Cheating at barbecue, the tedium of House of Cards and the genius of Future Islands

doug

Hi Everybody – Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed GLOW and learned how to throw a punch, fake a chest slap and hold a proper head lock. For this week’s entry, we are going to cheat at barbecue, watch a show about cheaters and listen to Future Islands (D.C./Baltimore).

This entry requires a little backstory: Megan and I were going to travel to Delaware to join my groomsmen and their families for a Saturday afternoon cookout. Gabe has a big green egg (that’s what she said) and he and I were going to smoke some chicken and ribs and everyone else was making a side. The goal was to emulate Freddy’s BBQ Joint – a fictional restaurant on House of Cards. .

I went to Schuman’s and bought all of the supplies:

IMG_2885

Everything was going according to plan, and then on the morning of the barbecue, this happened:

IMG_2689

Needless to say, our barbecue plans were cancelled.

We rescheduled for later in the week and hosted a smaller crowd, which meant no smoker, none of Chrissie’s Pea Salad or Kristi’s Macaroni and Cheese and that Austin’s cheesecake would not be as fresh. It also meant that I had to improvise on side dishes and use the grill for the chicken and an oven to make the ribs. Like Frank and Claire Underwood, I was going to have to cheat to accomplish my objective – a proper midweek barbecue without a smoker. Somethings turned out well and somethings did not.

DINNER

As you prep your Cheater’s Dinner, you should have a Pinot that shares a cheater’s name:

underwood-pinot-noir_copy

Like Frank, this Pinot is subtle, dangerous and can make a pork project work in its favor. It is also a steal at $12.99.

Freddy Style Ribs and Chicken

For the rib rub, I cheated and used this:

IMG_2674 (1)

It is a simple rub from Jamison Meats in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. It primarily contains brown sugar and chili, onion and garlic powders. I also bought a generic Giant Eagle brand Barbecue Sauce.

What you need:

  • rub
  • sauce
  • 3 lbs Baby Back ribs
  • aluminum foil

What to do:

  1. Remove membrane from back of rib
  2. Pat ribs dry with paper towel and apply rub
  3. Wrap ribs in aluminum foil and let rub set in for 4 hours
  4. Let ribs sit at room temperature for 30 minutes and set oven to 225 degrees
  5. Bake for three hours
  6. Remove ribs from oven and baste with sauce
  7. Put ribs on preheated grill and turn periodically while liberally basting ribs
  8. After roughly 5 minutes of basting and serving remove ribs and let them sit for 5 minutes
  9. Serve

The drums are much less labor intensive. I cheated and used a different store sauce, which turned out to be too hot for my liking. I fixed it by pouring the 13.5 oz bottle into a large bowl and mixing in the following ingredients:

  •  1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • a few splashes of Worcestershire

This seemed to even out the heat and transformed the sauce into a more mild BBQ sauce. If you like very sweet BBQ, keep adding small amounts of orange juice with brown sugar until you reach the desired flavor.

What you need:

  • 4 lbs large chicken drums
  • Sauce

What to do:

  1. Let drums sit at room temperature for 20 minutes
  2. Wash and pat drums dry with paper towel
  3. Add drums to 350 degree preheated grill
  4. Grill on each side, only flipping once until 90% completed
  5. After 90% completion, turn and baste with barbecue sauce until you obtain desired char

I finished the drums and ribs at the same time:

IMG_2772

img_2790
Full disclosure, I baked the ribs at 275 degrees and not 225 degrees. As you can see from the photo, the bones are retreating from the meat. Some people prefer this consistency but I like my ribs a little less done and recommend 225 degrees.

