Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Red, White, and 'Q'. We call it 'Merica!

So, yet again, here you are reading the thoughts of one of your fellow BBQ brethrin.  No judgment.  Soon and as a nation, we will be celebrating yet another year of the founding of our great nation and all that it is.  Yes, we have the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Anyone that has been to Wal-Mart can attest to that.  I've seen so many people in pajamas there that I thought I had walked into a double-wide, slumber party.  With that being said, it is also a time to reflect on the past year in our nation's history.  We have a new president with his first full year in office, and it certainly hasn't been boring.  We have also finished the World Food Contest with a new winner crowned; we have had a Jack winner; and we have had many, many other local contests with new and old winners.  I know our area has seen a decrease in the number of contests, and I don't know if that is a national trend or not.  Sadly, I suspect it is.  BBQ is a lot like our great nation.  It is constantly evolving and changing.  Much like underwear, change is a good thing.  I do think the folks of our news channels and government could learn a lot about civility from paying attention to BBQ folks.  The media is loaded with people just being plain ugly and rude to others.  You don't see that a whole lot at a competition.  Go to any BBQ competition, and anyone worth being around (minus the occasional idiot) will help you in any way and root for you when you win.  Not that winning isn't fun (so I hear), but the BBQ folks always keep in perspective the fact that it is about community.  I don't think BBQ folks will ever lose sight of that, at least I hope they don't.  I know at one of our first contests in Dothan, I had someone volunteer to show us how to shave the fat off chicken thigh skins to get bite-through skin.  Had a nice gentleman at the site next to me at my first KCBS contest show me how to build a good turn in box.  Mr. Cook even gave me a guru thermometer cable when mine got torn to pieces during transport, and Forrest Dilmore gave me a blue hippo that he got out of one of those grab machines.  Nice folks all the way around.  You don't see that a whole lot on the news, and it's easy to forget that America is made up of real, hard-working, caring, and salt-of-the-earth people.  I sincerely believe the folks in BBQ are more representative of the real Mr. and Mrs. America than what the some would have you believe.  The talking heads and politicians?  Meh.......not so much.  Remember:  Politics = poly (many) + tics (blood sucking insects).  With that being said, I challenge you Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public to get out there and say hello to your neighbor, be nice to that someone that is having a bad day, help that new team competing for the first time at a local BBQ contest, challenge the stereotype of others, and prove to the world that 'Merica is still a great place full of genuinely nice and caring people.  If you happen to do it while wearing a pair of Sponge Bob pajama bottoms at a local Wal-Mart.....then so be it.  Anyway, y'all take care and get out there and smoke some meat.  Enjoy the day and remember all those that have served and keep on serving to keep our great nation what it is.  Riley says "Hello" and "Hey man, is that Freedom Rock?  Well turn it up!"

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Father's Day Because Day of Person Laying On Couch Yelling 'Close the Door' Just Loses Something.

So here we are again.  Me with my computer and you reading this article wondering, "What in the world is wrong with that guy?"  A lot has been going on since we last met.  I have been working on yet another federal grant, and for anyone wondering, yes they are painful.  I also have taken the time to pull the trigger and purchase myself a Lang 48" Patio Model Smoker.  That's right boys and girls!  I actually spent money on a real smoker and not bodged together something on my own.  Granted, the Frankensmoker Mk. 3.2 served me well for many years, and if it weren't for a 'slight miscalculation' on my part, I'd still be using it.  Alas, time waits for no man.  While I'm not a father and have been called a 'mother' on many occasions, I felt it was high time for me to treat myself to something that didn't involve 23 trips to Lowe's, profanity that would make a sailor blush, numerous bandages, and many long hours of wondering, "Why didn't that fit right?"  What better time to do that than Father's Day.  My little baby is currently in gestation for the next 5-6 weeks.  I won't lie, I'm a bit excited about my new little one.  Will I get back into competitions.....probably not.  Will I try to do more cooking?  Probably yes.  I've been researching the Lang smoker for quite some time now.  Yes, I understand a stick burner isn't exactly 'fire and forget', but I still look forward to that wood smoked flavor.  I've always liked the theory of a reverse flow versus a direct flow smoker.  Being the nerd that I am, I've been doing comparison research, and I believe the Lang is the best choice for me.  Maybe not for you, but I'm the one at the keyboard so there's that.  I'm also giving my pellet smoker (Igor Mk. 1.1) to my father-in-law since my lovely wife has 'gently suggested' that I need to make some room in the garage.  I'm sure I'm the only one who has ever had to have that discussion.  I'll keep my juice can since it takes so little room.  Kind of makes me worry if we had kids.  Can you get to the point you have too many, and you have to get rid of the biggest one?  Same principle right?   Probably not.  I'm not even good at feeding fish much less a totally dependent human being.  Anyway, I've enlisted my good friend Forrest Dilmore to teach me the ways of the Lang.  He has one for sale you know.  I also have been following the Memphis in May BBQ contest.  Congrats to The Shed for winning it all.  I've had the pleasure of dining there.  Pretty good BBQ if I do say so.  I heard Melissa Cookston on The BBQ Central Show, and I was totally mesmerized by the fact she is working on breeding her own breed of hogs just for doing whole hog competitions.  I don't care if she didn't win the whole hog part, that folks is dedication pure and simple.  I'm doing good to make sure it is actually pork I'm cooking and not some mutant raccoon, but that's just me.  Greg Rempe did a great interview, and he makes my commutes on Tuesday and Wednesday a bit more tolerable.  I also believe he is a father of three.  With that, I salute all of you fathers out there.  It can't be easy to do one of the toughest jobs in the world.  I still remember my dad showing up at baseball practice, and he and mom sitting behind home plate each and every game.  Did I give him fits?  Of course I did.  I was his son, and I was supposed to do that.  At least, that's my story and I'm sticking with it.  I'm thankful to still have him, my grandfather, a great brother, a wonderful father-in-law, and a rockin' brother-in-law.  All of which are great fathers, and they seem to tolerate me....mostly.  Anyway, y'all take care and give your old man a break.  After all, Father's Day comes around only once a year.  Riley says, "Hello and shut the door.  What are we trying to do....air condition the whole neighborhood?"