The Bee Bee Furter

Bee Bee DairyOr the epitome of “disgustingly delicious.”

Anyone remember the old Bee Bee Dairy in Mystic, CT? I certainly do. There were a few in Southeastern, CT but the Mystic one was the kingpin. Bee Bee’s restaurant was a home away from home for myself and my parents all through the eighties and early nineties. My folks would go there two to three times a day, sitting at the “horseshoe” counter with any number of locals shooting the shit and smoking cigarettes. You know, back when smoking cigs was really, really cool.  Bee Bee’s was known for its extremely yellow booths and greasy spoon food. It also had amazing gray faux wood paneling and a bathroom that everybody and their brother used.  Their ice cream wasn’t bad and they forged a real nice sundae with jet black fudge and real whipped cream topped by a leaky red maraschino. In fact looking back I think the sundae was their strong point on the menu, they produced a nice one.

During the eighties I loved that an arcade was right across the street from Bee Bee’s. Gauntlet, Joust, Punch-Out and Dragon’s Lair were a few of my favorites. I’d go down there and spend all my quarters (or most, since nearby Sunrise Farms housed all kinds of general store delights such as Smartfood, Jolly Ranchers, Hostess Cup Cakes and century-old Pigs Feet with a thick layer of dust on the lid). Once I ran out of cash, I simply crossed the street to Bee Bee’s and begged my parents for a few more dollars. It was the perfect set up. I lived less than a quarter mile away from downtown Mystic so it’s safe to say this happened really often as a kid.

One of the gnarliest things on the menu was the Bee Bee furter. I loved this thing, well sometimes. I think my love of their Patty Melt was greater. The Bee Bee furter was no slouch though.

Basically a foot long hot dog on a toasted New England style hot dog bun, topped with bacon and American cheese. Ketchup was a must. I know, I know, no self respecting dog enthusiast endorses ketchup, but I actually hate hot dogs. Well, except for Bee Bee furters, then I will make an exception.

Hot dogs are ludicrous things. There’s no telling whats in them, I mean truly you could ground up spider eyeballs, goat gonads maybe a sprinkle of slug feces… you could put any or all of this in a dog and nobody would really know.

I kind of gravitate towards Sabretts or Hebrew National for the dog. Nathan’s have too many fatty knurls for me. You know, little yellowy fatty or white fatty little hunklecunks of shit in there? I don’t like seeing it. I like biting into a dog and just seeing like tan ground up mealy shit throughout. Not all this hunklecunks of tubulous veiny shit in there, you know? You dig?

New England bun panSO basically I just do up a foot long dog, at the same time I get a New England style hot dog bun… however these don’t exist in local supermarkets in Virginia. I have to make them instead with the New England style hot dog pan from King Arthur Flour. It’s expensive, it works, but it’s slightly flawed: the buns are a little bit too thin. I circumvent this by not following the ridges exactly when I cut them and thus making them slightly bigger. Only downside is it nets less of them in a batch. I use the recipe it comes with to a T but I add one tablespoon of canola oil. That little bit of oil makes them somewhat soft rather than crumbly. I butter one of these suckers on both sides and fry it in the pan til it’s toasty-roasty.

Next I take the hot dog, place it in the bun and then I put a slab of bacon on top. Tip: cut the bacon in fourths, that way it doesn’t fall the hell off in one bite. Finally I top with American cheese over the bacon to “hold it in place” like a yummy, ooey gooey glue … that’s right I said ooey gooey. I put them in the oven at 350 for a few minutes just to warm everything and slightly melt the cheese.

So wrong but it's soooo right.

The Bee Bee Furter in all its glory.

Ketchup is a must. It just works, trust me on this one.

There you have it, a Bee Bee furter at home. Disgustingly delicious. It lives, it lives on.

After all, what is a legacy, when there’s no one left to remember it?

  Categories : Food/Recipes

Ent Draught (Or my finest beer to date)

HI I’M JOHN KEELER AND I CUT HOGE FAHTS.

Sorry, I just wanted that to show up in the Google search.

