BBQ lighting – a tip…

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A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away…

There was a poor defenseless little hibachi, desperate to be lit. He cried out for flame to ignite his charcoal. Flame was duly brought forward. Alas, the little heat the flame could bring was just not sufficient to support combustion of the little hibachi’s valiant charcoal.

Along came Darth Petrol bringing with him the lure of the dark side. Maximum heat, quick ignition, superb fire spreadability. The innocent little hibachi jumped at the thought of quick burn. To be lit and give forth searing heat was all it wanted…

Slosh went Darth Petrol, whoosh went the hibachi. Heat was brought forth in a marvelous energetic dance…

For in a few seconds, hibachi’s coals were hot. But too hot, the fire would not recede, the heat began to burn through poor little hibachi and then it was no more. Hibachi had melted. He was no more. The lure of the dark side had reduced him to slag. Never to be cooked on again.

Here endeth the lesson and beggineth the tip…

When lighting your BBQ, NEVER use petrol or other accelerants. They burn too quick, damage your grill and leave a nasty taste in your mouth – quite literally. Also, they are pretty dangerous. 

How to do it safely?

Get a BBQ lighting chimney, use organic, environmental friendly lighting blocks (marked as suitable for BBQ) or…

Get the heat gun you use for stripping paint, put it on it’s hot setting and leave it for a few minutes….

For a few briquettes – it looks like this and works a charm. Why only a few briquettes? I used them for starting a slow burn. If you have more to do then fire the heat from the bottom up.

Use your heat gun to light coals

Lay a snake of coals for a long slow burn

Pea shooting…

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Or “how to turn ridiculously cheap dried stuff into great, nutritious food”…

See the below recipe for how to do this and more pictures below.

Pea shooting…

From Chris's Stuff | Salads | French

How to grow delicious fresh pea sprouts for not a lot of money. Use them in your salads for a bit of extra taste and lots of extra nutrition.


20 servings


  • 1 packet of dried peas (cheap sort, not split ones)
  • 1 Seed tray or satsuma box or similar
  • Soil for seed tray
  • Water


  1. Soak the peas for 24 hours before planting. How many peas? I spread my peas in the empty container before putting the soil in. You need to have enough peas to completely cover the tray, leaving maybe a pea space between each pea. Fairly dense but not on top of each other.
  2. Make sure the seed tray or container is clean.
  3. Put the soil in the tray to about 15mm below the top. The try needs to be around 30 to 40mm deep (more and it’s a waste).
  4. Scatter the soaked peas over the soil.
  5. Cover the scattered peas with more soil so they are about 2 peas diameter covered. About 10mm or so of soil.
  6. Dampen but not soak the soil.
  7. Put in warm place (window sill?) and leave for 2 weeks. Keep the soil moist but not drenched.
  8. After 2 weeks you will have fresh pea sprouts ready for eating:). Harvest them by cutting above the second leaf set. Doing this will allow another crop to grow. It maybe that you get more than two crops but is depends on the strength of the pea.


  • Eat the sprouts freshly cut and raw. Mix in salads or eat as a snack.

Completed seed tray. Next time I’ll get better pictures.



After two weeks you get pea sprouts that look like this – ready for cropping as and when you want…



And the proof is in the tasting. Seen here with a nice piece of fresh smoked salmon served on a bed of mixed leaves and fresh pea sprouts with balsamic vinegar as a dressing:)



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From wikpipedia:

Always wondered what it was, I found out and so went and made some:)

Have to say that I’m very glad I did. Using a video from Jamie I cured the salmon with:

  • Sea salt
  • Sugar
  • Dill
  • Beetroot
  • Lemon zest
  • Schnapps

… I left out the horseradish. This was spread over the salmon:


Gravlax in curing mix



I wrapped a few bricks up in foil, covered the salmon with clingflim and then put the bricks on top of the salmon to press it down. The whole lot went in the fridge for 2 days (48 hours). When it was done, I scraped off the junk from the fish and removed the skin on the bottom. This is the result:



Gravlax finished


Serve it cut along the diagonal in very thin slices with knackerbrod or very dark bread and a bit of horse radish and wash it down with a bit of akwavit.

What to do for next time?

