Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Bike Rides and BBQ Lamb Ribs

Back in February I started a bike ride on Mondays (I'm usually off on Mondays), that I call my grocery-getter ride. It was actually a way for me to get some saddle time in on my touring bike, which I normally don't ride except on my bicycle trips. So I started riding into town and doing my chores, buying whatever groceries we might need, cruising out to the river, and eating lunch on the Greenway. When the weather is warm, I even bring a paperback and enjoy some premium leisure time, reading in the solitude of the far southern end of the greenway,while sitting along side the river bank. This is some sweet bicycle time; I don't plan on giving it up anytime soon. I usually manage to pull about 25 miles out of it, too!

The grocery-getter on the Greenway.

Also in February, we bought a couple of  spring lambs from our friends Dan and Kathy at Slagle Farms in Cartoogechaye. Like a lot of other people, I did not grow up eating lamb. I can't even tell you if my folks ever cooked it. I have, however, become a huge fan of the delicious meat. Since I am the proud owner of a freezer full of lamb, I have been enjoying learning how to cook the different cuts.

Today, I focused my culinary attention on baked BBQ lamb ribs. I could have baked these in my Dutch oven, but time got away from me, so I used the regular oven. This is what I did:

I placed a couple rib slabs in the bottom of a stock pot this morning. I threw in a large diced onion, two stocks of diced celery, a tsp. of salt, and lots of dried herbs (whatever I had in the pantry, basil, rosemary, herbes de provence). If I'd had garlic, that would have gone in too! I added enough water to cover everything and brought it to a boil and then turned it down and simmered it for an hour. I took the ribs out, let them cool, trimmed off the fat, and sliced each slab into three sections.This afternoon, I brushed the ribs with a bottled bbq sauce and stuck them in a 350 degree oven.
I baked them covered with foil for about 45 minutes and then took the foil off for about 15 minutes to crisp them up a little.

Ribs fresh out of the oven.

The ribs were awesomely tender and delicious, they were cooked perfectly, and the meat seperated easily from the bone. Black Betty whipped up a tasty side of Israeli cous-cous with dried apricots, pine-nuts, and green olives, and we ate up.

BBQ lamb ribs with Israeli cous-cous.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dutch Oven Beef Pot Roast with Beer and Veggies

I've bought some really good local beef, raised right, no hormones, no antibiotics, allowed to roam the fields. You know, good stuff, not your usual grocery store variety feed-lot beef. Hell yes, you can tell a world of difference. But anyway, I decided to break out the Dutch oven again. Here's what I did:

I had a 4 lb. fresh rump roast cut from this beef. I rubbed it with salt, pepper, adobo seasoning, garlic flakes, and lots of smoked paprika. I rewrapped it in the butcher paper and stuck it back into the fridge overnight. I prepared a hot 12" dutch oven with 12 coals underneath it and heated about 1/8 cup of cooking oil. When the oil got hot, I browned the roast on all sides, leaving it with the thin fat layer on top.
I then poured a bottle of beer (NA Coors is what I had) into the pot and added my veggie mix (which consisted of a quartered large onion, about 6 medium potatoes cut into 1" squares, a cup or so of baby carrots cut in half, and several chopped cloves of garlic). The veggies were seasoned with salt, pepper, and dried basil.  I placed the lid on the oven, gave it a spin to ensure that it was on tight, and placed 24 hot coals on the top of the lid.

I pulled the lid after two hours and stuck a meat thermometer down in it. It was still pretty rare at this point (120F) so I built back some coals and left it for another hour. This is what I saw when I pulled the lid the second time.

It was truly delicious; the beef was extraordinarily flavorful and the veggies were perfect. The paprika had a little heat to it, and added with the beer and juices, it was hard to beat. The family loved it, and no one seemed to want to back away from the table. It'll be a keeper, for sure!

Note: This roast ended up being more on the medium well side of doneness, which was fine for my daughter's family, but my wife and I could have eaten it more on the medium rare side. Next time (for us), I would probably take it off about a half hour earlier.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Keel Family Function 2010

Black Betty and I are back from an absolute gem of a little music festival, which was held at the beautiful and idyllic Cherokee Farms near LaFayette, Georgia. This was the second installment of the Keel Family Function, named for our favorite flat pickin' guitar guru, Larry Keel.

The festival crowd was small, friendly, and intimate; the music was the finest, anywhere, anytime, and the camping was perfect. There was plenty of space to spread your camp out on the grassy green fields on the rolling farm land. We quickly claimed a breezy hilltop, overlooking the main stage area on which we set up our festival camp also known as "Gnometown". We were joined there by a couple of families from the Atlanta area, with whose company we enjoyed the weekend. There were lots of family and kid friendly activities including a Saturday moring kids jam. As usual, Black Betty and I brought our bicycles along and had fun riding up and down the hilly property. There was a small vending area set up around the two stages with limited food, beer, artist merchandise, t-shirts, tie-dye, and assorted hippie arts and crafts. One unique thing about the festival was the stages were wind and solar powered, with a back up bio-fuel generator to keep things green and off grid. The music went long and late into the night. Friday night the sleeping was somewhat difficult, but by Saturday night, I was so exhausted that I just slept right thru the late-night jams.

This year Larry's family included, among many others, Larry Keel and Natural Bridge, Col. Bruce Hampton and the Quark Alliance, the Pond Farm Pickers, The Mosiers Brothers featuring David Blackmon, Bobby Miller and the Virginia Dare Devils, Lefty Williams, Donna Hopkins, Jeff Sipe, Ralph Roddenbery, and the Josh Phillips Folk Festival. I must say at this point that I have failed to mention all the talented musicians in attendance, and for that I do apologize. Everyone really kicked ass!

