Monday, March 21, 2011

Brand New Pit

Crackling ambers rise from the hot, golden fire below. The aroma of burnt skin and scales tantalizes, and tests your patience. 

They have to be properly done before you serve your guests, you remind yourself.

Every now and then, when we have family and friends over, we throw a barbecue party.

I love to b-b-q.

I grew up eating daging or ikan panggang - meat or fish grilled on firewood or charcoal. This is the origin of bbq as far as I'm concerned. I know that in French barbecue means "from beard to tail", referring to the whole animal laid down on the barbie. And I'm sure we've all come across roadhouses and beer joints with pool tables, displaying neon signs that read "bar, beer, and cues".

I have this yen for cooking on open fire and eating outdoor: When my buddies and I go fishing, we cook the fish we catch over fire by the riverside, before bringing some uncooked fish home. Whenever I bring the boys to seaside resorts I make it a point to bring along a portable charcoal stove for grilling meat and fish on the beach.

During the candat sotong (hooking the octopus) season at  Pulau Kapas or Pulau Perhentian  (islands off the East Coast), we grill the squid we catch right there and then on the boat, and savor them under the moonlight, while the cool sea breeze caresses our faces.

I find that modern day electric grill does not give the same effect or taste to food. I still prefer meat that is cooked over charcoal or firewood. Must be the caveman in me.

Not one to spend a lot of money on machines, my bbq set has been pretty basic:

The one I used when Irfan and family came over

These are of course already improvements over my old portable clay stove.

But I was keen on making further improvements - to construct one that is bigger and stronger.

After completing the stone steps I had some sand, cement, and bricks left:

The sand and cement I can use for the base of the fencing, which is still not completed. I have no further use for the bricks. So rather than let them become a mold hill, it would be just the material I need for my brand new barbie. I aim to be the perfect host this durian season.

Here are the steps involved in the construction:

(Note: this is not rocket science. Skill level required is only that of a farmer. If you have a degree in engineering, go build a viaduct or something).

First, lay bricks for base and walls - this
one measures 3ft x 4ft - can hold the largest
leg of whatever

Next do the top, the surface where you  build the fire -
the wire gauze is to strengthen the concrete

Apply concrete mix over the top

Finishing touches

The middle pillar will be removed - space below
for putting your bags of charcoal, etc.

It is now ready for that leg of lamb.


Wan Sharif said...

Wow.. Ongoing project with an objective of becoming a perfect host.. awesome..
Now .I thought you are going to talk about a man.. ah it is about new Pit BBQ pit...
a clever post.. you got me there!!

Akelamalu said...

I could almost smell your cooking Grandpa!

That's an impressive BBQ. :)

NancyDe said...

Lovely. I enjoy a good barbecue, myself.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

WOW! great work! And you've given me a ton of ideas. I love char grilled "calamari" - but of course you can't get that in this part of the country. I'll be dreaming of all your BBQ delights!

Have a glorious day!

Grandpa said...

Wan, the picture is just for decoration. I let your mind imagine the rest!

Akelamalu - thank you!

secret agent woman said...

That's going to be great when you get it running!

Grandpa said...

NancyDe, and I think you have the perfect setting for it.

Ohiofarmgirl, thanks pal! Glad to have given you some ideas - are we going to be reading about them?
Calamari, that's the word I was looking for!
You too have a glorious day!

Grandpa said...

secret agent woman, I'm so looking forward to using it for the first time this weekend - my second son (+ d-i-l and Irfan) are bringing their friends over.

Happy Frog and I said...

Excellent work, you have been busy! Thanks so much for the comment on my latest post. I do some more serious posts on the blog, but not all the time. Really glad it was your cup of tea.

Grandpa said...

Happy Frog and I, thank you! And you are welcome. I've always enjoyed your blog, but that post at Starlight's moved me like never before.

klahanie said...

Hi there Grandpa,
Nothing like 'throwing' a barbecue party. Just be careful where you throw your party of barbecue eaters.
Yes, I tried to make a joke and no, I have no idea what I'm talking about.
Happy cooking, oh wise chef.
In kindness, Gary :-)

small farm girl said...

Ok, now I'm hungry!

Grandpa said...

klahanie: sound advice Gary. I may accidently throw some hot charcoals!

Take care, and peaceful day to you, my friend.

small farm girl: be my guest!

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Grandpa, love your bbq. Your mention of Palau Kapas, Perhentian brings back memories to me. I used to go deep sea fishing off Kapas back in the '60s, '70s when the Island was uninhabited.
And really enjoyed bathing from that well. That water was cold!
It was fun camping there, and like what you did, yes...we too having caught squids, and garupas, etc will bbq them.

What we also did was wrapped the fish in banana leaves, bury it in the sand, build a fire over it....
And there is nothing in this world to match a freshly bbq'ed fish.

I really miss beautiful Trengganu and Pulau Kapas, but heard it's now a holiday resort.
Glad I was there when it was uninhabited....
Oh ya, love that village, Marang. Very scenic.
And of course nasi dagang, ikan percik, ha ha.

Nice bbq you have there, can I be invited bila saya balek kampong.
You and I can shoot the breeze about fishing, ha ha.
Have a nice day, Grandpa.

Grandpa said...

Uncle Lee: Hi Lee, your comment naming all those places adds to the nostalgia. We know why they are called 'the good old days'... Perhentian and the nearby Redang are now popular tourist resorts, but still plenty of sotong to be caught.

Of course nothing can beat nasi dagang and ikan or ayam percik for a hearty meal.

We belong to the same era, so do come by and we can reminisce the good old days...

Take care Lee.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Hi Grandpa.. I know its your morning but I've had a heck of a day. Can I just sit up here on your porch and beg a cup of something off you? Is it too early for your bar to be open? My arms hurt, I'm covered in mud, we had to run from the beez, and we even had a "batten down the hatches" storm. A heck of a day on the farm, for sure.

I hope your day is more peaceful than mine! Have a glorious day, dear friend!

Grandpa said...

Ohiofarmgirl: Oh dear, what a dreadful day...the bar won't be opened until 4 pm - that's in 6 hours' time - BUT, I hold the key so you can have whatever you want to soothe those aches...
I'm coming into the busy season now, but still have time to smell those flowers.
Keep warm, have a restful evening, and take care, pal.

Joylene Butler said...

The BBQ looks beautiful. And the food looks mighty good too. I grew up on bbq food all summer long. My mum was the expert in our family. Anything from the juiciest of beef steaks to yummy pink salmon. I can taste the delectable flavours. Very tasty.

Grandpa said...

Joylene, here, and in Australia from my experience BBQ is the domain of men!
In your case I can imagine how nice a BBQ do is in that lovely setting and environment.

Theres just life said...

Now I want one too. Jack just had another thing added to his to do list. I'm too busy in garden with the planting and taming the weed demon.

Grandpa said...

Theresjustlife: Hi PJ, good to see you. I hope Jack is not too busy already. But once you have the material it's quite simple to do. I completed it within two days. And this solid thing will last forever.