Let’s hope for sunny skies ahead!

When we had that recent brush with tornadoes I might not have known exactly what to do, but I knew one thing we couldn’t do: take shelter in the basement. Because it turns out we don’t even have a basement.

You may be confused given that I wrote about how most of the boxes we’d moved from the garage were stacked in the basement and discussed in detail the challenges we had painting the basement. With all that basement talk, you’d think we had a basement or something. Hell, even the listing said the house had a basement. Truth is, I was dubious all along.

“That is not a basement,” I told Tara the first time we looked at it.
“Of course it’s a basement,” she replied. “What else would it be?”
“Some other room masquerading as a basement,” I said. “It’s a fakement!”

My idea of a basement is a room that is at least partially underground. Which ours is. But it’s got a sliding glass door that opens to the ground-level backyard patio. Tara called it a daylight basement. I called bullshit. A basement should at least be dark, right? And preferably a little creepy. I started referring to it as a family room since that’s how it’s labeled on the breaker box.

Then Tara backpedaled and said it was actually a walkout basement.

So, we turned to Google for confirmation. I thought I’d hit pay dirt when the first site I found said a room with a sliding glass door would not be considered a basement, but before I could do a rare victory dance, I found seven other sites that said basements can most certainly have sliding glass doors. They’re called walkout basements (uh-oh) and are common features in raised ranch homes (ours) built on slopes (ours).

Oh, the shame in once again being proven wrong by my wife. What can I say? You win a few, you lose a helluva lot more.

OK, fine. I retract my original statement, but also, we were both sort of right. We have a family room in our basement. You’ll have to pry that technicality from my cold, dead hands. It still doesn’t feel like my idea of a basement because it is neither dark nor creepy and won’t offer a whole lot of protection from a tornado. We’ll probably be sucked right out the sliding glass door.

Guess we’d better hope for sunny skies ahead.

Speaking of sunny skies ahead, our forecast calls for sunny skies ahead. And warmth. Like, 80° warmth. WTF? Didn’t we just have a foot of snow on the ground?? Wuh-Scahnsin, you cray-cray.

It was an awfully nice weekend though. Saturday, we hit IKEA for the first time in years. Only because we haven’t lived within an easy drive of an IKEA in years. Now there’s one an hour away, in Milwaukee. Well, technically Oak Creek, but it’s immediately south of Milwaukee, so: close enough.

Tara had a list, but of course, that simply served as a starting point. We emerged two hours later some $900 poorer, but also less hungry thanks to a lunch of Swedish meatballs. Because, when you visit IKEA, ya just gotta. My mom was incredulous when I told her how much we spent, and while IKEA is generally reasonably priced, we picked up a lot of stuff for the house, including a desk for the home office, more shelves for our extensive record collection, and bedding.

The drive was enjoyable because it mostly took us down rural two-lane country roads through small towns we’d never heard of. Like Eagle, WI, which delighted us with a smiley face water tower and the most Wisconsin sign ever.

Besides, as a wise man once said, “There’s nothing on the interstate, but interstate.”

Gold star to the first person who can correctly identify that movie. Two gold stars if you tell me his name.

Sunday was much less expensive (but only because Target was closed, which Tara learned the hard way). Heathens that we are, it’s hard to gauge which businesses are open and which are closed on Easter. Her trip to Janesville wasn’t a total bust because Home Depot was doing business with our type.

I didn’t go shopping with her because I was busy smokin’. Not anything containing tobacco or THC, of course. I refer to meat. You might recall that I bought a smoker last spring and envisioned many delicious meals over the next few months. It was to be my “hot grill summer,” if you will. But I only ended up using it once, smoking a lone pork shoulder in May, because we hatched this crazy scheme and were suddenly too focused on moving to Wisconsin to worry about smoked meat. Nuts, I know!! But here we are, and with the smoker out of storage and a pleasant Sunday on tap, it was the perfect opportunity to give the ol’ Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker another whirl.

