Smoked Almonds

Beloved and I are leaving at noon today, heading to Wisconsin for his family reunion.  We’re looking forward to it, especially the drive, since we love to road trip and the weather is knock-your-eyes out gorgeous today.  However, I can’t be sure if I’ll have time or internet access while we’re gone, so I may not post again or get around to reading blogs until our return Sunday night.  Also, today is the last day of the month; my NaBloPoMo obligation is over and the thought of a break is rather welcome.

But we’ll see.

We’ll be stopping in Chicago overnight, and I made reservations at Roy Yamaguchi’s restaurant for dinner.  Why Roy’s?  Well, we love the place, for one.  For another, it won’t require us to A) dress as if we’re attending Princess Diana’s wedding and 2) take a second mortgage out on the house.  Seriously – Google “fine dining in Chicago”; the prices you’ll see will make your eyes hemorrhage.   You know me – I love good food and am willing to pay for it, but $200?  Per person? At those kinds of prices, I’ll worship it from afar, thank you very much.

Anyhoo.  Another easy recipe today, especially if you like to grill/smoke/barbecue (or, in Beloved’s case, all three).  The instructions for this require simple, indirect heat on your grill, but we put them in the smoker with the brisket this weekend and they were just fine.  In fact, we’ve had to restrain ourselves from eating them all so we’d have some road trip snack food for today (Chicago is a six hour drive from our house).

Have a lovely day, y’all.

Smoked Almonds

Smoked Almonds

makes..a lot

1 pound natural (raw) almonds

1 1/2 tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce

2 teaspoons of your favorite barbecue rub

Set up the grill for indirect grilling.

Toss together all the ingredients until the nuts are well coated with the hot sauce and rub, then pour into a disposable aluminum pan (at least 9″ square) in an even layer.  Cover and smoke until the nuts are crisp, about 3 hours.

Cool completely.  Store in an airtight container if you have any leftover to store.

Printable version (requires Adobe Reader)

Smoked Almonds on Foodista

I Got Yer Drama Right Here

When Jen announced “drama” as the subject of this week’s Spin Cycle, I kind of went “Meh – I’ve raised teenagers.  I’ve had my share of drama.  I’ll be glad when they’re all on their own, so the drama will at least be reduced, if not over.”

In fact, with The Young One in Texas visiting the paterfamilias for a month, I was looking forward to some more-or-less-drama-free time.  (Drama is greatly reduced by the ability to roam about the house naked, you know.)  Yeah, well, that’s what I get for looking forward to something.

So.  We smoked a brisket Sunday.  Beloved bought some sort of grill thermometer that came with its own beeper.

Yes, beeper.  It was designed to keep you from over-cooking meat that you are barbecuing or smoking; apparently, you can wander off to do other things, and if the heat goes above what you want it to, the beeper will go off, signaling you to go, er, baste your brisket.  At any rate, Beloved wanted to heat the meat to an internal temperature of 140º F, and keep it there while he smoked it for several hours.  It worked like a charm, too.  The only problem was that after six hours, as my in-laws (who had come over for dinner Sunday evening) sat around our kitchen table waiting to be fed, the brisket was only medium-rare, which is what it should have been at an internal temp of 140º F – and if either of us had thought about it, we’d have realized that.

A medium-rare brisket is a very chewy brisket.

At my suggestion, Beloved wrapped it up in aluminum foil and put in the oven to cook for a little while longer, and about an hour later we had a perfectly cooked and extremely tasty hunk o’ meat.

You’d think that would be that.

But it wasn’t.

Fast forward to last night – we come home from work, let the dog out, power up our laptops, and I turn on the oven to preheat it for a very nice meatloaf and to roast some beets we picked up at the farmer’s market on Saturday.  Beloved sat down at his laptop to do some work, and I sat down at my laptop to check my Facebook page and play some Jungle Jewels read some blogs chat with my sister work, too.  After a few moments, I noticed an odd smell.

So I look up, and see smoke coming out of my stove.

