Parent of the South

As a child of the South: born in Georgia and resident of South Caorlina for the last 30+ years, and now a parent in the South, I’ve determined Five values all Southern Parents must instill into their children:

  1. Manners, Manners, Manners
    Above all else, and before all else, you must be polite and show proper respect to all people. This includes proper use (meaning everyone, young and old) of “Ma’am” and “Sir” and continual use of “May I” (even if it’s already yours) and “Thank You” even if you were wronged.

  2. Love of college football
    You must find a team and make them your own. You must love them through thick and thin and you must hate their rivals (I have some ideas of teams you can cheer for, if you need some).

    And most importantly, you must not celebrate special events on fall Saturday’s – especially weddings. No daughter of the South shall ever schedule a wedding between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

  3. Exposure to Beach Music
    You must learn to shag and to make sure your children do as well. And shagging can only be done to Beach Music. While most people are familiar with the Drifters, the Temptations, and the Four Tops, you must also be conversant with groups like Chairman of the Board, the Catalinas, the Embers, and the Tymes.

    If not, how else do you propose to have a Southern wedding?

  4. Wardrobe of seersucker and flip flops
    To not only be Southern, but to also look Southern, your children must have a collection of seersucker suits/dresses and flip flops. Both of these materials breathe the best, which is a necessity in the hot and dirty south.

    There is some leeway here for girls as a good sandal can take the place of flip flops. Should typically be white, or other light color, and be adorned with flowers or fun insects.

    However, please note there are some exceptions to this rule. For guys, no sandals. None. For girls, the following brands are off limits to be considered Southern: Tevas, Birchenstocks, and Crocs – even they make flip flops.

    This should go without saying, but socks with either seersucker or flip flops is explicitly outlawed. In general, socks in the South are optional – even for work.

  5. A few great expressions
    What makes Paula Dean so lovable, besides the butter, are the expressions, and every Southerner must have a few in their staple. They do not need to make sense, but they need to be understood – know what I’m saying? Southern expressions are generally silly, confusing, and grammatically incorrect, when read outside of a Southern conversation – kind of like athletes’ tweets outside of a sporting event. But you must have them.

    Generally, 5-10 will get you through most every situation in life – and you’ll never be at a loss for words.

As you try to raise Southern children, please note, Southern reality tv is not your barometer. You may not use any of the sayings, dress, or tricks shown on Duck Dynasty, Honey Boo Boo, Swamp Loggers, or any other “Southern” reality show to increase your Southern standing. It must be legit and from you, the parent, not some terd on tv.

So – how are you parents of the South doing in raising our next great Southern generation? Any other necessities I missed? Am I wrong on any?

Even if I were, would your Southern hospitality and manners be allowed to tell me?

A Marriage of Meat

Before we even begin this discourse, let me say this:

“A wife is not a piece of meat”

Now, with that said, let me tell you how making great barbecue is eerily similar to making a great marriage.

A great marriage doesn’t just occur. And neither does mouthwatering barbecue. Most of us understand the effort required to make a marriage flourish, which includes items like planning, hard work, patience, creativity, prayer, and commitment, but you may not realize how the same components are required for mouthwatering barbecue.

Planning
Pulling off a successful cook requires advance planning. There are cook times, ingredients, prep work, equipment, meat, and the serving to consider. You take notes, read books, and ask questions, all in an effort to become a better pittmaster.

Hard Work
Pulling off a successful cook is not easy. And it doesn’t just happen. You can’t just push a button or plug something in and turn out great barbecue. It will make you sweat, wear you out, and drop to you to your knees. But the more you put into making great barbecue, the more you get out. Actually, you get much more out of it.

Patience
“If you’re looking, you ain’t cooking.” The more you look, the longer it takes. And cooking great barbecue takes FOREVER. Upwards of 16 hours, not counting the prep time, rest time, serving time, or pulling time.

And guys, if we’re looking, we ain’t cooking, when it comes to our eyes and our marriage.

