Monday, December 19, 2016

'Twas the Night Before Turn In....

'Twas the night before turn in, and all through the site
all the cooks were stirring getting their smokers to light.
All around the banners and lights were strung with care
Across the easy-up's they did shine a light oh so fair.

My meat was inspected as my streamer did show,
my knives they were sharp and I was ready to go.
My trimming was done so quick and true.
Away with the fat, the excess, the brisket flat goo.

Inside Shangri-La, there were oh so many sauces and brines,
there too were many bottles and bags of rubs divine.
Needles and injectors, shakers and spouts
All working together to bring the winning flavors out.

Boozed up teams nestled all snug in their cots
Dreaming of victory, of trophies, of checks, and the lot.
Now all wrapped up in blankets and quilts so tight,
We all settled down for a long, cold, smokey night.

When out from the tent there arose such a clatter,
I raced from my trailer to see what was the matter.
With a startle the Guru woke me from my sleep
with the incessant and annoying sound of “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP.”

Morning came early to the cold, smokey plain
when along came the FBA Official who joyfully did proclaim
“Y'all got your turn in boxes yet?”
With a happy hello and a chuckling goodbye,
Away the FBA Official in his golf cart he did drive.

From the distance I could hear some one shout to say,
“Cook's Church is at 6:30 y'all. Come on...let's all pray.”
With the praying done, and good tidings shared
We headed back to our sites to get the meats prepared.

Each box was done with meat sauced and sweet
Each delivery was made on my own two feet.
With care and love, the many trips were made
Loaded with hopes of winning with all we gave.

As the sun did set and when all had gathered
Getting done and heading for home was all that mattered.
Names were called and smiles were bright
It's all over now, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

From my family to your family, I wish each and everyone of you a very safe and merry Christmas.  Riley says, "Don't forget the greatest gift of all that came as a little child born in a manger."  Take care y'all.  

Jeffery S. Stone Grandpa's Pride BBQ.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

I Give You the Party of the People.....the BBQ Party

So I’m sitting here at the computer musing on the most recent events in our great nation’s history. Namely, I am referencing the local and national elections. Be you Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Communist, Socialist, Fascist, Leftist, Marxist, Misfit, I’m-gonna-make-it-fit, or any other type of ist, I think we can all agree we’ve had enough political banter to last us for a bit. However, I submit to you, the American people, that there is yet another party to be included… it isn’t a keg party. I say we unite and have the National BBQ Party. Our platform would be inclusive of all Americans regardless of race, color, creed, sex, national origin, region, or cooking style. Sweet or savory; hot-and-fast or low-and-slow; pork, beef, or chicken; hard woods or fruit woods, all would be welcomed with open pits. Let us align ourselves not with a particular style, but instead let us unite in the bonds of sweet, smoky goodness. Let us build upon each other’s successes as we openly shig ideas from our neighbors. Let us all drink from the communal cup of Pink Drink as we celebrate one another’s name being called often and called last. Our platform will be built upon the planks of heat, smoke, spice, and meat: Independently each has its own strengths, but when brought together, the four meld into harmonious, lip-smacking goodness. In this party, everyone is an ambassador of good will and good food. Wars would be abolished with competitions resolving the issues between nations and teams. Under Communism, there were only two classes: The working Proletariat and ruling Bourgeois. In the BBQ Party, there will be several classes….often taught locally by a successful pitmaster for a nominal fee of $500.00-$900.00 visa, mastercard, and paypal accepted with ½ off for a spouse. In a Democracy, the majority rules. In the BBQ Party, the ‘Q’ rules, with different but very similar rules depending on the sanctioning body. Sure, we’ll have our little factions: FBA, KCBS, IBCA, etc.; however, the hub of our party will revolve around the wheel connected to the 25” long, air-conditioned, satellite t.v.-equipped, custom-built, competition trailer. Meeting, greeting, and eating with the masses will be our rallying cry. Our banner will be stained with the spilled BBQ sauce and blood of fingers cut. Together, the BBQ Party can make cooking outdoors grate (misspelling intended) again. (Insert Hail to the Chief music here) So, my fellow Americans, I put forth to you the following: Ask not what BBQ can do for you, but what can you do to make really good BBQ? Stand up! Unite! And Ignite………Those Fires! (I’m Jeff Stone and I approved this message). Riley says “Hello and for y’all to have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.” Jeffery S. Stone Grandpa’s Pride BBQ

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What's So Civil About War Anyway?

