Tag Archives: smoking

A Post in Which I Answer the Age Old Question – What Has She Been Smokin?

Warning – this post is rated MLO (Meat Lovers Only). This post may contain images that are disturbing to vegetarians.

(Inhaling and holding my breath) Here, you want some of this? It’s good shit stuff…

Don’t you think it is funny when people inhale and try to talk while holding the smoke in their lungs? I do. Think it’s funny, I mean. I don’t actually inhale anything, but I have friends who do.

Over the years (or months if that’s how long you’ve known me) you have undoubtedly asked yourself this very question “What has that girl been smokin’?” Well, today I intend to answer that question because (cough, cough, cough – exhale) inquiring minds want to know.  This, dear ones, is what I am smoking today.

"Rubbed and Resting"

Yep, that’s right.  Pork butt.  Whole chicken.  Beef roast.  Sausages (as in Jimmy Dean pork sausage rolls).  And it smells heavenly.  As does my hair from tending the little square smoker out on the patio.

Shelby watches over the smoker - drooling at the lovely smell.

Every time I smoke something (food – I mean FOOD, people), my husband asks me if I wrote down the recipe for the rub I used.  So I ask him, “When you make love to a beautiful woman do you need a recipe?”  I see him struggle to come up with the best possible answer for that one, (What would the best answer for that question be, anyway?) So I answer the question for him. “Of course, you do”. 

Then I realize that is not a good analogy, since I don’t have a recipe.  So I try again to answer the question for him.  “No, you go to the store and buy something you know will do the trick!”  Again the analogy is not quite right. 

I’m just kidding, folks.  I don’t send him to the store for a dry rub for my meat, I make my own.  Uh, oh, I can see where your minds are going with that one.

Okay, okay.  So smoking stuff does not make me funnier (or even funny, for that matter).  But my rub recipe goes something like this.  Stand in front of the pantry door that is covered with little racks of spices.  Get a bowl and toss in some brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, dry mustard, salt, freshly ground black pepper, a dash of cayenne, some allspice and a little cumin.  Don’t measure and don’t even guess how much of each ingredient is added, just add according to your own preference for each.

Flatten out (butterfly) a whole chicken.  What?  You don’t know how to flatten out a whole chicken? Watch this video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjWtodUmHgw&feature=related

Or, if that link isn’t working (I couldn’t get Word Press to embed the video) – Get your kitchen scissors and cut down both sides of the backbone, pull it out and save it, with the giblets, for making stock.  Then open up the chicken, rinse it off, and dry with a paper towel.  Then rub your special rub all over it,  and all over the pork and beef roasts, as well.  Roll your sausage rolls in the spice rub.  Let them set for an hour or so, basking in their lovely rub, to bring them to room temperature.

Slap everything on the preheated little smoker.  Chicken takes about an hour per pound – keeping the temperature in the smoker between 225 and 250.  So my 5+ pound chicken will be done in about 5 hours.   The roasts will cook a bit longer. The sausages about 3 hours.  I’ll check with a meat thermometer to ensure things are done before I start pulling them off.

Keeping a little fire burning

Sometimes, I have been known to sit on the patio with liquid refreshments because I need to keep track of the smoker, and let’s face it – we all need fluids.  This is work, people.  Serious, hot, smoky work done from my Zero Gravity reclining lawn chair with a drink in my hand.

Margarita cocktail

Image via Wikipedia

Mine is a charcoal smoker, so I add charcoal briquets (without the nasty lighter fuel on it – gack!!), natural charcoal (which is already burned wood – who knew you could buy already burned wood!!), and chunks of hardwood (hickory) throughout the day. 

Supplies needed, in addition to lime juice, tequila, and salt

I check the coals every 1/2 hour or so, and add water to the water bowl as needed.  The water keeps things from drying out.  I keep a pan of water on top of the smoker so it is pretty well heated up when I add it (otherwise, adding cold water lowers the temperature in the smoker box).  There are little vents on the sides of the smoker and every once in awhile I’ll twist one open or closed, depending on how the temperature is holding.  I told you, this is very demanding work…I have to set down my book AND my drink to accomplish all this.

