The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

My 300th Picture Post - Hard to Believe

The ORANGE MARINATED PORK LOINS picture entry marks my 300th unique picture post to this site. I was looking at some site statistics about a month ago for other reasons and I saw I was approaching 300 picture pages. Looking into it a little further I found I’ve posted 3,600 pictures in just the picture entries area of the site. This doesn’t include the pictures in the Blog, Gear, or Que Cal areas of the site. Speaking of blogs I am approaching my 200th blog entry. When I first made the site live in January of 2006, I really didn’t know if I could sustain a blog. My whole growth process over the years, which this site documents has amazed not only me, but friends and family alike. I take no credit for it though. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the great cookbooks out there and the help of others who have been willing to share their knowledge with me.

When I got my first “serious grill” in 2003 it was a few months after I bought my first digital camera. Photography was a hobby I’d spent lots of time with in the past, but as I was grilling more I was shooting less. I decided to start taking pictures of what I was making, since I’d graduated from just steaks and burgers and dogs on the grill. I found I enjoyed taking the food photos and when I posted some of them on message boards, others complimented me on the pictures too. Having pictures of the cooks I was doing came in handy when it came time to make it again. I could see the ingredients I used, how it turned out and how long it took. All without having to really on memory. In 2005 I got my smoker and this expanded the scope of what I was making. Once again the food photos came in handy as a way to document the cooks and I found I was taking even more pictures to help in this process.

Then in early 2006 Apple announced iWeb, their WYSIWG web site publishing app. I was intrigued because it would be a great way to share some of my photographs with friends and family. Plus I wanted to learn this app and what better way to do it, than with a real project. I debated long and hard whether I would do a blog. I was just getting into more serious grilling myself and had just bought a smoker and was a total newb in that department. I was worried where I was no expert that I’d even have much to say. I was worried I’d run out of things to say. I decided the approach to it would be I would write about what I knew, which wasn’t a whole lot at that time, plus what I was learning. This would also be a way of giving back to others as repayment for all the help I was (and still am) getting. I’d share the little tidbits about what I was learning good or bad. This could range from new cool gear I’d discovered that others might be interested in, to cooking techniques or tips that had worked well for me, as well as any other grilling and smoking related topics I could think of. On a personal note I am glad I started the blog and kept it going for several reasons. First, I sometimes refer to it myself if I am revisiting something I haven’t done for several years so I don’t make mistakes or make the same mistake twice. Secondly it is a bit like a diary and I can see the steady progress I have made. It is sometimes handy to have that perspective.

About a year after I got my smoker I made tow pacts with myself. The first was to revisit all those foods I historically didn’t like. The reason for this was some of the ingredients I was called on to use were things I’d didn’t like. When I’d bitten the bullet and used them, I found out they weren’t as bad as I thought and often quite good. So I vowed to retry everything at least once more. The second pact was to keep trying new things. Rather than make the same thing all the time, I wanted to keep finding new variations or totally new items to make. So unless someone specifically requests a meal for some special occasion, I keep looking for new things to make. This happened to coincide with some of the cookbooks I was buying having international recipes in them as well as good old fashioned American recipes. I was amazed at the wonderful new combinations of flavors their were to sample. These two pacts to revisit all foods and to try to keep making new recipes helps explain some of the growth I’ve had.

The other item which helps explain my growth are some of the year end blogs I’ve done where I set goals for the next year. These are either general or specific things I want to try. In a given year I may say I want to try making veggies on the grill. I also may set a broader goal of wanting to learn to cook multiple items, or whole meals on the grill. This certainly helps explain the growth in what I have been making. Instead of doing just the main meat on the grill I am making the sides too. This multi tasking has forced me to learn more about cooking techniques than I may have learned doing one item at a time. Along the way I have been trying to document what I’ve learned (good and bad) in both picture form and then more specifically in my blog. These last few years in particular have seen a huge jump in the number of items I am making and their sophistication. It has been a fun run of late and I’m making and sharing some of the best food I’ve ever had.

So if you are visiting this site for the first time, feel free to poke around. I’ve tried to share what I’ve learned with one of the goals being helping others be able to enjoy this great hobby. Or is that grate hobby? Both actually. I can’t imagine what the next 300 cooks are going to be, but I can’t wait to start in on them.

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