Holidays

A Quick Thought On Memorial Day

This is a repost of last year’s Memorial Day post. I don’t think I could say it any better.

While it’s never wrong to thank a veteran for his or her service, that is not what today is for. Save that for Veteran’s Day. Today we remember the ones who never got to take off the uniform, those that never came home, the ones that paid that ultimate sacrifice. So we do not “celebrate” Memorial Day, we respect what it stands for. Now granted I will have my cookout and drink several adult beverages, after all, it is an extra day off of work. But in the back of my mind, and hopefully yours too, we will remember our brothers and sisters of all branches of the military and hope that their sacrifice wasn’t in vain. As an Army retiree and the proud father of a soldier, today weighs heavily on me and my family, I am so very grateful for those that served before me and after me. So lift a glass of whatever beverage you choose, and thank those we can only remember, those who fell on the battlefields the world over. And pray that the wars will end, and peace will reign. Amen.

Peace,
B

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Ginger Finishes – 2019

It’s the last week for our mischievous little elf, Ginger.

Sunday evening found her opening the little gift the girls had for her.

How many other elves get gifts?

She didn’t waste anytime getting things going for her last couple of days. Since the girls stayed with us Sunday night, she was ready for them on Monday Morning.

And since the girls are on their winter break from school, they’ll be staying with us a bit longer. And rumor has it that Ginger will be able to stay until Christmas morning this year! Seems she has some special gifts to pass out!

YES!!! Ginger was here bright and early Christmas morning. It seems that Santa brought granddaughter-the-younger a Malibu Barbie Dreamhouse! I think Wifey is a bit jealous. She didn’t get a Barbie Dreamhouse when she was a kid! Ginger had to build it for the girls after Santa just left it in the box.

Ginger also set out all the family stockings for us.

Then Ginger suddenly reappeared with two more gifts for the girls. Where does she get her money???

And then, just like magic, she was gone. No note, no goodbye, she just magicked herself back to the north pole.

I wonder what tricks she has planned for us next year. We heard some rumors that she’s been accepted into the trainer program at the North Pole. We’ll have to see.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this years adventures with Ginger.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, whatever you celebrate from the Campbell family to you and yours.

Peace,
B

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Ginger Week Three – 2019

It’s close to Ginger leaving us for the year, but she still has a trick or two up her sleeve.

The girls had a sleep-over on Friday night, so Ginger had another lazy day. But come Saturday, she was waiting for the girls.

She knows we’re going to the mountains right after Christmas. So she showing the proper form for a downhill run on a saucer sled.

Ugh… more terrible jokes.

Why do elves make good listeners?
What do you call an elf that sings?

On a rainy, dreary day Ginger got the munchies.

The gingerbread house seemed to be a bit stale.

And since the girls are on their winter break from school, they’ll be staying with us a bit longer. And rumor has it that Ginger will be able to stay until Christmas morning this year! Seems she has some special gifts to pass out! But that will be another post.

Peace,
B

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Ginger Continues – 2019

Let’s start this week off with something different. No, not Santaur.. That was scary. Here is the gingerbread house the girls and their daddy built.

Right after Ginger went to take her nap, and I posted, we found out the girls would be spending Sunday night with us. Poor Ginger had to get out of her comfy bed.

Trying to solve the age old question; How many licks does it take to get to the center? (And we all know we can’t trust that owl!)

The girls didn’t come over until Saturday this week, so Ginger got to “sleep in”. But she had a special surprise for them when they did make it.

We don’t have a snow globe, so Ginger turned herself into one for us.

We were a bit busy Saturday, so Ginger only had time for one of her riddles.

Where do elves go dancing?

Sunday morning found her trying to be being crafty.

Guess this is better than candy jewelry?

Then it was back to riddles…

Why did the elves as the turkey to join the band?
Santa rides in a sleigh. What do elves ride in?

The girls won’t be back until next Saturday, they have a sleepover on Friday evening. I guess Ginger will have another long sleep until then! And remember, riddles only answered here on the blog!

Peace,
B

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So, This Is Christmas?

