Saturday, July 4, 2015

Out of this world delicious brisket!


I have never cooked/smoked a brisket before.  Matter of fact, I don't think I've ever eaten this cut of meat.  My loss.

I scoured my cookbooks to find the right recipe to use in my smoker.  As you might expect, there were quite a few to choose from, and depending on which cookbook you looked at, there were a variety of ways to prepare it.

Big Bob Gibsons' BBQ Book had my final choice.  I made his Bare Naked Brisket on page 91 of the edition I have.

Here is the recipe (I'm modifying it to match the weight of my brisket)

I used hickory wood in the smoker.

It took 6 hours in the smoker.

Before I placed it in the smoker, I made a paste of:

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced (you can never use too much garlic)

My brisket weighed 5 pounds.

I spread the paste on the meat and then placed it in the smoker.  During the smoking process, I replenished the wood chips (which had been soaking for hours in water) about every 30 to 45 minutes.  After two hours in the smoker, I began using "Jeff's Mop Water" every hour:

1 cup water
1 stick of butter
2 tablespoons of Creole Seasoning

This recipe came from my "Smoking Meat" book by Jeff Phillips.

Once you remove it from the smoker, let it sit for an hour, covered in foil.

The results?  Just DELICIOUS!

I have a handful of smoking cookbooks.  The two I used here, are among my favorites and ones that I have numerous pages bookmarked.

From Bob Gibson's book, try the Memphis Style BBQ sauce.  And from Jeff's book, the Big Bald BBQ Rub is the one I use most.

Regular readers will know I began smoking meat last summer.  I've never had a failure yet!  It is something I love to do and found that I have a talent for.

I only use grass fed meat from my farmer, Autumn's Harvest Farm.  There are no additives or hormones in their meat (except that their bacon, by NYS law, must contain additives).  It is healthy and great tasting meat.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Front yard transformation

I am thrilled with the new improvements in my front yard.  After building my flower garden many years ago, I finally had a brick border installed, something I've wanted to do for a long time.  It really looks great!  For my readers in the Rochester area, I highly recommend the company that did this and will be happy to give you the owner's business card.

This new crabapple tree doesn't show up well in this photo with the other foliage behind it.  It will grow to about 10 to 12 feet high and in the Spring will have beautiful pink blooms.  This is planted where my Maple tree once stood.  It had to be cut down last year after several years of decline.  I was sorry to lose it.  It was a beautiful tall tree.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

In recovery

I had surgery on Friday to remove the hanging skin over my eyes.  Further down the road, there will be another one to raise my eyelids.  Usually this type of surgery is considered cosmetic and is not covered by insurance.  In my case, it had become a quality of life issue.

Prior to scheduling surgery, my surgeon had me play all kinds of Star Wars type games!  Really!  The first round, I was instructed to push a button as soon as I saw a dot across the domed shape screen.  Then my eyelids were taped up and we did it again.  This was to measure the improvement this surgery would have on my field of vision.

As with most surgery, you are denied anything by mouth after midnight on the day of surgery.  When I called to find what time I was to report on Friday for pre-op, I was told 10:00 am.  ARE YOU SERIOUS???  Are you telling me I have to go that long without coffee???  Surgery was scheduled for 11:30.

Some people like their coffee in the morning.  Then there are those of us who can be really nasty if we don't get our coffee. . .

My friend, Nancy, drove me to the hospital and stayed with me the first night at home.  Someone said they felt sorry for Nancy having to deal with me without coffee.  So I walked up to the check in desk and proclaimed, "Give me a cup of coffee and no will get hurt."  All that got me was laughs.  They just don't understand.

Enter the pre-op stage.  Multiple people walk up to me and ask me the same questions.  I was told this was a safety measure.  But when you are coffee deprived, you invent ways to get even.  After about a dozen times of being asked the same questions, when asked, "Can you explain in your own words the procedure you will be having today?"  my response was, "Well, they are going to rearrange my face."  The young woman laughed at me.

The surgery went very well.  I had very little pain following the procedure.

It will take awhile for the swelling to go down.  I'm told to lay low for a week.  I should be able to return to work on Friday.

I am blessed to have a world class hospital with exceptional health care professionals handling my case.  My surgeon, Mithra Gonzalez, is well known internationally for this type of surgery and he not only is a great surgeon, he is a very nice individual and was patient with me when I had a lot of questions.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Chicken, carrots, and Dale's Sauce for dinner

It was a long day at work.  I was tired and a cloud hangs over my head for surgery I will have on Friday.  The last thing I wanted to think about was dinner.

Yet I knew I needed to eat a good meal.

Okay, what is the easiest way out?  I had chicken thighs I was going to put on the grill, but didn't feel up to dealing with that.  Into a baking dish, I put the thighs, sliced fresh carrots, and I topped this off with Dale's Seasoning (also referred to as Dale's Sauce).  I covered the dish with foil, plopped it in the oven for 40 minutes.  I must admit, the smell coming from the oven lifted my spirits.

What?  You never heard of Dale's Sauce?  Me neither until not long ago.  It's a Southern thing.  They have been in business in Birmingham, Alabama since before I was born.  In the South, you can buy it in the grocery store.  Not in Rochester.

This is good stuff!  You can use it as a marinade, on the grill, in stir fry. . . it is unlimited.  Recently I marinated a strip steak in it before putting it on the grill.  It was very good.

