Thursday, September 30, 2010

Special of the Day

Saturday Night Special

Saturday Morning Special

Venison Maple Sausage with Perfect Hash Browns. If you like yours the popular casserole type way (you know the dish; sort of a bastard offspring of a potato and a can of cream of mushroom soup), these aren't for you. They are thin, crisp and buttery on the outside, soft and tender in the middle, seasoned with simple salt and pepper. Add in some fluffy scrambled eggs and some maple and sage infused venison sausages and you have the perfect breakfast.

If you want to add something to them to spice them up, well, Home on the Range usually has something around here. Turk brought these over a while back, with four specially selected ones for myself and my friends. You'll have to guess which ones are for whom.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Something in the Wind Tonight


I'm looking at the radar here. Soon, perhaps, some thunderstorms are going to roll through, but hopefully the bat phone will not ring tonight and I'll be inside and under cover.

Of all the subjects I stressed in teaching the occasional flight student I had, weather was the main one. Making the wrong decision about weather has more dire consequences than any rushed preflight, or choice of the wrong airport cafe "special" just before a 3 hour flight. So I drilled it home, teaching it with great detail. Sometimes when the weather is foul, that's about all you can teach, Sitting in the classroom off of the hangar with my student, we'd pour over charts and terminology, hands waving in the air to outline a point, driven by the wind that was increasing its tempo outside.

Even as a child I was fascinated by weather, by the unpredictable forces of the unknown, of the fire in the sky, the way the clouds gathered in clustered groups of gossip, then disbanded. Growing up at the base of mighty Western mountains, we didn't have the tornadic weather that I now see on the Plains, but the mountains fueled some wild summer storms. The first time I remember seeing a really severe storm, I had to venture out to take a look. I ran out in the back yard, out of my Mom's reach, chasing it like a groupie, the viscous rain trickling like a stream through my red hair, the moisture seeping into me, making me feel completely fearless. I was looking for something, hoping for the first marks of rotation, the sky twisting into itself in cotton like coils, too young to be afraid of the dangers that sort of weather wraps itself with. There's such strength when air masses collide, and though I have no specific memory of that storm, only what's brought back through a picture my Mom took, I can see it in my minds eye.

I became enthralled with it. As a kid I would lay on a blanket in the yard, or just on the grass, my eyes fixed beyond a point I could comprehend, watching heavenward. Searching for something that hadn't happened yet. A twist of a tornado, so far only seen in a book, a crackle of thunder, the soft, draping comfort of virga. Waiting for the rumble of something within me.

We had more snowstorms than thunderstorms so when we got a good one, it was as if the clouds had gathered for some boisterous party to which I was invited, lightning popping in celebration, the lights flashing like a thousand flashbulbs from ancient cameras, every clap of thunder shaking me with laughter. I was frankly smitten with the sky, happy to be invited and like a lingering house guest late at night, reluctant to leave. Only when the lightning started would my mother yell at me to get in the house, with the stern sound of worry only a parent can have. I would start for the house, reluctantly, like a child chastised by a nun in school, head down, movements slower than conditions warranted, then faster, running as if the rain had washed away my chastisement, cleansed me of the cloak of shame that others wished to place on us.


Even when I was grown, I'd sit by the window looking out at the horizon searching for that first sign of disturbance in the sky. As the storm built, so did my interest and I'd smile with each gust of wind against the eves. If the winds were such that there were no flying projectiles, no lightning to strike me, just heavy rain, I'd put on my rain gear and go out in the wild, delighting in the feel of cold rain on my skin as my lungs drew in the cold air, cleansed of the smoke of the past regret. Liquid crystal drops kissed my face. I laughed into the wind and was not cold.

Learning to fly was usually weather that was often laden with both snow and high winds off the mountains. Many days, like today, were spent sitting in the hangar, waiting for the rain to abate, clustered like Maytag repairmen around a ready airplane. Winter storms were the most lingering and strong, coming from the West with the speed of a tanker truck, pushing everything out ahead of their path. On days like that, it was best just to go home and dream about flying. For weather in an airplane is a whole other matter. Weather will kill you without a moment of hesitation and more than one airman has poked his nose into the face of Zeus, daring a fight, and been smote for the attempt.

