30 April 2010

Tranquility Base

I just returned from two days in New Orleans. While I ate at several nice restaurants, the best meal was enjoyed while sitting on a park bench overlooking the Mississippi with beignets and coffee from Cafe Du Monde. If the weather is right it is simply one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. The smell of the river and all that it brings, the statue of Andrew Jackson, flowers blooming, the sound of fortune tellers selling lies, and the occasional smell of something cajun cooking somewhere close by, all gather to make this a special place that I have to visit every time I'm near the French Quarter.  

This got me thinking about other places, where I feel like this. Relaxed, reflective, and most detached from day to day cares. Here are a few places in the US that make my list. Some I've been to many times, others just once or twice

1) At my mothers home, when only the two of us are there.
2) At my home, when the Christmas tree is up, the snow is falling, the fireplace is roaring
3)  Miller's Homestead, Roan Mountain State Park, in Tennessee
4) Sedona, Arizona
5) St. Andrews State Park, Florida
6) The White River, Arkansas, near Cotter
7) Dunnegan Park, Bolivar Missouri
8) Pinnacle Mountain, in Arkansas
9) Driving Silver Bay to Grand Portage, Minnesota's North Shore
10) Lake Placid, NY
11) The Lawn on the campus of the University of Virginia
12) The financial district of San Francisco, 6am on any morning
13) The grounds of the St. Louis Arch
14) St. Patrick's Cathedral - NY
15) Alfred B. Maclay State Gardens, Tallahassee

26 April 2010

Smoker 2010

Smoked a pork shoulder this weekend. Second one of my relatively short Minnesota smoking season. Got up early Sunday morning and had the meat on the rack by 6am. Added a few coals before heading off to church, as did my wife as she was leaving a little while behind me. I got my work taken care of before the rain started while she was dressed for church juggling an umbrella and a tin bucket of charcoal.

We had some peaches down in the freezer left over from last year. I pureed them and marinated the shoulder in it overnight. Just another experiment in search of the perfect barbecue. It was OK, but the sugar in the juice almost did some damage to the outer bark on the roast. It carmelized and then started to blacken. While a little sweetness can be good on a shoulder, or ribs, etc. I think it's best that it come at the end. The front of the train is all about simplicity. Salt, pepper, maybe a paint job of yellow mustard if you're trying to impress the neighbors. Not much else.

For all of my barbecue the real test comes on day two, after it's been in the leftovers category for at least 24 hours. Last night I tried some when I got home and it passed the test of good, but not great, barbecue. I used cherry wood this time which I think imparts a milder smoky taste than hickory, for example. Very good, but i've done better. It's still early in the season.

21 April 2010

How I spent my tuesday

My morning and afternoon near here with clients....

My afternoon and evening took me here with my niece, Kristin

I guess you could say my day started at a symbol of love and ended at a sign of love.