Anyways, anyone who knows me from my Mystic, Connecticut days understands that I used to drink different craft beers like a fish. Every day, every single day. I actually quit drinking for about seventeen years since then. Nowadays I just have a beer or two or three. I’m a responsible drinker now I guess. Back in the day four beers was only the beginning of the evening.

I actually brewed beer when I was eighteen. I brewed a chocolate stout, a blueberry stout and a Belgian white ale back then in my parents basement. The beers all came out pretty good but I stopped brewing when I quit drinking. I started brewing again last March and the first few beers kind of sucked–not undrinkable but just something off. Down in Virgina it’s much warmer and I don’t have a basement. My first few beers sucked because they fermented too warm (around 74 degrees). When the yeast goes above a certain temperature you can get off flavors: fruity, chemically – weird, fusel alcohols etc.  Once I realized this I was back to brewing good beer.

If it’s too hot I put the carboy in a large brewing pot and fill that pot with water. Then I put a small fan on it with a t-shirt over the carboy for a “swamp cooler” effect. I fill old soda or juice bottles with water and freeze them, adding to the water bath as necessary. If it gets too cold in winter I use an aquarium heater. I try to keep the brews around 60 degrees when they ferment, 65 in the summer, perhaps even 55 in winter.

The two beers I brewed in September were a Milk Stout and a Hobbit beer “Elevenses” developed by the great brewer John Palmer. I brewed Elevenses again since it was nice and the Milk Stout ended up tasting like Ommegang’s Take the Black Stout (which was weird because I wasn’t going for that but oh well).

robust porter

Ent Draught

The beer I brewed in December is the greatest of all. I call it “Ent Draught.”

It’s a six percent alcohol thing of beauty. I use a partial mash recipe with one pound of chocolate malt, one pound of Crystal malt, 3/4 pound of roasted barley malt, a half pound of flaked oatmeal, 1/4 pound of black patent malt and six pounds of organic light malt syrup. The hops are one ounce of Northern Brewer (60 minutes) one ounce Fuggles (30 mins) one ounce of Willamette (1/2 at 15 min, 1/2 at 6 min) and a little more than a half ounce of Cascade hops right when the wort comes off its 60 minute hop boil. I used Safele 05 dry yeast (my favorite, it’s just very clean tasting) and the results?

I would easily rate this beer an 8.5 out of ten and it pretty much does away with some of the commercial beers I like. Flavors of chocolate (courtesy of the chocolate malt), chocolate covered coffee beans (roasted barley), some caramel (the Crystal malt) and this sort of pleasant earthy or “grainy”, pilsner-y taste reminiscent of an Oskar Blue’s “Ten Fiddy” stout.

ent-beer

Look at dat head. (the stuff on the counter is malt, was brewing MORE ent draught)

Pours like motor oil. The head is creamy and dark brown with fine bubbles of milk chocolatey goodness. Thick mouthfeel, smooth, dark, rich … just the best beer I’ve ever brewed.  The Cascade hops right at the end of the boil give it that “Sierra Nevada” sort of hop kick in the taste buds, just enough. It is a beer I deem worthy of the name Ent Draught. I guess you could classify it as a Robust Porter, but the roasty factor and thick mouthfeel make it seem more like a Stout. Truly the stuff of Fangorn forest legends.

I hope to show off the “kegerator” I built last summer somewhere in the next few posts. I now keg my homebrew in 5 gallon corny kegs and keep in on tap in a mini fridge they sell at Walmahts. The kegerator was full when I brewed Ent Draught so I bottled it. I had the labels made with Grogtag.

  Categories : Beer/Brewing

Southern Tier Imperial Pumking – Mini Review

Southern Tier Pumking

Damn.

This beer by Southern Tier (actually out of New York) is truly amazing, I’m usually not a huge fan of vegetable/fruit beers but this is a huge exception. My discount beer joint got these in only recently, probably leftovers from last October but whatever, they are 8.6 alcohol so they can be cellared a while. I’ve never tasted a beer — or drank anything — that truly tasted like a liquified baked good.

