Is it a crock, or not? I’m finding more crock than not.

I remember way back when, nearly 30 years ago. My mother went through a few crock-pots and recipes, I did my own searching. Mostly I escaped the grasp because I wasn’t able to fuss with my food during the cooking period. You get what you get, no chance for tasting, changing direction and/or redirecting to a final end that tasted as good as you could do in the oven or stove-top.
As with any situation, time changes everything. I need help. No longer do I have hours in the late afternoon and evening to give what I want to eat and serve to my boys. I would really like to have something tasty and somewhat healthy at the end of the day wherein I would really like to only serve or cook rice, er mashed taters. I figured maybe the crock-pot would have another life here at Meathenge Labs.
Earlier today I picked up a large 5 quart rig, it was time. They feel as cheap as they ever were (no longer in the color of an avacado) But with the internet, I figured I could find some guidelines to use the damned thing. Nope! Between the included recipes and what I’ve initially found on the net is quite the contrary.
So far, it’s all about the canned, the packeted and then again, the can. Sure you can use the fresh vegetables and the meat, but if you truly know what you’re doing? The onion soup packet or the mushroom soup is an ingredient. If you’re really a Home Chef, you’ll add the fancy “Brown Gravy” packet.
It’s 2010 and was just only then 2009, so dreamed maybe the cooker would come with decent recipes. The first one I viewed about pork chops and rice included a can of mushrooms. A can of mushrooms?
My brother inlaw Darkleynoone, a skilled cook and crock-pot stud interjected that I needed to lower the moisture addition, it’s tough to do dried herbs in a crock-pot and to maybe cook the starches separately. I totally understood.
But what’s with the large glut of complete crap in regards to the crock-pot and ingredients?
xo, Biggles
UPDATE 6 hours in the pot:
I work maybe a 6 minute drive from home, decided to come home to see how things were going. As I opened up the front door, the smells were really good. Nothing compared to my traditional pot roast, but still quite good. I probably added too many veggies, but wanted enough to use them to eat and not just a disposable addition. I did add a cup of chicken broth, maybe next time I won’t. If you click on the image, you can get a little larger idea and can see there’s plenty of moisture in there. Dang, those meat additives release a lot of moisture! And considering how little evaporates during cooking, I may end up reducing them later in a sauce pan. Yeah, pull meat and let it rest for a bit. Strain veggies from broth, reduce. So far, so good.
ps – And two hours after that? It’s done.
Update a few hours after that – Dinner was served:
I’m blown away, completely. This was better than good and for a Wednesday evening meal. I totally kicked your ASS. This isn’t to say it didn’t take some effort, it wasn’t something I just threw together and walked away. I’d added too much moisture (1 cup of chicken broffs). At nearly 8.5 to 9 hours I set the cooker to warm for another hour while I drove for 1.5 hours to pick up Z from school. When I got back I separated the meat, and then the veggies from the broth. I reduced the broth until it tasted how I wanted, then added a slurry of cold water and corn starch to give it some consistency.
If you learn the cooker’s ways, positive and negative, and can stay away from canned and packets, this cooker is Meathenge Approved. It may take a few tries, fortunately it only took me 1 try to make a National Class meal. I’m huge and need to go take a nap.
xo, Biggles

Big Ass Hotdog – No really

I, um, well, er, um, yeah it’s like that. Kelly Williams the marketing & pr coordinator in Chicago for Big Ass Hotdog sent me a press release a few days ago. I just sent the link to my sister who immediately poo pooed it. I sent her the press release and stated this must go up immediately.
I, um, well, er, um, yeah it’s like that.
7 Lbs +/-
16″ Long
4″ Diameter
100% veal, beef, pork
50 servings per dog
Made to order every Tuesday
It’s a real hotdog that feeds 50 people and it’s only 30 bux! Don’t believe me? Click through to read the press release!

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KCBS Certified BBQ Judge – Meathenge Labs are one!

