Category Archives: Food

Mrs RB3’s recipes that have kept us hardy and whole.

Finding my way

Explorations into the Male mind in which situational awareness of the kitchen occurs without a Female presence. So, I guess the logical rhetoric would be, did it really happen. Ba dum, tss!
Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here until I get this damn project finished. Tip your waitress and don’t ask for the veal, cause it ain’t gonna happen.

I may have mentioned this before, but it bares repeating, Mrs Hottie Chef has left the building and it’s just me and ole Sweet Pea holding the bag and the fort, as it were. And as such, I’ve been holding mini self discovery sessions in the kitchen, mostly because SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) informed me before leaving that I must eat good and take care of myself. Hmm. That sorta rules out pizza and beer for every meal. I guess this is why we can’t have nice things.

I’m a soup and samich kinda guy and was duly accommodated when I had a live in cook. As of last Thursday, I was left with 3 days of spinach soup – hey! Don’t wrinkle your nose at that. It’s a favorite of mine and everybody that’s tasted it has loved it, too. As I said, 3 days of life giving sustenance and then bingo, into the land of where in the H E double toothpicks did she hide whatever I’m looking for now.

I’ve learned some things along the way. Let’s start with coffee, cause coffee is important where I come from. A first of the morning eye opener, mid morning break, lunch, afternoon break, and any time company is coming over or you end up in a church basement discussing the whys and wherefores of what people usually talk about in a church basement. And face it, if you can’t have decent coffee, then why bother with the rest of it. I might just be an idiot, sure, but in that case, lots of other people’s coffee I’ve drank, were idiots too. Coffee is bad most of the time if you’re just winging it. The hard won secret of decent coffee is to wash every removable part of the coffee machine, every dang time you brew a pot. And if you were following along with all the opportunities for coffee up in the top part of this paragraph, well, you’ll be spending the better part of your day washing the stupid coffee pot parts.

Next up was bread. Mrs Hottie Chef made homemade bread every week and buns and pizza dough and pie crust and jeez I miss that woman. She showed me how to make bread the last day she was here, and with her standing here, it was easy, painless and it turned out like it always does. Yesterday, I was out of bread. I still had bologna and mustard left, but that was gonna be a little awkward without some bread to cozy them up. I get her recipe out and start the whole shebang. How hard can it be? Well, it’s a little like welding. Welding is easy to do, but hard to do well. Keeping that in mind, I briefly thought about wearing my welding helmet while making bread. Kind of a talisman of good luck. But I figured if, say, the Jehovah Witnesses showed up at that particular moment in time, and happened to look in the window, well, coffee would be a little bit tense with long uncomfortable pauses and such between sips. So, with standard head gear, namely my glasses cause I am old now and can’t see for squat, I followed the recipe and made bread. The dough turned out very sticky and developed an affliction mostly seen on clueless people who wear skin tight jeans without putting in the effort to look good in skin tight jeans. I’m talking about muffin top. It raises well and then loses its happy thought and sags in the oven. And I pretty much had to use the Jaws of Life, a butter knife, to get the baked loaf out of the pan. Mrs Hottie Chef informed me that not enough flour will do that. A case of you don’t know until you know, capisce? It tasted good, and we’ll just leave it at that. The good thing is you can eat your mistakes and do better next time.

So now the bologna and mustard have a comfy home. To make a complete meal, I needed soup. Soup is a big deal, and by that, I mean homemade soup. I don’t eat that canned crap. A guy’s gotta have some standards. The soup my wife made took a good part of the day to make. I am currently doing trim carpentry in the Mudroom and Kitchen. I thought about juggling the installing trim and making soup at the same time and came to the conclusion that a man’s got to know his limitations. Better to do one thing right, than 2 things wrong, and I didn’t want to thicken the soup with sawdust. So I took all of Thursday, the somber day of my beloved up and leaving me to the cruel fate of living with just a dog, on the lone prairies of Kansas. Man, it’s getting dusty in here, my eyes are watering. Ahem. Time to nut up as they say, well, I’m not sure what girls say when they need to “nut up”, as it were. I’m pretty sure it’s pithy, though.

She left me with a recipe for potato soup. In it, it said add stock. She left me with no recipe for stock. Another case of how hard could it be? There were pork bones and chicken bones in the freezer. I sent her an e-mail asking for the pro details to making stock. She sent back, two hours after I started my stock making, add meat to water, spices, simmer and you got stock. Thanks Dear, that was just the sort of pro tips I was needing to… I winged it. Years back, I got Mrs Hottie Chef a very decent set of cookware. A Calphalon 12 piece set and she had some boffo cast iron pans to boot. I dug out one of the larger pans and added the frozen meat, some salt, pepper, paprika, red pepper and thyme. Filled the pan to 3/4s full of water and on the stove it went. That was 9am. 10am I added some more water and looked at the soup recipe. I figure it was going to take me an hour to find all the stuff I needed, that she had hidden in the kitchen. One of the big reasons for making soup was, I need some for my samiches and I also needed to use the milk whose expiration date was today and I had half a carton left of it. And, the bacon I had left was starting to look a bit bedraggled and I’m pretty sure that’s a crime in some states. All the spices needed, required me to empty the spice shelf and sort through what was what. Going through the list I found I did not have any celery at all, and that was going to hurt. What would the carrots and onions do without their buddy? I shook my head and started to send a firmly worded e-mail to the chick whose job it was to, wait, that’s on me now. I deleted the draft e-mail and pressed on. Got the bacon browned, then poured off the grease and added the carrots and onions and let them get happy. The stock was pork chop bones and had some good meat left on them. Turns out I made 2 quarts of stock and added 1 of those, and the pork meat to my soup pot. Then added the milk and the pan of veggies and bacon and 2 large potatoes that had been chopped up. It was at this point I discovered that I should have read the recipe a bit closer, cause now it said to add flour and that was going to make flour balls and, I stood and mashed my mistake against the side of the pot until all the flour lumps were dead. In with the rest of the spices and simmer baby.

