Guest post: Sweet Mama K

Today I was honored to take part in my ever so talented friend, Kate’s blog series: Daily Rhythms. Kate is what I refer to as an, insta-friend. When we met over two years ago we clicked immediately and became fast friends. Although we live farther now, we can still pick up right where we left off! Kate and her family have blessed ours in so many ways and I am excited for you all to see her blog.

Along with her beautiful writing, Kate has also opened up an Etsy shop. Her work is amazing!! I’m in love with it all, especially her state string art! This is one she made for our house❤️❤️

IMG_2143.JPG. gorgeous. Run over and check her out!!

Here is a sneak peak at my post over on Sweet Mama K, where I share a day in our life.

My day decided to begin at 5:45 am when I heard Moira yell, “Momma, Mommy!” Racing in to see what was wrong she sleepily said, ” I have to go potty.” I realized, at that moment, my day was starting. We have a strict rule of not going downstairs until 7. Usually if the girls wake before then, we let them play or talk in their room. This morning, because of the time, and the fact that Liesel was still asleep, I decided to bring MJ in bed with us. Amazingly, she fell back to sleep. I, however, did not. I laid there thinking of the day ahead-my do to list- until Eric got up to get ready. It was then I heard Emaline stirring and I went to nurse and change her. Eric had to leave early so he quietly came and kissed me goodbye. At 7:30 Moira woke for good and the three of us made our way downstairs. Liesel joined us around 8 and the day officially began!
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World-Class Ribs at Home

He’s back, the Master Griller himself (my hubs😉), for a fabulous blog on Ribs!! If you missed his first blog on burgers you can find that here. Spring means the start of “Grill Season” at our house, and boy can my man grill! I hope you enjoy these ribs, they were a big hit over here!

Ribs. The crown jewel of barbecue. One would think they are the grill-master’s ultimate test. Well ribs ain’t easy, but with the right setup and equipment, they are within reach of anyone with a grill.

There are two main schools of thought when it comes to ribs: wet and dry. That is, ribs served with sauce on them, and ribs served without sauce on them. Most people are probably used to saucy ribs (hey ribs, behave yourselves), but ribs with a fabulous dry rub are often times at the pinnacle of barbecue flavor. For this recipe, I made both.

Now a word on the ribs themselves. The meat of the matter. There are two main types of ribs: loin (baby back), and spare. Most people are used to loin ribs. They have the curved shape, and can be the most tender. Spare ribs are huge and oddly shaped, and I don’t typically use them. There is a third variety, the St. Louis cut, which is a trimmed down spare rib, and this type is awesome. They are the same size as loin ribs, can be cheaper, and have more meat on them. They also have more fat which can be great for flavor and juiciness for low and slow grilling. For this recipe, I went with the loin rib.

Preparing the ribs starts with removing the membrane on the inside of the ribs. This step is so important! It allows more flavor to penetrate that side of the ribs, and makes them easier to pull apart. In the picture below the top rack still has its membrane, as compared to the bottom rack which has had its membrane removed.

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Then I applied the dry rub to both racks. Both if them receive the rub, even though only one of them will end up being a dry rub rack. You can find a seemingly unending litany of dry rub recipes online, or you could buy one from the store (if you must). An easy recipe that will do in a pinch is equal parts salt, pepper, paprika, and brown sugar. I added some other secret (forgotten, actually) ingredients of my own. Also start soaking two handfuls of wood chips in water at this point.

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Now let the ribs and wood chips sit as you set up the grill. Light your charcoal in a chimney starter and wait until the briquettes on top start to get a layer of ash on them. Then dump out half the coals on one side and the other half on the other side of the grill. “But what do I do if I only have a gas grill?” Two choices: grow up and get a charcoal grill, or stick to making sub-par hotdogs. Only joking; just light one of the burners on one side of the grill I suppose and keep it on low-medium. But seriously, it’s so much better doing this using charcoal. Once the fire is in place, put a drip pan in between the two mounds of coals and fill it part way with water. This will steam the meat a bit. Then place half the wood chips on one mound of coals, then the other on the other. Since they’re soaked through, they’ll smoke as opposed to burn. Yum!

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Next, put your ribs in your handy-dandy rib rack. You don’t have a rib rack? Well then you’re stuck cooking only one rack at a time. Oh well.

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Then you have to mess with the vents to get the temp down. Way down to like 250F. A side note on this: I read on some website somewhere that you should only close the bottom vents. They made the observation that if you wanted to slow your car down, you wouldn’t plug up your exhaust pipe, would you? Well, anyway, partially close your vents, either both or just the bottom, to get that temperature where you want it. I had to close mine almost all the way to get it just right. Then let it go for about three hours. Every half hour or so, start to baste one rack in your favorite barbecue sauce. I used Stubb’s Hickory Bourbon. Delicious. Another side note: basting with barbecue sauce can be tricky to say the least. Barbecue sauce typically has a lot of sugars in it that can burn easily especially if the meat being basted is directly over a hot fire. In this case, however, since the ribs are away from the coals and we have kept the temperature down, it’s not an issue.