Creativity
There are only so many ways you can cook a butt. It has to take 12-16 hours to be good and needs smoke to give it great flavor and bark. So to stand out from the crowd, you need to be creative. Creative in your rubs, spices, sauces, and woods. And if you find the right balance, in conjunction with everything else, you may be the one holding the trophy and the big check at the end of the weekend.

Prayer
While prayer is an essential part to a great marriage, you may not consider it a key component to great barbecue. You’d be wrong – way wrong. So many things can go wrong while cooking for 16 hours, many of which you have no control over.

I’ve seen hot, humid weather, where you had a hard time keeping the temps down, change to a monsoon, causing fires to go out, equipment to get soaked, psyche to get crushed, and schedules to get ruined. And if you’re not praying, you have no prayer…

Commitment
The most important piece of any marriage is commitment and the same is true for barbecue. You have a tried and true plan, one you’ve seen work countless times, but even so, when things begin to go awry, the tendency is to change what you know works and try something else.

You give up your plan and toss it aside and you if you have no chance for success. You can’t change what you’re doing because someone else does it differently. You can’t take your schedule and try to cheat it. You can’t “wing it”. You need to be committed to your plan, no matter what.

Also, there is an unwritten rule in barbecue: “You eat what you cook, no matter what”. It doesn’t matter if you burn the meat or if your chances in the creativity department don’t work or if the schedule wasn’t right. You eat what you cook – no questions asked.

The same is true for marriage. When you say “I do”, you say it for better or worse, no matter what. If things get tough, you stick it out. If things don’t go as planned, you stick it out. No matter what.

So, next time you have a craving for barbecue, think of your spouse. And take the time to enjoy both.

BBQ Chicken on the Grill

I’ve never been brave enough to put together a whole post based just on a recipe, nevertheless something I put together, but after tonight’s BBQ chicken, that will be changing. This is a simple, yet unbelievable version of grilled (and smoked) bbq chicken.

For this version, I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts since that is what we had available, but this recipe would also work great with split chicken breasts or thick pork chops.

Also, this recipe works best using a grill with two or more independently controlled burners.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts
  • Ziploc bag or other container
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • BBQ Rub (I used my own rub)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Wood chips
  • BBQ Sauce (I used a store bought sweet & spicy bourbon sauce)

Directions:

  1. Place chicken breasts into large ziploc bag or sealable container
  2. Add enough Extra Virgin Olive Oil to judiciously coat the chicken
  3. Add 3-4 Tablespoons of your favorite BBQ rub. I had some homemade rub leftover from a previous cook, so I used this. The rub should lightly coat the chicken so as to turn the EVOO a similar color as to the base of the rub
  4. Set chicken aside to marinate
  5. Light one-half of the grill burners and set to Medium-High
  6. While grill is warming up, take aluminum foil and fold to form a pouch or bowl and insert wood chips. Be sure to leave the top open for smoke to leave pouch. Place loaded pouch directly on burner. (See pic below of my setup)
  7. Once grill is hot, sear chicken directly over heat for 3-5 minutes per side
  8. After each side is seared, move chicken to highest rack on non-heat side
  9. Generously apply BBQ sauce to chicken and flip so sauce side is down. Sauce other side
  10. After approximately 15 minutes, turn chicken and apply additional BBQ sauce as desired
  11. Add additional wood chips, as needed
  12. Cook as such until internal temp reaches 165.

    Use solo, pair with a side, or use it to top a salad.

    Thanks and let me know what you think!

I Just Don’t Get It

As I grow older, I am becoming more and more convinced of one thing: I cannot be anything or anybody I want to be. There are limits to my abilities and regardless of how hard I try or train, there are certain skill sets I will never attain.

I have saws, drills, levels, and tape measures, but I’ll never be a carpenter. I can barely build a tree house or install trim without needing wood filler, extra nails, and a sore thumb. I just don’t get it.

