somehow, in the space of half an hour i found myself committing to this little beauty on the right, there. that's right folks! i know have a dedicated smoker to call my own! thanks to a hot messageboard tip from a food-obsessed poster i trust, when i shouldn't really have been surfing messageboards in the first place (ummm...i was on my break! uh...yeah, that's it), i heard that the model on the right was on sale at home depot for under $200. i was already planning on swinging by the home deeps to pick up some hickory chips for the bbq i'm hosting on tuesday, so i called the dotytron (who had the day off) and breathlessly hatched a plan for him to borrow the mater and pater's car so that we could haul it back home. no word of a lie, my heart was pounding with anticipation, i had butterflies in my stomach and i was giddy as all get-out.
it's propane fired. 'cue purists might think that's sacrilege, as it should be charcoal or nothing...but i mean, true 'cue purists make their own charcoal from fruit/nut woods and there's no WAY i have the space for that. i like having the heat control. i'll save charcoal for when i get a kettle bbq (next summer, maybe?). i'm kind of in love with it. and by "kind of" i mean "it's my new boyfriend". smoked meat! smoked chicken, sausages, homemade bacon! the possibilities are endless! smoked tea, cheese, fish!
we also got a glass-topped table (hella cheap at crappy tire) to supplement our picnic table. it's nice having the extra surface area for prep or to set up a bar...i don't know what i'm going to do if i ever buy a house that doesn't have a proper back yard. i'd be totally screwed. i need room for all my gear!
last night was hella fun and funny. we had ribs, bean salad, a jalepeno cornbread, and a mixed greens salad. this is the cake i made! it's a giant hostess cupcake! devil's food cake with a marshmallow cream filling. i was pretty proud of myself. i could have done a slightly better job to mirror the hostess cupcake by shaving down the sides of the cake so that they angled slightly towards the bottom...
but i left it as is. also, the cake was made on wednesday evening and it's never as good when it has to be refrigerated for a bit. that devil's food cake recipe that i use, when eaten at room temperature, is so moist and rich and essence-of-cake-y that it's a shame that time didn't allow for the full effect. i made mini-versions with the cake scraps (the circles i cut out of two layers to make the hollow) and leftover cream filling and ganache...i ate it on wednesday and it was divine.
i don't know if it's just me...but i kind of don't get the w.p. thing of serving cake with ice cream. i don't feel like the two go together at all. notable exceptions are when the cake is warm, because then you get the contrast in temperatures. but a firm, sturdy, cold slice of cake is better supplemented with whipped cream (but still, generally unnecessary because of the sweetness and texture of most frostings and buttercreams) or a cold glass of milk. PIE, on the other hand, generally improves with the addition of ice cream, but again, that's usually a temperature thing, and it's generally reserved for pastry-crusted fruit pies. there's an ineffable alchemy that occurs when flaky, warm pastry layers sandwiching sugared, acidic fruit hits the creamy coolness of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. but i would never think of serving ice cream with like, a chocolate pudding pie or a key lime pie or a coconut cream pie. it's unnecessary, because the cream element is really supposed to offset the acid in the fruit, and provide a textural contrast. with cake, it makes no sense (imo).
it was a fun time! the ex got a little drunk and proceeded to go into high school modern western civilizations teacher mode (it's a favorite mode of his, actually) which involves tangential, flimsily constructed arguments cobbled together from mainstream, slightly-left-of-centre news sources, rick mercer, george strombolopolous, boring documentaries about dictators, and conspiracy theories targeted at angry male adolescents. it's a hoot.
the omnipresent rain today is putting a damper on my plans to assemble the smoker and table and fuss around outside. instead, i think it's going to be a tidying up the house, movies-and-knitting in front of the tv kind of a day. tonight for dinner i'm making us egg fettucini with garlic scapes and chilies, topped with a poached egg and breadcrumbs, and a salad. and strawberry shortcakes for dessert, because i have to eat strawberry shortcakes at least once a summer, and when ontario strawberries are in season, there's no better time for it. strawberry shortcakes are probably one of my all-time favorite desserts. judging by the regularity with which they appear in summer food magazines and that bible of patrician lifestyles, martha stewart living, i'm aware that i'm not alone in the sentiment. they're just about perfect. sweet, craggy, flaky biscuits, sandwiching a heap of juicy strawberries, topped with a cloud of softly whipped cream.