Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas 2015 is in the Books

Once again, we traveled to New Orleans, this time for Christmas and birthdays.  We left on Wednesday, hoping to be one day ahead of the traffic.  It worked and we made it all the way to the base of the Baton Rouge bridge before we came to stop/go/stop/go traffic.  We inched our way over to the other side and was back at freeway speeds all the way to the exit for our hotel on Williams Boulevard.  The girl behind the desk remembered us and moved us up to a higher floor.  At least being on the top floor we wouldn't have people stomping around overhead all night.

A few minutes later we were at Joyce and Allen's house and he Christmas celebrations began.

Yes, there were gifts and thank-you's galore, and way too much food that somehow got eaten anyway.

We also go to see our extended family on Christmas day when we all met at Michele and David's house for food and frolic.  Michelle's family is very large and I think all were there.  More gifts, of course.

We ate a lot, then some more, and kept eating until late Sunday when we finally relaxed in our hotel a few hours before heading out just minutes after a really strong storm blew through the city.  Six hours later we were safely home and very tired.

As of today we are back on our diets and hope to end 2015 with some pounds lost.  Looking good so far.

Friday, December 04, 2015

My Sweetie's New Bike

One of the great joys in my life is to see my Sweetie smile.

Yesterday, she had one more reason to smile and I captured it on the cell phone.

Here she is taking her first ride on her new bike.


It's absolutely wonderful to be in love with such a happy person.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Door Project

As many of you know, Judy is into stained glass and has been for many years.  She's very good at it and has made a lot of stained glass pieces in all sizes and shapes.  Each seems to be more beautiful than the last one as her skills and experience grows.

So it was no surprise a few years ago that she made the beveled glass panel for our front door.  It was beautiful and greatly improved the front appearance of our home.  It has held up well over the years.

A few days ago a neighbor brought their old stained glass door over and basically said, "Here, do what you want with it."  They had already replaced it due to some glass breakage which they could not repair.  Nor did they want to pay for someone to repair the broken glass, which could run into the hundreds of dollars.

We quickly saw the extent of the damage and our first thought was to just break out the remainder of the glass and salvage what we could.  But old stained glass is often brittle and does not cut well.  So that part was 'iffy' at best.  But there were a number of beveled glass pieces that appeared to be in pretty good shape.  So maybe those could be salvaged.  For what, we didn't know.

So we looked at the damaged pieces and thought, "Why not see if we can repair it first?"

We had never taken on a repair mission like this and we both knew it would not be easy.

There was lead came (the lead that outlines each piece of stained and beveled glass to form the pattern) that needed to be removed and replaced along with new glass.  But the damage was entirely inside the frame that surrounded the glass panel.  How on earth could we install new lead came with new glass in all the broken places when they were in the center of the panel?

So we went to YouTube and watched a lot of experienced and inexperienced stained glass people do what we wanted to do.  Some made it look easy and some made it look difficult.  So we tried the easy ones first.  And when that didn't work, we tried the hard ones.  When that didn't work either, we were left to our own devices.  We had to come up with something that worked or toss the door altogether.

Through a lot of trial and error, we finally figured out a way to repair it.  It took us about five days to do it but we were finally finishing what we started.  Just as we were laying in the final piece of glass, we heard a crrrraaaaacccckkkk.  %&#!  The stresses we were putting on the glass was apparently too much and another piece broke, then another.  It was obvious that these broken pieces needed to be repaired in order to even try to sell the door, hopefully for enough to recover our growing glass and lead costs. not to mention the time we had put into it.

This is where Judy's skills and experience paid off.  She tried a new idea and it worked.  And within a few hours we were ready to begin the grouting process to seal the individual pieces of glass into the lead came.  We did the entire panel rather than the ones we repaired.

That done, I sanded down the wood and applied two coats of stain, followed by three applications of spar varnish.  The door was starting to look really good.

Then we cleaned the glass and lead came really good.  Finally, we applied a chemical to the lead came that evened out the patina in the areas where we had to solder the new lead came in place.