Anyway, if I haven’t passed out from the “refreshments” or managed to give myself a heatstroke from lounging in close proximity to the smoker in the bright Florida sun, I will end up with a delicious array of yumminess like this:

The dark outside is called the "bark" and the pink coloration is the "smoke ring"

Some of which I will serve today with strawberry shortcake for dessert (strawberries I picked yesterday at a friend’s farm).  My beloved husband will do all the clean-up.  And I will not cook for the rest of the week.

So, what have you been smokin’?

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Filed under K8e's Kitchen, Uncategorized

The Silence – the End

Betty and Calvin in warmer, happier times.

In the very early morning hours I lay next to my husband – we were supposed to be sleeping, but neither seemed to be capable of staying in that peaceful state.  We didn’t speak, each lost in our own thoughts as we drifted in and out of slumber.  We listened to the furnace try mightily to keep up with the frigid December temperature in the largely uninsulated home, and the steady drone of an oxygen concentrator in the next room.

He had a good idea of what was coming, I’m sure.  On the other hand, as nurse, I knew exactly what would transpire.  We held hands under the covers, our toes touching near the end of the bed.  It was cold, very cold in the bedroom of the mobile home that was his mother’s “summer” home – the rest of the year she lived in Florida, in the house I now call mine.  She and my father-in-law usually left for Florida in the fall – when the air became thick with smoke from burning leaves that robbed her of what little breath she could draw.  Her lungs had been damaged from whooping cough as a child, and a life-time of smoking had exacted a large toll on her weakened lungs.

Earlier that fall I had sat with her in a hospital room – she had insisted – when her pulmonologist delivered the diagnosis. Cancer.  Small cell lung cancer.  Rapid-growing and likely to spread if untreated.  She clutched my hand, gasping for breath, but stoic.  She couldn’t bring herself to speak so I asked the questions I thought pertinent.  I was her medical liaison.  She listened as the pulmonologist outlined treatment options and indicated his thoughts on her prognosis.  She left the hospital, armed with referrals, brochures, and faint hope.  She made plans to return to Florida and decided on a course of treatment that involved both radiation and chemotherapy.

To me, though, she didn’t seem at all convinced that treatment was the right choice.  When we spoke, I told her I would support any decision she made and would do my utmost to help navigate the maze of oncology health care and cancer treatments.  Or not.  She eventually decided to remain in Indiana – planning the trip to Florida overwhelmed her and she hadn’t much fight left.  Eventually, she enlisted Hospice care, and made her peace with God.

She continued to entertain visitors from her little desk near her large “window on the world”.   She ventured out occasionally, but every excursion drained her very limited reserves.  Her breathing, never good in all the time I’d known her, became more labored and ragged, and she struggled mightily with even the simplest of tasks.  Eating was such hard work.  Dressing, too.  I helped her shampoo her hair and styled it for her each week – and trimmed it when necessary.

My husband arranged to spend as much time with his mom as he could over the next few months, and I visited on my days off from the hospital.   Her daughter visited before she became too sick, too weak to enjoy the company.  We watched her weaken in body – but never in spirit.  She had occasional bad days but was rarely tearful.  Her weight dropped and she was unsteady on her feet.  On her last outing from her home, she fell and broke her shoulder.

Ten days or so after her fall we had a tremendous blizzard.  I was stuck at the hospital and worked an 18 hour night shift before a replacement could make it in to relieve me.  I was too exhausted to try to drive home and unsure if I could make it there, anyway.  I stayed at my son’s home a few blocks from the hospital and it was after just a few hours of sleep that I received a call – the hospice workers had determined that the end was near.  She had asked for me to come.  So I did.  The highways had been mostly cleared but the below-zero temperatures were brutal.

A hospital bed was set up in the living room, near the window she loved so.  She was exceptionally weak, but lucid. Over the next 24 hours she became too weak to get up to use the bathroom, so I contacted Hospice to see about getting a catheter for her – it was too painful to turn her to put her on a bedpan or change her bed linens because of the broken shoulder.  I impressed my father-in-law with my ability to completely bathe a person in bed without spilling a drop of water and my ability to change the linens with my mother-in-law still in the bed.  But mostly I tried to see to her comfort.  Morphine and Ativan.  Placed under her tongue because she could no longer swallow.  Ice chips, and vaseline for her parched lips.

