MmmmmmBoozy Paintcan

Perhaps you have gotten the idea that Mama and Papa BaCon are the sort of folks who have their priorities in order (slow cooker ribs and chocolate cake in a mug, anyone?).

I could tell stories about mis padres that would make your eyes cross with jealousy, but rather than do that, I'll simply share the wonderful craziness that is my family.

I give you, The Paintcan. The Paintcan came into our lives thanks to the generosity of one bearded, wild-haired "neighbor" on a camping trip long ago and far away. After a long day of shouting between campsites about bugs, matches, and fishing lures, he made his way over to our site and offered my dad....a paintcan. Filled with booze.

From that moment on, The Paintcan has been solidified in the family's lore. We make it at every BBQ and on most camping trips as a nod to its originator, Mr. WildhairedBeardGuy. BaCon Bit, aka the little sister who is too cool to read my blog, even personalized a paintcan for Papa BaCon with handles for easy shaking and sipping. It's chilly, and refreshing, and just boozy enough--though I wouldn't drink a whole one yourself, or, as Papa BaCon knows from personal experience, you're liable to end up with a trash can on your head.

The Paintcan

Take 1 clean gallon paintcan, available from your friendly Paint store. Fill 3/4 way with ice.


1/2 can Frozen lemonade
1/2 can Frozen limeade
1/2 bottle of your favorite Vodka (WOOT!)

Fill the remainder of paintcan with Sprite

Gently tap the lid on TIGHT.
Wrap the can in a towel and shake vigorously until ice forms on the sides. (The towel will freeze to the can, and then you'll know it's ready.) Put the towel over the lid and use a paintcan opener to release the lid (popping with a loud fizz).

Pour and

Hello Lovah: BBQ Pulled Pork Recipe

"LizaJane: You really should patent that pulled pork recipe, tis' heavenly.

Me: The secret weapon being pork fat, that would make for an interesting patent application."

So, now you know my secret. I'm a firm believer in the power of pork fat. After you try this recipe, you'll understand.

This pulled pork recipe is part Carolina BBQ, part St. Louis BBQ--meaning, it's tangy from a good dose of cider vinegar, with some spicy, sweet tomato-based BBQ sauce just for fun. I serve it on a toasted bun, topped with creamy coleslaw, so that the whole experience is one of toasted, creamy, fresh, tangy, spicy, sweet pork fat.

BBQ Pulled Pork:

Braised Pork:
5 lb. pork butt or pork shoulder roast
Salt and Pepper
1 tablespoon peanut oil, or another oil with a high smoke point
2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 Onion, thick sliced
Salt and Pepper

BBQ Sauce:
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbs. apple butter
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. hot sauce
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
Salt, Pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Trim any sinew off of the pork. but leave the layer of fat on the top. (If the fat is egregious--and you'll know when it's egregious--you can shave some of it off.)

2. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Rinse and pat the pork dry, and season with salt and pepper immediately before browning. Sear pork on each side until well browned. Remove from the heat. Place pork skin/fat side up in the dutch oven, and add the cider vinegar, water, and onion.
3. Cover and bake for for 3-4 hours, turning the pork once halfway through. (The pot is hot! Ouch!) Once the pork is tender and shreds easily, remove the meat and braised onions from the dutch oven and chop or shred into large pieces, trimming the large pieces of fat that did not render. Reserve 1 cup of the vinegar/braising juices (skimming the liquid if necessary) and place the meat back in the dutch oven.

4. Place the dutch oven on the stove on medium-low. Add the vinegar and the sauce ingredients to the pork and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook JUST until the pork breaks down a little further. Serve on toasted buns and topped with creamy coleslaw or raw, thin sliced white

Bar Exam Gazpacho Recipe

Dear readers, I would like you to meet Gazpacho, one of my tomato plants. He's a little quiet, but he'll grow on you. (AhahahahaHAHAHA!) He lives in my backyard with Mojito and Margherita I and II. One day, I shall eat him.

In an effort to make sure he meets a noble end, I tried the gazpacho recipe that I perfected last summer, while I was hiding from the New York State Bar Exam. The gazpacho was just as tangy, refreshing as I remembered, and I didn't suffer any post-traumatic-stress-disorder flashbacks of Bar Exam studying while I enjoyed it, which is a huge bonus.

(See, everyone who's studying for the Bar right now? I made it out okay. Also, all the Bar-Prep courses are designed to scare the bejesus out of you. The real thing will be easier. I promise.)

Sure I passed the Bar Exam, but I like to think that my real accomplishment last summer was eating at least 25 incarnations of gazpacho from May thru August, and still wanting a big bowl of it (with extra basil, sour cream, and grilled cheese bread, thank you) today.

