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Food, drink and smoking Summer 2016 · 19.08.16 by colin newell

Best smoking times

Having saved up for a house, back-yard and BBQ for going on 20 years, you can imagine my delight when all of this actually came true!

I now have the house and back yard and a very beat up but serviceable Weber Genesis 3-burner 300 series BBQ that is still cooking away (and over ten years of age…)

And in the first 60 days of living in our house, I BBQ’ed 45 nights! We just started our 3rd year in the house 1 month ago! Amazing. I am a better BBQ chef now but what kind of smoker am I?
Well, I am not a smoker at all – but I could aspire to be.

And if learning how to gas flame BBQ cook is one skill, then learning how to smoke meat is an entirely, ahem, different kettle of fish. But let’s discuss some basics.

Smoking meat to perfection requires much more finesse than many people are aware of. There are two distinct setups when it comes to the arrangement of a smoking system: the vertical setup, and the horizontal setup. In the vertical setup, the fire can be as low as the bottom level of the apparatus, separated from the meat at the top with water and smoking wood in the middle.

In the horizontal setup, the cooking chamber, water, meat, smoking agents, and firebox are all connected. Of course, it is also possible to achieve good smoking results simply by using a regular grill. The source of heat for completing the smoking process can be achieved with a number of different agents, including wood, steam, electricity, gas, and charcoal.

The greatest challenge in being able to achieve a consistent temperature throughout the meat is to be able to maintain a constant, healthy flow of smoke. Generally speaking, those who are new to the art of smoking meat will be best-suited with an electric smoking apparatus.

Generally speaking, indirectly seating through smoking is a method adopted for larger pieces of meat. Naturally, different cuts of meat will have a different amount of time that will be most ideal for dispersing the heat of the smoke across the full surface area and throughout the entire cut.

The attached graphic gives you a great idea how different meats or proteins respond to smoke – or in other words, “when they are done…” It was a neat graphic to look at and the attached image prints well – so use it freely and learn a bit more about “smoking” – smoking of the healthy kind that is!

What you can do is open up the graphic by clicking on it and then right clicking it to save to your desk top.

Or (and this should work better…) Click on this – smoking-times-and-temperature.jpg

Now I need to get out some of those hickory wood chips I have kicking around!

Apologies in advance to my lovely Vegan and Vegetarian friends.


Colin Newell has been writing this blog for over 20 years and you will notice the absence of junk content, click bait, promo links and other rubbish. We are better than that and everyone should demand better content!

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A slight book review - Adventures in Solitude · 11.08.16 by colin newell

Adventures in Solitude Review Grant LawrenceOne would hardly think that we could improve on the relative paradise of Kona, Hawaii – a coastal village often basking in a seemingly endless summer sun, caressed by a cleansing surf and feeling the gentle quiet of the off season.

Despite this perfection, we did. And we did it with a book no less.
And what better book than one that dishes out surprises and regional familiarity by the pail full.

As a Canadian West coast resident who grew up in the in-between zone of not quite country but not quite city life of Southern Vancouver Island, it felt familiar reading a comprehensive, compelling and honest tale of a young man’s coming of age in the blustery South West coastal region of British Columbia. This area, often so unflinchingly merciless, so physically and mentally challenging, was the backyard of my childhood.

Although I have never been in the heart of Desolation Sound, I have been in the region. One of the towns mentioned in the book, Lund, which is the gateway to Desolation Sound, was one of my last stops on many roads trips exploring the area. It is up the road a ways from Powell River at the end of a fully paved 6600 mile road that reaches all the way to Santiago de Chile. And yet, it is, has been and will always be the road less traveled.

I have been to similar places to Lund on Vancouver Island like Port Renfrew, Port Hardy, Telegraph Bay, Ucluelet and many, many others. They are the very fabric of this region and offer a glimpse of what life is like in almost complete isolation.

