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Archive for November, 2009

Pans & Grandpa Aaron

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Man, We’re Old

Someone suggested I fix my dubious Lodge skillet by machining it. I have considered that, but I would have to be able to mount it on my rotary table, and that would be a pretty good trick. The table is not as wide as the skillet, so I’d have to put a plate on it, and the plate’s thickness would have to be extremely uniform. If it weren’t uniform, I’d get a skillet that wasn’t uniform. Which is what I already have.

Not sure what to do about that.

The plate would also have to be perfectly flat and very rigid.

I’m going to try to get a couple of bigger Griswold skillets. Now that my bone-filled head has accepted the time-honored wisdom about cleaning skillets with salt and a spatula, I am not as reluctant to use them as I used to be. I’d go ahead and use the Lodge, but one side gets hotter than the other due to the varying bottom thickness.

Hmm…maybe I should boil a little water in one of my Griswolds and make sure they don’t have this problem. If they heat unevenly, I have less motivation to get more of them.

You can get Griswolds fairly cheap on Ebay, but if you get picky about features, the cost goes up. And the bigger skillets can be extremely expensive unless you get lucky. One thing I can say about them: you only pay once. I’m buying used items that are up to 70 years old and nearly like new.

I want one or two more matching skillets before I give up and go cheap. I think the size 13 jobs (and whatever comes after them) will have to remain an unrealized dream. If I paid over $300 for a skillet, I’d have to have myself institutionalized to find out why. The big ones can cost that much.

I’m really looking forward to church this week. It’s the first week of the month, so we’ll be having Breakthrough Wednesday. This is a fantastic service. It’s not as regimented as the regular services. There are tables up front and in the back for communion, and there are people available to pray for you. The worship is very intense. I love it.

I’m going to be an “armorbearer,” which means I’ll be helping the church out as needed. One of my duties will be to put on a two-way radio and wander around keeping an eye on things. I had to buy my own “surveillance set,” which is what they call the microphone and the earpiece with the squiggly cord that runs up your neck. The church has radios, but the surveillance sets have a way of vanishing. I think people just don’t want to share them, which is understandable. I sure don’t want to. Yech.

God has been so kind to me, helping me to find purpose in life. Works don’t get you into heaven, but they help determine what heaven is like for you, and besides, they allow you to express your love for other people and your gratitude for God. I’m way behind, so any opportunity he gives me is appreciated.

Speaking of God’s kindness, Aaron just had a grandson! Unbelievable! I’ll be praying his mom recovers fast, and that he has a life of blessings and righteousness. Perhaps you will join me.

Another thing you might want to pray about: reader Dave Rodenborn lost his African grey parrot, Splint. The poor little guy wasn’t trimmed correctly, and he managed to fly out Dave’s front door. Dave is in California, so the weather shouldn’t be too hard on Splint. Many greys are recovered; they don’t like to fly far in the first month. I truly hope Dave gets another chance. Nothing is worse than knowing your mistake harmed your pet.

Bacon Comes to the Rescue Again

Monday, November 30th, 2009

The Duct Tape of Meats

The bacon/sausage experiment is a success.

A week or two back, I made my own sausage from picnic hams. It was excellent. Better than store sausage. But I wanted to take advantage of cheap Costco pork, and I wanted to use boneless cuts which are easier to grind.

Costco sells beautiful pork loin (no bone) for $1.79 per pound, which is what I pay for picnic hams, including the bone. But the loins are lean. What to do? Pork sausage needs to be around 40% fat. Last time, even using fatty picnic hams, I had to mix lard into the meat.

Last week while shopping for Thanksgiving stuff, I got a three-pound package of bacon scraps for about $1.70 per pound. Today I made a mixture of bacon and pork loin, half and half. About six pounds. I used the sausage recipe I came up with for the last batch, but I reduced the salt to account for the salt in the bacon, and I used apple juice concentrate instead of brown sugar.