My husband and his step-father (her husband, my father-in-law) stayed by her side.  Her older son was on his way, due in the next day or so, and a steady stream of friends and neighbors called or stopped by.  It was evident to see that she was much loved.  Even her physician stopped by on his lunch hour – the kind of thing you only find in small-town America.  The hospice nurses were wonderful – loving and respectful to her and utterly dedicated to her comfort.  Her older son arrived as expected.  She continued to stubbornly, and bravely, cling to life.

But after three days of hanging on, in those early morning hours, we were not surprised by my father-in-law’s knock on the door.  “It’s time,” he said.

We got up hurriedly.  I listened to her lungs – no breath sounds throughout most of her chest, and only gurgling noises up near the collarbones.  Her lungs had filled completely with fluid.  Her breaths came irregularly – long, agonizing silences in between.  Her limbs were mottled and blue.  And oh, so cold.

I sat by her side and held her hand – she looked at me, gasping, eyes clouded but seemingly focused.  She turned to her husband.

“I’m ready” she whispered.

Her husband leaned in close and spoke softly in her ear.  “I’m here.  Right here.  I can fix almost anything” his voice caught. “But I can’t fix…this.  I love you”.  A tear slid from his eye.  He placed a kiss on her forehead, then rested his forehead on hers.  His tears fell on her face.

I leaned in and whispered in the other ear.  “I’m right here.  You go ahead.  We’ll be all right.  We’ll take care of each other.  You don’t have to worry about us.  We’ll be fine.”  My own tears flowed onto her pillow.

She breathed a few more shallow breaths then slipped quietly away.  We held onto her for a while, then wiping our eyes, hugged each other.  When the oxygen concentrator was turned off – then, and only then, was she truly gone.  The silence made it official.

I now live in the Florida home that had been my mother-in-law’s.  Every day I am surrounded by her spirit, which was mighty.  I was always glad that we had come to love each other because, after all, we both loved the same man.  And I was honored to care for her at the end.

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Filed under General Mumblings, Uncategorized

LE = [H(tv) * -22min] + 3E – Sm[(15yrs*10/2) *22min) – SLS*22min – O/2*22min

I was intrigued by this article http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44156412/ns/health-fitness/?gt1=43001 that states, basically, for every hour of television Austrailians watch, they lose 22 minutes off their life (not to mention the hour they waste when they could be cyberstalking people).  Just how bad can Austrailian television be?  Probably not any worse than our American offerings, so I started doing a little calculating.

The same article references a Tawainese study that says 15 minutes of exercise (walking, particularly) a day adds 3 years to your life.  Whew, I knew getting a dog was going to be a great investment…almost every day, at least 15 minutes…I’m golden.  I mean, I’m Shepherd.

Come on Mom, let's walk!!

But wait – smoking (a habit I’ve given up not once, but twice) 2 cigarettes also takes approximately 22 minutes off your life.

As does a sedentary lifestyle (crap!)

and obesity (XXL crap!!).

So, according to my precise calculations…..

LE – Average life expectancy for a white female in the US is approximately 80.8 years.

H(tv) – hours of televsion watched (A great many, but I’m not counting the hours I snoozed while Sweet Cheeks watched golf (zzzzzzz) or baseball(ZZZZZZZZZZZZ).

3E – 3 years added on for exercise – walking 15 minutes (come on Shelby, let’s take a walk, I know it is both raining and 100 degrees out, but do this for Mommy, please).

SM – smoking (probably 15 years total,  1/2 pack a day)

SLS – sedentary lifestyle –  dammit, I am a speed typist, doesn’t that count for something?  No?  okay.

O – Obesity, yeah, I’m working on that but it is a slow process, and I haven’t always been overweight (especially when I smoked – Hmmmmmm). So I’ll take  O divided by 2.

According to my precise calculations, I died last week.

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Filed under General Mumblings, humor, Uncategorized