You’ll know you’re done when the meat from the ends of the ribs have pulled back from the bone a half inch or so, as you can see in the picture below. Also, the ribs will pull apart with moderate ease. They will not fall off the bone, however. Close, but they won’t. Ribs that fall off the bone are likely baked in an oven. That’s not barbecue. Add one last coat of sauce to your saucy ribs (seriously, ribs, keep it G-rated) then cut them individually if you like so that everyone can have one at a time. Serve them with some Grillin’ Beans, preferably Texas Ranchero, and you’re good to go. Ok, eat some salad if you must, but bring on the meat! Note the pinkish smoke ring on the outside of the ribs. This is not uncooked. The meat turns reddish pink like that once it is smoked. Oh buddy, here we go! Enjoy!

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The World’s Best Burger

Huge day over here on the goinghomemade blog:). We have our first ever guest blogger!!! Super stoked to introduce none other than my amazing hubs, grilling extraordinaire, Eric Statler. Since the weather has been nice ( well trying to be anyway) Eric has once again resumed his role as head griller in our family. The girls and I can’t get enough of his delicious BBQ!

Ok, folks, let’s get real. You know the saying, “to make any food better, just wrap it in bacon”? Well I say wrap it in bacon and throw it on the grill. And the bacon is optional. Be it a quick grilling, or a slow barbecue, it’s the food cooked over an open flame that makes the summer months what they are. And I suppose that I define summer a bit liberally since I’ve gone through three bags of charcoal and its not even Memorial Day. It’s not even May!

To usher in the 2013 grilling season, I decided to do a scientific study of what kind of hamburger meat makes the best hamburger. Now hamburgers are, to me, the enduring symbol of outdoor grilling. Sure, there are more luxurious or succulent meals to be had from the grill, like ribs, pulled pork shoulder, or brisket, but a hamburger is to grilling what cookies are to baking. Exceedingly common, supposedly easy, and quite delicious. Alright, let’s set up the grill.

I am a huge advocate for charcoal instead of gas. I know, I know, gas is easier and quicker to set up, and I’ll grant that it makes some sense for things that take less than ten minutes to cook, but even still, the taste that charcoal imparts on the meat cannot be replicated using gas. I use both lump charcoal and briquettes, and for this recipe I used the lump charcoal. It burns a bit hotter, which will produce a nice crust for the burgers. For the grill itself, I use a very basic kettle style Weber grill. Now I’ve heard and seen many ways to light the charcoal, and I prefer using a chimney starter and paraffin fire starters. I’ve used other types of fire starters, even newspaper, but the other fire starters were messy or did not light easily, and let’s be honest, nobody has or reads newspapers anymore.

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Once the coals at the top of the chimney starter are getting a white layer of ash, I dump the coals out into an even pile in the middle of the grill. We want a very hot area in the middle for the meat.

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Now replace the grill grate and, using grill tongs and a paper towel, oil the grill grate with vegetable oil. This prevents meat from sticking to the grill and imparts those stark grill marks that look so good.

On to the meat! This was the real purpose of the study; to find out which type of meat tastes best. The three most common meats are ground sirloin, ground round, and ground chuck. They are obviously from different parts of the cow, and have different fat contents. Sirloin is about 10% fat, round is 15% fat, and chuck is 20%. As an aside, I realized that the key to this experiment would be keeping track of which patty was which. Therefore, I put the sirloin at 12 o’clock, the round at 4 o’clock, and the chuck at 8 o’clock. I maintained that arrangement on the grill and through serving, so rest assured my findings are accurately describing the correct type of meat.

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The world’s best burger would not be complete without the bun. I got kaiser buns from the bakery section of the grocery instead of a larger package of plain buns. I have found this next step to be the missing link between a good burger and a great burger: a toasted bun. Why this is missing is because it is very difficult to do well. A bun can go from toasted to burnt in a matter of seconds, and it takes true multitasking to work the burgers, the cheese, and the buns properly. But if you’re going to do something, do it right. Toast the hamburger buns.

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To me, the real trick of getting a burger at its best is not overcooking it. I cooked these burgers for three to four minutes per side over a HOT fire. By then they’re well done, but not burnt to a crisp. The last step is toppings. Cheese: necessary. Let’s be honest, the difference between a cheeseburger and a plain hamburger is night and day. I do give a lot of liberty in cheese type, however. American is great at melting and giving you that gooey layer of a burger that we all love, and cheddar has great flavor that can stand up to a beefy grilled burger. After cheese comes lettuce, and if you can find it, you need to use Boston leaf lettuce. One leaf is the perfect size and shape for a burger, or any sandwich for that matter. Now let’s talk tomatoes. One needs to choose between a tomato or ketchup. NOT BOTH. I prefer a tomato, and that’s what I used for this recipe. After that, some yellow mustard, some mayonnaise, and you’re good to go. You may notice that I omitted bacon from this burger. This was a conscious decision in order for the bacon to not interfere with the taste of the beef. I mean, come on, you’d eat the world’s worst burger if it had bacon.

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Note the perfectly toasted buns. Note the melty-ness of the cheese. Note the uniformity of the lettuce and tomatoes. Ugh. Delicious.

My findings were thus: by far the least pleasing burger was ground round. There was gristle, and not a lot of beefy flavor. Sirloin had the beefiest flavor, but once it was cooked well-done, it became a bit dry due the lower fat content. And chuck, well chuck was very juicy, but it came in second to sirloin in flavor. So. Here’s the deal. If you are comfortable with a medium-well burger, go for sirloin. For those requiring a well-done burger, use chuck. If you’re wanting to be a pioneer in the hamburger grilling world, perhaps you could use a combination of sirloin and chuck as a sort of best of both worlds solution. You could even grind the meat yourself from chuck and sirloin roasts! I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but I think we’re on the right track.