Foodie Tuesday: Smoke & Miracles

Y’all, I know I don’t have to tell you that since moving to Texas I have become nigh unto obsessed with, if not possessed by, a certain kind of Texas BBQ—central TX style beef. Smoked beef of certain cuts, to be more specific, and those cuts, prepared by the Kreuz and Lockhart family of pits, to be precise. Brisket, burnt ends, and beef belly, Oh MY! If you’re not a carnivore, I will simply tell you that the umami jammed into beef by means of the proprietary rub-and-smoke ingredients and processes of these meat-mystics is akin to combining all of the known vegan or vegetarian Fifth Taste elements (not to be confused with The Fifth Element, though that has its admittedly tasty moments as well) and letting a flock of angels swim around in it for a while before serving. All told, it makes good sense to me to post a paean to this fabulous stuff on a day dedicated to love.

Photo: Lockhart's Best

Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em: Texas BBQ has a good foothold in heaven.

Kreuz/Lockhart beef is so good that I can add nothing meaningful by making “recipes” for food with it, and once in my greedy hands it would never last long enough to get from its brown paper wrapper all the way to my kitchen anyhow (see note‡ below)

Here’s my Lockhart take on an Old Fashioned. Hope you like it; Lockhart’s spectacular smoked meats deserve all of the signature taste treats they can get for further exposure and dining/drinking pleasure. Bacon’s dandy, but it’s no substitute for Lockhart goodies. Not that I’m prejudiced or anything.

Miss Kitty’s Smokin’ Lockhart Old-Fashioned (Miss Kitty’s SLO, for short)
2 tsp Miss Kitty’s Smokin’ Lockhart Simple Syrup (recipe below)*
1 tsp liquid from Texas Candy-Krisp Jalapeños
2 or more dashes orange bitters, optional
1 jigger (1.5 fl oz) Herman Marshall Texas Bourbon Whiskey
Stir these ingredients together and add ice.

Twist a good hunk of orange zest over the top of the drink.
Garnish with an orange slice and a Texas Candy-Krisp Jalapeño.
I hope I don’t have to tell y’all it’s time to drink the potion!

Photo: Smokin' Syrup

I don’t think any of us really need Martha Stewart’s help to understand that syrups, simple or not, are a Good Thing.

* Miss Kitty’s Smokin’ Lockhart Simple Syrup
(My invention, and danged tasty if I do say so myself. And, naturally, I do.)

Put “leftover” ‡Note: (HA!—more likely, better get some ‘specially for this recipe, or you’ll eat it all before you can do anything else with it, like I usually do) Lockhart beef belly, burnt ends, and/or brisket in a pot or—better yet—a slow cooker, and cover with water. Simmer for at least three hours, adding water as needed to keep the meat all covered and get maximum broth from it. When it’s concentrated enough to smell like you crawled into the Lockhart smoker for a nap, strain the meat and fat out of the liquid, put the liquid into a suitable stovetop pot (nonstick is handy for syrups), add an equal amount of granulated sugar, and cook it together over medium to medium-high heat until the sugar’s all melted and it begins to bubble, but don’t scorch it. You’ve got enough built-in smoke from the meat not to want to spoil that smoky goodness.

If it’s too thick when done, blend in a little more water, and if it’s not thick enough, melt in a bit more sugar. When it’s cooled, you’ll probably need to skim off the fat that stayed on the meat-strained liquid. Not an exact science here, but a fine art. This stuff is so freaking delicious, I use it like honey on toast or cornbread, syrup on waffles, and whatever else comes into my tiny head before I just lick the spoon.

Photo: Beef Belly, Baby!

Yeah, you heard me, Beef Belly, Baby!

And just in case you’ve never seen this classic moment of Old Fashioned comedic history:
(Jim Backus & co. in a delightful little scene from It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.)

Cheers from here!

