Daily Speculations

The Web Site of Victor Niederhoffer and Laurel Kenner

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Barbecue (and Luau, Coffee, Tea...)

The study and philosophy of barbecue contributes much to the speculator's understanding of markets.  The erudition of Daily Speculations contributors with respect to this all-important subject  may very darned well be unsurpassed. Daily Spec welcomes all contributions to the philosophy of barbecue, not to mention tips on venues and recipes, particularly from those of Southern bent.

A link to a site dedicated to BBQ -- Pigs On the Run

26-Dec-2006
Pesto BBQ, from Jim Sogi

You have to know how to build a fire properly in order to have a barbeque on the beach. One of my daughter's criteria for boyfriend types is that they know how to build a fire. Pick a safe spot with a fire ring in a fire permitted area, then gather (or bring) small twigs less than 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick for kindling, about 8 square inches of twigs. Put dry sticks (Mesquite /Kiawe preferred) under a 15" long and 18" square stack, with sticks between 1" and 2" thick. Light with some tinder under the sticks.

I like to put potatoes double wrapped in heavy tin foil in fire to cook. Burn down to hot coals when the flames stop. The timing has to be just right for steaks not to get blackened, or even worse, the fire might go out before the steaks are cooked.

Simple steak barbeque recipes are best for the beach such as rubbed with rock salt, or simple marinades of soy sauce, or with some lemon rubbed on. You can use a Weber Grill on the fire about 2" or 3" above the coals, and cook for about 5 minutes per side. Keep some water or beer handy for flare ups and use long tongs and leather work gloves. Put on sliced zucchini painted with olive oil and wrap some corn on the cob in foil. Rufino Chianti went well with this meal. Stoke the fire back up with no more than 3 logs (Indian style fire) for campfire and evening entertainment.

07-Aug-2006
Pesto BBQ, from Jim Sogi

Today after a nice sail on the boat out to a deserted surf spot, surfing glassy little waves with no one else out in warm clear water, watching the fish scamper away in fear underneath as the board skimmed over the crystal clear water, Bar-B-Que sounded just fine.

Grab several handfuls of fresh basil and Italian parsley from the garden, and throw in the blender with olive oil, pine nuts and three garlic cloves and Parmesan cheese and blend into Pesto sauce. Slather the pesto sauce over long sliced zucchini, eggplant, asparagus and mushroom, and the fish as well and grill untill soft, but not too soft or it might fall through the grate. For desert, a fresh homemade peach ice cream sandwich in gingersnaps hot out of the oven should get you ready for a great next week of trading.

28-Jun-2006
Barbecue Pizza, from David Higgs

For you gas burner grillers who tired of the same old fare, you know the stuff that flys, swims or had 4 legs...........try bbq'ing a pizza.........here's how you do it: first get you a box of fire bricks then arrange them in your bbq grill. fire it up real hot at first for aseptic reasons then lower the setting to medium and cook to your desire. I won't suggest the toppings, cheese or sauce, that's to personnel but, bell pepper ( all colors ) olives (green), onions, tomatoes, a veggie affaire a good start for a change and the thinner the better, sorry Chicago! Below is a beginner's dough recipe:

Makes One 15-Inch Pizza Or Two 9-Inch Pizzas:

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 tablespoons warm (110F) water
6 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil            -
1 tablespoon fine cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rye flour
About 1 3/4 cups unbleached white flour
1 to 3 tablespoons additional flour for rolling the dough

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside in a warm place for 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the milk, oil, and cornmeal in a 1-quart bowl. Add the yeast mixture, then the salt and rye flour; mix well. Gradually add the white flour, making a soft, workable dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, sprinkling in a little flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the surface. Put the dough into an oiled bowl and turn it once so the surface is coated with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk, about 35 to 40 minutes

16-Jun-2006
BBQ: Planking Ideas? from Mr. Ckin

Saw an article recently on BBQ "planking." Have seen this in a few specialty catalogs, apparently its an old-time, and until recently lost technique for preparing grilling meats and fish on an aromatic plank of wood. Allegedly it imparts a pleasant and unusual flavor. The plank gets soaked in water for a few hours beforehand so as to prevent it from igniting. I'm curious to try it myself. Would love to hear feedback, reports, experience, etc.

12-Jun-2006
BBQ: Pulled Pork, from Kim Zussman

Here is a recipe from Diana Rattray for Crockpot Pulled Pork.

Delicious pork shoulder, cooked with barbecue sauce and onion, then shredded.

INGREDIENTS:
pork shoulder roast, about 4 pounds
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups water
1 bottle (16 ounces) barbecue sauce, or 2 cups homemade sauce
1 cup chopped onion
PREPARATION:
Place half of the thinly sliced onions in bottom of slow cooker; add
pork and water, along with remaining onion slices. Cover and cook on
LOW for 8 to 10 hours or 4 to 5 hours on HIGH heat setting. Drain
liquid from slow cooker; place meat back in cooker.

11-Jun-2006
BBQ Bear, from GM Nigel Davies

It's probably tempting providence, but here's a recipe for bbq bear:

3  lbs bear steak, cut in 2-inch cubes
1  piece salt pork, cut up
1  cup catsup
1/3  cup steak sauce, like a 1
2  tablespoons tarragon vinegar
1  onion, diced
1  tablespoon lemon juice
1  teaspoon salt
1  tablespoon chili powder  

Makes 8 servings
2 hours 30 minutes 30 mins prep 

Trim all fat from bear steak and cut into 2-inch cubes. 
Sear meat on all sides with salt pork in a heavy fry pan. 
Place meat in casserole. 
Add rest of ingredients to fry pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. 
Pour sauce over meat in casserole. 
Cover and bake for at least 2 hours in a 325F oven, stirring occasionally until meat is tender. 

More bear recipes here:

11-Jun-2006
Smoking Joe's Barbecue, from Mark McNabb

Given the market smokes hams who overtrade much the same way as they do in Memphis, it is good to have some good smoked pig after a wild week. For those on the east coast who've heard or been required to travel to the Williamsburg Pottery Outlet (100s of discount stores for the shopping addicted and one big nursery), there is a saving grace. On the Lightfoot exit, most will direct you to Pierce's BBQ (sweet sauce) near the Pottery; however, if you drive on 60 West from the Pottery up to Toano 10 minutes (or exit at Toano from I-64 before the Pottery), you'll find in downtown Toano's one block near the fire department: Smoking Joe's. Joe isn't actually a "Joe" but he and his family have a few of these in the Tidewater area of Va. and they serve good pig, chicken, turkey and good home-cooked southern items such as collards, yams, slaw, etc.

Next time, rather than go for the tried and true of Pierce's, why not walk on the other side and try Joe's? There you'll find farmers and equestrians as well as two like us caked in dirt with a pickup full of a several hundred dollars worth of 17 varietals of beach grasses having good 'cue with no pretense and no tourists. Excellent choice and very reasonable. Easy in, easy out.

Not as good as tonight's apple smoked ribs, shoulders, and chicken breasts along with fresh caught tuna that we grilled/smoked for three hours in soy, Sam Smith oatmeal Stout, and pepper. But when you want something simple and good, Joe's does it right. Two can eat for $15 with tip.

16-May-2006
Aromatic Tomatoes, from Sushil Kedia

Ingredients:

(If due to lack of practice plucking each leaf is tedious, hold them in smaller bunches after washing cutting the leaves out in a bowl leaving aside as much of the veins as possible, since the veins contain less flavor and much fiber distorting the texture of cooking)

Any other fresh green herbs that have an aroma appealing to you treated the same.

Additionally if you like the taste of fresh green peas and cauliflower then a fistful of lightly boiled green peas and finely broken cauliflower heads could be buttered as onions and capsicums.

Salt (as per taste), crushed pepper (freshly crushed is better), cumin-seed (lightly roasted on a dry frying pan) 1 tea spoon, another table spoon of butter.

On medium flame, melt 1/2 or 1 table-spoon butter in a low frying pan. Fry the chopped onions to pink and dont let them turn brownish & keep aside. When onions turn brown they lose their kkhrunch. With another Table spoon melted butter lightly fry the chopped capsicums without losing their kkhrunch. Keep aside. Low flame frying helps.

Mix the fried Capsicum & onion with the mashed potatoes. Put another teaspoon of butter in the frying pan & lightly fry the cumin seeds, put salt to taste and drop the entire mix & saute around while gradually dropping the cheese grating for 2 minutes or so. Mix freshly grinded black pepper to measure of taste. Pour the juice of tomatoes that was separated earlier & move the mix around in the pan for another minute or until the paste is thick again. Mix the chopped mint, coriander and any other herbs you like.

After the mix has cooled down its better to handle then, fill up in the tomato shells using a tea spoon, not too tight not too lose. Seal the hole at the top with some more grated cheese.

Arrange the Filled Tomato on a griller plate.

Preheat the OTG for five minutes at 200 degree C. Insert the plate with tomatoes. Bake for 10 minutes.