Faithful readers (I do have a couple of faithful readers, right? RIGHT??), will remember that I do not start the “Christmas Season” until two things happen. First, I have to hear John Lennon’s, Happy XMas (War Is Over) and we’ve seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

We can control when we watch the movie, but hearing the song has a more strict requirement. I have to hear it while out of the house, and it can’t be played at my request. It just has to be on a random playlist, usually while shopping. But this year, I’ve only been to the mall once, and even then I never left the little pub. I still can’t walk long distances, so I sat and had a few beers while Wifey and son-the-younger did the shopping.

As usual, I do most of my shopping, holiday or not, on-line. Since Amazon doesn’t have background music like the mall stores do, the chance of hearing Happy X-Mas is slim to none. And Slim just walked out the door.

We did go to Wifey’s office Christmas party last night and they had Christmas music playing in the background. The song may have played, but luckily they had the volume low enough that I could only catch brief bits of the music hear and there. So I don’t know if it played or not. They didn’t have the old standards playing so it may have, but I didn’t hear it.

If you haven’t caught on by now, I really, really, really don’t like the usual Christmas music. Granddaughter-the-elder had her class Christmas program earlier this week. It was quite enjoyable. Other than the hand bell part, which was the old standards, the rest of the program was new music. They even did We Will Jingle, set to the tune of Queen’s We Will Rock You complete with foot stomps and hand claps. That was cool. And even better my wee bonnie lass had a small speaking part and she nailed it!

I’m thinking we will probably watch the movie this weekend. I’m sure it’s available on one of the streaming services I pay for. If not, Pay For View is always an option. As long as I can find it without commercial interruption. I absolutely despise commercials.

Today is also the Army Navy football game. This is probably the only football game I care about. And even then, not that much. I won’t watch the game since son-the-elder is currently overseas with his Army unit. But as an Army retiree, I have to say #GoArmyBeatNavy.

What are your holiday requirements and/or traditions? Get the conversation started by leaving a comment!

Peace,
B

P.S. Wifey has the old The Monkee’s TV show playing while I’m writing this, so here’s a totally unrelated video…

My favorite Michael Nesmith song!

P.P.S. The Monkees have ended and the old Partridge Family show has come on. Wifey said she didn’t remember how ugly the clothes were back then!

P.P.P.S. This is, what day 14 of the “official” Christmas season and not a single bit of the craptastic music has been played. ‘Nuff said.

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Ginger Returns – 2019

As I mentioned in my What A Week post just last week. Our mischievous little Elf, Ginger has returned. Since this is her third Christmas with us, and the girls are only here on weekends, Santa has said she can rest up during the week. Of course, that allows her to have a bit more fun in the days the girls are here.

To recap, Ginger arrived last Sunday, the 1st of December.

Ginger came fully loaded this year with a set of elf jokes. Think of these as similar to dad jokes, only worse. I’m guessing that since she isn’t zooming back and forth between here and the North Pole every night, she feels the need to move around the house during the day to keep an eye on the girls. So we have found her in several places last weekend, each time with one of those joke cards.

If athletes get athlete’s foot, what do elves get?
What kind of music do elves like best?
What kind of bread to elves make sandwiches with?

When the girls arrived after school this Friday, they found Ginger in her igloo. Seems she found a little snowman that they were making but didn’t finish. So she finished it for them, and of course made a big mess.

There’s supposed to be a snowman here somewhere. Promise!

Saturday morning found her making some kind of snowflakes from toilet paper.

Almost as bad as a kitten.

We found her in several spots all over the house the rest of the day.

What’s the first thing elves learn in school?
What kind of photographs do elves like taking?
Why does Santa owe everything to the elves?

I guess she felt like she needed some exercise on Saturday. This is how we found her Sunday Morning.

Elf bowling!
Ginger the #elf hanging out in her igloo watching our version of Food Network Live #Christmas #Cookie Edition!

When the ladies took a break from making cookies, she got a little pushy!

At least she said “please”.

Then she was back with the bad elf jokes.

What’s Santa’s tax status?
What kind of cars do elves drive?

So that was Ginger’s weekend. The girls have returned to their other home, and Ginger is napping until their return.

Note: If you want the answers to her riddles, you will have to ask here on the blog. I’m not going to answer any questions on other social media. I realize that you have to have an email address and register to post comments. This is to stop the spam comments that I had to deal with when I started this blog. Your email is not stored or used in any way.

