Monday, October 28, 2013

Mom! Help!

CNN's on and I don't have opposable thumbs!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Some Days Are Special

“Everybody knows that everybody dies. But not every day. Not today. Some days are special. Some days are so, so blessed. Some days, nobody dies at all. Now and then, every once in a very long while, every day in a million days, when the wind stands fair and the Doctor comes to call, everybody lives.”
— River Song, Season 6, Episode 13
“I am and always will be the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams.”
— The Doctor, Season 6, Episode 6
“You don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand! You say no! You have the guts to do what’s right, even when everyone else just runs away.”
— Rose Tyler, Season 1, Episode 13
“Do what I do. Hold tight and pretend it’s a plan!”
—The Doctor, Season 7, Christmas Special
The Doctor: "Amy, you'll find your Rory. You always do. But you really have to look."
Amy: "I am looking."     
The Doctor:" Oh, my Amelia Pond. You don't always look hard enough."
Doctor Who - Season Six, Episode 13
 “There’s a lot of things you need to get across this universe. Warp drive… wormhole refractors… You know the thing you need most of all? You need a hand to hold.”
— The Doctor, Season 6, Episode 6
 “We’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”
— The Doctor, Season 5, Episode 13

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Memories from Dad's - Soldiers in my Cup

Checking out at the grocery store when I was buying stuff for Dad, I noticed a lot of things hanging near the register to invite a last minute purchase. Chocolate, gum, breath mints for dogs (What the. . .?).  There was also candy and a few small toys (hey, how did this box of Dots end up in my cart?)  But there were none of those packs of toys that would hang off the pegs at Mom and Pop groceries stores when I was a little kid back in the late 60's. Sure, stores now have a whole AISLE devoted to toys, but when I was little you were pretty much limited to the gumball machine, the lame "bucking" horse you could ride for some change or those those small finds of toys hanging there to lure you.

Green plastic army men were a perennial favorite. My older brothers had to order them from the back of comic books when they first came out. Originally introduced in the 1950's by Marx, they would order them from brightly colored ads in the back of the comic books. When I started collecting mine from the rack at the grocers they had hardly changed in design. I bet any one of us, whether we are 60 or 50 or 38 and holding could remember "crawling guy", "throwing the grenade guy"," minesweeper guy", and "bazooka guy", all in the classic cardinal green army style.

I enjoyed getting mine at the store but I envied Big Bro who got his hundreds of plastic soldiers delivered in a real footlocker (genuine U.S. made cardboard). Our dad's generation had to be content with conducting warfare with hobby shop metal soldiers which were purchased in limited numbers due to the price. We, the product of the consumer friendly late 60's and early 70's, could buy whole legions of little men to command. There were so many you didn't have to worry about losing one or two to the dog (he's got me Frank! Arghhhhh) or leaving one behind enemy lines when Mom called supper. You always had more. You knew that although there would be a skirmish that involved firecrackers and some Private inevitably losing his head, you had backups. Reliable, dependable.

Unlike most toys now, they were simple. Two to three inches tall, no moving parts, nothing painted or stuck on,but they didn't do real well in heat (Sargent Miller meets Colonel Soldering Gun didn't do so well). But they did hold up well, pretty bullet proof other than that.

Girl toys were OK, but for the cost of some silly Barbie dress I could get a bag of hundreds of soldiers to deploy after school got out for the day. And play we would.

Now it seems you have to push the kids out the door to get them to play outside. Not us, with a coat, some soldiers, and a couple of dogs, we watched carefully for that first break in the snow. We knew the signs that told us spring was almost here, that first slice of spring sun bursting from the sky, opening cold fissures in the landscape. Snow had been fun, but we were tired of the many days of snow, stampeding flurries of twenty below that swirled around the family home with all the spontaneous elegance of a brawl, keeping even the hardiest kid indoors. We couldn't wait to get out in the sun, with the landscape to ourselves. Out where entire wars were fought and domains were challenged, melting snowballs flying from the last remnants of snowy forts, ancient strategies drawn out with mittens on a battle plain of white and green as we gathered our troops around us.
But like most of my generation of the West, we loved to be outdoors. We learned to fish and later to hunt, a continuation of the early childhood games we played, except this time the strategy did not involve small soldiers, but involved steelheads, and the only make believe "counting coup" we did was the "one that got away" stories.

