Friday, October 31, 2008

Holy Smoke - The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue

North Carolina Smoked Barbecue Shoulder

UNC Press has just come out with a great book about North Carolina barbecue. Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue
features how to cook barbecue as well as tracing the history of BBQ and includes information about famous que restaurants and pit masters from NC.

You can read more about Holy Smoke at my outdoor cooking web site - Yes You Can Grill.

I don't really excited about most books on barbecue. They usually just have recipes and try to improve on or add odd ingredients to classics. No. I really don't especially want to put mango on my chicken. I like that in my fruit salad. Thanks.

Holy Smoke really isn't a cookbook, although you do get a lot of inside secrets to making North Carolina barbecue and also directions for some sauces, slaws and even desserts like the famous Pig Pickin' Cake. It's more like walking back in time (and up through today) and getting to meet and talk to everyone who played a part in making barbecue big in the Tar Heel state.

You don't have to be from North Carolina to appreciate Holy Smoke. It's a fascinating story for anyone who enjoys barbecue in general or who likes great stories of people and places.

Holy Smoke would be a great book to give to anyone on your gift list who enjoys outdoor cooking or for family and friends from the South. It's also a fun read for general history buffs.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Free Kraft Food & Family Magazine Now Online

Kraft Food and Family has always been one of my favorite online freebies. It's a glossy magazine from the Kraft Kitchens sent out quarterly. It's not a barbecue magazine, but they do include some great grill recipes in the summer issues.

When I first signed up for Kraft Food & Family, I thought it would be a booklet or something. But, it turned out to be a real magazine and packed with lots of ideas, directions, tips, and recipes. I really looked forward to getting the free cooking magazine.

My new issue of Food & Family came in this week, and it includes an "important notice" on the side flap. The next issue will be an online edition. They included a coupon code and promised $5 in Kraft coupons to go to the online form and sign up for the online magazine. Well, actually you don't get to the magazine. You get signed up for the weekly emails and then notification when the online magazine is actually ready.

I must confess I was bummed. I'm just not as likely to sit down and read a magazine or check out recipes in an online magazine format. It's kind of like those e-cards. They just don't feel real like the ones someone takes the time to buy, write on, and stick in the mail with an actual stamp. Sure. I enjoy e-cards that folks send, but it really is not the same as getting a card I can hold in my hands. Same thing with a magazine. It's not really a magazine, in my mind, when it's online.

The economy is bad, and printing is expensive. I noticed that Christian Science Monitor is going to the online format as well. Whew. What a week. Print is looking pretty shaky these days.

I generally roll with the flow. I clicked over to the Kraft online form. I put in my coupon code and my zip code as requested. No dice. It didn't work. I changed the zeros to regular old letter O's in case I was reading them as numbers instead of letters. There were two of those, so I tried each on separate and both together. That didn't work. I checked the zip code. We don't use the extra four around here, but I looked at my label and then tried zip plus dash plus four as on my label. Nope. That didn't do it either.

There is a click to sign up as a new member at Kraft on the home page of Kraft. I suppose I could do that. I don't know if I'd get the $5 in coupons if I went that route. I'm also not sure I'd even read the online magazine. So, it's kind of annoying that I spent time to do the shift as they requested (and then we on a weekly email list to boot) and then the form did not work. This is not Mom and Pop down the road. It's a major food company. They should have the form right before sending bad news about the Kraft magazine being cancelled and then asking for subscribers to stay loyal with this change of format to online.

I don't know if the new online magazine is available yet, because I can't even get signed up. The print magazine says that I'll get a "sneak peek." I guess I won't if I can't sign up.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Food Vendors - Don't Turn Down Free Advertising

Grilled Turkey Legs - Weren't Selling Very Well Yesterday Morning

I was at a local food festival recently and noticed the beautiful grilled turkey legs one man was cooking at his food vendor tent. I snapped a couple of pictures, introduced myself and gave the food vendor my business card. I told him that I do some online food and cooking writing.

"You don't know my name or my business, so you can't really write anything," he said. "You need a notebook and a pen and need to ask some questions."

In fact, I had a notebook and four pens (always good to have back ups) in my backpack. Since I had a camera in one hand and an umbrella in the other, it was a tad difficult to get everything juggled around.

