Barbecued Kielbasa On The Grill

September 8th, 2008 by Jeff in General Cooking


Now that we have moved back to upstate New York, I find myself eating more and more kielbasa.  It seems to be everywhere up here and I really have not had it for a long time.  Not being a huge saur kraut fan, I try to find different ways to make it, but most recipes are rather plain for my tastes.  I decided to try and barbecue it and wow, I am glad I did!

Kielbasa is a polish sausage and the flavor is rather salty with a hint of heat way in the back.  These mild flavors makes it a rather versatile sausage.  I am really surpised at the lack of recipes for it.  Almost all of the ones I searched for included some sort of slow cooking process (usually in a crockpot) but nothing for barbecuing on the grill.  Well, let me tell you, we raved over this!


2 large kielbasa links (about 2 pounds).
1 medium red onion, finely diced.
Oil infused garlic olive oil (extra virgin) OR regular extra virgin olive oil with a teaspoon of minced and crushed garlic.
3/4 cup chicken stock (preferably homemade and gelatinous).
1 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard.
1/2 cup of brown sugar.
1 tablespoon honey.
1 teaspoon hot sauce (chipotle if you can).
1/4 cup ketchup.
Salt and fresh ground pepper.

In a small sauce pan on low heat, add enough of the olive oil to coat – (More…)

Catch Wild Yeast With A Sourdough Starter

August 14th, 2008 by Jeff in General Cooking

Over the last few months I have really taken an interest in wild yeast.  Sure, those yeast packets you get from the store are fine, but the idea of catching something locally and enjoying a unique flavor just to your area is just too appealing to me.  Everyone has heard of sourdough bread from San Fransisco and the reason why you cannot get that anywhere else is because of the natural yeasts and bacteria native only to that area.  These impart unique flavors to the breads from that region.

Now there are thousands of sourdough bread recipes, but one thing they have in common is a starter.  Isn’t that annoying when you see that and you don’t have one?  I mean, it basically stops you in your tracks.  Well I have been expiramenting with making my own for a while and the results are incredible.  Here is a look at my somewhat wet starter that I just fed today:

Sourghdough Starter

Yeah, it isn’t pretty, but it is alive!  So how does one go about catching their own yeast and making a starter?

I can only tell you what I did, but you will find there are a lot of techniques out there, but for me, this is practically fool proof.

Take 1 cup of rye flour (the least processed you can find) and 1 cup – (More…)

So, How Do You Get That Crust On Your Meatloaf?

January 25th, 2008 by Jeff in General Cooking

About two to three times a month lately, we have been eating meatloaf at our house. It is pretty much a staple in many home kitchens in the United States. My favorite part of the entire meatloaf genre is that wonderfully, there is no one recipe. Just like there is no one mixture of tea leaves better than another, meatloaf is as versatile as you need it to be.

With all that being said, there are some techniques that can really help make the dish regardless of what ingredients you use and let me tell you, there is list as long as the largest cookbook of ingredients you can use in a meatloaf. It used to be when I was a kid, that meatloaf was what you made with all the leftovers from the week. However, over the years it seems to now be mostly made with fresh ingredients. I think this has gone a long way to ending the “meatloaf that sits in your stomach like a rock” syndrome.

When I make it, I usually find that I make way too much and end up giving a few plates away to neighbors and friends. Many of these people are either single, or retired (no, I do not live in Florida 🙂 ) so they really appreciate a home cooked meal. One comment that I keep getting is on how much they love the – (More…)


Savory Asian Venison

December 14th, 2007 by Jeff in General Cooking

This time a year we get friends and family dropping off venison almost weekly.  This is the epitome of local produce.  These deer were harvested within a 30 mile radius of our home.  When butchered properly, venison is a very tender, lean, and well tasting meat.   You may hear from time to time people talking about venison being gamey.  This usually only happens with poorly butchered meat where too much fat remains in the cut.  The fat on venison is not a good thing as compared to beef.

Most of the time we usually end up with stew meat as the hunter rarely lets go of the steaks or roasts.  This meat however, is not just good for stew, it can be used in a number of ways.  Here is a recipe I came up with tonight which may change the way some have thought of venison in the past.

My inspiration for this dish is from Asian sweet and sour recipes, but I cut a lot of that out and just kept the savory aspects.  This dish can be served over rice, or egg noodles.  I usually find that green beans go well with this, and in the picture below, I used roasted green beans with garlic and summer savory, a recipe I hope to include here soon.

Savory Asian Venison

Asian Venison



Substituting Olive Oil For Butter

December 4th, 2007 by Jeff in General Cooking

The last few weeks I have been conducting an experiment. I have been using olive oil in place of butter as often as possible. I came to the conclusion that we are eating way too much butter when I noted that for a two week period, we generally require 3-4 pounds of butter to be in the fridge. Sorry, but that is just too much. Now butter does have its place. I cannot even think of sitting down for Saturdays big breakfast without buttered toast, so eliminating it completely is not my intention.

As much as I like to cook, we are a busy household here where my wife and I both work many hours at our respective jobs and this requires we make some shortcuts for meals. Usually I try to make the main course from scratch, but many times for the side dish, I just use a boxed side dish, such as rice, pasta, potatoes, etc., from a box. Almost without exception, these instant side dishes all call for butter or margarine. So my experiment focused here first. Instead of using butter, I substituted Olive Oil (usually extra virgin) in a 1/1 ratio. As for the pasta and rice dishes, there was little to no difference in taste and texture. In fact, I found that most of the time, the dish tasted better.