It had been a good battle. We lost some soldiers, yes, but the summer day flowed endlessly. We were immortal, the clouds rushing by faster than our troops could advance. Glorious days. Only the sound of the dinner bell would bring us in, dirty and hungry and aching to be outside again.

Do children even play outside like that any more?

There's a playground which I pass on my way home, small, built at the edge of one of the subdivisions on the south edge of town. I rarely see children in it. Perhaps the kids have all grown up and moved. Perhaps they're indoors. Kids want to play electronic games, videos, TV, all of which capture their attention within the confines of a home. I look at photos of myself as a child and they were most often taken outdoors, we kids lean, muscled. I watch the kids as they leave the bus now that drives them a whole two blocks from school and many are already battling obesity. Young colts hobbled by an electronic rope, too many growing jaded before their time,.

Certainly, as children, we had our indoor activity. There were times when the cold and the rain kept even the range cattle looking for cover and for those days there were trains and books; fun learning about tools with Dad in his wood shop. Dad would set up Lionel trains in the garage and the joy of small plastic action figures would continue, Cowboys and Indians attacking the train, sometimes with some Army soldiers serving in the ranks.
The outdoors made us strong, made us self sufficient and capable. It made us search for something up ahead on that horizon, something we would not find in our room on a computer or on a PlayStation.
Back home recently and digging in Dad's yard to tend tend his vegetable garden for him, I unearthed a tiny plastic soldier, and that tiny battered warrior, recreated a flood of memory of childhood days when my  brother and I played for world dominion out in the back yard. The touch of its small battered form brought back the scent of the earth in our back yard, the shade of the apple tree that sheltered us, the warmth of the sun.

Was this little figurine simply a forgotten toy or was he buried in some forgotten childhood military honor? Like anything long lost, he spoke to me of why we remember things and why they are important. I wrapped his green plastic form carefully in a tissue and brought him home, bringing him back past the eyes of TSA, one last covert mission to bring him home, where yes, games are still played.
Today, after a couple of rain showers, the sun is out, peeking from behind the sky. I've been on this computer long enough. I gather my rain coat and my ball cap, Barkley rushing to join me as we head out into the fields around us. I have no troops with me, simply a black lab and he'll chase me, barking in a game of "take the next hill". The trees watch down on us, like sentient commanders, as the wind blows gently, chilling the skin, sparking my soul. That soul of a solitary soldier, true.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Food Prepping and the Special Diet

Perhaps I just paid no attention to it, but it seems like the American diet has gone from meat and potatoes, bread and veggies on a plate (usually with gravy) to more restricted methods of eating.  No carbs, no sugar, no gluten, no salt, lots of fat, no fat, vegan, veganism, etc.  Granted there are many people with genuine auto immune disorders that make eating some foods (such as gluten) dangerous, and folks with certain cardiovascular or other issues issues that need to watch saturated fat and salt like a commandment to ensure long life.  But some of that is just no more than what's trendy right now (and seeing as I've had a  a pair of  go go boots in my closet I will say nothing further).

