Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Update on a successful BBQ season

Overall our BBQ team had a great season considering that we only planned to compete once this year. Starting in May, we began winning right out of the gate. Our team split into teams of two to cook at a judging school, in which the cooks engaged in an amateur competition to supply the meat to train the judges. My team took Grand Champion and my Dad's team took 3rd out 11 teams that participated.

The next competition we cooked was a rib cook off at Tim's Meats also in May. Our team actually split up to compete against each other. I took fourth overall out of 17 teams and Steve and Jana on our team won first place in Spare Ribs.

Then it is was off to McKinley Springs Winery BBQ Showdown in Prosser Washington in June... AGAIN, our team split up with my brother Bobby and I cooking on our own team to make the event a national qualifier. We scored 4th on ribs out of 25 teams and 9th overall.

Later in June, our team finally cooked together -- in the only competition we planned to cook in -- at the Coeur d'Alene Fairgrounds on Father's Day! We scored 5th in chicken and 13th overall out of 29 teams.

Then we had an opportunity to cook with "BBQ Rock star" Harry Soo in Boise, so we packed up and went to Boise in July to cook with some real pros... We wound up taking 6th in Ribs and 13th overall out 27 teams... There were at least 10 of the nations top performing pitmasters at this event. We were jazzed...

We did a couple of amateur events and fun cooks where we always won something, and then finally wrapped up the season cooking at the Tree Top Apple Festival in Yakima earlier this month. We placed 10th in ribs and tied for 10th in chicken out of 70 teams... it was a massive event. We place 24th out of 70 overall. Here are some pictures of the food we turned in at that event:

 Smoked Apple Fritters (done on my Weber):

Smoked Pork Tenderloin and Apple Skewers:

Smoked Chicken:

Spare Ribs:

BBQ Pork:

Smoked Brisket (partial box):

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

No applesauce this year.

A couple days ago I headed to the family garden in great anticipation. I had been patiently waiting to harvest the McIntosh apples from our 100 year old apple tree for quite some time. Just a few days prior to this, I checked on their ripeness and was thrilled to see they were nearly ready to pick.

When I arrived at the family garden, my dad waved me over and told me he had some bad news. He was getting ready to mow the pasture that morning and made his routine stop at the apple tree to make sure all of the fallen apples were picked up....only there weren't any on the ground. Finding that pretty unusual, he looked up in the tree only to find it empty...literally, there were no apples left. Yep, we were robbed.

At first I was angry...who would do this? I calmed down after a bit and realized (with the help of my family's positive outlook) that perhaps someone else needed those apples more than we did. There will be no homemade applesauce this year but I have much more to be thankful for.... my family.... and all the memories that we have. You see, the apple tree has stood the test of time just as our family's love for one another. And the tree keeps on giving just as our family does for one another. So all is well and I'm at peace with the fact that someone took our apples. After all, there is always next year : )

On a side note: I blogged about our apple tree a while back and talked about its significance to our family : http://bentsbeergarden.blogspot.com/2010/02/family-tree.html. In the story, I mentioned that my mom used to make applesauce each season. Actually, I failed to mention that my dad also helped my mom with this task. In fact, they would spend countless hours in the kitchen making enough applesauce to last our family all winter long. I loved the cooked apple aroma emanating from our home on a crisp fall day. But I especially loved watching my parents work together....they always had a way to make work seem like fun.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


An heirloom tomato gone crazy
Cherokee Purples

Cherry Tomatoes

I know, I sound like a broken record but....I'm still blaming the cool weather we had in June for this year's substandard garden performance. The cool weather crops such as broccoli, lettuce, spinach and onions were a huge success. But, for the most part, the warm weather crops like the tomatoes, melons, and eggplant are just now starting to show signs of ripening. This is a good month behind what we normally experience. Granted, we have plucked many cherry tomatoes thus far, but it's really the large Beefsteaks and the Cherokee Purples we want the most and they are taking their sweet time. Optimist and patient person that I am, (ha, ha) I am keeping the faith that even the big guys will ripen before the first frost.

The Rossa Bianca eggplant is slowly but surely growing. This is my first year growing eggplant so it will be a miracle if they actually make it. lol...Regardless, they are quite pretty.

The Tango celery is a success again this year. In fact, this is the second year we won a blue ribbon at the fair with it.  It's amazing how much more flavorful it is compared to store bought celery. I froze some yesterday so that we will have plenty for making soup this winter.

Although, the purple bells are smaller than normal this year at least they are ripening. And...

the purple tomatillos aren't quite purple yet.
The good news is that the temperatures should stay in the 70's range for a few days and that should help things along....Who said patience is a virtue? I say hurry up and ripen tomatoes...I want to preserve some tomato sauce.