Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Election night in Maryland,from where I sit…. who wasn't there spoke volumes.

I will freely admit it; I am a political junkie, especially on the local level. I will also admit, I couldn’t go to bed on election night especially when the all of the news outlets had Brown out to an early lead in the Maryland gubernatorial contest just minutes after the poll closed. Most of the national outlets had declared Brown the winner months ago. Some, including I believe MSNBC, had Brown winning the election even before he announced he was running. I am clearly exaggerating, but you get the point, this was Maryland, things are supposed to go this way.

Despite the huge odds faced by challenger Larry Hogan in taking on the Goliath also known as the Maryland Democratic Party starring Martin O’Malley, I just had a feeling Hogan might be able to eke out a victory and put a severe cramp into the third term bid for O’Malley. Maybe it was more of a desperate hope than a good feeling but the fact remains, I couldn’t go to bed until it was decided.

My spirit was slightly bolstered when around 10:00 PM Hogan went ahead in the results, much to the chagrin of all of the national pundits and talking heads. I was jumping between national and local coverage as the night wore on. Eventually I stuck with the local stations as they all had people out at the respective campaign headquarters. Reporters on the scene described the mood at Brown headquarters as “hopeful” and “optimistic” as some of the expected returns from what they thought would be heavily democratic areas had yet to be posted.

Reports from the Hogan gathering reported the atmosphere as “subdued” and “highly anticipatory” Not since the 2002 Governor’s race when Republican Bob Ehrlich upset the preordained coronation of Kathleen Townsend could folks have even imagined the possibility could exist. The big question remained, could Larry pull off the unthinkable once again?

Who could ever forget the 2009 quote made by the illustrious and perpetual President of the Maryland State Senate Thomas V. Mike Miller. Speaking about Maryland Republicans to Baltimore Sun reporter Laura Smitherman Miller barked, “We’re going to shoot 'em down and we’re going to bury them face down, deep and far. So deep and far it’s going to take 20 years for them to come out the other side. They’ll see China from there. But I was wrong. It’s going to take 40 years for them to recover from what we did to them in 2008."

The results kept coming in and Hogan’s lead did nothing but widen despite all of Millers previously threatened shoot’in and burying. As the evening wore on, a few of the victorious Democratic candidates on hand at the Brown camp agreed to be interviewed. The tap-dancing and preliminary finger pointing that I sensed in their commentary gave me a warm and fuzzy but I wasn’t quite ready to break open the champagne, at least not yet. Eventually, it was reported that Brown was ready to concede, I thought perhaps I had fallen asleep and was now dreaming.

The local coverage then went back to Brown HQ where all of the notables present had assembled on the stage behind an empty lectern festooned with a large Brown/Ullman sign. To say the mood there was a bit less than joyous would be an understatement, the looks and body language said it all, words like stoic, resigned, funeral like, and pallor come to mind. As the gathering stood and appeared to be mourning I noticed that none of the usual campaign headquarters music could be heard and the looks on the faces of the gathered were priceless. For a real stomach turner, flashback to the Paris Glendening crowd gloating and dancing to the sounds of The Wind Beneath my Wings, pass the Rolaids.

Instead tonight, long faces and small talk were the order of the day, disbelief was in the air. The various reporters on the scene did their best to babble on awaiting Anthony Browns anticipated arrival. Some of the anchor desk folks were still holding onto a shred of hope that Brown could pull it off.

I am thinking if the viewer’s knew it would have been such a trouncing, they all would have left the coverage early and when back over to one of the many mindless talent shows that dominate today’s airwaves. The anchors and reporters were doing their best to keep it close, and interesting.

Some of the notables present on the stage were Steny Hoyer, Elijah Cummings and Dutch Ruppersburger. My guess is, they had to be there, they were on the ballot and had been successful in their respective reelection bids. I thought it was mildly entertaining when first Hoyer, then Ruppersburger both left the stage prior to Browns arrival after what I am sure they considered too long for an esteemed member of Congress being made to wait, regardless of the circumstances. Unfortunately for them, they would have to return.

Eventually Hoyer, Dutch, running mate Ulman and both the Brown and Ulman families made their way to the stage, Anthony Browns arrival was imminent. Again, the body language shown by the participants was a hoot. Who got hugs, gave them, who received glares and cold shoulders and from whom, classic stuff. If only I had the foresight to run the DVR thing, or better yet, if I even knew how to.

Upon reflection the next day, the thing that I found most interesting was who was not present on the stage for the wake. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin were nowhere to be seen, maybe they had other plans for Election night, perhaps a rousing game of Mahjong took precedence. The Mikes, Miller and Busch were not spotted, probably out digging some burying holes down in some Calvert County cornfield I suspect.