In human history, there have been a great many conflagrations.  There was the first little war between Cain and Abel that started it all.  Move through history and you have the Greeks with their little tiffs; the Romans with every neighbor in reach; the War of Northern Aggression (some still refer to it as the Civil War); W.W. I and the sequel W.W. II; the 'Cold' War; so on and so on.  You get the point.  You would think this accounting would sum up the totality of most of the world's wars.  Well, you would be wrong.  All across the fruited plane there is another war, and folks, it is delicious.  I'm talking about the weekend wars often referred to as "BBQ Competitions."  Oh sure they sometime cloak the battle with amusement rides, food and trinket vendors, creepy clowns making mutated animals out of balloons (the nightmares are real folks), but make no mistake there is a very real war down in the trenches.  Granted, these trenches are lined with 35 ft. motor homes, $5,000.00 pits, and enough easy up's to walk from Porktoberque in Dothan, AL to the Rattlesnake Rodeo in Opp during a rainstorm without getting wet.  The warriors may or may not have the physique of an army ranger.....probably not actually, and there may be a bit of gray in the receding hairline, but these are warriors nonetheless.  Many a grizzled veteran of the BBQ Wars will tell with a far off stare of battles past.  North versus South, Army versus Navy, the Crimson Tide versus.....well pretty much everyone, the freezing cold of Elba in 2013, the Great Monsoon of Dothan in 2015, but these battles pale in comparison to individual battles within each sanctioning body and each individual contest.  You've heard the expression 'Weekend Warriors'?  I submit to you that the average BBQ competitor is just as die hard as any pharmacist fast roping out of a blackhawk on any given Saturday.  Just to put together the shear logistics in competing professionally would scare the planners/organizers from D-Day to Desert Storm.  In fact, I'm almost positive Eisenhower and Schwartzkopf had a plate of ribs at zero hour.....probably not, but it's still a very cool image.  If they didn't, there should be a tradition started right now that if/when we invade another country, there should be a slab of ribs and a quart of sauce on hand.  Granted, saying, "Hey, would you pass me a napkin" isn't as inspiring as, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes", but work with me here.  You can pick out any number of these individual battles in a greater war.  Against whom would Jim Elser of Sweet Smoke 'Q' or Matt Barber of Hot Wachulas battle?  What about Rub or the Backyard Bro's?  Let's not forget Bobby of Haulin' Butt or Wink and Robin of Wink's?  Who knows how the match ups would come off.  Would the Great BBQ Wars result in total human annihilation, the dreaded nuclear winter, or even worse Wal-Mart's closing en masse?  Most likely no.  In the end, it will all be the same:  People will cheer for each and congratulate the team called often and last, they will all pack up, go home, tell the story a hundred times of how they nearly tripped and messed up their turn in box, and prepare to do it all again next weekend.  So if you want to go to a war zone minus the fragmentation grenades and the risk of collateral damage, go check out one of your local BBQ War battlefields.  Yes, there is a good chance you'll have a great time, a definite possibility you will meet some of the nicest people in the world, and maybe just maybe you'll discover a place where you can experience truly a very civil war with a side of sauce and slaw.  If you're real good, I bet you can get a dog made out of a balloon.  Creepy clowns.  Y'all take care and Riley says hello.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Consistency is a #$*+''ing Four Letter Word!

