Tag Archives: Barbecue

Dam to Dam + Pleasantville Pig Out

Today was one for the ages, folks. I am exhausted. But before I collapse, a recap:

My alarm went off at 4:25 this morning (which really made me mad, because I was having a dream in which I inexplicably knew how to tap dance flawlessly). My dad drove my mom and I downtown so we could board a bus to the Saylorville Dam, the starting point for the Dam to Dam 20K. I did not have a great feeling about this race from the start, because I thought our numbers were kind of ominous:

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Those were not great years in American history, you know? But anyway, we both finished…nobody fainted, threw up, tripped over their own feet, etc. I did not finish with any great speed, but, unlike the last time I ran this race, I did cross the finish line before they ran out of participant medals! Progress. When we came home, I immediately collapsed on the floor, until my mom made me get up and shower. Because there was more to do!

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After I drank my weight in Gatorade, we made our way to Pleasantville, IA, for the Pleasantville Pig Out Cook-off, dressed in our official barbecue team t-shirts.

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I named the team–it is an homage to my parents’ short-lived 1970s musical venture, the Tall Dog Band. They were all the rage in rural west-central Iowa, as I understand it, but eventually decided to focus on their less glamorous but more fulfilling jobs as educators. (Also–regarding the Homer Simpson quote–I would be your friend if you brought me a salad, just so you know. I happen to love salad.)

Things were hopping at the Tall Dog BBQ tent when we arrived, and we were immediately called into action to help serve samples to the masses. Today’s offerings: smoked pork loin with a maple chipotle glaze, smoked chicken thighs with a prosciutto, shallot, and mushroom stuffing, and gator fritters. (My dad ordered alligator meat online for the occasion. This guy plays to win.)

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It was so much fun…..I love feeding people. And clearly, I come by that naturally. I had a great time hanging out with my whole family….including (CELEBRITY SIGHTING!) my Grandpa Elmer and my Grandma Neva, who made the trip all the way from Jefferson, my hometown.

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Once we ran out of samples and judging was finished, my mom and I ducked into Smokey Row, an adorable coffee shop on the town square, for a veggie sandwich. I also ate a cookie the size of my face, because, you know, I’m an endurance athlete and I needed to replenish my carbs. Then I wandered around the festival a bit–it was fantastic! Classic car show, hot-dog eating contest, bags tournament, an appearance by the Iowa State Fair Queen–it was everything a small-town festival should be.

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Once votes were tabulated, we gathered for the results in front of the Pleasantville Grocery. Everyone was on pins and needles. (Well, OK, not everyone.)

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They announced second-prize winners in each of the four categories (beef, poultry, pork, and miscellaneous) first. No Tall Dog Barbecue. Then, they announced first prize winners in each category. Again, no Tall Dog Barbecue! Finally…..they announced the overall judges’ choice award, and IT WAS US! The grand prize was a whole processed hog. This prize, in and of itself, did not particularly excite me, given my vegetarianism, but let’s be honest, folks–I like winning things. And after a day of working hard and slinging samples in the heat, I think my dad and brother deserved some accolades 🙂 Here they are before judging (with their serious BBQ faces on) and after the big win:

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Many thanks to the judges for volunteering their time and to Brandon Bingham, festival organizer extraordinnaire! It was a great event.

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Have a lovely Sunday, friends! I need to learn some laws 😦

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Saturday, starring watermelon

Although I am not very carnivorously-inclined myself, I do happen to be the daughter of a certified barbecue contest judge who, in order to receive his certification, had to swear a solemn oath to “spread the gospel of ‘cue.”  Because he takes this oath seriously, my dear old dad fired up his backyard smoker before I left for school and sent me back with enough “low and slow” goodness to feed several friends.

So I whipped up some black bean burgers and a few other things, fed some folks, and then scooted off for a night of fun and frivolity with my very dangerous friend Christina.

The crowd did a pretty excellent job of cleaning up the food.  However, I was left with an over-abundance of watermelon, so I decided to pull out my favorite knife this morning and see what I could do with it.  Here’s what happened with what I could find in my kitchen…

Watermelon and Peach Salsa

  • 2 cups diced watermelon
  • 1 diced peach
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • juice from half of a lime
  • salt and pepper

I thought I was headed for failure as I mixed these ingredients together, but lo and behold–it’s pretty good!  Try it with some chips, or, if you want to get fancy, on top of some grilled fish.  I had it with a leftover black bean burger for lunch and it was totally two-thumbs-up.  Cilantro and/or a jalepeno might be nice additions.

Emboldened by my successful salsa, I then dumped another cup or so of watermelon into my blender.  I added maybe 4 ounces of riesling (the nice thing about hosting barbecues is that people sometimes leave wine in your fridge) and a couple splashes of lime-flavored club soda.  It blended up all pink and frothy and DELISH, but I don’t have a picture because, um, I drank it.  Sorry.