Smokin’ Spare Ribs 🍖 (3·2·1 Style)


So, recently I got a smoker attachment for my Char-Griller grill as a gift for Father’s Day. I tried it out today and the results we fantastic. I hit up the Google machine and some non-BBQ-ing Facebook groups for advice, tips, & tricks. (I imagine that they are as intense as guitar groups and I am just not ready yet.) I kept getting advice on the 3-2-1 method of smoking ribs. There are many variations of that technique. I think it went well. I tracked my progress with the #AiXeLsyDBBQ hashtag. Maybe I’ll do some more next time.

The quick and dirty of this method is…

  1. Get your coals to 225°-ish. (I used a chimney to avoid lighter fluid and it was awesome.) I added some wood chunks in the chimney, and on top once I spread on the coals. I did not soak the wood, but I may next time. Control the temp with your vents. Open a bit warms it up, closed cools it off… all because of airflow.
  2. Remove the silverskin, and put a nice rub on the ribs. I used one from the section of Walmart by all the grilling stuff.
  3. Put the ribs in the grill part if you have an attachment, or not on the heat for 3 hours.
  4. Pull the ribs out, wrap in heavy duty grilling foil, add some apple cider, apple juice, vinegar, pop, or whatever. I added some Straub. Unfortunately I made 2 racks and used the whole bottle, so I drank one myself.
  5. Put them in for 2 hours, smoking really isn’t necessary at this point if your wanna save your chunks or chips.
  6. Pull them out and unwrap them. I should have saved the drippings for the barbecue sauce on the side, but I did not. Shame on me. Do that.
  7. Sauce those ribs up. Liberally. Like, and obscene amount.
  8. Put them back on for 1 hour. (3-2-1… get it? Guys! They said the thing!)
  9. Always check with a thermometer for done-ness. They should be pretty damn done at this point, arguably overdone.
  10. EAT.

I know fall-off-the-bone isn’t competition style. A bone did pull right out of one rack, but the meat was in tact, not falling completely apart. I know the foil wrapping bit is then steaming not smoking… but, rules are made to be broken and a healthy dose of anarchy warms my little punk rock heart.

I would definitely do the ribs like this again. I may try a homemade sauce. This was pretty basic store-brand stuff from Shop ‘n Save with some dry mustard, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper, and Straub American Amber Lager. I may try different chips, or a smoker box, or to soak the wood. I even read some people eschew charcoal in favor of all wood once the fire is going.

I also threw on some baked potatoes, turkey legs, grilled veggies, and sauce on the attached burner.

Can’t wait to try out a turkey, pork loin, brisket, and whatever else I haven’t thought of. Mac n’ cheese? Jalapeño poppers? Meatloaf? Bacon?

What do you do in the smoker? What are your go to foods? Got any tips & tricks worth sharing? Do you click the tongs twice or three times? Before, during, or after?

Any excuse to drink beer and play with fire all day is a good excuse to me. Plus, the family was awed by my hereto unknown skills with smoked meats.

What music are you playing while you’re grilling or smoking?

This is the full adventure as told via Instagram:

Vegetable Garden 2021 🌱 II: The Wrath of Fawn


Damn deer ate my tomatoes.

Think they’ll come back from this, or is it just best to replace?

Also, we planted some swiss chard from my daughter’s school science class, some snap beans, some yellow onions, and garlic. We also had 1 volunteer squash pop up in the yard, and 4 back by the compost pile. Not really sure what they are. I have had some WEIRD hybrid stuff in the past. When you grow multiple varieties they can cross-pollinate and the seeds can make some wacky stuff. They could be that wacky stuff or just pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash or zucchini.

Gorillas in the Mint

Check out the original blog from this year for a nice embedded chart.

Revised Garden Map & Harvest Dates:

Follow my instagram for all the latest stuff, and some other plants around the yard.

Vegetable Garden 2021 🌱


This year, I had some big help in the garden! These two have been gardening since they could walk, and I think they’re enjoying it and really getting the hang of it.