When flying a plane, wind is the essence of your day. You want enough headwind to give you some good lift on takeoff, and not so much crosswind to cartwheel you when you come back. Only pilots, sailors and and those truly in sync with nature seem to pick up on the inertial energy in the wind. So many things get blown away in a stiff breeze, so many things swept out of your mind with the wind in your face in an open cockpit. Repressed longings, fruitless desire, ghosts of sad reflection, a hundred thoughts never formed and a thousand words never uttered. Wind in your wings, in your face, sweeping your head of any emotion other than the moment, until all is blown past you to tumble to the earth below.

So on a storm tossed day, like today, when it too dangerous to go out, in any airplane, we simply sit in the hangar with a cup of coffee and our flying stories, watching the clouds build and the thunder roll. Watching the atmosphere of the heavens, contemplating the atmosphere of our lives, as the surface of the earth, the surface of our skin heats, particles of warm air rising with breath. Watching the storm build, rich offering calling for some bolder hearts than ours.


As a tiny child, during the fiercest of Storms coming off the mountains, I was told that it was God bowling up above, and I looked with glee upwards trying to get a glimpse of a tumbling pin in the celestial abyss. Now I know better, and can spout off all the meteorological terms with the best of airmen. But it's not the science that fascinates me, it's the weather itself.

Because the summation of the skies is a visible affidavit of all that's powerful and mighty in the atmosphere, in ourselves. It's a cold blowing truth that there's something within all of us that can be gathered up, strengthened. Something commanding that can change the form of a life. The weather brings components of force, some deep innate working in our selves. Lightning cleaving the sky as a machete, the smell of cordite in the air lingering like gunpowder. Thunder echoing as a a brace of artillery booming under a gunmetal sky, the power of the sky a transcendent weapon that can form or scar, however we view it, the landscape of our world.

There's another line of thunderstorms moving in, so there would be no flying for us on this day off, the other recreational pilots gone home. The building is silent but for the gust of wind against the door and I'm left in the hangar, alone in the gathering wind, under a sky worn and gray, ripe with deep recognition. For just a moment my grown up self was whisked away in a storm of time and space, and all that was left was a child cold and tired, wishing there was someone there with her to call her in, to run into the arms of safety. But the airport is empty, and I am alone.


I feel the raindrops on my face, and find that though I'm still under cover, the rivulets are falling from my eyes, salty and clear, leaving crystal trails down my cheeks. I close up the hangar, walking out towards the parking area as light flashes around me, raising the hairs on my arms and illuminating my path. I walk on down towards my truck, toward the empty parking lot where the liquid sterling of the rain calls to me from a distance, the staccato beating of water against my world, the might of a Midwest storm. The storm is powerful and strong, as am I.


I look upwards and outward, I do not look back.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

No Need to Worry Folks -

It's safe to get back on the ride.

A number of my readers had serious issue with my posting a non-bacon, beef or butter recipe last week.

Just so you know that . . .

(1) I wasn't kidnapped by aliens
(2) No one fell madly in love with me, resulting in marriage and my replacement by a tree hugger (as likely as the alien thing).
(3) I had that frontal lobe damage thing and started eating brussel sprouts for dinner.

I present. . . . .

I'm off to watch the new Resident Evil movie with some of my guy friends from the IND blog group. For some reason it's a spouse free night, as "that's not my thing" was cited.

Who wouldn't love Resident Evil, especially as the guys say it's in 3-D????

I'll be back for shooty or bacony goodness on Friday night.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Be on the Lookout

click to enlarge if you dare
Armed with a simulated weapon and wearing what appears to be a possum on his head. . . .

Carnival Ninjas.

Keeping the small town carnival safe from an overabundance of metal waterfowl and paper targets since the days of our grandparents.
*


*Not to be confused with the more overtly dressed "mall ninja". According to legend, the Mall Ninja was introduced to society with the introduction of the first picatinny rail.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Send the kiddies to another room mateys, this is a grown up post

It's that time again folks. International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Think of all the fun you could have at the range. Muskets, blackpowder everywhere, the air filled with the chat of pirate speak.

Grab your firearms, and whatever tools you might need. (The Craftmatic Adjustable Wench might come in handy). Then, enjoy a day where you can pepper yer conversation with such fun comments as ‘avarst me hearties’ an' ‘keel haul th' plank’.

The most simple gun range pleasantries become so much more interesting with pirate talk.
For example:

Brigid: Can you come over after the shoot for some fine food?

Pirate translation: Avast ye scurvy weasels. Get below deck and peel me some taters fer grub
.

Shooting friends: Sadly no, thanks ever so much, but we have a long drive home.


Pirate Translation : Stick it in yer maggoty gob, ye salty sea hag.

