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Whatcha Gonna Do?

When it is bad out, I cook.   I never run out of bacon-ever.

When it is bad out, I cook. I never run out of bacon-ever.

Seems like just last week I was dealing with 110 degree heat and choking clouds of caliche dust.  ‘Just wait’  I said all through that hell that is the High Summer in South Texas.  Just wait until Fall when the days cool and the dust lays down. Just wait until then to get all those piddling projects done that are on the back burner.  So what happened to those perfect Fall days?  Hell if I know!  Rain today, 40 something for the high, been that way all week.  A 34′ foot trailer gets mighty small when the winter dreary is upon me.  My only outlet is the 5 miles I walk every evening; the only thing that prevents the activity is pelting rain.  Tuco the Dog is my faithful companion during these walks, sniffing out the various critters that crossed our path the previous night.  I walk and walk; lost in mindless reflection.  It is the Church of the Puckerbrush for me.

Cold weather means the heaters gotta come out from where they been hiding all summer.   UPS Charlie brings me the new Broan Big Heat Heater and the majority of the winter heating chores will fall to this little heater that puts out a mountain of heat.  Its’

Broan Heater

Broan Heater

older brother sits in the kitchen floor for back up on those sure nuff cold evenings. That Broan heater is the penultimate electric heater for a recreational vehicle in my opinion and I got 5 years of experience to base that statement on.    For those that not be knowing, this part of the country is pure old hell on men and equipment. The searing heat,  piercing UV and unrelenting dust will take its’ toll and there is not a whole lot a man can do to prevent it.  On top of that, all your electricals and electronics are powered 24/7 by a generator.  That is not the steadiest and most opportune electric supply for sensitive equipment.  Case in point,  the propane furnace on the No Princess Palace  is a noisy propane hog and reserved for use on only the coldest days or when a quick warm up is necessary.  I decided to run it up the other day and it came on and then died out 10 seconds later.  No heat – no bueno,  Crap, it worked last winter.  The way a propane furnace works is dependent on what they call a sail switch.  If there is not enough air flow across the sail switch, it will not fire.   It is a safety deal.  I made sure all the floor ducts were clear and still no good. Hmmm, what now?

When in doubt, blow it out.  This caliche dust that gets everywhere screws stuff up  -pure and simple.  One of the tools that gets used often and for which there is no substitute is my big Air Compressor.  I have the little 12v job in the Big Ass Suburban to inflate tires but you also need a big rascal to get by out here.  I started out by blowing out the outside exhaust ducts.  No joy.  Then to the inside where I blew out the intake air duct for the furnace. I blew enough dust out of there to choke a mule.  That did the trick and we have big heat now!

"Customized" Buddy Heater

“Customized” Buddy Heater

The other back up to the Broan electric heaters is my Mr. Heater Portable Radiant Heater…. and yeah, that IS a pair of vise grips on it. It went down like this.  I fuel the Buddy Heater with a 30# propane tank that sets outside the Palace.  Run a 12′ hose through my access hatch and I am good to go.  I blew out the Buddy Heater with the compressor earlier and it fires right up.  I crank the knob over to the high side and go set down for a bit. It don’t take long to get toasty with that bad boy running and satisfied all is well, I go over to shut it down.  The plastic temp control know breaks off in my hand.  WTF!!! and it is getting HOT and I got no way to turn it off.  I think  ‘Just go shut the propane tank off’ but that don’t really solve the problem.  Out come the vise grips, crack the shell open and problem solved sorta kinda.  This heater has got to be 7 years old at least.  It dates back to the earliest days of the Old Girl it does so Lord Knows I have got my good out of it.  The Mr Heater is a necessary piece of equipment on my list so I reckon UPS Charlie will be bringing me a new one shortly.

