“To die, to sleep; To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;” William Shakespeare

I’ve been putting together rub concoctions for a project and thought I would share some of them with you.

As always, recipes are like stop signs. They’re just suggestions.

Have fun with these.

Rubs 

Memphis Dry Rub (Pork or Ribs)

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. dry oregano

1 tsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. black pepper

Carolina Dry Rub (Pork or Ribs)

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar

2 tsp. brown sugar

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4-cup paprika

Texas Rub (Chicken. Beef, Pork)

1/2-cup chili powder

1/2-cup brown sugar

1/2-cup salt

1/2-cup fresh ground pepper

1/4 cup dries mustard

1/4-cup ground cumin

Cayenne to taste

Rosemary Garlic Dry Rub (Chicken)

1/4 cup dried rosemary

2 tbsp. dried oregano

1 tbsp. dried sage

2 tbsp. dried garlic flakes

2 tbsp. kosher salt

2 tbsp. black pepper

Jamaican Jerk Rub (Chicken, Pork, Fish)

2 tbsp. kosher salt

2 tsp. brown sugar

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. onion powder

2 tsp. ground all spice

1 tsp. crushed dried hot pepper

1 tsp. dried chives

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Dry Pork Chop Rub

1/3-cup paprika

1/4-cup sugar

2 tbsp. dry mustard

3 tsp. black pepper

2 tbsp. salt

2 tbsp. cayenne

1 tsp. white pepper

“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

fireI’ve written about this before but lately it seems to be the predominant thought in my mind. Words like simple, basic, and grounded echo like a drum that wont stop its beat.

Life for me has changed in the past years. I remember sitting down in March and planning vacation time, summer camps and how we were going to occupy the kids for a two-month period without school to monopolize their world. The Christmas planning of gifts and family time divided equally so no ones time or present was greater than the others. Negotiating suppliers, salespersons and senior managers so I proportionately distributed my time to the task that was at hand. It was tiring.

Now I find myself reveling in basic things. The world no longer commands me. My time is my time and I find myself fascinated with what for years I have neglected. Myself.

Yes there are still demands and time needs to be made terms with, but the hurried pace has left me. Some might deem this growing older but I see it as finally maturing. Life gave me the chance to see and appreciate what’s important and appreciate it. The deals can wait. The travel itinerary is a thing of the past. I finally see what’s important.

Leaving the corporate world and filling my life with what I like and what I enjoy has created a framework of joy and independence. I miss the salaries from days gone by, I’m not going to lie, but creating a sense of fulfillment in life far outweighs it.

It may seem that I am about to contradict myself now, but having many small jobs gives me satisfaction that I have never had and gives me the time to do what gives me joy. Simply put, writing and cooking.

The deadlines are mine and not imposed by others. The ideas and concepts come from my mind and the words are the results. Simple, basic and grounded.

Elaborate items have no part in my world, especially when it comes to food. We have taken to hiding basic concepts and tastes with sauces, bacon wraps and wild presentations on plates. The phrase we first eat with our eyes is true, but no matter how beautiful something looks on a plate it’s your pallet that has the last say.

I take stock in Marco Pierre White’s stance, giving up his Michelin stars and going back to simple recipes and styles. The Food Network has made the simple complex and given us the impression that we need to do things their way. I’m here to say that’s a fallacy and marketing ploy.

Simple, basic and grounded. Let the food talk to you and tell you what to do. Walk around the market or grocery store and see what excites you. Be creative, not bound by what others do. Recipes are guidelines not laws. They are to be used to start your journey not be the journey.

That’s what food and words give me: a journey and lessons that I now live by. Look to what’s in your heart, what you like. Make your life and your meals yours not someone else’s.

