The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke
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Looking Back, Looking Ahead - 2012

First ImageTHE YEAR IN REVIEW
This marks the 7th year where I am writing a blog near the end of the year summing up the past year. It contains several “Top 5” barbecue related lists from prior years: “Top 5 Cooks”, “Top 5 Things I’ve Learned”, “The Top 5 Mistakes Made”, and a list of “Top 5 Goals for the New Year”. In 2009 I made a change to the format and added a new list. As I have gotten better at this hobby, I was lucky enough to have made some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. Since these items were also some of my favorite foods, they would automatically have to be listed as the Top 5 cooks this year. There were a lot of other great meals I made that deserved so acknowledgment. So the category I added in 2009 for “Top 5 New Items Cooked” is now a permanent item. It is intended for recipes using new foods or new techniques that turned out great. In 2010I added the category: “Top 5 Grilling/Smoking Related Events”. I think it will also be a permanent category but it will have a slightly different focus once again in 2012. I was not able to get out and attend and festivals, but I will list some items that were important to my pursuit of this hobby. Since I’ve been doing many more multi-item cooks where I grilled or smoked the entire meal, including dessert. the new 2011 category for “Top 5 Sides & Desserts” is also permanent. This year I got an iPad and between my iPad and iPhone I’ve become quite reliant of several apps to help with my cooking. So this year I am adding a new category for “Top 5 iPad/iPhone apps.

This year was a watershed year for me, although it didn’t start out that way. It marks the biggest change in how I pursue this hobby in the entire time I’ve been grilling. In August I added a Big Green Egg to my stable of grills. Originally it was intended to supplement my grill and smoker which are getting older. Once I started using the BGE I realized that I no longer really needed or wanted my grill or smoker. This was a huge surprise to me and this blog entry will reflect the huge change the BGE has brought into my pursuit of this hobby. Some of you reading this may be rolling your eyes thinking it is only a grill. Well I used to be that way myself until I started using it. I soon came to realize that the BGE is the finest cooking tool I’ve ever used. If you look through the BLOG ARCHIVE for this year you will see some blog entries explaining just how I got to where I am today.

One of the trends that came along for the ride with the BGE is that it is an excellent oven too. I am now baking on the Egg and also making many types of food I’d never wood have thought to make on the grill before this. This has truly been my most exciting year every grilling and smoking. And it looks like it is only going to get better in the future

Top 5 Items Cooked in 2012: Cowboy Steak - BGE Version (01-20-12)

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Once I decided to make this steak, there was no doubt in my mind which steak would be at the top of this list. I’d made these steaks a couple years ago on the gas grill and I wanted to try them again on the BGE. I had to wait until I had an accessory called the Half Moon Raised Grill Grid (see BLOG ENTRY) which allowed me to cook directly and indirectly at the same time. That is what a thick steak like this requires. You give it a direct sear to lay some grill marks on it and then you finish it off indirectly. When I made it 2 year ago it was the best steak I’d ever had. Like most things cooked on the Egg it turned out even moister this time around. This was an absolutely incredible steak.

See:
  COWBOY STEAK- BGE Version Beef Picture Entry
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Rib-Eye with Shallots & Garlic (08-04-12)

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If I hadn’t gotten around to remaking the Cowboy Steak described above, this would have taken the prize for best meal in this year or any other year. The steaks were direct grilled for about 3 minutes per side at 600 degrees (316 C) and once off the grill were topped with a butter, shallot & garlic sauce. These steaks had a crisp and tasty bark and a moist & tender inside. I made these 3 times for various special occasions and they never failed to impress my guests. I will say everyone who tried them declared them to be the best steaks they’d ever had.

See:
  RIB-EYE W/ SHALLOTS & GARLIC Beef Picture Entry
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S.C. Mustard Ribs - (05-19-12)

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There is an interesting story behind these most excellent ribs. A member of the Barbecue Bible Message Board, Dyal_SC, sent me a jar of his favorite S.C. Mustard sauce. S.C. is the region famous for it’s mustard based BBQ sauces and it turns out the sauce he sent me is thought by man to be the best of the best. I wanted to send him something to thank him and I picked side split New England style hot dog rolls and overnighted him 2 packages. Well each of us hit a home run. These were some of my favorite ribs ever and both Dyal & Mrs. Dyal loved the rolls. He told me she wanted to move up here so she could have these rolls all the time. That is what makes this hobby fun, sharing food with others. As for the ribs I prepared these ribs using the 3-2-1 method and sauced them with the mustard sauce. Six folks ended up trying these ribs and I was the only one who had tried mustard based ribs before. Everyone loved them and some were surprised how much they loved them considering they’d never heard of this style rib before.

