Home In Disarray

April 29, 2015

Barbecue (Smoked) Pork Shoulder on a Weber – 2 ways

Barbecue Pork Sandwich

As soon as we have a few warm, sunny days, everyone in Seattle begins to believe it’s summer, even though it’s only April, and we still have at least 2.5 months before we can expect consistent nice weather (the prevailing joke around here is that summer starts on July 5th.)  I admit to falling into that trap, so when we had a run of 3-4 nice days, I decided that it was imperative that I spend all day smoking a pork shoulder.  But because I am also kind of a realist who understands that the sun won’t last forever, I decided to smoke two of them, so I’d have enough leftovers stashed away in the freezer to last until summer actually graces us with its presence.  Also, Costco sells them in 2 packs.  I’m not going to give a tutorial on smoking stuff in a Weber kettle grill, but it can be fairly easily boiled down to: start some coals on one side of the grill, keep the temp between 225 and 275 degrees, and keep enough wet wood on it (use apple, hickory, etc) to keep a decent enough amount of smoke pouring out of the grill.  I was able to use some wood from my brother in law’s apple tree that he cut down. Keeping a foil pan full of water under the pork helps regulate the temp and collect drippings. These 2 pork butts took me about 9 hours.  In the past, a single one has generally taken me about 7 hours.

bbq pork



Pork Shoulder(s)

Brown sugar

Spices – potentially including but not limited to:

Mustard powder

Chili powder



Celery Seed

Garlic powder

Onion powder



Black pepper

Chipotle powder

Yellow Mustard (like for hot dogs)



  • Pull your shoulder(s) out of the refrigerator.  Using brown sugar as a base, mix up a blend of spices.  This isn’t science here, just add things until you feel happy with it.  I did a “dry rub” on the spice mixture that leaned towards a mexican theme, and mixed in yellow mustard to the more traditional barbecue flavored one.    Rub the spices all over the pork shoulder(s) and  let them sit for a little while uncovered while you get your smoker started.
  • Using a chimney, fill it 2/3 full of the charcoal of your choice.  Start with a wad of paper (I usually use 1/2 a paper bag from the grocery store).  Once the charcoal has begun ashing over a little, dump into one side of grill.  Set grill grate over so one side that opens is directly over the charcoal. Mostly close both the top and bottom dampers, and put a probe thermometer inside(away from the coals).  Allow the temp to equalize.  Open or close your vents to adjust the temp up or down (I usually just monkey with my top vent and leave the bottom one alone once it’s been set).  Get your temperature to between 225 and 275, then get ready to add your pork.
  • Bring your pork, as well as a disposable foil pan (or if you have heavy duty foil, make a pan out of that if you don’t have a disposable foil one lying around) and a pitcher of water.  On the opposite side of the grill from the coals, tuck your foil pan on the bottom grate and fill with water.  Add your pork to the grill, fatty side up, directly over the foil.  Leave your probe in the grill, not touching the sides, coals, or pork. Toss a piece of soaked apple wood onto the coals.  Close up the grill and let it come back up to temperature.
  • For the next 5 hours, monitor temp, adding coals, and wood, and adjusting the vents to maintain a temp between 225 and 275.  After about 5 hours, every time you go out to monkey with the grill, check the temperature of your meat with another thermometer.  You are looking for it to be about 195 degrees throughout.  I usually hit a stall where it doesn’t gain temperature for an hour or so at about 165-180.  After 5 hours, alternately, you can remove the meat from the bbq, wrap in foil, and put it in the oven at 250 until the desired temperature has been reached.
  • Once the meat has reached desired temp, wrap in foil and allow to sit enough to cool so you can begin pulling it apart.
  • Pull meat apart, if there are bits of blobby fat, pull them out if you don’t like them. For the traditional style, you could put them on the buns that you totally baked while you were stuck at home babysitting the pork, right?  Or for a more south of the border take on it, on the tortillas that you were experimenting with making because you got a tortilla press!  I’d say that these go best with a helping of a vinegar based slaw. If you’re being good, these make fantastic lettuce tacos.

Barbecue Pork Tacos

Posted in: Cooking, Food, Low Carb
April 28, 2015

Rhubarb Gin Fizz

Rhubarb Gin Fizz

This is the first cocktail that I’ve come up with to utilize some of the 2 cups of rhubarb infused gin that I recently made.  It’s simple, easy to put together, pretty (who doesn’t love a pink cocktail) and most importantly, delicious.