The brisket had apparently leaked all over the floor of the oven, as well as the baking stone that is a permanent resident there.  The leakage was smoldering quite nicely; I turned off the stove while Beloved removed the battery from the smoke alarm.  Then, after conferring, we decide to put off the beets until tomorrow and do burgers on the grill while I make squash and zucchini pancakes with some squash and zucchini we picked up at the farmer’s market on Saturday.

And decided, like the rocket surgeons we apparently are, to run the cleaning cycle on the oven.

I shredded the squash and placed it in a paper towel in the colander to drain, and sat back down at my laptop while Beloved went back to his work, too.

But the smoke didn’t go away.  In fact, it got worse, a fact brought home to me by my watering eyes and a small dog, coughing pitifully at my feet.  When I looked up, smoke was now billowing from the stove.

See?

Smoke Billowing Out of My Stove

This picture doesn’t begin to do it justice, trust me.  (And what does it say about me, that my first impulse was to grab my camera?)  At any rate, I ran over to the stove and turned the “clean” cycle off while Beloved removed the battery from the smoke alarm upstairs.

“It’ll stop in a minute,” Beloved said.

I sat on the floor, where the fresh air was, and nodded my agreement.

And noticed this:

My Oven On Fire

Yes, that would be FLAMES inside the oven.

The baking stone was, in fact, on fire.

“OH MY GAWD!” I shouted.  “Hon, the OVEN is on FIRE!!”

“DON’T OPEN IT!!” Beloved instructed as he came thundering down the stairs.  Fortunately, it was locked shut (what with cleaning mode and all) because I was tugging on it frantically, possessed with some vague idea about beating it all out with a wet towel.

“We can’t just LEAVE it like this!” I said, wondering how long it would take the neighbors to call the fire department as we opened every door and window in the house.

“Just give me a minute,” he said, running out to the garage to gather up old towels and a fire extinguisher and I made good use of my time by taking pictures.  He threw the old towels into the sink, soaked them with cold water, and proceeded to cover every crack and vent on the stove.

And the fire went out.

And we had hamburgers, cooked on the grill, and left-over green bean salad for dinner.

And we were thankful we didn’t have to use this:

Fire Extinguisher

And that the kitchen was relatively clean for its photo shoot.

Pan Roasted Asparagus

Well, here it is, Monday again.

Oh, and I’ve lost 11.5 pounds in a little over a month.  Just by changing the diet (I have yet to go down to the basement and confront the treadmill and Bowflex…don’t push me, it’s coming).  Yay, me.

(Beloved has lost 12 pounds in like 3 weeks, but we won’t go there right now.)

Anyhoo.  Monday.  Boooooooooo.  Well, that’s all right – we’re going to take a mini-vacation and leave town Wednesday afternoon to go to Wisconsin for Beloved’s family reunion, returning Sunday.  We’ll be stopping overnight in Chicago on our way there – anyone know of any good restaurants in the downtown area?

Today’s recipe is easy and delicious – Pan Roasted Asparagus.  We love asparagus and you can still find it relatively cheaply at the store and farmer’s markets.  It is particularly good pan roasted in a hot, cast iron skillet, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper, fleur de sel or kosher salt and a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Nomilicious stuff.

Pan Roasted Asparagus

Pan Roasted Asparagus

serves 3 to 4

1 pound of fresh asparagus, trimmed, washed and well-dried

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Heat a small, cast iron skillet over high heat until it is almost smoking. Add the asparagus to the dry skillet, stirring it occasionally, until it begins to brown but is still crisp. Remove the skillet from the heat, drizzle the olive oil over the asparagus, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle it with the cheese if desired. Serve immediately.

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Pan Roasted Asparagus on Foodista

Gone To Seed

Our garden is going like gangbusters this year – this warm, wet weather is doing it a world of good.

This was not the case last year, when our tomato and zucchini plants produced next to nothing, the peppers were few and far between, the celery we’d planted resembled weeds more than anything – even my herbs were anemic.  I’d planted some leeks, but the ones I harvested were so sad I referred to them as “dribbles.”  So I left the last two in the garden.

This year they are damn near as tall as me, and are now going to seed.  I’m going to let them, because I want to see what happens.  They’re quite interesting looking.

Leek Puff
Leek Puff Closeup
Leek Puff Macro