The kids have their own YouTube channel now, with a little hep from some old guy that blogs occasionally. Check out their gardening how-to:

I also made a map, and decided to make a chart of the suggested harvest dates on the tags just to see how accurate they are. I have been gardening since I can remember, and don’t know if I ever paid attention to that. We just picked stuff whenever it appeared & ripened.

Garden Map & Harvest Dates 2021

We made sure to get all the tags & try to document it all. The kids are loving math & science, so why not incorporate it into the garden? We can see if the harvest dates noted on the tags are anywhere near when the plants are actually ready.

I’m excited to see how it turns out! And, yeah, we got some more jalapeño since they liked it last year… and this time we’re trying some poblano too!

Whoa, Instagram is a trip down memory lane with these kids and gardening!

Ham n’ Bean n’ Tater Stew


This is one of my favorites.  My grandma made it a lot when I was growing up.  I have my own variation.

Ham, Green Bean, & Potato Soup on a Spoon

Ham, Green Bean, & Potato Soup

 

Mine includes beer. Grandma made it every once in a while with cabbage. I suppose you could add carrots and/or onions. Maybe garbanzi beans too?  Becky the awesome cook at camp makes it with noodle-style dumplings (I did try it that way once too), and some people make it wholly and horribly incorrectly with a creamy soup base.  I have no idea why you would do that to this meal.

I don’t know what to call this.  We always just called it “ham, beans, and potatoes” which is somewhat cumbersome… and could be about 4,000,000,000 other soups.  In fact, I don’t even know if this is a soup or a stew.  Both?  Neither?  What is the difference, anyway?

A lot of the time this would be made with leftover ham from Christmas, Easter, or whenever.  When the hankering strikes now, I go to ham steaks with the little bone in.  I don’t have a strict recipe, it’s more of a method.

This time, I put some Ham broth base (which can be a pain in the rear to find in the store sometimes) made slightly weaker than the directions, one cube each of chicken & beef bullion, a bottle of Yuengling Traditional Lager (I have used Straub American Amber for this too), and water in the pot and started it to boil on high.  (Perhaps obviously if I had a leftover ham, I would start by boiling the bone and make the broth from that, add bullion if/as needed.)  I also popped in some minched garlic, onion powder, and season-all, salt, and black pepper.

Then I cubed up 2 ham steaks, added them to the mix,.

Then I washed n’ cut up a not quite a 5 lb. bag of russet potatoes, and added that to the mix.  (I have used Yukon Gold before and they’re delicious, but they seem to break down to starch easier.)

Then, I cheated and popped open 2 bags of microwave/steam ready fresh green beans, rinsed, then snapped/chopped, and added them to the mix.  When i came to a boil, I popped it down to 8 on the burner dial, and let it boil for 20 minutes.

Then, I let it simmer on 2 for another 20 minutes, then I put it on low until dinner time.

Ham n' Bean n; Tater Stew

Ham n’ Bean n; Tater Stew

We served it with fresh baked buttered bread form the local grocery store.  The kids seemed to actually eat dinner this evening too, and they’re rather picky lately.  Sometimes I make it the night before, this is the kind of stuff that’s always better the next day.  I’m not sure if it’s Irish, German, American, or all of the above.

Do you make something like this?  Post your variation(s) in the comments below.

 

 

How do you make your meatloaf?


I posted the text below in two different Aldi fan boards on Facebook. I thought I’d also share here.  Text slightly altered, spelling mistakes corrected.  I feel like I make meatloaf different every time. How do you do yours?

 

🛒🍴🥩

 

Full disclosure, most of this was not from Aldi, but it all could have been. It all was cooked in the oven at 400°.

Meatloaf, Baked Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots

The meatloaf went in first, for an hour and a half. The potatoes went right on the rack at the one hour and 15 minute mark, and the brussels sprouts and carrots went in at the hour mark. Maybe 55 min.? I did crank it to 425° at that point but in hindshight didn’t need to. I flipped the potatoes when the veggies went in, and at the 15 min. mark I put sauce on top of the meatloaves and stirred the sprouts n’ carrots.

The potatoes were just washed, poked, rubbed in EVOO & spices.

The sprouts & carrots where just cut up, drizzled with EVOO, salt, pepper, & bacon crumbles.

