Sunday, July 30, 2023

Made Our First Pizza and Cooked on the Big Green Egg... It was a success!

Pizza on the Big Green Egg -- First Time
Pizza on Big Green Egg

I have been wanting to do homemade pizza on the Big Green Egg for a few years. We finally did our first pizza tonight and it turned out nicely. Carrie and I were nervous about doing our own pizza, but it was easy. The crust turned out well with some crunch and we both think we could have topped it with more cheese than what we did. The crust is store bought dough that we bought at Dillon's. We worked it out to fit a pizza pan and then added our toppings. Toppings included pizza sauce, turkey pepperoni, mushrooms, and cheese.

The grill was set for indirect with the grill insert to raise the pie high in the dome. I got to a temp of 450 degrees and kept it there throughout. It only took about ten minutes to cook. Halfway through and I could smell the pizza cooking. I was able to look in through the vent and I could see the cheese melting. What a good sight!

Finished Pizza from the Big Green Egg
Finished Pizza from Big Green Egg

The taste was good although we have some things to change. One video I watched while preparing for our first time making our own pizza said that pizza making is a evolving process where we will learn new techniques and try new processes. The crust was good and a little crunchy. It was a little salty which could have been from the sauce, mushrooms, or possibly the crust. Even with the salty taste, it was a good first attempt. We have leftovers we can eat tomorrow for lunch.

Now that we have done our first pizza on the Big Green Egg, I am excited to try different toppings and processes. We will use the dough again for a future cook although Carrie thinks we could get two crusts out of the dough which we might try the next time. 

Until next time, have a great week...

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Poor Mans Burnt Ends with Chuck Roast on Big Green Egg

Grill Ready to Cook Poor Mans Burnt Ends
Grill Ready for Cooking

I found a recipe a while back for Poor Mans Burnt Ends, so I decided to give it a try last weekend. I ordered the rub and BBQ sauce from the Pitboss Grills web site as it sounded pretty good. I had read through a few other poor mans burnt ends recipes and this one sounded the best. We got a little over 3 lb chuck roast. I was excited and got the grill going mid-morning. The recipe said it would take eight hours, but that was on a smoker they were using so it was not going to take as long for my cook.

Followed the recipe to a tee doing the rub all over the chuck roast to start. I set the BGE up for 275 and it stuck on that target temp throughout the cook. The whole cooking process took about four hours.

Chuck Roast Half-way Through a Four Hour Cook
Chuck Roast Half-way Through Cook

After putting the chuck roast on the grill, I let it sit untouched for a little over two hours when the target temp finally hit 165 degrees. It smelled so good as it was cooking as I could smell the rub that was being cooked and smoking as it went along.

We had a rain storm just as it was supposed to be hitting the target temp which did cause the grill temp to drop a little as I was away from the grill and could not adjust the vents appropriately, but it quickly regained the target temp and finished out to remove the chuck roast from the grill.

Chuck Roast After Two Hours and Thirty Minutes of Cooking
After 2 hours and 30 minutes

After two hours and thirty minutes, I removed the chuck roast from the grill.  I wrapped it in aluminum foil and placed it back on the grill for another hour to reach a target of 195 degrees. Again, it smelled heavily as it finished up the last part of the cooking. 

Once the target temp of 195 degrees was hit, I removed from the grill again and let it sit for 15 - 20 minutes before cutting it up into cubes. Placing the cut up cubes into an aluminum foil pan where the meat was covered in brown sugar and the BBQ sauce. The whole tray was placed back on the grill at 275 where it sat for another hour.

Cut up meat covered in brown sugar and BBQ sauce
Partway through final stage

The goal was to cook the cubes meat in the brown sugar and BBQ sauce until the BBQ sauce became thick from being cooked. This did take a little over an hour to occur. When I opened the grill, which was still set at 275, to check the meet after an hour the BBQ sauce was bubbling as it cooked the meat. The meat was tender to the touch and had a nice color as it finished up on the grill.

