Thursday, February 25, 2016

Three Wheels and the Truth


A bit of a departure from the endless sea of BBQ related posts - I got a new trike in September of last year.

Some of you may be thinking " A trike? Isn't that something for little kids and grandmas?!" I can assure you all that nothing could be farther from the truth.

The truth is that I'm getting older. I can't deal with the pain and discomfort that comes along with riding a standard-framed bicycle. My recovery time from activity has lengthened and my ability to deal with the soreness of the standard "wrist-ass" contact points is lessening. My weight does not help this in any way. So, I looked for a solution to the problem.

I have always been fascinated with the strangeness of the recumbent. There was always something that seemed to be calling me about these oddballs of the road, something that i can't readily explain. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was always an outsider because I was interested in bicycles instead of standard sports. This is a way to be even more nonconforming. The engineering that went into a recumbent was also fascinating. Here was a machine that was made to be *different*. I like different...

So, here I am, 42 and counting, looking at something that is a cross between a lawn chair and long BMX bike. And I love it.

I spent a lot of time in the Interwebs looking at all the offerings that are available in Europe - looked at various reports on comfort and reliability, researched manufacturing and construction - specifically weight limits and durability. At the end, I came up with HP Velotechnik as the choice for me.

HP Velotechnik is a small company located in central Germany that specializes in making recumbent cycles, specifically trikes. They have a broad palette of recumbents for all types of riding - I was looking for something that was not so "sporty" and more along the line of "trekking". I came up with the Scorpion Plus 20".

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Isn't it a work of art?

Some technical details:

Seat width Ergomesh / Ergomesh XL - 38 / 43 cm
Seat angle - 46–54°
Bottom bracket height - 37–43 cm
Suspension travel - 6 cm front / 8 cm rear
Ground clearance - 15,5 cm
Wheel size - 20" (ISO 406)
Max. tire width - 5 cm / 2"
Wheel base - 110 cm
Track width - 86 cm
Width - 91 cm
Length - 168–200 cm
Turning circle - 4,75 m diameter
Weight - 18,8 kg
Folding system - HP Dual Flat Fold D.F.F.
Size folded - 81 × 91 × 83 cm
Max load - max. 150 kg
Frame - heat treated Aluminum (7005-T6u)

Good information to know....

Basically, all these elements come together to make a trike that is both comfortable and built to travel long distances. I specifically had it powder-coated in RAL 1018 Zinc Yellow. Yes, I actually paid money to have it that color. I like how the yellow pops - make it easier to see me on the road.

Some of the interesting features of this machine are:

- It folds. In half. Which is great when you want to transport the thing around without directly riding it. It doesn't pack too small but 81 × 91 × 83 cm is a much smaller package.

- There is no "critical speed" which means you can stop riding and won't fall over. Helpful on those hills...

- The seat position on the Scorpion Plus is raised up 10 cm higher than normal. I sit at about the same height as I would in a car.

The best part about the trike is the feeling you get while riding it. I no longer have to look down at the street and pay attention to where my wheels are tracking. I can look around me, taking in the scenery and enjoying nature. The position of the mesh seat is like a lawn chair and is very comfortable, leaving me to concentrate more on the ride and less on my contact points.

Overall, the trike is slower but you get used to this. It's all about the ride and not about getting there as fast as you can. If you want to do that, drive a car.

Sure, I may look foolish to you but I really don't care. This has taken my cycling to a different level, one in which my comfort, enjoyment, and safety are at the top of the list and no longer relegated to a secondary function of riding. I invite all of you to explore this alternative to a standard bicycle, even if only to experience the difference.

I bid you Peace,


Tuesday, February 09, 2016



Sometimes, you just need to have a good hunk of beef to make things right.

That's what Anna and I did on Sunday - Picanha on the rotisserie!

Some of you may be asking "What is Picanha?"