This time, I wanted to try a brisket. It’s widely regarded as one of the best cuts of meat for smoking and, if cooked right, is fall-apart delicious. I may be a novice smoker and a brisket virgin, but I’m a confident novice smoker and brisket virgin, so I plunged right in. Fired up the coals, added a few chunks of cherry wood, filled the water pan, and had the brisket cooking by 8:45 a.m.

The rest of the day was spent waiting. Smoking isn’t for the impatient; slow and low is the name of the game (rhyme time, how sublime!), and that means checking the temperature every 15 minutes for at least eight hours. Even though it was a bit breezy, I had no problem maintaining the recommended 250° cooking temperature. Added more charcoal and wood a couple of times, topped off the water once, but basically just wiled the day away. Had a couple of micheladas, did some yard work, chatted with the neighbors for a bit. Oh, and watched our fish. The carp in our pond were definitely enjoying the spring warmth, swimming around without a care in the world. And hopefully eating up some of the freshly hatched mosquitoes we discovered. ‘Tis the season.

The whole process went smoothly despite one minor hiccup. I checked the internal temperature of the brisket after it had been on the smoker for six hours and was surprised it was only 77°. The recipe called for a temperature of 203°. Oddly precise, but whatevs.

“Well, crap,” I told Tara. “The meat isn’t even halfway done yet!”

I feared we might not be eating dinner until 10 p.m. at that rate, but all I could do was let it keep on cooking. When I checked it again two hours later, the temperature had only gotten to 88°. At this point I was wondering whether brisket would make a good Monday morning breakfast, but then—ha-ha, oh Mark!—I realized the meat probe was set to Celsius instead of Fahrenheit.


That meant it had reached a temperature of 190° and would be ready in another hour. Whew! After letting it rest and carving into the meat, I’m happy to report that the brisket was pure perfection. Tender, juicy, smoky deliciousness.

Happy Easter? More like happy feaster.

53 thoughts on “Let’s hope for sunny skies ahead!

  1. We call them daylight basements up here. Team Tara for the win. Again. 😉
    Nice job on the brisket though I have to say I’m not a huge fan of smoked anything. Especially seafood.
    I am however a fan of koi and your brightly colored backyard friends. Question – what prevents the fox, bobcat, et al coming in for a midnight Fishamajig sandwich?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love rhyme time and the basement debate (I think what’s written on the breaker panel is gospel because how you going to know which breaker to flip if you don’t call it by that). But what I loved most is this sentence: “I may be a novice smoker and a brisket virgin, but I’m a confident novice smoker and brisket virgin, so I plunged right in.” Ah yes, Mark the confident optimist. The Celsuis/Fahrenheit thing was funny – I was pretty nervous there. Glad you smoked out the truth!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve always heard the term daylight basement, but isn’t that an oxymoron? I am totally with you that a basement must be dank, dark, spider-filled, and only have one small locked window trapped somewhere behind piles of saved for later crap that no one will ever use. You just have a downstairs family room in my opinion but if you want to dig a bit I bet you could retrofit a real basement underneath it…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha…I had an early draft of this post where I said the exact same thing, that “daylight basement” is an oxymoron! I thought I was right, but lo and behold, there are four official types of basements. Ours qualifies, even if it doesn’t feel quite the same as the one we had in Rapid City.


  4. After a hellish trip to the Brooklyn IKEA for furniture for my daughter when she was getting her masters at Columbia, I won’t go near an IKEA. Plus, putting all the 1,000 pieces together isn’t my forte. As in, I’m hopeless! My parents live in a place like yours and in this area it’s called a daylight basement because at least one of the walls is open to the light/sun versus a basement which is completely underground.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess the technical difference is, a daylight basement has large windows letting in light, while a walkout basement has a door that leads outside. My grandmother’s house had a “cellar” with one of those metal doors that swung open to the outside. I suppose that also qualifies as a walkout basement, though really, a lot of these terms are interchangeable.