As I removed the meat from the grill and brought it inside, it was all Carrie and I could do to not sample it hot off of the grill. So, we let it sit for a few minutes, maybe 15 minutes, and then sampled one piece. Tender and tasted good. We decided we were not big fans of the BBQ sauce but then when we had leftovers the next day, it tasted much better. Next time we do this cook, we will use a KC BBQ sauce.

Dinner is Served
Dinner is Served

Carrie made roasted potatoes and then Brookville Hotel Sweet and Sour Coleslaw which went along really well with the dinner. The meat was prefect and we had leftovers to last us for two or three more meals. 

Overall, I liked the process. As I mentioned, I would change out the BBQ sauce and also the rub would be different. The meat turned out really well and I would do the whole process again. The nice thing is that I could fit probably three chuck roasts on the grill if I needed to make a lot for an event.

Until next time, have a great weekend and a wonderful week...

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Saturday, July 15, 2023

I Bought My First Drone and Learning How to Fly

Drone Photo of our House and Oliver
Drone Photo of our House

What did I do on Prime Day 2023? Well, I finally got myself a drone. Certainly not high end but I think it will work out well for me. It arrived on Friday afternoon and I was so excited to start using it that I tried it Friday evening but in the house. Yes, it was raining when it arrived, so I tried it in the house first. I have no idea what I am doing, so I flew it into the TV, the couch, etc., and quickly decided I better do this outside.

I purchased the NEHEME NH525 Foldable Frones with 1080P HD Camera which was selling on Prime Day for half price. I got it for about $50. It is labeled as beginner or for kids. Well, I might be both of those categories as I am having fun with it on Saturday morning. It comes with a joystick or I can use my phone to fly. I have tried both and have much better control it seems with the joystick. However, I am unable to take pictures, or video, with the remote for some reason. It was working fine when I tested it Friday night, but nothing today. So, I can only take pictures using my phone and the app.

More Test Drone Pictures of Our Home
More Drone Test Pics of our House

The drone does scare Oliver who is not sure what is happening. I am sure it did not help that I was flying it in the house, crashing into the couch or the TV, so he is not sure what to think about it. For a little device, it does make a good amount of noise.

I would like to take it out to an open field where I can use it as our backyard is not the best. Yes, I did get the B4UFLY app to check if I can fly in our neighborhood and I was happy to see that I can fly without restrictions. I do still need to register the drone through the FAA, but I have not looked at that process at this point. I am hoping I can get the joystick to take pictures with the one button click or I need to learn how to fly with my phone.

The plan is to take the drone on camping trips to take pictures of our camp site, us while we are camping, or of other interesting sites while we are camping. Of course between now and our next camping trip (probably in the fall), I need to train and test flying. 

Drone Picture Front of House
Drone Picture Front of House

The drone came with two batteries which allows for about 10 - 12 minutes of flying time for each battery. Not bad and overall I think the pictures look pretty good. I did take a test video while flying in the front but it is very shaky. Possibly some of it to do with my inexperience of flying but also the drone is constantly repositioning or correcting even when I am not doing the controls which makes for a jumpy video. I think with this low end drone, I will primarily be taking pictures.

I am sure you know this means there will be more pictures and more posts with the new drone. Hopefully as I get better flying, and taking pictures, these will improve and I will be ready to take pictures of our next camping site when we go in the fall.

Until next time, have a great weekend and I look forward to sharing my drone journey over the coming months.

Sunday, July 09, 2023

Fleet Foxes Concert, Camping, July 4, and then Oliver Had Teeth Pulled Update

I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday week last week. Made for an interesting week with the 4th happening on Tuesday as it was a short week for me taking off Monday, holiday, and then working Wednesday through the week. For this update, I am combining a few different updates that have happened over the past week or so rather than posting multiple posts.

Fleet Foxes at Midland in Kansas City, MO
Fleet Foxes Concert

Carrie and I attended another concert on Saturday, July 1. We were in Kansas City at The Midland Theater to watch the Fleet Foxes. Carrie and I went in Saturday afternoon, had lunch at Ponak's Mexican Kitchen (which is outstanding), and then went to our hotel before the concert. We had reserved a room at the President Hotel Kansas City so we would be just a block or so from The Midland Theater. The plan worked out great! Enjoyed some drinks at the hotel bar and then walked to the concert.

