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My memories of school assemblies from my early years are a blur of secularised holiday celebrations and faux cool jingles designed to keep us from doing drugs. Not very influential with one glaring exception. I remember being blown away by the story of Terry Fox a twenty-one year-old Canadian who set out to raise a million dollars for cancer research by running across the country. Terry had been diagnosed with bone cancer in his knee, undergone chemotherapy and had his right leg amputated. Images of Terry running, with his artificial leg, along remote and lonely stretches of the Trans Canada Highway are I think a fairly universal early memory for Canadians of my generation.
I have spent much of this summer building a wood-fired oven with my family at the cottage and since this year is the thirtieth anniversary of the Marathon of Hope it seemed appropriate to mark this occasion by cooking a meal in the oven. The September Foodbuzz 24X24 is special because it is dedicated to raising funds for ovarian cancer research and I was happy to have my proposal to write about a meal honouring the Marathon of Hope accepted. Throughout its course the Marathon of Hope was about connecting with the small communities and individuals across Canada and I hope that by cooking a meal (with the help of family and friends) which represents the culinary traditions of these people and places I can honour this memory in my own way.
I can’t complain too loudly about how cliched the description has become because I have written it more times than I want to count but this summer has been a remarkably hot and sunny one. Unfortunately, August’s weather rarely influences September’s and for the day of the big meal we had stronger winds than anyone could remember for Labour Day weekend. When building the oven we were careful to face it away from prevailing winds but I still had some difficulty getting the oven lit on Saturday. In a world of electric ovens with digital controls it’s difficult to imagine the havoc caused by 30 km/h winds when cooking in an outside brick oven but now I understand.
On April 12, 1980 Terry started his journey across the country at the Atlantic coast near St. John’s, Newfoundland. His course took him through all four of Canada’s maritime provinces and these early stages were filled with the challenges of running a marathon every day in what can often be wintry weather in April. He was supported by his brother and his best friend and was I’m sure buoyed by the isolated recognition and public support he received along this part of the route. (more…)
My posts about cooking with my Cobb cooker seem to have struck a chord with Google searchers. I’ve used it to grill burgers, smoke ham and two types of bacon. Next up for the miniature barbeque was an application I have read about (in the instruction manual and on the internet) for cooking bread on the Cobb BBQ.
Proofed dough just on the Cobb
I had used up the match-light charcoal from last summer, so I grabbed a bag of Jack Daniels Barrel charcoal on a recent visit to Bass Pro Shops. The bag and my less-than-intensive reading thereof made this product seem like lump charcoal made from used bourbon whiskey barrels. Too good to be true. It’s actually just briquette charcoal mixed in with about a quarter as many pieces of said barrels only lightly blackened, possibly just from being mixed around in a bag full of briquettes.
It looks from this post like some people are big fans of this product and that it may have been discontinued. Well, the Bass Pro Shops north of Toronto had a lot of the stuff a couple weeks ago when I was there. (more…)
The Cobb BBQ cooking hamburgers
Recently, my parents gave Kat and I a Cobb BBQ cooker. We had my brothers and one of their girlfriend over to try it out. I figure the best way to test out a new grilling tool was to see how it would do with cooking a batch of my Burgers with Legs.
The finished product
Like I did for my pizza recipe I have decided to deal with ribs in two parts. This recipe, while simple and straightforward, has a few independent stages that I think can be neatly divided into two posts. Also, like the pizza recipe this one can be spread over two days/
When we left off the ribs had been rubbed, wrapped in aluminum foil and left in the fridge. The aluminum foil will act as a perfectly-shaped pan to keep the braising liquid close to the meat, the rub will add lots of flavour and draw juices from the meat to enrich the sauce, all we need is a flavourful, slightly acidic braising liquid. After testing several I can report that the best combination here is the one suggested in the Alton Brown cookbook of 50:50 orange juice and limeade (or margarita mix). Some flexibility here is totally acceptable. I’ve used straight orange spiked with lime juice, or beer with apple cider vinegar, or white wine and wine vinegar. All work, and you’ll need half a cup for each package of ribs. Remove the ribs from the oven and using the funnel end of each package pour the juice, beer, or wine mixture into the funnel end and slide the pan(s) into an oven preheated to 350F.
Barbeque season is here and for his birthday every year my cousin Chris has me make ribs. Over the years I think I have worked out a pretty optimal cooking technique and I’m going to share it here in two parts. The recipe is based on Alton Brown’s versions for baby back ribs from I’m Just Here for the Food and the Good Eats episode “Pork Fiction“. Two recipes, one cook but they really are pretty different–perhaps because of copyright issues–and so we get the opportunity to pick and choose the best of both.