Friday, May 25, 2012

GTFO Dodge for the Weekend!

The crew and I have decided to GTFO of Dodge this weekend to do a little partyin' with our people in Ohio!!  This evening, we intend to hit the open road as soon as possible after we're free from work to head toward the cabin in Ashland, Ohio owned by the brothers Byrnes in order to do some late-evening chillaxing followed by some early morning mowing of the foot-deep lawn (right after we get done fishing, that is!!!).  Unfortunately, Edward and I have not yet had the opportunity to venture down to the cabin yet this year, so there is likely to be a considerable amount of chores on which to catch up.  However, between Eddie, Amanda, and I, we should be able to knock it out quickly before making our way back up-state to Parma to party with Unc, Malue, and the rest of the Brotherhood of Fellow Christians (BFC'ers)!!
Look!!  Even Naa-Naa & Mee-Maw like a good Seafood Boil!
My brother, Bob, is lookin' sharp in this pic too!

This weekend Unc is throwing his annual Memorial Weekend Seafood Boil to which we've been graciously invited to attend!  Byrnes, Burpasaurus, and I are looking forward to stuffing ourselves full of awesome grub and washing it all down with copious amounts of beer and booze!!  I, personally, am highly anticipating huckin' on the Hot Corn that somehow manages to soak up more than its fair share of spiciness from the liquid in the boil!!  The way this corn on the cob imparts this subtle-yet-cumulative heat that encourages one to imbibe yet more beer in a futile attempt to squelch the fire raging in one's mouth!!  Is it too hot to handle for some?!  Sure!

This stuff is potent!! A little goes a long way!!

However(!), we made the mistake of reducing the amount of the ingredients (read: Zatarain's Shrimp & Crab Boil) in the recipe responsible for the spiciness and found this to be our biggest blunder yet when it comes to making the boil a great success!   It just wasn't the same without the heat!!!  In fact, we had sworn last year, after having made this mistake, that this lesson would not go unlearned, nor shall any Seafood Boil henceforth be without a significant & requisite amount of spiciness!!  Now, will we make a small side batch of the boil for those that cannot handle the heat?  Perhaps, but I certainly shall scoff at those individuals who are unable or unwilling to man-up a little bit for the sake of some damn good eats!!

Check back soon for a few pics and a report on all the fun we had at the event!

Big Badass Barbeque Deep Fryer!

Who has the baddest deep fryer in Oakland Co. Mi??
We do!
So, Byrnes & I finally bit the bullet and bought ourselves a pro-grade 8.5 gallon deep fryer!  We knew that the upcoming Polish Festival (click for map!) at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church on June 2nd & 3rd at which we intend to sell meatballs and french fries (among other things) to the parishioners!  Somehow, I managed to convince my brotherfromanothermother to go in halves w/ me on the biggest, baddest deep fryer that we could reasonably afford!  As a result, we ended up buying the 8.5 gallon deep fryer by R & V Works (click to visit their website!) made right here in the good ol' USA!!!  In fact, when doing the research on which fryer to purchase, I went so far as to call the manufacturer to ask some general questions about their fryer units to see what they had to say and I was thoroughly impressed!  The lady on the other end of the line had the sweetest southern accent (might have had something to do with the fact that they are based in Louisiana -- click for map!) and was more than willing to answer all of the silly questions that came to mind during our 15 minute conversation.  By the time I'd gotten off of the phone, I knew that this was the company from which to purchase the deep fryer, so the only thing left to do was determine which model best suited our needs.  As it turns out, she recommended that I get the unit directly from Bass Pro Shop -- click for item listing! because they themselves were back-ordered on almost all models by several weeks.  This worked out well because the local Bass Pro Shop store actually had 3 of this particular model in stock and available for immediate pickup!  Furthermore, they matched the price on their own website, which ended up saving us $130 off of the original MSRP of $630.00!  This means that I was able to get out the door for $530 after sales tax, which truly was an unbeatable deal because we avoided having to pay any sort of shipping fee (which would have been approx $100) by picking it up directly from the store!  
Click on any image for a larger version!
I was so excited to play with my new toy that I didn't bother waiting for any help from anyone to get it all put together!  Though I had invited both Byrnes and The Neighbs, neither had been available at the time, so set out to get it done myself!  The assembly of the unit was easy and went fairly quickly, though I spent a little extra time taking a picture of each step in the process for the sake of posterity.  I may also offer these pics to R & V Works as a thank you for building such an awesome product so that they can post them on their site for others to use as a guide when putting together their own new units!  
This thing can cook 20 lbs of chicken wings at once!!

