My husband bought me exercise equipment, something I wanted until I was like ouch it hurts. I bought him a smoker, something he wanted until I ended up with free time to play with it. So the best gift is the one you want for yourself, right?
Anyways, while I haven't any ancient Pacific Northwest Homesteader relatives, I still feel I'm channeling some hereditary thing because I am loving smoking things. Just like I love (but often fail) to garden.
I am not at all a hopeless romantic, but I find some poetic, simplistic, romantic notion in making your own food the old fashioned way- canning, smoking, gardening. I could never live "unplugged" as I enjoy, fear too much, ambient temperatures and would hate to live without heaters and air conditioners, refrigeration, and the like. But nevertheless, slowing down and putting your own effort and love into a food, for example, is rewarding.
Heck I'd love to smoke some elk, but, I'm too chicken to actually kill an elk and too squeamish to prepare it for smoking. I guess I should be vegetarian but I much prefer the alienated approach to meat, with styrofoam packages from the butcher counter. However, I do promote hunting over slaughterhouses. I mean, I've been past "cowchwitz" aka Harris Ranch in California where beef cattle sit unshaded in the hot sun atop their own feces, crowded together like sardines, stinking the air for miles and making a very obvious methane cloud. How awful for those poor cows. Bounce, bounce, bounce through the brush, bang you're dead for, say, a deer, is far more humane.
My mom disagrees and is refusing to tell us when hunting season is in Oregon cause how could we hunt an animal? Meanwhile she munches down on a shredded beef burrito. Hypocrite.
But anyway, just like my 6 hour fennel pork roast and roht kohl cabbage meal, smoking meats is an all day experience with lots of need for patience, lots of room for both oops and omg there's no turning back I screwed up, and some sort of food zen. When you can get a cheeseburger in ten seconds from a drive through, there is a certain joy in, say, brining a salmon for 24 hours, drying it for 4, then smoking it in cold smoke for 8 hours before you get to enjoy it.
Part of me wants to live on some ranch or country acreage where I have to hunt and garden for a living, except yeah I enjoy the convenience of the grocery store....sprinkled with my own small (like 100 square foot at most) organic garden of goodies.
The simple life.