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Mayhaw Man

The boy ain't right in the head

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I am sitting in my wreck of a 100 year old house right now. The one with half of a bathroom ripped out, all of the kitchen ripped out (and when I say all, I mean all, there is nothing in that 20X35 room right now but an icebox and a bunch of my wife’s artwork in various states of completion), and most of my deck missing.

I am surrounded by food and more food. Lots of food. Food for 120 people, consisting of graduates of St Paul’s School in Covington, LA and their proud families. I must be out of my cotton picking mind. I really didn’t intend on covering this in eGullet, but it occurred to me that some of you might need some really, really big recipes for some event or another, so I decided that I would go ahead and document this effort.

First a little backstory:

My background, from the time I got out of high school, all the way through and after college, is in restaurant and bar management. I, at one point, ran the kitchen in a 400 seat restaurant for a while, among other things. As part of that job, we did lots and lots of full on offsite catering. Crawfish boils for 800 people, seafood dinners for hundreds of LSU football players, supporters, etc., wedding rehearsals, etc. At some point, I got really, really good at the organizational part of this and it all became kind of second nature. Once I went into the brewery business, I continued doing some catering as part of the brewery deal and also to bring in some extra dough in the early days of starting a small business when I was making about a dollar an hour. I put together a pretty good rep and enjoyed doing it, but at some point I stopped doing it for money. I would occasionally help friends throw large parties, mostly seafood stuff like crawfish boils and fish fries and the like, and I continue to do that today. It’s fun and I like to do it, so why not.

Of course, right now I have just finished working a long week, I have at least 2 pieces due for print publications and one due for a certain online publication. I also have a yard in dire need of attention and a million other things to do. Are they going to get done this weekend? Nope. All of this, incidentally, is being fueled by this afternoon’s delivery of coffee from the really nice folks atHula Daddy Kona Coffee ! It’s great stuff and would wake the dead. I won’t be doing much sleeping for the next two days, so the timing of their delivery was perfect. (disclaimer: I work for the company that hosts their website and Lee and Karen, the owners, are my friends-but it’s still superior coffee)

My wife, the art woman, helps and in fact, is the most organized person I know. The woman loves a list and that is the ONE THING THAT IS MOST IMPORTANT WHEN YOU ARE FEEDING LOTS OF PEOPLE. None of this would be happening without her help and I want to say at this point that very little in my life would be happening without her. I am very lucky. If you can put up with me on a daily basis for 21 years, you are either a little nuts or bulletproof – in her case it’s a bit of both, I think. Robin will be doing most of the plating and public setup. She sets a beautiful table and this one will be pretty spectacular judging by the amount of silver, cut glass, and crystal that is appearing around here. She is also doing the last minute prep of the salads and the drinks. I will be doing all of the hot prep work and pretty much everything else.

So anyway, I offered to do this because the graduate that is being honored with this little fais do do is a really nice young man that I have known for a very, very long time. In fact, his mother is one of the mid wives that brought my oldest kicking and screaming into this world 15 years ago. They are great people and I really am honored that they trust me with this. I hope that they feel as kindhearted at 4 Sunday afternoon when everyone has gone home and we are left there cleaning up.

I have decided that I will put the FULL recipes into Recipe Gullet. All of them are large, and in the case of the Seafood Jambalaya it is for 100 folks. I will do my best to put really good descriptions in the recipes as the best way to go about this, but if anyone ever decides they want to feed a lot of people, just shoot me an email and I will try to do a better job in the blow by blow descriptions. There will also be some photos as a part of this, but how many and how good all depends on how many times I remember to stop and take them.

This event is taking place at a beautiful house that is, in fact, just about the best example of a turn of the century giant farm house that we have around here. It’s basically gorgeous. I will have some photos of that Saturday sometime. We will be serving on some long buffet tables under a beautiful veranda. It’s pretty ideal for this kind of service and is probably the last weekend this year when the weather will not cause the women in the group to “glisten” under their Sunday lunch lady hats and the men to not sweat like pigs in their seersucker. It’s going to be in the low 80’s and sunny at lunch time, but that’s pretty comfortable this time of year as the humidity is pretty low, in the high 30’s most days. Soon it will be 95F and 80% humidity. No one wants a picnic in those conditions.

Now for the menu. I will try to describe these in short detail. All of the food here, mostly, is at the request of the host. A little bit of it at her insistence. She can be very persuasive. Oh boy.

