Tuesday, August 18, 2009

stretchin' my tummy to the austin city limits!

last week marked the yearly nerdy nerd fest i always attend - the society of american archivists annual meeting.

every year we nerds descend upon a random US city to discuss such pressing issues as EAD, mass digitization, archives and web 2.0 capabilities, issues surrounding photographs and film and preservation in general.

throw in a healthy dose of eye glasses, knitting and cat stories and there you have it - an annual meeting of archivists.

i'll be honest - i really dig all that archivist mumbo jumbo. i like hearing what other archives are doing cuz some of 'em have big budgets and a staff that actually adheres to archival best practice.

some repositories are just doing amazing, amazing things - like the brooklyn museum's flickr page and the archives of american art's online collections (digitization of entire manuscript collections! incredible!) and i thought this was a pretty bitchin' idea too!!

and of course, the next best things to all of that is eating and exploring in a new city! i'll be honest, i may like that better that the archivist stuff. but just a lil'.

i've been to texas but that was year's ago and it wasn't austin, which is apparently the coolest, least texan city in texas. and you know what they are famous for in texas? you guessed it....BBQ! brisket to be specific.

friends - you know my heart lies in the mustard and vinegary pulled pork of the carolinas but i also heard that nowhere, NOWHERE, does brisket like texas and i was ready to see what all of the hype was about.

upon arrival in austin i was very hungry and with temperatures over 90 with the sun setting - very, very thirsty.

i hit lamberts.

happy hour meant half off beers and all food on the bar menu. woohoo!

i had a fireman's #4, the broiled gulf oysters (good but raw on the beach is WAY better) and the brisket sammich. it was pretty fuckin' good. (and it was only $15!!) oh, and these guys were playn' - the moonhangers.

(insert contextual clue - i was in austin for 4 1/2 days. i didn't eat bbq every single meal but i did have three incredible bbq experiences that were certainly worth noting.)

so, i rented a bike for 24 hours. it was at least 100 degrees every day and walking miles and miles and miles in that kind of heat was unappealing (and buses are on a schedule AND cost money!). instead i decided to bike miles and miles and miles. it was still oppressive but i could cover more ground in less time.

and because i walked all the way to the bike shop i stumbled across this place.

the green mesquite.

ok, i lied. i didn't stumble upon this place. i am a librarian for christ's sakes. and at a librarian's conference no less. i had 2 pages in my notebook dedicated to bbq joints and other points of interest - addresses, telephone numbers, pros and cons provided by local yelpers.

i pride myself in being an educated traveler (and a gigantic nerd). i don't have to hit all of the spots but i list them all over the city anyways and i guess if i stumble across 'em i might as well stop in.

i had to go for the brisket sandwich.

$3.99 plus a couple of bucks for a dos equis on draft.
man, i like texas.

this was so good. smoked meat on cheap white bread. just a lil' sauce. mmm!

and the servers were wearing shirts that said, "horrifying vegetarians since 1988." that made me chuckle while i stuffed my face with brisket.

and then i had a life changing experience.

i went to the salt lick.

i cannot even begin to explain this place and their amazing bbq. if i believed in a god he was the man behind this grill. this was a fuckin' religious experience. the food, the people, the wooden tables and the iced tea. heaven. better than heaven.

they serve 4 kinds of meat - brisket, pork ribs, sausage and turkey. you can get a plate with 3 meats along with beans, potato salad and cole slaw.

here it is. man oh man. there are no words.

my fellow bbq enthusiast (she drove over from houston to experience the salt lick with me) and i stuffed ourselves to the gills. i sliced up the jalapeno and mixed it into my beans. i ripped off a hunk of bread and made a brisket sammich.

they gave us extra sauce in those little metal pitchers that diners use to serve tea or syrup for pete's sakes!

and of course we had to get dessert! think i'm gonna go all the way to driftwood, texas and not order the peach cobbler with ice cream?

and look at this.

just. look. at. this.

the salt lick has a really cool history and it is one of only a handful of open pit bbq joints left in texas.

that pit, just a few feet from where i ate my dinner, is the most beautiful things these eyes have ever seen.

i saw other sights in austin. the hike and bike trail around the lake is beautiful. the bats were amazing and barton springs was incredibly refreshing. i tooled around the state capital and the university of texas. i had a beer at the driskell and one day i fully intend on returning to austin and actually shacking up there. and of course i made my way up and down 6th sampling beers, margaritas and live music.

austin, texas fucking rules and i can't wait to go back. good people, good bbq, and lonestar for a mere $5.79 a 6-pack.

keep austin weird indeed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


here she is. we named her sooey. she was 82 pounds of delicious!

we put her on the hot coals around 7:00 am and basted her all day with a mop sauce of cider vinegar, thinly sliced onions and jalapenos, dry mustard and brown sugar. by 6:00 pm our guests were stuffed to the gills and shouting our praises.


