February 2, 2016

Miscellany

Some random thoughts in lieu of real content:

1. Iowa Caucus.  It doesn't mean a damn thing.  People make such a big deal about winning Iowa to get a jump on the other candidates.  Ask Rick Santorum how that worked out for him in 2012.

2.  Oil and Gas prices continue to drop.  While I'm somewhat concerned for my friends back west who work in the O&G field in various capacities, I do have to say I rather enjoy being able to fill up the tank and keep it under $60.  Been a long time coming...

3.  Haven't brewed any beer in a while.  Last batch was in October, when I made some hard cider.  As this weekend is my Bachelor Weekend (wife.gov will be working her every third weekend shift at the hospital, and the Spawn will be with their father), I might have to do something about that.

4.  I've been itching to get to the gun range for a long time.  I really should make that a scheduled thing: Once a week, put it on my calendar, and block out the time.  Far too often I have time, but make excuses and let other things take up that time, be it cooking, cleaning, doing repairs around Chateau JB, let work get in the way, etc.  Either shoot weekly or shoot weakly, right?  If I'm going to carry a firearm, then it's my duty to train and be damn sure I can hit what I am for... And thus, I'm going to the range once a week from here forward.

5.  Conversation on FaceBook today about dead fish handshakes.  Herein are JB's Rules for a Proper Handshake:

1. Look me in the eye.
2. Firm grasp, but don't try to break my metacarpals.
3. Three shakes*, then we're done.

(*Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out.)

6.  Stories like this warm me to the core.
We got cut short by the rain, but she put most of her rounds on the target and committed no major safety errors...and she wants to come out again. I call this day a "win" for bringing another new shooter into the flock. And even if she never buys a gun of her own, at least now she has a fair and accurate idea about what they're really like.
And that last line is really the key.  The minister at our church is rather staunchly against firearms.  I don't agree with his position, obviously, but he's entitled to them.  I have, however, questioned how he could be so against something with which he has no experience.  That's right, he's never shot a gun.  So I offered to take him.  "I'll take you, I'll bring several different guns and ammo and safety equipment.  I only ask that you listen to what I say when it comes to safety and that you bring an open mind.  You might find you enjoy shooting."

7.  Is this shaping up to be the worst possible Presidential election in history?  I mean, we've got a self-avowed socialist, Shrillary, a reality TV show star, and "Christian first, American second" Cruz.

What a freaking JOKE we've become.  You can't be telling me these are the best people we could find for the job.

January 13, 2016

Summer Sausage From Scratch

We bought a quarter of a cow earlier this year to fill up the freezer, as it's far more economical to buy in bulk than as needed.  In the end, we had about 200 pounds of beef, and the cost was roughly $2.60/pound  all said and done.

Now, most of that is roasts, steaks, and ground beef, with some stew meat, a brisket, and the heart and some liver thrown in as well (dogs get the heart and liver, because yuck.)

However, also in there were some packages of cubed steak, and none of us in the family much care for cube steak.  Not wanting to waste it, I decided to see if I could turn it into some summer sausage for snacking.

Took two pounds of beef (one pound cube steak, one pound older stew meat from the PREVIOUS cow), and thawed them.  Ran it all through my meat grinder twice on the smallest blade, then added some seasoning:

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 Tablespoons sugar based meat cure (Morton Tender Quick)
1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 cup water

Mixed all of that with the ground up meat (by hand, like you'd do for a meat loaf, so it's well mixed), then let it sit overnight in the fridge.

Then, last night, I took some fiber casings that I bought at the local Rural King Farm and Ranch store in their food-prep section -- they have an aisle that has jerky flavoring, grinders, seasonings, etc. -- and stuffed them with the meat (Poke a few holes in the casing for the fat to drip out... )

Let them hang at room temp for a couple hours, then I put them on a broiler pan (holes down) and into the oven at 170 F for the overnight.  This morning, after about 9 hours in the oven, I pulled them out and set in the frigid garage to cool.

Not sure what the end result will be, but it's certainly been a fun project to try.

January 6, 2016

Breaking Point

Never push a person to the point where they just don't care any more.

