Monday, December 10, 2012

Lamb Kebabs and Winter Grilling


Sadly, not everyone likes lamb.

Be it for the flavor or because of personal belief, lots of people I know simply won't eat it. Shame that, but at least there's more left for the rest of us who DO enjoy the delicate flavor!

Now, the only real way to eat lamb is when it's been grilled. This means, of course, I have to fire up my grill. Firing up the Ol' Weber in the middle of a snowstorm is bizarre enough but grilling for any reason past September 15th in Germany puts you firmly in the "crazier than a shithouse rat" category. You can't even buy charcoal after the beginning of October! Not to mention all of the commentary I get from my colleagues/neighbors/bystanders/people walking their dogs: "What? Grilling in this weather? It's too cold!" or "Can you really still grill in Winter?"

So, people give me shit about grilling in December - let 'em! I get really tasty lamb and they don't!

Let's get this show on the road, shall we?

Fire and ice:

Winter Fire

Now, we usually buy a boneless lamb shoulder for the kebabs and grind it ourselves - mostly because we can't get pre-ground lamb.


In this mixture comes salt, pepper, fresh and dried coriander, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, and cumin. I chop a couple of small jalapenos in and grate the onions with the Big Cheese Grater directly into the meat. This actually makes a difference, as the aroma of the onions comes through very strongly and the texture of the onion is much different. Try it and see - well, from all the crying maybe you won't see!

Once you mix that all together, the mass is pressed onto special "swords" I have for grilling ground meats over fire. The flat of the blade keeps the meat on while cooking - otherwise the weight of the meat would simply fall of the standard skewer. I also lightly oil the kebabs before grilling as it helps brown them nicely and makes them less likely to stick to the cutting board I am setting them on.



Once formed, the kebabs are suspended over the fire - they never touch the grate! Turn regularly until the sides become brown and crisp. Do not over cook, as the lamb that we spent tons of cash on will become bone dry and your guests will make evil comments about you and refuse all future invitations to eat your lamb.

On the grill


To compliment the meat, Anna and I make a tzaziki with buckets of fresh garlic. Now, I know that tzaziki isn't quite correct for the Middle Eastern origins of this recipe but it tastes damned good and the grated cucumber (the Big Cheese Grater is getting quite the workout!) is a really nice, fresh counterpoint to the richness of the lamb.


It's easier (and better) to buy my Pide from the döner joint down the street - he gets them fresh daily.

Slice that thing open, lay in some tzaziki, lamb, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, Aleppo pepper flakes, and then close. Take in both hands and enjoy!


It doesn't get much better.

I bid you Peace,


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving and whatnot


Despite what you may think, Thanksgiving (American-style) does get celebrated here in Germany. Usually on the Saturday afterwards because we simply don't get the time off.

Now, before you think that I and my other expatriate friends are getting together to celebrate a great American tradition,I have to disappoint you - we do it for the food.

This year, like the last two, the bird was smoked on the grill. We had a (intensely expensive) 12 kg turkey as the centerpiece of our feast. I contributed stuffing, two kinds of coleslaw, and a New York-style cheesecake. There was also green beans in bacon, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and a mushroom gravy made from the drippings. A pumpkin pie and apple pie were available for dessert and there was a cheese assortment to round out the meal.

Damn, was it good...










If you have the opportunity to do your bird on the grill, I highly recommend you do so. Every year it has been so juicy and tasty (even the white meat!) The whole process is so low-effort that you'll never do your bird in the oven ever again!

These guys have a pretty good reference (despite the scare tactics regarding handling raw turkey as if it will give you the Marburg virus should you touch it without a hazmat suit) We don't seem to have this problem here in Germany...

Hats off to our hosts and to all of those who attended and made delicious dishes. As always, its so fun getting together with you all for this - I hope that it happens for a good long time to come.

As I have said before - this is about good food in good company. That's what makes this a true reason to give thanks!

I bought a bottle of this, mostly for the pain...


This is really a great dram. I am not going to try to befuddle you with bullshit about beginning, bouquet, finish, etc. - I'm not that knowledgeable.

I like it. That's enough.

Anna and I made chicken soup again:


As always, it was really good. Sadly, we put it on the balcony, thinking it would keep in the cold while we were away for Thanksgiving. We were wrong. It got rather warm and on Sunday we had to deal with 8 liters of bad soup.

I wanted a new keyfob:


This is a Crisscrossed Solomon Bar from J.D Lenzen's new book "Paracord Fusion Ties - Volume 1: Straps, Slip Knots, Falls, Bars, and Bundles." Blue and orange paracord contrasts nicely and it has a 2 strand diamond knot at the end.

