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Month: July 2009

Makin’ Bacon Part 2: The Cure

Originally posted on FineDiners.ca

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Well things have been so busy in and out of the kitchen, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write the follow up to Makin’ Bacon.  Now that I have some spare time and have peaked your interest with the Sci-fi smoker, here’s the follow up.

I should have written this article first, as this was actually the first step, leading up to the Makin’ Bacon DIY smoker, but that article was way more fun.  As discussed in the previous article, we purchased the pork bellies from Lavergn Western Beef in Navan Ontario – this place is a must stop for a foodie!

The whole process of making bacon starts with the curing process.  The meat should be coated in salt and other spices and stored in the fridge for 7 days.  We broke our bellies down into different sized cuts and stored them in large ziploc bags with different cures in them.  The meat should be turned over every day to ensure a proper cure.

On the 7th day, remove the bellies from the cure, rinse them off thoroughly under water and let air dry in the fridge for 12 hours – this drying process will form what is called the pellicle, a tacky film that will allow the smoke to adhere to the meat. This is a crucial step in the making bacon process.

We tried several different spice combinations for the cure.  We did a BBQ blend, a sea salt and maple blend, black pepper and thyme, and a final combination of kosher salt, brown sugar and maple syrup.  This last one was the most successful in my opinion.

Finding the proper ratio is the tricky part.  On our first attempt we tried 2 parts salt to one part sweet – this batch turned out way too salty.  The second crack at it we tried a 1 to 1 ratio, but we found the end product was not salty enough.  In the first case, it is possible that all we needed to do was spend some more time rinsing the bellies after the curing process, but I’m not sure.

We have yet to try another combination, but I suspect something in between will get us where we want to be.  Since we use an outdoor cold smoking method, we won’t be able to try this out again until the winter – which of course in Ottawa, is never that far off…

recently on twitter.com/dsamojlenko

  • Matisyahu crowd surfing in Ottawa:http://digg.com/u184lI #wheresmatis @matisyahu #
  • Bluesfest Day 4: Hey Rosetta! and Matisyahu – http://digg.com/u184oC #
  • Girl Talk! #
  • My legs are bluesfested out #
  • Bluesfest Day 5: scheduling screwup, New Mastersounds, Girl Talk and Joe Cocker – http://digg.com/u18Dm6 (incl. vid of Girl Talk spectacle) #
  • Good times at STP tonight #
  • NICE- vfest lineup includes:Ben Harper, The Pixies, Franz Ferdinand, Sloan, NIN, Pet Shop Boys,Von Bondies, Thunderheist! http://is.gd/1yAyC #
  • Gonna have to RACE home after work today to catch Arkells at Bluesfest! #
  • Bluesfest Day 8: TURN IT UP! http://is.gd/1zXBO #
  • SHOUT IT, SHOUT IT OUT LOUD! #
  • I believe that it is impossible to Rock and/or Roll in lawnchairs – leave ’em at home tonight Ottawa! #
  • Silent Disco is way funnier with headphones off #
  • TURN IT UP! #
  • I think the drummer just blasted off #
  • Shit’s blowin’ up! #
  • Bluesfest Days 6,7,8: KISS baby! http://digg.com/u18cel #
  • Wow, it actually feels like summer today… Nevermind the thunderstorm watch #
  • Shout Out Out Out Out! #
  • Wtf – busta’s 1/2 hour late #
  • Where’s Busta? #
  • Busted? #
  • Only an hour late! #
  • Booooo Busta #
  • I got too much time on my hands – and right down front for Styx/Gowan! #
  • I am the walrus! #
  • Styx! Hell yes! #
  • All kinds of awesome! #
  • Bluesfest Day 9: STYX! (incl. video of Gowan’s Criminal Mind!) http://digg.com/u18ksn #
  • CAKE was delicious #
  • Going to see Hollerado – second last day of bluesfest… 🙁 #
  • Shit’s goin crazy at ludacris stage – he’s not even here yet #

