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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


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Holy Water
Old 09-01-2016   #1
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Holy Water

Avoid this one -- vodka infused with hot chili pepper -- if you are allergic to blasphemy. It got its name because surprisingly many people, the first time they try it, say something like "Good God Almighty!" or "Jesus Christ! What is it?"

It's at http://rogerandfrances.eu/cookery-an...hen/holy-water

I'm quite proud of a couple of the pictures: Micro Nikkor 55/2.8 on a Nikon Df , shot on the kitchen window-sill.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-01-2016   #2
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I'm quite proud of a couple of the pictures
They undoubtfully display a fresh hot red pepper being pushed inside a glass bottle of Putinoff vodka using a white sugar lump. If we could see a sailor model inside the bottle you should drink the whole stuff and re-take the photos.
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Old 09-01-2016   #3
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It is called "Perzovka". Was made in USSR and still made (I guess) in Russia, no visible pepper, but extract. More popular perzovka is made by Nemiroff Ukraine since 1992.

Regarding "Holy" and "Christ" words, local distillery in Niagara region was making Inferno Vodka (it was stuffed with long red peppers), but demography of vodka drinkers in Ontario has shifted to ladies who are mixing vodka with something sweet.
Still, here is another smaller distillery in Oakville Ontario which makes perzovka.

I do it at home if winter is cold. Three small peppers, green caps removed. Two table spoons of honey and couple of garlic cloves. It stays in fridge or cold garage for two weeks with periodical agitation. After two weeks it has to be kept in the freezer part of refrigerator. Russian, Ukrainian, Polish or Canadian vodkas are good for it.

Here is another perzovka from Ukraine:



Za zdorovie!
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Old 09-01-2016   #4
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Honey... Hmm, have to try that. Not so sure about the garlic: it's REALLY bad in grappa.

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R.
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Old 09-01-2016   #5
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Takes me back 40 years and a trip to the USSR. First stop was Kiev and me with a miserable head cold. That first evening, at dinner, I drank the best part of a bottle of Ukrainian Pepper Vodka (I left the worst part to someone else). I think the liquid was green.
I do recall the Intourist guide telling me I'd be sorry in the morning. I do not recall what I ate.
Well, there was a mighty hangover but the cold had surrendered and left.
Good times.
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Old 09-01-2016   #6
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...Not so sure about the garlic: it's REALLY bad in grappa.

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Would you like to read the story about british guy and uzbekistan grappa?
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Old 09-01-2016   #7
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Would you like to read the story about british guy and uzbekistan grappa?
Possibly...

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R.
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Old 09-01-2016   #8
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Thumbs up

What a great web site, Roger.
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Old 09-02-2016   #9
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Quote:
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Avoid this one -- vodka infused with hot chili pepper -- if you are allergic to blasphemy. It got its name because surprisingly many people, the first time they try it, say something like "Good God Almighty!" or "Jesus Christ! What is it?"

It's at http://rogerandfrances.eu/cookery-an...hen/holy-water

I'm quite proud of a couple of the pictures: Micro Nikkor 55/2.8 on a Nikon Df , shot on the kitchen window-sill.

Cheers,

R.
I have Caribbean friends who cook with very hot peppers. A similar utterance is heard around the table by unsuspecting guests.
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Old 09-02-2016   #10
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What a great web site, Roger.
Thanks.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-02-2016   #11
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Good photos, and looks like somewhere beetween fun and painful. I'm guessing that the difference between 37.5% and 40% alcohol has something to do with the solubility of the capsaicin in alcohol vs. water.

