Friday, November 18, 2016

Green Mountain Grills

So ... I had been thinking about getting a smoker, to go along with the propane grill. I smoked fish and meats some decades back, but drifted away from it after burning down our smoker.

I had a box, a large wooden packing crate, good construction, that I had converted to the smoke box. I had a couple of fire pits, one close, one not, for hot smoking and cold smoking. Iused regular flue pipe for the smoke conduit. This was a live fire, stick-fed operation.

One day a short period of inattentiveness led to a fire, and the loss of the smoker and a nice load of Gunnison area salmon.

I'd recently been looking at propane-fired smokers.

It turns out that a couple of guys from the PD are heavily into smoking; both use Green Mountain Grill smokers. I tried some smoked ribs and some pulled pork from their GMG's; it was impressive.

So after a bit of hemming and hawing over it with Leece, we ordered one of GMG's Davy Crockett smokers. This is their smallest item; it's actually quite portable, and suitable for tailgating. And, it runs off 12VDC, though it has a 120VAC power supply adapter for house use.

The GMG's are hopper-fed pellet smokers. Some of them, like the Davy Crockett, can be controlled via Wi-Fi and a phone app. These ain't yer great-granddaddy's smokers.

So far we've done up some smoked mac and cheese, which was just outstanding, as well as some boneless pork ribs, some beef jerky, and some spare ribs.  All have been drool-fests.

Boneless pork ribs

Smoked Chicken Thighs นครพนม, based on an ancient Siamese recipe. We started with a basic rub of coarse black pepper, garlic salt and onion powder, and more than a hint of chipotle. After letting the thighs think about that overnight, we then bathed them in a nice sweet chili sauce for several hours. Then, two hours in the smoker, and finished on the grill. Like ... dude.

Le racque côtes de porc, avec sauce au rhum aux pêches. From an old recipe from the French West Indies - Rack of ribs with peach rum sauce.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Taos Wool Festival

We went to Taos the first weekend of October for the Wool Festival.

Leece attended a basic weaving class, presented by Liz Gipson.

While she was occupied with that, I wandered around and got a few shots of the various activities and vendors' booths.

This last shot is of one of the vendors working on a Schacht 'Cricket' rigid heddle loom. We got one of these as Leece is really developing skills as well as interest, and it's time to move on to the next weaving step. This particular vendor, Dancing Hooves Farm from Farmington, NM, also has a good selection of naturally dyed yarns.

We had a great time. The vendors are quite helpful, will take the time to answer the dumbest questions and explain their methods and products, give tips and helpful suggestions.

We stayed again at the Casa Benevides, just across from the Couse House, and within easy walking distance of the Taos square and a good many of the shops and musems. Aside from serving an excellent breakfast, Casa Benevides is only a block or so from the festival, so there was no stress or strain over finding parking or fighting traffic.

We are already planning our trip for next year's festival.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Salida Fiber Festival 09.10.2016

We went to Salida for the weekend, to visit the 5th Annual Salida Fiber Festival, and do a bit of walking in the hills.

From the festival's website:

The Salida Fiber Festival, started in 2012 and conducted entirely by volunteers, has become one of the premier events in Central Colorado and one of the most diverse and well-attended fiber festivals in the West.

Featuring vendors focused on all aspects of textiles, the festival has grown in five short years from 38 to 70 vendors, and also includes fiber-related classes and demonstrations, a make-and-take activity tent, a silent auction tent featuring a variety of goods donated by vendors and Salida businesses, and a tree-shaded beer garden offering local beer, wine, and distilled drinks.

The festival is held in beautiful Riverside Park, alongside the Arkansas River, framed by 100- year-old trees.  The Salida area offers something for everyone, including outdoor activities such as rafting, mountain biking and hiking, as well as an historic downtown featuring numerous art galleries and shops in the state's first Creative District.

Leece examines some fleece in one of the stalls

This vendor gave weaving demonstrations and tips. She is on a Schacht Baby Wolf loom

This is a demo on how to separate and prepare the layers peeled from a mawata, or 'silk hankie.' Each layer is formed from a single silkworm cocoon; a mawata may have 20-30 layers

We went up to Monarch Pass and that area. This shot is from later, taken along the Arkansas River between Salida and Cotopaxi

Monday, September 5, 2016


Field of sunflowers just west of the Arkansas bridge on CO 266. Taken about 0730, while the morning light was still relatively soft. We played with apertures varying from f5.6 to f22.

We collected some sunflower blooms from some clusters by the side of the road. Leece is experimenting with yarn dyes from these blooms. So far she has really liked the bright golden-orange, on wool, from marigold blossoms. Echinacea blooms from the garden, with an iron modifier, gave a rather nice battleship grey. We got the iron modifier by soaking old iron nails - no coatings on them - in a slightly acidic solution for several weeks. We used white vinegar for the acid.

Here are some articles Leece has written about dyeing with natural products:

Dyeing Yarn Naturally (this is the marigold article)

Madder Yields Shades of Red (Madder root was used extensively for reds, for centuries. Did you know that the red stripes in our early flags were dyed with madder root dyes? Also the red coats of British soldiers?)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Naan bread

We've been experimenting with naan bread.

It's an Indian/Paki leavened flat bread.

Here is a pretty good recipe:

Naan: Indian oven-baked flat bread

We substitute honey for sugar; in this recipe we use three tablespoons of honey.

We use Greek Gods honey yogurt, or honey-vanilla yogurt. While low-fat yogurt works, do not use no-fat yogurt.

The dough will be very sticky. I pour a couple of teaspoons of olive oil into my hands and rub it around like a lotion. This helps keep the dough from becoming unmanageable while kneading and other handling.

After I'm done kneading the dough, I pick it all up out of the bowl while Leece scrapes the bowl clean. She then wipes the bowl with olive oil, and I put the dough back in.

We let the dough rise for about 90 minutes, then punch it down and let it rise for another hour. This punch down is not necessary, but we found that several punchdowns and rises over the space of several hours really improves the flavor of our focaccias and ciabattas. We tried it with the naan and found it works there, too.

When rolling out, I don't use a pin. I just work it flat with the heel of my hand.

We tried baking it in a cast iron skillet on a gas ring. We found that we couldn't get the flame low enough to keep from overheating the pan. As it turns out, the 3.5 to 4 setting on one of the electric range's large burners heats the pan very nicely. Make sure the pan is up to temp before the first naan goes in. We wipe the pan with a paper napkin soaked in olive oil. When the oil begins to smoke slightly, that's your cue.

Use a cast iron skillet or even a cast iron Dutch oven if at all possible.

This is some good stuff. A double recipe will not see us through the week.