Let’s not fail to mention the biggest, most notable, ‘no show’ of them all, Governor Martin “gee I really, really, really want to be the President” O’Malley. Here is a guy who will normally knock down small children, senior citizens and pets to get in front of a camera. The fact that he wouldn’t show up to offer his friend, protégé, right hand man, and personally selected successor even an ounce of consolation or condolence for a job done spoke volumes. Simply amazing and truly unbelievable on the surface, but when you give it some thought, completely expected, especially given the players and the stakes.

It is my humble opinion if the results had went the other way; you would have needed the National Guard as security to keep the aforementioned politicos from elbowing their way to the stage to once again bask in the limelight of an election night victory here in the one party rule state of Maryland.

I can see it now, Martin, flashing that big Irish grin, sleeves rolled up, tie loosened, arm around Tony, hoisting his arm in the air like a prizewinning boxer. Of course, he could have also used the moment to give but a few interviews to tell the cameras how smart the Maryland voters were and how this reaffirms the mandate started by his administration, in other words, welcome to my third term.

You don’t suppose that the absentees purposely chose to abstain from attending do you? I can’t imagine that Marty’s handlers advised him they thought it would be best if he not be seen with a, and I hesitate to use the word, ‘loser.’ They wouldn’t do that would they? After all, aren’t they the party of compassion, tolerance and feelings?

I am sure they were all busy with previous commitments that they made for election night in Maryland that did not involve celebrating another Democratic trouncing that we have all come to expect on the first Tuesday in November here in the free State.

While it is way too early to know for sure, one can certainly be hopeful that maybe, just maybe, we might be moving toward a more balanced form of governing in Maryland. A person can dream can’t they? The more I think about it, the more I realize I just have to ask, how’s that shovel ready burial project working out for you there Mike?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What to get the que’er on your list .....

......(or yourself) for Christmas

Wow, I blinked my eyes and its Christmas again, seems like the older I get, the faster they come around. Of course it doesn’t help that holiday displays have beeen in the stores since 4th of July or so it seems. If you ask me, it wasn’t all that long ago when what has become to be known now as “Black Friday” was the official start of the holiday season. Now it seems retailers are fighting to see who can open the earliest on Black Friday or Thanksgiving Thursday for that matter, but I digress; the purpose here is supposed to be to suggest a gift for that special pit master in your life not to rant about the current trends in the retail and advertising industries.

This season’s selections,as you will see, are all books. I have a particular affinity for the printed word for obvious reasons and am also a collector of sorts. My wife would say I was a borderline hoarder, but when I see a barbecue or cookbook in general that piques my interest, I grab it. In my ever shrinking mind, it’s the gift that keeps on giving, they are timeless. What better way to spend a snowy Sunday afternoon than relaxing by the fireplace sipping a beverage of choice and enjoying a book on your favorite topic? Short of firing up the ole smoker, I can think of nothing better.

The books below are just a few of my recommendations; several of the authors have other titles available, many of which could also be added to the list. I hope you will enjoy giving a few if not all of them a read, if you haven’t already.

Famous Dave's Barbecue Party Cookbook: Secrets of a BBQ Legend by Famous Dave Anderson. Written by a guy who operates nearly 200 restaurant locations around the Country and still has time to visit and sometimes compete or judge numerous barbecue contests, this guy is a walking talking que ambassador. Over 100 recipes are included.

Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Joint by Chris Lilly- In addition to a ton of great recipes, the book includes a lot of detail about the history of the Decatur, Alabama landmark as well as que in general. Chris even includes the recipe for Big Bobs famous barbecued chicken with white sauce.

America's Best BBQ - Homestyle: What the Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards by Ardie Davis and Chef Paul Kirk. Appetizers, breakfast foods, chicken, ribs, salads, seafood and desserts, you’ll find it all within these pages. Paul and Ardie plied the barbecue world and chronicled what many competition pitmasters prepare when cooking at home on their own grills and smokers.

Peace, Love, & Barbecue: Recipes, Secrets, Tall Tales, and Outright Lies from the Legends of Barbecue by Mike Mills and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe. One of the first que books I ever bought, this has become one of the “go to” selections in my collection. Clocked full of history, lore, stories, anecdotes and recipes, this is a must read by anyone who spends even a small amount of time watching the sweet blue smoke rise from their cooker.

Everyday Barbecue: At Home with America's Favorite Pitmaster by Myron Mixon.
Anytime you can get 150 recipes from the winningest man in barbecue all crammed into one book for your collection how could you go wrong? Myron breaks down the outdoor cooking experience and offers advice for everyone from the beginner to the most experienced pitmaster.

