Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I have high hopes

Our barbecue did not work here – all the fittings are metric and I could not find any adaptors. So along with almost everything else we own - it has gone into the loft until we land back in a country with 240 volts and metric measurements.

It hardly seem possible but there is now more stuff in our basement and loft than there was in our basement in Vienna.

So – anxious not to delay our foray in to the world of ‘cook outs’ we bought a new Weber gas barbecue which we could use to both barbecue and smoke our food – using wood chips to add flavor to the meat. 

I was rather skeptical about this but it does seem to work and we have had one success so far.  I hope to hone my skills trying a range of recipes from our meat smoking cookbook. So far I have acquired alder, apple and hickory woodchips.

Tonite I am smoking some beef and will use hickory wood chips - and have high hopes. And yes I do have a variety of wooden planks that I can use to cook fish.

In the meantime we decided that we should have a bird feeder and a squirrel feeder so that we could watch the local wildlife in action. These were acquired and met with instant success – except that the squirrels ate the entire contents of the bird feeder and totally ignored the squirrel food.


  1. I have the impression (correct me if I'm wrong) that, back in Australia, the locals (who nevertheless pride themselves on the elementary art of throwing prawns onto the barbie) know next-to-nothing about the subtle US techniques of using wood chips for all-important smoking. Besides, US barbecue specialists divide the coals into a hot zone and a cooler zone, and they explain that the actual cooking should be carried out in the cooler zone (where the charcoal doesn't normally flame up as a result of grease droppings), whereas the hot zone (above the red-hot charcoals) is reserved for final browning. It's highly technical, like landing on the moon. And they seem to know what they're talking about.

  2. Maybe, Badger, you're a "dude food" guy, determined to obtain a certain acceptable output at the end of the barbecue assembly line, and not particularly concerned by culinary subtleties. That would surprise me, nevertheless, because you couldn't have spent years in Vienna without a little of their class rubbing off onto you. It's a pity that you've decided to cook with gas, instead of using charcoal, which (to my mind) is so much more authentic and (to borrow one of your words) romantic.

  3. I have gone too many years without trout. The neXt time I am in South Dakota I wiLL have to try some local supply. They had a trout fish hatchery near the park when I was a kid there.

  4. @ William Skyvington:
    I can vouch that Badger is a great cook, and best of all I loved the Australian spices he used.

    @ Badger:
    American squirrels will always figure out a way to steal what's meant for the birds. We spent years trying to outwit them with all sorts of contraptions. There's a reason why I called them "tree rats" - love the Red Squirrels around here, though. They have much better manners! ;-)

  5. William: Yes indeed - it is an art form. The smoker box is placed over a lit burner and the meat is placed over an unlit burner. A great deal of precision is required in terms of timing, the amount of heat and the amount of smoke.

    And as for gas - I did some study on this you can get a more control and accuracy than you do with a charcoal BBQ. It may not be as pure - but it is easier.

    esb: I have not seen trout here. We have something called Tilapia which I have not yet tried.

    Merisi: Thanks you for your compliment. I think the birds will come off second best around here.

  6. Because I'm not a big lover of fish, I'm pretty picky about it, preferring freshwater over ocean fish. I loved the freshwater trout in Vienna, though. Tilapia is good and firm, but basically flavorless unless you season it. In California we had thrasher shark, which was great! I do miss that even though it came from the ocean. I also like salmon (wild) and mahi-mahi. If I had to live on a fish diet I'd opt for those. As for BBQing, we use charcoal, but I prefer the convenience of gas.

  7. @ Merisi:
    "Australian spices" ? I'm curious to know what this expression might mean. There are indeed certain exotic indigenous plants (from Tasmania, in particular) that can apparently be used in cooking... but I've never had the privilege of tasting them. I would be a little surprised if Badger really used such spices in his Viennese dishes, but maybe he had brought such rare stuff back with him after a trip to Australia. In this case, I would be thrilled to learn more about these products, their availability, and their use in cooking.

  8. @ Merisi:
    Better still, maybe Badger has hidden skills in the preparation of so-called bush tucker. And what you imagined as "Australian spices" were simply garden-variety witchetty grubs served up in tasty Crocodile Dundee sauce made with snake oil.

  9. @ esbboston
    @ SK Waller
    "If I had to live on a fish diet..." Ah, I've often imagined that situation, which wouldn't alarm me unduly. In the States, you surely have trout hatcheries. No? Hatchery trout are usually fine, provided that you purchase them directly from a nearby hatchery (as I do, regularly, to avoid transportation delays) and that you know that the hatchery is not feeding their fish with shit fodder.

  10. SK Waller: Well I will try the Tilapia and take your advice and season it well.

  11. @ WSkyvington:
    Alright, spices and dried herbs, grown in Australia.
    I wished I had some right now to put on my meager supper!

    @ Badger: I detest Tilapia:
    Cardboard soaked in buttermilk overnight tastes better. Dip it in flour and plenty of Cajun Spice, then pan-fry it. Serve with courgettes.

    Pan-fried soft-shell Blue Crabs is what I am craving this time of year. I am partial to the Chesapeake Bay variety.

  12. I grill talapia with lots of spices and then top it with a spicy fruit chutney using mangoes, papaya, and kiwi.

  13. @ Merisi:
    I would suggest "spices and dried herbs grown in Asian countries and imported into Australia".

  14. @ William S.:
    Oh, I give up!