More Music I just had to share…

I discover so much great music through YouTube. I recently bought two albums on iTunes after discovering Zack Hemsey on a YouTube video called Unknown Heroes in Real Life. Music is such a powerful component of a video and I found this music very evocative. Here is the video…

Here is the version of the song with Lyrics by Zack Hemsey.

Cooking this turkey will make your neck redder

As promised, here are the instructions for making an outdoor turkey cooker and for added benefit, how to use it. 🙂

The outdoor Turkey Cooker is a radiant heat oven that you use to cook a turkey. It is heated with charcoal briquettes.

MAKING THE COMPONENTS FOR THE COOKER

Materials you will need are as follows:
You will need a fairly good sized roll of aluminum foil. The wider the roll; the better. You will also need three 8 foot long poles. We used 2″ x 2″ purchased at Home Depot. A six foot length of small link chain is going to be needed to suspend your turkey. A stainless steel hook for holding your turkey while it is suspended in the oven. Additionally, you will need to have four rebar poles, or reasonable substitutes and they should be about 40″ in length. The hardest part of the construction will be the four mesh (chicken wire) cylinders that will be used to house the burning charcoal briquettes. For these you will need to measure and cut the mesh then fold the remaining tabs to the other side to give it stability as a cylinder. Also, in the picture below, see the wire fasteners that will be used to slide the cylinders over the rebar posts.  You will also need to aluminum trays. One for starting your briquettes, and another to use as a drip tray for your turkey. You will also need a coil of wire that you can use to give the walls of your tinfoil oven some stability.

You will need two large bags of charcoal briquettes and some tongs for transferring them from the fire tray to the cooking cylinders.

Stainless Steel Turkey Hook

Stainless Steel Turkey Hook

40" Rebar Post (Need 4 of These)

40″ Rebar Post (Need 4 of These)

40" Rebar Post (Need 4 of These)

40″ Rebar Post (Need 4 of These)

2' Long Mesh Cylinder (4" Diameter)

2′ Long Mesh Cylinder (4″ Diameter)

2' Long Mesh Cylinder (4" Diameter)

2′ Long Mesh Cylinder (4″ Diameter)

2' Long Mesh Cylinder (4" Diameter)

2′ Long Mesh Cylinder (4″ Diameter)

You will need a Big roll of tinfoil

You will need a Big roll of tinfoil

BRINE THE TURKEY

To get an uber awesome flavour for your turkey, we recommend letting it have a long bath in a brine. Once you go brine, you never go back. Here is “Joe’s Turkey Brine Recipe”

  • 1 gallon low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 gallon apple cider
  • 1/2 gallon apple juice
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons poultry seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon rubbed dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves

In a large stock pot over medium heat, pour in the vegetable broth, apple cider, apple juice, and water; stir in kosher salt, poultry seasoning, onion powder, black pepper, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until all salt has dissolved, and boil for 30 minutes to extract flavors from herbs. Remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature before using as a turkey brine; allow brined turkey to marinate overnight.

Info for this Brine is from:
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Joes-Turkey-Brine/Detail.aspx

GAME DAY – ASSEMBLE COOKER AND ROAST THE BEAST

Assemble your turkey cooker. First you will need a patch of ground where you will be cooking the beast. The four rebar posts will be 34″ apart from each other. Make sure you pound them deep enough into the ground to give your oven stability. As the briquettes burn down in the cylinders, the ground underneath will get scorched. The last time we did this we used small chunks of drywall on the bottom to provide a heat buffer. Once the posts are secured at the appropriate distance, you can slide on the mesh cylinders and make sure them are secured to the posts. Now, layer the bottom of your radiant oven with tinfoil. Always keep the shiny side facing inward as it will be more efficient for radiating the heat towards your turkey

At this point you are ready to take your roll of tinfoil and construct the walls of your oven. Start at the bottom and keep circling the oven to create the four walls. We suggest a couple of layers of tinfoil to make sure the walls are stable and more resistance to the wind. Once you have wrapped the outside to create four walls that are the full height of your cylinders, you should use the wire to add some additional stability. Again, circle the walls of the oven on the outside with the wire to give the walls a bit more strength and resilience to the wind.

Now the oven is built. Set your trip tray in the bottom and we will now focus on setting up the tripod. The three 8′ poles should be secured at the top to make a solid tripod that can easily and safely suspend a 25lb turkey. Once the tripod is set u, you can attach the chain that will suspend the bird and you are close to being ready to cook the beast.

At this point I should mention that it is important to start the briquettes early to give them a chance to start burning. We use a separate aluminum tray for this. If you have a firepit handy, that would be an efficient way to start them. Once the briquettes start burning, you can transfer them to the four cooking cylinders. Transfer them evenly to the cooking cylinders so the heat will be even to the bird.

One Corner of the Cooker

One Corner of the Cooker

Assembling the Oven

Assembling the Oven

A look at the inside of the oven

A look at the inside of the oven

Bird is suspended a few inches above drip pan. Coals are burning.

