Posts Tagged ‘charcoal’

Monday, November 7, 2011 @ 11:11 AM

Tailgating is an art. It can be low key, it can be fancy and over the top. But simple or fancy we are all looking for anything to make this art run as smoothly & easily as possible. This is an homage to all those dedicated fans out there. Whether you’re a race fan, college team fan, pro team fan or you’re just looking for a nice day at the beach. We salute you! So pop the tailgate on the back of your truck and lets get cooking!

The history of tailgating goes all the way back to Ancient Rome. Food and wine were sold outside of the Colosseum for gladiator events and chariot races. There was also food & drink served at jousting tournaments in medieval Europe.
Tailgating has now become an American phenomenon tracing it’s roots back to The Battle of Bull Run in1861 where some Union supporters brought picnic baskets out to watch the first battle of the Civil War. The first college football game ever played in America was also host to tailgating with Rutgers & Princeton playing against each other while people grilled fish & wild game. When Harvard & Yale played against each other, the walk from the train to the field was so long, the people brought picnic lunches with them. Now in the 21st century, tailgating is in full swing. More than 20 million Americans tailgate every year. Some stadiums and race tracks even have a special areas just for tailgaters.

The Weather Channel has recently been focusing on many different tailgating groups. They actually had one program totally devoted to what college football teams that they thought had the best set of tailgaters. There were even some tailgaters that come by boat as their stadium is located right on the water. They tie all of the boats together and just start tailgating!!

The Weather Channel also likes to focus on food choices of tailgaters. My favorites are always the groups that prefer to “eat the competition”. In other words, say the team is playing against Baltimore…they make crab cakes. If they play against a New England team they make lobster rolls or have a New England lobster boil that they steamed in their turkey fryer. Therefore essentially eating the competition before the game even starts.

Tailgating is not just confined to the college or pro football stadium parking lot. It can be a day at the beach or an afternoon in the park. Baseball fans, horse racing fans & concert goers are all potential tailgaters. The Kentucky Derby has turned into a major tailgating venue with pomp & circumstance, seer sucker suits & big hats. And then, there were The Parrotheads. Jimmy Buffett fans have more generators to power blenders than any other tailgaters I know. And lest we not forget The Grateful Dead fans that not only went to one concert, but followed The Dead around the country for a whole tour. I bet there were some very interesting food choices along the road when it came to months of traveling.

That being said, tailgating is obviously not confined to just a single event or day. Some sports fans just come to watch the game and sometimes leave early to beat the traffic if the score is not going their way. Race fans are devotees. They come and stay for days, sometimes even weeks during Speed Week. That’s a lot of food to plan for and race fans are serious about their food. This is not just NASCAR fans either. There are lots of drag racing & road course fans out there. Many of these venues are weekend long events. Some people show up on Thursday & don’t leave until Monday morning after breakfast, which is sometimes the last great tailgate. All of the leftovers and the last of the eggs and bacon come out and are still made into a culinary masterpiece.

The perfect piece of equipment, your latest perfected recipe, the coolest new game can set you apart from the rest of the lot. So many set ups and different things to cook. For some people the food is as important as the game. Some people don’t even go in to watch the event. They stay outside for the party and watch the game on TV. Any good tailgate is not just burgers and dogs. Brats, ribs, chili, steak, deep fried turkey, pork loin, beer can chicken are many favorites. The gadgets that go along with all that food are phenomenal too. Not just grills. Coolers, blenders, kegorators, deep fryers, crock-pots, BBQ smokers, even woks. Tents, couches, easy chairs, lawn games are all common place at a tailgate. There are even highly elaborate homemade & professionally made tailgate trailers with cooking equipment, TV’s & sound systems included.

Part of the art of a good tailgate party comes from proper planning and knowing your grill, BBQ smoker, and cooking equipment. Knowing how many people your cooking for is helpful in pre planning your shopping list(and a little extra never hurts.) Get to know your grill and cooking equipment. Use it at home. Get used to your hot spots and cooking zones. Don’t try out a deep fryer for the first time at the track! When you transport your grill, if you don’t have an enclosed trailer to put it in, put it right behind the cab of your truck with the hinged side of the lid to the backside of the cab. Tie it securely! If you loose your lid, your dead in the water.

