Uncle Tom’s Corner-Tales, Trials, Travels & Travails


“Barbecue may not be the road to world peace but it’s a start.”- Anthony Bourdain

Welcome back to Uncle Tom’s Corner.

When I began writing I told you that I had written a similar column for a different publication. One of the beauties of that publication was that my contribution to it was completely random. There was no stated direction, basically no purpose (other than to make people laugh) and I was allowed, within reason, to opine about most anything that came to mind. And so it is with this one. The only advertising will be in reference to my spice (Uncle Tom’s All-Purpose Seasoning and BBQ Rub), very little to do with the usual areas to avoid: religion, politics, race, sexual preference or anything else too inflammatory.

For this issue a topic that has been on my mind of late is that we need some new curse words. George Carlin came up with seven words that should never be said on television…except that they now are. Not only are they on television but they have entered mainstream vernacular. One of ‘em (a phrase actually) was used publicly by an elected official in reference to the President of the United States. The f-bomb is now used in casual conversation…totally passé.

I can still vividly remember the first time I heard my mother use that word. I KNEW I was in deep poop…that I had messed up and should she slow the car down I should immediately bail out or risk permanent and disfiguring harm.

Ken, a WW II veteran who fought his way across Europe, absolutely abhorred the use of that word…especially in the presence of women. I heard him, on more than one occasion, chastise someone for dropping an f-bomb. And today it is commonly used by both men and women to express themselves about the most mundane of topics regardless of where they may be or whose presence they may be in including children.

So the word…once used mostly in hushed tones…has lost its impact. So what do we have as its replacement? To a small measure we can text in all caps but we need a word…a new word…to be used ONLY when a semi-cataclysmic occasion calls for it. Personally, I got nothin’. Despite having served for five years in the Navy (the phrase “cussing like a sailor is well founded) and having minored in English I can’t find anything that might prove remotely suitable.  If/when you come up with something you deem suitable please let me know. Maybe we can start a movement.

I got back the results from Ancestry. I had been led to believe that I was 50/50 German and Swede. Apparently one or both of those countries had some rather porous borders or lax immigration laws. I came in at 66% Swede, 22% Norwegian, 10 % German and 2% English, Welch and NW European.

On to more immediate matters. As casually mentioned on at least one prior occasion I am an unapologetic Nebraska Cornhusker fan. With that as a segue, were you aware that the winning scores in both the AFC and NFC games which determined the teams in Super Bowl LIII were scored by players with former ties to the University of Nebraska?

Rex Burkhead, running back for the New England Patriots, scored the winning touchdown in overtime against the Kansas City Chiefs. He played running back for the Cornhuskers from 2009 to 2012 and was an Academic All-American.

Greg Zuerlein, field goal kicker for the Rams, scored the winning points against the New Orleans Saints with a 54 yard field goal in overtime. Greg is a native of Lincoln, Nebraska and played for University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Another former Husker-Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle for the Rams. In one rather spectacular defensive play during the Big XII Championship game against the University of Texas Longhorns December,2009, sacked the Horns quarterback, Colt McCoy, and threw him (literally) for about a 5-yard loss. Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots, who has a public opinion rating only slightly below that of Donald Trump or Nancy Pelosi, depending upon which side of the aisle your sentiments lie, never got the opportunity to experience the wrath of Mr. Suh.

So there it is. Super Bowl LIII. February 3, 2019 in the books with Mr. Belichick, Mr. Brady and the Patriots taking home the hardware…again. Maybe next year.

And finally, with that as segue, (isn’t it amazing how seamlessly one topic flows into the next?) let’s talk about barbecue! I read that Super Bowl fans and viewers consumed over 8 million pounds of guacamole and 1.25 to 1.35 BILLION chicken wings. Are you kidding me? 1.25 to 1.35 billion? And really, what’s a hundred million chicken wings among friends? Unless you are vegetarian, vegan or rogue football fan you doubtless did your part and cooked up a few of your own and what better place than your smoker?

Now, before the tickertape from the victory parade in Foxboro, Mass. has even been launched its time to look ahead to a couple of opportunities to smoke up the neighborhood in the near future…as though we need a reason to barbecue:

Feb. 5th-Chinese New Year-This is the Year of the Boar (or Pig) so pulled pork would be a natural. Or ribs. Or pork belly. Ham. If ever there were a critter made for the smoker it’s the pig.

Feb. 9th also happens to be National Pizza Day so I’m thinkin’ grilled pulled pork pizza (with apologies to Italians everywhere).

Feb. 14th Valentine’s Day-smoked beef tenderloin with a nice bottle of red

Feb. 22nd-National Margarita Day-barbecued skirt steak for fajitas

Feb. 28th-National Chili Day-might I recommend barbecued shredded beef chili? The 28th also happens to be Rare Disease Day. I think they’re talkin’ sushi…but that’s just me.

So there ya have it for this go-round. Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow so Spring is coming early this year so brush off the snow, fire up the smoker, throw some protein on it and let-er-rip. By the way, if you’re having trouble maintaining temperatures with your smoker consider going to Harbor Freight and picking up a welder’s blanket. Makes a heck of an insulator. Until the next episode see you through the smoke.

See you next time at Uncle Tom’s Corner.