Cargo Shorts: Uniform of the Useful


Recently, while camping at a local Jellystone with the family (awesome for young kids, by the way!), it occurred to me just how awesome cargo shorts are. Luckily I have a fashion sense unfettered by current trends, or perhaps a complete lack thereof. Why are they so vilified?

My cargo shorts were the hero of the day for a Saturday camping adventure.

My shorts in the course of the day, at one point for quite some time, contained all of the following…

  1. Car keys
  2. Cabin key
  3. Wallet
  4. Cell phone
  5. Wife’s cell phone
  6. Wife’s lip balm
  7. 4 golf balls from Putt Putt that we need to return for a refund across the camp.
  8. The contents of one “fossil” mining sluice bag.
  9. The contents of one “gem” mining sluice bag.
  10. Tummy medicine.
  11. Campground map.
  12. Multi-Tool pocket knife thing:
    • Plyers
    • Cutters/Strippers
    • Knife
    • Saw
    • Ruler
    • Phillips-Head Screwdriver
    • Flat-Head screw driver
    • Can-opener
    • Other Can-opener
    • File
  13. Epi-Pen.

Tell me that’s not awesome. See the above FB post from my friend Dave, and the photo of backpack shorts found from the bowels of social media? Perhaps that is the only possible evolution to something more useful. Are you brave enough to try?

So, cargo shorts dad, or just cargo shorts man… you continue being you. Cargo shorts mom or cargo shorts woman? You be you too! Fashion will circle back around. Or not. Who cares? We stand the test of time.

I also wear high-top Chuck Taylor All Stars with shorts, which my wife erroneously and hilariously thinks is a faux pas. I mean, what?

I have also noticed that socks with Crocs is a thing. I got into Crocs almost like I imagine someone succumbs to an addiction. I thought they were dumb. I got some for creek shoes at camp. They were really comfortable. I got some fur-lined ones for slippers at home. I wore the regular ones into the yard to garden. I wear them to cut grass, take out the dog, take out the trash. I wore them for a quick run to Rite Aid. Wore them for a longer run to Giant Eagle. Wore them with socks while gardening or mowing the lawn to keep the dirt from getting in between my toes. Will I be wearing Crocs in socks to the kids’ school and sports activities soon?

Tell me in the comments what you store in your cargo shorts. What should I be keeping in mine? I didn’t even get into how different shades of camo PERFECTLY compliment my band T-shirts and Star Wars or Batman T-shirts.

You probably shouldn’t take fashion advice from a guy with lambchop sideburns anyway.

Smoked BBQ Burgers 🍔


My son & I made some smoked BBQ burgers. Thought I would blog it so I can refer back.

🍔

Used lump charcoal on a side smoker-box attachment on my Char-Griller grill, & a mix of wood chips – some Jack Daniels oak barrel ones and an apple/hickory/oak mix. I just put the chips in a foil tray on that grate, I don’t have a box for the

The burgers were just Ground beef, a few drops of A1, some Rib Rack Honey BBQ sauce, McCormick Grill Mates barbecue seasoning, onion powder, minced garlic, French’s crispy fried onions, & some chopped up slices of Gouda cheese.

Little dude helped prep the starter chimney for the grill, and mix the burgers, make some patties & check the temperature.

Tried to keep it at 250° for about an hour,

went up a few times so we played with the vents to get it right.

Slathered on some BBQ sauce at the end for a little less than 10 minutes.

The buns, which I should do on the propane side of the grill next time…

Melted some butter & garlic in rhe microwave, brushed it on the buns, put them in the oven at 375° on a pan with a roasting rack for a few minutes to toast them… pulled them put and added BBQ sauce to the bottom and a slice of Gouda and some more French’s onions to the top… toasted until the cheese was starting to melt & the onions got a little more toasty.

Not a bad dinner! It tasted like a Rack of ribs on a bun and the burgers were really juicy. It almost tasted like a rack of ribs or some brisket on a bun.

🍔

So, how do you do your burgers on the smoker? I did get advise to sear, but skipped that as they seemed done & pretty together when I checked them. Any special recipes outside of the normal? We do a mushroom and swiss melt with these onions too… sometimes I make a molten cheese ball on the inside… from regular grilling to the counter-top grill. We try to make them different that what you typically get out. I have been known to do pizza or chili cheese burgers too… but we are definitely coming back to these and trying more styles in the smoker. Maybe a bacon/cheddar/jalapeño one next?

Cooking Stuff From the Garden 🌶🥒


So, today I felt like cooking. We recently came back from a weekend at a cabin and a week at camp. We had a bunch of new stuff ready in the garden, and some stuff past ready.

Here are three quick recipes that I posted on Instagram. The Poblano peppers, banana peppers, straightneck squash, and snap beans were grown in our garden.

🥓🧀🌶🍄🍝🥒🌱

Bacon-Wrapped Poblano Peppers

Well, that turned out well. Got some poblano from the garden this week. I mixed some bacon bits, minced garlic, shredded cheddar cheese, and steak seasoning into some cream cheese, cut the peppers in half, stuffed with the peppers with the mixture, sprinkled more cheddar on top, wrapped with bacon, & baked on a sheet pan at 375° for 40 min.