Potato Salad

IMG_2768

  • 2 lbs red potatoes
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 small minced whited onion
  • 1/2 lb crumbled bacon
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

What to do:

  1. Wash potatoes
  2. Add potatoes to boiling water for 15 minutes
  3. Remove and let potatoes cool for an hour
  4. Quarter potatoes
  5. Add potatoes and all other ingredients to large serving bowl and mix
  6. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving

Francis is the Devil Eggs

IMG_2769

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 strips thick cut bacon
  • Sriracha sauce

What to do:

  1. Put eggs in individual slots in muffin pan
  2. Put muffin pan in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
  3. After 30 minutes, remove eggs and insert them into ice bath
  4. After another 30 minutes, remove eggs from ice bath, peel and cut lengthwise
  5. Put yolks, mayonnaise, mustard and white vinegar into bowl and mix to desired consistency
  6. Scoop mixture back into eggs
  7. Top with cooked bacon
  8. Add Sriracha

Honey Jalapeno Cornbread

IMG_2793

I made this the night before. I did not cheat with this dish and because I studied the issues, made good decisions and was honest, the dish turned out great. Do you know what the moral of that story is? The moral is that I would make a very bad politician.

 

  • 1.5 cups cornmeal
  • 2.5 cups 2% milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and diced

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In small bowl, combine cornmeal, jalapenos and milk and let stand for 5 minutes
  3. In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt and sugar
  4. Add small bowl and eggs, oil, honey into large bowl
  5. Gently mix until smooth
  6. Poor batter into buttered 9 x 13 Pyrex
  7. Bake for 35 minutes

There was also a cheaters version of crock pot Macaroni and Cheese and Megan’s Baked Beans. Like a politician after a scandal, I am controlling the narrative and not releasing anymore details about the Macaroni and Cheese. However, the Baked Beans were very good, but they have no independent photo.

Baked Beans:

  • (2) 31 oz cans
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 4 teaspoons Worcestershire
  • 8 slices crumbled bacon

What to do:

  1. Mix all ingredients into medium sized crock pot
  2. Cook on low for 3-4 hours

No further questions pertaining to the Macaroni and Cheese will be answered, but ONE photo of the finished meal will be published:

IMG_2780

It is also worth noting that Austin made a DELICIOUS cheesecake. It was light and buttery and had a strawberry topping. No one remembered to take a photo. For this misstep, I sincerely apologize and hope I can still count on your vote (or view) this fall.

 

SHOWTIME:

Frank prefers Blanton’s Bourbon.

blantons

Blanton’s seems like the perfect drink for Frank. It is a top shelf, working class bourbon and doesn’t impress the same way a Pappy Van Winkle would – which is the image Frank wishes to portray. So, pour yourself a Blanton’s, either neat or with a single rock, and lets talk some House of Cards.

Released in 2013, House of Cards was Netflix’s first big splash into original programming. House of Cards tells the story of Frank (Kevin Spacey) and Claire Underwood (Robin Wright), a Washington D.C. power couple by way of South Carolina.

As the story begins, Frank is the Congressional Majority Whip and Claire runs her own environmental lobbying firm. After a recent election, incoming president Garret Walker (Michael Gill) promises Frank the position of Secretary of State as a reward for Frank’s assistance in capturing the White House.

Walker eventually reneges his promise and Frank does not become Secretary of State. As a result of this slight, Frank and Claire set their plan of revenge in motion and declare war on the Washington D.C. establishment.

I don’t think it is any great spoiler to say that The Underwood’s accomplish their mission and eventually obtain the Oval Office. The crux of the show comes from the awful and deplorable things that Frank and Claire do to obtain power and maintain power. While both roles are written and acted well, after five seasons the Underwoods and their plight and schemes have become repetitive and uninteresting.

I still watch the show and the show still has compelling moments, but am no longer interested in how the Underwood’s story ends. One reason I have kept watching is because of the other important characters, particularly Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly).

Doug is Frank’s most loyal confidant and Chief of Staff. Doug knows everything about The Underwoods, including where and why the bodies (literally and figuratively) are buried. A recovering alcoholic, Doug faces his own demons during the course of the show and as opposed to Frank, his character is not one-dimensional. If Doug was not a part of the show, or was played by anyone outside of Michael Kelly, I may have stopped watching after season 3.

