Food & Football Week 12 2016: The U vs NCSt

My Beloved Osito,

Week 12 is upon us as The U travels to the state of North Carolina (NC) again to face off with the mr-and-mrs-wufNC State Wolfpack.  Going into the last two games of the season, knowing you don’t have a chance to play for the ACC Championship, can make you think that there is nothing to play for.  I hope this mindset is not the case as The U looks to increase their win streak to 3 games and close out the season on a high note, for a change. Realizing that we play a lot of teams from NC, and in an effort to avoid duplicating a meal, I decided on Carolina pulled pork.  It was basically my only option, given that their mascot, Mr. and Mrs Wuf was a nonstarter and I needed a break from the sweet potatoes, state veggie, trend, but I’m sure it will be back though.

Admittedly, I did not cook the “game meal” on game day, but on Sunday.  I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Air Force lab overseeing testing for one of our experiments.  One of the tests was to make one of the cells in the satellite’s battery burn-up to see if the heat would spread and destroy the other cells. This is called thermal runaway and we were going to create this by drilling a screw into one of the battery cells.

The other test was called vibration (vibe) testing. In simple terms we shake the experiment very hard to see if anything breaks.  Unexpectedly during this trip, I govib-testt some parenting tips. Prior to the start of Vibe Testing, we were delayed for about 10 minutes as one of the Doctors brought his kids in to watch. I thought to myself, how cool is this…not many kids get to see things like this and I need to expose you to things like this. You may like it and you may not, but at least you will know it’s an option because I never thought I would be doing this.

Despite cooking the meal after the fact, the game meal and the actual game were both very similar.  The game started off slow, and as a purely defensive battle, as both teams were only able to score 3 points in the first half.  For the meal, it was a slow process, since low and slow is the best when cooking pulled pork. I used smoke and indirect heat on the grill.  I left the pork on the grill for a few hours as we went to church, but upon our return, things began to pick up pace.  The pace picked up for The U as well after they returned from halftime with some much needed offensive adjustments scoring 14 points in the 3rd quarter.

I picked up tpressure-cookerhe pace for the game meal by transferring it from the grill to the pressure cooker. The U completed the game by outscoring NCST 24-10 in the second half on their way to a third straight victory winning 27-13.  After removing the pork from the pressure pot and pulling it, Mami voted to have loaded baked potatoes. The meal rated out at a 7 out of 10 because the grilled (baked) potato just wasn’t the best, but the pork was really good. Next week in the regular season finale, The U hosts the Duke Blue Devils.

Ingredients:
Meat Prep:
pork-in-seasoning
1. Fully unthaw pork butt and place in a large pan. Pour a bottle of beer into pan
2. With a sharp knife cut small slits (aka season pockets) all around the meat
3. Coat with olive oil, then cover and stuff season pockets with dry rub and minced garlic
4. Let marinate for at least 24 hours turning the butt over half way through the process

Dry rub:
1. In a bowl mix brown sugar, Cajun, dried onion flakes,
adobo, parsley, thyme and black pepper

Cook Prep:
1. Remove meat from marinade and pat dry
2. Lightly coat with soy sauce and add another layer of the dryer rub

Grill Prep:
1. Soak wood chips (I used cherry wood) according to packet instructions
2. Light the grill using the indirect heat method with fire on opposite side of chimney
3. Place the pan with liquid marinade under the rack where the meat will be placed

Cooking:
1. Place meat on grill for ~5 hours rotating the meat on all sides
2. Make sure to keep the heat going by adding coal and soaked wood chips as needed
– The flames died out a little when we went to church
3. Remove meat and cut into chunks
4. Place meat in pressure cooker with some of the liquid marinade from the pan
5. Place on high ~15mins depending on pressure cooker
– Ensure meat is done and it should easily pull apart

Potatoes:
1. Take baking potato and cut a few slits into it and coat with olive oil
2. Place the potato in foil with a slice of butter, salt and pepper and seal completely
3. Cook until soft, turning to ensure even cooking

final-meal

Love you to “Infinity…and Beyond”
@Outer_space_dad

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Christmas Traditions: All of the Lights 2016

My Beloved Osito,

Christmas traditions come in various forms and develop under different circumstances for each family. Despite the tradition or how it was developed, pPresent.JPGeople cling to these events, activities or foods and find comfort in them and admittedly I am no different. Growing up, our traditions never revolved around presents. Presents were not a focal point, not
because we didn’t want things like every other kid, but because Mom and Pops only had enough to provide us with our basic needs most years. And thankfully, now that I’m grown, I am glad they were not the type to go into debt to get us things we were convinced we needed to survive.

As a kid, outside of dreading the presents aspect of Christmas; when other kids asked “what did you get for Christmas?” while showing off their designer clothes, shoes and overpriced toys from their parents; I looked forward to one thing (other than family), Christmas light displays. Going to see lights was not a tradition in our family, but more of a coincidence. Honestly, I don’t know why I enjoy the lights, but the art behind these master pieces with different colors, inflatables, and the surrounding environment
brings me joy. As a kid, there was one stretch of road, merry-texashighway 278, which always had an enormous display that stretched across multiple houses. I remember being in the backseat seeing all the vibrant colors and pointing out all the characters and designs screaming “did you see that?!”

Now, this childhood “coincidence”, has now become a part of our family tradition. As the Air Force moves us around through the years, we will explore the    Christmas lights displays in those areas and surrounding cities. This year we had a very “Merry Texas Christmas [Y’all]”. Comprised of two Hutchins’ Weekend Adventure(s), we went to Magical Winter Lights in Texas City and Santa’s Wonder Land in College Station, Texas.

Magical Winter Lights (MWL)

The environment of MWL did not create a Christmas mood, at all, given it was a gigantic parking lot right off I-45. Once you enter, there was no organized fchinalow, but just isolated displays scattered throughout the parking lot. Once you get over the highway noise, the street and business lights in the background and the huge Waffle House sign that looked like it was part of the park and focused on the displays, it was really awesome. We started at the enchanted forest, fully stocked with deer, unicorns and a carriage and then made our way around the world with stops in several different countries. We then took a step back to the “Land before Time” and visited with the dinosaurs. We then rushed to ‘Houston’ making it in time to catch the Space Shuttle. (Don’t be confused, you know the Shuttles were launched from my first base, Cape Canaveral, but there is a replica at Space Center Houston. We ended the adventure with a view of the solar system.

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Santa’s Wonderland (SW):name

SW completely nailed it when it came to putting someone in the Christmas mood. Once you walk through the over-sized red doors, you instantly felt transported to a scene out of a Christmas movie. The design of the different shops, the fire pit in the center of town and the music made for an amazing ambiance. The food was good and decently priced, but you can easily bring your own food inside. I am not sure if this is against policy, but you do what you want/need to when you have a baby bag and a sometimes picky baby (looking at you). The main attraction of SW is the hay ride through a wooded area full of lights and displays. The line was long, but worth the wait. Plus it didn’t seem that long since Mami held our place in line as I walked you around to keep you occupied. SW’s displays ranged from military tributes to magical castles with national landmarks and scenes from the North Pole in between. It was definitely worth the trip and you loved your first hay ride. However, I would suggest going during the week for a lower cost ticket and a smaller crowd.

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Overall, Christmas 2016 was composed of two really good adventures, but they both had their good and bag. If you could take the environment and ambiance from Santa’s Wonderland and combine it with the displays from Magical Winter Lights it would be an epic park.

1-houston

Love you to “Infinity…and Beyond”

Outer Space Dad