Suburban Wino 2: The Wordpress Experiment

Jerked Pork in Under Two Minutes

March 7, 2011
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Looking forward to go into greater detail on this one in a later post (which will occur Tues-Wed, as I do not have to go to meetings in Las Vegas all week). Anyone who likes flavor and likes pigs* MUST give this one a try. Something about the warming weather and Jamaican barbecue that just fit.
*If you only like pigs as pets and/or friends and you’re not-so-much into using them as food, then you shouldn’t try this. Even if you like flavor.

Posted in BBQ, jerk pork, pork, videos

Clogged arteries, blurry photos, and creepy video documentation

April 21, 2010
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Last Sunday saw me rubbing hooves with the “high on the hog” socialites of Atlanta at Cochon 555.

5 chefs.
5 hogs.
5 winemakers.
5 years off my life: with items like “Pork fried funnel cakes with lard powder and lard caramel”, how could one expect a clean bill of health when waddling out of this pork-centric mecca to excess? Pour on a generous plying of booze (mostly Pinot Noir, a great pairing for piggies, if not still a little too “fashionable” in my book) from good folks from Domaine Serene, Buty Winery, Jasmine Hirsch of Hirsch Vineyards, and a familiar face: former Atlanta native Boyd Pearson, now with the Willamette Valley’s Anne Amie Vineyards (definitely one worth seeking out in town for those price/value seekers).
Yeah, I know that’s only 4 winemakers. Gamble Family Vineyards called the audible and didn’t show up. From the name of the winery, could the organizers have expected anything less?
Luckily, most of the portions were bite-sized, and I didn’t gorge, feeling sheepish and ab-challenged while hanging out with milk-drinking stallions Wine Tonite! and Eat It, Atlanta. Despite my curves, ’twas a great time had by all. Chefs Kelly English, Todd Mussman, Kevin Rathbun, Mike Lata, and event winner Sean Brock (and their crews) delivered, and the wines did not slouch either. While Pinot Noir was the focus, watch out for great Bordeaux blends (both red and white) coming out of Washington’s (Walla Walla) Buty Winery, who may have slipped in under the Pinot-stained radar and stolen the show.
I’ll tell you who didn’t deliver: my camera. All too apparent that the new Canon I’ve been pining for gets kicked up the priority ladder. Sorry cholesterol meds. I’m sure you see this post as a thinly-veiled flirtation to be “more than friends”, but the fancy camera’s wearing the shorter skirt right now. Luckily, some decent video from the Flip MinoHD and a little help from Roger Waters made for my most disturbing video yet!

Just grab ’em in the biscuits

December 29, 2009
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Not just an immortal line from Digital Underground’s “Humpty Dance”, but an intimidating call to action for someone who was reared in the South by a Midwestern family, devoid of the knowledge guarded by the Secret Society of Southern Grandmothers, Grammas, Memaws, and Nanas. How much fatback to put in the green beans. How to fry absolutely every vegetable that is put on the plate with the fried meats and not suffer terrible and unyielding gastrointestinal discomfort. How to make a perfect biscuit. Trade information that I do not have.

Indeed, the biscuit (in the sense that we know it in the States; British Empire definitions need not apply here), although being defined as a “quick bread” (perhaps suggesting a simplicity in preparation), is to me like many foods. Few ingredients, minimal prep, and yet a food that can manifest itself on so many levels of success: from spectacular to craptacular; the product always indicative of the hand that crafted it. In this vein, I equate the perfect biscuit to the perfect noodle, the perfect martini, or timing Mario’s jump on the koopa troopa just right on level 3-1 of Super Mario Bros. so as to earn enough extra lives to remember the stupid labrynth sequence in level 8-4. Man, I hate 8-4!
Beware of these little guys…

So- biscuits. Simple, but not easy. I thought I’d give them a crack on Christmas morning, surrounding the perfection that is a fried pork chop.

Oh, I forgot to mention that my wife’s family is from South Carolina, and I’m not talking first generation. They have a “brown food group”, dedicated to fried delights. I’m serious. More pressure.
Anyway, here it goes. You may sing along if you like…

The verdict? I think the flavor was good, but they were a little dry. I’m going to try for a stickier dough next time, as it absorbed a bunch of the flour when rolling out. Also, I did not shake my baking powder before spooning it out. Word on the skreets is that you’re supposed to do that. Yeah, these were pretty good, but I have a long way to go for perfection. However, I will gladly praise the Lard and continue to tweak the recipe to meet that end…
…my relationship with the in-laws just might depend on it.

Diet = FAIL

August 28, 2009
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I’m a little chubby. It happens. What are you supposed to look like when you like food a lot?