Gazpacho (Cold Tomato Soup) with Cucumbers, Garlic, and Balsamic

6 larger tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped [See note below]
1 purple onion, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
10 leaves basil, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup of water
1/8 cup olive oil
Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste [black pepper, white pepper, cayenne—use your favorite]

Add all the ingredients to a large non-metal bowl, and stir to incorporate all of the different vegetables. Put 1/3 of the mixture in a blender/food processor and blend until slightly liquid, then move to a 2nd non-metal bowl (or large air-tight container) Continue with the remaining portions, blending less each time--the final blended batch should be a chunkier puree. Cover and refrigerate overnight, so the flavors can blend. Serve with your favorite garnishes and some hot sauce.
Peeling & Seeding tomatoes:

Bring a large pot of water (2/3 full) to a boil. Add tomatoes 3 at a time, and boil for 30 seconds. Remove tomatoes, and cool. Pierce tomato skins with a sharp knife, or score the tops with an X and the skins should come off easily. Cut the top off the tomato, and using your thumbs, gently squeeze the seeds out of the seed pockets.[This is the grossest, messiest part, but it’s worth it]

Impromptu Dinner Party By Candlelight...

Last night Mr. Luz, Foxy, and I received an unexpected gift, thanks to our electric utility and maybe an overzealous power-tool-operator up on H Street.

Around 4pm, our electricity went out for no apparent reason, and it was out for blocks and blocks. We'd invited some of Mr. Luz's family friends over for drinks, but it wasn't a problem. Who wouldn't love an opportunity to drink prosecco by candlelight on a random Monday evening?

Around 8pm, we still didn't have power. Mr. Luz started thinking about the rapidly melting homemade strawberry ice cream in our freezer, and our new neighbors became concerned about the halibut that they brought back from a fishing trip in Alaska. (Similarly, I was concerned about all the beer that was growing warm in our fridge, and busied myself with consuming it all before it reached room temperature...) Clearly, we had to feast, lest everything go to waste.

I set off to light a trail of candles leading to the bathroom and pull out a few more wine glasses, while Mr. Luz gathered the neighbors on either side of us for an impromptu potluck. In the end, we dined on mismatched dishes, by the light of the Weber grill and tiki torches. Our patio tables were covered with rich slices of Saint-Andre triple creme cheese and crusty french bread; the freshest grilled halibut I've ever tasted, with its own homemade tartar sauce; huge ears of grilled sweet corn; garlicky gazpacho soup;and various and sundry other leftovers from this weekend's cooking marathon.

Late into the night, Mr. Luz passed out coffee mugs filled with softened strawberry ice-cream to our 6 wonderful guests. And after we'd finished dessert, the lights came back on and our peaceful, lazy spell was broken. Everyone was a little sad as they went back to their homes to reset the alarm clocks, adjust the A/C, and settle into bed. As much as I appreciate modern conveniences, it's also nice to turn off all of the electronics, shut down the air-conditioning units, and spend some time outdoors--just enjoying the stillness and connecting with the people in our lives. Maybe I'll trip a circuit breaker or two in August (after Mr. Luz makes more ice cream) just for fun.

NOTE: I did not take the photo shown above, but rather I found it on Google Images and have been unable to find the source of it. If you know the source, please comment below so I can give credit to the photographer. Thanks!

Grilled Tandoori Chicken with Spicy Mint Chutney & Grilled Curry Cauliflower

Oh dear Lord, it feels good to be back. I cooked like a fiend this weekend, and I now have a fridge full of tasty leftovers and a large quantity of wine that was somehow overlooked at this weekend's dinner party. (Maybe it was all the cosmopolitans and mojitos that Mr. Luz was mixing?)

Speaking of fiending, I've picked up a new and terrible addiction to Indian food, which I attribute to all the take-out that we ate during the move. It's terrible because it's July, and as much as I love spicy, stewed meats, they just aren't ideal in the stifling heat.

So in order to get my weekly fix of garlic/ginger/yogurt/cinnamon/cardamom/ect., I decided to add some decidedly summer elements to my traditional tandoori chicken recipe and brighten it up. I grilled some marinated chicken on my Weber charcoal grill, and then added a spicy, bright mint chutney that was wonderfully summery. I also made some curry-rubbed grilled cauliflower as an experiment, and it was very tasty. I normally don't like cauliflower, but I thought I'd give it another chance. (Pimentos, don't get any ideas. I'll always hate you.) The grilling kept the cauliflower crispy, but sweetened it and brought out some of the subtle earthy flavors in the fibrous vegetable. The curry powder also enhanced the cauliflower's earthy flavor, and gave it a pretty caramel/yellow color at the same time.