Be well and eat well

Scott Tait

“We feel free when we escape – even if it be but from the frying pan to the fire.” Eric Hoffer

paella

Creating something from scratch. Remembering the toil and feeling the satisfaction of the results is what I get from cooking. Especially over open flame. We have a tendency these days to feed our bellies and our brains with what ever is at hand or popular for easy gratification and instant fulfillment but is it rewarding? When you think about the amount of time we spend staring at our cellphones or on the Internet deviling into and scoping out things and other peoples lives for momentary indulgence it stands to reason that our concept of food and eating has adopted these habits. The slow and rewarding process of learning a book from cover to cover or building something from its basic components has been lost to us. Immediate results, at hand knowledge and the need for on-the-spot contentedness has made us into fast fix junkies.

So now that I have that off my chest, let’s talk about creating something that takes time, forethought and some effort. Paella. The Valencian dish that some see as a task while others see as a meld of cultures. The word itself means pan. In this world what is simpler than bringing into existence a meal that encompasses meat, chicken, shellfish and rice all in one pan? Doesn’t that feed our need of immediacy and simplicity?

Paella, stews, soups and casseroles fill that voguish need for everything but in a traditional and satisfying dish that takes time to create.

This one is a simple take on the traditional. Assembled for 4 people and cooked on my #BGE over hardwood. Inside is good but outside adds that smoky kiss and sends a salute to Bacchus.

Needs:

1 Chicken breast or 4 thighs (or combination of both) cut into 8 pieces of equal size

1/8-cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 Spanish chorizo sausages cut to same size as chicken

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

½ Spanish onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish

½ can whole tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed

Or 8 small cherry tomatoes diced

2 cups short grain Spanish rice

2 cups water, warm

1 cup white wine

Generous pinch saffron threads

8 scrubbed littleneck or pasta clams

8 jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined

1 handful of sweet peas fresh or frozen and thawed

Lemon wedges, for serving

Special equipment:

12-inch Cast iron fry pan or your outdoor pan. This works in this size pan, anything smaller will overflow.

Chicken rub:

1-tablespoon smoked paprika

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1-tablespoon onion powder

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to preference

How:

Rub the spice mix all over the cut chicken, cover and place in the fridge for an hour or so to incorporate the flavours.

Outside, get your grill (charcoal or gas) ready with a medium heat.

Heat oil in your pan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo to the oil in the pan and sauté. If you are using cooked chorizo, you’re just browning it. If it is raw you are cooking till ¾ done. Remove your sausage and add the chicken skin side down to the oil and now chorizo-seasoned pan. Brown the chicken on all sides till ¾ cooked. The chicken and chorizo will finish cooking when the paella is assembled in the hot pan. Salt and pepper to your needs. Remove from pan and reserve.

Now using the same pan make a sofrito (fancy word) by sautéing the onions, garlic, and parsley on medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes stirring occasionally to get the onions translucent. Then, add tomatoes and cook until the mixture comes together and the flavors unite. 2 or 3 minutes should do. Add your rice and stir-fry to coat the grains. You will see them start to give up their hard pale colour. Pour in wine and stir to coat all the rice. About a minute. Add the water and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Distribute the chicken and chorizo evenly throughout the pan. Sprinkle the saffron over the entire contents of the pan. Add the clams tucking them into the rice hinge side down. This way you will see them open and cooked . Give the pan a good shake and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. No stirring from here on. Check the rice for al dente during the last minutes of cooking, when your rice is fluffing up and beginning to take over the pan, tuck in the shrimp as you did the clams. The shrimp will take about 8 minutes to cook. When you’re shrimp is pink, you’re clams are opened and you’ve checked the rice by sampling it, turn up the heat on your grill for 1 minute. You should be able to smell the rice on the bottom toasting.

Now take off the heat and let it rest, covered with foil for 5 minutes. Add your peas and parsley and tuck your lemon wedges into your creation.

Pull any unopened clams from the paella and discard.

It’s best and easiest to serve this family style in the pan in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves.

Scott’s notes:

In traditional paella the rice on the bottom toasts and firms up. You can impress your friends by telling them it’s called the socarrat.

Make sure the shrimp and clam count matches your family and feeders. You want everyone to have an equal portion.

If you want to serve a gathering, double up the recipe and use a bigger pan.

