It’s a stressful time.
The end of semester looms and much work is needed, urgently, for my professional organization. On top of it, there have been very difficult funerals (both young men who had no business dying), a delightful wedding, a concert and audition to prepare for, and so on.
It’s all valuable work and I am deeply grateful for the career I have. My audition recording is playing in the background as I write this. I am getting the work done. It will be done, and on time, and be of good quality.
This time, it’s come at a cost: perhaps a reminder that I’m no longer twenty-six years old and full of reckless physical energy. In those days, a quick, cheap, delicious lunch at Ribs and Bibs or the University Gardens in Hyde Park was enough for me till nightfall. I walked around the neighborhood for miles, trekking to my church, to campus, to another church, to another church, back to home, hardly breaking a sweat.
Now, I break a sweat–and a damn cold one–just remembering how much energy I put out in those days.
(No other university community I’ve lived in or visited can beat Hyde Park for ethnic restaurants. I hope that hasn’t changed. For all of the shittiness of which that university was capable, it was situated at the culinary crossroads of the planet. At least my inner 26-year-old says so…and I tend to trust him.)
My stress is abating now, though I was too sick to work on Sunday morning–an extreme rarity in my church-centered life. I’ll stay home from a volunteer activity if I feel ill, but it takes a near-disaster to keep me in bed on the Lord’s day.
I guess it felt like a near disaster.
Anyway, I am feeling much better. What’s aiding my recovery is a beautiful spring day in the country. The side yard has been torn up by the delivery of 50 yards of dirt, but I am parked in a Coleman camp chair in front of a Weber kettle, monitoring the progress of my first barbecue smoking project.
I’m smoking a brisket and two large chicken breasts. I’m using my dad’s old standby, Kingsford charcoal briquets, along with a newer product, Kingsford wood chunks. I’m smoking the meats on applewood. Every so often I am adding charcoal and another wood chunk. The meat is looking lovely. Dinner will feature brisket and chicken, cucumber salad, and cornbread–all homemade.
There’s really nothing to smoking meats. All you need is patience and an eye for keeping the grill just hot enough. It’s nice to sit outdoors, even if work won’t wait and you have a computer on your lap.
No need to invest in a propane smoker, a special ceramic dish for the water, a certain design (horizontal versus vertical, a true Little-Endian/Big-Endian debate). An old Weber kettle will work absolutely fine. Get a pan of the right size for water, a stick to poke the briquets, and you’re in business.
As to a rub, start with salt and pepper and see how that goes. Don’t worry if the store was out of coriander.
This post was drafted April 24 and was finished and published on May 16, back-dated to 4/24.