Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nothing Like a Little Nose Job to add some Excitement

So yesterday I got to have my nose worked on.  I had a deviated septum so they decided to fix it.  See I've had wicked bad headaches ever since I got whacked in the back of the head by a helicopter blade that was turning at low speeds.  The Dr. up at the VA has been working with me for a while ( couple years) trying to figure out a way to help, but we're getting nowhere.  One day he asked if I snore so I tell him yes and he sends me to the ENT.  The fun thing is nobody else in the whole VA healthcare system believes in what this guy is doing so they are all a bunch of jerks when I go to see them, the eye doctor especially.  But the ENT was pretty cool, and looked in my nose then scheduled me for surgery.

If you approach it from a logical standpoint I think there's some good reasoning behind it all.  When your brain doesn't get enough oxygen the vessels swell to allow more blood to flow, and the swelling puts pressure on your brain and causes a headache.  Not all headaches are caused by this but some are.  So it makes sense that if my nose is blocked and I'm not getting enough oxygen into my body, then opening it up to allow more air flow could possibly help with headaches.  The other benefits could be that I sleep better and snore less (so brittney sleeps better).  And if I get more rest in the night then maybe I will have more energy and be able to better focus and not forget everything all the time like I do.    Your logic is sound!

Still no cooking, but keep an open eye.  I'm not allowed to work or lift heavy things so I'm bound to get bored and that usually means cooking.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What a week!

SO this week was a doozie!  Is that how you spell doozie?  I don't know that I've ever seen it written, in fact I don't know that I've heard anybody say it in a while....but its the best G-rated term I can think of to describe it. So here's what happened.....but first let me give a backdrop to help make my hugely exaggerated overreaction a little more justifiable.

About three months ago I walked out of my house only to realize that my trailer had been stolen during the night.  Not only did the bums get my trailer, but like an idiot I had left my air compressor on the trailer as well as a home made (custom, if you will) paint/stain sprayer.  It was quite a day.  It only took 3 months, but I finally got insurance to cover about 60% of that loss.  In the meantime, however, my truck took a dump on me...that's helicopter mechanic terminology for the damn thing quit working!  I pretty much trashed the engine in it so It just didn't want to work anymore.....these were frustrating things, especially with Christmas coming up rapidly.

We made it through Christmas, and I worked my butt off, and eventually was able to save up enough money to buy a new work truck.  I really started searching for a truck the first week of the new year because I finally had the money to buy one.  So what happens last Saturday????  Our worthless beagle decides to rip her dewclaw off and require a hospital visit....I  know, by now you're asking what does this have to do with cheesecake, and the answer is "Absolutely Nothing."

Cha-ching....yeah that was an unexpected expense, but I told my wife that if it was going to cost more than $300 just have her put down, we could get a replacement that's not broken for that.

Also on Saturday, we sold my truck that was broken...only got $400 for it, but hey who cares, at least I didn't have to pay to have it hauled off.

Monday rolled around and I bought my new work truck.  It was a total beater.  A 1997 Ford F-350 with a 7.3l diesel engine, four door, long bed!  Perfect work truck.  It wasn't much to look at but it was a great work truck...yeah you notice I'm talking about it in past tense.  If you have any grammar sense you will have started figuring out what happened next....28 hours after I bought it, it was stolen!  Yep lots of colorful language that day.  There was a pretty much unanimous decision by the voting members of my family to move.  So now we're looking for a house, and trying to fix up our house to a marketable condition.

Here's the cool thing though.  On Wednesday morning I came outside and found it missing.  About five hours later I was given a truck for free.  Somebody heard about what happened and decided to give me a truck.  It's a nice truck, I love it.

Then the next day, Thursday, I was given a new job, and told to keep my business.  So what looked like a terrible week, actually turned out to be one of the most blessed weeks of my life.  It is hard to deny a God when you see things like this going on.

Maybe once life settles back down I will bake something again.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


I've got a brisket cooking, and made a key lime cheesecake this morning...what a day.  I won't bother posting pictures of my awful cheesecake..awful looking that is.  If you've seen one cracked cheesecake you've seen them all, but this one received so many compliments that I had to do it again.  The only problem is I didn't have any sweetened condensed milk so I had to improvise.  Instead I used a can of evaporated milk and added a cup of flour and a cup and a half of sugar.  The overall outcome was a pretty tasty cheesecake, much lighter and fluffier than others I've made.

So for anybody who wants to know how to make an incredible brisket just follow these simple directions....I totally ripped this off from my dad so I guess I will give him the credit.  I literally stole it, copied and pasted from an email he sent me, but why try to rewrite it since he did such a great job.  The only difference is, I cheat and do mine in the oven to cook it, then throw it on the grill to smoke it at the end.  It is much less time consuming, but then again you don't get to sit by the grill drinking beer smoking cigars all day either, so is it really a better option?

How to pick a good brisket.
Note: DO NOT get a trimmed brisket; they do not have enough fat to tenderize the meat.
Select a brisket that you can easily fold over and touch the two ends together.  A brisket is cut from either side of the chest/throat of the beef.  As such, there are two layers of muscle and a layer of fat between the muscle and the skin. The main muscle runs lengthwise from body toward the neck.  It is closer to the skeletal frame and thus is the fine grain meat you see in most restaurants.  [For what it is worth, a cut of meat that comes from closer to the skeletal frame is naturally tender.  That is why outer cuts require the marbling of fat in the meat to be tender.]  OK.  The second muscle runs almost perpendicular to the inner muscle, separated by a layer of fat.  You want this layer of fat kept to a minimum.  Fat is hard.  Push into the layer of fat on the fatty side to determine how thick the outer layer is.  This should be comparable to the inner layer.  Compare the feel between a brisket that folds to one that does not and you will see what I mean.  A brisket that does not fold will have a thicker inner layer of fat.

Preparation, Cooking & Cutting
With the fat side up, put the brisket in a foil pan big enough to hold the entire brisket. Pour in at least half of a bottle of Claude's brisket Marinade.  Cover the pan with foil and cook at 225 degrees.  Do not let it get too hot, over 275, or cool down too much, under 200.  You want to let it cook about 45 minutes per pound, up to 8 hours.  Check periodically to be sure the fat is cooking out and filling the pan; about half full of liquid (fat & marinate) is ideal.  When it is cooked, the fat on top will peel off easily.  Take the brisket out of the pan and scrape the top layer of fat off.  Put this in a pan for the beans that you are also probably cooking.  Next, separate the two layers of muscle by cutting the inner layer of fat.  Trim off the excess fat from both pieces of meat by scraping across the grain of the muscle with a sharp knife.  Using the sharp knife or an electric knife, slice the meat, again, perpendicular to the grain of the muscle.  Once it is sliced, put the meat back into the pan with the juices it cooked in. Put it back on the grill, uncovered along with the pan of fat for the beans.  If the juices do not cover the meat, add some water and/or more marinade.  Put some fresh wood on the pit to make it smoke really big.  It does not take a lot of wood at this point.  You do not want the heat as much as you do the smoke.  Try to keep it between 175 and 200 degrees.  Continue adding wood as necessary to keep the smoke thick.  After at least a couple of hours, it should be well smoked and ready to chow down.