The Old Bear's Den

my hiding place from the world...

Archive for the ‘ Family ’ Category

Wedding prep Day 2

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Day 2 started with 60+ pounds of pork getting prepped and going into the smokers… 😀

Pulled pork anyone?

Pulled pork anyone?

I haven’t had the baby going in a while, but it fired right up and has a nice blend of apple and hickory coming out the top just fine… and 20+ pounds of what will be wonderful pulled pork.

Baby in action…

 

The baby smoker is back in action

The baby smoker is back in action

I will be doing another triple batch of BBQ sauce today, this time a sweet and hot with a little spicy kick at the finish, and of course the ongoing other thousand and one things that have to be prepped.

Mama Bear and Aunt Roo are picking up Baby Bears dress from alterations. And my woodworking projects continue, I am making the food sign stands and a couple of picture stands, which has been kind of fun.

New career moves

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Today I have embarked on a new career… wedding planner 😀

OK, so not really, but I reached the point where I could not stand it any more.  Mama Bear has been struggling with trying to do so much of the oldest’s wedding for months, and the stress has gotten to be too much.

She has enjoyed it to a great extent, working with the new guy’s mother has been a wonderful part of it, but she has reached the point where she is not a nice person to be around some of the time so this is my own selfish best interest…

So this morning I assumed control… which means spreadsheets and schedules, and lists, lots of lists, organized lists.  People are going to hate me, I don’t care…

I am very much of the mindset that this will happen.  There will almost certainly be hiccups, and something will go wrong, at least one something, but in the end the wedding is going to happen, everyone will be happy and the party afterwards will be enjoyed and then life will go on…

But the truth of the matter is, well, this is actually kind of fun.  This is something my anal thought processes really excel at.  Process management and improvement, making things work, it fits into my brain pattern.  As long as everybody does what I say this is going to work out just fine… 😀

Mama Bear says I am a unique version of David Tutera, just without the budget, and the TV show, and the finesse… LOL

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Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

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First of all, Happy Mother’s day to my mother, and my wife, and all the mothers out there.

As for me, apparently beuaty is the result of hard work, and pork…

Yesterday I started the process that will end up with maple bacon, Canadian bacon, oh yeah and the best pulled pork I think I have ever made…

I started out yesterday morning with just over 26 pounds of pork shoulder/butt and loin, can you say pure pork goodness?

Saturday Morning Fun

Saturday Morning Fun

After breaking down the shoulder/butt into bone-in sections and boneless sections, I prepped the bone in sections for smoking today…

Pulled pork prep

Pulled pork prep

Then I prepped the boneless section for bacon, setting up my cure and sectioning the meat… A while back I switched from pork side and belly for bacon.  I love bacon, and I have no problem with that yummy bacon fat, but I love the meaty part of bacon even more.  So now I make what is called buckboard bacon.  Most American bacon made from the belly has a ration of 3 parts fat to 1 part meat. Made from the shoulder/butt, buckboard bacon has the reverse, 2-3 parts meat to one part fat, and I absolutely love it.

It's Bacon!!!

It’s Bacon!!!

Finally we come to my latest test, Canadian bacon.  My father and I were talking the other day about some of my bacon, I run them over some every now and then, especially when my mother makes a request.  My Dad was asking me if the bacon I did was like Canadian bacon, so I told him I didn’t think so, but I would have to look into what it really was because I had never done any Canadian bacon.

He told me the reason he was asking is because he used to get this thick sliced Canadian bacon ,like 3/8″ to 1/2″ thick at this place they would go to eat breakfast sometimes, but he cannot find it sliced that thick in any store so he could make it at home if he wanted to.  So I’m making Canadian bacon for my Dad, not that I won’t enjoy it myself I am sure… 😀

So once I finished the bacon and pulled prep, I broke the loin down into 3 sections and made three different Canadian bacon rubs and vacuum packed them. I forgot to take pictures of that prep, but I’ll try to post some before I smoke it. They will cure for one to two weeks then I’ll smoke it, chill it and slice it just like bacon.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a weekend full of pork.  And the pulled pork I smoked today, started at 3AM this morning.  This was without a doubt in my mind, the best pulled pork I have ever done, and I think everyone else agreed.  To go along with it I made my own BBQ sauce as well.  So it was a busy weekend, but well worth the effort.

When the Christmas spirit moves you…

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We have not been much in the Christmas spirit lately.  The only decorations that were out was the 3′ tall lighted Christmas Winnie the Pooh out front and the wild child had put a big ribbon and bow on the front door.