3 oz rhubarb infused gin

.25 oz maraschino liqueur 

.5 oz simple syrup

Juice of 1 lemon

Soda water



Fancy Instructions:

  • Add all ingredients except soda water and ice to shaker.  Shake to combine
  • Add ice to shaker, shake until cold
  • Strain into chilled glass, add a couple of ice cubes, top with soda water

Lazy Instructions:

  • Add all ingredients except soda water and ice to glass.  Stir
  • Add ice to glass
  • Top with soda water


Posted in: Cocktails, Drinks
April 28, 2015

Rhubarb Infused Gin

Rhubarb Gin

A few weeks ago, while I was trying to clear out extraneous leftover pie fillings from my freezer, I came across a bag of frozen rhubarb.  And in my love of infusing liquors (especially gin – I find that with the right botanicals, gin can really sing), I decided that infusion was going to be the fate of the frozen rhubarb (all of the fresh stuff is nearly ready to harvest in my garden) and the remains of the 1.75 liter bottle of beefeater that’s been in the pantry waiting for summer cocktail season.

rhubarb ginIngredients:

1 bag frozen rhubarb

~2 cups beefeater gin




  • In a quart sized glass jar, place as much frozen rhubarb that will fit.  I think my jar took the entire 1lb(?) bag
  • Pour enough gin to cover the rhubarb (this was about 2 cups for me) into the jar, seal, shake, and set aside for a few weeks.  Shake every few days
  • After a few weeks, the rhubarb will have turned a creepy grey color, and the gin will have turned a glorious shade of hot pink.  Line a colander with coffee filters or a few layers of cheese cloth, and put it over a bowl or measuring cup capable of holding all of the gin.
  • Dump the rhubarb and gin through the coffee filter.  In my experience, the rhubarb gin drains pretty quickly – there aren’t a lot of tiny particles floating around to clog up the works.
  • Store in a glass bottle or jar until you’re ready to use.
  • Use it to make something delicious and pink, like this rhubarb gin fizz!
Posted in: Cocktails, Drinks
April 24, 2015

Bourbon Soaked Cherries

bourbon cherries

These are delicious!  After a making a bunch of pies for a friend’s wedding, I learned that I overbought most of the ingredients.  One of the leftovers was a bag of dark tart cherries. Neither Craig nor I are great lovers of cherry pie, cobbler, crisp, etc. Coming up with a use for these wasn’t as easy as tossing them with some sugar, tapioca, almond extract, and topping them with a doughy crust.  One thing that Craig and I do love is cocktails!  And what better to do with these cherries than turn them into a cocktail garnish!?  Luxardo cherries are the “classic” of fancy cocktail garnish cherries. But they’re crazy expensive, so I decided to make my own.  There is a visual difference between ours.  Theirs are super high in sugar and are dyed, so the color is darker.  I assume if you were into adding artificial color to your cherries, you could make them look similar to the Luxardo ones.    Anyway, this was all experimental, but after 2 weeks of “marinating,” we tasted them.  And they’re delicious.  Boozy, but delicious.

bourbon cherries

Bourbon Cherries  (makes about 3 cups)


1/3 cup sugar

3 cups frozen, pitted tart cherries (mine came from Costco)

Bourbon, enough to fill the remainder of the jar



  • In a clean glass jar, place your sugar
  • Pour cherries into jar to fill
  • Add enough bourbon to cover cherries
  • Shake to remove air pockets in sugar
  • Set in a dark out of the way place for 2+ weeks. During this time, the sugar will dissolve, the bourbon will turn red, and the cherries will turn a little greyish (this is normal, add red food coloring if it freaks you out)
  • Use cherries as a garnish to cocktails like manhattans, or if you like boozy toppings, stir into ice cream!

bourbon cherries

Posted in: Cocktails, Drinks, Food
April 23, 2015

Laurel’s Papa Doble, or Hemingway Daiquiri

Hemmingway Daiquiri

I don’t know much about daiquiris, other than one of the contenders for my favorite Baskin Robbins ice cream flavor was Daiquiri Ice.  I suppose I should have known by then that we were fated to be together.  A classic daiquiri is a combination of white rum, lime juice and sugar.  That’s all well and good, but the Hemingway daiquiri is special.  It’s less sweet (apparently Ernest Hemingway’s father had diabetes, so he wasn’t one to add sugar to things), uses grapefruit juice as a large volume, and swaps out the sugar in favor of just a drizzle of maraschino liqueur.



Papa Doble (Makes 2)


4oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice

4 oz White Rum

.5oz Fresh Lime Juice

Tiny Drizzle Maraschino Liqueur




  • Juice grapefruits and limes.
  • Measure out liquor into shaker
  • Shake to combine
  • Add ice and shake til very cold
  • Strain into 2 coupe or martini glasses
  • If you’re fancy, garnish with a lime slice
Posted in: Cocktails, Drinks
April 9, 2015

I spent 20 minutes brushing Helo last night

20 minutes of brushing a malamute

This is what came off of him.  When we(I) decided to add a second dog to our family, I was under the impression that a fluffier malamute would have similar shedding patterns to Boris.  I was entirely incorrect.  Since mid-February, we have been experience what I have begun referring to as The Furpocalypse, wherein Helo loses every last bit of his undercoat, looks extra creepy and scraggly, and blankets our house, sofa, tables, clothing, and food with his fur.  Nothing is exempt from this.  Entire outfits are stored in dog free rooms and still somehow get a thin coating of fur on them.  There is no single-sheet lint rolling job.  We’re talking minimum of 3, usually closer to 7.