Now it looked really good.  That's when we decided to sell it.  It took a while but we finally got an offer of about half what we were asking for it.  The lady didn't have much money so we said okay because it was enough to cover our expenses, plus some which we shared with the neighbor who gave us the door.

It was a challenge for sure, but also fun.  And we learned a lot.  But we won't be doing that again...

Here's the finished door.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Back on the Diet

For some reason, about three months ago my weight started to climb and climb and climb, seemingly for no reason at all, unless you take into account the fact that I got into a bread making frenzy for a few of those weeks.

I suppose you could also include us trying some new restaurants and dishes here at home.  And there was that Blue Bell Ice Cream we just had to have after they got back up and running.

Anyway, I noticed that my blood pressure was steadily climbing.  I check my blood pressure daily and it didn't take long to see that some blood pressure checks showed it 40 or more points above my normal pressure of below 120/60.

On top of that, I had no energy, couldn't stay awake during the day, couldn't sleep at night, couldn't think straight, had very little strength and just didn't feel good.  My feet and ankles were swollen quite a bit and I felt bloated all over.

Two weeks ago today, 10-27-15, Judy came in and said she was worried about me and announced that we were going back on our diet.  More specifically, the South Beach Diet that had helped us lose weight in the past.  I didn't argue.  I knew she was right.

So that day, we gave away and tossed everything that could be too tempting for us during the next critical two weeks of Phase I of the diet.  Then we started trying to eat exactly or very close to the items shown in Phase I.  Naturally, it contained a lot of bushes and chicken, but actually it wasn't that bad.  The idea was to ween us off carbs.  After about 3 days I wasn't even missing my bread and bacon.

I immediately started losing weight, typically about two pounds a day, sometimes more.  I knew that most of that loss was water but because I started feeling better, I really didn't care what I was losing.

Meanwhile, my doctor had cautioned me that being overweight could put me at risk for diabetes.  He said my Blood Glucose numbers were running a little higher than he would like to see them.  And if I didn't do something about it I could reach the stage of being considered 'Pre-Diabetic.'

So rather than wait three months between my quarterly blood tests, I decided to invest in my own Blood Glucose test device.  I wanted a good one so I did some research and ended up with one that has a good reputation for accuracy.  I bought the kit which included the other items necessary to do the tests.  I purchased enough to do 200 tests.

I also read up on diabetes.  I thought it was something you came down with because of eating too much sugar.  Surprise! Surprise!  It's not like that at all, but it does have a great deal to do with when and what we eat, how active we are and many other factors, including testing conditions, time between meals, etc.

With this increased knowledge I decided to test myself periodically throughout the day in order to get some idea what happens before and after I eat, before and after I do some strenuous work, etc.  I was amazed at how it changes throughout the day.  But more importantly, it dawned on me why my lab test numbers every three months were higher than the doctor would like them to be.

The lab test is a fasting test, meaning nothing to eat after midnight.  The lab didn't open until 7:30 am and I liked to be the first or second in line so I could get it over with and have my coffee and a big breakfast.  So to stave off the hunger pangs for the shortest period of time, I slept as long as I could on test day, proceeded directly to to the lab to get in line, and got it over with.

As it turns out, testing too soon after waking will give a poor indication of your blood sugar levels. The reason: our body senses when you wake up and gives us a jolt of glucose to get us started.  That jolt of glucose takes a while to settle down to normal.  Sometimes it could take two or more hours, depending on a lot of factors.

So I decided to test myself under the same conditions the lab tests me: fasting but with at least two hours after waking.  But first I wanted to see what happened if I did the test within an hour of waking.  As expected, they were high.  So I tried again two hours after waking and they were lower and mostly within the guidelines.  After that, the results were normal each and every time I tested myself.
Following that logic for my next lab test won't be hard to do since I usually wake at 5:00 am anyway. That will be at least two and a half hours after I wake up.  The numbers will probably be perfect.

I can't wait to talk to my doctor about this new revelation.