Be well and eat well.

Scott Tait

Not about food. This is about ankle hair?

Where did all my ankle hair go?

As you grow, um, older, you find that there is hair where you never had hair and hair missing in places where it used to be abundant. The top of the head seems to fall short of its required allotment and there is a crop growing, unfortunately from your nostrils, ear lobes, and that one rampant six incher that sprouted up overnight from your eyebrow.

But for me, I seemed to lose a crop that I had never really noticed, until now.

For the past, I don’t know how long, I’ve worn socks. You dress for work, living in Canada most of the time it’s for warmth, or you just have the routine drilled into you from your parents that you need to wear socks. Civilized people wear socks!

Then one day in your fifties you look down and realize that you have these bizarrely naked ankles. Your leg hair stops at the spot where your socks begin. What happened to my ankle hair? Was it the rubbing of the tight fitting socks? Was it the absence of oxygen getting to the area, or was I born with a natural barren area of hair follicles? I have a little hair on my toes (not in the sasquatch sense) but nothing for a six-inch area above my ankle.

But that has changed.

I’ve been out of the corporate world for some time now and my suits are collecting dust in the closet as well as my excessive assortment of business wear. My sock collection has reduced into a few and far between assortment of mismatched and one offs.

Since socks are not a mainstay of my daily existence anymore a curious thing has happened to my ankles. I’m growing hair back there! This has turned out to be an exciting experience for me. Daily now I check the progress of the filament development. Is there more than yesterday? Is there less? Is the once barren patch now a developing thatch? Will it grow in thicker and resemble hamsters mounting my legs in a questionable embrace? What will become of this?

Why am I so focused on my ankle hair?

Being of Scottish heritage, for me tanning is not an option. It’s not that I don’t want to or like to, it just doesn’t happen. My leg hair is the only thing that gives the illusion that I have any melanin in my body. The absence of ankle hair makes it appear that I have never exposed my feet to sunlight let alone been wearing wellingtons all my life. I’m not vain, it just looks funny.

So I welcome the new crop and hope it fills in faster than it took to disappear. Growing new ankle hair in your fifties is, well, exciting. The ear hair I can do without.

Be well and eat (and grow ankle hair) well.

Scott

Spam Spam Spam Spam….Spam Spam Spam Spam

Alone and with a can of #Spam?

There are no rules! If it can fit on the grill, it’s going on the grill!

So I found myself alone and wanting to experiment a bit. I’ve often espoused the virtues of #Spam as a food element. Spam is a pre-war luncheon meat creation from 1937. In 1970 the two billionth can of Spam was produced and at the same time reached new popularity because of Monty Pythons Spam routine. In 2007, Spam distribution worldwide hit 7 billion.

Spam is a combination of Pork Shoulder and Ham and has been used in a variety of ways throughout the world. Enough of the history lesson lets just say it’s tasty and fun.

So alone with a can of Spam, a Big Green Egg, and my slightly disturbed creative mind what could I possibly come up with? How about a Spam, Bacon, and Polenta Maki roll? I’m in! Also a Smoked Blooming Spamion (I invented that word). So here we go.

Fun with SpamThe Maki roll was wrapped in bacon instead of Nori and rolled with a cheddar polenta.

The rest of the lovely porky can was sliced 3/4 of the way through to create a checkerboard pattern and spiced with a maple sugar rub. Since everything except the bacon was cooked, they both sat on the BGE for about an hour on top of granite grilling stone. The Maki was turned every 20 minutes to cook and create crispness on the bacon.

Will I do it again? Yes but next time I think I will forgo the polenta and try sushi rice. The reason I didn’t try it first? I didn’t have any.

Don’t get all snobby about Spam. Experiment! Try it! It’s not scary and far from ordinary.

“Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.” Douglas Adams

I love Douglas Adams. The man, his works and his philosophy on life. I like the fact that his hero was John Cleese. He wrote based on his vision of the world, absurd as it was, but still fitting into a sensibility that that made sense to him. It didn’t matter if others didn’t see it. Eventually they would come around.