It was now 11:45am and I’d been hungry since 9:30am, but sometimes you just have to wait your turn. 12:45pm and it is finally done. First sip and of course I burn my tongue, but dang it was good. I messaged Mrs Hottie Chef that it was the best thing I’d had on my lips since she left. Earlier this week, she e-mailed me and said she had bought a jar of olives and managed to open them herself. At that moment in time, my inner Id opened a door and walked off into the rain, sobbing “it’s over.” I slammed the door on that freak. He’s been such a whiner these days. I sent off a reply to her “go girl empowerment” e-mail and asked if now that she can open her own jars and I can make my own bread and soup, do we now have irreconcilable differences? Asking for a friend. Even though I’m not Jewish, guilt is the best way to extract concessions. Skandi’s of all types know this well.

And now the final act of this situational awareness rodeo. Dishes, the final frontier. Wholly Molly Ole, there was dishes. Yes sir, Yes sir, 3 loads full, to mimic a well known nursery rhyme. Basically, it took all day to make something to eat and clean it all up. The side benefit of that was I now have about 3 quarts of awesome soup and 1 quart of pork stock. Along with the bread, I now have soup and samiches for most of the week. The bummer of that is now I have to go to town and restock. When the heck am I going to have time to finish this place while keeping myself fed and reasonably presentable? Clearly, this is why weekends were invented. I’d look into hiring a man servant, but that’d be another mouth to feed.

Kitchen Tableau

Scenes from our kitchen…
Mrs Chef is preparing lunch and is doing what Mrs Cheffy types do, whilst I peruse the internets. I find myself quite often giggling at the hysterics portrayed there. I hear a Hmph! and look up. She is trying valiantly to open a fresh jar of olives, because lunch in a civilized household is always garnished with olives. Being a somewhat svelte cougar Chef, she knows she probably won’t be able to open the jar, but stubborn gave her a lot of unexpected things in life, so gives it the tough girl try. Shortly afterward, I get handed the recalcitrant olive jar, with the comment “what do single women do when they want olives?” My jaded response, as I twist the top off the jar was “smart girls hand them to their husbands, not so smart chicks, get bitter and march on Washington, demanding that Uncle Sugar open their jars for them.” “Yep” she said and put the noodles on the stove.

Remember guys, choose wisely when shopping for Chefs.

Bon Appetit!

Rainy Days and Mondays

Woke up to rain. It rained all day yesterday and was raining when the Sandman showed up last night. While that’s much better than all the ice they’ve been predicting, I’d still rather be dry than wet. I had mentioned on the Book of Face that our much heralded ice event was a bust, on account of the storm track moving North, and because I had gotten my generator started. Well, mostly because the generator decided to play ball. This comes under the cause and effect clause. I haven’t let the weather boys know how this works yet, but I am sure they’ll back me up on this.
*Remember, some of these guys are claiming to know exactly how the climate works, but strangely can’t get 3 day forecasts nailed down. Is Al Gore even a weather man? Asking for a friend.

If I had not gotten the generator started, I am almost positive that this part of the country would be a giant hockey rink, with no warming house and powerless to boot. But no, I had averted disaster by bowing to the wife’s wishes and a getting spark plug that was close to what I needed. A 12 instead of a 14 model. Not quite as sparky, but good enough. However, if you Girl Power advocates were to change the narrative here, you might say that my wife saved the day by forcing doltish me to listen to common sense. But, but I was the one with the 5/8ths inch spark plug wrench up my sleeve, and while the Mrs makes a mean samich, she’s a bit short on obscure tools. As my Dad used to say, if you ain’t cheatin, you ain’t trying.

As I said, we woke to rain. When it came time for Mrs Chef to ask what I wanted for breakfast, I was uninspired. I couldn’t quite face the traditional fried eggs on toast, as Monday mornings usually require. With all this moisture, mildew could be lurking. I asked her what she wanted to eat, knowing the answer could involve ranch dressing and or a salad. I am here to tell ya, boys and girls are different. You may not like it, but that ain’t gonna change anything. She somewhat surprised me with “I don’t know.” We both shook our heads and compromised with plain old eggs on toast and hold the mildew, for me and something close but not quite for her.

They say necessity is the Mother of invention, and while being stumped on what to eat for breakfast Making-Meatloaf-Commercialmight not really qualify here, it did cause me to remember her making some killer meatloaf yesterday. With that thought, one thing led to another and I ended up changing my breakfast order. Since she uses mostly cast iron for cookware, you’vePlated-Meatloaf-Commercial got some time, while all that righteous iron heats up, to change your mind. And that’s the great thing about Mrs Chef. If she’s got it in the house, she’ll make it the way you want it.

I ended up ordering, in a clear voice and forthright manner, a meatloaf breakfast commercial. She had some biscuits left over from a few days back, meatloaf from yesterday, gravy from the meatloaf, and fried eggs. She was swell enough to cut the meatloaf to the exact size of the biscuit circumference and everything. Suddenly a rainy Monday Teig-ready-for-Breakfastwas looking pretty dang good. Sweet Pea the dog thought so too, because I have a wet spot on my shoe where he was discreetly drooling in anticipation of his breakfast. So rainy days and Mondays may always get you down, unless you’ve played your cards right and the worst you might end up with is a somewhat damp foot.