Arghhh!

Then enhance your day with Top Ten Pirate Pick Up Lines -

10. Have ya ever met a man with a real yardarm?

9. Come on up and see me urchins.

8. Yes, that is a hornpipe in my pocket and I am happy to see you.

7. I'd love to drop anchor in your lagoon.

6. How'd you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?

5. Well blow me down.

4. Let's get together and haul some keel

And my favorites

3. Ya know, darlin’, I’m 97 percent chum free.

2. Prepare to be boarded

and the #1 pick up line for Lady Pirates?

1. Pants off NOW!

Have fun mateys. I'm off to practice some cutlass malfunction drills this afternoon if I can find my parrot. (Probably hiding in the IDPA box).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Going the Distance


Whispered and dreamt about, laid out flat in front of you.

A thousand yards.

In that fleeting moment, you will hold your breath in the presence of power. You count that pulse between heartbeat and breath, compelled into an aesthetic deliberation you don't quite understand but fully desire, faced for the first time in your living history with something proportionate with your capacity for awe.

- Brigid

Friday, September 17, 2010

Yes, I CAN make something without bacon


A meal that doesn't involve butter, bacon or beef? Quick, someone take my temperature!

This one's for my readers who are trying to eat a little healthier.

Something other than that first choice for dinner, flaming bacon appetizer, with bacon fricassee, served with a side of bacon.

Skinless chicken breasts cooked with Artichoke Marinara Sauce. Try it on the meat and toss a bit of the sauce with pasta and roasted vegetables. I like black olives, so I threw some on there as well. You could skip that or add some chopped mushrooms or diced tomatoes. With a kick of red pepper and a sauce made from scratch it's really good.

The Bacon? I didn't miss it at all. Now I need to go brush my teeth.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Have Grill Will Travel

Prime Rib Eye Beef with Horseradish Butter


Season steaks with Monterey Seasoning and grill as desired (I like mine mooing). Serve with wild, brown and white rice pilaf and steamed broccoli and horseradish butter.

Horseradish Butter

1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish
1/4 cup butter
1 Tablespoon whipping cream
1/2 Tablespoon fresh parsley
1/2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
pinch each of salt and pepper.

Press liquid from the horseradish. In bowl, beat butter until smooth, then beat in horseradish and rest of ingredients until combined. Makes a generous 1/3 cup.

click to enlarge, have napkin handy

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

High Plains Dinner


The Stranger: Wonder what took her so long to get mad?
Mordecai: Because maybe you didn't go back for more
?

- High Plains Drifter

Sometimes what is around you seems pretty stark, plain almost, but if you look close, there's incredible beauty, subtle variances in temperature and texture. Some food is like that, plain and simple in appearance or color but containing a diorama of flavor that will knock your socks off.

This is one of those. Chicken Southwest. It's almost all the same color, pale, chicken, rice, cheese. This recipe is NOT going to win a beauty contest.

But it WILL be the dish people will take to. When I made it for friends I got a resounding two thumbs up and a "when are you going to make this again' from everyone else who tried it. The original recipe came from a great cook up in Elkhart, but I took it and tweaked it, changing the method of cooking as well as adding spices.
You start with rice, a lot in the steamer. Sorry folks, but I don't cook like this when it's just me. Most nights I have a salad, or if I get in really late, a bowl of cheerios.

While the seasoned chicken breasts baked, covered with a thick slice of provolone the last 5 minutes, in another bowl tomatillas and jalapenos are marinating in garlic and lime juice while some sweet onion caramelizes in a pan. The marinated mixture is added to the onion along with some cumin. cilantro and other not so secret southwest seasoning.

That is sauteed for just a few minutes to cook and blend the flavors and served over the cooked cheesy chicken and rice, topped with a dab of low fat sour cream and some more cilantro.

It may not be especially photogenic but this is one dish that will make you go back for more.

click to enlarge, it doesn't get prettier but it does look tasty

Monday, September 6, 2010

Range Quote of the Day

Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness.
Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness.
Thereby you can be the director of the opponent's fate.
Sun Tzu - The Art of War

Friday, September 3, 2010

Time to Saddle Up

Time to saddle up and head North.

This was a very busy working week down in the fair State of Texas.

I DID have time to have dinner last night before I left, with Christina, JPG, the epitome of what a Texas gentlemen is, and his lovely bride Holly B (their links on my friends sidebar). I'd been email friends with Holly for years, and Christina and I have been chatting like sisters on the phone weekly ever since I started blogging. But I'd never met them all face to face. It was like having dinner with your favorite family members.