Serve while hot. Finger chips or wafers on the side. Tabasco sauce for those who like it hotter. Great with Garlic bread. Could be served on a bed of noodles or rice also.

n.b. cumin seeds are no necessity, go ahead even without or try any other condiment flavors that you like. Put only sufficient mashed potato to help bind the rest of the stuff.

08-May-2006
A Note from an aesthetic Professor on Bikes, BBQ and Birmingham

E and I drove to VA from Cincinnati (Cincy) by way of Birmingham Al (???) this weekend for two reasons: bikes and bbq.

First we were knocked out by the largest and most impressive motorcycle museum in the country (and I guess since the fire in the UK, now the largest in the world at 800+ bikes and 100+ makes). George Barber, who raced as a young man, founded this collection and in less than 20 years has built it into a mecca of motorcycle history and style open to the public. I have never seen so many perfect bikes. What made it even better, is that the facility has its own race course (home to Porsche Driving Experience). The track was hosting a vintage bike race as we looked on from inside the museum.

Two links: one to museum and one to some snaps I took (note E and I are partial to Ducatis and Indians and Vincents, but I love the most aptly named bike in the world 'Morbidelli')

Second we stopped in the community of Decauteur Al to try Big Bob Gibson BBQ, 7 time National BBQ champion to see how their craft stands in the big restaurant. Bob Gibson does pork, chicken, and beef which is unusual in most places. Excellent smoked meats although I suspect they're boiling the ribs and the brisket in order to speed the cooking process in the restaurant. The flavor was outstanding even if they are cutting the corner a little....so good in fact, that we had the brisket in leftover sandwiches without any sauce the following day in the Barber Museum parking lot, we didn't find their award winning sauces to compare with E's typical work for one of our Applewood smoked prime ribs or wahoo, but that's a quibble. Big Bob is also noted for homemade pies and we went for the cocoanut cream pie ...again, outstanding. Curiosity was rewarded and worth a trip, even if six or seven hours from Cincy.

If seeking comfort food and you're in Chapel Hill, NC, Mama Dips is the place:

IF you have that fried okra and sweet potato pie binge, it's worth a small detour on the way back from Atlanta to Cincy by way of the Chesapeake Bay....

PS. Meanwhile the oil (stocks), gold and emerging markets trade wanders higher but the summer requires more finesse as velocity has its hazards. And, oversold groups like the homebuilders should find a sweet spot as talking heads and weak minds obsess about little B's next rate reflection but do nothing of a fiduciary nature.

29-March-2006
Easter Menu, from Tyler McClellan

To start, we get fresh bread from the baker and slowly boil chickpeas to make Crostini alla Toscana.

I follow this up with my all time favorite dish. Freshly purchased farmers market artichokes prepared alla romana, where we cut out the choke and the outer leaves and then trim the stem and dice it finely. Then you reinsert the chopped stem into the area vacated by the choke and cook slowly over low heat the artichokes in olive oil and water. If anyone has been to the eternal city where they eat carciofi alla romana by the dozen then he will know the true joy of this dish.

We go on to make homemade egg pasta immediately after returning from Easter service and cut it into a variety of shapes, usually orecchiete to go with the Sardignian pesto we make fresh in a mortar and pestle just before serving.

The star of the show is the baby lamb we purchase from Lobel's meat shop in New York City. We usually go for around a twenty-pounder. We then quarter it and let rest for twenty-four hours in garden rosemary oregano and olive oil. Early on Easter morning we build the fire and let it burn down for a couple hours before we introduce the lamb, which we roast very slowly and take off just prior to serving.

For the contorni, or side dish I'm going to make a croute of asparagus. I take garden onions and slowly carmelize them over very low heat for a long time. Then I place fresh cherry tomatoes and farmers market asparagus over the onion in a flame proof casserole. I then insert whole bulbs of garlic into the casserole (to be eaten by squeezing the cloves out of the head and onto bread with the crostini) and drizzle the whole thing with olive oil and lemon juice/zest. A topping of pecorino romano and breadcrumbs covers the whole mixture, and then into the oven at low heat for an hour and a half or so.

For dessert we make fresh lemon tart with almond pastry and fresh berry gilato. Truly a great Easter meal from the south of Italy. Oh and to complement, a case of Aglianico del Vulture from the volcanic soil of Basilicata.

21-March-2006
A Chopped BBQ Sandwich, from David Higgs

Finding a good chopped BBQ sandwich these days is like the proverbial needle in the haystack. I won't go into all the various disappointments, they're as numerous as the straw in the haystack, so when you come across good lean brisket, set some aside for the best taste sensation of your next lunch. Here's how ya do it:

Adequately chop your lean brisket and set aside. in a large skillet, place a quantity of Mexican chorizo in a ratio of 1 to 3 to the chopped brisquet, or more if you like, i think 50/50 is too much!

Now as you know, Mexican chorizo is not like the Spanish chorizo, so don't get mixed up! The spanish type is hard like a salami and needs no cooking. The mexican needs cooking and is more soft, like j. dean sausage.

Use a spoon to separate the chorizo as you cook it. Once done add the lean chopped BBQ brisket and mix well. Top with julian red bell pepper or a healthy slice of red or white onion and serve with fried potato skins.

...wash down with your favorite beverage!

7-March-2006
A Philadelphia Barbeque Review, from Nick Procyk

Rib Rack
The place is nothing special, but the food is, especially the bbq sauce. It's my favorite bbq sauce --- enough zest without being too spicy. I usually order the bbq chicken and rib platter to go (the place is small, dimly lit, smoky, and usually packed). The quality of the bbq ribs, chicken, and sauce has been consistently high.

Famous Dave's
I tried this place out for the first time this past Saturday (Springfield, PA location). They offered 2 sauces: "rich and sassy" and "devil's spit". The "rich and sassy" was mild but nonetheless very tasty. "Devil's spit" is spicy but still edible. The ribs, corn bread, and beans were all delicious. The restaurant was hospitable and busy.

Sweet Lucy's
I had the bbq pulled chicked sandwich, which was tasty but light on sauce. Next time I'll have to get the ribs. Friends have recommended the Texas Beef Brisket.

I recommend all 3 places.

08-Feb-2006
Peel Some Time Away for this Onion Post from David Higgs

The onion is the champion blender, be it in soup, salad, sauce or as a side dish. The onion in the vegetable world is that of the man in the world of parlance known as the "good mixer". It harmonizes ingredients, brings out the best in each, and runs them all together in a perfect whole.

So today we barbeque him. What we look for is the onion with the most amount of  golden outer skin. The more the better. Size is also important, we want it be half the size of the palm of your hand. This will take some time searching the onion bend, allow for it.

Simply place the onion whole on the barbeque pit. Have a mister handy to retard burning outer skin, but be reasonable, we don't want a soggy presentation!  Prepared a mixture of herb butter and dry vermouth. When the onion becomes soft, insert this mixture into the onion with a syringe. Continue cooking. When the onion yields easily between fingers, it's ready. Enjoy.  And the Aussies are  proud of their flower onion.....ha!!!!

2/6/2006
Put a Little Spice In Your Life, from Sushil Kedia

This web-link which provides a brief yet holistic story of the rise and maturing of the global spice trade, uses, sources, properties etc. of spices. You might find it interesting reading both as one who studies trade history and gastronomy.

1/31/2006
"Gordon Bits" An Orignal Recipe from Gordon Haave

As I have been caught up in report production for the last few weeks and have had little of substance to add to the forum, I will introduce you to another one of my culinary inventions: (You may recall that a month or so ago I introduced you to the Thanksgiving burrito and its poor step-child the Christmas burrito).

I have given this invention the title of "Gordon Bits". Not to be confused with my signature brunch dish called "The Gordon" which I will introduce you to at a later date.

Gordon Bits are made as followed:

Start by making some bacon, only not cooking it to a point of crispiness (because it needs to be cooked some more later):

Now, most of you probably think that you know how to cook bacon, but you don't. Frying it is probably the worst way to cook bacon. To cook bacon requires an oven. Preheat your oven to about 425. On a cookie sheet (one with sides to catch the melting fat) place what I call "cake trays". That is, flat grids that are raised about 1/4 inch that you can lay bacon across. Go ahead and lay the bacon across, and then put the cookie sheet in the oven.

After about 20 minutes, the bacon should be pretty well cooked. If we were making bacon just for the sake of the bacon, it could probably use another ten minutes. I would be more accurate about my times, except that it seems to me that the cooking time is highly influenced by the cookie sheet used. Anyway, take your bacon out of the oven when it is short of being crisp. Now, after the bacon cools down a little bit, you are ready for the next step:

Take each piece of bacon, and dunk it into a bowel of maple syrup. Then, coat it liberally with brown sugar, and return it to the cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet back into the oven, and turn the temperature up to 475. After about 10 minutes, the sugar on the bacon should be pretty well caramelized.

Remove the cookie sheet. Take a pair of kitchen shears and cut the bacon strips up into little bits. You can now to choose to use the bits either warm or cold as a topping to your favorite dessert. They are perfect on ice cream, cake, creme brulee, or on top of strawberries and whipped cream.