Someone told me it would be a waste to put bacon in sausage, but it’s delicious. It adds a smoky flavor; you know what bacon tastes like. The fat content is actually a little high, so next time I think I’ll go 60/40. Bacon scraps are perfect for adding fat to pork sausage.

I learned something interesting today. Apple juice concentrate is nearly pure sugar. If you measure it like sugar and add 25%, you’re right on the money. And the little cans can be resealed and kept frozen.

I can’t wait to plow into this stuff, but I’m still working on the second or third pound of the first sausage I made. I eat it every day for breakfast. Two patties plus a thin slice of country ham. And a lovely glass of water.

This is good, cheap, healthy food. When I say “healthy,” I’m addressing low-carb believers. The rest of you won’t buy it. Anyway, I have never had pork sausage this good. I wish I could get away with biscuits and gravy. The gravy from this sausage would be the stuff of culinary history.

It’s too bad so few sausage companies do it right. They use gamey meat and too much sage. I guess the object is to use the cheapest pork available, so they have to spice it very heavily to mask the stink, and the product suffers.

Bacon scraps are very useful. I like to nuke them until they’re good and cooked and then pile them in a thick layer on top of baked beans. Geez, that would make a killer BLT.

It’s hard mixing the spices into the sausage. There must be a better way than using a big spoon.

Now that the sausage is made and the pork chops are in the freezer, the pork monkey is off my back, and I can go on to other things.

Ebay Miracle

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Auction Worked

Ebay actually got me a decent deal on an auction product. How often does that happen? Half the time, noobs ruin auctions with pointless bids days before the final moments. And a lot of the stuff has high reserves or high minimum bids. I nailed this one, though. I got a nice new Jacobs chuck, using a sniping program. And I beat another sniper, which is incredibly satisfying!

Before I knew about sniping, I wondered why I never won anything. I marveled at the amazing people who somehow managed to place bids ten seconds before auctions ended. It was frustrating. I’d sit there thinking I had won, and then POW, a snipe would come in and blow me out of the water.

Life is full of cheats. Sometimes you never find out why you lost. It’s nice to have the inside track once in a while.

Long ago, I used to play Duke Nukem 3D on a network, and I got thrashed constantly. I used to shoot other guys over and over, and they didn’t die. Later I found out they were cheating. They had hacked the game so they could take huge numbers of hits without dying. What jerks. You have to wonder how a person can feel satisfaction, playing people who have no chance of winning.

Lots of things in life work that way. Racist hiring policies, for example. Now affirmative action does the same thing, only the victims are white, male, or heterosexual.

I got the chuck because the used one I Ebayed a long time ago is a piece of junk. I tried to fix it, but it was a waste of time. Sometimes trying to save money is a stupid idea. You have to do it right. I trusted a used item, and I got burned. Now I’ll have a decent chuck for my mill. I’ll use the drill press most of the time, but the mill’s higher horsepower may be useful for bigger bits.

I ordered a slide table for the drill press. I’m going to act mature and hold off on a VFD and motor. Those things are luxuries. The slide table is a necessity. I think I’m going to try my old drill press vise before springing for a Grizzly. I’m not sure a cam-action vise is worth the money. It’s not that hard to turn a screw and tighten a vise.

I have fun on the agenda today. More pork sausage. And I have to slice and freeze Costco loin so I’ll have chops.

Unofficial Explanation

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Obvious

To all the people speculating about the Tiger Woods car accident, speculating as to how he managed to do a 120-degree turn and destroy an Escalade on a clear night with nobody else on the road, please remember before you judge…the man is half Asian.

Unbelievably, I Need to Buy More Tools

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Contain Your Amazement

I forgot to blog yesterday. Is that even possible? There must be some kind of mind ray aimed at my house.