I had friends in college that were vegetarians, they wanted to eat healthier, they loved animals.  They would never even consider joining an organization to promote their personal habit, or vandalizing a cow made out of butter like some sort of dairy terrorist. It was simply how they ate, and when they visited I made a number of different recipes they (and I loved), most from my favorite vegetarian cookbook. "Moosewood Kitchen".   Being a good host/hostess involves making sure your guests have a meal they will truly enjoy.
Outside of my once or twice a month pancake/waffle fix, and a serious love of cornbread, I don't eat a lot of processed carbs.  Being of Northern European and North American Indian descent, my digestion (and waistline) does better on game, brown and wild rice, lots of fruit and veggies (and the occasional wild Bacon and my ancestors sacred ceremonial beverage, the single malt Scotch)   But it's my choice, I don't wear it on a button or splash red paint on a french pastry by way of political statement.

Eating is a personal choice.  Your health and how you maintain it is your business, not mine, and certainly not the governments.  If you want to have tofu and greens for dinner, go ahead.  If you want to dine on a greasy big mac daily, that's your choice. Breakfast for dinner, leftover pizza for breakfast, it's up to you.  But I do try and vary my diet.  Certainly, even in nature, the capability of being able to eat one and only one particular article of food type makes for a finely tuned metabolism and digestive track. But what do you do, when that specialized food source becomes scarce.
Irish Soda Bread

Think of the cute little koala bear, that eats only the leaves of the eucalyptus tree.  As long as they are around he is one happy, furry little beast.  But where such trees do not live (except tweaking with mother nature as in a zoo), neither do the koalas.

Man has flourished because,  through history he was omnivorous, able to eat about anything (though I do NOT want to know what was in the mind of the person that ate the first raw oyster).  One can maintain good health with a more food specific diet, with careful nutritional planning, and an abundance of produce.

But what about those situations when your eucalyptus tree dies?
What do you mean there's no bacon tree?

In planning for emergency food supplies (emergency constituting of everything from big natural disaster to unemployment) make sure you have a variety of food for nutrition (peanut butter is going to get tiresome real quickly), and have adequate protein for anyone with a restricted diet.  Whether you are omnivore or herbivore you need to have adequate stores and a variety of food to get proper protein, minerals and amino acids.

Vegetarian is an old Indian word for bad hunter.  That old joke aside, having a strong supply of vegetarian protein isn't just for the hippies, it can provide long term nutrition that's easy to store.  If you are prepping with a vegetarian mindset, in addition to beans and TVP (if you like), store a variety of grains like amaranth and quinoa (a good rule is 3 parts gain to 1 part beans/pulses for maximum protein). Those two grains are also nice in that  in growing them, they don't look like wheat, looking more ornamental, so they're not likely to be stolen from your flowerbeds or gardens by the less prepared.  If you have a heat source to bake during your emergency, there are gluten free bread mixes that can be made from scratch, or purchased and stored in bulk, no different than your typical bread/muffin mix.

Sea veggies like dried kelp and dulse are not only flavorful additions to even this carnivores soups and stews, but provide a healthy shot of micro nutrients you can't get from a limited selection of garden product. Learn to dry fruit, and have protein powders  such as hemp, whey, soy, brown rice (I like Sun Warrior brand) to add to your drinking stores as well.   Learn to can those garden veggies. 
Dont' forget some spices. With the right blends you can make a sassy plate of beans and rice that would please anyone. And if you are thinking "beans smeans! I'm going to eat GAME!" remember, depending on the outside environment and how many other people may be seeking those few deer in the nearby woods, you may not have the means to secure meat, depending on where you live, even if you have the skill.  I can make a great venison jerky, but not so much on the years I don't harvest a deer.

What about chickens, someone asked (especially after having the egg on top of the beans and rice).  They are more work than just wandering around and picking up the eggs until they fling themselves into a French Enamel Casserole.  But if you understand the commitment, the reward is worth it.   Do your homework before making the investment.  Good information can be had at Pam's at the blog Community Chickens.  (I had a chicken once, named Sunny, origin of my "sunny noodle soup" recipe, but we'll not go there).