The Fleet Foxes is a band I have heard over the years, but had not followed. Carrie has known about them for a while and when she saw that they were playing in Kansas City, we decided we had to go see them. 

Selfie at Fleet Foxes Concert
Selfie at Fleet Foxes Concert

Standing room only for the concert, so we found a good spot a section or so up from the stage. It worked out perfect as we had a railing to lean against for the show which helped the old back. The last time we were at The Midland Theater was years ago for a James Taylor concert. At that time, the theater had chair seating toward the back, but all seating has been removed from the theater and standing only with a large bar at the back of the venue.

The whole show was great! We had so much fun at the concert. I cannot wait to see what concert we go to next. This was our third concert of the summer and it was a blast! Carrie said the next day that the Fleet Foxes concert we attended might be her best concert ever. The setting, the band, and sounds were all wonderful, so I can see why she would say it is her top concert.

Camping at Council Grove for Second Time
Camping at Council Grove for Second Time

Following the concert, we had made quick plans the week prior to go camping. Only a two day camp trip as we were going to the concert Saturday and would not be back until Sunday, so after getting back from Kansas City, we loaded up the car, and then we headed back to Council Grove where we were just a few weeks prior.

We went camping with Greg and Erin where we went to the same exact spot we had camped previously. We love the spot and really enjoy the lake too. We rented a boat again on Monday spending a lot of time at the beach. It was wonderful! This will likely be our last camping trip until the fall when it starts cooling down. 

Bulgogi on Firedisc
Bulgogi on Firedisc

Sunday night we had Pizza Hut again. They were out of a lot of ingredients with the holiday weekend, but it was still really good pizza. For Monday night dinner, Carrie made bulgogi, fried rice, and pot stickers on the Firedisc. After a day on the water, it was great to eat a delicious meal. We then spent the evening around the camp fire listening to music as we do when we camp. What good memories and we love it at that site!

Oliver Did Not Want to Leave the Camp Site
Oliver Not Wanting to Leave

When we were packing up on Monday morning, Oliver did not want to leave the camp site. He stayed in our tent as we were packing and then out front of it when everything was cleared from it. I think Oliver likes to camp or maybe he was just protecting his "home" and not wanting to let anyone take it. We decided to get up early on Tuesday so we could pack before it got hot and so we could get back home a little earlier.

The plan worked out great as we were back in Topeka by 11 am or so. Carrie and I spent the late morning unpacking the car and putting things away. The afternoon we did not do a whole lot. Oliver, Carrie, and I all snoozed some of the afternoon. The fireworks started in the neighborhood, so Oliver took cover behind furniture while those were happening. As it would happen, after the fireworks finished, a large storm moved through with a lot of thunder, so through the wee hours of the night, Oliver once again did some hiding under furniture. I am sure he wondered what was happening with fireworks and then thunder. Was the world ending? Poor guy! 

Oliver Sleeping Following Teeth Pulled
Oliver Post Teeth Pulled

The rest of the week went smoothly with only three days of work. We did have Oliver scheduled for a vet appointment Friday morning, so I dropped him off at the vet at 7:30 am. This was to do a teeth cleaning and possibly pull some teeth. I got a call from the vet about 9:30 saying Oliver would need to have teeth pulled. This would be the second time he has had to have teeth pulled and this time they were pulling ten teeth. I asked the vet how many would remain after today and they told me he would have around 15 teeth remaining. The vet also told me that dogs will adapt and can be without any teeth. I gave the go ahead and he was done with the operation by late morning. We were able to pick him up at 3:45.

What a sad little puppy. He could barely stand after the anesthesia. Picking him up he felt like a bag of potatoes. Blood was coming from his mouth that we could see on the blanket he was laying on through the evening. He was not interested in eating or drinking that first night which matched with what the vet said would happen. He looked so pitiful it was tough to watch him not being his regular self.