Other peripheral characters who are worth noting are:

Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) – a young and hungry Washington Post reporter who sees past Franks’s ruse and is aware of his nefarious motives.

Peter Russo (Corey Stoll) – a congressperson with addiction issues who is indebted to Frank. Peter enjoys the perks of power and wants to help his constituents but is prone to relapse.

Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney) – an eccentric billionaire power broker who is not fond of Frank. His role seems to be based on Warren Buffet.

Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus) – another Washington Post reporter who is on Frank’s trail. In his search for justice, Lucas becomes unhinged and a threat to the Washington establishment.

Aiden Macallan (Damian Young) – a free spirited and unconventional data researcher who works for a search engine company and becomes entangled in the Underwood’s web.

There are are a dozen more characters that have more dimensions and whom are more interesting than Frank and Claire. If season 6 were released today, it would be at the back of my queue.

NIGHTCAP:

Lets have some Peach Bellinis and listen to Future Islands. The drink is homage to the Gaffney Peach, a real life South Carolina landmark from Frank’s home district. The peach is at the heart of an early season House of Cards plot line.

peach

Unfortunately, we had to drink our Bellinis with our unphotogenic friends, Austin and Joe. At least they brought cheesecake.

IMG_2784

Two rocks Bellinins and two frozen Bellinis:

IMG_2791

  • Prosecco
  • Peach Schnapps
  • Chilled Peach Slices
  • Vodka Soaked Blueberries

What to do:

  1. Add ice to blender
  2. Add 3 parts Prosecco and 1 part Schnapps to blender
  3. Mix for 10 seconds
  4. Pour into glass
  5. Top with blueberries

For rocks version – add rocks to glass, do not blend and use the same formula.

Now that we have our drinks, let’s talk about Future Islands. Future Islands is a synthpop, retro new wave/post punk band based out of the Washington D.C./Baltimore area. Future Islands has a unique sound and a reputation as a hardworking and hard touring band.

Their two most recent albums, both released on ATO, are Singles (2014) and The Far Field (2016).

IMG_2926

Both albums have hypnotizing bass lines, drum machines, synthesizers and polished production values. Immediately, it is easy to identify the influences of Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths and The Cure. However, Future Islands blends these influences into a sound all their own.

Singles lead single ‘Seasons (Waiting on You)‘ gained worldwide fame after a David Letterman appearance (my introduction to the band) and was eventually named single of the year by Pitchfork. My favorite track on the album, ‘A Dream of You and Me’ has an infectious base line and refers to finding peace within yourself and what you have. Maybe Frank and Claire should listen to this track.

The Far Field picks up where its predecessor left off. ‘Beauty of the Road’ has a multi-generational sound and an international flavor that relies heavily on synthesizers. A big reason Future Islands sounds multi-generational is because singer Samuel T. Herring (what a great name) sounds like Elton John. I mean that in a good way – as in ‘Madman Across the Water’ Elton John (coked up, sweaty and talking to himself) and not ‘Lion King’ Elton John. This may have been the biggest compliment that I have ever paid to a stranger.

Both albums sound similar and are the kind of albums you could listen to three consecutive times on a road trip and not realize it. Future Islands could certainly be accused of being a one-trick pony, but damn…I really like this trick.

That should about do it for this entry! Thanks again for reading and PLEASE subscribe at the bottom of the page. Feedback is always appreciated as well!

ADDITIONS & SUBSTITUTIONS

  • David Letterman was always a great friend to talented artists, especially towards the end of his career. His show helped a lot of artists get their break and he should receive more recognition for this.
  • If you need help removing the membrane from the ribs, the good people at Schuman’s are more than happy to remove it for you.
  • Campbell Scott has a pivotal role in the newest House of Cards season. I have always enjoyed his work, especially in the films Singles and Roger Dodger and have never understood why his career never hit ‘A List’ status.
  • The same can be said for season 5 addition Patricia Clarkson. She was great as eccentric aunt Sarah in HBO’s Six Feet Under and most especially as the first Tammy Swanson in NBC’s Parks and Recreation.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s