Your friends will be amazed at the new unique topping that was previously only known to myself and those who have been fortunate to have had dinner at my house.

1/2/2006
It's Tea Time, by Victor Niederhoffer

The spec list has shown that in humdrum activities, like eating barbeque and coffee, that's our main thing. But I'm surprised in view of our eclectic cross disciplinary approach that we haven't expanded the discussion to tea, which is the above the line drink of choice in the host's office. My favorites, sui generis are Twining's fruit infusions, passion fruit, and green tea, and Fauchon's China green tea, blood orange and peach. In addition to being delicious and calming, and very helpful to the trading process, many retrospective and single country studies have shown teas to be life extending.

Mr. Krisrock adds:

Given certain Asian connections, one can walk into a Chinese tea store and leave an hour later with $12,000 in tea under your arm. Tea, unlike coffee, is like fine wine and priced accordingly. It is a far more complicated business with far more exotic blends and fragrances.

From Thomas Miller:

I switched to tea from coffee several years ago. I prefer the green and white teas for the flavors and proven health benefits. A nice green tea, naturally sweet, is white monkey from the Fujian province of China. A good white tea, (supposedly containing even more antioxidants than green tea) is white peony, also from the Fujian province. Both are available from Adagio Teas.

Adi Schnytzer suggests:

Yes, indeed! And may I recommend a fine ginseng Oolong and a fine high grown Hubei green tea next time you are in China. What is "fine"? Let the relative price in the store be your guide; if they have 3 types of Lung Ching, the most expensive will be their best. (If it costs less than $2000 per pound, it's NOT the highest quality!) But take lots of money with you anyway. I think Mr. Krisrock must have spent time in Hangzhou to spend quite that much. That's where they grow the best Lung Ching. For mere mortals, $200 will buy you lovely tea to last a few weeks if you shop carefully and bargain. Always offer half the ask. The other nice tea is the "cloud" green they grow and sell in Mt. Lushan. There are websites that offer Chinese teas, but I couldn't be sure of the quality. If they charge what seems to you "reasonable" in Western terms, the quality will be lousy. You might as well spend a few hundred bucks getting to China and buy the real thing.

Mr. Krisrock rejoins:

One of my fav restaurants, Jean Georges, offers fresh tea where they cut the leaves off a tea plant and use them to brew fresh tea.

Art Copper lobbies:

May I put in a word for Earl Grey (or Lady Grey, as some women might prefer) as an after-dinner savory? I've often found it conducive to promoting a bonhomous atmosphere.

James Sogi shares:

Here is a great recipe for Chai Tea.

Boil peppercorns, sliced fresh ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and saffron and sweeten.
Mix 1/2 with your favorite black tea or decaf tea with milk to taste. Very delicious.

David Higgs says:

Speaking of tea, on Main Street in downtown Round Rock, Texas which consists of less than 15 buildings, a shop just opened and all they have is tea --100 different kinds but some are herbals mind you and tea pots. And after doing the sample sniff on many varieties my olfactories couldn't distinguish bull dung from a snow bride in full bloom. Yet one thing is true about tea over coffee, all ground coffee smells good even when brewing, but doesn't always taste as good as it smells. Tea on the other hand smells as good as it tastes and may I recommend the honeybush Earl Grey and the calming it does.

Sushil Kedia contributes:

The regular creamed tea is bound to cause a rise in stomach acidity over heavy use. I do not need to to quote any experimental manual since I see it happening very regularly to all the folks who are heavily into this major tea drinking population in India. The milk (cream) and caffeine in the tea combine to produce acids with similar effects as tartaric acid on the intestines. So either green/white teas are fine or if one notices, one is attracted to the teas for the aromas (as in my case), consider this cup of tea without any tea:

One recipe for Chai Tea that I have ended up hitting upon and one which refreshes me without adding any caffeine to my body is:

Prepare a powder finely grounded of the following:
Cinnamon 100 grams, 10 peeled cardamoms, 3-4 cloves, half/one gram of saffron and just 3-4 peppercorns.

Whenever feel like refreshing with a cup of "tea", take a teaspoon of this mix in a cup.
Put another teaspoon of pure honey in the cup. Squeeze a few drops of lemon (to taste).
Pour boiling hot water in this mix and stir well.

Sip the refreshment. The honey and lime combination in hot water is known to Ayurvedics to be able to fight bad cholesterol and is used extensively for weight control as well. The mix of Cinnamon and Saffron other than just the aroma (that one gets as addicted to as to tea) helps in a million ways. The cloves and the peppercorns can be found to be hot by many and hence put only a few each of them. They also have therapeutic value of cleansing the body of undesirable mucous and superfluous lymphic fluids.

No milk, no sugar. No tea, And it is still tea.

If you are not too calorie conscious, or can make small adjusts to the calorie plan, better mix well this mixture in double the amount of honey and keep handy in an air-tight container. The saffron continues to melt well in the honey and produces its effect better thus. Without becoming skinny, it is possible to have more good cholesterol than bad cholesterol in your system. Need proof? I am the proof.

Yishen Kuik avers:

The best Tea in the world is in Singapore, teh tarik, made boiling hot in a long cloth sock and cooled to drinking temperature by repeated pouring from one container to another 1 meter apart. This also froths the tea somewhat like a cappuccino.

The etymology is also of worthy note : teh, is fujian for tea (or as the fujianese themselves say, hokkien) and tarik is Malay for pull. Literally - pulled tea, across two cultures.

Be warned though, this drink has its roots when Singapore was a great British port. So it's a rich sweet energy beverage for coolies and stevedores, not a dainty mid-afternoon drink. Also, there is no better place for cream tea than on the veranda at the Raffles Hotel.

Kevin Ho adds:

Teh tarik can also be found in the Malay peninsular of varying thickness, sweetness & shades of brown. One of the many good things we Singaporeans have here at home is this type of tea, which is 'dragged' (a-la bartender style) between 2 containers to not only cool it, but also to give it a nice frothy head. very sweet and milky.

The best place to find a cheap authentic one is in any of those Indian/muslim prata (indian pancake) coffeshops around the island. raffles hotel no doubt has everything Singaporean in its menu, but at a nice 'colonial pricing' of course. Will hold out to any spec coming to Singapore - will be very happy to show you the real teh tarik - my treat.

Alan Millhone recalls:

I have enjoyed reading the coffee and tea postings and wanted to add a comment on my lifetime favorite tea. As a small boy I used to stay with my Mother's Father on the week-ends (those fond memories of youth). Grandpa Mac introduced me to hot tea and he served BIGELOW's " Constant Comment". I was probably 12 when I first tasted this wonderful tea. I remember us sending a note to the Bigelow Company once on finding a place to purchase this tea when Grandpa's A&P Store closed. We received back a folded card that was hand written and signed by Mrs. Helen Bigelow telling us that Dils Bros. & Co. of Parkersburg,W.Va. handled her tea. The card is long gone and so is Dils Bros. But the memory of having "Constant Comment" tea with my Grandfather will stay with me forever.

1/2/2006
A Little Java Talk, from Alan Millhone

I read just now thru all the barbecue threads and got down to coffees, but failed to see my favorite coffee discussed--Gevalia.

I have belonged to Gevalia's monthly club for several years and they have from time to time sent us several coffee brewing posts and other coffee related gifts. Each month I get their standard blend of traditional medium roast and then every so often gets blends from the Dominican Republic (KAROMA ESTATE), Costa Rica, Zimbabwe, HARRAR from Ethiopia, and many other places that grow good coffees around the globe. Over the holidays we received a blueberry creme and a pumpkin spice (both interesting). I enjoy their blends and find their coffee very flavorful . Some may say Gevalia is expensive, but quality never comes at a cheap price.

Jeremy adds:

Gevalia is very good coffee and I have been a member of the club in the past. However while Gevalia uses good quality beans, their product is not as fresh as what can be had from a good micro roaster, who will roast and ship your beans on the same day. I have never gone back to anything that sits in bags for (weeks months? as it makes its way through marketing and distribution channels.

Larry Williams offers:

Gevalia is great, Starbucks to strong for some, right for others the very best  I have found comes from Montana Coffee Traders, a small Whitefish, Montana roaster. Their smorgasbord of roasts cover any waterfront and out bucks Starbucks.

12/31/2005
A Corn Bread Recipe--Western Style, from Alston Mabry

If y'all haven't made your own cornbread to go along with the BBQ and beans, give it a try -- it's real easy to make. (This is the kind of cornbread I grew up with, savory and a lot more corn meal than flour. Yankees tend to make cornbread that's cakey, with a lot of flour and sugar. That ain't right.)

Preheat the oven to 450F.

In bowl #1: Beat together 2 eggs, a cup of milk and 4 Tbls melted butter.

In bowl #2: Use a whisk to mix together 2 cups of corn meal, 1 cup of flour, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 Tbls of baking powder.

Pour contents of bowl #1 into bowl #2 and blend briskly. Then open a can of yellow corn, pour off the liquid, and dump the corn kernels into the mixture. Blend again. Add a little more milk or even corn liquid if the mixture seems too thick.

