Wednesday, July 29, 2009
When we have big barbecue parties here at the house, table space is always an issue. We have a small outdoor table, a little camp table, and then the grills have side spaces to work. But, all the spaces are small. It's not like you can put a full spread out on any of those.
Our workaround has been to borrow a table from the church and then return it (of course). You'll see a church table at my son's graduation luau above. Now, that's a good sturdy table and something I have been needing.
The issue has been space though. Like many folks, I do not live in a mansion. Finding space for a 6 foot table is a problem.
Fortunately I won a contest at Solutions. This was back when Mug Root Beer gave me some prizes for readers for Father's Day. I was googling up "contest" and "giveaway" and looking for my Mug contest. Forgive me. I just can't help myself. I get excited about my blog and was excited to have the contest and prizes for folks who stop by Barbecue Master. It was while googling that I saw that Solutions had a Father's Day contest too.
Hum. I thought, "Well, I'm having fun with the contest on my bbq blog. I'm sure Solutions will enjoy more stories." I'm generally not lucky at all. But, I thought I'd enter for the fun of it and to support another site hosting an online reader contest.
Well, what do you know?
I had not been familiar with Solutions but had looked around when I entered. I knew they had some cool stuff (including grill accessories), so I was all pumped up about $200 in shopping.
I am not a fast shopper at all, so I spent several hours looking at the items at Solutions. One of the first things that went on my list was a six foot table that folded to 3 foot. Oh yes. That sounded perfect for my outdoor parties. It would take a few weeks longer, and it was $5 extra on shipping. I pressed the button and hoped that it would be as great as I thought it would be.
Here's the folding table from the Solutions web site. I do need to snap a photo the next time we are set up in the yard.
First off, I would note that it is a very sturdy table and heavy. I can handle it (and it does have a carry handle when it's folded too), but it's not flimsy. That's good, because a table used outdoors gets pretty rough handling sometimes.
The table looks more white in the photo, but it's actually a gray color. It does not show dirt like I thought it might. Also it's some type of resin I think, so it wipes off better than the old church tables which seem to be some type of fake wood on top and do stain if you're not careful.
The best part, of course, is that that table folds in half. So, it's just three feet wide for storing. I find it fits behind a chair in the game room which is kind of a square type chair. It could go a number of places in my house with it only being 3 feet when folded, but it just really fits perfect behind the chair.
I was really excited with the table and the other items I got when I won the contest at Solutions.com. The other things I got were one of the garden hoses that curls so does not get kinked (and we have not kinked it yet), a long handled grill brush (nice quality and bristles do not fall out like some barbecue brushes), and a measuring cup thing where you pour in the pot licker like when you cook down a chicken and then the grease goes up and you can pour out broth that is healthier.
The one item that I wanted and why it took so long to decide was the brownie pan. It was made kind of like a maze so that the brownie pieces were all basically edge pieces. Now, you will only understand that if you are a brownie fan who loves the edges and especially the corner pieces. The pan was pretty expensive, and I had the other things on my list too. So, I had to decide what I most wanted. I know my homemade brownies would be super in this pan, but they are great in a regular pan as well.
That was my super fun splurge at Solutions.com. I'm sure glad I saw the contest and entered. Everything I got on the prize shopping trip was great and especially the barbecue table which will also be perfect for the Christmas morning brunch I host every year. We were getting really crowded on that as well, so a table will be just the thing for that as well as our outdoor fun.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Pork Shoulders Smoking in Durham, NC
I noticed a restaurant claiming to be in Playboy's top 10 for barbecue restaurants, so I had to go check that out. Sure enough. Playboy.com does have a list of barbecue joints across the nation.
Hum. I don't think I'd go to a barbecue restaurant looking for naked women (or anywhere else for that matter), and I don't know that I'd go with Playboy for my restaurant advice. Then again, they do have some excellent articles. I first discovered that when they ran the interview with President Jimmy Carter where he said that he had lusted in his heart. I guess I was in middle or high school, but I managed to get a look at that article, since it caused quite a stir at the time. That's kind of funny, I guess, given that it seemed more shocking at that time than the Clinton scandal did for this generation.
In any case, the list does span the map which probably annoys most anyone who is big on barbecue. Why? Barbecue varies greatly depending on the area of the country. Ribs in Kansas, beef in Texas, and pork in North Carolina are very different. It makes for a strange list as far as lists go. But, at least, they did define barbecue as being something other than cooked over gas or electric (meaning wood or perhaps charcoal I gather).
The only North Carolina barbecue joint to make the cut is Wilber's out of Goldsboro which makes me wonder if the writer tried out the barbecue joints or just picked one well known bbq place from the state. I'm not saying Wilber's isn't great. I'm just wondering how it was deemed the very best across the entire state. There's a tiny blurb about the number of sandwiches sold. Perhaps the list was based on volume of sales. Hard to tell.
I'd say, "Go out and try any of the restaurants listed if you're in the state where you see one." They appear to be the well known barbeque places that you can find listed online over and over. So, you're likely to get a good meal. If you're looking for the hole in the wall or mom & pop bbq places known mostly to locals, then you will not find those in Playboy. After all, you can tell those girls do not eat much barbecue or they would not be so thin.
Feel free to add your favorite barbecue joint in the comments.
Sunday, July 05, 2009
I've been checking out some of my old favorite barbecue joints as well as some new ones for my Yes You Can Grill web site. You can grill all the time, but it is nice to take a break from time to time and let someone else do the work. That's especially true of slow smoked North Carolina barbecue.
North Carolina barbecue is pork, and it varies depending on whether you're on the coast (east) or piedmont (Lexington style). The main difference is that east is whole hog with vinegar sauce and piedmont is shoulders with a little tomato (ketchup etc) in a vinegar based sauce (also thin and spicy like the east but with a little red color).