Slow Fire: The Beginner's Guide to Barbecue Hardcover by Ray "DR. BBQ" Lampe The good “Doctor” has done it again; Ray is the author of numerous barbecue books, all of which are well worn stalwarts of my personal collection. This, his latest offering, breaks down the art of slow cooking in a way that is the perfect guide for those wanting to learn the craft as well as those who would consider themselves ‘seasoned.’ The knock on this book as far as I am concerned is the photography, it is TOO GOOD! When flipping through I find myself becoming obsessed with the images, which then causes me to break out my cooker in a feeble attempt to replicate. I will have to admit though; it has been a lot of fun trying.

I suppose some shameless self-promotion is in order here. With that in mind, there is one more book I would like to mention for your possible consideration. Totally Q: An Insider's Look at the Crazy World of BBQ by George Hensler This is a collection of assorted BBQ facts, factoids, quotes, anecdotes and stories all about cooking in the great outdoors. The book is an easy read and is great for that barbecue cook on your list that knows everything, or at least thinks he does, just like the author.

Well, there you have it, my Christmas list for the upcoming gifting season. It is by no means complete, as I could go on and on and on but with your eyes, brain cells and schedule in mind, I reluctantly will not. I would, however, like to take a minute to wish all of my readers, their families and friends a happy, healthy and safe holiday season. Merry Christmas and God Bless us everyone!

Friday, October 4, 2013

A eulogy for an old friend

Gone, but not forgotten
It is with great sadness, regret and a heavy heart that I must report the most recent and not quite so sudden loss of my ass, nee; bum, arse, can, seat, keister, butt cheeks, glutes, fanny, tail, hind quarters, caboose, buns, pooper, buttocks, trunk, posterior, rear end, rump, duff, tush, backside, behind, heinie, tookus, patootie, derriere, gluteus maximus or as it was affectionately known to me and a few close friends, my buttocksal region. Possibly departing this world as a result of a courageous battle with an often under reported occurrence known as Male Vanishing Ass Syndrome or MVAS for short. A little known and rarely discussed condition fought bravely and silently by many males over the age of 50.

My backside is survived by two somewhat spindly legs, fading eyesight and hearing, a pair of tired and sometimes aching feet, an ever expanding waistline and what some have referred to as an unusually large cranium. My bum was 57 years old, to be 58 in December at the time of its home going.

The exact cause of this affliction remains under investigation at this time. Physicians from the World Health Organization located in Geneva, Switzerland have dedicated a team of highly skilled doctors to investigate the phenomenon known as MVAS, but at the time of this writing, their conclusions are yet to be completed. Most scientists, doctors and academia will agree however, a known cure is at the very least years away.

The onset of my loss was first noticed several years ago on extended flights or long car rides when I found I just wasn’t getting the needed cushioning I had been accustom to from my trusted friend.  I first blamed the fading comfort on stiffer seats resulting from manufacturers cutting back on the amount of padding they were installing in their cushions. As the situation worsened in recent years, I began to rethink my position; perhaps it was my own padding that was being compromised.

Then, in the summer of 2010, while at a BBQ contest, it happened, I was wearing a pair of elastically waist banded shorts when I made a most astounding realization. I noticed I was unable to keep my pants up without the use of one or both of my hands. As I moved about, my shorts continued to slide down, subjecting those in the area to a most unpleasant view, particularly when both of my hands were occupied. I assure you, this phenomenon was not as a result of there being too much weight in the wallet pocket of those shorts. Those that know me would say that I never even carry a wallet when out with friends, at least that is my claim.

Once I returned home, a quick over the shoulder glance in the mirror after a shower gave me a good indication of what was going on. My suspicions were later confirmed by my wife when I asked her to take a look at my caboose, this time, with the lights on. You should have seen the expression on her face when I explained the reasoning behind my somewhat unusual request. Jo, being the trooper that she is, bucked up and came through with an honest, albeit reluctant assessment which confirmed what I had feared, I was losing my ass, the beginning of the end was near or more appropriately (and confusingly) stated, the beginning of the end of my end was at hand. Well…. I think you get what I am trying to say here.

It is true when they say that men are very stubborn and will often times ignore the obvious warning signs when dealing with MVAS. I was no different, a fluke I thought, it must be indigestion, it will go away, the elasticity in those shorts must be failing. Ass loss is something that happens to other guys, you know, like those poor guys they use on television spots promoting a cure for baldness. Those other guys are losing their asses, not me. For a short time, I convinced myself I was alright, all was well. Things went back to somewhat normal, my pants fit fine at least when I was wearing a belt they did, or so I thought.  

It wasn’t long before shorts and pants I was wearing held up with a belt began to slip down on their own presenting the same problems as before. This occurred most times when I was carrying something or had both of my hands occupied. I found I was walking about using one or both of my hands to hold my pants up, and I was doing this unconsciously, belt or no belt. My friend was checking out right before my eyes.  I was caught completely unaware and off-guard as my ass was slipping quietly away, never even giving me a chance to say a proper goodbye.