This does.

Big time.

You taste the pumpkin, the nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, the crust — the CRUST!? — it’s unreal how much this tastes like a liquified pumpkin pie. A really good pumpkin pie.

I’d give it a 9 quite honestly, a rare grade for me. It’s just so flavorful. I went back and bought three more: One for next Halloween, one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas. An ultimate “dessert” beer.

Joe D’s reaction when he finally gets to drinking sums it  up perfectly.

 

  Categories : Beer/Brewing

The Nuka Smoker – Weber Smokey Joe Mini

nuka cola smoker

The Nuka Smoker

The Nuka Smoker is a great little cooker for smaller cuts of meat and smoking cheese. It’s also a little known artifact from Fallout 3, I swear I saw it in a post-blast supermarket somewhere on the map. I happened upon this idea in the Smokey Joe Mini WSM Project forums. In fact I should go register to show my Nuka Smoker there soon. Sitting by the Nuka smoker with a fresh Nuka Cola is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars, not if you care for such things.

So far I’ve done a small turkey, a nuclear pork bomb, chicken wings and bone in chicken breasts on this thing and it works very similar to the 299 Weber smoker. On a much smaller scale mind you — filling the smaller charcoal ring to the brim, then pouring some hot coals in the middle (about 1/3 of the weber chimney) gets me about eight hours of cooking time. Maybe more if your coal grate is even larger, mine came out a little narrow. Also, the temperature fluctuates just a little more in the smaller version, for mine at least. I usually have to mess with the bottom dampers once or twice during a cook.  One of the biggest keys to this project in my opinion is the clay pot for a diffuser.  Your food is a short distance from the coals so you must diffuse that direct heat.

nuka smoker fallout

Ready to smoke a nuclear pork bomb — or bacon.

For “cold smoking” something like cheese I place about four charcoal nugs together in the bottom of the Nuka Smoker and just blast them with a blowtorch in the middle for a few seconds until they start to whiten on the inner edges. Next I put a piece of hardwood on top and it creates just enough heat to smoke without melting the cheese. Have to be careful on really hot days though, one to two hours usually does the trick.

All the information to build one starts here, here’s another good example I quickly found. I used the Vasconia pot. I was able to find two locally at Wally World. 24-29 bucks seems to be the regular price for these. It cut real easy with a jigsaw blade made specifically for metal. I used a little aluminum drawer pull for the top chimney and a long piece of stainless threaded rod with an acorn nut at the end for the bottom vent. I only did one rack on the top of mine, you can see where the nuts are on the sides of the graphics in the middle. High heat engine paint and custom vinyl stickers were used for the logos.

One last word of caution, if you’re going to paint it with high-temperature engine paints you may want to use this cooker as a smoker only. That’s what I’ve been doing and the high temp paint has only browned some on the bottom. I have another smokey joe griller for high temp grilling only. I love these little Weber grills, they’re only 29 bucks most places. I used the silver version, but the gold version works too, it just has different vents.

nuka bottle opener

A real Nuka bottle opener built in.

As someone who is accustomed to using gas grills, I really only use charcoal now. Not as simple, but better flavors.

  Categories : Arcade/Gaming, Food/Recipes

Starr Hill Dark Starr Stout – Quick Review

Starr Hill Darkstar

The Smooth Taste of Ashtray…

When I’ve read beer reviews claiming “hints of tobacco and ashtray” I’ve always wonder what the hell they’re talking about. That is, until I tried this Grateful Dead inspired beer from Starr Hill brewery in Virginia. Dark Starr Stout is the most awarded Dry Irish Stout in the USA, but don’t get to thinking this is some kind of amazing experience. It is a decent beer though, it’s … well … different. But good different I think, not bad. I didn’t get too much caramel or chocolate from this beer as advertised. It’s thin, it’s dark, there’s some vanilla and it has this smokey ASH TRAY thing going on. Finally, I tasted ash tray in a beer, but it’s not too bad. The smokey flavor and thin mouth feel screams “dark beer to have on a hot summer day whilst grilling.” Low alcohol at 4.2 percent too. I would give it a 7.5, something that I would only seek out once in a while for a specific occasion.

