Monday, March 2, 2015


     One of the best investments I have ever made was a Traiger Smoker.  I love it so much and enjoy using in more then any BBQ grill or out door cooker I have ever owned.  In fact my BBQ grill just sets there alone and unused.  

     I have owned other smokers over the years, but I hated the constant vigil of keeping the temperature perfect.  There are those that love that and I really admire the vigilant smoker that is dedicated to the entire process, but for me I love the ease of putting the pellets in the bin and choosing the temperature and leaving.  And the best part is everything turns out perfect.  

     It does take time to smoke meat well not matter what the equipment, but if you have the time and love smoked meats you might want to try a Traiger Smoker.  And just for the record they do not pay me to say that.  I bought mine at Costco and if you do buy one make sure it has the built in thermostat.  It is great not having to guess.  

     This weekend I smoked Pork Chops.  They were wonderful.  I used a oil and vinegar marinate and I used Penzey's Northwoods  for seasoning.   I smoked them for 1 hour on the smoke setting.  After one hour I raised the temperature to 300 and finished them off in about 20 minutes.  So tender and smoked just right.  

Fresh on the grill.  Ready to smoke.  

Smoked to perfection.  Really perfect.  Tender and juicy.  Good hot or cold.  

Just in case you were wondering what a Traiger looks like here is the photo of the one that I have.  It is perfect and not only for smoking, but it is the best grill ever.  Best burgers I have ever made.  

    Smoking meats is a perfect way to cook meats.  I love food and I really love good food.  Smoked meats combined with good foods is an amazing food adventure.  

Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy, or Smoker Guy,  take your choice.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Third Sunday Dinner Report~February 2015

     February is a great month on in Arizona.  The weather is perfect.  I love this time of year.  February and March are actually my two favorite months in Mesa.   March brings orange blossoms and gardening.  The weather has been so warm most of my garden is already in.  I am excited.  

     This month we decided to do Deep Fried French Toast again.  It is a Favorite and we do it at least once a year for Third Sunday Dinner.  Everyone loves it and it really is an easy one to do.  Often I will pick up day old bread at the local bakery, but this year I decided to bake the bread.  I used my mothers Good Ole White Bread recipe.  It is wonderful.  Nothing healthy about this favorite.  I like to serve this with butter milk syrup.   

     We are going into our 7th year of doing Third Sunday Dinner and totally are committed to the next  seven years.  We love the things we have learned.  All members of our family have learned so much and have grown from opening our home up for others.  We have created long lifetime relationships that we love and look forward to more friends we will meet.  When I think of the most important things I have learned is how much we need each other.  Often times we are to busy to really take the time to fellowship, and by fellowship I mean lift others by loving them.  For me Third Sunday Dinner provides a great place that allows for time to really lift others.   

    We never know who is coming to dinner, and our prayer is that those who need it will be there.  And guess what, that prayer is always answered.     

The bread dough.  I baked 36 mini loaves of bread for dinner.  I weigh the dough at 10 ounces   

A Simple trick I have learned it to cover the top of the oven and bread with an old sheet or table cloth.  It traps the hot air from the preheating oven and helps to proof it faster.

The Bread Baking in the Oven

The Finished Product.  It looks great.  I love fresh baked bread.

I have a bread slicer that comes in handy often

 So this month I thought I would clean out the pantry.  I had a bunch of cans of fruit.  Tropical fruits like lychee nuts, palm seeds, etc.  Strange and exotic.  I also had an extra large bag of carrots.  We diced the carrots and added chopped fruit to the cooled down steamed carrots.   It was interesting to say the least.

Canned Fruit

Chopped Carrots

I love these girls.  They are amazing.  I give them a vision and they make it happen.

The makings of the Carrot Tropical Salad

It was unusual to say the least.  The comments were really great.  Some absolutely loved it, others could not figure it out, some absolutely hated it, while others were just to polite to say.  It was a texture thing and the canned bananas really threw them off.  They looked like sausage.  It was a fun experience.  I love doing that.  Why stick to the normal.  And it has a lot to do with memories.  There has to be those memories that are funny.
In the beginning. 

Setting up the tables and chairs.

It's a party, Oh no not a party, it's Third Sunday Dinner. 

The French Toast was really great.  The fryer's fried over 300 slices of bread.  It is always a great meal.  I fry it outside.  I use my camp burners and dutch ovens.  It goes really fast and keeps the mess out of the house.

 This is our fry station.  Pans to dip the bread in.  They fried for at least 2 hours.   I mix the eggs up with milk and cinnamon and nutmeg in the Vita Mix early.  We used over three gallons of milk egg mixture.

 Another Third Sunday Dinner success.  It is always nice when it's all over and I can reflect on what happened.  I love the feeling of peace that comes into my heart.   I look forward for March and am already planning the menu.
Enjoy the Adventure~Chef Brad

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Third Sunday Dinner ~January

      January is a great month.  Right after the holiday's and all the bustle and hustle, it's great to take time off and relax and get back into normal.   This year in Arizona we have had mild weather so it has been great to enjoy the outside.  I did do a fire pit but it was not really needed.  It is sometimes a challenge to come up with creative things to cook that are easy and fit into the budget.  I love the challenge and look forward each month to what I can create with what I have on hand.    Each month brings a wonderful fun evening filled with great food that makes us all happy and full.  This month as I was looking in the pantry and the freezer I found beans and tons of tortillas.  Beans in the pantry and small tortillas in freezer.  I happened to stop by Smart and Finale and they had cheese sauce on sale.  So nachos it was.  And what a great time we had.  Enjoy the pictures below as I tell the story of another great Third Sunday Dinner.  

