It is RODEO time in Houston. Every year this time the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is in town for a few weeks. It usually is here during spring break so it becomes one of our day trips as a family. If you have never been to something like this it can be an all day event. Not only do they have a carnival with tons of rides, games and food vendors but there is also over 480 retail vendors with everything like cowboy boots, candy, jewelry, scented candles, furniture, clothing, kitchen gadgets, etc. They also have a kids zone with fun exhibits, rides and interactive activities. Want to see an egg hatch live? They have it! Want to see them milk a cow? They have it! Want to walk around thousands of pens full of stinky pigs, cows, horses, chickens, etc? They have it! They also have livestock auctions and competitions.
The big event is the rodeo and concert held inside Reliant Stadium. They always have a concert after the rodeo that features a headline singer or group. Although I am not a huge country music fan I am impressed with the A list of stars that have sold out shows each year like Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, and Reba McEntire. The rodeo itself includes bucking horses and bull riding, chuck wagon races, barrel races, the calf scramble, calf roping, etc. One of my favorites by far is the “Mutton Bustin”. The announcer actually puts it the best when he says “this is the part of the show where we strap our kids to farm animals and call it entertainment”. If you have never seen it you have to watch the video below. Basically it is a child around 5-6 years old wearing a heavily padded vest and helmet put on the back of a sheep, told to grab on to its wool, and then hang on for dear life when the gate opens. As the sheep runs across the pen the object is to see who can stay on the longest. Over the years I have seen a few kids with tears but the majority have huge grins on their faces and are pumping their fists in the air with excitement after they take that dive to the ground.
What is your favorite thing about a rodeo?
Are you prepared to cook food when your power is out? If you do not have a gas stove or an outdoor grill with plenty of propane you could be really in trouble. We were without power during Hurricane Ike for 17 days. Thankfully we did have a gas stove and were able to still cook. This did however make the rest of the house which was already hot from no air conditioning even hotter. Having alternate methods for cooking can ensure you are still able to prepare meals when there is no power or usual method of cooking. Listed below are several devices you can make at home with little or no expense. Although there are commercial products that are available these can work just as well and save you the cost of an expensive investment. I would prefer to invest in other emergency supplies and even a generator before buying a solar oven. These are simple enough to make and can make a great activity for a church group or scouting event.
Picture Credit: robnoxious.wordpress.com
1. Rocket Stove: This video demonstration shows step by step the cutting and assembly of a cans rocket stove. This is mostly consists of just different sized cans cut to make this stove. You can then use it to cook anything in a pot or pan like you would a regular stove top. The fuel is simple twigs and sticks you could easily find lying around however if it is wet it may be more difficult to get them lit. A suggestion given is to have twigs and small sticks already gathered and store them in a sealed bucket. You could also just purchase a packages of shims at a lumber or home repair store that will work just as well.
Photo Credit: odcooking.pragerfamily.net
2. Box Oven: You basically only need a heavy-duty box that can either has folding side flaps or a lid to close it (you can get a heavy-duty box at any liquor store for free). You will line the inside of the box with heavy-duty aluminum foil. To secure the foil in all the corners and around the edges you can use a aluminum foil tape found at most hardware stores. This type tape is usually near the insulation section of the stores. Once assembled you can put either rocks or even a piece of tile on the bottom to prevent the coals burning through the bottom. You certainly can put skewers or wire hanger cut into strips to make a rack or another option is what you see with using full size or even half-size soda cans to elevate a metal rack. You can find metal racks like this in the kitchen section of Wal-Mart, Target or other kitchen supply stores. The main thing is to make sure the rack is raised above the coals. You use regular charcoal briquettes and get them started outside the box. Once they are hot but no longer burning you place them in a pie tin below the rack. Use 1 charcoal briquettes for every 40-50 degrees you need to cook. So for 350 degrees you would need 7-8. Close lid and let it cook. You can even take a cooking thermometer and stick it into an opening to monitor the temperature in the oven.
Photo Credit: thermalcooker.wordpress.com
3. Wonder Oven or Wonder Box: There are many places to go learn how to make one and they are pretty easy to assemble Many people will assemble the wonder oven and place it into a rubber tub for ease of storage and transporting. Basically food can be started on the stove-top, oven or even a propane grill or camping stove and then once they reach the temperature they need to cook at you can transfer them to the wonder oven. When sealed off it will then contain the heat and continue to cook it. It is also good for transporting hot items and keeping them hot.
Photo Credit: williamgbecker.com
4. Home Made Solar Oven: If you cannot afford a manufactured solar oven then this is something to consider if you or your spouse are a little handy. If you do a search on the internet for home-made solar ovens there are a variety you can make from card board boxes all the way to one built with wood.
Photo Credit: energywhiz.com
5. Pringle’s Can Solar Oven: Oh Yes. I had to see it for myself and it is really cool. This would be fun to do with the kids but also could come in handy in emergencies. This would mostly be for skewer cooking like hot dogs, or shish-kabob but it would be better than nothing!
What alternate methods for cooking do you have?
My husband and I went on a date the other night to a Houston Aero’s Hockey Game. Let me share first that my husband loves everything sports and will watch just about anything sports related on T.V. I joke with him that if nothing else was on T.V. he would watch competitive underwater basket weaving. I on the other hand am not a big T.V. sports watcher but do love to go to live games. We also enjoy MMA and UFC fighting and that I definitely will watch on T.V. So right about now I am guessing you are thinking we just loves to watch violence when you factor in our like for hockey and fighting matches. There may be some truth to that because after the hockey game I commented to my husband that it was a very clean low-key game. There wasn’t much slamming into the walls, tripping, pushing, or any other aggressive activities you see at a hockey game. There was only one fight and it was so lame compared to what I see at home with my own children. It was broken up before it ever started. I guess I was hoping for an UFC fight to break out in the middle of the hockey game. Now wouldn’t that be something?
This did however bring back memories of when my girls were toddlers. The Aero’s had a special evening where if you brought a box of macaroni noodles to the game you would get a discount on your tickets. The macaroni was to be used as a noise maker during the game and then donated in boxes as you walk out and given to local food banks. Well, I don’t know how everyone else ended up but our boxes of macaroni were so broken up into little pieces we have no idea how anyone could make a meal of it. But the girls had a blast making noise with them.
What is your favorite sport and why?