Thursday, November 29, 2007

Vocabulary word for the day: Spatchcock

Spatchcock is a method of cooking poultry. Especially, chicken, quail and Cornish Hens. The origin of the word is disputed and you can find a lot of information at The Naked Whiz's Ceramic Charcoal Cooker Pages. An excellent resource for ceramic cooker users. Check out the whole site, it's worth the trip.

Here are my wife's (who makes her living as Conan the Grammarian). favorite definitions:

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

spatch·cock (spchkk) n.A dressed and split chicken for roasting or broiling on a spit.
tr.v. spatch·cocked, spatch·cock·ing, spatch·cocks 1. To prepare (a dressed chicken) for grilling by splitting open. 2. To introduce or interpose, especially in a labored or unsuitable manner: "Some excerpts from a Renaissance mass are spatchcocked into Gluck's pallid Don Juan music" (Alan Rich).

Forthright's Favorite Words

spatchcock (spach'kok) v or n (English, probably from dispatch and cock) To insert into a text too hurriedly or inappropriately; a fowl stuffed and cooked immediately after killing. This is probably my favourite word of all time. Though there's little use for it any more as a noun, the idea of hurriedly killing, stuffing and cooking a bird has enormous metaphorical value. As a verb, spatchcock is a term that should be picked up and used by every editor who has ever had to read a manuscript that has been prepared in such a manner.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Speaking of Family...

Proud momma and poppa


Here is the latest addition. Anthony Aiden De Michiel! Mom and Aiden are happy and healthy and doing fine. (look at that head of hair!). Dad is my nephew Denis. Mom and Dad met while keeping Navy Fighter Jets ready for action so I guess Aiden is doomed to be a (Navy Brat.)


Saturday, November 24, 2007

My Favorite Holiday!

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. When I was a kid it might have had something to do with the fact that my Birthday fell on Thanksgiving once every seven years. I'm not sure. But as an adult, I like it because it centers around food, family, gratitude(thanks) and food. It hasn't been commercialized like the other major holidays (except for maybe the turkey companies and stove-top stuffing makers). And thanks or as I prefer gratitude, knows no boundaries. It isn't particular to any one religious belief or even belief in a God at all. One can feel gratitude and feel thankful without directing it at any specific point in the universe, natural or supernatural. So whether you give thanks to a supreme being, count your blessings or just feel appreciative for what you have, a belated Happy Thanksgiving!

Now on to the details...

One 12lb turkey injected with maple sherry butter of my own concoction, stuffed with a quartered orange, apple, onion and lemon. Any leftover injection fluid was smeared all over the outside to help brown the skin.

Smoke it for about three hours at 325 degrees and there you have it.

Even the boys -- picky eaters that they are -- wolfed down some turkey!

The only negative note was that turkey was all the boys ate. They didn't eat stuffing, mashed potatoes, or anything else. Just turkey! Do I get mad and have a fit since they are missing out on the best meal of the year?(A very big shout-out to Mrs. SpecialEd for another wonderful Thanksgiving meal! You're the best!) Yes at first I do. Then I take a deep breath, smile, remember that I can't force them to like something and the important thing is they are happy and healthy and I am very thankful for that!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"A journey of a thousand miles...

starts with one step!"(Ancient Chinese proverb) "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." (anonymous and Craig, my former mentor and boss) "A Black Belt is a White Belt that never gave up!" (Master Jim Clapp, of American Karate Studios in Newark, DE.)

Well Boy number 1 just achieved a milestone in his Karate practice. Friday night he was promoted to 1st degree Brown Belt. Even though there is only one more color to go -- Black, of course -- Achieving Brown Belt is sort of a half-way mark. There are three degrees of Brown Belt in Kenpo Karate with a "stripe" level for each, making six levels until you reach Black Belt.

He also participated in a tournament last weekend where he won four medals.

Boy number 1 (in the red pants) and his Tournament partner

Can you count 'em... FOUR!

Receiving his Brown Belt

Removing the Green Belt and putting on the Brown Belt

That Championship form!

