17 June 2013

A Birthday Party and Fathers Day Celebration

It has been 11 years since John's Birthday happened to sync up with Fathers Day, the 3rd Sunday of June. Yesterday was the day, so we decided we needed to celebrate Texas style and invite some expat friends to join us for barbequed brisket, celebrate all the dads in the group and wish John a "Happy Birthday".

We found we couldn't just go down to the local Carneceria Macho (butcher) and buy a brisket. Macho didn't have a clue where the brisket cut comes from, so I found a beef chart on the internet with a layout of all the U.S. beef cuts. It has diagrams and arrows pointing to the section of the steer's body from which the cut is taken. Macho placed our order last weekend and called us on Friday to come up to the carneceria and show them how we needed the brisket trimmed. We bought two full size briskets and John when about the task of smoking them.

Each brisket takes about 24 hours at 190°F to be properly smoked and cooked. John managed to pack some Mesquite wood chips into our shipping container when we moved here in 2011. This was just what we needed to give the brisket that special Texas flavor. He started one brisket on Friday and then cooked the second one Saturday. By around 10 AM yesterday, the briskets were both fork tender perfection.

Earlier in the week, I experimented with pinto beans, trying to come up with the perfect Ranch style bean recipe. We used to buy the beans in a can back in Texas, but I managed to successfully create a delicious recipe. Let me tell you, these beans were even better than what we used buy in a can.

We always have large quantities of John's Texas BBQ Sauce on hand, so it was just a question of pulling together a few extra ingredients to make this party happen. I sliced up some onions and Jalapeño peppers for garnishing, then made two batches of Corny Jalapeño Skillet Corn Bread.

For dessert, I made a carrot cake and we bought some designer ice cream from "La Cosa Rica" that is just around the corner from our house.

Party time was set for 3 PM in our Rancho. Friends brought a few extra goodies to add to the meal and a great time was had by all.

For many of us, it had been a long time since we had indulged on a barbecue feast like this and as one of our party goers said, "Brisket was fabulous! For a moment, I almost missed Texas." Now that Macho has a copy of the beef chart, we won't wait so long to try doing this again.


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06 June 2013

Cane Toad or Bufo Poisoning

What a scare Randy, our Jack Russell Terrorist, gave us last night. We knew it was just a matter of time before he would have an encounter with the deadly Cane Toad, or Bufo.

We had gone into town to meet friends for dinner and left da boyz, Randy and Goose, in the house for a change. Now that Costa Rica is in the green season, the rains come almost every afternoon, or evening. This is the optimum time for the poisonous Bufo to come into the garden looking for bugs. These toads are deadly poisonous to dogs and we don't want our boyz outside when there is even a remote possibility a Bufo could be in the yard.

We came home around 8:30 PM and John immediately started to do his nightly Bufo patrol. I opened the kitchen door and Randy and Goose darted around me to get outside. Too late... there was no stopping Randy. He spotted a Bufo before John could get to it and his little Jack Russell brain locked into the hunt. It didn't matter how John yelled at him to stop. Randy was on a mission.

John scooped Randy up, with Goose tagging along like a good boy behind, and rushed him to the sink in the utility room to start rinsing Randy's mouth before he could ingest the poison.

The cane the toad produces venom from two venom glands which appear as two oval enlargements behind the eyes on the head.

The glands hold a milky substances that is a neurotoxin. When ingested, it causes foaming of the mouth, paralysis, convulsions and finally cardiac arrest. This is so terrifying because all of this happens rapidly from the first onset of symptoms.

We discussed the possibility of Bufo poisoning with our vet a couple of years ago and she recommend keeping Club Soda and blood pressure meds on hand in case of an emergency.

I grabbed a bottle of club soda so John could start rinsing Randy's mouth and then shaved off the recommended minute amount of BP medication. By this time, Randy was shaking and his breathing was a little raspy. John had to pry Randy's mouth open so he could thoroughly rinse and towel dry the inside of his mouth and cheeks.

We weren't sure if the crisis was behind us, and with no emergency vet in our little town, I called a good friend of ours that runs an animal rescue shelter to see if she could give us some advice. Frances recommended we give Randy some milk with an egg and some lemon juice and told us to bring Randy to her if he got worse. Randy lapped up most of the concoction and the shaking stopped. We are so grateful for Frances and her sage advice. We stayed up late last night, watching him until we were sure the worst of it was over.

John patrolled the yard again last night for more Bufos and sent a few on a one-way, non-stop flight over our property wall. (It's important to note our neighbor property is vacant and there are no animals living there that could be hurt by a Bufo.) John found the toad Randy had bit and we were really lucky his hunting skills are not as good as they were when he was a young pup. This time Randy bit the hind quarter, avoiding the deadly poison sacs. I know John didn't get much sleep last night, he was vigilant all night, making sure Randy was on the mend.

We still have several months of rainy season left this year and as soon as the sun sets we will be on Bufo Patrol everytime da boyz want to go outside and water a tree.

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