We can't wait to test drive this big bad mamma-jamma!!  We're considering hauling it on down to Parma, Ohio for Unc's annual Memorial Weekend Seafood Boil -- map!, though the final verdict still remains yet to be determined.  Byrnes and I certainly intend to fire this sucker up on Sunday evening (May 27th) upon our return to the Hills of Rochester!  We welcome all of the usual suspects to come on out for some suds and some deep-fried spuds during the evening and late into the night!  Monday is Memorial Day, so let's do some grillin' and chillin' on Sunday night!  Shoot me a note if you're interested in swinging by!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Detroit Growers Association is now in action!!!

As some of you well know, there have been several heated rivalries forming between those of us with ambitious goals for our personal gardens this year, which has now come to be known locally as "Garden Wars"!  We've broken into teams of 1 to 4 people working to out-do each other's gardens in terms of both the quality and the amount of produce harvested!
I've created a page on this site dedicated to the whole crazy competition, so be sure to check back often for updates and the latest pics of each team's garden!  

For the moment, I'm pleased to announce that The Detroit Growers Association has attained yet another major milestone for the season -- the procurement of the veggie plants! A wide variety of delectables will be grown in a novel, contemporary fashion in the DGA's very own Hanging Garden!  No other team in Garden Wars has taken such an ingenious, unprecedented approach to its garden management system!  The results of this non-traditional growing method is anticipated to increase yields while simultaneously decreasing the garden's susceptibility to the threat of pests and rodents through the restriction of easy access by elevating the vulnerable plants out of the reach of the most common garden foes.  Furthermore, this intrepid design allows for the creation of greenhouse-like conditions to mitigate the potential risk of plant loss due to an unexpected and unseasonably late frost, which certainly happens here in Michigan.  Be sure to check back soon for additional pics and descriptions of not only the DGA's Hanging Gardens, but also the gardens being constructed by rival teams!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Come and get 'em!!!

A typical Saturday night hangin' out
 w Amanda & Santana!
We've finally received the shipment of Big Pig Rig t-shirts!!!  They came out lookin' sweet!!  Half of the dozen that we've ordered have already been claimed, but there are a few left that are up for grabs!  So, if you're interested in having one to call your own, just shoot me a note or post a comment and let me know what size!  We're hawking this stylish cookwear for a measly $20 each! Cheap!  There are two styles from which to choose:  Black ink on a white t-shirt and vice versa!  
Be sure to let me know what size and color you want and I'll get one to you the next time we cross paths!  We're also going to be offering more BPR items for sale during the next few weeks, so be sure to come back to see what else we have to offer!  Aprons and hats are certainly going to be available soon too!  We can also have other items made, so if there is something in particular you want with the BPR logo on it, just let me know! 

Check back soon for more & better pics of the new shirts!  These are the only ones I've taken w/ someone wearing the shirt so far! 

This was the best pic of the back of the shirt that I had at the moment!

No Love from the Coleman Company!

I've recently inherited a cooler from my dad that has been in the family for over 35 years and has come to be known as "Big Blue" among those of us to whom it is familiar.  This cooler has been a part of our family for long than I have been breathing air, so I thought it would be cool if I restored it to its original condition so that, perhaps someday, I could hand it down to my own (yet-to-be-conceived) sons as a family heirloom (someday).  Unfortunately, the Coleman Company did not particularly share my sentiments about keeping this thing around by restoring the cooler to its previous glory!!  

I spoke with two different representatives in their live online customer assistance section of their website and each of them told me in no uncertain terms that the Coleman Company has no interest in the restoration of old coolers, regardless of the reason for restoring the unit.  Furthermore, when I had asked the first representative about getting replacement parts for this old cooler, I was told that they didn't have them!  This blew my mind because it was quite obvious that this representative had no idea that there was an entire section of the Coleman website dedicated to replacement parts for their products!  Once the ineptitude of this representative was made quite clear, I kindly bid her adieu and then initiated another chat assistance session with a different technician in hopes that I would get someone who was more cooperative and knowledgeable.  Unfortunately, I struck out again. 

I'm thoroughly disappointed.  I'm disappointed in the customer service that I had received, the way in which the "No Restoration Assistance" policy was conveyed to me without regard for how I felt about the situation, and the Coleman Company's unwillingness to stand behind their products.  As I mentioned before, we've been a "Coleman Family" since before I was born.  However, having had such a wonderful experience with Coleman and its customer service representatives recently might have just convinced me that the time to start looking at Igloo Coolers is long overdue.  Well played, Coleman Co.  I wonder what William Coffin Coleman would think of all this nonsense... 

