That Time Again

Ugh, oncall weekend again. No bueno. I am way too old for that sport. It was insult to injury, kind of piled on to the lack of fun last weekend. I guess it could have been worse. Not entirely sure how, but I suppose it can always be worse. We did make good use of the down time on Saturday, with some fridge cleanup. We’ve got tomatoes coming out every corner of the house, so we cleaned them up, roasted them on the smoker, and froze them. Now what will we do with them? I guess that’s a puzzle for another weekend. At least they’ll go bad from freezer burn instead of from rotting on the kitchen table. I also finished up the Great Tallow Experiment. It had been sitting in the fridge since last weekend, taking up our favorite mixing bowl. So, this weekend I dumped it in an aluminum pan, melted it down in the smoker, and put it in mason jars. I had a little bit extra, so I fried up some green tomatoes in it. As far as I know, that is the first time I’ve had fried green tomatoes. They were good! I wouldn’t say I now crave them as some claim to, but they were pretty tasty. Several recipes I read called specifically for Roma tomatoes; supposedly their lower water content makes them fry better. Since that’s the kind of tomatoes we have by the bushel, I thought I was in luck. Well, in practice, I don’t think they’re good at all for the recipe. Too small. I was pretty tired of flipping those little dollar size discs by the time I was finished. Matter of fact I threw several away, too much hassle. I’d try it again, maybe with a different variety. We got out of the house for a bit Sunday. Headed over to a friend’s house and took advantage of their pool, which felt great because it is HOT out here. We brought burgers and corn over for a bbq, but decided it was just entirely too scorching outside and ended up cooking it all in the kitchen.

Kind of fell down on the pics last week. Hey, I didn’t have any subject matter. I did put a camera on one of the hummingbird feeders, which has turned in some great videos, but I still can’t figure out how to post video on here.

Well, We Had the Best Intentions

What a drag THAT weekend was. Worst thing about a bad weekend is, it just keeps rolling into the next week, which is obviously going to suck because… Well, because it’s not the weekend, and that’s my rut for the foreseeable future. Things started going bad Thursday evening. We agreed to watch a puppy, Dallas, who was being fostered for the rescue where we got Quinn & Nacho. The word “puppy” should have been a red flag right off the bat. We fell for the ol’ “He’s pretty easy for a puppy” line though. Fully housetrained, sleeps most of time… What could go wrong? Well, the “housetrained” rumor failed about 30 minutes into the stay, and several times thereafter. Not the end of the world. Our two little brats had quite a time adjusting to the new house too, in that respect, so not like it’s the first time the floor got peed on. He had a major case of puppy-biting though, which was annoying and even a bit painful. Puppies have sharp little teeth! Nothing was safe; Arms, fingers and toes, ankles, calves… He’d just latch on out of the blue. And the chewing… If you turned your back for (literally) a second, there was going to be damage involved. Couch, power cords, table legs… Everything was fair game. Probably the worst part though was that Quinny & Nacho just hated him. Now, I’ll admit I had no expectations of Nacho interacting. Heck, I’m not entirely sure she likes Quinn, but she tolerates him at least. If this beast got anywhere near her, which was quite often, she would just erupt in that shrill ear-splitting yapping that the little ones are so good at. Quinn, on the other hand, was a real disappointment. I genuinely expected him to have a ball with the puppy. Yeah, not so much. I don’t know if it was because Dallas was so big, or if it was his rather “in your face” approach, or maybe Quinn just didn’t like him. Hey, you can’t be best buddies with everybody you meet, an adage I’ve become quite familiar with. He didn’t just ignore him though, he would go after him quite ferociously, or as ferocious as a 12 pound dog can be anyway. I have no doubts that if he wasn’t 3 times smaller than Dallas, there would have been injury involved. I thought he actually did hurt him a few times, but it turned out to just be his feelings for the most part. Ol’ Dallas was a slow learner though, he wasn’t giving up. Just kept running at both of them in that big goofy puppy way, over and over and over, always with the same result. I kept expecting him to realize he had a considerable size advantage and turn the tables, but luckily he never figured that out. Oh well, I guess we survived. Maybe I should hold that assessment until after I get through this week.

How Embarrassing

Whoa, did I miss three weeks? Geez, what happened there. Guess I got caught up in the excitement. We’ve had visitors, we took a little vacation, we left the house a few times… It’s just mayhem out west! Our KC friends the Martins came out for a week. We all went up to the Celebrity Golf Tournament in Tahoe, which is always a good time. It would probably be even more fun if I liked golf and recognized any of the “celebrities,” but it was a great time all the same. I knew a few, like Patrick Mahomes & Travis Kelce, and Brett Saberhagen always plays in it. For the most part I recognize names but not faces. Golf tourney aside, we had some great meals too, and just general fun.

