Friday, April 23, 2010

Try Out Garlic Gold - Great Grilling Oil and Garlic Sprinkles

I have been having a grand time playing with Garlic Gold organic olive oil, nuggets and garlic sprinkles. They are great inside or out, but I've been using my Garlic Gold mostly on the grill, because that's just what I do (-:

Tonight I used the Garlic Gold olive oil on my fish and vegetables grilled plank style with Elizabeth Karmel's cedar planks from Grill Friends. I just soaked the cedar plank in water and then loaded it up with tilapia, green peppers, and fresh yellow squash.

All these foods are mild, so the Garlic Gold oil gave a little kick. You might not guess garlic. It is pretty subtle but really nice. Adding on the garlic nuggets kicks it up. So, if you are a garlic fan (like me), then put those on too, and you get a nice blast of garlic flavor with a nice flavor crunch.

Earlier in the week, I tried out Garlic Gold on pork chops. The boneless pork chops cook up so quick and easy. Brushing on the Garlic Gold olive oil keeps them from sticking to the grill grates plus adds a really nice flavor. These chops were on and off the City Grill (my favorite tailgate sized gas grill) in 20 minutes, and the grilled pork chops were delicious.

My boys love potatoes, so I often make foil pack potatoes on the grill. I found that it takes a lot less Garlic Gold versus butter or margarine to make these foil packs, so that makes them much healthier. Then, the garlic in the oil adds an extra flavor punch.

These were some of the best hobo pack grilled potatoes I've ever eaten if I must say so myself. I went heavier on the nuggets on mine and lighter for the boys. I lived in Greece for two years, and I developed a real appreciation for garlic. The boys prefer lighter now, but garlic is definately growing on them. They said these were extra good foil pack potatoes, so this is a good way to lighten up without giving up flavor.

Garlic Gold is not specifically a grill product. It is an indoor/outdoor oil and flavoring sprinkles. So, I decided to try them with a family favorite Southern dish - cast iron fried potatoes. Again, I found I needed much less oil than I do with butter. But, these skillet potatoes were packed with flavor.

I can't imagine anyone who would not like the Garlic Gold Olive Oil. It is nice and mellow. It does have the organic garlic, but it is light and works for everyone I think. For those who like to hit it harder, get the Garlic Gold nuggets or Garlic Gold Sprinkles. They can be used in cooking or just like salt on food but much healthier.

If you can't get Garlic Gold in your area, then check out Garlic Gold online. It is sure worth looking up.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Big Acres Rich & Mild BBQ Sauce on Grilled Boneless Pork Chops

Yum! Yes, these pork chops with Melanie's Big Acres Rich & Mild Barbecue Sauce are just as good as they look.

I had my son check out the barbecue sauces in the cabinet tonight and pick the one he wanted to try out. I am a bbq sauce freak, so there were many bottles. He looked around and went with Melanie's gourmet Rich & Mild. This is a kid who does not like a whole lot of heat.

Big Acres Rich & Mild is a gourmet que sauce made small batch with natural ingredients. It has a sweet flavor with seasonings but is not a tongue burning bbq sauce. It's a good bet when you have friends and family over and do not know how hot folks may go. Just great flavor with a little sweet taste but not anything in there that would send folks running for water or the bathroom.

I have loved checking out Melanie's Big Acres sauces, and I added her gourmet barbecue sauce collection to my OpenSky outdoor cooking store. Every bottle has been a hit, and these new and interesting flavors are fun, healthy, natural, and they make old favorities like pork chops taste like something brand new on the grill.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Carnegie Hero Winners Meet Across Generations

My son won a Carnegie Hero medal last week. The awards are rare, and I have never met anyone else who has won one. Eli has not either, but tonight he did get a chance to meet another Carnegie winner who won her medal 55 years ago at age 11.

Dianne Kearney Scott was only 11 years old when she pulled her Nana out of the river. She was fishing with her twin sisters and had on wading boots so after one try she went back to shore and shed her boots and pulled out her caretaker who has passed out and fallen in the water. The woman she saved weighed over double Dianne.