I Never Talk about It…

…at least, I generally avoid talking about politics as thoroughly and avidly as possible. But of course, the presidential election coming this fall means we lucky Americans have already been inundated for months with campaign wackiness as candidates pile into and out of their respective parties’—and non-affiliated, independent organizations’, whose candidates are not necessarily immune to the disease either—clown cars.

Photo: Just Nuts

Honestly, we’re all just nuts when it comes to politics, anyway.

Apparently when there’s nothing left to say, that’s when I can’t help saying something.

Pronouncement Announcement
If the prevailing attitude
should still allow me latitude,
I will ignore the platitudes
that beg to disagree,
Since all but mine is foolishness,
the opposition, ghoulishness,
and though it might sound mulish, this
is clearly about Me.
Say what you will, I’ll stay the course,
and only change my route or horse
if made to, for unless perforce,
no reason can I see:
Demand no ideology
of logic, for phrenology,
leavened with some astrology,
is good enough for me.
The running of our nation
is based more on desperation
—and a plague of perturbation—
than on brains;
Elective coronation
of our leadership’s a ration
of reminders a vacation
is required, or what remains
Of sane deliberation
and of civil conversation
will go, sans meditation,
down the
ever-loving drains.
And on that note, pretentiously,
appallingly sententiously,
and would-be president-iously
as anyone can be,
I remonstrate with all you twits,
vulgarians and feeble-wits,
that, politics or other, it’s
forever about Me.Digital illo: My Candidacy

Have I been Left Behind by Life?

Photo: Left Behind 1Do you ever feel like the speed of life is just a passing blur, and you’re still sitting on the hall bench where everybody and everything left you? I don’t, often, but when the schedule and events get just a hair crazier than usual, it can happen. When I was in my spouse’s school office yesterday, filing last semester’s leftovers and collecting the recycling and tidying up the various heaps and stacks no longer in use, I went to take the recycling basket down the hall and saw a lone object propped up on the bench near his door, unclaimed and not in the hands of whoever brought it there anymore.Photo: Left Behind 2

Well, of course. I can’t say whether the person who’d been reading it was actually raptured away or some happy prankster just had a moment of hipster meta-irony, but either way, I felt a certain kinship with the piece of flotsam lying there thus disconnected, for just a second. Then, naturally, I collected my thoughts and the escaped, trailing pieces of recyclable paperwork, hitched up my pants, and went along my way to finish the task, and that was that. Life goes on, yes, but mostly (when it matters) I just catch my breath and catch up with it again. It may not be as drama-filled as being raptured off to heaven, but it’s good enough for me.

Circumnavigations

13.30 hours: Driver arrives to take us to Dallas-Ft. Worth International airport.

16.15: Departure time. Flight to Chicago (along with hundreds of other flights) is delayed by high winds. Pilot opts for optimism and starts boarding.

16.35: It becomes clear that even an optimist can’t get us to O’Hare in time for our connection to the Stockholm flight. Spouse makes inquiries at boarding desk.

16.45: It becomes clear that no flights from Chicago to Stockholm will have room for us within the next 24 hours, if not longer. Spouse convinces airline employees to take his checked luggage back out of the airplane cargo hold.

16.55: Baggage in hand, we work our way back to the ticketing gate and confirm our new and different tickets, on a different day, with a different airline, through a different intermediate country.

17.05: Enjoying an expensive cab ride home for the night, we send messages to the friend who was planning to pick us up at the airport in Stockholm, and to the shuttle driver who had picked us up in the afternoon. Time to initiate Plan B.

13.30, Day 2: Driver arrives to take us to DFW airport.

[Insert Twilight Zone theme music here.]

Photo: Expect the Unexpected

Travel experts always say to Expect the Unexpected. And this helps me cope *How*??? Guess I’m just supposed to be glad bighorn sheep haven’t learned how to fly yet.

Doesn’t WordPress Love Me Anymore?

