Wednesday, December 4, 2013
So I'm sitting here at my computer with a head full of chemicals, antibiotics, nasal sprays, kitchen cleaner and whatever else I can find to clear the most debilitating sinus infection in the history of mankind and recorded history when the purple elephant wearing a red fez next to me reminds me that I haven't shared the good news about the Elba turnout. We actually got a call out for 4th place brisket (our highest to date) and finished 12th out of 22 (again our highest to date). We missed placing in chicken by .10 which is pretty darn good considering the field against which we competed. We were up against the usual suspects i.e. Forrest's Fine Foods, Cooks Portable Smokehouse, and Swamp Boys. I got to meet Mr. Bagby of Swamp Boys. Nice guy, and to quote him, "That damn meatloaf." Of course Forrest Fine Foods took the People's Choice Award.....again....Myself along with a couple of others thought about tripping the people transporting his entry, but we thought better of it....mostly because Forrest is a man with hands the size of really good hams and I can't run for long. Who am I kidding? I can't run at all. As always, we were proud for him, and he is a really stand-up kind of guy. We also have settled on a name for the little red wagon: Shangrilah. Why Shangrilah you ask.....or not? It sounds cool and I stole it from an episode of Frasier where Frasier's brother Niles was living in a low-end apartment complex called The Shangrilah Apartments. So there you go. So do BBQ and the holiday season go together? Of course they do. Even the purple elephant agrees....You know, it might be time to back off the medications for a bit. Anywho. BBQ and the holidays have one common theme: Time with friends and family. Whoever heard of someone attending a BBQ where everyone hated each other unless you are talking about Ghengis Khan having a sit down with the village he just razed and took over. Since the dawn of time, or at least 15 minutes past, friends and family have been gathering around a fire to cook meat, share the day, and generally take time to become closer. We aren't any different from our ancestors except our fire pits now cost anywhere from $3,000.00-$12,485,233.00 whereas the fire pit of old was a hole in the ground which cost exactly $0.00. No matter what you call the holiday season from Christmas to Hanukkah to Kwanzaa (which I really don't know what it is except they have a card for it at Winn-Dixie), the goal is the same: Time with those you love or at least those you can tolerate on a small scale. What foods do I recommend? Well, turkeys smoke up nicely as do brined pork loins. Get crazy with it. Nothing says you can't have smoked goose or chicken. Heck, smoked fish is just about impossible to beat. Some of the best fish I have ever eaten were trout that I caught myself in Montana that were then slow smoked over a low, oak fire. I'm wanting to roast some sweet potatoes in the smoker to see what happens. There's got to be some smoke flavor that makes its way into the tuber. In that vein of thought, I challenge all readers to cook an entire meal in their smoker from the meat to veg to the rolls. Just think of it as a really large croc pot. Come to think of it, maybe I should make a greater challenge: To be with the ones you love (or mostly tolerate) during this holiday season with a focus on what's really important. As for me and my house, we will say Merry Christmas 'cause that's how we roll. The ultimate gift was given over 2000 years ago: Salvation through Jesus Christ. The BEST gift ever. For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. No one comes unto the Father but by Me the Son. Got questions about and how you can have this nonrefundable gift of Salvation, ping me and we can discuss. Y'all take care, keep the fires burning. Oh and Riley says, "Merry Christmas....and I want a big chew toy from Santa...the one they show from Pet Smart on their commercials."