  • Skip the beetroot – it doesn’t seem to add and is just a lot of mess.
  • Add a bit more alcohol.
  • Try some official stuff and compare it to mine:)

Quick Egg Frittata

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OK, I’ve no idea if this officially counts as a frittata or not, especially after reading around a little. But I don’t really care:mrgreen:

This is a good snack or lunch for those doing low carb or just good in general. Also this is more an idea and not prescriptive. It’s your  kitchen, get creative.


4 eggs, well beaten
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
Half onion finely chopped
Salt & pepper (and whatever) beaten with eggs
Lug of Olive oil (to use a Jamie’ism)
Good splash of milk added into eggs
And more or less whatever else you feel like

Heat the oil and get the onion and garlic. Also if you are going to put in anything like a bell pepper or meat, now is a good time. When the onion or extra are soft, simply add the egg mixture and if you have cheese or maybe little cherry tomatoes then add these on top. Turn down the heart and if you got it, put a lid on the pan.

Leave to cook until the eggs are cooked through, take off the best and serve. Have it with some good brown bread and its a great little meal.


Shepherd’s Pie

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It’s done nothing but rain this weekend. Time for some traditional anti rain food…


Shepherd’s Pie

From Chris's Stuff | Main Dishes | English and Irish

Rainy day comfort food


High cal Calories 752kcal

High fat Total Fat 41g

High sat-fat Saturated Fat 19g

High chol Cholesterol 123mg

sodium Sodium 362mg

High carbs Total Carbohydrate 62g

Serving size 639g Calories from fat 369kcal Fiber 8g Protein 35g Sugar 9g
5 servings


  • For the meat:
  • 750 g Lamb Mince
  • 250 g mushrooms, sliced
  • 30 g flour
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 300 ml lamb stock
  • Tomato ketchup
  • Salt & Pepper
  • For the Mash:
  • 1.25 kg potatoes, chopped for mashing
  • 30g butter
  • milk


  1. In a large pan, gently cook the mince. Squash it and stir it as it goes. When done, with a slotted spoon, lift it out of the pan and use the back of a spoon to squeeze out the rest of the juice form the meat.
  2. Turn up the heat and add the veggies to the juice. Stir, reduce heat, put lid on and leave to cook until softened. Stir occasionally.
  3. When the veggies have softened, add the mince back into the pan and stir. Once mixed together, add the flour, stir and cook for 1 minute, stirring as you go.
  4. Add the stock and again stir. Add in a good squirt of ketchup and salt & pepper to taste.
  5. Leave covered on a low heat to simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Now make the mash…
  7. Boiled the potatoes, when soft, mash. While mashing, add in the butter and milk. Use enough milk to make the mash smooth.
  8. When the meat is done, place it in the bottom of a suitable sized oven tray. Cover this with the mash, trying to put the mash on top of the meat and not mixing it. Smooth the mash with the back of a spoon and then use the back of a fork to make a series of lines in the mash.
  9. Put in oven at 200 deg C for 20 minutes. To get a nice crispy top, you may need to place it under the grill for a little whiles.
  10. Serve.


  • I like to make my mash leaving the skin on the potatoes. This way it tastes a lot more potatoey:) You also get a lot more nutrients this way.

Smoked Chicken, the result…

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What can words say

Smoked Chicken (short post)

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I couldn’t wait. Had to taste it…
It tastes seriously good. Far better than regular BBQ chicken.
Well impressed

Smoked Chicken (LONG post)

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One of the things I’ve wanted to make for a LONG time is BBQ Smoked meat. Ideally ribs but really – I’m not too fussed just what. I’ve always held my self back though, being perhaps uncertain of the process or not having the time or any of a number of other reasons. Yesterday I took took the plunge…

Walking through the local supermarket looking for lunch I came across a whole chicken on sale. I’d just been looking at BBQ Pitboys and I’ve got the urge. So I gone done bought that bird;)

Reading around a bit, it became apparent that this was a whole new adventure. Terms like ‘brining” were appearing and there was little old me thinking it was all about just burning meat. Well – it’s not.

“Low & Slow” is the order of the day.

