Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sandra Bullock won a Razzie last night, and an Oscar tonight. Is there a special award for Most Improved?

Tom and I saw "Alice in Wonderland," the Tim Burton version, today. My apprehensions proved to be wrong-- the movie is very, very good. It's not Lewis Carroll's "Alice," but something like a dream one would have if one took the wrong drugs at bedtime, after reading Carroll's "Alice," if one were Tim Burton. Tom hit the nail on the head, saying this movie bore the same relationship with "Alice" that "Hook" bears to "Peter Pan."

I was disturbed that the characters in the movie kept calling the monster the "Jabberwocky." No, "Jabberwocky" was a poem about a monster known as the Jabberwock.

As for the party last night: As I was expecting 20 people, I cooked for 30. Due to the rain, and a cold/flu epidemic, only a dozen showed. The party was pleasant enough. I'm sure most of the guests had a good time. Tom got high honors, for holding an umbrella over the coals while they caught, so we could still barbecue in spite of the rain.

The tri-tip came out delicious. I followed a recipe I found online-- rub the meat with French's mustard, sprinkle liberally with kosher salt, and cook over direct heat for 20 minutes/side. After the first twenty minutes, I was shocked to find that the pit had become an inferno. Not only had the fat dripping on the coals caught fire, but the roasts themselves were blazing. I raked the coals out from directly under the meat, turned the roasts over, and slapped out the flames. Then I covered the pit up again, and let them finish cooking by indirect heat. Having set them on fire didn't hurt them any more than it hurts crepes Suzette. The finished product was not only good, it was even rare.

I should pause for a minute to describe my barbecue set-up. I use an above-ground pit, of a design I found online a few years ago. No, make that several years ago. It consists of cinder blocks, stacked three high, outlining a space the size of a coffin. Two thirds of the space holds two repurposed oven racks, set between the second and third ranks of cinder blocks. It is covered with sheet metal, bent to fit over all. For indirect cooking, I pile my burning coals at the end of the pit without the oven racks. For direct heat, as with the tri-tips I cooked last night, I rake the coals under the racks, after the fire is well-established. A turkey of any size, brined and butterflied, cooks in 2 1/2 hours on the rack nearest the fire. On the farther rack, I might put something that I want to serve rare, like a rib roast, or something that's already cooked, like sausages, to heat them up and give them some smoke. I use lump mesquite, mostly, with briquets to start the fire only because lump charcoal is hard to light in a chimney.

So endeth the lesson.


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