Afternoon Coffee

The Mrs was on Facebook the other day and asked her MN home town purveyor of spirits if they carried Chili Chocolate Kahlua. The proprietor said they would have some in a few weeks and did she need it sooner? The Mrs said we would be moved back home in a month or two and it was no rush. The proprietor said she would hold one for us, which was very cool of her and quite indicative of small town courtesies. It also doesn’t hurt that you’re related to half the town and friends with the other half. We’ve been gone for dang near 2 decades and she’s got people holding booze for us.

pre-coffee-time

Afternoon coffee is when Chili Chocolate Kahlua is typically applied. About an ounce in my coffee and since the wife is a bit leery of caffeine, she has some every once in a while. This is also when we have a delightful invention of my darling bride. Once upon a time, she noticed that we had some chocolate chips and bars of both white and dark chocolate in the fridge and got a wild hair of sorts. She up and melted them all together, added a bit of cayenne, dropped the melted chocolate onto some parchment paper and into the freezer. A little dollop of spicy chocolate to go with your zipped up coffee.

This is the part of the story when we have quiet chat about another addition to afternoon coffee. That being breast cancer and the prevention of it. The wife’s mother had breast cancer in the 1980’s and survived it, to the great joy of all of us. I didn’t even know her then and I was happy. Turns out, the story had an amusing irony to it. The wife’s mother had a mastectomy on one side and when she got home, her husband, who was missing several fingers on his right hand from a press brake accident many years before, was quite the amusing fellow. “Well dear” he said, “we are now a matched set.” I’ll leave you to ponder the said geometry of such arrangements.

Knowing that my wife has had breast cancer running in the family, and me being a sciencey sort of guy, with a predilection towards poking my nose into things, I would read articles about how breast cancer develops, what are the warning signs and such. A couple of years ago, around the time when pink ribbons were everywhere, I came to an epiphany of sorts. Women have been counseled that the way to prevent breast cancer, is to catch it early, by self breast exams and some other stuff. Well, my big idea was to take the burden of self checks off her hands and… let me put it like this, I got a dog, because I like dogs and I wanted to walk more. But, on my own, I would be good for a walk, for the first week, maybe 2 and then, dang I forgot, because of this or that and soon enough, I’m not walking. You get a dog in your life, an active dog, and the moment you stand up, he thinks we’re going for a walk. Every time you stand up, he looks at the door and starts dancing around. Dogs are wired to be on the job of walks and having fun. They don’t forget, they are never too tired. THEY ARE ON THE JOB, like you aren’t when it comes to walking.

You see where I am going with this. She is like me with walks, good for a while, but needs a backup plan. Chivalry demands that I step up to the plate, as it were. I will leave you to ponder the mechanics of how to incorporate this into your wife’s life. You may get cuffed upside the head a time or two, but just tell her you’re saving her life.

So now, when she delivers afternoon coffee and chocolate, um, you get the idea. The dog looks at me and gives me a wink. ON THE JOB.

Chili Chocolate

ingredients
white-chocolate
ready-to-melt
dark-chocolates
melting
salt
all-ingrediants-added
serious-cayenne-2
serious-cayenne-1
salting
cayenne-paprika
black-pepper
ready-to-taste
dropping-1
dropping-3
ready-for-freezer
bagging

To make Chili Chocolate

2 bars white chocolate
1 bar 90% dark chocolate
1 bar 85% dark chocolate
1 bar dark chocolate with chili
2 tsp cayenne powder (more or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
Pinch or two of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of salt

Melt chocolate all together, stirring to prevent burning, until smooth.
Stir in cayenne, salt and black pepper.
Drop small spoonfuls onto parchment lined pans that have been in the freezer a few minutes.
Return pans to freezer for a few minutes to cool and set chocolate.
Place the dollops of chocolate in a plastic bag and keep refrigerated.
Serve with afternoon coffee.

A wee bit of Coddle

We don’t have TV, and haven’t had it for years. Probably why the Mrs and I don’t have gray hair yet (much). Anyway, we still get to see moving pictures and such, but use that new fangled World Wide Web that all the cool kids rave about. The wife likes comedy and the Food Network, I just go for the meat and potatoes of how to do things. Which comes in handy when you need to know how to wire an end run 3 way light switch to a light fixture via a 20 amp outlet in the next room. Sure, I kinda know how to do it, but it’s nice to refer back to the “wisdom” of YouTube in a pinch.

In an ironic juxtaposition of interests, I came across a recipe for Irish comfort food, while the wife was shopping for plumbing supplies. Now this doesn’t mean I’m gonna start wearing aprons and pearls in the kitchen. Well, I mean, not all the time. This recipe came from a favorite beer blogger of mine. It’s called Chop and Brew. The host likes to brew beer and make good food. His latest was a recipe called Irish Coddle. It is known as what you crave when you come home to Mom’s for some good home cooking. Basically you layer pork sausage, potatoes, bacon, onions and carrots or whatever you want. The Mrs made some up and I did what I normally do when she’s cooking, pinching her buns and photographing what she’s cooking.

coddle

While watching the wife put together the dish, I would have to say, even a man could do this without any trouble. I speak from experience. I would recommend bratwurst for the sausage and I would think twice about adding the parsley until the pot comes out of the oven. Ours looked a bit worse for wear and the Mrs gets fussy about that kind of thing. She plopped some on my plate and I would have to say, it has now become a favorite of mine. And predictably she has deemed it, “OK, but not my favorite.” I think mostly because she couldn’t put ranch dressing on it. But that’s a sore subject, so don’t bring it up at the dinner table, or you’ll wind up doing the dishes, OK?