Yup, you heard it right. I spent over 5 hours today with Chilebrown and his wife Ms. Goofy in a classroom getting fully instructed while eating chicken, pork ribs, sliced/pulled pork and beef brisket. Neat, eh?
The class started this morning at 7:30 in Fairfield California, just 30 minutes from home. I signed up a month ago or more, they don’t come to town often and the chance to attend wasn’t an option. While I did guest judge the 5th Annual West Coast Championships, I felt it was time to make it legal.
Don’t get me wrong, sure it was fun and the food was really good. But it was an instructional class in every sense of the word. We were schooled in every aspect of judging BBQ by KCBS rules. And brother, or sister, that ain’t no joke. These people take what they do very seriously. The sheer volume of respect they have for the teams is huge. They go way out of their way to make damned sure it’s fair.
You sit a specific direction when judging, no talking, no sitting next to friends. You must be on time and if you don’t show? You’re very well bloody likely to never judge again. Green lettuce, parsley and cilantro are your only garnish, use the white part of iceburg and you’re marked as disqualified for Appearance. If the pork rib meat falls-off-the-bone? Marked down, it should come clean with a tug with your teefs. When a judge reaches for a pork rib and two come away? You get 2 and the 6th judge gets none, everyone marks this team as 1 (disqualified) for Appearance. For me, the most important part of the judging is to rule your decision based upon the merit of that BBQ. You cannot judge it based on how well you cook, or whether you prefer something different. I like that part.
Soon I will be receiving my card, a judge polo shirt and a certificate stating my place in the circle of true BBQ competition judges. I’m a greenhorn to judging and competition, but not to good barbecue.
If you’d like to see a few more pictures from the day, please visit KCBS Judging Class 2009.

Bananas and Bacon – Guaranteed to start conversation

editors note: This image is from the back of the book, it was far cooler.
The little book is titled, The New Banana and it hails from 1931. Looks to be an introduction to this new fruit, national news, foreign news, scientific, daily menus for the week & recipes too!
Which leads me to the Bananas and Bacon recipe, no really. If’n you’re interested in a scanned original from the book, please follow the link below.
Bananas with Bacon
6 Bananas
1/4 pound bacon
Roll half lengths of peeled bananas in strips of bacon. Secure with toothpick, if necessary. Broil under flame; or bake in oven-proof dish in a hot oven, 450 degrees F., about fifteen minutes, or until bananas are tender and bacon is crisp. Baste at least once during the baking … Whole bananas may be wrapped in bacon and cooked in the same way.
xo, Biggles

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Mign Shatje – when a big brother steps in

Please read my lengthy prose, I do have a point to it.
I met my little sister when she was born. I remember bringing her home from the hospital in our new 1968 VW camper bus, no selt belts. I remember holding her in my arms as we made our way back home, she got passed around, it was pretty awesome.
Over the years we didn’t get along very well. In fact, I was pretty evil and she was very ingenious about being antagonistic. Even as teenagers, the love wasn’t there (on my part) and I was old enough to move out and do my own thing. After some time and having close friends knock me around some, I knew she loved me, and I have to admit I loved her too. But it wasn’t the time or place to settle such things. We enjoyed out time and/or place, for the most part, as best we could.
As we aged and mellowed a tad, we’ve had great fun together, sharing with each other. I introduced her to computers, and she let me in the door at 1am to show her how to play Steam Roller. This is a game where you’ve been sound asleep for a few hours, and some assailant jumps in to bed with you and rolls over you, repeatedly. Then, they grab a cardboard box and make a sled to use as vehicle to get from your upper apartment to street level. At 1am. Ain’t she just the best to put up with me?
Yes, she is.
To make a long story short, this woman has always been one of those artists that we only dream of being. Her pencil, charcoal to digital artwork has been online and published in many formats for over 20 years.
What happens then? You get plagiarized. Tee hee, this something I’ve only dreamed about.
How many times have you been to a web site or visited a blog of some sort and the author is complaining of plagiarism, content scraping or something related? Nearly every day right?
But in those instances, how many of them are collecting $1000.00 a print, getting magazine articles, praise from every angle all based upon your artwork? Not many I would think. But this is the case for my little sister.
My little sister’s artwork is being plagiarized to the point where this woman is collecting thousands of dollars and garnering tons of praise for something she digitally traced and added some vector graphics to. You do need to know my sister isn’t the only victim of this crime, she isn’t the only one.
If you’d like to see the comparison of my sister’s artwork versus what this woman selling, please take a gander, mijn schatje & blastmilk comparisons.
xo, Biggles
ps – We are looking for legal ways to handle this situation. If you have solid, concrete knowledge, please let me know. The woman is in Paris, France and we’re in the states. Ultimately, we really want her to stop stealing other artist’s work and profiting from it. A little shame wouldn’t hurt either.
ppssspssspes – Above all, we must keep this civil.