The highlight (musically speaking) of the weekend for me ended up being the two Saturday afternoon super sets of songwriter showcases in which many of the musicians shared the stage together, talked about and sang their songs, and jammed with each other. Let me tell you, it was some hot stuff! These super jams were worth the price of admission on their own. We are definite converts to this little festival in the NW Georgia hill country and hope that The Keel Family Function resurfaces in 2011, so that we can again attend!

From Keel Family Function 4410
Little Festivarian Anna, chillin' at her 2nd Keel Family Function

From Keel Family Function 4410
Hometown hiker with the Pond Farm Pickers

From Keel Family Function 4410
Black Betty with her favorite bad man of bluegrass, Larry Keel

From Keel Family Function 4410
Super jam on stage with L>R Michael Tolcher,Lefty Williams, Donna Hopkins, Jeff Mosier, Larry Keel. Erin Zindle on Fiddle.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Michael Reno Harrell

My buddy, Superchunk (AT thruhiker GA > ME '08), sent the following link to me suggesting it for a blog topic. Since I know how much Superchunk digs the North Carolina singer/songwriter Michael Reno I thought I would share this:

Hey Y’all
As most of you know, I like a tall tale as well as and maybe better than most, but there are some
things that you just can’t make up. For instance, I stopped in a Waffle House, I won’t say where, other than
it wasn’t in North Carolina …well, not in this part of North Carolina .
It was around three in the morning and after the couple with the matching Tim McGraw tee shirts smooching in the first smoking section booth decided that maybe they really would get a room, I was the only customer left in the place. As I drizzled syrup onto my pecan waffle, the waitress leaned against the dish sink and lit a Winston. Her gold name tag was inscribed PEGGI.
As she watched the short order guy scrape Waffle House residue from the grill she softly whistled the opening notes to Folsom Prison Blues.
The cook glanced over his shoulder and asked, “Heard our mama was back in the pokey.”
This stirred the gal from her reverie and she answered, “Yep. And I ain’t paying the five hundred dollars
to get her scrawny butt out this time neither.”
“What she in for this go round?”
“Mooned Spider Webb.”
The fry cook’s spatula stopped in mid scrape. “She mooned a judge?”
“Yep, bent over and dropped her drawers right in the courtroom of His honor, Judge J.M. “Spider” Webb.”
The cook drug a bare forearm across his sweaty forehead and asked, “What was she in court for in the first place?”
“She just busted in on Martha and Donald Pickins’ divorce hearing and marched herself right up there in front of the bench and began to give Judge Webb what for. Turns out Spider had issued a restraining order against
Mama that afternoon. Says Mama can’t go within five hundred feet of Daddy or she goes in the slammer. Mama tells the judge that ain’t gonna do on account of shotgun range is closer to fifty feet and she aims to shoot the old bastard as soon as her check comes in and she can get her a box of .00 buckshot shells. Well, His Honor, Judge Webb, he blurts out, ‘Now, Juanita, don’t you go showing your rear end in my court room.’ So, that’s exactly what she did.
Judge give her six months or five hundred dollars for two counts of contempt of court.”
“Two counts?”
Peggi blew a perfect smoke ring and mused, “I’m guessing one for each cheek.”
Meantime, my waffle has gotten stone cold from neglect as I’m listening and scribbling notes with a sharpie
on a stack of WH napkins, knowing that I can’t let any of this stuff get away.
The fry cook scrapped the crud from the edge of his spatula and parked it on the sandwich board. “Reckon
she’ll shoot the old man when she gets out?”
Peggi dipped the end of her Winston into the dish water then dropped the butt into the trash can. “I doubt it.
She’s shot at him twice already on two separate occasions and missed him both times.”
“Yeah, but that was with your granddaddy’s old Navy Colt. Hell, I couldn’t hit this grill from right where you’re standing with that relic.”
“Hum, she did say she was switching to a scattergun, didn’t she?” Peggi shook another Winston from its crush proof box and pondered that epiphany for a second or two. “You’re right, Randy, could be a whole different story when they turn her loose in the spring.”

I flipped open my checkbook and circled the date on the calendar, but I’ve never gotten back through there to ask.

See you out there,
Michael Reno

Michael Reno’s April Schedule and more
E-mail if you need information on any of these shows
Every Tuesday night 8:30 to 11:30 at The Comet, Charlotte, NC
Bluegrass and more! With Red Rockin’ Chair
April 1 - Rodi, Gastonia , NC – Thursday 8:00 to 10:00pm
April 10 – Music & Mud Festival, Newton , NC – Saturday 10am to 7:00pm
Music and Stories from local folks and the Asheville Storytelling Circle throughout the day.
Michael will be performing in the Newton-Conover Auditorium that evening from 5 to 7:00pm
April 21 - Columbia Public Library, Columbia , MO – Wednesday 7:00pm
April 22 – Bieroc CafĂ©, McCook, NE – Thursday show time 7:30pm
April 23 & 24 – Kansas Storytelling Festival, Downs , KS – Friday & Satur
May 1 – UU Coffeehouse, Columbia , SC – Saturday 8:00pm
For more info and reservation call 1-888-849-4224 ext. 4


Dread Clampitt

We always look forward to the rockin', swingin', funky, bluegrass of Dread Clampitt when we head south to Suwannee Springfest. This great grass band from Walton County, Florida knows how to lay down the boogie-woogie. It's as if your feet and hips move under their own volition.  There's no scense in trying to control it, the boogie is deep inside you and Dread Clampitt is gonna get it out!

Dread Clampitt