If you're prepping with a Type 1 Diabetic in the family.  Insulin needs notwithstanding, ask for an extra McDonald's hot cake syrup when you're getting coffee and save a few (or the little sugar and jelly packets also work, and if you ask nicely, most places will give  out a couple extra when you order your food.)  Half of one of those has about equals one of those 15 gram glucose tubes.  If someone's sugar is dropping and they're still responsible and swallowing, those might work if your prepping stores don't provide enough Glucogon.
As for foods, brown rice is obviously lower in the GI index than white but it does not keep near as long and will need to be rotated more often. Meats and cheese can be purchased canned and nuts are great as long as someone else in the group doesn't have allergies. Many low GI veggies and some fruits (apples, winter squash, etc) store well this way.  Dehydrated veggies are also another good way to store, squash does particularly well and will spike the sugar half as much as a sweet potato.  Try making some dehydrated soups with lower carb veggies. Learning to can with a pressure canner is a great way to set aside meat and veggies.

On any food storage plan, fat IS important.  I was part of a squirrel survival exercise wherein we had to sort out what supplies in our "downed chopper" we'd keep, and I was surprised several people didn't pick the can of Crisco (it's FAT AND you can use the can to melt the snow all around us in this exercise for water).  Fats fill you up and will will provide more stable energy than meals high in non complex carbohydrates.  But choose a good fat, preferably one not made in a laboratory. Coconut oil is one of the few fats that will last a few years in storage, though it's not cheap. It's also great in moisturising and protecting the skin from the elements (Barkley NO, I'm NOT a human Mounds bar!)

Ditch the junk food.  Make plans to have an occasional treat, non microwave popcorn, dried fruit, trail bars, dark chocolate, but leave the bulk junk food out of the storage provisions  Have some  crystallized lemon like TrueLemon packets or sugar free drink mix to to add to water (for flavor)  that you might have to treat with bleach to make it safe to drink in an disaster type emergency.  A rule of thumb, unless it's been broadcast that the water is absolutely undrinkable, (i.e. contaminated with hazardous chemicals or Tang, you can make it safe to drink by the following.

If tap water is clear:
1. Use bleach that does not have an added scent (floral/lemon, etc.).
2. Add 1/8 teaspoon (8 drops or about 0.75 milliliters) of household liquid bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) of water.
3. Mix well  (in clean and sanitized container) and wait 30 minutes or more before drinking.
If tap water is cloudy:
1. Use bleach that does not have an added scent
2. Add 1/4 teaspoon (16 drops or 1.5 milliliters) of household liquid bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) of water.
3. Mix well (in clean and sanitized container) and wait 30 minutes or more before drinking.

These are just some basic pointers.  For those of you looking for a great first primer for preparing your home and family for emergencies that both man and mother nature can throw at you (including a great section on caring for animals in your care in an emergency) my good friend Jane Alexandra has written  the book Rational Preparedness .  I'd certainly recommend it as a worthy and inexpensive guide for getting started.

Learning the basics is important.  Understanding your loved ones preferences and special needs is also essential.  For having a good selection selection of  nutrient dense stored foods, may keep everyone in your family, whatever their dietary need or preference, happier and healthier in hard times.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

In a Pickle - Fast Meals for a Crowd

Everyone here is likely familiar with one of those fast casual restaurants that makes Burritos the size of  raccoons.  I love their corn salsa, but there's not a location real convenient for me during the work week, so it's just an occasional treat, especially in that the sodium content in them is pretty high.
But burritos are easy at  home,  and you can control how healthy or unhealthy you want them.  But healthy doesn't have to mean "is there any pizza left?" and if you have unexpected company coming, it's something you can usually toss together quickly, especially if you have a friend to help you hide the body assemble the ingredients.