Monday, June 29, 2009

how are you celebrating our nation's independence?

i'm going whole hog.

that's right. an entire pig. slow roasted. all day on a spit. rubbed down and then mopped all day with a vinegary sauce.
buns optional.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

back to broken

sad news for the 2 people out there who read my blog. i took my new camera to nag's head with me last month in order to document good friends, good drinks, good food and good times and the damn thing busted on me.

yep, "lens error" is all i'm getting.

what is it with me and cameras at the beach? camera I died in delaware in october and camera II dies in north carolina in may.


i didn't mistreat it. i was careful to keep it packed up in my lil' bag while i was actually on the beach to avoid sand infiltration. still, it breaks and once again this blog is image-less and without photos it just isn't the same.

i'm not as excited to tell you about the cream puffs that are cooling on wire racks on my kitchen counter cuz i can't show them to you. it's not as sweet to talk about the different cupcakes and butter cream icings kp and i have tried out in the last week cuz i can't show them to you! (fyi - kp and i got booked to bake someone's wedding cake. how sweet is that? kick ass!)

and the pan seared lamb chop, baked sweet potato and corn on the cob i had for dinner? barely worth mentioning since you can't see it! (although, i guess you're not missing much. i'll admit that the chop was a smidge overcooked).

in any case, i am camera-less once again. and i don't think one is gonna drop outta the sky like last time (thanks aunt deb - sorry i broke your gift) so until i learn how to upload photos from my crappy camera phone or until my wealthy benefactor finally shows up i guess i'm on a bit of a hiatus.

i am erratic after all.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

movin' on up!

a few weeks ago i whipped out the ol' bucket grill for a twin peaks feast of bbq chicken and sausages. i love that grill. i bought it for $10 at world market two summers ago and that lil' guy has treated me right. sure, it's small but it did the trick.
besides, i'm no size queen.

i would've used the bucket this summer too if i hadn't run across the deal of the century at marc's the other day.

for a mere $20 i got this gem.

here she is gettin' nice and warm for that kick ass pork loin i was about to grill!

i picked up two sweet potatoes and the loin at duma's for only $5! i marinated the loin in honey, soy sauce and some minced garlic while i putzed around my apartment cleaning and doing laundry.

i put the coals on the sides and left the middle of the grill coal-free so the loin wouldn't cook on direct heat.

i basted the loin a few times with the leftover marinade and left that baby alone for about an hour. once it reached 160 degrees i took it off the grill and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

while my loin was resting i steamed some brussel sprouts and added a lil' butter, salt and pepper to the sweet potatoes.

man oh man. this was DELICIOUS!

the pork was soooooo juicy and so tender i barely needed a knife. killer!

man, this grill is so sweet. i'm going to be grillin' and cookin' out all summer long!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

sprucin' up an old standby

after lifting weights with the martini and spending 30 minutes on the treadmill i was hungry. lucky for me our special collections librarian hooked me up with a big, beautiful tomato. she said it was a "hot house" (which most are this time of year) but she claimed her mother-in-law brought it from some greenhouse in canada and it was the best "hot house" around.

it did look nice. and it smelled pretty good.

how about a blt?!

first things first - a beer. i'd worked up quite a thirst and brooklyn was there to quench it. today i went with the lager. tasty.

next - the bread. lucky for me i picked up these lil' ciabatta loaves at aldi's for like $1.50. i made chicken salad on sunday night and have been eating it on these mini loaves all week. perfect sammich size. yum!

you bake 'em in a 425 degree oven for like 8 minutes and then they are nice and crusty and yummy.

i also decided i'd roast a few potato wedges. i seasoned them with lawry's season salt and some lemon pepper and then i tossed 'em with some olive oil.

notice that perfect potato alignment? that's called neuroticism.

i cooked my bacon on my stove top cast iron grill and then drained it on paper towels. with nice crispy bacon, a crusty piece of ciabatta and chopped veggies it was time to assemble.

