Sunday, July 24, 2016

On Yet Another Cooking Adventure

Back in 1999 when I finally decided I wanted my food to be an adventure instead of just being the necessary intake of nourishment, no matter how bad it tasted, I set about looking for the ways and means of cooking great food.  I settled on purchasing a Big Green Egg, and life has never been the same since.

For the first time ever, I was off the path of familiar home-cooked meals by my parents and friends, and the occasional visit to a restaurant.  And although those foods were delicious, they really didn't satisfy my need to explore what else was out there.  The Big Green Egg was the first step in a continuing education about food and how we cook it, particularly food we cook for our own needs.

Since 1999, I've grown my Big Green Egg collection from one to six.  Three are the same size, Large Eggs, and the other three are different sizes ranging from the Small Egg, down to the Mini-Max Egg, and to the cute but very capable Mini Egg.

The Mini-Max is relatively new on the market and has been getting high praise from just about everyone.  And I have one.  So it made sense for me to dress it up with some useful accessories.  I particularly wanted to try the new GrillGrates that were showing up everywhere along with excellent comments, many with photos and videos showing the GrillMates in action.  Needless to say, I just had to buy some GrillGrates.

They arrived the very next day after I ordered them from the Ceramic Grill Store in Denton, Texas. The owner is a long-time Egghead friend.

I immediately set about seasoning the GrillGrates, anxious to do my first cook on them.  I even made a video of the seasoning steps so others might find it helpful should they suddenly find themselves owning some GrillGrates.     

GrillGrates Seasoning

And the first cook on them just had to be a sous vide Tri-Tip roast that we have learned to cook well and enjoy a lot.  I also made a video of that cook.  

Sous Vide and Grilled Tri-Tip

It was delicious, tender and perfect in every way, so much so that I can truthfully say I just moved my level of grilling up yet another notch.  And to prove it, here's a prime ribeye steak that I first sous vide and followed with a sear on the GrillGrates:

Sous Vide and Seared Prime Ribeye

I can only imagine what lies ahead on my culinary journey.  But so far, it has been an adventure of a lifetime.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

We Bought A New Car

We tend to keep our cars for a long time.  Five to seven years is not unusual.  My 2002 Chevy Avalanche was new when we bought it and still looks new today, 14 years later.  I love that truck.

Our 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid was only three years old and we enjoyed it for typical trips where fuel economy was important and space wasn't so important.  But most of our long trips were to Eggfests where we cooked a lot of food.  And that requires a lot of cooking gear and ice chests and chairs and tables etc, not to mention considerable luggage, camera gear and computers.  Add to that the sometimes boxes of gifts and decorations for special events.

Yes, the Toyota was way too small for our needs.  Plus, as everyone knows, the price of fuel was no longer $4 a gallon and going up, it's now $2 a gallon and going down.  So fuel economy is no longer the main issue, it is space.

There are a lot of very nice vehicles on the market today.  Probably most of them would fit our needs but we liked what Brother-in-Law, Allen said about his Honda Pilot.  He's had it for a couple of years and loves it.  And the few times we rode in it, the ride was comfortable.  So we went to our nearby Honda dealer, Honda of Spring, to see one from a buyer's point of view.  Before the day ended, we no longer owned a Toyota and were the proud owners of a 2016 Honda Pilot Touring model with more gadgets that we've ever seen.

Needless to say, we drove straight home (3 miles) and searched YouTube to watch videos that explained all of those gadgets so we could understand them.  Of course, the salesman explained them to us before we left, but we were missing some of the finer points he was making.

The car is loaded with safety features.  Traffic is so heavy and moving so fast at times that any safety feature is welcome, but the ones on the Honda make safety the number one priority while the car is being driven.  As a former Safety trainer, I very much appreciate those well designed features.

I'll watch the videos again from time to time to make sure I don't forget all the gadgets and how they work.  Eventually, I hope they all become second nature to us as we use them to their fullest in order to keep us safe.  And the one thing we felt right away is that the size and weight of the new Honda gave us more of a feeling that the car itself offered better protection than the smaller Toyota.

Here's what ours looks like.

Finally, I have to say this was the first time in over forty years of buying cars that I actually enjoyed the experience.  From the young salesman to the finance director to finalize the sale, and everything in between, it was a very easy purchase for us. If you are in the market for a new car, check out Honda of Spring.

South Mississippi RiverFest - Biloxi

Once again, we took advantage of an invitation to attend an event held by a fellow Egghead.  This time it was in Biloxi, Mississippi.  It was well worth the trip.

We had never met Scott and Andria Allen (aka TheGrimGuy among us Eggheads) but we instantly became friends.  They live in a beautiful home on the Tchoutacabouffa River, a comfortable river that swimmers and small boaters alike can enjoy.  And as you will see, their home is perfect for entertaining.

No amount of 'telling' the fun we had but hopefully, you can see from this video that we all enjoyed the day.

South Mississippi RiverFest

Since we had never met Scott and Andria, I thought it appropriate to make some tokens for the occasion.

But after seeing photos of their home, I also thought it may an appropriate place for one of my handmade Christmas Cathedral Birdhouses.  Sort of a Christmas in July gift.

They liked it.  I'm sure it will become part of their Christmas decorations for many years to come.

There's already talk of making the event an annual affair.  For sure, we will be there for the next one.

Thanks Scott and Andria.  We really enjoyed the party.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Whateverthehellitisitis Is Hard To Get Rid Of

Four and a half weeks ago today, I took sick with something that had me coughing like crazy 24 hours a day.  It was a Saturday and I suspected it would end up with bronchitis so I prepared myself to go see my regular doctor first thing Monday.  Sure enough, I had a touch of "onset bronchitis" and enough other symptoms for him to give me a hip shot with antibiotics, a prescription for some pill antibiotics and some codeine laced cough syrup.

None of it worked and I went into 'full misery stage' with what I dubbed, "Whateverthehellitisitis." And for day after day, night after night I coughed, hacked, spit and cussed enough 'stuff' from my innards to fill an oil drum.

No way I could sleep, especially in my own bed, because  my coughing is best described as being "Violent." That's what it took to get that 'stuff' from my lungs up high enough for me to hack it out.  Many times these coughing/hacking fits went on for twenty minutes or more, leaving me exhausted from the effort.  I couldn't sleep lying down for sure because it would start immediately once my head hit the pillow.  So I ended up sleeping in the guest bedroom or a chair sitting up where I might squeeze in twenty minutes of sleep before it started again.  I was miserable around the clock.

I had another appointment with my doctor in the third week of my "Whateverthehellitisitis," and much to my surprise, he said my lungs were clear. "CLEAR!"   I can't sleep because of the wheezing, whistling and gurgling.  And my wife thought cats were fighting outside our bedroom window because of the noise coming from my nose and mouth.  And he says my lungs are CLEAR!  And he qualified that by saying I was "Fit!"  So, in spite of my continuing discomfort, lack of energy, lack of sleep, hardly able to take a deep breath, coughing, hacking, spitting and cussing every five minutes, my prognosis is I'm "Fit."

So I only had two choices, be fit or die.  I'm still here and haven't coughed a single time today.  And I've even done some work around here in spite of the heat.  I must be well, or fit, or Whateverthehell I'm supposed to be at this stage because I feel pretty good.

I'll probably go to my grave not knowing what "Whateverthehellitisitis" is, but I damn sure know that it can knock a fully grown man for a loop.