I used Mr Bento for the first time today. Mr Bento for the win, in fact. I filled the meat bowl with smoked pork from yesterday's smokering, the rice bowl with Neuro Fuzzy long-grain jasmine rice, and the soup bowl with salad. (I don't think that miso soup is gluten-safe; I'd be pleased to know otherwise.) The little pickle bowl I filled with pepperoncini.
This was a delightful lunch, actually. The annoying part is that Mr Bento isn't dishwasher safe, so he's now soaking in my sink, waiting to be scrubbed and dried. Mr Bento comes with Forked Spoon, a stainless-steel spork with its own twee little plastic cover; I forgot to wash the spork so at some point I have to get up and do that. I also wonder if maybe I shouldn't have gotten the Neuro Fuzzy with induction heating; I like my cooker fine but apparently the induction ones are slightly better. My cooker takes about 40 minutes to cook rice, which is longer than I was expecting, but it is really good rice when it's done; the difference is noticeable, especially with short-grain sushi rice.
The Brinkmann 1500-watt electric water smoker I am using, which I bought at Home Depot for $50, is fantastic. It converts into a rather low-powered grill, which is inadequate for cooking meat but OK for heating precooked sausages/wienies and perfect for grilling up some ears of corn. But its genius is in the smoking. So far I have smoked 2 chickens, which I overcooked extremely; and yesterday I smoked a pork shoulder and a tri-tip. The tri-tip really should have been smoked to 'rare'; I smoked it well done (internal temp 165 degrees) and it lost a lot of its juiciness and flavor. It was also only salted and peppered, not marinaded.
The pork shoulder, on the other hand: 5.5 lbs of meaty goodness, and I marinated it overnight in Lawry's bourbon peppercorn marinade. 165 inside was perfect; it was juicy but not bloody and not totally fatty like the pork butt I pot-roasted last year. (All the fat dripped into the water pan.) The smoke was mesquite and hickory and got into the meat and frankly I have to tell you that it tasted wonderful. The Maverick dual probe meat thermometer I used with it was totally awesome. TWO PROBES ENTER; ONE PROBE LEAVES! Well not exactly. But it has two probes, with steel wires that exit through the top of the smoker, that plug into a transmitter which sits near the smoker. The transmitter transmits real time temperature data by radio to the receiver. You can tell the receiver which probe is probing BEEF and which is probing PORK, and it will suggest what temperature you ought to be alerted for in that type of meat, given your preference for Very Rare, Rare, Medium, or Well Done; or you can just bypass that and tell it to beep you when probe 1 is 132 degrees and probe 2 is 165 degrees. And then you clip the receiver to your belt and wander off and goof around and look down to the screen to see what is going on in your smoker every so often. I have to tell you this thing is awesome.
In other news: I joined Amazon Affiliate. Can you tell? I am going to make this public and see what develops. If you'd like to opt out of my blatantly commercial attempts to direct people to what is good and kype some Amazon gift certificate in the meanwhile, feel free to unsubscribe to my journal. I won't be offended. Or tell me so in the comments.
I also saw Indiana Jones IV. Rather than spoilerize, I will just say that I enjoyed it thoroughly - there was not a dull moment, Harrison Ford still has it, and Karen Allen still has magnificent screen chemistry with him - and it was a great summer flick. It was, however, almost totally predictable, and what I didn't predict spontaneously got telegraphed at every point.
I also suspect that part of the excellent chase scene got inspired somehow from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.. Then again, that game was such a hodgepodge of homage that it's hard to know who's alluding to whom anymore.
LJ is annoying. In particular, there's something about the autosave-draft web post page that makes Safari leak memory, perform poorly, and eventually crash. I wish I could opt out of it and go back to the non-crappy Web 1.0 LJ interface.
My tomatoes are doing awesome. The weather here today and yesterday has been foggy but in general they are delightfully verdant and much bigger than my tomatoes were by August last year in SF. The pepper is still a little uncertain, but a long way from folding up and dying; and the lemon tree has abundant new foliage, which makes me suspect it's recovered from its transplant shock and is happy to be here. Birds are here in great abundance, especially robin redbreast, whose little forays to pull worms from my lawn (and tomato cutworms from my tomatoes, yay) are a source of never-ending amusement.