i only like a teeny bit of mayo. whenever i order blt's i always get the mayo on the side. you just need such a small amount - no gross slatherin' here.

next comes the lettuce. usually i'd like a whole leaf but i'd already chopped up my romaine for my lunch salads so chopped it was.

then the bacon.

then to mix things up a bit i added some slices of avocado. mmmm....avocado.

last but not least - the canadian tomato.

and here's my dinner.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

who killed laura palmer?!
not my bbq chicken!

first - a disclaimer. i noticed it's been a whole month since i posted last. hence the name, ERRATIC epicurean!

for the last year or so a group of friends and i have been getting together to eat (everyone brings something tasty) and watch twin peaks. you are correct in assuming that since it's taken us over a year to watch a mere two seasons of 1990s television that we were a lil' erratic with our get-togethers.

we got together a few weeks ago to finish up and in honor of the sunshine and the season finale i thought i'd get out my lil' bucket grill.

i stopped by difeo's after work to pick up some whole chicken legs and then some good lookin' sausages wooed me. i picked up some hot italian sausage, some boudin sausage, and some turkey sausage (for the shitetarian of course!).

i already had some of my kick ass bbq sauce in the fridge so when i got home i rinsed and dried the chicken with some paper towels. i seasoned the legs liberally with salt and pepper and then roasted them in the oven on a wire rack over a cookie sheet until they were just about done.

why did i roast them in the oven and not just slap 'em on the grill? you'll see. it's a space issue.

while the chicken was roasting i lit the coals. once those were nice and hot and gray i started my sausages.

oops. maybe a lil' too hot for those lil' turkey links!

the turkey sausages were done pretty quickly so i took them off the grill and wrapped them in foil. the larger links took just a bit longer.

mmm. look at those babies. soooooo goooood.

with the sausages cooked and wrapped in foil it was time to start bbq'ing the chicken. i had 6 chicken legs total but due to my space constraints i had to bbq in batches.

i like to brush the chicken with bbq sauce, let 'em sizzle just about 20-30 seconds and then flip and brush and flip and brush and flip and brush until the skin is nice and crispy and and the sauce is caramelized.

here they are when they were just about finished.

YUM! bbq chicken legs are one of my all time favorite foods to grill. i'll be eating this many more times as the weather turns warm.

as for twin peaks...it did not disappoint. what an ending!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

beef brisket part 2

toot! toot! mutha f'n toot!

i kicked a beef brisket's ass last night!

i let that baby marinate, wrapped up tightly in foil, for almost 2 days before sticking it in a 300 degree oven at 11:00 am on saturday morning. i didn't even peek in or loosen up the foil. i just stuck it in the oven.

it's a good thing i didn't have to do too much prep work. ring of fire (a redonkulous drinking game), dancing at thursday's and a shot of (bad) tequila in honor of a friend's birthday put a real hurtin' on me so most of saturday was spent on my couch watching pbs.

about 5:00 i finally drug my ass off the couch (dinner was scheduled for 7:30) and got started. first i peeked in at my brisket.

this is after 6 totally unattended hours.

my first side dish was mk's baked beans. first things first - i had to fry up some bacon.

once the bacon was crisp i drained it on paper towels, let it cool and then crumbled it. i poured out the drippings and browned 1/2 a chopped onion and a pound of ground chuck. i drained the beef and in a big mixing bowl added the beef, the bacon, butter beans, kidney beans, pork 'n beans and
some ketchup, brown sugar and spices.

i poured all of that into a casserole dish and it baked for about an hour.

i also decided to roast some potato wedges and make some candied carrots. i candied our only vegetable! ha!

i cut the potatoes into wedges and tossed them with olive oil, lemon pepper and sea salt. i just roasted these on a big cookie sheet.

while i was slicing the carrots i melted about 3-4 tablespoons of butter in my skillet. once it was starting to brown i added the carrots and a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar. the carrots cooked over medium heat until they were nice and caramelized. mmmm.

i also whipped up some of my kick ass bbq sauce. this sauce seriously rules. i get a ton of compliments on it. it is worlds away from that sugary sweet ketchup based stuff i grew up with. ick.

the vinegar and mustard gives this sauce real tang and the cayenne is the perfect kick. it's good on anything. delish!

