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Topics - Ragun Gardener

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Happy Hour / RIP Anthony Bordain & Cajun Mardi Gras tonight
« on: Today at 10:25:40 AM »
Anthony Bourdain's visit to Cajun Mardi Gras debuts tonight along with a "Remembering Bordain" show. Starts at 7c.

This is one of the only times I ever watch CNN.

General Discussion / To Live and Die in Avoyelles Parish
« on: May 18, 2018, 02:24:24 PM »
A celebration of the Louisiana cochin de lait tradition

Donald, do you know these people?

General Discussion / DFW Area - New US Foods "Chefs Store"
« on: May 09, 2018, 08:56:42 AM »
Just a heads up to the North Texas people, US Foods has recently opened a new "Chef's Store" at 4240 Alpha Road in Farmer's Branch near the intersection of I-635 and the North Dallas Tollway. I'm sure they are trying to capture some of the "cash & carry" business that Restaurant Depot enjoys. US Foods brings in all of these products for their Dallas Broadline distribution, so why not open a store to the public?

It's very similar to Restaurant Depot in layout with fresh, frozen, and dry areas, but somewhat smaller in square footage, at least compared to the Dallas Restaurant Depot. One major difference is the "Chefs Store" does not require a business license or membership to shop, and they are open to the public. It is also much cleaner than Restaurant Depot with friendly, helpful employee's.

Their meat selection is very nice, and they actually carry Prime Brisket which was $3.50 per pound on my last visit. Spare Ribs are nicely trimmed without shiners and packed two per bag in cryovac. They were about $2.00 per pound. Loin Backs are on sale right now for $2.34 per pound. They were also marking down meat close to expiration dates with bright stickers. Ribs nearing the sell by date were marked down to $.99 cents per pound.

Recipes / Cochinita Pipil on the Ugly Drum Smoker
« on: May 06, 2018, 06:26:08 PM »
With Cinco de Mayo giving me a reason to try a new dish and fire up the drum I researched and made Cochinita Pipil. I tried to keep it authentic as possible but I didn't use banana leaves or a hole in the ground but the drum worked perfect.

I made a marinate with fresh ground black pepper, cloves and corriander, garlic, onion and Achiota powder(crushed annatto seed), salt, lime juice and orange juice.

I cut large pieces of pork butt and marinaded it over night. I also kept a piece of butt to smoke like normal.

I put the pan on the drum and used Hickory for smoke. I smoked it open for 2 hours to get that smoke flavor and make a few pieces of bark.

After I wrapped the meat I started making Mexican style pickled red onions, here's the recipe. I also added some thin sliced habanero pepper on the side for a little kick.

I also made a chipolte sour cream sauce from Malcom Reed.

I pulled about 2 hours later when it was fall apart tender, I shredded the meat and added that gravy to keep it moist.

I lightly toasted the corn tortillas on the gas stove and served these with Pico and homemade salsa.

General Discussion / Giving new life to an offset smoker
« on: April 10, 2018, 12:16:32 PM »
I picked up a New Braunsfels offset on CL for $50, it's in good shape and was only used 3 times for steaks. Here's the beaut as I got it.

I took it home did a little cleaning and tested it for leaks using charcoal and chips, I found it has a few door leaks and it cooks hot especially next to the firebox. After researching mods I noticed the FB(fire box) was mounted higher than it need to be and the FB opening was too big. I decided to try to make it more like the Old Country brand offsets.
Here's a screenshot from Tom's Test Kitchen reviewing his Old Country Pit, you can see the size opening compared to this COS(cheap offset smoker).

First was to lower the FB and decrease the size of the FB exhaust into the CC(cooking chamber). I used plate steel and bolted it together in case this didn't work. I took it apart and started marking for the new FB outlet and pre drilled all the mounting bolts. I don't have anymore leaks between the FB and CC.

I got it mounted back up and you can see how much I closed off.

Next I cut a heat deflector and made baffle/tuning plates

I didn't like the FB door, it had leaks all around because they didn't install plate on the inside to get a good seal.

I used the top of an old barrel and closed off most of the door, the vent still works fine.

I ordered a new 4" stack to move it to the side at grate level but wanted to test it before doing that mod.

I cleaned it up, sprayed it down with canola oil, set a water pan on the tuning plate filled with bacon chunks and water, cooked some pork fatty pieces and added a Sprite can to lower the stack to grill level. Let the seasoning/testing begin.