Melt a little extra butter in an iron skillet, to coat the bottom and sides. Pour the mixture in and smooth the top. Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until top begins to brown. Test with a toothpick or knife blade.

Excellent hot out of the oven with butter. Or in a bowl with spicy black beans generously ladled over. Reheats extremely well for breakfast with a fried or soft-boiled egg on top.

Rich Bubb comments:

Yanks reverse the ratio of corn meal to flour: the Yankee way is 2 cups flour, 1 cup corn meal. Same applies to Southern vs. yank deep frying batter.

12/31/2005
Some Spicy BBQ Ideas from Texan, David Higgs

You can rest assure your secret bbq sauce that the art of bbq'ing ain't achieved its hubberts peak not by long shot or sum stretch of the imagination. Contrariwise, 2006 gonna be better than 2005, 2004. and it being just one day b4, let's start off the new year with some new flavors and mexican ideas to spice up your dinner table. here's how you do it:

Select similar size poblano peppers, at least two per person.

Purchase the best tamales you can find and place them in the freezer. When pretty hard, place one tamale into a poblano pepper by making a cut at the pointed end of the pepper so to insert the tamale ( be sure to remove the the corn husk first). The frozen tamales will insert better without braking. Place the stuffed peppers on the bbq, turn as needed, all sides. When pretty much done remove from grill and place in a warm oven ( lows temp).

Next place your cabrito, for you yanks, that's goat meat, on the bbq with a heavy coating of garlic olive oil, ground black pepper, chile powder and a little salt. get a nice brown crust on the meat. you can do this the same time you do the pepper above.

Mexican rice really not hard to do and better than any store bought that comes in a box or pouch. Take white rice long grains and add your water and a handful of chile powder and half of comino, some salt and ground pepper. a little oil and stir well. the rice water should look kind of red and you should see the chile adhering to the rice. let stand for a while and remove some corn from its ears ( one ear should do ) half a cup of frozen peas and some diced carrots. boil the rice with the carrots as normal no lid then when near done place the peas and corn on top. over and reduce heat to lowest.

Make some enchilada sauce red or green, I buy the packets and use more water than they say and I like to add a little T.suaza 100% blue agava halfway thru the preparation and little olive oil.

Place rice in a large bowl fluff all ingredients so corn, peas, carrots are even.  Place two stuffed poblano peppers and cabrito steak on each plate with a helping of rice. add some sauce over the peppers and speaking of sauce, be sure to have some really cold T. Sauza; and sunsets to go with the meal.

12/30/2005
Virginian, Mark McNabb, Recommends These BBQ Stops

In Charlottesville area there are only 2 BBQ joints:

Jinx's Pits-Top (sign is intentionally misspelled) on East Mkt next to the head stone seller is the most authentic NC-style smoker in central Virginia. He does use hickory wood (has a connection in the tree trimming business). Interior design is 1950's era general store btw.

Hog Heaven (in Ruckersville) on 29N in the basement behind the cable store by a lot full of horse trailers near Wendys. They are outstanding new traditionalist cooking with some of the nicer sauce variations on themes from NC and Memphis and have jalopeno poppers and other atypical treats and excellent o-rings.

Here's a quote : After traversing the country and sampling the finest barbecue across the East Coast, the West Coast and the Midwest, Cermele settled in Charlottesville. "I started from scratch and developed my own sauce, our 'Signature Sauce' now on the menu," Cermele said. "I kept the recipe in my wallet for five years, knowing what I wanted to do, before I stumbled on this place."

Adam's Rib and another (GMJ) not on the list below cater but have some walk-in business now. They are good but stick with the first two.

Also if you are on Cherry Street (sketchy part) near the UVA hospital, and you see a guy shoveling coals and wood into a cooker in the small parking lot of an old diner, you may be able to get a grilled bbq pig or chicken sandwich for a few bucks or free if you're e. He caters but will sneak some to 'friends of the smoke' even though city says that's not licensed.

For soul food:

Mel's right on Main Street 1/2 mile from the UVA hospital is all you need to know.

12/15/2005
Beach BBQ: Hawaiian Style, from James Sogi

We had a beach barbecue this weekend at Makalawaena. The surf was up, but for some reason no one else was out. Before dark gather some dry mesquite fire wood. At night, build the fire with mesquite branches using smaller sticks so the fire burned down to embers in the sand with rocks around for a barbecue pit.. While fire is burning, take the NY steaks dried and pat with Hawaiian rock salt (Kosher salt will do) and pepper. Double wrap potatoes in heavy tin foil and put on the side of the fire, then in the embers. 40 minutes. Double wrap green beans and corn in double tin foil with a little water. Beans 7 min on grill, same as steak. Corn in tin foil on grill, 15-20 min maybe. Cook steaks over embers on grill. Take out, unwrap potatoes, apply butter and sour cream and unwrap beans and corn. Throw a few more logs on the fire and enjoy moon rise and the stars while the waves break on the shore. Strum a few tunes on the guitar. A Hawaiian beach barbecue.

12/10/2005
Fruits and Veggies, from Pamela Van Giessen

I gained a bit of weight this last year. Age caught up with me who had long been able to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and my pants didn't fit.

It took about 3-4 weeks, but I dropped 10 lbs by changing my eating habits. I find that the changed diet has led to 1) more energy; 2) better nights' rest. It has also reduced the migraines from which I sometimes suffer, and my allergies don't seem so bad lately.

The diet: eat anything I want but first eat raw fruits or vegetables before putting anything else in mouth at every meal; eat fish at least 3-4x/week. Aside from reducing caloric intake, what I found is that by stuffing myself on raw foods I consume less carbs as a matter of course. The lbs not only came off, but have stayed off. I still eat just about anything (in fact, as I was "dieting" and losing weight over those weeks I also ate 5 lbs of fudge), but I'm not filling up on foods that tend to sap energy and add pounds. The only "food" I intentionally reduced was ginger ale, a fizzy drink I have an affinity for. Instead of 2+ a day, I now have a glass every other day or so and instead drink a mix of soda water with a shot of cranberry juice or tea (Stash tea Moroccan mint green tea or Chai Spice are the best).

The changes also led to a rediscovery of foods that used to get passed by -- fresh blueberries, raspberries, pineapple, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, radishes, and so on. Sometimes I sit down for lunch and find all I eat are veggies and fruit. The joy of biting into a luscious tomato, radishes sprinkled with a little salt, broccoli, carrots. I'd forgotten how good all these foods are in their natural state. The takeout counter at Whole Foods almost always offers salmon prepared many different and delightful ways. I still go out to rich dinners and will be preparing beef Wellington, truffled potato gratin, and roasted brussel sprouts for xmas eve dinner. Desert will be plum pudding with brandy sauce and perhaps I'll make that blueberry tart from the Grammercy Tavern The Last Course cookbook, or maybe a marzipan yule log. Or maybe all of it! Of course, I'll have to make xmas cookies for my friends' children -- sugar cookies with icing and sprinkles of various sorts. And I am eying some of the cheese plates in the Dean & Delucca catalog. Supplementing it all will be some raw veggies, yummy dips, and good wine.

A big feast once in awhile IS part of sensible eating. But I think I inadvertently stumbled onto the fact that raw foods are really good for us in a multitude of ways.

12/08/2005
BBQ oreochromis..., from Clive

I followed Mr. Higgs recipe this weekend and am happy to report that it was incredibly delicious and easy to make. I admit that I left out the smoke part, but all the beer I drank while preparing it seemed to make up for that.

For those that missed it:

take a fillet of Tilapia and separate it longitudinally, roll the half fillet and secure with a toothpick. These are small fillets and once rolled it should look like a large scallop. Season with salt, pepper and chili powder.

Place in hot oil, using tongs. It is important that when the fillet turns white you should remove and drain it. Don't over cook, do them one at a time. Then place them on a BBQ grill with a modicum amount of smoke. Use spray olive oil on the grill so they don't stick and if they look too dry, but be sure not to over do it.

In a pot add diced green onions, garlic, cilantro, orange bell pepper, at least one diced jalapeno and lime juice. Add plenty of butter and a tablespoon of dry vermouth, ground pepper, cayenne pepper and chili pepper. Get this mixture very hot!!

Once the Tilapia is nice and brown and smoked, place it on a white plate and pour the mixture from above all over the little morsels. And do I need to tell you to serve with with your favorite wine, bread and a tomato salad chilled just right

12/08/2005
BBQ wars, from John Bollinger

How delightful.
We'll have to argue beef or pork.
Then rant about sauce, or not...
...and if so, when?
Come to blows over mustard or vinegar with red pepper.
And what of sugar, molasses and ketchup???
Mops and rubs will surely have to be fought over.
And vessels are worth some really heated discussion.
To brine or not to brine...
..and if so, with what and for how long?
And temperature, oh my, we can really get going on that.
Whether to dig a pit and heat the rocks...
...or fire up the kettle and grill!?
Can electricity even be mentioned...
...or shall we BBQ the heretic?
And charcoal, what kind?
...hardwood or from the refinery...
...or must we burn cord wood down to coals?
All this fueled with our spirits of choice.
Ah, BBQ wars; how delightful!
How about a Maniac to get the juices flowing?

