Photos by MJ Klein & Hui-chen. Warning – FOOD PHOTOS!
We admit it. We love going to the cabin in Miaoli. We went back on Saturday but this time we introduced some friends to Becky’s family and their very cool place to relax. Here’s the story:
The day began with me preparing the Dutch oven for some camp fare. These are boneless beef ribs that I’m taking out of the package. The Dutch oven is hot and ready to go.
Browning the meat: the critical first step in preparing meat dishes in a Dutch oven.
The meat is starting to brown up nicely. I did add a little garlic at this point.
My secret ingredient is oyster sauce. I don’t have to add any salt to the dish and the oyster sauce gives it a very nice flavor base. In this shot I’ve also added some bottled water to the pot.
After the meat is browned and the liquids are added, it’s time to add the remaining ingredients to the pot. In this case it’s the standard stew vegetables, potatoes carrots and onions, plus more garlic.
Now this is the fun part. The cabin has a large variety of herbs and fruits growing, thanks to the careful attention of Becky’s father. I cut some fresh rosemary and put it right on top of the packed pot.
This is a baby watermelon that they have growing on the property.
Checking on the progress of the food. We see that the rosemary has browned some. This releases a fantastic flavor that is hard to duplicate otherwise.
In the meantime, with the Dutch oven fare coming along well, it’s time to light up the grill.
This is Carrie and Thoth, hanging out and enjoying the drinks and the company. Those are devilled eggs in front of Carrie. I haven’t had those for ages and I ate quite a few of them. Thanks for making them, Carrie! Carrie is sampling my concoction of Mekong Thai rum and CC Lemon. I’ve cut way down on cola products recently and it’s had a dramatic and positive effect on how I feel. Fortunately, CC Lemon makes a great mixer with rum! There is some debate whether Mekong (actual spelling is “Mekhong” on the English label) is actually a rum or a whisky. Either way, I like it.
This is John, relaxing. All he needs is a smoking jacket!
I was very happy to look up and see our friend Patrick arriving. I wasn’t sure if he would be able to make it or not. Great to have you with us, Patrick! For those of you who don’t know, the woman is my wife, Hui-chen.
Becky checks the charcoal on the grill and prepares the cooking surface for John.
John whipped up a sampler version of his famous burgers and cooked them on the teppanyaki plate. There are 2 noteworthy pieces of information about this photograph. The brick is to keep too much hot air from venting out and burning the chef (it needs a chimney and top). The white material in the center of the burgers is blue cheese. John made it very clear that this recipie is not for the burgers that he is known for. He didn’t want to tip his hand entirely because John has challenged me to a burger cookoff that we hope to be showing you in the near future. This event will be judged by the attendees. It should be a great competetion! I can tell you after tasting these burgers that I am going to have to pull out all the stops in order to beat John!
Now it’s time to check the Dutch oven and see how things are progressing:
Looking good. Time to add something else.
I enjoy cooking with fruit and Taiwan fruit is some of the best tasting in the entire world. I cut some nectarines and split the pieces by hand, removing the pits. These went right into the pot and cooked for about 20 more minutes.
This is the finished pot, on the table ready to be opened and served.
This is an overview of the table. I’ll show you what that stuff is to the far left, shortly.
The teppanyaki plate is great for cooking in butter or margarine as is done here in Taiwan.
This is the finished boneless beef rib dish. The rib meat turned out fork-tender. The Dutch oven is known for tenderizing meat like that. The rosemary flavor was not overpowering but it was a dominant feature of this dish. I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out.
After stuffing our faces with burgers, grilled vegetables and beef ribs, it was time for me to prepare one more dish. This is my 10″ Dutch oven. In previous photographs I was using Becky’s father’s Dutch oven, a 12″ model. Here we see the 10″ oiled up and on the fire.
This concoction is a chocolate cake mix, with a can of cherry pie filling added. It’s all mixed together in a bag and then squeezed out into the pot. Yeah, I know it looks like something else. But just wait….
Top coals are essential to Dutch oven cooking, and are in fact, one of the main aspects of successful Dutch oven cooking. Here the fire on the bottom is minimal while there are plenty of top coals. This assures a nice even heating for baking.
I left it like this for about 15 minutes. The total cooking time was just about 30 minutes.
In the meantime, I heated up my other trick for the evening – my vegetable griller.
As I’ve stated many times before, the secret to great grill flavor is smoke. If you don’t have smoke, you don’t have grill flavor. The holes allow the smoke to come back up and flavor the food.
This system actually works. You have to be very careful of flareups, however.
Now, imagine this dish with that nice smoky flavor you can only get from grilling, and you can start to appreciate what it tastes like.
Becky’s brother wanted to try grilling the vegetables. Its so easy and a lot of fun.
After the grilled vegetables, the cake was finished.
This is camping food at it’s best. Chocolate-cherry cake. So good you don’t need and frosting, and not the least bit dried out. Moist and flavorful. Wanna go camping with us next time?
Now, after cooking and stuffing our faces for hours, not to mention drinking, it was time to get down to the entertainment portion of the program! That’s Carrie at the mic.
I brought my Yamaha PA system with me, along with my drum machine. Carrie and I did some live guitar/vocals over programmed bass and drum tracks. It was a lot of fun.
Ahhhh…. relaxing in the evening to some classic rock.
But the real fun was yet to come. We hooked up a DVD player to the TV, and the audio to the PA system and created the Ultimate Taiwanese Experience: karaoke! Here Thoth is giving us a rendition of I don’t know what, but it sure was fun.
Like some surreal lounge act, Carrie and I belted out some pretty-decent-sounding duets. I can’t remember when I had so much fun just fooling around with some songs. Carrie sings very well. You could come with us next time and hear for yourself.
While some of us were singing, others were catching river shrimp and cooking them on the grill.
Sharon sang a couple of Chinese songs for us. Other than a few of them, the rest of the evening was all English songs. So we’re glad Sharon sang some Chinese songs. She sounded great.
Our parting shot is John and Becky looking for river shrimp. We’ve shown this activity before in the other articles about Miaoli. You may enjoy reading them by clicking on the links at the end of this article.
I’ll leave you with one video clip.
We hope you have enjoyed reading about our Saturday in Miaoli. Hope you can join us next time!