We seem to have lost this entire weekend, which is another story about phones and AT&T, which will be coming soon I promise.  But that is a long and ugly story, and this one is about Christmas.  Tonight, after a long and stressful weekend, the spirit jumped out of the closet going full bore.

Baby Bear and the Wild Child went to a Christmas party for the store they work at and were going to be gone most of the evening, not to return until after 8 PM.  Mama Bear and I were home alone, but were both in a sort of funk; too many things happening, too much stress from both internal and external family sources, we were certainly grouchy.  Mama Bear and I started talking and she told me she thought one of her problems was we seemed to have lost Christmas this year.

The garage has a couch in it and stuff piled all around, my workbenches are buried, and Mama Bear thought the Christmas tubs were to far under, over and behind things to get to.  So I told her if that would make her feel better then there was no problem, I could get to what we needed.  So we went down to the garage and I started moving things around.  It is not pretty and the car is not going back in any time soon, but I got the boxes and tubs, at least what we needed and then we hauled them upstairs.

 

Christmas came out of the woodwork

Christmas came out of hiding

While Mama Bear went through the boxes and started unpacking, I climbed up in the attic and got the parts of the tree down and brought them out and started setting it up.  By the time the girls got home we had candles in the windows, lighted snowmen all around the house and all the ornaments laid out and ready to put on the tree.  (I have to confess I have gotten a little lazy, it is a fake tree with LED lights built into it, but still nice 😀 )

The snowmen oversight committee

The snowmen oversight committee

After the girls got their coats off, settled down and told us about the party, we put the ornaments on the tree and were all in fine spirits.  I guess you just need the right moment for the Christmas spirit to move you sometimes…

 

Trimming the tree

Trimming the tree

Post holiday mish-mash

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We all seem to have survived the Thanksgiving madhouse.  Mama Bear was of course in her element, I think she had a good day, even weekend, since all the kids and local family were around.

The turkeys turned out pretty good, I even held a little of the smoked bird back and sliced it for sandwiches, love that smoked turkey hit…

 

Slicing the Turkey

Slicing the Turkey

Smoked Turkey sandwiches to come

Smoked Turkey sandwiches to come

In the post holiday week I also made my normal stock, but this time I did two separate pots, one from the baked turkey and one from the smoked bird.  I have to admit, while the normal stock smelled great, the smoked pot smelled wonderful.  I am soooooo looking forward to what comes from that down the road…

Smoked turkey stock

Smoked turkey stock

I on the other hand am enjoying today so much more.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Thanksgiving, but today we are under winter storm warnings, the snow is falling and I feel like winter is finally back.  I miss winter all summer long, I’m a cold weather kind of bear.

Knowing this storm was coming, I managed to put Mama Bear’s car back in the garage.  I had been working on rearranging some things to try to make it more functional during the winter when the car stays in it most of the time, didn’t quite make it, but at least the car is back in and not in the drive covered with ice and snow… 😀

One of the few downsides to working from home is that days like today, when the schools are all closed and people get told don’t come into work, my commute doesn’t get affected, I’ve still go to go down to my office to go to work, so no playing hooky for me… On the bright side, it is Friday, the weekend is upon us!!!

 

I will never be satisfied

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Mama Bear shamed me, she couldn’t get into her blog so I had some to do some technical magic to fix things, which made me realize how long it has been since I posted here regularly. Life just seems to get in the way most days, unfinished projects are scattered all around the house.  But I am trying to compromise between getting things done and realizing I have to relax more, I’m not a 25 year old superman any more…

We did two turkeys again this year, one smoked and one baked, mmm…..

I think I’m starting to get a better handle on the new way I am baking the turkeys, but the smoker one went long and I had to pull it in and use the convection oven to finish it off in time for dinner, but I got good reviews on both of them.

Finishing the smoked turkey

Finishing the smoked turkey off

All in all we had a lot of good food, and a lot of good company, not as many as some previous years perhaps, but we still had 18 around the table, so it was a party, plenty for me.  I wanted to run an hide a few times but I was pinned in the kitchen… LOL 😀

Grandpa Carving

Grandpa Carving

Prepping the fixings

Prepping the fixings

Grandma doing gravy

Grandma doing gravy

And of course home made ice cream to finish it all off

And of course home made ice cream to finish it all off

 

I hope everyone had a great and Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Off my game

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These last few weeks have been trying.  Time has not been my friend, between work and recovering from the wedding and trying to catch up on unfinished projects, there is just not enough time in the day.

