In the Kitchen

Pork Loin on the Ugly Drum Smoker

I did it again this weekend. I fired up the ugly drum smoker.

Pork Loin

Friday night on my way home I stopped at Costco and they had pork loin on for six dollars a kilo.

So I thought to myself, let’s do this. I bought and took home a 4 kg pork loin.

Pork Loin

I rolled some plastic film onto the biggest cookie sheet I have and flopped the loin onto it and then showered it with store bought barbecue rub.

A good healthy coating, and then I pulled the plastic wrap up and around the loin and tucked it into the fridge for the night.

Pork Loin

Morning time, I pulled the pork loin out and cut it into three approximately equal sized pieces. Then the weirdness. Keep your mind on the food. And out of the gutter.

I slid my chef’s knife into the centre of each of the loins and gave it a little twist to open up a little pocket in the loin. And then I slid a smokie into the centre of each loin. Focus on the food.


Then I went outside to get the Ugly Drum Smoker fired up. Lit the chimney thing, got the handfuls coals white hot, and then dumped them into the basket of hardwood charcoal briquettes in the bottom of the UDS.

I tossed in a generous handful of hickory wood chips (I couldn’t find my apple wood chips) and then put the lid on the drum to let it heat up.

Ugly Drum Smoker

Once up to 250° – about half an hour, I put the three pieces of pork loin on the racks in the drum.

Pork Loin

Stuck a thermometer in each of the pieces of meat and one in the centre of drum to measure drum temperature, and it was rolling.

I left the bottom valve air intakes to the fire chamber wide open and the drum maintained a pretty steady 240°. I also had just one chimney/vent open on the top.

Pork Loin

Two hours and 20 minutes after putting the pork on the rack the probes reached 153° and 143°. I pulled the loins off and took them in the house where I tented them with foil.

Pork Loin

Only because I had a busy day planned did I leave them to rest for as long as I did. But when I sliced into them – wow. What a taste sensation!

Pork Loin

The pork was still moist and the smokie in the middle? It added a very funky feature to the pork. When I do it again I’ll probably put multiple slashes in the smokie casing so the flavour can leak out more easily.

I will call this another Ugly Drum Smoker success! Next thing I want to try? A smoked meatloaf wrapped in a bacon weave.

Life Musings

Being Grateful

I have to admit, I’ve been pretty unhappy for the last little while; you know this is true if you’ve had to deal with me and listen to my rants lately.

Me being miserable? Why? When I think about all the great things I have in my life – why am I miserable?

The fact is, I am unhappy and I need to deal with it. To help me keep perspective, I’m going to start acknowledging and recognizing some of the things I have in my life that I’m grateful for.

Today I’m acknowledging and recognizing my family and my friends.

I couldn’t ask for a better family. My kids? They’re my everything. My mom? They don’t get any better; she’s always willing to listen without judgement.

And my friends. They always seem to know when to say, “Stacey, let’s go for a coffee.”

My first day of acknowledging and recognizing all that I have that I am grateful for.

In the Kitchen

Firing up the Ugly Drum Smoker

This weekend, for the first time since the summer just gone, I fired up the beast – my Ugly Drum Smoker. And it was ultra-cool feeling to make some barbecue!

Ugly Drum Smoker

The usual routine to light it, wad up a couple sheets of newspaper, cram them into the base of the barbecue lighting chimney, place 10-12 pieces of hardwood charcoal in the top compartment, and then light the paper on fire.

Within five or ten minutes (time becomes irrelevant when barbecuing) the paper is burned up and the charcoal is beginning to turn white from the heat. I waited until about half the charcoal pieces were ignited and then dumped the chimney of charcoal into the basket of charcoal in the base of the drum.

Ugly Drum Smoker

Then I let that start to heat up the drum. I’m a man of science, seeing as I don’t yet have a feel for the way the UDS works so I lower a thermometer probe into the centre of the drum.

I want the interior of the drum to be about 200°. ?

Chicken on Smoker

Once the drum has reached temperature, I placed the six chicken thighs on the grill/rack. I put a thermometer probe into one of the pieces of chicken and then closed the lid and let the barbecue start smoking and cooking.

