Independence Day

I had a great 4th weekend. I got few chores done, but mostly it was just relaxing and hanging out with the family. Finished off the series finale of Six Feet Under, which I'd started watching on Amazon Fire TV a few months ago. It was a very good series ended by one of the most satisfying finales I've seen. I'd read that the finale was excellent, but in the couple episodes leading up to it I was wondering how they were going to pull that off. But boy they sure did! The use of music was particular excellent and effective. Now I'm going to have to find something else to do with my weekend mornings when everybody else is still asleep. Maybe I'll start watching The Sopranos or Breaking Bad, since I seem to be the only person in the world who hasn't seen those series...

On the 4th we had a small get-together with our neighbors. I've been learning how to smoke meats, so this was an opportunity to put that to use. It's an all-day job to smoke and one thing I've learned is that smoking a lot of meat is only slightly more work than smoking a little, so if I'm going to do it, I'm going to make a lot. This time I made two briskets and 4 racks of pork spare ribs. I have an electric smoker so it's not as labor-intensive as a charcoal or wood burning smoker. But you do have to keep it full of wood chips so you're tied to it for the day. The other thing with an electric smoker is you have to watch the weather! It started raining about halfway through my smoke and I had to quickly build a lean-to with a tarp to keep my electrical appliance from getting soaked. The briskets turned out really well – juicy, smoky, and flavorful.One thing missing from my brisket is a nice smoke ring, but taste-wise they're very good. Better than what I can get at most restaurants. This was my first time making ribs and they turned out really well, if I say so myself. The meat tasted great and was falling-off-the-bone tender. My wife thought the rub I used was a little too peppery. It's a valid opinion because the primary ingredient was in fact fresh-ground pepper. But I personally like a peppery flavor, so I'm fine with. But next time I'll adjust the recipe a bit or try a different one to see if I can find something that works for everyone. I found a recipe for Aaron Franklin's famous Espresso Barbecue Sauce online and made that as well. I love that sauce and the recipe was pretty close. But next time I'm going to personalize it a bit by decreasing the vinegar a little and maybe adding a bit of a sweet element to it (not a lot, just a little bit) and I think it'll be perfect. [Update: I found a slightly different take on the recipe that seems to be closer to what I'd like. Check it out – keep scrolling down past the end of the article...]

On Sunday we took the kids to see Inside Out. This was probably the least enthusiastic I've been about seeing a Pixar film, mainly because the commercials just weren't very compelling. And also because the story concept is almost identical to Herman's Head, which was a pretty mediocre show. But as it turns out, the movie is very good and the commercials don't do it justice. Pixar has a perfect touch for making movies that are sentimental without being sappy, throwing in healthy doses of humor for the adults, and for making movies that appeal to children without patronizing them. Inside Out continued that tradition in my opinion.

So today I return to the grind at work. Oh well.