Well, hello…and a new toy

September 21, 2017

Simple and good.

Tossing my hat gently in the door…Anybody still hanging around here?

I’ve been absent. Semi-off-the-grid. Busy as hell. On the road. And dealing with a minor injury, all of which has conspired to mostly keep me out of the kitchen. I think I’ve cooked twice in the past week, and one of those, I felt puny and didn’t eat much (and it was some of my favorite stuff, too). And I have been in the throes of an insomnia cycle, which plays havoc with both my work AND my cooking, but I think I’m about at the end of that.

And I have a new toy. After wanting one for two years, I have pulled the trigger on a Masterbilt electric smoker. It arrived Tuesday, and I’ve not taken time to pull it out of the box, but Lord willing, I plan to smoke me a big ol’ chicken in it this weekend, and maybe  a piece or two of brisket at the same time. I can always freeze the brisket. Am also contemplating smoking some salmon and some tuna. We shall see. I have just ordered 50 bucks worth of assorted flavors of wood chips, so I should be ready to go.

Anyway. Work has been nuts, which is good, because when work is nuts, that means I’m getting billable hours, and I gets paid. Getting paid is good. It’s about to get busier, which is even better.  My travel schedule is picking up, and I’m going to hear some phenomenal music in the next 30 days (Emmy Lou Harris, John Prine, Kris Kristoffersen, Roseanne Cash, anyone? Two separate shows, three weeks apart, and that following up Jason D Williams, which followed up James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt, and I just flat passed up the Avett Brothers, though I hated to. It’s been a good music summer.)

But I have managed to cook a couple of times. Child A was off adventuring in Alaska, chasing moose and bears and such, so I cooked what I wanted, included a good ol’ dinner of brats poached in beer, kraut and fried potatoes and onions. Doesn’t get a lot better than that, nor does it get a lot easier. It was a 30-minute dinner, and I luxuriated in it.

I had “southern whiskey” flavored brats I’d gotten from the smoked/cured meats place up the road. Some of their stuff is a little spicy for me, but these things are just excellent. Browned them, dumped a bottle of beer over them, cooked until the beer was gone, boom. Done. Meanwhile, I’d peeled and fried a couple of potatoes and an onion, the last of my Vidalias, which just don’t last well in my pantry. Had a jar of kraut in the fridge.

The beer and the flavorings in the brats merged to make a nice, almost barbecue-sauce-like glaze. The home fries were just that, home fries, done to a turn, a little brown, a little crispy, a little salty, a little greasy, like a good home fry ought to be. And while the kraut is not the best I ever made, it’s certainly acceptable. It made a fine dinner, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think I’m going to cut up the rest of the pound of brats and put them in egg bites I’ve been contemplating making. That may be tomorrow.

Salad lunch, sans pork chop.

And then I managed Sunday dinner; just Children A and C, AGC 2, and me, so I stuck to things I knew we liked. We had potato salad, carrot salad (well, that was for me), watermelon, tomato and mozzarella salad (ok, that was for me, too) and zucchini fritters, along with pork loin chops sous vided at 125 for four hours and then broiled with BlueQ barbecue sauce.

The watermelon and tomato salad was my pick of this litter. It’s cubed tomatoes (I used cherry and grape tomatoes) and watermelon, cubed mozzarella, and a dressing of red wine vinegar and olive oil, salt and pepper. It’s pretty wonderful. One caveat; recipes I saw called for equal proportions of tomato and watermelon; my personal preference is for about twice as much watermelon, so the tomato is more just a punctuation. I used about two cups of each and a half-pound ball of fresh mozz, and then wound up adding another two cups of melon. It’s really, really good. It called for some torn mint and basil leaves, but I couldn’t be arsed to go out to the herb garden and pick them. Got to get out there and weed that damn thing, anyway, but we are having a late-summer heat wave of 90-ish days, so THAT ain’t happening.

BlueQ sauce, btw, is a fine thing on a pork loin chop. Just passing that on to you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em.



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