I had a lot of stuff to do. I had to cope with 96 ounces of Costco hamburger, which had to be mixed with salt and garlic and frozen in patties. I had to freeze a crop of bananas before they turned black. And I had to deal with stuff related to my sister’s illness.

I let the burger sit in the fridge for nearly a week, until it turned a nice shade of beige. Fresh hamburger is just no good. You have to let it start to turn a little. I know it will upset some people to read that, but it’s true. We age beef, and hamburger is beef, right? So shut up.

This stuff was a little brown on the outside, with plenty of pink inside to balance it. Once I mushed it up with salt and garlic, it was a nice uniform color. It will make wonderful burgers. Costco claims it’s “extra lean,” but that isn’t true, because if it were, the burgers would be dry and nasty. They’re not. They’re juicy and wonderful.

Costco is selling bone-in rib roasts for around five bucks per pound. Tempting, to say the very least. I’d love to age a couple of those babies and freeze them for later use. Rib roasts are glorious, even if the meat is only choice. Mike says I need to pop one in the Showtime oven. Sounds like a plan to me.

I ran down to Northern Tool today. I don’t like to shop on Sunday, for religious reasons, but they had the warranty part I ordered, and the parts guy is a little crabby, so I needed to get it in hand before he could ship it back. I drove all the way down there, and I asked an employee for help, and he told me the parts guy wasn’t there on weekends.

This is the same parts guy who implied I was a big liar when I said the pulley on my band saw was already chipped when I bought it. It only makes sense that he would fail to inform me that he did not work on weekends.

I sent the employee to talk to the manager, and the news got worse. Not only was the manager unable to do the parts specialist’s difficult job (reaching onto a shelf and grabbing a part and handing it to me); the parts guy was on vacation (probably attending a grouch convention), so I would have to wait another week.

No.

I asked for an audience with the manager, and he came out, and I said surely he could hand me the part. And he agreed. He had been under the impression that I needed to order a part, which requires parts-guy skills. We went to the parts region, and he handed me a box, and off I went.

It must be really easy to qualify for a Northern Tool franchise. The store charges more than the website, and their customer-relations skills are not good. If I hadn’t been pushy, I would have been forced to make the ten-mile drive two more times, in addition to tolerating a ten-day delay.

I am trying to fix up the drill press, although again, not on Sunday. I think I may put a 3-phase motor and a VFD on it. The speeds range from 385 RPM to 2250 RPM, and with a VFD, I could get 200 to 5000, with no loss of torque. I would also be able to leave the pulleys on the middle setting and get a nice wide range of speeds without touching the belts. Plus–come on–it would be fun. And cheap. Even with the motor and VFD, this drill press would be way cheaper than a 17″ Chinese cheapo like the new Deltas or Steel Citys.

I think I’m going to get a Phase II slide table. They’re $243 at MSC, but Enco (different name, same company) sells them for about $90.

Okay, that makes perfect sense.

Anyway, I can stick one of those on the drill press, and I can add a Grizzly cam-action vise, and I should be set for all drilling needs for the rest of the millennium.

Come on. You KNOW I need that VFD. I can hear you grumbling about it, but you know it’s the right thing to do. I have a 2 HP motor which will fit the drill press. I’m sure it will be fine. I don’t totally understand the consequences of going up in horsepower, but it would compensate partially for the loss of torque at low speeds. I don’t think it would hurt the bearings or anything, because the drill bit and the workpiece and the belt drive should be the weak points in the power train.

It’s a mess to explain. The VFD gives constant torque, but because the pulley ratio would not change except in rare circumstances in which I felt motivated to move the belt, you can end up with less low-speed torque than the stock configuration provides. The bigger motor should double the torque, making belt changes necessary less often.

Let’s see. The middle setting on the pulleys is 935 RPM, and the low setting is 385. So you would figure 2.42 times the middle-setting torque when you use the low-speed setting. Right? I think so. That means a 2 HP motor would be pretty close to the machine’s current torque output at low speed, without moving the belt. Dang, how can you beat that? How often would I need that extra 0.42 fraction? Belt moves would be pretty rare.