Generally food vendors are friendly and have business cards. I can get details as needed by going online or by emailing or calling. I often mention various vendors here on the blog. One funnel cake guy emailed and asked to use my blog post on his web site. Sure. He even linked back which was terrific. I didn't ask though. I just blog and link things that I think readers would enjoy.

Perhaps the Jerky Turkey guy thought that I'm getting rich writing about food. I do know one online foodie who makes a living writing about cooking online. Actually, he sells e-cookbooks and hard copy cookbooks, so that's where he turns his profit. The rest of the online foodies I know do it, because they enjoy it. They are not earning much (if anything) with online food writing. I can't fill up with one tank of gas during the month with online earnings. That's across a food blog and two websites. A decent day would be 30 cents on income. I'm not complaining. I'm just stating facts there.

I go to various festivals and write about the food (and crafts and other things), because I enjoy doing it. It's my hobby. I have a day job. This is what I do for fun. I grill and share recipes and tips and also check out what others are doing as far as outdoor cooking.

The festival was a day out with my family. I carried my camera along as I usually do. I spoke with several vendors at the festival and blogged with the event still taking place. People headed to the festival later in the day were reading and likely checked out some of the vendors I mentioned. The turkey leg guy might have sold some turkey legs to people who were reading and then attending. This would have been free advertising pure and simple.

I didn't need or want anything from the Jerky Turkey guy. I just thought his turkey legs looked good. He was off the main drag at the festival. He didn't have any customers at the stand. A blog mention might have helped him out. Certainly, it wouldn't have hurt his business that day or in the future.

I was thinking all this, but life is too short to worry about turkey legs. I thanked the guy and started to move along. If he didn't want advertising, that was fine by me.

"Hey," he said. "You ought to get a leg. Then you can write a better story."

"It's 10:45 in the morning," I said. "We haven't decided what we're having for lunch yet."

Actually I'm not a big fan of turkey legs. They are OK, but they are not my favorite. My son does, however, love grilled turkey legs. He also lets me sample his food, so I can share more about what we see and do when we're out and about.

Seriously now, did Mr. Turkey Jerk think that I'd want to do business with him after he'd been rude? Sure. I do some professional writing. It's not writing about turkey legs though. And, it's not on my free time out with the family.

The turkey leg vendor lost a sale, and he lost free advertising.

If you are a food vendor, maybe this post will help. It only takes a second to hand a food writer a card. If you don't have business cards, most food writers would be glad to write down your information or even let you write it down on the back of our own business cards. I know I've done that before. Everyone starts somewhere, and some vendors are new. They are usually very glad to get noticed and mentioned.

I'm not saying the turkey leg guy owed me anything. It's his business. He can run it however he likes. But when someone is not asking for anything (and I never do) and when it could help sales, it really doesn't make much sense to be a jerk.

Fortunately, this is the only food vendor I've ever spoken to who has been rude. Most food vendors are glad to meet and talk to people and are interested in getting some media attention (even when it's informal). There are several vendors that I look for every year and mention in my blog and on my websites. One guy that I always mention asked me this year if I sell grills or something. I smiled and told him no and that I'm JUST a writer. I really hate to put it that way - just a writer - but that's the reality. I don't have a stash of grills, sauces, rubs, cookbooks or anything else. I have a camera and a notebook, and I have fun talking to people and spreading the word about good eats. Well, I usually do anyway. I didn't much enjoy talking to the turkey guy.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fried Apple Pies at the Lexington Barbecue Festival

Happy Fried Apple Pie Baking Crew at the Barbecue Festival, Lexington, NC.

Fried apple pies always make me smile. If I see or smell fried pies, I think of my Grandma. She was from the mountains of Virginia. There was an apple tree out behind the farmhouse. She'd cut up apples for the year when they were in season and make her fried apple pies for special occasions.

Grandma is gone now, so it's a treat to get fried apple pies at the Lexington BBQ Festival. That's a yearly festival featuring - of course - barbecue but also lots of other great goodies like the fried pies.

Fried pies are kind of like the ones served at Hardees and at BoJangles, but the homemade are so much better. Not throwing off on the fast food chains. But, it's hard to beat home cooking.

