Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Closing out 2008 in Under 30mins.....

So me and the wife are sitting down having a good time reflecting on all of the great things that happened to us in 2008. Looking forward we realize that our life has literally changed overnight with so much economic trouble and the world being in a state that has so much uncertainty.

But with everything that is going on, we have each other, our two cats and our dog cheeba who found us as she poked her bitten and torn up head into our front door. I came home from another combat tour and I will always remember my brothers who were not fortunate to make it back. My wife who for some reason has still stuck with me is the best thing that has ever happened to me. My wife and so many other women and men have to endure so much when their mates serve over seas and when we return so much has changed. I have changed. Im not the same guy I use to be. I just hope that I don't end up as some denim wearin, multiple war patch veteran walking around with a baseball cap and a gazillion pins telling stories of the good old days. When and if I am fortuante enough to retire as a war vet, I want to live a simple life and embrace the things that so many of us take for granted.

Moving into this New Year is just one step closer to my dream and hopefully by this time next year I will be talking about how we acheived our goals and have moved further along in progressing to become more self-sufficient. I hope to speak to more people who think like me and convince those who haven't given a thought about what I think, something to think about.

I remember a famous quote that went something like this and this will close out my last statement for 2008:

"We love what we Know, We know only what we understand and We Understand what We have only been taught."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Smoked Pork Butt MMMMMM

Im from up north and honestly BBQ only means one thing to me and that is RIBS and SAUCE; nothing else. However, since I have moved down south I have warmed up to the idea Pulled Pork Sandwiches. But you have to be careful with what you call pulled pork and what you call BBQ. These people down here take this stuff serious and it is almost an act of war to disgrace the pig.

So for some time now I have tinkered with the idea of smoking my own Pork and I have had some success with all different recipes and bad results with others. All in All I have come up with my own idea of what I like in a pulled Pork sandwich and I will share that here.

1st- We have to start with a Pork Butt, I have tried everything other than pork butts and have had success but in all honesty the Butt is where it's at. I can't give you any scientific reasons I just know it responds so much better to smoking than other forms of meat.

2nd- You have to create a rub for the crust that will form over your meat. Now here is where many Smoked BBQ Nuts go crazy, you will hear all kind of crazy rubs and gypsy magic on how to create the perfect rub. I was suckered into all of this stuff too. But Im here to tell you that all of that is BS. Im going to give you 3 ingredients that you should use for your Rub to create your crust and they are: Salt, Pepper and brown sugar. Thats it, thats the Magic trick and here is why-

The Purpose of the Rub is to help incapsulate the pork with a hard crust. It is not to add flavor. If done right the crust will form and hold in all the moisture until the tempurature of the pork reaches the magical 170 degrees F. So what I like to do is break some fresh black pepper all over the Butt and rub it into the meat, then I apply a moderate amount of Sea Salt ( Im not big into salt only for taste so I don't use alot just even across the entire butt) and then I apply Liberal amounts of Brown sugar all over the butt and this is where something happens. The Salt pulls the moisture from the meat and the brown sugar soaks it up and forms a sort of syrupy mollases that sticks to the meat. I never let my rubs stay over night, I just pull the Butt out of the freezer the previous day and let it sit until room temperature and then apply the rub.

3rd- The most important thing is the fire. You have to get your fire right. The success to smoking butts is so dependant on the temperature that there is no wiggle room to mess this up. In order to get the fire going I use a coals to maintain the heat. Some purist will balk at the idea but again im not trying to win Americas favorite Butt Competition. The coals keep the temp constant and will help burn wet wood with out jepordizing the integrity of the Temp; Which brings us to Temp. What Temp?? This area will cause so much debate that I have literally lost my mind about smoking a proper pork butt. You will hear everything in the world about what temp to smoke your meat. Im going to cut through the chase and tell you to do what your comfortable at but always keep in mind that the very nature of smoking meat is suppose to be done slow and doesn't mean 10 friggin hours!!! My smoking methods keep me around the 3-4 hr time frame and that's because I get my fire going first to where it's really really hot and 3/4 of the coals both wood and the few charcoal peices are white washed and then I close the lid and maintain the heat to 300 and no higher than 350 degrees F. Before I add the meat I add wet wood to get the smoker really smoking and throw in some dry wood to keep it burning and don't forget to use old peices of burnt wood used in the fire place these are perfect to maintain the heat in the smoker.
4th- I place the meat into the center of the smoker and close the lid and remember the BBQ Pit Masters Mantra "If your lookin, you ain't Cookin." I let that set in there and every hr or so I raise the lid to see the development of the crust formation. You know things are on its way when the meat starts to turn red and skin starts to caramalyze. The most important thing is to keep that fire going, smoke and temp at 300 -350 and and it should be done around 3-4 hrs. Never poke the meat until the dark crust starts to form over the meat and then to see where you are at stick your thermomater in the meat and when it gets to 170 degrees you are done.
5th- Take your meat and wrap it in foil for approx 30 mins to let the heat continue to cook the tendons and when that is done you are left with the most moist piece of Smoked BBQ Pork Butt ever and I mean Juicy and succulent. At this time you should be able to pull your pork apart with a fork "LITERALLY" and work in the hard crust with the juicy tender meat, apply that to your bread or bun of choice with your favorite BBQ sauce, steak fries and KFC Cole slaw ( Im sorry there is no better Cole Slaw than KFC Period so I don't even try.) Bon appetit!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Back Yard Farm........

