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If you have a question for Doctor John, send an email to moc.oohay@nevarkeerc

Dateline:
June 2, 2008

Happy June to everyone. The month of June brides and June bugs. If you don't have June bugs in your part of the country, don't worry about it. The little critters are not all that much fun. Mostly they like to drown themselves in any standing water available.

Sorry about that, the good doctor's mind has begun to wander a bit. It comes with being old enough to have known God's parents while they were still just dating.

Jeff says:

We had some oak trees blown down in the storm the other night. How do I convert them into wood for barbecuing?
Jeff: The first thing you have to do is get the wood into pieces of the size you can handle. A chainsaw works real good for this. If you have a firebox on your smoker, you want to cut the wood into lengths that will fit inside.

The rule of thumb is it takes a year for firewood to dry or "season" enough to be used for barbecuing or in the fireplace. You can speed up the process a bit by splitting the wood before you store it. Anything six inches or more in diameter should be split. If you have limbs larger than eight or ten inches in diameter you should quarter them. You want everything about the same size.

You want to select a site to stack your wood that is fairly level, well drained, out of the way and in the sun most of the day. You keep the wood up off the ground. If you can find a few old shipping pallets, they would be good for stacking your wood on. This will permit air to get under and circulate through the whole pile. Don't pack the wood together; leave some space for air to circulate. You want to cover the pile with something to keep the biggest part of the rain out. You do not want to cover the whole pile with something water proof as that will defeat the purpose.

I don't know right off hand what the moisture content of the wood should be to call it "cured", but I'm sure you can find that information on the Internet. Or just ask an old timer what he thinks. Much will depend on your climate. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Marie needs pie information:

Dr. John: What is a chest pie? I have heard about them but I have not seen a recipe.
Ah Marie: It's chess pie – not chest. That is what they were called years ago. Actually, chest might be more correct since these pies were kept in a pie safe which was also called a chest. There was no refrigeration, so you used the pie safe, which had screen on it to keep the flies out and let the air circulate.

Here's a chess pie recipe from 1850.

Cream together 4 eggs, 2/3 cup of butter, 1 tablespoon flour and 2 cups sugar. Add 1 cup milk and 1 teaspoon lemon extract. Blend well and pour into an unbaked pie shell and bake in a medium hot oven. [Editor's note: There's another good Lemon Chess Pie recipe on www.texascooking.com.] Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Mark has a sticking problem:

Dr. John: My hamburger patties always stick to the grill. It makes a mess. How can I stop them from sticking?

Mark: The best way to keep things from sticking to your grill is to oil it lightly before you put the food on. Use some regular cooking oil and a wadded up paper towel or a rag to wipe the oil on. Be careful, as the coals under it are hot. You can't use a nylon brush, as it will melt and make a mess. And don't use that spray-on non-stick stuff. It will eventually build up residue on your grill that will be hard to remove.

The hamburger patties may still stick lightly to the grill. This is because they have not cooked long enough. When the bottom is cooked right, they will release from the grill. Rule of thumb when grilling hamburger patties is when blood starts to show on the top of the patty it is ready to turn. I hope this solves your problem. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Lois wants an opinion:

Dr. John: In your opinion, which is the best barbecue sauce to buy?

Lois: Buy the sauce that you and your family like best. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Aline writes with coffee maker problems:

We live in an area where the water is very hard. Our electric coffee maker has started to run so slow that it is nearly useless. I have boiled it out with vinegar, but that did not seem to help. Any ideas?

Aline: I have the same hard water problems. The minerals in the water form a hard crud (mineral deposits) on the inside plumbing of your coffee maker and soon clog everything up. I, too, have tried the vinegar solution and find it unacceptable. You have to turn the coffee maker on and off and refresh the vinegar and it takes all afternoon to do it properly. It will work if you adhere to a schedule of doing it about every two weeks. Most people just don't want to have to spend an afternoon twice a month running vinegar through the coffee maker. In my case, it stinks the house up so bad I want to leave. I don't have an outside electrical outlet, so I have to do it in house.

My friends and I have found a solution to the problem. Go to the big super store. Find the least expensive coffee maker in your size. I have been paying in the range of ten to twelve dollars for them. Use them until they get too slow (usually about three months here), then throw the thing away and get a new one.

I am not in favor of a disposable society, but there are times when you just have to do what you have to do. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John



If you have a question for Doctor John, send an email to moc.oohay@nevarkeerc
end article

Traditional Texas Food Articles
By Dr. John, Ph.B.
  

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