  5. We have a walkout basement with a sliding door. Most basements around here are like this in order to let the light in. I’m glad you’ve clarified your situation. I haven’t been to Ikea in ages, maybe over a year– and now I want to get there. You inspire me in!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We love our smoker, but end up only using it once or twice a year, due to the length of time it takes. Being stuck at home for 12 hours on a weekend is difficult for my spouse. He does smoke three different things each time and we freeze most of it, so at least we can enjoy it for a while.

    Personally, I love walk out basements. Never had one, but it’s nice to have light. When we were house hunting, I fell in love with a house that had a walk out with the most gorgeous two level deck (lower level had sliding doors from walk out). Unfortunately, they were calling it a bedroom! Putting a bed down there (no closet) didn’t make it a bedroom. We weren’t comfortable putting one of our kids down there, so had to pass.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My smoker does have two grilling racks, so I should definitely take advantage of that next time. If I’m going to give up an entire weekend day, I might as well smoke two meats instead of one.

      I’m pretty sure by law you can’t call it a bedroom without a closet!


  7. Fake spring is here! Don’t plant anything yet. 
    I love seeing your fish! Also, your pond resembles a massive footprint, which is cool.
    We prefer that IKEA to the one in Schaumburg because it is easier to navigate and less crowded.
    The idea of a drive-thru fish fry appeals to my introverted self. 
    I wanted to go to Starbucks on Easter because my husband and I are “that type” as well, but we thought they were closed. It turns out that they weren’t.

    Your Easter dinner looked delicious. From now on, I’ll refer to it as Feaster.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’d vote for the basements as a dark, potentially dank place, and if there are windows they’re small, high up, and may have wells. Yours is simply a partially earth conditioned lower level – probably nice on one of those hot, humid midwest days.

    It’s been raining so damn much around here I still haven’t gotten around to firing up the BBQ – or even mowing the lawn. Sounds like you did well on the brisket. I’ve encountered the stall before, but never at 77°…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yesterday was warm enough to warrant turning on the A/C for a few hours in the afternoon. Nice to know it works since they were unable to test it during the home inspection. Something about 15-degree temps being too cold, yadda yadda.

      In any case, the basement…err, partially earth conditioned lower level…was a good nine degrees cooler than upstairs, even before we switched on the A/C.

      I know where we’ll be spending a lot of time this summer…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It sounds like a great room, even if not much use should you find yourself in tornado territory or hurricane alley. Hurrah on the brisket smoking, and kudos on having the patience to babysit that thing All Day Long!

    Love your fish pond. I hope you don’t encounter as determined a cat as my neighbour’s cat, who strutted across the lawn earlier this week with a still twitching Koi Carp in his mouth!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I was nervous for you about that brisket. So fun about the fish! As I read The Great Basement Debate, I couldn’t help but be reminded of your Stoop/Porch debate. Yeah, your “basement” sounds utterly useless in a tornado. Our basement growing up in OH was not only dark, creepy, and dank, it had loads of spider webs. I know you’re jealous.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The plate looks yummy. Meat looks fantastic. Well done, in every way. What kind of sauce is that? Bread and butter, always good. But…Mac and cheese looks like the stuff that comes from a box. Please tell me I’m wrong. And what is that on top of it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a homemade BBQ sauce. I make a batch once a year, every spring, and it lasts throughout the summer. Nothing beats homemade! As for the mac ‘n cheese, yes – it’s Kraft from the box, ha. Topped with black pepper. It’s okay; after smoking the meat all day, nobody felt like making mac ‘n cheese from scratch!


  12. If it doesn’t have a few rats, a lotta spiders, drippy stuff from the walls and ceiling, some bats and an axe and machete, it’s not a basement. Actually, a device to create counterfeit $100 bills would be a useful addition.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s