Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just Call Me Sparky - And Support Your Local Firefighters

Matt told me about a great project that helps our firefighters. It's a program to benefit those brave guys/girls who risk their lives both in fighting fires and with EMS. It's FireFighter's Barbecue Sauce as well as t-shirts and those neat wrist bands that get the word out about worthy causes.

Firefighers Barbecue is now featured at the Albuquerque, New Mexico Fiery Foods and Barbecue Show. Sure wish I lived near there. I'd be there in a heartbeat. But, I'm way out in North Carolina, and that's a long road trip.

In any case, the idea is that you can have a unique fundraiser with barbecue sauce (and the cool shirts and armbands). Isn't that much better than some of those awful things they send kids out to sell like dust catching knickknacks or popcorn that costs $15 for a mini can? Really, who doesn't love some good barbecue sauce? Count me in on that.

I am pleased to say that I have never caught my grill on fire other than in the way intended. I did, however, I am sad to say, burn up a tree in my yard. I thought it would be too much work to try to get those limbs out from under that had sharp needles. The tree was evergreen, so I thought, "Hum. I'll just burn those gross brown limbs under the tree. Green stuff won't burn." Hello! That's not a good plan. The tree was a 100 foot or so tall and the fire went about double that. It was quite amazing. Take my word for that.

I called 911 and got out the water hose. A policeman drove by and saw the problem and helped me water down the side of the house. The firemen were there in 5 minutes or so. One fire guy said, "Man, I thought that could not be a tree fire. We could see the flames and smoke across town." But, yes, it was that gross old evergreen tree in my yard that I always hated. They make really big and amazing fires - old pine trees of some strange sort. My brother, a landscape engineer, said it was some sort of special everygreen from China. All I know is that it cut my fingers picking up limbs and stopped up the lawnmower.

The neighbor kids got in from school to see this smouldering trunk in my yard that was charred black. I told them a space ship landed on it (-: In a small town, your stories must be more interesting than just you set the limbs on fire under your tree and burned it all to heck.

Since the firemen came fast, I did not burn my house down - about 30 feet away. I do not have to worry about those old limbs jamming up my mower now, since I sure killed that tree in the process. For my birthday (by request), the family came out and got that old trunk cut down and out of here.

So, I say God Bless Firemen, and if you see some Firefighters Barbecue Sauce out there, buy some. You'll get some great sauce and help out a super group of folks who are there when you need them, although I hope you never do.

I still get teased now and again about being "Sparky" and lighting up the whole town with my tree fire. It could have turned out really bad, but the firefighters were right on it and got that put out. I also have a cousin who is a professional firefighter. So, I have a real special place in my heart for those who put out our fires, and I promise to never again burn up a tree in my yard. Cross my heart.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rotisserie Chicken Looks Ready to Take Flight

Mr. Chicken Was Flipping and Flapping on the Hibachi Rotisserie

I got a wild hair and decided to grill a rotisserie chicken. This is not something I do - obviously. I grill. I smoke. I pit cook and Dutch oven cook. I even cook on sticks. But, I've never done rotisserie.

Not So Easy

Putting together a rotisserie is not that easy for starters. There are a lot of parts, and the thing has to be counterbalanced to run smooth. OK. Got all that. The thing was turning like a windmill - slow steady. Yippee.

The directions did not say anything about the chicken specifically. So, I jammed that little bird right on the rotisserie and turned the button on. And, the fun began . . .

Mr. Chicken was flipping and flopping all over the places. As the chicken rolled over, the wings and legs began to wave. It appeared this bird had come back to life and had plans to fly away.

Hum . . .

I called the grill company. They thought I had assembly problems with the rotisserie and were explaining counterbalance and so on.

I said I had all that down.

"So, it's turning then," they asked.

"Yep," I said.

"Now, what's the problem with the chicken?"

Chicken Prep is Important

I really needed a video of this, but it would proably be a YouTube classic and forever haunt me. So, I was trying to verbally describe how the wings and legs were flapping and hitting the grill and making quite a calamity out on the porch. I pray the neighbors were not watching, since this was a very odd sight.

The grill guy finally figures out what I'm trying to tell him and asks if I tied up the chicken.

Huh? Well, no. I never tie those chickens when I grill them, smoke them, or convection grill them. And, I sure don't tie up the chicken when I make Beer Butt Chicken - one of my best recipes.

Of course, the chickens are not spinning with these other techniques, so there's no reason to truss up the birds. They just sit there and cook.

If You've Ever Made an Outdoor Grill Mess . . .

I thought I'd share this, although I hate to admit I did not tie up my chicken and had it almost went airborn on that rotisserie. If you do decide to rotisserie anything, you want some cooking string or metal ties to hold down floppy parts. Otherwise you have quite a show out in your yard - especially amusing to kids.

If you make this mistake and check in here to find a solution, the grill company guy said that my best bet was to cut off the wings and legs and grill them while rotisserie cooking the chicken body. After all, I did not have the stuff to tie up a chicken right on hand, and this cook was in progress.

I'm not so sure I'm going to be a world class rotisserie outdoor cook, and I'm not sure I want to be. That old flopping chicken was enough to scare the dog. Flip. Flop. Bang. It was something to behold, so if you do want to freak everyone out, then rotisserie your chicken without securing the floppy parts. It really does look like it's come back to life, and that's not a good thing when you're trying to fix dinner.

I share the good times, so I figure it's only fair to share the bad times. If you've ever had a grilling disaster, don't feel bad. It happens to the best of us. And, I may decide to get a handle on rotisserie. I'm sure it's not all that hard. But, I sure made one mess of it this weekend.