Thursday, September 20, 2012

Correction on my Galaxy S3 dock

I turns out you CAN charge the phone in the dock while keeping the case on, you just have to slide out the plate that comes already attached. Leave it to the wife to read the instructions. I am very happy with it now.

It also looks like a copy of it is available on Amazon as (Desktop Docking Station for Samsung Galaxy S III) now for a bit less than what I paid for mine and you will not have to wait on the slow boat from China.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why did I wait to buy an instant read thermometer?

I have a variety of probe and stick thermometers that go in to oil, candy, and meats. I saw these years ago but was thinking, "I am not paying $90 for a freaking thermometer I can buy for $20!"

A few weeks back when I was at the BBQ competition I noticed many of the "pros" had them. I got talking to one guy and he was saying how he has had about every thermometer made in the last few years and nothing beats these things. He said he has dropped it a few times and it has not broken but, if it did break, he would run out and buy another one.

O.K. you talked me in to it.

Just got mine in today and happen to have country style ribs on the smoker. Not my usual thing but they were on sale and why not. Right?

Since I had not cooked these type of ribs before, in beef format anyway, I was a "bit" concerned and really wanted to know how far along I was. Wholly cow! How awesome it was to get the temp of each one of the ribs and close the smoker in less than 30 seconds (because you get an accurate reading in < 3 seconds).

If you have the need or want don't hesitate.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

New skinning knife

I picked up a new Gerber hunting knife (gut hook) today and I have sworn by the Gerber brand for at least 15 years. Every Gerber I have had has been bullet-proof and I have even received compliments on my older model of the Gerber Covert FAST 22 pocket knife because it is slick and butter smooth but, when I got my new knife I was kind of bummed to see "Made in China" on the packaging. Looking in to it I see that now even Swiss Army knives are made in China now. Sad. Quality still seems to be there I mean it is a fine knife for a mere $20 and it is titanium coated but just sad.

The knife felt sharp but I prefer to put my own edge on them. With all my kitchen knives I use an electric Chef's Choice 1520 Diamond Sharpener but for knives that need a special angle or are odd shaped nothing beats the old tried and true Lansky System. I know knife sharping purest cringe at the thought of using an electric sharpener but honestly when I have to sharpen 15 knives to a 20* angle I can do it in minutes and the knife will be about as sharp as the Lansky can make it.

The blade was in between 25 and 30 degrees of sharp but now it is dead on 25 degrees and ready to slice open what ever animal I happen to be working on. I did a test stoke here in the office on a few sheets of stacked paper. LOVE IT!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Smoked Turkey Legs


Made a quick and dirty brine:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried savory
  • 8-10 peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper for fun
  • -----------------------------------------------
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 2+ cups ice

Bring top section of ingredients a boil and turn off to let the spices release their full potential. Let cool 10 mins. Then drop the temperature with the ice and vegetable broth and threw in the onion. Make sure the brine covers the legs then let sit for 12-18 hours. Rinse the legs off when you pull them from the brine. Pat dry. Sprinkle with you favorite seasoning

Smoked at 200* for 4+ hours till internal temperature reached 165*. Pulled and wrapped (3) or them. Could not wait for the 4th one. A little cottage cheese and micro greens to make the beer healthy.

Smoke was a bit strong since I used Hickory. Should have cut it with some Apple wood but, I am out! Still very good. WAY better than the last one I had at the state fair. Self grade: A- for too much smoke flavor. I think next time I am going to cut the skin back too. Not cut all the skin off, just less of it. That is the thing about BBQ, it is "not crispy" so the skin is kind of rubbery. I suppose the other option would be bring them to 160* then finish them on the grill to crisp it up.

iPhone 5

LOL people are such tools sometimes. OHHHH shiny!

First off I would like to say I am a Mac bigot. I LOVE my Macbook and PowerMac not only do they run near flawlessly they are built like no other PC. Plus, if worst comes to worst I can boot Windows 7 stand alone or with a Virtual Machine (so Windows runs as a task on my Mac or I can run individual Windows programs)

I just can't get on the iPhone bandwagon. Now granted it would make my digital like easier. I have to sync my music and things to my Android S3 with a program called iSyncr for Mac but they make iSyncr for PC too. But the new iPhone has 5 rows and can use 4G? Oh boy... Something Android has been doing for over a year.