See:
  SC MUSTARD RIBS Pork Picture Entry
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Beef Wellington - (01-01-12)

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Beef Wellington was something I’d wanted to try on the grill for years and I finally did it for my New Years meal this year. It marked several firsts: my fist flambé where the sauce was partially cooked with a flame and my first use of puff pastry for the shell. I made it over two days so I could also grill up the other side dishes on the second day and finish up the Beef Wellington in a relatively stress free manner. The Wellington was excellent and was fun because quite a bit if it used techniques that were new to me.

See:
  BEEF WELLINGTON Beef Picture Entry
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Pepperoni & Ham Pizza - (08-05-12)

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This variety of pizza is my favorite topping combination when I order a “build your own” type pizza. As I have found out, the Big Green Egg makes the best grilled pizza I’ve ever had. The crunchy crust you get at 600 or 700 degrees (316-371 C) is absolutely wonderful and the pizza cooks in less than 4 minutes. So it was inevitable that my favorite type of pizza cooked the best way I’ve ever had it would make this list.



See:
  PEPPERONI & HAM PIZZA Pizza Picture Entry
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Top 5 NEW Items Cooked in 2012
This list represents items that are new to my repertoire: food types I haven’t made before, new methods of preparation, items I’ve never made on the grill before etc. I started this section in 2009, and since then I have had very good years in 2011. The new versions of old favorites that by default made my Top 5 list above, were going to crowd some other deserving meals off of the list. So yes this is a bit of a cheat, but these items deserve some recognition.

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (09-21-12)

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This excellent pizza used the ceramic deep dish pizza pan I purchased for my new Big Green Egg. The recipe was a joint venture between the folks at BGE and King Arthur Flour. The very buttery tasting pizza dough recipe from the folks at KAF and the filling recipe from BGE was modeled after a Pizzeria Uno pizza and tasted similar and in many ways better. This marked my first deep dish pizza ever, and my first deep dish pizza dough. This 8” pizza is so filling it feeds 4.


See:
  CHICAGO STYLE DEEP DISH PIZZA Pizza Picture Entry
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Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Que Chicken -BGE Version (08/02/12)

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I’d made this recipe in the spring of 2012 and it turned out a moist and tasty chicken coated with a unique and world famous white barbecue sauce. While very good, it wasn’t good enough to make this list. So what changed? Well I made this as my first cook on my new Big Green Egg in August. This was the most moist & juicy chicken I’ve ever had. The version I did on the gas grill was excellent, but this was a whole different level. I was shocked at the difference myself, plus I was able to get more smoke flavor on it with wood chunks vs. the chips I had to use on the gas grill. This was the first of MANY pleasant surprises about the BGE.

See:
  BIG BOB GIBSON’S BAR-B-QUE CHICKEN - BGE Version Poultry Picture Entry
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Cottage Pie - (11-15-12)

This was a Cook’s Illustrated take on Shepherd’s pie. They wanted to modernize it, make it lighter and make it faster to make. The reason it is called Cottage Pie is it uses beef instead of the traditional lamb. Instead of cooking it inside I made it on the BGE using the cast iron Dutch oven which allowed me to add some smoke flavor to it. This is something I couldn’t do using the oven and it made a good thing even better. Actually I was thinking to myself it was the best version of this classic I’d ever had, when my father said that exact thing.