There’s a saying in the barbecue world, “If you’re looking, you’re not cooking.” So I leave the drum closed and let the smoke and heat do it’s magic.

Chicken on UDS

Oddly enough, I really don’t know how long I left the thighs on the grill. It was about 45 minutes …. here I am saying I’m a man of science and yet I didn’t record the time in and out. Weak.

Chicken on Smoker

The first batch that I did, yep, I did two batches, turned out perfectly cooked. I pulled them off when the internal temperature of the meat was 180°. ?I had used my homemade rub/coating and the kids found it too spicy (it does have a powerful bite to it!).

Once the first batch of thighs was done and I had tasted them, I realized that it was ridiculous to fire up the UDS just to do six thighs. So I grabbed another six from the fridge, tossed them in a bag with sone store-bought Shake N Bake mix, and them put them on the grill.

Chicken on UDS

The second batch turned out just as beautifully. And not nearly as spicy so the kids both had a taste. Not a big taste – they’re both not big on eating meat right now.

Bottom line, the chicken thighs were awesome. But next time I light up the grill I will be sure to have more meat ready to go on the smoker. Probably a big old pork loin that I can barbecue and then slice up for lunches during the following week.

I’ll be sure to share pics of my next Ugly Drum Smoker experience.

Durable Goods

Fade Friday Day #72

It has been quite a few days/weeks since I posted a Fade Friday update. So here it is – a day late from Friday.

Fade Friday

The fade lines are really starting to develop character especially around my A Simple Leather Belt Co wallet. A couple of years ago I switched from carrying my wallet in my back pocket to the front left pocket. It is MUCH more comfortable – and the fade lines look gorgeous as well.

Fade Friday

There were two days since my last Fade Friday update that I did not wear my Brave Star 21.5 ounce Cone Mills denim dungarees. One day I was working at the cabin and chose to wear my Carhartt bib overalls. The other day I didn’t wear the Brave Star’s was when I was at a more formal event and I was wearing a suit.

Durable Goods On the Road

Flashback to Our End of the Summer Camping Trip

Disclosure: the #5DadsGoWild camping trip was made possible through the generous support of a number of businesses – some I mention in the following blog post, including Ford Canada, the Bluemoose Cafe, House of Knives, Farm Town Meats, Stanley and their amazing thermos French Press, and others. However, editorial control as always, is mine.

Ahh … summer 2019. Such a great summer capped off with a weekend with my dad buds in the Lone Duck group campsite in the amazing Manning Park.

Once again we had awesome sponsors for our trip. We had all the bacon and meat we needed – and extra to take home compliments of Josh at Farm Town Meats in Burnaby – my go-to for all things meat.

The team at House of Knives supplied us with survival gear and sharp and shiny knives for everyday carry – who doesn’t need a knife in their pocket? Super handy for opening packages (and candy wrappers). Which does beg the question, why are candy wrappers so difficult to open?

And Ford Canada… they loaned us the mighty Ford Expedition which I had the pleasure of driving for the week leading up to our camping trip.

Honestly, it was awesome to drive such a big vehicle. The sight lines from the driver’s seat are awesome. Sitting up high makes it so easy to see all around the vehicle. Loved it.

Truly an exceptional truck for a large family or moving your dad blogger team around the southern interior of B.C. Ultra-Comfortable and powerful.

Of course Wes and his team at the Blue Moose Cafe in Hope BC fueled our dad bods with coffee for four of us – funny thing, James, the Englishman in our group drinks coffee and Dale is the tea drinker in our group. All good fuel for dads.

However, even though we had survival gear from House of Knives, endless bacon, trail mix fromMcSweeney’s with beef and pork jerky – it really does “work” – and a comfy ride from Ford, what we didn’t have is warm weather!

It snowed! Snow on our “end of the summer”camping trip! Even so, the snow made for incredible images. Even if I was concerned that I may never walk again after waking up, nearly frozen to the ground!

Seeing as we have already reserved the Lone Duck campsite at Manning Park for the same end of September weekend in 2020, I’m now planning what gear to bring for the coming year.

