Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bar-B-Tricks - Guinness Bacon Burgers

I've kept a number of Mom's old cookbooks from the 50's, 60's and 70's, including several for grilling ideas. When I saw this one with Bar-B-Tricks I had a vision of Barbie wearing a leather bustier, holding a little quirt. Probably not what they meant by that. An interesting book, tinfoil hat cover and all (though I'm not sure why he appears to be seasoning up an empty grill with ketchup).

But it got me thinking about grilling out. Burgers. But not just ANY burger. Guinness/Bacon burgers.

6 or 7 slices bacon, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 shallots, minced
2 pounds ground venison
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon Guinness
1 and 1/2 teaspoons HOTR Steak Seasoning or your favorite steak seasoning
dash of sweet paprika
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2-3 dashes salt (to taste)
a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper (to taste)
1 egg, whisked before adding
6 hamburger buns

Cook bacon in a cast iron skillet. Remove bacon and drain off about 1/3 the grease. Add garlic and shallots to the remaining grease in the pan, cooking and stirring about three minutes, until softened. Add that to the bacon and let cool. Once cool, mix in the ground meat, Worcestershire sauce, Guinness, remaining spices and egg until evenly combined. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and cook to desired doneness (makes six burgers). Serve on toasted hamburger buns with your favorite toppings (mine is simply a little dab of Bacon Coleslaw.)

click to enlarge photo.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

More Weekend Fun - Sunday Blog Meet - update with everyone's links

It was a great blog showing with almost 20 people there representing several states at the always enjoyable Broad Ripple Brew Pub. Plus it was Tam's Sixth Blogiversary today (millions of bites of snark served). Congratulations Tam! There were even door prizes with Longhorn Jeff bringing some folks wheel barrels full of money (you know, like the ones that we gun bloggers get from the NRA according to the liberal blogs).

Look, here's my wheel barrow full of money. How cool is that? Thanks Jeff!

Two of the gang even got me Secret Squirrel patches for myself and my squirrel partner at the IND 1500 today. They're rubber and fabric with velcro on the back so they will attach to all sorts of things. Thank you both! You are the best! Scout 26 added the fake nose eyeglasses with built in handlebar mustache to use as a disguise. The half inch thick coke bottle lenses, "goggley" eye addition, makes me look like a barbershop quartet member on PCP so I doubt even hippies would accost me on the Monon trail.

There was food, fun, gossip, plans for a girls night out "tactical slumber party" (no boys allowed) with Miss D., Tam, Roberta X and I (where ARE my camo pajamas).

Midwest Chick: "We can have a fire outdoors and dance around and have fun!"
Me: "If we're out in the woods dancing around the fire, people will think we're Wiccan."
Tam: "Wiccans don't carry sidearms, do they?"

There was food and the hot talk of today's gun show (which I missed as I was playing with tractors), gun purchases and adventure ("so he stumbles back outside. By then, the raccoon was on fire, of course.")

In addition to our first time guests, I got a special surprise.

Some 20 (mumble mumble) years ago, when Old NFO was a spiffy Naval officer I got to fly him into where he was based in a stealth fighter jet large square box known as the Sherpa when I was newly minted with four stripes. We bumped into each other electronically about 15 years later in some squirrel round table or something and have talked on the phone regularly ever since. But we had not seen each other since that flight all those years ago, til today That was a hug long overdue. He hadn't changed all that much, but it's hard to remember seeing as how I was three years old at the time and flying the aircraft from my booster chair.

In addition to Old NFO we had Dave L. (Cancer Ward), Og, and Partner, Rich, Roberta, Tam, Midwest Chick, Bayou Renaissance Man and his wife Miss D., Shermlock Shomes and his talented wife, Mr. B., Don at Push the Pull Door (who is even cooler in person, if that's possible), Old Grouch, The Jack, Mad Saint Jack, (who shared some CD's on knives with three lucky bloggers), Longhorn Jeff (Wheelbarrows Fulla Money) and IND shooter Kerry, a long time blog meet attendee.

It was great to see everyone. Cheers!

Tri - State Tractor and Engine Show - The Day in Photos

Big Fun today. Tractors and old engines, history, nostalgia and people who care about what made America strong.

I headed up early Friday to meet a friend from out of State who loves to attend these things. We both missed this particular event last year due to a death in my family and work schedules so I was really looking forward to attending.

This is the world's largest antique engine and tractor show. Featuring Minneapolis Moline tractors and Illinois built engines this show had about every type of tractor I'd ever seen and some I hadn't.

