Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Still here!

No I haven't dried up and blown away quite yet but it's getting close.  Actually my wife and I have been occupied with planning a couple more trips in the not too distant future.  These will be much closer to home but should be fun anyway.  I'll fill you in more later.  Can't post a photo of someplace I haven't been yet, can I?

We have had pretty good weather but it's getting warm enough to make firing up the bbq rather than warming the house using the stove or oven a valid consideration.  The lesser cleanup with the bbq has absolutely nothing to do with our choices I promise.  I was looking at a video about smokers (food smokers!) the other day and the presenters ended with 'You can never have too many smokers or bbq's'.  Well, I'm approaching the limit I think!  We have a full size Wever kettle; a Weber gas grill and now the smoker.  That's a lot of iron on the back patio!  Of course I didn't mention the little Coleman grill that we carry on the trailer   Hmmm.  Can I spell addiction?

However I must admit to using all this stuff.  The Weber kettle gets the least use just because I'm too lazy to get charcoal going before we are actually starving.  I do love the charcoal taste.  The gas grill gets used at least once a week and often three times.  The smoker is taking it's place somewhere between the kettle and the gas.  You kind of need all day to smoke something so it's not a spur of the moment thing.  That's not even considering marinades which are used quite a bit.  I did learn something new last week though:  reverse sear.

"Reverse sear" as I understand it works like this.  It is a technique for a small piece of meat like a steak.  you smoke it to add flavor then sear it to finish the cooking.  In this case we had a couple of t-bones that were a bit more than a pound each.  So you do whatever you want to with them first.  We marinate in soy sauce and worchestershire for 20-30 minutes; they get to come up to room temp during that time as well.  So now we put them in the smoker for an hour or so.  This is how they looked when they came out.  I cannot tell you how soft they felt; almost like completely raw meat.

So after an hour in the smoker I fire up the gas grill.  These Weber gas grills go from 0-60 pretty much like a Corvette - fast!  So now I grill the steaks for 1.5 minutes on a side.   For us it was a little too much.  Next time I'd probably use a minute on each side.  (Without the smoking, I do my wife's steak for 2 minutes on a side and mine for 3 minutes on a side and it's pretty perfect medium-rare.  My wife's steak lets out a little 'moo'!)  After resting for a few while my wife made some potatoes to go with the steaks it makes a nice plate doesn't it.  There is still some pink to the steak but not a lot.

Sorry but getting cross-checking grill marks in 3 minutes is beyond me.  Guess I'll lose Master Chef!  Have a good one and I'll be back later!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The end of Ireland as we saw it

Finally!  I know.  All these photos of someone else's vacation are boring.  Sorry.  It seems to be a totally human characteristic though.  Certainly I've seen qute a few vacation photos in my life.  Anyway.

We basically ran out of time to see all we wanted to see in Ireland.  We wanted three or four days in Dublin and we just had to skip Northern Ireland.  We'll just have to include it in another trip.  We both have family from that area so there is some motivation.  However this trip we got on the motorway in Galway and headed east for Dublin.  We thought we'd stop at the Tullamore distillary but when we finally found it there was no parking so we decided to keep going.  Finally we found the Kilbeggen distillary and toured that!  Actually I don't think they do much here but it was a great old time distillary water powered with gears all over the place.  I took a TON of photos because real old time machinery is a facination but I won't bore you with them.  Here's just the one.
So then we finally made it to Dublin.  Went to the airport and turned in the car; who needs a car in a city?  And it turned out that about 80% of the traffic in downtown Dublin was buses!  While at the airport we stopped at the tourist counter and had them find us a downtown hotel - for only 115 euro a night!  We were amazed!  It was the Cassidy Hotel; rather old and some of the work that was done on it over the years wasn't the best but it was actually pretty good.  We'd certainly stay there again!  The big thing was that it was downtown.  We could and did walk almost everywhere.  The hotel is on Upper O'Connell street which is a great location.  Just down the street was this weird thing.
It has no name or anything to identify it; it's just this tall tapering thing.  Dublin was great.  Lots of older building with lots of character that are being re-used for modern stores.  Of course we went to see the Book of Kells (photography not permitted) and Trinity College but mostly we just enjoyed the city.  We did find the worst bar in town:  the Bruxelles in the Temple Bar district.  It was only the second place in Ireland where we had bad service but certainly the worst by a mile.  The bartender couldn't even be bothered to pour the Guinness properly!  What a tourist trap. 

So then we wandered back across the Atlantic and home.  We were more than happy to be back.  Three weeks in hotels is trying even if they are nice places. 

Next time I'll talk about our future travel plans.  Yep, there's more on tap.  Have a good one!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Jeez, what's with my blogging?

I just am not doing very well with this blogging thing.  I don't have a good excuse; hell, I don't have ANY excuse.  This is a great time of year around here.  Temps are in the 70-80 range (21-27C) and it's not too cool at night.  This means the air conditioner and the heat both get some time off.  It helps offset the mid-summer time when it runs 24/7 and our monthly electric bill can reach $300. 

I'm not sure what happened while we were gone, the neighbor says nothing, but the weeds just took over our yard!  Being on the wrong side of 65 years old and overweight, an hour or so of weed picking is all I'm up for so we've got several weeks of work here.  Then toss in a few days when I'm recovering from the previous day's weed picking and you can see it could take a very long time.  Makes me want to think of more pleasant things, like Ireland!

After following around the Ring of Kerry we wanted to go North along the coast.  The owner of our B&B very kindly suggested that there is a ferry that would cut off several hours driving.  He didn't have to suggest it twice!  We raced off to get the 11:30 ferry.  This being Ireland and the roads being as fine as they are; we made the 12:30 ferry by the skin of our teeth!  We were the last car on.  There wasn't a lot to do because it's a very short trip across the wide Shannon river but it was cold!

One of the sights you are supposed to see without fail are the Cliffs of Moher.  It is wild and beautiful but I've got to say that the best photos of the cliffs are going to be taken from either a boat that is offshore or a helicopter.  This was my best effort.

This coast of Ireland is mostly rock.  There is an area called the Burren where the rock is about all there is to see.  The famous description of the area dating from the 1640's describes it as "a savage land, yielding neither water enough to drown a man, nor tree to hang him, nor soil enough to bury."
I like that photo because it not only shows the Burren but it shows what was rather typical of the roads we found.  It is hard surfaced but narrow; sometimes there is a center line and sometimes it is too narrow for two lanes.  At that time either you or the other driver has to kind of dive for the side and let the other pass.  It's interesting enough when you meet another car but meeting a bus gives you a whole new appreciation for small cars!  Most of Ireland had either fences or hedgerows along side the road.  Only here in the Burren do you get sheets of rock.  There was more that one occasion when meeting someone that the side of our car was pelted by the weeds in the hedgerow.  Happily we never hit any of the rocks or fence posts.

Thanks for stopping by.  I'll try to figure out something interesting to do so I can blog about it!  Take care.