I loved the thing and maybe you’ll consider making a batch for your own self.

Recipe below:

dsc01680

2 lb potatoes, peeled and sliced thin 1/4”
2 cups chicken stock
1 lb sausage, browned (can be cut up or whole)
1/2 lb bacon, cut up and browned
1 onion, sliced
2 – 3 large carrots, sliced
Salt and pepper
Cayenne powder
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Place half the sausages and bacon in bottom of large cast iron or other oven proof casserole.

Add half the onions, potatoes, carrots, salt, pepper, cayenne and parsley.

Add another layer of meat, vegetables and seasonings.

Pour stock over all.

Cover and bake at 350 for about 2 hours.

Uncover for the last 30 minutes and dot with butter, so the top browns and crisps.

Chicken of the Sea

Being that we live in the smack dab middle of America, and through the blessing of, for now at least, a somewhat free market economy, we dined on tuna for lunch. Most of you that grew up in the 60’s and 70’s may be curling your lip at the thought. Charlie the canned Tuna was probably in your lunch and maybe even a bizarre version of hamburger helper ala tuna. The old timers said white albacore tuna was mild flavored and likened it to chicken. And cheap. So moms foisted this stuff on us with great regularity. Which I didn’t mind. I was born with a constitution that wasn’t concerned with the boring hamburger hotdish and tuna melt sandwich of my youth. Growing up in the frozen North, you were just glad that the meal didn’t include a Lutheran Jello salad; tuna was quite often hidden in said salad. Hard times.

Even still, when I got out on my own, for the last time, I included canned tuna as a regular in my shopping cart. Then came a fateful day, when living in Phoenix AZ, our crew had finished a big job, under budget and 2 days before deadline. We, the unwashed working schlubs, were promised a seafood extravaganza as a bonus, and Arizona is not that far from the sea. I was first of all, incredulous that A: We were going to be treated to anything more than 1 hotdog and a can of Coke, B: It would be real seafood, not the mock fish crap that was popping up at happy hour in the local bars. My estimation of humanity was raised for a brief moment, when we arrived at a known good sea food place and we could order anything we wanted. I am a simple man, with simple tastes. I couldn’t even pronounce half the stuff on the menu, but saw tuna and figured what the heck. Hopefully it would not be encased in jello. Shortly after the very attractive waitress dropped off my plate, my socks were blown off. This tuna thing came in a thick slab that was charred, with black pepper and olive oil on the outside and just barely warm and pink on the inside. After the first bite, I dug in like I meant it.

My boss at the time, always considered me the slow one. I was on a crew of guys, and I think that I was the oldest at 25 or 26. The boys I worked with called me the Professor cause I kicked their skinny butts at knowing stuff. These little cherubs of energy and spunk, fresh out of high school and/or jail, didn’t seem to know a thing, but they were damn good at the very lucrative trade of keeping most of the local business men and government workers higher than a kite. This was the 80’s and flooring contractors were the guys that knew a guy that could get you what you thought you wanted. Having done a previous tour of duty as peace officer, or pig as the endearingly quaint locals used to call us in Lake Havasu City, AZ, I repeatedly warned the boys that this was bad ju ju, and they kept on not listening to me. Buy ‘em books and they just end up chewing the covers.

As I said, my boss thought I was slow, because I didn’t play those foolish reindeer games, but when, at the restaurant, he saw me order and eat tuna like I did it every day, I suddenly became stupid like a fox, cause everybody knows tuna is what you eat when you know stuff. Apparently, it’s not who you know, it’s what you order, that gets you ahead in the world. Who knew?

Anyway, that tuna surpassed all my expectations and left a very stark memory, and when I finally hooked up with my hippie chick, turns out she digs new food and far out experiences. Never a mention of long walks on the beach and anything to do with rain. A sensible hippie chick. I mentioned that I liked tuna, not the Star Kissed Charlie kind, and next thing you know, we’ve got a thick chunk of yellow fin on the counter and ready for the grill. I think Alton Brown was pushing something like this on one of his Good Eats shows. Basically, you use your chimney charcoal starter as a grill. Fill your chimney about a quarter full of charcoal and light it Tuna-Tempand let it do its thing. When it gets rocket hot, put on any type of grate you have that will work, we’re talking cookie cooling racks, anything that will hold up to the heat. Oil the grate and slap the tuna, that’s been rubbed with some olive oil, on the grate and start timing. Now, tuna gets flash frozen on the boat that catches it, and frozen to such a degree that parasites are not a problem. This is a good thing because you want to char the outside and have the center pink and about 100 to 110 degrees. On the grill, this is about 2 minutes per side. From there, if you are used to telling when things are done by touch, start giving it a poke or 2. This is how I do beef steaks, pork steaks, hamburgers, what have you. I discovered tuna acts the same way. The wife uses a probe thermometer. Different strokes for different folks.

So our yellow fin is done to perfection. What I like to do is use a brilliant idea that the Mrs Tuna-Platecame up with. She, for some strange reason, put horseradish and mayonnaise together and I love the stuff. I put a dollop of that and a drizzle of Sriracha sauce over that. Of course you have some beans and rice to fill out the rest of the plate, or if you’re a weirdo, some salad contrivance, whatever.

