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Everything posted by jmcgrath

  1. I attended an asparagus festival at Verrill Farm, here in Concord, MA last Spring. They are a small family owned farm that supplies a number of restaurants in the Boston area. Part of the tour consisted of a tour of their asparagus fields conducted by one of the elder Verrils. Our group was small enough that I was able to talk to him about organic vs. integrated pest management. He said that he believed in organic, but for crops like asparagus, IPA was the only thing that worked. He tried organic asparagus and lost nearly all of his crops. Jim
  2. Tough cuts of meat need to be cooked low and slow regardless of the heat source. Cooking a brisket or pork shoulder at a high temperature will not give enough time for the connective tissue to break down. You can also do a wonderful prime rib in a barbecue pit at 350F. Jim
  3. When cooking tough cuts of meat like pork shoulder and brisket, internal temperature is only a guideline. The meat is done when it is done. Every piece of meat will be different. Allow for plus or minus an hour of your estimated cook time. If you can easily twist a fork inserted into the brisket flat 90 degrees, it is done. Further cooking will dry it out. Wrap it in plastic wrap and foil, and place it in an insulated container for up to an hour. When you can jiggle the shoulder bone in a pork shoulder, it is at the pull-able stage. that's around 200F. At 180F, it will be tender and slice-able. Cooking past the pull-able stage will start to turn the meat mushy. Once again, wrap and rest in an insulated container. I've held shoulders for up to four hours with no adverse effects. They retain heat remarkably well. Jim
  4. I also grew up in southern New Jersey, but in the '50s. My mother bought horse meat, but for dog food. Only for dog food, I hope. It was too long ago to remember where she purchased it, but I imagine at a butcher shop and that it was labeled as pet food. Things were different back then. We used DDT to kill house flies. Jim
  5. He is a bubblehead. So am I. It's what the Marines called us when we called them jarheads. Jim
  6. In La Technique, Pepin uses them as a finishing spread for gravalax. Four tablespoons of canned green peppercorns, and 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs, chervil, tarragon and thyme mixed together. The mix is spread on both sides of the cured filets, and the filets are put under weights and refrigerated for another 12 to 24 hours. Jim
  7. I've found that lots of sun, hot days and plant stress contribute to pepper heat. The only thing I can control is stress and I only water when leaves are drooping in the evening. Some drooping on a hot sunny day is normal. Ignore it as a sign that watering is necessary. Water the next day rather than that evening to avoid fungal problems. Some varieties of jalepeno are bred to be mild. Avoid the Tam Jalepeno. Peppers cross fairly easily within their species, C. Capiscum e.g,. and saving seed is questionable if you are growing more than one variety. They are perennials and will winter over if you have a sunny, 50F or more location. I kill them off when the pot gets to heavy to lift, about when the stem gets about 1" in diameter. Jim
  8. Mesquite can get downright nasty. I prefer pecan over hickory. It's a slightly more subtle version of the same smoke flavor. A mesquite fire for grilling works fine, but I don't let it anywhere near my pit. Jim
  9. My Norton Antivirus reported an attempted worn intrusion originating at Food for Life when I viewed that page. Jim
  10. I must say that you have very eclectic taste Jim ← I must say, for me, some experiences are more about the company than the taste of the food (or drink, for that matter.) I'll touch on this later when I try to wrap this thing up. ← No need to touch on it later, that was an inside joke of sorts. For those who have never had a Scorpion Bowl, imagine a Long Island Iced Tea on steriods. Jim
  11. That's West Groton, MA. I was never happy with the service at Blood Farms, but I haven't shopped there in years and things may have changed. Alpine Market is a retail outlet for Lowell Provisions in Lowell, MA which may be more convenient. The Lowell store does both wholesale and retail. The Lowell store is more likely to have a better selection. At Alpine you may have to order more unusual items a few days in advance and have them bring it over from Lowell. Jim
  12. The Southeast Asian in Lowell is quite good. The menu is a mix of Vietnamese and Cambodian. The lunch and dinner buffets are a real bargain, but like most buffets not as high quality as food ordered from the menu. When they list a dish as blindingly hot, trust them. Jim
  13. I was that way, but the reason was that my mother was a really, really bad cook. I thought the food in my university's cafeteria was pretty good. It wasn't until I started dating a farm girl that I discovered how good food could really be. Among other things, she taught me that fish could be something than fish-sticks, that spinach could be eaten raw, and didn't have to come from a can. After 18 years of gray meat and gray vegetables, it was a revelation. Jim
  14. Weber makes an electric motor driven spit insert for their 22 1/2" kettle. I'm not sure the maximum weight capacity, but the picture shows a turkey being cooked. Jim
  15. A frozen fruit soup would work well. Jim
  16. I'm disappointed in you. If they asked for and paid for NY strip, that is what they should have received. Jim
  17. My grandmother had one of those also. It was used to collect slivers of bath soap until there was enough to press into a new bar. My father graduated from high school in 1929, and you can't imagine how frugal he was. Or, maybe some of you can Jim
  18. Try John Copes Corn Yum! Jim
  19. jmcgrath