I once saw something written that made a lot of sense to me, “Change is inevitable but growth is optional.”  Pretty profound …….which got me thinking.  In BBQ, consistency is the key to success, so what’s a guy like me supposed to do when consistency is not exactly in my wheelhouse? I’ve been accused of many things, and by accused I don’t mean in the legal sense… least not yet.  I still don’t know how the goat got into my friend’s apartment, and until the statute of limitations runs out, that’s my story.  I had the pleasure of visiting some friends at Dothan’s Porktoberque 2016, and let me tell you, it was a nicely attended event.  There were some RV’s that had more square footage than my first 3 apartments combined.  As I was walking around visiting with folks, I saw many working their entries just like I’ve seen them do on many other occasions.  Others, well they were going renegade and doing something different.  This got my brain to rolling and pondering this question:  When it comes to consistency, how many different types of BBQ cooks are there?  I’ve come up with three.  There is the Rock Solid Rock Star.  They cook the same way every time.  You know the type.  These folks get their pits going at the same time, cook the same weight of meat in each category, use the same techniques, and probably are wearing the same shirt, the same shorts, and the same pair of underwear at each competition.  The word ‘militant’ might be used in hushed tones when describing this group; however, these folks tend to do quite well.  I won’t mention any names, but I’m sure a few come to mind.  Next, we have the That’ll Do Dude.  These are the folks that cook their meats in a pretty similar fashion to the last time……maybe, and they more than likely will experiment at the competition figuring, “What the heck.”  These folks dress in whatever they could find and probably have several different styles of underwear, maybe clean/maybe not.  They win some and they lose some.  Lastly, we have the Banzai BBQ Brigade.   Now, this is the category a few wild ones will fall into on a regular basis.  These are the folks that no matter how well they did at the last competition will do something completely different.  It doesn’t matter if they got grand or drug up dead last behind the guy that turned in hairy ribs and green pork.  These folks are as consistent as flatulence following a questionable breakfast burrito.   They cook meats from different vendors, they could be dressed in drag, and it is up in the air as to whether or not they even own/wear underwear.  These are the ‘interesting ones.’  We all know someone that fits in each category, and that’s OK.  If the whole world was vanilla, there would be no room for Guinness ice cream, and yes that’s real.  I’ve made some, and it’s delicious.  In short, go out, do the best you can, and most of all have a great time supporting good ‘Q’.  Y’all take care and Riley says, “Hello.”  

Saturday, August 27, 2016

It All Started with the Humble Little Phrase, "Hey Y'all.....I've Got This Great Idea!"