As pages rolled by I would soon come to realize how much of B.C. wilderness was in my own blood – ready to be relived and re-appreciated.

Adventures in Solitude chronicles the life (particularly the early child development) of CBC host and journalist Grant Lawrence – a fellow who comes across as a chatty and witty pop culture expert and music critic perhaps lacking the kind of depth and dimensionality I have come to expect from other more seasoned and elderly statesmen of Canada’s beloved public broadcaster.

So, imagine the delight of tucking into a randomly selected volume from Victoria’s premier bookstore Munro’s for the purpose of getting me through the fairly routine 5 hour flight from the West Coast to Kona, Hawaii and realizing that there was something truly great between these soft covers. Its resonance with so many hardy Canadians, in part, explains why the book has picked up so many accolades so quickly.

Because, for me, a slightly outdoors kind of guy, here was a story that resonated so deeply in my coastal consciousness that on some minute level I felt like parts of me were incorporated into the book.

Raised in a dissimilar vein to my own, Grant’s background was from tony West Vancouver where lawyers, developers and family money call home. Grant’s dad was a property developer of some note and success and happened upon a piece of land in B.C.‘s coastal wilderness at one of those “just at the right time” moments. Spending summer after bucolic summer in Desolation Sound, the Lawrence family found themselves becoming part of the regional history and folklore of the area.

I do not want to spoil the story though folks – you will have to buy a copy for yourselves. Any long time B.C. resident or Canadian that loves the outdoors and spent part of their formative years anywhere near the coastal wild of the West Coast needs to read this book.

This book reminds me of a really good non-fiction version of a Doug Coupland novel – and I hope that neither of the authors find this insulting because I think Coupland is utterly brilliant – and of course as a British Columbian I relate to his work as well.

Get the book folks – if only for what shades of yourselves you might find. You can find out all you need to know about Grant Lawrence over here.

And another important lesson for me revealed – having figured out that Grant Lawrence was more than the sum of some City parts…

Never judge a Man… or a Book… by its cover.

On location in Kona, Hawaii – I am Colin Newell.

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Local artisan series chapter one - Alfons Furniture · 8.08.16 by colin newell

Alfons Furniture Victoria

When we first moved into our new house, one of the first neighbours to pop by was Alfons.

He lives on the street parallel to our and shares part of a back fence. An enthusiastic gardener and outdoorsman, Alfons represents all the good things about good neighbours – engaged, good humoured and genuinely interested in what is going on in the World around us.

Alfons fine designs chairs Victoria

As it turns out, Alfons is a fine furniture maker and designer – a guy who makes some very unique and breathtaking pieces that would grace and compliment any home or business. He completed an apprenticeship program in fine furniture in Germany in 1987. After several years working with a variety of senior masters in the craft, he returned to school to obtain a Master’s Diploma in furniture making.

Alfons fine designs - cabinets

Alfons came to Canada in 1998 and honed his craft in several different work shops in the Victoria area before setting up his own woodcraft design lab in 2005. Alfons focus is on traditional European design and the Contemporary interpretations within North America.

Alfons’s shop and ideas area is in the heart of Rock Bay in an old multi-storied warehouse that contains guitar makers, digital labs and an assortment of high end maker spaces.

Alfons fine designs Victoria - beds

We had lunch together recently after getting a tour of his unassuming work space and environment where many of his great ideas come together. There was something about the positive energy and youthfulness of the space that resonated with me – and I imagine that this contributes to the overall quality of everything that comes from this building and his creation space.

What I also discovered about Alfons is his acute ability to listen and provide instant feedback on what I may have been trying to convey on some of my design ideas – which is an immensely valuable skill when designing items of furniture that may reside in a home for 100 years or more.

Alfons fine design Victoria - fireplaces

As Alfons pointed out to me over lunch at the Salt Chuck Pie nearby, “The customer relationship is the most important key to succeeding in virtually any project… whether it is building the perfect piece of fine furniture for their home… or making their computer work better in their business…” Yes indeed, I can certainly relate to that!