Think of a pleasant ashtray, if possible.

Think of a pleasant ashtray, if possible.

 

 

  Categories : Beer/Brewing

Nuclear Pulled Pork and the Legend of Harry Soo

I started smoking shit years ago using those cheesy little electric bullet smokers, even tried a cheap 89.00 chimney style smoker …

I did OK with these, but the units themselves absolutely sucked balls. I could only use the electric one on a hot day since it didn’t go above 210 degrees. The chimney style smoker required tons of charcoal and constant tweaking since it wouldn’t hold a consistent temp.

Enter the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker:

Weber

Weber

I wish I started using one of these years ago. At 299.00 it’s worth every penny and it’s arguably the best entry level smoker out there. The multitude of positive reviews on Amazon are legit and one reviewer stands out from the rest: The Great Harry Soo.

I consider myself to be a disciple of the Soo. I’ve learned much from him without taking a single one of his cooking classes. His website SlapYoDaddyBBQ has a lot of good cooking advice and recipes. Harry Soo is a big fan of the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker and has won over 27 Grand Championships. His team also won the first season of TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters show. What’s cool is that Soo and his team actually use the 299-399 Weber smokers in their contests.

Pork Butt Rub ...Gonna do a pork butt here, starting by rubbing one out, I mean rubbing it out. Then I’ll inject it with apple juice, brown sugar, paprika, and garlic powder. Next I’ll rub the outside with the aforementioned spices plus pepper and a little chili powder.

Here is an example of how the unit works. First, you fill the bottom up with charcoal, I’m not going too crazy here since it’s a smaller pork butt, so I’ll just fill it about 2/3 of the way. I’m probably looking at 7-9 hours at 225-240 degrees, filling it to the rim with charcoal would tack many more hours on. I throw a few hunks of hickory on the edges. Next, I get about a half a chimney of coals going. The Weber Chimney is like 14 bucks, made from mostly aluminum and it’s held up for well over a year now. I started out using the newspaper and olive oil trick to get it going. Screw that, making your own fire-starters by simply dipping cotton balls in paraffin wax is better in my opinion, buying the cheap ones Weber makes is best–they burn a little better and longer.

The coals get white-hot and I chuck them on top of the charcoal in the bottom of the unit. I made a small well in the middle for them, these will burn outward and slowly ignite the hickory and charcoal over many hours. The middle piece of the smoker goes on top followed by the lid. That middle piece is perfect to use as a stand for the chimney starter. Just like Harry Soo, I don’t fill the water bowl inside with water, I just cover it with aluminum foil.

Now that it’s fired up the chimney hole on the lid stays wide open as well as the three dampers on the bottom. Once the temperature reaches 200 degrees I close the bottom dampers leaving them only a little more than 1/8 open. If it were a windy day, I may completely close the damper facing the wind.

That’s it. Now I wait about six hours until the internal temperature is 160 or so. I did not have to mess with the smoker once during this time. One thing to be cognizant of while its smoking is leaving the lid open–don’t do it for more than a few seconds. The coals will burn much hotter–possibly igniting the wood chunks–and then you may have to mess with the chimney/dampers until it chills out. The top chimney always stays wide open, that is unless you have a huge temperature spike–usually from the lid being opened for a while. However, closing down the bottom dampers in addition to the top chimney will bring the temp down fast.

Once the nuclear pork butt reached 160 I decided to foil it. I did not foil the past two pork butts and they were absolutely excellent. They were also bigger and had more fat on them. This butt seems leaner and looked a bit dry on the outside  at 160 degrees so I decided to “steam” it within its own juices in addition to some apple juice and brown sugar. Buy the larger style Reynolds aluminum foil and get a tight seal on it before putting it back on the smoker. Choosing to foil or not or to spritzer with water or apple juice or not comes down to “feel” as the great Harry Soo says. If it looks more dry, give it a spritz. If it doesn’t just leave it alone. Harry Soo also says do not spray anything at all on the meat until it forms a crust on the outside that you can’t quite scrape away with a fingernail. That’s usually at the 160 degree mark I’ve found but not always. You want to form that crust before you do any foiling or spritzing with shit.