Eli was at a grill out with the family when a teenager yelled for help. The Yadkin River was raging like the ocean, flooded by rain. There were at least 100 people on the banks, but he is the only one who jumped in to help. I can't say I blame anyone. The conditions were not fit for being in the water.

Both these stories over a half century apart had happy endings, but about 20 percent of Carnegie medals are awarded to families who lost loved ones trying to help out and do the right thing.

Mrs. Scott saw Eli's article in the paper and called West Rowan High School to see about making contact. She wanted to meet Eli. In all these years, she has not met another Carnegie medal winner. He went right over this evening, and he got to meet another hero and got to see her Carnegie medal (his has not come in yet).

I sent my camera and told him to see if he could get a hero picture, and someone shot one for us. I will always treasure that.

Mrs. Scott lives right across the road from where I work at Catawba College. I plan to go meet her and thank her for being such a great person too. Eli said she was the nicest lady he ever met. He was real impressed. I guess heroes are like that. They care day to day as well as when it is a life or death situation.

Stay safe on your cook outs and picnics or when you go fishing, but if something comes up, I hope you hve heroes like Eli or Mrs. Scott on hand. They are both quiet about what they did and just thought it was the right thing to do, but not many people who chance the same to help someone out.

Getting My Grill on with Garlic Gold Olive Oil and Sprinkles

I struck gold with Seven Oaks Ranch Garlic Gold olive oil. I don't think it is marketed for grilling specially, but then neither was Pam spray to start with (and now they have a grill version).

If you love garlic, you will be thrilled with the idea of brushing foods to grill with Garlic Gold Olive Oil. Even if you are not a big garlic fan, this oil is mellow. It just provides a great flavor while keeping foods from sticking to the grill.

I have used Garlic Gold Olive Oil on boneless chicken which can be bad about sticking but is healthy and also on lean pork chops and even vegetables. A little does it. Just brush it on lightly. You're good to go on the grill, but you can use this delightful olive oil inside as you would any olive oil (but with a little more flavor kick).

Seven Oaks also have roasted garlic in olive oil as well as garlic sprinkles, so you can go as heavy or light as you want on the garlic flavor before or after the food is grilled.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sam Dog Yellow Barbecue Sauce on Boneless Chicken

What a beautiful spring day! I had to fire up the grill even if it is a weekend home alone.

I decided to make boneless chicken strips or tenders (can take boneless breasts and just cut them in half or thirds), since they are so quick and easy. And, I had been drooling about the Sam Dog Yellow BBQ sauce that came in last week. So, the barbecue menu was set.

Sam Dog Yellow is a sweet mustard barbecue sauce often seen in South Carolina on down to Georgia. So, it is a niche area sauce, but mustard bbq sauce is definately worth checking out.

I usually marinate boneless chicken to prevent sticking, but I just used Pam grill spray on the Weber Smokey Joe tailgate grill grate today. Then, I sauced the chicken with Sam Dog and put it on. I would wait until the last 5 minutes or so with bigger pieces of chicken, since most sauces will tend to burn if put on too early. Boneless chicken strips grill so quick, that is not a worry.

The sweet mustard barbecue sauce is a little thinner than table mustard but not real thick like grocery store tomato bbq sauces. It brushed on real easy, and it smelled good.

I like to test barbecue sauces on the grill and on chicken. Chicken does not have a strong flavor, so I get a real taste of the bbq sauce.

Sam Dog Mustard BBQ Sauce has the mustard flavor but a bit sweeter than hot dog mustard and just a little zip. It is a nice combination and is more sweet than heat but enough seasonings to give it that extra omph.

This is a barbecue sauce that I would serve to any family and friends. It has an excellent flavor but is not extreme enough to upset my meat and potato ketchup loving peeps who think brown mustard is exotic. On the other hand, it is interesting enough for my foodie buddies.

So, I say thumbs up to Sam Dog Yellow BBQ Sauce.

GOOD NEWS! Sam Dog just went on the market. October 2010. Now folks can see what I'm talking about. Congrats Jeff and family. I'm excited for you all.

Catawbapalooza 2010 - Fun in the Sun and Grilled Burgers and Hot Dogs

We always have a fun day at Catawba College each spring before the last couple of weeks of school. It's Catawbapalooza, and the students grill out and host games and enjoy some carnival rides set up in the back parking lot.