Some important things to remember about tailgating is having the right stuff you need to make your life easier. Of course you don’t always need everything but if you can get yourself a big plastic bin and fill it with some of these items you’ll be ready to roll at a moments notice. Just always remember to replenish.

•    Grill tools & can opener
•    Meat Thermometer
•    Sharp Knife & Serving Spoons
•    Plastic utensils to eat with
•    Aluminum foil & baggies
•    Salt, Pepper, Your Favorite Seasonings & Rubs
•    Trash Bags
•    Paper Towels(Cloth towels & wash cloths)
•    Stuff to eat off of, Paper or Plastic Plates, Bowls, Whatever

A jug of water is nice to have to clean your hands with. (Soap is good too.) Foil pans are handy for all sorts of things:cooking, storing, serving & leftovers. Whatever your cooking apparatus, it never hurts to have extra fuel. . . propane, charcoal, wood chips. A fire extinguisher is a great thing to bring along & a squirt bottle for small flare ups. Cutting boards are good, but paper plates make nice clean cutting surfaces. Condiments, olive oil, non-stick cooking spray, onions & garlic are necessity. A table to cut up stuff on and set the food on when its done is always a nice option. A fold up chair or two is great to have too when your taking a break from cooking or after the game when your waiting for the parking lot to clear out a little. Extra beer is always plus. . . it’s a great bartering tool if you forgot something at home. ALWAYS make sure you have a good cooler & PLENTY of ice! Lastly. . . NEVER leave your grill or fryer unattended besides the obvious safety reasons your food can get ruined in a heartbeat! PS…use sober, common sense while cooking.

So, yes, tailgating is an art. It doesn’t matter who you’re routing for either. A great tailgate can bring everyone together. But tailgating is still about one upping your neighbor. (Some people even have cooking competitions right at the venue they are at. I was at a weekend long drag racing competition and a whole group of people came just to have a rib cooking competition). It’s never about putting anyone down. It’s the pride of knowing you’re better. From simple to elaborate, regional favorites like Philly Cheese Steak & Buffalo wings, or just showing off, like grilled tequila & chipotle rubbed butterflied leg of lamb. Deep frying turkey for the Thanksgiving Day game and bringing all of the fixings. . From your tailgate bed or your buddy’s RV. Breakfast to dessert with appetizers & dinner in between, beer to blender drinks. Tailgating is about fun times and making memories. So have fun, enjoy yourself & eat hearty!

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Friday, September 9, 2011 @ 09:09 AM

Well the football tailgating season has finally arrived. Be it NCAA, Pro ball, or even the local high school football team, the tailgaters are flying their team colors high. It has been a rocky start so far with Mother Nature unleashing some of her worst in many areas. Soggy games, hotter-n-heck games. We need a nice crisp, fall, sunny weekend all over America for every game. Just one weekend Mom Nature…that’s all we ask. Well…maybe more than one weekend.

For those of us hard core tailgaters, we don’t care if it’s raining or not, heck, there could even be snow! We’ll be out there. The BBQ smoker is lit, the charcoal is starting to glow in the grill, the deep fryer is bubbling and spitting, the beer is cold and our flags are blowing in the wind. We are praising our team, reliving high lights of our favorite games, eating, partying and making new memories with our bestest of friends.We prefer good weather to tailgate in, but we will still be there!!

Everyone has their own place in a tailgate. I prefer to be chief cook, but NOT bottle washer. It isn’t always about being the cook either. I like to make sure the tailgate bin is stocked with the appropriate gear and I like to plan tailgate menus. You can’t eat the same stuff week in week out. And the bin doesn’t always have everything that you need with every menu change.

I’ve been to NASCAR races where the tailgaters are all eating hot dogs and burgers. BLAH! That’s ok once in a while but you went all out and traveled far to get to this race. Why not bring out a steak or some pork chops. You brought all of your tailgate gear…make something better to eat. A football game is one day. A race is all weekend!! Take some pride in your tailgate!