I feel for those that see life and living in this world as effort. Effort to work, pay bills, live to others standards. There are only the few, (and I see myself as one) which look to the wonderment of all that is around. Politicians, TV Evangelists, reality TV personalities, and the throngs of others are put in front of us for our amusement. After all, they can’t be real.

Stopping and smelling the roses is now done watching TV. Sit in a coffee shop and watch how many people don’t look up from their phone and iPads. The world is in front of them but they only see what their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter “likes” puts in front of them. They don’t notice the person with two different socks or the lady with the 2-minute dissertation to the barista on how she wants her coffee, (if you could call it that) prepared. And when did we start preparing coffee? You pour coffee; you don’t concoct it like a high school science experiment.

This world offers us so much visually, sensually, and intellectually but we are drawn more and more into directed knowledge and market driven information that we don’t see what’s around us. Have we become that self-centric and lazy in thought that we let others tell us what to watch, like, dislike, and feel?

We live in a hilariously wonderful world. Each person is a unique creation. Every day offers new things to look at and find wonderment that are actual and not directed to us on our digital devices.

Go out and sit in a coffee shop. A local one that someone has invested his or her soul and personality in. Order a coffee not a half/cafe, half foam, buffalo milk, wonton flavoured, cinnamon sprinkled formulation that has no provenance to its origins.

Douglas Adams conceived “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” while lying in a field outside Innsbruck. He was broke, drunk, and really bored of Innsbruck. He had a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Europe” with his belongings and thought, if they have one for Europe, why can’t I write one for the Galaxy? Adams looked around his world and decided to put down his foresight and absurdity down on paper. “After all” he said, “Have you ever been to Innsbruck?”

I look around my world and see humour and delight on a daily basis. I decide to see these things and they show up. If I look for pain and depression, I’m pretty sure they will show face. It’s my decision. I don’t ignore the other stuff but if that is your constant focus then that’s all you’re going to see. I prefer to smile and laugh.

So if you haven’t read any Adams, I highly recommend it. Buy a book not a file. Hold it in your hands, smell the ink, fan the pages and listen to them ripple. You can’t do that with a file on a screen.

Look around at the world and the people that surround you. Find wonderment, bewilderment and humour.

(In honour of Towel Day 2015)

Be well and eat well.

Scott Tait

The Artisanal Grill

theartisanalgrill.com

BBQ sum, ergo sum!

Forgive my Latin. If you don’t know it says, “I BBQ, therefore I am.”

Everyone defines himself or herself by an action. You play sports, your career, or community service. Maybe being a parent. But you define yourself.

I’ve worn many hats, (I like hats) and I still do, but I define myself with food. Specifically BBQ.

I’ve been busy over these past few weeks, on and off my grill and smoker. I hold a part-time job, write, and cook. I thought I’d share a few of my creations that have come to life over the months and days that have been.

2015-04-19 12.23.30

Curry Rubbed Smoked Lamb.

Curry is one of my secret passions. My father introduced it to me when I was young. His favourite came out of a yellow can in the form of a chicken curry. It was hot, spicy, and burned my mouth. At a young age I couldn’t figure out how anyone could eat it. At this time in my life I have to tame back the spice and heat if I expect anyone else to eat it. The rub is a standard medley of spices, mixed with yogurt and let brake down the meat. So good and so warming. I can’t understand people that shy away from it. Served with toasted coconut rice to add some sweetness.

2015-04-19 19.36.28

2015-04-19 17.27.04

Spiral Shrimp Dogs.2015-04-21 18.01.30

Ok, a little weird but these days’ people put anything on their hot dogs. Why not grilled shrimp?

I spiraled the dogs before grilling so they opened up and created nooks and crannies for your condiments to hide and hold onto. You also open up new surfaces to create a crust to pop in your mouth when you bite down.

Additional toppings added were bacon (of course) and a Jalapeno/Avocado dressing to add a little heat. Don’t mock, try.