The two main entrees will be barbequed brisket (with an assortment of sauces on the side-not ON the meat) and seafood jambalaya (with sausage from Richard’s, dark meat chicken, and fresh, straight out of the gulf shrimp (as I type this they are being caught-I actually am getting them from the guy who caught them-they will likely be too large for what I am doing but no one is going to complain about the shrimp being too large. That’s like saying, “You know, I have too much money.”) and all of the other stuff that goes in it (link recipe gullet here).

There will be pistollettes from Leidenheimer's Bakery in New Orleans and some dark bread from another bakery. Apparently it’s organic and that is a big deal to a few of these folks, but that’s not part of my deal.

A full on relish tray with all of the stuff.

A giant green salad with butter lettuce, avacado, grapefruit, toasted pecans and a very thin poppyseed vinegarette. This is much like the salad at Joe’s Dreyfus Store here in Louisiana.

A pasta salad with bow ties, hard salami, really good provolone cheese, and lots of fresh herbs with a light dressing that is still to be determined after another argument with my spouse and after I lose, it will be some kind of very lightly done balsamic vinegar deal. (I lost on this one all the way round. I hate pasta salad. I think it’s made by people who don’t know how to cook for people who don’t like to eat-I wanted to have a delicious and inventive rice salad that I love, but no dice, so I will put the recipe into Recipe Gullet so that you don’t have to suffer the same fate).

East Texas Crunchy Coleslaw is another one that they insisted on, but I happen to love it and I don’t much care that everybody in the world makes it these days for every kind of daytime luncheon that I go to. I can eat a bait of the stuff. It’s good. Trite? Perhaps. Good? You bet.

A cheese, bread, and cracker set up with some local cheeses from John Folse’s place.

A pate setup. Basic pate made with organic chicken livers and marsala wine. It’s really good and easy to knock out for a bunch of people ahead of time.

A goat cheese dip made with more local cheese.

Bleu cheese and pecan dip with breadsticks and apples. This stuff is awesome and a snap to make. All it takes is great bleu cheese and really great cream. I happen to have both locally available.

There will be a couple of beautiful cakes made by a local baker who makes awesome cakes and homemade strawberry ice cream made with Pontchatoula Strawberries (the last of them, from what I can tell-it’s getting too hot for them to make)

Beverages will consist of wine service and milk punch (I am not in charge of this part of the deal) , homemade lemonade, ice tea punch (much, much better than it sounds-one of the most refreshing things you can knock back on a hot afternoon) and Abita Root Beer.

That about does it. I will slowly be posting details over the course of te next 36 hours and hopefully some photos. I PROMISE that I will start getting the recipes in tonight at some point. But for now I have to go get 5 briskets prepped for cooking in the morning.

Back later.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Ufda....

They say madness is the touch of the god. I'd say you're inspired!


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Since your kitchen is gutted, where will you doing all this prep work and cooking? It looks like a lot is coming in from outside sources, and maybe the brisket and jambalaya can be done at the party place. Still, that leaves the slaw and salad and cutting and arranging and...you don't have a kitchen!

Do post photos as you have time, please!


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Since your kitchen is gutted, where will you doing all this prep work and cooking?  It looks like a lot is coming in from outside sources, and maybe the brisket and jambalaya can be done at the party place.  Still, that leaves the slaw and salad and cutting and arranging and...you don't have a kitchen!

Do post photos as you have time, please!

The briskets will all be cooked on my very large, built just for them, brick pit. The fire will be started at 6 in the morning. I will start a chimney full of charcoal, let it get going pretty good, and then spread it out in the bottom of the pit and add pecan logs (which conveniently are something I have alot of, as I cut two trees this winter).

The briskets have been prepped. Each of them is about 12 pounds after trimming. They are really nice pieces of meat that I ordered last week. They have been dry rubbed (recipe will be listed) and wrapped tightly in foil and then put on ice in an ice chest. They will pulled when I wake up and by the time the fire is right they should be more or less not cold anymore and ready to go.

This cooking method is open pit BBQ. Not smoked, not water smoked, not any of that stuff. Just placed over a medium low fire of wood and cooked for somewhere between 8-10 hours until they get a through and through temp of 190. They will then be pulled and cooled slowly. Sunday morning, they will go into an oven, wrapped in foil, until they are back up to 190F-200F. They will be rested for 30 minutes or so and then sliced thin with an electric knife, with a bit of last minute fat trimming thrown in. At that point they will go to large serving trays which will be replaced as needed during service. There will be several sauces on the side, including some that are kind of silly, but fun. I will list these when I get together the final list.

The jamabalaya is an outdoor activity as it is, normally. It is no big deal except that it takes a ton of chopping and prep to get ready to do the deal. When I get the recipe in tonight or in the morning you will see what I am talking about.

