Monday, July 23, 2007

BBQ'ing for LOTS of People

This Saturday was our neighbors graduation open house, and I bbq’ed the meat for them. The plan was for 115 people! On the meat menu was pulled (bbq’ed) pork, bbq chicken, seasoned chicken and of course the ole standby of hamburgers and hot dogs.

I had 31 pounds of pork shoulder to smoke. So, I started with 13 pounds in my smoker on Thursday night. I pulled it off Friday morning, wrapped and stuck it in a pre-heated cooler. Around lunch time, Jen pulled it and she and Jim (the neighbor) had to taste test it for lunch. Jen put that first batch in the refrigerator to be reheated for the party.

I put another 18 pounds to smoke on Friday night. I put it on around 11pm and scheduled it to come off about 3 hours before eating time. Again, I wrapped that, stuck it in a pre-heated cooler, and covered it all in towels. That batch was ready to be pulled at eating time and Jen did that for me.

With that out of the way, I switched the smoker over to cook chickens with indirect heat, and put 4 chickens on it. I had two weber kettles going and set that up for indirect cooking as well, and put about a chicken and a half on each. All of it was cooked with hickory smoke, and the indirect cooking keeps it juicy and makes the skin a bit crisp and keeps you from having to move stuff around or have the chance of burning it. Meanwhile, the previous set of pork was in the oven at 250 degrees to be reheated slowly.

All that chicken was ready about 15 minutes before eating time, and was put in the chafing dishes to keep warm. At this time, one weber kettle was converted over for direct heat cooking and the hamburgers and hot dogs were thrown on there. I kept the smoker and other weber cooking chicken until we were done for the night.

Overall, it went extremely well. My mom and dad came down to watch the kiddies so that Jen and I could help get ready and/or cook. Brendan was well entertained chasing cute girls around, so my dad was able to help me out on the grills, and of course to man the keg. It’s a sucky job, but someone has to do it.

I got lots of compliments, mostly on the pork. Everyone seems to really love that stuff, and it is something that you don’t find up here very much. Sharon (the neighbor) and Jen had said that people had told them stuff like “It was the best food they have ever had at a party” and that people had asked if this is what I did for a living. So, I guess you could say that everyone was happy with the food :) I am just glad that everything went smooth.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sierra Club and Stupid People

I don’t think this post is going to be very much fun, because it is mostly a rant about how people fail to think for themselves.

The last couple of months, I have going to Sierra Club sponsored events called “Sierra Club and Beer.” It is free beer…….. of course I have to go see what it is all about. I try to keep an open mind, and really want to like the Sierra Club, and I am still trying to like them. But two things really bother me.

First, all their initiatives seem to revolve around global warming. I am the type of person that does not believe second and third hand information and I need facts to convince me of stuff. I believe that the earth naturally goes through global warming and global cooling cycles. I believe there may be enough information to convince me that we are currently in one of the warming cycles. However…..I do not think that anybody has enough concrete evidence to convince me that humans, with all their destructive actions against the earth (I will not argue that) have had a significant impact on the natural cycle. In the end though, I agree with the Club’s actions, meaning the actual actions that they suggest people should take. So I am willing to overlook the global warming thing.

The thing that really bothers me though is the club keeps sending e-mails to “Stop Arctic Drilling because it threatens caribou.” And they are asking you to “To please send a generous donation today to help us protect the Western Arctic.”

Now, let’s think about this for a minute. Anyone that knows me will know that I would be all for the protection of the wilderness, wild animals, and anything that is not the city or the suburbs. So in theory, I would be against arctic drilling, and I do not necessarily want it. But, do you think anybody wants to drill in the arctic? The oil companies sure don’t. They would much rather go drill in a dry field in Texas, or somewhere in the Middle East. The problem is, there is no more oil there!!!!