A crock pot also  helps to keep the warm ingredients warm until personally loaded. In this case some smoked chicken (or try leftover barbecued or rotisserie chicken, chopped).
With "build your own" burritos, all you have to do is lay out some healthy fare.  In this case, I did brown rice in the steamer, leftover fire roasted corn (that had been grilled with butter and a pinch or two of blended sugar and nutmeg), romaine, thinly sliced white cheese and sour cream and the best part - homemade quick pickled  jalapeños, all on whole wheat tortillas.
Pickled  Jalapeños

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
A pinch of kosher salt
a pinch of crushed garlic
8 jalapeños, thinly sliced

Remove some or all of the jalapeno seeds (the more seeds, the hotter they are) Whisk vinegar, sugar, garlic and salt in a medium bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add jalapeños; toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature, tossing occasionally, for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Note:  Pickled jalapeños can be made  up to 1 day ahead.

Assemble the ingredients with salt and  pepper and crushed red pepper.  It was a perfect blend of hot and cold, creamy and crunchy, sweet and hot. Have everyone make up a plate and serve with some cold beer and iced tea and some fresh fruit for dessert.

Both prep and clean up is easy as can be allowing you time to take your guests out to play with some toys and see the local sights.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I Think All the Attention Has Gone to Barkley's Head

Barkley O.  - "You know, if I had a human,
I'd name him Bo, after me."

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bacon Care of Business

Brioche is a pastry of French origin, similar to regular bread but for the additional egg and butter content which gives it a rich and tender crumb The steps involved in making it are actually very simple, but with rise time, it's best made on a quiet afternoon, or before bed, where it can cool overnight for an extra quick rise in the morning.  It's pretty hard to screw up, but here are a few tips.You want to use fresh yeast, eggs and butter, using eggs that are room temperature. You also want to add the cooling butter mixture just a bit at a time so it blends well with the flour. I'd also recommend mixing this one by hand, the tender, buttery results are worth the little extra effort.
Brioche  is made as a whole loaf and as individual rolls.  How about muffins? 
On a cold and rain day, Brioche for supper sounded good.  But how to prepare it that would be a little different?  As I brought groceries into the house earlier, Barkley was snooting the bag, smelling the bacon. Bacon Bacon Bacon.

And some Maple Sugar.
Bacon Brioche Muffins with Maple Sugar

Chop about 6-8 pieces of cooked/cooled bacon into pieces.  Set aside any small bits that are left after chopping.
In a small bowl, mix together and let sit 5-10 minutes, until slightly foamy
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons warm water (about 120 degrees, baby formula temp)
2 Tablespoons warm milk
1/2 Tablespoon yeast (that would be 1 and 1/2 tsp)

in small pan melt  2 sticks unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons plus 2 and 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/2  teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 Tablespoon salt
let cool a few minutes and whisk in 4 eggs

Combine yeast mixture with butter/egg mixture and stir into a big bowl containing 4 cups flour, a bit at a time, stirring briskly with a wooden spoon until smooth and shiny looking (3-6 minutes or so, depending on how much muscle you put into it).
click on photos to enlarge

Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in warm place (like the oven with light on) 2 hours, or until double in size.  Then place in fridge to cool so it's easier to handle (1-2 hours or overnight for breakfast brioche)

Lightly grease the pans you will use. Remove the dough from the fridge and  knead dough on lightly floured board about 4-5 times and cut into 12 pieces and gently form into balls with clean/dry, floured hands.  I did 6 slightly larger balls for a popover pan (to which I added the little extra bits of bacon) and 6 smaller ones for a muffin pan that I will top with rosemary and sea salt for dinner rolls later in the week.

Let pans rise in warm place 1 hour.  Place large bits of chopped, lightly cooked and cooled bacon into the top of each roll, pressing down into the dough (without squishing it) and then sprinkle with Maple sugar (I use King Arthurs) and bake in preheated 350 F. oven for 18-20 minutes.

To serve your bacony goodness, drizzle with maple syrup and a dab of butter while still warm and serve with fresh fruit for a light supper on a chilly night or a tasty breakfast.
I told you Mom, "Mausers and Muffins" is an OK name, 
but you should have called the blog "Black Labs and Bacon".