Helo hates getting brushed, so I pick my battles.  I wait until there’s enough truly loose fur to make an appreciable difference in the amount of fur that’s coming off of him on an hourly basis.  This was that time.  I’ll go back in maybe 3-4 days from now and see if I can expand upon the dent that I made last night, but this was all he’d put up with.   And before you suggest the furminator, we have one, and it works great on Boris.  It gets hung up in Helo’s fine guard hairs and breaks/rips them out and clogs immediately.  I have a ridiculous fur rake that is the hotness in malamute fur removal.



Bonus footage, here’s a video that I took of myself pulling loose tufts of fur out of Helo’s shoulder.  He hates it when I take them and tries to eat my  hand.  I assure you that it is not malicious or painful, it’s more of his way of grabbing me and trying to get me to “quit it.”

Helo doesn’t like it when I pull loose tufts of fur when he’s shedding. He tries to eat my hand

Posted in: Dogs, The Creatures
April 8, 2015

Chocolate Croissants – from homemade puff pastry

Chocolate Croissants

I gotta be honest guys – homemade puff pastry is one of those things that I thought only crazy people did.  It seemed so fussy and in general not-worth-it that it wasn’t on my radar of things that I thought I may one day want to try making.  But then I made 16 pies for a friend’s wedding (more on that later) and as a result of totally overlooking an entire Costco pack (4lbs) of butter, had some extra that needed a cause.  By happenstance, I stumbled across a tutorial on making your own puff pastry, and it looked so easy.  That, combined with the preposterous cost of all-butter puff pastry at the grocery store (our normal store doesn’t even carry it, it has to be purchased for like $18 at a specialty market) convinced me to give it a shot.  The worst that could happen?  I’d be out $10 in butter and $1 in flour, and I’d have gotten it out of my system.  So I went for it.  I dug through my cookbooks.  Nobody has recipes for puff pastry, because people don’t usually make it from scratch.  Nobody but Nick Malgieri!  It’s in the book Perfect Pastry.  The book came to me in a cache of hand-me-downs from Craig’s aunt, and I am SO pleased to have it.  I did a lot of web searching to see if I could located the recipe online, and have thus far been entirely unsuccessful.  He has a “quick” puff pastry recipe, which is not the same thing.  Don’t be fooled.  Anyway, I’ll just give you the rundown.

Homemade puff pastry dough

  • Make a loose shaggy dough out of all purpose and cake flour, a stick of butter, and some water.
  • Pound a pound of butter with a little flour into a block.  Most people use wooden rolling pins.  Mine is marble and I’m clumsy, so I just used the smooth side of a meat mallet.  This takes a while but eventually it works.  The purpose of this is to soften up the butter without warming it up.  Making it as pliable as the dough ensures that the pastry rolls out evenly.
  • Encapsulate the butter block in the dough.  Roll out in a rectangle shape.  Fold the long ends in towards the center, then fold it in half, like a book.
  • Roll it out in a rectangle shape again, fold the long ends in towards the center, then fold it in half, like a book.
  • Chill for 2 hours.  Repeat rolling and folding process 2x.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat.
  • Pat yourself on the back.  You now have over 4,000 layers of butter.

For each “batch,” cut the ugly edges off, and then cut it in half.  Wrap in 2 layers of plastic wrap, and chill, then if you made way more than sane people should be using at once, like I did (if I’m going to the effort of making puff pastry from scratch, I’m going to make a LOT of it) either pack in freezer paper, stick in a freezer bag, or vacuum seal, and freeze for 3-9 months (you be the judge of how much you trust your freezer burn prevention skills).  When you’re ready to make croissants, pull a block out and allow to defrost (totally flat, and preferably without being smushed by other stuff) in the refrigerator for a few days.

Croissant making

Chocolate Croissants (makes 6-7)


.5 batch of Nick Malgieri’s Puff Pastry

.5-.75 cup chopped quality dark chocolate

1 egg, beaten



  • Preheat oven to 425f
  • Roll out the dough into a long rectangle.
  • Using a knife, pizza cutter, or bench scraper, cut the rectangle into triangles, notching the back of them.
  • Lay a line of chocolate at the top of the notch and, spreading the “legs,” roll the croissant from the wide end to the point.
  • Curl the arms in a little bit if desired.
  • Place on parchment lined baking sheet
  • Beat egg and brush over croissants.
  • Place in oven and set timer for 15 minutes
  • After 15 minutes has passed, rotate pan if your oven browns unevenly (mine does).  Give it another 15 minutes.  Look at the browning and decide whether you’re satisfied with it.  My first go-round, I didn’t want to chance it and they were a little bit anemic looking (see pics above)  I didn’t get any nice photos of them, so I made another batch the other night and took the photo below.  Much better. That was an additional 15 minutes in the oven.

Chocolate Croissants


Posted in: Baking, Food