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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blood Moon, Red Planet, and Spica


That is a Blood Moon, as seen over DFW at 02:45 04/15/14.  The bright "star" to the upper right is actually Mars, the Red Planet.  The small dimmer star is Spica. 

Taken with a Samsung Galaxy S4, in Night Mode, held by hand, supported by a ladder.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blood Moon Tetrad begins

Tonight begins a series of four total eclipses of the moon within the next 18 months.  A total eclipse of the moon is commonly known as a Blood Moon, because the moon appears a deep reddish color when the eclipse is at its maximum.

Some folks feel that this will precipitate major social upheavals, or even more dramatic, the End Times.  While I do not subscribe to that particular belief, I do find it somewhat ironic that tomorrow is Tax Day, April 15th in the USA.

Though it is rather chilly here today, what with a big front that came through last night, it is supposed to be clear skies by 10pm, well before the eclipse begins.  Temps overnight are forecast to freeze here (29F for the low).  However it is a chance for the Monkeys to see a neat astronomical event.

After DH made me aware of tonight's eclipse, I asked the Monkeys if they wanted to get up/stay up to witness it.  The cacophony of affirmations was funny.  M1 expressed a sincere desire to see the event.  M2 expressed a desire for lots of coffee in order to stay up.  (he is the early sleeper/early riser in the family).  M3 wanted caffeinated soda and pizza to eat all night long.

Since somebody just returned to work from being off on disability (remember the CPAP?), and doesn't need to lose a night's sleep mucking about with Monkeys and an eclipse, I guess I will be the one trying to stay up all night!  It could be fun.  It will be exhausting.  Thank goodness I am a night owl at heart.

Come to think of it, perhaps it would be a good idea to roast some coffee beans for myself.  And maybe sneak in a nap today too...  If I am feeling generous, and if they behave well today, I might be persuaded to get a freezer pizza and a 2L of Dr Pepper for us all to share.  It could be a party of sorts if they are quiet enough to not wake DH up.

If you want to know if you will be able to see this lunar eclipse,(assuming clear skies) this link will tell you.  Eclipse viewing.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Brisket Experiment


Brisket...BBQ bane or blessing?  I will be honest with y'all, I have never really enjoyed my own smoked brisket.  That's not to say the rest of the diners did not like them, but I, the cook, did not.

I've never been totally clear either, on what it is, I am doing wrong, or not doing...  Normally I prefer to smoke delicious dead pig.  I get excellent results on pretty well anything pig.  I also grill a mean steak, but brisket?  Eh, how about a smoked pork shoulder instead, love?

But I love DH, and he really likes brisket.  So when he found the brisket recipe in the latest Penzey's catalog, I found myself on the receiving end of some not so subtle hints.  Thus on our trip this week to said spice store, we acquired the things listed in their employee-tested recipe.  There will be a summary of the recipe at the end of all this.
 
Right side wet rub. Left side dry rub.
The big brisket was unpacked and trimmed up on the edges, but not for fat removal.  The little tip brisket and its bacon was soaked in Guinness Stout for around 10 hours before the rubs were applied and it was wrapped in bacon.
 
Big brisket
Beer soaked little brisket
Wet rub application
 
Cook's prerogative!


After applying the wet and dry rubs to both briskets, I wrapped the small one in bacon.  Then I sprinkled some more dry rub on the bacon for good measure.   Things were then covered and put in the fridge overnight.

06:00 came far too soon for my taste, but DH got up with me to help start the smoker.  The goal is to keep it cooking for 10-12hrs at as close to 275F as I can manage.


On heat at 6a.m.
 

An hour in...
It was a slow day, basting the meat with mop sauce around every hour.  After about 7hrs on the smoker, I wrapped the big brisket in foil and let it continue, wrapped, until 5pm.    This is the results of my labors.
That's not burnt--that's spiced, blackened bacon, that tastes slightly sweet from the mop sauce.  You can see part of the "smoke ring" where the meat appears pink/red.  It came out tender, and not too dry.  The guys passed verdict on it as Tasty and Fit for Human Consumption!  Though they did think the cayenne pepper needs to be reduced down to a total of 1/2T.  I had already cut it down from the suggested 2T to only 1T, but that proved a little warm still.  I guess it all turned out ok, and the left overs (actually the entire big brisket is left overs...) are making for some tasty sandwiches for lunch today.
Next time, it's a pork shoulder--my personal favorite and probably a slab of ribs.  Perhaps I will try a simple cracked pepper and brown sugar rub.  Or maybe just sea salt and cracked pepper?  Either way, I think the Penzey's rub was good, but too complicated.

For those interested, here is a picture of the Penzey's info.  Enlarge it to read it better.