See:
  COTTAGE PIE Beef Picture Entry
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Sausage & Mushroom Quiche - (09-19-12)

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This recipe marked a couple firsts for me: my first pie crust and my first quiche. The recipe was quite easy to make, particularly with my new Kitchen Aid stand mixer and it baked up very nicely on the BGE.I was quite surprised to find this was the best quiche I’ve ever had and I’ve been to Paris and Montreal, particularly since this was my first time out of the box. I will give all credit to the Big Green Egg Cookbook and to the even baking properties of the Big Green Egg


See:
  SAUSAGE & MUSTARD QUICHE Other Picture Entry
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Sweet and Sour Chicken - (12-04-12)

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I have enjoyed all of the stir fried dishes I have made in the last few weeks on my new wok. The recipes I have made from Breath of a Wok have been excellent. This one was a relatively quick prep and a very quick cook but was long on flavor. The marinaded chicken was extremely soft & tasty and the veggies were soft but still crispy. The sauce for this dish was a wonderful contrast of flavors.



See:
  SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN Stir Fry Picture Entry
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Top 5 Sides or Desserts 2012
This list was added in 2011 and represents the fact I’ve been doing more multi-item cooks. The main courses were always going to make my other Top 5 Lists and so some great items deserving of attention would be skipped.

Hermits (11-05-12)

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Hermits are one of my favorite desserts. The problem is the hermits you buy these days just aren’t as good as they used to be. Instead of being snappy & crisp they are overly chewy. This recipe from Cook’s Illustrated Holiday Baking 2012 aimed to try to recreate classic hermits and added the new wrinkle of a glaze. The hermits were as good as any I remember having and the glaze was a nice touch.



See:
  HERMITS Dessert Picture Entry
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Gazpacho on Fire (05-05-12)

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This Stephen Raichlen recipe was unique in my experience because some of the veggies were grilled before being pureed and added to the gazpacho. Gazpacho is a Spanish soup served cold and is very refreshing in the hot weather. This gazpacho was served with a paella and makes a wonderful 1-2 punch.





See:
  GAZPACHO ON FIRE Soups & Stew Picture Entry
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Skillet Cornbread (08-22-12)

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Another recipe from the Big Green Egg Cookbook also marked the first time I’ve made cornbread. This cook also marked the last time I used my gas grill. This recipe uses grilled corn as one of the ingredients and I fired up the gas grill to do that task.






See:
  SKILLET CORNBREAD Baking Picture Entry
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Buttermilk Biscuits (08-18-12)

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Another BGE Cookbook recipe for some delicious buttermilk biscuits. The first time I made these, I had some issues with the constancy of the dough but I corrected this the second time out and the end results were excellent. These biscuits go well with soups and stews and breakfast.





See:
  BUTTERMILK BISCUITS Baking Picture Entry
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Virginia Yee’s Dry-Fried String Beans (12-01-12)

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While I served this stir-fried dish as a side dish for a 3 stir-fried meal, it is actually the perfect side dish for any type of meal. This item from Breath of a Wok actually gets cooked ahead and sits at room temperature for 3 hours before serving. The 3 hour rest allows the flavors from the oils and other ingredients to get soaked into the green beans, which are very flavorful. The make-ahead of this dish and serving it at room temperature makes it a very convenient side.


See:
  VIRGINIA YEE’S DRY-FRIED STRING BEANS Stir Fry Picture Entry
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Top 5 iOS Cooking related Apps 2012
This list was added this year and represents the iOS apps that I use the most to help me enjoy cooking outdoors. The apps are specifically for iOS but similar apps may be available fro your Smartphone platform.

Dark Sky (The Dark Sky Company, L.L.C.)

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How useful would it be to have an app on your iPhone or iPad that tells you with a high degree of accuracy, measured in mere minutes, when it is going to start raining and the expected intensity in the next hour. By looking only one hour into the future this app tends to be very accurate. The app also send you an alert on your phone if it is going to start raining.




See:
  DARK SKY - A COOL WEATHER APP Blog Entry
  DARK SKY - NEW & IMPROVED Blog Entry

  DARK SKY Link to developer’s website
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Groceries (Sophiestication Software)

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This was one of the first apps I got for my iPhone and I’ve used it several times a week for the last 5 years. It allows you to customize the content to reflect the aisle layout of your supermarket(s) and the way you go through the store. You can add items to your grocery lists in several ways. Once you get it setup, you’ll never want to use a handwritten shopping list again.