I brined the chicken in 5l of water in which was dissolved 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Yes – I know I should give weights but tough – all the recipes you find will be in American so live with it;) This took 24 hours in the fridge. A little tip I discovered was to use the salad drawer in the fridge. Also a good excuse to clean it out.

Once brined and washed under cold running water, I left the chicken to dry for an hour. This gave me time to get the fire going AND soak the wood chips.

How to dry a chicken?

How to dry a chicken?

Laying out the fire for smoking is a bit different than regular BBQ. The idea is to be able to get a constant low heat source somewhere int he region of 100 deg C to 120 deg C. This sounds low but it isn’t. Some sources give even lower temps but I’m a bit cautious here. Also as this is going to take a long time and your coals will burn out, you need to think about how to add extra fuel during the cooking time (and wood chips for that matter, after all, you are smoking right?). You also need a heat sink to stabilise the temp AND capture the fat from the meat. An aluminium try with a liter of BOILING water was what I used.

My Weber has a few useful features when it comes to this. The first is that the fire grate has some movable “walls” that allow the fire to be retained to one side of the BBQ. The second is that the grill has liftable sides that you can drop things through, like fuel and wood. Cool:) After looking at a few examples of other folks fires and what not I decided to partition off the fire, lay a layer of briquettes and put my fire on top of those. It all looked a little bit like this:

An unlit bed of briquettes. Use a starter chimney - brilliant device.

An unlit bed of briquettes. Use a starter chimney – brilliant device.

Make sure the water is boiling to begin with.

Make sure the water is boiling to begin with.

So far, so good. What about the bird?

There are many ways to cook a chicken on a grill. Some of them involve stuffing the bird, others use a beer can etc etc. In my case, extra moisture for the cooking process was to be provided by the aluminium water tray and as this was a first go – I didn’t want to mess around with stuffing and such like. I just wanted the heat to get to the meat. Consequently, I cut the bird in half lengthways:

Cut in half and seasoned, after drying of course.

Cut in half and seasoned, after drying of course.

It is possible to marinade the meat. In my case I just used rub of salt and pepper on the inside and Weber BBQ Beer Can Chicken on the outside together with a little olive oil. The oil helps the skin go golden brown and crispy. Perhaps I should have not used any rub the first time, possibly, but I’m sure this won’t be the last one  do.

Now comes the fun part…

After waiting for an hour and getting the fire laid out, lit etc, it was time to let the meat meet the fire. OK – not so fast there Hoss. One of the things to remember is that this low and slow. And that the temp needs to be LOW. Here’s the thing, it’s not easy to to that. It takes practice and experience. This was the first time I attempted cooking this way. With hind sight I used too much fuel and so the temp was too high. As it was already after 6pm and I knew it was going to take a long time, I took a gamble and went ahead. The temp gauge was showing around 150 to 170 deg C. Oh well…

I’d prepped the grill with a rub of veggie oil before putting it on the coals. I’d also positioned the fire to be perpendicular to the handles. This is an important point. If you have to move your Weber then the handles don’t need to be hot. Also I suspect the heat probably isn’t too good for the plastic.

This is what it looked like now:

Note the fire is away from the handes and the meat away from the fire.

Note the fire is away from the handles and the meat away from the fire. You can also see the hole left for feeding fuel through. The sausages were an extra:)

I added the wood chips (Weber FireSpice Apple chips) that had been soaking for an hour. How much wood? Probably you need four handfuls. Put on half the chips to begin with. This will give a LOT of smoke but thats ok. You have the lid on and the meat is most receptive to the smoke before it is cooked.

A side note about temperature regulation. It needs to be learned and it needs to be done slowly. On my Weber, there are vents top and bottom. If they are fully open then a lot of air can get in. If there is a lot of air, the fuel burns quicker and hotter. This is not good. To keep the temp down and fire going slowly, I closed the vent at the bottom almost all the way and left the vent at the top only a little open. You wouldn’t think it at first that this would make a difference – but it does.

Top vent is almost closed and smoke is coming out. Very nice:)

Top vent is almost closed and smoke is coming out. Very nice:)

Then comes the waiting…

It’s hard to do, but it’s well worth it. I didn’t crack the lid for at least an hour. When I did – this is what it looked like:

The fire was still probably too hot even at this point.

The fire was still probably too hot even at this point.