Before Martin flew out, he threw out the idea that we should try cooking a brisket from Snake River Farms. Hey, I’m game. I’ve heard of them before, but never took the plunge on buying one. The only bad news was, all they had in stock was the 20-pound behemoths when I got around to ordering. Oh well. He smuggled some good KC bbq rub out here with him, and we threw it on my smoker at 5:00 in the morning. Now, the last time I used this cooker was a full year ago. We had a big party and invited everybody up for a house warming of sorts. It went “OK” but honestly I just wasn’t happy with the ‘que. I didn’t think it got enough smoke, I had a bit of trouble with the heat, and was just a bit bummed about the whole thing. This brisket turned it all around. It was just great, and now I can’t wait to fire up the smoker again and try some more stuff. I think the biggest issue was the fancy lump charcoal I’ve been using. It just doesn’t work well in this smoker, I’ve decided. Too big. I bought some regular briquettes, and didn’t stuff it so full, and it ran like a champ. Cooked that whole 20 pound slab of beef on about 1/2 a bag of charcoal. This is excitement in my world.

As for this past weekend, it wasn’t bad either. No bbq and Tahoe, but I can’t hold that pace very long anyway. We went out to a few wineries with some friends on Saturday, and Sunday we tried out a new Mexican restaurant, which was fantastic. Service was a little sketchy, but I don’t get too bent out of shape about that, I’m there for the feed. After dinner we went home and played pool and darts all night, which was fun. While we played games, I ran back and forth upstairs and kept an eye on my exciting beef tallow project. “Uhhhh, your what?” So when I trimmed out the aforementioned brisket, I threw all the fat in a bag and tossed it in the freezer. That’s what I usually do so it doesn’t get all smelly in the trash, then I throw it out on trash day. Well, by our estimation when we got done trimming, there was about $40 worth of trash in that bag. I just couldn’t quite shake that thought out of my cheapskate mind. A little light reading turned up the tallow idea, so I tossed it all in a stock pot and got to renderin’. I guess it came out good? Not entirely sure what it was supposed to turn out like, but it looks good to me. Or as good as five cups of fat can look anyway. I have no earthly idea what I’m going to do with it, but I gave it a try at least. (Chicken fried steak is on the short list.)

