October 18, 2018

Red Wine and Cranberry Braised Short Ribs

This year at Blogorado, Farm Mom gave me a whack of beef from her stores as mentioned in the previous post.  I decided to thaw out some short ribs and have a go at them. 

Take the short ribs, and ensure they are thawed completely.  I left mine in the fridge for 4 days, and that was adequate. 

Bring them out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature.  Salt and pepper the ribs liberally.  While that's going on, heat a couple tablespoons of oil in your cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. 

In a bowl, mix a can of cranberry sauce, a cup of red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon), and a beef bouillon cube.  Stir, and pop it into the microwave for a couple minutes so the cranberry sauce is no longer a solid, but rather mixes easily into the wine, making a liquid.  Add a can of sliced mushrooms.   

Turn on the oven to 325 F. 

Sear the beef short ribs in the skillet on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.  You'll likely have to hold them in place with some tongs to get all the sides seared.  That's fine, just don't squeeze them too hard. 

Once seared, pour the wine/cranberry mixture over the ribs, add a fairly generous shake or three of Rosemary and Thyme.  Put the lid on the cast iron skillet, and pop it into the oven. 

Find a way to spend the next 2.5 hours... Maybe go play 9 holes of golf, or take a quick trip to the range, burn through a couple boxes of ammo. 

After 2.5 hours, remove the skillet, turn the short ribs over, and put back into the oven for another 30 minutes. 

Serve with a side dish of your choice (I went with long grain wild rice), and drink the rest of the bottle of wine.


October 9, 2018

Batteries Recharged

Man, what a week... 

Wednesday morning found me dropping off the dogs at the kennel, then making a beeline to Denver International Airport to catch a flight to Detroit.  My cousin's funeral services were last week, and I needed to get home to pay my respects. 

Landed DTW and picked up the rental car, then drove the 2.5 hours to my parent's place.  We had dinner, talked and caught up a bit over a couple beers, and turned in.  Services were Thursday, and while the reason for the gathering was obviously less than optimal, it was nice to see some family again.  Cousins Jay and Connie came in from Omaha, as did Uncle Kenny, his wife Aunt Marie, and Aunt Deb.  Cousin Angie stopped on her way from D.C. to Chicago as well, and Cousin Joe had flown up from North Carolina.

I had tried to book a flight in/out of Fort Wayne, as it is closer than Detroit, but airfare for FTW was pushing $1200, which is out of my budget, so Friday morning found me up at 0330 to shower and hit the road back to Detroit for an 0830 return flight.  Landed DEN, drove home to unload the funeral bags and load up the Blogorado stuff.  

After a short 4.5 hour drive, I arrived in Super Secret Location and began the best weekend of the year.  I made a batch of chili (with beans, because otherwise it's just sloppy joe mix), and even the Texan contingent gave their seal of approval.  We also had tacos, enchiladas, and side dishes assorted and sundry.  Sitting around the hobo fire in the shop at the farm, consuming a few beverages of the adult variety, and soaking in the warm embrace of fellowship and family is about as good as life gets. 

Saturday found the crew at "Obligatory Cow Reference", our name for one of the local diners in town.  They take good care of us: Setting up a side room with a large urn of coffee and pitchers of water and juice, busting their butts to take orders and deliver plates to a group of 25+ folks, and making us feel most welcome.  In return, we take good care of them.  Traditionally, one of our crew will buy the entire bill for the room -- usually around $250 or so -- and thus the rest of us just leave what we *would* have spent on breakfast as a tip.  So, 25 people all leaving $10-12 tips makes for a fine payday for the waitress who gets assigned to that room.

After chow, we headed out to the range and proceeded to turn hard earned money into smoke and noise.  I ran something on the order of 200 rounds through my Remington 1100 shotgun, and was quite satisfied with my results.  I missed perhaps 7 or 8 clays the entire time. 

One of our group brought along a rather nice selection of pistols.  Not your typical "This is my Glock 19... it's just like your Glock 19", but instead she had a Beretta 92 Elite that had some custom trigger work done, a truly amazing Wilson Combat 1911, and a half dozen other heaters.  I really liked that 92 Elite, and I suspect I'll have to start saving my pennies to pick one up for my collection.