Not too hard to believe this cooler is older than I am!  I would LOVE to see it restored!

Succulent Boneless Smoked Pork Riblets!!

On Friday, May 11th, Erin Gilroy threw a little shindig to get a couple of people together for a little boozin' during the later end of the evening, so I made the decision earlier in the day that we would need something super-easy, yet super-tasty to huck on before making our way out to the party!  I had spent the entire day (8 hrs!) grinding the burrs off the struts for the Geodesic Dome Project, but had the foresight to get the smoker stuffed full of some pork I had scored from Sam's Club earlier in the morning!

Once I had convinced the ribs of the good treatment they have received  (as is done traditionally in the Netherlands!) by generously applying the finest of BBQ seasonings and rubbing it down with vegetable oil, all without making a enoooorme teringzooi (Dutch for "huge goddamn mess") in my kitchen!!  Thereafter, I bagged 'em until I had the fire stoked and everything else ready to rock and roll!

Smoking meat can be kind of a no-brainer, especially if you've done it a million times before.  Once I'd put it in the smoker, it was just a matter of babysitting it to make sure to add a few coals & more soaked hickory when necessary.  About half-way through the process, I flip the meat and rearrange it in the smoker to ensure that it is evenly cooked.  In this particular case, I undercooked the meat so that way we could throw it on the cast iron on the grill to sizzle it up w/ some BBQ swaace before we maʊed* down on it just prior to heading out to Gilroy's soiree.  Before I threw them on the grill, I whacked them up into riblets that were approximately 3 x 1.5 x 3/8ths inches so they were perfect for picking up and eating with our fingers!  Once they were nice and hot, we schlabbered some more swaace on 'em, then we attacked them like a starving pack of wolves!  Off to the party we went that night, stuffed to the gills w/ smoked porky goodness!  What a helluva way to start off on a Friday evening right here in America!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

WTF is THIS?!? There's Corn Fungus Among Us!!!

Yeap!  That there is Oakland County's finest corn on the cob very nearly completely covered in fungus and other multi-cellular colonies of organisms feasting happily upon the slowly rotting vegetative matter upon which they currently reside!  This was the direct result of what happens when Amanda hides shit around my house!  I found it only a day or two after she had hid this in my tool cabinet, so I returned the favor by putting it in the liner of her dirty hippy purse!!  Unfortunately for her, she didn't find it for at least a week thereafter, though it would have been longer had I not kinda pushed her toward finding it "accidentally"!  

She'd felt the unknown lump in her purse and realized that it was in the liner when she found nothing in the actual purse compartment itself, so she reached right on in there and the look of "Wait-a-damn-minute! I-know-what-this-is!!" quickly registered on her face.  She then pulled it out and let out a girly yelp and chucked it when she saw that it was completely covered in gross shit!  Hahaha!  I proceeded to laugh my ass off because I had a good feeling that the corn on the cob wasn't going to come out looking as nice as it had gone in!! Thoroughly disgusted and mortified, she swore to exact vengeance for this simple act of retaliation to a war that she herself had started the week before.  All I could do was continue laughing and tell her to bring it!  The two of us shared a good laugh over the whole thing, but I still anticipate some sort of swift, yet justified, retaliation on her part!  In other words... 

This ain't over yet!  :)

Cleaning Out the Shed!

So, I spent the entire Sunday (May 6th) following the Big Brew Day screwing around outside cleaning out the shed in my backyard!  It took me FOREVER because I had to remove everything from it in order to figure out what I needed to hang on to and what needed to get pitched!  Fortunately enough, I was able to make a few tough decisions to get rid of a few large, bulky items for which I had better intentions, but will never get around to acting upon.  As such, I've added a significant amount of material to the pile of shit to be taken to the scrap yard on the next haul!  I also came across a cool little toy (a giant Fresnel lens) that I haven't played with in a while, so Amanda snapped a few pics of me screwing around!  Check em out! 

Playing Catch Up!