What else can't an iPhone do?

So look folks if you love your iPhone I understand but i think I would be a bit pissed off if I had bought a iPhone charger, camera holder, or a BMW with a built in dock and now with the iPhone 5 I need an adapter for ALL my iPhone gear? F that!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

First Tri Tip beef smoke

Ready to startSmoked till 125*

I smoked my first tri tip today I did a modified Santa Maria rub but I converted it to a marinade as I added olive oil, dijon mustard, and red wine vinegar. The butcher had already trimmed all the fat and I was concerned about drying the meat out. It sat in the marinade for 12 hours. Results: The added oil was unneeded as if anything it was too juicy.

I suspect the oil rub down transferred the heat a lot faster than it should have. As it hit 120* in about 1 hour 10 mins or so at 250*. Next time I am going to try a lower temp with more wood as the smoky flavor did not penetrate like I would have expected. NO OIL until I go for the sear.

I have some Susie Q rub and real California Red Oak in the mail so I can make a "traditional" Tri Tip in the near future.

I think my technique is solid just need to alter the temps a bit. It was tasty and I did eat half of it trying to decide how much I liked it. I give myself a B- as a grade "pretty good could be better"

Started classes today


The wife talked me in to going to classes to be a Virginia Master Naturalist. Basically after you are trained and certified you are an official unpaid employee of the state of Virginia concerned with wilderness, wildlife, and water. Upon completion of the class you could do anything from taking samples or counts of species and uploading them in to the states database to giving classes to students on a hike in a state park. I personally am not sure I would like to do either of those things but being able to recognized tree and flora native to Virginia and helping eradicate invasive species sounded more up my alley.

I have always loved Virginia as it has all (4) seasons, usually in equal parts, and Virginia has everything from oceanfront, to bays, to large rivers, to mountain ranges with almost 16 million square miles of forest. I have always loved being in the woods and the current house sits in the middle of 20 acres of woods so almost everything I learn could be beneficial to me on my own property.

I was not too stoked going in to the class but after seeing we are going to be working with the top experts in the field (a different one every week) along with in-class field trips it is sounding pretty interesting, Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Galaxy S3 battery charger


When the S3 phone first came out I ordered a extra battery and charger day 1. The extra battery came right away shipped from China. I was a bit miffed being the battery does NOT have NFC ability. Plus, now that I have my phone rooted with a custom ROM running JuiceDefender Plus my battery lasts all day anyway! Also, back then I did not have this cheap but awesome case on the phone (Aduro Shell Holster Combo Case). So I can't put the phone in the cradle anyway unless I take off the case. Not that big a deal but not IDEAL.

I suppose the good news is that with that case I do not keep the stock back cover on the Samsung Galaxy S III
anyway so I will always have a spare battery I can pop in if I forget to put it on the charger.

Funny side note: When the mail man pulled up to have me sign for the package I was burning off the smoker after I cleaned it out at lunch time. He said, "I do not know what your are cooking but it smells FANTASTIC!" I told him I would keep him in mind next smoke.

BTW Juice Defender works magic for battery life on ALL Android phones. $2 well spent!

First cook new smoker

The first cook in the new smoker was a triumphant success. The ribs were very good but my hunger and lack of experience with beef ribs drove me to pull them a tad early at the 5 hour mark. The rub I used was very tasty, I just used a bit too much of it. I will be posting my pork rub here in the future and you will see it has more brown sugar than anything else so you are hard pressed to over-apply it. On the other hand the beef rub I used is predominately pepper and I packed it on there pretty good so even as a pepper lover it was a touch much on certain bites but certainly not enough to make me not eat them. YUM!

Beef Rib Rub


  • 3 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons table salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili or ancho powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle or cayenne powder

Preping food and spicesRemoving inedible skin w/butterknifeDone and yum!

