31 October 2013

Baseball season is over, again

Baseball season is over. At least it is for the Cardinals. For the other team the season will linger a little while as they enjoy the aura of success that surrounds them. For a few days their fans get to contemplate a possible repeat next season. It is nice that my team was playing until the last pitch of the season, but terrible that they were not on the winning side.

They had opportunities. The team that won was not that much better, but was better when in counted, in four of the past six games. For the Cardinals the hits were not turned into runs and the pitching did not dominate like it could have. So it's over.

As bad as this day is, in the big picture it is a minor event. It still hurts, though Jason Motte wasn't bothered too much by the loss and was quick to tweet congrats to the sox. From his twitter feed...
  • "It's officially offseason baseball fans!!! "
  • "1st: Congrats on great year. 2nd: I had a blast watching our this year. Great guys. Happy to be a part of this team."

Well that's sweet. Maybe he can just stay in Boston, eat some beans, dig some clams, make some chowdah, take a woodworking class at Harvard, vote for every socialist on the ballot, put a JFK picture on the mantel and pretend to be an American.

Sigh.... cubs fans never get to go through this. The winning or the stench of losing. A cub would be happy just to be there, but not a Cardinal (except of course for Jason Motte).

Why do we get so emotionally wrapped up in the results of a game?   Its not like I lost a loved one, or a job, or wrecked a car. But in a way that's what a lot of life is like, a river of small victories and defeats that viewed individually don't amount to much. But when added up they tip the scales in a way that determines how much of this life we enjoy. 
Baseball seems more real than it is. It becomes part of how we measure ourselves. I tell you I am a Padres fan and you know I live in San Diego. I tell you I am a fan of the Cardinals or cubs or braves or yankees, or any of the other big footprint teams, and a different picture is painted. 
The love of baseball is good. But in a negative sense, it has a way of tying us to this world, of making us feel comfortable in a place that is not our home. Like we belong here.  

12 October 2013

A Weber Grille makes a fine smoker, in a pinch

There are times when i'm away from home and wish I had my clunky old smoker with me. That's not possible but there are great ways to improvise when the real equipment isn't available. A Weber grille makes a great smoker for when your needs are small, the weather is great, and you just want an afternoon to show off your improvisational skills.

There's no real magic to this. You just put a dozen coals in one corner of the grille and light em up. Add the meat on the far side of the grille. Feed a few coals from time to time and keep the wet woodchips piled on. Turn the top vent so that it's about halfway open and on the opposite side of the coals and woodchips. That forces the smoke to travel over the meat and out the top.  Keep an eye on the temp for that magical 225 number.

We did this over two weekends at my brother's house in Charlotte. Last weekend it was a small pork shoulder and a chicken. This weekend it was two chickens and a pack of bacon. All of it came out great and my brother now thinks I'm the McGuyver of barbecue.

The bacon was a last minute thing. We bought a pack of the cheapest bacon and tossed it on for a few hours. After about three hours we started sampling and had eaten most of it by the six hour point. The chickens were smoked for about six hours. At the five hour point I stood them up on their legs to drain all the juices that had accumulated in the cavity. The little pack of tin foil that you see has the liver, gizzard, etc. They weren't that great and I wouldn't mess with them next time.

Two brothers, a makeshift smoker, perfect fall weather, cigars handcrafted by Onyx and Hoyo DeMonterey, an always-brewing pot of fresh coffee, and Cardinals baseball in the background. Top that off with a growing list of answered prayers and its hard to imagine a better weekend.