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Sunday, September 29, 2013
So I'm sitting here at my computer trying to figure out exactly went wrong and right for Team Grandpas's Pride BBQ at the 2013 Porktoberque. It was a great event with perfect weather. Kerry Farrell of Main Event, LLC did another outstanding job of organizing. I'm not so sure about the one music act that was, and I quote, "A redneck rapper." Let your imagination wonder on that one, but don't let it wonder too far. Anyway, not that we did a horrible job, but we finished 21 out of 29 which statistically is better than we did at Bainbridge. Our showing kind of makes me think this is what the Roman Emperor Nero thought as Rome burned to the Italian ground. You know the mindset, "Wow, things are really going good for us right now...all is well....nothing can stop us!!...never mind the whole town is going up in flames....my violin please." I really thought we would have done better than we actually did....maybe a false sense of reality. This was our first KCBS sanctioned competition which means you get to garnish and decorate the turn-in boxes and there are only 30 minutes between turn in's. Believe it or not, I kind of liked the fast turn around as you get into a groove. We can now figuratively say we have ruptured our pitted fruit on the KCBS tour. Don't tell my mother I said that. She would be disappointed in me. To get this fiery conflagration show started, I thought we stood a really good chance of getting a call out with our yard bird. The chicken was tasty, juicy, had bite-through-skin, and wasn't over seasoned. The shine was blinding. The problem was the judges didn't seem to have the same opinion. "It's a bit dark in here. Brutus, be a good chap and strike a match for us. What could possibly go wrong?" Overall, I thought our ribs were the best we have ever turned in, and in our case they probably were....nice shine, tender without being too tender, pulled back off the tip of the bones, sweet with a hint of spicy. The problem with that is the judges didn't seem to agree with my assessment as we finished 27th out of 30 in ribs and that is with one team not meeting the turn-in time. "Oh Cicero, do you smell something burning? I could swear to Mars I smell something burning." In the one category we usually struggle with, pork, we actually did pretty well with 14th place. Not too bad. The pork was tender, not too seasoned so that you couldn't taste pork, and arranged in a nice manner and not, to quote a dear friend of mine, "a hot mess." "Anyone else smell something burning?.....it's probably nothing. Bring forth the victims.....let loose the lions!!!" Our brisket had a great taste but wasn't up to the tenderness and juicy level I would have liked, but we didn't do horrible with it either. "What a pretty glow in the sky......wonder what could it possibly be Octavious? It's probably just your imagination Emperor, but it is getting a bit warm." All in all, we did have a great time though. I made it a point to not spend the whole time in the little red wagon this time and that made all the difference in the world. I got out and did what I enjoy the most and met some really great people. Mr. Cook of Cook's Portable Smokehouse was there. Mr. Edward Lovette of Poolside BBQ was parked next to us which was great, and Forrest Dilmore of Forrest's Fine Foods was three sites down from us. The folks next to us, Mr. Bentley and his brother were really great and helpful. At 2:00 in the morning, Mr. Bentley was giving me some much needed education on how to prepare a box and what to look for in placement. I really appreciated that. He didn't have to do it, but he was did and I enjoyed chatting with him. Nice folks too. I also got to meet Bobby Langford with Haulin' Butt BBQ. They took RGC and I was happy to see it. A really nice guy. The Frankensmoker Mk. 2.2 was popular as usual with many visitors wanting to see the plywood smoker. I was disappointed in our placing, but was more than satisfied with the time I got to spend with friends old and new. Grandpa's Pride will learn from this one and gear up for the next one. We will be taking our little show on the road to Elba, AL for the Foggy Bottom BBQ Bash in November. I'm looking forward to it already. It is probably our favorite one. So just as Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned to the ground, we too will ignore the bad and throw ourselves into the good and enjoy every moment of it. There were certainly many more good things that came out of Porktoberque than bad. Good folks, good times, perfect Southern Fall weather, and I got me an ear of roasted corn.....which was nice. The fact the Crimson Tide beat Ole' Miss wasn't a bad thing either. The Latin phrase Nos Sugere translates into "We suck" but I think instead of making that the team motto, we will have to find something else. Maybe I'll look and see what is Latin for, "Hey y'all...where are they selling roasted corn?" Y'all take care and Riley says, "Barkus woofus."