Dinner Saturday was steak on the grill, courtesy of Sir Loin, the cow we purchase every year to feed the group.  Whatever is left after the weekend stays in Farm Mom's freezer, for them to eat over the next 51 weeks.   These steaks were roughly 1.5 inches thick at least, and with the new grill that we bought the Farm Fam last year, Tom was able to put the perfect sear and temp on them.  Man, there's not much out there that can beat a medium-rare T-Bone. 

Sunday weather was kinda lousy... A decent wind, some light rain/mist, and it was just cold enough that I really wanted another layer, which I did not have.  I ran a few rounds through my 1100 as well as the Sig P250, but it quickly got to the point where it wasn't much fun at all, so I packed it up and went back to the farm, hung out in the shop, and just enjoyed an afternoon of conversation and companionship with my tribe. 

After a final breakfast on Monday, I made one last trip to the farm, because Farm Mom wanted my help: She's got a couple chest freezers that are quite full, and she knows she'll be getting some venison this fall, so she needed help making space.  "Take all the short ribs, roasts, and ground beef you want.  Here's some venison from last year, and take that pheasant, too!" 

I absolutely FILLED the two coolers I had, and now I've got a freezer full of beef, venison, salmon, halibut (the fish from my Alaska trip, of course) and pheasant.  I'm going to be eating good for a long while.  

Said my farewells, got my hugs, gave some hugs, and hit the road.  Got home, unloaded, picked up the dogs from the kennel, had a beer, watched some TV, and was out like a light by 2130 or so.

It was an emotional roller coaster of a week: The sadness of a death in the family, the peace of knowing he no longer suffers, the contentedness of spending time with my parents, the joy of being with my tribe...

Man, what a week.

October 1, 2018

Requiescat in Pace

You are no longer in pain, Cousin Stan. 

Rest in peace.  The rhythm of life may have missed a beat without you playing the drums and keeping time, but we will see you in due course.

You are missed.

September 21, 2018

Might Be Gone A Bit

A cousin of mine is in the last stages of his battle against cancer that has spread from his lung to the adrenal glands, bones, and pancreas.  My mother tells me he isn't eating, has no voice, and likely won't make it another week.

I'll be getting on a plane as soon as I can, might be off the grid for a while.  In the interim, go check the folks in the side bar.  They write better than I do anyway.

September 11, 2018


I've been trying to avoid the near-cliche "Never Forget!" post on this, the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

And I haven't forgotten. 

I remember.  I remember the pictures on the television, the shock and horror as I watched the events unfold. 

I remember that sinking feeling in my gut when the second plane hit and it dawned on me "We're at war... We just didn't know it until now." 

I remember the body count, the mass of humanity trying to escape hell on earth. 

I remember the agony of lost brothers and sisters in the public service sector -- cops, EMTs, firefighters I'd never met but were certainly "brothers" to me as a paramedic.

And I remember the next days...

I remember people lining up to donate blood. 

I remember restaurants preparing and giving out food to the search and rescue people digging in the rubble, looking for survivors.

I remember cops, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, nurses, doctors from all over the country packing a bag and heading to New York to help. 

I remember hundreds of millions of people reaching into their pocketbook to donate what money they could to relief funds.

I remember people who had never given thought to joining the military signing up the very next week to enlist, to serve. 

I remember local churches holding bake sales and giving the money to the 9/11 fund. 

I remember neighbors started talking to each other again, rather than just giving a cursory wave as they passed on the road. 

When the chips are down, Americans bond together and rise up, as one, and we get it done.  We can be a petty bunch at times, having a fierce debate over which pop starlet is the better singer, and we can often make mountains out of mole hills as we harangue over whether a given means of protest is socially acceptable.  But we are a nation of ordinary people who, when the occasion calls for it, can do extraordinary things.

This is one such example. 

These sailors will, truly, never forget.  Nor should we.

This is what I choose to remember.

