26 December 2011

Christmas Eve 2011 - Chaska Minnesota

We celebrated the beginning of Christmas Day at the midnight mass at Guardian Angels Church in Chaska. This is a family tradition of the past ten years or so. Wherever we are we have managed to find beautiful midnight masses in St. Louis, Columbia SC, Little Rock and the Twin Cities.

This one I will remember for the soloist with the beautiful voice singing Gesu Bambino.

"Again the heart with rapture glows to greet the holy night
That gave the world its Christmas Rose, its King of Love and Light.

Let ev'ry voice acclaim His name, the grateful chorus swell
From paradise to earth He came, that we with Him might dwell."

My Perfect Smoked Turkey - Christmas 2011

Poultry is about the easiest type of meat to smoke. Very hard to get it wrong and a few cheap chickens are perfect to practice on when first starting out. Still, smoking the Christmas turkey is a serious matter since the whole meal depends on you pullng this off right. This year I smoked turkeys at Thankgiving and Christmas. While both turned out well, the Christmas turkey got a lot more raves and I'll admit it was a piece of art. I did a few things differently this week, not intentionally so, just the way it worked out. So until I find a better method, this is my way of smoking turkey.

One 15 1/2 lb turkey ( all the recipes say you shouldnt smoke anything bigger than 14 lbs. They are wrong)

Soaked the turkey in brine for 24 hours. Brine is 2 gallons of water, 2 cups salt (cheap generic table salt), 2 cups brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of black pepper, one or two cups of apple juice, two oranges quartered. Mix all this up in a clean bucket or trash can.

Since this time of year it is below freezing in my garage, I simply leave this in the garage. In warmer places I'd keep it in the fridge.

Smoked it with hickory wood. Stuffed the cavity with an apple and an orange, sliced in half. Used about two thirds wood, one third Kingsford charcoal. At thanksgiving I think I used a little more charcoal and cherry wood. Put it on at 7am and kept the temp between 250 and 350 most of the time, though it did dip down to around 200 while I fell asleep on the couch. At about 1:30 it reached the magical 165 degrees internally, so about 6 1/2 hours to smoke. So tender and smokey and moist, just about perfect.

23 December 2011

Our White Christmas 2011

Ah Christmas, the best time of the year. Except this year, the white Christmas we take for granted in Minnesota is not to be found. Here is a picture of the patio and backyard, taken today. A few flurries this morning dusted the patio but that's about it. But we'll keep the lights burning in January and perhaps have snow in time for the Orthodox Christmas.

06 December 2011

St. Paul - Ice Fishing Show 2011

These people are crazy over ice fishing. Simply too packed to enjoy. Like a baseball stadium on opening day, you have hoards of both fanatics and wannabes.