Archive for October, 2010
Pinot got a real shot in the arm with the unanticipated success of the movie Sideways, based on the novel by Rex Pickett. In the story, a wine geek takes his soon-to-be-married buddy on a road trip through the California countryside to visit wineries and vineyards. Their adventure and relationship degrade in direct proportion to their self-absorption and crude expectations, with unfortunate and sometimes hilarious results.
Although the movie made pinot cool to thousands of new wine aficionados, it never really explains what pinot ‘is’.
Browsing through the beef isle of your local supermarket can be confusing. There are so many different cuts of beef, which one will work best for your next barbecue? If you look around you will see many different cuts that can be grouped into six main categories, and most categories can be divided into one of two groups, either steak or roast. Roasts are larger pieces of meat from which steaks are cut. Both roasts and steaks can be cooked on a grill or smoker
The following categories detail the 6 basic cuts of beef.
1. Chuck: The chuck comes from the shoulder. It is a rather tough cut of meat and must be treated with care when grilled. It is best suited for low and slow cooking and is usually sold as pot roast and chuck steak. For best results cook chuck roasts to an internal temperature of 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Chuck steaks should be marinated to increase tenderness and flavor.
2. Rib: The rib is a tender cut of meat that can be rather expensive. It is usually known as ribeye steaks or prime rib roast. This is a forgiving cut of meat and can be cooked from medium-rare to well done without drying out the meat. Bone-in beef ribs also come from this cut. Ribs are best prepared over a low and slow fire for optimum tenderness.
Broccoli (Brassica aleracea) is a popular vegetable to grow because it produces quickly under optimal conditions and is very good for you. One cup of fresh or lightly steamed broccoli contains over 6 grams of fiber and numerous disease fighting antioxidants including vitamin C, folate and beta carotene. Because the level of beneficial agents decline quickly after broccoli is harvested, it pays to grow your own. The good news is broccoli is an easy crop to grow if you give it what it needs to grow luscious heads of broccoli.
Broccoli must be planted at the right time of year. Broccoli can tolerate temperatures as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit, but grows best when daytime temperatures are in the 60’s, and nighttime temperatures are in the 40’s. In warmer areas, such as the Southern United States, you have a narrow window of opportunity for two months in spring and again in the fall to produce your broccoli crop. A rule of thumb is to start seeds eight weeks before the last spring frost for spring planting and eight weeks before the first fall frost for fall planting.
Outdora’s Barbecue Stu and Sierra Select’s Ken Simons attended Sacramento’s Big Green Egg festival (aka EggtoberWest) last weekend and mingled with people who are passionate about their Big Green Egg. Eggheads were serving up everything from Paella to Kangaroo on their beloved Egg. Some highlights were captured on video. Thanks to all who contributed.
ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR BIG GREEN EGG? DO YOU HAVE SOME SERIOUSLY ORIGINAL BIG GREEN EGG RECIPES THAT YOU BELIEVE TO BE A CUT ABOVE THE REST? IF SO, ENTER OUTDORA’S ORIGINAL BIG GREEN EGG RECIPES CONTEST!
Apartment homesteading is the newest addition to the food security and sustainability movement of recent times. It allows apartment dwellers to farm in an urban landscape without land or in other words creates balconies full of “landless urban farms.”
These “landless urban farms” consist of animal, insect, and plant life in a sustainable format. The typical apartment homestead includes an assortment of crops such as tomatoes, corn, potatoes peppers, and squash to name just a few on the normal scale. Some individuals have taken this concept a step farther and have started growing more nontraditional crops such as hops and tea on the balcony.
Animals and insects also grow on the “landless urban farm.” These include chickens and/or rabbits and bees. And while one may think that this small menagerie of animals would not produce much foodstuff a beehive with 2 supers alone can produce 350 pounds of honey in a season.
I vividly remember my first experience grilling over charcoal. It was an enormous flop. I used way too much lighter fluid, I didn’t let the coals get hot before beginning cooking, and was wholly impatient. The steaks were basically raw and tasted more like kerosene than beef. After a little trial and error and much reading I put together a three step method on preparing charcoal for grilling. In this article I will share this process with you.
The first step in preparing charcoal for the grill is to never use lighter fluid. It takes quite a while to burn completely off the charcoal, and many times it seems like it never does. If you really care about the flavor of your food you will put the lighter fluid away and invest in an electric charcoal starter.
There is no doubt that Halloween is a holiday for children, but you can also decorate for the child inside you too. The best way to get into the haunting spirit is to transform your domain from the inside out for the spooktacular month of October. You can find inspiration from the falling leaves and bare tree limbs to the chilling, dark nights. Enhancing these potentially eerie elements that already exist in your backyard is the perfect way to start.
There are so many ways you can interpret Halloween. Depending on the age of children in your home and neighborhood, you might want a less frightening appearance. Or if you’re the queen or king of scream, kicking it up a notch to shuddersome imagery and mythical trimmings might be the plan to go with. Whether you design your yard to be kid friendly or ghastly enough to frighten the pants of passerby, there are some basic elements you will want to incorporate into the setting.
The crispness of the air is a signal that gardening season is coming to a close. Some plants thrive in hot weather such as tomatoes and peppers while others falter when hotter weather is present. These cool season plants or cole crops include kale, lettuces, spinach, peas, cauliflower, and broccoli to name a few. Typically the cooler the temperature the better these cole crops like it but…Freezing temperatures can be the down fall for these plants. The solution to this temperature dilemma and the never-ending question of how to extend the growing season is the use of a cold frame greenhouse.
How a cold frame works is very similar to how a greenhouse works. Both utilize solar radiation to create heat in an enclosed space. But unlike a greenhouse a cold frame can utilize soil temperature along with solar radiation to keep things warm. And temperature can be regulated by simply opening up the window during the day and closing at night.
Garlic (Allium Sativum) are related to onions. They are divided into two types: hardneck and softneck. Hardnecks produce a flower stalk that grows up between the cloves clustered around the bottom of the stem. This makes them difficult to braid and shortens the shelf life. However, hardneck varieties are often recommended for growing in cold climates. Hardnecks are divided into groups such as ‘purple stripes’ and ‘rocamboles’. Shortneck types are divided into groups such as ‘artichokes’ and ‘silverskins.’
In milder climates, such as California, where there are major garlic growing operations, the softneck varieties, with their longer shelf life and ability to form more cloves, are grown. The softnecks are what is usually sold in the grocery store. Grocery store garlic may be treated to keep it from sprouting, so using store-bought garlic as a source for bulbs is usually a bad idea. A great source for bulbs is a local farmer’s market. You can bet a local farmer is growing a garlic variety adapted to your area. Other sources for bulbs are on-line or a local ranch and farm supply. Choose bulbs with the biggest cloves to grow the biggest bulbs.
Before there were satellites, computers and highly scientific devices to measure weather patterns, there was one thing people depended on. Weathervanes have a long history of use that began in ancient times and spread across the globe. Although today’s copper roof toppers may be considered more decorative than functional, weathervanes are still useful and reminiscent of early technology.
The ancient Mesopotamians mentioned the use of weathervanes in their writings of over 3500 years ago. And in the second century B.C., Chinese were using strings and flags in a similar way to predict wind and weather patterns.
But when thinking about a “true” weathervane, the first use is most often attributed to a Greek astrologer named Andronicus. His bronze sculpture of the god Triton could be seen in Athens on the tip of the Tower of the Winds around 48 B.C. It was somewhere between 4 and 8 feet long. The Tower itself had eight faces (being built in an octagon shape) and one of the eight wind deities were pictured on each face. When Triton pointed from his perch, it indicated which deity was controlling the wind that day.