We have had a great life together, a lot of fond memories, my ass and I. It has been kicked, kissed, hauled and who can forget the many times when I was I told I was acting like an ass? There were even times where my ass (or me) was called both smart and dumb in the same day. I won’t even mention the confusion that resulted when I was told something I did was ‘ass backwards’ or how about that time my buddy said I ‘danced my ass off’, thank goodness, at least for then, he was wrong. We’ve been through a lot together, my ass and I, a friend through thick and thin.

My friends are also in mourning, of this I am sure, for I know that they too have been long time fans. As it stands now, I will be missing a place to store a large assortment of items I have been told to stick up my hind quarters over the years. This thought also reminds me of the many times those very same friends have requested that I blow a collection of things out of my ass. Please keep in mind, these are some of the very same items they, on other occasions, have asked me to insert. Stick it up or blow it out, I always wished they would make up their minds, and I know my ass did too.

But alas, it is a problem no more, as my ass is now nothing but a fond and distant memory. The adjustments for me won’t be too bad, sitting on a pillow and suspenders worn with a belt. A fashion faux pas for some I am told, for me, not so much. At my age, I am not as concerned about looks as I am functionality, if a belt and suspender combo works, I am down with it, the exception being when I have to wear a suit, you know, weddings, funerals and the like. As for parking my keister on a pillow or pad, well, I see a lot of others doing just that, not a problem for me.

Please do not interpret my “devil may care” attitude concerning my wardrobe and pillow plopping as any indifference on my part concerning my loss, quite the opposite. I will miss my friend immensely. Every time I sit down, I will be reminded of how things used to be. Of particular concern is that inevitable winter’s day, when I am on my way out to the mailbox, traversing an icy driveway when my feet slip out from under my portly frame. I will become airborne for a fraction of a second before coming crashing down on what used to be my buttocksal region. This is a day I am not looking forward to; you have left me way too soon my good friend, and I didn't even bit you adieu.

I do understand, however, that this is all part of the grieving process. One of the first and most important steps is what I am attempting to do here, the acceptance and letting go of the deceased, the acknowledgement that a loss has occurred. So for now, I want to say publicly, in front of friends, family and the rest of the world, good-bye old pal, au revoir, sayonara, adios,so long, I know you are gone forever, thanks for the memories. You will be sorely missed…..in more ways than one.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Totally Q is here!

Read all about it......

After a lot of work by a small group of dedicated and hardworking people, for which it goes without saying, I am not counted as one, (hard working or dedicated that is) my new book Totally Q has now been released. The book is a massive collection of barbecue tidbits, scraps, leftovers and burnt ends that no serious outdoor cook should be without. It is a compilation of assorted facts, figures and fairy tales all emanating from the outdoor cooking arena in some way or another.

The book contains a plethora of stuff that anyone dedicated to cooking in the great outdoors definitely can’t do without. Providing this information has not only been my civic duty and responsibility but has been considered a valuable and essential public service on my part. (OK, I made this last stuff up) But think about it, by carefully reading and memorizing some of the facts and tidbits contained in this book, you will instantly become the “must invite” guest to any and all barbecues or cookouts now and for years to come.

Conversations you become engaged in will become more informative and wittier for all participants; you will be a better person, more well-rounded, much improved. You’ll be considered the life of the party and move immediately to the neighborhood barbecue A-List as you amaze dazzle and entertain your friends and family time and time again just by reciting newly gleamed nuggets of barbecue wisdom found within the hallowed pages of this book. All those within earshot will stand about in complete jaw dropping amazement as to the claptrap they are hearing emanating from your lips. “I wonder where he got that one,” or perhaps “this guy doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about” or “this dude is full of bulls**t” will be some of the many comments you may hear from the throngs of enthralled listeners.

After reading Totally Q from cover to cover, you will find that your food will begin to taste better, your grass will be greener, the sky bluer, the air fresher, your life forever changed for the better. Recent studies have also shown there will be an increased bounce in your step as well as an additional hitch in your giddy-up. Some readers of advanced copies have even reported increased performance and stamina in the boudoir, particularly those with home computers in their bedrooms.

Early reports indicate these folks are able to Google, blog and research about barbecue and barbecue related topics for hours and hours without stopping or coming up for air, simply amazing. Viagra, we don’t need no stinking Viagra. It should be noted that the author, publisher, editor or printer makes no suggestions, promises, assurances or guarantees regarding the books effectiveness on your stamina or boudoir performance. Please contact your physician before using, I mean reading Totally Q. An important side note: To avoid long term injuries seek immediate medical help if experiencing a Totally Q reading session lasting more than 4 hours.