as you can tell from the photograph the brisket was very fatty. roasting it fat side up lets all that goodness soak into the meat but i certainly don't wanna put it on a sandwich!

since the meat was so tender the fat just pulled off with a knife and fork. pioneer woman says to put the meat back into the sauce once you cut the fat off and slice it up but that was a no go. my marinade cooked down pretty far and it was too thick and sticky to put the meat back in. instead i shredded the meat and served it on a platter with the bbq sauce on the side.

here's the whole spread.

aNw brought a really good salad which was very refreshing considering the meat loaded, buttery, saucey mania we were indulging in.

it was so good that towards the end of the evening i walked into the kitchen and saw some peeps dipping the meat right into the sauce. ha!

i did it too though and damn....it was good.

brisket conquered!

toot! toot!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

klopek? what is that slavic? NO!

the tour de lenten fish fries continued last night with a trip to the slovak j club. wow. delicious. i didn't think the poles could be beat but the slav's can really fry!

i went with the fried shrimp cuz i was feeling classy however the fried perch is all you can eat and a snagged a lil' piece for stormin' norman. delicious.

for $7 each we got two big baskets of bread (VERY delicious - the best bread we've had so far according to kp) and i had coleslaw and pierogies for my sides. oh man. the pierogies were so delicious. so very delicious.

the slavs definitely know what the fuck is up with pierogies.

i washed down this fine meal with a $2 labbats. delightful.

the slovak j club gets an A+++!

next friday - i'm not sure yet where we'll end up but the shriners are on our list.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

beef brisket part 1

my brother said he wanted to hang out on saturday. we were planning on getting some super good fish and making homemade sushi but then that plan fell through. i'd been pondering what i could make for him and a few other family members and friends instead when i was inspired by paul lukas's meat bracket.

a friend sent me that link and said, "a tournament bracket you might care about." boy was he right! at first i thought i'd try my hand at the competition favorite - standing rib roast. then i found out how much standing rib roast costs (EGADS!) so i needed an alternative plan.

beef was still on the brain though so i consulted a few of my favorite cooking/recipe websites and blogs and came across a pioneer woman recipe i'd looked at many times before -
beef brisket.

if you know me at all then you know i live (and would die most likely) for good bbq. good smoked brisket is sooooooooooooo good. so, so, so good. but i don't have a smoker. or any other fancy equipment and according to the pioneer woman i don't need one for good brisket.

so, where would i get a big ol' slab of brisket...hmmm..... a while back another friend told me about kirbie's family meats in stow but i hadn't had a chance to get out there yet. this was my chance! i called 'em and they confirmed that they did in fact have beef brisket and lots of it.

i headed there straight from work.

when i got there i saw a bunch of small pieces of trimmed brisket (intended for corned beef i'm sure) in the case for $5.99/lb. what? that wouldn't do at all.

i said, "i need a big ol' slab with lots of fat on it. you got that?" and of course, because kirbie's family meats is a small, family run, locally owned butcher and specialty shop they did. he brought out a big ol' slab and said, "it's $2.50 per pound. this one is 12 1/2 pounds."

i said, "i'll take it!" and here it is.

here are all the fixin's for pioneer woman's marinade.

i mixed all of that (beef consomme, lemon juice, soy sauce, liquid smoke and chopped garlic) together and then added the brisket to the giganto roasting pan i bought a few years back when i hosted thanksgiving.

and again.

then i covered that baby good and tight with a bunch of foil.

i stuck this in the fridge and it's gonna stay there for the next 36 hours.

stay tuned for part 2.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

another holiday to cook for. i love it!

the tour de lenten fish fries 09 continued with a trip to the polish american citizen's club last friday (well, two fridays ago by now).

this one had been talked up quite a bit by my good friend aNw. i trust aNw so i knew we were in for somethin' special....and oh man was it ever special!

first of all, i appreciate any place where beers are $2 and i appreciated this place even more since the bartender was the oldest polish woman i've ever seen.

for roughly $13 i ate one of the best fried fish dinners of my life. we had a large crew for this round - nine people to be exact but the poles hooked us up with a large table in the back and there wasn't a disappointed one among us.

now, you may be thinking $13 is a lot but let me tell you what the poles served up. we got a few baskets of kick ass fresh bread and also a nice size salad. i opted for the 1/2 perch & 1/2 shrimp with fries. i got about 4 or 5 small pieces of fried perch and about a half dozen fried shrimp. it was glorious. GLORIOUS.

and the best part - the poles host a fried fish dinner every single friday of the year. they don't need no stinkin' lent for good eats! polish american citizen's club gets an A++ for sure! they blew the eagles and irish right outta the water.

sadly, this past friday i had to miss a day of the tour. i think the crew - good friends that they are - decided to return to the polish american club so that i wouldn't miss anything. bless them. i think this week we'll be checking out the slovak club so stay tuned.

in other news - last tuesday was st. patrick's day. i decided to celebrate with good friends, good eats and good beer not assholes, bad bar eggs and shitty green beer.