Christ, I was thinking of putting up a quick post about a friggen pork butt and it’s turned into an essay.

You might notice these cool Thermapen thermometer probes that cooks use, well they also cost 89 bucks or more. There’s a cheaper version I just got called the ThermoPop and it works great. Five seconds and you get a correct meat temp. Comes in handy for brewing beer too.

Falling off the Bone

Falling off the Bone

Once foiled, I let the meat go two hours more and the temperature was now 195. Perfect? Well not so fast. As a disciple of the great Harry Soo I learned to try and cook by feel and not temperature. When inserting the probe I noticed a little bit of resistance, there should be none when its done. I let it go another hour and it the temperature only raised two points. No resistance this time, it was done. Absolutely ready to fall off the bone. Tender, juicy, phantasmagorical, effervescent strips of pork tender juice pork, pork.

Tearing into this butt is easy.

Tearing into this butt is easy.

I couldn’t believe the amount of meat on this rather medium sized pork bomb. The meat piled up so high I needed another plate to continue harvesting with two forks. I put its fatty/applejuice-y drippings into a pan with about a cup of water, two tablespoons of apple cider (I think I added one more) a little brown sugar, paprika, salt, garlic powder and pepper. A couple squirts of ketchup too for a nice dipping sauce.

Like Butter...

Like Butter…

Now I have more &^*&ing pork than I know what to do with.

Let’s see, pulled pork sandwiches, pulled pork tacos, pulled pork calzones, pulled pork burritos, pulled pork chimichangas, PORK…PORK-PORK–PORK PARK?? PARKK PORKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!

Enough pork to feed a village. Or to last many days. Too much pork, really.

All Mounded Up

All Mounded Up

My advice to anyone that wants a solid entry level smoker, one that should last twenty years or more is to go with the 299.00 Weber and check out Soo’s informative review. It will probably be forever locked at the top left of all the reviews on the Amazon product page. In the off chance you found it sucks you could always sell it locally for near its full value or make a pretty decent black R2D2.

Also, if you want to do some pretty good smoking in a similar style and can’t swing 299, I have one more smaller, cheaper option I want to talk about coming in my next food category post.

  Categories : Food/Recipes

Alewerks Tavern Ale Mini Review

My trusty Nuka Cola opener still going strong.

My trusty Nuka Cola opener still going strong.

Alewerks Brewing Company is located in Williamsburg,Virginia and their beer is only available locally in VA for the time being. If you live in Virginia or you’re just passing through you may find this beer in a supermarket. Alewerks Tavern Ale showed up at the local discount store and I decided to take a chance on it, figuring it would be a moderately tasty, easy drinking beer to “have at a cookout” to paraphrase the packaging.  Instead I found one of the finest Brown Ales I have ever tasted and I couldn’t believe the price: 5.74 a sixer.

The nose is sweet roasted nuts, chocolate and bready malts. The taste is complex and loaded with flavor. Chocolate, roasted malt, a touch of caramel and a slight bit of smoke likened to freshly dead autumn leaves — similar to a Sierra Nevada Tumbler. There’s some “biscuit” malt flavor there too, a taste that’s very present in a New Belgium Fat Tire. In fact this beer reminds me of a Sam Adams Cream Stout, a Sierra Nevada Tumbler and a Fat Tire rolled into one. Thin mouthfeel, 6 percent alcohol.

Overall I give it an 8.5  it’s one of the best Brown Ales I’ve ever tasted. I’m more of a stout/porter lover but this is a great change of pace beer especially for the warmer months since it is a bit more thin and just plain tasty. Could not believe this beer was under six dollars, got a couple more six packs. I hope it is always easy to find here. I’m hoping I can track down their Washington’s Porter based on how good this beer was.