Peace,
B

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Just leaving this here.. because.

WTF???

A Quick Thought On Memorial Day

This is a repost of last year’s Memorial Day post. I don’t think I could say it any better.

While it’s never wrong to thank a veteran for his or her service, that is not what today is for. Save that for Veteran’s Day. Today we remember the ones who never got to take off the uniform, those that never came home, the ones that paid that ultimate sacrifice. So we do not “celebrate” Memorial Day, we respect what it stands for. Now granted I will have my cookout and drink several adult beverages, after all, it is an extra day off of work. But in the back of my mind, and hopefully yours too, we will remember our brothers and sisters of all branches of the military and hope that their sacrifice wasn’t in vain. As an Army retiree and the proud father of a soldier, today weighs heavily on me and my family, I am so very grateful for those that served before me and after me. So lift a glass of whatever beverage you choose, and thank those we can only remember, those who fell on the battlefields the world over. And pray that the wars will end, and peace will reign. Amen.

Peace,
B

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Retired Army

The Return Of Ginger – 2018

Our sweet little, mischievous, elf has returned!  The jury is still out on whether on not this is a good thing.  Just as last year (here, here, and here), I will post weekly updates. We still have the girls weekends only, so I expect Ginger to do some silly stuff again this year.

Elf on the shelf in the christmas tree with a welcome letter.
Ginger returned Saturday, with a letter for the girls.

The girls think that Ginger put herself high upon the tree to keep away from our new dog. 

Elf on the shelf in a plastic tub with peppermint oil.
On Sunday, Ginger somehow got herself into a plastic tub, then farted. The note asks if you want to smell it.

Granddaughter-the-younger was first up that morning and was brave enough to open the tub and smell.  “She must have eaten too many candy canes!”.  Later the girls were practically shoving their dad’s face into the canister “Smell it!  Smell it!!” 

 

Elf on the shelf cutting out paper snowflakes and taping them to a french door.
Monday – Ginger used the computer chair to decorate the doors with hand made snowflakes.
Elf on the shelf in an igloo with other friends.
Tuesday Ginger was having a Igloo warming party. Kinda think that “igloo warming” sounds a bit counterproductive.
Elf on the shelf sitting in front of a Charlie Brown nativity scene, placing rhinestones on her outfit.
Wednesday – She’s all Bedazzled! 
Elf on the shelf with a finished Harry Potter Lego set.
On Friday, Ginger finished the Lego set for us!

Once again, Ginger The Elf has shown just what happens when a little elf gets bored. But she can also be helpful!

Elf on the shelf brought us a star for the top of our Christmas tree.
How sweet!

Got any silly elves at your place??  Check back next week to see what Ginger is up to!

Peace,
B

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Turkey Day!

Now. Let’s talk turkey.

I’ve smoked, fried, roasted, undercooked, overcooked, done damn near everything to that damn bird. One year we even did a bourbon brined and bourbon smoked turkey! That was interesting. I’ve cooked them whole, spatchcocked, even quartered, just the breast, you name it. But, I’ve never done this:

turkey

I have lots of friends that are firefighters and I’ll feed them any time. But not like this!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (even when it doesn’t coincide with my birthday). One thing I like is if I take the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of turkey week off, I get a total of nine days in a row off (counting weekends). I’m always down for extra days off! (I’m just starting day 1 for this year). 

More importantly, family and food are what make this holiday special. Even though I end up cooking for days ahead, and the day of, I enjoy it. Wifey®, not so much. We are usually the hosts for everybody, and it’s very stressful for us. That’s why last year we took off, just the two of us, to the Smokey Mountains for the holiday. We also took a cruise one year, but it kinda sucked. Not only did it feel weird not having the usual Thanksgiving trappings but the cruise was rather boring. But we lived through it. We’re still deciding what to do for this year’s turkey day. But it looks like we’re going to a friend’s house this year (although we may end up here mainly because we have more room). All I can say is that the menu had better be set by the time I go shopping later today. Any turkey large enough to feed this crew will need to start thawing today! 

One of my fondest memories of Thanksgiving over the years was my mom’s turkey pot pie that she made from the leftover turkey. That was to die for. I’m sure my siblings remember it.