Since I was setting up the new smoker and know people wanted to check it out I made a video review of the Smokin-It model #3. Well, not so much a review as a walk around. I will give it a proper review after I have smoked in it 10-20 times. It also show the various times in the cook cycle.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

8th Annual Recovery Fest & 3rd Annual BBQ Cook-Off

Well, this was not what I expected. :( This was a serious competition. Meaning… I thought I was going to going to be able to go up to people and say "Hey, what are you cooking there? Can I get some of that pork? Here is $3-$4" Nope! What you see here is:
Serious fussing
a team fussing with a wooden skewer and a napkin to make the perfect plate for the judges. The day was not a total loss as I did enjoy seeing all the various smokers and contraptions. I also did chat up a few people but, I went there thinking I was going to have a smorgasbord of BBQ meat. I did have on pulled pork sandwich from a local vendor that has permission to sell food to the public. To say it was "average" is being generous.

I did however pull in to the local butcher and he had aged tri-tip on sale so I plan to smoke that bad boy later this week.

Hello to a new friend

Since my old smoker broke this week I was toiling over a new smoker I ran across this on an Amazon search, by accident quite honestly.

I started looking at all the comments and reviews for the Smokin-It model #2 then started Googling the rest of the internet. The information I could find was sparse but for the little there was I was quite impressed. I wanted to know more especially about being able to replace worn out parts.. I contacted the company and left a message. The owner, Steve, called me back and we and chatted about smokers, high end units, the similarities and differences between his and the high end units, replacing parts, and what if he were to go out of business. i.e. how standard are his parts? and could I fix this myself? I would say, for the most part, he sold me… since I bought one.

One of my main concerns was the depth of the model since I on occasion cook 8 racks of ribs at once or 3 racks of ribs with a pork butt underneath. He talked me in to the Smokin-It model #3 which is basically a stretched model #2 with a bigger heating element (1200 watts).

Guess what showed up today? My new BBQ meat smoker! This is not so much a review as it is a first impressions.

It was well packed with plenty of cushion for the shipping
The only thing I had to assemble were the casters in to the legs of the smoker. These are nice BIG casters!
If I had to be critical I would say that they could of done a better job concealing the welds but after I had it all together and really looked at it. The places you can see the welds don't show since they are underneath were you will never see them or are inside the smoker (soon to be black with smokey goodness).

The wood box is made for chucks, or blocks, of wood but since I have pounds of oak, hickory, and apple wood laying around in chip form I ordered the additional screen. So now I can use the chips without having them fall though the large holes and hit the heating element.
Besides having a big 1200 watt element I was happy to see totally removable racks for easy cleaning. I can hear the wife asking, "what is in the dishwasher?!?!" now. ;)
I was also impressed the the front door drip shield as now the wife won't be wanking at me about "staining the deck with meat drippings"

I wiped down the inside with a cloth sprayed with Pam to pick up any foam or other debris that may have fallen in there and started the 4 hour recommended break-in/seasoning run. i placed one temperature probe on the bottom rack and one temperature probe on the top rack. Smoker is set to 250*. As you see one picture shows a 2 degree variance but I know my old probe is about 4 degrees off so I am happy to be within 6* top to bottom. The other blue thermometer is a model engine surface temp gauge that I was using to look for heat leaks. The top of the smoker was around 100 degrees and the hottest area I could find was at the right hand side of the door that was 118*. I was very pleased with the insulating properties of the new smoker.

I do have some beef ribs to cook but that will have to wait till Sunday since the is a State Championship BBQ competition right here in Richmond sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ society so I am going!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Goodbye to an old friend

wood insertfrontclose

I bought this "Masterbuilt" BBQ smoker back in 2007. I repaired it in 2009, then again in 2011. This year the freaking thing electrocuted me! Now granted it was probably due to my awesome electrical skills but for something that has as big of a heating element that it does it had awfully small wires inside. Now, if you are a part time "smoker" and you want and easy to set up machine that costs around $200 then they still make one similar. But make sure you

a. Keep it in the garage and make sure it is dried out before you put it away
b. When you clean it out on occasion be sure not to let water run down the area where the heating element connects to the box.
c. When you are cooking i would tin foil the area where the element connects to the back wall.

They still make this thing but not in stainless.

They also make a nifty new more expensive one. But I just could not bring myself to spend that much more not knowing if this thing was going to be an electrical nightmare like the last one.

Day 1

Well here I sit and stare a blank page pondering the "Why am I doing this?" Oh yes. Zen. Enjoying the pleasures in life. Or a place to talk about the stuff I buy then bitch about it. Welp… lets get started.