Smoking Foods


I have over the years growing up in NC and VA developed a passion for quality smoked food.  I believe that if something is properly prepared and smoked your taste buds cannot be offended.  Now with that being  said the wife and I typically  experience  disappointment the majority of the time when we visit smokehouses.  She jokingly says I blame you as I have created the expectation of good food that cannot be achieved elsewhere. I want to say that I am not a professional or by any way try to state this.  I simply follow some basic guidelines when I smoke. The number 1 offence we find is over cooking the food.  I am not sure if the food is cooked properly then pulled or chopped tossed on a warming table and continues to cook and dry out however regardless dry meat IMO is not a desirable thing. When I smoke meat there is one basic simple process that I always follow.  I have a moisture pan in the smoker.  This provides a moist smoke to allow the meat to remain moist and also I think the smoke takes on a quality of its own.  Now I do not use water in the pan.  I use different juices.  My primary is apple juice which provide along with the hickory a hint of apple to the meats final taste without overpowering it with “smoke”  I will also add different items to the drip pan to add to the season of the smoke like garlic or other spices that complement that style of meat.  Then I plan my day around smoking and set aside 12 to 14 hours of my life to being around the smoker so that there is a constant temperature of 225 to 250 in the smoker.  Monitor the meat temperature to around 180 degrees also ensure it is not burned or dried out. I also find that many times the food it in my opinion over seasoned.  Yes I grew up in the land of vinegar based BBQ however you need to taste and enjoy every part of the meal.  This is simple as you should not be overwhelmed by the vinegar or the or the paprika etc.  You should be able to taste every component evenly.  There should not be anything that overpowers the other to the point of not tasting anything else.  I find many sauces overwhelming the taste also.  I use BBQ sauce however it is not soaked in the sauce again overpowering the meat or other elements of the meal.  As this section develops I hope that we can provide everyone with a good understanding of what needs to take place to have a great meal.

Welcome to On Your Plates

We know farm to table (field to fork, plow to plate, etc.) is hardly a new idea.   However, for a long time I have thought about starting a blog about food and its preparation.

The wife and I have a passion for food and really love to eat.  We take a lot of time when at home to have good quality meals with local meats and veggies.  Whenever we go out to eat, we also like to think we are eating the best possible.  We have joined some local CSAs and also frequent the local Farmers Markets in the area.  We have gotten to know many of the farmers and this is very important to us.

When I was young, I would spend the week in the summer, with my grandparents in Horse Pasture, Virginia.  My grandfather was a man that worked in the furniture factory in Martinsville, VA and when he came home, he would change into his overalls and straw hat and go out to work in his fields.  He maintained around 3 acres of farm with a small garden tiller and basic hand tools.  His brother would come in the spring and again in the fall to turn the fields over with his tractor; but the rest was done by my grandfather’s own hands.  When the harvest started coming in, he would go and pick the crop that was ready and bring it in the house to my grandmother who would then take over.   She carefully prepared all the food for either dinner that day or can / preserve the food to make it through the winter.  Although they would still have to shop, the primary food was gathered and eaten from their own fields.  I remember sitting down for “supper” (as they called it) and there were fresh green beans and corn.   Actual scratch-made biscuits and meats from my uncle’s farm next door.   I always thought that grandma’s food was the best, but did not know why at the time.  My parents also had a garden for years that would place some fresh veggies on the table during the summer which were also great to have. As a child I did not have the understanding of why the foods tasted better from the garden.  Just wondered why so much effort was place to do it.

Eventually, I would go back to the city life, and after growing-up, moved to a large city.  Inevitably, this led to supermarkets and fast food.  I lost touch with good quality ingredients.   In their place stood food (I use the term loosely) did had 6-(12-)(18-)months shelf life which had so many things added or enhancements to make them grow 4 times as fast.   In so many markets, quality has been replaced for quantity.   Freshness for a longer shelf-life.   Taste for convenience.

I was this way for years until I met my current wife and we started to explore local markets and changing our eating style.  We searched the web and papers looking for local farms and farmers markets to try.  Going down the road in the winter, we would see little stands on the side of the road and we would mark where we were so we can return in the spring.

Today these mega markets (we know who they are but will not mention names), they want to purchase 100 train cars of tomatoes, not caring where or what method is used to grow them as long as the train cars are full.  The genetic manipulation to have all tomatoes on the vine ripen at the same time or sturdy enough so they can use a mass harvester to yank the whole plant out — this has to make you stop and think.  What exactly has been done so can I can get a tomato in January — and where did it come from?