I have paint rollers, brushes, paint, and smocks, but I’ll never be a painter. All the painter’s tape in the world won’t keep me from making you feel sea sick as you inspect my work. I just don’t get it.

I have pipe, wrenches, glue, and tape, but I’ll never be a plumber. I can change out a faucet, repair a toilet, and even look like a plumber while performing these tasks, but the multiple trips to Home Depot and the hours staring at the fittings tell me I’ll never make a living doing this. I just don’t get it.

I have a garage full of motors, fantastic tools, a stereo playing classic rock, and hand cleaner, but I’ll never be a mechanic. Some people, like Dad, can just stare at an engine and get it to crank. Not me. I can read mountains of manuals, listen intently, get my hands dirty, and watch videos, but I can’t get it to work. I just don’t get it.

I have landscape beds, hanging baskets, grass, and a little land, but I’ll never be a gardener or landscaper. I can barely keep native trees and weeds alive, nevertheless actual plants, fruits, and flowers. I can buy the best equipment, get the advice of buddies, and pray for rain, but nothing grows for me. I just don’t get it.

I have a cabinet full of tupperware, an attic full of stuff, a messy garage, the closets of two little girls, and a degree in engineering, but I’ll never be organized. After dinner, I have nine green beans in the largest container, three pounds of rice in sandwich baggies, and the steak wrapped in foil. The fridge is stacked three deep with last month’s milk stuck in the back. When I try to clean the garage or the girl’s closets, I just sit there in a Xanax filled state, sucking my thumb. No matter how hard I try, I cannot get organized. I just don’t get it.

I have two piles of wood, reams of paper, cool utensils, and a large pack of lighters, but I can barely start a fire. And even if I do get it started, I struggle keeping it burning. This may not be a bad thing – unless you like slow cooking succulent meats for long periods of time! I spend most of my time tending the fire rather than prepping the meat. I just don’t get it.

However, if something stops working, bring it over here. Have a new electronic device? Let me show you how it works. Don’t understand a sport? Pull up a chair. Math problem got you frustrated? That’s no problem. Your young child is crying? Watch this. Random song or fact stuck in your head? We’ll figure it out.

While my talents may not solve practical problems – or save us money – they’re still my talents. And someone somewhere needs them. And I’m okay with that, because that’s how God made me.

That I get.

40 Before 40: The List

So – I’ve finally finished the list and thought it worthwhile to summarize them in a single post. Mainly so my mom doesn’t have to click through multiple posts just to reread them.

So here they are in the same order they were presented:

  1. Eat my way through Italy
  2. Have my name on giant check
  3. Leave a $100 tip anonymously
  4. Play Santa Claus
  5. Teach a class
  6. Wear a tuxedo
  7. Attend the Army-Navy game
  8. Get someone to say “Amen” while I’m speaking
  9. Ride in a hot air balloon
  10. Solve a community problem
  11. Play a round at Augusta National
  12. Take a tour of Krispy Kreme
  13. Own a car still in production
  14. Be a sous chef
  15. Be on tv or in a commercial
  16. Ride a roller coaster with my kids
  17. Spend the night in a hammock
  18. Win a trophy
  19. See the good parts of the White House
  20. Take a road trip
  21. Attend a European soccer match
  22. Take my children on a mission’s trip
  23. Wear the Tiger mascot costume
  24. Cater an event
  25. Jump out of an airplane
  26. Be a guest on a radio show
  27. Own an orange blazer
  28. Never join Facebook
  29. Host a concert
  30. Spend a night on a boat
  31. Grow a beard
  32. Get a real shave
  33. Run for public office
  34. Read a literary classic
  35. Act in a play
  36. Be published
  37. Go viral
  38. Run down the Hill
  39. Have a great Valentine’s Day
  40. Ride in a military aircraft

Please check back often as I will be updating this page as I complete, or change, my goals.

I’m nearly ready to cross off my first goal as I just finished “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. Quite the uplifting and encouraging read… I think I know why I haven’t read all that many literary classics – they are depressing.