If you don’t have a grill or it’s just too dang hot to grill in the heat, do what we did yesterday and have no fear. Tuna does not smell like fish. It smells like the ocean. You can fry up a couple of chunks and never worry about it stinking up the place. Also, the advantage of frying in a pan is you can put a bunch of fresh cracked black pepper on it and it won’t burn as easily. You really have to keep an eye on the temperature through, so pay attention. It is a crime to over-do tuna or salmon or cod and anything, really. This is a big responsibility, so don’t muff it. You hear me?? Good. Get out there and eat some of this stuff and keep the jello mix in the back of the cupboard, where it belongs.

Tuna-Closeup

Grilled Chicken with TV Sauce

It was a beautiful Sunday, and that pretty much means burning some meat with charcoal. Today we tried something new, Grilled Herbed Chicken, with mopping sauce. The kitchen help, and my better half, got the recipe from some Food Network show, that’s where the mopping sauce idea came from. Those guys always have to throw something weird into the mix. Could have been where Lutherans learned to put vegetables into jello salad. Like I said, weird.

The guys on TV used an Uruguayan grill that looked really slick, but we toughed it out on our venerable Weber. 2 chickens Weberwere a bit much for our old grill, but we’ve done it before, so no big deal. When we do chicken, we always start out with brining the birds overnight. It makes the chicken moist and delicious, as opposed to the kind your Dad brought in from the grill. The professional food guys didn’t brine their chicken, or maybe they did and didn’t mention it. Figured maybe everybody does it already, so leave it out of their banter. I still find people look at me strange when we talk about brining chicken. And these are usually the kind of people that think “I” need to get out more.

Anyway, the 2 chickens got brined in whatever the Mrs whips up for brine, overnight. Sunday morning rolls around, it’s not raining and the wind is barely evident, a rare event in Kansas, and the temperature and humidity were going to be civilized. When I stepped outside to greet the day, I distinctly heard my Weber smiling.

About 10am I inquire with the Kitchen as to when I need to put my game face on. Since we originally were going to have my Son and family come to eat, normally that means some sort of contortions in getting the Kitchen gussied up and so forth. However, the Grandson came up some malady, so they had to cancel. That means I could chill for at least an hour. Or better yet, go out to the shop and whip up a carpenter bee trap or 2.

carpenter-bee-holeWe have been having a real problem with those dang things. They bore into unpainted wood and even treated wood. Leave 1/2 to 5/8 inch holes all over the place. My tractor shed has dozens of them flying around. Given enough time, they can cause some serious damage. I was trying to find a means of Bee-Trapsdealing with them, in a serious, adult type fashion, and most of what I could find online was dozens of Kumbaya types telling me to not kill them, or better yet, catch and release or some such malarkey. I suppose If I delved deep enough into this morass of misplaced magic thinking, I would be instructed to make sure I provided proper bathroom facilities for the bees who identify some sort of mental illness where they can dress wrong and, well, enough said. I found an alternate source of information, one more in keeping with killing the little bastards. 45 minutes later, 2 bee traps.

Bee-Damage-1Bee-Damage-2

 

 

 

 

I get informed, when I come back to the house, that the grill can be started. The first procedure in grilling is opening a beer. Don’t ask me how it works, it just does. I filled my charcoal chimney plum full and got it going. Normally, one full chimney will do the job; I had a sneaking suspicion that I was going to need more later, but I put that thought aside for now. The Mrs was making up the mopping sauce and by 11:30am we were ready to get things going. One full chimney will give you an even layer of coals on the bottom grate of the grill. 2 chickens pretty much filled the entire top grate. I give chicken a count down of anywhere from 6 minutes to 12 minutes before I flip them. It depends on the level of heat and the willingness of the chicken to play ball and lift off the grill without sticking. This time it turned out to be 6 minutes. I am thinking there is not enough heat for 2 chickens, but will wait until the first complete revolution of flipping is done, before pulling the pin on starting another chimney of charcoal.

Grilled-BricksFirst complete flip and yup, time to start another batch of coals. I think all that chicken is blocking the air flow and the charcoal is starving for air even with all the vents open. It happens from time to time. I figured this was getting serious, so I opened another beer, just to be safe.

Another exciting feature to this style of grilling is using foil covered bricks. You Flippin-Chickenput them on the meat to press it down and make it feel claustrophobic and give up sooner. It works well when you have a lot of heat. This time, they just slid around, like they couldn’t be bothered to stay in one place. I think maybe the bees had been talking to them. Mutiny on the prairie, it’s what’s for lunch, apparently.

I add the new coals, the Mrs mops the birds and then checks the temperature. 140 degrees and about an hour into the grilling project. Normally, I would be Grilled-Chicken-&-Coleslawusing a tooth pick by now. The Kitchen help is starting to give me the look, like maybe I might have fallen down on the job. Another bee influence, clearly. I am about ready to get my propane blow torch warmed up, when suddenly, it’s done. Not a moment too soon.

Homemade coleslaw and grilled herbed chicken with TV inspired mopping sauce. It was good, really good. Not sure if all the hoopla and special effort made it taste any better than our normal stuff. Looks like we will be having chicken for every meal, including breakfast, for the next week. It will be a welcome change from oatmeal.

