Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rib Eye Steak and Tin Foil Potatoes for Dinner

Rib Eye Steak on the Weber Smokey Joe Grill

Rib eye steaks were on sale, and my son was getting back from college orientation, so I thought we should have a cook out.

I've heard rib eyes called "man steaks." I suppose that's because they are big and meaty. I do know that my boys seem to like rib eye the best.

Rib eye steak is the loin part there at the ribs but cut clean without the bones (usually - they can also be cut with the rib bones attached). You may see a little fat (with the eye) but not much though the steak is marbled and perfect for grilling.

I used my easy grilled steak recipe. It's very simple, and I've not found any better way to make delicious steak every time.

There was a bag of potatoes on the counter, so I thought I'd make some tin foil potatoes to go with the steak. I grilled those first and then did the steaks. I had some fresh garlic and put some in the packs. They really smelled great grilling and tasted great too.

We rounded out the meal with some fresh green beans and rolls. The neighbors gave us fresh green beans from their garden. I just cooked them on top of the stove with a little fat back.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Day Trip to Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

Ocracoke from the Ferry Coming in From Cedar Island

Smallest Lighthouse at Around 75 Feet on Ocracoke Island

You Feel Like You Have Your Own Private Beach on Ocracoke

Waves Crashing on the Beach at Ocracoke Island, NC

Ocracoke Island is the bottom island on the string of outer bank islands in North Carolina. The only way to visit is by ferry - either from Hatteras or from Cedar Island.

Ocracoke is one of the prettiest places I've ever been. Most of the island is protected land and very natural. The little village coming in from Cedar Island is beautiful. The whole island looks like something you'd see in a book, but it's real.

We thought about staying on Ocracoke Island, but it's pretty expensive. We saved a lot by getting a cottage on Cedar Island and taking the ferry over. That ferry ride is 2.5 hours. The view is great. We did take Scrabble, because the boys get bored with a ride that long. Scrabble passed the time. They have air conditioned rooms with tables and with windows, so you can still see the view while playing board games.

Ocracoke beach is remote, so we packed a picnic to take with us. We use a Coleman thermoelectric cooler/heater on the road and a Coleman Extreme for beach trips. There are a lot of nice restaurants on the island as well. We especially like the Jolly Roger on the water.

After walking around the village and getting smoothies and playing all afternoon on the beach, we headed back to Cedar Island, grilled dinner and went to bed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp on the Barbecue Grill

Fresh Shrimp Wrapped in Bacon on the Grill

One of the best parts about our vacation to Cedar Island, NC (behind the outer banks - North Carolina) was the fresh seafood. We were less than a mile from Quality Seafood and could see the shrimp boats come in. Then, we'd go down and buy shrimp right as it came in. This was just a mile or less down the road. Doesn't get any fresher. Plus the guys at Quality Seafood were super helpful. They gave up tips like how to get our clams to open up easier (freeze them for a day or more).

Getting the shrimp direct was only $3 per pound. Boy, I thought I was in heaven. At that price we bought all we could eat plus some to bring home, and I tried out all kinds of shrimp recipes on the grill. Our favorite was Bacon Wrapped Shrimp. We tried several ways, but the best by family vote is the way I made it with cooking the bacon partially.

A lot of people stay away from seafood on the grill. They think it's hard to cook grilled seafood. Actually, seafood is one of the easiest things to grill. The key is not to overcook. You're talking just minutes with seafood. The main mistake folks make in grilling shrimp or other seafoods is leaving it on too long. Then, the seafood tastes rubbery. Yuck. Just remember that it's quick. That's they key.

Fresh Corn on the Grill in the Husks

The Trick to Grilling Corn in the Husks is to Soak the Corn First

Cook Over Medium Heat on Gas or Over Charcoal

Don't Worry When the Husks Turn Black - That's Normal

My Boys Love Fresh Corn Grilled in the Husks

We spent last week at Cedar Island in a cottage with a grill. This was our second visit to Cedar Sunrise. It's a great place for the outdoorsy types and those who love to grill.

My boys love grilled corn on the cob. We grill corn in husks and also in tin foil. The flavor is a little different - but both ways are good.

Corn takes up less space on the grill when made in tin foil, so that's usually my deciding factor when I shuck, husk, and foil the corn.

It's less work to grill corn in the husks. Just put the corn in a cooler of water for 20 minutes or more. It does not have to be exact, but I'd try to get them on the heat in an hour at the most.

Grill the corn for around 30 minutes. Test with a fork. When the fork slides right in, you know the corn is tender. After a couple of times, you'll have this step down.