Camerons Stovetop Smoker

Camerons Stovetop Smoker

What else?  What else…..  Oh, one of my resolutions this year was to learn how to cook decent using a variety of different methods and I feel like I am getting along reasonably well in that respect.  The departure of Little Blondie made the cooking deal that much more important.  I used to get by on processed junk foods.  Lean Cuisines, Hungry Man’s that sorta thing — basically anything you could pop in a microwave and then eat.  I cook these days and I mean really cook with pots and pans and a stove several times a week now.   I added a Lodge 12-Inch Skillet to the cooking tools this week. The same lid that fits my Lodge dutch oven fits this skillet as well. The other thing I miss when the weather goes to hell is cooking outside. I picked up an interesting little piece of equipment last summer – a Camerons Stainless Steel Stovetop Smoker . This smoker will work over any heat source and I generally use it inside on the stove.  The exhaust fan easily takes care of the teeny bit of smoke that escapes.  This past week I marinated some center cut pork chops overnight in homemade teriyaki sauce and smoked them for 12 minutes on medium heat.  Served them up with some turnip greens I sauteed with onions and salt pork.  Odd combo huh?   I can do shit like that just because it pleases me.  LOL!   Wait, did he say salt pork??

Slab O' Bacon

Slab O’ Bacon

Yep I did.  I ordered a slab of bacon from Scott Hams in Kentucky several months ago.  Now folks, this is old school bacon like back in the day.  Salty and a hell of a rind on it from the curing.  It is the real deal.  I think I remember the Grands calling it streakedy lean.  It is NOT the bacon you buy in the store and I found I did not care for it as bacon per se.  I cut the 8lb slab into smaller portions and sealed them up in the FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing System and then off to the freezer.  I keep a portion in the fridge at all times and I am amazed at how often I use it for a little flavoring.  I cook it up and add it to soups, stews and a growing variety of items.  It adds some old time smokey goodness to anything.  I am fixin’ to order another slab and maybe even a country ham for the holidays.  I have had a taste for some good country ham, red eye gravy and cat head biscuits lately.

Vortex Diamondback 12x50 binoculars

Vortex Diamondback 12×50 binoculars

I told you last week I ordered a pair of Vortex Optics Diamondback 12×50 Binoculars to replace some I lost in the dust up.  I was concerned about two things.  One being their size, I was afraid at 12×50 magnification, they would be ungainly large.  The second being, at such a high power, they may present a problem by being too hard to hold still.  Well, not to worry on either concern, They are MUCH more compact than I imagined and the first time I put them to my eyes I thought to myself ‘There is some magic shit going on here!’ Honeslty, they are nothing but incredible!  Clear, crisp and they have the heft of quality.   I love ’em!

********

One last thing and I almost hesitate to bring it up.  You folks who think CBS/NBC/ABC are giving you the reaaaaaaal skinny on the world news need to get a firmer grip.  Last week, when the alt-media was all afire with this asshat Gruber gloating about how the American public bought the travesty that is Obamacare hook, line and sinker (We is stoopid!) only one of the main stream news organizations bothered to mention it when it was breaking.  There is bad stuff happening all over the world and the general public is mostly oblivious.  Everybody needs to wise up now I am tellin’ ya!   Try these:  Drudge Report or Zero Hedge.

Colonel Cooper says:

We Americans are a nation of cowards and shirkers, observing that we have surrendered our streets – as well as our dignity – to the goblins. Concerned with street crime, we choose to throw money at it rather than to fight. Money is not the answer. More cops cannot help. They can’t be everywhere at once. More prisons cannot help. Modern prisons don’t scare the bad guy. The only thing that can help is will – the will to fight back. If we have truly lost that, there is little hope for our civilization.

 

 

End Note: Natural High (for Merle Haggard) by Stoney Larue from the Aviator album.   I like Red Dirt music second behind my Texas Americana.   Give it a listen.

 

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13 comments to Whatcha Gonna Do?

  • David

    Hey Andy,

    We just canned 40 lbs of Zaycon chicken boneless breasts yesterday. Got about 35 pints plus 1/2 gallon of broth from the trimmings. We did the “bacon event” and that’s in the freezer. Looks like 3 lb packs of thick sliced Wright Brand Bacon.

    I was going to send you a pic of my Mr. Heater Buddy silently glowing in our Hybrid last weekend when it got down to 28 deg, then I scrolled down… It’s winterized now and we decided to let it stay the winter on the property.

    Also, sounds like you have your runnin’ buddy pretty much these days.

    David

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    • Andrew

      David
      I am thinking about learning to can. The freezer is full. I have Tuco the Dog 2-3 weeks per month depending.

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  • Joel

    “It is the Church of the Puckerbrush for me.”

    I love this line.