Gas engines are like roaches you get one and they multiply.

This was sew cool :-)

There were engines really little and engines really big.

You haven't really had a ride until you've had a velvet ride.

There was all kinds of food there, Lionburgers from the Lions club, beef and noodles, hotdogs, sno cones. But my friend brought food that he made for a little noontime tailgate party for the two of us.

Turnovers made of sour cream pastry filled with feta cheese, spinach and BACON and spiced roasted pecans (some sort of secret blend of pepper, cumin, paprika, 3 hot sauces and Worcestershire sauce - addictive) I brought drinks and French Macaroon cookies (mmmm).

She thinks my tractors sexy.

We stayed until it was done for the day, there was just so much to see. Then afterward, it was dinner at a restaurant called Two Oh Four in nearby Muncie. A quiet, elegant little place with incredible food (I had steak with blue cheese, with a red pepper spaetzle and salad with champagne vinaigrette). I don't have a link for them, but it has to be the best restaurant in Muncie and worth a stop.

This was spotted in the hotel parking lot this morning. "But honey, you said if I could fit it in my little pickup I could buy it?!"

I'm on my way home to try and get to the blog meet. So gang, if you are reading this save some Original Sin for me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Road Trip Repast - Sugar Fueled Dreams

Somewhere out in California, a city has decided that putting a toy into a Happy Meal is illegal. Such toys promote obesity they say.

I was raised in the Hostess Generation. My favorite Western RanchHands were Twinkie the Kid and the Hostess Cupcake. We drank Koolaid (Soda Pop was an expense that was only the rarest of treats in my house), or better yet, cold water from the garden hose. We watched TV when we could, but mostly we ran, we jumped, we covered miles of ground on our bikes. TV was a treat, not a weekend-long marathon and the backyard was our empire, one of constant motion. None of us had an ounce of spare flesh on us, we were lean, tan and healthy.

And our cereal came with prizes in the box.

When did the cereal prizes disappear? I'm sure, as most children did, I drove my Mom crazy begging for one type of cereal over another, depending on what toy was inside. The toy would be buried deep down, and we'd have to eat about half the box to get to it. Of course there were those times Mom left us alone briefly while Dad watched football, and with the help of a large mixing bowl, the toy was liberated soon after purchase, the bowl then cleaned (here boy!) and put back in the cupboard. But that didn't happen often so normally the prize would plop down into our bowl about half way through the box. What a treat that was!

Most of the toys plastic figures were slightly larger than Monopoly counters – animals, trains, cars. Sometimes there were decoder rings, badges and other trinkets promoting TV adventure shows. Sometimes the prize was a cut out on the back of the box that could be made into a toy, there were even cut out photograph records on the back.

One of the cereal toys I've never forgotten was a plastic submarine. On its bottom was a tiny container into which you placed baking powder. The sub would then dive underwater and resurface on its own, again and again. I loved that toy and spent a lot of time with it in the bathroom sink and in the bathtub.

My oldest brother spent his years after school on a real submarine, so perhaps all that play with those things had some effect.
The non sweetened cereal usually didn't have a prize, but it would have a coupon where you could collect box tops and send away for a prize. The sugar laden cereals usually had the prize right there. The prize might sway our decision but our favorites remained unchanged. Were they healthy? Not particularly. You'd have to add an orange grove and an entire pig to be a "complete breakfast", but that's not why we ate them.

Sugar Pops - My personal favorite. The original cereal was just Sugar Pops. Then they added the word corn, then they dropped the word sugar, then they dropped the corn thinking kids didn't want to eat a bowl of corn, now they're just Pops. That was one thing I liked about that generation. They weren't afraid to use the word sugar. They were PROUD of the word. Then they filled everything full of corn syrup which is worse for you and simply changed the names. Not only was the cereal great tasting (I still eat it before big presentations at Secret Squirrel headquarters), but the concept was cool. Blasting sugar onto the cereal with a gun? How cool was that? The earlier boxes that my oldest brother remembers even had special offers for a "Colt six shooter".

Sugar Crisp -The sugar bear started out as your average bear, then later got fashion sense (though no pants) and this laid back groovy persona. The Sugar Bear was the cool dude your retired military Dad NEVER wanted you to date (attitude and no pants, never a selling point with my Dad). He was so popular some kids went as Sugar Bear on Halloween. Or maybe that was a real bear in our garbage can that night.