The silks just fall right off after the corn is grilled, so that's nice. When I have room, I usually grill it in the husks. Then, I don't have to shuck the corn and desilk it. Those jobs aren't that much fun.

Produce is plentiful on the coast of North Carolina, so we bought corn at roadside stands and had corn with several meals. The boys love corn, so that's always a hit.

It's really easy to grill corn if you know the basics, and it's hard to beat grilled corn.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Week at Cedar Island Beach in North Carolina with a Grill

Cedar Island, North Carolina is a beautiful area - quiet and relaxing.

Clams are plentiful out in the sound at Cedar Island.

Put out a crab trap and have fresh crabs the next day.

Full moon over the sound at Cedar Sunrise vacation cottage.

We spent last week unplugged at a remote island in North Carolina. Cedar Island sits right behind Ocracoke Island and is about 5 miles long by 1 mile wide. Most of the land area is a federal preserve, but there's a small community including a few rental cottages and a hotel at the ferry dock.

We found this little gem of a vacation spot at Vacation Rental by Owner. The house we rent is called Cedar Sunrise. It's right on the water with a small dock. We drop crab traps and walk out in the sand and feel around for fresh clams.

In the evenings we grill up delicous local seafood including shrimp right off the boat at Quality Seafood - less than a mile up the road.

There's no phone, and the cell phone doesn't pick up. The TV has three local channels. No internet hook up. If you really want to get away from it all, this is the place to do it. You can, of course, take the ferry over to Ocracoke or drive about an hour to Morehead City and Emerald Isle. Then again, you can just put your feet up and take a real vacation from the world. Either way, it's great fun.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Off to the Beach - Fun in the Sun - Grilling on the Deck

Bridge Over to Cedar Island, NC

We're headed to Cedar Island, North Carolina on Saturday. My son just graduated from high school, and I had him pick our destination. He wanted to go back to Cedar Island. We went a couple of years ago and had a great time.

Cedar Island is an inner barrier island - tucked behind Ocracoke Island (the bottom of the chain of outer bank islands). It's a small town - peaceful and beautiful. The cost to stay on the water is about half what it would be on Ocracoke, and the ferry is right up the road. We just hopped that and hit Ocracoke for a day last time.

There's a hotel on Cedar Island, but we work out better getting a house. I figured that out when the boys were little and bouncing off the walls in motels. I found Vacation Rental By Owner and discovered that we could get a house - and often for less than the price of a hotel. They have houses for rent all over the world. We've had great luck with VRBO.

The house we rent at Cedar Island is right on the sound. The water is shallow and great for swimming and for boating. The owners have a kayak and canoe which guests can use.

There are clam beds out in the sound. The boys discovered those. We enjoyed grilling fresh clams the last time we went. Since we know about the clams ahead of time, I've been thinking about different clam dishes we can enjoy.

The owners of Cedar Sunrise have a nice gas grill on the porch, and we grilled almost all our meals on the last visit. We found out where the shrimp boats come in, so I know we'll grill some shrimp. It would be really nice if I could locate my grill wok, but my son reorganized the basement. I can now find nothing, but it looks better down there.

Cooking seafood is really easy. The key is not to overcook. We've gone out to eat seafood - of course. But the boys like my cooking better. I've converted several folks to eating scallops. Scallops usually are not very good at restaurants, but I can fry them up and never have enough.

Renting the house at Cedar Island worked out great last time, and I'm looking forward to visiting again. I can putter on the porch and play around with the grill and still see the boys out swimming and boating. The boys are teens now, so I guess that wouldn't be essential, but I like to know where they are and what they're doing.

I'll be offline next week. No net service. Even the cell phone wouldn't pick up last time. That's OK. Being unplugged for a week is refreshing.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Play With Your Food and Friends at Food Buzz

I found a fun new online food site called Food Buzz.

I stumbled on Food Buzz when I Googled my name. Lord yes, I must be vain. They had found my Barbecue Master blog and had it on a news feed. That was a nice surprise. I never know where I might show up online.

The site must be really new as it still has "beta" up at the top.

The idea, from the best I can gather, is that this is a place for foodies of all types to hang out. There are barbecue and grill types but also every other type of food you can imagine. In addition, they have restaurant reviews by state with members giving ratings and overviews.

When you sign up, you can fill out a profile page. That includes a photo and quote and some details depending on what you feel comfortable sharing.

Then you can share reviews, recipes, photos and news.

Food Buzz is a community site, so you can add friends and rate and add feeds from other members. All your activities are listed like on some of the networking spaces like My Space.