As I mentioned above, last year at this time Wifey® and I were headed up to Maggie Valley, NC all by ourselves. (Start here to read about that trip. There are 6 total posts.) The granddaughters usually go with their other grandparents to somewhere in western Tennessee to visit the girl’s great-grandparents. And as much as I’d love them to be here, it’ very important they spend time with other family too. I just hope they tolerate the 15 + hour car ride well. 

But remember –

reindeer

‘Nuff Said

What are your plans for the holidays?

 

Peace,
B

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Veteran’s Day Smoke-Out (And A Birthday)

(I originally was calling this event a “Throw Down”, but since I was the only one running the smoker, that title just didn’t fit. Kinda hard to “throw down” against yourself!)

Yes, I’m a bit late, but it was a very busy weekend. I seriously doubt I had more than 8 hours total sleep between Friday night and Sunday morning. Keep reading and you’ll understand.

The Sunday party was excellent. We had about 30 – 35 people show up. We had friends and family come in from an hour or more away, and folks from just down the street. Several kids for granddaughter-the-younger’s birthday.  Lots of food, craftbeer, whisky (and whiskey), and did I mention food??

I picked up a not quite 10-pound pork butt and a not quite 16-pound beef brisket from my local butcher on Wednesday. While I have smoked a brisket this size before, I have never smoked a butt ever! I was somewhat apprehensive but very eager to try.

I started the butt about noon on Saturday. The plan was to heavily smoke it (I used a combination of hickory, cherry and apple woods) until it reached about 140º F internal temperature. I had recently purchased a little device to help maintain the temperature in my big ol’ smoker and to keep a better eye on the meat temperature as well. And I had nothing but problems with this device.

It’s called a “CyberQ Cloud”, put out by The BBQ Gurus. I had already done a test run two weeks ago to make sure it was working as expected. One excellent feature is that it can connect to my home Wi-Fi setup and I can sit inside and watch a webpage that has all my temps, timers, and just about anything else being monitored. But for whatever reason, it just would not connect to my Wi-Fi even though it showed it as available in the list. Iimg_20181110_105555.jpg tried calling the support 800 number, but they’re not open on the weekends? Seriously? You have to figure that most people BBQ on the weekends (unlike my family – we’ll fire up a grill anytime!). Yet there was nobody to answer the phone. “Please leave a message and we’ll get back to you” is NOT good customer support. I even tried to contact them via their Twitter, and never got a response.  I could still use the unit, I just had to run in and out to check the monitor since it wouldn’t connect to the cloud.

We used “Cool Smoke Rub” all over the outside and injected it with a basic solution of apple juice, salt & sugar and other stuff.  The butt reached the target temp about 6PM. I let it sit a little longer while we ate dinner.

MVIMG_20181110_175152

After the smoker but before wrapping and into the oven.

Then I wrapped it in foil and placed it in a low (225º F) oven for overnight.  It didn’t need any more smoke since I had very heavy smoke going the entire time it was in the smoker.

So it was time to trim the brisket, inject with a beef broth solution and dry brine it. It would not get its “Big Bad Beef Rub” until tomorrow morning.

The plan was to get up at 3AM Sunday morning so I could get the brisket on the smoker by 4AM. Due to the problems I had with the CyberQ, I changed my alarm to 2AM to give me time to get it working again.  And since the universe hates me, I was up and out of bed at 1AM. What a life.

It took a factory reset to get the CyberQ reconnected. Thankfully there is ample documentation on the web for the device. It only took about 45 minutes to get it back up and connected. Whew!

So the brisket when on the smoker about an hour earlier than planned. No worries, it can be held in a faux cambro (basically an empty plastic beer cooler) for up to 5 hours without a problem.

MVIMG_20181111_030142

This what a brisket looks like at 0 dark 30!

