Insomnia, Eating, and Friends

It’s four o’clock on a Friday morning and I’m up for the day, it seems.  That’s not a bad thing, just a tad taxing in that it contributes to my occasional sleep deficit.  I think it’s sending my body a message: “get back to the walking routine!”  That’s probably it.  And the message is a good one.  Though getting started on my morning walks was always a chore, once begun I felt much better.  I think I shall do it again, despite the fact that I will be doing it at a time of year in which the temperatures in Dallas hover just over 80 degrees early in the morning…82 degrees this morning at 4:00 a.m., in fact.

I am not alone in my early-morning insomnia.  When I awoke a while ago, my wife was up already, sitting in the family room, reading a book.  She went back to bed shortly after I got up.  Early-morning insomnia has been a habit of mine for quiet awhile now, but she’s only recently been in the habit of getting up for an hour or two in the middle of the night, then going back to bed.  When she does this, she tends to sleep in a bit.

BrisketThis morning, a friend will come to my house in a couple of hours to use my smoker.  He and his wife have visitors coming in this weekend and they’d like to smoke a brisket for their guests, so I happily agreed to let him use my smoker.  It’s an all-day affair, smoking a brisket, so we’ll spend the day tending to the fire/embers and working to ensure that the meat reaches its peak of perfection.  Smoked brisket is, in my opinion, one of the joys of life and deserves the adoration it gets.  The photo to the left does not do justice to the brisket I smoked a week ago.  Beneath the black “bark,” the crunchy but tender exterior created by the smoke and heat, the meat has a distinct reddish smoke ring.  The taste is beyond wonderful.

But today, the brisket is for my friend and his visitors.  For me, I’ll put a few spicy pork sausage links into the smoker.  They will make two meals for my wife and me, assuming I smoke them just right.  The trick is to ensure that the sausage is cooked through and through (with pork, it’s a necessity), yet prevent them from being over-done.  We’ll see just how adept I am at smoking.  I already know I’m not a pro; I’ve only used the smoker twice since I bought it!  But I am learning, quickly, that it cooks more quickly than it “should,” even though the thermometer says it’s cooking at the recommended temperatures.  I gather every smoker has its own personality, as it were, and that learning how to deal with that personality is part of the challenge, and fun, of smoking meat.

As my wife and I go about making our plans to sell our house and move away from the oppressive heat and right-wing politics of Texas, I’m wondering whether my smoker will be joining us, whereever we go.  I’d like to take it, but it’s a monstrously heavy beast and its probably not well-suited to travel, especially nomadic travel, in which we might engage. My friend, the one who’s coming over to smoke the brisket today, has said he wants to buy the smoker if I decide not to take it with me; that’s good, as I know if will have a good home!

Sometime within the next couple of weeks we’ll have another friend over for dinner so we can catch up.  I’d like to see him more often, but we both get caught up in our own priorities and time zips by.  I hadn’t even told him of our plans to move until he sent me a message to suggest we get together for lunch or dinner.  And I didn’t know of his plans to go to Greece and Italy in September to visit family.  Even living close by, people can lose touch.  I wonder whether distance exacerbates that unfortunate tendency.  I shouldn’t wonder; I know it does.

My coffee cup is empty and my mind is vacant, so I shall leave my keyboard and go explore what this morning has to offer.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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