12/07/2005
Barbecue: a Texas Love Story, from Mark M McNabb

11/28/2005
BBQ turkey, from Jim Sogi

We BBQ the turkey here in the Weber using the indirect method for Thanksgiving, which results in a wonderfully brown crisp skinned, slightly smoked flavor. A nice improvement over the standard was to brine the entire bird the day before in a brine seasoned with 12 bay leaves and crushed garlic. We found the bird to be more moist with a hint of savory taste. A tip on gravy: use cold not hot liquid when adding to the roux, and use Wondra brand flour for lump free gravy, (all passed on from the master chefs).

Brine:
1 gal water
1 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup honey
12 bay leaves
1/2 mashed garlic cloves
2 tbsp peppercorns
1/2 oz rosemary sprigs
2 oz Italian parsley
Grated zest and juice 2 lemons
Boil, cool before using

Two tips; don't put the meat in warm brine and don't leave it in for too long or it'll be too salty.

10/07/2005
Chowder for Your Barbecue, from Philip J. McDonnell

We are now in our second month with an "R" in it and so clam season is well under way. If you are looking for a recipe for clam chowder to start your barbecue or tail gate party here is a delicious one. It won the Bite of Seattle award for the best clam chowder and is served at Duke's Chowder House in the city.

Although it's a creamy New England style white chowder there is a distinct Northwest flavor to it. In my opinion that is the difference between this and other chowder recipes I've tried. There is a lot of flavor to this one.

  • Duke's Clam Chowder
  • Yields 1 quart (6 - 8 servings)
  • 3 oz. diced bacon (approximately 4 slices)
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 3 stalks diced celery
  • 1/4 lb. diced new potatoes (blanched)
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped clams, fresh or frozen
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 3 oz. butter
  • 2 oz. clam concentrate or clam base
  • 1 1/4 cups clam juice or nectar
  • 1 pinch chopped fresh garlic, white pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/8 cups chopped fresh parsley
  • Cook bacon until transparent.
  • Add butter, onions, celery and all the seasoning except dill and parsley.
  • Cook until tender.
  • Add flour and cook for another 3 - 4 minutes over low heat.
  • Add all dairy products, clam nectar and base.
  • Heat just under boiling point.
  • Steam potatoes and cool.
  • Add chopped clams and potatoes.
  • Bring to a boil slowly and cook for 2 - 3 minutes.
  • Add dill and parsley.
  • 9/05/2005
    Judging Texas Chilli, by Jim Sogi

    A friend writes:

    Judging Texas Chili

    For those of you who have lived in Texas, you know how true this is. They actually have a Chili cook-off about the time the rodeo comes to town. It takes up a major portion of the parking lot at the Astrodome. The notes are from an inexperienced Chili taster named Frank, who was visiting Texas from the East Coast:

    "Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking directions to the Budweiser truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (NativeTexans) that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, So I accepted". Here are the scorecards from the event:

    >>Chili # 1 Mike's Maniac Mobster Monster Chili

    Judge # 1 A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.

    Judge # 2 Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild

    Judge # 3 (Frank) Holy s**t, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that's the worst one. These Texans are crazy.

    >>Chili # 2 Arthur's Afterburner Chili

    Judge # 1 - Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.

    Judge # 2 -- Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.

    Judge # 3 -- Keep this out of the reach of children. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.

    >> Chili # 3 Fred's Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili

    Judge # 1 -- Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick. Needs more beans.

    Judge # 2 -- A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of peppers.

    Judge # 3 -- Call the EPA. I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting s**t-faced from all of the beer.

    >> Chili # 4 Bubba's Black Magic

    Judge # 1 -- Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.

    Judge # 2 -- Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.

    Judge # 3 -- I felt something scraping across my tongue! , but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally, the barmaid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. That 300-lb. bitch is starting to look HOT -- just like this nuclear waste I'm eating. Is chili an aphrodisiac?

    >> Chili # 5 Linda's Legal Lip Remover

    Judge # 1 -- Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.

    Judge # 2 -- Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

    Judge # 3 -- My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I f**ted and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I'm burning my lips off. It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw those rednecks.

    >> Chili # 6 Vera's Very Vegetarian Variety

    Judge # 1 -- Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers.

    Judge # 2 -- The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.

    Judge #3 -- My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I s**t myself when I f**ted and I'm worried it will eat through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that slut Sally. She must be kinkier than I thought. Can't feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my ass with a snow cone.

    >> Chili # 7 Susan's Screaming Sensation Chili

    Judge # 1 -- A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

    Judge # 2 -- Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. I should take note that I am worried about Judge# 3. He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.

    Judge # 3 -- You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn't feel a thing. I've lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava like s**t to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing, its too painful. Screw it, I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.

    >> Chili #8 Tommy's Toe-Nail Curling Chili

    Judge # 1 -- The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.

    Judge # 2 -- This final entry is a good, balance chili. Neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge # 3 passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it. Poor dude, wonder how he'd have reacted to really hot chili.

    8/23/2005
    The dept of bbq and lobster intersect

    Larry Williams

    lobsters are still $7 a pound here and plentiful ... seems like a business opportunity

    David Higgs adds

    Yes, sounds like an opportunity for a new BBQ joint or TexMex cantina! Here are two links, one for cold water Maine lob versus warm water Caribbean lobster. Please Mr. senator at 7 dollars a tail do send me a boat load! Them tails gonna be cheaper than a gallon of gas before long!

    8/22/2005
    A way for Steve to find new swimmingholes, sent in by Clive

    a Web site called Swimmingholes.info, a guide to informal swimming spots, offering maps, capsule descriptions and photographs of some 750 places to take a dip in the United States and Canada.

    Wishing all specs a gloriously green day.

    8/2/2005
    A BBQ method from Rich Bubb;

    Sadly the difference between grilling (w/heat source too distant from fare) and BBQ-ing is almost never explained to the prospective consumer of propane powered devices. Basically I see it as a convenience to be able to crank up the grille and have it ready to use in 10 minutes. as a tertiary thought... I am wondering where and what the acryonym "BBQ" means... in my younger years the 'BB-part' often meant 'burnt-by (insert My name here)'. hahaha

    I'm not in the habit of repeating myself too often but since many newer members are on SPEC-LIST now, i re-offer my cure for improving tastiness of gas grille fare. [see Full Disclosure below]

    WARNING: this method can 'appear' dangerous to the uninitiated observer and those who are adverse to getting a little additional scar tissue, so practice a little on your own before trying it out, or you may have your invited-over in-laws make up their minds you've Really/Finally turned into a Junior PyroManiac. And after you've mastered this little Playing w/Fire trick, the observable facial concern plus impressing aforementioned observers is PRICELESS.

    The cure for improving tastefulness of propane heat producers (yes i DO own one, and have strangely not blown myself up... yet) is adding another type of fuel to the lava rocks (if you have those ceramic things, throw them away & get lava rocks, as they are much more porous and hold drippings-of-flavor much better). Then you can start the cooking-with-fire process, literally. i just pre-heat the lava rocks (5-10 minutes) on low heat usually does it. then pour small stream of liquid cooking oil (wesson, crisco, etc) ONTO the area where i Want a fire to erupt-on-purpose. then place the meat INTO the fire, searing NOT yourself in the process. turn once when the desired degree of seared/charred effect is evident [long tongs, asbestos-skin, or Very Speedily executed movements, are helpful here] [see note #2]. by the time the oil has burned off the rocks, the fire should have burned itself out [this ratio of fuel (i.e.., volume {note #1 below}) to burn-time has Not been counted by humble self yet, so i suggest it's better to UNDER apply fuel until you're a little more confident that your neighbors won't assume the worst and call the fire dept on your behalf], and you can then keep heating the vittles as you apply your favorite bbq sauce(s). the sauces will help trap any escaping internal juices w/in the fare as cooking to desired degree of doneness continues. for long time users of gas grilles, the annoyance of conflagration-like flare-ups for no particular reason will become a thing of the past as the rocks are now cleaned of fuel from previous endeavors, which brings to mind....

    Equally important & not to be overlooked: when grilling has finished, DO NOT follow manufacturer's instructions about turning up the burners to high and closing the lid for 10-15 minutes to clean the grille and rocks and blahblahblah. if you stand there just once while that is happening, the Scent of A BBQ will be observed wafting/wasting away. just turn off the unit when you're done using it, and then the dripping-laden rocks will be "partially loaded" and available for the next time you're grilling. and those flavor-drippings will last for MONTHS.

