Friday, December 30, 2011

Lexington BBQ For Breakfast


This is the third of several posts this week and next that are made from leftovers.

I’d mentioned in a previous post that I’d brought home a couple of pounds of chopped pork from Lexington Barbeque in NC and I decided to use some for breakfast.  I added some of the pork, half a good sized green onion, and 1½ strips of crisp fried, chopped bacon to a pan and when it was well warmed, I added two beaten eggs.

In the meantime, I sliced some Cabot cheddar, laid it in the middle of a flour tortilla, and nuked it to melt the cheese.

I added the eggs to the tortilla, rolled it up and topped with some warmed Picante sauce from a jar.

It was very good and an excellent way to kick off a busy day – I can’t believe that jalapenos only occurred to me while writing this 10 hours later.

Good-by old friend.  After this meal, I retired our 8” non-stick skillet which no longer was.  After a couple of years of almost daily use – my egg pan you know – it is now well seasoned as in like a cast iron pan.  It has a nice baked-on layer of grease and is completely smooth  – no texture at all - and it behaves like a cast iron pan, which is not too good for scrambled eggs, for example.

I did this the same day the new 8” and 10” (which we didn’t have) non-sticks showed up.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago: Leftovers Ala Larry

Two years ago: Great Salsa – My Opinion Of Course



Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Meatball Breakfast

We’d had pasta with olive oil/ herb sauce sided with meatballs the previous night and I decided to try a first for breakfast – see if you can guess what before you read on.  All we had was hamburger buns so I lightly toasted one and chopped and nuked two meatballs which had no other sauce on them - although sauce would just make the dish similar to Eggs In Purgatory.

Since the bun was round, I used a mold to cook the eggs and planned sunny side up but I had to flip them briefly to get them out of the mold.  Even though the mold is slick, PAM is still required for eggs.

I topped the bun with the meatball, then the eggs, then grated Romano, then chopped parsley.

It was delicious and a good meatball may be like good bacon and make most everything better.  Other than the cooking spray, the other thing I’ll do different next time is add the meatball to the bun then some white melting cheese and heat again to melt the cheese so it will hold the meatball on the bun while it’s being eaten.

We began our let's-get-this-place-organized winter campaign yesterday as our stuff is totally out of control - Bev did the kitchen pantries and it's my turn to do the fridge - hopefully we can get done by spring.

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Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.



Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Prime Rib Again For Christmas

Bev and I hope each of you had a wonderful Christmas.  The bad news is we didn’t have a white Christmas, but the good news is the driving conditions for travelers in the Southeast were very good.

For the past two years, and again this year, our Christmas menu was centered around smoked prime rib.  I’ve often posted about Benton’s Country Ham’s, but they offer more than ham and bacon and carry some nice choice rib eyes which most people buy as steaks.  I like their meat and they occasionally give me a break on the whole roasts, so I stopped by the other day and bought the last three they had.

A few days before Christmas I carved them up by first rinsing and taking a light cut from each end.  Then I removed most of the hard fat from the fat cap and most of the fatty tail – both just add grease to the smoker without adding any flavor to the meat.  From the three whole rib eyes, I ended up with one whole and two half roasts and the rest cut into steaks. 

Here are the 1 1/2 roasts to be smoked on Christmas day.

We began the Christmas meal with a social hour that included smoked salmon spread and a cheese, summer sausage, and olive tray.  I’d smoked the salmon on Thursday using some of the Scottish Salmon that we brought back from our trip to Maine in May and my normal brining and smoking process - this is just before and after smoking.

We then sat down for an appetizer of chargrilled shrimp followed by Caesar salad with Ruby Tuesday’s delicious croutons.  We again used the process of preparing and eating a course then moving on to do the same with the next one.

For dinner, we had 3 children and 10 adults and we served buffet style with the meat being cut to order – it was given a quick dunk in simmering jus for those who wanted it more done than medium rare.  This is heading for the smoker after setting out with the rub on it for a couple of hours.

I smoked it at 225* to an internal of 121*, which took 4 hours, wrapped it in foil, and put in a cooler until dinner time.  When ready to eat, I put it in a 500* oven for about 10 minues for crust develpment.  I'd used 450* last year and will go back to it as the fat was burned a little at 500*.

To go with the meat, we served brussel sprouts which were steamed then sauteed in a lemon/butter/garlic sauce and topped with grated parmesan and crumbled bacon, mushrooms sautéed in butter with a little Kitchen Bouquet added for color, twice baked potatoes, green bean casserole supplied by friend Ashley who used a make-from-scratch recipe from Alton Brown for Not Your Mama's Green Bean Casserole that even had homemade onions for the topping, horseradish sauce, and hot rolls.  Here we are ready to cook the main course - it's times like these that I love our cooktop - four 12" pans on it and two other burners under the cutting board in case we need them.