It’s all in your head

We had my Son and family over for Easter dinner. Our grandson had just woke up from a nap and was aScotty-Eating bit subdued for most of the visit. Being 8 months old takes a lot out of a guy and he really didn’t get going until just before they left. I had heard, somewhere, that the Grandparents’ job was to wind them up, spoil them rotten and send them home just before all hell breaks loose. It has worked out well so far.

While we were waiting for the Mrs to put the food on the table, my Son was telling me about some place he had stayed at that was haunted, and he could not spend the night there. I shook my head as he was telling me this, and had to nudge little Jr. off of chewing on my boot, and told him there are no such things as ghosts and haunts. He was adamant that yes, there were, so I proceeded to use science and logic to dissuade such a notion. I admitted that spooky things had been an interest of mine when I was young and stupid, but being scared of the dark does not a ghost make. He was incredulous, to say the least. Smart people who study brains say that our grey matter does a pretty good job of day to day life, but every now and then, a chemical imbalance or a knock to the noggin will derail the train of reality with freakish results. In addition, some physicists that have looked into how everything works, have made the conjecture that if you whip your head around fast enough, you just might see your perceived world assembling itself from out of the ether. I confessed to having tried that a few times and the jury is still out for that idea. It didn’t do my neck any good either.

Great Britain in the 1980’s did a bunch of research on the brain and what happens when it goes wrong. One of the stories that I read concerned a man that had a head injury of some kind. When he became conscious in the hospital, his wife of many years was in the room. He seemed fine in most respects, but when he looked at his wife, he only saw the lower half of her face. This being the 80’s and journalism being what it was and sadly still is, not a lot of factual information was forthcoming beyond that. Another chap in Jolly old England, smacked his head and after that could not recognize the woman he lived with. She was a total stranger to him. Now people, depending how closely they channel their inner rain man, can be that way without bouncing their head off walls, so maybe we’ll just put both of these examples down to irreconcilable differences and leave it at that.

I could see I was not making a lot of headway with my argument, so I decided to explain how the brain deals with real life examples that we have all encountered. Say you are working with an object and set it down without paying much attention to where you put it, cause you’re focused on what your doing. It’s in the same room, so it should be easy to locate again. Except, your mischievous thinking device has decided that you no longer need that object, because you put it down, and rewrites it out of your reality. It is still there, but you can’t see it. In your circling around the room, over and over again, looking for that thing you just put down, all the while the dude that actually runs the control room of you, is chuckling to itself. In utter frustration, you ask the wife to help you find that thing you just had, but lost. Once she understands what it is you want, she walks into the room, sees the object, picks it up and asks if this is what you lost. Suddenly, you can see it again while she walks out of the room, shaking her head. So, to summarize, the brain interprets how you see things according to some preconceived notions on what makes sense and what doesn’t make sense. Most of us have a pretty rigid idea of what we expect to see out of life. However, when we see something that tries to put a square peg into a round hole, your mind drops into plan B and makes up something on the fly, and acts like this is the new normal, what’s the big deal.

My Kid, young and easily influenced, likes watching paranormal stuff, and seems to buy into all the goofy ideas. Because it’s all fun and hip to believe in ghosts and watch that kind of scary stuff, you’ve already set the stage for plan B and maybe even C. Your grey matter says you want ghosts, it can deliver ghosts. The Kid thinks he sees things that freak him out, and now it’s a done deal. Gullible and scared of the dark, is no way to go through life, Son.

PieI can see this is finally making a dent into his hard head. We have a bit more dialog on this subject and the food is finally on the table. We dig in. Little Jr. got to try some sweet potatoes and corn pudding, all of which he loved. The wife made a pie, and a couple of days previous, when she asked what type of pie to make, apple was mentioned, because we like it and she had some. She may have said something else about maybe this or that, but since we had talked about apple, I was sure it would be apple pie.

Well, the meal gets finished, Jr. was crawling under the table and biting ankles, and now my piece of apple pie gets set before me. It looks great, my wife really knows how to make a good pie. I take a bite and think, man, those apples are a bit tart, good, but tart. After the second bite, looked at the apple bits and this is the weird part. I looked at them and knew, somewhere in my head, that those weren’t apples but looked like rhubarb. But my head told me, no, them’s apples, buddy, just like you wanted. Oh well, got finished with the pie and the Mrs, fishing for life validation or something, asked if the pie was good. Me, being Honest Abe and all, mentioned that the pie was good as always, but those apples were a bit tart. She looked at me. My Son looked at me, heck I think Jr. and his mother stared at me. The wife clears her throat a bit and says “Um, that’s probably because those apples were rhubarb. Remember when we talked about this, we decided on rhubarb.” I said “No, we talked about apple and” she stopped me by shaking her head in that sad way when everybody realizes that you’ve gone round the bend. I paused a bit, cleared my throat, looked at my Son and told him, “I rest my case. Your brain can delude you into thinking whatever you want it to.” He nodded his head, and I don’t think he believes in ghosts anymore. Mom always told me that honesty was the best policy, but sometimes it’s best to keep your pie hole shut. I hear ya Mom.

Surreal K9s

I had an interesting experience this morning. One where your brain takes a previous memory and tries to superimpose it into your consciousness, in an vain attempt to make sense of something that don’t compute.