Thursday, September 5, 2013
So I'm sitting at the kitchen table doing work on my off day, and it suddenly dawned on me how we can relate BBQ to our birthday. Yes, 44 years ago today this great nation of ours was blessed with my 4 lbs. 13 oz. presence. I'm told I was 17 inches long and can only hope that means my total length from head to toe and not some other arbitrary measurement. If not, somebody has got some explaining to do. Yes, I was a bit early, but have more than made up for my size since then. Today, as I celebrate this great day, it gives me pause to ponder back on my 44 years. 44 is a great number, two even numbers, repeating even numbers, a great caliber in a handgun, Reggie Jackson's number when he played for the New York Yankees, a great test score if you are 44/46, and looks like two sails on a boat. Don't know how that last one matters but it fits so what are you gonna do, you know? I remember when my parents were 44, and that age seemed pretty old to me back then. Today.....not so much. In 44 years, I have been saved, fallen in love, served in the military, graduated from college twice, gotten married, buried two loving grandmothers, seen my parents divorce, served in law enforcement, seen the Cold War end, have lived through 9 presidents, developed friendships and relationships that are still going strong, been called an angel and been called a son of a (fill in blank), felt the euphoria or being so happy and on top of the world that I couldn't stand it and felt the sharp, searing sting of hurt and grief. However, to quote the song, "life's been good to me so far." I couldn't help but think about my time doing BBQ as it relates to my life or anyone's life in general to some degree. Stay with me here as I try to knit a reasonable argument from my cake and ice cream induced delerium. When I first started out with BBQ, I was like an infant and I knew nothing.....less than nothing if I'm honest. I stumbled and fell..........a lot. Over time, I began to crawl then walk. In BBQ, I started to learn from what I had done. I began to learn from my mistakes and build on my successes. I didn't know what I needed to ask, so I just watched everything I could. Soon, I began to grow into a teenager where I started to develop and learn. Like a teenager, I bounced from style to style trying my best to find something that worked, and I often drove those around me crazy. Something I could own and call my own. I had some successes and thought I knew all there was to know. After all, we were backyard grand champions....how hard could it be? When I was a teenager, I just had to have this or that to make me "successful". Just like a teenager or young adult and just like my BBQ. And like most teenagers I'm sure I gave my parents a greater understanding of why some animals eat their young. Thankfully, my parents were loving and didn't bury me in the backyard, and I began to mature a bit and realized I didn't know squat. I also realized I didn't need every new toy or gadget in life to be successful or to make decent BBQ. Just as in life, I thought I knew what I needed to know. Only later did I find out that the true measure of intelligence isn't an I.Q. score or academic achievements, but it was the recognition of what we don't know and that we all continue to learn. Do I still like gadgets and toys? Of course I do. The good part is I now know what the most important things in life are, that and the fact I have a job and can actually buy the cool gadgets out there. In reality, the most important things are family and friends that are good for me, Salvation through Jesus, enjoying the little things in life, slowing down to enjoy the moment, all the great people you get to meet in life (especially those at a BBQ competition) and remembering, "If you're lookin', you ain't cookin'." See folks, BBQ is like a lifespan. We start out screaming and running around like a chicken sans our head, and hopefully we mature into grown adults who realize that low and slow really is a great way to go. Thanks for reading this. I hope I made some sense here as I have waxed philosophically. Forrest Gump said, "Life is like a box of chocolates....you never know what you're gonna get." I agree, but prefer the BBQ side. "Life is like a BBQ competition, you never know what the dang judges are looking for so no matter what, just stick it in the box and go with it." Sounds like life doesn't it? Anyway, who knows if I'll have another 44 years on this giant mudball we call Earth, but if I do, you can bet there will be some laughing and BBQ going on.......probably laughing at my BBQ and me yelling, "Back when I was your age.....!!!" That and trying to figure out if that warm, wet sensation running down my leg is a problem or not. Joy. Y'all take care and Riley says, "Happy birthday!!"