I can’t believe how much physics I’ve forgotten. I’m actually going to have to draw myself a picture.

I want that VFD, however. I just want it.

I wonder if I can adjust a VFD to increase torque at a given speed. I guess so, since constant torque VFDs would not exist if it were impossible. Maybe I could jack the torque up at low speeds.

Oh, great. Now I’m going to have to download a manual or something. Now I’ll have to THINK. I hate that.

Can’t do anything until tomorrow anyway.

More Iron for my Disease

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Drill Press!

Was this all too predictable?

11 27 09 rockwell drill press 01 in truck

11 27 09 rockwell drill press 02 full height from left

11 27 09 rockwell drill press 04 close up from right

That’s a Rockwell 17-430 drill press. A guy was trying to sell it on Ebay with a minimum bid of $219, and I got in touch with him, and I took it for $220. These machines are pretty simple, but very expensive. A new one runs about two thousand. Don’t ask me why.

I would guess it weighs 250-300 pounds. There is cast iron all through it. I think even the power cord and belt are cast iron.

Getting it off the truck was fun. I used my chain hoist and a crappy nylon rope. I felt sure I would kill myself, but I was spared. I can’t say as much for the bit the previous owner left in the chuck. It caught on my bed liner and popped.

The table has the “arc of shame” on it. I guess I need to find a good filler. I’ll also need a decent drill press vise.

The owner is an interesting guy. On the phone, he kept saying he lived in halberd. I’ve never heard of Halberd, Florida. Finally I realized he was saying “Hollywood.” I ran up there to see the machine, and he had it crammed into a tiny storage bay with a 1963 Porsche 356 he and his son were restoring.

He was one of these friendly foreign guys who like to tell you their life stories. Let’s see. He was born in Rumania. He came here in 1979. People were nicer here then. He tells his son that all the time. He was an engineer in Rumania. He ended up in metallurgy because his father thought it had a better future than electronics. Here in the US, he didn’t want to go through all the hassle to re-learn everything, so now he writes code for CNC machines. The metallurgy situation in Rumania was pathetic due to Communism. When he got here, he couldn’t believe how many kinds of stainless steel we had.

He really likes Dodge diesels. The Fords sound better, but you can’t do the maintenance yourself, and an inline six will last forever. He had to see my engine, so I popped the hood, and he climbed up on the bumper and told his son why this truck was totally superior to a Ford.

I told him we used to have a hive of Rumanian professors and grad students in the physics department at the University of Miami. We agreed that the English measurement system is pathetic, and we both marveled that the US had done so well while forcing its engineers to live in the Bronze Age.

I enjoyed meeting him. A lot of people get bored with older people who like to talk, but I’m not like that. I find younger people boring. What do they know? Nothing. How to play video games. Wow. That sure beats hearing about storming the beach on D-Day, doesn’t it?

The workmanship on this machine is very impressive. Everything moves as though it had no metal in it. It feels like it’s all oiled rubber parts, squishing against each other as they move.

I think I’ll pop the motor off, confirm the size of the shaft, and stick a 3-phase motor and VFD on it. I can do this for about what the drill press cost, and it will put an end to my concerns about the odd speeds this machine features.

The metal yarmulke is a little off center, and the Rockwell badge is gone. I may pretty it up a little. The collar that holds the table won’t lock up very well; he said it needed to be tightened.

Very nice buy. This should put a permanent end to my drilling worries.

Three Birds

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Aftermath

I can’t move.

Let’s see if I can critique the meal.

The Showtime turkey was very good, but I found it dryer than a roasted turkey. I got the internal temperature up to 161°, and I knew that wasn’t enough, so I hit it with another half-hour. That came out to about 17 1/2 minutes per pound, which is way above the recommended time. Maybe I did something wrong. The skin was magnificent. It was very dark and loaded with browned-bird flavor. I’ll probably do my next turkey this way, even if it’s not perfect, because it frees up the oven for other things.