Bird is suspended a few inches above drip pan. Coals are burning.

Tray that we use to start the Briquettes Burning. We refill this constantly as we transfer them to the cylinders.

Tray that we use to start the Briquettes Burning. We refill this constantly as we transfer them to the cylinders.

Checking in on the temperature of the Turkey. Notice the chunk of drywall at the base to buffer the lawn from burning.

Checking in on the temperature of the Turkey. Notice the chunk of drywall at the base to buffer the lawn from burning.

Another view showing the tripod and chain.

Another view showing the tripod and chain.

Done like Dinner.

Done like Dinner.

Tada. Time to open up another bottle of wine.

Tada. Time to open up another bottle of wine.

Put the turkey on the turkey hook and suspend it in the radiant oven. Adjust the chain length / tripod to make sure the turkey is centered and a few inches above the drip pan.

Now. it is a matter of making sure the cylinders are filled as they burn down. Remember to have a staging tray to pre-ignite the briquettes. That will make things smoother and quicker. Also, you will have to tap the rebar posts / cylinders to shake loose ash to the bottom and allow the briquettes to drop into the cylinder. by keeping the cylinders free of ash and constantly full of briquettes, you will generate more heat and cook the bird quicker. At some point you made need a long stick or pole to brush some of the fallen ash away from the bottom of each cylinder so it does not block the heat from the burning briquettes.

Note: We cooked what we believe to be about a 25lb in exactly 3.5hrs the last time we did this. That is a great cook rate and the turkey was incredibly tasty.

One last thing, it is important to have two bottles of white wine chilled. One to open with your meal and the other to drink while cooking.

Enjoy!

Musical Monday – Thematic Instrumentals

Quite often I am in the mood for listening to some music that is unobtrusive. It simply provides a nice backdrop to my evening or activity. I have a large collection of instrumental music that fits this niche quite well. I guess it is not really a secret that I enjoy electronic and synthesized music. Here ares some items on the highlight reel if you are looking to explore some artists and titles that have resonated with me in this genre…

JEAN MICHEL JARRE


GIORGIO MORODER


VANGELIS


Three artists and three songs each. You can get a very different feel for the music. I find that much of the work Vangelis does can be quite haunting. Moroder tends to have a stronger dramatic feel to his music. Jarre is just a really full musical experience. You need to listen to a whole album or series of tracks sequentially to appreciate how he paints a musical scene through the various portions of this music.

Perhaps, because I am reading more, I am playing more music without lyrics. I do not want to be distracted by the lyrical content while I am immersed in a book or set of boardgame rules. There are many more artists I could highlight here but I will save them for a future entry. I know that my Nephew Justin has an interest in instrumental / ambient / electronic music. I look forward to hearing about some of his favourites the next time we get together. Although this is a niche corner for musical tastes, there are many facets and moods to explore within the genre.

Party on Wayne; Party on Garth!

An 80’s Musical Flashback

It is Musical Monday once again and I find myself thinking of a song from the past. Strange Advance really came up with a wonderful song when they released World’s Away. The song has a haunting ethereal feel that separates it from other music of the period. I saw these guys perform at the Misty Moon in Halifax on Barrington Street. Good times, good memories. Long gone are my days of big hair, but I can enjoy an occasional nostalgic trip back in time and listen to a song that has held up well over time.

DSotM Birthday

On Sunday, March 24th, 2013 a very important birthday took place. The album Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd celebrated its 40 year anniversary. The album is still very musically relevant and has aged very well. I enjoy listening to it just as much as I did when I was a wee lad. I have experienced many important musical moments over the years, but this album trumps them all. It made a very strong impression on me when I was a boy of 11 or 12, and those impressions have stood the test of time. I am greatly appreciative of the album. The music, the lyrics, the innovative studio approach to various layers and sounds, the artwork of the album…
…all pure genius to me.

Do yourself a favour, put your headphones on and listen to the album. You do not need to be wearing bellbottoms or tripping on acid to enjoy this, just 43 minutes to sit, relax, listen, reflect and rejoice…

By the way, they have been releasing some new interpretations of the iconic album cover. Some of them are quite good, see for yourself…

Happy 40th Birthday Dark Side of the Moon, you have aged remarkably well!

Mike Oldfield – A Modern Day Mozart

I have been a fan of Mike Oldfield since my brother Charlie introduced me to the first Tubular Bells album in the 70’s. It was very different from anything else I had experienced at the time and I marveled at the introduction of instruments throughout the song en route to the climax with Tubular Bells. It must have struck a chord with a number of other people as well, because he went on to release Tubular Bells II, Tubular Bells III, Millennium Bell, and most recently, Tubular Beats. Each release is an interesting and artistic take on the old that creates something new and fresh. Here are a couple of videos for your viewing and listening pleasure.