Have a look at Alfons’s website and photo gallery – I think you will agree that he builds and designs some of the most remarkable pieces of furniture in the South Vancouver Island marketplace.

You can find Alfons online or make an appointment with him via – Alfons Laicher
Alfons Custom Furniture & Woodwork Inc. – 2614 Bridge St. #223 • Victoria, BC • V8T 4S9
Phone: 250-361-4119
Email: [email protected]

This is Chapter One of an ongoing series of artisan conversations – with the creators, makers and ideas people of Vancouver Island.

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Long lost Gibson Guitar Les Paul Gold top stolen from ago · 2.06.16 by colin newell

Lost (Stolen) Gibson Guitar from Victoria B.C. 1992

A very long time (1985) I was a Gibson guitar player – they are awesome for Rock, Blues, Jazz, pretty much whatever you want to play. And I played it in a few pick-up bands and a couple of outfits that played a few shows… in a life a long time ago.

That said, I was not a big fan of this for some reason. Might have been the colour or the weight.

Ah, the weight! It was like carrying around a large dog draped around your shoulder – like a Lab or a Bull Mastiff -

And the sound of the Gibson Les Paul is unmistakable – it snarled like a cornered tiger and commanded any musical performance it was involved with.

But the weight got me down… literally… and one day I sold it to a notable and currently successful musician. That was in 1990 or so.

The new owner traveled the World with it – and took on a new life of its own.

Long Lost Gibson Serial

Then one day: It was in the locked trunk of of the owner, “Sean’s” 1980 Buick in underground, gated parking beneath the Seagate Apartments on Esquimalt Rd. He came home after an afternoon practice and had left it for around two hours before he had to head out to another practice. Two hours in a locked basement garage. It could have been an inside job, an unscrupulous neighbour… someone that clearly did not appreciate the fact that this particular guitar playing fellows livelihood depended on those 6 stringed instruments. Guitar be gone.

Anyway – occasionally I make a shout out to the World about this missing guitar – likely in the wrong hands, maybe getting played, maybe not or in the hands of someone that is not aware that it is hot.

Anyway – here is the picture of the guitar stolen years ago – and somewhere out there, this guitar is waiting to come home to its owner. If you see it, please send it on its way.

The original owner thanks you!

This was a 1971 or 1972 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe with hard case stolen from the Seagate Apartment parking lot in 1992. The serial number is 171568

Any intel on this item would likely be rewarded with cash or whole bean coffee! Or both!

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Summer Cooking 2016 Chapter 1 Butter Chicken · 8.05.16 by colin newell

I am a huge curry fan – the hotter the better. This is a very easy recipe to build – and you can heat it up or cool it off however you see fit.

Marinade:
1 cup plain yoghurt Greek style High fat content
2 TBL lemon juice
2 TSP Tumeric powder
4 TSP Garam Masala
1 TBL chili powder (ground dried chili powder)
2 TSP ground cumin
2 TBL fresh grated ginger
5 garlic cloves crushed
1500g chicken thigh filet cut into bite sized pieces

Curry:
2 TBL vegetable oil
2 minced shallots
2 cups tomato passata (tomato sauce in a glass jar)
2 TBL sugar
2.5 TSP salt
2 cups half/half cream

Instructions:
a.) Combine the marinade ingredients with the chicken in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
b.) Heat the vegetable oil over high heat in a frying pan – (we use a dutch oven)
c.) Add 2 Minced shallots to the frying pan and cook about 2 minutes.
d.) Add the chicken coated in the marinade and cook for around 3 minutes or until the chicken is while all over.
e.) Add the tomato passata, sugar and salt to the mix – turn down heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
f.) Do a taste test to see if it needs more salt.
g.) Add the cream to the mixture – mix to combine – then remove from heat.

Garnish with cilantro leaves – serve with basmati rice.

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