Very Soon

I ordered sausage casings this morning. I'm down to just one of my homemade polish sausage from last fall.

Soon, Boston Butts will be on sale and I will hoard them for BBQ, but first will be the sausage.

Basically three ingredients for great sausage....lean meat, controlled fat, and spices. Then put them in cases and I like them smoked.

Hot dogs of the Gods.

Tailgate Upgrades

I took Gigi's truck to the car wash today and noticed these trash receptacles.

I have a big plastic barrel like this. I'll be looking at some supply places for this handy lid. Any ideas where I can get one? Our larger crowds have pushed our garbage beyond capacity and thus could be a well needed upgrade.

The old tool box is cleaned and bolted back on the truck bed of my truck. This will give me lots of lockable and dry space for tailgate and scuba equipment. Plus it has two additional tie downs, and one can never have enough tie downs.

A Rainy Saturday

Chickens taking a dust bath.

I'm restoring the old toolbox to install back on my truck. I have room now that the fifth wheel is gone.

It is nasty. I plan a good scrubbing tomorrow.

Also, gotta figure how to clean out this carburetor and gas line.

But....tonight a nice wine dinner. Looks good to me.


A friend in St Thomas posted this on his Facebook.

A fine specimen.

Man of Sorrows

Oh Deaths Sweet Release

About 8 PM last night I got that unmistakable feeling that I got food poisoning.

Now I have had food poisoning as an adult now three times. The last two times were 35 and 20 years ago so I knew I had hitched a train that I was going to have to ride out.

It built, slowly over the night...the chills, the nausea, the sweats. Finally in its own good time like Mt. Vesuvius, I found myself compromised on all fours praying to Jesus to heal me or kill me cause I couldn't stand this much more.

Then on cue, the artillery kicked in from the rear.

After a while the very slow process of release, as the demon began to leave weakened my body. It is close to noon and I'm still in bed sipping water....but I can see light.

Now as a side note, I have not vomited full force in about 20 years and I was shocked to discover I do it completely different now. I make a lot more noise now.

The Season

And I mean NFL.

Planning ahead, we are a shoe in for jambalaya for visiting New Orleans. Chicken for Atlanta, and undecided for Tampa.

Always in the mix are several flank steak weeks and this year I'm adding caramelized onions as a side for the flank along with cheese for a Philly steak option.

Then we always have a chili Sunday usually on the first cold weekend.

Preseason is all the way hot dogs.

The past two years we have had BBQ on opening weekend and I would like to continue that as long as it is not a division team. Then it will be worked in the rotation.

Always there are smoked dry rubbed wings and abundant sides. Gigi started making her chez mix mid season and that was a hit with the TV crowd during the game.

This year, early on, I plan to try steamed mussels in butter and garlic sauce, steamed in white wine. It is fast, easy and so good.

Also, I think I have cracked the rib barrier whereby I can precook ribs, then toss them on the grill with BBQ sauce and finish them to perfection in a very short rime.

Both the ribs and mussels will make good finger food wary on until the main course is ready.


Expansion possibilities from this expanded metal tray I got on Craig's List.

Remove the boards and weld it on. Maybe great cargo space and two short bars stools instead of the boat seat.

Always thinking.


Not a thing went on yesterday. Oh I dug a small ditch behind the barn and trimmed ornamental grasses for the season but nothing more.

Oh I took this picture of my male dog.

It turned cold and rainy in the afternoon so it was nap and PJ time.

See? Nothing much.


That would be Saturday.

If it were my last day, it couldn't have been better.

Meat on the smoker. Dogs at my side.

A perfect fire.

Some barn chores and I noticed a carving that was long forgotten.

I found a small hickory tree to cut for smoke wood.

Basketball and beer.

By the time this day was done, I was surrounded by smoke, dogs, and a glass of red wine in my hand.

The BBQ was off the hook good. The buzz was mellow.

I am so blessed.

Miracle on the Sacramento

This blog is about food as much as it is about travels, fun, football, scuba, etc. Sometimes this writer yields this stage when a food discovery is revealed. Such a discovery has been in the making, secretly, day by day, in a little shack on the Sacramento River in California.

Neither earthquake, drought or pestilence has stopped this man set on a mission. Humbly, his secret is revealed.

This blog has been reformatted for Mental Vacation.

Confessions of a Hashbrown Whore:

I admit it. It cannot be denied. I have no choice.

I think about hashbrowns a lot.

The reason I have chosen this time to share my defliction is because I have had an Epiphany. You see, after trying for decades to create the perfect hashbrown at home I have finally stumbled upon what works. I must tell you that I am nothing short of elated. But first, the backstory:

As a young boy I noticed that the potatoes served in cafes and restaurants were much different than those my mother cooked at home. We ate what was called "Bohnstedt Potatoes", which consisted of russet potatoes, sliced, with sliced onion, cooked in a steel electric skillet. Delicious. This is a very versatile style of potato dish which goes perfectly well with either scrambled eggs or meat loaf. The potatoes served in restaurants, such as the cafe in Mariposa that our family stopped at every time we went to Yosemite, were vastly different in texture, taste and style. They were in fact the Original Hashbrowns.

