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Posts 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.


  2. Thanks for the replies so far everyone.

    I think I am more interested in internal temperatures when cooking barbecue style (low & slow smoking, as in this thread) as opposed to roasting/baking, so does this change anything?


    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.


  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.


  4. Back around the early 70’s there was a big to do for horsemeat. They had made it legal to sell for maybe a year or two. I was living in my first little house and my next-door neighbor introduced me to it over the back fence. He had a bunch of kids and to make ends meet he was buying horsemeat from the one and only purveyor in south jersey. He would barbecue it on the grill 3 or 4 times a week and he ranted up and down how good it was. A couple of times (after a few drinks) I tried it. The flavor and consistency immediately popped into my mind of some of the “beef” I had in France. I didn’t like it then and didn’t care for it in the states and it wasn’t anything to do with eating a horse.

    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.


  5. 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.


  6. Since we're on the subject, maybe you can help me. The last few summers I've planted Cayenne and Jalapeno peppers. Why is it that the same plant would bare peppers with no heat and then some that are super hot? One summer none of the peppers had any heat. Is it temperature? Sun light? Irrigation? :huh:

    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.


  7. For this, we had considered mesquite, but to me, there's always a sot of oiliness associated with mesquite that I'm not particularly fond of - or maybe I've just had bad mesquite experiences in the past. Either way, I stuck with hickory. Maybe when I can eat again, I'll do a test run with some mesquite and then one with hickory so we can compare them side by side.

    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.


  8. Ask your daughter about the Scorpion Bowl at the Hong Kong! That's I place I plan on returning to this next trip out.

    I must say that you have very eclectic taste :biggrin:


    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.


  9. I think I was the one who spoke of Blood Farm in West Groton. I've had good luck procuring stuff I can't find elsewhere -- sweetbreads, oxtail, veal bones, etc. For everyday meat purchases, it's Alpine Market, a butcher on Summer St. in Chelmsford, MA -- a quick drive from Nashua.

    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.


  10. 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.


  11. My niece is staying with us this year while she attends university and if I have heard "I don't like that" once I've heard it a thousand times these past six months.  Our only rule is that she try everything that is prepared at least once, and then if she really doesn't like it she doesn't have to eat it.  Well for someone who doesn't like green beans, beets, potatoes, squash, greens, beef, pork and and lamb, she has sure been packing it away and going for seconds.  Her mother is really pissed because she still won't eat these items when she goes home.

    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.


  12. As for soup, it could technically be served on a stick if:

    1. it didn't have to be served hot

    2. one didn't mind eating it in the form of a popsickle

    I'd have to think about what type of soup though; the ox tail jell-o was okay but I'm not sure I'd thrill to a frozen clam chowder.

    A dessert on a stick that everyone would talk about? Durian (lends itself to an old colloquialism).

    A frozen fruit soup would work well.


  13. In Chow Magazine last year, there was an article on "killer apps"-they asked caterers what their most popular items were. One, which I made and was a HUGE hit at a party, was just steak (they called for NY Strip but I was cooking for non-foodies and I used top sirloin) cut into cubes an inch or so square, marinated in a soy sauce mixture, then sauteed, rolled in red chile jelly and skewered.

    If you want the exact recipe let me know and I'll dig it out when I get home.

    I'm disappointed in you. If they asked for and paid for NY strip, that is what they should have received.


  14. I have an antique "soap saver" like this one that my grandmother used, not for laundry but to swish about in her tub.  When I was little, I used to get to do this and can remember hanging over the edge of the tub and swishing it about in the water to make lots of suds, just like a bubble-bath.  I remember she had some soap that smelled like gardenias.  Thanks for evoking this memory.

    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 :rolleyes:


  15. Bump!

    Marlene and I are going to be smoking prime rib roasts on Saturday.  She'll do an 8 pounder, me a 5 pounder (both boneless).

    This was really prompted because I got an unbelievable deal on the one I purchased, and it's been a few weeks since I smoked anything.

    Any other bits of advice?

    And, any suggestions for sides?

    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.


  16. Edit to say that after a minute's thought...I'd say it's better to entertain with paper plates (Chinet, not the flimsy ones  :biggrin: ) than be afraid to have company because you don't have enough dishes or silverware.

    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 :wink: 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.


  17. 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 :sad: Then there are the brown showers :biggrin: 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.


  18. Bubblehead Chef might empathize with you, albeit on a larger scale.  He's a Navy chef aboard a submarine, and while he wants to introduce his sailors to the various & sundry foods of the world, often the sailors won't try anything that looks even remotely unfamiliar or exotic.

    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.


  19. 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.


  20. I'll be up inthe same area in a couple of weeks and I was wondering about Firefly BBQ? I have a lunch and two dinners to burn off plus, I could use a good take-out on Sunday for supplies to survive a ride back to Philly. I'll be hanging close to the Sheraton.

    Thanks in advance.

    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.


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