I’ve been to NHRA races and other drag racing competitions. Now, these are hardcore tailgaters. They bring BBQ smokers and have rib competitions while the drag racing is going on. I’ve even seen the Philly Cheese Steak Queen bring a 60 qt. stock pot and a outdoor propane cooker and make cheese steaks for like 50 people. I’ve seen one group that brought every piece of cooking equipment that their tailgate group had. Grills, smokers, deep fryers, table top skillets. They were there for the whole weekend and had at least 25 people with them. They ate good. Ribs, wings, steaks, sausages. Why not right? (I think these people were football tailgaters too. HEY, you can do both!!!! No judging!)

I know of many football tailgaters that take pride in their party and their menu. Never just burgers and dogs and canned beer! I know of one group in Philly (big Pro Ball fans) that actually cook a meal that somehow represents the opposing team at every game. That way they eat the competition before the game even starts. Hahahha!!

Well let’s get into the full swing of the season. Bring on the football, rain or shine. Put on your teams colors and let,s get out there and tailgate!!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011 @ 04:08 PM

R & V Works has a new portable, propane BBQ smoker. The Cajun Express Smoker. It is the fastest smoker in the Bayou!! The patented sealed pressure / vacuum chamber revolutionizes smoking times to super sonic levels.

Smoked baby back ribs in will be cooked to perfection in 35 to 40 minutes. Easily a 3 hour job in conventional smokers.

Whole briskets in 2 hours, a 4 to 5 hours job elsewhere.
Imagine coming home from work and having a beautifully whole smoked chicken in 30 minutes!
The cooking process that is so unique it was awarded a 20 year patent.
Since man and fire met, man has searched for new ways to cook meat. As early as 1600 B.C., man has smoked meat. This was done out of necessity; first to preserve meat for the long cold winters. Second , meat was smoked to tenderize tougher, less choice cuts of meat.
Today we also smoke to tenderize, as well as to flavor meat. Low and slow, the traditional way to smoke. People smoke with a large variety of wood types, charcoal, corn cobs,etc. There are many designs of smokers out there too.  Traditional wood or charcoal, propane smokers, even electric smokers as well as traditional to very elaborate smoker pits. Smoker pits are built in the ground or above ground. These pits are designed to retain heat. Some are so fancy they feature timers, wood feeding bins, and automatic temperature control.

Over time, even with so many innovations, the time it takes to smoke meat hasn’t really changed……..Until now!
The patented hydration regulator and food grade, high temperature door seal help aid with the high pressure vacuum chamber that  smokes meats at super sonic speeds while still giving you perfectly tasty and tender meats.
Cook a 5lb. pork loin in an hour.
Smoke a 15 lb. turkey, that would normally take 5 hours in an oven or 15 hours to conventionally smoke, in 1 hour.
Do a 10 lb. pork shoulder in 4 hours. Pulled pork in no time flat!
I know to traditional pit masters this is sacrilege. But for those of us that love smoked foods and are short on time due to jobs, kids, sports, scouts, etc, this is an awesome find.
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Friday, June 24, 2011 @ 08:06 AM

I have recently had the time to return to charcoal grilling. I was technically thrown into it. We bought a house in another state. We went down for the closing and stayed in the house to settle a few things before returning home to finish packing etc. We told the original owner that we would be bringing down our own stove and did not need the one that was in the house. We thought that he was leaving it anyway, but got to the house and the stove was gone. He was going to take his makeshift grill- BBQ smoker. Thank goodness or we would have had to eat out every night or cook everything in the microwave.

Being back with charcoal again was a great experience. I always loved to cook with charcoal, but when you are a working family with 2 small boys that are involved in Boy Scouts and other community related groups it is very hard to just slow down and grill sometimes. I had finally broke down and got myself a propane grill. I could still experience my love of barbecue and grilled food but did not have to wait the extra time for proper heat. I missed the charred flavor  that came with the charcoal, but figured it was a sacrifice that had to be made for convenience. Also having 2 growing boys can be an expensive prospect. It was one or the other, not both. So I opted for just propane.

My boys are older now. I suppose I have some time to slow down and grill now. But, now I have the option of fast, slow, propane, charcoal, or both. It is nice to have an option. I have an outdoor propane deep fryer too, so I can cook some things really fast if I want to. When it comes to food, life should be full of choices anyway.