As I grew older and frequented cafes for breakfast more often I found that it was the hashbrows that I most anticipated and enjoyed. Then, after re-discovering the wonderful marriage that is the onion and the potato, I started ordering my hashbrowns with onion. Through the years I have had this combination served to me many different ways: red onions, sauteed and cooked on the bottom; green onions chopped and scattered on top; grilled yellow onions on the is always different from each cook. And so began my quest to re-create the Ultimate Hashbrown at home. I have tried every conceivable (I thought) way of doing this. Different lipids, different vessels, different potatoes. I was never satisfied until just the other day.


I had known for some time that one of the keys was to use pre-cooked, cold spuds. But I always used ROASTED ones. On the occasion of my Epiphany, I used the red potatoes that were left over from the previous day's corned beef and cabbage. They were completely sodden from having been boiled, so much so that I thought they would be mush the next day. So I set the electric skillet on 350, poured a little puddle of vegetable oil (I had previously only used olive oil), let it get hot, then grated the spuds right onto the oil. Flattened, salted, peppered, they cooked. I let them stay a little longer than usual before flipping them (I had always been too impatient) and what appeared was


a gorgeous lightly browned sculpture of hashbrown godliness never before achieved. Then, after plating, the second test: Yes, they glistened inside. THEY WERE MOIST! GLISTENING! Crunchy on the outside, moist and glistening on the inside. Nirvana!

I repeated this process for three days, and it worked perfectly each time. It was time for the marriage. This morning I chopped up a sweet red onion and sprinkled some onto the the top of the browns before flipping. They sauteed from the underside for a short time and then the glorious medley joined a sunny-side up egg and a slice of dry sourdough on the plate.

There are no more words.

Logos and Marketing

Red and yellow appeal to the brain.

Sometimes blue.

Again sometimes blue.

My brain likes the colors too.

Cool Beans

A baby pineapple all my own.

My Childhood

I didn't know they were actually color.

Dancing Bear, Mr. Moose, Mr. Greenjeans, Bunny Rabbit, and Captain Kangaroo. Grandfather Clock was to the left, and Tom Terrific with his wonder dog Manfred was standing by.

They kept me entertained.

Research and Developement

It is now common knowledge and scientific fact that pickled eggs help the Carolina Panthers win and make the playoffs. It is also fact that both seasons the eggs were used we were 12-4, got the bye, and then lost. So the recipe obviously needs to be tweaked. We must push further in the playoffs.

These things can only be handed off to folks that deal in dark things, concoctions, voodoo, and such. I handed off this project to a Rastaman living on the coast of NC who has knowledge of such things.

You can see, this is way over my head. Gods speed Rasta Claws.

Club Level Seat

I have this boat swivel seat that is in very good condition.

Me thinks I'll mount it on the tongue of my tailgate trailer and have one luxury club level seat.

How cool would that be?

Dive 134

Yesterday was dive 134 in 46 degree water.

The problem I had was the dry suit is off the shelf with some slack in the legs since I am vertically challenged. My left boot came off with my fin securely attached, thus disabling the left fin. Repeated attempts to correct the problem caused me to experience severe back spasms in the 47 degree water. I called the dive after 22 wasn't going to get better. We had a nice vigorous surface swim with one fin back across the quarry.

In the morning Bates and I returned to the storage shed to stow away the gear.

Diving....always good times.

Down Island St Patricks Day

The celebration I attended was in 2003. Nothing compares pound for pound.

The Woods

What do you call it?

I call it the woods. Maybe that is a southern thing. The state and federal government call it the forest. Down island it is called the bush.

At any rate, I find peace in the bush/woods.

In Their Natural Environment

My business partner yesterday on a live cam in Key West.


Too much snow.

Just right.


I am amazed that someone can produce a funny thought, then verbalize the thought by transmitting sounds waves. The sound waves are received by my ears, translated by my brain to interpret the thought, and if good enough per my personal standards, will send my diaphragm into involuntary contractions causing me to laugh.

That is what I think about when I wake up at 2:30 am before falling back to sleep.


I took Monday off because it was Gigi's birthday. Double nickels.

Bates and I took a walk at the golf course. We were Canada goose hunting. What interest Bates even more was the tennis courts and all the balls flying around. That was right up his line.

Midday we ate lunch in Mint Hill, NC which is the closest real town near me. Afterwards a very long shopping spree at.....CVS. I know how to treat a lady. Honestly Gigi loves a good drug store so I patiently waited.

And waited.....

And waited....


From Humans of St Croix.


Sunday marks the annual gathering of the sticks.....the never ending battle of picking up limbs from the winter storms. Leaves, sticks, sap and tree sex are the price I pay for living in a forested lot.

Later in the day I bought some herbs. I so want to be like Phfrankie. Here we have rosemary, sage, and cilantro.

Then, on to the chuck wagon, where I installed the newest, and second bottle opener.

Lastly, I am installing a fire extinguisher to the side. I figure with grills, propane, fryers, and beer consumption, that it only made sense to be able to handle a fire emergency.