This my plate and I was sure stuffed when done.

I thought it was all delicious and the guests seemed to enjoy it - Bev and I believe, less the nutmeg, this will be the new go-to recipe for the green bean casserole.
For dessert, we had pumpkin pies furnished by SIL, Pat, and Key Lime and French Silk pies furnished by friends David and Laurie which were also delicious.

The one learning from this day was it's not a great idea to have a Grandkids present opening-a-thon in the morning then host a dinner party in mid afternoon.  Too much for us old folks in a short period of time and we were pretty well comatose after everyone left on Monday.  Bev didn't get out of her nightwear and I only did because I had to take the car in for service.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them. 

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago: Leftover Prime Rib

Two years ago:  Christmas Day At Last



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Salmon Scramble

We just happened to have a few small pieces of salmon left from our grilled seafood dinner, while at Fort Bragg, and I decided it would make a good scramble.  I began by sautéing a green onion and when it had softened some I added the chopped salmon. 

When it was warm I added two eggs, beaten with a little cream, and a diced up slice of provolone cheese.

After plating I added some of the cold creamy parmesan dill sauce and stirred it into the eggs to melt.

If you like salmon and you like eggs, I have to believe you would enjoy this – I loved it.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago:  Holiday Dinner Five - Christmas Dinner For Us And Others

Two years ago:  Sausage Gravy And Biscuits


Monday, December 26, 2011

A Trip To Mecca For BBQ

On our way back from Ft. Bragg, we decided to go cross country for a stop in Lexington, NC which calls itself the Barbecue Capital Of The World and with twenty or so BBQ joints in a town of 20,000, it would be hard to argue with them - they also hold an annual BBQ Festival.  NC has two styles of BBQ – chopped whole hog with a vinegar, salt, and pepper sauce in the East and chopped pork shoulder with a sauce that includes ketchup in the West.  Again arguably, the top spot in Lexington is Lexington Barbecue (no website I could find), so that’s where we went - we got there at 3pm on Friday afternoon and they were still pretty busy.

None of the girls wanted BBQ and Bev and I just wanted to try it so we ordered a "small tray" consisting of enough chopped pork and slaw for two sandwiches and hush puppies.

The meat is already sauced – they call it dip – and there was none on the table to add, so they obviously believe they know how their pork is best.  The slaw also has something red in it and I assume it’s also the dip.  The pork can be ordered several ways, but we chose coarse chopped with extra brown (bark), based upon on-line recommendations.  The meat had the right amount of dip for me and the red slaw was pretty good – I ended up mixing them together, but the star was the hush puppies which I really liked - I borrowed this picture from 

Since I first started barbecuing, I’d been wanting to go to Lexington for BBQ and I’m glad we took the opportunity to do it as Bev and I agreed we won’t need to hit any more western NC places – we prefer mine, both in taste and texture (mine’s pulled and theirs is chopped). 

I brought home a couple of pounds of meat and made a sandwich for lunch the next day using some slaw we had on hand - same conclusion.  SIL Pat tried it - same conclusion.  Don't get me wrong, it was plenty good, we just prefer what I cook.

Having now been to two BBQ Mecca's - Lexington and Lockhart, Tx and preferring my own in both cases, I think I'll skip Memphis and Kansas City - however, there are three restaurants I'd like to try if I get the chance - Q Barbecue near Richmond, VA (Tuffy Stone, owner), 17th Street Bar & Grill in Murphysboro,IL (Mike Mills), and Pappy's Smokehouse in St. Louis (Mike Emerson).

Maybe I'll just open a restaurant called "Big Dude's Eggs and Que" and serve both items all day :-).

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago:  Holiday Dinner Four - Fish Tacos On Christmas Eve

Two years ago:  Christmas Dinner Sure Was Good


12/16/11 & 12/17/11

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas wonderland

If I still had power, a good supply of wood for the fireplace, and no kids traveling, I believe this is the snow I'd like to wake up to on Christmas morning.

It's a shot from a house in Littleton, CO that I lifted from a Wunderground webcam on 12/22.

Bev and I wish your the Merriest of Christmas'.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Grilling Out At Bragg Times Two


The girls all like seafood and we decided a grilled meal was in order.  We stopped at Walmart on our way home from Southern Pines to pick up some salmon and romain lettuce and used other on-hand items.  The menu was:

Salmon, Shrimp – little frozen ones on mini skewers – aka toothpicks – all we could find, Bacon wrapped red potatoes, Romain, one green onion – it was laying around.

It all turned out pretty good for what we had to work with except I grilled the romain just a little too long and it’s best to use just the hearts as the outside leaves can get tough.