"Any patch of ground will grow something well worth while if you will give it half a chance. There probably is not a back yard in any city that would refuse to return a wonderful profit if it were planted to the right kind of crops. What an excellent thing it would be for the community if all the land which now lies idle were to be planted to useful and beautiful things!"

The BackYard Farmer, By J. Willard Bolte
Copy Right 1914

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Another Squirrel in the Bag!!

Taka did very well today. I should also add she does well everytime I bring her out even though she doesn't get a kill on each outing. I can say this because her intensity level to hunt is always high. I have hunted her day after day this week and each time she seems to be getting just a little smarter. It's almost like she knows what works and what doesn't.
Before she would barrell through branches and slam into the earth and end up with nothing. But as each day goes by she is picking her strikes very carefully; just watching and waiting as the squirrel scurries from tree limb to limb. Before she would follow on and get lost in the array of vines and tree limbs as the squirrel attracts her to the top of the canopy taking away her advantage of a dynamic strike. Now taka sits back and flies parrallel to the squirrel and waits for an opening.
Today was a great hunt from the same wiley ol buck squirrels that have outwitted and barked at her with a sense of arrogance. But today there was just silence in the trees as she fatally placed her kill talon behind the neck of the large squirrel. I sense that the squirrels have to figure out something new quick because for now Taka has a new kill stratedgy and it will prove to be lethal.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Raising Rabbits at the Homestead??

I have been doing alot of research on the steps to self-sufficientism. One subject that has peeked my interest is the raising of rabbits for meat. I think this is a great idea. For one most urban dwelling enviroments will not allow chickens and I would think to raise chiskens for meat would be a bit tough if you want to do it right.

Rabbits on the other hand are very prolific. The Doe has a 30 day gestation period and the young can be slaugthered in approx 10-12 weeks from birth. New zealands have on average 8-10 young and the females (If not slaugthered) can be bred at 6 months.

For someone striving to be selfsuffecient this seems like the perfect plan to supplement a diet from store bought meat.

I comfronted the misses about the idea of using rabbits to supplement our meat diet and at first she was a bit sqeamish, but she came around and compromised by saying "As long as I don't have to see them die." Well Thats fine with me I am in the business of doing dirty work that most people can't bring themselves to do.

From what I gather you can't compromise fresh water with rabbits. They need it religously. And they need to be fed everyday. These are things my wife will love to do. I will have to keep track of the does and when they breed and how often.

Next year my challenge will be to eat everything I have grown, raised or killed. I can't get away from milk. If I had a goat I would be set. But if it ain't rabbit or chicken I slaughtered it will be deer, wild boar, or squirrel I killed during hunting season. This will be my new years resolution to live off my plot. I will definately give it an honorable try

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

DInner Buddies

Soooooo, who says the best side dish for macoroni and cheese isn't a Kimber with a laser grip. This is a great hand gun. The laser sights have been zeroed into 25 yards. This hand gun had great balance and I really like the placement of the safety. Im not a glock type of guy, I know many who swear by them but they are not for me. Im looking at this kimber or an HK maybe I my just get my wife the Kimber and I may just get the HK. But nonetheless, this is a fine weapon and goes great with Mac and cheese:)

Now this M14-with bipod, scope , and rail system is friggen awesome. Notice the home made sweet potatoe pie on the stove. I made that myself and it's a great compliment to the M14. Here my buddy is showing off his digs. The M14 is in my opinion the greatest long gun for tactical and personal protection purposes. The 7.62 round is so lethal and versatile nothing else can compare.
I know there are alot of people out there who are sqeamish about guns. But they need to wake up. Any time, we all can find ourselves in a "Katrina" situation where there is no civil government and the bad people will be left to have fun with no consequence. Not on my watch, not in my neighborhood and not on my front porch.

Georgia Pecans mmmmmm!!!

I walked outside today and it was beautiful spring weather. Yes, spring weather; wet and warm, somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 degrees and awesome. I went to the garden today and I noticed that the greens are doing great and the snap peas are climbing well and then I noticed a dark shell and in it was a tan nut. I was puzzled a bit about the type of nut or seed that was in it and as I peeled the shell back I noticed that it was a pecan.

But then I noticed that many of the nuts that have fallen have already been eaten. There were literally hundreds of pecans that were chewed up and eaten all over the yard. The only culprit would be my dog cheeba!!! No wonder her coat is so beautiful. She beat us to the bounty.
So I hurried up and went out this evening to pick as many pecans I could find. I found a few and my wife I find that these pecans are amazing. I am fortunate to have 4 huge pecan trees overhanging in my backyard.