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 09-02-2016   #12
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This was one of the most popular horilka (Ukrainian for vodka) on our family's table, when I was growing up. I was making one quite often, after I moved to US, and there was none available in stores in 1990's. Now there is a bunch of different ones, but I don't really care for their quality.
I would buy 96%grain alcohol, a gallon of distilled water, a jar of local honey and several hot peppers. Grain alcohol is best suited for this concoction, because there is very little "anything else" in it. I would dilute it 1:1 with distilled water, pur it into 1L bottles, add 1 teaspoon of honey and a hot pepper to each bottle. Then, I would shake it until honey dissolves. Let is sit for a couple of weeks, and it would be very palatable. Apparently, natural sugars in honey would mellow out harshness of grain alcohol and hot peppers.
It would yield about 3.5 L of first grade elixir, that would be as natural and pure, as quality of grain alcohol and distilled water allows it to be. Hell of a lot better than anything ever available commercially. And the cost was around $45-50 for a batch.
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Old 09-02-2016   #13
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Also, one can use different peppers for different bottles, varying hotnes and flavor. Also, drinkng ice cold vodka kills flavor of a drink. Good quality vodka should not be cold, only cheap one needs be chilled.
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Old 09-02-2016   #14
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And it is best consumed with Ukrainian salo on dark bread. Those, who tried, know.
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Old 09-02-2016   #15
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Also, one can use different peppers for different bottles, varying hotnes and flavor. Also, drinkng ice cold vodka kills flavor of a drink. Good quality vodka should not be cold, only cheap one needs be chilled.
Dear Sam,

I fully take your point, but once it's in the shot glass, it warms up very quickly, so it is merely drunk cold, not ice-cold.

Also, this is not exactly a subtle drink, unlike (for example) a good bison grass vodka, so it can stand being pretty damn' chilly as well as chili. EDIT: Alas, you can't buy pure grain spirit in France any more, so I can only buy it in a few Central or Eastern European countries. I think my last bottle came from Slovenia.

Personally, I prefer fish zakuski to speck (I've not tried salo) but next time I buy a ham I'll try it with ham fat. I'll also ask my Ukrainian friends to tell me more about salo. EDIT: Of course it may be one of those things you need to be brought up with in order to like it, or even, in the case of andouillettes, to eat at all.

A few years ago, we had a barbecue for 20-30 people, and one pair of (French) friends asked if they could being with them a Ukrainian girl who was staying with them. We said yes, of course. She was well pleased, and much surprised, when we introduced her to our Ukrainian friends, in the wilds of La France Profonde.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-02-2016   #16
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Roger,
It looks like Ukrainian salo is similar to speck. Wikipedia article is pretty accurate. The best salo has to be thick. Preparation is different from cook to cook, just like Ukrainian beet soup, for which every cook has his/her own recipe.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salo_(food)

One of Ukrainian fish zakuska is herring, served with onions and unrefined sunflower seed oil. Another popular zakuska would be marinated honey mushrooms. Just like blood sausage, you have to grow up with it to like it.

P.S. We went to Brooklyn last weekend, and, amongst other things, bought three different types of salo: black pepper covered, smoked and premium Ukrainian salo(4" thick). My wife, who comes from Southern Poland, tried it on dark bread several years ago, and craves it ever since.
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Old 09-02-2016   #17
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. . . Just like blood sausage, you have to grow up with it to like it. . .
Dear Sam,

Not sure about that. First, I never ate it for the first 20-30 years of my life.

Second, the regional variations are enormous. For example, although I now find the rusk-packed English variety (the sort I didn't eat for 20-30 years) edible if it's served with breakfast, I'd never buy it or go out of my way to eat it. In France or Spain it's something I buy several times a year, and the best I ever had was maybe a decade ago, barbecued, in Poland: a real tipping point in my appreciation of the stuff.

As for smoked food, maybe this winter I'll finally get around to setting up my smoker. I have the stove, the barrel and some of the piping; I need to spend another 50-100€ on pipework, and decide exactly where to set it up.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-02-2016   #18
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No, it doesn't have to be always salo and dark bread. Vodka is big calories already.

Ground grow, open field tomato red and soft (but not the one what Italians use for pasta sauce), sliced like orange and fresh, small cucumber, sliced in half. All are slightly salted with crunched coarse salt. Take it after straight shot.