As for the rest, much of it will be prepped Saturday at the location and then assembled at the last minute. Much of the prep tomorrow will be done here, as even though I have a demolished kitchen, I do have a ton of room and it is actually more functional than it sounds. Things will be delivered as they are finished (the location is only about 15 minutes away) and they have plenty of refrigeration there. I used to have tons of it here, but alas, I lost it and tore out my kitchen, which is only just now being put back into shape. As long as all of the mise is put together and ready to go ny about 11:30 Sunday morning, we are in good shape. They should start showing up at 1 and they will want service to begin right then. Two hours of listening to "as we go forth" speeches is enough to make anyone hungry and a little bit parched.

So far I'm in pretty good shape. A couple of more hours tonight and I will feel pretty good about it.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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This is how I feel at the sorority when they have 50 fraternity brothers over--in addition to the 34 girls who live in the house and the 25 that don't. This menu is much more ambitious than those I complete at work, though. You're right that lists are key, and I'm fortunate that I'm capable of estimating how long something will take me and then sticking to that. Makes it much easier to plan.

I'm going to enjoy watching somebody else do this--I don't get a window like this too often. :biggrin:

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This is great stuff, Brooks. Thanks for sharing.


-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

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wow, seafood for 100 people must be pretty pricey. Or do you get your seafood fairly cheaply because it's local?


Cutting the lemon/the knife/leaves a little cathedral:/alcoves unguessed by the eye/that open acidulous glass/to the light; topazes/riding the droplets,/altars,/aromatic facades. - Ode to a Lemon, Pablo Neruda

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Louisiana has a massive abundance of Gulf Shrimp. It's a poor man's food down there, practically.

I'm going to pick them up. Right now. The guy just called. They will be fairly mixed-somwhere between 16-20's and some running in the 21 and up categories. Part of the deal with getting them like this is they are sized, quickly, by hand on the back of the boat-not by machine-so you get what you get. But they are really cheap. 2.50 a pound for shrimp that were swimming yesterday and are as sweet and delicious as they can be.

Also, something like 40% of the wild caught shrimp in the US are caught just South and West of my house. They are pretty easy to come by.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Three articles due, home chores, cooking for 120 with a kitchen outta commission, and *posting online about it*.

Uh-huh. A bubble off plumb.

Best wishes to you! Hope y'all have a good time!


I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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Oh Boy. Summer's here. It was beautiful an hour ago and a passing thunderstorm is currently dumping about an inch of rain. But it's supposed to clear up and be nice, but the humidity will now be about 1 degree from "bathtub" for the next day or so. Yuck.

Here are a few pics of the brisket process:

This is really nice meat. Nicely trimmed and pretty much ready to go when I got it. Here it is after a spicy rubdown. These were then wrapped tightly in foil and refrigerated overnight.

gallery_10237_1230_695591.jpg

This is the pit. It was here when we bought the place and I modified it a bit. I made it taller and that makes the fire about 3 feet below the cooking surface. You will notice that there are only 4 briskets on this thing. I will be doing this for about 16-20 hours depending on how it goes temp wise and cooking a total of 8.

gallery_10237_1230_480747.jpg

This is the inside of the pit. I start it with a chimney of charcoal and once it's going I start going in with the wood. I am using some partially cured pecan (it was cut in January and is still a little green-perfect for this kind of thing/ Lots of smoke and moderate heat.

gallery_10237_1230_170121.jpg

Brisket just on the pit

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Can't have too many pictures of brisket, is what I always say. Really. I say that sometimes.

gallery_10237_1230_60273.jpg

Here is the whole thing with the top on. It is not, in any way, airtight. It just helps to direct the heat. Right now it is staying right around 225F-250F and that's about right. I used to have, until this winter, a great sheet metal top for this that I had made, but it became part of something else because I needed some sheet metal fast for a project and as it was rusting and I needed another one anyway, well, it had to go. I made this one today out of 2X4's and heavy duty aluminum foil. Dan Huntley, writer for the Charlotte Observer, is writing a book right now on "contraption cooking" and I think that this may well qualify. It's pretty much of a rig. But it keeps the heat in and the rain out, so what the hell.

gallery_10237_1230_283538.jpg

And, just so you know that I am on track-a photo of one of the featured items for the relish tray.

gallery_10237_1230_123890.jpg

Stay tuned to this channel for more zany antics from crazed rednecks.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Brooks - I am really enjoying this thread! About once every two years, I am in charge of feeding about 175 people - out of a regular hotel room with no kitchen (we make one!). I can never have enough new tricks to pull this off - so you go, guy, and keep those pictures coming!