See:
  iPHONE BBQ BUDDY-GROCERIES Blog Entry

  GROCERIES Link to developer’s website
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Kitchen Calculator Pro (Forward Leap, L.L.C.)

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A handy calculator for converting from Imperial to other Imperial units or Metric to Imperial. It seems these days many recipes are starting to use metric units and I convert the recipes back to Imperial when I add them into my recipe management software. Also at the supermarket many world foods are described in metric units and I am able to convert back to Imperial units. This is a convenient calculator to have for areas outside of cooking too.


See:

  iPHONE BBQ BUDDY-KITCHEN CALCULATOR PRO Blog Entry

  KITCHEN CALCULATOR PRO Link to developer’s website
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Food Substitutions (Various)

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There are various apps for the iPhone and iPad that tell you what to use when you are out of or can’t find a particular ingredient. This app has saved my bacon several times when I found out I was out of something or the store was out. The one I use is no longer made, but it still works so I haven’t switched to something else. But you should consider keeping a similar app on your phone.







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Clock App (Apple Computer)

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The Clock app that comes with the iPhone is a great BBQ times. It has a stopwatch function, a countdown timer and you can set multiple alarms. It is also backlit for easy use at night. There are plenty of third party apps for the iPhone that you could also use. So far I haven’t found one that gets around some limitations built into the iOS operating system. There are certain limitations where 3rd party apps can’t display alarms when the app is in the background or the phone is sleeping. This is why I still use the Apple Clock app: It has 3 different ways of tracking time and the alarms function when the phone is sleeping.



See:
  iPHONE BBQ BUDDY-PT 2 Blog Entry
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Top 5 Lesson Learned, Re-Learned or Reinforced

Experience in One Area Often Transfers to Another.
Another way of saying this is: You may know more than you think you know. This lesson was shown to me in several areas. When I got my new Big Green Egg, I had only smoked indirectly using charcoal, I had not done any direct grilling with charcoal. I quickly found that low and slow on the BGE was very similar to my smoker, but a whole lot easier. Indirect on the BGE was similar to the smoker as well, just over a wider range of temperature. Even direct charcoal grilling had it’s similarities to direct grilling on the gas grill. From older gas grills that didn’t have the even heat distribution of my current gas grill I’d picked up the habit of moving my hand around to check for hot spots. Without really thinking about it, I found I was doing this on for the Egg too. Another version of this lesson was when I started doing stir frying on my new wok on the BGE. This was a whole new method of cooking for me, or so I thought. Once I actually started doing it, I realized it was not unlike cooking paellas, except using a higher cooking temperature and a much faster cooking temperature. I didn’t find it as challenging as I thought it might be, because I’d already done something similar cooking paellas. So if you have been cooking a while, you probably have a bigger potential skill set than you imagined.
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Have & Use a Good Weather App(s) on Your Smart Phone

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This item was on the list last year but a new type of weather app became available that has really improved my cooking experience. I will refer you to the details in the two blog entries I’ve listed below, but Dark Sky is a unique iOS weather app. Instead of trying to predict what is going to happen in the longer term, which tends to be inaccurate, Dark Sky looks at the weather for the next hour, where it is possible to be quite accurate down to minutes. It uses the information from all of the government owned doppler radar sites across the US to give you a very accurate look ahead to the next hour. This app is a wonderful planning tool and really works well. If you are interested in more details, please check out the two blog entries.

See:
  DARK SKY - A COOL WEATHER APP Blog Entry
  DARK SKY - NEW & IMPROVED Blog Entry
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Timing Multi-Item Cooks Eventually Become Second Nature