The grill guys were excited to have a new gas grill this year. It takes a big grill to crank out enough grilled food for a whole college. There are around 900 day students total, plus the students invite faculty and staff out to enjoy the day as well (THANKS!). A head count would be hard, but I can say it's a crowd. I've been to Catawbapalooza every year, and I would say this is the biggest turn out ever.

The guys rotated on grilling which was good, because it was a scorching sunny day this year, and it gets hot standing over a grill.

One real popular activity this year was Corn Hole. It's kind of like horseshoes, but it's more portable (wooden boxes that fold down). Also, you don't have to worry about beaning someone with a metal horseshoe. You throw bags filled with corn instead.

Everyone went back and forth to get food and drinks during the day. The big tent was packed at times, and Brandon and some of the other students were burning a trail up the hill to restock both food and drinks. If you don't have college aged kids, then I must tell you that they can pack away some food. I usually double amounts over what I do for family, unless it's mostly girls. Then, I don't grill as much, since most college girls eat like birds.

Speaking of the college girls, here is a whole hill of young ladies who found a little shade. They are definitely styling this event. Well, I don't have to point that out now do I?

Some of my best students are mixed in there including the newspaper editor. So, hi Aly and Jen! Hope to see some Catawbapalooza articles and photos in The Pioneer (our online student newspaper - brand new this year).

The students at Catawba are terrific! They are smart and funny, and they make my job something I care deeply about. I have to hang tough in class and make sure they get what they need for the future, and it is really nice to have a day where we can all let our hair down.

* I got over 100 photos of Catawbapalooza 2010, so if any students want to check those out, they are at FaceBook under my user name Cyndi Allison.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Barbecue Kid Wins Carnegie Hero Award

If you read my Barbecue Master blog, then you have heard about and seen my younger son, Eli Wittum. He's a great kid, and he puts together my new grills and helps me haul those around if I'm grilling on the road.

Last year at my Carolina Cook Out on the Yadkin River sponsored by Food Buzz, Eli rescued another teenager who was drowning, and he has just been awarded the Carnegie Hero award for doing that.

I still can get weepy when I talk about that day.

My Mom came up the hill to tell me that Eli had gone in the river and that they couldn't find him. Any parent can tell you that you do not want to hear something like that. I was stunned.

Eli would not try to go swimming in a river badly swollen from recent rains and churning like the ocean, so it didn't make sense. But, then someone told me that he went in after someone yelling "help." Then, it did make sense. He is the type of kid to go help even when about 100 people on the bank were just standing and looking.

For about 20 minutes, I did not know if my son was dead or alive, because the current was so strong that it pulled both boys down the Yadkin and out of sight. I was numb. I just refused to even think about maybe not having my son alive, or I tried to blank that thought out.

Finally, Eli came walking back up to the area where we were having the cook out. This is the first glimpse I had of him in the photo below.

The Carnegie Foundation saw the article about Eli in the Salisbury Post, and they put him in for that national award for bravery. The award dates back to 1904, and a little over 9000 people total have won a Carnegie medal. Around 20 percent of those getting the award die in the effort to save someone else, and I am so thankful that Eli is here to get the award and that I'm not accepting it on his behalf with him dead.

Eli was also awarded the Boy Scout Medal of Honor Cross Palms which is the highest award for heroism in the Boy Scouts in the United States, and the Rowan County United Way gave him third place for teens in the county last year for service to the community.

This is a photo I took of the Yadkin River before Eli went in and pulled out the other teen - someone he did not know and from the next county over. This is the roughest I have ever seen the water at the Bull Hole in Cooleemee. Usually, it is calm and about knee deep. It sure wasn't calm the day Eli went in. And, I will be forever thankful that Eli survived and that he was able to pull the other boy who passed out and went totally under out and get him to the bank.

Great Smoke Flavor with Baxter's Wood Chips for all Types of Grills

Michael sent me some wood from Baxter's Original. And, you can see that this company does a wonderful job in packaging goods. The burlap bags packed full of great smelling grill or barbecue wood were appealing. Of course, it is all about the taste when it comes to outdoor cooking, and I will get to that.

