My oldest daughter turned 5 this week. Who allowed this to happen!? It definitely wasn’t me. She has been soooooo excited for her birthday, especially since her sister turned 2 last month. Really, I was excited too. Five years old is big!
She was born a month early, so we weren’t exactly prepared for her arrival (not that we ever would have been anyway). Luckily her car seat had arrived 2 days before her birth. Her pregnancy was really hard. I was so sick for soooooo long. I finally stopped throwing up multiple times a day at around 28 weeks. The night before she was born, we went to a fireworks display with some friends. We had to climb a hill to get to our viewing spot, and I thought I was going to die, lol. I was in such a bad mood, and couldn’t figure out why. Turns out being in early labor will do that to you. About 4 hours after we got home, I woke up in not-so-early labor, and things got really serious really fast. Things slowed down once I got my blessed epidural, and she was born at 1:20 in the afternoon.
The NICU team was there for her birth, but they left once she started crying. She was totally fine, just small. We were so relieved.
Mark was so scared on the drive home from the hospital. It’s hilarious to watch the video I took. The fear set in for me a few days later.
The forever-ness of parenthood was terrifying. I was sure we would never make it. Everyone was right- we were never going to sleep again. By the way, if you’re in the trenches of early babyhood, you will sleep again. You really, truly will.
I vividly remember sitting in church when E was a baby, and the children in the Primary (children’s organization) got up to sing a song in the meeting. I looked at those kids, then looked at my tiny baby and thought we’d never get there. We couldn’t make it that long. E went into Primary in 2019 and I could hardly believe it. Covid happened a few months later and we had at-home church for a year, but guess what happened a couple of weeks ago? E got up with the Primary children and sang a song for Father’s Day. All of a sudden, my kid was up there. We made it.
Another side note, I had undiagnosed postpartum depression and anxiety. If you feel like you’re not going to make it, please talk to a therapist and a doctor, and do not under any circumstances let them brush you off. My life would have been a lot easier if I had done that earlier.
Birthday Brisket: A Tragedy
We got a used Traeger smoker last year, and ever since I’ve wanted to smoke a brisket. The only problem is they’re usually really expensive. Luckily, in January, I was perusing the meat section in Costco and I saw a whole brisket for $28. I snatched it and it had been waiting in my freezer for its big moment ever since.
That moment came this week. Birthday brisket was going to be awesome. I watched many videos and read a bunch of articles. I settled on a method by a guy named Meathead. With a name like that, I couldn’t go wrong. I trimmed the brisket, seasoned it, and put it on at midnight the day of the big birthday.
I went to bed, and got up at four in the blessed am to check on things. Everything was fine. The brisket was at 140 degrees, and the Traeger had plenty of pellets. I went back to bed. Tragedy struck at 7:30 am. Mark got up, checked on things, and then nervously came in to tell me that at some point the Traeger had turned off, and it was giving an LRE error code. The brisket had dropped to 100 degrees, and I had no idea how long it had been without heat. I couldn’t serve it to people. I had to throw it away.
My heart was really sad, but I don’t go down that easily. It was time for a barbecue pivot.
Costco to the Rescue
I was at Costco about a month ago, and picked up 3 racks of baby back ribs. If you know me, this is funny. I haven’t been able to eat a large amount of pork in over 10 years. My digestive system does not appreciate it. However, I wanted to try and make them. Also, I knew Mark would be very happy. So, I made one rack a few weeks ago, and put the other two in the freezer.
After the brisket was in the trash, I went down to the freezer to see what my options were, and there were the ribs. Perfect. I took them, put them in a brine to defrost, and went back to Costco to get a chicken. We would do smoked ribs and chicken and everyone would be happy.
I grabbed my chicken, came home, spatchcocked it (I’ll do a post on this sometime), and threw it in a brine too.
About an hour and a half after the pivot, the ribs and chicken were on the smoker. I also threw on some potatoes for barbecue baked potatoes. Thankfully, we still had enough time for everything to cook before the family got here for the party.
Smoked chicken is super easy. I just stuffed some garlic butter under the skin and threw it on until it reached 160 degrees, then let it rest. The ribs needed a little more attention, but I tended to them and they finished just in time.
The ribs were done first, and every last one was gobbled up. I had a little taste, and the flavor was good. I overcooked them a little, but nobody seemed to care. My kids scarfed them down, as did my sister and in-laws.
Barbecue Baked Potatoes
Have you ever had a barbecue baked potato? There was a barbecue place in my hometown that was run by a family in our church called Cafe Pig. It was the best. They served ENORMOUS baked potatoes stuffed with smoked beef, cheese, sour cream, and barbecue sauce. It was awesome. I was attempting to recreate those potatoes with my brisket. Instead, I had a smoked chicken baked potato, and it was glorious. We’ll revisit these in another post, but here it was in all its glory.
To me, this is one of the highest forms of barbecue. It’s perfect. Also, I made the barbecue sauce, and it turned out great. Again, I’ll do a post on it.
It’s Not a Birthday Without Cake
The last two years, E has had elaborate birthday cake requests. This year she wanted a kitty cake with purple frosting. I am absolutely not a cake decorator. I do not like piping. Etsy came to my rescue and here’s the cake we ended up with:
Pretty cute, right? Here’s the link to the kitty kit in case you, too are no decorator.
Just for kicks, here’s a picture of C’s cake from last month. Layer cakes are not my favorite things to make, but I bake them for my girls’ birthdays, and they usually turn out pretty tasty.
Revenge Will Be Mine
I will have brisket triumph. You’ll see. We’ll be eating those brisket potatoes. Thankfully, the chicken and ribs turned out great. Everyone was full and happy, and E had a great birthday. Failure, equipment malfunctions, and pivoting is all a part of cooking. Julia Child was the queen of the pivot. She did it with grace and humor. When Mark told me what happened, I felt sorry for myself for a second, and then literally thought “What would Julia do here?” I thought she would sadly stomp around for a little bit, then she would scold the Traeger, chuck out the brisket, wave her knife around for a minute, and fearlessly attack something else. So that’s what I did.