Totally Q is published by Foodways Editions an imprint of Sunbelt Media and is now available through this website, I hope you and your dedicated readers might consider giving it a read. If they do, I hope the book might make them chuckle or at the very least, smile. For it seems to me that one thing we could all use a little more of these days is a few laughs.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


How did you end up getting involved with Jamie Oliver’s FoodTube project?
I was working on a couple of pilots with Jamie's production company, Fresh One. The first one was called ‘GRILLS, GRILLS, GRILLS’. It was based around interviewing musicians, artists and bands around food - I cook for them and they cook for me. And at the end of every show, the band had to do a cover of Motley Crue's ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ but substituting the word, "Grills". They could also opt to cover the Jay-Z song of the same name. No one picked it up.
We then did another pilot that was more in my realm of action sports - it was positively received and we could be making that one next year. Fresh One was then approached about doing an original channel for YouTube – and so Food Tube was born. They asked me if I'd like to do a show for Food Tube and now we've produced 11 videos, have over 200,000 subscribers, and we've had over 150 million views. It's only been 3 months.

You’ve proved to be one of the most popular chefs taking part in Food Tube. Do you think it’s because of what you’re cooking, or the unconventional way you go about cooking it?

Everyone has turned out to be popular - and a couple of the dudes already had TV/Webshows before coming on to Food Tube. I guess people relate to a bit of craziness and they like meat. I'm all about cooking big hunks of meat, but saying that, my FISH TACOS recipe got a lot of love and the most positive comments from the community.

Is it dangerous cooking with fire and sharp knives when you have a habit of wearing nothing but a spandex jumpsuit?

Hells yeah! First off, my spandex catsuits are not fire retardant. So, it gets hot when I'm near the firebox and cooker and the outfits don't retain heat when I'm working outdoors in the winter months. As for knives, I'm getting some lessons. Jamie put me in his butchery and restaurant at Barbecoa for a week. I learned so much whilst hanging with world champion butchers and executive chefs. Amazing!
Your smoker looks like a hollowed out steam train! Where the hell did you get that thing?

I watched too many episodes of Man Vs Food. Seeing what they were building in the States and not being able to find the same in the UK, we had to import our smokers. We spent last summer researching - every night for 2 months. We ended up buying three smokers/cookers from the man who builds more championship BBQ's than anyone else in the world - Ben Lang, of Lang’s Smokers. His smokers are 3rd generation and he's been making ‘em for over 25 years. He rolls his own ¼-inch steel. These babies are family heirloom.

Where is that little wood cabin where you film many of your recipes?

That's at a local farm. They are lovely people and that wood hut looks so rustic. They use it to store all their firewood. It looks like the most Disneyworld joint for a BBQ, minus the animated squirrels. We've had a lot of comments about that place. The recipes shot at this location proved to be the most popular. Location, location, location… and big hunks of meat.

What do you enjoy most about barbecuing food? What got you started?

I love working with fire and wood. I like the primal-ness of cooking with the elements. It's very caveman. You also get much better flavour when cooking with different types of wood. I will not cook on a gas BBQ. To me, there's no point - you might as well stay indoors. My father got me started in barbecuing at the age of 8. My dad learned to barbecue from Grandpa and he passed down the knowledge to me. There are excellent photos of Grandpa BBQ'n in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa. Grandpa always had loads of ribs and chickens rocking at the same time.
Where do your recipes come from? Are they all handed down through generations or are they your own creations?

Some recipes are handed down through the family, whilst others are developed through trial and error. Working with Jamie and his crew has inspired me to try some new stuff. Gennaro [Gennaro Contaldo -  respected Italian chef and fellow Food Tube contributor] asked me last week: "DJ BBQ, do you cook anything else but meat on your BBQ?" And I said I love cooking vegetables - especially potatoes. Gennaro got all excited and taught me a recipe where you shove a piece of chicken in a carved out potato. Add garlic, rosemary, chilli, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. I did it on Friday and it was awesome.
Out of all your recipes, what’s your favourite thing to cook?

There's nothing like shoving a can of beer up a chicken's ass. Or nailing a big ol slab of brisket where the thick layer of fat caramelises with the salt and pepper turning it into ‘Texas Foie Gras’. Then I really like making breakfast and diner food. Chilli and cheese omelettes are one of my favourite things to make and eat. Wait… Fish TACOS!!!! Love them!
In parts of America, barbecuing is a very serious business. Apart from only having about 2 minutes of sunshine a year, are the Brits doing barbecues wrong?

The Brits are embracing barbecuing but the supermarkets aren't helping. People think, “Summer= BBQ” but that's not the case. Barbecuing should be 365 and the supermarkets need to stock charcoal/lumpwood all year long.
What would you do if eating meat was illegal and you had to become vegetarian?

Eat Vegans! Then there's no one to complain. Apparently, plants feel pain. The problem with vegetarians is they keep eating my food's food.

