BBQ Season 2017

Barbecue Season is officially upon us, and man, we are staying busy.  Everything this year is leading up to Natural Products Expo EAST in Baltimore in September, which will (hopefully) be the next big step in the Saint Brian’s journey.

Here’s what we have coming up if you are looking to catch up with us:

Saturday, April 29, 11am-1pm: BBQ Sauce Demo at Swarthmore Co-Op Directions

Thursday, May 11, 6pm-10pm: Night Market Philadelphia Burholme (not an official event, but HQ is 2 blocks away, and our buddies from Dump-N-Roll will be there) (NOTE: get there early, parking can be rough on the best of nights, as there is a Jehovah’s Witness Hall a block away, and they tend to take up most of the parking on weeknights) Directions

Saturday, May 13, 11am-1pm: BBQ Sauce Demo at Whole Foods Marlton Directions

Friday, May 19, 3pm-7pm: BBQ Sauce Demo at Whole Foods South Street Directions

Saturday, May 20 8:30am-3pm: Saint Basil’s Vendor Day (I will also be there with my wife, Joanne, an alumnae and she will be selling Jamberry Nail Wraps) (this will be one of our few farmers market events this year) Directions

Saturday, May 20, 6:00pm-Midnight: CFFC 65 @ 2300 Arena (Saint Brian’s BBQ sponsored athlete, MMA fighter Sean Brady, fights for the Welterweight Championship) Directions

Saturday, May 27, 11am-1pm: BBQ Sauce Demo at Whole Foods Cherry Hill Directions

Monday, May 29: Memorial Day

Of Dreams and Past Lives

My first trip to the fabled South Street in Philadelphia was on my first or second day at La Salle University. I had heard all of the stories about the freaks and weirdos and criminals that populated the strip between Front and Broad, of the sex shops and tattoo parlours that you couldn’t miss if you were swinging a dead cat.

To my 18 year old eyes, it was everything it was supposed to be, and more. I got my ear pierced at a shop there, the ultimate act of rebellion for me at the time. A few years later, I got my second tattoo on South.

Granted, even in 1996, South Street wasn’t as big a to-do as it was in its heyday. And going down there today, you can definitely see that it has fully transitioned from punk to pop. But it will always carry a special place in my heart, in this city I fell in love with over 20 years ago.

And it is with no small measure of pride that I can announce that Saint Brian’s BBQ sauces will be available at the South Street Whole Foods starting March 30, 2017.

Warrior/28 Phase 1 Results

28 days later: time for the results.

At the outset of this experiment, the hypothesis was that I could engage in behavior modification, making small changes to my daily routine, and see results.

I would say that qualitatively, my hypothesis played out.

I didn’t cut out all sugar or grains, or only eat grass-fed, organic, artisanal beef. I just made sure that I was eating real food, and not gorging myself on entire pints of Ben & Jerry’s or eating the whole 10″ pizza and fries. I did cut out my daily trip to Starbucks for chai lattes (I only do that once a week) and I did cut soda out of my diet (again, maybe once per week with the soda).

For comparison to when I started:

Starting Now Difference
Weight 169.8 162.5 -7.3
Body Fat % 22.30% 20.90% -1.40%
BMI 25.1 24 -1.1

With just these small changes, I lost 7.3 pounds and my body fat came down almost 1.5%. I believe that by continuing this course that I will continue to see positive gains on this front.

On the qualitative front:


Moving into Phase 2, the plan is to now increase my exercise output. I would like to add 1-2 hours of exercise into my routine each week. This is in addition to my regular training 2 days a week at Semper Fi MMA Academy. The challenge here: I’m currently injured.  My shoulder has been inflamed for the last 2-3 weeks, and I hurt my knee training yesterday, so it will likely be a couple of weeks before I can enact this part of the plan.

Warrior/28 Week 4 – End of Phase 1

The final week of the first phase of my plan. Next week I’ll post the initial results.

Phase 1 is about setting up good eating habits: skipping the daily latte and fast breakfast food, prepping my meals for the week to ensure a healthier meal and to save some money, including more vegetables and eating like a grown up. While there have been a few slip ups here and there, overall I believe that the process is working.

Phase 2 will look at the fitness side. As I stare down the barrel of 40, I can’t get away with doing a few pushups and crunches a few times a week as my sole source of exercise.  I train jiu jitsu 3 times a week, and while that is a hell of a workout, it doesn’t pack the same punch as it used to. I’ll be looking at ways to supplement that training.

This week’s meals: going veg this week. I love me some protein, but every now and then it’s nice to change things up. With a cold front moving in, having some nice comfort food will be a plus as well.

On the table this week:

  • Brown Rice and Black Beans from Alton Brown’s Everyday Cook
  • Zucchini and Mushroom Risotto from Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite

I got on a roll in the kitchen before I could plate things nicely for a picture, but rest assured, they were both taste tested, and they were both excellent.

Bongs, Books, and Spreadsheets: NYE 2016

My wife and I aren’t “hit the town” kind of people. Even back in my wilder days, I don’t ever remember being New Year’s Eve as a night where I got “turnt” or “lit”, as the young people say (is that even what they say?).

So as we clean the house, a NYE tradition to get all of the dirt from the previous year out of the house, I’m taking some time to look ahead to 2017 and set some goals for Saint Brian’s.

