Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lucky Smoke House has a Barbecue Rub or Seasoning for You

Lucky Smoke House Rubs and Seasonings - Something to Impress any Griller

First I'm sure everyone is impressed that I was able to stack so many barbecue rubs and seasonings without toppling them over. When I say Lucky Smoke House has something for everyone, I'm not just kidding as you can see.

Troy is my Facebook friend, and he and his wife, Elizabeth, are BBQ rub folks but also sell smoked foods like cold smoked salmon which I wrote about earlier and which is one of my new passions. Really great food does me like that, and that west coast salmon was heaven.

Troy was trying to explain that cold smoked salmon which is complex, so he said he'd just call and he did. We chatted about barbecue and smoking and about rubs/seasonings. He said he'd send me out some of his seasoning, because he knows I love to check out new ones and blog about them (the good, the bad, and the ugh - well I hate to tell you about the bad and ugh but fair is fair).

I did not realize that Troy had such a broad collecion of rubs and seasonings. Wow. He and Elizabeth have been busy as you can tell.

I decided to do some pork chops first, since I had some thawed out. I asked Troy what he'd suggest to season. He laughed and said: "Lucky Pig."

Of course.

But, his collection is NOT that simple. So, I pointed out that he had Panda, and I am pretty sure it's not legal to eat Panda. Correct me if I'm wrong. Either way, they don't sell Panda meat here.

"Oh," said Troy. "That's an Asian inspired seasoning."

It was not really intended for grilling panda. Whew. I do not have to go hunting or break any laws.

I decided to do Lucky Pig and Lucky Mad Panda (and the "mad" part in the collection just means spicy - but spicy here is a kick but not burn your tongue).

Pork Chops Resting with Lucky Smoke House Pig and Mad Panda

I put a little olive oil on the boneless pork chops which are a "go to" grill meal here, because they are quick and easy. They are also on sale quite often. I paid less than $4 for the meat here.

Both barbeque seasonings smelled quite fabulous but very different (you can even see the difference just in looking at the colors in the photo). In some large collections, I have a hard time telling one from the next. Every Lucky Smoke House flavor I've tried has really had its own unique smell and flavor.

Lucky Pig was a very classic pork type rub with a little sweet and heat and some extra umph which only comes with really balanced special rubs. I went light, because this could be a rub for a pork butt. So, something small like a pork chop does not need a thick coating - just enough to give some pop.

The Lucky Mad Panda had more bite. It worked across the table here, so I'll call it all purpose except for those who can't stand any heat. There was some kick, but it was the pleasant kind that you feel but don't cry about.

I loved both seasonings but especially the Lucky Mad Panda, since it was so unique. It did have some Asian notes (and I lived in Japan) and a nip of heat (which I love). I would not call this one classic for grilling, but it's one of my favorites in a long time. Very nice taste and really jazzed up plain, inexpensive grilled pork chops. We were eating large and feeling uptown.

Yes. These Pork Chops Were as Yummy as They Look!

It was fun picking out and playing with the Lucky Smoke House barbecue rubs. I'm still checking out these, since this is a big collecion. We had some Lucky Azz (changed the spelling so as not to upset the Google gods) on chicken. That one is billed for tacos and such versus donkey (do people grill donkey?), and it's great for stir fry in a grill wok and then served in soft taco shells or burrito wraps.

Troy has created a really interesting and broad range of BBQ seasonings and rubs. The collection is cohesive with clear balance or inspiraton but does not leave you wondering if you have the same rub with just a little change or two. No. They are all unique and each we've had tastes great.

Lucky Smoke House is a barbecue chef collection. I find a few great seasoning mixers but few who can pull off a big collection with each having a personality. Each bottle you open - you do get lucky just as the name of the barbecue rub line.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What does Shania Twain Do with Her Bag Balm - and grillers and smoker can use it too!

Hand Boo Boo - What Do I Turn To? - Bag Balm - Yep - It's the Best.

Bag Balm has been selling like hot cakes (not to be confused with cow patties). At one point, the entire year supply of 30,000 tins sold out in one month. You can imagine that this came as quite a surprise to the Bag Balm makers in Quebec Canada though the product says “Vermont’s Original."

What the Heck is Bag Balm?

If you haven’t heard of bag balm, then it’s a veternary product. It’s sold for use on animals and particularly on cows. And, it says so on the side of the green can with pink flowers and lettering. “After each milking, apply thoroughly and allow coating to remain on surface . . .”