    {note #1, guideline is a few tablespoons for beef/pork, a little less for chicken & still less for fish, poured on rocks above the burner, typically right over the center portion of the grille where you'd be placing the meat anyway. Burntime depends of course on volume/application-area ratio. for a longer burntime in a particular area, drenching the rocks will have the oil run off before it catches fire (diminishing returns), where not enough oil will not make any fire to speak of. to increase burntime, if necessary, just pour a little more fuel where you want it [aka: adding to a position if you're sure it needs to be done] and don't worry if you get some on the meat... the oil will get so hot that it's viscosity will allow it to run off quite quickly, so it won't really soak into the meat, nor does it stay there and burn on the meat.}

    {note #2, this time period is QUITE SHORT, and unforgiving. but given the volume of FLAMES you'll be playing in, it's rare one will forget to check the status of the dinner too many times. after you've mastered this technique you'll be able to go inside and do *other things* for short periods whilst the flames are ablazin'.}

    Full Disclosure: about 2 yrs ago i submitted this method to the SPEC-LIST and was astonished when Vic nominated it as post of the week (breaking his own rule about such things). I've been doing this method for about 10 years now.... so it can't be rocket science, but the Playing w/Fire Thing is a blast.

    Finally, hope to see all the great SPECS later this week in NYC & Weston.

    rich b

    7/29/2005
    From Andrea Ravano

    I think that markets are altogether better today than when I started the "cheap"/"expensive" mumble to clients back some twenty years ago. Spreads are thinner, prices for totally worthless services are down to nothing as they should have been all along. But in the bad old days we had the time to digest the shock of M1 surging and the bond market being hammered shy of a 14 pct semi annual yield.(1985 circa). Then we would try to understand what was going on and make our decisions. No more. I was having a light but delicious fish lunch (Italian cooking of course) sipping a couple of even better white Sicilian wine (Leone 2004,barrique), when the GDP numbers hit the bond market. Good numbers for bond prices, which the traders had anticipated since the Sharm terrorist attacks. Interpreting the interpretations of course sent the market down as I was trying to argue on the phone with an old timer of the markets that I was keeping my short bias. He just wouldn`t or couldn`t understand. Not everybody reads speclist, God save us all ! And "Noli foras ire sed in te ipsum redi.."

    7/27/2005
    From David Higgs

    ...........one can't live on BBQ protein alone, less you on one of them all protein diets..........

    one has to consider the soups, the dips, the drinks, also............may I recommend this link www.sheilasselect.com for many such items when little time is available and specifically the Cajun Vegetable dip!

    here's how ya do it:

    Get one pack of Cajun veg dip from Sheila, one small container of sour cream, one can of premium fancy white crab meat, course ground pepper, and diced greens from the green onion, and a sprig of parsley. Mix and chill till its time to serve, (several hours is best). This is especially good on a special bread, (dried tomato?), with sprouts and cucumbers..................

    best, DH

    ps: would be nice to place a glob over your favorite baked fish dish!

    5/16/2005
    From the Aesthetic Professor

    The only east - west debate of significance lately since nazz 2200 on the horizon along with a flat yield curve (less than 100bp between TB and 10yr) (note that memphis bbq pork gets high marks w/in article too)

    MMM (who will be driving thru eastern nc bbq capital in a few hours)

    washingtonpost.com
    On N.C. Barbecue, East and West Don't Meet -- Except to Argue
    Bill Establishing State Festival Roils Battle Between East, West

    By Manuel Roig-Franzia
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, May 23, 2005; A03

    SILER CITY, N.C. -- Contempt spread across Jerry Bledsoe's face. Well, kind of a theatrically exaggerated version of contempt, but contempt nonetheless.

    The gloppy, gristly, just plain gross-looking pile of vinegary, eastern-style pork barbecue on the foam plate before him did not look pretty. Bledsoe's foil, Dennis Rogers -- a newspaper columnist, but more important, North Carolina's self-appointed Oracle of the Holy Grub -- shifted a bit in his seat. A subpar batch of barbecue is tough to find in North Carolina, but the old debating buddies had stumbled onto one, and Bledsoe had him.

    "All right, let's get this imitation barbecue out of the way," Bledsoe said.

    And so it began, as it has countless times before. Bledsoe and Rogers have been puffing up the barbecue feud between eastern North Carolina and western North Carolina for decades. Bledsoe -- a former newspaper columnist turned best-selling crime book author -- is undeniably Mr. Western-Style, extolling the virtues of melty-tender pork shoulders glazed with a ketchup-based sauce. Rogers is adamantly Mr. Eastern-Style, pontificating about the vinegar-heavy morsels of whole hog favored Down East along North Carolina's coast.

    Rogers and Bledsoe don't need an excuse to roll out their barbecue sideshow, but the North Carolina legislature just handed them a doozy anyway. A state representative thought he would quietly ease a bill through declaring the barbecue festival in the western-style capital of Lexington, N.C. -- a city that claims to have the world's highest per capita concentration of barbecue consumption, with 17 restaurants for 20,000 residents -- to be the state's official barbecue festival. Quietly? Yeah, right. Not as long as Dennis Rogers has access to ink by the barrel.

    "People who would put ketchup in the sauce they feed to innocent children are capable of most anything," Rogers told his readers in the Raleigh News & Observer after word leaked about the barbecue festival bill. "Let the word go forth from this time and place that we, the Eastern North Carolina purveyors of pure barbecue, will not be roadkill for our western kin."

    That anyone would care about such silliness as designating an official state barbecue festival says a lot about North Carolina. Other states may content themselves with a single dominant barbecue identity -- South Carolina seems perfectly happy as the mustard-based capital of the universe, Tennessee appears satisfied with being identified primarily as the home of the sweet, tomatoey Memphis-style barbecue. But North Carolina is torn asunder, its split barbecue personality embedded in the state's cultural landscape.

    The state's official apparatus is so exercised about the rivalry that North Carolina's tourism agency sponsored an Internet poll to divine the true favorite. Eastern-style won the vote, but the westerners refused to concede.

    Adding the official barbecue festival contretemps into the swirl almost made it too easy for the hair-trigger barbecue battlers to start blasting away again.

    "I guess it's the ultimate pork-barreling," said state Rep. Jerry Dockham, a Republican who co-sponsored the bill that would give the barbecue festival in his home county the state's imprimatur.

    Dockham, surprised a bit at the derision of the most blustery eastern-style types, might want to reconsider his sources of political advice in the future. His barbecue festival bill, which is stuck in committee, was suggested by a fourth-grade class in Davidson County, where he lives. The fourth-graders, and Dockham for that matter, apparently underestimated their eastern counterparts, who have already managed to shame him into watering down the measure, making it an "official food festival," rather than an official barbecue festival.

    Truth be told, there is a good bit of mythology enveloping the whole regional barbecue rivalry. The loudest of the barbecue talkers would have you believe that regional styles never cross. North Carolina's well-held myth says that the state's dueling barbecue styles are separated by the "Gnat Line," an invisible barrier that separates the sandy soil that attracted gnats to the east and the denser rocky and clay soil of the Piedmont Region to the west.

    But the Gnat Line has been breached. West is creeping east, and east is creeping west, though not always in the smoothest of fashions. When a man had the temerity to open an eastern-style barbecue joint in Lexington last year, the newspapers called him "a heretic." He got fed up with the business and leased the place to an employee. The new guy got wise: He serves only western style now.

    "People take this really seriously," Dockham said.

    The eastern-style advocates can rightly stake a claim as North Carolina's original barbecue. They smoke an entire hog, or cook it over electrical coils, and slather the meat in a sauce made from vinegar -- usually apple cider -- black pepper and red pepper flakes.

    The western style, according to legend, developed in the 1920s in Lexington, where cash-strapped country folk bought barbecue sold from tents outside the courthouse. The meat came from the cheapest part of the pig -- the shoulder. The sauce was sweeter, with heavy doses of sugar and ketchup, some black pepper and only a dash of vinegar. The kings of modern western-style barbecue almost all trace their bloodlines to those original tent-selling entrepreneurs, tracking their ancestry with the same attention as thoroughbred horse breeders.

    Rogers and Bledsoe, happy to grouse about their shared obsession, picked at the offerings in Smithfield's, a small North Carolina chain, one recent afternoon. The restaurant is in a sort of demilitarized zone of barbecue, plopped down in Siler City, about as deep an encroachment for eastern-style as it gets in western territory. The denizens of the fictional Mayberry, N.C., were always talking about shopping in Siler City, and Frances Bavier, who played Aunt Bee, settled here after "The Andy Griffith Show" went off the air. Bledsoe figures "Andy Griffith" captured small-town North Carolina life better than almost anyone, with one glaring exception: "They didn't eat barbecue."

    Bledsoe, who suggested Smithfield's as a meeting place for his barbecue arm-wrestling match with Rogers -- perhaps knowing the chain might not be the best example of eastern-style -- was able to counter his pal with "the mother church" of western barbecue, up in Greensboro.

    Sweet hickory smoke announces the location of Stamey's in Greensboro, long before its wood-frame walls and peaked skylight -- evoking a sacred space -- come into view. Bledsoe eats his barbecue in the truck with his dog, Zoe, so he can take in the hickory aroma pouring from the smoker out back. Inside the furnace-hot brick smokehouse, sweaty men walk through a thick haze to pile trays holding dozens of pork shoulders into 10 brick ovens. There are no meat thermometers, only a poke of a long fork, to test whether 10 hours of smoking were enough, or just a few more minutes will be needed. "This is an art," Bledsoe said, almost reverently, and on this, even Rogers cannot argue.