By buying locally, we accomplish a few things.  The two most important are that we eat better quality food (and fully enjoy it!) and the second is we are helping a neighbor feed their family and support their farm by purchasing from them.

I think it important to support our people at home, and this includes farmers, local stores and you neighbors.  This will help your town or city survive and hopefully prosper.  I hope that this idea helps everyone in developing habits that provide for good food at home or when dining out.  Avoiding the chains that have lost touch with quality.

Chris & Kathy

Mount Pleasant Farms

Mount Pleasant Farms is a great farm store.  they carry not only fresh Veggies but also Locally made sauces & dressings.  This is a great place to visit if you are in the area.  Peaches are in and taste great.


Mount Pleasant Farms


2201 Mt. Pleasant Rd. Chesapeake, VA 23322

(757) 482-0739

Store Hours


Tues. – Sat. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Sunday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Pasta E Pani

Pasta E Pani  is a local, family-owned business and has been in Virginia Beach for years.  The décor was modest and unassuming, providing a style of Italy.  The service was beyond awesome.  Again, this is a family and it is obvious they love what they are doing.  The owners, Chef Angelo Serpe and wife, Maria,  are regular vendors at the Old Beach Farmers Market every weekend.  Whenever we go, we get some pasta, bread and fresh cheese. Continue reading

Croc’s 19th Street Bistro Virginia Beach VA

I want to start off by saying that my wife and I have become true lovers of fine dining and have developed what I call a sensitive palette and can pick a meal apart. This is not bragging but to define the review. We are also very strong believers of Buy Fresh Buy Local. We are not only getting the freshest foods but at the same time helping our neighbors in supporting the local farms they work so hard to maintain.
The wife and I have frequent the Farmers Market that Croc’s is so generous to offer their parking lot for on Saturdays. We have heard nothing but good things about the restaurant and have wanted to visit there. We live in Portsmouth so it is typically a planned trip and restaurant week came up so we made the trip. We were pleased and everything on the menu took our taste buds on the “I want it” journey.
My In-laws were with us, and my father-in-law who is very picky, noted over and over throughout his meal of the Scallop Pasta mmmm this it good. hmmm this is really good. The bread is great mmmm. I could continue however I don’t think it is needed. My Mother In-law had the lamb on the butternut squash risotto and she continually commented on the flavor and perfect balance.
The wife had the Carpaccio appetizer and it was tasty and balanced in flavor. The only point is the meat should have been sliced thinner but the flavor was spot on. The wife and I had the duck confit on sweet potato mash. The duck was perfectly cooked and every bite was a pleasure. To add to the surprise there was a carrot puree vinaigrette at the bottom so when you dipped through you got this wonderful tang to add to the pleasure of eating this wonderful dish. The only flaw were the leeks. The idea of leeks should have been a good counterpoint to the sweetness of the mash and unctuous duck, but they were basically raw, with a slight char here and there. This grilled needed to be cooked more but not removed. I will also make a note that the deserts were good but the grilled pear could have cooked for a couple of minutes longer as they were stiff inside. I have seen many notes about the service being slow and yes it was slow tonight at times however we could see the kitchen window and when the food was ready it was quickly delivered. They were very busy tonight and they had a lot of staff working. The slowness had nothing to do with the speed and effort as the whole team in the front of this restaurant was moving at a very quick pace and did not slow down. Again there was not an open table that I saw and everyone was being taken care of.
I was extremely impressed when I walked in the door and we were personally greeted by the owner and she was our hostess for the evening. She continually maintained full awareness of what was taking place in her place. I saw her tirelessly patrolling the restaurant to ensure everyone was having a pleasant experience. Too many places you never see the owner or Chef’s in the front participating with the guests. To me this proves she is not ashamed of what she produces and something I look for when I go into a nice place. We both look forward to returning and experiencing more of the menu here.

Croc's 19th Street Bistro on Urbanspoon

Site under construction

I see that people are starting to look at the site and we have placed little to nothing here yet.  I want to let you know that we are working to develop some guides that we will follow for the reviews and also starting to work on getting some educational posts going.  Please be patient as this is my first adventure like this and I wan to make this site the best it can be.  I picked up an instructional book so that I can research WP and set the site up correctly to provide proper categories and index the posts correctly to provide you the viewer with a level of ease and comfort in finding what you want to read up on.