Mike told me the texture of a Showtime turkey would be way better than that of an oven turkey. The one I cooked today seemed like every other turkey I’ve roasted.

My dad loved the turkey, so I guess the rotisserie flavor offset the dryness.

I was not thrilled by the mashed potatoes. I tried the ricer again, even though I didn’t like it the first time I used it. I thought it gave the potatoes a heavy texture. I guess that could have been the microwave, though. The microwave makes very good baked potatoes (when I’m in too much of a hurry to do it right), so I don’t see why it would adversely affect mashed potatoes. I guess I could boil a test potato and then use the ricer to peel and moosh it up.

I ate way too much. I guess I can’t be a crusader against gluttony every day. I made a whole bunch of dishes, and a small serving of each would make for a big meal, so there wasn’t much I could do.

Marv and Maynard seem to be enjoying their share. You can always tell when Marv likes his food, because he buries his snout in it and grunts like a small pig.

Better Than Dressing With Gravy

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Grace

I am so thankful. Today I made pies, cranberry sauce, and cornbread dressing. I generally pig out on Thanksgiving and the day before, because it’s just too hard to be good. I have to taste the food while I cook it, and it’s very hard to resist eating the extra cornbread, not to mention the bacon I have to fry to get the grease. But today I forgot to eat lunch and had to make myself have home-canned chili at about 6 p.m. While I was eating it, I got a little concerned about my calorie total for the day, and I dumped a third of the chili and part of my Coke.

I could never do things like that in the past.

I have a big bag of size 34 Old Navy cargo shorts I have to get rid of. They’re going to Goodwill, along with my size 36 Levis and size 35 Ralph Lauren shorts. In a month or so, I expect to be getting tired of the size 32s I’m wearing now. They’re really more like 34s, but still, it will be great to downsize out of them.

“Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Who, more than I, knows this to be true? I love and enjoy life more than ever, yet I am less and less attached to it. I don’t put my hope in it. Is this the way it’s supposed to work–have I been led to the blessings God intends for all of us to have–or am I just deluded?

Holding on to things out of fear is one of the fundamental errors of mankind. It’s bad for artists. It’s bad for investors. It’s bad for people who need to flee countries in turmoil. And it’s what we do when we insist on doing things our own way and trying to achieve happiness by earthly means. Over and over, the Bible tells us the same thing: give up what you treasure, and God will give you something better. Jump, and he will catch you.

Give the priests your first fruits, before you know the rest of the harvest is going to come in. Give them your best ten percent, in hopes that God’s blessing will outweigh the loss. Sacrifice the son through whom God said you would have descendants as numerous as the stars. Give your last handful of meal to a prophet, in the midst of a famine. Die on a cross so you can sit at God’s right hand and save the world. Follow in Jesus’s footsteps and count yourself part of the sacrifice, in order to have a fuller life here and perfect satisfaction in the world to come. Give up your own strength of character, in order to be given God’s. Over and over, we are told to exchange that which we can see and touch for that which we have been promised.

I love this life, but if I prize it too highly, it will be a curse to me. A bowl of pottage for me to eat, when I could have had a glorious birthright.

Luckily for me, it would be hard not to trust God, when things are going this well. I wish everyone had it so easy, and I wonder what it’s like for people who are farther along in faith and obedience and even more blessed. I wonder how they stand it.

A few weeks back, I was having a day when I kept feeling the presence of God very powerfully in my prayers, and it became so intense that at one point, I was a little afraid to continue, because I thought it would be too much. That was stupid of me, but the story says a lot about what is possible.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I hope every one of you will become at least as rich as I am.