If you have a cow, and your cow has teat problems, then you go buy some Bag and Balm. Cow owners have been treating dry and cracked cow udder and teats with Bag Balm since 1889. Bull owners might use Bag and Balm for barbwire cuts and such, but bulls do not have teats. And I won’t even explain that one.

If you are a little confused on the cow terminology, the udder is the big bag and the teats are the milkers hanging down. Those are between the back legs and come as set. My city cousin drew his cow with the apparatus between the front legs which is still a family laugh after 25 years.

Bag Balm is Not Just for Country People

When you live on a farm, you often "make do." It’s not unusual for farm folk to try out the animal meds. Although I grew up in the city (if you can call a town of 800 with pig pastures behind houses on Main Street a city), my grandparents on both sides were small time farmers with day jobs.

Bag Balm was in the bathroom cabinet at Grandma’s along with iodine, Pepto Bismal, and Bayer aspirin. It was considered a staple item and certainly more pleasant than the iodine.

Bag Balm is pretty much like Petroleum jelly but with a mild analgesic and protects your chapped hands or whatever might be chapped when you're grilling. It helps block the pain after application and then stays on and protects the cut, burn, sunburn. We used it like Neosporin, and it is much cheaper than Neosporin. Another alternative was aloe plant which Grandma grew in the window.

About Time People Found Out About Bag Balm

Bag Balm is not a NEWS FLASH for most rural families, but it is unusual to begin seeing Bag Balm in department stores and at the drugstore. I wondered what was up with all that. Then I read that Shania Twain mentioned that she used Bag Balm as a moisturizer on her face and hair. She probably didn’t even think much about that off-the-cuff remark, but it sure did run the sales up for Bag and Balm.

Personally, I would not rub Bag and Balm on my face or in my hair. I have somewhat oily skin on my face, and I am sure that this thick jelly stuff would hold all that in and give me breakouts. Zits were bad enough in high school, and I don’t want to revisit pimples. As far as my hair . . . again I have a good supply of oil. I would imagine that Bag and Balm would be one more mess rubbed in my hair. Now, I might spot clean one of the boys to get bubblegum out of a section of hair though I tend toward peanut butter and ice for those days. If I need moisture, I’ll stick with garden-variety conditioner.

Is Bag Balm Safe? You Decide. I'm Fine with it for 50 Plus Years.

If you’re thinking about trying Bag and Balm, then you should know that it is not FDA (Food and Drug Administration) tested or approved for human use. The product is marketed for animals and does not need to be checked out for human use. With humans being humans, many people have tried Bag and Balm. Since Shania shared her beauty tip, even more human folks have headed to the local feed and seed store to find the green can which comes in a pocket 1 oz, a regular 10 oz for the cabinet and the bucket size.

The official word is that you shouldn’t use animal products on people parts. Since creative people have been using Bag and Balm for over 100 years, I wouldn’t worry much about it. I find that it works for small boo-boos and also helped tremendously when I got a case of mastitis. Mastitis is when you try to breast-feed your baby and get clogged up. You feel like a truck parked on your chest, and you will try most anything. I do draw the line on my face and hair. This is gooey smelly stuff that seems better suited to more discrete areas of the human body. You should also know that you should not take Bag Balm internally. I would think the texture and smell would tell you that though.

For my griller friends, if you get chapped up hands, the Bag Ball is soothing and heals well. I swear by it, and you know I don't really swear. It's good healing ointment.

One bonus with Bag Balm is that you have a nice tin when you are done. It does take a heap of scrubbing to get the last of the balm out. Once clean, you can use it for your screws and nails or other small items.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tatonka Dust Barbecue Beef Rub - Now You Can Get Some Too

Tatonka Dust Rubbed Rib Eye Grilled Steaks

I tried out Tatonka Dust barbecue rub a couple of weeks back. I used the rub on sausages that first time, but the rub is designed for beef and especially for steaks.

My son was headed off to Bolivia for a month, so his Dad bought steaks. I usually go with a marinade, but the Tatonka Dust had been so yummy on the sausages that I went dry on this run. You know I had to be pretty sure on the rub, or I would not have chanced it on a "going off to another country" party.

With a marinade, you can go lower and slower - kind of a steam with the lid down to finish off. With dry rub on steaks, you want hot and fast and finish off to the sides. You can't really see here, but I offset the coals, so I could hit medium and medium rare.