Monday, August 12, 2013
So I'm sitting here in Bainbridge, GA at the first annual Smoke Under the Oaks BBQ competition in our new, victory red trailer with the a/c blazing away, my brother sleeping on the futon, and Jimmy Wayne asleep under the table. Don't ask why, but it has something to do with it being his 'den'. This last week has been a flurry of activity to say the least. Jimmy Wayne and I drove to Willacoohee, GA to pick up the trailer last Friday, and it has been none stop since then. With all the help with plumbing, flooring, cabinetry, and furnishings, my father-in-law and brother have been quite productive. This is the same Baptist Preacher father-in-law that Baptized me many years ago. We (they) still laugh at how he kept me down through almost two full verses of the hymn "Just As I Am", and it took the chairman of the deacons and minister of music to wrestle his grip from my head so I could get up. He claims to this day I needed 'extra' cleansing. Sad part is, he was probably right. We're past that now which makes Thanksgiving easier although I must admit I still get twitchy when I hear that hymn. I digress. He was a great help as always. While some artists work in oils, clay, marble, or garbage, this man is an artist with CPVC, and he can make a junction like no one. To say it was hot and muggy would be an understatement, at least that's what the ostrich wearing a top hat and monocle said. I do believe I had heat-stroke induced hallucinations, an aneurysm, an embolism, dehydration, gatorade intoxication, whooping cough, and gangrene of the toes. I did lose a pinkie toe nail when it got caught on a vent in my crocs. Luckily, I have the intestinal fortitude of 10 average 3rd graders, so there were no tears. It's how we roll in the rough and tumble pro BBQ world. With the perserverence on the level of NASA, we were able to get 'the trailer' functional enough to take it to the competition. So now we are sitting in the trailer at the Smoke Under the Oaks BBQ Competition in Bainbridge, GA, and by sitting I mean me as the other two are sleeping (refer to top of post). For a first year event, I have to say the organizers have done a great job. From the Low Country Boil to the entertainment and facilities, and all the gnats one cared to eat, it has been great so far. We did have a minor plug compatibility issue that was thankfully resolved by my brother's tenacity which averted a major crisis. In all honesty, I may have had a small snit which I will blame on the heat, the gnats, and a steadily dropping blood sugar level. It was great to see people and teams I have gotten to know. Great teams like Q Fuzed, Forrest's Fine Foods, Cook's Portable Smokehouse, and Poolside BBQ are always nice to see and speak with. Great people all around. The calibre of teams participating was impressive and the scores were close; however, we may have, how to put it in gentle terms............sucked. 35 out of 42. Not what I would call stellar, but we did continue to add to our experience base. All in all, we had a great time and look forward to Porktober Que in September which means we have more time to practice. One final thought, while the a/c was nice, it seemed to separate us from the other teams which caught me by surprise. I missed talking with and hanging out with the others. Guess I will have to learn to balance that next time. Y'all take care, and Riley says hello. By the way, I recently had the opportunity to eat at a couple of BBQ establishments in the greater Birmingham area. I guess it's true what they say: "No one's BBQ is as good as your own." Night y'all.
Monday, June 24, 2013
So, I'm sitting here at my computer with my debit card still smoking from my recent acquisition: Team Grandpa's Pride's Mobile Professional BBQ Competition Preparation, Lodging, and Transportation Vessel Mk. 1 A.K.A. 'the trailer'. To say that I have over thought, rethought, redesigned, questioned, obsessed upon, and generally driven my wife and dog insane over the process might be a bit of an understatement. I do have a slight tendency to pick apart the details of things once I sink my teeth into a project i.e. Frankensmoker Mk. 2.2. Please refrain from a mass of, "NOOOOO!!! Really!!!" statements. My good friend and teammate Robb asked me how I would survive if I actually did something normal like buy a pre-built smoker or pre-built toy hauler. My answer is I don't think I could actually do it and survive. Where is the fun in that? It is a common theme I have stayed with throughout this little quest call Bar-B-Que. Who am I kidding, I have been this way my whole life. I just can't do something and leave it alone. Not a recipe, not a technique, not a style of 'Q' goes undone once I get my hands (teeth) around it. Maybe it's in my DNA? After all, growing up I was always changing my room around. My brother swears our mom did bleach shooters while pregnant which if true could have some effect. It could be a result of too much tackle football without a helmet; although, I don't see how getting knocked out once or twice could ever be a real problem. Best option yet, it could be all of the model airplanes I put together in my room.....with the door and windows closed....closed tight....real tight....lots of airplanes and lots of glue. Mmmmmm airplane glue. Which explains why my parents were always looking at my eyes, shaking their heads, and sending me outside to get 'some air'. Anyway, the process has finally hit the point where today I pulled the trigger and ordered our custom BBQ trailer/RV/Place I will live if/when Sherri throws me out. I have to give my loving wife Kudos. She has been supportive all through out this process. From the start where I bought my first red, electric smoker up to where we are today. She is even the reason I started a blog, so if you want to