No Job Too Small

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Scale is Immaterial

I’ll tell you what. Don’t even try to tell me God doesn’t work little miracles in our lives. I have two pones of mouth-watering cornbread baked, the whole place smells like pumpkin pie, there is country ham in the kitchen, I have ham hocks in the fridge, the just-made cranberry sauce is cooling…and I keep forgetting to eat lunch.

Pre-Holiday Prayer

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Turkey and Antibiotics

My pastor’s daughter-in-law is in the hospital. She has had a respiratory problem for a while, and it hasn’t cleared up. They hospitalized her because it had become very severe. I just found out.

This is a scary thing. Please do me a favor and offer a prayer. Her name is Dawnchere, and she is also a pastor at my church.

Piece of Wisdom Penetrates my Titanium Skull

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Salt Really Works

I have two pones of tasty bacon-grease cornbread in the oven. This will be a real test of my deliverance from gluttony. The smell of that stuff alone can put five pounds on you.

After this, I make pies. After that, I mix the dressing and put it in a 9 x 13 Pyrex pan and store it until tomorrow. I may also break the beans and put them in a pot with a ham hock. If I get all that done, I won’t have all that much to do tomorrow.

I think I’m going to nail that Ebay drill press. The price is just too good. It has a split head, so even if there’s slop, I should be able to adjust it out. And with the money I save, I can put a 3-phase motor and VFD on it and still come out way ahead. I already found a new Baldor cheap.

It turns out it only has 5″ of quill travel, but I can tolerate that.

I used my big Lodge skillet to make sausage and ham today. What a piece of junk. The surface inside it is pitted, even after I sanded it, and it gets hotter on one side than the other. Griswold skillets are completely superior. I have resumed my search for larger Griswolds to match the ones I already have. It’s not easy finding large-logo skillets without heat rings.

I know how to season cast iron. You ignore the stupid instructions that come with it. In particular, you ignore the 350-degree nonsense. You use pork fat, and you season at 450. I used to do 500, but it had a tendency to burn the seasoning in places.

What I have had trouble with is cleaning cast iron. I have three skillets I only use for cornbread, and they’re not a problem, since they never get dirty. The bread falls out without any problems. I have a #9 breakfast skillet which is also trouble-free. Eggs slide right out. My Lodge skillet is different. I fry meat in it.

I have always been told to use salt to clean cast iron. It sounded dumb, so I paid no attention, figuring a light application of water wouldn’t hurt the finish. Man, was I wrong. My skillet never looked good, and the water messed it up. I have been using salt lately, and it works great. I dump two or three tablespoons of salt in the skillet while it’s still warm and after the wet stuff has evaporated, and I scrape the bottom thoroughly with a spatula. Plastic spatulas work just as well as metal. Then I give the skillet a brief squirt with water to knock the salt off. I should probably just use paper towels, but because I use so little water, I’m not disturbing the seasoning.

If I can get a #10 and #11 skillet in good shape, I’ll use cast iron more often. If I were less picky about getting really nice skillets that match the others, I’d be able to get one fast, for a low price. Oh well.

Notes of a Ham Connoisseur

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Bring the Funk

I had an all-meat breakfast today. I had to try the country ham I ordered from Scott Hams.

I had planned to buy a ham from Col. Newsom’s, but they wanted about $90, which is just too much. It’s almost twice what other companies charge. Their hams are fantastic, but it’s not like they invented the concept. Anyone can cure a ham, if he is willing to let it hang long enough.

I fried up a big slice, along with two chunks of my homemade pork sausage. Here’s the verdict. This is a very nice ham for people who are new to country ham. But it’s too tame for me.

My grandmother cured her hams for two years, and they turned dark red inside, and they smelled wonderful. They were very salty and acidic, and they made a lot of delicious grease gravy when she fried them. This ham has almost no funk to it, and it’s not very salty. I fried it without adding water to reduce the salt, and I still found the salt content too low.

The sausage was a thing of beauty, as always. I’m so glad I bought a meat grinder.