Because the opposite of love is not hate, but apathy.

December 15, 2015

Never Thought of THAT

So, being a semi-sorta-kinda "be prepared" type of person, I take a modicum of pride in being ready for all sorts of things, and while I'm not stacking cases of MRE in the garage, I like to think I'm pretty OK to ride out the most likely events in my area. 

For East Central Indiana, that means power outage for whatever reason. Tornado, ice storm, heavy snow, etc. 

So when the power went out this evening,  I reached three get to my left,  grabbed a flashlight from the drawer, and handed a second to Elder Spawn.  

A quick check of the block showed it was a larger issue than just my house, so Elder and I headed out for dinner.  

The garage door has a manual release so I could get the Jeep out, and I pulled the door closed,  but it doesn't have a means to lock it in place when down.   That is,  if I have to manually move the door,  I can't secure it down.  

Think I'll have to fashion something from scrap 2x4 lumber and such.  

Learning something new every day.

December 10, 2015

Huzzah

Congrats to Borepatch for the nuptials.

I wish he and his bride many years of joy and happiness.

Cheers, buddy.

December 5, 2015

The Spirit of the Season

This year, I've been asked by my boss to assist with a charity event that he does every year.

The charity is called Secret Families.  Through the generosity of donations and volunteers, we find the most needy families in the county (with the help of the administration of the local schools), and each family gets sponsored.  The ages, clothing sizes, and needs of each are collected, then a group of folks will go shopping for them, other folks will wrap the gifts, there are drivers delivering the gifts, along with a Christmas tree.

Each family gets gifts for all, the tree, a $50 grocery gift card to buy Christmas dinner, and a bible.

I have to imagine that the general manager of the local Meijer (like a Super Walmart, kinda) looks pretty good to the corporate accountants this time every year.  Not often you ring up a quarter million dollars in sales on a Saturday...

... Before 9am.

We've got a command post set up so the drivers can call in if they get lost, we can pull up some mapping and GPS software, talk them through turn-by-turn directions.

Pretty much every local school has kids here helping wrap gifts.  Elder Spawn and her cheer team will be along shortly to do the same.

It's a pretty impressive event.  Last year, we provided for 325 families.  This year, we're pushing almost 400.

And we've had a few families that managed to get off the list.  One mother told us "Last year, I didn't have a job, and you made Christmas bearable for us.  This year I've found work, and we're doing well..."

So, rather than being on the receiving end, she's volunteering today.

Giving.  That's the spirit of the season.

Merry Christmas, y'all.

November 26, 2015

Thankful

This year, I am thankful for dirty dishes in the sink.

They represent food my family was able to eat... food that was cooked in the house where my family lives... and that house has electricity to run the stove... and that house also has running hot and cold water... and a table where we can sit to eat... and a dry roof overhead... and is paid for (in part) by my job... a job that that pays money... money I can use to buy food.

Many people in this world don't have such things. If you do, maybe you could be thankful for such simple things as well.

Happy Thanksgiving.

November 25, 2015

Ducks Down

My trip to Texas to go Duck Hunting with EMS Artifact, Ambulance Driver, and Limey Buddy was all too short, but it was still a great time and my batteries are (more or less) recharged.

Flew out Friday morning, which meant an oh-bloody-hell-it-is-early wake up at 2:30, on the road by 3:00 to get to Indianapolis airport.  I no longer have any VIP status with any of the airlines, but that's OK... I don't like having to travel as much as it takes to get and keep that status.  For the one flight a year I take, I'll suck it up and fly with the commoners.

Got to the counter, checked my bag with my sidearm (I didn't bring my own shotgun, and borrowed one from AD to save on yet another checked bag), and got my groping by the Thousands Standing Around.  After that, it was on to a cup of coffee and the gate.  I was fortunate enough to get assigned an exit row, which was pleasant, and the trip down was uneventful.

Landed in DFW, collected my bag, and off to the rental car place.  Got the car, got the Limey, went to get EMS Artifact, and then headed west to Weatherford (with a stop along the way for lunch).

Once we checked in to the hotel, we made a quick trip to WalMart for ammo and a few assorted and sundry items, then AD arrived with his lady, and we commenced to eating pizzas and drinking beers.

