Monday, August 14, 2006

Mom's Cooking

The last four days have been wonderful, with my mother here visiting on her way from San Diego (where she helped settle my late grandmother's estate) to Michigan (where she'll stay with my sister for the winter). We've had a wonderful time. My aunt and uncle (my father's older brother) marked their 50th wedding anniversary Saturday, and we surprised them with a surprise party/picnic/potluck. All of their kids were there, even their daughter who lives in Athens, Greece. Sunday we went back out to their house for the day, and had dinner together. The main course was a brisket that I smoked and took with us -- more on that later. Today, we took her to Lone Pine, a local farm stand that also has a petting barn on the premeses (pictures of The Lad feeding the goats to follow as soon as Qwest fixes my camera mail). For dinner we had nachos made from leftover brisket, and for dessert we had blackberry cobbler made by my mother from berries purchased at Lone Pine.

It's been good to see The Lad bond with his Nana B., and she's had a blast spoiling being with him. It's also good to see her without the weight of my grandmother's illness and death on her shoulders.

The food has been amazing. When I made the brisket, I used a new, simpler variation on my old marinade recipe:

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup worchestershire Sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup Coca-Cola
1 bottle red wine
6 bottles porter
2 yellow onions, sliced thin
1 head garlic, separated and peeled

I started marinating in Thursday, so it was in the marinade for around 68 hours. I also used all of the marinade in the drip pan during the smoking. In addition, I managed to maintain the heat better this time. It hit the smoker at 4 AM Sunday, and was done at 2 PM, at which time we packed it up and drove it the 30 minutes to my aunt's and uncle's. The entire drive, the smell of that brisket cooped up in our little car drove us freaking NUTS. The smoke ring on it was about a quarter of an inch thick, and I swear, it was the best brisket I've made yet.

Tonight, my mom fixed her blackberry cobbler, which is made from her own variation on the standard Betty Crocker cobbler recipe:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


In a saucepan, combine:

3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp corn starch
4 cups blackberries
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. allow to boil for one minute and remove from heat. Place in the oven to keep warm while mixing the cobbler dough.


1 cup flower
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk

Mix together dry ingredients. Cut in butter until the size of peas. Mix in milk (do not overstir). Drop dough by teaspoons full onto filling, distributing over top to form crust. Bake for 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool.

One of the things I missed most about Oregon when I lived in San Diego was the blackberries, and I especially missed blackberry cobbler. So when we served it tonight, I was in heaven. sadly, I could not eat all of my second helping, so I reluctantly covered it in plastic wrap, placed it in the fridge, and told my beloved wife, "touch it and draw back a bloody stump!"

Sadly, my mom leaves tomorrow morning. Her first stopover is in Twin Falls, Idaho, where she'll visit old family friends, then Cheyenne, then Des Moines before reaching Michigan on Saturday evening. Please pray for a safe journey for her.

Top This for Weirdness

My whole life I've had a birthmark on my left chest, just below the nipple. The other day, something about it dawned on me:

It's shaped exactly like Puerto Rico.

Musical Geography Question of the Day

A question for everyone EXCEPT VIC:

Where can you talk to God and listen to his casual reply?

Quote of the Day

"America-bashing is in fashion as it has not been since Ronald Reagan accurately described the Soviet Union as an "evil empire". Anti-Americanism is not confined to the usual radical chic suspects of the Left; here in Britain, it infects the High Tory Establishment, "good Europeans" and little Englanders alike. So why are we all anti-Americans now?

American stumbling on the rough road since 2001 has played some part. Yet had there, inconceivably, been no wrong steps, had America been positively obsequious in courting international support (and it has done more on that score than it critics admit), anti-Americanism would still be on the rise. The US is never less popular than when it is aroused and determined in defence of democratic freedoms, never less trusted than when the world is most reliant on its unmatched ability to project power.

Democracies are psychologically ill-adapted to open-ended confrontations where there can be no decisive victory, the essence of the effort to subdue global terrorism. Eternal vigilance is a wearisome business. The more vulnerable that Europeans feel, the more liable they are to shift blame across the Atlantic.

The strength of disdain is a measure of Europe's weakness. Smugness is one of Europe's great contemporary exports. We may all think that we know America, its music, its culture, its self-confident exceptionalism. We tend to forget that Americans fight only with extreme reluctance. We overlook their penchant for agonised self-criticism; everything bad we know about the US, we know because Americans inexhaustibly rehearse their society's shortcomings. There has never been greater transparency, whether than on the battlefield or the boondocks, and there has never been more open debate about the country's virtues and vices - the internet has transformed the quantity and, at times, the quality of the conversation.

Better than most, Muslims understand why Islamist terrorism is war at its unholiest, an existential threat to societies. Iraqis may resent occupation, but they fear a weakening of US resolve. Their fears should be ours. Were it to become politically impossible for a president to keep America's forces engaged from its shores, then the backbone of international security would be broken. America-bashing may be a popular sport, but its adherents prefer not to contemplate its consequences."
- Adam, a commenter at The Jawa Report