The only tongs I could find was a pair of scissor tongs that mainly just pushed the food around in the grill.

I did Rhett a favor and threw them in the trash, but Bev retrieved them.

After supper we said we’d like to grill out again tomorrow and the girls said they wanted the same thing, and we were fine with that, but decided it had to be different – the salmon and shrimp left a lot to be desired.  So we headed off to Harris-Teeter and bought four nice, fresh, wild caught salmon pieces, some nice wild caught shrimp (from Argentina - our first), and romain hearts.  Then we decided to wait a day until their dad returned from Korea and could enjoy it with us.  The shrimp shells looked very different.

Madison said she’d like less plain potatoes so we decided on a cheesy version cooked in a foil pouch on the grill.  My mom always made these by just layering all of the ingredients but it doesn’t work for me, so I made a roux and melted the cheese in it to make a sauce to pour on the potatoes and onions.  Then mixed it all up and sealed in foil.

The shrimp and scallops (a first for the girls) got a light dusting with Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning and were basted with butter as they cooked and the salmon got the mayo treatment.  I cooked the shrimp over higher heat to make sure they flamed up for the char-grilled flavor.

We ate the scallops as an appetizer so the girls could try them and they all liked them – I thought they were as good as any I’ve eaten.

Here’s the finished product and my plate and I would happily serve this to any guests in our home.

Bev made up a creamy parmesan dill sauce for the salmon which also went well on the shrimp and the bacon wrapped potatoes – heat cream in a pan, add grated parmesan to taste, add (fresh or dried) dill to taste.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them. 

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago: Steak And Gravy Ala Mary - Sorta

Two years ago: It’s BBQ Day Again – Ribs And Fattys


Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Christmas Scramble

Earlier, it was our understanding that we would be spending Christmas pretty much alone this year and therefore we decided to do very little decorating, then the plans changed.  After our week of looking after the Walker girls at Ft. Bragg, we ended up bringing them home while their dad attended to some other requirements.  He wasn’t sure when he’d come in to pick them up until I advised we’d be serving smoked prime rib and he immediately said the deal was sealed and they would all be here for Christmas.

Having kids at Christmas put us in a whole new ball game and when we got home, my buddy Joe came over and we prunned (needed it badly) and cut the last Norway Spruce we’d been saving for a kids Christmas.  We'd planted several about 10 years ago for this use.  Here's the before and after.

After cutting it, we trimmed up the top and tied the two stems together, not too bad for a couple of old guys.

After pruning, we still had a tree that was nearly 10' tall and over 7' wide, which we had to get through a 3' door and trees that big have branches that don't bend that easily.  With me pulling and him pushing, we finally got it in the house and set on the stand and then Joe relaxed with his pup.

With some more prunning, it was ready to decorate.  I took a little more off the bottom after this shot.

Then we had to drag out the decorations and trim the tree - except for the top part, Bev and the kids did the decorating.  All of this for just one tree.

Considering the pine blob we started with, it turned out pretty good and now it looks more like Christmas around here.  As you can see, Bev likes to have an ornament on nearly every branch - sometimes two.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.  Header photo info.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago:  Peppermint Bark Christmas Candy

Two years ago: Christmas Tree Finally Up


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hodge-Podge From Bragg

One of our duties while at Ft. Bragg was getting the kids off to school and I got the job of standing out in the cold with the other mom’s at the bus stop.  It was required for the little kids even though it’s the driveway next door and even though they run all over the area by themselves after school – I suppose there are some bus stops where it is dangerous and the kids are young so it makes sense.  Riley likes to be first in line so we went 10 minutes early even though she could wait in the house until the bus pulls up.

The other three parents didn’t want to be in the shot.  After school, I went to check out the neighborhood fort up behind the house - is this cool or what.

.As at home, I frequently cook my own breakfast before Bev gets up and this day I looked in the fridge to see what was available.  I found some sausage we’d brought from home, cheese, eggs, onion, and cilantro.  I cooked the onion and sausage, removed them from the pan and set aside.  I beat up 3 eggs with the cilantro, poured them in the skillet, and added some diced cheddar.  When the eggs were set, I added back the sausage and got this.

Sided with a slice of rye toasts, it was delicious.

For his career, most of the on-post housing Rhett and family have lived in has been pretty crappy, but as a Lt. Colonel, he finally has a nice place, but you need to know for sure which house is yours.

I discovered once again that it pays to wear your colors.  While wearing my WVU shirt at the bus stop I discovered the woman next door was also a WVU grad and later in the day I was stopped at the Harris-Teeter Supermarket by a young woman and asked if I was from West Virginia and turns out she was from my hometown - it's such a small world sometimes.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.  Header photo.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago: Fajita’s From London Broil

Two years ago:  Funny But Likely All Too True