First, if you are not familiar with real wood chips for grilling or smoking, then you are missing out. Wood chips can be used on any kind of grill or smoker.

You soak your wood down for 20 minutes of so. Then, you can add the wood chips on charcoal or can make a foil pack on a gas grill. As the wood heats up, it gives off smoke which then adds extra flavor to grilled foods.

On this grill, I was at my Mom's house where she has the Char Broil Big Red gas grill which I gave her when she got married last year. My Dad died three years ago, and Mom married a boy she went to high school with. That's Harry, and he is a great guy.

I soaked a few Baxter's Original peach wood chips and made a foil pack to go in the back corner of the grill. On a foil pack with wood chips, do leave the top open a bit, so that the smoke actually gets out (-: Just saying . . .

With charcoal, just put the soaked wood chips right on the charcoal rather than foil packing it. Again, don't use a whole lot. You don't need a lot, and you don't want to put out the coals.

As the grill heated up and the pack begin to put out some smoke, the smell was great. Peach wood is more of a delicate wood so does not overpower foods, and it has a really nice smell and adds a nice hint of flavor to foods smoked on the grill or cooked longer on a smoker.

Here are the boneless pork chops smoked with Baxter's peach wood. I wish I could share a taste too. But, I can say they tasted every bit as good as they looked. The peach wood was also very nice with grilled chicken and hot dogs (for the kids).

I've used several types of wood for grilling and smoking, and I would rank Baxter's at the top. I like the Jack Daniels barrel chips made from the retired whiskey barrels. That's a nice smoke. But, Baxter's offers a lot more variety. I will be trying out some more flavors, but I can say that the peach is excellent. I want to try it next with grilled fish. I think that would be a great combo with the peach wood.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Duke Creek Outdoors Tanksetter - No More Barbecue Gas Bottles Sliding Around in the Truck

Bill from Duke Creek Outdoors sent me a Tanksetter to check out. A Tanksetter is a holder for gas bottles for folks who grill or smoke with gas. It holds the tank steady to go on the road or to take gas bottles to the store for refills. And, it is also pefect if you rig up your own gas burner outside to fry foods or make big pots of chili or stew.

The Tanksetter looks so simple that I wasn't sure if it would work as stated, but I put it to the test this past weekend when we headed over to Mom's house to grill up some chicken and hot dogs.

Although the Tanksetter is very lightweight and simple - a plastic ring with two screws to lock in the gas bottle - it does just what it is supposed to do. It keeps the gas bottle from sliding or rolling around. The shape and balance are just right, and when you put the gas bottle in, it stays put and steady.

The Tanksetter is easy enough for my cute little nieces to use (just turn the screws which is easy to do), although they would have trouble lifting gas bottles, and we do not let them play with the gas or grills yet. They did volunteer to model as you can see in my first photo. I think they will both soon be grillers in training.

My son (below) is actually the one who helps me out with refilling gas bottles and lugging them around when we are "on the go" grilling. He gave the thumbs up to the Tanksetter too. It's nice to have the gas bottle stable and not falling over and bumping around down the road. Safer too I'm sure.

I have added Tanksetter to Yes You Can Grill OpenSky. That is my small online barbecue shop where I carry the barbecue grills and gear that work for me, my family, and friends. Check out the Tanksetter and other great outdoor cooking products that have passed the home use test.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Happy 25th Anniversary BP of Salisbury, NC - Statesville Blvd - Hot Dog Cook Out

I enjoyed a surprise cook out today at the BP gas station in Salisbury, NC (across from the Salisbury Mall). That is one of my regular stops. They have really good prices on milk, eggs, and Pepsi. There is a special for the car wash every Tuesday. And, the ladies who work at the BP are always nice and friendly.

Today the BP was celebrating 25 years of business, so I want to say thanks for all the years of good prices and service. I can't believe I have been going there that long, but time does go by fast. They were my college stop back when they opened, and now my kids are driving and get gas there.

To mark the special occasion, BP had all kinds of treats like free ice cream, candy bars, Slushies, and a hot dog cook out. There were games for the kids like basketball in the parking lot and face painting.

The grill guy was quite a ham. It was hot outside and hotter still next to a grill for hours. But, he was dancing and rocking the hot dogs and sausages off the grill. And, he and all the other employees had smiles for all.

