Archive for January, 2011

After a barbecue, I am typically too full for dessert.  But that’s the beauty of cookies.  If you don’t eat them, no big deal. They’re just cookies.  You eat them the next day after your pork sandwich leftovers.

Oatmeal cookies just out of the oven. (That's a Silpat underneath. They are magic.)

My favorite cookie is the peanut blossom (those peanut butter cookies with the Hershey’s Kiss planted in the middle). But those are way too Christmas-y, so I just don’t make them that often.  My kids like chocolate chips cookies, again, and again, and again, and again. Sigh.

So, when I do get the chance to make cookies when nobody’s begging, I make my second favorite cookie: Oatmeal Raisin.

But I’m picky. As in, annoyingly picky.  So, I posted this Oatmeal cookie manifesto on Facebook last year, and the typical responses I got were either “Yum,” or something along the lines of “I disrespectfully disagree with you,  Jerkface. DISLIKE.”  Oh well, a little hatred is the price I have to pay for the love I have for a really great oatmeal cookie.

Here’s the re-print:

To me, great oatmeal cookies are chewy, sweet and buttery. And they are enhanced by (not overwhelmed by) dried fruit, like raisins. For a long time, I’ve been searching for that perfect recipe which both captures all that good stuff while avoiding cookie atrocities. There are five sins against the oatmeal cookie gods. They are:

1) Spoiling! with Chocolate chips. When you savor an oatmeal cookie, it’s for the brown sugar, honey and cinnamon flavors. Chocolate, while yummy on its own, totally overpowers those flavors and completely ruins the experience. I’m not saying you shouldn’t love chocolate. I’m just saying chocolate chips are as inappropriate as coffee beans or black licorice in an oatmeal cookie.

2) Ruining! by Over-cooking. I could argue that ANY crunchy cookie is sin. But I think crunchy oatmeal cookies are especially defective, because over-cooked oats get an entirely different flavor, almost like toasted pine nuts. Oats are supposed to blend in with the sugar and butter, not take over. If you ever see a crunchy cookie with one bite taken out of it and thrown in the garbage – that was probably me.

3) Destroying! with Nuts. What is it with you nuts-in-your-dessert people? Cakes, brownies, and yes, cookies should not break the crowns on your teeth. They are supposed to be light, sweet and full of air, not boulders. It’s the same motto as the “Ice Cream and Cake Separation Society.” Nuts good, Cookies good, Nuts in Cookies horrible. Feed them to the squirrels.

4) Wrecking! with too much fruit. This recipe suggests raisins and/or dates. Yum. I’ve also had cranberries and currants. All good, IN MODERATION people. What isn’t good is when you give me a brick of fruit, with a little bit of cookie as mortar. It’s the cookie equivalent of pouring too much syrup on your pancakes. Blech.

5) Insulting! us with Cookies shaped like the Superdome. A good cookie is flat, not shaped like a giant crusty wart.

If you’re with me, then you’ll love this recipe.

The recipe is adapted from one featured in Bon Appetit, 2003. I changed it by adding more butter, more honey, less fruit, and eliminating the sin of nuts entirely. But a big nod of appreciation to the creator of the original recipe.

Long before you get started, make sure you soften two sticks of butter in advance. Otherwise, you’re standing there hungry waiting for butter to warm up. That’s no good.
Note: It is not unusual for these cookies to stick a bit to the cookie sheet, so a Silpat non-stick baking mat is a very good idea. Also, note, this recipe makes a LOT of cookies. So, I hope you’re hungry.
Mix in a separate bowl:
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup (packed) brown sugar
• 1/4 cup and an extra dollop of honey
• 2 large eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3 cups old-fashioned oats
• 1 cup OR LESS raisins (or chopped dates, or mix with cranberries or currants)

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Blend first 5 ingredients in medium bowl.
Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugars in large bowl.
Beat in honey, eggs, and vanilla.
Slowly beat in the flour mixture.
Stir in oats and fruit.
Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, spacing mounds 2 inches apart. Flatten cookies slightly.

(If someone, oh, like your spouse, likes more raisins than this recipe calls for, then this would be a good time to cram some extras on top of a cookie or two.)

Bake cookies until the edges turn light golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. If the cookie edges start to appear dark brown or appear crispy, you’re over-cooking. So, since all ovens are different, it would be a good idea to keep a close eye on them.

Let cool some or even completely on cookie sheet – again, it is not unusual for these cookies to stick a little.


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A mere glimpse of the mountain of amazing food we ate at Blue Ginger Korean BBQ.

 I don’t know for certain what the Korean word for “glutton” is, but I’m pretty sure the Blue Ginger staff used it a lot tonight. While pointing.  At me.

You may recall, last year I wrote a review of Blue Ginger pointing out that when this east-side Korean BBQ is on, it’s REALLY on.  But tonight was beyond “on.”  I had a spectacular meal there.  But sadly, the real spectacle was me, given the quantity of food I “accidentally” ordered.