JPD treated we ladies to an incredible dinner at Del Frisco's, a very famous (and for good reason) steak house in historic old downtown Fort Worth. Beautiful restaurant and incredible food in a historic setting.

At first, in trying to suggest a restaurant, Phlegmfatale (who, with Lawdog, wasn't able to join us, being under the weather) said "how about Indian food". I replied. There will be three LEO's at the table, I'm in Texas, I don't care what I have for dinner but it better MOO.

So steak it was!!

Lots of laughter, Holly and I discussing why we think Christina should have been the next Wonder Woman (she has the bracelets and the beauty and dark hair), cinnamon white chocolate creme brule, bad guys, branding cattle (I explained to JPG that I tried to brand "Brigid's Home on the Range Shooty Gallery and Cattle Farm" on all the steers but for some reason they died).

On leaving, we asked JPD to take a picture of "the girls" and we smiled broadly so he could get a picture of our faces. We're standing, arms around each other, and laughing, JPD is aiming my camera and Christina says "why is he pointing the camera so LOW?".

He said "you said to take a picture of "The GIRLS" and gave us a broad smile.

Evenings with friends, laughter and a large bovine that gave his life for Texas is always a good thing.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cowboy Dream - The Winchester 1894


I grew up watching old Westerns. Most weren't original, having been out for years, and seen in reruns, though I always remember Gunsmoke from when I was little. I loved Rifleman, Wanted Dead or Alive, Palladin, anything with John Wayne. The good guys were known, the bad guys obvious. The heroes rode a landscape of the lever action, the name of their firearm more than a forgotten name, their duty and honor more than a shout of defiance but an honor scratched into every weapon they held. The weapons would show the marks of their courage, etched into the very wood and steel of what they carried, not casually, but with the hurt and pride and grief with which men long since unremembered had died for.

Even as a kid playing cowboy and Indian (I was never anything but a cowboy, let the little sissy girl next door play the schoolmarm). I envisioned myself on a horse, lever action in one hand, reins in the other.

Needless to say, the first time I shot one, the thought that ran through my head was, "gee, John Wayne never yelled "*#($%!" and rubbed his shoulder after.

That first one I shot had some kick to it, with a butt plate that was pretty thin. But it was love at first shot. Sure, one could put a nice recoil pad on it, but did John Wayne have a recoil pad?

All I knew was I wanted one. It's hard to go wrong when designed by John Moses Browning.

The Winchester Model 1894 (also known as Winchester .30-30 rifle, Winchester 94, Win 94, .30-30 Winchester, or simply .30-30) is one of the most famous and most popular hunting rifles made, selling over 7 MILLION rifles. 1894 marks the year of its design the name from the manufacturer , the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. In 1980 it was picked up by U.S. Repeating Arms under the Winchester brand.

The original Model 1894 was produced in .32-40 Winchester, .38-55 Winchester, .25-35 Winchester, .3o-.30 Winchester and the .32 Winchester Special. It was the first hunting rifle chambered for the then-new smokeless powder cartridge. The .30-.30 Winchester, for me anyway, is the cartridge that is synonymous with the Model 1894 Rifle.

Variants of the Model 94, over its long history, also included the Winchester Model 55, produced from 1924 through 1932 in a 24-inch barrel, and the Winchester Model 64, produced from 1933 through 1957 in 20, 24, and 26-inch barrel lengths. A little bit of history from Wilkipedia - the model number 55 was used twice by Winchester, first as a Model 94 variant introduced in 1924, and, later, as a short-lived single-shot/semi-automatic hybrid .22-caliber rifle that self-cocked the hammer each time it was fired.)


So what's the difference between the 1892 and the 1894?
The Winchester 1894 was designed to permit the cycling of longer cartridges than the Winchester 1892 carbines could permit. When the lever is pulled down, it brings the bottom of the receiver with it. That opens up more space and allows a longer cartridge to feed without making the receiver longer, keeping the firearm tidy and size. The mechanism is complex but very reliable. Stripping the action is something that requites multiple stages, a slight bit of swearing and some practice, but it's not impossible for a beginner. Fortunately, from what I have read, it is rare that you have to completely strip the action.