Unexpected Delights – Country Fried Bacon

This was and is completely unexpected, Country Fried Bacon.
Our internets has been going up and down, they were expected to come fix between 4 & 6pm. Didn’t have anything planned for dinner, had the hankering for something deep fried.
Found enough oil, two bunches of asparagus, taters … and bacon. Whupped up some beer, flour & salt. Dredged the “veggies” and deep fried at 360 degrees F.
Country Fried Bacon rules. So clean, so perfect, so not greasy and easy.
xo, Biggles

Meathenge hits YouTube – Beef Fat !!!

Hi Everbody!
I was flarking along through the nets and ran across a new technology, a new web site. Chef2Video. Basically, they allow you to run a streaming video or a saved one of your working kitchen. They’re trying to get chef’s and such to join in. Which, personally I think is a great idea. But they’re also willing to let nitwits such as myself in.
Speaking of nitwits, I was inspired to start something of my own. Here is the first video I’ve ever done in any arena for any reason. There’s no content and it’s only 13 seconds!
xo, Biggles

Enameled Cast Iron goes POP !!!

If I had to take 1 piece to cook with out of my kitchen, it’d probably be this one. Soups, stews, burgers, roast chicken, gumbo, beans, for pasta, bacon and even have done pancakes in it. Deep fry, shallow fry or pan fry, it’s good to go. Simmer some greens? Steam some veggies if you prefer, it can do it.
If you enjoy cooking and have been at it just a little while, you have one. If not, you know you want one and will have it some day. They’re that good. I was lucky, I found this one at a local thrift store for 10 dollars about 16 years ago. I figure it’s about 40 + years old, Descoware (Danish) it says on the bottom. I loves it.
The same day I bought this one, I bought a smaller one, it had chips knocked out of the finish on the inside. Who cares, it was 7 dollars! At the time, I would wash and put the pot on the stove to warm over a flame to dry it off. I noticed that if it got too hot, the enamel would pop off like popping corns. Pop! Okay, so don’t do that. Don’t dry these old things over heat, not a good thing. But time passes and we forget such wisdom.
Until 2 days ago. Had planned on making some onions translucent and warmed some oil in the bottom of the pan. I saw something shiny in the other room and forgot about it for a few minutes, not long. But enough time for the oil to over-heat and cause a chip to fly free from the bottom of the pan.


Click on and check out the picture, it’s really cool how the cracking and crazing has formed over the years. Especially where the chip came off, check that out! Spiffnoid, eh?
Made me sad, but it’s not the end of the world. The ol’ Danish Oven will function pretty much as it did. Just no storing food in it like I did before. Be wary of highly acidic food, probably not a good idea. But this piece will live on for another however many years. Or until I chip a tooth on an unseen bit of enamel.

Inside the “lemon”

Can you tell I used a tripod and UV balanced studio lighting? Mebbe, just wanted you to know this isn’t something I just walked by and snapped a few off. The contrast and detail isn’t possible without pod & lighting.
Along with yesterday’s still life post, here’s the inside. Jlee sent me an link to the Buddha’s Hand, I don’t think this is it. Chilebrown has an entire tree devoted to that citrus. Mac put up that it’s a fruit fly and to check for webbing. While I did find a few things in there, I got no idea what’s going on.
It smells like lemon, tastes like lemon, but doesn’t look like lemon. Lydia, I think the stuff you’re seeing at the market is a real Buddah’s Hand. Mines is a freak of my very own nature.
xo, Biggles

out of my element aw heck out of anyone’s element

Ahhhh, the coming of fall. The sun gets lower in the sky and the crisp breezes begin. The cool, moist smell of the trees’ leaves turning along with the absolutely brilliant colors that come with are only available once a year. The summer pace turns to one of the coming winter months as we plan for the holidays. The skies darken far earlier, the food gets heartier (gravy) and the relatives, cards and local parties arrive with wild abandon. Even the political climate is changing! The holidays go and leave us with a nice easy lean in to the new year. Some vow on the resolutions and some breathe a sigh of relief that 2008 is gone forever.
Now it’s time to set in for the winter and maybe catch a Sunday ball game with snow falling on the aggressive field of play. Even here we’ve had the heater on more than a few times and most certainly all night long to keep us all from getting the chivers. Bring on the winter! I have a huge pot of leftover great northern beans in the fridge to keep me warm. Bring. It. On.
Um, dude, it’s 75 degrees outside and the grass is bright green and full. wtf?
Take note, just because I mentioned I was wearing slippers the other night to catch the moon doesn’t mean I was wearing anything else.
Behold the glory that is The Good Reverend Doctor Biggles !!! All bow (or avert your eyes) and pay homage. It is warm, ask no questions, fire up all grills.
I have spoken.