    Chip Stamey's grandfather sold barbecue out of a tent in Lexington before moving to the spot in Greensboro where his grandson now goes through 10,000 to 12,000 pounds of pork shoulders a week. The methods are mostly the same, but even an institution such as Stamey's can evolve: Its pork shoulders don't come from the pig-raising capital of North Carolina anymore, arriving instead from Pennsylvania.

    Bledsoe and Rogers have evolved, too. They aren't so militant anymore -- except in print, of course. Rogers, the champion of eastern-style bluster, confesses that if he were limited to a single barbecue style, it wouldn't come from eastern North Carolina, it would come from Memphis. And Bledsoe, the blusterer-in-chief of the west, reveals that his favorite barbecue joint is in the east: the sublime Skylight Inn in little Ayden, N.C., where famous owner Pete Jones flecks his chopped barbecue with cracklin' and fries his irresistible corn bread to a decadent crisp in pork fat.

    There's never a winner in their feud, but there's never a loser either. "There ain't no bad barbecue," Rogers admits. But that won't stop their battling. That's because just about everyone here can agree on one thing: Arguing barbecue is almost as good as eating it.

    Special correspondent Jon Bloom contributed to this report.

    5/16/2005
    James Sogi's sauce:

    3/4 cup Soy sauce
    3/4 cup sugar
    3/4 cup water
    3 inches Fresh ginger chopped
    1 clove garlic
    1 tbsp sesame oil

    5/16/2005
    Mammoth Ski Report, by Andrew Moe

    It's 74 degrees on Saturday afternoon, not a cloud in the sky, as we sit baking in the California sun at 10,000 feet. A group of stoked snowboarders in t-shirts, bikini tops, baggy cargos, piercings and tattoos launch howling down the face of Mammoth, carving up the mountain to the beat of their MP3 players. It seems odd to be standing on skis wearing short sleeves, but that feeling is quickly erased by the first turn and the sound of skis on snow.

    Conditions are optimal until around 2 , when the runs get sticky and slushy. Fortunately, that's just when the Santa Barbara Blues Band kicks off their afternoon set on the outdoor deck. Frosty beer, sizzling brats and steaming burgers provide sustenance as you watch the snowboarders helicopter in off the main jump at the end of the terrain park. Sales of SPF anything are brisk. At that altitude, the sun, wind and snow cook you to a crisp in minutes. Burned faces further accent beaming white smiles as tales of bravado and woe are shared by friends and strangers.

    Overall, skis to snowboards run about 1 to 1 but among the grommits, it's 4 to 1 boards to skis. More than once, I heard a parent tell a youngster, "You have to learn to ski before you can learn to board." The future for snowboard companies looks bright. Also for those who make helmets. I counted 45 out of 100 wearing helmets on the lower slopes with a far higher percentage at the top of the mountain.

    Due to the generous bounty delivered this winter by Mother Nature, the resorts of the Sierra Nevada mountains (Tahoe, Mammoth) still boast 12+ feet of snow, with fresh deliveries as recent as last week. Locals think the runs will be open until July 4. Prices are well off peak season with good conditions and happy locals. I highly recommend the experience to alternative vacation seeking specs.

    02/07/2005
    Deep-Fried Barbecue Shrimp (works well with chicken, too), from Rich Bubb

    Many years ago I was a cook in very backwater caf (don't ask why). I started as dishwasher and worked my way up to head cook (not to be construed as a cooker-of-heads, per se). The boss was an ex-navy cook. his gruff exterior over-laid a great guy with a big heart. he was game to let me test differing recipes, so I did this with fried chicken, and I can envision that it'd work just as well with shrimp.

    Clean & de-scale shrimp. dry them thoroughly (water in a deep fryer is NOT a good thing).

    You're going to need to make a deep-fryer dippin' batter. The major ingredients here include (dry measured) flour and corn meal. Adjust ratio of flour to corn meal with more flour than cornmeal for Yankee taste or more cornmeal than flour for Southern style. Add about 1/2 of your normal seasoning spices to the dry mixture. for liquid to make the batter, use about equal parts white wine & chicken broth [or stock, pun optional]. Slowly add liquid to dry ingredients, stirring gently. When the batter is about the consistency of medium-to-thin pancake batter, stop adding liquid. Don't beat batter.

    Put remaining wine, or stock, in a saucepan on stovetop. add remainder of spices reserved from dry ingredients' mixture above. Add some butter (the REAL stuff) and some real lemon juice, and bring to low/medium boil. Add shrimp, a few at a time and cook just a couple of minutes. Basically you're pre-cooking them just a little and giving them a little extra flavoring at the same time. Remove them BEFORE they're completely cooked. Drip-dry them, and drop in batter mixture.

    Coat all of them well with batter. Remove a few at a time from batter, and drop those few shrimp into deep fryer. Turn with tongs or long skewer a couple of times. Remove from fryer when golden brown. For successful deep frying of this type of fare, the fat should be quite hot, but not smoking. Best to control with deep fryer thermometer. The fat should run off quickly as you remove them from fryer. If they feel greasy as they cool, the temp might be too low.

    BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!

    After the fat has drained off, place (more or less directly from the fryer) into a bowl of your favorite BBQ sauce. Coat completely. Remove, Do Not shake off excess BBQ sauce. Put on a cookie sheet (stacked touching other morsels) and into warm oven (150 - 200 F). Try to keep from eating them yet, and just warm them for about 15 - 30 minutes.

    I tried this method one time with my sister, we had EXACTLY 2 servings. The only thing we did differently was we used vermouth (just a small amount) and used the batter for mushrooms.

    01/27/2005
    Shrimp Recipe, from an Southern gambling Spec of impeccable tastes

    Try this simple marinade good per roughly 1 pound of shrimp.
    5-9 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
    large handful of cilantro, chopped
    1/2 teaspoon each cumin, black pepper
    1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
    kosher salt
    1/4 cup pineapple juice or lime juice if you prefer a sharper tang
    1 cup olive oil

    Cut some onions, tomatillos and bell peppers and put those and the shrimp on
    skewers. soak for a couple of hours before grilling.

    If you want an extra spicy dipping sauce, cook about 1/2 cup of white onion and
    a couple of cloves of garlic in a bit of oil over low heat until soft.
    Add two mangos that have been cubed, and cook together for about 10 minutes
    until the mangos are soft and breaking down with the onions.  Add 1 cup of white
    wine vinegar, and the chopped habanero pepper - I can deal with about 3/4 of a
    good size habanero, but beyond that it gets grim brother.
    Continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes or so.  Dump it into a blender and
    puree the mixture.  Set aside to cool.  If necessary you can thin it with water,
    but I've never had to do that.

    Gibbons Burke comments:

    >Way down hyeah in New Olyunz, it ain't barbecue shrimp if it ain't got buttah, and day ain't no grill in the mix, nohow:

    http://www.gumbopages.com/food/seafood/bbq-shrimp.html

    This recipe is from a site which is a trove of fairly authentic recipes and other cultural artifacts of this town, compiled by a Los Angeles radio DJ who knows what it means to miss New Orleeenz:
    http://www.gumbopages.com/


    12/19/2004
    Big Al: Opie's, Bubbalou's Bodacious and More

    Just back from a cross-country drive:

    If you're road-tripping west from Austin on Highway 71, and somebody says, "Y'all wanna stop at Opie's in Spicewood and git some barbecue?", just say, "You bet." Opie's is "Home of the Opie Pork Chop", but the pork chops weren't ready yet at 10AM when I got there. I had been filling up at the gas station on the corner when I smelled the open pit action and decided it was time for brunch. What *was* ready at 10AM was a dee-licious half chicken -- and a Niemann Marcus Chocolate Cake Brownie. (I'll apologize to my doctor later.) If I had been willing to wait, there was also brisket, ribs and, of course, the Opie Pork Chops, which looked to be about four inches thick, all of it smoking and sizzling in big bbq barrels out front. As it was, I pulled over a few miles along at one of those Texas roadside picnic tables that seem ubiquitous and ate that chicken -- it was tender, juicy, smoky and just plain outstanding.

    Well, further on down the road and round about lunch time, I learned another important lesson, in Llano: Keep your windows down in this part of the Texas hill country; and when you smell that open pit cooking coming from a place where the parking lot is jam-packed with things like pickup trucks, don't hesitate -- just pull right over. Which I did at Inman's Kitchen, where I partook of outstanding pork ribs cooked brisket style, and also laid in a piece of pecan pie for the road. The ribs just made me wish I had gotten an extra pound of them, and the pecan pie was what pecan pie should be: savory with a little sweetness; most pecan pie has way too much sugar, but Inman's knows what they're about.

    (Here are a couple of nice old buildings in Llano and Brady: http://members.cox.net/taskletter/moreshots.html .)

    I'm thinking that you could make a good week in Austin, hitting the music and culture scene at night, spending your days on bar-b-q safari out into the surrounding countryside, and wind up having a real good time.