I chatted today with the fried pie people. I would say fried pie ladies, but they did have a man back there and also a younger guy who looked to be in his teens or 20s. Thumbs up on that.

The group comes down every year to make the pies. It takes a couple of hours. One of the women told me she got up at 2 a.m. this morning to get everything ready, on the road, and cooking at the festival.

These fried apple pies are the real deal. You can see the can of Crisco and the flour. The pie makers are lined up and making pies as fast as they can. Other members of the group are out front frying. You can watch the whole thing from start to finish.

The only real difference in the Barbecue Festival fried apple pies and my Grandma's is that they deep fry. Grandma used an electric skillet and flipped hers. That takes longer but uses less Crisco or oil. The crust part is a little crisper on deep fried versus pan fried apple pies.

If you ever get out to the Lexington, NC Barbecue Festival, be sure to get a fresh fried apple pie. You may have to wait a while in line depending on the time of day, but it's definately worth the wait. If you don't live in the area, then look for my fried apple pie recipe coming soon on Yes You Can Cook. That's my newest web site. I'm plugging away, but it takes a while to get everything up. I'm slowly adding the family recipes, and I really need to get the fried apple pie directions up there. If there were just more hours in a day . . .

Barbecue Sandwiches at the Lexington, NC Barbecue Festival

This is one of the three tents at the barbecue festival. Area barbecue restaurants join together to make the barbecue for the annual Lexington, NC Barbecue Festival.

This is the 25th year for the Barbecue Festival, but it still has a down home feel. The barbecue signs are made by hand and taped on the plywood sides of the barbecue tent booths.

Behind the tents, they fry up curly tail French fries and also tend the sauce which has a vinegar base and a hint of tomato. The sauce at the festival is generally mild. For hotter sauces, you have to hit some of the barbecue restaurants in Lexington.

You get your pork barbecue, slaw, and curly tail fries at the main booths. Pick up drinks from the various non-profit groups selling along the street.

Is it just me, or does it look like this guy is swiping a barbecue sandwich? I know he wasn't, but it sure looks like it from the photo.

Lexington, North Carolina is a big barbecue town. You will find many restaurants serving pork barbecue cooked over wood. Some restaurants cook with gas which is cheaper and easier, but those are not considered real barbecue restaurants in the area. Two good barbecue restaurants to check out are Lexington Barbecue and Jimmy's. There are lots of other good ones too, but those are especially popular in Lexington.

You can also visit at the end of October and try Lexington barbecue at the annual Barbecue Festival. They have three tents serving chopped pork on buns with sauce. They wrap those up, put them in a brown bag, and you are ready for a good Southern lunch.

Most Southerners like slaw on the barbecue sandwiches or as a side with a barbecue tray. Barbecue slaw is different from regular slaw. It has more spice and a tang. It does make the bun a little soggy though. I'm not a big slaw fan, and that's something I don't usually tell. If I do eat it, I like it as a regular side dish and not running on my barbecue or dripping out of my bun.

One thing I do miss when I eat at the festival is the hush puppies. Most of our barbecue restaurants serve hush puppies with barbecue. I guess it's too much work or they just don't have room to fry hush puppies at the festival.

They do have curly tail French fries at the festival. Most barbecue joints do fries, but they don't put a lot of focus on those. You'll generally get frozen fries dropped in oil. The meat takes so much work and is really the focus, so the side dishes are usually just that - sides.

Some barbecue restaurants serve Brunswick stew with the pork. In my area, we don't see that often. We're more likely to have Brunswick stew as a main dish or for a fundraiser. I've never seen Brunswick stew at the annual Barbecue Festival. It's a great dish though, and I do keep an eye out for churches cooking up stews in the fall.

If you're looking for real North Carolina barbecue, then look for a wood pile and smoke in the morning. Actually, you don't even have to look. You can smell good barbecue.