In the 70's they came out with a Super Sugar Orange Crisp that had little sour orange bits in it. The sweet and sour was enough to keep you bouncing off of walls for days. It didn't last long, probably banned by the PTA.

Alpha-Bits - like Cocoa Puffs, as a kid I was on the fence about these. They were OK, , but as an adult I thought they tasted like hamster food. It was fun to try and spell words in your spoon though, except for that time I tried out a NEW word which I heard my Dad use when he dropped a tool on his foot, which my Mother did NOT find amusing.

Sugar Smacks - Start your day the Sugar Smacks way. Dig em the frog was OK, but not as cool as the bear. However even Spock could have figured out they were the exact same cereal as Sugar Crisp.

Frosted Flakes - one of the few breakfast cereal that hasn't changed, been improved or altered (I cringe when I think what they've done to Trix over the years). I used to eat it dry, in a little bowl with my fingers, watching Scooby Doo (those meddling kids!) because it it lasted about 10 seconds in milk before going limp.

Froot Loops - not sure where Toucan Sam got the English Accent in the 1970's but it was a house favorite. The only colors were a tropical fruit sort of red color, yellow and orange. What more do you need. I got sample box in the mail recently to which several new colors were added (is that blue?) PLUS fiber.

What's next? "Honeycomb. Improved, now with Ginkgo Biloba?"

There are a lot of things that aren't good for us. Letting your kids eat junk food in adult portions all day long is good for no one. But what about a little bowl of sweet, the occasional cookie with the hug and fun with our imaginations and the help of a "beam up badge"? Did it really do us any harm?

.So I'm going to start my day with a big bowl of Quisp cereal.

You remember Quisp?

The voice of Quisp on the commercials was Daws Butler, the voice of Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss and Huckleberry Hound. It tastes like Captain Crunch but doesn't remove the roof of your mouth when you eat it. The slogan I remember as a kid in 1970. . . "it gives you Quazy energy".

Look, I try and eat healthy most of the time. But I refuse to grow up, and I'm going to enjoy my sugar laden dreams via a bowl of cereal from the 60's.

Even if I didn't get an AR15 in the box.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Striker Fire Goats - Violence at a Fair

OK, this one wasn't a goat. However, this interesting specimen was seen at a Steam and Tractor show in a neighboring state. I'm not sure what it is.

Poodle Cut llama?
Brazilian Bikini Wax llama?
Llama- the mullet?
Extra terrestrial llama circle?
Maybe it's not a llama, maybe it's the Alpacalypse.

But you do see some interesting things at fairs and summer farm shows.

Dann at God, Gals, Guns and Grub got a laugh out of me last month with a post about a goat attack at the fair. Dann's brand new to blogging. He's a former LEO, an NRA instructor as well as a 4H shooting instructor. His teenage daughter is a budding and award winning shooter and his wife is an all around great gal (with a Colt 1911 .45).

While I'm on the road, drop on it and say hello. They're good folks. Guns, motorcycles, faith and family. But don't turn your back on the goats.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Reason is a choice. Wishes and whims are not facts, nor are they a means to discovering them. Reason is our only way of grasping reality; it is our basic tool of survival. We are free to evade the effort of thinking, to reject reason, but we are not free to avoid the penalty of the abyss we refuse to see.

Terry Goodkind, Faith of the Fallen

Friday, August 19, 2011

Night Off

I got the rest of my tools and gear out of storage, post house sale, and into my freshly painted garage. It was 103 with the heat index. I have red hair and Casper the Friendly Ghost skin color. It was not a fun way to spend the day and my muse said something about Rum and sailed away.

The kitchen is empty and is going to stay that way. I have a large garden tub with girly bubble bath (I looked for one that smelled like a British Sports Car or Hoppes No. 9 but had to settle for Lilac), new music, leftover ham and pineapple pizza with Sriracha sauce, a complex little beer with my name on it, Red Green and Top Gear on TV and perhaps some conversation with a friend. If one is going to spend a Friday alone, this not a bad way to do it, much work accomplished, tools and the world in order for now.

Cheers - Brigid

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Can You See Me Now

I was sitting in the eye doctors office, waiting for the yearly exam, reading some ancient reading material. Oh look, an old news headline. . .

10 killed in bat stampede in South Africa.

Oh wait, I guess that word was "bar".

I hate to admit it , but it appears rebel pilot girl needs glasses.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On living

Neither dogs nor the daring live forever,
but the guarded never live at all.