One of the most popular recipes created by Christian Stevenson, aka DJ BBQ, is the Bacon Fire Bomb – 3 pounds of woven bacon wrapped around pork mince, chopped vegetables and chillies, covered in a barbecue seasoning.
This meat extravaganza is DJ BBQ’s interpretation of the legendary (and now trademarked) Bacon Explosion recipe. Back in 2008, a couple of guys from a website called BBQ Addicts revealed the original Bacon Explosion recipe on their blog. Unexpectedly (but appropriately), the American football-sized pork meal exploded into an international phenomenon with media around the world eager to know more about the (at least) 5000 calorie feast.
Although the Bacon Explosion sparked worldwide interest, BBQ Addicts were not the first to unleash such the recipe into the wild. For example, a blogger calling himself Headless Blogger beat them to the potential heart attack with his own recipes he called the Redneck Sushi and Ultimate Fattie.
Thanks to the likes of DJ BBQ and his refined take on the original (hey, his version contains vegetables!) the legacy and controversy of the Bacon Explosion can continue to live on. Even if just hearing about the Bacon Explosion is intimidating, we dare you to watch DJ BBQ’s Food Tube video without your mouth watering…
After wondering where Christian Stevenson got his eye-catching stars and stripes jumpsuit, many viewers of DJ BBQ’s Food Tube videos have still had a question – where the hell does he get a massive BBQ smoker like that?
The answer comes courtesy of a family business from Nahunta, Georgia called Lang Smokers (langbbqsmokers.com). DJ BBQ is the proud owner of several Lang BBQs and this impressive 60” BBQ smoker is just one the many he had shipped over from the States. From a ‘baby’ smoker up to a massive, 1500kg, 7-foot long model which has space for, according to the website, no less than ’80 pork butts’. And you never know when you might need to cook 80 of them. Quite a step up from the disposable BBQ you bought for a fiver from the petrol station…
You can watch DJ BBQ’s videos on Jamie Oliver’s YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/JamieOliver

DJ BBQ is available to hire for cooking and DJing: www.djbbq.co.uk

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Barbecue folks- BPOE- Best People on Earth

The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks might think they have dibs on the acronym BPOE standing both for their name as well as what they think of their membership, but I am here to tell you they do not corner the market when it comes to having some mighty fine folks within their midst. Now I am not saying they don’t have some great people in their organization, on the contrary, what I am trying to say here is barbecue folks are some darn good people too.

In my short time dabbling in the competition barbecue circuit I can honestly say I have met some really nice people. Many of whom I am proud to call friends. The most interesting phenomenon I have observed is it is pretty much a gimme that while at a contest, you don’t have a lot of “free” time on your hands. You spend a relatively short period of time in person socializing with others, as people including yourself are often times busy with their own contest setup and prep.

But when you do have those fleeting moments to chat, it is as if you having been having conversations around the pit for years, and these are folks that you only see in person a few times a year. Now I realize that people communicate more than they used to with today’s social media, email and text messaging, but you get my point. Easy to talk to would be an understatement.

To further support my contention I can honestly state that I have personally observed teams that are always in the hunt to win giving advice and tips to new and or struggling teams at a contest. I have also watched as they genuinely cheer for and encourage the rest of the field at awards time. I have seen pitmasters with multiple awards under their belts walk through and entire contest grounds personally wishing the other teams good luck with their cook before the first turn-in.

Have you ever been to a contest and forgotten something or had a piece of equipment break or fail, I have observed this on numerous occasions and watched as other teams pulled together to make repairs or loan equipment to allow the affected team to participate. I have seem examples of teams flying in to cook a contest in another state and other teams bringing extra gear and supplies so they can cook.

I could devote an entire column on the good deeds done across the Country by barbecue folks, their organizations and charities and still probably not mention them all. If you don’t believe me, take a look around at the next big weather event or natural disaster and see if you can count the number of free meals served up by the blue smoke army. You’ll be impressed I assure you.

Additionally I have made the acquaintance of judges, contest reps, event organizers, as well as sanctioning body representatives and family members of opposing teams, good people all around I tell you. I have even been approached while at a contest or sent an email by a complete stranger (not for long) who has taken time to comment (both good and bad) on my columns and other scribblings. It makes me feel good to know someone is reading my stuff and even better to know they have enjoyed something I have written. Thanks for that folks. Many times, I find those conversations or email exchanges can become lengthy, as if we had been friends for years, and in a way, I think we have.

I guess what I am trying to say here is if you spend any time at all around the game of competition barbecue or even barbecue in general, I guarantee you’ll meet some mighty nice folks. I am thinking what we need here is a slogan or mantra like the Elks use without infringing on any copyright violations or getting any lawyers involved. I have noodled around with the idea for a while and as of today, have done nothing more than fill a scratch pad and make myself chuckle.

My acronym of BHSOTBPOE (barbecue has some of the best people on earth) is a bit long and makes little sense without the words being included. The phrase would be a little long for a bumper sticker and could possibly cause accidents as other drivers tried to get close enough to read the fine print so they would know what you are talking about.