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This is the second year in a row for this item and the trend has continued this year. I had to force myself to do more multi-item cooks and I often resorted to charts like the one in the picture for this entry. But once I started doing more multi-item cooks, they surprisingly started becoming second nature. This year more than ever I was just doing these cooks without much advanced planning. I would work out the major details like light the grill time, food on the grill or smoker time and let the other details work themselves out while I cooked. When I started cooking I would fill in the breaks with the other tasks and somehow everything worked out. This was a bit surprise to me, but having done enough cooks, multi-item or otherwise, I knew what various items took to do and where I could sneak them in the cook. Most times I was able to plan things out in my head and once in a while I would scribble down some major events during a cook and when they should happen. I only did one big chart like the one shown here and that was for my Thanksgiving cook which was my most ambitious cook ever. In addition to cooking the Turkey, I was also making rolls and two desserts on the Egg. In the Kitchen I was making mashed potatoes and a cranberry dipping sauce. Even this chart was less elaborate than the one shown here. It was done by hand on graph paper and the main intent was to make sure I had enough time to cook everything on the Egg, without having to get up at 3:00 AM to start the prep. I put the major times for starting everything on the grill and let some of the down times define themselves as I went. This chart did tell me I was going to have to rethink my baking, because I would have to get up really early to start it. In looking at the recipes I found I could start two items the night before, which neatly solved my time problems on Thanksgiving Day. So if multi-item cooks seem like a huge mountain you just can’t scale, force yourself to start. They will get easier and quicker than you think, you will be able to start doing big picture planning and not having to micro-manage every last detail. It is hard to believe when you are first starting out, but it really does happen.
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Every Live Fire Cook is Different
This item is a new on this list and stems from my adding a Big Green egg to my arsenal. One of the reasons I used a gas grill was to get consistency in time and results. But the Big Green Egg brings more plusses than minuses to the table and makes more sense to use than my gas grill. One of the minuses is every time you make a live fire it is different from any other. You may have different sized pieces of lump in this particular bag of charcoal. High or low temperature cooks on the Egg are easy. It is the middle temperature direct cooks that are tricky. The problem is you may reach your cooking temperature without a lot of coals being lit. You end up with hotspots and cool areas. You quickly get adept at using these areas to your advantage. Use the cool areas for slowing down the cooking or for things like rolls. Put the food over the high heat areas and if it isn’t possible to get all of the food over the hottest area, make sure all of the food is rotated to equalize the time over the various temperature zones. I’ve also found out there are things you can do to get more coals lit-such as going over your temperature and then come back to it. This will get more coals lit and spreads the available heat over a wider area. But the bottom line is with every cook you must realize that every fire is different and you need to cook the food based on the fire you have for this day.
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Baking Becomes Second Nature

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You may wonder how baking made this list. Quite simple: The Big Green Egg is said to be a better oven than your Kitchen oven. Also this year I was given a Kitchen Aid Stand mixer and this has served to make baking even easier. So I have started making all sorts of breads and desserts on the Egg. When I first started out it seemed like baking was this rather incomprehensible category of cooking where Id always know just enough to be dangerous. I started doing more baking once I got the Egg. I have found that like most other type of cooking, there are certain basic concepts you must master and then everything builds on that. One aspect of baking I always found a bit frustrating was how it could be very precise down to weighing ingredients (vs. measuring by volume), but yet at the end you were left to adding more flour and water to make up for the climate conditions in your Kitchen. But the trick is to learn the proper consistencies of the various doughs and you will soon be adding just the right amount of flour or water at the end to get that. Also use good recipes that cover the various details you need to know, The folks at America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated are very good at explaining the details behind their recipes and are a good place to learn. I’ve also found you can’t go wrong with a King Arthur Flour recipe either. Basic baking has started becoming close to second nature for me. This year I made my first quiche, my first cake, my first pie crust, my first cookies, my first corn bread, my first buttermilk biscuits, my first deep dish pizza and crust. They all came out great and somewhere along the way I realized I no longer felt like Baking was this mysterious process. Better yet I am having fun doing it too! And nothing beats homemade baked.
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Top 5 Mistakes Not to Repeat