Tatonka Dust

First, I rubbed on Tatonka Dust. If you're not a big time griller, that means that I just literally sprinkled it on an rubbed it in the meat by hand. I rubbed on a little olive oil first though, so it would stick on well.

I let the steaks sit out for around 20 minutes. That gives the rub time to kind of season up on the steaks and also lets the meat warm up a bit. A cold steak on a grill is likely to stick, although the olive oil helps a bit. It's always best to let the meat rest and come closer to room temperature when grilling.

Tatonka Dust does not look like any other rubs I use. It's much darker. It literally looks kind of like rich potting soil. Don't let this scare you. Beef grills up darker, so the dark color of the rub just gives it a rich color.

Don't let the darker cooler fool you on done-ness though. If you like medium, press the tongs lightly on the meat. It should feel like the webbed part between your thumb and pointer finger. I found it a little harder to eyeball with the darker rub, but I could "feel" it with my tongs.

When we sat down to eat, we kind of had an idea as to what Tatonka Dust would taste like due to the test run on the sausages. It was even better on the steaks which is what the rub was designed to enhance.

These were some of our favorite steaks. The Tatonka Dust has a rich flavor that goes just right with the steak. I can't really give you a comparison to something else, because this is really a unique grilling rub that does not taste like any of the run-of-the-mill rubs. It's robust but not overpowering and not hot.

I always hesitate to use a new product or in a new way for a special occasion, but Tatonka Dust met the challenge. It drew thumbs up around the table. I always check with my crew (although I give my own thoughts as well). I consider better than half decent, but a full round of thumbs up is an excellent product.

When I first posted about Tatonka Dust, it was not on the market - but very close. Folks are in luck now. Tatonka Dust has rolled out, and you can get it online. If you are looking to jazz up your beef on the grill or in the smoker, then this is a rub that stands out. It does not taste like any of the other rubs I've tried out, and I've tried a ton I think. The flavor is unique and really nice.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lucky Smoke House - Barbecue Master Got Lucky with this Fabulous Smoked Salmon

Cold Smoked Salmon by Lucky Smoke House
Troy and Elizabeth Fitzpatrick are my FaceBook friends. Troy was talking about his smoked salmon. Now, I have grilled some salmon but not smoked it. So, Troy asked if I'd like to try out his salmon. He's send out a sample.
Now, I like salmon, but I've never really loved salmon (even though I know it's a very healthy fish). Around here, it is usually kind of fishy tasting. It's not awful, but I don't go out looking for it.
Troy said this was wild caught salmon and that he cold smoked it. I had visions of fish jerky floating in my head. "Oh no," said Troy. "If that salmon arrives dried out, you let me know. I promise it will be moist."
Rather than try to explain cold smoking (which I understand for cheese), Troy called to explain the process and to tell me the differences between the fishy tasting salmon I buy here in central North Carolina and the salmon he gets on the west coast.
By this point, I was quite curious to try this special salmon cold smoked.
The package arrived, and the salmon looked beautiful and was calling my name. Since I was home alone, I decided to wait until the the next night, so the guys could try it too.
Wow. That's just all I can say. It was love at first bite.
If you've never had really great salmon, then you are missing out. This salmon did not taste one bit fishy. It was just melt-in-your-mouth fabulous with such a great smoky kick.
I posted about Troy's salmon on FaceBook, and everyone was asking what I ate it with.
Haha - "A fork!" Seriously. The guys and I shared it as an appetizer. I didn't want to miss any of the flavor. It was just shear salmon heaven.
The salmon is all gone. That didn't take long I must say. We were pigs (especially me). And, I've thought a little about cold smoking. That is cost, labor, and time intensive though. I'd need a dedicated set up for cold smoking and would really need to make large batches to make this a good home project. With both boys in college and only in and out, this doesn't seem the best time to take on a new outdoor smoking project and carve out space and time.
But . . . Lucky Smoke House has cold smoked salmon which they ship. Troy (or perhaps Stephanie) are world class packers too. They sent their new rubs/seasonings (reviews coming soon) as well as the salmon, and the box was just photo perfect. The salmon was on ice packs and was nicely chilled on arrival and then went in the refrigerator overnight.
Please feel free to share your cold smoking techniques, tips, and encouragment. I may bite the bullet on this and go for cold smoking one of these days but not during spring semester. I'd have trouble getting west coast salmon though, and I suspect I'd be disappointed in anything less than Troy's salmon.
I must apologize for thinking Troy was sending out some kind of fish jerky (though I do love jerky). This was nothing at all like jerky. It was tender, flaky, and moist, and . . . I'm still dreaming about this salmon (and you guys know I don't usually get all mushy on you). If you've never tried cold smoked salmon, I'd definately recommend it - especially Troy's (as I don't konw if other people would make it so great).