blame someone, you can blame her. Anyway, without sounding like a promotion or advertisement, the nice people at Trailer Country, Inc. have been invaluable throughout this process. Nikole was the nice lady that helped us through the process. I'm sure there are some support groups in her area that she can attend. We have really been tied up in the details to the point Sherri and I even took a 3.5 hour drive to Willacoochee, GA to tour where they build the trailers. We got some great ideas which led to where we are now. On July 29, 2013 our little slice of trailer heaven should be ready to roll on home with us. Which, coincidentally, is just in time for me to get it ready for the 1st Annual Smoke Under the Oaks BBQ Competition in Bainbridge, GA which will be on August 9-10. Thinking back over other competitions, we have either been freezing, sweltering, or soaked to the bone and up to our arm pits in mud. It may still be hot in August, but at least we will hopefully have some accommodations in which to prep and reside. I have never had an RV, but Sherri and I are looking forward to using it at the beach and lake as well. Maybe we will go camping with Robb and his family. That is the plan anyway. We are going for the 'old shack' look. Think Beverly Hillbillies meet HGTV's Interior Design. Why not? Anyone can have a normal trailer. Might as well have fun with it. Being as I am the world's second cheapest man behind my friend Greg, I'm sure I will find a way to rig up an awning using PVC and a tarp. I've got plans....big plans. Stay tuned for pictures of the build process once underway. I'm sure it will be an interesting process. Y'all take care and Riley says, "Hello."
Sunday, April 21, 2013
So I'm sitting here at my computer trying to look up the symptoms for Trench Foot and Diphtheria as I am almost certain I have these and many other World War I illnesses...I could be wrong though. This weekend Team Grandpa's Pride made the long trek of three miles to compete at the Marianna Arts Festival, and this was our first dealings with rain. And by rain I mean torrential flooding and rains. The type of rain spoken about in the Bible and seen in countries where the words 'monsoon' and 'I just saw a Chevy sink up to the cab' are used pretty regularly. You know the type. Luckily, I listened to the voices in my head for once and we decided to set up early. Thankfully we got set up just as the rains set in. It rained, and rained, and rained up until about 12:30 a.m. Mercifully, the skies cleared, the rain left, and it was a beautiful day; however, what was left under our canopies was a mud bog. The kind of mud bog people with four wheelers or a big truck with tires that cost more than the truck look for. The kind of mud bog that used to trap large mammals which later became fossils. I'm certain at one point I saw a little green guy wearing a raggedy tunic hobble by and say, "BBQ you must." Again, I could be wrong. Once we adapted to the rain and mud, we moved along nicely. I will say with all sincerity, this was the best we have done in any competition. I don't know where we landed yet as there was some computer glitch that would not allow the F.B.A. to process the brisket scores. I do know we didn't finish in the top 10 in chicken, ribs, or pork. Other than that, I'm like everyone else in awaiting the scores. I will post the photos of our turn in boxes. There were a total of 27 teams at this competition with Will Stanton of Q-Fused getting a couple of call outs as well as Mr. Cook of Cook's Portable Smokehouse along with Mr. Lovette of Poolside BBQ getting 1st in pork. Big Kahuna BBQ was doing pretty well too. There were many memorable moments of this contest. Primarily when my left shoe decided to fall completely apart while traipsing through our little mud bog. Luckily for me, I had already decided to put on dry socks and then put my dry-socked feet into zip top bags to keep the moisture of the muddy boot from getting to my feet. It was that kind of day folks. One guy said he even went to Wal-Mart and bought a pair of rubber boots late Friday night. It was just that muddy. Between the mud, the zip lock bags poking out of my boots, my general disheveled appearance, and the crazed look in my eyes, mothers were pulling their kids close to them as I walked to the bathrooms telling the kids, "Don't stare at the strange man honey." One lady asked me if I was hungry and needed some money. I should have taken her up on it because apparently that was the only way I was getting any money at this festival. The competition was really good, and there were a lot of really good teams at the Marianna Arts Festival. We even had a helper on this one. Brandon Wright wanted to learn about BBQ and for some reason thought I was a good choice for information. I hope he enjoyed himself because I know we appreciated all his hard work. I bet he will dream about emptying the 5-gallon buckets for our sink drainage for weeks. For Christmas, I'm going to find him a 10-gallon bucket. That's the kind of guy I am....I'm a giver. We were not without other casualties though. The Frankensmoker Mk. 2.1 lost its two back wheels and the support frame cracked so there will be repairs. Stay tuned for the Mk. 2.2. Our next foray into competitive BBQ will be in Bainbridge, GA at the 1st Annual Smoke Under the Oaks BBQ Competition which will be held in August. How hot could it possibly be? South Georgia...August. Should be fine. Anyway, maybe by then I will have a new pair of boots and bit more experience under my belt. I wonder if anyone has ever done a BBQ competition in a speed-o? I could be the first.....and the last I'm sure. Anyway, y'all take care and Riley says hello. By the way, if you like this blog or have an idea of a place to review the BBQ, please be kind and leave a comment. Thanks.