So now that I'm armed with all this information, I only need to do one more thing, and that is to add my exercise program back into the equation.  I'm feeling strong enough and energetic enough to start it now, so as soon as I finish this post I'm hitting the treadmill and the Total Gym.  I'll keep doing that every day, gradually increasing the incline and speed on the treadmill and the resistence on the Total Gym.  Just doing those exercises will help me replace the muscle loss from sitting on my ass for a year, and give me more stamina to do the things I want to do.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that when I weighed in first thing this morning I was down 18.8 pounds from the weigh-in two weeks ago.  That equals to over 1.3 pounds a day.  I'm pretty proud of that.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Henry Arthur Taliaferro, Jr. - RIP

I learned Sunday that I lost yet another of my childhood friends, Henry Arthur Taliaferro, Jr.

On formal occasions, he was known as Henry Arthur, but when formality isn't necessary, we called him HAT.
Somewhere around age 14 the friendship expanded to 'buddies.'  That kind of relationship meant that we hung out together a lot.  He lived just down the street from me.  The fact that he had a Willis Jeepster made being buddies even more fun because we could put a quarter's worth of gas in it and head to Hawthorn's Creek where there was a wonderfully cool swimming hole.
And sometimes we would even go to Jonesville where we could shoot pool in a real pool hall.  He always won and I didn't care.  He was my buddy.
Small town life went on and the two of us found ourselves as college students at Northeast Louisiana College in Monroe.  It was my first real 'away-from-home' experience.  We both liked to have fun so our academic efforts didn't pan out well.  
But I had joined the ROTC and really enjoyed being a Soldier, such as it was on a college campus. So we came to the conclusion that maybe we would be better off going into the Army.  Next thing we knew we were in Shreveport getting physicals and taking day-long tests.  We both scored high on the tests and the recruiter wanted us to fly to Dallas to speak with his boss.  That's where we learned about the Army Security Agency, the Army's version of the National Security Agency.  We liked what we heard and within hours we were on a bus headed north to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for basic training. It was February 29th, 1960.  There was snow on the ground as we crossed into Oklahoma and all the way to Fort Leonard Wood.  There was still snow on the ground when we completed Basic Training eight weeks later.
We had joined the Army on the 'Buddy Plan.' We learned later that the Buddy Plan was some fictitious recruiting tool the Army used with great success. 
The two of us went back home to Louisiana to say our goodbyes one last time. Then we caught a train to Boston and a bus to Ayer, Massachusetts, near Fort Devens, ASA's training base.
A couple of days later Henry Arthur was given orders to Arlington Hall Station, ASA's Headquarters near the Pentagon where he would become an MP. He served there until his enlistment was over in 1963. I remained at Fort Devens and completed 058 and 055 schools before our entire class was sent to Fort Bragg in late 1960.
I only saw HAT one time while in the Army.  It was during the Summer of 1960 when I hitched a ride down from Fort Devens to DC and met him. He gave me the tour of the small, campus-like base. I was envious to say the least.
We never really got to see much of each other after that. We returned home after our enlistments were up in February 1963. He eventually took a job at the bank, married and settled into a comfortable, small town life. I decided that small town life just wasn't for me so I joined the Navy in December 1965 and was eventually ordered to the Philippines.  I remained there until I was discharged two years later.
I think Henry Arthur and I may have seen each other three or four times after that.
It was sad to learn that he died. He was only 76 years old. 
In my mind he was still my 'Buddy' in spite of the miles and years between us.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Jefferson Eggfest

Wow! What a difference a year makes.

The first Jefferson Eggfest in 2014 pretty much got rained out, but in typical fashion, we Eggheads still had a great time just being with each other. We promised we would be back for the 2015 Jefferson Eggfest, and we were. And we're very glad we came. We had a wonderful time and raised some serious cash for the Jefferson-Carnegie Library.

We're home now, supposedly rested, and all gear and clothing almost cleaned and put away. Now the 'calm' sets in and we begin to wonder about 'what's next?'

Here are some 'getting ready' photos. It got busy later on and I didn't get a lot of photos. Perhaps others will share their photos.

Notice the nice shady trees. The shade works well

It was really a good time for us and our Egghead Friends. We had fun.

The town of Jefferson was once the second largest town in Texas, after Galveston. Steamboats regularly came and went bringing westward bound travelers and goods to the furthest point west and took back cotton and other stuff, at least until the railroad came.