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Monday, May 9, 2011 @ 03:05 PM

Mother’s Day has come and gone. For us folks up north, that means it’s time to get back outside. We have always been told not to plant our gardens until after the danger of any frost. Mother’s Day has always been the key date. Time to plant tomatoes and anything else that is not a cold weather hearty crop.

That means it’s time to get back outside with your family and friends. Time to shed the long johns and get out the shorts and flip flops. It is time to start that outdoor cooking again. Whether you are going camping, tailgating, doing a car show, going to the beach or just having a backyard barbecue, it is time to get out the grill, the deep fryer, and the BBQ smoker. We American’s do love the taste of food cooked outdoors. There is no reason to wait for Memorial Day. Besides, the longer you wait, mosquitoes and bees tend to be included. You need to get out there now and strike while the iron is hot…well, luke warm anyway.

Let’s get the cover off our outdoor cooking equipment and get started on the long awaited and well deserved barbecue season. I know I shoveled enough snow this past winter, that I deserve a beautifully grilled steak, some smoked ribs, and some deep fried potatoes all cooked out in my own back yard. My outdoor propane deep fryer needs to see some love. My grill has been up and working already but my fryer wants some action too.

Whatever is your preference, grilled, smoked, deep fried, just get out there and cook. Go buy some charcoal. Get some cherry wood chunks or cedar planks. Amaze your friends. Make some new concoctions. Smoke some vegetables. Deep fry some apples. Make some planked salmon. Enjoy cooking in the great outdoors before the snow decides to fly again.

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Friday, April 29, 2011 @ 04:04 PM

If anything, the events of the past few days or even months should be a warning sign to us all. You can’t be prepared for everything! You can only hope to be prepared in case of an emergency. Just having a place to hide underground, or in flooded areas, a place well above the water line is a blessing in itself.

Being prepared for an emergency, whether you have the time to grab stuff, is very important. In case of quick emergency, like a tornado, having a go bag can be critical. A small satchel with a change of clothes, a flashlight and fresh batteries, a first aid kit, a couple of water bottles and maybe some canned food and a hand crank can opener. There are lots of other things to think of, but if you have to dash quickly, hopefully you will have the bag close at hand to grab and go. If you live in an area that is known for tornadoes, hopefully you have an underground safe place. If so, that place should already have some emergency items already stashed and freshened every so often. Like checking the batteries the same time you change out your batteries in your home’s smoke detectors every year.

As far as other things go, for after a storm passes, there may be power outages and no running water for days. If you are a camper, odds are that you may already be somewhat prepared. (If you are lucky enough to not loose everything in the storm’s devastation). You probably have outdoor cooking gear, a hand can opener, tents, propane or charcoal, etc. If you have truly camped out of doors then you will probably be able to take care of yourself.

Not everyone is a camper. For those of you that have never camped out, YOU really need to get prepared. Emergency preparedness is nothing to shake a stick at. If you have a grill, always make sure that you have extra charcoal or propane. If you have a BBQ smoker grill, odds are it is fueled with wood or charcoal, so have extra wood or charcoal. If you don’t have a grill, get yourself something. A little Coleman table top grill with a little propane bottle even. Try to always have some water jugs full. Have a hand crank can opener. Have some canned food in the house. Get a flash light or candles. Make sure you have batteries and matches. Always have a first aid kit somewhere. A battery operated radio or even a hand crank one is not necessary, but can be helpful. Always keep your cell phone charged. A day or two supply of prescription medication.

There are many other things that can be thrown in a emergency bag. Look it up on the web. Find a Boy Scout. Get prepared. You can’t be prepared for everything, but even being a little prepared is a step forward.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011 @ 09:03 AM

It is finally time to get back out side. There may still be a chill in the air, but the tree buds are swelling, the bulbs are popping. It is time to start grilling again.