Bacon Sushi?2015-04-05 16.59.37

Ok really Bacon and Sausage Maki. Everything was slow smoked on the BGE.

Stuffed with Italian sausage meat, diced onion, sundried tomatoes, and provolone. Think of it as a junior version of a Fatty. Sliced up and presented as individual slices.

It looks like sushi but tastes like BBQ.

Tonight?

Andouille Burgers with grilled onions. Hungry yet?

Be well and eat well!

Scott Tait

The Artisanal Grill

“It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy…Let’s go exploring!” Calvin & Hobbes

Spring is here. I have never wanted a winter to end so badly! When you were a kid you waited in anticipation for the first snow so you could play outside. You yearned for summer to end the school year and start those late night games of hide and seek. You had dread and fear in your heart as autumn approached and you were back in school and breaking in a new teacher. But I never remember wanting spring to arrive so quickly as I did this year.

2014-12-07 09.15.19

Looking outside and staring at the snow mounted on my BGE and BBQ’s has been the most depressing sight for me over these past few months. I have been vigilant and dusted them off from time to time, but the cold and the snow seemed to keep pushing me indoors.

But that’s over now! The Equinox has arrived with a fury breaching this dull gray world back into the light! It’s doubly blessed us with a solar eclipse and an extended view of the Northern Lights. I’m not much for the holistic view of the universe but all these events must mean something.

Speaking of meaning something, I have a Bodhi tree. It’s the tree that Buddha supposedly found enlightenment under as he meditated. When I found it it was reminiscent of the Christmas tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Two sticks placed in a pot that needed support. I gave it a new home, water, some nourishment and a home. It flourished under my care and grew. But somehow I forgot that I had left it outside and it experienced the first frost. In my mind I heard Charlie Brown say “Rats! I killed it!” But being determined I brought it inside and left it in the corner for the winter. Every now and then I would see it and offer it some water. Every leaf fell of it and it was back to its original two sticks.

Then, if like an omen of spring a bud would appear and it would show me that it was back. Not dead, just dormant for a while needing a rest and then back with foliage abundant.

I didn’t hold much hope for it this year. I poured my glasses of water on it from the night before sleep and just had a little faith that it was still in there.

You get to an age and wonder in small miracles. Last week Bodhi came back to me. This time with passion and fury! By this the first day of spring, he’s made a complete comeback from his winter hibernation to stand before the world and claim “I AM BODHI! HERE ME ROAR!”

Ok that’s a little over the top but it’s the worlds way of telling me that we all need a little withdrawal and hibernation for a few weeks or months to recharge our batteries before we can once again take life for a ride.

I ‘ve spent some time in humble consideration of who I am and where I’m going. My life has changed drastically over the past year and I am in no way reflective of where I thought I would be at this point in my life. It’s been disheartening and yes depressing. But what I see each spring in that silly little tree is new growth and new opportunity to become something new again. This year it hits a little more to the soul than before. I’ve been through changes, heart wrenching, and soul breaking changes and have come through on the other side. This year they seemed to take a little more out of me. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s the lack of vitamin D, or maybe, like my Bodhi, I needed to hibernate for a while. I blame the weather.

Whatever it was it’s done! The leaves have broken through and the branch and are once again reaching for the sunlight. Ideas are flowing and the smoke is billowing from the gray matter.

Spring is here and I’ve never been so ready to welcome the path in front of me.

Life is good!

So the food? After all this is all about the food.

I’ve been thinking about food and writing things down for this and other considerations. I have once again found my mojo.

So here are some of the things to be ready for.

Bacon Sushi

Stuffed Bacon

Candied Bacon

Maybe a little to bacon focused so there are new recipes and ideas for

Pork

Beef

Chicken

Fish

Shellfish

Breads

Soups

Stews

And words about life

Oh and there were those Smoked Boneless Beef Ribs I stuffed into Yorkshire Puddings.

Talk soon. Actually, I’ll talk and you can read.

Be well and eat well

Scott Tait

The Artisanal Grill