recently on twitter.com/dsamojlenko

  • Matisyahu crowd surfing in Ottawa:http://digg.com/u184lI #wheresmatis @matisyahu #
  • Bluesfest Day 4: Hey Rosetta! and Matisyahu – http://digg.com/u184oC #
  • Girl Talk! #
  • My legs are bluesfested out #
  • Bluesfest Day 5: scheduling screwup, New Mastersounds, Girl Talk and Joe Cocker – http://digg.com/u18Dm6 (incl. vid of Girl Talk spectacle) #
  • Good times at STP tonight #
  • NICE- vfest lineup includes:Ben Harper, The Pixies, Franz Ferdinand, Sloan, NIN, Pet Shop Boys,Von Bondies, Thunderheist! http://is.gd/1yAyC #
  • Gonna have to RACE home after work today to catch Arkells at Bluesfest! #
  • Bluesfest Day 8: TURN IT UP! http://is.gd/1zXBO #
  • SHOUT IT, SHOUT IT OUT LOUD! #
  • I believe that it is impossible to Rock and/or Roll in lawnchairs – leave ’em at home tonight Ottawa! #
  • Silent Disco is way funnier with headphones off #
  • TURN IT UP! #
  • I think the drummer just blasted off #
  • Shit’s blowin’ up! #
  • Bluesfest Days 6,7,8: KISS baby! http://digg.com/u18cel #
  • Wow, it actually feels like summer today… Nevermind the thunderstorm watch #
  • Shout Out Out Out Out! #
  • Wtf – busta’s 1/2 hour late #
  • Where’s Busta? #
  • Busted? #
  • Only an hour late! #
  • Booooo Busta #
  • I got too much time on my hands – and right down front for Styx/Gowan! #
  • I am the walrus! #
  • Styx! Hell yes! #
  • All kinds of awesome! #
  • Bluesfest Day 9: STYX! (incl. video of Gowan’s Criminal Mind!) http://digg.com/u18ksn #
  • CAKE was delicious #
  • Going to see Hollerado – second last day of bluesfest… 🙁 #
  • Shit’s goin crazy at ludacris stage – he’s not even here yet #

Bluesfest Day 9: STYX!

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Another great day at Bluesfest!!  Can’t believe it’s almost over… just a few days left!

Day 9 kicked off great with Shout Out Out Out Out from Edmonton – these guys had me dancing before I even got to the festival grounds!  Those two drumkits could be heard from way up Booth Street and had my interest piqued right away!  These guys were a  total blast.

The huge disappointment of the day was Busta Rhymes, who showed up an hour late for a one hour set on a main stage!  Which of course threw the whole schedule off – he got on and played a mere 25 minutes, pushing LIVE’s start time back by half an hour, forcing STYX to play over the last LIVE song, and still end up going over time at 11:00, no doubt sending those noise complainers into a tizzy!

LIVE was great from what I saw, but I was pretty determined to be up close for STYX – Gowan was my first live concert experience ever and he’s singing and playing keys for them now, so I was all set for a nostalgia trip last night.  And they did not disappoint.  Good.  Solid.  Rock.  Show.

We’re on Day 10, and my brain, body and spirit are getting worn down.  Sorry for the few words in this post – just take my word for it, this was one of the best days I’ve had at Bluesfest 2009, and that’s saying a lot.

Included below is what little video I have of STYX performing Gowan’s Criminal Mind.  Unfortunately, they started playing it just as I was making my way back from bathroom/beer break, so I was busy fighting my way through the crowd (and covering myself with beer in the process) for the first half of it.  WHY, OH WHY did you have to play my song at that exact moment?!

UPDATE:  Here’s a far better video (but crunchier audio) than mine from someone else at the show:

Bluesfest Days 6,7,8: KISS Army, baby!

Well the past couple of days have been a blast – even though 6 and 7 lacked any mind-blowing performances, KISS more than made up for that last night.

