Sunday, July 13, 2008

Weeping Willows

Well the 100 year old willows at the back of the property are finally showing their age by falling over. They technically aren't weeping willows, but we sure are sad to see them go. There is a constant flow of life on and around them, and they provide us with lots of shade and block the winds that come down the river. This one fell a week ago while I was in Ottawa visiting friends.

It's up off the ground high enough that I can drive the lawn tractor under it. I guess I'll wait till winter when I can walk out on the ice to cut it up. It is actually still alive, and has shown no signs of dying off. It was leaning way over before, and has really just changed its pitch as opposed to falling over. There is probably about a 10 degree difference in its angle now. There is no splitting visible at its base. Maybe it's just resting?

This one fell Friday night. We were just saying goodnight to some friends who were over, when we heard what we thought was one of Quinn's lego boxes falling over. We grabbed a flashlight and went out to discover it lying in the river. This one was overdue to fall, it has been sporting a large crack that has been getting larger for the past few months. Now that it is down you can see that the core is really punky. It's actually a miracle that it stayed up as long as it did.

Everyone was excited to go and check it out the next day, including the cats who crawled all over it. Maybe they were just looking for birds.

Others also came to see it. This heron stood on it for quite some time.

Out of the 9 trees we had back there, 7 are left. From those at least 3 maybe 4 more need to be cut down soon before they fall. Only one of those is posing any danger to us, leaning sort of the wrong way. The rest are likely to fall away from the house (and propane tank) Still, cleaning them out of the river is not an easy task. Looks like I'll need a new chain for the chainsaw in my stocking this year. And the kids will need a new spot to hang their tire swing.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Beer Can Chicken

I love this way of cooking chicken. For me, I tend to over cook things on the bbq, so chicken in particular gets kind of dry. By shoving a beer can (or pop) up it's nethers, it allows me to leave it on the q for extra time, and keeps it very moist. Of course I burned the veggies cause I waited too long, but so be it.

Here he is after just a few minutes.

I've used a can of Kilkenny, but I have used others such as coke in the past. I put him on a tin pie plate, cause the first time I did it I didn't use anything, and the result was a pretty black chicken. We don't generally eat the skin, so it didn't really matter, but the pie plate also allows you to baste. The result is a beautifully colored chicken, like this.

He needs just a few more minutes here. I use a digital thermometer to make sure he is cooked through. Really I worry more about the kids than myself. I've never had any problems, but I assume it's because I'm careful. And probably lucky.

I also refuse to buy a beer can chicken holder. You see these things around pretty much anywhere. I really believe it's a gimmick designed to take your money. Think about it, chickens can stand very well from the moment they are hatched. How is this different? Well, OK, it's not really standing on it's own, but I think you'll find the little pecker will stand up remarkably well. Between the can and the legs and its butt, it's pretty stable. The tough part is getting it on and off the grill. I just used an oven mitt and a pair of tongs, and had some help with the sliding door.

This bird was basted with an olive oil/basil/Italian salad dressing mix, and I stuck a few cloves of garlic down his gullet as well. The garlic flavors the bird of course, but it also helps to trap in some of that steam, which is the main idea of this method after all.

Try it, I'm telling you it makes a damn fine bird!