P12_T_TIME=12302,FG=114688000,FT=-35127296,NIR=0,GM=0,CDS = 2,CT=1,EV=128,TY=45,PY=92,DY=94,GB=0x34,NY=128,AE(0,160,80,160,320),

My last post included a mention of rabbits and that’s still the case today. I bagged another cotton tail in my wabbit cozy yesterday morning, and the Mrs decided to make some rabbit sausage to free up some freezer space. Apparently she was of the opinion that we were over run with rabbits. Not really, just 2 froze, naked bunnies, but you know how women are sometimes. I find it best to decline the opportunity of injecting a calm and somewhat firm voice of reason into the situation. From past experience, I find that stuffing my foot into my mouth is of no benefit to anyone.

Pork-&-BunnieSo, she made sausage with 3 bunnies and some pork she found hiding under the frozen cotton  tails. The dog loved the idea and made many offers to help. I pretty much stayed out the kitchen, safer that way. When it was done, she had a nice pile of rabbit bones which she placed in a bag and making sure she had my attention, nodded her head at the bag. This was my clue that I finally had a job worthy of my attention. Taking the smelly parts out to the clean up crew.

 

Cubed-&-Bones

We’ve been having a somewhat indifferent winter this year. Meaning, it’s kinda warm, a little cold and just weeps icy mist every now and then. It really can’t be bothered to do much else. This round of freezing mist made things icy enough to cause me to almost bust my hinder, going up the hill to drop of the rabbit bits. I also brought my game camera with so I could video whoever came to lunch, as it were.

I did that last night about sundown, and it was slippery enough. Overnight the game cam got a couple of Ridge-Pathvery nice videos of heavy freezing mist, but nobody showed up for a free meal. This morning I went to retrieve the data card and could barely make it up the ridge. After morning coffee, I thought I would bring the card back to the game cam and possibly catch the morning crew eating rabbit bones. A guys got to have a hobby and mine seems to have devolved into watching wild animals noshing on my leftovers. There’s a metaphor there somewhere…

More-BrushI was slipping and sliding up the path, wondering if I was going to have to drop into low lock 4 wheel drive, mostly by crawling. Finally made it to the top and I heard a couple of crows give the “lunch is on” call. They can clean up rabbit bones in no time. As I approached the bone pile and saw that it was still there I turned to the game cam tripod and stopped.

This is where my brain, normally attuned to making sense of things, turned to wild ass grabbing of anything that might work. There was a noise like horses running and it was heading my way. Now, in the past, when we had horses, this very scene had happened. Our ridge was a favorite place for them to hang out. Lots of grass, brush and stuff for them to Game-Cameat and shade to loaf in. Problem was, we hadn’t had horses for a couple of years. And because of that, the ridge was a lot more woolly, lots of brush and red sumac. The pounding of what sounded like hooves was getting closer and suddenly, like a couple of Greyhound buses, 2 very large coyotes went blasting past me and headed south. I lost them in the frosty brush, but heard them smash through the fence and keep on going.

I paused a moment, to get my head space and timing re-calibrated to the here and now, and filed the amended memory into the proper context. Under the directory of Never Seen That Before and a sub directory of Coyotes Can Sound Like Horses. Knowing K9s like I do, I postulated that the 2 thundering beasts most likely came in from the south early in the morning, and when startled, dogs almost always retreat backwards, and in this instance, the way they had come. Also, coyotes being coyotes, they will now be freaked about that pile of rabbit bones and handing the clean up job to the crows for this go round.

It is not every day you see something that you’ve never seen before, so kind of fun, but it’s not every day your brain tries to pull a fast one on you, so not so fun. You win some, you lose some, but I hear the crows now chewing on the bone pile. It all works out in the end.

Bugs & Porky Sausage:
1 1/2 lb rabbit meat – about 3 cotton tail rabbits
1/2 lb pork with lots of fat
2 tsp sage
1 tsp salt

1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Remove meat from bones and grind. Mix everything, fry a small amount to taste and adjust seasonings.

Pack into casings or make into patties and refrigerate or freeze for longer storage.

Cook to an internal temperature of at least 150f before serving.

Da Fudd Chronicles

ShhhhShhhh! We be hunting wabbits. Been keeping busy these cold months. Got a hankerin for some wabbit to go along with the squirrel we’ve been noshing on. Having grown up in the 60’s, the most common word association with squirrel is moose, as in moose and squirrel. Mostly spoken with a Boris Baddenough voice. While I’d love a moose to go along with Rocket J Squirrel, sadly Kansas has no moose. So, you do what you can with what you have and the next thing you know, you’re shlumping around the woods with a goofy hat on your head and hear in the distance, faintly, “What’s up, Doc?”

I had studied the Fuddster extensively in my youth and came to the early conclusion, there had to be aFudd better way. A way that a wabbit actually ended up in the pot. And as is my way now, I turned to the University of All Knowledge, better known as the Internet. An amazing goulash of knowledge and lunacy. Barking moonbats with pearls of wisdom hanging about their necks. It would be nice for them to, now and then, maybe look down and avail themselves of said pearls, but what fun would that be?

My favorite place for profiting from the blood, sweat and tears of others is YouTube. Never in any other time, have you been able to learn stuff that it would take you years of hard work to accomplish back in the day. That is if you can tear yourself away from watching kitten videos, and not everyone is up to that task.

I have recently, thanks to the boys on YouTube, gotten into trapping. More out of necessity than anything else. We have had a rodent problem. Had one for years, but like all things, it takes awhile for you to recognize you have a problem, and even longer to figure what to do about it. Since we have lived in rural Kansas, rats are part of the scenery. Wood rats, Pack rats, Norway rats, filthy, vehicle chewing rodents that love to crawl up your tires and eat all those pretty colored wires. I finally had had enough. Studied up on what to do, and since I did not drink of the Walt Disney cool aid, catch and release was not an option. I don’t like poisons because the dog will get into them and it’s just not sporting.