So how many of us have spent valuable time pondering the eternal questions of life?  You know the questions to which I refer:  what is the meaning of life, the afterlife, what grows in our belly buttons, why have the Olympics in Rio, where do babies come from, why was Top Gear cancelled, why do men have nipples, and why does the dog lick himself so gosh darned much?  Of course the obvious answer to the last question is because he can......we all know that one.  I've had a few original ones myself such as could one open a combination funeral home, crematorium, and BBQ pit all under the same roof?  Think about it, when someone dies, what do we in the south do?  We eat.  Crematoriums create a lot of heat, so why not use it.  I'm not suggesting we use the smoke from the crematorium, just the heat.  I'm not a savage you know.  Realistically, I'm just looking at it from a standpoint of convenience and efficiency.  You'd probably be surprised to note that not many people share an enthusiasm for my creative spirit on this topic and are actually openly resistant and borderline violent.  Hey, people laughed at the person that created the spork too.  With that being said, those of us in the BBQ Know, and I don't know really what 'BBQ Know' means but it sounds good, have many questions of our own which have often led to an evolution in the BBQ competition/business world.  Take for instance the whole concept of BBQ competitions.  Someone, somewhere had the bright idea of getting a bunch of friends together to cook some BBQ and see who did the best.  It's hard to argue that competitions haven't exploded across the country, and they all started as an idea in some guy's backyard.  Same thing with BBQ pits.  The original pit was a hole in the ground or at least some cinder blocks arranged so hot coals could be put under the meat in question.  Pretty simple to say the least and very effective, but someone said, "I wonder if I can come up with a better way?" Now a days, the pits have evolved into look like something NASA with the help of 'ancient astronaut theorists' would have created given the addition of minicomputers, flow valves, draft control systems, gravity feeds, pellet burners, reverse flow, rotisseries, off-sets, propane and/or electric (the horror), metal ones, ceramic ones, wood ones (mine are all made of wood), run by elves, voodoo, and other dark arts.  See my point?  On the money side of the equation, if you think there isn't a dollar to be made in the BBQ world, then you obviously haven't seen the approximately 2,840,223 sauces, 8x10+5 rubs, dozens of gadgets, tools, accoutrements, and just plain ol' goofy BBQ stuff.  Again, someone had the question, "I wonder if I bottle/make/print/build this, will anyone buy it?"  Sauce started out as vinegar, salt, and some pepper flakes until someone asked the question, "What if I add ingredient 'X' to this?"  I guess it is human nature to question things and to try to change or evolve what is there.  Just ask my wife.  I have had about 22, and that's not an exaggeration, variations to my BBQ sauce.  I just keep asking, "What if.....?"  I hope the questions never stop because that's what brings about change.  BBQ is no different.  10 years from now we probably will be using lasers powered by a flux capacitor and hydrogen gas to create smokey BBQ goodness.  That or going to your local crematorium.  Either way, it will be a result of someone asking, "What if...?"  OK, maybe not the crematorium, but you get the idea.  Y'all take care and Riley says....well nothing today.  He's too busy licking himself.  Stupid dog.

Jeffery S. Stone
Grandpa's Pride BBQ

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Star Wars & BBQ, I Find The Similarities.....Disturbing.

So, the other day I asked my wife if she had ever noticed the parallels between BBQ and Star Wars. Her look was, well suffice to say, it spoke volumes.  Probably the same thing y'all are thinking right now.  I implore you to stay with me through this jaunt into my inner, nerd psyche. So everyone this side of the moon has seen Star Wars....not 1-3 which sucked.  I mean 4-6 starting with "A New Hope." Classic story of an evil overlord and a rebellious young crew led by an older teacher seeking out to save the girl/galaxy. With that in mind, I'm going to describe a character and you fill in the blanks with the first person in BBQ that comes to mind with no one in particular. In psychology, we call that word association. Emperor Palpatine: Evil ruler of the galaxy, everyone bows to him, not afraid to choke out someone, and teaches others the dark ways of the force.  Obi-Wan Kenobi: Benevolent and kind, uses the force for good, and teaches the young ones the ways of the force. Darth Vader: Brooding right-hand of the Emperor, evil and powerful in the ways of the force, and may have relationship issues. Han Solo: Wildcard, doesn't follow the rules, is a bit shady, confident, and good at what he does.  Chewbacca:  Large, powerful, and loyal to Han. Luke Skywalker: Young and unsettled, eager to learn, seeks out a teacher in the ways of the force. Princess Leia: Powerful female, leader of the resistance, sports hair buns like no one else. Jawas: Group of burlap-sack clothed buggers that go around stealing things and passing them off as their own. Sounds a lot like shiggin' to me.  Stormtroopers:  The emperor's minions, clones, such bad shots they couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat. Jar-Jar Binks:  Character that goes around annoying the snot out of everyone to the point that I was hoping in Star Wars VII he would get a blaster shot to the back of the head within the first :30 seconds of the opening credits a la Casino, but that's just me. Uncle Owen and Aunt Veru:  No one in particular but they do get BBQ'ed so there's that.  Anyway, hope you enjoyed this look into my world. Y'all take care, and Riley says,"That's no moon....that's a space station."     