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I remember the very first time I pulled a trigger, 12 years old, under my former LEO Mom's supervision, and after years of watching gun safety. I remember the target, a soda pop can. I remember the hesitant deliberation of the hand, the tightening of the muscles in my stance, knees slightly bent, leaning in, that seemed to convey twice the weight of what my childlike body held. And I squeezed and hit the top rim of the can, knocking it off its perch. It took ten minutes for the smile to leave my face.

The confidence never left me.

- Brigid

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Daily Grinds

At the Range you can  be certain the cooking methods will be "unique" (hey the starter can made out of duct work finally fell apart). Multi cultural cooking  is also sort of the norm around my kitchen with grandmothers from Norway and the UK.  Then add  Brigid Jr, all six foot of her, adopted by a Native Hawaiian family that invites me to their feasts, AND the Canadian branch of the family, we pretty much have most carb loving cultures covered in the cooking department.  Though they lean heavily towards cuisines where the FDA has classified the food as a sedative..

Tonight, it's my favorite Hawaiian plate lunch sidekick, (an adaption from a recipe in Cook's Country Magazine)

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
Hawaiian  macaroni salad is a staple of the "plate lunch" along side of  two scoops of sticky rice and a big portion of  tangy meat (similar in structure to the Southern "meat and three").  It's slightly different than traditional mac salad, soft and pillowy with a tangy,  mayo rich coating and typically no eggs or additional proteins, just a shaving of onion (or topping of scallions), carrot and  celery.  Paired with some good burgers mixed and glazed with some garlic, ginger, a drop ofhoney and soy, topped with a little red pepper on a soft bun, it would be the perfect barbecue side dish.

The secret to the pasta is to cook it until it's quite soft (the Natives call it "fat") so that it soaks up the dressing, making it incredibly creamy without being too mushy.  I use the small "ring" salad macaroni (known as "Creamette Salad-ettes" to any good Lutheran Basement Church Woman) that's a huge part of the Scandahoovian salad and casserole culture (and impossible to find in Hoosierville).  I then add good quality mayo, no light or fat free and Dear God in Heaven No Miracle Whip. The mayo is mixed with milk to help it soak in, with additional mayo and a splash of milk stirred in with the veggies right before serving. Apple Cider Vinegar gives it a bit of tang, but it's tossed on the macaroni when it's hot, a Cooks  Country tip, so it soaks in for a few minutes, so not to curdle the dairy laden coating.  It came out perfect.

It's really good and was a hit with my friends. But be careful to hold on to your plate so someone doesn't grab it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Browning .22 Long Rifle - A Humble Masterpiece

I walked along the trail, Browning in my hand. It was the first one I had ever hunted with, an old 20 gauge semi auto that was twice my years.  I was a beginner but I'd been taught the craft by those that loved me, passing down a tradition of survival and preparedness. At the end of the day, I could field dress the animal with coaching but no hands on assistance, there in the fading light, my bloody hands consecrating to us that which was, by God's will and man's patience, accepted as a gift.

With that first hunt, I grew up , in more ways the one, having learned and watched and waited, until I was ready to handle my firearm, ready to use it as a responsible steward of the land, looking at the deer on the ground, the first worthy blood I had been worthy to take. Sacrifice with grace, for which we are both thankful and repentant and respect for those things which are passed down from one generation to the next.
Today, there was no hunt, but there was still the excitement of holding something in my hand designed by John Moses Browning, himself. The Browning 22 Semi-Auto rifle, also known as the Semi Automatic 22 or SA-22, is a take-down produced by FN Herstal based on the John Browning patent. Still  produced by Browning as the Semi-Auto 22, production began in 1914 and continued through 1974 in Belgium.. After 1974 they are produced by Moriku in Japan.  In addition to the quality that is the trademark of  Browning,  the SA-22 itself is well known as  the first production semiautomatic .22 rifle with some half a million produced since 1914.

