Smoked chicken, the soup…

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The meal that keeps on giving…

Got the carcass. Cut it up. Made sure all long bones cut in half. Throw in a plan with maybe a litre of water. Chuck in the skin and boil for a couple of hours. Use a sieve to separate the bones and junk from the liquid.

The result…

Great soup with a wonderful smoky taste. No pictures cos it was eaten too quick🙌

Fatty Piston

Technology No Comments »

This one may make you wonder but don’t…

What do two pieces of PVC pipe and one end cap have in common with the BBQ? Nope, I didn’t know either until I read about this wonderful contraption/concoction. Read the following link:

Cowgirls Country Life

Today after supposed to be walking and being health with the Scouts and having bad weather cancel play, I dropped by the hardware store. I wanted some fire bricks for the Weber. Sadly they didn’t have any but they did have the above mentioned PVC pipe. So I got some with the fatty piston in mind.

After a few minutes with some glue and the Dremel, I gone made me a new kitchen tool…

fatty piston

Fatty Piston

Hint if you make one of these, PVC pipe dust gets every where.

So, what am I going to make with this?

Right now, I don’t know but I’m sure I can find something good tomorrow and report back:mrgreen:

Smoked Chicken, the result…

Food No Comments »

image

What can words say

Smoked Chicken (short post)

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

Smoked Chicken (LONG post)

Food No Comments »

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

Food No Comments »

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:

blgrill

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.

Drum kits?

Arduino, Music, Technology No Comments »

I’ve just seen this link:

Make your own drum kit

So I am going to:)

On top of the Raspberry Pi – I’ve ordered an Arduino starter kit already and with the winter coming in and kids wanting to play – it’s a good time to start and this I think is a good first big goal after doing all the little learning projects that get you this far.

 

I want to ride my bicycle…

cycling No Comments »

bike pathA friend proposed the idea that he would like to do some long distance cycling in South Africa.

Why not?

Well, personally, having been there, I can think of a good few reasons why not but I will not digress. What I will say though is that while that may be the goal, it’s a very good idea to get some smaller successes under your belt first.

That got me to thinking about what and where are some long distant cycle paths in Europe. So a little Googling and Bob’s your uncle…

EuroVelo is a network of routes set up by the European Cyclists’ Federation connecting many European countries. Currently there are 14 routes but it is expected that these will increase substantially by 2020. The routes can be found here:

EuroVelo Cycling Routes

A recent article from The Worldwide Cycling Atlas gives a little more information on these routes together with some hopping off points for further exploration.

For Brits the Telegraph has a good article on a number of UK Cycle Routes. It’s not totally comprehensive but is a good start.

For those in The Netherlands, there is a good blog that contains quite a lot of information on cycling in The Netherlands (and it’s in English). NL Cycling – Long Distance Paths. And speaking of cycling in The Netherlands, if you need a great route planner…

Nederland Fietsland Routeplanner

Probably this is not a bad place to start out if you really want to do some long distance stuff. The routes are safe, there are lots of camp sites & repair shops and maybe the best bit – it’s all FLAT;)

I’ll post more paths and stuff as I find them. If you have any favourite paths then let me know – I’ll happily publish them.

 

 

 

 

Google Plus, do no evil?

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I like Google Plus, much more than Facebook. It’s more secure and is security model is more useful. Additionally it sort of integrates with the other Google apps. This on the face of it is a good thing.

So, what’s the problem?

I took some pictures on my phone, these are set to sync to my Google Drive for backup and reuse. Now, I may publish these from G+ or I may want to do whatever with them. This you would think it’s a fair thing to do.

I also prefer to use a tablet or phone at home rather than laptop, even for map and such, including WordPress.

This morning I go to write something based op one of the pictures I took and stored on G+.

Could I find a way to download on the tablet from G+? Could I not! It just doesn’t seem possible. Maybe I need to look more info this but seeing as this stuff is supposed to be about creating content and making it easy to do so, it all seems rather strange.

Of course, if it’s simplicity itself to publish within the Google ecosystem but to get things outside?

I could, I guess, link into the picture on G+ from here but that would be advertising for Google and also maybe I don’t want to do that? Maybe I don’t want to let folks know what my G+ account is? Privacy and all that.

Google benefit from this behaviour, it helps people stay locked into their stuff. Trying to move from a ring fenced environment outside has been made deliberately difficult to serve the advertising and data mining frenzy that is Google.

A call to arms?

Certainly.

Stop using Google? It may be the only way but I don’t think effective. Probably best to do what everyone else will do and sync upto Dropbox instead and forget about flexible content delivery and management systems.

Do no evil ? Maybe not but low grade annoyance seems okay.

Raspberry PI

Raspberry PI, Technology No Comments »

After much delay, I finally got the Raspberry PI up and running.

It’s now running Wheezy on an 8Gb card clocked to a modest 800MHz. It’s slow running X but this I knew.

What really did surprise me was the lack of effort needed to connect it to the wifi. Really was a case of bang in a USB dongle, use the wifi-config tool to set up the SSID info and boom – it’s connected. Well impressed. It’s also stable which is even more impressive.

One thing though to remember – the PI don’t do good on an under powered power supply – so using that old black berry charger rated at 500mA just won’t cut the mustard. Samsung’s USB Travel charger is rated at a very nice 1A. LIKE.

What am I going to do with the PI?

Well – for now – just brush up on Linux and Python etc. I will try turning it into an FM Transmitter. Of course this is probably illegal but the range is only 100m +/- and use a frequency that is not (much) used;) And it won’t be 24/7.

After that?

There are some cool things to do with simple I2C bus stuff and then maybe look at interfacing to Arduino and generally messing around. All good fun.

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