Friday, February 10, 2012

Taking Things into My Own Hands

Grilling has been a significant delight now for several years. As my skills have increased (marginally, I know), I have desired to grill a wider variety of foods; foods that would require hours of “low and slow” goodness.

Yet due to my impatient personality, I have focused most of my grilling on relatively quick and super-hot cooking techniques. (Yes, I just wrote super-hot, but I didn’t mean it like super-cute.) After all, it is pretty easy to build a hot fire and quickly sear meat. To my shame, I have not attempted to cook many meats that require hours or even all day in a smoky, low temperature fire. The longest meal I have ever cooked has been the turkey on Thanksgiving, which only required about 2 hours.

I knew that in order to barbecue cuts of meat that needed six or eight hours I would have to manage the heat of the coals better than I typically manage my Saturday mornings. Frankly, I have not been happy with my success in cooking ribs, so my desires have leaned toward having a thermometer built into the grill lid. I tried using an oven thermometer with little success as it always got in the way of the actual food on the grill, not to mention turning a dark shade of dirty orange from the smoke.

My eyes started to wander away from my faithful grill towards one of those pretty models in the store that had a built in thermometer. I love Weber and want to stay with the brand. At the same time I realize that the brand name is expensive and they designed their line of charcoal grills to pull as much money from my wallet as possible. Hence only the most expensive models include the relatively cheap thermometer.

As much as I wanted a grill with a thermometer, I could not justify spending $300 on a second grill with a thermometer. Don’t get me wrong, I can justify a second grill; just not a $300 one.

Well, I explained my dilemma to the helpful men at Frattalone’s Ace Hardware in Arden Hills and we landed on an inexpensive, if somewhat DIY solution. Weber does sell a replacement thermometer for their gas grills, which would do the job perfectly.

So, I took things into my owns hands, in the suburban American weekend warrior sort of way.

Mission accomplished.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Then We Prayed

I have written this before, and will probably write it again: Andrew Peterson is one of my favorite musicians and authors. We have most of his albums and all his novels. He is a gift to the church. He has been working on a new album (yay!) and wrote this about how they started...

I’m 37 years old. This isn’t my first rodeo. I shouldn’t feel that old fear, anxiety, or self-doubt, should I? Then again, maybe I should. As soon as you think you know what you’re doing, you’re in big trouble. So before we opened a single guitar case, we talked. I sat with Ben Shive, Andy Gullahorn, and Cason and told them I felt awfully unprepared. I doubted the songs. I was nervous about the musical direction the record seemed to want to take. I wondered if I was up to the task. I told them about the theme that had arisen in many of the songs: loss of innocence, the grief of growing up, the ache for the coming Kingdom, the sehnsucht I experience when I see my children on the cusp of the thousand joys and the thousand heartaches of young-adulthood. 
Then we prayed. We asked for help. Ever since I read Lanier Ivester’s beautiful post about Bach (if you haven’t read it, you must), I’ve written the words “Jesu juva” in my journal when I’m writing a lyric. It’s latin for “Jesus, help!”, and there’s no better prayer for the beginning of an adventure. Jesus, you’re the source of beauty: help us make something beautiful; Jesus, you’re the Word that was with God in the beginning, the Word that made all creation: give us words and be with us in this beginning of this creation; Jesus, you’re the light of the world: light our way into this mystery; Jesus, you love perfectly and with perfect humility: let this imperfect music bear your perfect love to every ear that hears it.
We said, “Amen.” 
Then I took a deep breath, opened the guitar case, and leapt.
It’s obvious why I like him, right? (Not to mention he likes Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason.)

Read the whole Rabbit Room post.