25th Lexington, North Carolina Barbecue Festival

Pig Sand Sculpture at the 25th Annual Lexington, NC Barbecue Festival

Day Starts Off Wet and Rainy for the Barbecue Festival . . . But Gets Sunny Later

Festival Crowd Decked Out in Rain Coats and Carried Umbrellas

Checking Out the Tin Can Man Again This Year - He Has Added Shuttle Planes

Yes. Fine Wine Goes with Barbecue. Try the Special Swine Wine by Childress Vineyards

We're just back from the 25th annual Lexington, North Carolina Barbecue Festival. It's one of the largest one day festivals in the state and is rated as one of the best festivals in the nation.

Things started off wet and cool this year. It wasn't raining hard when the festival opened, but the rain was coming down steady enough to need raincoats and umbrellas. We wore jackets, but it was warm enough to shed those by noon. The rain had also moved through by then.

Generally we park in one of the lots outside of town and catch the bus in, but we went early enough that we got right downtown and in a lot for $5. It was a bank parking lot, and they let the humane society do the parking with the money to charity. There were several lots with various groups hosting the parking. The Boy Scouts were doing one lot and so on. The smaller lots right close the main street were full by lunch time, so I'd say it's a good idea to plan on one of the big parking lots and a bus ride in. It's only $2 to catch the bus, and they run about every 15 minutes all day.

Since it was raining, it was a little hard to juggle everything. I wore a backpack, and that was a good plan. They usually give out samples of varius products, so it's nice to have a free hand and also a place to stash samples or things you might buy at the craft booths.

The set up at the festival is that the main street is blocked off. In the center of the street are booths. You can go up one side and then back down the other and see everything. Off to the sides are entertainment tents and then other little booths on the sidewalks and up some of the side streets. The festival seems to spread out a little more each year. It's a small town, and it's a big festival. I keep looking for them to shift to a full weekend, but they haven't so far.

The barbecue is served in the center and then at each end - or close the ends anyway. These are not different barbecue types. Several of the local restaurants come together for the festival. So, don't expect to try a variety of barbecues. If you want to do that, then visit at another time and check out all the local barbecue in Lexington.

At the barbecue tents, they have barbcue which is chopped pork in Lexington. It's served with a slightly spicy sauce that has a vinegar base. There's a little tomato in there which sets it apart from barbecue closer to the beach. There's a long running debate about the best barbecue. Lexington, of course, claims to be number one. The eastern crowd will tell that their sauce is better. I like it all.

The barbecue tents also serve hot dogs or that was on the sign. I don't recall ever seeing anyone getting hot dogs at the barbecue tents. But, I guess some people do. I hate to get right up on folks and stare at their food.

For the sides, they have slaw. That's very traditional served with barbecue in the South. Most of the barbecue slaws have a bit of sauce and a little twang. The color is usually reddish versus slaw with a mayonnaise base served on hot dogs in the area.

There are curly tail French fries. They remind me a bit of the ones they had at Burger King for a while. There's some type of coating with seasonings. The fries which are cut in spirals are frozen (I'm sure) and then cooked in large vats of oil at the festival. Those are usually good. We got a cup cooked way too long and sitting too long today. They were rock hard and not soft inside at all. A lady working at the barbecue tent swapped those out for us. My son was really glad, because he really likes the curly tail fries - but not when they're hard.

A lot of people sit on the court house steps to eat the barbecue, but they also have tables set up. It's very informal. So, it's a good idea to wear jeans and t-shirts. You may end up sitting on the ground. That was a bit more difficult this year with it wet outside. We just stood and ate this time.

This is the 25th year for the festival, so they were expecting a really big crowd. I heard that the estimate was 100,000. Things were slower than expected I'm sure during the morning. But, it was picking up.

I enjoyed the day at the Barbecue Festival. It was a little messy with the rain. There weren't as many food booths like previous years. I always look for the homemade breads, dip mixes, honey, hot sauces, and salsas. This year, it was mainly crafts.

I did see the Tin Can Man. I got an airplane from him four or five years ago. It hangs in my office. We always stop by to say hello and to see what new creations he has come up with.

We brought home some fried apple pies to have later and got a couple of loaves of homemade bread - rosemary and sour dough.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Count Down on Lexington, NC Barbecue Festival - Looks Like I'm Going

Family Fun at the Lexington, North Carolina Barbecue Festival

I've been waffling on the Lexington, North Carolina Barbecue Festival. It's been my birthday trip for a number of years, since my b-day is October 24th which is always close to the festival date - near the end of October.