The meatloaf was 3 lbs. of 85/15, an egg, french fried onions, club crackers, spices, ketchup, A-1 (the Aldi stuff works too, I have used it in the past), a squeeze of spicy brown mustard, minced garlic, spices (I just grab stuff off the rack & go), shredded cheese, and bacon crumbles.

I broke it into two loaves, cooked in a glass dish on top of two slices of bread each. It absorbs the grease & prevents burning on the bottom.

The sauce/glaze was mostly ketchup, some A-1, a dash of mustard, plus some cheese and bacon crumbles.

Probably not a meal for the health-conscious.😁

I think I do meatloaf slightly different every time. I have used marinara and Parmesan, put hard boiled eggs whole in the middle, wrapped in a bacon weave, added mushrooms & onions, used ranch or french onion soup packets, chunks of bread, added milk, & more.

I know it’s one both kids will eat unless I get too crazy.

How do you do your meatloaf?

 

Non-Italian Wedding Soup Recipe


So, I have always wanted to make wedding soup, but have never tried it.  Until now.  Skip to the end if you just want the recipe and none of my shenanigans.

Wedding Soup à la AiXeLsyD13

Wedding Soup à la AiXeLsyD13

Soup Collage #4

Wedding soup recipes abound on the internet.  Some people are vehement that theirs is the “right” way.  Apparently the inclusion of pasta is a beans-in-chili-like debate.  I would guess that it depends on your region, heritage, and family traditions.  I have none of these ties.  I’m just a yinzer that likes food.  I did reach out via Facebook to see how others do it.  I wanted to try to make the soup because of the tiny pasta, I think.  I may have also made some other “controversial” decisions.

Pasta.  Even though real Italians apparently don’t include pasta in their soup, I am not Italian.  Not remotely, even.  Seriously.  My wife got me the DNA thing for my birthday a few years back and I’m apparently super English, Scottish, Welsh, & Irish with a bit of Scandinavia and the Iberian Peninsula thrown in.  I had to Google the Iberian Peninsula. So, as a Yinzer I am making a stand with pasta in the wedding soup because that’s how I have seen it.  Orzo looked too much like rice,and rice in soup is gross.  (I know, it is an entirely different consistency.  Just accept the fact that rice in soup is gross, you’re wrong if you disagree, and read on.)  I did most of my shopping at Aldi, but they had no tiny pasta… so I went to Giant Eagle and got Acini De Pepe.  I could have also easily gone with what Barilla calls Pastina (neat tiny stars!) and apparently is not even a thing or it’s a generic thing.

I chose to make the meatballs myself, because I like making meatballs.  They’re big-ass meatballs because I have poor portion control and couldn’t use the mellon-baller to effectively help reel it in, and who wants a little tiny meatball anyway?  I used beef, because cows are tasty.    I typically don’t do the lamb/veal/pork mix in any meatballs or meatloaf, so why start now?  I also opted for ground beef in lieu of chicken or turkey, because beef.  Sheep are for making blankets, not eating… unless you like eating meat that tastes like wool blankets.

Would you just look at the size of that thing?In my meatballs, I use Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian dressing & crushed seasoned croutons.  I also tossed in some extra spices (onion & garlic powder, salt, pepper, and whatever “Italian Seasoning” is), two eggs, and parmesan/romano “shake cheese.”  (Does anyone else call it that?)  I generally crush the croutons with my hands, but since I was apathetically trying to make smaller meatballs and my 3yo was my helper, I put some in a sandwich baggie and smashed to crap out of them with the shake-cheese bottle.  Why use bread crumbs when you can smash stuff?  I could totally skip the dressing & toss in whatever spices… but I tried this one time with meatballs to go with spaghetti or lasagna and we liked it, so it stuck.  We cooked them in 2 frying pans, because it seemed quick.  I like to bake meatballs sometimes too.  This really could be a 7-day damn project of soup.

meat n' veggiesA lot of wedding soup recipes call for shredded chicken.  I never really noticed it in the wedding soups I had eaten until at a recent wedding where they left the chicken in sizable chunks.  Maybe it was an accident?  I have no idea, but I liked it.  I felt like I was taking a bite of something instead of creepy little chicken strings being used as a garnish.  Also, I decided to cheat and not make stock… or I probably would have roasted then boiled the shit out of a chicken carcass and produced some shredded chicken as well as tasty stock.  I grilled the chicken in the manliest way possible outdoors over an open flame like our cavemen ancestors.  OK, I cooked it on a counter-top panini grill and attempted to give it some nice criss-crossed grill lines before letting it cool and cutting it into “cubes” with less knife skills than Stevie Wonder.  I wanted to know I was eating chicken.  I probably put some season salt on it.

