cooking, family, food, grilling

Smoked whole chicken – JuJuBQ

The taste of last week’s Frickin Chicken Shack smoked wings lingers. Talk of those smokey appendages still fresh.

With no space for a return trip on the calendar, we turned to JuJuBQ. For Mother’s Day this year, this20140711-085911-32351188.jpg joined the “kitchen” repertoire. And I’m so glad she did. My new favorite gadget.

I brined the chicken, a first for me.
1 gallon water
1/2 c salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
5 pound brined for 4 hours. A little longer than I wanted, but hubby and I did a lunch date. More on that in another post.

Some people remove the backbone for more even cooking and/or faster cooking. Rather than remove the bone, I pushed down on the bird to break the bone and flatten it somewhat. Probably against BBQ etiquette, but I was 2 hours late putting the bird on.

After a good dry towel session, the clucker was ready for a massage. The Heffer Dust made and sold by a student was empty. I tried to replicate the seasoning from memory. His magic, family secret recipe is far superior. My mediocre rub was a dump and mix fest. Miss E and I tasted and adjusted. No measuring. Just salt, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, black pepper, and paprika. Not a bad first rub.

I smoked the bird to 160, about 3 hours. The last 30 minutes I put on a slight smattering of BBQ sauce (totally not needed). The fledgling results were AMAZING! Juicy, succulent, and from my smoker!

From the local farmer’s market, we had a pound of green and yellow wax beans. Marinated in EVOO, lemon juice, and a bit of rub for an hour, I finished them on the smoker grates. After 30 minutes, the beans were veggie candy to the hubs and I. Like the Cheshire Cat, we looked at each other and telepathically listed other veggies to smoke.

JuJuBQ is prepped and ready for the next smoke session. Salmon? Brisket? Potatoes? Cabbage? Corn? Fruit?!




cooking, food, the small town foodie in me, traveling

North Star Bakery

When traveling the winding 123 North to Paradise, Michigan, you will pass a small family owned bakery, North Star Bakery. You MUST stop! All the bread is made from an 15 year old starter and baked in a brick oven. Did I mention it is in the middle of nowhere?! Only open in the summer months, the owners bake up quite a delicious variety of breads and flat breads with local ingredients. M gave the blueberry bread 1000 thumbs up. Accompanying our chili, we devoured a loaf of blue cheese bread. Smell-o-computers would leave you drooling. Please stop by next time you head to Paradise, Tahquamenon, or Whitefish Point. You can thank me later. Nine years ago, we stopped by here and enjoyed a mouthwatering onion tomato flat bread. So thankful that this little bakery is still around!






cooking, family, food

The perfect egg

My secrets to the perfect hard boiled egg.
1. Fresh eggs
2. Load up the pan, cover with water.
3. Bring to a boil.
4. Cover pot and shut off.
5. Set timer for 12 minutes, have a cup of coffee, and relax.
6. When timer rings, dump in ice bath and peel immediately.
7. Call in hungry kids.



3 kids ate 1/2 dozen eggs!

cooking, family, parenting

Easy bake delights

Recently a girlfriend passed on a gently used Easy bake oven. I’m pretty sure that she got rid of it because its not the Easy Bake oven of the 70s. No window to watch the progress?! Now that’s a crime against Easy Bake newbies. So E and I had a “no boys allowed” bake session. E has been cooking and baking since she figured out how to push a chair across the room and climb aboard. While the girl time was heavenly, the cakes tasted like sponges smothered in sugar glaze. Hopefully Pinterest has some recipes for the next rainy day.





cooking, family, parenting

Bucking the Trend

I picture my Grandma, who would be 122, tirelessly leaning over a washboard scrubbing Grandpa’s work shirts clean. Next she would head into the stuffy kitchen and prepare the non-processed, no slow cooker, family meal. Meanwhile, raise three kids and sew clothes. All after working part of the day in the local school kitchen. Wow, how did she juggle it all?

Boy am I relieved that trend was downsized decades ago. My husband and I share most household duties. I cook, he cleans. He launders clothing, I fold and put away. Kid raising is a delicate blend of our personalities and quirks. Can just one manage our home? Sure, but life is a little sweeter when mama gets to put her feet up now and then. Our children see a partnership of shared experiences and supporting each other. Will it pass on to another generation? I hope so.

Working outside the home gives me a sense of purpose beyond mama duties. Thank you Grandma and all others who laid the foundation for women’s rights. Whew, our lives are a little easier and family time, definitely more enjoyable. Excuse me while I go mow the lawn and use some power tools.

cooking, family, food, small town living

THE Sandwich

Picture the perfect sandwich. Today THE sandwich walked up to my doorstep via an oldie but goodie friend. My childhood favorite sandwich perfectly nestled in wax paper. It is not so much the sandwich but the tradition. Over the years, my friend Megan and I would swap lunches. Me wanting the homemade bread stacked with tasty tuna carefully caressed in wax paper and her wanting a plain Jane, white bread and whatever was the flavor of the day. Those were the best lunch days! Today, after a long morning selling our goods at a garage sale in 80 degree heat, the sandwich surprise hit every delectable tastebud. Transporting me back 20 or so years to a speckled tiled hallway, I nibbled at the homemade concoction, not wanting it to end. Yes the sandwich or rather the memory is that good. I saved a morsel for photographic purposes, but apparently the hubs could not resist the tuna’s lure.

What’s your childhood sandwich?

cooking, family, food

If Rainbow Brite Threw Up Cake

Our family was in charge of making an Easter cake. Taking a clue from Pinterest, this is what the kids came up with. Tie dyed vanilla cake and decorated with Peeps and M&Ms. The kids smiled while decorating it, giggled upon cutting and seeing the Easter dyed interior, and relished the sugar high upon digesting the cake.

Rainbow Brite would be proud.