Roaster full of refried black beans.   They ate the entire roaster full.  Black beans don't cost a lot and go along way.  

Chips central.   I fried chips for two hours straight.  The nice part was I could do other things while each batch cooked.

There were five pans full of chips.

Getting ready for the salsa. 

If you have the right equipment the job is a lot easier.  This is my favorite Paula Dean chicken fryer pan.   It's deep and perfect for frying chips or anything as far as that goes.  

The boys making salsa.  My dear friend Nathan Botts come over and gave them a lesson on chopping and making salsa.  The only instructions were to make one hot sauce and one salsa.  A neighbor sent over  a large bag of fresh tomatoes out of her garden.  Yes we get fresh tomatoes in January in Arizona.  

The salsa group.  Wow I love them.  

The salsa group also created a salad with hominy, quinoa, and black beans.  Was great.

This was so much fun.  At Jewel's Bakery and Cafe where I work they bake cakes.  When decorating a cake they often cut the top off to make it even.  They save them for me and I take them home and place them in the freezer.  All different kinds, from chocolate, red velvet, to vanilla, each one is great.

By Third Sunday Dinner I have a freezer full.  I take them out early in the morning to defrost and collect other ingredients.

So the children made Trifles.   Three to be exact.  It was great.  They had a great time and they turned out great.

On this one she is placing chocolate cake and fruit cocktail.

Next she spread out vanilla pudding.  Some had lemon pudding, etc.

What a production it was, they had so much fun creating.  When I told them what I wanted and told them it was up to them they had a surprised look on their faces.  I have great confidence in them and let them go.  

Amazing.  Three wonderful desserts that were devoured and enjoyed by all.  They were pretty creative.

The back yard ready to go.  

The food looks great.  Salad, salsa, and canned pickled jalepenos. 

The chips and the cheese sauce.  Three gallons to start and added more later.  

Refried beans.  Yum yum

The dessert table.  

Fusion Grain Fans.  I was so glad they came.  Darling new friends forever. 

Getting ready to dig in. 

I love happy faces. 

My dear dear friend Kent Flake.  I meet Kent one year ago and his friend ship has blessed my life in so many ways.  

New friends.

Friends making friends.

     I love Third Sunday Dinner's,  I was talking to the youth recently about what they do.  The youth from church come faithfully each month early and leave late.  I was telling them that there is no way we can measure the good that comes from the amazing things they do.  Often times that is how life is,  we never see the result of what we do,  but this I do know,  it is the small, often times  simple things that we do that produce the largest, longest lasting results.   I have no idea what really happens, but I feel peace and happiness  in abundance at least once a month.  

Have a great Month.  Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Third Sunday Dinner Report December 2014

      So this December was a cold month in Arizona and to top it off we had our church Christmas party the night before Third Sunday Dinner.   Everyone wondered what I was doing.  They didn't think we needed another party the next day.  Oh those of small vision.  Third Sunday Dinner is not about having enough, its about having more.  More time to spend fellow shipping and loving our neighbors.  I love Third Sunday Dinner and each month as I prepare the blog and look at the pictures my heart is filled with joy and I know that great things happen when we open up our hearts and homes and love those that come.
      December is a hard month so we go easy for the meal.  This month we did soup.  Left over pasta and sauce from the church party made a great soup.  I added beans and grains and call it Italian Pasta Soup and everyone loved it.  Served with rolls whatever goodies were brought we had a great time.  I also tossed a hug salad a few times. There was plenty of food.  The weather was perfect for hot chocolate and a fire in the back yard.  Enjoy the pictures and join me next year as we continue the tradition of Third Sunday Dinner.

The soup pot was filled to the top.  Soup is always a winner and goes a long way and is very cost effective when feeding the masses.

Hot chocolate fun.

I love my fire barrel.  It is getting old.  I am going to have to find a new one.  It is actually the insides of a washing machine.  It really gives off the heat.  The sound and smell of the fire warms the heart. 

This is why we love Arizona.  Eating outside a week before Christmas.  

New member to our congregation.  

I meet this man and the woman below last year at Third Sunday Dinner.  It has been an amazing year watching them grow and change.  I adore them and am so proud of all they have done in the last year.  Best friends now and always.  

I love this family.  We have great neighbors.

The McCarrey Family is family.  We meet them over 5 years ago when we just started Third Sunday Dinner.
Our boys and their boys are best friends and we could not imagine life without them. 

This family is precious in every way.  

Another Blessing in our lives.  

I love the youth at my church.  They come every month early and stay late.
They make Third Sunday Dinner easy.  

     Often people comment about Third Sunday Dinner and say things like "How do you do it" or "Don't you get tired" or "Why do you do it".  The answer is simple, when I look at the pictures each month remembering all that come into our home my heart if filled with the Savior's love and it lifts me up and sustains me and all those who participate.  I have learned that when we trust in the Lord and do the sometimes impossible,  things just work out and life is better.
Have a great month.  Chef Brad