Saturday, at 0400, we rose, dressed, and stopped for a thermos of coffee before meeting the guide.  If you are ever on the western side of Fort Worth and want a duck hunting guide, go talk to Jeff at Silver Creek Guide Service.  He's quality people, works his tail off to make your hunt simple and enjoyable, and won't do you wrong.

Jeff put us in a sunken blind (you can see it if you zoom in here) and while we weren't expecting many ducks on Saturday -- 20+ mph winds with gusts to 40 are not conducive to duck hunting -- we were pleasantly surprised.  Shooting steel in wind like that made for more than one missed shot, but we still landed 12 ducks on Saturday (mostly gadwalls and widgeon, plus one nice sized Mallard.)

Broke up around 11am, went out for a late brunch, then back to the hotel to filet the breast meat, take a nap, and get some dinner.

Sunday, we went out again, this time a bit more excited... The weather app on the phone was calling for 28 degrees and a 10 mph northern wind... PERFECT conditions for high volumes of ducks.

But, being weather forecasters, they were, of course, wrong.  The temp was right on, but absolutely no wind.  This, of course, means the ducks have little incentive to get off the big waters of Lake Weatherford and seek shelter in smaller ponds like the one we were hunting.  We saw a couple flights early, and landed 6 more ducks, but nothing at all was flying after about 7:30.  We called it a day around 10:00 am and packed it in.

Monday took me back to Indy, then a drive home with the duck breast fillets (nobody else could take any duck meat home, so I got it all!) and my bag full of laundry and my mind cleared of troubles and stress.

I'll be headed back to Texas again next year.  This is the sort of therapy that I need.


November 19, 2015

Headed South

Hitting the road tomorrow, early flight from IND to DFW, to spend the weekend duck hunting with EMS Artifact and Ambulance Driver and a few other folks.

I'm in dire need of time spent with my tribe, some recoil therapy, and the joy of hunting with my brothers from other mothers.  Work, family, kids, wife, weather, and all the other stuff is weighing heavily, and I'm just worn thin.  Time to decompress, even if only for a few days.

Mind the place while I'm gone.  And someone let the dogs out so they don't shit on the carpet.  I'll be back soon.


November 16, 2015

Beer Bread

Decided to stretch my comfort a bit in the kitchen this weekend, and made some bread using spent grains from a previous batch of home brew beer.

The beer was an English Brown, and had a combination of Caramel 60, Chocolate, and Carapils grains.  I'd put them into the freezer to keep, as this idea has been in my head for some months now but I've just never had the time.  Pulled them out of the freezer and let thaw, then onto a cookie sheet into a 225 oven for a few hours to dry out.

Once the grains were dried, I put some into the blender and ground them up quite fine.  Then I turned to my Gramma's French Bread recipe, as it is pretty simple, forgiving, and easy to do.

Without further ado:
5 C All Purpose flour.
1 C dried spent grains
2 packets baker's yeast
2.5 C water
1 TBSP salt

Combine the flour and grains in a bowl, mix well.  Proof the yeast by adding it to 1 cup of water at ~110 F in a large bowl.  Stir and let sit for 15 minutes, then add the remaining 1.5 C lukewarm water.

Slowly add the flour/grain mixture one handful at a time, stirring (gently at first, then harder as you near the end).  Once you've added all but 0.5 C of flour, turn out onto a work area, sprinkle the salt on the dough, and knead 6 times or so, adding the rest of the flour.

Cover with a clean, moist towel, set in a warm area free from drafts, and let rise for 1.5 to 2 hours.  Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and let it rise again for about 30 minutes.

Divide the dough in half, and roll each half into a tight ball.  Then flatten it out on your work area, fold the edges over into the middle, and shape into a loaf.  Repeat for the other half.  Cover them both and let sit for another 45 minutes.

Prepare an egg wash by whisking one egg white in a half cup of cold water.  Using a *very* sharp knife, make a couple slits in the top of each loaf, brush with the egg wash, then into a 375F oven for 40 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Wife.gov stated it was really quite good.  And that's all that really matters to me, dig?