UPDATE: Congratulations to Big Kahuna for taking Grand and Cook's Portable Smokehouse for taking reserve. We finished 22 out of 26 which really surprised me. Goes to show there was a lot of good cook teams there last weekend.
|Rib turn in box.|
|Pork turn in box.|
|Chicken turn in box.|
|Brisket turn in box.|
Saturday, April 13, 2013
So I'm sitting her in a camper surrounded by sleeping teammates wondering if I should order the Hits from the 50's and 60's showing on the t.v. Yes, we have a t.v. And it is connected to the Internet for Hulu Plus and Netflix. Come on, it's not like we are savages. Of course we had some trials early on such as my case of Ebola which probably is just another sinus problem, we somehow broke the pit probe to the BBQ Guru, my teammate stabbed himself (not here) in the arm which I'm sure brought A LOT of questions at the E.R., and we had some trouble getting stuff moved around due to improper wheels on equipment which will be remedied shortly. On the pit probe, we were fortunate to have Mr. Cook of Cook's Portable Smokehouse BBQ who had a spare pit probe he was so very kind to loan us. Otherwise, I'm sure we would have pulled some McGyver maneuver to make it work.....that or just go to a bar and drink whilst downing raw oysters. Given my recent spat of unfortunate luck, the oysters would probably land me in the hospital where I would take up the fun hobby of counting the tiles on the bathroom floor, over and over and over. Alas, the world is still full of good people so we persevered onwards. The weather is great and so is the company, and by company I mean the guys sleeping all around me. Robb offered to spoon with my brother Keith. It was a funny yet uncomfortable moment until we realized Robb was kidding, at least that is what we are telling ourselves. Hey, whatever it takes to get through the night right? There are 28 pro teams and 20 backyard teams, and the festival is competing against the Toadlick Music Festival. I'm assuming the title has nothing to do with hallucinogenic amphibians......I could be wrong. The Frankensmoker Mk. 2.1 is plugging along nicely so far and I have yet to be lynched by the team; however, the night is young. Apparently, I have some 'control issues', but I still say they are plotting a coup. The air is thick with the sweet smells of some good BBQ getting cooked. That and a few people who are conversing with someone who must be deaf. All in all, it is a great time so far. Tomorrow morning will be a flurry of activity as we try to get everything prepped and turned in. We have started a tradition of having a picnic with family and friends. Sherri is making her Krispy Kreme Doughnut Bread Pudding and we will eat the rest of the BBQ that doesn't get turned in. It is a good way to kill the time before awards. Not that I'm greedy but I want to win it all. Now if you will excuse me, there is an infomercial on t.v. a
bout a new miracle drink that I need for five easy payments of $19.95 but if I order now, I get extras. It's on t.v. so it must be true. Got to have priorities right? By the way, Riley says hello.
UPDATE: Congratulations to Bubba-Q BBQ for taking Grand Champion and Haulin' Butt BBQ for Reserve. We finished 21 out of 39 at the Tri-State BBQ Festival. I have included pictures of two of our turn in boxes. Statistically, we did better than in Elba but no call out's for Dothan. We have Marianna this upcoming weekend, so if you want to have some fun, come on out to Citizen's Park Lodge on Caverns Road. See y'all there.