  1. I’m attempting to make smoke-infused whiskey as an ingredient for a new sauce. Over a conversation with friends at O’Neal’s Pub at 3rd and South, we conceptualized a gravity bong-like device to pull the smoke through. Experiments 1 and 2, conducted yesterday (a reverse gravity bong constructed from an empty Pepsi bottle and small water bottle) and today (constructed from an empty Cherry Coke bottle and powered with a shop-vac), did not prove fruitful. Fear not! I believe I have isolated the problem and will run a new experiment tomorrow morning. Results will be posted.
  2. I’m a spreadsheet junkie. I admit it. The last several jobs I’ve had, Excel has been an indispensible tool. I’m putting together my revenue and expense tracking for 2017. As I’m focusing on the wholesale side of things in 2017, it should be easier to track my P&L, and I want to be organized. So much else in my life feels either chaotic or impulsive (by my own design, to be sure), it’s good to have a few safe harbors of stability and organization.  This is one of them.


3.  I’m reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and loving it. I’m finding inspiration in how he runs his kitchens, and I’m sure that his history of addiction resonates with me.

So Happy New Year’s, everyone. Don’t take any shit from anyone in 2017.

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I’ve got a feeling
This year’s for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

Warrior/28 Week 3

This week has been challenging.

First, entering the 3rd week of any experiment can be a make it or break it time. This is when the true behavioral changes will start taking root, and this is also the period where it’s easiest to fall back into old habits.

Combine that with Sunday having been Christmas…well, while I attempted to make good decisions that day, and didn’t spend the day gorging myself, I definitely blew things up a bit.  But one day of indulgence isn’t worth throwing out the entire experiment. The goal is to modify behavior so that, even when there’s a day like that, it’s easy to get back on the path of good decisions.

Add in that this is my early week at the day job, which throws off my whole morning. To “save time” I would typically grab Starbucks for breakfast, rushing out as soon as I was finished feeding and walking the dogs. (I say that in quotes, as in reality I had to leave earlier to make that side trip, so I really wasn’t saving any time.) I will claim a little victory in that I haven’t made that trip to Starbucks yet.

One other hiccup to the whole plan: I have an injured shoulder.  I’m not sure what I did to it, exactly, and I’m sure it is jiu jitsu related. It’s curtailing my ability to train, so this part of the experiment is a bit compromised. I’m hoping that adequate doses of ibuprofen and heat pads will help this heal quickly.

Anyway, the menu this week: leftovers.

With the holiday, I didn’t have time to get my meals prepared for the week.  Fortunately, we had roasted pork loin Monday night, so that will suffice as my lunch for the week. I’ll need to get a little more creative for dinner, but that’s less of an issue.


Warrior/28 Week 2

You will notice something about this process: I’m not counting calories. I’m moderating my intake, to be sure (i.e. not eating the entire thing of Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting), and playing the common sense game.  But I’m not monitoring my intake the same way I would if I were cutting weight for a jiu jitsu competition. Why?

The goal is Warrior/28 is to build good, long-term habits. The way to do this is to focus on only a few behavioral changes, and then set goals that allow for many small wins. A small win can be not going to Starbucks for my Chai, even though I’m having that craving. It can be completing the day and sticking to the plan.

Overcame temptation? Win. Stayed on goal for today? Win.

What this does is start reprogramming the brain. What happens when we win? Chemicals, such as serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin are released in the brain that create a mood of happiness and elation. We then seek out opportunities that will allow for similar releases.  If we can associate making a positive change with these chemical releases, it will be easier to make decisions that support this change.

The first phase of Warrior/28 is to simply focus on nutrition. If I throw in too much, like restricting calories, or upping my exercise significantly, I’m putting too many opportunities to negate the wins with set backs. If I’m starving and have a headache from not eating enough, my brain won’t see this as a positive thing, and I’ll then go looking for some other activity to get me that chemical feedback (i.e. I’ll get a case of the munchies and eat a whole bag of Goldfish). If I miss a workout, or get hurt and can’t train for a while, again, I’ll be getting negative feedback. This can derail the whole process.

The goal here is to stack up a lot of small victories and get the nutrition on track. Once that habit has been built, I can move on to Phase 2, which will involve upping the exercise game using the same principles of lots of small wins. With a solid foundation of good eating habits, because you can’t out-train a bad diet, it will be easier to shift the focus over to the physical fitness side. Phase 3 will involve looking at the whole picture, and seeing what still needs work, and making tweaks to develop those habits.

Once Phase 3 is complete, that will be 12 solid weeks of building two good habits (eating reasonably, and getting enough exercise). I can then either continue to tweak what I’ve already done, or look at other areas where I would like to build better habits, and start again at Phase 1 while maintaining what I’ve already done. If the original stuff starts to slip, I can take a step back and reinforce those activities.

So, on the menu for week 2:

  1. Chicken Tikka Masala: got this from Alton Brown’s Every Day Cook book (which is a signed copy, by the way), and because I couldn’t find the turkey thighs in the recipe, I substituted chicken thighs. Looking forward to this.
  2. The dressing for the salad, below…basically just a little orange juice, some lemon juice, olive oil, and whole grain mustard.
  3. Mango, avocado, and smoked chicken salad. This one is from Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite. I seasoned the chicken with the Zombie Blend spice rub on them (available in early 2017) and smoked it with mesquite for about an hour.

I’ll still be doing my normal snacks throughout the week (yogurt with granola, apples, protein bars).