To me, this is quite scary. If companies and governments are willing to travel to the Western Arctic for oil supplies, that tells me that all other easily obtainable locations are gone. It should be no surprise to anyone that world oil production has been steady (not increasing) for quite some time now. Of course demand has been going up, and will likely continue thanks to American’s insatiable urge to spend themselves into debt with Chinese produced garbage. It is extremely scary to me to think that the oil companies are all but telling us “Hey we are running out of oil, so we have to journey off to the frozen, desolate arctic in order to get some more.” And now people want to stop them!!!

Seriously, am I the only one that is seeing this? These people that want to stop the drilling for new oil or probably the same people that have a much bigger house than they need, more toys than they need, all the electronic gizmo’s and “advances” that our modern society can not live without. In the end, they are missing the point. I think it is really sad.

If clubs like the Sierra Club really want to fix the problem, I do not think they should be concentrating on the oil obtaining aspect of the problem. Instead, they should be focusing on the decrease in the oil dependence of society. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will work either because people are lazy and greedy. They will only care about themselves, and think that there is no way that the current lifestyle of our society could ever change.

Instead of people changing out of good will, I am afraid that it will be a situation that is forced upon people. That is okay though, because as the saying goes “You don’t have to outrun the bear, just the guy next to you.”

If you think you want to stop drilling for oil in the arctic, think about the alternative. Much higher gas costs. Just imagine gas at $10 or $15 a gallon, which is not too unrealistic. How would your life change?

- Would you need to drive so far to work?

- Would you even have a job?

- Could you afford your car?

- Almost everything produced from computers, to gadgets, to food all use gasoline in their production process and in transport. Last I knew plastic did not grow out of the ground. How would that affect your purchasing habits?

- Is any of the “advancements” that our society is striving for as important anymore? Are they really improving your life?

In general, I think people have forgotten how to just live. There is too much obsession with things that are not really important.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Camping Fun

As you know, Jen already posted pictures and stories of our UP camping trip. Although, there is one story that she thought it would be appropriate for me to tell. It involves out sleeping arrangements.

We just set up the tent and “camped” at my friends 50 acres. Since that was a quick trip, we left Jen and Maddie’s sleeping bags behind and they shared a BIG one that I used for cold weather camping. For our latest trip, we were planning on going back to the original sleeping bag arrangements. In packing all our gear for this trip I had to make sure that I grabbed all the right sleeping bags. As always, grabbing all this stuff and packing it in a timely manner is chaos, but I was sure I grabbed all the correct sleeping gear.

When we get to our camp site, we popped up the tent. In order to keep bugs out of the tent, I just start chucking all the stuff in the tent that belongs there, and then we can go in and set things up. Again, I was paying particular attention to anything, just looking at stuff and if it goes in the tent, throw it in. Well, while I was doing something else, Jen set up everything for inside. I hear her say from inside the tent that her bag is not in there. I check everywhere outside, and it is not there either. So, okay, I messed up, so I will go without a bag.

Normally, in mid-July this would not be an issue. But, for some reason a cold front came in that day. By dinner time we were all wearing sweatshirts all ready. I knew it was going to get a bit cold that night. Luckily, we did have a thin picnic blanket in the car, so I figured I would use that. It ended up getting pretty cold. I ended up waking up cold a couple times in the middle of the night, and kept throwing clothes (shirts, sweatshirts, etc) on top of my “blanket” to try and stay a bit warmer. I also had to curl up because the blanket was not long enough to cover me.

If you are wondering if I have a point to this story, it is coming.

That night was over, I only had one more to do like that before moving on to the cabin. The following night, rain was predicted. I told Jen to make sure everything is moved away from the tent walls, because even though it is water-resistant, water will leech through if anything was touching. While moving stuff away from the walls, what does Jen find in the corner, beneath her cot!!!! YES, it was her sleeping bag!!!!!

Needless to say, the second night did not get nearly as cold, and I pretty much did not need the sleeping bag :)

It is no big deal, I just thought it was a funny story.