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Posts Tagged ‘Cool’

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Food and family (and lots of fun)

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011


Food is an integral part of life. It not only sustains us, but is often part of our celebrations and milestones. This past weekend my family celebrated my grandmother’s birthday and held a family reunion in North Carolina. Approximately 80 of her 100+ children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren were in attendance. As you might imagine, feeding all those people was quite a challenge. Fortunately, we have several chefs in the family – nonetheless, what transpired was awfully impressive.


This is the BBQ that was used. What is most impressive about this rig is not necessarily the size or scale, but that my cousin Eric built the entire thing in his shop. Wow. Dinner was to feature a whole hog (Claudette), three whole briskets, 16 chickens, and two bushels of corn.


Chef Eric throwing the dry-rubbed briskets on the BBQ next to Claudette.


Eric loading the side stack smoker/roaster the corn and chickens.


Meanwhile, the National Anthem is sung (by my cousin Mark) before a game of kickball.


Chef Chad slicing brisket and breaking down chickens – we’re getting close to chow time…


Dinner is served.


Now, does that look like a proud grandmother or what? The family comes together and sings happy birthday to grandma. This was truly a wonderful event.


Q: What do you do when it’s hot as hades outside?

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

A: Get your hands on some watermelon.

Yesterday we had a severe heat warning in Indiana. Boy, was it hot – my dwarf lime tree started wilting.

There is one fruit, however, that is uniquely suited for this type of hot weather and that is the watermelon. Slightly sweet and full of juice, watermelon is super refreshing on a hot day. Watermelons are a staple for picnics, backyard BBQs, and summer gatherings; however, I rarely buy watermelon when I’m not having a group of people over. I think this is because I don’t know what to do with such a large amount of watermelon. As least I didn’t until I read this piece from Fine Cooking.

Here they provide recipes for watermelon cocktails like the Watermelon Blush made with Prosecco and the Watermelon Mule made with vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer. Appetizers might include Grilled Watermelon Salsa or Grilled Watermelon Gazpacho. For a main course or a second course, you could make this Watermelon, Grapefruit, and Scallop Ceviche, Watermelon and Cress Salad with Grilled Shrimp and Hearts of Palm, or a Coffee-rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Watermelon Rind Relish (that’s right, you can even use the rind!). Lastly, you could finish off the meal with a Watermelon and Tea Granita for dessert.

Enjoy (and stay cool).


Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

At Dan’s Plan, we recognize that the limitations of time, effort, and money can sometimes interfere with achieving our goals. As a result, we seek out ways to make the “good behaviors” easier, simpler, and more cost-effective, while making the behaviors that we would rather not engage in more difficult or less available. That is why we think that this quick and easy gardening method from Chris McLaughlin at is simply brilliant.

First, there are a number of reasons that might discourage someone from planting a garden or from growing their own food.

  • don’t really know how
  • don’t have the time or are unable to turn soil, create the beds, etc.
  • feel intimidated by testing and trying to create the right soil conditions
  • don’t have gardening tools
  • don’t have the space or land for a garden

Soil bag planting appears to solve all of these problems. This is what is involved:

  1. Purchase a bag of top soil or garden soil and the seeds or seedlings that you would like to grow (i.e., eat).
  2. Cut slits in whatever side will be the bottom of the bag so water will be able to drain out.
  3. Place the bag wherever you would like your new garden to be and cut a large hole (as shown) or several smaller ones for individual plants (we recommend the latter approach if you live in a hot and dry climate).
  4. Plant the seeds or seedlings according to any instructions on the packets or containers.
  5. Water.

Man, it really doesn’t seem to get any easier than this. The supplies are simple and inexpensive, the time and effort involved are minimal, and the method is practically foolproof (no expertise required). At the same time, there are a bunch of additional benefits in terms of having a garden or planter that is portable, could be placed almost anywhere such as a porch or patio, and is easily set up and taken down. This is of course not even mentioning the awesome benefits that are fresh herbs and vegetables all summer long.

So, if you’ve recently thought that you’d like to have more fresh food at your disposal, but that you don’t have the time, space, or tools for gardening, think about soil bag planting. It’s almost too easy not to try.

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