Damn!   Staying on top of this blog thing ain’t easy! I really *want* to post several times a day, but I’ll be damned if I can’t find the time to post only a few times a week!  Now, this is no excuse, but I’ve been swamped lately, both at work and afterward when I get home!  I have every intention of posting all sortsa stuff, but if I don’t buckle-down and get shit done when I get home from work, nothing will ever reach completion, including (but not limited to) the Dome Project (to which I’ve dedicated a LOT of my “free” time in the past week).  Indeed, I’ve also been busy as hell at work with the various projects that get piled on top of my normal responsibilities, so I end up pooped out and rather unwilling to sit in front of a PC to blog it up when I get home.  As a result, it’s been yet another full week since my last post, which is shameful, but just the way it is at the moment!  I am doing my best to allocate my time to each of my priorities as best as possible, but sometimes things get bumped to the back burner when more pressing matters are at hand.  Eh, that’s life, right?  The only thing I can do is to try my best to keep posting stuff whenever possible!   I may attempt to shorten the posts in hopes that the brevity will allow me to get more (posts) written more frequently.  We’ll see how well this plan works out because, as many of you already know, I can be just a weentsy bit long-winded at times!  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Big Brewhaha @ Hopman’s!!

Saturday morning arrived with great anticipation from those of us on The BPR crew!!  We were all up early and excited to get our shit together and head out toward Hopman’s as early as possible.  Despite our best efforts at packing up all of the gear the night before, we had determined that we’d still been missing a few essential items, some of which were still at Eddie’s house in West Bloomfield.  The decision was made to send Byrnes on a mission to fetch the necessary crap from his house while Amanda & I made a pitstop at Meijer to pick up mucho ice on the way out to the Big Brew Day at Hopman’s.  Upon our arrival just prior to 11 AM,  we got busy crackin’ a coupla cold refreshments before commencing the setup of all of our gear for brewing.  Before long, Byrnes joined us and we were well upon our way to having everything set up and ready to brew some beer!  We managed to erect a somewhat-wobbly pop-up canopy shade tent thingy before we set up a pair of tables on which we planned on grilling meatballs and deep-frying various appetizers once we had the beer-making underway.
For this very special event (and the similar one they do in the fall), Hopman’s extends a deep-discount of 50% off all beer-making ingredients, so long as you brew outside on-premises during the event!  Byrnes and I intended to take full advantage of this and, as it turns out, our encampment made the second-most beer out of any encampment present at the event that day!!  We were able to get 20 gallons brewed on-site during the event!  Only one other group of brewers had the capacity to brew more, but they kinda cheated because one of them was an employee at the Rochester Mills Brewery & had borrowed a 50 gallon-capacity rig from them just for the event.  I’m very pleased with the way things went during the Big Brew Day!!
The Neighbs:  The man, the myth, the legend!!
The Neighbs even came to scope out the scene & hang out for a few hours!  Byrnes & I managed to each brew two 5-gallon batches of beer; A Hopslam clone & a 15-minute IPA for me and an Australian Pilsner & a Imperial Nut Brown for Eddie!  Meanwhile, Amanda managed to kill the entire bottle of Pinot Grigio that she had acquired earlier from the CVS, which had apparently been the liquid-courage that she needed to catalyze her into wandering around introducing herself to & taking pictures of the total strangers that were also there to brew up some beer!  She managed to make a coupla new acquaintances and snap a few great pics of the festivities!  
Click here for a link to the photo album or click on the collage for a larger view!!

Once we had started the beer on the boil, we had time to get some grub whipped up for ourselves and those that were outgoing enough to stop by our encampment to say “Hi!”.  Byrnes sauteed up some meatballs in a cast iron skillet while I prepped the cooler for the corn that Amanda had just shucked.  We then put the deep-fryer on high and had boneless chicken wings, pierogies, and homemade popcorn shrimp coming out piping hot before we knew it!  

Get a load of this S.N.O.B.!!!
Overall, it was a great day for brewing beer!  The weather, though predicted to rain throughout the day, had actually cooperated very nicely, negating the need to pull out the extra tarpaulins that we had brought for just that contingency!  We were even invited by the Board of Trustees to join the S.N.O.B.s!!!  The Society of North Oakland Brewers is a great group of guys who all share a love of homebrewing and all that goes along with it!  Memberships has its perks too!  All members receive 10% off of all purchases at Hopman’s and are eligible to enter in the regional homebrewing competition held each year among the small-batch, artisan beer-brewers throughout Michigan!  Furthermore, members are welcomed and encouraged to attend the S.N.O.B.s Big Brew Event held each year at the Renaissance Festival!!  (Be sure to stay tuned for more details about this!!)  Those that choose to participate in that event are given free admittance to the Ren-Fest as well as 50% off of all the ingredients needed to brew!  Byrnes and I were sold on the membership by this perk alone, but there are other great things about the club (i.e. the keynote speaker at each monthly meeting, the experience and knowledge available from the other homebrewers, and even just the opportunity to meet a bunch of like-minded brewers)!   Be sure to check out more info about the S.N.O.B.s on their website by clicking here!