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Jack Daniels Tour - Yes - Fun for the Whole Family - REALLY

Jack Daniels Statue at the Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee

Jack Daniel knew his whiskey. He grew up in the Tennessee mountains where moonshining was an honored profession. In fact, seven-year-old Daniel learned to make whiskey from a lay preacher who made spirits on the side. When the preacher decided to hang up his copper coils, thirteen-year-old Daniel bought out the business.

Daniel set up shop in Lynchburg, Tennessee, because the small town had clear spring water. The cold, clean water coming out of the side of the mountain is part of what sets Jack Daniels apart from other whiskeys. Jack Daniels does not have trace irons that can alter the taste.

Charcoal Filtering if One Thing That Makes Jack Daniels Whiskey Special

Charcoal filtering is the other critical part of the Jack Daniels process. Hardwood maple trees are slow burned to create charcoal. Then the whiskey is filtered through the homemade charcoal for seven days. In fact, this process is what sets whiskey apart from bourbon. The base recipes are pretty much the same, but the filtering gives whiskey a fuller, richer flavor. The US government agreed about the taste difference, and classifies Tennessee whiskey as a separate class of spirits.

If you’ve ever had homemade whiskey, then you’ll know that corn squeezings are clear. Mountain moonshine looks like Everclear, which tastes a bit like lighter fluid and burns about the same. Jack Daniels is stored in barrels where it perks or expands and contracts and then picks up the dark color from the wooden barrels.

 Moonshine for Those Who Have Never Seen The Real Thing

The extra care Daniel put into his whiskey making meant that he had the best moonshine for miles. He knew he had a good thing going, so when the government required registration, Daniel was the first to become an official whiskey maker. That’s where the 1866 date comes from.

The label on the bottle carries Jack Daniel’s picture. He was known for dressing like a country gentleman. This helped him look more credible, since he was so young when he started and also because he stood only 5 foot 2 inches.

Jack Daniels - Words to Live By

Daniel kept his business small during his years at the helm. The government issued a barrel count of 100 after which a revenuer would have to be on hand to keep an eye on things. Daniel didn’t want a lawman standing over his shoulder, so Jack Daniels remained fairly local during the early years producing only 8 barrels per day.

Over the years, the recipe and process of making Jack Daniels has never changed though the output has increased considerably. It’s still a slow and tedious process, but the result is a great whiskey. Master brewers hand down the secrets word-of-mouth and continue the tradition started so long ago by Daniel. In fact, only 6 men have run the business over the years with Jimmy Bedford in charge since 1988. He still test tastes the whiskey, but he can’t swallow.

Today, Jack Daniels is considered the best whiskey in the world and is sold in 130 countries. The rich, full taste is enjoyed straight up or mixed with dark sodas. Jack Daniels is also great in baking (pecan pie) and for grilling (BBQ sauce).

Jack Daniels Distillery - Free Tour is Fun for All

If you’re ever in Lynchburg, then be sure to visit the distillery. The tour is fabulous. The guys who walk you around and explain the history and process are funny as can be. Be sure to ask about the mop suckers. After the tour you get a jar of tea or lemonade. They can’t serve you up any whiskey, because Lynchburg is in a dry county (go figure).

You Can Get a Sandwich - But Not Really Barbecue in the Tennessee Tradition

Do note that Lynchburg is a very small town, mostly a farming area. They do have a small town square and when I say small, I do mean very small. It is a few miles beyond the distillery.

There are only a couple of places to eat. We hit the Bar-b-que Caboose, but the barbecue did not look like barbecue, so I had a chicken sandwich which arrived really fast (so I think it was likely nuked) with the side being regular potato chips (ours appeared to be from the bottom of the bag). The girls working at the restaurant were quite nice. I think our other option was a deli in a general store type place. Lynchburg definately isn't a dining destination.

Other than the couple of spots to eat, there were a few stores with mostly tourist type items featuring, of course, Jack Daniels logos and then cute country-style knick-knacks. You could also get t-shirts.

The Jack Daniels Distillery is the highlight of a visit to Lynchburg along with pretty farm scenery and friendly people.