Turned out pretty good if I do say so myself!

Snap Beans with Mushrooms & French Fried Onions

Some fresh snap beans from the garden. Steamed, then tossed in with some sautéed mushrooms, French fried onions, minced garlic, a pinch or 2 of flour & fresh cooked bacon pieces. (Used the leftovers from the peppers.)

Straightneck Squash Parmesan

Had some straightneck squash that grew a bit too big while we were at camp. I had it in my head to prepare it sort of like eggplant parmesean & fried zucchini. I didn’t want the stacked lasagna version, I wanted something with a bit of crunch.

I sliced then up, dredged in flour/cornstarch, egg/buttermilk. & coated in regular & panko breadcrumbs with a bit of parmesan “shake cheese” mixed in. I seasoned each step with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, & black pepper.

I baked them for about 25 or 30 min. on 400°, then topped with provolone & mozzarella slices & a bit more parmesan. They went back in for 10 min.

Served with bowtie pasta & covered in our favorite slightly doctored sauce.

Added the needed flavor to the overgrown squash and I actually preferred the consistency to eggplant.

🥒🧀🌶🥓🧄🍄🌱🍝

All in all, I was really pleased with the results, and I think the family was too.

Do you have some good recipes, tips, & tricks for these garden ingredients?

What do you like to grow and cook?

Smokin’ Spare Ribs 🍖 (3·2·1 Style)


So, recently I got a smoker attachment for my Char-Griller grill as a gift for Father’s Day. I tried it out today and the results we fantastic. I hit up the Google machine and some non-BBQ-ing Facebook groups for advice, tips, & tricks. (I imagine that they are as intense as guitar groups and I am just not ready yet.) I kept getting advice on the 3-2-1 method of smoking ribs. There are many variations of that technique. I think it went well. I tracked my progress with the #AiXeLsyDBBQ hashtag. Maybe I’ll do some more next time.

The quick and dirty of this method is…

  1. Get your coals to 225°-ish. (I used a chimney to avoid lighter fluid and it was awesome.) I added some wood chunks in the chimney, and on top once I spread on the coals. I did not soak the wood, but I may next time. Control the temp with your vents. Open a bit warms it up, closed cools it off… all because of airflow.
  2. Remove the silverskin, and put a nice rub on the ribs. I used one from the section of Walmart by all the grilling stuff.
  3. Put the ribs in the grill part if you have an attachment, or not on the heat for 3 hours.
  4. Pull the ribs out, wrap in heavy duty grilling foil, add some apple cider, apple juice, vinegar, pop, or whatever. I added some Straub. Unfortunately I made 2 racks and used the whole bottle, so I drank one myself.
  5. Put them in for 2 hours, smoking really isn’t necessary at this point if your wanna save your chunks or chips.
  6. Pull them out and unwrap them. I should have saved the drippings for the barbecue sauce on the side, but I did not. Shame on me. Do that.
  7. Sauce those ribs up. Liberally. Like, and obscene amount.
  8. Put them back on for 1 hour. (3-2-1… get it? Guys! They said the thing!)
  9. Always check with a thermometer for done-ness. They should be pretty damn done at this point, arguably overdone.
  10. EAT.

I know fall-off-the-bone isn’t competition style. A bone did pull right out of one rack, but the meat was in tact, not falling completely apart. I know the foil wrapping bit is then steaming not smoking… but, rules are made to be broken and a healthy dose of anarchy warms my little punk rock heart.

I would definitely do the ribs like this again. I may try a homemade sauce. This was pretty basic store-brand stuff from Shop ‘n Save with some dry mustard, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper, and Straub American Amber Lager. I may try different chips, or a smoker box, or to soak the wood. I even read some people eschew charcoal in favor of all wood once the fire is going.

I also threw on some baked potatoes, turkey legs, grilled veggies, and sauce on the attached burner.

Can’t wait to try out a turkey, pork loin, brisket, and whatever else I haven’t thought of. Mac n’ cheese? Jalapeño poppers? Meatloaf? Bacon?

What do you do in the smoker? What are your go to foods? Got any tips & tricks worth sharing? Do you click the tongs twice or three times? Before, during, or after?

Any excuse to drink beer and play with fire all day is a good excuse to me. Plus, the family was awed by my hereto unknown skills with smoked meats.

What music are you playing while you’re grilling or smoking?

This is the full adventure as told via Instagram:

Ham n’ Bean n’ Tater Stew


This is one of my favorites.  My grandma made it a lot when I was growing up.  I have my own variation.

Ham, Green Bean, & Potato Soup on a Spoon

Ham, Green Bean, & Potato Soup

 

Mine includes beer. Grandma made it every once in a while with cabbage. I suppose you could add carrots and/or onions. Maybe garbanzi beans too?  Becky the awesome cook at camp makes it with noodle-style dumplings (I did try it that way once too), and some people make it wholly and horribly incorrectly with a creamy soup base.  I have no idea why you would do that to this meal.