Fermented, white cabbage is even more traditional as zakuska. In France uncooked choucroute might be very similar to it.
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Old 09-02-2016   #19
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Eclectic is all I can think of when reading the index to your site.
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Old 09-02-2016   #20
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No, it doesn't have to be always salo and dark bread. Vodka is big calories already.

Ground grow, open field tomato red and soft (but not the one what Italians use for pasta sauce), sliced like orange and fresh, small cucumber, sliced in half. All are slightly salted with crunched coarse salt. Take it after straight shot.

Fermented, white cabbage is even more traditional as zakuska. In France uncooked choucroute might be very similar to it.
Kostya,
You are absolutely correct. It can be sauerkraut, marinated or fresh tomatoes, pickled cucumbers, squash of any kind,etc. I believe, however, that more calories in zakuska leads to a better morning after, but then, again, it depends on litrage.
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Old 09-02-2016   #21
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Dear Sam,

Not sure about that. First, I never ate it for the first 20-30 years of my life.

Second, the regional variations are enormous. For example, although I now find the rusk-packed English variety (the sort I didn't eat for 20-30 years) edible if it's served with breakfast, I'd never buy it or go out of my way to eat it. In France or Spain it's something I buy several times a year, and the best I ever had was maybe a decade ago, barbecued, in Poland: a real tipping point in my appreciation of the stuff.

As for smoked food, maybe this winter I'll finally get around to setting up my smoker. I have the stove, the barrel and some of the piping; I need to spend another 50-100€ on pipework, and decide exactly where to set it up.

Cheers,

R.
Roger,
I was born in western Ukraine, about 80km from Polish border, thus our version of blood sausage is very much the same as Polish. It is made with mixture of buckwheat and blood, and tastes delicious off the grill or frying pan.

My father-in-law built us a smoker in our back yard, using 55gal drum and various pipes and sheet steel. It produces wonderful results. We plan to smoke some bacon and pork within next several weeks. I can't wait. Taste of still warm freshly smoked pork neck is heavenly.
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Old 09-02-2016   #22
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Dear Sam,

The stove for my smoker is based on a gas cylinder (a welder friend made it for me) and the smoking chamber is a second-hand wine barrel about 80-90cm in maximum diameter at its widest part and maybe 1,3m high. Insh'Allah I'll try to plumb it in before I go into hospital for a major operation in 5 weeks. Then I can smoke stuff while I'm recovering...

(No, man, not that).

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-02-2016   #23
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Hi Roger, I'm not familiar with Holy Water coming from a Grappa area, which is enough (even too much!) for me. Just want to say your site is really special! And not only about photography! Great!
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Old 09-02-2016   #24
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Roger,

I wish for your surgery to go well and recovery period to be as short as possible.

Our smoker stove is made of sheet steel, and it is about 1 cubic foot in volume. It is connected to the barrel with about 1m long 15cm wide pipe. There is a chimney welded into a lid of the barrel. Fire in a stove should be kept to a minimum, just enough to keep wood smoking. Pipe between barrel and a stove should be as long as possible to keep smoke as cold as possible. If smoke is too hot, it will cook meat faster than needed to absorb smoke flavour. Usually, it takes about 4-5 hours to smoke a batch. We try to use some fruitwood for better flavor. Beforehand, all meat sits in brine, made according to my wife's family recipe, for several days.
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Old 09-02-2016   #25
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Hi Roger, I'm not familiar with Holy Water coming from a Grappa area, which is enough (even too much!) for me. Just want to say your site is really special! And not only about photography! Great!
robert
Dear Robert,

Thanks. I value your good opinion.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-02-2016   #26
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Roger,

I wish for your surgery to go well and recovery period to be as short as possible.

