Smoker still smokin’ away

Pulled the covers off the garden and found pretty much what I had expected: Those plants which are really sensitive were zapped – that’s the peppers and eggplants; the mature winter crops were totally fine; the newly planted stuff was iffy. Some made it, some didn’t – the losses were maybe 20-25%. Everything in the greenhouse survived so I have replacements ready to go for the ones that got hammered. If I had thought a little bit before covering, I probably could have saved even the youngest plants by covering them individually with a plastic cup. I never even gave it a thought at the time. I’m soaking it down really good today and perhaps some of the sad looking ones will recover. I feel pretty good about the event since we had three consecutive nights of solid freezing weather. The covers are started to show the wear with a few rips and tears but this is their 3rd service year so I have no complaints.

A day later I did a thorough examination and did find some leaf burn. Nothing that should kill the plant but more than first appeared. The lake took the big hit. The farmers pumped hard and long for 3 nights and dropped the lake about a foot. That may not sound like much but think how much water that is in a 60 acre lake. It’ll take quite while to recover from that.

Have to report another find. Except for Joey, nobody in our family likes lima beans. I mean really, really don’t like lima beans. Nancy used to make vegetable soup and the frozen mixed vegetables she used included lima beans. We would all scoop out the limas and put them in Joey’s bowl, to his delight. The other night we went out to eat at what’s become one of our favorite restaurants, a Greek restaurant in downtown Deland. They have a very limited offering of sides to complement the entree and this time we had a choice among a potato, rice pilaf, and lima beans. Nancy ordered something called Pastachio which sounded like a baked macaroni and cheese kind of dish so a potato or rice side didn’t go so with lima beans as the last choice, she passed on the side. The waitress chirped in that the lima beans were really good so I told her to go ahead and add that side to Nancy’s dish. We agreed – nothing to lose. What a great decision. The beans were cooked “Greek style”, which meant they were sauteed in olive oil along with other ingredients. I took the first bite from her plate and was blown away by how good they were. Nancy tried a bite and totally agreed. Luckily it was a hearty serving and we both ate our way through them. We had the same experience there a few months back when the side was green peas. We’re both ok with peas but not on the top 10 list for either of us. These were awesome so I’ve come to the conclusion that Greeks really know how to do vegetables. By the way, the Pastachio turned out more like baked ziti than Mac and cheese; excellent.

We have another smoker event planned for Saturday. Doing beef ribs this time and will probably pitch in a few chicken thighs to balance it out. I made my widely acclaimed Dutch Cole Slaw again with a few mods to the published ingredient list. The official Dutch version has cabbage, onion and green pepper plus all the stuff that goes into the sauce. My new version has the same basic ingredients plus shredded carrots, chopped broccoli, and pencil cut kohlrabi. I’m turning cole slaw, as I do with pizza, into an art form not easily replicated. I am only using one variety of cabbage this time as compared to using two different varieties last go round. And, as the last time, one thing I don’t understand is why the water in the pan isn’t boiling off. The temp gauge say 225 degrees and the unused meat thermometer just sitting inside the smoker also say 225 degrees but the water is not boiling off. Used to be water boiled at 212 but maybe that’s changed and I didn’t get the word. Smoke is billowing out so I can’t imagine that there’s a pressure build up inside the unit so the only other explanation I can conjure is that the grease dripping from the meat is changing the boiling point of the liquid. I bet that’s it because after about an hour cooking some water drips out of the unit but after a while the dripping stops. So before the fat drips off the meat, water probably steams off the water pan and then when the fat drips off the meat into the pan, the chemistry of the water changes and no longer steams. That’s got to be it – man do I feel better now. You probably wonder why I worry about that. About a 100 years ago in Utah I had a smoker and I wasn’t attentive to what was going on inside the smoker and it ran out of water and screwed up the meal. Tom told me he had run out of water with his but it was a long, long cook. My old one was a charcoal machine so maybe it just got hotter but for now I’m going to quit worrying about it and assume my dripping theory is correct and I’ll never run it dry. Wonder if the chemistry change is the same for pork, beef and chicken?

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