Yes, I’ve got a good sleeping bag, but having the tent collapse on me under the snow load, plus sleeping on the cold ground because my air mattress deflated faster than the Toronto Maple Leafs hopes of winning a Stanley Cup…I’m carefully planning next years sleeping arrangement. Maybe I’ll bring a camp cot.

However, in spite of the cold and the snow, we had an incredible weekend of conversations.

Hanging out alongside – or actually in – Lightning Lake, hiking through the trails of Strawberry Flats, sitting around the campfire and talking without having any kids saying “I’m bored” was such a welcome break from everything.

And add in the fact that we discovered that there is a pub in the lower level of the Manning Park Resort, well guaranteed, we will be back for the third annual #5DadsGoWild camping trip to Manning Park.

Here’s to being even better prepared next year!

What do you use to keep warm and comfortable? Other than a motor home! Sleeping cot? Mattress? What gear do you recommend for me for next years #5dadsgowild trip?

In the Kitchen

Baking Bread Over A Fire

I recently bought a new cast iron Dutch Oven. It was on sale on Amazon for $35 (nope, I’m not sponsored by Amazon nor am I an Amazon affiliate) but I couldn’t resist buying it.

While I was at the cabin, I figured it was a good opportunity to use the Dutch oven in an outdoor fire pit.

So, weekend at cabin, new Dutch oven, fire pit, my love for baking bread…perfect combination. Right?

Easy No Knead Bread

I mixed together my usual bread recipe:

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups of water

Mix the ingredients, let it stand for a few hours (typically over night) and then bake it at? 450° for a half hour.

Baking Bread

Instead of baking it in the oven – onto a piece of parchment paper and into the cast iron Dutch oven and into the fire! How exciting!

Baking Bread

I pulled the white hot coals around the Dutch oven, put the lid on, put a couple hot coals on top of the lid, and left it for half an hour.

Baking Bread

After the half hour was up, removed the coals from the lid and opened it to.

Yeah… that may have been too hot!! And too long.

Baking Bread

Although the bread didn’t work out – it was burned to completely black, I’ll be honest, I am looking forward to getting back to the cabin and trying again!

News Items

Don Cherry Gets Fired

If someone opens a conversation with a statement that sounds anything like, “I don’t want to sound like a racist, but you know Don Cherry kind of…”

I typically cut them off as quickly as I can and say, “If you don’t want to sound like a racist, you really should stop talking at this point.”

Foodie News

Big Red’s Poutine Food Truck

I’ve been following the Instagram feed from the food truck called Big Red’s Poutine on social media for months now.

So you can imagine how delighted I was when I saw the Big Red’s Poutine food truck at the Port Moody Farmers Market last weekend!

I have to admit, eating the poutine from Big Red’s food truck was even better than looking at pictures of their poutine. Duhuh!!

The piping hot, rich and creamy beef gravy melted the cheese curds just enough to make them ooey-gooey good. Oh yeah, that is all on top of the hand cut French fries! For $8 – this is a bargain.

I’ll be watching for Big Red’s Poutine at all the winter farmers markets this year. Delicious.

In the Kitchen

Cheese Filled Zucchini Blossoms on the Grill

Funny that on the last week of the Coquitlam Farmer’s Market I rediscovered the delicacy of cheese stuffed zucchini blossoms.

Zucchini Blossoms

I say that I “rediscovered” zucchini blossoms because once I tasted these tender morsels, I was transported back to my childhood when we often ate stuffed zucchini blossoms.

I was inspired to try preparing zucchini blossoms because of a series of photos I saw on Instagram. Each week during zucchini blossom season the (Bill Tieleman) goes to the Vancouver Farmer’s Market and gets blossoms from Forstbauer Organic Farms. Each week Tieleman does wildly creative things with the blossoms.

My favourite from this year was when Cinders the Dragon ate up some other beast leaving behind rib bones and zucchini blossom…. well never mind.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the Coquitlam Farmer’s Market when I saw a basket of the blossoms so I got a bag full and took them home to try my hand at cooking these tender little morsels. And, well actually, dealing with the zucchini blossoms was more work – delicate work – than I had anticipated!