And mostly ate.

For reasons that are complicated to explain (think: picky kids + lack of patience), I ordered their smallest combination platter. This platter, which came with kalbi, filet mignon, pork belly, two kinds of stew (including an amazing steamed egg soup), a noodle salad, three bowls of rice, and 10 side dishes, was easily enough to feed six adults.   Six hungry adults.  This platter, though, I would be sharing only with my 10 year old.

Oh,and that’s not all.  I also ordered an entire other entre: Grilled sole for my 6 year old, fish-loving daughter.  Except that when it arrived it was not grilled sole. It was in  fact two whole grilled soles that, also, could have easily fed two adults.

In a strip mall, of course.

As the waitress kept bringing me this food, I kept saying to myself, “Self: Just eat until you’re full.”  Yeah, like that worked. 

Anyway, I’m still aware that Blue Ginger has its off days.  I’ve experienced it first hand.  But perhaps Friday nights and combo platters is the forumla for a good experience. I know I had one, even if I did bring home three boxes of leftovers.


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Caught this video on Delish yesterday about how to barbecue a pork roast, “for tailgating.”   Um, I’m a bit skeptical, but here it is.  Someone should let me know how much they enjoy doing this in a stadium parking lot. 








And for people who hate videos….


  • 1 (8- to 10-pound) bone-in pork roast
  • 1/2 cup(s) pure olive oil
  • 1/2 cup(s) kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup(s) fresh-cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup(s) pure olive oil
  • 1/2 cup(s) good-quality dried thyme (optional)


  1. Let pork stand at room temperature for one to two hours.
  2. Heat your grill to 450 degrees with coals or full gas if gas grill.
  3. Smear the oil, salt, pepper, and thyme all over pork (as much as you can). Grill on a medium-hot (turn heat down after it gets really hot) grill, turning every 5 minutes for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  4. Remove from grill and let stand again at room temp and reduce grill heat to 275 degrees. Do this by lowering the gas temp all the way down or by moving coals to one side of the grill.
  5. Place the pork rack on the higher rack in your grill (if you have one) and leave the lid open two inches so the temperature inside the grill doesn’t get too high. An oven thermometer will work inside the grill as well.
  6. Cook slow for about an hour to an hour and a half. When the internal temperature is 145 degrees, remove pork and let rest for at least 30 to 45 minutes. Slice and serve.

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Should you baste your ribs while cooking them?

At the Pike Place Market Barbecue Competition last year, I noticed something that’s been nagging at me as though it were a scrap of meat jammed between my molars.

Right there through the fog of 100 smokers, I saw a couple of contenders busily painting barbecue sauce on their competition caliber ribs while still on the grill.

Over the past 6 or 7  years of reading and learning about great barbecue, I’ve considered it a given that the best ribs in the business are dry rubbed, and cooked without sauce.  Serving one’s favorite sauce on the side once the meat is off the grill is one thing. But you don’t baste while cooking.  That’s for chumps, right?

So, what’s a guy to think? Simple: Get into the laboratory, invite some people over, and find out.  I love science!

Last night, I made ribs three different ways.  One batch was business as usual.  I rubbed my baby back pork ribs with my homemade rub, and cooked them as I normally do, without sauce.  The second batch would be heavily basted. I started to baste the ribs with my favorite sauce at 10 minute intervals for the last 60 minutes or so of the cook. And with the third batch, I only basted the ribs once about 15 minutes or so before pulling them off the grill. So, those were lightly basted.

Then, thanks to some hungry friends, six adults each tried all three and made a determination.

The result was 5-to-1 in favor of no basting at all. 

The one outlier preferred the heavily basted ribs, which to be clear, were indeed pretty tasty!  So, we didn’t make fun of her or anything. 

But what the rest of us concluded was that the basting seemed to have an adverse effect on the meat, as opposed to being a flavor thing.  The heavily basted ribs were to me significantly chewier, which is not the desired effect of slow-cooked ribs.

The meat that was cooked in the traditional fashion was light, pulled off the bone easily, and had the perfect texture. Sadly, the batch that was basted for an hour reminded me more of oven-baked ribs.

(Meanwhile, note, there were no votes for the ‘just once’ basted ribs, although, I personally like it better than the heavily basted ribs. But I suppose if you like the basted flavor and texture, then you might as well just go for it.)

Anyway, here at Blue State BBQ, we endorse all  barbecued ribs, whether or not you baste them.  We are here to eat, not cast judgment.  But after this landslide victory I consider my question answered and my molars flossed: My ribs shalt not be basted.

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The Blue State BBQ has been a little stale, I admit.  But you’ll be glad to know why.  I cooked two pork butts in December.  Then another just a couple days ago. And I’m barbecuing yet another at the end of this month.  So, the Kamado has been plenty busy, but I’ve got nothing new to report other than pulled pork continues to be really yummy. I would like to hear from any readers if they’ve ever barbecued a goose.  I’ve been thinking about it.

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