Both Boy number 1 (12) and Boy Number 2 (9) have been studying Kenpo Karate at AKS for two and a half years. Until recently they progressed at the same rate and were always promoted together. A few months back the age difference (and intensity levels) started to differentiate themselves and Boy Number 1 started leap-frogging past Boy Number 2. Boy Number 2 enjoys karate and does well but he is more like the kid in right field paying more attention to the butterfly then the pop-fly. On the other hand, Boy Number 1, attention defficits aside, has a laser-like focus and concentration towards his practice that is not manifested anywhere else in his life. He will be a Black Belt, I have no doubts!

The way AKS is laid out, on the second floor of their building, up a long set of stairs, I have never been able to watch my boys there as I use a wheelchair. Nonetheless, My wife and I (she also started karate lessons at the beginning of the year) really like the staff and approach at AKS. --they are so good with the kids, all of the instructors are!-- That we except that for what it is. I can still drop them off and pick them up, and my wife takes plenty of pictures. They get my full support regardless of whether I am in the same room or not.

Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway. I am very proud of both my boys!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Neener neener!

In case anyone cares or is interested...

I am completely done Christmas shopping! Ha!
(And have been for over a week....)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Turkey Time

Yesterday I smoked a turkey breast. Now that might sound fairly basic and it is how I got my smoke-cooking start about 25 years ago, but I haven’t smoke-cooked a turkey in probably 15 or more years. Actually until I got my Grilldome cooker this past July, I hadn’t smoke-cooked anything in at least 15 years.

That all changed, obviously, when I bought my cooker this past summer and started making up for lost time. Even though I went at it like a man possessed, I never got around to doing turkey, especially since they are not always readily available in the summer months. I have cooked lots of pork,(shoulders and loins), chickens, (whole, spatchcocked, drumsticks and breasts), a couple briskets, burgers and even smoked some BBQed baked beans. But no turkey.

This past week my FIL brought over a turkey breast he got free from racking up points/dollars at his supermarket. My wife probably won’t let me cook the Thanksgiving bird on the Grilldome so I jumped on this opportunity to finally get back in the turkey game.

Back in the old days, I knew nothing of rubs, injections or brining. I just threw the bird on the grill heaped on the wood chips and let it go. I always enjoyed the results but these days I am trying to take things to a new level. So, for the first time ever I have soaked this bird overnight in a brine solution; Kosher salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, garlic, and a few other dry seasonings. I put it on the grill after stabilizing the temperature at 300 degrees. That’s a bit high for normal smoking but a good temperature for a turkey breast. Three hours and 15 minutes later, the breast was done at a temperature of 170 degrees. Very moist, no dry spots, a hint of sweetness and a good smoke flavor. I think I will be doing some more experiments with brine solutions in the coming weeks.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month...

To all Veterans, past, present and future...
A very sincere and heartfelt

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Somtimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you!

Well this time my BIL got the bear and he wants me to cook a roast. Now I've found a few recipes for stews and steaks and such but I need a recipe more suited to a roast on a smoker cooker. Specifically, what temps do I need to get the roast to for safety sake without overdoing it. Any suggestions out there? (I know this is a rhetorical question since no one reads this blog except for maybe my wife, and that's only if I remind her it even exists. But as I said in my second post, I'm just doing this for the practice!)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Why am I here?

I don't really have anything to say. At least nothing of interest that anyone would want to hear. Basically I'm here to learn how to use Blogger efficiently. My wife has a Blog Let Me Say This About That, and I am tired of listening to her bitch and moan every time she tries to post a new entry or pictures, etc. She sits in a corner and uses her laptop so I can't see what she is trying to do so I can't help her. So, here I am to sort this all out for her (and my) peace of mind!

Here is a picture of a recent pork shoulder cook that I did.

This is two "Boston Butts" that have just been put on my Grilldome cooker. Injected the night before with a homemade concoction, smeared with mustard and rubbed with some Dizzy Pig rubs. One with Dizzy Dust and one with Swamp Venom.

A little while later when the hickory chunks start doing their magic. Time to shut the lid because... "If you're lookin' you ain't cookin'!

Finally done! The first one came off and was wrapped in foil and towels with TLC and sent over to my sister's house for her annual cookout. The second one (pictured) is for me! Well actually, I did give half of that to another sister for her birthday present.

This was after about 20 hours at or very near 225 degrees. Some truly Hellacius pulled pork!



By William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.