    Smoking a Beef Loin

    Mostly what Weza said. I like to smoke at 225F to get a more even doneness. You can cook at a higher temperature to shorten cooking time, perhaps up to 350F. Letting the roast rest at room temperature for an hour before cooking will also shorten cooking time, but at the cost of smoke absorption. I'd avoid mesquite, I find the flavor overpowering and repulsive. Pecan, apple, cherry and oak are my favorite woods. Hickory is related to pecan, but a bit harsher. You absolutely need a temperature probe. Check its calibration in ice water and boiling water before using it. If you are using an offset, it is important to rotate the roast. I pull my roasts at 120F and let settle for 20 minutes or so, tented with foil. Yorkshire pudding would make a good and traditional side. Beef dripping collected in a smoker have a smokey flavor, you may want to render some beef suet. Some kind of potatoes if you don't do the pudding. Brussels sprouts with hollandaise sauce perhaps. Jim
  20. Or you can always rent. Rentals are not that expensive if you're just having 12 or 20 people over for dinner, and they'll fit in your car. It's when you start renting tables, chairs, linens, chafing dishes, serving platters, salt and pepper shakers, butter ramekins and so on and so forth that the cost gets exorbitant. Renting tableware for most dinner parties is very affordable. And many rental companies allow you to return dirties! ← True, but what novice entertainer is going to rent silverware for a barbecue? And while the cost may not be exorbitant, for young people just starting out it might be a burden. It makes sense for a large dinner party. And y'all can go ahead and talk smack about if me you like but I have been known to use paper plates for very large parties. ← I've had a number of hotlucks and barbecues in my backyard for groups of 50 to 100 people. Foam plates and bowls hold up even better than Chinet. They are far from ideal from an environmental standpoint, but are the only thing that works for people that are eating hot, greasy food while standing up. Jim
  21. I wish I had caught this thread earlier. I served on an FBM back in the late '60s and this brought back many fond memories. BHC mentioned how trash is disposed of on a submarine, but failed to mention what happens when the trash disposal unit (TDU) jams Then there are the brown showers That's what happens when someone flushes a toilet whose holding tank has been pressurized to a hundred psi or so in preparation for dumping overboard. There isn't much to do on a submarine but stand watch, play cards and eat. I'd regularly gain 15 or 20 pounds on a patrol and then spend the next three months dieting it off. Shelf stabilized milk wasn't available back in those days, but I know there was a medical concern about our elevated CO2 blood levels interacting with calcium. Jim
  22. It's been 30 odd years since I was in the submarine service, but there are a lot of things you just can't do on a submarine. Fresh vegetables, for example, are gone two weeks into a two month patrol. Same with milk. No wine, of course. Fresh eggs last perhaps a month, after that, it's dehydrated. Everything had to be ordered through military procurement, so selection of spices and dried herbs was limited. It's not that we didn't eat well, it just that we ate bland. One patrol, one of the southern cooks managed to snag a couple of cases of rabbit. Interesting, bony and bland. Life on a submarine, waiting for a nuclear war to start, was the ultimate exercise in boredom. Food was our only escape, and it was bland. Jim
  23. Many, many years ago I celebrated my 21st birthday while on spring break in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Of course I'd had a fake Id for years, but for the first time in my life I was going to be able to use a real Id. You can see this coming...The first bar I went into didn't card me. Boy was I pissed. I walked right out and went looking for a bar that would check my Id. Jim
  24. I've only been to the Firefly's in Marlborough, but thought it fairly good for commercial barbecue. The Marlborough location had an all-you-can-eat buffet on Monday evenings. Jim
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