- Brigid

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rivers Running On

The river was where it had always been, would always be but for some cataclysmic natural disaster. I noticed it because of the covered bridge. Grayed, weathered, it had been on this earth longer than I have.

This small, hidden river was one where we fished for Steelhead, a place I spent many an afternoon in waders waiting for a fish, miles away from the paparazzi of people in hip boots littering the larger, better known waters. I could smell its sweetness before I even saw it, the curves of the river laying flat and glittering, like broken glass upon the shore. Within its deep mystery lay many things I sought, not the least of which a fish as difficult to understand as it was to hold on to.

Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are one of the most elusive species of fish alive. Anglers the world over make their way to lakes, rivers, secluded coves, inlets and bays in the hopes of hooking into that once-in-a-lifetime catch. Steelhead and Rainbow Trout are the same species, but Rainbows are freshwater only, and Steelhead are anadromous (go to sea) Unlike most salmon, Steelhead can survive spawning, to spawn over multiple years.

Like Chinook, Steelhead have two runs, a summer run and a winter run. Winter runs spawn closer to the ocean, and require less travel time.

The fish don't eat as they head up on the spawning run, attacking the lure probably more from irritation than hunger. Why they bite is one of those fundamental questions that neither biologist or jeopardy contestant can tell you. They're surrounded by lures and they either snag themselves or they snap at it like a pit bull. The hook is usually not deep in the mouth, but there in the premaxillary and maxillary bones or in the ethmoid region at the top of their snout, that large area that plows through the water at sea, gathering food from their movement.

Steelhead are not the easiest of fish to catch, especially the winter run Steelhead which are most often caught on a fly. Steelhead fishermen live in a world of universal scepticism, driven on by the mythology of a fish that does not stay in a region for very long, flirting with you and then leaving you for its hearts desire.

Most days we went home empty handed. I wouldn't be the only time I went out to put hoof, fish or fowl on the table and came home to leftovers. But my Dad believes that all good things come from God, it's just that the gifts of God, such as eternal salvation and the Steelhead also come with hard work, sweat, frozen extremities and the moon being aligned just so. Especially when fly fishing.

My dad bought me my own little fishing pole when I was barely big enough to hold on to it and then would watch with loving patience, up on the bank, to make sure I didn't fall in. I can still remember those evenings out fishing on the lake with my Dad, the sun setting, leaving wisps of lavender ribbons across the sky; as the clouds gathered up along the mountain ridges, as if watching us.

Now I fish under a open sky, clouds moving up from the Plains, wispy strands through which I could see that which was the last phase of a full moon. The bobber moved slightly, a fish, or the wind? I was tempted to jerk the line, to see what I had, but I waited. This is what patience is all about, being wholeheartedly engaged in the process that's unfolding.

There is no one watching me but the trees, their leaves laid out flat and placid like hands, awaiting the host that would bring salvation. As I waited, the call of a loon brought me back into the moment and I thought about all the things I needed to do at home on a single day off. Iron some clothes, return phone calls, spend some time with Barkley and friends. And I stopped. "Can you hear that?" I whispered to he that sits patiently by my side, tail wagging, poised to strike in case I reeled in a side of bacon. "That" being the sound of a small fish jumping on a small span of water on a planet spinning through space.

The crickets began their chorus to usher in the night, and the note of the sparrow is borne on the wind from over the water. And from the waters edge, a salamander crawled out, that traveler of both the water and the land, equally at home in both. We're all born of water, as we emerge from the watery landscape of the womb, discovering our breath, leaving what is known, to become searchers of the land. What caused that first being to emerge from that water of creation. The hand of God, the pull of nature, or something more primal? There was a Disney movie of a redheaded mermaid, half human, half fish, who gave up the freedom of her watery home for the love of a man. What is that instinctive urging that drives us out and away from that which is comfortable to a shore so foreign? Is it a quest for adventure or do we simply pull our self from the water, seeking our heart's desire?

But such thoughts are fleeting, the only things rippling through my brain now, the sight of the water raised by the evenings wind. As the day pulled out of the sky, taking the wind with it, I cast back out into the now still center of the water, the moment causing me to hold in my breath.. There it was. Utter and complete stillness. I wanted to hold my breath, because even inhaling and exhaling was like a cacophony. The trees were absolutely quiet, the animals of day hunkering down for rest, and the night creatures not yet stirring, there was no breeze, no recognition of air even; it was the sound of nothing and everything. It felt like all life, my future and beyond, was contained in this one space, a simple spot of time where everything stands still with the gossamer cast of a line.