Huge Moon

Hi Everbody!
We’re still alive here at Meathenge Labs, just recouping after the holidays and basically being lazy as gosh. *-SNORE-*
As many of you know, the last few nights have produced an amazing full moon, just as it first popped up on the Eastern horizon. Per usual, I was 20 minutes late and didn’t get the detail I was looking for. Even with a tripod & circular polarizer, feh. Dumb moon picture. It was most spectacular live though, that was amazing and worth the effort. This would be walking out the back door and standing there like a loon with slippers on.
xo, Biggles

hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil

Alright, so I knew I was going to be late in to work this morning because I had to wait for the phone guy. Tiny E showed up sick on Sunday and knew Monday would be at home, okay. Z and I got up and were ready to hit the road at 6:45 and I decided to clean my glasses, like I do every morning.
Ping! Why do I have my glasses in my left hand and a lens in my right?
Sigh, no driving for Biggles this dark and early morning. Fine, I’ll just cruise the net. No, the screen was a complete waist of time. Okay, I’ll just watch tv! No, even with a 36″ tube that didn’t work either. Dammit! See, I’m nearly legally blind in my left eye and my right isn’t much better, glasses bring me back to ‘normal’, at least my vision anyway. Do I have a spare? Sure, at work!
The sun came up and wore my prescription sunglasses to go get them, yay. No yay, the prescription is so old I’m nearly typing this by silhouettes of the letters. Grrrrr. And speaking of prescription, the phone number of the place where I buy my specs has been disconnected or is no longer in service. Phlesbsbsbsbsttt !
Mondays, right?
What didn’t suck? Last night’s supper, that’s what. I procured me a top sirloin beef steak from Ted the Rancher (Highland Hills Farm) at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning. Ted’s herd is the true organic, grass fed, heritage breed situation. Usually I find grass fed beef not to my liking, the grain does give a distinctive flavor that I adore.
Pulled it from the fridge Sunday, let it sit out for an hour with a kosher salt rub.
The cast iron griddle with grills up, super heated. Rub bacon fat all over steak.
Grill hard until done, a rare medium will do nicely, thank you very much. Wow, and double wow. I really have to admit Ted’s top sirloin was absolutely divine. I’m going to do this again soon, I can hardly wait. I apologize for any illnormal writings or editing of the pictures. I had to do it based upon feel and silhouettes, I can’t see worth a pinch of moon poo.

USS Hornet – Alameda, CA – OH Biggles …

Oh Biggles, don’t you cook anymore?
Um, no. No I don’t, only run the dishwasher once a week or so. Mostly full of cups, flatware and a whisk or two. Been up to other things and food hasn’t been a part. Don’t sweat it though, I’ll be back and am eating well in spite of not cooking.
Guess where I went Saturday morning? The USS Hornet at Alameda Point (old Naval base & home to St. Georges), that’s where. I knew the Red Oak was in Richmond, just needed to get off my ass and get down there. But I had no idea that Alameda housed a real aircraft carrier. Much less an aircraft carrier museum!
It ain’t cheap though, not like the Red Oak. This one is 14 bux per adult to get in and you must be led about by a docent. No wandering around on your own to stick your nose in here and in there, pull this and open that. Which is fine, it’s a dangerous place and you don’t want to die er nothin’. Especially when you pay 14 bux to do it. It kinda reminds me of the Winchester Mystery House. A huge place with tiny rooms & even smaller walkways.
If you’re interested in visiting, check out the link above. And if you’re interested in the history surrounding the Hornet, go for it. I’m not going to pretend as though I’m someone I’m not, this would be an American history buff. I know how to build a fire and cook food over it. History to me is a fire pit filled with pork rib bones and beer cans scattered about.
Here are a few snapshots of the USS Hornet I took along the way. And yes, that’s an escalator. It goes from the flight deck down a few levels. I spose the pilots were all woozy from flying and needed a safe way to descend to rest. And the cool exposure was a “mistake”. I had my camera all set from a small studio shoot I did Friday morning. It was after this shot I sat down for a bit and reset all the dials, buttons and menu choices.