The one dish I found that – (More…)


Getting That Steakhouse Sear

August 15th, 2007 by Jeff in General Cooking

Every since those infrared grills have been coming out, I keep reading stories on-line that lament the fact that you can’t get a good sear on a steak when grilling on your average gas/charcoal grill. My response to all of this is “Since when?”

It really sounds to me like there is a campaign on, pushing this new technology down the consumers throat. Like if I don’t use an infrared grill, I can’t make a good steak. Yeah, right!

I make London broil on the grill all the time and it comes out just as seared and beautiful as it would in any steakhouse I have been to. Now my photography skills are lacking, so view this next photo with that in mind. I cooked this steak up today on my regular gas grill and you be the judge:

Perfect Seared Steak

As you can see, there are perfect grill marks, the outside is seared just as it should be and the entire steak is screaming flavor. I let this beast rest for about 10 minutes and then I sliced it up. It was dripping wet and a perfect medium rare.

Now don’t get me wrong, you will have an easier time in a steakhouse getting this result, but doing it on your own grill is simple. Just spice up your steak as you – (More…)


Cooking Myth #5: This Dish Must Be Cooked This Way Only

July 10th, 2007 by Jeff in General Cooking

In the world of creativity, there is no room for the absolute. Being a creative process, cooking is no different. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that I must cook dish X this way, and only this way, otherwise you don’t know what you are doing. If everyone followed along like this, then there would be very few ways to cook say, chicken for example.

Having a drink with my Aunt over vacation, she wanted me to have a try at this single malt scotch she received from a friend. I said OK, let me get a glass and some ice. Now she told me up and down that I must have it straight, no water as that is the only way to drink good scotch. Well, I basically said that I do not believe in such truisms. Enjoy things as you enjoy them, not as others. Could you imagine if we could only each ground beef as steak tartar? There would go the hamburger right there. In the end, I talked my Aunt into having it with ice, and I therefore enjoyed every minute of it.

I think the worst offenders are barbecue and chili cooks. They swear up and down that you can’t add say, tomatoes to chili for it to be “real chili” or you can’t add ketchup to a barbecue sauce for it – (More…)


Yes, I Will Be Canning This Year

June 22nd, 2007 by Jeff in General Cooking

Usually this time of year, I have a few planters out with some tomato plants in them. Nothing major, just a few beefsteaks hanging hanging around. This year we decided to start a vegetable garden in a spot in the lawn that gets sun about 95% of the day. This required a lot of work removing the turf, turning the soil and adding fertilizer.

Since we are just getting started, I made the garden small, 10 X 10. This was enough for quite a few tomato plants (plum and beefsteak) along with some peppers and a row of cauliflower. In a bid to not rip up the lawn completely, I made it this small and if I feel the need to grow more, I tear more sod off.

Now it has been years since I had anything to do with gardening. It is a skill that decays over time and you forget the amount of work it takes. Now that I am done, I am glad I did not go much bigger. Next year we will expand that garden to include more vege’s but for now, this is a good start.

Now I got looking at my tomato plants and many of them already have fruit on the vine. I can see I am in for a lot of harvesting this year. If you add up all of the tomato plants in the – (More…)


A Cooks Best Friend: The Herb Garden

June 21st, 2007 by Jeff in General Cooking

As I wrote earlier this year, I started my kitchen herb garden. I did not plant them in the ground, but in several planters I purchased at a local Agway. These particular planters are about 2 feet long by 1 foot wide. They have a groove along the bottom that fits the railing on my front porch perfectly. You can get different planters for different size railings.

Depending on the herbs, you can pack quite a few in there. You do have to keep in mind that some herbs are a little more aggressive than others. In one planter, I have a spearmint plant that short of putting the entire thing in the oven, nothing can stop it. I prune it weekly even if I don’t need the herb right away. Since this is the case, I only planted two other plants (basil) along with it.

As you can see in the above photo, the planter closest to the camera shows what I mean. The mint plant in the center was brutally pruned just last week and it is already back in full force.

Dill is another herb that just grows like crazy.

Yes that big monstrosity in the center is the dill plant. I am about ready to whack it down as it is taking over the box. A good – (More…)


Cooking Myth #4: Quality Ingredients Are Too Expensive

May 21st, 2007 by Jeff in General Cooking

It is no secret that one of cornerstones to great cooking is the quality of ingredients. Much of what you learn stresses the importance of fresh and different ingredients. This in itself is not a myth. However, the fact that you have to spend a lot more to obtain these items could not be farther from the truth.

Professional chefs are no different than other artists out there. They are always trying to come up with something new, and for this reason you notice trends when it comes to ingredients. Years ago when you went to make chili, most of the recipes you found contained similar pepper arrangements. Today, if you counted all of the peppers in the top one hundred chili recipes, it would probably top three hundred different kinds of peppers.

For some reason, when people see others using exotic or hard to get ingredients, they feel their time tested recipes no longer match up. This simply is not true. In Italian cooking, many recipes have remained unchanged for hundreds of years yet you still find them being served in many of the new bleeding edge restaurants.

Now I am not saying that you should avoid quality ingredients. Of course not, but realize that you can still create great dishes using common ones.

Of course, you can also take the time to acquire these things on your own. I spoke with a – (More…)

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