Friday, August 29, 2008

Zombie Mosquitoes From Hell!

No it's not a B movie from the 1950s or another outrageous book by Australian children's author Andy Griffiths. It's really about mosquitoes, The Asian Tiger Mosquito to be exact or more formally Aedes albopictus.

These are not the brownish salt marsh and woodland pool mosquitoes I remember from my youth but a newer species to the US.

As their name implies, they are originally from Asia but are so invasive they are now found on every continent, excluding Antarctica! They were first found in the US in 1985, in a shipment of used tires in Houston, TX and now range over most of the South and as for north as Maine.

They are very aggressive and are outcompeting the native species of mosquitoes we are all used to. You know the little brown ones that usually only came out at dusk? They are also described as "fast biters" meaning they are done draining your blood before you have a chance to swat them. I don't even feel the bites, just the horrendous itch that comes afterwards.

These buggers are active throughout the day and don't seem to be put off by the smoke billowing from my cooker. I can't go out to my cooker or even sit and smoke a relaxing pipe without having to spray myself with bug spray.

Well this week when I placed another order for smoking wood from Lexington Outdoors of Maine, I checked out their anti-pest products. The world's greatest customer service rep, my friend Dorie, is sending some samples of Ole Time Woodsman Fly Dope for me and some NoSkeeto mosquito barrier for the yard.

It may be a little late in the season but hopefully by this time next week I will have reclaimed my backyard!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Best Thing About August?

In the otherwise oppressive, drab, dreary, dog days of August, there is something that makes it all worthwhile. Something golden and sunny that tastes like summer... peaches!

I've made two cobblers so far and they turned out very well but not quite what I'm looking for. (the great thing about this trial and error routine is that even the errors are pretty darn good!)

Admittedly, the ratio of peaches to crust was a little off here but no matter it was delicious!

I'm looking for a crust that is a little more crumbly than what I've come up with so far. So, if anyone would like to share their favorite cobbler recipe, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Now for some homemade peach ice cream!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dog Days of Summer

As most Retrievers have an affinity for water, this is one happy pup!

It also helps to keep his mind off the BBQ... at least temporarily.

How can you NOT, love that face?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

"I Find The Pastrami To Be The Most Sensual Of All The Salted Cured Meats"

At least according to Vivian, Geroge Constanza's short-lived girlfriend from the episode "The Blood" from the 9th season of Seinfeld. This is where George achieved the bedroom "Trifecta" of sex, television and food.

George: "I flew to close to the sun on wings of pastrami."

Jerry: "Yeah, that's what you did."

In my neverending quest to perfect my brisket -- which is a much less forgiving piece of meat than say a pork shoulder -- I came across some recipes for making pastrami on the Playing With Fire and Smoke blog.

I have yet to locate the necessary curing agent for starting from scratch so I picked up a couple of store-bought corned beef briskets and followed the instructions. One "dry" and one "wet."

Basically you need to soak the briskets in fresh water for 24-48 hours, changing the water as necessary to extract as much salt as you can from the corning process. Then apply the rub and let that "melt" in overnight, then cook the brisket(s) under a gentle smoke.

Due to some last-minute scheduling problems I ended up overcooking both briskets. They were by no means ruined or even bad but a bit overdone.

The "wet" style was very moist but crumbled when I tried to slice it. The "dry" sliced nicely but it was a tad too dry.

Anyway, they were good enough that I definately plan on doing this again!