Preparing for Battle! (AKA the story of last Friday night)

Friday night, I had the fortune of getting out of work a bit earlier than normal because I was on-call from 6-9pm.  This means that I get out at 4pm instead of 6pm, but that I have to be available to answer help desk calls between 6-9pm.  Usually, there aren’t many calls, especially on Fridays.  As luck would have it, I didn’t get any calls whatsoever!  This allowed me to use my time at home very wisely, affording me the opportunity to get everything packed on the trailer and ready to go for the Big Brew Day at Hopman’s on Saturday morning.  I spent the entire evening screwing around running in circles gathering things to bring w/ me, cleaning up shit that was out of place, and trying to remember that which I was forgetting to pack for the big event!  I cranked up some tunes and got busy getttin’ ‘er done and before you know it, Byrnes & Amanda were there and willing to help!  Fortunately enough for them, they showed up just as I was wrapping things up, so there wasn’t much for them to do to help me get the trailer all packed up.  We put the last of the stuff on the rig, then those two whipped up some grub to scarf down while I got cleaned up to head out to the little get-together being held later on that evening at Casa del Gilroy.  After stuffing our faces, we made a quick pitstop at Meijer to pick up supplies, then made our way over to Erin’s place to hang out for a bit.  The party was fun & I hadn’t seen a lot of those cats since Erin’s last party on Halloween in 2011.  I had fun b.s’ing w/ the Whole Foods crew (for most of them actually work there), but it had been a long day and I was ready for a stiff nightcap, so we called it a night around 12:30 & took off for my place after saying our adieu’s.  Naught but a pair of beers after we’d gotten home had we all been pooped enough to call it a night, which was fine by me because Saturday would certainly prove to be another long, arduous-but-fun adventure! 

A Slight Pause for Station Identification

I know, I know... It’s Wednesday already and there hasn’t been a damn thing posted yet this week!  This is particularly shameful because I’ve had very much to report on, yet no time whatsoever to do so!  No, this is not an excuse, though you might think it is! Regardless, stay tuned for updates later this afternoon!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Stir Frying in the Pouring Rain!

First off, my apologies for the crapiness of this image!  This was taken on 5/3/12 by Eddie Schertzer on his cell phone in the pouring rain!
We had been planning to make stir fry for the past several days, but scheduling and other b.s. had gotten in the way, so we'd decided to put it off until BFC Night!  It just so happens that a huge storm rolled in after a record-breakingingly hot day, but Schertz was bound and determined to make this stir fry happen!  He toughed it out much better than the rest of us, having built and stoked the flames for two hours in a downpour as we bided our time awaiting a reprieve so we could try to cook it up in a hurry.   Most of us, myself included, had been nay-saying and poo-pooing the idea of cooking in the rain, but Schertz did an admirable job of making us wait patiently until we had a short break in the weather.  We were just about to give up and just cook everything in woks inside when we finally got the break in the rain for which we'd waited so long!  It wasn't until 10:40 that we actually began throwing the ingredients on the hibachi!  We didn't end up eating until shortly after 11 PM, but it was well worth the wait!  First off, cooking this volume of food would have been tough in the single wok that I had on-hand because there was just so much of everything and we needed to make sure we were able to feed all six of us hungry folks.  Secondly, there's just nothing quite like cooking on a hibachi grill.  The way the food comes out is just amazing!  

Upon completion of the stir fry (ok, it was really more of a fried rice than a straight-up stir fry), we all chowed down & there was more than enough for all of us to have our fill!  We all really enjoyed the way it came out and, had it not been for Schertzer's determination, we would certainly have not made the stir fry on the hibachi in the pouring rain!!  Moral of the story:  Don't let a little rain piss on your (willingness to make) stir fry!!  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Big Pig Rig T-shirt preview!

So!  The mock-up for the shirts has come in and it looks awesome!  We hope to have them by the end of the week, but I wanted to post a sneak peek before then!  If you are interested in having your very own Big Pig Rig t-shirt, post a comment or shoot me a message!  The shirts will be available in black-ink-on-white-shirts and vice versa with white-ink-on-black-shirts!    Shoot me a message right away if you want one because the first batch of shirts are already being claimed and they are going quick!   We will also be getting black aprons w/ the logo in white on them soon (ETA TBA)!!  Be sure to check back soon for updates! 

The Big Pig Rig logo will be on front (small, left), on back (large w/ URL) and the URL will also be on the right sleeve!