BTW - we make our kitchen as follows: hotel removes beds and chairs from room. We put down a rubber block mat in the bathroom, and set up a work sink from Home Depot over the toilet. We unscrew the showerhead and put on a hose that leads to a garden sprayer that is used to wash dishes in the work sink (the ick falls into the commode and is flushed). A wire rack (shelves with plastic parts that hold them together - got it at KMart) stands in the shower for things to dry on (shower curtain is removed or taped out of the way).

The room itself is lined with "classroom" size tables (8 ft but half the width of banquet tables) which are stacked 2 high. Supplies are put on the top level, and the bottom level is used to hold microwaves, 18 qt plub in roaster, and several butane powered burners (can be had in any decent Chinatown). We use these appliances to heat the food. Refrigerators may be rented from an outside source or, our current hotel lets us use a bunch of mini-fridges, which together with coolers, keeps the cold stuff cold until we need it. Most of the food is cooked in advance, frozen, and fridge defrosted within the week of the event.


"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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At the turn!

gallery_10237_1230_436038.jpg

These have now been on for about 4 hours and have hit roughly 130F all round. I should be in that bizarre temp stall for a while and then it will rapidly go up. I added some more wood and just a bit of charcoal that I started in the chimney (it keeps the wood smoking but doesn't raise the pit temp much. The meat is nicely browned, with a few crispy bits, but not charring. This is just what I am shooting for. These will be let go until they hit just at 190F and then they will be taken off and allowed to cool. They will then be tightly wrapped and ready for a slow reheat in the morning. I will be using a huge drum type pit for the reheat. I could do it in the oven, but that won't be available as that is where the jambalaya will be going.

We have been making dressings like crazy for all of this stuff, and the dips, and chopping the stuff for the jambalaya. This jambalaya is a bit different in that it is made in two distinct parts. There is the stuff part and there is the rice part. They are mixed at the last minute and them transferred to pans that fit in the chafing dishes.

As I am typing this I am eating apples and bleu cheese dip. That stuff is dead simple to make. All you need is good cheese, good heavy cream, and a food processor. You just whiz it all up, adding a bit of tabasco and worcestershire (did you know that Lea and Perrins (pear-an in this part of the world) were famous Cajuns?). Or one would think so anyway. It's common as tabasco in recipes here.

I will be getting the jambalaya cranking shortly. It will take, start to finish, about 2 hours. While all of this is going on Robin has been working like a madwoman and also, she is getting ready for an opening tonight. We got a phone call a minute ago that some early shopping art lover has purchased her biggest piece that was in the show for tonight. Woohoo! Art's a tough racket. No matter what, like anything else, somebody has to sell it. It ain't easy.

I am going to try to start putting some of the recipes in. There are a ton of them, so it may take a while.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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I have a very, very good feeling about this (on the face of it ) insane project. I think that Robin's sale (what a woman!) is a good omen from the get-go.

The last party I catered on that scale was my daughter's high school graduation, and I had lists attached to most of the flat surfaces in the house.

Er, no deviled eggs?


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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I have a very, very good feeling about this (on the face of it ) insane project.  I think that Robin's sale (what a woman!) is a good omen from the get-go.

The last party I catered on that scale was my daughter's high school graduation, and I had lists attached to most of the flat surfaces in the house.

Er, no deviled eggs?

I have no feelings at all right now, except for an incredibly strong ringing in my ears caused by an overconsumption of rediculously good coffee. I am happy about the sale though. They seem to come in waves. Hopefully this is a groundswell and she will catch a good ride on one tonight. This food thing gets me out of having to attend. This is a good thing. Wry, sarcastic people should not be allowed in art galleries.

I have no flat surfaces left, I keep having to move things to even put other things down. 15 year old and Robin are taking a load right now, so there is a little more room. I've got to go cook 15 lbs. of basmati rice and make a about 4 gallons of jambo goo. Somewhere in there I also need to toast 5 lbs. of pecans (from, ironically, one of the trees that I am cooking the brisket on top of) and a bunch of sliced almonds. I also have to make a giant 5 gallon batch of very strong tea so that we can make the tea drink.

I should have my head examined.

Hey! Wait a minute! I did that! Maybe I should see about another round. I think that the last one is wearing off.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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We did this for YEARS, in the Mississippi Delta Heat and HUME. I'd step back from that pit, (and I wasn't even the pitman), wipe brow, go stir some potato salad, and say "Never Again."