The brisket probably weighed in around 14 1/2 pound or so after trimming. And since I didn’t separate the two muscles that make up a brisket, I knew this would take quite a bit of time. Following a very basic plan for brisket is simple.  Smoke (I used all mesquite for this brisket) until it hits the “stall”.  This usually occurs around 150º – 170º F.  Mine kicked in about 160º F.  I then wrapped it in butcher paper in a process known as the “Texas Crutch”.  Some use foil for this step, but I prefer to use the paper. I believe it leaves the “bark” (that wonderful outer crispy edge) much dryer and crunchy. It also will help cut down on the cooking time. Once the brisket is wrapped, you return it to the smoker (or an oven at 235º F or so) until it reaches an internal temp somewhere around 195º F or so. When you hit the mark at 195º then cut the point muscle off from the flat muscle. I then test the flat for tenderness by sliding my temp probe into various areas of the meat. If it slides in “like buttah” then you’re good to go, if not you can continue to cook until it reaches the 203º to 205º F range. But be careful, it’s very easy to overcook and dry it out!

When I separate the point, they become the wonderful concoction known as “burnt ends”. What I like to do, and Wifey® requires that I do this any time I’m doing brisket,

IMG_20181111_135412

Chunking the point

is to chunk the point up and throw in the pan that has been set in the smoker to catch all the drippings along with some warmed Au Jus and then covered and set in a warm oven to braise for a time. There are no “set times” for any of this. Every piece of meat and every smoker are different. Throw in other variables like weather (I had to pull the brisket off the smoker early due to a sudden rainstorm and finish it in the oven), and you can’t go by time. The temperature and tenderness of the meat is what makes it done.

These little flavor bombs are damn tasty. And look how juicy those are.

On Sunday, the CyberQ redeemed itself. It worked as expected, and I enjoyed sitting in the garage with my music playing and watching my cook being recorded on the web.

The butt shredded up very nicely! I had also made a vinegar sauce for the butt. As much as Wifey® loves her brisket, I love pulled pork even more. My grandmother taught me that if any meat is seasoned and cooked properly it won’t need sauce.  Seeing as she had, as a widow, at the height of the great depression, a successful BBQ restaurant, I’ll believe her. But I do like a vinegar sauce with my pulled pork. MVIMG_20181111_172713

And I’m very happy to say that several folks said the magic words – “Best I’ve ever had!” and “It didn’t need any sauce”.  I take that as the highest compliment to be had. Thank you all!

I guess it was a good cook in any event. With all that meat, there was damn near nothing left. I was really hoping to have a pulled pork sandwich from lunch Monday, as I think I had one burnt end, one slice of brisket, and maybe two tastes of the pork.  I did graze on all the other side dishes that friends brought, and some we made, but I didn’t get much of the meat.

 

This is all that was left.. (And I brought it for lunch today!)

MVIMG_20181112_080139

A little bit of pork, and one lonely brisket slice!

And my beautiful granddaughter-the-younger had a good birthday with her friends as well. I do believe her uncle’s (son-the-elder) gift was the hit of the party! A Harry Potter Lego set.

I have no idea what time it was when I fell asleep. I remember most everybody leaving, especially those that had to drive an hour or more. All I remember was sitting down with a nice craftbeer and nodding off. It was a very long day. It started at 1AM, and didn’t end until that evening. I’m way too old to be up that long. Wifey® and I were smart enough to take Monday off. We knew that we’d be in no shape to do anything. I slept most of the day away.

Here are some links to the recipes and instructions I’ve been using.

Amazing Ribs. Meathead Goldwyn’s website. I have used many of the FREE recipes several times, and for this cook I used both his Big Bad Beef Rub Recipe and the Lexington Dip North Carolina Hill Country BBQ Sauce Recipe.  He has a great book too.  Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling available everywhere.

Smoking Meat. Jeff Phillips website. This was the first website I found several years ago. I have used many of the resources available here. For this cook I based my pork butt on this guide.

Cool Smoke.  BBQ Champion Tuffy Stone’s website. The website doesn’t have much in the way of free recipes, but his book; Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue has a crazy amount of good stuff. 

CyberQ Cloud. The BBQ Gurus have a whole line of BBQ stuff. From full on smokers, to tongs and other accessories.

I hope this little post was something enjoyable for you to read. Hopefully, the food porn didn’t make you drool too much!

And thanks again, to everyone that came over. I enjoyed myself, and I think ya’ll did too! (And a special thanks to those that helped put away the food, the grills and other parts and pieces after I had crashed for the night!)

Peace,
B

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P.S. Who’s up for Turkey Day???