This year (2008) is the 25th anniversary of the Barbecue Festival. That makes it appealing in terms of the history, but I am not that keen on huge crowds. A big street party is one thing. When you can't hardly walk for all the people - that's another thing.

We go early to the festival. I'm not talking 6 a.m. or anything like that. But, we shoot for 9 to 10 a.m. and when it first opens up. By noon, it's like a madhouse at the festival. The lines at the parking lots outside of town (where you catch the shuttle buses) are backed way up. I'm always glad we're leaving rather than coming when it gets backed up like that.

I also have issues with the Port-o-Johns. They are not awful early, although last year I had to try three before I could manage it. It was hot last year though, and it's supposed to be cooler this year. Thank goodness. I'm not a total prude, but smells can do me in. Put me in a hot porta-potty with some packages, and I bust out of the door like the Incredible Hulk. Arrhhhggg. Then, I have to get in another potty line and hope for better. The other waiting people do find this amusing. I cough and gag and then my eyes water. Everyone then knows which line not to wait in.

I will make a note to self not to drink much on Barbecue Festival morning and hope I can hold it. If this is not possible, then I must decide if I go before getting barbecue and maybe not having much of an appetite after or waiting and then maybe adding to the bad juju in the port-o-pots.

As long as I am not jam packed in waves of humanity or fumbling for the porta-potty door handles (to get out fast), then I enjoy the heck out of the Lexington BBQ Festival. They have a lot of great music and shows. I like to meander along the main stretch and hear various types of music and see the magic shows and characters like Dora and Superman.

I generally do some Christmas shopping at the Barbecue Festival. They have various booths with crafts and with barbecue sauces. I pick up some new flavors for my barbecues and to give to friends. I usually get some local honey and some dip mixes. I've also found some great crafts like a spider made out of car parts that was quite unique. We also have enjoyed the PVC pipe marshmallow shooters and get more for kids on our gift list.

This is the 25th year, so it may be bigger than I enjoy. Guess I'll find out in two days. I was back and forth on whether to go, but I called around. Right now, it's a go. Will check back in later with the details. Hoping for a great birthday trip. Making sure to use the bathroom at home beforehand though.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy Son Home for College Break and Loving the New York Steak Grilled

My son is really excited to be home from UNC and that I picked up some New York Strip steaks to grill for dinner on this fabulous fall evening.

Is the steak done yet? No. It takes a while to make a really great grilled meal. Getting close though.

These are New York Strip steaks without the bone. You can also get NY Strip bone in.

New York Strip steak is best done to a perfect medium as you see here after I cut one of the grilled steaks in half.

Yehaw! My son is in for fall break from UNC Chapel Hill. This is his first year at college, and he has lost 20 pounds with all that walking on campus and with cafeteria food instead of Momma food.

I had in mind to get some Rib Eye steak. That's what my boys love the best. Rib Eyes are not called guy steaks for nothing. They are hearty with great fat marbling and cook up very tender.

Alas, my local Food Lion only had two packs of Rib Eyes, and they were not prime. Too much fat streaking. That's different from the marbling. I really didn't want to pay top dollar for the dregs.

I did ring the bell for my meat buddies. Really they help me out a lot, and I often ring to get help. I asked if they had any Chuck Eye. That's just the end pieces from the Rib Eye. They're smaller and usually fairly inexpensive, but there's just a few packs of those, since it's the small end off the Rib Eye. Anyway, no dice.

New York Strip was on sale. Still expensive - of course. But, I could get four beautiful steaks for $24.

The main difference I find in grilling New York Strip versus Rib Eye is that it's important to go for medium rather than medium well. Overcook New York Strip, and it's pretty dry.

It's also a good idea to marinate New York Strip. Well, it seems to help any cut of steak. My basic grilled steak recipe works for any cut and is really tasty.

I'm pretty accurate on my grilling. Well, I ought to be. I grill all the time and write on grilling. I hit these New York Strips right at medium and pulled them off. You can see in the photo above the amount of pink that would be optimum for a medium on these steaks. Of course, you may have guests who love rare or well done. That's fine. But, if you want New York strip at its best, then you've got it at medium.