I let it go for about 6 hours and checked it every once in a while to add another log and check the temps. Here's some temps when the fire dropped, I'm impressed it's holding a steady temp across all the grates.
Left side near the FB

Right side near the stack

Factory gauge on the door

The seasoning worked great, it looks like it's ready to cook now.

The next day I fired it back up to smoke some stuffed turkey wings, it held temp perfect(about 250) using very little wood for this 5 hour cook.

A few hours later

It's blurry but it sitting at 250

I cooked 2 hours then wrapped in foil with apple juice for another 2 hours, sticky juicy snacks.

The real test will come his weekend when I do a butt or brisket. I'll make a decision then about adding the 4" stack but I think I'll add it just to get that space on the grate and it should pull harder for better heat.

Any thoughts/ideas on the 4" stack? I did use a few pit building calculators and the FB exhaust opening and stack size is what I came up with.

General Discussion / Superhot Pepper ID Chart
« on: March 27, 2018, 04:36:56 PM »
This doesn't have every single new pepper but it has more than you want to eat in a week. :) ;D

You can download it to save just to be sure it doesn't disappear.

Look at all the pretty peppers!!!!!!

General Discussion / A few pics of what's growing
« on: March 07, 2018, 12:05:40 PM »

These are a mix of tomatoes I'm trialing this year, it's a long list but I'll just grow 1 or 2 of each for taste test and save seeds if they produce. Not all of the plants are pictured. Here's the list is anyone is interested
Aunt Ginny's purple
Brandywine OTV
Cherokee Purple Heart
Elgin Pink
Hundreds & Thousands
Limbaugh's Legacy
Lithium Sunset
Mayo's Delight
Porters Pride
Red Barn
Zluta Kytice
LSU Creole
Big Red
Hippie Zebra
Orange slic3 F-2
Orange slic3 F-3
WoodChips Yellow Cross from 2015, I think it's a cross, help me out WC!!
Cherokee Carbon F-2
Coeur De Surpriz
Porter's Pride
Cherokee Tiger

Better Boy

The two pans in the front is Louisiana Green Oblong Eggplant, the others are different peppers to make chow chow

7 Pot Primo

Big Mustard Momma super hot peppers

Trinidad Moruga Scorpion peppers

More BMM

Fatalii peppers

7 Pot Primo's in hydro, starting to flower

A few tomatoes on these old plants

Dasher 2 Cukes

Grapefruit from seeds

Lemon and Mandarin oranges from seeds

Over wintered Ghost peppers

Jalapeno's getting some sunshine

Blackberries from Bobcat

31 tomato plants

Goliath Giant Early Bush Hybrid


Early Girl

Big Beef

Squash and Zuchinni


The fig tree is leafing out and full of small figs

Recipes / Beef Back Ribs
« on: March 01, 2018, 08:49:20 PM »
As much as I cook, traveled and try new things there's always something to learn.

I found these at a store I usually shop at and it's the first time I saw them there, for the price I bought some thinking I would try to cook them like real meaty ribs and if that didn't work I would use it for broth. These didn't look like there was much meat on them but wait, it's deceiving.
Can you believe this price?

After some Youtube research I feel like I stole them. This is the ribs they cut off the ribeye roast to make ribeye steaks and I know I love those bones when I cook a rib roast so the cook began. I seasoned them with S&P & Cavenders salt free seasoning after coating them in EVOO. Put on the pit set up to smoke using Hichory chips.

2 hours later I wrapped them in foil and back on the pit, it was hard not to cut off a bone and taste it. It smelled like prime rib cooking.

I unwrapped and set them back on the pit for 15 minutes to dry the crust a little and get a little more color.

After a 20 minute rest I sliced them up and had to taste one, pure beef goodness. Tender and juicy and I think it's better than brisket with 1/2 the cooking time.

I didn't really plan sides because this was more of an experiment but I cooked some boxed fettuccine and a salad with tomatoes from the greenhouse.

General Discussion / Who's putting in tomato plants?
« on: February 19, 2018, 04:30:38 PM »
I played with the tiller and made a row for some to go in tomorrow. The longterm forecast says no cold weather and the soil is at 60°.

That means I gotta do it and if it freezes then I'll have the row ready to refill it. The soil looks good with all those shredded leaves I added.

General Discussion / SeedsNow has free shipping
« on: February 08, 2018, 06:17:31 AM »
For the next 4 days.