Leave Enough Time for Prep
I can’t seem to get rid of this item off this list. I am getting better at it and there are new reasons for it in many cases, but that is still no excuse. This year I’ve been cooking many multi-item meals including rolls and dessert. This complicates the prep and the length of time it takes. What has been happening lately is I just barely get the time right. I start at a time I think is more than early enough and it turns out it was just enough time. When I start I think there will be time for breaks in the middle. As I begin working I will say to myself that I will take a break when X gets done. When I finish X, I think I’d better start Y first before I take a break. Next thing I know I don’t end up taking a break and I have just enough time and it is a bit of a mad dash to the finish line. Now this is better than being late, but I still need to work on this because it would be nice to take a break once in a while too. Another item added to the mix, is with a charcoal grill such as the BGE I need to deal with warmup time. I have learned that for high temperature cooks I need to give the Egg a good cleaning, but every once in a while things take a little longer to get started because the Egg didn’t warm up as quickly as usual.
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Before You Start Make Sure You Have Everything
There is zero excuse for this item making my list for yet another year, but sadly it has. Sometimes it is a matter of not having an ingredient in that I ASSumed I did. Or I will forget to add an item to my shopping list app. Somehow I need to fix this because with multi-item cooks like I am starting to do all the time, there is little room for error or a trip to the store. I hope to not have this item on next years list.
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Always Burp the Lid of the Big Green Egg When Opening.
The Big Green Egg has such a tight seal that the fire can sometimes become oxygen starved. If you lift the lid normally the oxygen rushes in and you get a so-called flashback where flames come rushing up and out of the Egg. I have burned the hairs off both of my arms with not one but two flashbacks. I felt pretty stupid the first time, never mind the second time. I have also learned recently that you may need to do a two stage burp where you lift the lid an inch (2.5 cm) and hold it for a few seconds, and then lift it to 6 inches (15 cm) and pause a few seconds before lifting it the rest of the way.
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Use All of the Ingredients
This sadly is another repeat item. I could use the excuse that I am doing more so more mistakes are bound to happen, but really this shouldn’t happen. Before I go out to the grill I will make sure the final toppings are ready so when the food comes off the grill I am good to go. For example: Sometimes I chop up the herbs for the final garnish a little earlier when I am chopping up herbs for the meat. I will put them in covered measuring bowls and put them in the fridge until I need them. Then I forget they are there until after the meal. I really need to reread the directions every step of the way, particularly if it is a first-time cook. Another example of this is the first time I made N.Y. System Hot Wieners I forgot to put out the celery salt which is the last topping to go on.
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Clean out the Egg before all High Temperature Cooks
You don’t necessarily need to give the Egg a thorough cleaning after every cook. You can usually use the Ash Tool to swirl around the charcoal and get the ashes and smaller bits to drop down through the ash grate into the ash drop chamber below. For a real high temperature cook you need to swirl the charcoal around even more thoroughly and make sure neither the fire grate nor the holes in the firebox are clogged. You also need to scoop out the ashes in the ash drop. To be extra sure of achieving high temperatures quickly, you may need to remove the lump charcoal to allow you to a more thorough cleaning of the firebox. Now anytime I am looking at temps of 500 degrees or more I do a thorough cleaning and if it has been a month or so since I last did a complete cleaning I will take out all of the charcoal.
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Top 5 Grilling/Smoking Related Happenings
This was a new section added in 2010 . These are activities that were related to my grilling and smoking hobby, but not something I cooked-BBQ festivals for example or new cookbooks. If this didn’t explain it well, I think it will make more sense when your see what is on the list. This year I didn’t get out to any BBQ related events, but there are still items for the list.

Large Big Green Egg

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Purchasing the Large Big Green Egg is the biggest event this year or any year ever in my pursuit of this hobby. It has changed the way I cook, what I cook and has basically obsoleted my other grills. It is pretty much weather independent and has turned out some of the best meals I’ve ever made, even when I was a total newbie to using it. Rather than ramble on, let me refer you to a blog I just wrote about how the Big Green Egg has changed my life. It is part of a whole series of blogs I’ve written about the Big Green Egg. You can take a look at some of those if you want to learn more about this amazing cooking tool.

See:
  BIG GREEN EGG-PT 19-IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE Blog Entry
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Grill Gazebo

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Most years this would have been on top of the list of biggest happenings. But the BGE trumped this. I have been wanting and dreaming of having a year round shelter for my grilling ever since I started grilling year round. I had no idea until a few days before hand I would be getting this great shelter. If you are curious I will point you to a blog entry I wrote about it as well as a new section I added about it. I’ve got to tell you I still have to pinch myself every time I go out and cook on my new Big Green Egg under my new Grill Gazebo. This has been a great year for me and this hobby.




