Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Southern Fried Turkey A Suthun Tradition

It's Thanksgiving time in the South. Ok, so it's Thanksgiving time all over the US, but here in the South (with requisite Capital S) we have a unique addition to the Thanksgiving feast. Suthun Fried Turkey. Oh my, just the sound of the phrase "Suthun Fried Turkey" is enough to get yer mouth a waterin' and your hands to shaking, and you find yourself saying things like "Ooooeeey! Doan thet sayowd guuuuud?" (Nawthun translation: Doesn't that sound good?)

Southern Frying allows the bird to cook and seals in ALL of the moisture. Result: Very moist bird. Yet, Southun Fried Turkey properly done may be easier said than done as the photo above may attest. From what my research tells me, the problems come from one of three different mistakes.

1) Choosing to deep fry a turkey with little or no experience in cooking with a big pot of hot oil. A lot of Suthun cooks cook in hot oil, but are totally unsure how to work with such a large pot and such a large item to cook. The result is Southern Fried Catastrophe.

2) Using too much oil. Put a big old bird down in to hot oil and it overflows, into the open flame and you're gonna have fire. Big Fire. Hard to put out fire.

3) Doing this indoors. In fact, it is part of all instructions I can find that you shouldn't be cooking a Suthun Fried Turkey even NEAR a wooden structure.

This paragraph is an addendum, written in November of 2011 after I received a visit from Neighbor Bubba, Lord of All Things Barbeque.  It is an important step, which I had neglected to include originally.)  When lowering the turkey into the oil, or taking the turkey out of the oil, one must always remember to TURN OFF THE FIRE.  Bubba points out that this is the main mistake that so many novices make, thinking that the fire has to be on continuous.  Heat the oil, says Bubba, then shut off the fire and wait a couple of minutes.  This means that the metal around the fire ring has cooled to a point where it won't be hot enough to flame should a bit of oil hit it.  Now you can stand close enough to the boiling oil to control the turkey as it goes into the pot (or out.)  Once in, you can then safely ignite the fire again, without fear of an oil fire.  (end of addendum)

When it comes to cooking, I defer to Neighbor Bubba (this is to differentiate from my Brother Bubba, the one who lives in Colorado, but I usual) Neighbor Bubba has cooked more than a few of these delicious birds. He says that the key is preparation. Which in his case means at least 2-3 Non Light Beers.

I joke, but Bubba really does make a delicious fried bird. He sets up his equipment at the far edge of his property (about 50 feet from the house and shed). His true secret is in how he measures the amount of oil. He puts the bird down into the cold pot and fills it with oil to just above the bird. Then he pulls out the bird allowing all the oil to drip off. Perfect measurement.

The second key is learning to lower the bird into the hot oil as slowly as possible. Bubba points that this may be difficult in that you're standing over hot oil and equipment ((fire off, as stated above) as you try to stay balanced slowly lowering a turkey easily heavier than the standard bowling ball. Bubba, therefore, true to his Suthun Roots, has discovered the perfect slow way to do it.
Bubba says you can do the same thing with three pieces of 2x4 and a block and tackle.
I probably won't get to taste Bubba's creation, as we're having regular old oven roasted bird. But that doesn't mean I can't learn and prepare for that day in the future when, as a true Suthun Gennelman, I can fry my own Suthun Fried Turkey.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Music and Suthunaz

When I first came to Nashville, I had to answer one question a lot. "Are you in the industry?" and by "industry" they mean the music industry and more specifically, Country Music. You see, I have a college degree in music. Though my tastes in music at the time didn't include Country, Western or Bluegrass, all people saw was some guy who had a big background in music moving to Music City. So, they'd always ask, "You come here for the Music Industry?" And my answer was always no. They'd all then give me some strange looks especially when I'd say that my music background was more in Art Songs sung in German and if I used the world "Opera" they'd always reply "Oh yeah, the Opry ...we know all about that...."

I'm still not a fan of Country Music, but I can truly understand the way that people are drawn to it. Country music tells the stories of one's life as it might have been, should have been, could have been and might still be. It's like looking at someone else's High School yearbook and noting the similarities as well as the differences and hearing the stories everyone tells.

But Country Music is not just a Suthun thing. It's listened to just about everywhere. Everywhere except my house. My wife listens to Heavy Metal. Screaming guitars, loud vocals - oh and she has every Joe Cocker Album ever produced. Country Music to her is like garlic to a vampire. That's OK, to each his own is my motto. She can listen to whatever she likes. It's a free country and some of the music she plays is also on my playlist.

My tastes are wide open, but I don't listen to music much anymore. It's because of the way in which people listen to music and ascribe 'fandom' to you for the action noting with fervor or derision the choices in your musical selections. The discussions go something like this: Someone turns on the radio and a song comes on. Let's say it's Elvis. It happens to be one of the songs I like, so I turn up the volume just a bit, maybe even sing along with the chorus.