What do they say about imitation and flattery? -  A close copy made by the Chinese company Norinco was formerly imported into the US by Interarms as the Model ATD. Remington manufactured a lighter weight version under license early on as the Remington Model 24 and then replaced it with the Model 241 Remington in 1935. Except for the barrel locking mechanism the Remington Model 241 is very similar to the Browning SA-22 and quite popular. Some said that those first close copies didn't quite possess the fit and finish of the design on which it was based, one that had a history of reliability over the long term, and so the Browning continued to be a good seller.

 Having hunted with a Browning firearm, myself, I had high expectations.
Yes, this firearm was not made in Belgium, but in Japan where production for the firearm continued by Miroku. Though it's hard to beat the Belgium model, the ones produced in Japan are by no means of poor quality, and for the price I'd say, worth considering.

It has been offered in several "grades" of engraving and gold inlay with the collectors being the Belgium models (I saw a fairly plain one at an Indiana gun show that was over $1000 FIRM). If you can find a Belgium one with a price that's not in the stratosphere, grab it, but don't overlook it's descendant.

These are sometimes found with a carry case, very nice leather that hold the rifle in its take-down form and some ammunition and which also adds value to the firearm.
The  light engraving is standard with finely detailed checkering on the walnut stock and  grip. Some of the more recent engraved work looks to be machine-rolled and machined cut, then hand finished. It's quite nice, but I miss the  hand-done loops and scrolls of earlier firearms. Still, it is a nice touch and some of the more ornate engraving on the earlier Belgium models is pure art.

You may also see some slightest of variances in the wood-tone on the later Japanese models, with some a bit lighter in color than older ones, at least in my opinion. They are all still tight grained and lacquered to a ultra-high gloss, certainly not like that light colored stuff that was plastered on some guns back in the "gun bling" era, where I first heard the term "Balsa Wood Wetherby". 

This firearm  is certainly not a collectors edition and has some some gentle wear from the field. But this is a firearm, you CAN take out in the field. Unlike some firearms which act like spoiled debutantes when faced with some dirt, hard work and rough handling, the Browning will remain a trusted friend in the field, a favorite with small game sportsmen.  Given its light weight, it would be an excellent choice for something to take along in the wilderness, not for large bears or the rabid Winnebago, but for when you might need something  dependable for small game.
Pieces and Parts - The action, a John Moses Browning original design, is a take-down autoloader with a bottom ejection and rear magazine tube loading (more on that in a bit). The received is machine from steel, with the Grade I, like my piece, engraved with a scroll design and polished blued finish (The Grave VI models are available in polished blued OR satin grayed finish, which is particularly beautiful). The bluing is typical Browning, that is, a deep, rich polished blue that holds up well. 

The butt plate is metal and is a comfortable fit whether you are man, woman, or youth starting out in the shooting sports. Certainly if one wanted to gently introduce a young or first time shooter to rifles,  with the recognition and means to purchase quality, this would be a great choice. There is really no recoil and the report is no louder than a high powered pellet rifle. You're not going to spook cattle OR Aunt Marge with this firearm.

Golden Trigger - Not just Roy Rogers horse any more. If you get a Grade VI .22 the trigger is gold. On this particular grade it's blued, and feels as nice as it looks with a light trigger pull that can be pulled quickly and repeatedly.

The manual safety is above the trigger guard. It's pretty intuitive and easy to use.

The sites are adjustable, the front one being a gold "bead" type that's highly visible in daytime and can be adjusted for windage.The adjustable folding leaf rear site also easily folds down for a slightly lower profile. 

A cantilever scope mount(for 22 style grooved mounts) is available separately. The barrel (not the receiver) is drilled and tapped for these special mounts, on the later firearms, at least..