Best Feelings in the World

I promise I’m not a cynic. You may think that, especially after posts such as “I’m an Amateur” and “Worst Feelings in the World“. But I’m not. There are things for which I am truly grateful. And I smile quite often. And I look forward to many things.

Some of which leave me with warm fuzzies and anxious moments and sleepless nights.

Things like:

  • Pulling into your driveway following a road trip
    Doesn’t matter that you have three loads of laundry, a pile of mail, nothing to eat, and the house smells all musty

  • Warm sheets
    Taking the sheets straight from the dryer, putting them on the bed, and then sliding in right after

  • Removal of nose blockage, aka – a booger
    Think how awesome this guy felt:

  • Afternoon nap
  • Warming your hands by the fire
  • Glass of iced tea on a hot day
    Except when you’re working on a golf course in the summer sun and chug three or four glasses and go right back to work. That can make you blow chunks. I know.

  • A wink-wink from your bride
  • Christmas morning
  • Being tackled by your kids as you come home every night
  • Teaching your kids something new
  • The mailman on the day you’re expecting a package
  • Saturday’s in the fall
  • The first slice into a grilled or smoked meat
  • The silence when the kids are asleep
  • An atta boy for something you’ve done
  • The start of your favorite TV show
  • Singing to your favorite song

See – there are things I enjoy and look forward to and make me smile.

What are yours?

40 Before 40: 20-16

The list keeps rolling out and hopefully I will be able to complete at least one of these soon.

Also, I have some exciting news about 40 Before 40 that I want to share, but it’s not quite ready yet. I hope you’ll like it and share it with me.

So – here’s the next 5, bringing the total goals to 25.

  • Attend a European soccer game
  • I’ve seen two Top 10 teams battle in football and basketball, I’ve seen the 49ers play in their heyday. I’ve been to NASCAR races and I’ve even been to Fenway.

    But nothing will compare to the passion and excitement of a European soccer (futball) match. It is nonstop singing, screaming, shouting, and jumping. Pure noise for 90+ minutes and can only be witnessed live.

    Maybe I can tie this in with one of my other goals, like eating my through Italy, or solving a community problem, or part of a mission’s trip.

  • Take my children on a missions trip
  • Speaking of mission’s trips, one of the best gifts we can give our children is to help them gain perspective on how well we have been blessed and how others have need.

    We try to help them see this by giving and sharing with those in our community, but the local needs are far different than global ones. The need for food or shelter is slightly different in Beaufort County than in rural South America or Africa. The education is different. The lifestyle is different.

    And I want them to be truly thankful for what they have and also see the joy in sharing put of their plenty. Plus, I could use the reminder too.

  • Wear the Tiger Mascot outfit
  • I’m starting to wonder if I have a fetish. First the Santa outfit and now the Tiger. But I think it has more to do with the chance to make kids smile and laugh – without freaking out their parents.

    I’ve taken the girls to a few Clemson games now and the Tiger is the hit, outside of the cheerleaders. And let’s be honest, you’ve got to tread lightly around them or else you’ll be the crusty old man. And at that point, the cheerleaders are freaked out, the wife is jealous, and the kids are crying.

    Anyway – the opportunity to be part of the tradition that is the Tiger, making kids smile, and potentially losing a few pounds is something I want to do.

  • Cater an event
  • “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

    Well, greater trust has no one than this, to ask you to cook for his friends. People will allow you to borrow their cars, clothes, tools, and money. But relinquish control of the dinner menu. No way.

    I’ve had the opportunity to cook a bit for work and at BBQ competitions, but I am looking for the chance to cook for a wedding or a party – and receive payment in return.

    I would like to make money cooking. That is ultimate trust, and I would be honored.

  • Jump out of an airplane
  • This is my adventure goal of the set – to jump out of an airplane and free fall. But just for a second. Anything more than that would freak me out and make me think the chute isn’t working.

    Then I would enjoy the quiet descent. It would be magnificent, especially seeing the area and God’s creation as we come down.