Friday, June 19, 2009

I Gotta Have It! Friday!

I gotta have the ... The Outdoor Artisan Pizza Oven by Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.

"Ovens lined with stone and topped by an arched roof are found across Italy for baking pizza and bread. Why? The stone creates a perfect crust and the low, arched top reflects radiant heat back to the pizza for even baking from both the top and bottom.

Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet has taken the classic pizza oven design and updated it in stainless steel for worry-free outdoor use with the Outdoor Artisan Pizza Oven. "

Additional product detail and pizza recipes can be found at: Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Grill Menu for Father's Day

Give Dad a rest from the grill this Sunday and cook him a meal that will 'send him out of the ballpark'!

Check out the grill menu with a berry harvest theme from our friends at Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet!

Blueberry Pork Chops

Pork and fruit are well-matched, especially pork and blueberries. These glorious chops combine smoky, sweet and savory flavors for an entree that's perfect for a lucky dad.

Blueberry Pork Chops Recipe for the Grill

4 pork loin chops, preferably bone-in, about 1-1/2 inches thick

6 ounces pancetta, cooked crisp and broken up

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 pint blueberries

1/2 teaspoon smoked salt, plus salt for the chops

Extra virgin olive oil


Preheat the grill for combination direct cooking and indirect cooking. The indirect zone should be at about 500°F.

While the grill is heating, lightly brush the chops on all sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Smoked salt will jump start the smoky flavor, and is good to use for this recipe even when grilling over a wood fire. Leave the chops sitting at room temperature while the grill is getting ready, up to 20 minutes. Wash the blueberries and measure out the other ingredients at this time.

Grill the pork chops over direct heat for about 2 minutes per side and then transfer them to the indirect cooking zone. Close the grill and cook the chops for about 20 minutes, turning once halfway through, until an instant-read meat thermometer measures 155°F when inserted away from the bone.

As soon as you have moved the chops to the indirect zone, combine the maple syrup, blueberries and smoked salt in a large saucepan (although the ingredients would easily fit in a smaller pan, the broader bottom should help reduce the sauce more quickly) and bring to a strong simmer over medium heat. Stir the sauce frequently and avoid a rapid boil. If bubbles begin to build on top of bubbles, lower the heat to avoid burning the sauce.

When cooked to 155°F internal temperature, remove the chops from the grill and transfer to plates. Let the chops rest for 3 to 5 minutes. During this time, stir the cooked pancetta into the blueberry sauce. Top the chops with sauce, serve and enjoy.

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Grilled Blackberry Polenta Fennel Salad

Grilled Blackberry Polenta Fennel Salad Recipe


2 cups water

1 tablespoon butter

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt

3/4 cup polenta

6 ounces blackberries, cut in half lengthwise

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus some to brush on the polenta

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3 ounces fennel bulb, sliced very thin, plus the greens


The polenta needs a couple of hours to set, so start it early or make it the night before. To make the polenta, bring the water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add the butter and stir to melt. Whisk in the polenta and salt and return to a simmer. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until very thick. Fold in the blackberries and transfer the mixture to an oiled 8" x 8" baking dish or plastic food container. Smooth the mixture out evenly with a spatula and let it cool. Once the polenta is cooled, cover it tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Prepare the grill for direct cooking at about 400°F.

While the grill is heating, whisk together the olive oil, orange juice, honey and pepper to make the dressing. Remove the polenta from the dish and slice it into large pieces, about 4" x 4" so that they are easy to handle. Immediately before grilling, lightly brush both sides of each piece with olive oil.

Grill the polenta over direct heat until nicely marked and heated through, about 6 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and slice into cubes.

Gently toss together the grilled polenta, fennel and dressing. It may be best to use your hands in order to avoid breaking down the polenta too much. You might like it with a little more honey drizzled on top after plating if you find the fennel is particularly bitter.

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Caramel Strawberries with Grilled Shortbread and Cream Fraiche

Caramel Strawberries with Grilled Poundcake and Creme Fraiche Recipe


8 slices Sara Lee pound cake, thawed

About 4 tablespoons melted butter

1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced

1/3 cup caramel sauce, hot

About 6 ounces crème fraîche

Prepare the grill for direct cooking at about 500°F.

Brush both sides of each slice of pound cake with melted butter. The butter will help keep the pound cake from sticking to the grill. If you don't have anyone assisting you, combine the strawberries with the hot caramel sauce. Otherwise, they should be combined as the pound cake is coming off the grill.

Grill the pound cake over direct heat until nicely marked and heated through, about 1 minute per side. I find it best to use tongs for handling the pound cake on the grill.

Plate the pound cake (2 slices each) and top with the warm strawberry mixture and a dollop of cold crème fraîche.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Special Offer for Smith & Hawken Patio Furniture from EP Henry

Check out this offer from EP Henry......

Receive a $500.00 Smith & Hawken gift certificate with any EP Henry product purchase over $5,000.00.

If you are looking for inspiration on how to design or renovate your outdoor living room this spring/summer you must check out EP Henry's 2009 Hardscaping Project Guide! This is the must-have book for the season.

Even if hardscaping materials are not on your landscape project building list, you will benefit from paging through this 132 page brochure full of beautiful photographs of actual outdoor projects at "real homes owned by people just like you."

The photographs of patios, pool decks, outdoor kitchens, etc are a 'feast for your eyes'.