MirepoixI made a mirepoix, I think.  I put some butter in the bottom of the soup pot, and heated up some finely chopped carrots, celery (stalks and some of the leafy top), onion, & a bit of parsley and the lazy-people chopped-up-already in a jar garlic.  Did those last two mess up the mirepoix?  Salt and pepper went in there too, because the Food Network says to season every step or something like that.

Then I added some random boxes of stock & broth from Aldi.  Really.  I couldn’t decide.  So, I got lowfat (that’s all they had) chicken stock, chicken broth, and low sodium chicken broth.  They were all those creepy giant juice-boxish containers that no doubt every chicken aspires to reside in someday.  I almost bought a vegetable stock, but didn’t.  How do you get vegetable stock anyway?  Isn’t that just broth?  Isn’t the difference between stock & broth the inclusion of bones?

After that, I added the meatballs and chicken and let it boil for a bit.  Maybe on like 7 or 8?  I hate when recipes say “medium-high” heat.  Give me a number, damnit.  There are numbers on my oven.  Are they there for no reason?  How long?  I don’t know.  Long enough to chop up the “fresh” spinach.

My helper.I went for the fresh spinach in a plastic box at Aldi.  I didn’t see any with the produce, didn’t catch it in frozen, and bought a can as backup just in case.  They didn’t have any endive or escarole that I noticed.  I wasn’t sure about Kale but may try that next time.  I probably could have added the canned spinach too… it could have used a bit more maybe?  Although, my meatball helper who crushed about 4 or 5 meatballs after we cooked them wasn’t a big fan of the soup itself because “big kids don’t like spinach sometimes.”  She will eat pasta, grilled chicken, carrots, and meatballs all day every day.  But the spinach was a no-go I guess.  I think I added about 4 cups of water and 2 chicken bullion cubes in there somewhere.

I added the spinach and the box of acini de pepe at the same time.  I let it go for the recommended 9 minutes.  I know I had been advised to not do it that way.  Cooking the pasta separately first then adding the rest of the soup over it in a bowl would be the level-headed thing to do.  I was ready to eat by that point though, so in it went.

It was delicious on the first run if I do say so myself.  Upon having leftovers, the acini de pepe swelled to ridiculous proportions.  Ha ha.  Next time I will cook the pasta first or only use half of a box.  Or, I will do it the same way and have wedding pasta.  Your soup means nothing to me!  My total meat and carb domination can not be culled.

Well, on to the recipe if you even made it this far:

 


Non-Italian Wedding Soup Recipe:

This is not your ordinary recipe.  I don’t measure much.  I just throw stuff into a pot, especially with meatballs and soup.  Obviously, use whatever you have on hand.  Make substitutions.  This is a recipe in the loosest sense of the word.  This is how I did it this time.  I may do it different next time.  There probably are some good details above that I neglected to mention down here.

Thanks, Alfred.

The Meatballs:

  • 3 lb. Ground beef (I think it was 80/20?)
  • Seasoned Croutons (grab your favorite)
  • Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian dressing
  • Seasonings
  • 2 eggs, beaten.
  • Parmesan/Romano “shake cheese”

One day when making meatballs, I grabbed the dressing & croutons because they were on the counter.  We were probably having salad with our spaghetti or lasagna.  It’s just breadcrumbs & oil with some seasonings in it.  I usually smash the croutons by hand, but crushed some of these with a plastic sandwich bag & the Parmesan cheese container since I was trying to make smaller(ish) meatballs.   I added some more  spices (see below) with the beaten egg, and mixed the meatballs by hand.  I used a fancy mellon-baller with an ice-cream-scoop like trigger mechanism that my mom had given me for a few of them, to measure… but they got out of hand easily and I had my 3yo helping.  So, they were probably bigger than they needed to be.  How much dressing and croutons?  Eye it.  I do.  I like meatballs that are mostly meat, not bread.