Take me down to the gun range. The Browning auto is one of the quickest .22 repeaters to take-down, though there are other single shot .22s that come apart easily as well. The classic Marlin Model 39A comes apart by removing the large knurled screw head - so did over a million of Remington's M-12A pump. But I found the  Browning .22 particularly easy, even for a first timer, adding a portability feature that's handy on any .22 rifle.
In the most basic terms, the two halves assemble by way of half threaded barrel and receiver. The slim, forged steel receiver and slender barrel takes down into two compact units without any tools nor brute strength. To disassemble, you simply push a lever forward, give the gun a twist and the barrel will separate from the action.

This works with or without scope, and doesn't impact scope/barrel alignment as Browning mounts the scope to the barrel, not the receiver to optimize accuracy. Additionally, once the barrel is removed, the trigger assembly can also be slid out, to where the firearm is stripped to the point where all the components are easily to access for cleaning and lubrication.

The tubular magazine is in the butt stock of the rifle, pressure provided by the magazine spring in the rod in the back of the rifle to feed the rounds (just shy of a dozen Long Rifle cartridges) into the chamber. The magazine is loaded through a port in the side of the stock -- and the magazine follower is pulled back for loading (or removed entirely) from the butt stock itself. A key on the end of the follower is turned to unlock and the follower pulls back. When pulled back about two-thirds of the way you can drop your rounds into the port on the side of the butt stock (see photo above) where it feeds directly into the magazine tube. You then return the follower tube into the magazine tube, lock the key with a quick turn and you are ready.
I Said Dance! - Empty shell casings are ejected from the bottom of the receiver, chambering the next round by elfin magic. The design was intended to keep the user's face "protected from gasses and flying particles while firing" as well as leaving room for the beautiful engraving.  Designed this way,  it's a great  ambidextrous firearm  but make sure you wear long sleeves and keep your off hand sufficiently far forward or you will end up with a half moon shaped 22 caliber burn from the blazing hot empty case that ejects down one's left shirt sleeve. (If you think the "hot brass down the shirt dance" is a riot, try that tender skin with all the nerve endings on the inside of the wrist). If you have loose sleeves, a simple rubber band can prevent some pain and embarrassment (and is slightly more discretely fashionable than duct tape)
Ammo- This fired best with good quality ammo, NOT the super cheap bulk stuff that you wouldn't give to your ex. And you don't want to put shorts in the LR guns, they won't even hand cycle because the guns are set up for LR only

At the range At 5.2 pounds (2.4 kg) this is a lightweight rifle, one easily handled by all sizes and builds of shooters.  At 37 inches of length (94 cm) with 19.24 inches of that being barrel, it's not cumbersome in the field.  What struck me most about it was how perfectly balanced it was, making for a totally enjoyable shooting experience, sitting OR standing.

Accuracy was good and typical of the Springfield M-187N and Marlin 39A (though I've seen some jamming with the both the Springfield and the Marlin after extended running of semi-auto which the Browning .22 does not appear to display). Even standing, accuracy was very good. It's quick to the shoulder and points like the best black lab I've ever had.

When I think of hunting, I think of big guns and bigger game, the heft of the firearm, the knockdown power of a .30 cal carbine.  Certainly the memories of those first hunts and the skills I learned will stay with me always. But don't dismiss this as a "beginners" gun for adolescents, even if small rimfires don't get the appreciation they deserve among some rifle aficionados. It is deadly accurate and a joy to shoot (even if fuzzy squirrel target looks suspiciously like hairy bad guy target).
Certainly, there are cheaper rimfires out there. But I carried a Browning in my hands when I first took up a firearm. Now, I have in my possession, a humble sporting rifle that is one of the last masterpieces designed by John Moses Browning.  It is a simple weapon, one worn from years of carriage.  But in it remains the remnants of history, there in that design of wood and wonder, there in the science of  brass and gunpowder, those precipitates of earth and air's elemental movements that discharge their duties today as they did a hundred years ago. I am as proud to own it as I will be to pass it on to yet another generation.