Historically, it was a very significant place back in the day. Now, it has a population of just over 2,000 and one of the most impressive collection of historic mansions anywhere.

Instead of goods, the town now thrives on tourism, mostly on weekends. Tourists mix right in with the locals. Everyone there is friendly to the point of our thinking, "Why are these people so friendly?" But it's real and sincere without threat or asking you to spend more in their little town. They're just happy to have us there.

Of course, this year we Eggheads were more than welcome after our performance last year, in spite of the rain. The weather was perfect this year and we helped them raise well over $7,000 in funding for the Jefferson Carnegie Library. They were still counting the money when we left on Sunday. Also, the Big Green Egg dealer sold completely out of the 25 or so Eggs he brought, and took orders for more.

The crowd, still modest by today's Eggfest standards, really enjoyed themselves. None went home hungry. A lot of them asked questions about the Egg, what we were cooking and serving, the chat rooms where we get help when we ask for it, etc. I gave out all of my cards listing helpful information about the Egg, and people really appreciated them.

The area host dealer, National Wholesale Supply, said it is their intention to make the Jefferson Eggfest the number one Eggfest in the state. That's a big undertaking because two other Eggfests have well over a 1,000 paying attendees. And now we have the Houston Eggfest in the works. It has some heavy-hitter sponsors and supporters who will go all out to bring in many thousands of people who are more than willing to support the purpose of the Eggfest, to raise funds for the Texas Children's Hospital.

It's all about 'enthusiasm.' The more you have of it, the more things turn out for the better. And we Eggheads have a lot of it to spare and to share.

No matter what, it will be a great Eggfest next year and for years to come.

Judy and I served our ever-popular bourbon meatballs, along with about 10 pounds of beef skirt steak made into fajitas. All of it was delicious and got a lot of great comments from old and young alike. But there were all kinds of food being cooked and served, getting similar comments in the process.

So I guess we'll be going back next year, along with the Eggfests in Salado, Athens, Austin and Houston,. Yes, we're gluttons for punishment, both physically and financially. But it is always worth it.

There were a few thousand motorcycle riders in town for their annual Burn Benefit Drive that generates a lot of money for the Burn Center in Galveston. Yes, there were some awesome bikes there and the air was alive with bike sounds and music. If you're a biker, you should check it out next year. If you're also an Egghead, check us out too. Or better yet, come cook with us.

Thanks Jefferson, Texas for inviting us into your community, making us feel comfortable, and for appreciating our efforts. We will be back for more next year.

Coop Party/70th Birthday Party/Coop Fest

The Party's Over, It's time to call it a day...

Actually, the party has been over for a few weeks, September 5th, but the clean-up has continued for a few more days if you take into account all the leftover food we've been trying our best to 'dispose' of, calorie by calorie.

We used some of it at the Jefferson Eggfest on October 10th, but that's another post after this one.

By any standard, it was a great party from start to finish. And if you don't believe me, here's the video:

Coop Party - The Movie

Even the Meet & Greet party at El Palenque Mexican Restaurant & Cantina on Friday evening was a lot of fun for the 31 who were there. A couple of others arrived looking for us just as we all left.

One thing is for sure, Friday night's party wet the appetites of everyone for more fun. And they started arriving at the Chicken Ranch very early to get things going.

I could go on and on talking about the fun but I'll let the soon to be released video tell the story. Just hang in there and you will be able to enjoy it through photos...

For all of those who came to the Coop Party on Saturday, especially those who cooked and brought items to cook, eat or drink or talk about or share, thanks. There was certainly a lot of it and it was all very good. If you tried to count everyone, it would have been difficult because everyone was moving about so much trying to keep up with everything going on. But some estimates seem to agree that it was somewhere between 60 and 65. I hope I got all of them in the video.

It wasn't announced ahead of time but My Sweetie was also celebrating her 70th birthday that weekend. So it came as no surprise that there was cake and candles involved, as well as a few gifts.

And before you ask, No, I don't see another Coop Party in this lifetime...

But this one was fun...