Granted, I wouldn't serve company this chicken and carrot dish without some sprucing up.  But it was good, easy and quick, and I got a decent meal.

Check them out at

Friday, June 12, 2015

A proud Grandmother

I've never made a secret of how proud I am of my three grandchildren and the exceptional way they are being raised.  All three of them, Kevin, Jake, and Andrew, excel in school and are active in wholesome activities outside of school.

Yesterday I received an e-mail from my daughter-in-law, Jen, their mom.  Jake's school had end of the school year awards.  Jake walked away with:

  • Outstanding Achievement for Math (top 10% in his grade level)
  • Excellence in Health and Physicial Education
  • Distinguished Honors Award (maintained all A's in all subjects for the year)
  • Mariner of the Year: Exceptional effort, attitude, teamwork and achievement  (This one is a BIG deal!)

Kevin's award ceremony is today so I expect another e-mail on his achievements!  Andrew's school isn't having an awards ceremony this year.

Jake is also a member of an Olympic Development Team in soccer.  He plays goalie, just as his dad did in his younger days and into college.  The team travels all over competing in games and tournaments.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Costco comes to Rochester

Until last night, I had never been inside a Costco store.  I had heard many good things about it from family that live in other states - Virginia, Alabama, and Florida.

For a number of years, the news media in Rochester kept reporting on a new Costco coming here.  There was one obstacle after another.  The land it was going to be built on had once been a tuberculosis center.  There were underground tunnels and excavation was going to be a problem.  To be honest, I would miss the old, old buildings, long in decline.  Their quaint architectural touches from a bygone era always captured my fantasy.

Once construction began, word was Costco would open in "early spring."

Fast forward to June and here we are!

I really don't like crowds and avoid them most of the time.  But I couldn't resist going to see what all the hype was about.  I took the first available parking space I could find, which was quite a walk to the store.

After standing in line for about an hour to get my membership card, I finally entered this giant of a store.  It was bright inside.  The sales people were friendly and helpful.  I wandered down each aisle just looking at the merchandise and noting prices.  Wow!  A large container of fresh blueberries for THAT price???  The variety of grocery products was impressive.  I'm told Costco does not sell GMO food.  That's a plus.

One thing that stood out was the number of opportunities to sample food.  My son proclaims people actually go to Costco for dinner with all the samples available!

After awhile, the crowds were getting to me.  It had been a long week at work and my brain was about to shut down.  At the checkout register, I was confused.  It appeared each register had two lines, one on either side.  I began putting my few purchases on the conveyor belt.  That's when a sales lady told me they take your purchases out of your cart and place them on the counter.  Hhhmmm!  Wegmans and BJ's don't do that.

I think I'm going to like this new fangled store in town.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

My flower garden

It doesn't look like much now, but in the coming weeks, this should be a kaleidoscope of color!  I don't remember the name of the tall plant in the center, but it has bright red blooms by mid-summer.  In the front are Black-eyed Susans, that soon will be covered in bright orange blooms with dark centers.

This is the beginning of a bloom of one variety of Shasta Daisy.

Another variety of Shasta Daisy.

A single bloom on one of the coneflower plants.  Later in the summer, these plants will be tall and covered with purple blooms.

I have to plant deer-resistant plants in my front yard.  But "deer-resistant" doesn't mean deer PROOF!  So I sprinkle grated Irish Spring bath soap and human hair around my plants in my never ending war with the deer!

Watch for later updates on my garden this season.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

I love this coffee maker!

I am a coffee snob.  I like good coffee.  Do not interrupt me when I am enjoying my coffee in the morning.  Even Morgan knows that.

After much time sitting at the computer going through coffee maker reviews and talking to a few people, I chose the Kitchen Aid 12 cup thermal coffee maker.  "Thermal?"

How can a metal container keep coffee warm without a warming plate underneath.  "I would never go back to a glass pot," someone wrote on my Facebook page.

This morning I enjoyed my first three cups of coffee from this wonderful machine!  There really is a difference in coffee makers.  Suddenly I was sitting in a 5 star restaurant enjoying a truly remarkable cup of coffee. . . okay, I was really sitting on the couch in my cozy robe and slippers with Morgan in my lap.

May God grant that this coffee maker lasts as long as I do!

The features I like about it:

  • removable water tank for easy cleaning
  • two settings for either regular or bold taste (I chose BOLD!)
  • easy programming capabilities
  • well constructed, thick pot
  • it can be programmed to turn on anytime (good feature for weekdays)

If I had to choose one less-than-desirable thing about it, it would be it's size.  It borders on "massive!"  That is a small price to pay for the results.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Another super avocado recipe

You all know I'm hooked on avocado.  It packs a lot of nutritional value and can be used in so many ways.

I'm not sure if you'd call this one a salsa or dip.  Whatever you want to call it, it's great!

2 avocados, peeled and diced
2 tomatoes, diced
4 oz. kalamata olives
1 4 oz. can mild green chilis, diced
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste
generous dash of garlic powder

Combine the first four ingredients.  Mix well.

Pour the juice of one lemon over the mixture.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and really sprinkle on the garlic powder!

Serve over chips or crackers.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to everyone who is privileged to be a Mom.  These are the flowers my kids sent me.  They are beautiful.  The photo doesn't do them justice.