Sunday, April 15, 2012

Easter (was a week ago)

Easter was a week ago and I'm finally blogging about it.

Most of the time, when planning a celebratory meal, my planning process is like this: "Oh, that sounds good, I'll make that." And I repeat that. Several times.  At the end of the meal, we're all stuffed and have tons of leftovers.  And then I start mentally calculating how many sticks of butter or dozens of eggs or cups of cream were in that meal.

This year, I attempted to put some sanity in the Easter brunch.  A few days before Easter I sent my menu ideas to my family and asked if there was anything else that they wanted.  In my efforts to simplify, I replaced Eggs Benedict with just poached eggs.  That was my big simplification.

But the emails started to come in (actually, I don't think I've ever been on an email thread with my wife and kids that had as much discussion). Restoring Eggs Benedict was a common theme, which evidently even boiled over to IRL discussions between my wife and kids during carpools.  I did forget a few important things, strawberries and shrimp cocktail and my wife has to have her breakfast sausage.  So, I added those items and got confirmation from our oldest son that he'd make cinnamon rolls.  It was going to be a good one.

Even our 10 year old got into it.  Upon hearing that our oldest was going to make cinnamon rolls, he asked if he could make something. I tasked him with chocolate fondue.

If you follow my wife on Twitter or Instagram, you've probably already seen some of the pictures. For those that haven't, start drooling.
@unitedstatesofmotherhood on Instagram
I had attempted to smoke bacon the day before, after letting my pork belly cure for a week.  I was trying to cold smoke it, but my smoker does not make much smoke at less than 150 degrees. So I ended up neither cold smoking or hot smoking my pork belly and it really came out more like salt cured ham.  While it was a failure, I'll be trying that one again, but hot smoking it.  I really want to be able to say I've made my own bacon.

We barely made a dent in the fruit salad and didn't even cut a slice of the blueberry coffee cake. So, after letting lunch settle, we went for a hike to Poo Poo Point.
Sunset on flickr
The views was quite beautiful and we walked down after sunset, needing headlamps for the last 45 minutes or so. 

All in all, it was a very enjoyable Easter day.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

My own brand of awesome

My friend Whit is going to get to do something pretty awesome: interview the cast of the Avengers. But even more awesome, he's going to get to interview Scarlett Johansson, who plays the Black Widow in the movie. But she's Scarlett Johansson in real life. And he'll get to ask her questions and talk to her. I bet if it were me, I'd say something to the effect of "Buh, uhm, yeah, well."
Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, image courtesy Popoholic
So, I'm making my own brand of awesome.

A few weeks ago my wife said that we shouldn't eat bacon and deli meat because of the nitrites (or nitrates, I don't know which - don't talk bad about bacon).  Respecting my wife, I took that to heart and considered it. And decided to make my own.

Two weekends ago, I brined nice big turkey breast and then mesquite smoked it.  I sliced it as thin as I could, to make my own deli meat. Its a little thicker than I'd like it to me, but it has a nice smoked flavor and isn't dried out.  It ended up even costing less than deli counter meat, working out to about $6 per pound after I cut it off the bones.

This weekend, I'm taking it one step further. I left work early on Friday so that I could make it to my local butcher, Fischer's Meats and buy an uncured pork belly.  Yes, I'm going to cure and smoke my own bacon. Try that on for size, Scarlett and Whit!

It will take several days, almost a week, for the pork belly to cure.  I'm salt curing it with a little brown sugar and rubbed sage (and no nitrates). Next weekend, I'll smoke it, slowly with hickory.

Don't you like to rub your belly?

Can you see the awesomeness?
I'll keep you posted on how it develops.

Whit, you should ask Scarlett if she likes bacon.

And I must send out thanks to my neighbor JH, who gave me a jump start when my battery was dead Friday when I left work early to get to the butcher before it closed.  He drove to the park and ride where my car was, jump started my battery and I made it to the butcher with less than 10 minutes to spare.