To tell when the steaks are medium, press down with tongs or a turner. The steak should have a little give like the skin between your pointer finger and thumb. You can also cut a steak and check. You'll hear that you shouldn't do this, but when you're learning, it really does help. Once the steak is seared, you really don't lose much juice and flavor if you do a quick knife check when you think you're getting close.

Along with the New York Strip, I did cast iron grilled hash browns. I do buy the throw-away foil pans sometimes, but those are kind of expensive. The cast iron skillet works great on the grill and is none the worse for the use. Unless I need to make a really big batch of grilled potatoes, then I use my cast iron skillet for grilling.

I also stuck on some heat and serve rolls wrapped in tin foil and buttered. I just put those on the last five minutes or so to heat them and melt the butter.

The entire meal was grilled outside, since it's pushing 90 degrees here and mid October. Hated to heat up the house and have to turn on the air conditioning this late in the season. We're supposed to drop down to the 40s by the weekend. North Carolina. If you don't like the weather, stay an extra day. You'll have something different.

Both boys loved the New York Strip steak and sides. The dog was excited about the little pieces of fat. Not much - but enough for a small treat.

Tomorrow I'll shift over to some of our indoor favorites, since the weather is changing fast. I have a pot roast thawing and got the stuff to make Chex Party Mix. My son may do another hand stand, since he adores Party Mix.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Are You a Bad Barbecue Guest? Hum . . .

Here's what we think of people who rain on the barbecue!

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association put out a fall survey and wanted to know which guests get on the grillers very last nerve. Come on. You know there are some out there. They probably do not mean to be the wet blankets, but that's what they are.

HPBA captured the barbecue guests from heck with some really cute catch labels. You can enjoy the bad barbecue guest results with some notes from Grill Girl at Yes You Can Grill.

Fortunately, most barbecue guests are not in the "bummer" category. I must say that I've had loads of help when I've pulled out the grill and put on a yard party. Generally, the atmosphere is real relaxed, everyone has fun, and there are always extra hands when you need them.

So, I will give a shout out to all the great barbecue guests and just look over the ones that have some anal tendancies.

How to Be a Great Barbecue Chef

This good old boy from western Rowan County knows how to throw a barbecue. Everyone was quite impressed with his pork shoulders this weekend.

So - you want to be a great grill chef?

It's always nice to get a pat on the back when you take the time to make a meal - especially an outdoor meal on the grill. Face it. It does take a lot of work to put together a terrific cook out.

With this in mind, the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Assocation conducted a poll this fall. They asked a number of questions including, "What makes a great barbecue griller?" HPBA does surverys throughout the year, and they always send me an e newsletter. I really enjoy their questions and findings, and I'm glad they let me know what's going on in the barbecue world.

You can see an overview of the results and some of Grill Girl's thoughts on what people want from barbecue grillers. (Inside hint - I will tell you that guests especially love flexible outdoor cooks.)

Don't wait until you're perfect to have a cook out. You may never get around to doing one. Most of my barbecues turn out fabulous. I do remember one where nothing went right. I ordered in pizza. Everyone had a great time even if we didn't get to eat the grilled food which burned to a crisp while I was hanging clothes on the line. So, that's another tip - multitasking is not such a great idea if you want to be a wonderful barbecue griller.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Enjoying a Country Barbecue on Land That was Targeted for a Hazardous Waste Dump

This beautiful farm land is NOT a hazardous waste dump, because the country people banded together and refused to let the state come in and trash Rowan and Iredell counties.

My mom, my son and I went to a barbecue out in the country today. This wasn't the usual farmers' barbecue gathering. It was a party to honor the men and women who fought the state and won. If the community had not joined together, there would be a hazardous waste dump right where we had the picnic today.

You can see a photo I shot right as we were leaving the barbecue above.

Can you imagine a hazardous waste dump there instead of flowers and farm land?

Well, the people around here counldn't either.

You can read a little more about the time the farmers took on the state in my earlier blog journal. I hope others will join in with information. This all took place 18 years ago, so I don't know a lot of details - mainly that we were going to have a hazardous waste dump and that we don't because the farmers decided "NO." They fought back. They won. It would a shame for that history to get lost.