    The next day out, I was heading west from Roswell and looking for a place a get an early-morning shot of caffeine, when I saw the general store in Tinnie, NM. And the sign said "Bar-B-Q". It was way too early for bar-b-q, but I pulled in for my drink. Turns out they have ribs and brisket and whatnot ready to go 24/7 in Tinnie, so I had ribs for breakfast, and excellent ribs they were, with the meat falling off into my New Mexican-hot dipping sauce. Plus, the homemade chocolate cream pie was very good.

    And finally, if you're in the Orlando area, one great place to check out is Bubbalou's Bodacious B-B-Q on Lee Road in Winter Park (with satellites in Altamonte Springs and on Conroy Road in Orlando). This is the kind of place that has everything: pulled pork, pulled chicken, sliced beef or pork, ribs, brisket, smoked ham, lamb, turkey, catfish, fried corn on the cob -- you name it. A great place to get a bbq smorgasbord for a family feast.

    Man, I'm hungry now....

    12/19/2004
    Dean Davis: Big Al: Luling

    Since Big Al was kind enough to extol Texas 'Q, thought I might share a favorite of mine in south central Tejas. I'll mention that it tastes good, but I'll let the pics tell the story. It is worth a stop in Luling if headed down I10 between SA and Houston. (Rule of thumb- if air conditioning is a major advertising mention, you are on the right track). Dr. Atkins would love this place.

    11/22/04
    Turkey Dishes: BBQ or Imu, by James Sogi

    An excellent way to roast a turkey is in a Weber grill. Use the indirect method. Add a few hickory chips. Use a thermometer for the bird. Butter the outside of the bird before putting in the Weber. You get a beautiful golden brown bird with the juice seared in with tender meat in about 70% of the normal oven time. The meat has a delicate smoke flavor that also makes the gravy delicious as well. Add purple yams, (Chinese yam available in Chinatown for you New Yorkers) mashed in with oranges and served in the half orange. It's a nice contrast with the purple and orange together and the yam is orange flavored. If I can get my wife to disclose her stuffing I'll share that too. My mother pleaded for store bought turkey, though I've been fattening up our flock of wild turkeys that parades around the yard. For some reason they get pretty scarce right around now. She thinks the wild ones are gamey, but the fattened up ones are very tasty. It's just kind of smelly pain dressing them out as you hunters like JT will agree.

    We just dug an Imu, a Hawaiian underground oven pit for my daughter's 21st birthday next month. The neighbor has been fattening up one of the pigs I trapped in my front yard a while back, so it should be a great shindig. (It was rooting up our lawn pretty bad) I will bag a few turkeys for the Imu. The imu is a pit in which a huge fire is built overnight, and lined with rocks. The pig and turkeys and fish, breadfruits, are wrapped in banana and ti leaves and buried underground on the hot rocks and covered with dirt. The next day during the party the leaves and foods are uncovered and unwrapped. All the meat is steamed to tenderness and falls off the bone. Any specs in Hawaii on January 9, 2005 are invited. Its a good life. I can't complain. Someone has got to do it.

     

    01/09/05
    Luau, by Jim Sogi. Fascinating account from the Surfer Spec on preparations for the traditional Hawaiian barbecue.

    Today we went up the mountain to the rain forest on top of my friend's land to gather ti leaves. Up in the rain forest we saw remains of ancient Hawaiian homesteads, and burial mounds and 800-year-old trees. He told us that only a few species remained that existed when the Hawaiians lived there.

    Hiking up a mountain path, we gather a pickup truck full of ti leaves and ginger. The ti plant is a bunch of leaves about 18" long by 6" wide used for hula skirts, leis, decoration, mats for eating, and to wrap the pig, turkey and ulu and pumpkin in the imu. It looks like a Dr Seuss plant.

    The leaves are cleaned and woven into mats, into skirts and braided into leis.

    The imu is an oven dug into the ground about one foot deep by eight feet across. We line the bottom with smooth river rocks. We will burn a 1/4 cord of kaiawe (mesquite) wood on top of the rocks beginning at 6 am. At 8 the pig, turkeys, breadfruit, pumpkins, yams are wrapped in ti leaves, then wrapped in banana leaves and buried on top of the hot rocks. The banana leaves heat up and create a fragrant steam that cooks the contents. They steam for six hours and are lifted out on a wire grate and unwrapped. The meat is tender and falls off the bones. The ti leaves impart a delicate aroma to the food.

    Later today we will slaughter the pig and burn off the hair. We trapped the pig in our front yard over a year ago and a neighbor has been fattening him up. Mr Turkey is for our friends who do not eat pig. A funny thing is that we have flock of turkeys that live in our front yard and they like to sit in the imu and take dust baths, so I joke that they are just dying to come for dinner.

     

    The Coffee Thread

    01/18/2005
    Consumer Reports rates Coffees, from Steve Wisdom

    Last month several aesthetes remarked on the merits of various coffees. I notice Consumer Reports mag had a feature on this last month, clipped & pasted as below (for best results use a browser that zooms in/out easily, such as Firefox)

    Their findings were

    http://www.dailyspeculations.com/coffee01.png

    http://www.dailyspeculations.com/coffee02.png

    http://www.dailyspeculations.com/coffee03.png

    01/18/2005
    A Defense of Starbucks from shareholder Pamela van Giessen

    This is what I like about it:

    http://tinyurl.com/48oot

    Coffee, like any other food, tends to be a matter of personal taste which is entirely subjective. People either like Sbux or think it tastes "burnt, bitter." It basically comes down to whether one prefers the Italian type coffee/coffee prep or French coffee/coffee prep. If you prefer the former, you won't like Sbux. But keep in mind that I am talking my book. <g

    As for Consumer Reports: personally, I don't like their tastes, and they have definite bias, almost always opting for the medium to lower priced product (which is all the better if it's Japanese), almost as a matter of religion.

    Btw, Wiz, they hate your SUV. Gave it really atrocious ratings. Which pretty much sealed my decision to buy the Jeep. But maybe I was just being stubborn and contrary. ;-)

    01/18/2005
    The Argentine Alternative, by Gibbons Burke

    A couple of years ago I was able to give up caffeine altogether, something I hadn't ever been since my addiction started in college. Any time I tried to quit I would become unproductive and was besieged by headaches. Two years ago I switched to yerba mat (Ilex paraguariensis) and that made all the difference. This tea, made from the leaves of a shrub that grows in the rain forests of South America, has no or very little caffeine, yet provides similar mental stimulation without the side effects such as nervousness and inability to sleep. It is also non-addictive. Here is the Wiki entry:

    In Argentina, where this tea is extremely popular, a complex social ritual revolves around the drinking of mat, which is sipped from a silver filter-straw called a bombilla from a gourd which contains the mate leaves and the water in which it is steeped.

    The taste takes getting used to, like anything, but is not bad. I sweeten it with stevia extract drops (a powerful non-caloric all-natural sweetener -- but don't tell the FDA, which prohibits labeling it as such.)

    P.S. I sent the Consumer Reports article on coffee to a friend who is the most persnickety coffee drinker I know. He replied with this comment:

     I buy "estate" coffee, which is from a particular coffee  farm as opposed to a country or region of origin. Even then,  the quality greatly varies year to year. This is mostly due  to climate differences both during the growing season and  when the picked coffee is laid out to dry in the sun.   In my discussions with my green coffee bean provider,  http://www.sweetmarias.com/ , quality varies between sacks of  green coffee beans shipped from the same estate and harvest.  A good provider will test each bag at the U.S. port-of-entry  and reject, back to the coffee broker, any bags not at the  "cupping standard" of the original batch sample sent.  

    The CR article disparages Kona coffee. Most Kona coffee is  Kona "blend," with only a small amount of Kona beans in a  bag of coffee. Most 100% Kona can be very bad; however, there  are some producers from the big island that make the best  coffee around for "drip." I just returned this morning from  Honolulu, where I did further tasting research on Island  coffees and other beverages.

    01/22/2005
    A Cup of Coffee with the Surfer Spec

    Fresh roasted coffee is best. I like the 461 degree roast, just as the oils start to come out at dark brown, but not quite burning the oils, so the beans are shiny. If your regular roaster breaks, like mine did this morning, you can use a cast iron fry pan on medium heat and saut the beans 'til brown, but use the hood because it can get a bit smoky. The hot water should just start to make noise in the kettle, but not a full boil. Pre-heat your cup. Insist on sun-dried green beans. Be sure the husks are polished of well because they can cause bitterness. Some husks come off in the roast, so be sure to blow them away before grinding. Grind while the beans are still warm from roasting. Nice aroma. I like the French press, and run it through a filter after for strong cup.

    Laurel Kenner comments:

    The best coffee is prepared the Ethiopian way, a ritual as interesting as the Japanese tea ceremony. As frankincense burns in a small charcoal brazier on the table, green coffee is brought in, roasting in an iron pot. The aromas waft and mingle. The beans are ground to powder. The coffee is made in an earthenware vessel and served sweetened in tiny cups.  Coffee originated in Ethiopia; the Arabs improved on it by roasting the beans. Fiction recommendation: David Liss, The Coffee Trader.