Fall is a tough time, too. As the weather cools, I think about football season and what it brings with it: delicious tailgate food, cold beer, snacks, soft drinks in the stadium. It’s a recipe for disaster. Then Halloween candy…
“Oh, hello Thanksgiving? Nah, kick me while I’m down! Yes, there’s still some room in my throat for some gravy.”
December: Christmas parties, holiday parties; I think I even went to a Kwanzaa party once. We break out the best wine, make merry, and no meat or pie or meat pie is safe. Let’s put it this way: I lost 20 lbs. between January and March at the beginning of this year. Cause for congratulations? No- it’s an annual ritual.
So recently, I load the kitchen up with healthy food in an attempt to be proactive as the winter graze manifests: lean pork chops, chicken breasts, fish, potatoes, veggies, diet soda (’cause I MUST have soda), fruit, olive oil.
Okay, I’ve got pork chops. I have potatoes. I have oil. I have salt & pepper. I have flour.

Here’s my “healthy” meal: pan-fried pork chops, homemade french fries with pan gravy, turnip greens and tomatoes = FAIL.
I guess I’ll sleep okay. The oil was olive oil. The greens were, well, green. The french fries were baked (in copious amounts of oil). And, I did go to the gym before dinner.
Regardless, I feel a greater force is at hand, driving my primal instincts to store a superfluous layer of winter fat. Is there any validity to this? I know my doctor sure doesn’t buy it. But, I’m still planning on running that Thanksgiving half marathon. At this rate, I may just be able to lay down and roll to the finish line. At least my feet won’t get sore.
To binging and purging: Cheers, Sláinte, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, and Kampai!

Pork & Cork

July 23, 2009
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I’m working on some combinations for something called “Wine Blogging Wednesday,” coming up in a couple weeks. You can read more about it at the host’s site: Wannabe Wino. Basically, a bunch of wine nerds/ blog nerds like myself (some even nerdier than me…those who know me will find that hard to believe) write on their sites about a certain theme. Then, the host compiles all the posts, and everyone is exposed to a bunch of different wines, opinions, new sites to read, etc. You know, yet another one of those good ideas I didn’t invent.

Seriously- jerk who invented the motorized riding cooler- that was mine. MINE!!!

So anyway, the theme for this upcoming WBW is “I have Zinned,” an homage to America’s grape, Zinfandel. Definitely one of my favorites, and one of the easiest wines to drink…despite alcohol levels often exceeding 15% (why so high? read about it here). I especially think a tasty Zinfandel, with all its jammy fruit and peppery spice, goes great with BBQ, particularly if it’s slathered in a sweet & spicy sauce. And to all you BBQ snobs, let me clear the air and say sauce does not great BBQ make. But, if it is used, it’s often good with Zinfandel. Get off my back, John Q. McPurist.

While not ready to unleash my wine/food pairing for the upcoming event, I thought I’d try some grilled pork and some Zin together to see if I could get the creative juices flowing. Behold!

Let’s be honest, if not slightly creepy: those grill marks are damn sexy.

Chops: pretty solid. I brined them overnight in a mixture of apple juice, salt, brown sugar, Crown Royal, onion powder, cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, and allspice berries. Then, I dusted the outside with smoked paprika and rubbed down with olive oil. Cooked on a hot grill for about 3 1/2 minutes per side. A little salty- I’ll back it off a bit next time- but absolutely THE way to go with normally-bland pork chops. If you only take one thing away from this post….BRINE. BRINE. BRINE. (okay, that’s 3 things)

Oh, that’s broccoli in the background. Thought I’d try grilling broccoli. If you enjoy aweful, huge-embarrassing-failure-type dishes, then grill your broccoli. Oh well, can’t figure out it sucks until you try it.

Now, time for the wine. I thought I’d open a 2006 Kokomo Winery Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. I’ve liked the stuff these guys have made, and owner/winemaker Erik Miller is a pretty nice fella, to boot. Here’s the wine:

SUNUVABITCH! The wine was corked. And I don’t mean “corked” as in it had a cork in it. No such thing would elicit crude, blue language out of a golden-tongued socialite like me*.

*denotes sarcasm

The term “corked” is something many of you have probably heard. It’s the smell of trichloroanisole, more commonly referred to as TCA or “cork taint“. Without getting all “Mister Wizard” on you, it’s basically a naturally-occuring fungus that can get into cork. When the corks are cleaned with chlorine for sanitation purposes before bottling, the fungus- if present- reacts with the chlorine, forming TCA. It’s an incredibly powerful compound, detectable in parts per trillion. If you don’t know how much a trillion is, check out our national debt here.

Although harmless, TCA can render your wine worthless. It robs the wine of pleasant aromas, and presents a damp, musty smell…locker room, wet dog, wet cardboard, etc. Furthermore, it can make the wine incredibly dull tasting. Basically, without sugar-coating it, TCA is a bunch of bullsh*t.

But, hey, it happens. One of the reasons why you’re seeing a lot more screw tops on high-quality wine these days. Regardless, I don’t think less of the folks at Kokomo, and I certainly don’t think less of Zinfandel. I’ll just have to crack another bottle and keep trying…

…until then, Cheers, Sláinte, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, and Kampai!