Minuses: If you compare it to its competitors such as the Marlin Model 226.7 and the Marline Model 1894, a "minus" for some would be that Pre '64 Model 94s eject fired cases up and over the shooter's shoulder when the lever is operated rapidly. This precludes a scope mounted to the top of the receiver and comprises the greatest negative of the Model 94 design compared to the solid top Marlin 336, which ejects to the side and which has solid top receivers.

You could do a side mount or scout type, but most simply go for no scope. I have a scope on my Marlin and it was used on last years deer hunt with Og, Mycroft Holmes and Rangebuddy, to great success. But I am undecided as to actually calling this a "minus". Leaving the scope off reduces the weight of the gun as far as hauling it around in the field and it can allow the shooter to sight in more quickly, close or with moving game. Some folks don't want to mount a scope on anything that is going to ideally shoot within 200 yards anyway. Open sights work nicely if you have your sights adjusted and you know your point of impact.

After the early 80's, Winchester modified the firearm so that it would eject the empty shells out at an angle between the original Winchester design and the Marlin design. This made it possible to put scopes in a more normal position, on the top of the receiver. I'm not sure about the change. It was sort of the way I felt when McDonalds changed the Filet o Fish briefly back in the 80's, adding a big designer artisan bun. Better perhaps, but I missed my old, slightly squashed, non yuppified fish sandwich and was happy when they changed it back.

The mid 1990s brought a change from the long-used half-cock notch safety to a cross-bolt safety like the aforementioned Marlins. Yes, they lawyered it up. I'm glad the one I can shoot is an older one. Somethings just don't need "improving.The last ones leaving the factory in New Haven in 2006 before production ceased had tang mounted safeties. In what I'm familiar with, a half-cocked hammer notch serves as a safety. But owning a number of striker fired weapons, I'll say it again. The best safety is between the shooters ears.

Pluses -
You can talk about looks and feed and usability and all of that, but call me a romantic, sometimes you just look at something touch something and you know you love it. You don't need to add up "selling points" You are already smitten.

The 1894 is much this way.

It's easy to pack, tote and will hold its own wet, sandy or dusty. It's pretty darn hard to get a failure to feed with a lever action even in the worst of conditions. The ejection is position, the feel, nimble and quick.

This gun is like that date you bring home that all of your brothers and even your Dad will actually like. It's a gun that makes friends easily. It's a powerful gun that fire's a nicely sized 30 caliber bullet. It can take down a deer with range and power limitations of it's cartridge. It can, if you are as quick as it is, and stealthy, take down bigger game.


For it IS fast. A bit more so than the Marlin 336 and even more so than the Henry and Uberti. Very nice, fast handling rifles themselves, but not as fast as the Winchester 94. The reason is simple, they weigh a lot more and are balanced further forward, which although steadying the swing, slows it.

The range was tested out to about 200 yards. The .30 - .30 cartridge is a good all around cartridge capable of getting that bigger game as well as game at a longer range when fed high performance ammunition like the Hornady LeverEvolution, Cor-Bon DPX Hunter, and Winchester Supreme loads.
Some online reviews have complained about its accuracy. Will you shoot a 1" group with open sights? No, not for this shooter anyway. But it's as accurate as I need it to be for what I intend to do with it, as reliable as any good hunting rifle, IF you treat it properly. Lever action rifles in general need to be stroked like you've done it before. No simpering virginal handling of the thing. Fire the darn thing and enjoy it.

For this "no strong bear paws" shooter, it was a bear to load, but oh boy is it is a pleasure to handle. Clean lines, slender receiver, blued steel and lustrous walnut, perfection of line and balance that you'd expect from JMB. If you can get a hold of a pre-64 94 Carbine, don't let it go. They're more expensive but worth it. But even with the later models, there is a reason it's the best selling sport rifle in history. It earned it.

If you get a chance to fire one, do. If you get a chance to buy one, definitely. There are a LOT of good rifles out there, but this will always be what I picture in my hand when I still have those dreams of riding the range in the wee hours of the night with John Wayne, gun by my side, the feel of justice where strove and sounded the law of the land, for which freedom and safety were the end, and the firearm, the tool.

Though just maybe in my dreams I'll have a recoil pad on it.

It's a bear to load, it hurts to shoot and oh boy is it FUN!!!!!

Other Specs:

Magazine capacity - 6 cartridges
Barrel length - 20" (round)
Twist - 1 in 12"
Sights - Post front, adjustable semi-buckhorn rear; drilled and tapped for receiver sights
Length of pull - 13 3/16"
Length overall - 37 7/8"
Weight - 6 1/2 pounds (7.5 pounds if you add a scope and mount)