Friday, January 31, 2014

See Ya

And were off!

Headed to Rankin Texas for a huge chili cook off. Wish us luck.

I will leave you with a view from my job site.
Yup, that's Dallas

See ya on the flip side,

Monday, January 27, 2014

Old Time Cooking

This weekend Chili Cooking in the city of West down by Waco turned out to be a bust. It was a quick two hour drive down there with high expectations and a long two hour drive back empty handed. We didn't even make final table and my beans that won first last weekend didn't even place.
Oh well, you can't win them all, that would just be boring.

So to redeem myself, Sunday I invited friends and family over for some down home, old timey cooking.
The weather turned out to be in the 70's and the wind laid at just the right time. Nothing could have been better.

 It was time to fire up the pits. In the Dutch ovens I made a dish called Witch's Brew, one called Ham Bake, one called Skillet Corn and of course Peach Cobbler. One the grill was Herb and Garlic Chicken and in the oven was Drop Biscuits.

The rocket stove browned the hamburger meat, bacon and sauteed the onions. I had to constantly feed the small wood chamber but it only took about a hand full of small wood to cook it all. I am sold, this little stove is a must have. It will boil water in five minutes and cook hamburger in about the same time.

 The oven needs a little redesign. As the fire got hotter the more the top warped, even with the angle iron rails. I need to reinforce the bottom by putting three more pieces of angle iron running long ways to keep it from bowing and letting the heat escape. This was the first time I fired it up and was pretty much a test run for the March 22nd party. I'm glad I did because now I can fix the issues.

The food was fantastic. I don't think it would have tasted as good if cooked in the house, it never does.

We got the three F's in yesterday, Family, Friends and Food. I could not have asked for a better day. It sure took the sting out of not winning anything at the cookoff.

Next weekend will be the last of our traveling chili cooking. Last year I refused to cook out of my one hour radius. This year I was wanting to expand some and now we did. I would rather be close to home.

Y'all have a safe week,

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Scratch It Off The List

I read an article the other day on the top sixty things to do in Texas before you die. I guess you could call it a Texas Bucket List.
Just by living in this great Republic and without realizing it, you could scratch off almost half of the items that are on the list. I am sure the person who wrote it was an implant from some foreign country like Utah or somewhere and was in a state of shock that he had to drive two days straight just to get to the grocery store.
Yea sure, I bet we all have things we would like to do before we finally take the eternal slumber and while reading the list, there were some I didn't care to do and others I would like to do. Then there was some that were not on the list that I have always wanted to do.
Let me give you a "for instance".
One of the things on the list was cook in a chili cook off. Well, you all know I do this almost every weekend
and this weekend we went to College Station in South Texas to cook with the oldest daughter Jessie and her fiance. It was one of the best cook offs we have been to. We also have a good friend down that way who came by to show her support and what did we do, we signed her up to judge. It was really good to see her smile and to hug her neck. To say she is just a friend would be a understatement, she is family.
As you can see in the picture, we cleaned up. Along with the trophies, we won first in beans. This was Jessie's first chili trophy and she was so excited. Just that alone was worth the drive. I could not be more proud at her and her boy for placing. She has the bug now.
If you are wondering, those trophies are made from Harley Davidson parts. How cool is that!

If you know anything about Texas A&M then you know about their traditions and spirit. One thing I have
always wanted to do was go to an Aggie Bonfire. That was not on the list, but it was on mine. I really don't care what college football team you cheer on, if you were at this amazing tradition, you would have been an Aggie. Smaller than it once was, this tower of hand cut logs is still seventy feet tall. The heat was so intense that looking directly into the fire was like looking at the sun. When the tower twisted and the hundreds of people there started singing the A&M fight song, I almost wept. It was truly amazing and I am so proud I was able to stand there with my wife and daughters and have that memory.
Scratch that one off the list.

Twenty three years ago I was able to scratch off "Play dominoes at the Dixie Chicken in College Station" off my list. This is a world famous little place set right off of the main drag,
they call it North Gate. Ask anyone who has ever been through there and I bet you they say something about the Chicken. It's just one of those must see places.
Well this weekend I was able to amend the one I scratched off so long ago and add in "with my daughters". The place has not changed in all those years. It was like walking back in time when I was a much younger me. Her boy's mom and grandma came along and I think they enjoyed it as much as I did.
Dragging my butt back to the camp site at 1:00 AM quickly showed me I cannot party like a college kid anymore, but it was worth it. 

Do these things really matter to anyone else, probably not. But when I am gone, those memories are all that will be left in the minds of those I leave behind. Those stories will be told to their kids and the memory will live on. Maybe, just maybe when they tell these stories, they think of me, sit back and smile.