Leroy and Judy
aka Spring Chicken and Spring Hen
The Chicken Ranch
Spring Texas USA

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Coop Fest Countdown Continues

As of today there's only 21 days remaining until the long-awaited Coop Fest/Party.  And they seem to be counting down a lot faster that a few months ago when we first decided to have it.

We used the days and sometimes nights to freshen up the place a bit.  But it hasn't been easy.  The heat this year has been horrible, driving us back into the house to the safety and comfort of the Air Conditioner.

I keep asking myself what we did back in the 40's and 50's to deal with the heat.  All I could remember is we either worked through it or took off to Hawthorn Creek where the water was cold and clear, coming from a spring not too far away.

Now I have a spa right in my back yard that I can jump into 85° water in the Summer or 100° water in the Winter.  So I've been taking full advantage of that 85° water this Summer.

Oh, the reason I started this post was to let everyone know that we have about 50 "definitely will be here's" and maybe 20 to 25 "maybe I'll drop by's."  And a lot of those who are coming are cooking up some really special dishes.  So come hungry.

If you're wondering "What Coop Fest/Party" here's the link:  http://coopparty.blogspot.com/

See you in three weeks.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Work Is Never Done

With the Coop Party coming up in a few weeks (Sept 5th), we've been busy cleaning, fixing, making,  washing, trimming, rearranging, painting, and generally, keeping ourselves busy.  Not all of it is for the Coop Party though, some was stuff that just happened.

Like the two Adirondack chairs I decided to build.  Those plastic ones were just not comfortable for me and my 300 pounds.  So I made two using 1¼" treated decking boards and stainless steel screws.

They turned out well.  They are very comfortable and should last a while.

Meanwhile, Judy had a lot of stained glass pieces she wanted to use, so she tried her hand at Mosaic. I helped by doing the wood part.

It really turned out nice, and was a lot of fun.  I'm sure there will be more Mosaic pieces in the future. I may even try it myself.

The oppressive July heat is keeping us from other outside projects but we did most of the work repairing the section of fence that blew down during a storm.  We were able to salvage a lot of the pickets and posts, but the rails were rotten and needed replacing.  I could see to drive the large nails but I had to have our International Workforce drive in the 300+ picket nails.

The other big and very satisfying project was to repair our oldest Big Green Egg, Lily Large.  We got her in 1999 and she's been our favorite ever since.  But we noticed cracks in the base.  They expanded up the sides and across to the point where it was unsafe to use her.  So I took her out of service.

She was replaced by Lola Large under the lifetime warranty.

So what do you do with a broken Egg?

I first thought I would just cut away the broken part and make her into a wood fired pizza oven.  Like this:

But when I mentioned the idea to the BGE Distributor, he suggested, instead, to salvage Lily by using PC7 Epoxy.  I was a bit hesitant but he was sure it would work.  So I bought some PC7 and applied it according to the instructions.  And it worked!  I've already cooked a couple of things on her and no cracks.  We're thrilled, of course, and now are the proud owners of five Big Green Eggs.

There's more but this should let you know that we're staying busy.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Looks Like We're Having A Coop Party

It has been years since we had a Coop Party, 2010 to be exact.  So Judy and I decided to have another one.  This time it will be held on September 5, 2015 here at the Chicken Ranch.

It should be a hoot and a half given that it is also Judy's 70th birthday.

We're expecting a sizable crowd from all over.  Some of our friends and local neighbors will be here along with a bunch of Eggheads that we have come to love.

I put together a web site just for it.  I think I pretty much covered everything except the weather.  We know it will be hot, but will it be dry or wet?  That's to be found out when the day arrives.  No matter, we'll just move inside.

Here's the link:


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Great Doctor Visit

I see all of my doctors at least once a year, some twice a year and some four times a year.  I like going to them to make sure I'm in good shape, not wait until I'm in bad shape.

Yesterday was my semi-annual visit to my cardiologist.  We met on January 18, 2007 by 'heart attack.'  He was Director of the Heart Surgery Center at Houston Northwest Medical Center the night Judy drove me to the Emergency Room.  And he just happened to be there at the hospital.  From that moment on, we were an inseparable pair: Doctor and Patient.  And it wasn't long, we were friends who received hugs every time we visited him.