    As for Drudge, there’s a good reason others don’t carry his stories:

    http://essencerestored.wordpress.com/tag/drudge-report-lies/
    http://thinkprogress.org/media/2012/10/03/948751/10-totally-fake-stories-bannered-by-drudge-this-year/
    http://www.rippdemup.com/politics/matt-drudge-republican-lie-machine-15306

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    • Andrew

      Thanks Joel

      I take any media reports these days with a grain of salt.

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    • Andrew

      There is also

      http://www.thedailybell.com/
      http://www.weeklystandard.com/

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      • Joel

        Heh. Looks like you take your media reports with a heavy filter in addition to the salt.

        My criteria for choosing what to read (I haven’t watched TV in over 15 years) is the track record of the publication. Accordingly, any publication that predicted that Obama would take away all the guns, that Obama would impose Sharia law, that Obama would impose martial law, that Obama would impose socialism or communism, that Obama would allow massive illegal immigration, that tax cuts pay for themselves, that the dollar would become worthless and the US would spiral into hyperinflation and that investing in precious metals was wise are off my list. They were proven wrong.

        Any publication that predicted that bank deregulation would lead to corruption and the collapse of the banking system, that was opposed to the US military invasion and occupation of Iraq, that argues that tax cuts never pay for themselves, that supports science (anthropogenic global warming; evolution; vaccination) has my attention. They were right.

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        • Andrew

          Joel,

          Obama is just the head of the snake.

          Who says the predictions that Obama would take away all the guns, that Obama would impose Sharia law, that Obama would impose martial law, that Obama would impose socialism or communism, that Obama would allow massive illegal immigration, that tax cuts pay for themselves, that the dollar would become worthless and the US would spiral into hyperinflation and that investing in precious metals was wise will not come true?

          The next two years are going to be more fun and games than the last six combined. All of those conspiratorial predictions are a mere Executive Order away from being the law of the land.

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  • Nancy1340

    OK here’s the real deal on salt pork. And you can trust me on this my granddaddy use to get mail “To the hog farmer Ozark Mo” when people didn’t know his name.

    Take and slice your salt pork as thin as you like, soak it in water for a hour or so, rinse it off and fry as usual. If it’s still too salty simmer it in water for a few minutes after you soak it and rinse it off then fry. Nuthin’ better to make a BLT out of.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I think I got some salt pork that needs to be ordered. Thanks for the link.

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  • Kerry Jackson

    Hi Andy,

    Great read! I noticed you use cast iron. Also that you cook on your propane stove. I have been using an induction cooktop for a while now. It is electric so I save on the propane while at the gate. It does not produce a flame, so it does not heat up the trailer like a flame does. Also, cast oron works great on it. The best thing about it is the temperature control. Instead of trying to rely on a flame I can set the exact temperature I want. Works great to fry chicken, or simmer. They have many types on amazon. Also VERY easy to clean, as it just a glass surface!! Thought you might want tot check it out! Thank you for allthe great stuff you share!!

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    • Andrew

      Hi Kerry

      Yes, I will check it out. I like the cast iron because it distributes the heat and stuff doesn’t stick. I can also use it outside on the grill or over coals. I will be buying more of the Lodge cast iron for sure.

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    • Rebecca

      Kerry and Andy,
      I have an induction cooktop at our gate, too, for the same reasons that Kerry mentioned. Love it! Andy, I just ordered the smoker from your Amazon link… going to give that a try. I don’t like cooking outside due to all the dust the trucks are continually kicking up but we miss that smoke flavor. Looking forward to it arriving in the next couple of days.
      Really enjoy this website and blog.

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  • Betty Atteberry

    When we went home the last of April, we took 2 briskets. As they are cheaper in Texas. Every year when we come back we bring White Lily flour (for making biscuits). This year 2 country hams (sliced) the first year down here we soon found out country hams were hard to find. Also all of our tobacco products. Beef is better in Texas. Country hams in Ky. Also got my cast iron skittle out of building to bring back with us. I only make jelly to bring with us, plus apple butter. Did not get any pears this time to make pear butter. Went on long yard sale (as KY’s has several each year). They were 3 for $1.00 to high to get for pear butter. We have our own concord grapes and blackberries. Raspberries pick the wild ones. Gets to heavy to do more stuff. Happy Thanksgiving.

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