NOTE: To make this recipe, I bought organic bone-in chicken pieces, and against my better judgment I cut slits in the meat so the marinade could sink in. Then I cried as all the juices ran out of my chicken as it cooked. Next time I'll either get use small chicken breasts (I don't think the marinade absorbed into the dark meat as well) or I'll reserve some of the yogurt mixture, and baste the chicken with it as it cooks.

Tandoori Chicken

2-4 lbs. chicken
1 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 Tbs. peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
2 tsp. coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
3 tsp. garam masala
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne

Remove the skin from chicken and place the chicken in a non-reactive bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the chicken and mix well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight. (If you plan to baste the chicken, mix the marinate in a separate bowl and reserve a small portion of it before adding the rest to the chicken.)

To cook, place the chicken over direct, medium-high heat and cover. Turn the chicken after the meat has browned and until the meat is cooked through. (Baste the cooked parts with marinade, turning and covering one more time to caramelize the marinade before serving). Remove from heat, and let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Mint Chutney

1 1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 chile, chopped (choose for spice--poblano or jalapeno for alot of heat, anaheim if you prefer a mild chutney)
1/4 coarse chopped onion
pinch cumin
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 tsp. white or rice vinegar
dash sugar
3 Tbs. plain yogurt

Add all the ingredients to a blender, and puree. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, and serve on top or on the side of the tandoori chicken

Grilled Curry-spiced Cauliflower

2 large heads cauliflower (for 6-8 servings)
4 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. curry powder
Salt, Pepper to taste

Remove the leaves and 2 inches of stem on the cauliflower. Rub florets with 3 Tbs. oil. Cut into wedges, keeping the main stem intact but so that each serving has two flat sides that will sit on the grill. Rub cut stems with remaining 1 Tbs. of olive oil. Sprinkle curry powder on florets.

Place on the grill over indirect, medium high-heat and cover. After 5 minutes, turn to put the other cut side on the grill. The cauliflower is done when it is flexible but not too soft, and golden

Withdrawal Can Be Tasty!

Maybe you've noticed, but I haven't done alot of cooking lately. I have, however, mooched food off of neighbors, had nothing but wine and pretzels for dinner (not recommended), and spent the entire deposit refund from our old apartment on Vietnamese and Indian take-out.

But the time has come for me to get my ass back in the kitchen and cook/eat off some of my residual stress. Mr. Luz sat me down with a notepad and a few of my favorite cookbooks, and asked me "What are we cooking this week?" Here's what followed...

Me: I want to make....

1. BBQ Pulled Pork with a spicy, Carolina-style BBQ sauce, coleslaw, and corn-on-the-cob with Tabasco butter
2. A bucket of traditional tomato Gazpacho soup
3. My first attempt at Ceviche
4. A big, ole Gooey Butter Cake (a St. Louis favorite made with yellow cake, butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar)
5. Greek Turkey Burgers
6. Homemade Margherita Pizza
7. Grilled Tandoori Chicken with grilled cauliflower and cucumber salad & mint chutney
8. BBQ Pork Steaks (another St. Louis summer favorite, pork butt sliced into T-bones, then grilled and braised in BBQ sauce)
9. Sesame Noodle Salad w/ sugar snap peas, carrots, red bell peppers
10. Grilled Shrimp & Veggie Pasta
11. Bacon
12. Homemade Strawberry Ice cream
13. Panzanella (Bread & Tomato) Salad with herb oil, heirloom tomatoes, and shaved parmesan cheese

Clearly, I've missed you

New Home, At Last

Halo and Happy July!

Mr. Luz and I are mostly settled in our new apartment (an adorable row house 2 blocks from my work, our yoga place, and Mr. Luz's favorite Ethiopian coffee shop).

Papaya Blue once predicted that I would begin to appreciate D.C. when I recognize that some of things I love about New Orleans are also here in my new home, and I know she's right. (Hear that, Papaya?) Our new apartment and our new surroundings definitely remind me of the Good Life in the Big Easy, and I'm finally happy to be right where I am. We've managed to find an apartment and a neighborhood that is intimate, and cozy. Sometimes it feels like the sun shines brighter and the breeze seems sweeter on our little street. And though I find that so much of this city is superficial and all about undercutting something to get the competitive edge, the businesses and the people in our area strive for substance --we can find a dedicated yoga instructor, a sincere and passionate artist, or a dinner that's worth far more than the menu price right around the corner and on any given day.

And on the nights when I can sit out on my front patio and talk to one of our warm and wonderful neighbors as the lightening bugs float past, just enjoying the easy pace of the evening and the company of friends, I feel like I'm