The Best Cat Ever: Nuggy the Christmas Kitty, part 1

Nuggy: Sept. 1998 — June 16th, 2017

Nuggy enjoyed Christmas time. I’m not sure if he had any strong religious beliefs, but what do I know?  During the season, he would curl up by the nativity scene under the tree often enough, maybe he did.

A long winters nap, to dream of that first Christmas Eve. Most Nativity scenes don’t show them, but I’m willing to bet there were at least a couple of cats present that night. The innkeeper needed them to keep the mouse population under control.

The cats took a break from their nightly hunting duties to check out all the commotion. They rubbed against the legs of a little boy playing a drum, an action immortalized by the lyric “Purr” rum pum pum pum. Then, the cats and made their way to the manger, darting in a zig-zag pattern to avoid being stepped on by camels. Finally at the manger, the cats stretched two paws on the side for a peek at Baby Jesus. He smiled and cooed at them. The cats purred and entertained the lad with the hypnotizing movements of their tails. Then, with a twitch of their ears, they ran off to resume their hunting duties, having already lost interest in the child.

It could’ve happened. Egypt wasn’t that far away, and they worshiped cats.


The Best Cat Ever: The Beginning, A Good Place to Start

Nuggy: Sept., 1998 – June 16th, 2017

My wife and I moved into our first house in June of 1999. After a few months of settling in, the daughter of one of my wife’s friends got caught with a cat in her apartment, and had to get rid of him. A few days later, Nugs was living with us.

That was probably the last time we called him Nugs. We preferred Nuggy, and I think he did, too.

Nuggy had a lot of nicknames. Nugaboo, Nugglypuff, the Cat Man Do, Nuggyotto (I don’t know why, but Christine and I made sure never to miss Pokemon on Saturday mornings.) When the kids came along, they added to the list –  Kitty Boom Boom was a favorite, and I have no idea where it came from. Everybody had their own names for Nuggy. Nuggy was a pretty friendly cat, once he warmed up to you, which didn’t take long. Continue reading

The Turkey Breast that Time Forgot

I was so excited about my bologna post, I forgot I also smoked a turkey breast that day.

The night before the smoke, I preped the turkey breast by injecting it with ranch dressing. Nothing special, just ranch dressing straight out of the bottle. I put a few squirts in a glass so I could fill my injector without cross contaminating the entire bottle with raw turkey.

I get real obsessive compulsive when working with poultry. My hands get raw from washing so many times, because I don’t want to touch anything and leave some stray poultry gunk to fester. Better safe than sorry.

I had some ranch left in the glass, so, I slathered it all over the turkey to use as a binder for the barbecue rub.  I think the ranch helped the turkey brown real nice as well.

One nice thing about smoking just the breast is, during prep, you can just use a big bowl to hold the turkey breast. No wings or legs flopping about to get in the way. When I was done injecting and rubbing, I just covered the bowl with foil and stuck it in the fridge. Overnight, the ranch absorbed throughout the meat.

I smoked the turkey the next day along with the bologna from the previous post. I put a can of Budweiser in the water pan. The meat probe of the Mighty Masterbuilt went in the turkey breast, since the bologna didn’t need monitoring. I loaded up the hickory chips and waited for the breast to hit 165 degrees, which took about 6 hours at a temperature temperature of 225 degrees.

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Hickory smoked turkey breast

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The breast browned real nice. It sliced well, also. The family thought it tasted good.

I like the combination of the barbecue rub with the ranch dressing and hickory smoke. The spice of the rub was a good counterpoint to the creamy-herby taste from the ranch.The hickory smoke drove it all home. I’ve used apple wood for smoking poultry. I like the fruity taste the applewood provides, but something always seemed to be missing. The hickory smoked let you know that, yes this was barbecued. After all the time and effort that’s part of what you want to taste.

My Bologna

The thing about any method of cooking bologna is, you really don’t need to.

Some time had passed since the last time I grilled or smoked a nice chunk of animal. It was my weekend, which falls on different days than most people, and there was a nice 8 lb turkey breast in the freezer. Planning ahead, my wife thawed the turkey a couple of days earlier. My weekend came, and I prepped the turkey breast for the smoker.

I really hated to fire up the smoker from one item, so, on my way home from work, I picked up a 3 lb chunk of bologna. Nothing fancy. Just plain Amish bologna. Why pay extra for the fancy stuff when the bologna was destined for the smoker?

A little mood music:

At the butcher shop, the gentleman behind the counter didn’t make a big deal about my request. I don’t know what kind of reaction I was expecting. The butcher probably gets request like mine ten times a day. I guess I’m just used to buying meat at the grocery store and getting what is available. I hear tell there are butchers behind the scenes of the grocery market deli counter, but I’ve never made any special requests. I may have to try it next time.

Or, on the other hand, just stick with supporting a local, independent butcher. Continue reading

Our Fourth of July Cookout


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We held a cookout for the Fourth of July for a number of reasons.  I actually had a holiday off from the Rocksino.  I was in the mood to do a large amount of grilling.  I didn’t want to waste a holiday off running to other people’s houses.  Take your pick of the reason that makes me sound less like an antisocial guy.

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Breaking out the toys for the Fourth of July

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I went all out.  I even created an event on Facebook inviting friends and relatives a few weeks in advance.  I think that is what surprised people the most – I didn’t leave the inviting to my wife.

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