Our smoker stove is made of sheet steel, and it is about 1 cubic foot in volume. It is connected to the barrel with about 1m long 15cm wide pipe. There is a chimney welded into a lid of the barrel. Fire in a stove should be kept to a minimum, just enough to keep wood smoking. Pipe between barrel and a stove should be as long as possible to keep smoke as cold as possible. If smoke is too hot, it will cook meat faster than needed to absorb smoke flavour. Usually, it takes about 4-5 hours to smoke a batch. We try to use some fruitwood for better flavor. Beforehand, all meat sits in brine, made according to my wife's family recipe, for several days.
Dear Sam,

Thanks for the good wishes and the advice. I'm aiming for a 2m pipe, minimum, which as far as I am aware implies 6-7 hour smoking. Wood will probably be oak as this is what we use for heating. I have some cherry wood from a demolished cherry tree, but to be honest, I prefer oak for barbecues and I suspect smoking may be the same. Could your wife be induced to reveal her family brine recipe? And how long do you brine for? Three days? A week?

Have you ever had freshly smoked duck breast? WOW!

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-02-2016   #27
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I haven't been a drinker since 1985, but that Holy Water sounds like something I would have tried. Especially the honey version. I know my old pepper eating Hungarian neighbor at the time would have enjoyed it.

What I like about your and Frances's site is the way you use photography to illustrate the story, and that the photos are all top notch.

Have an uneventful operation, and a rapid recovery.

PF
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Old 09-02-2016   #28
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I haven't been a drinker since 1985, but that Holy Water sounds like something I would have tried. Especially the honey version. I know my old pepper eating Hungarian neighbor at the time would have enjoyed it.

What I like about your and Frances's site is the way you use photography to illustrate the story, and that the photos are all top notch.

Have an uneventful operation, and a rapid recovery.

PF
Underline: Thanks. You flatter me that they are "all top notch", though. Some are good; some are the merest illustrations. The thing is, there are probably just enough reasonably good ones, along with a few that are better than reasonably good, that I can create the illusion that they're all quite good.

That's why I said I was quite proud of a couple of the Holy Water shots: namely, the first and last. The rest are step-by-steps, but with a good beginning and a good end, it's easier to disguise the shortcomings.

Thanks too for the wishes for the uneventful operation. There are two surgeons, and an average 6% mortality rate, so it's a biggie. One said, "If it were just me, you'd be out in four days. The other guy is doing the difficult bit." The other reckoned I'd be in for a week, or maybe ten days. For obvious reasons I'd prefer the former... On the bright side, with good kidneys, heart, etc., I should be rather more firmly on the 94% side than the 6%.

Cheers,

R.
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How do you make holy water?
Old 09-02-2016   #29
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How do you make holy water?

A priest was invited to my sister's home to bless the new house and spread some holy water around every corner. I asked him, how do you make holy water?

His answer: You boil the hell out of it!!
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Old 09-03-2016   #30
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Dear Sam,

Thanks for the good wishes and the advice. I'm aiming for a 2m pipe, minimum, which as far as I am aware implies 6-7 hour smoking. Wood will probably be oak as this is what we use for heating. I have some cherry wood from a demolished cherry tree, but to be honest, I prefer oak for barbecues and I suspect smoking may be the same. Could your wife be induced to reveal her family brine recipe? And how long do you brine for? Three days? A week?

Have you ever had freshly smoked duck breast? WOW!

Cheers,

R.
Roger,
It sounds like your smoker should work a treat. I also use oak for grilling and have used it for smoking as well, but we like the flavor of a little fruitwood added.
My wife said she would share her recipe once she gets her recipe book back from my sister-in-law.
I would like to attach a little photo. If it is not appropriate in this thread, I would delete it, just let me know. Liquid in the back was not "blessed" to become "holy". It is Żytnia Polish Wódka. Salo is in the front.