According to Uncle Wiki: "...a cut of beef popular in Brazil. In the U.S. it is little known, but referred to as the rump cover, rump cap or coulotte. North American butchers generally divide it into other cuts like the rump, the round and the loin. In some places in the US it is called top sirloin cap."

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What you are seeing is 2.5 kilos of prime U.S. sirloin with the fat cap removed. I would have preferred that it was on but the cut came with it already removed. :(

We then proceeded to spear the cuts we made onto the rotisserie spit. You can see, we tried to bend them so that the fatty side would be out towards the fire: since there was no fat cap, we were unsuccessful..

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No matter!! I will not accept defeat - lets put the meat on the fire!!!

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The meat was allowed to rotate over a hot, indirect fire with the lid closed for about 10-15 minutes until the outside began to brown and caramelize. More on that later...

Since you cannot live on meat alone (not that I wouldn't be willing to give it a try!) we decided to go with a potato salad as our side dish. I really like this variant on the classic - here's the recipe:

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A Variant on Papa's Potato Salad

1kg of potatoes - the kind that stay firm while cooking
3 hard-boiled eggs
15 cornichons, diced (You can use kosher dills but it will taste different)
15ml of the juice from the cornichons (more or less...)
500g jar of Mayo (not Miracle Whip or other strange stuff)
10 pieces of crispy bacon
300g can of sweet corn
200g jar of sliced mushrooms
100g sliced jalapenos (Optional)
Salt and pepper

Boil your potatoes until tender. Peel and cut into cubes. Peel your eggs and cut them small. Same with the cornichons (well, don't peel them...) Crumble up our bacon, (you can add more bacon - in fact, I recommend it!) put this all into a large bowl and add all of the remaining ingredients. Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill in the fridge until cold.

Back to the meat!

Now, the way that this works is that you let the meat turn for 15 minutes and then you take the spit off the grill and start shaving down the meat into thin strips. The remaining meat should still be pretty underdone and you subsequently put that back on the grill for a bout 10 minutes - wash, rinse, repeat...

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Ideally, this is a great summer treat - best suited to sitting on the patio with friends, drinking heavily and eating lots of beef until the sun goes down and everyone has a great time. Unfortunately, the weather is not like that in early February in Germany - we ate inside an had to regularly go outside to cut meat.

Honestly, this a great way to grill beef without worrying too much about doneness and it looks spectacular! I suggest you try it!

Go make some smoke,

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pulled Pork Insanity!!!


This last weekend, Anna and I decided that we needed to do pulled pork on the Primo. It was time, as we've had the thing for months now and it is touted to be the "long job machine".

Let me tell you - it is!

Honestly, it doesn't get any lazier than using the Primo - light the coals, set the grill temp, slap on the meat, and walk away. That thing ran constantly between 100 and 120' C for almost 24 hours! Never once did I have to relight the coals - in fact, Anna and I went to sleep and when we woke up the next morning, all I had to do was open the vents a bit and everything was running fine.

I can warmly recommend that if you have the means, get one. You will not regret your decision.

So, on with the show!

We picked up two 5 kg pork shoulders from Metro. Only problem with that is that they are always bone-out. This means that the hunk of meat looks like it exploded from the inside and you have to tie the things together with butcher's string. Honestly, this is not a problem as the meat reacts exactly the same and a bone-in shoulder. I personally like shoulder much better as it is better marbled and has a finer texture. Boston butt can also be used but I find it to be an inferior cut.

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We tied up our two shoulders and sprinkled them liberally with Raichlen's Basic Barbecue Rub (my favorite). Wrapped them in plastic wrap for about two hours and let them soak in the spices. Meanwhile Anna prepped the grill...

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Once the right temperature was achieved, we put the meat on the grill and stuck in the thermometers.

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For those of you who are new to this, a thermometer is easily the most important piece of equipment that you can have. I have the Maverick ET-732 Wireless Barbecue Thermometer which has a remote that shows you the internal and grill temps wherever you happen to be in the house. Really convenient, especially late at night when you wake up and want to check the grill - all you have to do is look at the remote and you know instantly.