Go and knot!

I bid you Peace,

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

All that is gold does not glitter...


Pulled pork.

Pulled pork is a type religious ecstasy - when done correctly, it blocks your external awareness and expands your mind in a form of euphoria. Anyone who has experienced this will readily agree.

You may say that this is extreme in its description but once you have a bite of that meat, you close your eyes, all other input is blocked out, and your thoughts are filled with only two things: how delicious it tastes and that you need more. Much more.

All you need is:


Now, a helping of previous experience makes a world of difference but it really isn't necessary. Everyone started solo once and unless you made a grave error, the meat turned out fine.

Lets get to the photos, shall we?

Here is the beast, bound. 5.1 kg (11 pounds for you non-Metric types)


This is a boneless pork shoulder, which means that they destroyed the poor thing getting the bone out. That's why we bound it with butcher's string. You can use a bone-in shoulder but most people agree that it takes longer.


We then smeared it with mustard and covered it with Raichlen's Basic Barbecue Rub. Wrapped in plastic wrap, it marinaded for something like 12 hours.


During the lull in the action, I prepped the grill using the Minion Ring technique and got everything ready so that all we had to do was place the meat, light the fire, and close the lid.

20 hours later...


Final stats:

End temp meat: 90'C
Internal grill temp: 105'C

So, in foil and in the warmbox...


Tara wanted to help.

So, after an hour of terrible waiting...


A meteorite is born!


Here's the "pulled" part of the event. If the meat is done right, you should be able to separate the pork with a fork using a vigorous pulling action.



So, this is what you end up with. The meat is hot and juicy and has this wonderful smoked twang. I have difficulty describing it...


Even Kali (the portent of Satan) could not resist the aroma of fresh pork!

Kali plate

So, I had some friends over because as my mentor Dave would say "spreading the word about good barbecue is doing God's will" and your average German has never experienced anything like this. Watching them pack away 3 and 4 (! I only had two...) sandwiches and seeing their eyes roll back into their skulls with pleasure was worth the 20 hours sacrificed to make this.

And that's how I see this - spreading the Good News to the uninitiated.

Take some time and make barbecue. I assure you that it will be time well spent.

I bid you Peace,

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cat-related posting

Time spent with cats is never wasted.
Sigmund Freud


My girlfriend made me aware of a "problem" with this blog: a complete lack of cat-related content. I tried to argue that I don't want this to be a forum for showing off our furry charges and making crazy cat lady-like declarations on how smart and special our kittehs are.

I got "the look" and was reminded that I didn't want to do a food blog.

So, without further ado, allow me to present:



aka "SuperKaliKatze" "Säbelzahn", "Knucklehead!", "Black Devil", "CAAAT!!", and "Satan's Spawn"

Kali's hobbies include:

Terrorizing her sister
Chasing after Mr. Dot
Watching birds she can never hope to catch
Holding the aquarium lid down
Licking my eyelids at 0545 when she's hungry

Just keep waiting...

Fun Kali Facts:

Kali can eat and eat and eat and never gains any weight. For this superpower, I hate her.

Kali lost all her teeth to FORL, which sucks but doesn't seem to slow her down one bit. Play-fighting is buckets of fun when she attacks and tries to gum my hand to death...

Kali is, by nature, stealthy. I have about two pictures of her where her innate stealthiness has not caused the autofocus on my various cameras to stop functioning correctly. Take that, Lockheed!

And now...



aka "SuperTaraKatze", "GrumpyCat", "Her Highness", "Schissbux", "CAAAAT!", and "Dumbass".

Tara's hobbies include:

Being terrorized by her sister
Being annoying
Hiding whenever she thinks we're going to box her up and go to the vet, which is always.
Getting really, really high on catnip...

Die, evil stinkbeutel!

Fun Tara Facts:

Tara triples her body weight when she sleeps, making it nigh on impossible to move her in the middle of the night when she sleeps on the bed.

Tara lost all her teeth as well, but this is to relieve symptoms of Lymphocytic-Plasmacytic Gingivitis Stomatitis (LPGS).Tara is our worry child - she's sick pretty often and we hated to take her teeth out but it was the last resort. Poor kitty :(

Tara likes to sleep on you. Not with you, on you, like on your hip or shoulder. Nothing is more fun than to wake up, twisted about with a 4.5kg cat lying on you. She also has a phenomenal internal gyroscopic system that allows her to stay firmly planted despite shaking and twisting efforts to get her to get off you. I should inform NASA.