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Ontario "Infernal Vodka"
Old 09-04-2016   #31
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Ontario "Infernal Vodka"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
It is called "Perzovka". Was made in USSR and still made (I guess) in Russia, no visible pepper, but extract. More popular perzovka is made by Nemiroff Ukraine since 1992.

Regarding "Holy" and "Christ" words, local distillery in Niagara region was making Inferno Vodka (it was stuffed with long red peppers), but demography of vodka drinkers in Ontario has shifted to ladies who are mixing vodka with something sweet.
Still, here is another smaller distillery in Oakville Ontario which makes perzovka.

I do it at home if winter is cold. Three small peppers, green caps removed. Two table spoons of honey and couple of garlic cloves. It stays in fridge or cold garage for two weeks with periodical agitation. After two weeks it has to be kept in the freezer part of refrigerator. Russian, Ukrainian, Polish or Canadian vodkas are good for it.

Here is another perzovka from Ukraine:



Za zdorovie!
Ko.
I used to mix a shot of this into a good cup of hot chocolate. The pepper enhanced the flavour of the chocolate, and the vodka added a warm-up effect.
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Old 09-28-2016   #32
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Dear Sam,

...
Could your wife be induced to reveal her family brine recipe? And how long do you brine for? Three days? A week?

...

Cheers,

R.
Roger,
I have had a conversation with my wife, and she spoke to my mother-in-law, about their brine recipe. Unfortunately, it is an approximate recipe. They add everything by feel, or just looking at it.
Fill pasta pot 3/4 full of water. Add enough salt to make water saltier than it has to be for pasta or boiled potatoes. Put ground black pepper, about a dozen of bay leaves, about two dozen of allspice berries, around a dozen of juniper berries in the water, and bring it to a boil. Let water cool down, and put meat in it when it is room temperature. Let meat sit in brine for 3 days or so, changing its position in water every two hours, or when you remember to do it to make sure all meat is equally brined. When you are ready to smoke, take meat out of brine, pat dry, and, depending on what type of meat it is, it can be covered in crushed pepper, paprika, crushed cayenne, various herbs, etc. My father in law usually smokes it for about 5 hours.
I read somewhere to add 4 tablespoons of salt per 1 quart of water, but that yields meat that is too salty to our liking.
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Old 09-29-2016   #33
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Roger,
I have had a conversation with my wife, and she spoke to my mother-in-law, about their brine recipe. Unfortunately, it is an approximate recipe. They add everything by feel, or just looking at it.
Fill pasta pot 3/4 full of water. Add enough salt to make water saltier than it has to be for pasta or boiled potatoes. Put ground black pepper, about a dozen of bay leaves, about two dozen of allspice berries, around a dozen of juniper berries in the water, and bring it to a boil. Let water cool down, and put meat in it when it is room temperature. Let meat sit in brine for 3 days or so, changing its position in water every two hours, or when you remember to do it to make sure all meat is equally brined. When you are ready to smoke, take meat out of brine, pat dry, and, depending on what type of meat it is, it can be covered in crushed pepper, paprika, crushed cayenne, various herbs, etc. My father in law usually smokes it for about 5 hours.
I read somewhere to add 4 tablespoons of salt per 1 quart of water, but that yields meat that is too salty to our liking.
Dear Sam,

Perfect! Thanks! And thanks even more to your wife and mother-in-law!

Cheers,

R.
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Old 10-11-2016   #34
Crazy Fedya
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Crazy Fedya is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Lon Gisland
Posts: 850
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Dear Sam,

Perfect! Thanks! And thanks even more to your wife and mother-in-law!

Cheers,

R.

Roger,
I had some bacon and pork loin smoked last week. It came out so good it is no more. We shared some with our friends, however.
Wish you speedy recovery!
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Regards,
Sam.
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Old 10-11-2016   #35
nikonosguy
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kinda want to infuse a bottle of skyy vodka with a few carolina reapers... and leave the bottle sitting around... might be a decent cure for the person that keeps drinking all my booze
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