The Soup:

  • A few handsful of Carrots (I started with the baby-cut ones because the kids snack on them.)
  • Maybe ⅓ of a bunch Celery? (I chopped up the stalks & some leaves.)
  • An Onion
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Spinach – I got a box of the “fresh” stuff from Aldi.
  • Grilled & poorly diced Chicken Breasts (I did mine on the panini grill)
  • Home-Made Meatballs (…or use frozen ones from the store.)
  • 3 creepy juice-box-like broth/stock containers. I literally got 3 different kinds of chicken broth.
  • 4-sh cups water
  • 2 chicken bullion cubes
  • Minced garlic in Olive Oil (because I’m lazy & don’t want to mince my own.)
  • Butter (enough to cover the bottom of your soup pot when it melts)
  • Parmesan/Romano “shake cheese”
  • Shredded Parmesan (Aldi had a fancy little container.)
  • De Cecco Acini De Pepe

Mmm...I started out with the butter melting on the bottom of the soup pot, then added the carrots, celery, onion, & some parsley.  I sauteed that for a bit, then dumped in the 3 weird juice boxes of chicken broth/stock over top of that and brought it to a boil.  I reduced the heat a bit, and added the chicken and meatballs.  I let it get back to a boil and added some of the shredded Parmesan & Parmesan/Romano shake cheese to the broth.  I let that simmer for a bit and eventually added -ish more cups of water and 2 chicken bullion cubes.  (Maybe beef bullion would have been cool here?)  Once that boiled again, I added the pasta & spinach & boiled for another 9 minutes.  It was tasty.  I burned my tongue.  Let it cool.  Be patient.

Spices…

  • Season All
  • Paprika
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Crushed Black Pepper
  • Sea salt
  • White Pepper
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Parsley Flakes

When I refer to seasonings or spices, it could have been any combination of these.  I just grab & shake whenever.


Please, let me know if you tried your own inspired by this one.  Let me know if you do your own a totally different way.  Let me know what I did right, or let me know what I did “wrong.”  Thanks for reading!

Boiling Soup

Check out some of my past recipes:

 

Turkey Noodle Soup


So, I made some really easy turkey noodle soup yesterday.  It turned out to be pretty delicious, and I lucked out because a lot of the ingredients were on sale.

Turkey Noodle Soup!

My cell phone takes absolutely terrible photos, but trust me... this was delicious.

In the morning, I popped 2 turkey breast cutlets into the crock pot, piled on top of chopped baby-cut carrots & celery.  I added some a cup of water with a chicken bullion cube… and piled on some spices; Poultry Seasoning, Season All, black pepper, garlic, sage, and parsley.  I should have probably added an onion, but I forgot.

8 hours later, I boiled some wide noodles in 2 cans of turkey broth, 2 cans of vegetable broth, and 2 cans of low sodium chicken broth.  When the noodles were cooked, I chopped up the turkey boobs, and dumped the contents from the crock pot into the boiling pot of noodles for the soup… I added a little more water, another bullion cube, and simmered for a while.

Result?  Rather effortless yet delicious soup.

I found myself wondering if the broth & noodles would have cooked well in the crock pot.  Will noodles cook well without the boiling & just the saturation?  Would they eventually fall apart if over-cooked?

I’ve also done something similar with a rotisserie chicken… I’ll sauté the carrots, celery, & maybe garlic & onion with some butter in the soup pot, then add chicken and/or vegetable broth, boil the noodles, & add chicken.

How do you make chicken or turkey noodle soup?

How do you make your other favorite kinds of soup?

Have any secret ingredients? 

I generally put in cayenne or something else hot… but I’ve been told to cool it with the spices for a while thanks to G.E.R.D. lately.  Sometimes I add beer to soups… just because I can.  I dunno if it’d go well in chicken or turkey noodle though?