Some people grill year round. Up until this last winter I was a year round griller myself. The last time I used the grill was New Year’s Day. We have had more snow in one season than I can remember in all of my 44 years in the region that I live in. There were times that I wanted to grill but there was so much snow on the grill cover and I would have had to dig a path, that I just couldn’t do it. Sounds like a cop out even to me. In younger days I’d have been out there with a snow shovel and a broom to brush off the grill. But as I said, I have no recollection of this much snow here in all my years on this earth. My Pop used to keep the grill in the garage in the winter. He would pop the door open and stand there and grill steaks, burgers, chops, whatever. I unfortunately do not have a garage. I would keep it in the shed, but the shed is small and filled pretty much to the brim with mower, tiller, snow blower, etc. Not really room in there for my grill, let alone starting it up in there in the middle of winter.

Well enough said. I whimped out this past winter. My grill has now been idle for 2 1\2 months. It is not probable that spiders have nested in to my burner tubes, but a good cleaning and once over of any propane grill after sitting idle is a good idea. You should check over your grill at least twice a year anyway and it’s a good idea to inspect your hoses and tanks any time that you are about to add flame to LP gas. For further info you can revisit our posts on Cleaning and Maintenance and Checking Your LP Gas Tank for Leaks.

Even if you don’t use a propane grill, it is time for us Northerners to get back out side to grill. Go buy a bag of charcoal, get some hickory chip, or apple wood. Fire up that Brinkmann smoker grill.. Get your Weber going. Take the old Hibachi out of the garage. Let’s push grilling and BBQ season into full swing. Time to cook some meat! Slow or fast, whatever your pleasure. Spring is in the air! So should be the smell of grilling meat!

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Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 05:02 PM

Planning ahead is the secret ingredient to any successful tailgate party. Racing tailgate parties are not just a day like most football tailgates. Typically a race tailgate will last for a whole weekend, anywhere from 2 to 5 days. Doing as much food prepping as you can before you hit the track is a major factor. Knowing how many people you will be feeding and planning a menu are key! Simple yet doable recipes are key too, especially if just working with coolers.

Freeze or Cool it:

Prechill or freeze food and drinks before packing them if possible. If you are going in a motor home or trailer, odds are you will have proper refrigeration, but extra coolers are always a great thing to have on hand. Especially a separate cooler just for drinks. Those tend to get opened and closed more often. You don’t want to keep food in a cooler that is continually being opened and closed. If tenting it or just taking a truck, an insulated container or cooler with some pre-frozen items will be necessity. Instead of using loose ice, consider freezing water in lightweight plastic containers or clean milk jugs; that way when they melt they won’t flood your cooler. This can add to your cool water supply, during and postrace. Better yet, use water bottles, that way  you can drink from them directly to make optimal use of cooler space.

Doubling up:

Many recipes can be doubled or tripled to feed the masses. It is still better to have too much, than too little. If you have proper ways to store leftovers, I’m sure that someone will nosh early morning or late night on those goodies. Don’t multiply certain ingredients like oil and butter that are used for sautéing. Just use enough to cover the bottom of your pan. A good tailgate bin should have a fresh container of olive oil or vegetable oil and/or possibly a can of spray oil anyway.

Marinate it:

Do all your marinating pre-race when possible. Marinate meat in a cooler or refrigerator and throw out any remaining marinade used for raw meat. This works best with beef and pork, or even turkey for deep frying.  Boneless chicken, fish and shrimp tend to marinate quicker. Quicker marinated items can be done at the track in good quality zipper bags and a cold cooler. Marinating items like this can be done quick and easy by bringing some fresh oranges or lemons and squeezing the juice right onto the meat and adding some spices from your tailgate bin. Having a bottle of your favorite Italian dressing on hand is great marinade too. Dressing doesn’t need to be refrigerated until after you open it. Refrigerate any other fresh marinade that has not been used on raw meat to flavor cooked food later on.

Other pre-race prep is pretty common sense.

Make sure your tailgate bin is properly stocked. This includes things like foil and grilling tools and a hand crank can opener. After every tailgate party you should restock immediately so that you are ready to go at a moments notice.