Day 6 was a strange day at Bluesfest – only one stage open, only three bands playing.  I only made it down for the second half of Gym Class Heroes, and I was wishing I’d caught more – those guys were a blast.  A little bit of rain didn’t dampen anyones spirits as the place started to fill up for Stone Temple Pilots.  Now I must admit that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this show – I was a fan back in the 90’s, but that seems so long ago now, and I just didn’t have a lot of interest.  They put on a great show, and I’m interested to see what they turn out in their new album that will be coming out later this year.

Day 7 there wasn’t anything I was particularly excited about either- Our Lady Peace just doesn’t do it for me.  We caught Ice Cube, which was a pretty big disappointment – first off, the volume was way too low – we weren’t even far back, we were at the sound booth – but bylaw was out in full force with their little decibel meters and the show suffered for it.  I also guess I’m just not a big gangsta fan, so what are ya gonna do.

Other than Ice Cube, my brother and I just kinda wandered around the rest of the night – I kinda like nights like that, where you don’t have anything particularly invested in any one show, so you’re free to roam and check out whatever you want and hopefully discover some new stuff in the process. Our travels took us to Xavier Rudd, a Bluesfest favourite who I’d seen in a smaller more intimate venue to which the Bluesfest experience couldn’t compare.  Then to The Zombies for a few minutes, Toots & The Maytals at the Hard Rock stage, then over to the Spam Allstars at the Blacksheep stage.  All great performances, but there was one mad-dancing-fool at Spam Allstars that had us entertained for a good 40 minutes.

And then there was Day 8.  It started off well enough with a showing by the Arkells who got us off to a great rockin’ start.  Then Beast on the Bank of America stage, who I didn’t really know anything about, but I actually bought their CD later on – wow, I haven’t bought a CD in a LONG time!  Then for a little fun over to Silent Disco, which is a lot of fun to watch with headphones off, and I can’t help but think would be a lot more fun with headphones on if it was a better DJ.

And then there was KISS.  30,000 fans jammed onto the main field and the KISS army out in full force, these rockers turned out a 2 hour plus rock show of epic proportions!  There was fire, there were explosions, there was blood, there were wailing guitar solos and monster drum solos and Paul Stanley flew over the audience and Gene Simmons stalked the stage and flicked his tongue and if there was a roof to be blown off, they surely would have done it.  And for one night, Ottawa was ROCK CITY.

I’ll save my whining about how the volume wasn’t quite where I’d have liked it, at least at the beginning of the show, and about how difficult it is to get a good spot when 30,000 show up to that venue for another time.  For now, I’m just basking in the afterglow that always follows a really great rock show.

I’ll post some video later – didn’t get much.  Too busy rocking out.

Up tonight:  Styx – or more specifically, Gowan their new lead singer.  Gowan was the first concert I ever went to, and while I know this will really be a Styx show, I noticed on their setlists that they’ve been playing one or two Gowan songs on this tour.  Memory lane, here I come baby!

Bluesfest Day 8: TURN IT UP!

I haven’t written anything the past few days because I’ve been low on time, and low on enthusiasm – not much has really blown me away – I will write days 6 and 7 up later, but for now let me talk about tonight.  Tonight is a big night.  I have a lot of stuff to see, including the one that I think half the city is going to show up for tonight, KISS.  Apparently the lineups have already started at the gates – excitement is high – it’s going to be a wild show tonight!

But here’s the thing, you Ottawa complainers:  you’ve already ruined half the shows with your incessant whining about the volume.  When Joe Cocker played the other night and I was standing just across the field from the stage, I didn’t know he had started until well into his first song because the volume was WAY TOO LOW!  Ice Cube’s beats yesterday lacked any kind of punch, I assume thanks to the bylaw officer standing in front of me taking his readings.  Sound bleed from other stages is worse than ever because of the decreased volume.

Dear Ottawa, can we lighten up just a bit?  I know, we’re all sleepy public servants and all this fun is really starting to cramp our style, but can’t we all just learn to have fun for just one day? (or dare I ask for just one week?)  Let’s put away the lawn chairs and decibel meters and get bylaw off the speed dial and just revel in the fact that the legendary KISS is here and it’s going to be the most beautiful night of the festival, and tonight let’s just ROCK ‘N FUCKIN’ ROLL!