Summer Candy aka Figs


There's nothing better than a super ripe, squishy fig.  It's like eating candy right off the tree.  Unfortunately, everything in the animal kingdom knows this too. We've even seen a deer standing on her hind legs eating figs from the upper branches, but we still manage to get a few.

The internet is full of great fig recipes, but aside from tree snacking, this coffee cake recipe from Authentic Suburban Gourmet is one of our favorite ways to eat them.

Fig Coffee Cake

2 C. Flour
1 ½ C. Sugar
½ C. Butter, cut into small pieces
1 t. Baking Powder
2 Eggs, separated
¾ C. Milk
¼ C. Cream
2 t. Vanilla
2 C. Figs, cut into 8ths

Using a stand up mixer, combine the flour and sugar, then cut in the butter and mix with an electric mixer on low speed, until crumbly. Add baking powder, egg yolks, milk and vanilla. Beat until combined.

Whisk the reserved egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold into the batter.

Pour the batter into a greased 13 x 9 baking pan. Cover with the diced figs. Sprinkle the crumb topping (see below for recipe) over the figs. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes.

Crumb Topping

1/3 C. dark brown sugar
1/3 C. granulated sugar
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/2 C. (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, melted
1 3/4 C. Flour

In a large bowl add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt and flour and mix together. Then add the melted butter and stir together. You can use your hands to combine together and create the large crumbs.


tip: we quarter and freeze the figs on sheet pans before portioning and sealing them in foodsaver bags.


Fresh Peas


Purple Hull Peas

This is a #TBT post.  Back in 2012 we went to Tyler to check out their Farmers Market and we had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Bertha Johnson.  She was shelling & selling big bushel baskets full of her fresh peas that had been picked that morning.  She has since passed away, but she was so lovely & friendly that we never look at fresh peas without thinking about her.  Check out the video for her quick, easy, delicious recipe & cook up a pot in her honor.  We will. 


Cherry Bounce *UPDATE*


The Bounce is ready

After months of waiting, the cherry bounce we made in June is ready and I gotta say, it's amazing.  The flavor was smooth with a perfect cherry flavor, not at all like the cough syrup that I had envisioned.  We sampled it around Christmas and it was good, but decided to give it another month or so. It only gets better with age.

I personally like the whiskey version better (in the Maker's bottle), but that's probably because I like whiskey better than brandy to start with.  So now all I need to do is find a great cherry whiskey cocktail recipe.

I had planned to make a drunken cherry cobbler with the fruit after we drained off the liquor, but it was awful.  It was not at all like you'd think, they didn't even taste like cherries. Failed drunken cobbler plan aside, we will make another batch again...... soon.


Amy's Dip


SUPER fun cheesy BOWL dip aka "Amy's Dip"

OK, so we all know what bowl I'm really talking about, but since you can't even utter the words together without the National Football Boys hitting you up for some money, this is what we're calling it.  Besides, not getting sued by the NFL is one of my New Years resolutions.  Anyway,  if you need a super easy, yummy dip to take to a party where everybody is going to watch football, Amy's dip is a winner.  

1 cup mayo
8 oz cream cheese
2 cups shredded pepper jack
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
2 green onion chopped

Place all ingredient in a oven safe bowl & microwave about 2 minutes to heat and then stir all together
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until bubbly and brown
Serve immediately

tip: if taking to a party, prep everything at home and bake/brown at the party.



BBQ Heaven


Camp Brisket 2016

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend Camp Brisket 2016 sponsored by Foodways Texas & Texas A&M, with about 50 other attendees from over 11 states ranging from serious amateurs (ME) to chefs looking to up their game. It was an awesome two day event packed full of some serious meat science, brisket prep/cooking, tasting, pit design and non stop info from a panel of bbq celebrity bad-asses, all with the constant smell of bbq smoke wafting about.  In short, IT WAS HEAVEN!

So after the event, the first question everybody asks me is "what's the secret" aka, the one thing that makes Aaron Franklin's and Russell Roegels' worthy of a presidential visit?  Well, that's like asking a photographer what lens he uses to get those great National Geographic shots. In short, it's really the whole combination of things; cook time/temp, pit design, resting & holding, wrapping vs unwrapped, prep/seasoning/trimming & meat grade.  If I were forced to pick just one thing that all these guys do, it's use good meat. I don't think anybody on the panel uses anything lower than Certified Angus Beef & most use Prime.  The old saying, "you just can't polish a turd" goes for meat too. I was told that Select grade has consistently finished last in every blind tasting put on by the camp.  

One of the interesting panel discussions was about pit design & good/bad smoke.  These guys really went into some detail about pit aerodynamics or the flow of smoke over the meat.   After some long conversations with Aaron Franklin & Wayne Mueller, I learned that my pit "baby got back" is due for some surgery.   Baby's problem is too small of an exhaust causing the fire to smolder and produce dirty smoke.  More on this topic in Franklin Barbecue- A Meat Smoking Manifesto.

My smoker "Baby Got Back" before surgery

Now, I could go on & on about this (just ask my wife), but in keeping with my other blog posts,  I'd rather share some pictures from the event & link to some other/better writers.

Speaking of links, this entry from the TAMU Agriculture & Life Sciences blog by Dr. Jeff Savell sums up the event.  Check me out on the front row, doing some learnin'. 

In all, I had a great time, learned a lot of stuff, ate BBQ and met a bunch of great people.  Thank you Foodways Texas and the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University for having me.  Especially, Davey Griffin, Ray Riley, Jeff Savell, & Marvin Bendele.  

Now for all the links:   Aaron Franklin, Arnis Robbins, Daniel Vaughn, Foodways Texas, 44 FarmsHomer Robertson, Jess Pryles, Kelly Yandell, Kevin Kolman, Killen's Barbecue, Pitt's & Spitt'sRobb Walsh, Rosenthal Meat Center,  Russell RoegelsSt Arnold Brewing, Wayne Mueller, Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker   If I've forgotten someone, please forgive me.