I added some more wood chips to smoke again and left it for another 30 minutes (sans sausages – hey – I had to eat at some point). After another 30 minutes I added some more fuel on top, even though probably I shouldn’t have. The temp was now much more acceptable – around 120 deg C. But of course the temptation to mess with the air settings came in and I opened it up and the temp went up. All things to learn for next time.

After around 3 1/2 hours and some more adding smoke etc, the end results:

The skin was crispy and whole. The meat beneath looked succulent but...

The skin was crispy and whole. The meat beneath looked succulent but…

It looks good and smells awesome. The taste?

I don’t know yet:(

I have left the meat to rest (under foil) and as it’s now really quite late, I will taste it when it’s cool:) Breakfast will be interesting.

Read part 2 tomorrow to find out how it tasted, what it looked like and allow me to bore you with my findings.

Biolite Grill

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Last year I bought a Biolite Stove. It’s a cool little thing that allows you to burn wood for cooking and charges up a USB device at the same time. Fan assisted it helps burn the wood efficiently and without much smoke.

On the whole my experiences with it both in the garden and in real camping situations have been very positive. So where is the but?

I guess the only real but is that you need to practice a bit to get the fire right. Anyways – lets not worry about that right now:)

Biolite also have a grill – something I couldn’t resist:) It drops on top of the biolite and, well, does what is says – works as a grill:


Biolite Burgers:)

So why post a picture now?

Well – largely because I can – and also because I want to. That out of the way. What else is cool about the grill?

  • You can put it in the dishwasher to clean it. Always useful.
  • The meat cooks really well. Those burgers on the picture are thick. They cooked well, all  the way through and remained juicy without getting burnt to a crisp on the outside.  Not bad considering the heat that the grill can give off.
  • It’s a real fire:) (Always a bonus)


And its coming summer. It’s BBQ season.

Thats not really true. The first BBQ of the year was had the end of January! It’s been a VERY mild winter.

BBQ Lamb Leg

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No photos on this one – just a few observations:)

Get a leg of lamb. Most likely it’s quite mature lamb but hey – beggars can’t be choosers. Mine was about 1.3  kg with the bone removed. I think it was butterflyed but I don’t know.

Marinade in wine, olive oil and lemon juice together with onion, garlic and a bit of whatever else takes your fancy (fresh rosemary is nice). Leave it in there for a few hours, preferably over night. Yes – covered and in the fridge. Turn it a few times.

Fire up the BBQ. Use indirect heat and keep the temp at around 150 to 170 deg C. I’ve got a Weber and it has side bars to hold the coals. This is a nice idea but I’m not 100% convinced. I’m going to try this again and put the coals to one side rather than splitting them to each side. I have a feeling the temperature will maintain easier and also – when it comes colder – will be hotter (if you catch my drift).

Make sure to put a drip catcher under the meat. Well – if you want the BBQ to stay clean that is. If not – hey – don’t. It’s not me that will have to clean the smelly mess after a week of it festering.

NOTE – the drip catcher not only catches the juice from the meat but it also heats up that juice and helps to keep the inside of the BBQ moist. This helps prevent the meat drying out.

Once the BBQ is hot enough (I use Weber Premium briquets – about 30 – and make sure they are good and hot before I place them. Hint – when the instructions say make sure all the coals have grey ash on them – listen to it. It’s true!)…

Put on the meat and put the lid back on quickly but carefully. Don’t throw it back on – the draft will waft up the ash onto the meat.

Leave the meat on for around 30 mins per 500g (at 170 deg C). Adjust time accordingly. I noticed that my BBQ dropped to around 140 deg C after 30 mins but stayed there – this is why I will try positioning the coals different next time. Turn once.

To check it’s done – use a meat thermometer in the thickest part.

When done – take it out and let it rest under foil.

At this point – BBQ your veggies (aubergine, courgette, paprika etc). You will probably need to adjust your coals – or even use some new ones. The Weber premium briquets are great but they are very fragile once lit – the tend to disintegrate when being moved around.

When all is done – serve:)


What to try next time?

Well – other than the coal positions – I will maybe try lower temp for much longer. This gives the meat a less tough texture (I can’t for the life in me think of the proper word).

Most likely I’ll blog about it.


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