The thing we like about him is his genuine concern for my health.  He takes the time to discuss, to answer, to explain, to show us what is sometimes difficult to understand.  And although he suggests that I lose weight and exercise, he doesn't jump my case about it.  He knows that we know the consequences of a poor diet and lack of exercise.

But I'm always pleased to hear him say I'm in good shape.  As was the case yesterday.

Coop Party 2015 Date Announced

Yes, there is going to be another Coop Party.  This one is set for Saturday, September 5th, 2015.

Yes, it will be held here at the Chicken Ranch.

We've already got 35 committed to be here, and others are either 'working on it' or 'will try to make it.'  Then there are some neighbors and friends who will likely come to see what all this "Egghead" stuff is about.  So we're planning around there being 50.  Or as we here at the Chicken Ranch call it: 'Just over 4 doz.'  It should be enough to have a good time.

I've started a blog site just for the Coop Party.


Think of it as a work in progress.  I've got lots more to add to it before it is considered reliable information.  But I'll be working on it as we get closer to September 5th.

We already know some will be flying in, some will be driving in, and some will just walk across the street.

And, before you even ask, the 'Guest Nest Room' is already taken.  But you can pop up a tent for the night.  Our back .40 is fenced from all but flying varmints and artillery.

See you at the Coop Party.

Friday, June 05, 2015

David and Michelle Got Married

Nephew # 1, David Ranlett, married a delightfully wonderful Michelle on May 22, 2015.  There was no way we were going to miss this wedding and we arrived there three days ahead of time.  Naturally, there was much to do and lots of pictures to take.  The pictures were my job, along with Stan the Man, a photographer friend of the bride and groom.  So there will eventually be lots of photos for me to assemble into a video of the event.  I can wait but I did want everyone to know a video would be forthcoming.

It was a wonderful wedding ceremony, followed by an equally wonderful reception with well over 100 friends and family fully enjoying themselves and partying hard in celebration of  the obvious happiness of the newlyweds.

More will follow...

Friday, May 29, 2015

Birthday Surprise

As many of you know, my birthday is May 8th.  But only a few of you know that Judy's sister, Joyce, has the same birthday, albeit a decade later than mine.  So we try to celebrate our birthdays together every year.  Only this year there were some reasons to postpone it a bit.  Her son, David, was getting married on May 22nd.  That meant we would be traveling to New Orleans for the wedding, so why not just celebrate both events at the same time.  Plus, Joyce was feeling kinda yucky and our showing up might make it worse.

But in the days just before May 8th, Judy learned that Joyce's husband, Allen, had arranged for a nice private birthday dinner at Murial's, just off Jackson Square in the French Quarter.  Meanwhile, Joyce was feeling a little better, and that was enough encouragement for Judy to say, "Let's go to Murial's and surprise her."  Okay by me, and we started making plans and hotel reservations.

But her illness was sort of up and down so we let Allen in on the plan so he could alert us if there was a last minute change.  She knew nothing about any of this.

So we checked into our hotel and took a cab to the restaurant to wait for their arrival.  We also made arrangements with the hostess to steer them to the bar when they arrived.

So they were met with the hostess saying, "I'm sorry but your table is still being prepared.  Could you please wait a few minutes in the bar."  We saw them coming through the crowd.  And just as Joyce got close, Judy stepped out blocking Joyce's path.  And Joyce had that "How rude!!!" look on her face for a few seconds until it changed to a 'confused' look, and then to pure joy!  It turned out perfect.

We had a great meal, walked around a bit in the French Quarter and rode back with them to our hotel.
The next day the two of them painted Miss Piggy, a concrete statue we gave Joyce for her birthday. I took a couple of naps and enjoyed a little rum, both in a glass and on a plate in the form of Rum Cake.  It was delicious, along with two other cakes.

Then David and Michelle came over to visit, totally unaware that we were there.  Yet another surprise.  Then the conversations shifted to their upcoming wedding.  And that set in motion some shopping and printing that needed to be done.

And then Chase and Sheryl showed up.  Also surprised.  They were married a few months earlier and this was the first time we saw them since the wedding.