So I guess it is back to the drawing board to come up with a catchy slogan that we can use to get our message across. It’s a good thing that the 2013 competition season is getting under way, I look forward to seeing my old friends and making new ones as well. Perhaps we can put our heads together and come up with something we can use, something catchy, something like, I’ll get by with a little help from my friends, but something tells me that too has already been used. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Maryland: get out my wallet or get out of town?

Do you consider yourself fortunate to reside in the great State of Maryland, I used to. We have the ocean, farm fields, hills and mountains, some even call this “America in Miniature.” I myself have called Maryland my home for my entire life, but I am here to tell you, I am giving serious consideration to pulling stakes and moving on.

A statement such as this begs the question why? The answer is simple, Governor Martin “I wannabe the President” O’Malley and the rest of his henchmen which I have affectionately dubbed the Thieves on the Severn. Their collective lust for power, privilege and our money never ceases to amaze me. A shining example is the recent proposal to increase the tax that we, the citizenry currently pay for a gallon of gasoline.

Currently, we pay approximately 25 cents of every gallon in taxes,(approximately $6.25 every fill up) which judging from the latest claptrap out of Annapolis, just isn’t enough. Now through a series of smoke and mirror statements and news releases, they are trying to convince us, the hard working taxpayers of this state how paying more in taxes will be to our benefit and to the benefit of the greater good. To that I say BALDERDASH.

I recently read a document Marty sent out trying to drum up support for his latest money grab where The Governor begins by calling us his friend. That is the first mistake. Remember one of the first rules of being a parent is remembering you are the parent and not your kids friend? The same principles should apply here if not more, O’Malley is a person elected to do a job for the constituency, he is NOT MY FRIEND.

One thing Marty is however is a wordsmith. Right out of the Politician 101 handbook he invokes family and children into his heartwarming plea while telling us, “as a people, we spend $6.2 billion each year due to deteriorated roads and traffic.” Now I realize that Martin spends no time in traffic because his taxpayer funded SUV is equipped with a State Police driver and emergency equipment which is used to speed his eminence around the state without regard to the traffic the rest of us have to sit in. But I am quite sure he at least has to travel on the same roads that we do. I don’t know your opinion, but overall, I think the roads here in Maryland are in pretty good shape, especially when compared to some of the other states I have traveled in.

You’ll also notice how he says their brilliant money grab is going to “support 44,000 jobs” in the State. What does this mean? Your guess is as good as mine as I find the  exact same claim of “supporting 44,000 jobs” in at least 4 other places in propaganda I mean documents used to support the thieves contention.

Some of the other things concerning this proposal you would be interested to know is while they claim to be lowering the state tax on gas by 5 cents a gallon, they are in reality raising the price we will pay at the pump by a) indexing the tax to inflation and b) by applying a sales tax to the wholesale cost of gasoline.

I suppose we should all feel better knowing that they are only going to be taxing the big, nasty oil companies with their plan to apply a sales tax to the wholesale side of fuel as opposed to the retail side where we, the taxpaying consumer would feel it. You don’t have to be an economic wizard (as I am surely not) to know that if the oil company’s cost of a wholesale gallon goes up, they are most surely are going to pass the cost on to the consumer dontcha think. O’Malleys play here will be to blame the oil companies, not him, I wonder how he can keep a straight face?

Oh, and they are telling us they are going to put a “lockbox” provision into this newest form of non-armed robbery. This is inserted to make the common man (you and I) think that the monies procured will only be used for transportation purposes. However, their own literature gives them the loophole they need, “The transportation initiative proposed today also contains a “lockbox” provision that outlines a series of requirements that must be met in order to make any transfers from the Transportation Trust Fund, ensuring that revenue generated remains dedicated to transportation.” Gee, I wonder if it would be possible to ever use the money elsewhere? I believe O’Malley and senate President Mike Miller when they say the newly generated income will be in a secure “lockbox,” for the record, I also believe in the Easter Bunny.

Which brings me to a couple of questions of which I do not find the answers to in all of their slickly worded documents.

1)         Where is the money that was supposed to be in the Transportation fund and what special circumstance existed when the money was removed and squandered elsewhere?
2)         Last year they raised the tolls on all of the State’s highways, bridges and tunnels claiming that money was needed for the transportation fund, where has all of that money gone?
3)         Why not use some of the money we were told was going to be pouring into the State with the increased gaming supported by O’Mally and his forty thieves.
4)         How could our great state, which has been in the control of the democrats for the last 50 years or so, a party of which the boy wonder is a proud card carrying member, let our roads and bridges get into, what they now tell us is such deplorable condition? Surely it is the fault of Republican Governor Robert Erlich who occupied the governor’s mansion for a whole 4 years without any cooperation at all from the democratically controlled Statehouse. Can you say legalizing slots?