Parmesan and Smoked Cheddar

We started out grating parmesan cheese and some two year old double smoked cheddar. And then realized that grated cheese was probably not the best for working with zucchini blossoms – we couldn’t figure out how to get the grated cheese into the blossoms!

So we switched to thin sliver-like slices of the parmesan and cheddar cheeses and slid them inside the blossoms.

Zucchini Blossoms

Once we had the cheese inside the blossoms we dipped and rolled them in a whipped up egg mixture.

Zucchini Blossoms

From the egg mixture into a bowl of flour to be rolled over until sure they had a thin coat all the way around. Onto a plate and ready to go the grill.

Even if it is cold and dark outside (so it is really difficult to take quality pics), I still prefer using the gas grill on the back porch rather than the electric stove inside.

Zucchini Blossoms

I got about 1/2″ of oil in my Field Company cast iron pan good and hot before carefully setting each cheese filled blossom into the pan.

A few minutes in the hot oil and then I turned them over to let the flip side get crispy.

Zucchini Blossoms

I still had a pile of grated parmesan so I sprinkled a little on each of the blossoms as I took them out of the pan. The leftover heat from the grill helped the cheese melt into the blossoms for a little extra cheesy-goodness.

Zucchini Blossoms

To be honest – these were delicious! Tiny, tender morsels of flavour bombs. For a first attempt, I impressed myself.

And the best part of all of this? Both of the kids loved them and asked for more! Unfortunately, that was the final batch of zucchini blossoms for this year as the weather turned cooler. Oh well, like the Toronto Maple Leafs say, “There’s always next year.”

On the Road Vehicles

5 Dads Go Wild; Ford Expedition

It has now been more than a month since I took part in the annual 5 Dads Go Wild camping trip. And this year, like last year, Ford Canada provided us with a couple of trucks to get us all safely up to – and back from – Manning Park.

Disclosure – the Ford Expedition we test drove was provided for us for the week leading up to and for the weekend of our camping trip free of charge by Ford Canada.

Ford Expedition

To start out, I have to admit that the Ford Expedition is an incredible vehicle. When driving it, you sit up high and the sight lines from the drivers seat are exceptional. Well, other than the blind spot over the left shoulder if you’re trying to shoulder check before doing a lane change.

But the Expedition has large mirrors with warning lights in m them to let you know if there is another car beside you before you change lanes.

I was surprised at how quickly adapted to driving the Expedition.

It has a spacious interior and yet it still feels nimble on the road. When I first got into the Expedition, after driving my comparatively tiny Echo, the SUV felt massive. But even within a few minutes I felt comfortable driving it around the city in rush hour traffic.

Ford Expedition

One thing my kids and I quite liked about the Ford was all the tiny, and yet quite bright interior “convenience” lights.

I liked them because they allowed the kids to do their kid stuff like reading books while I was driving without having an overhead dome light on that distracted (blinded me) me while I was driving. Something that seems minor but it really does make the driving experience that little bit more “convenient” for passengers and the driver.

Ford Expedition

While I was driving the Ford Expedition around town my average fuel consumption was 15 litres per 100 kilometre – according to the reading on the large and well laid out screen on the dash.

The fact that the V6 engine in the Expedition generates almost 400 horsepower can be tempting to “test” out. Perhaps the fuel consumption would improve even more once I got the lead out of my foot! But driving a vehicle with almost 400 horsepower is pretty exhilarating! The acceleration really is wild.

Ford Expedition

Once we headed out of town and got out on the highway the fuel consumption of the Ford really did improve.

Driving at a pretty steady freeway speed reduced the fuel consumption to just over 11 litres per 100 kilometre. Considering that the Expedition can seat seven, and tow pretty much anything you want – like a boat or a travel trailer – that’s pretty respectable mileage.

We had all five of us dads plus a ton of camping gear with us in the truck and it was very comfortable.

So the bottom line – the Expedition is an impressive and very well appointed vehicle. Everything in the vehicle is well thought out. Sure it is a big vehicle. But if you’ve got a big family or a crew you are traveling with, this is a vehicle that will do the job.

Now my next question is, which Ford vehicle should I test drive next?