Now I'm to the NA stage, I guess, except for a shrimp boil for maybe 30 in our backyard, now that I'm a Hoosier.

I've had all today free, the temp is nice, I'm just tooking around in eGullet, while you're sweating your socks off, and all I can say is, "I WISHT I WAS THERRRRRR!" :wub:

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Whoops, I kind of wasn't thinking about having to peel all of these damn shrimp. They are really nicely sized, and are as fresh as they are ever going to get unless you are eating them on the boat, and I know that I shouldn't complain, BUT I REALLY GOT OVER PEELING RAW SHRIMP ABOUT THE TIME I TURNED 23 YEARS OLD. But, I am lucky to have them and many of you wish that you did, so I won't complain. That's about 18 pounds total. I will take the heads and the shells and throw them in the freezer. I'll make stock later. No time now for planning for another meal. I can't even get this one together. They are beautiful. Check 'em out!

gallery_10237_1230_687586.jpg

Just for a size reference, this was about average, but there were some really big ones in there, just enough to make a little scampi for my catering partner and me.

gallery_10237_1230_455420.jpg

Anybody want to come polish some silver? I'll feed you. Will you work for food?


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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You ever done something stupid? I do stupid stuff all of the time. You would think it was my hobby, if you were a careful observer.

Anyway, I have 15 lbs. of real basmati rice. I am cooking it all at once. I sort of, kind of, started it out with water for 15 CUPS of rice. Dainbramage, I tell ya. But thanks to my handy digital scale I am back on track. I quickly weighed a cup of rice, did the math, and added the water. It would have been a disaster, as I am not scheduled to do rice but once today. Yikes.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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It's cold and rainy and windy up north here for about the 20th day in a row, and I'm planning a fine braise for this night's dinner, and I'm drooling over your feast. Wish I could be there to work for food.

Please tell more about the pit. Amongst the bricks there are some things going through the walls, perpendicular to the bricks. They look like slightly off-square 2x4's to me. What are they really, and why are they there? Don't they burn?

"Contraption Cooking".... That sounds like a classic to come, right up there with Manifold Destiny. :cool:

Edited for format.


Edited by Smithy (log)

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Am I the only one who found some perverse pleasure out of seeing all these dead shrimp scattered across the obituary pages?


Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Ok. Jambalaya is all done. There are six pans all set for reheating and an extra gallon for school teachers lunch on Monday (in the middle of all of this mess the mother in charge of "Teacher Appreciation Week" called and asked if I would mind making a little something for an entree for Monday's lunch. Piece of cake I said. Little does she know that I was in the middle of this).

While I still haven't had time to do the recipes in recipe gullet, I can tell you that this involved 15 lbs. of Richard's Sausage,5 lbs. of Poche's Andouille, 12 lbs. chicken thighs, and 15 lbs. of fresh shrimp (which my 15 year old, Miles, hero that he is, helped me peel and devein), 15 lbs. of rice and a heaping pile of vegetable matter and spices. No shortage of goodies here, although the picture is terrible and you can't really tell it. I don't have time to play with them tonight. Hopefully I can get it all straight Sunday night.

gallery_10237_1230_693675.jpg

Pasta salad is done. It's really good, for what it is, but I still stand by my above statement. Miles also cut all of the cheese for the cheese tray beautifully. He is also talking about going over to meet the new people who just bought the restaurant around the corner (see the Louisiana board-no time to link) and asking if they will let him futz around in the kitchen. Chip off of the old block that boy. Too bad for him. I was hoping for something better. :wacko:

I am working on tea and finishing up wrapping the briskets, which I failed to photograph-but I can get them Sunday a.m. when I unwrap after reheat. I still have to blanch off 10 bunches of asparagus, which is as big as trees, I couldn't find any decent stuff for love or money. It will have to do, I guess. It will look great but be tough as boot leather.

I am enjoying my next to last Blenheim's Spicy Ginger Ale. That, friends, is one good drink.

Back to work. No rest for the weary.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Whats going on with them chicken livers? Would love to see a photo of those little guys?

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So. Brooks. How did it go?


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Whats going on with them chicken livers?  Would love to see a photo of those little guys?

They morphed into something much more noble and delicious.

gallery_10237_1230_126690.jpg

More coming as soon as I can get the pictures up. It's been a long, long, but very rewarding day. It went great thanks to some luck and some stupendously pleasant and hardworking help. The brisket was awesome and the food all looked great. The weather held up nicely and tons of people, more than expected, showed up and we still managed to feed them and to keep them from getting thirsty.

I am bushed.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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