Oliver on Camping Trip Flashing his Canines
Oliver on Camping Trip
Saturday he was doing a little better and he was actually interested in eating, so we had soft food for him. We noticed he could not find a spot where he was comfortable as he kept moving from spot to spot. He would lay down, sleep a little, and then get up and move to another spot after a few minutes. We also noted that his tail was dragging behind him as he walked, so we know he is not feeling well.

It is now Sunday morning and he continues to improve. Tail is still dragging behind him when he walks, but he is eating everything we give him for soft food. Really hungry or new food to him, I am not sure. I feel bad when I let him out and he comes back in without a treat. He looks at me as if something is wrong with me that I am not giving him a treat.

We need to talk to the specialist in Kansas City about his canines to see if those need to be removed. My guess is that they will say they need to be pulled, but then does that make sense to do so or what do we do next? Decisions to be made.

Oliver will continue to improve and be back to himself before long. Until next time, have a great rest of your Sunday and a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Happy 4th of July for 2023!

Fireworks from 2012 Fireworks Show

Have a Happy and Safe July 4th celebration! It seems like the past few years it has rained leading up to or on Independence Day. While we need the rain, I hope that we have nice weather to enjoy the celebration.

Be safe out there if you are firing off fireworks but also take time to enjoy family and friends during the holiday. 

In my younger days, I would be all about going out to buy fireworks and spend the evening blowing them up. Now, I am good with a relaxing evening and maybe watching a fireworks show. My dog, Oliver, does not like fireworks at all, so we have found the past two or three years where we we go driving to get him out of the house and away from the boom that scares him to hide under furniture.

Until next time, have a great 4th and a short work week.

Saturday, July 01, 2023

Carrie and John attended Dwight Yoakam concert on June 22 in Kansas City with summary and pictures

Drinks in Parking Lot Before Concert
Drinks Before Concert

I have mentioned a few times in past posts that Carrie and I are trying to do more concerts this year. We attended our second concert of the season on Thursday, June 22 by attending Dwight Yoakam. Overall, we had a great time attending the concert. Dwight Yoakam was really good and solid in his performance. The special guest opening for Dwight Yoakam was Aaron Lewis. I was not a fan of Aaron Lewis, so I could have done without hearing him on stage. 

The concert was at Azura Amphitheater which I had not been to in over 10 - 15 years. I actually do not recall the last time I went to a concert there, but it was a fun spot. They had the upper area, grass, closed for the concert, so only the lower section which is seating was open. A good variety of concessions with food, drinks, and even high end cocktails, so it was a fun night. Prior to the concert we did a little tailgating before heading into the concert. After hearing Aaron Lewis, we wish we would have stayed out in the parking lot longer to enjoy a few more drinks.

Carrie Relaxing Pre-Concert Out of Sun
Carrie in the Shade

After we made it inside, we found a shady spot to hang out and relax. Sipping on drinks and we had a delicious hotdog from concessions. Dwight Yoakam went on stage around 9 or 9:30, so we had a long time waiting for the earlier acts to finish up and the main event to start. We believe Dwight Yoakam was waiting for the sun to go down fully as that's when he finally came out on stage. The concert started at 7 and then main act went on stage much later. We did not get home until about 12:30 that night.

I would go to another concert at Azura Amphitheater as it was a fun spot. It was our first country concert to attend in a long time, so we will have to evaluate and see if we will attend another one in the future. I have fond memories of Azura Amphitheater, formally Sandstone Amphitheater from back in the day, where I saw a number of concerts when I was in college. Fun to be back there and enjoy the outdoors while listening to live music.

Shot of Stage while Dwight Yoakam is Playing
Shot of Stage with Dwight Yoakam

At one point while getting drinks, I did snap a picture of the stage although I see I did not get a good picture of Dwight Yoakam as he was behind the post. There was a good crowd at the concert and we had a lot of fun watching people, enjoying the music, and enjoying being out and about together.

Until next time, have a great weekend and get out and hear some live music!