Barbecue to Celebrate the Farmers Taking on the State of NC and Winning - No Hazardous Waste Dump in These Parts

Mack loaned his big deluxe barbecue cooker for the 18th year celebration of the farmers keeping the hazardous waste dump out of Rowan and Iredell counties.

The farm guys planned the party and cooked up some fabulous smoked barbecue pork shoulders.

This is a very traditional Southern barbecue meal with smoked pork, slaw, and beans.

The big barbecue party was held at a local farm and was relaxed and informal.

Papa Clyde and Jones were honored for their work in keeping the hazardous waste dump out of the middle of farm country.

Back in 1990, the state (NC) decided they'd plop a hazardous waste dump along the Rowan and Iredell county lines in North Carolina. This did not sit well with the farmers in the area. They didn't want to lose their land and lifestyle and sure didn't want a hazardous waste dump right there where the kids would be growing up and where everyone would be getting possibly tainted milk. Really now . . . who knows what that hazardous waste does to an area and to the food supply.

The hazardous waste dump was supposed to be a done deal, but the state officials underestimated the locals. The state guys thought they were dealing with country bumpkins and that they could roll right in with their big machines and put in a big dumping ground.

Country folks banded together and determined that the government wasn't running right over them and taking their land. They signed petitions, called the government, talked to the media and literally joined hands for a human chain to stop the development.

This show of solidarity was quite serious.

One sign read:

Guns are loaded.
Clocks are tickin'.
Pick this site.
And, see who's chicken.

And, the area farmers weren't kidding.

After a few months, the state gave up and left.

This was all 18 years ago. Those involved in stopping the hazardous waste dump from being plopped in the edge of the county out on our farmland still get together to celebrate the victory and to make sure their kids know about this part of our history.

Today, there was a barbecue to honor Papa Clyde of Iredell County and Jones of Rowan County. Both men were "generals" in this fight against the state and helped organize the protests. Today they were given plaques for these efforts.

One farmer said, "We did things that the State didn't think we could do. This community come together 100%. Maybe we ought to go to Washington and get them all straightened out."

The response to that was a resounding, "A-men."

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Guys Thank Me for Cook Out with UNC Signs - Take 1, 2, 3

Working on the Letters for UNC. That's the Hard One to Make.

First Try on UNC Signs. Hum. Something Not Quite Right About That "C."

Go UNC. The Guys Get It Down - More or Less.

Messing Around After the Cook Out . . .

I grilled up hamburgers and hot dogs today to celebrate my son being home from UNC for the first visit since he headed up there in August. He invited his buddies over, and we had a great cook out. Simple. But fun.

After the cook out, the guys decided that they'd do the UNC signs for me. See. There are rewards to being the Grill Girl.

As you can see, they had a little trouble getting this all coordinated. These guys were never on the cheerleading squad as you may guess. They did work on it. After a few tries, they got UNC for me. Go guys!

Ironically (as you'll know if you're from North Carolina), I went to NC State. I just kid my son and tell him that I turned down Chapel Hill. That's the truth actually. I was accepted to both universities and selected State and engineering. Once I found out what engineers do, well . . . that's another story.

It's back to college for the kid tomorrow but a great weekend and fun memories.

Blog Dedicated to a Hamburger - The Joel Burger

I love great burgers, so when Greta Lint told me that her boyfriend Joel Leonard had a blog dedicated to a burger, I had to check that out. I mean . . . seriously . . . can you have an entire blog dedicated to a hamburger?

Oh yes! The Joelburger Blog is all about Joel's magnificent burger creation.

You may think, "Well, a burger is a burger is a burger." I know that's not true, because my hand patted grilled hamburgers do not taste like the little skinny hamburgers bought frozen and ready to cook at the grocery store.

Joel's hamburger is unique in several ways. One big difference is the bread. He uses sour dough bread. So, the hamburger is kind of like a sandwich but buttered up and grilled on hearty bread. The other big thing is that the cheese is homemade pimento cheese. If you've only had pimento cheese out of a plastic container, then you've not really had pimento cheese. The Joel Burger features "made from scratch" pimento cheese. Yum!