One last note, I couldn’t make out the freshness dates on the bottles, so I emailed the brewery just for the heck of it and they shot back that their machine was messed up. Turns out the brew date was only ten days from when I bought them, nice.

  Categories : Beer/Brewing

La Fontanero Super – Mario 25th Anniversary La Cabronita Guitar

A few years ago Nintendo celebrated the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. with the release of a red Wii, red DSi XL and Mario All Stars for the Wii. Soon after I imagined a Fender La Cabronita style guitar dyed completely red in honor of the plumber’s silver anniversary. I like the simplicity of the La Cabronita design and I think it makes a fine high-gain single humbucker monstrosity.

Many months later… Behold, The La Fontanero Super!

Mario Guitar

La Fontanero Super

The guitar boasts an Allparts Tele style neck, Wilkinson Vintage Tuners, some cheap (but very decent) top-loading bridge and one of the lightest Swamp Ash guitar bodies I’ve ever come across.  After I cut the shape I used a cheapy Harbor Freight oscillating spindle sander to hone down the coarse edges of the body. The resulting body was light as a feather and the finished guitar weighs 6.2 pounds.

 After routing the pickup cavities I sanded it to 320 grit and then “whiskered” the wood several times with a damp rag. Each time I did this it raised the wood grain a bit and I lightly sanded back the “burs” or fuzzy wood fibers. I then used a combination of powdered transfast dyes (Cardinal Red, Scarlet Red) mixed in distilled water to achieve a sort of “blood red.” Once the body and neck were dyed accordingly I finished it with Tru Oil, applying this several times using small pieces of old t-shirt, carefully spreading it in one thin layer at a time. I must have applied the Tru Oil 20 times or more on the body, waiting about three hours between coats. Normally I do 4-5 coats on a neck for example, but this wood was so dry and light it drank up a ton of it.

I tried mixing 40% mineral spirits (dyed with transfast) to 60% Tru Oil. This works with oil based dyes but I tried water based and it helped me dye the guitar a very evenly red color. If I used this mixture alone it would not have looked super red, the dye darkened in the Tru Oil quite a bit, but it worked very well to deepen the overall red color and to cover some of the hard to reach pores in the grain that didn’t take the water based dye too easily. I did this on the body only, you can see it is a darker red than the neck, but not by a whole lot.  I applied three coats of normal Tru Oil to one coat of the dyed oil, sanding back lightly every three coats or so.  Hitting the oil with 600 grit sandpaper between every third coat or so worked nicely.

I routed the pickguard from clear acrylic and I placed a metallic print of the 25th Mario Anniversary logo underneath it. The lone volume knob has a push/pull pot rigged with an Arlo West/Woodman cocked wah mod (thanks Deaf Eddie for the wiring help.)

I must say the red neck with black tuners and dots looks quite evil. It reminds me of that horny guy from the movie Legend — no, not Tom Cruise.

legend

 

  Categories : Guitars

Ommegang Take the Black Stout

Ommegang Take the Black Stout

Imagine adding half a Samuel Adams Cream Stout to half an Ommegang Abbey Ale or any other nice Belgian style ale and there you have it. Er well, there’s also some subtle licorice notes and some musty–earthy–grape leaves quality–perhaps Andrew Zimmern might call it “riverbank” or “wood pulp.”

It’s good though. Different. Not amazing, but I’d give it a solid 8 out of 10. Strange that the Milk Stout I brewed in August ended up tasting very close to this Game of Thrones inspired stout. Sad thing is I wasn’t shooting for those flavors but now I can’t complain that I’m sitting on five gallons of “Take the Black Stout Clone” in my kegerator. Fermenting beer at around 74 degrees and up can produce some fruity or belgian-y qualities from the yeast and that’s what happened methinks.

In other news The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown comes on at eight…

  Categories : Beer/Brewing

Turtleman Turtle Mugs

turtleman mugJust got my Turtleman Turtle Mugs from the Animal Planet/Discovery store. A little spendy but very nice looking clear acrylic with “turtle shell” accents. Promptly filled with Legend brown ale.

  Categories : Beer/Brewing
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