(ps. i ripped that cartoon from the viper. i suppose i can give credit where credit is due.)

sunday night i made the soda bread.

here are some of my supplies - the dry ingredients if you will.

(notice those super cute and sturdy measuring spoons? those were the prize for my third place finish in the library soup cook-off.)

here is me adding the wet ingredients (buttermilk & eggs) to the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt & baking soda).

and here's some of the good stuff. melted butter. mmm!

and because i'm crazy i baked 5 loaves.

once these were done (you can check for doneness by popping them out of the pan and "knocking" on the bottom of the loaf. if it makes a thud it's done) i let them cool on a wire wrack and then wrapped them up tight in plastic wrap.

one went to the martini's house for his annual "state of grace" party. one went to aNw. why? she has a bun in the oven so i feel compelled to bake/cook things for her and her bun.
one loaf went to work with me to buy the praise of my co-workers, one loaf was served with some kick ass irish stew and the fifth one was just for kicks.

traditional irish stew is made with lamb but lamb is expensive and i am broke. plus i had two pounds of stew beef in my fridge that i got from my dad. free beef or costly lamb? hmmm....

first i chopped up all my veggies - potatoes, onions, carrots and parsnips.

then i layered the veggies and the beef in my kick ass new dutch oven (which is definitely the best investment i've made in quite some time!) and seasoned it with some salt, pepper and a couple of bay leaves.

then i added the guinness. mmmm....guinness.

because i'm poor and i wanted to drink more of the guinness than i was willing to put in the stew i finished it off with a lil' beef stock.

i put the lid on and let this simmer over low heat for about 2 hours.

a while back my fellow blogger, xenia inquired about good coleslaw.

here is what i came up with.

first, you chop up some cabbage. i used red and green cuz it looks pretty.

then i added a few heaping tablespoons of sugar and some cider vinegar.

then i realized that i forgot to add the carrots so i julienned a couple of those and added them to the mix. i also added about a tablespoon of keith's homemade hot vinegar just for a lil' extra zip.

i covered the slaw with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge so the cabbage could soak up all the goodness. yum!

when my friend mk and i were in ireland a few years ago we ate at a lil' pub that served their stew over mashed potatoes. i thought that was one of the best ideas ever in the world so i did i decided to do it myself.

i peeled and boiled the taters and then smashed 'em with some butter, chopped green onions, salt, pepper, a lil' milk and a couple of tablespoons of cream cheese.

i sliced one of my loaves of soda bread and invited in the crowd.

some friends and i gobbled up this goodness and slugged down a few beers and enjoyed our st. patrick's day.

maybe it was the stew or the beers or the beginnings of "darby o'gill and the little people" or gasp! dare i say the fact that we are all growing up but the party dispersed rather early.

however, we all slept with full bellies and we all made it to work on time the next day without feeling like death.

happy st. patrick's day!

Monday, March 9, 2009

hangover soup

saturday was my brother's birthday. we started out not-so-slow with sushi and sake and then headed out for an evening of unbridled partying. the time change and one more hour at the bar didn't hurt anything either.

i had a great time and went all night. but sunday i felt like death.

and i was starving.

so i made hangover soup (aka potato and leek soup) a la julia.

this is probably one of the easiest and most delicious soups to make. it's fancy name is potage parmentier and i've made it before.

it was perfect for the amount of energy i was willing to expel and for the ingredients i had in my fridge.

first - i cut up some potatoes. any kind. i leave the skins on cuz i think they taste delicious.

then i cut up some leeks.

then i put the veggies in a pot with water and salt.

this simmer for about 40 minutes or so until the potatoes are tender. i mashed it all up with a potato masher and put in about a tablespoon of butter.

yum. yum. yum.

and i only had to leave the couch for like 15 minutes.