I'm a Southern cook, so I could play around with Joel's ideas and see if I could come up with a burger kind of like his, but his hamburger is actually a restaurant burger in Greensboro, North Carolina. Finecastles serves Joel's special hamburgers. They also feature a singing server which sounds really neat too.

I feel a road trip coming on. It takes me under and hour to get to Greensboro. The Joel Burger makes my mouth water just looking at the pictures. I also love the stories about sharing the Joel Burgers around the world on the blog. I've fallen in love and havent't even had a Joel Burger yet. I'll blog again once I get myself down to Greensboro and check this out.

Gilled Hamburgers and Hot Dogs for My Kid Home from College

First visit Home from College - Happy to See the Fat Cat

Hand Patted Burgers in Marinade - Waiting for an Afternoon Cook Out

Hamburgers and Hot Dogs on the Charcoal Weber Grill


My son is now at UNC Chapel Hill, and this weekend was the first time he's been home since he left for college. The first thing I noticed, of course, was that he had lost weight. He's a good size, but this did give me an excuse (like I need one?) to cook up a storm this weekend.

When he first got in, I fried up some pork chops and hash browns and made a big skillet of corn bread. He really loves homemade cornbread, and it's hard to find good cornbread other than made at home.

For breakfast, it was biscuits and gravy with Frank Corriher sausage. That's the best sausage I've ever had besides what my Poppaw made at home.

I told my kid to tell his buddies to plan on a cook out for lunch. When you send a kid off to college, you kind of lose a whole lot of kids at once - the ones who hung out at your house. So, it was good to see the guys again - all of them.

I had most of the stuff I needed but did run up to the IGA and got some extra ice and some buns. Pineapples were on sale, and my son loves those, so I got a fresh pineapple. I often grill the pineapple, but I decided to save that for dinner to go with crab cakes and corn on the cob. I also got some Pepsi with lemon. That wasn't on purpose. They don't label the bottles very well. That wasn't so great, but oh well. I guess Pepsi likes to try some new stuff from time to time.

The guys all hung out and shot pool and played basketball.

Then we had my hand patted hamburgers (much better than pre-patted) and hot dogs as well as some chips and peanut butter fudge.

Whew! I'm about stuffed, and I'm sure the boys are too. It was a beautiful day for grilling and extra nice with both my boys at home.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Apple Baking Company Teams Up with Cheerwine for New Packaged Cakes - Yum

Just Out - Cheerwine Cake by Apple Baking Company - Woodleaf, NC

You can't grill up this Cheerwine Cake, but it would be an easy and tasty end to a great barbecue meal. Acutally, you can wrap slices in tin foil (as well as doughnuts and other tasty treats) and heat on the grill for a warm dessert at an outdoor party.

The Apple Baking Company just came out with these Cheerwine Cakes. I found out when of the students I taught, Hilah, stopped by the college. We were talking about this and that, and she mentioned the new cakes. She works at Miller Davis Inc. in marketing and helps with new product campaign launches. I'm thrilled that she is using skills I taught her in class and also that she took the time to drop by and say hello.

The Apple Baking Company is a small company right down the road. They are famous for making Apple Uglies (as well as other sweet treats). Apple Uglies are kind of like Monkey Bread or braided bread with apples. You might call them a type of apple fritter. Whatever you liken them to, Appple Uglies are really tasty. And, they aren't even really that ugly either.

Cheerwine is our local soft drink - made out of Salisbury, NC. Some people say it's like a cherry cola, but that doesn't really capture this unique soda. It's just different - and very popular in the South.

Some of our Southern cooks make Cheerwine Cake, and I need to get that up at Yes You Can Cook. Cheerwine Cake looks a bit like Red Velvet Cake, but the flavor is different.

Apple Baking Company and Cheerwine teamed up to get this unique cake out there on the market. Great idea. It really is a super cake - and not like any I've ever had before.

You can order Apple Uglies and other products online through the company web site, but I don't see the Cheerwine Cakes up yet. I think they're selling too fast right now and just on the market as well.

Keep an eye out. I see Apple Baking Good products from time to time and especially at country type stores. The Uglies are really tasty and so is Cheerwine Cake.

* The photo was provided by Miller Davis - THANKS!