September 6, 2018

Kilted to Kick Cancer Fundraiser

One of the things I try to do every year for the Kilted to Kick Cancer fundraising efforts is to find a local pub or brewery and talk them into pairing up with us to raise some money on a pint night.

Last year, I teamed up with Maxline Brewing Company in Fort Collins and we had a fine night, raising almost $325 in a single night. 

This year, I worked with Loveland Aleworks, and their "Pints for the People" program, which donates a dollar from every pint sold between 6p and 11p on Wednesday of each week.  Every week is a different charity, and last night was our night. 

Given the somewhat cloudy, cool, and damp weather, we still had a solid turn out of people, and my three raffle prizes collected $125 in ticket sales, in addition to the pint sales totals that are yet to be determined.  I had a fun time talking with a number of customers, one of whom showed up kilted, and all in all I think it was a rather successful night.

Here's to 24 more days of fundraising for Kilted to Kick Cancer!


September 4, 2018

A Month Without Pants

It's September, and that, of course, means it's time for me to go without pants for the next 30 days (OK, OK... the next 26 days, because it's already September 4th, but whatever).

That's right: Kilted to Kick Cancer fundraising is back in action!

Some facts about prostate cancer:

  • It affects as many men as breast cancer does women, but gets about 1/10th of the funding.
  • 1 in 36 men will die from prostate cancer this year. 
  • If two Boeing 757 jets filled with nothing but men crashed and killed everyone on board, once a week, every week for a year, that would almost match the number of deaths from prostate cancer.
  • Prostate cancer is the most common form of non-skin cancer among men.  

So, to try to improve those numbers, Kilted to Kick Cancer was formed.  The premise is simple: Wear your kilt every chance you can, and start talking with people about prostate cancer. 

And beg for donations so we can fund more research into preventing, diagnosing, and treating prostate cancer.

To that end, I humbly ask for your help: If you have a coin or two to spare, head over to Kilted to Kick Cancer Donation page and chip in what you can to Team JBRO.

And if you're a man over age 40, talk with your doctor about your prostate. 

Get Kilted, Get Checked!

August 31, 2018

Hidden Joys

For some reason or another, a reason I've yet to discern, I woke up this morning, just shy of 0400 hours, and was WIDE AWAKE.

Waking in the middle of the night isn't unusual for me: Maybe I have to use the bathroom or perhaps I was having a strange dream, but typically I can go back to sleep in short order. 

This morning, however, I just knew I wasn't getting back to sleep, so I started the coffee and got myself vertical. 

In days past, I'd grumble about this, but as I've gotten older, I've come to realize that grumbling won't solve much, so you might as well make the best of it.

Poured myself a cuppa, and stepped onto the back deck to have a cigarette. 

Looking up into the vast night sky -- Fort Collins is known for low levels of "light pollution", and I have pretty good star gazing opportunities for living in a city of 160,000+ people -- I spotted a light, moving SSE>E, and moving at a pretty decent clip.  "Airplane, JBro, no big... wait, it's not blinking like an airplane should.... I think that's the International Space Station!"

Sure enough, a quick check of the internet proved my suspicion.

So, I guess if one has to be up at oh-my-gawd-thirty in the morning, getting to see ISS traverse the sky is a fair trade-off.

If you want to find out when and how to view the ISS, you can check your city using this website.

August 15, 2018

None of the Above

Yesterday evening, got a phone call from some political polling group, asking me for my views of assorted candidates, how good of a job I felt so and so had done, etc.

When it came time to ask me if I would be voting for Polis or Stapleton in the Colorado Governor race, I answered "Neither".

Apparently, that's not an acceptable option.  "Sir, you have to pick one or the other" was the reply.

"No, I do not.  I will not vote for either of those two choices, so picking one or the other for your poll would be tantamount to lying, and I won't do that."

That ended his questions, as his software would not let him continue without a check mark for Stapleton or Polis.  

That's how they silence third party voices, folks.  


August 8, 2018

What. The. Actual. F%$k?

Seriously, though, what sort of sick person thinks like this?