31 December 2013

I'm not the reader I think I am

Just finished browsing the Modern Library's 100 Best books list. It's embarrassing. I've read 3 from the non-fiction list and 4 from the novels list. What's worse, all were read in high school and college. None since then.

Hmmm, perhaps some sort of fodder for a new years resolution, some reading to do by my ample supply of incandescent lights.

In DC, dim bulbs are always in fashion

When the new light bulbs came out I thought they were a great idea. Bought a bunch of them. Decent lighting and money saving in the long run. Great innovation. It was easy to see that they would eventually replace the old bulbs.

But some people couldn't let consumers decide. The government had to mandate that the old bulbs go away. Tomorrow they are no more. So for people like me who can afford to pay a little extra its not big deal. For the very poorest however, the cheap bulbs at a quarter a piece, would always be the way to go. So much for the compassion for the poor that the government claims. It wasn't there when this mandate (aka "efficiency standards") came out under the Bush Administration and it isn't there today.

One of the fundamental problems of liberalism is this smug self-righteousness. The attitude that not only do we have ideas that are better than yours, but we are better people than you because of them. And we will make you accept them.

I was glad to buy the new bulbs when it was my choice, not so happy when I found out my choice had been taken away. So today I cleaned out the stock of 60 watt bulbs at Fleet Farm. I have 164 of them that should last me for a few years, or until Atlas finally shrugs.

27 December 2013

Brining the turkey

I always brine a turkey when I am smoking it. This year we brined and then roasted in the oven. I am now convinced that brining is one of the keys to a great turkey.

What was interesting was that we cooked this turkey a day before Christmas in order to free up the oven for other things, and it was just to cold to enjoy smoking it outside.

This was a 20 lb turkey that was brined for 48 hrs. There are several good recipes online, ours was simple with 2 gallons of water, a couple of cups each of salt and brown sugar, and some sloshes of worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and a couple of oranges.

On Christmas day, we looked online for advice on how to properly reheat day old turkey and keep the flavor. Found some good advice from the New York Times (finally) and followed it. They suggested focusing on the big meaty chunks of the turkey and not try to reheat the whole thing. Good thinking. Got four big chunks of the turkey, two breast halves and the two leg/thigh pieces. Turkey was nice and moist and while not exactly the same as usual, it was very close.

The brining kept the turkey moist and with a full rich turkey taste. It is several days later and the turkey is still almost as good as on day one.

26 December 2013

Another Christmas Past

Another Christmas is past. Another one for the ghost of Christmas past to visit if I ever find myself reliving the story of Scrooge.

This was a good Christmas. Times shared with family and a time to share both Christmas eve and Christmas day with friends of my children.

2013 was a year full of trials, not so much for me but for those I love very much. It was a year to pray hard for those close to us.

There are several moments about this year that I will never forget. One in particular was a prayer I heard over the phone. A prayer that hard times, terrible times, would be turned to glorious times as a period of great spiritual growth.

It was a year when I learned why God created and blessed the family. This year brought some of the hardiest laughs and most heart wrenching tears our family has ever heard. Through it all I tried to give thanks, which is so much easier when you are a bystander and not the sufferer. The one who suffered the most in our family is my hero, who is showing me day by day what true surrender to the will of God involves.

It was also a year to find Jesus in places I did not expect and in faces I did not know.