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Now, your usual Pulled Pork takes about 18 hours, including the plateau phase (where the temp is stable for hours). For reasons that I cannot explain, these were on for nearly 20 hours and we never achieved the final temperature of 95'C. We hit 87, which was all she wrote. Since our guests were starving, we decided to pull one anyway.

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Now, we had to go classic - we served our favorite cole slaw as found in the Jamison's "Smoke and Spice" The recipe is as follows:

100 ml milk
100 ml cream
100 ml cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbs mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
2 tbs fresh ground pepper
1 medium head cabbage, grated
2 to 3 carrots, grated

In a lidded jar, shake together the milk, cream, sugar, vinegar, mayonnaise, garlic, salt, and pepper until well blended. Place the cabbage and carrots in a large bowl, pour the dressing over the vegetables, and toss together. Chill the slaw for at least 1 hour. It keeps well for several days.

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I also made a Lexington-style Piedmont sauce as told by the Baron of Barbecue, Paul Kirk. I find his book "Championship Barbecue Sauces" a real asset and I encourage any would-be backyard barbecuer to get it. Here's the recipe for the sauce:

1.5 cups cider vinegar
1 cup tomato ketchup
1/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 tsp cayenne

Put everything in a non-reactive pot and stir well. Over medium heat, bring slowly to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes. Don't breathe in any of the fumes as the vinegar tends to send you into coughing fits. Let cool and bottle...

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It was one of the juiciest and most tender pulled porks I have ever eaten...

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Go make some Smoke!

I bid you Peace,

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Be it ever so Humble...There's nothing like a good Burger!


Some of you may be thinking that a burger post is something that doesn't quite meet the high-standard of food that normally appears on this blog. Let me assure you that a burger made by hand and grilled to perfection is a thing of beauty, to be revered!

How do I make burgers? Well, there are a few tricks that I use to assure greatness every time:

Use the right meat - cut the fat, kill the burger
Use the patty press for consistent results
Direct, then indirect - keeps 'em hot and juicy

The first rule - use the right meat. So many times I hear of people buying the leanest ground beef that they can to make burgers and then wonder why the burnt, dry pucks that come off the grill aren't getting very much love. And they shouldn't - if you use the right meat. Try to get the fattiest ground beef that you can buy - 30% fat by weight is optimal. I find that the ground beef you get from the local ALDI comes very close and is of good quality. I also do not salt and pepper my beef as I feel it leaches the moisture out of the patties during cooking and the pepper just burns. Season your meat AFTER you cook.

Next - use the patty press. Now, some of you may be balking at the idea of making a burger patty in a machine but I can assure you that this way you get the best use of your ground beef and have a consistent weight and size to your patty.

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I got this little gem as a Christmas gift from my folks - I thought I would never use it but now I find that it is a irreplaceable tool when it comes to burger-time at the Rattlesnake Grill. There are countless versions; the one that I use allows me to set the size/weight of each patty. find the one that works best for you and go for it!

Finally, grill direct and then indirect. What this means is that you should first put the meat directly over the coals, which should be very hot. Let each patty sear on both sides until you have good grill marks - about 2 to 3 minutes a side. Once this has been achieved, set the burgers to the side and then close the grill lid for 7 to 10 minutes. This allows the burgers to continue cooking without burning and does not cause them to get dry. While you are waiting, have a beer...

I feel that if you follow these steps, you will achieve the best results possible and people will sing songs of your grill prowess and tell everyone they know about how great it was. I believe it in my heart!

Having followed all the aforementioned steps, I began grilling my burgers.

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We weren't the only ones who couldn't wait for the food to be done - Una was in the kitchen.

"Are you making hamburgers? I really like hamburgers."

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You will give me all the hamburgers...

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Look into my eyes, human, and give us the meat!