Better Late Than Never

Better late than never? Well, not in every case. But, give me credit for making an effort. Or, don’t. If you type a bunch of words but don’t really say anything, does that qualify as an effort? Whoa, deep thought for a Tuesday. Hey, it’s not my fault I’ve been shut in the house for two weeks with no exciting tales to regale my two readers with. Or, maybe it is my fault, but let’s not nitpick. About all I have to go with is the story of the Great A/C Outage of ’21, so go with it I shall. This unfortunate saga began last Wednesday. I joined The Guys for dinner at a nearby place (Solid Ground, as it happens,) and then afterwards they came over to the house to play some pool. We came in the house through the garage into the basement, which stays relatively cool all summer. So, we played some pool, then they took off back down the hill to their civilized worlds. Meanwhile, I’d gone up the stairs to get ready for bed, and immediate noticed something was horribly wrong. Yep, a quick check of the thermostat showed the a/c running but it was 80+ degrees. I stepped out back to check the a/c, and sure enough it was making a loud humming noise but nothing was happening. It was dark, and late, so I just shut it off, cranked on the attic fan, and went to bed. (We just had the attic fan installed a few weeks ago, dodged a bullet there!) Thursday I got up and made some calls, and the best I could do for an hvac visit was Wednesday of this week! Uh oh, we got a situation. Not too bad though, because the weather was “tolerable.” I toughed it out until evening, then the attic fan cooled things down quickly again. The real trouble started on Friday. By 10:30 in the morning the temp had gone up to 86 in the house. By noon it was even hotter, and the outdoor thermometer showed 110. I don’t know if that is completely accurate, but I don’t doubt that it was close, it was a record day. So, I turned to the google for some DIY help. What do you know, I found that the likely culprit was a capacitor, and this could be worked around by giving the compressor fan a spin to help it get started. Interesting side note, despite my doctorate degree in electronics from CMSU, I really wasn’t too clear what a “capacitor” was, nor was I inclined to figure it out. I did, however, know what a fan was. Despite some skepticism, (seriously, what are the odds of that working?) I found a stick of suitable size and gave the fan a whirl. Hey, success! Add HVAC guy to my resume! I immediate went inside, sat under a vent, and reveled in my success. Yeah, this was a short term fix, but one I could manage until Wednesday for my service call. A few blissful hours later, I thought, “Huh, seems to be getting a lil’ warm in here.” Yep, it was back up in the 80’s. I went out back and the fan had stopped again, but this time with no hum or anything. Uh oh. Back to the google. Well no matter how many links I followed, everything led to the mysterious “capacitor.” (Option 2 being the compressor had completely burned up, which certainly was in the realm of possibility considering the age of this thing.) I started making calls, beginning with my trusty local hardware store. Alas, nobody carries capacitors. They did, however, all point me to the same place down In Town, Fergusons. Hey, I’m game, I gave them a ring. Well, this call went about as I should have expected. The guy on the other end, who to his credit did seem very eager to help, started peppering me with questions that no mortal would possibly know the answers to. “What is the microfarad rating of your current one? Is it a start or run capacitor? One or two of them?” Geez dude. Uhhhhh, “it’s ball bearing?” Realizing the conversation was degrading quickly, he finally said, “Can you just bring in the old one?” After a brief, uncomfortable silence, I bluffed “Yeah sure, I’ll do that.” Back to the google. Well, I couldn’t find a really clear solution for this one. I can’t even find out the brand of my compressor, it’s just “old.” So, I started taking screws off. I pretty quickly came across a part that I decided, with some confidence, was a “capacitor.” I based this deduction on the facts that it was one of the very few parts I would call “removable,” and it also appeared to be in even worse shape than everything else inside. It came off pretty easily, and I went on my field trip To Town. Upon arrival at Fergusons, my confidence was greatly boosted when he confirmed that yes, that was indeed a capacitor, and it had most definitely failed in a spectacular manner. Whaddya know! I got home, put it back in (luckily I took some pictures so I knew what wire went where,) and fired it up. Boom, air conditioning! Grand total, $21 for the part and a buck in gas! Considering the service call alone was $100, I was just pleased as could be. Actually the fact is, I simply wasn’t going to survive until Wednesday without A/C, I guess I’ve gone soft. The money saving was certainly a nice bonus though!

Weekend Lost… Again

I’ve got precious little material to go on this week. It’s a shame too, because the weather was fantastic and I wasted it. Just couldn’t seem to get out the door. This week promises to slowly inch back up to the triple digits, so I missed my chance. My excuse (this time) is that Donette is out of town and I need to stay home with the pups. Now do I really? Well, yes and no I guess. They survive, but they get terribly anxious. I cannot imagine where they get that from, but it’s a real “thing.” As soon as you get home, Nacho will circle the yard for 10 minutes screaming like a banshee (bet the neighbors love that sound,) and there is about a fifty-fifty chance Quinn has chewed something up in the house. That goes up to 100% if you forget to hide every pillow in the house. So, I just stay home with them. Good for their well-being, and my wallet. I did go out with some friends Sunday night, to The Little Italian Place down the street. Clever name… They do serve Italian food and it is, in fact, very little. I usually order pasta, but I got a pizza this time, and it was outstanding. Can’t wait to go back and try a few others. (Being somewhat devoid of adventurous ordering these days, I went with the four-cheese.) Anddddd that about covers it.

I guess I can ramble on about my hummingbirds. Wow, that experiment got out of hand quickly. I have a feeder my sister sent me a few years back, and I try to keep it filled up regularly. Usually when you look out the window there would be 4 or 5 birds flying around it, but only one seems to eat at a time. All the rest just chase each other away in their little hummingbird gang fights. My solution? Get more feeders so everyone has a spot. I’m up to five so far. What I didn’t expect was, all it did was attract more birds. If you walk out the front door now, it sounds like you’re in the middle of a bee hive. You have to get out and close the door quickly or they will fly in the house. And man do they eat. It’s a never ending chore. OK yeah, it’s just stirring up some sugar water and boiling it a few minutes. But then you have to wash the pots, spoons, etc, not to mention all the feeders. (They’ll get moldy if you don’t keep on top of it.) And then there’s the sugar; I’m buying a ten pound sack every 1.5 weeks. I just don’t go to the grocery store that often! Oh well, I guess I could cut them off to survive in the wild again. I’m about 1/2 afraid they’d attack me though.