See:
  GIMME SHELTER-GRILL GAZEBO Blog Entry
  GRILL GAZEBO Site Section
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A Steady, Year Round Lump Charcoal Supply

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Getting all-natural hardwood briquettes around here has been a challenge, sometimes even in the summer. My new Big Green Egg uses lump charcoal. One of the best lump charcoals is Wicked Good Weekend Warrior lump charcoal. It is distributed in Maine and is available year round here. There is a general store in a nearby town that carries it year round and my Big Green Egg dealer keeps it in year round as well. Additionally the Ace Hardware 3 miles away can order it and get it delivered to the store in 3 days or so. This is such a relief, not having to worry about where I was going to get my next batch of charcoal from. Instead of having to buy 20 or 30 bags of charcoal at a time to insure a steady supply for the winter, I keep about 4 bags around and buy two more when they needed. Another benefit to the Egg is you can close it up when you are done cooking and reuse whatever charcoal was left. Also due to the insulated nature of the Egg it uses far less charcoal than my smoker ever did. The fact this charcoal is one of the best out there makes it even better.

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Big Green Egg Cookbook

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TThis cookbook was instrumental in helping me get up and running quickly on my new Big Green Egg. Not only did it have great recipes it covered the setup of the Egg, the Eggcessories (accessories) you’d need and the cooking temperature you should use on the Egg. This was invaluable information and made it easier because these recipes were tailored for the Egg from A-Z. The recipes also demonstrated the large range of cooking you can do on the Egg. The book isn’t perfect, there are some areas where the advice isn’t always the best it could be, but what cookbook is perfect these days?



See:
  BIG GREEN EGG-PT 13-BIG GREEN EGG COOKBOOK Blog Entry
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Wok & Spider

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One of the things I never dreamed of doing on my previous grills was stir-frying on a wok. In the last month with the help of some of the workers on the Big Green Egg Egghead forum I purchased a wok and an Eggcessory called the Spider that holds the wok in place on the Egg. The items I have been stir-frying have been excellent and I expect to do many more stir-fries. The Egg is an amazingly versatile tool.




5 Goals for Next Year
This year has marked the biggest changes to my practicing of this hobby. In the last 4 months I’ve have been learning how to use my new Big Green Egg and just what I can do with it. I have also been having the most fun ever. The future looks bright and exciting, I must say.
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Continue to Learn About the Big Green Egg
I hope to keep making new and different dishes on the Egg. I have achieve an initial comfort zone with it and now I want to push the envelope by making new a different things on it.
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Get Another Large BGE
This is a bit of a shocker, even to me. When I got the Big Green Egg it was intended to be 1 of 3 grills and would help lengthen their lives. Instead my first Egg has hastened their demise. I planned on possible getting a Small BGE down the road to allow me to foo veggies and a main course at the same time or do a direct grilled dish and low and slow at the same time. When I ended up spending quite a bit of money on various Eggcessories, it occurred to me that getting a second LArge BGE might cost me less in the long run. I wouldn’t need to buy a second round of Eggcessories for a different sized Egg. I would buy a second Platesetter, but at this point I don’t see anything else I’d need to duplicate.

Do Even More Baking
This item has been on the list for several years now. With the Egg being said to be a better oven than the oven in my Kitchen, and my new stand mixer, I definitely see this goal being achieved. It has already been happening this year and I can see me doing even more next year.
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Continue to Try New Types of Cooking
Thanks to the versatility of the Egg I’ve been trying out new types of cooking, such as my recently attempted wok cooking/stir-frying. I’ve also tried deep dish pizzas, frittatas, quiches etc. I want to try more types of all of these plus see what other kinds of trouble I can find to get into.
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Make More Fish
This item has been on the list before and two years ago I made quite a few fish dishes, but this past year I got away from it again. I am adding this item here so hopefully when I look at this list during 2013, I will see this item and start making fish again.
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Thanks

First Image
If you’ve made it this far, I’d like to thank you for reading this and my other Blogs this year. Hopefully something you’ve seen in either the Blog Entries or the Picture Entries has given you ideas to try or helped you with your own cooking. I received and still do receive a lot of help from others. One of the goals of this site is to help others. Please let me know via Blog Comments or the Contact Form what you think.






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