The only smoking I have done was one run at  making bacon from a pork butt a few weeks ago.  It was a semi-success.  It came out as bacon, but because it was thicker than a pork belly it did not cure quite long enough to fully penetrate.  It was OK, but not the really good bacon taste I was hoping for.  Here are a few shots…

Out of the smoker

Out of the smoker

Slicing it up

Slicing it up

 

Cooking it up

Cooking it up

 

On the good news side, Mama Bear just brought me about 40 pounds of pork butt.  I think a new round of bacon is in order and this weekend we smoke some for some real fun… 😀

One other note.  Mama Bear has probably already blogged about this, but…  The wild child, when completing her degree in Art brought home many things.  One of them was a sculpture, a rather large sculpture that acquired the unlikely name of “Alphonse”.

Alphonse sat around her studio, then my office, then her studio again for quite a while.  Then she apparently worked a plan with her boss to display him in front of the Arts and Crafts store where she works.  To accomplish that she needed to paint him, then seal him, then build a base for him to sit on.

She needed to do this in the garage where my workshop is set up because she was going to need to paint and spray and needed the room.  So I agreed, with the understanding that since I could not do anything that might create saw dust, I really did not want it to drag out, she assured me it was a 3 or 4 day project.  Needless to say, 3 to 4 weeks later he was ready to move outside so we could build the base.

Last night we built the base…

Building the platform...

Building the platform…

And then moved him to a prominent position for a few days.  He’ll move to the store in a few days I am guessing, but for now we have a yard ornament that is unmatched…

A place of honor...

A place of honor…

A little off the bottom please…

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I’ve been the guy with the grey beard and pony tail for a few years now.

The beard was because Mama Bear has always loves beards, it is a Sean Connery thing I think.

The pony tail was my rebellious nature coming out I suppose.  I work virtually, so no dress code in an office, I travel infrequently, so not much face to face.  The last time we traveled for work was several years ago, and that was the beginning of the pony tail.

We were in Dallas in August and I had long hair, guess what, I pulled it back because I was dying in the heat and so the pony tail was born.  Mama Bear trimmed it for me a few times, but it got longer and longer until just before the kids wedding at the beginning of the month.  Mama Bear has trimmed it to keep it from looking scraggy, but only once trimmed it back any length and that was only 3-4 inches.

Last week I decided it was time for a change.  I’ve been struggling with knots in it after washing it out and I was tired of fighting it just to rebel, so earlier last week I told Mama Bear it was time for a change.  But to do it right I set it up so both the wild child and baby bear were home and I told them I was getting Mama Bear to take a little off the ends and sides to clean it up.  My hair cuts have been a media circus around here since they happen so infrequently.

The look on both of their faces when Mama Bear grabbed at the back of my head and started cutting at the top was hilarious.

 

The end of the story for now is I have nice short, well shorter, hair…

Before the trim...

Before the trim…

 

A little off the bottom please…

A little off the bottom please...

A little off the bottom please…

After that little off the bottom…

What was left...

What was left…

A new chapter in life

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The last couple months have been hectic to say the least, but the culmination was this weekend when my son and new daughter-in-law were married.

A beautiful beginning

A beautiful beginning

I am very proud of him, he is stepping into their new life, he has a career in something he has a passion for and they are establishing themselves right from the beginning.  They have their own home and are both happily pursuing their careers, but most of all are happy together.

Then to top it off we had an open house for the oldest’s 30th birthday.  Lots of friends, family and food.  It was a wonderful celebration to continue the weekend.

Of course I had to smoke.  22 pounds, count them twenty-two pounds of beef, went into the smoker.  A nice 15 pound chuck roll in 2 pieces went in at 2 AM Sunday morning (I really should have started it at midnight… LOL) then the brisket went in around 6 AM.  It was a long night with only a few naps in between tending the smoker and moving meat around.

The wild child did Hawaiian burgers and mustard chicken on the grill and we had raw veggies with dipping sauces, corn on the cobs, baked beans, potato salad and coleslaw, along with various other fixings.  The oldest’s fiance’s parents brought wonderful desserts and salads.  It was a great party that lasted all day.

We have had family in from all over the country (and Canada), so we had a full house the whole time and I think a good time was had by all.

I managed to finish the fireplace and I think I got every one of the “little” jobs I either never finished or needed to do except maybe one or two.  And of course the basement still needs to be done, but we made a lot of progress in the last month and the house was admired by all.  Mama Bear says I need to add one more piece of trim that I didn’t plan on since it will make it even on both sides, but I think it looks good.  I’ll post more on that transformation later.

Mama Bear said I cleaned up pretty good for an old bear…  This is a photo I will keep with me.

The family continues

The family continues