla and then slowly add in the flour/nut mixture. Be sure to stop and scrape down the sides often so that everything is evenly mixed.

5. Evenly spread the mixture into your prepared dish or skillet. Sprinkle the raw sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup of nuts over the top and press it into the dough. Bake the bread at 325 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes until it is golden brown on top and darker around the edges.



6. Let the shortbread cool in its baking dish or skillet at first, then remove it by lifting the foil on each side. Let it continue to cool in the foil, then cool further on a wire rack until firm.

Cut the shortbread into small triangles and enjoy!

01 April 2008

I Have Had Enough!

I have had enough meat for one life time, and I have decided to give it up. Just like everything that I do, I am going extreme on this one. To cleanse my body from all of the poisonous meat that I have ingested over the years, I am turning Vegan. I just recently finished the book Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World, and I am turning 100% organic vegan level 5. This means that I will not eat anything that cast a shadow and fruit from a tree must fall naturally before I can eat it. With this new lifestyle, I will be canceling my membership to KCBS in exchange for a membership to PETA. This blog will now be all things vegan. Look for upcoming post on the following topics: Nuts About Protein, Grass the other Green, Soy: I Can't Believe It's Not Dairy, and 101 Ways to Eat a Potato.