I don’t know what to call this.  We always just called it “ham, beans, and potatoes” which is somewhat cumbersome… and could be about 4,000,000,000 other soups.  In fact, I don’t even know if this is a soup or a stew.  Both?  Neither?  What is the difference, anyway?

A lot of the time this would be made with leftover ham from Christmas, Easter, or whenever.  When the hankering strikes now, I go to ham steaks with the little bone in.  I don’t have a strict recipe, it’s more of a method.

This time, I put some Ham broth base (which can be a pain in the rear to find in the store sometimes) made slightly weaker than the directions, one cube each of chicken & beef bullion, a bottle of Yuengling Traditional Lager (I have used Straub American Amber for this too), and water in the pot and started it to boil on high.  (Perhaps obviously if I had a leftover ham, I would start by boiling the bone and make the broth from that, add bullion if/as needed.)  I also popped in some minched garlic, onion powder, and season-all, salt, and black pepper.

Then I cubed up 2 ham steaks, added them to the mix,.

Then I washed n’ cut up a not quite a 5 lb. bag of russet potatoes, and added that to the mix.  (I have used Yukon Gold before and they’re delicious, but they seem to break down to starch easier.)

Then, I cheated and popped open 2 bags of microwave/steam ready fresh green beans, rinsed, then snapped/chopped, and added them to the mix.  When i came to a boil, I popped it down to 8 on the burner dial, and let it boil for 20 minutes.

Then, I let it simmer on 2 for another 20 minutes, then I put it on low until dinner time.

Ham n' Bean n; Tater Stew

Ham n’ Bean n; Tater Stew

We served it with fresh baked buttered bread form the local grocery store.  The kids seemed to actually eat dinner this evening too, and they’re rather picky lately.  Sometimes I make it the night before, this is the kind of stuff that’s always better the next day.  I’m not sure if it’s Irish, German, American, or all of the above.

Do you make something like this?  Post your variation(s) in the comments below.

 

 

Google Photos is awesome/creepy with these videos it made & sent to me automatically…


Fascinating.

So, Google Photos made two of these video clip compilations all by itself, then it let me know in the photos app. One was for Molly, and one was for Ian.

HOW DOES IT KNOW?

Are these algorithms? Facial Recognition? Time, date, & location stamps?  Did it use the videos from my phone, or the online backups?

This is so awesome, cute, and creepy.

These videos give me all the feels.

For those who noticed I didn’t blog very often for a while, all this was happening. It’s incredible to look back on it all.

I wish I could tweak some of the clips just a tiny bit to include some better little funny moments, but whatever made this did a pretty damn good job.

As amazing as this is, and how cool it is that it reminds me of the make-a-grown-man-cry Dear-Sophie Google Chrome commercial, it’s a bit weird.  Are we in the future?  How does it do what it does?

I may find a simple answer after a Google search.  Does Google let you learn all about Google?  Does anyone use Google+?

Google Photos

Your Friendly Binary Overlord

Seriously though, they do grow up so fast.  Thank you for the reminder, Google Photos.

Watch “🍀 Swingset Shenanigans – Sat. 2017/08/06 🎪” on YouTube


I think I made this a draft, & forgot to post it…  I got some video of the kids having a blast on the Swingset, and played around with the YouTube video editor before it disappears.

Dreams, Stories, & Dance Class


I have been monkeying around with YouTube video editor.  I compiled a few things and played with their filters.  This is what I got…

Ian’s dinosaur dream:

 

Molly’s story:

 

Molly & Ian tell a story together:

Molly’s dance class:

 

Well, that’s it (for now).

 

 

Stuff and things.


I haven’t blogged very consistently lately.  When I’m not blogging, I’m usually doing something with the kids. Like this stuff;

Pulling up carpet tack strips:

Building a swingset:

Getting a pretend haircut:

Sloppy Joes (Cheap Quick Manwich Copy Cat Recipe)


I already blogged about the yinzer Sloppy Joe made with chipped ham.  This is the more traditional one.  It’s less barbecue-y than the BBQ pork n’ slaw sandwich I blogged about though.

Who is Joe anyway, and why was he sloppy? Maybe Wikipedia knows.

My wife’s grandma had a recipe for “Barbecued Beef” that looks and tastes a lot like Manwich (or the knock-off brands):

Sloppy Joe "Barbecue Beef" Manwich CopyCat Recipe

My daughter could eat it every day, but we just make the sauce without the peppers & onions.  Also, we usually skip the Worcester sauce, but I have subbed in a bit of A1.  Here’s how I would do it…

Then mix this all together & add it…

  • ¾ Cup of (Heinz) Ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons of Butter (Butter, not “buttery spread” or oil that’s whipped to make it look like butter.)
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Mustard (I use whatever we have… usually honey mustard.)
  • 1 Tablespoon A1 (optional)
  • Salt or season-salt to taste (optional)

This is best on the super-cheap hamburger buns… not those awesome homemade deli roll kind.  It really does taste like Manwich & it’s all stuff you probably have on hand.  It’s an easy crowd-pleaser, and its a double-whammy if you pair it with Mac n’ Cheese or ‘Tater Tots.

Try my meatball sub if you get a sale on ground beef.  Why are you still reading?  Go make this!