I’m thinking I may get my next ham from Benton’s, in Tennessee. They sell very old hams. But they use sodium nitrite, which is not exactly traditional. I’ve read up on this stuff, and supposedly, it can make food carcinogenic if used in large amounts. Some people claim it gives them migraines. Ham companies use tiny amounts, so it should not be a cancer risk, but I’d rather just have salt.

I have a lot of stuff to do today. Pumpkin pies, boiling potatoes, injecting the turkey, and making cornbread, for starters. I think I’ll skip the pecan pie and see if anyone notices.

Any day that starts with meat is a beautiful day.

Tool Addiction Rears its Ugly Head

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Drill Press

Some dude is trying to sell a Delta 17-430 drill press near me. This thing has a 1 HP motor and 6″ of spindle travel. Speeds between 385 and 2240 RPM. He wants $219. He could get more if he was willing to ship, but he’s not.

It’s tempting. These machines retail for outrageous money. I thought I would never need a drill press after I got the milling machine, but now that I know what a pain it is to move the vise and rotary table off of the table, I can see how a separate machine would be good to have. And since I no longer have any hope of parking in the garage, space is no issue.

I think he got it for $50 at a school auction, because a similar press turns up in searches at publicauctions.whatever.

I will try to avoid buying it.

Thanksgiving Prep Begins

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Mr. Turkey Will be Spinning in His Grave

Have you read about the canned pumpkin shortage? My dad saw the story somewhere. I have since obtained two cans of pumpkin, so I’m not worried. Maybe you should run out and shop.

I should have been satisfied with one can, which would be enough for one pie. But I always make two. Even though I’m not a big pumpkin pie fan.

One thing I learned that you might want to try: sushi ginger will really liven up a pie. I ran out of cruddy powdered ginger a few years back, and pickled ginger was all I had, so I used it. It was much better than the canned stuff.

I have to thank Mike for the rotisserie turkey idea. It will free up oven space for dressing and yams, and I think my dad will get a charge out of using his Showtime oven. I never dreamed he’d be cooking the turkey. Another plus: it may enable me to take time out to go to my church’s Thanksgiving service.

I have to get started today. I’ll make a couple of pones of cornbread, I guess. Pies tomorrow. And I can boil the yams and potatoes tomorrow and put them in the fridge.

I don’t think I have a dressing recipe. I meant to write down the proportions of the ingredients last time, but I failed. I guess it doesn’t matter. It always comes out perfect.

I would love to stuff the bird with stuffing laced with my homemade pork sausage. That would be tremendous. But Mike advises against stuffing rotisserie birds.

Reader Ruth says:

I don’t want to be an old granny about this but…
Remember what Jimmah Cartah said about lusting in his heart,
well, I think you are lusting after food in your heart.

She’s kidding, but I’ve found that it’s completely possible to covet food. During fasts, I used to think about the stuff I would eat the following mornings. “Covet” means more than “want.” It means “to set your heart on.” That’s what I did. I set my heart on things like McDonald’s breakfasts. I was determined to have them, come hell or high water.

That’s bad. When you set your heart on things, you don’t allow for change. And sometimes change is the right thing. For example, you might decide to fast for a day, and then toward the end, you might feel led to go on and make it two or three days. But what if you’ve set your heart at having pizza? It will be really hard to give that up. If you can’t alter course, you’ll miss whatever God intended you to get.

I’ve found that it’s possible to covet things I already have. One example is money. Sometimes I feel like I should give an offering, and something inside me wants to hold onto it. And most Christians covet their tithes, which already belong to God, even though they’re in our possession. Robert Morris notes that the Bible doesn’t tell us to “give” God tithes. It says to “bring” them. You can’t give what you don’t own.

I don’t think it’s wrong to see things other people have and feel brief moments of desire. That’s not setting your heart on them, and it would be somewhat abnormal not to want good things. But it’s definitely wrong to obsess on them and think of ways to get them.