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Fortunately for all, I was able to resist the Jedi mind tricks from the various animals.

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Gotta have homemade fries!!! Burger without fries is like a day without sunshine!

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Before I started to make burgers - I made Chipotle Garlic Mayonnaise.

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I know - not the most spectacular photo but I can assure you that you want to make this magical condiment!


2 roasted heads of garlic
1 Tbs Cumin
1 Tbs Chipotle powder
1 Tbs Jalapeno powder
500 ml Mayonnaise


To roast garlic, you need to do the following - Set your oven to 180' C. Cut off the top 2 cm of each head of garlic. Drizzle olive oil on the top of each head of garlic and then wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Place in your now-hot oven and let the scent of roasting garlic fill your kitchen, making it a magical place to be for the next hour. Once complete, allow about 15 minutes to cool - trust me on this, the burns you get from hot garlic sticking to your fingers are impressive. Once cool, take the head of garlic and squeeze it into a bowl, like squeezing the toothpaste out of a tube. Add the remaining ingredients and mix very thoroughly - I use my kitchen wand to make sure that the garlic is very small and well-distributed.

Once finished, place into a jar or bowl or squeeze bottle and refrigerate. This is one of those things that gets better with time so I suggest making it the night before.

Side note: for those of you in Germany who may be wondering where to get some of these ingredients, I suggest Chili Food in the 'Net for getting good quality for a fair price.

All that was left to do was enjoy...

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Go make some smoke!!


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cast Iron Madness!!!


Since Anna had her birthday, it was time to drag out my Dutch Ovens to create some really tasty and special party food.

For those of you who don't know, a Dutch Oven is a cast iron pot that comes with a lid, a bail, and three legs so you can set it in a fire or set coals underneath it. There is a long history behind the Dutch Oven that is pretty interesting if you are into such information - I will simply say to make a search in the 'Net to find out more. I will spare you the details of care and feeding of cast iron here and get to the food.

For the birthday party, we decided that we would make "Pfundstopf" which is a type of stew that has a pound (roughly 500 grams) of each ingredient and my world famous Gratin potatoes.

The stew went as follows: I used a 12" diameter DO and began with 500 grams of diced Kassler (A type of smoked, boneless pork chop here in Germany)

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I then took 500 grams of pork and beef goulash meat and seasoned it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

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Ahh, my ever-present assistant, Tara, is offended that I have seasoned all that lovely raw meat and haven't given her any...

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Next came two diced paprika (red and yellow)

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Then a large diced onion...

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I added a jar of Letscho to give it a bit of regional flavor.

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I then added 750 grams of chopped tomatoes.

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400 grams of cream...

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Finally I added little meatballs that were mixed with Raichlen's Basic Barbecue Rub

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Now to start on the Gratin. I use a recipe from and adjust to fit my tastes. This time, I found that I was a few onions short of what the recipe required so I used leek, which gave a wonderful aroma to a really good dish.

Cook and peel your potatoes in advance. Once that is complete, I use an egg cutter to slice the potatoes quickly and evenly. Fry up some bacon bits and onion together and layer this in on top of a layer of potatoes.

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After you are finished, pour a mixture of milk, cream, and schmelzkäse (I don't know what this stuff is in English) and then top with the grated cheese of your choosing - we use Edamer and Gouda.

So! Since everything was ready, I fired up my briquettes, put the appropriate number on top and underneath, stacked the DOs and let everything cook for about an hour and a half.

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And finally everything was ready!

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The meatballs got a bit dark but this simply added to the flavor. The party guests loved it - in the end, there was nothing left. Like it should be...

EDIT: I forgot to report on how the first Pfundstopf went. For my taste, something was missing, perhaps garlic. Also we felt that there should be more onion and forget about the Letscho, as it got lost in the rest of the sauce. I will have to play with the recipe next time.

Recipes on request, as usual. Go make some Smoke!

I bid you Peace,