I must confess that I don't have it all figured out just yet. There are a lot of options, and I've never played at a social networking site. I am enjoying adding some information and ideas and seeing what everyone is buzzing about as far as food and cooking.

If you're a foodie, check out Food Buzz. You'll find lots of people with common interests and get loads of new information and ideas. You can just look around or join up and join in the fun.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Lester Family Reunion at the Bandy Community Center

Lester Family Reunion Dinner

Checking Out the Dessert Table

Need to Get the Recipe for This Yummy Cake

Me and Cousin Doug

We were up early and getting ready for the Lester family reunion. We're not really Lesters, but my aunt is married to a Wingo who is kin to the Lesters. We're probably cousins somewhere back down the line too. You can pretty well go to any family reunion in the Appalachian mountains and be related in some way. Just name your Grandpa and everyone will get it figured out.

Since we were in from out of town, we just dropped by Colonel Sanders and got some Kentucky Fried Chicken. I made the chicken run while Mom got a shower. She is an early bird and had been up pulling weeds since daybreak I'd wager.

Someone had put together a nice book with family pictures and stories. Everyone was checking that out as well as a huge family tree taped up in the hall that included photos of the relatives.

The dinner was terrific. Mountain women can cook. I got a little of everything - well not literally everything - but a nice selection. Someone had made soupy potatoes like my Grandma used to make. I hadn't had those in years, and they were just as yummy as I remembered.

Desserts are my downfall. Sigh. And, they sure had some tasty ones. I wouldn't even begin to name a favorite. That's one sure way to get in trouble with the cooks. I will say the homemade banana pudding was fabulous, but we ended up eating that the night before. So, we didn't get there with banana pudding that my aunt made off my Grandma's special recipe.

Southwest Virginia - Jewel Ridge 4th of July Celebration

Up in the graveyard - overlooking the 4th of July party.

Down in the crowd with the local band in the background.

Fireworks were awesome up on top of the mountain.

The Jewel Ridge 4th of July party was one I will never forget. I thought we'd just be sitting on the side of the road watching the fireworks. I didn't realize this was a full blown party.

Since we had little kids along as well as a couple of Grandmas, we blanketed down in the graveyard up above the celebration area. One of the uncles went down and brought up popcorn, sodas, and an icee.

The kids danced to the music from a local band. I never did catch the name of the band, but they were certainly energetic. They did a range of songs including old rock and roll and some patriotic selections. The lead guy had the crowd roaring when he yelled, "We don't burn no flags around here." He brought one of the girls just back from Iraq up on the stage where everyone cheered like crazy. She got a free t-shirt and CD for her service.

It was around 9:30 or 10 before the fireworks cranked up. They were very impressive up high on the mountain.

It rained a little bit as folks were riding out. Most of the people from the neighborhood had decorated their houses and were out on their porches waving at everyone driving out. Since we were in the back of a pick up, it was like being in a parade. The kids had a blast looking for American flags and yelling "hi" to everyone down the road.

By the time we got back, the little ones were fast asleep. We carried them in and tucked them in bed. Then we called it a night, since we had the family reunion the next morning.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Headed Up to Jewel Ridge for the 4th of July Fireworks

We loaded up the truck to head around the mountain to Jewel Ridge. When I say loaded, I do mean we had a full truck. This was just the first round.

Then we climbed up the mountain through the graveyard to find a spot to sit and watch the fireworks.

Here's part of the family getting settled in for the fireworks. Where the rest of them got to . . . anybody's guess.

Normally I'd be dragging the old Weber grill out in the back yard on the 4th of July, but this year Mom asked me if I'd like to ride up to the mountains for the Lester family reunion. I'm always game for a road trip, so I left frozen pizzas in the freezor for the boys who are pretty lazy on cooking when I'm off and gone.

The reunion was actually on the 5th, but we went in on the 4th. Either everyone was where they were going already or travel was way down. It was easy driving. Very little traffic.

My aunt (who is more like a sister) and my uncle figured we'd all go up on Jewel Ridge to see the fireworks. This is apparently a yearly tradition, but as I mentioned, I'm usually not out visiting on the 4th.

We loaded up in the truck and headed up and around the mountain over to Jewel Ridge. We found a spot to park alongside the road and then walked down the road and then up the hill through the graveyard. That's where we settled down.

The party which I didn't know about was down the hill and not quite at full tilt when we arrived. It got louder and rowdier as the night went on. This is what I'd call a "throw down." When they do the 4th of July up on Jewel Ridge, they really do the 4th of July.