Got me some Duke #0 long spring traps from Amazon. Old school justice. The first day I put them out, I caught 11 wood rats. Without bait. Wood rats, not the brightest bulb in the pack. I burned through those guys in no time. Then I started getting some snapped traps with no customers. I had entered the smart rat zone. Norway rats, also known as brown rats, house rats and so on, are generally known as the super genius of the rat world and these are the guys that brought black death to Europe back in those fun loving olden days. These dudes are tricky, they can steal bait and not even snap the trap. I had to up my game. Learned a new term too. ADC – Animal Damage Control. People get paid to remove these guys and here I was doing it for free. Might have to change that. Anyway, I started baiting my traps with corn and peanut butter and I caught the slow and retarded, but most of the traps were licked clean. OK, I tried dried apple and started batting 90 percent, but there were a few slippery guys left and now it was on like donkey kong, dude.

One rat foiled me 5 times. So I brought in the big guns. Koro traps, made by those crazy Canuks, in the frozen wastelands of what’s North of Minnesota. They were the bees knees for this type of situation. A little pricey, but worth it. Out of all the smart rats, none have resisted the siren song of dried apple, wired lovingly to the Koro pan. Just like dear old mother would do. If she had a rat problem.

Now that most of our rats had turned into good rats, it was time to broaden my horizons, as it were. We didn’t really have a rabbit problem, per say, but I did notice increasing numbers of bunnies eating my free buffet of corn and other assorted chow, meant for my day walking birdies, squirrels and quail. It was time to get my Fudd on.

Saw a sweet design for a live trap from Meat Trapper. I was able to cobble the thing together with stuff that I had in the shop. His advice was to bait it with alfalfa cubes or something that would not attract predators. The reason being, if something, like say a possum, gets stuck in the box, it will smell like a possum and will now be your new possum box, instead of Bugs Bunny’s new condo. And that’s what I did, put in a few cubes of alfalfa and set it out near our bait station. And waited. And waited. I could see the wretched cotton tails frolicking at the bait station, but none would cast a glance at my inviting new home I had made for them. Clearly the Fudd influence was harshing my bunny mellow. OK fine. I ordered some rabbit gland lure from one of the ADC vendors and when it came, applied a few stinky drops into my box, now know as wabbit cozy.

Ready-for-CusomersAs they say, location is everything. So I moved my wabbit cozy up on the ridge, out of Wabbit-Cozysight of the bait station, and let nature do its thing. The next day, as I was walking up the hill to my rendezvous with destiny, I found myself, slumping a bit, traipsing along like some mentally addled nimrod of lore. When the ridge was surmounted and the wabbit box in sight, I had a feeling in my chest that Fudd only dreamed about. The door was closed, the flag was up with a Do Not Disturb vibe wafting about it. I had captured a wabbit. I tipped the box on end and opened the door. I could not resist an ironic “What’s up, Doc?” and let the Fudd pass through me.

WabbitThumpyThe rest is, well, icky parts, but what the heck, this ain’t a cartoon, it is real life. Because a smart trapper is an optimist and always expects to have something in his trap, I brought Thumper with. It’s my little buddy that takes care of life’s little problems. Like having a live bunny in the wabbit cozy. A few moments later, I had a good bunny and headed to the shop for butchering. A word to the wise. Always carry a freshly good bunny by the hind feet, lest you end up with a wet leg. Just saying.

Ready-to-butcherTo butcher a rabbit is simplicity in itself. You hang it by a hind foot and if you are hurting for tools, just butcher the thing with your bare hands. Bunny hide is very delicate. It rips easily and you start with the hind legs. Just rip the hide and pull down. Do this with both legs and continue to pull down, which should come easily, down to the front legs. Push the front legs up so the elbow sticks up through the hide. Stick a finger under the crook of the elbow, and push it through to the other side, then pull down. The hide will rip off near the end of the paw. Continue to pull the hide down until the head is reached, and since you don’t use the head, and if you have a knife, use it to separate the head and that will give you a nice package of the head and hide, which makes a great bait for coyotes or bobcats.

You are now left with a naked bunny. Take some time to remove any hair left on the meat. You should Ready-Wabbitnot have much. Now, as I said, you can do this without a knife, by pinching the belly and tearing it, pushing your forefinger up past the ribs. It works better with a knife and when you remove the wiggly inside parts, take a moment to examine the liver. It is the big, deep red organ in amongst all the other colorful parts. The liver should be deep and dark red with no white spots, and if it is not, discard the whole caboodle, you have have a sick bunny. If the liver looks healthy, continue.

To finish the job, you can chop or just break the feet off. Yea, I know, to the weak of stomach, this kind of thing is just off putting. Sorry Bunky, life gets your fingers bloody sometimes and that’s the way it goes. I have had, what I had thought of as rational adults, just about loose it when talking about this. I’ve had to counsel them, gently, about the birds and the bees, and the way Mother Nature treats her furry children, and they are incredulous. Quite a few of these snowflakes reject that whole premise, and for that I feel sorry for them. They are so far insulated from life, they don’t recognize anything but their own lunacy anymore, almost as if it has become a religion. That makes it their problem, not ours. And when Reality comes knocking on the door, a little Fudd might just save the day. Now you’ll have to excuse me, I have a few rabbit hides I need to tan. Waste not, want not. Channel your inner Elmer, you know you want to.

Good-Wabbit