We had pulled off the surprise of the century, had fun doing it, and were glad we did it, knowing that we would return in a couple of weeks for David and Michelle's wedding.

Oh, and in spite of her feeling poorly, Joyce was a trooper the entire time.  Perhaps the 'Medicine of Family' being together helped.  Yes.... I'm sure it was that.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sous Vide Cooking and the Big Green Egg

I've been curious about Sous Vide cooking for years. Then Lake Conroe Egger got one and told us about it. That got my curious juices going again. Then Misippi Egger got one and bragged about a couple of his cooks. That was it. I had to have one. So I dropped a couple of hints in the right place and got one for my sixty-fourteenth birthday a few days back.

Needless to say, I wanted something I could mix and match the Sous Vide with my Big Green Egg. So I bought a $25 Pound and half Prime Ribeye at H.E.B. for my first cook.

It took me a while to make a video of it but here it is.


If you're even thinking about getting a Sous Vide Immersion Water Cooker, hang around and watch me try a couple of other cooks. But right now, I think I'll eventually get the hang of it. And, of course, I will post about it.

Spring "Almost Always In Hot Water About Something" Chicken
Spring Texas USA

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Texas Eggfest 2015

The latest Texas Eggfest on April 25th has come and gone but it was enough fun to last a while, maybe all the way 'til next year.

We still don't know how many people showed up but it has to be somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000.  I wouldn't be surprised if it was even more.  I know we keep feeding them until we ran out of food  about 3:00.

Thanks to the efforts of a lot of people, this turned out to be the best Texas Eggfest yet.

Even the weather cooperated, after a tremendous thunderstorm only a few hours earlier.  But the weather and the grounds at Camp Ben McCulloch were both perfect for an Eggfest.

I didn't have time to take a lot of pictures but here are a few:

There were so many "Tasters" that we couldn't see across the grounds, or even the ground itself.  And we were loving every minute of it.

The next Eggfest is October 10th in Jefferson Texas.  And some folks are working on doing one in Houston before the end of the year.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Athens Eggfest 2015

Once again Judy and I were right in the thick of things at the Athens Eggfest, and we were sure glad we came.  As always, we saw old friends and met new ones, plus had a wonderful time and the weather was perfect.  What more could you ask for?

One of the key events of the fest was recognizing Allen Forshage as he retires from over three decades with the Texas Freshwater Fishery, and for his support of the Athens Eggfest.  We were asked to design and have made a special gift for him in the form of a custom made grid for his Big Green Egg.  Here's what we came up with.

Yes, he loved it.  It will surely get a lot of action as he gets used to having more time to cook on his Big Green Egg.

I spent almost an hour speaking to a group, mostly 'Newbies,' about the 'Magic' that comes with being an Egghead.  That was fun as I explained how every aspect of Egg Ownership and Use comes together to create a life-changing EGGsperience, including how we cook, how we eat, how we make new friends, and how we share our new found passion and enthusiasm.  It was fun.

Judy and I had made gifts for a few long-time friends, so we had a great time surprising them with the stained glass wind chimes and cathedral birdhouses.

I didn't take a lot of photos but here are a few.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

I Hate Colds

Once again the common cold took me down, this time forcing me to miss all but a couple of very uncomfortable hours of the Salado Eggfest that I waited and prepared for all year.  I spent most of it in my hotel room in bed under the covers and mercifully asleep for a few fleeting minutes between bouts of extreme coughing and hacking.

Yesterday, after three weeks of it I finally saw my doctor.

It turns out that what felt like a cold was due to a seriously congested lung, moderate bronchitis and a sinus infection.  And that is just the leftovers from what was probably even worse at its peak.

An in-office anti-bacterial injection and a nasal/chest inhalation treatment and a handful of kick-ass prescriptions has put me on the road to relief, and hopeful recovery.  I sure feel better after only a few hours.

Until now I haven't been in any frame of mind to be social during the course of this #%&@ cold, or whatever the heck it's called.

Now we have to prepare for the Athens Eggfest on April 11th.  I think I should be well by then.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Salado Eggfest March 14, 2015

After a long and rather miserable winter, the Eggfest Season opens with the promise of better things to come.