My Foodie Tuesday post from the other day is AWOL. WordPress admits to being “embarrassed”—but offers no signs of the missing post. Which I know I published, because I got comments on it…though they seem to have been relocated to another post altogether since their ‘mother ship’ flew the coop. Heaven knows I’ve no clue how the entire post went any more than where it went, so I can re-post the opening salvo here as copied and pasted from where it still resides on Facebook. What a wonderfully weird world is this land o’internets. I’ve archived the photos on my own computer, so I’ll share those with you, too. The rest is up to you who already read the real post to recollect as best you can, or to those who missed it, to guess and invent based on your salivary reactions to the pictures here gathered.

Back to the future, I guess. Here’s how it started:

There’s no question that better behavior needs to be in my near dietary future. But I’m not going to flog myself over having a delicious holiday! Life goes in cycles. I’ve been eating more sensibly and exercising more this Fall than I had in a long time, and it’s felt better in ever so many ways. Having an entire month crammed with invitations from friends and colleagues to dine and lunch together, while dangerous to the waistline and willpower, is also simply an opportunity to spend great time in deeply appreciated conversation and camaraderie over good food and drink. [ 224 more words. Your guess is as good as mine what they were!]

Photo: Seared Salmon Benediction at the Station

The parts of the whole: seared salmon receives a Benedict-style benediction at the Station…

Photo: MMMMMarvelous Mash

MMMMMarvelous mash, full of buttery cheese!

Photo: Benison & Blessing

…and when eaten, it is pure benison and blessing!

We Come in Pieces

You have probably noticed, as I have, that western fiction containing aliens often plays with the old “We come in peace” subterfuge. False because, of course, we all know from the beginning that the invaders will be horrible, nasty, creatures bent on enslaving (and/or eating, interior decorating with, organ harvesting from, farming for pelts, eradicating, experimenting upon) the human species. Aliens bad; earthlings good. It’s simple and obvious.

Except for that little part where we also all know from the beginning that humans are flawed, damaged, and often horrible and nasty, even to each other. There’s a little earworm that plays a constant repeating loop of the first line of that song I Fall to Pieceswith a cheerily cruel ironic tone when I think about how people tend to interact with each other, especially when we become obsessed with our differences and forget we’re related.

I’m more than a little suspicious that if aliens ever do show up openly on our planetary doorstep, we’ll be far too busy tripping over ourselves and each other, and mucking up our own existence, to be bothered with figuring out whether the extraterrestrials are in fact here to harm or help us. Might as well be the latter, or they’re better off sitting back on their alien haunches with snacks and watching from the comfort of their spaceship windows while we bicker like fools and self-destruct without any help from them. I, of course, will be hiding in a closet with my wallet and most prized electronics clutched to my chest to protect them through the invasion for use in my privileged position after the overthrow of the world rightfully makes me the aliens’ designated deity.Digital illo: We Come in Pieces

Everything Old is Still Old Even When It’s New Again

Tonight I saw a humorous ‘fashion show’ of the choir dresses from a long part of the Swedish Radio Choir’s 90-year history. I’d share photos of them, but you’re undoubtedly going to get better views of them if you look in the choir’s archives. Having a good laugh over them in person, despite the uneven lighting and mosh-pit activity at the reception, was tremendous fun. Reflecting on what I myself wore in the eras when these sorts of dresses were fashionable is either hilarious or horrifying, depending upon my mood and whether you ask me or someone who had to look at me in said clothing.

It’s a good reminder that what is merely Old Stuff has a world of possible interpretations when revisited, either because it becomes popular once again after a time of absence or it is unearthed as it was in this little bit of choir jollity. Is it vintage, or passé? Sexy or silly? Trendy or timeless? So much depends upon the moment and the company. Point of view determines value, more often than not.

After seeing those dresses of yesteryear, I was reminded that what I’m currently sorting for our household downsizing will inevitably raise the same question, whether I am the one later coming across objects I opted to keep or somebody else is discovering my discards. I have no excuses. I’ve seen what happens many, many times. But we never tire of the New, do we? Good thing we like combing through the Old, too. Hope most of the people I hang around with will find me closer to vintage than just junk as I keep aging.Photomontage: Old Stuff