Cooking: Slow and Low Ribs on the Big Green Egg

From the moment that I learned of the Big Green Egg, I’ve wanted one.  A ceramic cooker that can smoke, grill, and roast sounds like heaven.  However, for one reason or another, we kept putting off getting it.

Then, Cristina surprised me with a MiniMax for Christmas.

box

The MiniMax Big Green Egg Box

After a few cooks of chicken breasts, I did my first slow and low cook.  My local grocer had some St. Louis ribs for a good price.  I bought some rub instead of making my own. I bought the only BBQ rub the store had that day, which wasn’t bad.  I can’t wait to try Dizzy Pig rubs as well as make my own. Around noon I split the rack in half so it could fit on the minimax.  I coated one with olive oil and applied the rub while I coated the other with mustard and did the same.  I placed the ribs back in the fridge.  Around 1:30 I lit the Big Green Egg using Big Green Egg brand Lump Charcoal.  I also added some apple wood chunks.  Once I got the grill to 250, I put the plate setter and grill on and then the ribs.  I also put on two potatoes to slow cook at the same time.  I monitored the egg until it reached 250 again.  Once it got there, I adjusted the vents so the tempature stabilized.

The big green egg held the temperature for the next 3 hours making the ribs look like this:

ribs

I then wrapped the  ribs in foil with butter, honey, rub, and apple juice.  I put them back on for another 45 minutes. Here are some pictures of the final result.

 

The final result was a little drier than I wanted them to be, but they were very tasty.  I think the last 45 minutes might have been too long or I didn’t add enough juice. I didn’t use a drip pan either.  The flavoring was fantastic, however.  If I want to be a pit master, I’ll have to make some adjustments. While I don’t ever plan on competing, I do want to take cooking on the big green egg seriously enough that my cooks can compete.  Any advice is welcomed!

Traveling: Meeting Rick Steves, our travel icon

When Kurt and I planned to spend a month in Europe in the summer of 2010, we knew we needed guidance. In some cities, we knew we would only have a day and half to experience them, so we needed a quick and dirty guide that was not afraid to be blunt about what was good and what we could skip. We found that in Rick Steves’ books, Europe Through the Back Door and the Best of Europe (all guidebooks are updated every year). Rick did not only explicitly offer his opinion on all of the major and off the beaten track attractions, food, and hotels, but he taught us how to travel. We knew what to pack, how to avoid con artists, how to save money, in addition to other tips, tricks, and other timesaving and efficient pieces of advice. Rick Steves became a travel icon for us. When we returned to Europe on a cruise, we bought his Mediterranean Cruise Ports Guidebook and his French, Italian, and German Phrasebook. Whenever we are researching a country, we look to his travel series, which includes television episodes, podcasts, radio shows, and an app, and watch what he has to say about the city or country. We follow him through the territory and familiarize ourselves with the layout. I follow him on Facebook and when he posts about current events and politics and how it relates to traveling, I analyze and reflect on his thoughts and weigh them against what I believe.

When I had the opportunity to attend the National Council for the Social Studies conference in New Orleans in November, I jumped at the chance. As I am perusing the conference website, I suddenly see who is one of the guests of honor: Rick Steves. I’m pretty sure my heart stopped. Rick Steves was going to be in New Orleans at the same conference I was going to attend. Was there a way to meet him?! Suddenly, I knew I had one goal at the conference (outside of learning new and interesting techniques and resources to utilize in my classroom, of course). I had to meet Rick Steves. He helped Kurt and I so much during our time in Europe and taught us so much about globalization and having a personal relationship with the places you travel, that I wanted to be able to spend that thirty second shared space of time with him.

Rick Steves, NCSS

Rick Steves on stage for the keynote address.

When I arrived on Friday, I immediately flipped through the program to figure out when he would speak. As it turned out, he was giving two talks on Saturday: one about diplomacy and travel in Iran and the other was the keynote address. Plus, his new book Travel as a Political Act, would be for sale and he was doing a signing. My giddiness was palpable.

Kurt was able to come on Saturday as well, because he knew he could not miss Rick either. We arrived early for the 9am Iran talk and managed to sit front and center. Rick gave a great speech on the history and culture of Iran and exclaimed how the people of Iran are very different from the politics of Iran. He was so comfortable with his lecture and at ease, and made the audience feel at ease too with humor and plenty of visuals to encapsulate his words. His room was standing room only, as we were obviously not the only people excited to hear him speak in person and hopefully meet him. When he finished speaking, he waited outside in the hallway and allowed everyone to take pictures and selfies and he signed whatever book you brought.

Rick Steves, NCSS

Rick Steves giving his Iran talk. We were front and center.

Kurt and I waited our turn and excitedly told him that his books were our travel bibles and helped make our month long trek through Europe an efficient, exciting, and productive one, not to mention our other three European trips that followed. He thanked us and we took photos with him. I think our joy was evident!

We listened to about half of his keynote address in the big auditorium, but it was lunchtime and we were starving. He spoke on the broader topic of travel as a way to immerse yourself in culture, with which Kurt and I agree completely. After lunch, we met him one more time to have him sign Travel as a Political Act, which I did not have a copy of that morning and which I have not had the chance to read yet, but is a series of essays about travel and what it can teach us. Based on previous experience with Rick Steves, I think it will be something I enjoy.

Rick Steves, NCSS

Rick Steves signing his new book, Travel as a Political Act.

NOLA-ing: Things to Do January 25-31, 2016

Looking for a couple of things to do this week in New Orleans?  Here are a couple of recommendations from NolaNerdCouple.com!

Arthur Hardy Mardi Gras Tea: Join the definitive Mardi Gras expert, Arthur Hardy, at Longue Vue on January 26 from 1-3.  Mr. Hardy will provide a talk, then after a tour will provided of the mansion.  His coffee table book Mardi Gras in New Orleans: An Illustrated History is a fantastic read.

Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage: On Wednesday, January 27 at 8:00 the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts will boldly be going where on select theaters have gone before.  A live orchestra will be playing scores from various Star Trek franchises with scenes playing on a screen behind the orchestra. We have attended versions of this for Star Wars and The Legend of Zelda (which is coming to New Orleans in April), and we were not disappointed.

Family Gras: A free event held on the neutral ground on Veterans Boulevard in Metairie across from the Lakeside Mall.  Dr. John, The Monkees (on their 50th Anniversary Tour!), Andy Grammar, and Amanda Shaw will be performing at the festival. There will also be an arts market and, of course,  festival food. The festival will be from Jan 29 to Jan 31.

The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus:  Every nerd’s favorite parade starts at 7pm on January 30th.  We spent quite a bit of time this past year discussing should we go to the parade or be in the parade before deciding to be a spectator this year.  Now, what to dress up as….

King Cake Festival  On, January 31, 2016, Champions Square hosts the 3rd annual King Cake Festival.  Samples are $1 and proceeds go to children at Ochsner.

 

 

 

NOLA-ing: Upcoming Events in New Orleans

Plan your NOLA weekend with these recommendations from Nola Nerd Couple:

Motown:  The Saenger Theater is one of this city’s treasures.  Their Broadway series has been excellent and is always a hot item.  I can’t wait for this play because of the great music.  Motown will be playing at the Saenger Theater  from January 19 to January 24.

Musée Conti:  One of New Orleans’s best attractions, the wax museum, is closing its doors forever on January 31.  Go while you still can!

Friday Nights at NOMA:  This week’s Friday Nights at New Orleans Museum of Art will have music by Phil the Tremolo King and will feature a talk by artist Skylar Fein.

Krewe du Vieux Parade:  The city’s most satirical parade rolls Saturday at 6:30.  Big Freedia reigns over the debauchery.

Need more recommendations?  Visit the Gambits event calendar to find an event perfect for you!

Let us now how your NOLA weekend was!

 

ComicCon-ing: Meeting the Cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation helped me get through college. It was on right when I got home and provided a great study break later on at night. At the time, we could catch TV stations from both New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and luckily for me, a channel from each city played it in syndication. While I’m not the kind of Trekkie that can recite engineering schematics or much less dialogue, it is one of my favorite shows of all time.

A couple of years back, Wizard World New Orleans announced the cast would be attending the Comic Con. Due to an early Mardi Gras and the hosting of the SuperBowl, the con was moved to early December. It was on my birthday weekend. However, when the date approached, Wil Wheaton and Patrick Stewart, for very good reasons, had to cancel. (I didn’t vilify either one unlike Sheldon Cooper).

The rest of the cast didn’t let me down. Each one of them understood that the fans at comic cons just want a few minutes of their time to tell them what the show meant to them. Wizard World placed quite a few of them next to each other, and the chemistry that was apparent on screen was still there all these years later. They joked with each other, asked us questions, and totally made us feel great.

However, Marina Sirtis took it to the next level. Like every young man that watched the show, I had a huge crush on her. Scratch that past tense, I still have a huge crush on her. When we walked up to her booth, I think she developed a crush on….Cristina. She kept remarking how beautiful my wife was. While it wasn’t a crush on me, I can’t really complain about her gushing over Cristina! Cristina told her that the poster was my birthday present, so Sirtis gave me her autograph for free as a birthday present!

It was a great birthday. I got to spend it meeting some of my teenage heroes. I had six out of the eight actors’ signatures on my poster. I figured it would be a while before I got the last two.

To paraphrase one of my favorite attractions in Orlando…”or so I thought.”

Orlando’s MegaCon, just six months later, had the entire ST:TNG cast including Sir Patrick Stewart and Wil Wheaton. This was great for us since we have family that lives there. Both Stewart and Wheaton made the wait worth it. We told them we both missed them in New Orleans and they both explained why they couldn’t be there. They both understood that 30-second connection (which Wheaton actually talks about in his blog and on Twitter).

They all understood that this is a way to make sure their work lives on. Comic Cons allow us to meet our heroes. The ones that understand that a positive experience will make us rewatch their shows and tell others about our experience, which in turn may make others watch the show. Plus, the money they make at the cons has to be a great perk as well!STTNG

Now my poster is complete. It has the place of honor in our Nola Nerd Couple lounge. It makes me smile and think of how much fun we had at both of those Comic Cons. Writing about this, made me realize how much I love Comic Cons. Luckily for us, we have quite a few still in store for this year!

 

ComicCon-ing: Wizard World New Orleans 2016

Every year since its inception, Nola Nerd Couple have enjoyed going to the Wizard World con in New Orleans. Besides the Star Wars Celebrations, I had never been to a con before. In fact, I would credit the New Orleans Wizard World con for jumpstarting my love of cons. The thrill of meeting television and movie celebrities, comic book writers and illustrators, the plethora of trinkets, statures, comics, toys, books, jewelry, and other random assortments of all things nerdy, the cosplay, and the simple pleasure of being around other people who are as geeked out as you are makes going to cons one of my favorite hobbies. Continue reading

Unboxing: The Replacements Box Set

Last year was a great year to be a Replacements fan.  First, they did their first tour in 22 years, which we were lucky enough to see in April 2015 in Hollywood.  Later in the year, Rhino released a box set of their first four albums on TwinTone.

Here is a video of me explaining how much the Replacements, and these albums, meant to me:

From time to time, we unbox packages such as ComicCon Box, LootCratespecial edition vinyl, and any other cool things we might get.  We will post our videos here, but feel free to also subscribe to our YouTube channel!