Poets talk about "spots of time," that moment where, in an instant, you can see your whole life and a choice is made. You will understand it when your whole horizon is a one fish and then the fish is gone. I thought of one Steelhead there on the river by that covered bridge. I will remember that fish when I am taking in my last breath.

The day had dawned austere and chill. Out of the West came a drifting wall of gray light, which, rather than dissolving into rain as is its chosen nature in this place, it disintegrated into minute particles of fog that congealed on the still pools in the river. In long underwear and hip waders, I moved with the lumbering grace of a trained bear. I moved cautiously, for to fall into this icy water, which would rush into my boots, seeking the last of my warmth, could mean death.

For it was cold, really cold, where the hair in my nostrils turns to Brillo with the first breath, but I don't want to breathe through my mouth, because to do would be like breathing in a room full of searing smoke. I was fly fishing, best for the winter run off of the Grey's river. I had a good fly, with the delicate beauty of an angel and the penetrative power of a fire and brimstone preacher. I had fire in my soul and fingers that felt like frozen fish sticks in my gloves.

After what seemed like hours, standing in that chilly repentance of river, I finally felt that knowing tug within my soul. A Steelhead, intercepting the fly near the end of the drift, as the fly rose up and picked up speed. As the hook sunk deep, I could sense the immense weight on my line waiting to fight back, and my breath rushed involuntarily through my mouth, a huge inhale of wonder that seared my chest like pending heartache, where I held it in, afraid to breathe.

As he broke water in the jump, the sun slanted off of his 30 pound back, sparkling jewels of light that put any ring I had ever owned to shame. He hung there in the light with that unmistakable air of defiant and impending challenge that all things of worth have. You've heard of "buck fever"? This was "Steelhead stupor", for in that moment I was so enamoured of him I couldn't take action, my eagerness frozen within me, hesitate to move, the thirst in me inarticulate, not knowing yet it is thirst.

My breath exploded in a cloud of steam, as in my wonder I let the line go slack, a bad mistake with a Steelhead that's making a long run upstream. The fish toppled downward, gaining advantage with weight and movement, crashing back down into the water that sprayed up around him like a thin nimbus of glass.

Fool, oh you fool, why did you not stop him before it was too late.

I had lost him, the fish disappearing even as I stood listening for it, trying to capture a haunting tune in a dense void. A wafer of moon stood watch over the covered bridge surviving the cold morning and the disappearing splash of water. The water swirls as if the fish had never existed, making the day run backwards. A sudden emptiness seemed to flow now down that river, bestowing with complete remoteness, the figure of tall girl in an enormous pair of waders. She stands silent in the cold water, on her face a look at that is both fatalistic and that of a child's astonished disappointment, her hand held up in a inexorable gesture that is both disbelief and farewell.

Catch and release.

I thought back to fly fishing in Gunnison for the first time, watching the fly fisherman standing, rod in hand, in the rushing water making the most beautiful movements, a ballet of line and wind and hook, form and flow. The line forms a thin clean curve between hand and fluid need. A ritual of the chase, the cast like a tease to the unsuspecting trout, placid in their world, until he pulled them into his. As the trout took the bait, the man would smile, that quick, knowing smile, and pull with a quick flick of his fingers and hands, like light strokes on a keyboard, to plant the hook. Then after reeling the trout in, he gently pulled the hook from the mouth, no longer smiling, but with a look of quiet contemplation that spoke of everything and absolutely nothing. I watched as he cradled the fish in his hand and with a quick unemotional stroke of her belly, released her back to the water, his eyes empty of emotion, as if they too would forever held their breath.

Catch and release. Life begins and ends in the waters, flowing over stone and bend, old fears, old desires, old anguish. If you stand out in it long enough, it all eventually flows past, downstream, into the cool eternal dark.

There are no Steelhead in the water here, and the nearest covered bridge it exists far away, where it houses both the dreams and the still young heart of a girl. With the cold fading into shadow, darkness falling, it's time to head back to home. I didn't catch anything, my true catch was as intangible and indescribable as the twilight playing on the water. I think of what Thoreau said "many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after".

We flirt with the water, and what it holds within it, we cast that line, dancing with fate. Icy water and warm lips, we thirst, we reach with that last translucent breath, closing our eyes to softly bite the secret barb. We are drawn in with a soft gasp of breath, chest softly heaving, as we look into the unknown, up into the eyes that desired us.

As we let ourselves be drawn to shore.