I was in town today on the weekend, because I had to work a few hours and needed to do some shopping. Finding a party - especially with grilled food - on my way home was a great treat.

Thumbs up BP and thanks for a fun afternoon! See you next week when I need gas or other little things on the way home from work. It's nice to stop where you feel welcome and where folks know your face.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Melanie's Big Acres Chipotle Maple BBQ Sauce on Chicken Tonight

It was fast food night here. That means chicken on the little gas grill. Grilled boneless chicken breasts or the little tender strips take only minutes.

I sauced the chicken with Melanie's Chipotle Maple BBQ sauce. It is part of a collection of gourmet sauces I carry at my OpenSky grill store. I only pick my favorites to go in the store, so you can always check out what I consider hot when it comes to griling and barbecue - or the products I can get in the store anyway.

The gourmet sauces taste fabulous. Instead of having a tomato flavor as most bbq sauces, you get a whole new flavor blast. With the Chipotle Maple, the sauce features pure maple syrup, natural honey, and dark molassas. Then, the pepper gives it a little zip. So, the chicken has a wonderful sweet taste with a little bite but not enough to rule it out for those who can't handle much heat. My younger son isn't big on tongue burning sauces, and he likes Melanie's barbecue sauces.

We also love Big Acres Chipotle Maple BBQ on pork chops and pork loin. It is also good and a change of pace on pulled pork sandwiches, although (being from North Carolina), we usually use vinegar based barbecue sauces on pork shoulder or butts.

I was in and out in 15 or 20 minutes with the gourmet grilled chicken with the sauce added the last five minutes so the natural sugars did not burn. Remember not to do thick sauces too soon on the grill. It does not take long to heat and carmelize thick barbecue sauces.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Grilled Turkey with Bacon Weave - Pretty Tricky Smoker Project

I decided I wanted to bacon weave a turkey to smoke. I'm pretty good at bacon weaving but usually do things like meatloaf or pork loin and just make a bacon weave and roll the meat into the weave. With the shape of a whole turkey, I thought I'd have to try something a little different. And, now I can tell you how not to bacon weave a turkey for the grill or smoker.

First, I thought I would weave the bacon on the bottom of the turkey which I seasoned with Pig Pen Seasoning which is made in my home town and which I carry in my OpneSky Barbecue Shop, since it is my favorite all purpose seasoning for grilling. Then I planned to flip it. Let me tell you bacon does not stick to turkeys, and whew boy that was a mess. You can see it going wrong here. I did not even have the heart to photograph the pile of limp bacon and sad looking turkey after the weave fell off.

Hum, I thought: Maybe I can make a weave and roll that sucker like I usually do with bacon weaves for the grill. BOMP! Wrong answer. That was another mess and a huge pile of floppy bacon.

OK. Third time is the charm. I did the bacon weave right on top of the turkey. I laid strips of bacon all along the turkey top and then went back and did strips in and out. That worked out OK, but I still had to handle the bird gently to get it on the Traeger smoker.

I was glad I did not do a tight weave on the bacon. As the turkey began to smoke, the bacon did draw up (of course), but the weave was loose enough that it was not a big problem.

The biggest issue was that bacon grills much faster than turkey (or a whole one), so I was closely babysitting this smoked turkey and spritzing it down with apple juice and putting aluminum foil over the top to keep the bacon from getting totally black.

My grilled smoked turkey did turn out nice as you can see, but it was a lot of work and a lot of checking to make sure I did not burn the heck out of the bacon weave.

As far as taste, this smoked turkey was fabulous. The grilled turkey picked up both the bacon and the smoke flavor and was super moist.

I would suggest doing just a turkey breast with bacon weave on the grill, so the timing is not so difficult. Also, it would be easier to just put a line of bacon across the turkey and then remove the bacon if it started getting too dark before the turkey reaches temperature.

In any case, we had a very yummy smoked turkey, and it looked pretty too. But, it took some real work to nail it. I doubt I'd do a full turkey with a bacon weave again, but it was fun to try out.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Game Day Eats Wing Sauce Review - Thumbs Up for Buffalo Wings

I stumbled across Game Day Eats online and bought barbecue sauce and wing sauce. The GameDayEats bbq sauce was fabulous, so I was looking forward to trying the wing sauce.