Until next time,

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Slow Weekend

This weekend has not been very exciting. As a matter of fact , it has been slow.

The rains have been here the past three days leaving a muddy mess outside where if I was wanting to do something I really couldn't except if it was in the shop.

Yesterday I managed to get some much needed burning done. This gave me the chance to burn in the new fire trough I built and see how it was going to work.
I also redesigned the Cajun Microwave. Everyone was telling me it was too deep and the heat would not reach the meat well enough. So, instead of having them say "I told you so" when it came time to cook on it, I took a layer of bricks off the top and raised the cooking try up a few inches. This makes the meat only twelve inches from the heat. I need to do a test run before the big party in March just to make sure it will not be too close now. Further research has shown me they may be right.
Today I plan to fabricate the swing arm for the fire trough so I can swing the dutch ovens on and off the fire if I want to.

Last week I came across a new way to go to chili competitions where we need to stay overnight. The main reason we do not do those now is the cost to haul the camper or the stay in hotels. I am way too cheap for all that so I was able to get a hold of one of these truck tents.
Now all it will cost is the fuel to get there and back. We can stay for free at any of the places we cook at if it is too far to come back the same day.
Our fist outing will be this coming weekend in College Station, then to Rankin for a huge cook off.

All that to get a chance to win this trophy.

Speaking of College Station, my oldest girl Jessie just went back to college today, she has been with us for the winter break. It never gets any easier seeing her leave, but knowing I will see her again next weekend makes it a little better. She has become a chili head with us and plans to cook at the cook off with us while we are down there. After that we will not see her until March.

If anyone is around that area, I would love for y'all to come out and say hey. We will be at the Harley Davidson shop on HWY 6 all day Saturday the 18th. 

Other than that, See down the road,

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I Got Wood

One of the best sights I have seen in a while. All that hard work these past two weekends is paying off right now, the house is warm.
So much wood, it has overflowed the wood shed, the house is full and there are two more piles almost as big by my shop. The blessing just keep coming.

I want to give a huge thanks to all the family who came and helped out at the wood cutting party. It would not have been as much fun without ya.

See ya on the flip side,

Friday, January 3, 2014

Another Piece Of The Kitchen

Just as I scheduled, another piece of the Outdoor Kitchen is close to being completed.

This is the Fire Trough. It sits next to the Cajun Microwave and it will be where the fire is started and burns down. It's where the coals will be shoveled out of and onto the Outdoor Oven. The removable cross bar is a T post and can hold all the Dutch ovens you need to cook in. Once a good bed of coals is on the Oven, then I can spread them out and hang my beans, cobbler, biscuits or whatever else I want to cook in the Dutch ovens.The different length hangers can get you right on the fire or high to keep warm.   On top of all that, this trough is where I will put the potatoes and corn wrapped in tin foil to cook. Once they are done, all you do is dust them off and unwrap a little piece of heaven.
Everything about this except the concrete was free. We are taking the old house down on the farm and I am getting these bricks. The metal is fence posts and scrap I have picked up along the way. The concrete cost some but most was from busted bags and were only a buck or so. Total cost of the project was $25.00
I know these bricks will fall apart over time because they are not made for fire, but adding the concrete to the holes will make them last a little longer longer. I plan to get three to four years of cooking out of it. This is the second one I have built like this and it works.

The only thing I plan to add is a swing arm on one of the posts so I can swing in a pot if I want to.
Other than that, she will cook now.
 Plus I made the dimensions where I can add the grate that is in the oven to the top of this. It will cover 3/4 of the trough so if I wanted to cook 50 hamburgers at a time, then I will have the space to do so.

Very simple design, very simple build and a must if you are cooking outdoors for fun or in a survival situation.

Tomorrow I will be splitting wood again. All these out door cooking areas plus keeping the house warm is demanding a butt load of wood.

See ya on the flip side,

Thursday, January 2, 2014

We Brought It In Right

It was all about the family Tuesday and Wednesday. We had a bunch show up New Years Eve night to hang
out by the fire and bring in the new year.We burnt everything that wasn't nailed down. Needless to say, I'm out of old pallets and scrap wood now. Add in boxes of fireworks, beer and good food, you have yourself one hell of a good time right there.

Some slept over and they were not the least bit happy when I got up at 6:30AM and started cooking for the New Years Dinner at my brothers. I saw the "Are you stupid" look many times that morning. We broke tradition this year and instead of having ham, black eyed peas and greens, we had a taco bar with all the fixens. My brother really did a good job with all the food and nobody went away hungry.

I did get to work on the fire trough a little and even got to play with the rocket stove some. I am trying to figure out where to put the pizza oven because my space is getting used up. I bet I find somewhere.

I wish you all a wonderful new years
 Until next time,