March 14th, at least 400 Eggheads and Egghead Wannabee's will fill the air of Salado with the sounds and smells of Eggfest.  And a joyous time it is.

Add to the EGGcitement that it also happens to be St. Patrick's Day Weekend.  And as is the custom, everyone can be Irish for the day simply by wearing some Irish Green.  And a few of us Brave Hearts will be wearing our kilts.  Yes, even the Irish can wear kilts these days.  But it just happens that my roots include some Scottish DNA.  Mix that with my Texas address and my hobby of cooking, and I'll be dressed to the occasion.

If you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, click here:


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I've Been Cooking And Learning New Stuff Again

I'm not a big fan of cold winter days, especially those that involve any kind of moisture or wind.

Since January 1st, the first couple of weeks were like that, but things started to get better after a bit. That put me in the frame of mind to cook a few things, which all turned out pretty well.

I found two recipes for bread that seemed simple enough for even me to follow, so I tried them. Here are some photos:

I also smoked a turkey ham.

Made some homemade butter and buttermilk.

Used the homemade butter and buttermilk to make some buttermilk pancakes.

I even smoked some cheese.

And just this morning I tried cooking some Old-Fashioned Cornmeal Mush.

It didn't turn out quite like I remembered it from my Boy Scout days.  So I'm saving some to pan fry tonight to see if that helps.  I really don't expect it to.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

There's A First Time For Everything - Cooked Some Wild Hog

I'm almost 73 years old and have never to my knowledge ever eaten wild hog.  Until now.

A neighbor is a hunter, and wild hogs are among the animals he hunts.  He already gave us some deer meat sausage that was very tasty.  And a few days ago he gave us some back strap from a recently killed wild hog.

Here's the story in words and in pictures of how I cooked it.

I was anxious to cook that piece of wild hog my neighbor killed a few days ago and shared a piece with us. But before I cooked it, I asked for advice and got a lot of it. I settled on sort of a combination of a few of them, I sliced it thin, rolled it up and wrapped it in bacon. I'm glad I did it that way because it turned out quite nice. A little tough but very tasty.

I used Cluck & Squeal rub on it after I rolled it up, and cooked it direct on the Big Green Egg with some hickory smoke. You will see in the photos that I had to move them off to the side because of the bacon grease flair-ups.

I cooked them all to between 140° and 147° internal. One suggestion was to cook them to 135° but I went with the higher recommendations.

While I was in cooking mode I also decided to make some Dutch Oven Bread in the Big Green Egg using a new recipe.  I cooked some a week ago but this time I decided to split the dough between a smaller Dutch Oven and a stoneware bread pan. It turned out much better.  I think its because I went to the store to get some fresher yeast, and I used filtered water from my frig. I didn't want tap water with chlorine in it.  I also heated the water to 114° before adding the yeast and sugar to it.  Within ten minutes I had a lot of yeast foam in the bowl.  I was definitely on the right track.

I also decided to cook some acorn squash and a couple of small Banquet Pies on the Egg. The Squash was wonderful with just some butter and salt and pepper. The pies were handy but not so great.

An inexpensive bottle of Riesling added a nice touch.

It all turned out great.  In fact, surprisingly good.  I won't be turning down any wild hog in the future.

I took some of the now smoked and cooked hog to the neighbor to see what he thought about it. He laughed and said it was better than his. I think he was just being nice.

I took a lot of photos but these should give you some idea of how it turned out.

The wild hog backstrap

The yeast after 10 minutes

The dough for bread

The dough after 20 minutes rise time

The bread just out of the Egg.

The Bread sliced.

The hog on the Egg direct.

Moved off to the side due to flare-ups

On my plate.

Nice pink with good hickory flavor.

Will do again if he brings more.

I would call this was a very nice surprise. I had always heard that wild hog meat was notoriously tough and bad tasting. I learned that it can be but it can also be an excellent piece of meat.

Don't hesitate to accept it if you have a friendly neighbor who hunts them.

Spring "Wild Man Tamed" Chicken
Spring Texas USA