My questions if asked, would fall on deaf ears or be answered with a non-answer I am sure. The problem is Martin O’Mally is too busy resume building to worry about anything other than himself. He gallivants around the country jumping in front of anyone with a camera in his quest for the address of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Maryland residents be damned.

He paints himself as some sort of a progressive, caring, greeniac who is only concerned with the welfare of the common good and oh yea, and the children. He is a big advocate of wind power don’t you know? Oh, what I’ll bet you do not know is Michael Enright, O’Mallys former chief of staff is the managing director for the company that stands to get the contract for installing the wind generators off the shores of Ocean City, which of course will be subsidized by you guessed it, YOU AND I!

My head hurts, and so does my wallet as well as my, well let’s just call it my backside. I have to tell you, I never ever thought I would hear myself utter these words, I love it here, but I am getting sore and tired. Every year I have to work harder and harder to bring home less and less while these dolts in Annapolis and Washington from both sides of the isle continue to pick my pocket for the sole reason to use my hard earned money to keep themselves in office. I have had enough and have begun to explore my options.

Meanwhile, I see Martin O’Mally is scheduled to appear on Face the Nation again this weekend while he touts his latest progressive agenda and alleged accomplishments all in his quest to occupy the White House. I will watch with interest as the next 4 years unfold and he spars with Hillary for the top slot on the democratic presidential ticket. I am sure, if he is denied in 2016, the party will work out some type of deal for him, a Senate seat perhaps. Hopefully, by the time that occurs, Maryland will be nothing but a bad memory for me and my wallet. In the immortal words of Popeye, I‘ve had all I can stand and I can’t stands no more.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pigchaser BBQ Sauce

a review.....................

WOW was all I could say when I received the carton from Ron Slawek from Grayslake, IL containing five bottles of his Pigchaser BBQ sauces. I was really looking forward to the “work” of giving them all a try and putting them through their paces. Of course, I am using the word “work” very loosely here.

With five different flavors to try, I admit that at first I was wondering if I would be able to discern a difference between the offerings. So what I did was pour a little of each sauce into a bowl marked on the bottom with the flavor. The goal here was to be able to taste the unidentified sauces to determine if the advertised flavors could be detected.

While certainly not considered scientific, accurate, reliable or even creditable the results surprised even one of the world’s biggest skeptics, yours truly. Most people were able to detect the flavor differences, including me.  A lot of folks correctly identified the particular flavor profile of the sauce tasted, pretty cool I thought.

The flavors tested were:

The next part of my job was what I considered my personal favorite, the pairing of the sauces with food, and then the dining on said food. Well, I had all those bottles of sauce open, what else was I supposed to do, I threw a party. I cooked up several different kinds of meats, veggies and fruits and let the guests decide which sauce they wanted to pair with which food. I have to tell you, some of the pairings were darn tasty. I also have to tell you, we had a ball. Every time someone would hit on what they thought was the winner, others would sample and say “man, that’s great, but you need to try this…”

When it was all said and done, my hands were sticky, my belly was full, and there was a smile on my face along with a few sauce smudges on my chin and spots on my shirt, I was in BBQ heaven. My guests were happy too. What I will tell you is my favorites were Habanero and Original. I have included below a basic recipe I used with the Hab sauce and some grilled pineapple, it makes a great appetizer.

Ron tells me his Habanero Sauce won 1st place at the 2013 Scovie Awards while the Bacon BBQ sauce placed 3rd in the unique category. (An interesting footnote, this sauce contains REAL bacon, not just bacon flavoring.) After tasting them, it is easy to see why. The sauces are available on their website http://www.pigchaser.com/index.html   

My suggestion would be to give some (if not all) of these sauces a try. It is also very good to know that Pigchaser Sauces are gluten free, contain no HFCS, are all low sodium and are made with all natural ingredients. Another interesting nugget of information was located on the label of the Bacon BBQ sauce where the words “low fat” appears. Bacon AND low fat? Please Ron, send me some more!

Pigchaser Pineapple Parts (try saying that one ten times fast)

1 fresh pineapple (peeled and cored)
2 cups Pigchaser Habanero BBQ Sauce
1/3 cup of beer

Preheat your grill to a medium high heat

Wisk sauce together with the beer of your choice in a small bowl, drink remaining beer from bottle, then open another. (You don’t want to go thirsty do you?)

Slice the pineapple length ways into ½ inch slices

Carefully grill pineapple until starting to soften and some charring is visible, turning only once if possible.

When finished, dunk pineapple pieces into sauce/beer combo then return to grill to allow sauce to set. (1-2 minutes)

Remove from grill, cut into bit sized pieces, place on platter with toothpicks inserted for easy of eating.

Stand out of the way and keep hands and fingers clear, your guest will love them.