"Oh you like HIM?" someone says.
"No. I like this song."
They respond: "I didn't realize you were a Elvis Fan..."
"I am most assuredly NOT."
And then the argument starts.

Let me make myself perfectly clear: I am not a fan of any particular person or band. I listen to music I like and just because I listen to a song or songs by any one person or writer, group or mainstream entity does not mean I listen to ALL their music or dream of meeting them, getting their autograph or having them over for dinner. Elvis did a couple of good songs - Songs which I like. So did Frank Sinatra. So did Aeorsmith. So did Leonard Cohen. (Who's Leanord Cohen? Look it up.) This enjoyment of a few of their pieces does not make me a fan of ALL music by said performer/writer/group/mainstream entity.

Perhaps this is why, during High School, I did not buy many albums. I could not see buying an entire album just to get the one or maybe two songs which I enjoyed. Still don't. I didn't go to a lot of concerts back then for the same reason. Why sit through a lot of songs I don't enjoy just to hear the ones I do? Why give the band my money to play songs I don't enjoy?

By the same token, being listed as a Country Fan puts one in a similar boat. Being in Country Western Country (say that three times fast) and someone finds me listening to say, Leonard Cohen, (you did look it up, right?) I know I'm going to get those strange looks. Traitorous looks. As if my listening to some other music genre may cause the downfall of western civilization, the city to be overrun with Nawthun Agression (yet again) and the Titans will lose all the games on their schedule. At the very least, it will keep me from being inducted into the Hallowed Halls of Suthun Acceptance. Which, of course brings me full circle in my Suthun Quest.

So, here I hide with my radio and my laptop. Listening to an eclectic mix of music when no one else is around to hear - and judge...especially not my Country-Western Lovin' Suthun Neighbors.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Invention Intervention #2

The Suthunah is the consummate inventor. I'm not talking about new fangled gadgets for your kitchen, or deep space technology. I'm talking every day (and possibly one of a kind) inventions that make at least one person's life easier.

Above is such an example. When faced with the task of shoveling a lot of snow, a lot of folks turn to a snowplow or similar device hooked to the front of their pick-em-up truck. This fine citizen of the south MADE himself a snowplow. Self powered and fits in the back of the car, this little gadget makes quick and easy work of snow. And well it should, as it appears that he's got a full parking lot to plow.

This invention needs a closer look, too. Not covered in duck tape, or held together with spit, baling wire and prayer, this thing is a joy to behold. Beautiful engineering and handiwork, highlighted by a great job of painting. Look at the front wheels, apparently this cuts through deep snow too!

And yes, we do get snow in the South. Not all over the south, but enough to make this invention the pride of the neighborhood.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Beer me another Brewskie Bubba

Beer. Last week you may recall that I mentioned this miracle brew once or twice. To the Suthunah, Beer is more than just a beverage. It has become part of the very fabric of society. Celebrations hinge on its inclusion, but more than that, beer is a part of every day life. On any given day you can sit in the parking lot of any convenience store that sells the golden elixir and count the number of people headed home who stop in for a 12 pack (or 24 pack for those larger families) to stock the fridge. Daily. If it's the weekend, (especially a major sports weekend) this number grows exponentially.

In addition, several dozen 'micro-breweries' have sprung up across the south proving that the South has its own share of quality brew masters.

My brother, Bubba, makes his own beer. I'm not sure if you'd call him a brew-master, but he has been known to fill a few cases of beer each year. His one claim to fame (if you can call it that) is that his beer has been known to explode the bottles while they sit in the cupboard. Personally, I think that this just gives him an excuse to drink more. "Gotta drink these up 'afore they 'splode." (He lives in Colorado, so I don't really know why he talks like that.)

The problem (and the reason for this entire blog today) is that I don't drink beer. Never could get past the taste. Yes, I know there are millions of people who think I'm wrong. Suthunahz from New Orleans to Raleigh enjoy beer on a daily basis and remark to each other how great it is - oh and not only does it taste great, but is it less filling. I'm sure that they all can easily tell the difference between Ale and Lager and Light Beer and Non-Light beer. To me, they all taste the same and it's not good. I end up making that 'beer face' and someone makes fun of me and then there's gunfire..and...well, it's not pretty.

Now don't get me wrong. Every now and then one of my son-in-laws or some neighbor will come over with a case of some dark brew and I'll do the good thing of tipping one back. If their timing is right, and the day is hot enough, that bad bitter beer taste will magically turn into the perfect thing to drink at that very moment. It's days like that where I feel that I might actually be one of the natives.

Welcome to the South. Get me another beer there, Bubba, 'afore they 'splode.