Have extra fuel for your grill, BBQ smoker and deep fryer. Make sure that you have extra charcoal, wood, or a full tank of propane or two. Some race venues will have a place to stock up on ice and propane, but if this is a new venue for you, or you are not sure, make sure that you are prepared. You don’t want to set up your turkey fryer on the third day of race tailgating, after a few breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and run out of LP gas half way through frying your turkey. You can always use the propane another day. Don’t plan on using your smoker every day if you are not properly stocked with wood. Make sure your hoses and regulators are in proper working order before leaving for the track too. Odds are a big box store is somewhere near by, but why chance the hassle if you don’t have to. Traffic is usually bad enough on a race weekend. Why add any aggravation to the mix if you don’t have to.

Pre-race prep is important for any tailgate. Even if you are just a participant, ask the chief cook and bottle washer what you can bring. Ask if help is needed. If you want to enjoy yourself at the race, you don’t need to just be a drinker and face stuffer. Some help may not be required but if you want to be asked back again…help out when it is needed.

Have a great racing season. Stop back by for more tips any time.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 @ 05:02 PM

I hate to keep harping the the same subject over and over, but emergency preparedness is an important topic. Survival of your family should be a number one priority no matter who you are. With the weather in the northeastern region of the US this year, you should always be aware that a severe storm could wreak havoc in your neighborhood at any time.

The point is to be prepared. With the threat of another storm, this one promising ice, you need to make sure you have some basics. Ice storms can lead to power outages that can last for days, even weeks. Make sure that you have fuel for some sort of outdoor cooking appliance, be it charcoal or wood for a grill or BBQ smoker, or just always making sure that you have an extra tank of propane on hand at all times. If you are in a place that does not allow for outdoor cooking, make sure that you have canned or jarred food in your house, and a hand crank can opener.

Have candles and matches or a battery operated flashlight and a fresh supply of batteries. These are normal things to have in an emergency preparedness bin in your house. You can change out the batteries when you change the batteries in your smoke detector once or twice a year.

Odds are that if the power goes out, it will only be for a few minutes, or a few hours tops. But it never hurts to be prepared, to keep your family safe. If you don’t have an emergency bin or bag, it’s time to get one. If you don’t have an emergency plan, it’s time to make one. The key word here is emergency. You never know when a storm could strike, a flood could come, a fire could break out, or a tornado could happen. Being prepared is just common sense. You love your family. Time to help keep them safe.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011 @ 06:01 PM

Well…I’ve heard many people complaining. I like the snow.

Since I was a kid here on Long Island, I don’t know if the global warming was already taking effect or what, but snow and cold winters were not the norm. I have heard stories from my Pop and others of my elders, talking about ice skating on local ponds and being able to walk far out on the Great South Bay. Ice sailing on Lake Ronkonkoma was a normal thing.

I know that we are somewhat protected here, due to the warm gulf stream waters, but the weather has certainly been odd this year. For the past 40 years, I remember some snow, but usually a blast in February. It was usually due to a blast of Canadian cold jet stream and we would have that snow on the ground for 2 weeks, then it was spring. We never had a white Christmas. There was a white Christmas eve once, but by morning the snow was gone. I remember being able to skate on local ponds, every other year or so. I only really remember the bay freezing hard enough once, that cars were able to drive on the surface. Lake Ronkonkoma freezing hard enough for ice boats is few and far between.

We have had more snow in one winter, so far, than I remember in all of my life. Maybe the global warming has finally taken effect, and the glaciers are melting into the ocean and screwing uo the normal gulf stream pattern.

As I said…I like the snow. I have lived away from here, the land of 4 seasons. I have lived in a 3 season climate and a basic 2 season climate. I prefer the 4..thank you.

Anyway, a basic review of home supplies and outdoor cooking equipment should be a given. You need to be able to cook food or boil water (or snow) in the event of a power loss. Loss of power can last for days. Having a propane or charcoal grill, propane turkey fryer, or other outdoor cooking equipment is necessary. Always make sure that you have extra propane or a bag of charcoal on hand. Yeah, I know, its winter in the Northeast. No barbeques. Why do you need a full tank of propane or charcoal. Let alone finding a store that stocks charcoal in winter. Well, say you have an electric stove…the power goes out. How are you going to cook?

Just some thoughts to keep in mind as we head into the middle of winter. The day after tomorrow…could really be the day after tomorrow.

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