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Dark Art of BBQ

Someone wiser than I once said that art can not exist just for the sole purpose of art.  I don't know if that's true or not, but it sounds good and all educated and stuff.  The classical art world has their Michelangelo, Leonardo, Rafael, and Donatello...not to be confused with the four of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame.  We in BBQ have our own artists.  We have Bagby, Elser, Hillis, Barber and many others of BBQ notoriety.  What's that you say?  These guys that compete week in and week out aren't true artists?  Au Contraire mon frere.  Have you ever seen what this group of maestros can do with a tough or what used to be a cheap cut of meat?  Not to mention the fact that appearance is a significant part of the overall score in the FBA.  With BBQ art you have the advantage of seeing, smelling, and tasting the art created by this group.  Just look at any turn in box and tell me that isn't a work of art.  That is unless you are looking at mine and it might be considered modern art.  You know the type with the eyes and mouth on one side of the head and you wonder, "What type of psychoactive elements was this guy on or did he use a chicken to paint this?"  The turn in boxes turned in every week continue to dazzle and amaze.  Just ask any judge.  D.C. has the National Gallery, Paris the Louvre, and New York has the MOMA.  We in BBQ are fortunate we have our competitions.  These are chances for us more common folk to interact with the art as we see, smell, and taste the works of these culinary geniuses.  Call it what you will, I'd eat Forrest's ribs any day of the week over a canvas painting of some cubes done by some fancy-pants, la-de-da.  So if you want to see art with purpose, go and support your local BBQ competition by competing, attending, or taking a class.  If you want to see fancy art for the sake of fancy art, go to a museum or check out the bathroom stalls at any truck stop.  As for me, I'll take the sweet, smokey art of BBQ with a side of beans, and I hope you will too.  Y'all take care, and Riley says, "Hello."

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Top 10 Reasons BBQ'ers Rock.....Allegedly

So this is my first foray into the world of Smoke Bits the Florida BBQ Association's newsletter, and I am honored to have been asked to provide a monthly submission to this publication.  Meanwhile, I'm sitting here at my computer with the cursor just blinking at me in what I would call complete and abject mockery, and if you know me you know I know mockery....and sarcasm.....and dry wit....and getting myself into trouble due to my smart mouth on a regular basis.  Not to be outdone by my twitchy, silicone-driven nemesis, I have cobbled together a Top 10 List related to BBQ and those who practice this dark art. So without further adieu: From the home office in Lake Winnemucka, the Top 10 Reasons BBQ'ers rock:

10) Never knowing when the Orwellian uprising will occur, keeping the delicious and domestic pig, chicken, and cow population under control one FBA, KCBS, IBCA, etc. competition at a time.
9) Only optimistic group that will spend between $750.00 and $133,933.00 in a weekend to win $25.00, a small $3.50 trophy, and to hear your team name called all the while referring to the weekend as 'a great success.'
8) Our idea of 'formal fashion' is having a competition t-shirt without any sauce/injection/meat stains and clean shorts to match.
7) Can keep a recipe or cooking method secret way better than any current female, loud-mouthed, inept, train-wreck of a presidential candidate could ever hope to do.  Seriously folks, the maniacal smile is creepy.
6) Able to use one word regularly without sounding perverted or asked to leave church: Moist.
5) Manly enough to drink all night Friday all the while trying to get some guy named Ed's attention by yelling, “Ed, Ed, hey Ed, Ed, hey Ed, Ed!” but still have intestinal fortitude to make it to 6:30 a.m. Cook's Church sober as a judge.
4) Can bend the laws of physics and back a 40 foot trailer into a 20 foot space and still have room left for two 10 x 10 easy up's, a large off set, and two top-name coolers.
3) No matter how old we get, we can still say proudly, “Hey, I've got great wood!”
2) Have knife skills that would rival any ninja, plastic surgeon, or serial I hear.

And the #1 reason BBQ'ers rock (insert drum roll here):

The only competition sport where a middle-aged, balding, slightly rotund guy can be treated as a 70's arena rock star minus all the hotel destroying, groupie antics.  (Insert TA-DAAAA here).  Y'all take care, and Riley says hello, and thanks for reading.  Be sure to tell others where you got it.