So, there you have it - our kittehs. I love the little bastards, I really do.

I bid you Peace,

In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.
Terry Pratchett

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Birthday Deliciousness!!!


Last week, a good friend of mine had his birthday. He decided to celebrate with his partner and only a small circle of friends, of which Anna and I belong to!

Dinner was a 4 course meal, leaning toward seasonal/regional specialties -

First course: Mini Zweibelkuchen


Muffin-sized zwiebelkuchen which were very tasty and just the right start for this cool Autumn evening.

Next course: Hokkaido pumpkin soup with Balsamico cream


This was very well done. The only complaint was that it was very filling, so most of us were regretting having that second zwiebelkuchen, as those were filling as hell as well...

On to our main course: Medallions of porc with sage, chantrelles, and homemade gnocchi.


This was the delicious death blow. Despite the flavors of the fresh chantrelles, the pork tenderlion and sage, the combination with the homemade gnocchi (really good, BTW)had all and sundry unbuckling their belts for relief.

But wait, there's more...

Anna decided to make a mousse au choclat tarte for dessert. Now, traditionally Chocolate Mousse is supposed to be a light, fluffy yet still rich dessert. Strangely, it didn't come out "light" or "fluffy" Combined with a amarettini base, we each had the barest sliver but were still overwhelmed by the richness of the chocolate.


How we were able to drive home is still a mystery.

My friend made an incredible meal, as always! Chapeau!

I bid you Peace,

Spinach Quiche of DOOM!!!


I think I need to stop taking pictures with my phone - the quality is really starting to degrade... Maybe I need to clean the lens or something?

On with the show!

On the weekend before last, Anna's family came to visit (incl. brother and girlfriend) and we were pressed to do away with some rather delicate deliveries from our Biokiste. Specifically, we had fresh spinach that was dying before our very eyes. Solution?

Spinach quiche:


Which was OK. Anna and I both agree that the pie lacked something but what that was, we weren't sure. It was tasty but it was like we had forgotten a spice or an ingredient. Strange.


I bid you Peace,

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wok of Ages!


Mad props to the Kingdom of Loathing people for the inspiration for today's post title. An Adventurer is You!

So, Anna and I decided to fire up the grill and make some Asian-style chow!

I received the Weber Grill Wok for my birthday and can confidently say that this is a truly cool piece of equipment! Having tried to use my big wok on the stove, there just wasn't ever enough heat. Now, 10 seconds after adding the oil, I am stir-frying like a master!

You will note that I said "Asian-style". The (insert Asian culture of choice) have been cooking this way for generations and it would be an insult to say that I am cooking "Chinese" or "Japanese" because I'm not. My attempts to emulate one style or another are usually tasty!


Super Bowl

The flavors, the colors!!!!!

Wok of Ages

We used turkey (cause it's non-threatening) and I found the rolling the pieces in corn starch with a bit of salt and pepper made them turn out nice and crispy. Veggies were added after taking out the meat - this keeps everything from being horribly overcooked, a problem of mine in the past.

Now, I will admit, I cheated. Making Asian-style sauces from scratch that taste good is pretty challenging (read: impossible) so I used a *gasp* store-bought sauce: much to my shame, I cannot remember the brand. It was damned good though!

I bid you Peace,

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Good eatin' today!


The 3rd of October is the day of German Unification! This, of course, means that it's a bank holiday and I was able to enjoy the time off with Anna and friends.

Some of our guests arrived Tuesday evening so breakfast was a must on Wednesday. We decided to do something super cool and yummy: Bacon, Egg, and Toast Cups!



Super easy but a bit time-intensive. Despite the effort,you get something that's really delicious and very unique.

Later, the preparations began and we had pizza from the grill.


This is my favorite:


Barbecue sauce instead of tomato sauce, ground beef, bacon, jalapenos, red onions, and real mozzarella. If you order this from Joey's it's called "Conchita", from Kai's, its "The Elvis". I would like to call it "The Rattlesnake" but since this is not an original product of my imagination, I'll simply call it delicious.

I bid you Peace,

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fresh berries and chocolate....


Who could resist such a delicious combination?

My gorgeous, inventive, and genteel girlfriend, Anna made another cake worthy of Carême (in my opinion, at least)



This was the birthday cake for a friend. The cake itself is a cocoa sponge cake, layered, with a chocolate and cream mixture between the layers. The outside is a thin wall of bittersweet chocolate, bent around the outside and slightly larger to hold the fresh raspberries, blueberries and, red currants. I need not describe how rich it was.

A masterful work!


It was delicious...


I bid you Peace,