Abraham was told that all sorts of wonderful things would happen to his descendants, but he was told to kill Isaac. Maybe his obedience shows that he refused to set his heart on the things he was promised, because his true wealth was his relationship with God. On the other hand, it has been suggested that he simply trusted God to bring Isaac back to life.

When I used to have one or two “fat days” per week, I was jam-packed with covetousness. I had to have those days to keep from going crazy. I don’t do that any more. I don’t even eat breakfast at McDonald’s on a regular basis. That was a cherished Saturday ritual. But breaks and days off are for people who are under a strain. Now that God has removed gluttony from my life and given me strength to behave, I’m not straining to avoid overeating. I make a little effort, but not much.

Recently I realized I was excessively fond of my morning coffee. I looked forward to it even before I went to bed. And most of the reason was the caffeine, which helped me figure out which planet I was on in the dim hours of early morning. This week I decided to give it a rest. I won’t have coffee or any caffeine-heavy beverage until at least Friday. I don’t want anything to have that kind of hold on me.

I enjoy things more, now that I don’t give myself everything I want. I enjoy food and money a great deal more. I don’t have wanton eating sessions, and I think more and pray more before I spend. These things help more than you would imagine. An old Yiddish proverb says, “Di gor rayche zaynen di vos zaynen zat mit dos vos zey hobn,” or, ”The truly rich are those who enjoy what they have.” Boy, is that true. If you enjoy what you have, greed won’t be a problem for you.

This afternoon I’m going to the hospital with my sister. We’re going to talk to her radiation oncologist, to get information about prophylactic cranial irradiation. This is the last stage of her cancer treatment. I would appreciate it if people would offer some prayers. It’s a very hard decision to make. They’re telling her she may lose a few IQ points. It has to be hard, risking a thing like that.

Even More Pork

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

UPS Brings a Box of Nirvana

My Scott Hams country ham arrived from Kentucky! I also ordered a big jar of sorghum. I can’t wait to try this stuff. Maybe tomorrow.

For some reason, they only sent me 9 1/2 pounds on an order for a 16-18-pound ham. They’re looking into it. I guess they’ll issue a credit or send more ham. I am looking at their site, and I’m seriously tempted to order more stuff. They have dried apples! Not the white city kind. The brownish country kind. I’m going to ask if they use June apples. If so, I’m buying. They also sell jowl bacon, which I’ve never tried. How can I resist that?

I’m reading up on curing country hams. I think I can do this. All I need is cold and a ham. I have a beer cooler I keep at around 35 degrees, and I can put Damprid in it to keep the moisture down. That should work great.

According to the University of Missouri extension site, all I have to do is apply the cure, keep the ham dry and cold for about seven weeks, smoke the ham a little at 85 degrees (I have the technology), and then let it age in the beer cooler!

I’m trying to remember what my grandmother used on her hams. I know she used molasses, pepper, and salt. I think she also used sulfur, but I’m not sure why.

Here’s something funny. When I was a kid, I found saltpeter in her kitchen cabinet. I didn’t know they used it on hams. The grandkids thought she was putting it in my grandfather’s food.

The big drawback to curing my own ham is that I would have to wait a minimum of a year before I could eat it. But it would cost about a dollar and forty cents per pound, including the curing ingredients.

The great thing about this is that I could start doing one ham per year, and I could space them out so I had a two-year-old ham ready for eating every fall. My grandmother used to age hers two years. They were the best I’ve ever had.

Mike called to tell me his idea for deep-fried hamburgers, and I told him about the ham and the jowl bacon and sorghum. Now he’s all excited.

He says to use a Showtime oven for the turkey. He claims the texture is unlike any oven turkey he’s ever had. Believe it or not, my dad has such an oven. So I’m putting him in charge. I’ll prep the turkey, and he can take it from there.

Having given up gluttony, I’m not sure how Thanksgiving will go. Small portions, I guess.