Yesterday we were at Wink's which is a favorite here in Salisbury, NC. It's been around a long time. I remember when Wink's was over near the motel on Innes St. They moved over to a bigger spot on Faith Road just past Lowe's off I85.
They have been and stir are wood burners. They slow cook the pork out back. You can look and see the big wood pile and the pit. That's what we call real barbecue here in NC, and it's getting harder to find it done the old fashioned way but well worth it.
They have a lot of good old Southern side dishes to go with the barbecue at Wink's. My boys always go for the fries, but okra is my favorite when it's done right. It's done right at Wink's. Yum.
Portions are generous at Wink's, but if you have room, they have homemade desserts. You can see here that they have the classic Southern sweets. I need to go one day and just get dessert as I always get too full on the barbecue to have dessert.
For more on Wink's, see my Wink's review and more photos. I'm also adding more barbecue restaurants - mostly in North Carolina for now but branching out as I travel more and can get reviews written up.
Be sure to tip me off to any favorite barbecue joints in your neck of the woods. I'm always on the look out for great BBQ.
Faith, NC has a yearly 4th of July festival, and the entire town gets in the spirit. When ride through to the festival or to visit friends, you'll see lots of patriotic decorations and lots of cook outs.
I stopped by this one which was at full tilt when we were leaving the festival. They thought I was an old buddy but couldn't place my name (-: So, I had to confess that I was a blogger and wanted to see if I could chat and take a few photos.
The blonde lady lives right on Main Street in Faith, so she is the yearly cook out host. She does all the set up and provides the place to party, and everyone else brings the food. The guys do the grilling. Now, that's the way to do a cook out with everyone pitching in.
It looked like they were grilling hot dogs and hamburgers when I was visiting, and you can never go wrong with those. Yum!
I also gave them one of my Yes You Can Grill cards, so maybe next year they'll try out some Grill Girl ideas too.
The guys were getting the truck on down the road from the parking lot, so I had to say good bye to these friendly Faith, NC grillers. I'll look for them again next year and give a wave and see if they remember me.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
As many years as I have lived in this area, I've never made it out to the Faith, North Carolina 4th of July festival. It's a week long event kind of like a county fair and with entertainment, contests (like the Apple Ugly eating contest), Faith Idol singing, and fireworks to wrap the week.
I'll probably crank up the grill later tonight, but the Faith NC Festival had plenty of good grilled good. There were loads of hot dogs and hamburgers at different booths. I would have to recommend this delicious grilled corn too. For the young ladies, I might add that the grill chef is a cutie as well. Just in case you didn't notice - which you probably did.
If you want to make your own grilled corn on the cob, then check out my grilled corn recipes at Yes You Can Grill. It really is easy to make.
The curly fries also looked great. I try to stay away from those, since the doc said to watch that fried food. But, yum, those are good. That's one of those things you save up for as a treat when you have high cholesterol.
I was thinking not to get on the swings after eating carnival food. I learned that early on. I also learned not to get cotton candy before visiting the cow barn, although Faith does not have a cow barn at the 4th of July festival. They did, however, have cotton candy.
Faith, NC puts on the biggest 4th of July party I know of, and I'm glad I went this year. I'll have to put that on the calendar, and since it's the week of the 4th, it ought to be easy enough to remember. They were having a good time down there, and it's only about 1/2 hour from my house. Heck. I wouldn't even need to crank up the grill. I could just go back later and get dinner too.
Happy 4th of July to all my readers (thanks) and to the good folks in Faith, NC who certainly were friendly and were very patriotic too for the 4th.
Friday, July 03, 2009
I've always liked Lawry's products. The boys are especially wild about the seasoning shake that's orange colored. They like that on almost anything.
When I saw that Lawry's had grill marinades out, I decided I'd better get a bottle and see what they were doing with marinades.
They had several different types of grill marinade, but I went with the Mexican Chile & Lime. I've always been a Mexican and Tex-Mex food fan.
When I took the lid off, yum. This stuff smells fabulous. You get a combo of tomatoes, lime, and just a little chile heat. It's heavenly smelling.
I was a little concerned about marinating in the Lawry's, since it's pretty thick. It must have more vinegar and less tomato and sugar though, because I didn't have any problems with burning, and I was grilling a pork loin (indirect heat on a Portable Kitchen grill).
As the pork loin cooked, I continued to mop with the marinade. Hum. I'm not sure I'd do that next time. I'd say the 30 minutes and on smaller cuts of meat like boneless chicken breasts or maybe shrimp would work out better. With the time cooking and the mopping, the marinade ended up being a little overpowering. And, that's was just on the outside and is in the photo.
Actually I liked the sauce. The boys weren't as keen on it. I think it's a good mixture and that this is just one where you want to use a light hand when marinating and probably avoid saucing other than for those who really like to do that. Just let them pour to taste as the flavors are strong on this marinade.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
The 4th of July is the biggest grilling day of the year. Remember that it doesn't have to be fancy, although it can be fun to try out some new grilled or smoked foods.
If you're looking for some inspiration, check out my grill web site Yes You Can Gril. The quickest way to see if I have what you're looking for it to check out the site map. I try to add all new articles there, and I am adding all the time. I take requests too, so let me know if you don't find what you're looking for.
Have some fun stuff going to keep your guests busy. Now, it does depend on the age of course. But, the little ones always love homemade bubbles. Old fashioned flyswatters make mega mini bubbles.
YUM! We always have way more than we can eat family gatherings. That's OK. Leftovers are nice, and that means I don't have to cook later in the day.