Producing the barbecue was an all-day endeavor, though not actually difficult. Early in the morning you light the coals, drop them in the belly of your Weber kettle grill, top with some hardwood, insert the grill, place you meat on the grill, put the top on the kettle and try to maintain the temperature at 200 degrees. To accomplish this, you only need to make finicky adjustments to the vents and wood every 20 minutes or so for 12 hours. I thought the results were quite great -- two big, shiny, mahogany chunks of pork shoulder that practically fell into shreds when I put them on the cutting board. After the pork was "pulled," I doused it in a sharp vinegar sauce. The meat was a little too spicy and smoky, which I will adjust for next time. Otherwise, I was proud.
About that onion dip. For an appetizer, my sister challenged me to make onion dip from scratch to see if it could possibly outperform Lipton soup mix stirred into a carton of sour cream. The verdict: It can't. There was unanimous preference for the dip made from the Lipton box. I think Alton Brown's recipe could be improved with the addition of a crushed beef bouillon cube and some MSG, but if you're going to start adding crap to your dip, why not just use the mix? Use the mix.
In other news, the tests on three dead chickens I sent to the state lab indicate that they died of three different conditions: leukosis, Marek's disease, and peritonitis. I feel cursed. Marek's was a fluke. Peritonitis may be a fluke as well, depending on the cause. But leukosis is a scourge that may kill all of our chickens -- and may not. You can't vaccinate against it and you can't treat it. We will watch and wait. Big sigh.
We have/had a big vacation planned next month. To Japan.