It was a tad calmer up in the graveyard, but there was still some dancing and fireworks going on.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Win a New Grill or a $10,000 Backyard Make Over

Grilling Boneless Chicken Breasts

I've been using cooking sprays on my grill grates for years. It prevents the foods from sticking and also makes clean up easier. I just spray as a matter of course, but it's especially helpful to spray the grates when cooking foods low in fat (and healthier).

Crisco has some very flavorful sprays out now. The regular is kind of neutral and works with any grilled foods. The butter flavor is good for richer grilled recipes. I'd say the olive oil is my favorite.

If you pick up any cooking spray for your grill, be sure to visit the Crisco web site. You can enter to win a free grill or even a $10,000 backyard makeover. There are 100 daily winners on the Coleman RoadTrip grill and then the big winner at the end.

The Coleman grills are really cute. They double as a camp stove and grill with different cooking tops.

I don't even know what to say about $10,000 on a backyard makeover. Wow! I guess that's all I can say. I just drag my grill out in the yard and go at it. I don't even know if I could spend $10,000. But, I'd sure like to try (-:

The contest is very easy. You sign up with your information. Otherwise they won't be able to tell you when/if you win. You need the barcode from your Crisco product. Once you sign in, then you can enter again and again with new product codes.

The Crisco backyard makeover promotion runs through September 2008.

Good luck if you enter. Even if you don't do contests, check out the spray. It does make a world of difference when you're grilling.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Family Night Pot Luck Dinner at Boy Scout Camp

It's Amazing How a Few Days at Camp Make the Boys Love You Ever So Much

Theme at Camp was Cowboys - Our Crowd Had Real Ten Gallon Hats

Our Scoutmaster is the Max - He Comes Up with All the Cool Ideas

Time to Eat - Nobody is Shy About That at Boy Scout Camp

We got to Boy Scout Camp without turning over any of the food which is always a good thing. It can be quite a production to get all the pot luck food made, packed and secured for the hour drive to Camp John J. Barnhardt.

One year we arrived a tad late, so we allowed some extra time. Got there before the boys came to the shelter and got to see them all come in. Most of the boys ran up full speed. Some played it cool - to some extent. It's hard to be too cool when you see your people and especially when they come bearing food.

All the boys had huge ten gallon cowboy hats, since the theme this year was cowboys. The Scoutmaster always comes up with great ideas, and the hats were his inspiration. I heard he made a stagecoach, but I didn't get to see that.

As always, we had loads of great food. That's one thing our troop in known for - great pot lucks. Our boys serving as counselors at camp, of course, opted to eat with us. They know which groups go all out, and our group certainly does.

My kid has been going to camp with the troop. This year he is in the counselor training program. He was issued one counselor shirt which got soaked the first day. No one told him to buy more. So, he got chewed out for wearing his offical Scout shirt, since his counselor shirt was wet. He rounded up some money and bought more shirts. I think it's been a long week, and I'll be glad to get him home on Saturday.

Cooking for BSA Camp Family Night

Mini Ham Biscuits - Homemade Biscuits and Country Ham

Chilled Black Eyed Pea Salad

Quick and Easy Appetizer Tray

I was cooking up a storm this afternoon, since this is Family Night at Camp John J. Barnhardt. Every Wednesday during summer camp, the families visit the campers and bring home cooked food. After a couple of days eating camp food, the guys are always really happy to see Mom and the familes.

It's always hot in July when our boys go to Boy Scout camp. That makes it a bit of a challenge to come up with dishes that will travel and be OK in the heat. I have several coolers of various sizes and even a thermoelectric heater/cooler that plugs in the lighter in the truck.

It had been a while since I'd made country ham biscuits, and IGA had some center cut country ham from Frank Corriher. Since there's always so much food at camp on family night, I thought I'd just make mini biscuits. Instead of using the biscuit cutter, I used a juice glass. That worked out well. The empty bowl proved that.

A cold salad seemed like a good plan. I made some black eyed peas and then mixed up a salad and chilled it for a couple of hours - then put it in a cooler with ice. It's a really tasty salad. I added that to my side dishes recipe list at Yes You Can Grill.

By the time I made scratch biscuits and cooked up black eyed peas for the salad, I was pushing it close on the time. I have the acrylic Tupperware serving platter above that is always a quick way to put together something for a pot luck dinner. I just add whatever I have on hand. I always keep some dried beef in the cabinet. I made cream cheese beef roll ups for the center. My son loves black olives, so I opened a can of those. I rounded that out with hot sausages which I adore and some white cheddar cheese.

Then I ran by to get my Mom, and off to camp we went loaded down with lots of good food and ready to see our favorite camper.