General Discussion / High production Potato Harvesting
« on: February 06, 2018, 09:53:27 AM »
This system is just amazing to watch.

General Discussion / 2018 season is started
« on: February 01, 2018, 08:20:52 AM »
I used a different method to start seeds this year with good results. It's still the same mass planting in one container but I added a clear tote to get them started in and it's working great so far. I have the tote inside on a heat mat and once a few start popping up I move it to the greenhouse on a heat mat to let the others pop. I don't have to worry about using lights and that alone is a big help. I'm using loaf pans as a container with holes punched in the bottom, these are cheap and almost every store has them.

I'm using to post these pics. It's like photobucket, not as user friendly but very manageable.

FYI, I didn't read it in too much detail but it might apply to some people and you need to at least ask for the deduction for Harvey, this recent freeze damage should also apply but I'm not sure. Hire a good tax person this year and see what you can claim.

Timber or landscape trees destroyed by the hurricane,
fire, earthquake, ice, hail, tornado, and other
storms are “casualty losses” that may allow the
property owners to take a deduction on their federal
income tax returns. The key for most cases is to figure
out the “adjusted basis” of the timber.

Example 1: Mr. Thompson owned timber primarily
for personal use, not for profit. In 2017, his timber
was completely destroyed by the hurricane. The adjusted
basis of his timber is $10,000. The fair market
value of the timber immediately before the loss is
$9,100. The taxpayer's adjusted gross income for the
year is $40,000. His casualty loss deduction is
$5,000 ($9,100 - $100 – 10% x $40,000). He claim
the deduction as “itemized deduction”.

Note for taxpayers impacted by Hurricane Harvey,
Irma and Maria, Congress passed special tax law on
September 29, 2017 to provide tax relief. The 10
percent AGI reduction and the “itemized deduction”
requirements for personal casualty loss are eliminated.

General Discussion / Orleans Sweet Potatoes
« on: January 05, 2018, 11:07:19 AM »
I bought 80# about a month ago and I'm down to 40#. I didn't eat them all myself, I gave some to family members to try and everyone says they're sweeter than Beauregards. These are sweet and is less stringy than Beauregards.

I looked them up on online and all taste comparisons say it's comparable to Beauregards but they are wrong. These are sweeter just baked with nothing added. Even Gopherbroke liked them and he doesn't eat sweet potatoes.

I found a places selling these but the shipping and prices is high on some sites. Hopefully you can find some in grocery stores if you want to start slips.

Recipes / Reverse sear cooking method
« on: December 25, 2017, 10:19:02 AM »
I used the reverse sear method on a prime rib which means you cook it on low heat first then blast it in a hot oven to create the outside crust.

Season heavy with
black pepper
garlic powder
Cavender's Greek seasoning

Let marinate/dry age in the fridge for 24 hours uncovered on paper towels.
Remove from fridge 5 hours before cooking time to get to room temperature. 5 hours is an estimate depending on how big the roast is.

Set oven to 250°, place roast bones side down and cook till inside temperature is 120°, about 3 hours for a 7lb roast.
Remove from oven and tent with foil for 30 minutes.

To make a nice crust, set oven to 500° and cook roast for 10-15 minutes depending on how much crust you want.

Remove from oven and let rest uncovered for 10 minutes
Slice and serve with roasted garlic, horseradish and Au Jus.

Maybe too pink for some but I'd rather it be under done for some people than over cooked for real meat eaters. This roast came out perfect, juicy and tender. I had to cook two of these because some people don't like garlic or meat even with the slightest pink inside. The other one came out good too but it just doesn't seem right cooking a prime rib to medium.

General Discussion / Spring is coming!!
« on: December 21, 2017, 09:45:21 AM »
The Winter Solstice began today so that means every day will be a little longer than yesterday.

You know what that means, right

Fruit Trees / Started Grapefruit from seeds
« on: December 19, 2017, 04:37:30 PM »
I visited Kurt(Nuba Bear) last week and ate some of his grapefruit so I took some seeds and got them started. I peeled the seedcoat off and put them on a damp paper towel in a ziplock bag. It took 9 days to germinate. I transplanted them into a community pot to grow today. 5 of 7 seeds sprouted and I'm waiting on the other 2 to see if they grow. I was surprised to learn that you can't let the seeds dry out so I soaked them over night since I had them in my pocket for the ride home. You can find videos on this method, it works on all citrus.

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