Even if you are not familiar with Mike Oldfield as an artist, you probably know the iconic theme song the the movie “The Exorcist”. from the original Tubular Bells album.

We need Tools to manage our Tools

OrgTools

Planning these days is made easier by the cornucopia of organizational tools at our disposal, right? Am I right? Sadly… no.

The trouble nowadays is that there is such a vast array of tools at our disposal that we end up being very fragmented in our approach to getting organized. This gets further compounded when we are trying to organize details as a group. Each member of a group will have their own pet tools and styles for how they want the group to rally and organize. Planning efforts can become extremely fragmented and you now need a tool to manage the tools. Ahhhhhhhhhh! *^&%#$@! There goes the neighbourhood.

I am in the middle of planning a trip to Europe with a couple of other family members and we are struggling to get focus on the basics of the What, When, Where, Who, and Why of the trip. I am not one of these OCD peeps that want to plan each minute of my vacation, just a basic outline so we can draft a rough itinerary. All three of us are compatible in this regard as well so planning should be simple, ‘n’est pas?

Last weekend I was trying to get a composite view of our trip and realized how fragmented our communications and planning had become. It made me realize that we live in a time of great opportunity to be organized, but that opportunity is often not capitalized. Here are the elements of our current trip plan:

  1. Paper notebook with ideas for the trip. This was supposed to be a single safe source for ideas and notes.
  2. A Paper map hanging on our wall with some stickers for possible locations to visit.
  3. Paper calendar for drafting a rough itinerary.
  4. Scraps of paper with note fragments.
  5. A discussion thread on http://forums.bixby.ca/ with collected notes and ideas.
  6. My email inbox
  7. Kathy’s email inbox
  8. A communication thread on Facebook between Kathy and I.
  9. A communication thread on Facebook between Krystal and I.
  10. A communication thread on Facebook between the three of us.
  11. A Google Doc on Google Drive with some collected notes.
  12. A Google Map with pin points and notes for the trip.
  13. A collection of notes and scribblings from various phone calls and Skype conversations.

This all may sound silly, but it is in fact a reality of the this day and age. Without a disciplined approach to focus on one or two planning tools, efforts can become very cumbersome and hard to manage. This is not a testament about the three of us, it is just a reminder that focus is our friend. All of the above notes and tools just evolved organically out of our excitement to plan a trip and each person was left to think and plan according to their vision of how to organize information. It is quite amusing when you step back and look at it with the detachment of looking at a crime of communication in which all parties are complicit.

Another important reminder for me that focus is needed from the very start on ventures such as these. In the end, it really does not matter what tool or tools you choose, but it is important to choose a couple and maintain your discipline to use them to their full potential.

There are LOTS of tools in the toolbox, but we only have TWO hands in which to wield them.

 

That rug really tied the room together.

I really enjoyed the movie. The first time I watched it I liked it; somewhere around the third viewing I loved it. In addition to some of the most quotable lines in a movie, there were musical moments of genius.  I will share a couple of them with you now.


For the first video, I really had no idea that was Kenny Rogers. That was from Kenny when Kenny was cool. I have a new appreciation for his music. The second video is a great cover tune. I remember a day long ago when I used to consider covering a song a form of musical sacrilege. Over the years I have not only mellowed on that stance, but I have come to appreciate the artistic license some people take when doing a cover tune. They put their own stamp on it and make the song their own. Booya.

Know that I think about it, I will try to post a cover comparison on these musical blog entries. Let’s start with a cover of a lesser known Beatles tune: “Tomorrow Never Knows”…


I like the version by Jai Uttal much better. Very ethereal and more atmospheric in the presentation. I have an album of his I picked up about 20 years ago that I quite enjoy. There is another cover on the CD, but I cannot recall the song, perhaps material for a future entry…

A case for Progressive Relaxation

I have never been fond of going to the dentist. When I was in my twenties I simply avoided going from an irrational fear that was spawned when I was an infant. We had a family dentist that was akin to Steve Martin in the following clip…

Yesterday, I went for a post and crown and spent about an hour and a half in the Dentist’s chair. I use some progressive relaxation techniques to go to sleep at night. I am not fond of needles nor the sound or feeling of a drill in my mouth, so I thought that the dentist’s office would be as good a location as any to deploy those techniques. Apparently, I fell asleep for a brief period during the procedure. 🙂 Dr. Reed was quite surprised and was flattered that someone could be so relaxed during a dental procedure. I will say that he is quite competent and puts many of my old fears at ease.

So there you have it, Progressive Relaxation has been stress tested and it works.

This is why I like to donate to science, technology, and research

Every one in awhile, you see a documentary that renews your faith in humanity. With the learning channel now showing the likes of Honey Boo Boo and other reality TV shows, it is important to find a source of inspiration for our future. Dr. Nick Laslowicz is doing some cutting edge research and these types of videos offer a great counterpoint to our morally bankrupt reality TV infatuation these days. Watch this and tell me that this is not a genius of our time. Viva La Science!