My hot wings
are sinfully delicious (fried and with lots of butter), so I do not make them often now. But, my son just turned 20, so I made buffalo wings for his birthday dinner.

Normally I use Louisiana Hot Sauce with the butter for my wing sauce, but this time I broke out the Game Day Eats wing sauce I had been saving.

Game Day Eats wing sauce comes in canning jars like my Grandma always used, so I popped off the cap. The smell hit me immediately, and I could tell it was going to be a great sauce. Some products - you can just tell. This wing sauce just had that fresh smell with a wonderful hit of heat.

GDE sauce is a bit thicker that the grocery store wing sauces but not so thick that you think you have barbecue sauce. BBQ wings are great too, but they are not hot wings or buffalo wings.

I made up the hot wings like I always do but with the new wing sauce, and they were terrific. Just perfect for a special birthday dinner for my son who is no longer a teenager.

Anyone looking for a fresher and better wing sauce can't go wrong with Game Day Eats. It really is delicious - just like the barbecue sauce I ordered from them. I hope to add both the barbecue sauce and wing sauce to my custom OpenSky grill store where I only pick out the best of the best products on the market. Game Day Eats more than makes the grade.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Best Chicken Hot Wings or Buffalo Wings Recipe Plus Tips

I do my fabulous hot chicken wings inside on the stove. Buffalo wings could be made outside over a gas burner similar to what you use for a turkey fry, but grills do not really provide the heat needed to do a good fry on chicken. And, hot wings or buffalo wings start out with fried chicken - or the really good ones do.

I first cut off the wing tips which really have no meat to speak of and take up too much room in the skillet.

Then I put flour with a little salt and pepper in a brown paper bag and drop the chicken wings in there and shake them up good.

While I am heating up oil in a cast iron skillet which holds heat better and also makes perfect drippings for hot wings, I put the paper bag with the wings in the refrigerator. This helps the flour stick on better.

When the oil is around 350 degrees give or take, I put the wings in to fry. The oil should be hot enough to sizzle but not splattering. So, adjust the heat as needed.

As the chicken wings get done, I put them on a plate covered with paper towels to drain and soak off some of the extra grease. It's not like Southern hot wings are healthy, but there is no reason for them to be drippy greasy either.

Before saucing the wings, I dump out the oil. But, I do not wash the pan or even wipe it out. Those drippings are critical. That is what thickens the sauce and makes the wings really good.

No. Pan drippings do not look yummy, but this is the key to great hot wings. And, cast iron skillets are the best for having great drippings.

I drop the heat on the stove burner or even turn it off and then add butter. I use real butter and use from a half a stick of butter to a full stick depending on how many wings I am making and also on the heat I want on the wings.

Tonight I am going a full stick of butter with really big and meaty wings. This is a base for rather mild wings, unless I add a whole bunch of hot sauce or wing sauce.

Once the butter is melted or close, I add my hot sauce. Most often I use Louisiana hot sauce, but tonight I have some Game Day Eats chicken wing sauce. I love their barbecue sauce, so I wanted to check out their wing sauce. As it turned out, Game Day Eats makes a really great wing sauce. I was impressed as were the boys. This is a homemade tasting sauce and gives a nicer punch to the wings.

I used half the jar of Game Day Eats chicken wing sauce which would be around a cup to the full stick of butter. That makes a mild hot taste.

To heat things up, then go like a half stick of butter and more on the hot sauce.

Once the butter and hot sauce are stirred up, then put the wings back in and roll them around in the sauce. Do a few at a time and put on a platter or in a bowl. Continue until all wings are sauced.

You can also do a mild version and sauce some wings and then add more hot sauce and do the last wings hotter. Just use a different bowl or platter so everyone gets the heat level they expect and like.

Yes. My Southern buffalo wings are as tasty as they look. The boys are always thrilled when I make hot wings. These hot wings were for my son's birthday, and he was really excited that I broke out the cast iron skillet and made one of his favorites.

If you follow all the steps, then you will have great hot wings. Even the little things make a difference on making killer hot wings.