In addition to design ideas, the Project Guide also includes helpful hints on space planning and advice on how to build or upgrade your outdoor space one phase at a time.

Click here to request your very own EP Henry 2009 Hardscaping Project Guide.

EP Henry also offers financing and a lifetime guarantee!

One last note: This post is not a paid advertisement for EP Henry.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fire Up the Grill! May is National Barbecue Month

People's love affair with outdoor cooking is heating up as the HPBA (Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association) kicks-off May as National Barbecue Month and the beginning of the prime outdoor cooking season.

In honor of National Barbecue Month we will be featuring information on grills, outdoor kitchens, grilling recipes and other fun stuff all month long!

Here are some fun facts about barbecue, from the HPBA, to get the festivities started:

When we barbecue:
The most popular holidays for barbecuing are, in order, July 4Th (69%), Memorial Day (56%), and Labor Day (50%).

What we barbecue:

The most popular foods for barbecuing are, in order: burgers (82%), steak (79%), chicken (72%), and hot dogs (71%).
The most commonly prepared side dishes are, in order, corn (42%), potatoes (38%), and other vegetables (37%).
The most popular flavors of barbecue sauce are hickory, followed by mesquite, honey, and then tomato-based. The most common ingredient added to barbecue sauce is garlic, followed by brown sugar.

How we barbecue:

There are about as many styles of barbecuing as there are opinions - every one's got their own! Generally speaking, though, there are barbecue styles that dominate in different regions of the country. In the Carolinas, they can't agree whether sauce should be vinegar, mustard or tomato based, but they can agree on the meat the sauce goes on - pork.

In the Deep South, Georgia, Florida, and parts of Louisiana, you'll find that Cajun cuisine has had a strong influence. Regardless of whether you're barbecuing beef brisket, pork ribs, rabbit, or trout, chances are your taste buds will get a kick from a spicy marinade, sauce, or rub.
In other parts of the South, pork also rules.

In sunny California, lighter fare such as salmon is king of the grill. The Midwest is a barbecue hotbed - if you can't find a meat and sauce combination you like in Kansas City, you can't find it anywhere.

Our Utensils:
The most popular barbecue utensils are long-handled tongs, followed by grill cleaning brushes, and then long-handled forks and spatulas.

Competition barbecuing is one of the hottest hobbies in the country with hundreds of cook-offs held throughout all 50 states. The biggest and most famous are Memphis in May and The American Royal in Kansas City. Both cities stake their claim to being the barbecue capital of the U.S.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Spoonful of Inspiration- A Man Named Pearl

I stumbled upon one of the most inspirational stories that I have seen in a very long time. Please do yourself a favor, take a one-hour break from your hectic life and tune into HGTV for the documentary A Man Named Pearl.

A Man Named Pearl tells the inspirational story of a self-taught topiary artist named Pearl Fryar.

"Trimming bushes, hedges and trees with more panache than Edward Scissorhands, Pearl has become an icon in his native Bishopville, South Carolina."

With no formal training, Pearl has been working on the sculptures in his 3.5 acre topiary garden (made from throw away plants) for several years.

Pearl graciously shares his beautiful garden and his incredible vision of hope and renewal with the public. When tourists arrive at Mr. Fryar’s garden, he stops whatever he’s doing and shows them around. He especially welcomes busloads of school kids--whom he inspires with his personal story and with words of wisdom about living up to your potential and fulfilling your dreams. We all can take a lesson from this humble, gentle man.

The supporting 'actress' in this documentary is Pearl's wife Metra. She is delightful and is the force behind Pearl's quiet strength.

"There's always going to be obstacles. The thing is, you don't let those obstacles determine where you go." Pearl Fryar

Friday, April 10, 2009

I Gotta Have It! Friday

I gotta have.....the Solaire Anywhere Portable Marine Infrared Grill!

Photo Courtesy of Rasmusssen Iron Works, Inc

This is a great gift for Dads and Grads!

The Solaire Anywhere Portable Marine Infrared Grill brings the benefits of direct-heat infrared grilling to your boat (Infrared grilling means no worries about 'no open flame' regulations), dock, condo balcony, backyard, RV, campsite - "anywhere" you want great grilled food!

This portable grill weighs less than 20 lbs, is made with 316 Marine Grade Stainless Steel, includes carrying bag, and uses 1lb. propane bottles.

The Solaire Anywhere Portable Marine Infrared Grill was listed in Barron's Magazine 'Gadget of the Week' and has been featured on the Food Network Show Unwrapped.

The Solaire Anywhere Portable Marine Infrared Grill can be purchased online or through a local Dealer.

Email or 'Comment' me to locate the absolute best price for this grill!

Additional product detail can be found at:Solaire Anywhere Portable Marine Infrared Grill

Friday, April 3, 2009

I Gotta Have It! Friday

Grab you favorite book and seek out your quiet spot in the yard in style!

The Hatteras Hammocks all weather Roman Arc hammock stand is the perfect addition to your backyard. The stand is made of all weather wicker and galvanized steel.

Hatteras Hammocks also have a wide selection of hammocks and hammock pillows.

The 'Breeze Jacquard' hammock (shown below) is one of my favorites.

The Hatteras Hammocks stand and hammocks can be purchased online or through a local Dealer. Email or 'Comment' me to locate the absolute best price for Hatteras Hammocks products.
All photos courtesy of Hatteras Hammocks