The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke
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Q: Where Have You Been? A: Taken By a Cult

First Image
I've been away from grilling and smoking for about two months now. I can always tell when it's been a while. There're a few folks who either regularly read my blog, or enjoy seeing my picture posts, and they will send me an email or use the Comment feature on my website. They'll ask if everything is okay and how come I haven't been posting to my site. I've received 4 such inquiries in the last two weeks, so I know it's been a while. It's been a combination of things, either other things that take up my grilling time or no one around to grill for. I've been doing simple burgers or dogs for me, but that's not worth posting pictures or blogs about here. All is not lost though: in this downtime I've actually joined a cult!

Original Concept:
Kamado style cookers, such as the Big Green Egg (BGE), have been gaining in popularity over the recent years. This past spring CharGriller came out with their Kamado cooker priced at just under $300. I figured I wasn't going to be able to afford a BGE, but with my birthday at the end of the summer I could probably count on being able to get the CG Kamado cooker. I planned to do some research over the summer to see what the reviews were like on the CG cooker once it had been in use for a while. I also went to the stores that sold them into a look at the build quality. Assuming the reviews were good, and the build quality was acceptable, I would get the CG Kamado cooker in late August or early September. At least that was the original plan.

The reviews of the new CG Kamado cooker were very good actually. About the only complaint I consistently heard was it was a bit hard getting them down to 225 degrees, but they easily hold 250 degrees. That certainly wasn't a deal breaker for me, because it seems like people are doing low and slow at a higher temperature these days. 250 or 275 degrees seems to be the new 225. The food cooks quicker and has the same great flavor. As far as the build quality of the CG Kamado cooker, I was pleasantly surprised. Although it is made in China, it has a far better build quality than anything I've seen coming out of China lately. There was only one questionable detail for me. That was the gasket that creates the seal between the lower and upper half of the grill. The seal on the CG was some sort of rubber like material that was held in place with roundhead screws with the heads actually being left exposed. I questioned whether that would create points along the gasket where you would get air leakage. So far in the short time the grill is been out, the answer has been no. But that detail still bothered me a bit.

Big Surprise:
In the spring a wonderful thing happened. Apple Inc. declared a dividend. I had bought Apple stock through my IRA at my old job. In fact I bought quite a bit of Apple stock, DESPITE the advice of the fund managers. I bought the stock at prices ranging from single digits to teens. The most I paid was $42 a share. However most of it was bought in the single digits and teens. The fund managers kept trying to get me to sell off the stock, I consistently ignored them, because it seemed like I knew more about what Apple was actually doing than they did. Suddenly in the last few years they're trying to take credit for all my Apple stock, when the truth is they kept trying to have me selloff the Apple stock. The bottom line for me is this: If they knew was much about stock as they pretend to, why aren't they putting their money where their mouth is? Retire and invest their own money in stocks and become rich millionaires. The fact that they're happy to spend other peoples money and lose that money in many cases, tells me all I need to know. So thanks to my ignoring my investment advisers "best" advice, I will be getting a $2000 check from Apple every quarter. This was very good news indeed, and came out of the blue. Steve Jobs had never wanted to pay dividends prior to this time, but Apple never had the kind of money in the bank that they do now.

We Have a New Plan:
Work has been very slow and money has been tight, and a good chunk of this dividend check has been spent. A good chunk of this first dividend check is already accounted for. But I started thinking: what if I took my birthday money and some of the money left over from the dividend check? That would be enough to get my foot in the door and get a Big Green Egg. The more I thought of it the more sense it made. While the CG Kamado has a very good build quality, it doesn't match that of the BGE. I think that the CG would easily last five, if not 10, years. At this point in my life, the BGE could easily last me the rest of my life. The CG is new and doesn't have a lot of accessories for it yet, and probably never will never have as many looking down the road. The BGE on the other hand, has a wealth of Eggcessories for it. These accessories are made by the BGE folks and many third parties. The BGE also has a thriving community of enthusiastic users, often called "Eggheads". This was the "cult" I was referring to that I had joined in the title of this blog. There are many websites you can turn to for advice, recipes and problem solving. There are also gatherings on a local and national level called Eggfests, where Eggheads get together for good times, good food and good advice.

So I started doing some more research. The more I read up on the BGE the more I wanted to try make it happen. One of the reasons I was looking into getting another grill was to take some of the load off my two existing rolls. My six burner gas grill is now eight years old and I don't know if I can get any more replacement parts for it. My CG smoker is now seven years old and I don't know how much longer it will last either. By having a third grill, I could take some of the load off the other two grills and make them last longer. I could use whichever grill would work best for the particular occasion. One of the things that intrigue me about the BGE was how good people said it was for baking. Many people claim you will not use your oven again today want to start baking on the BGE. One of the reasons this intrigued me is I was just gifted a KitchenAid stand mixer. I have been starting to get into making desserts and I also was intrigued with the idea of baking some of my breads out on the BGE. In fact I'm arty thinking about a hamburger meal where I grind my meat on the KitchenAid stand mixer, mixup the the hamburger roll dough on the KitchenAid, bake the hamburger rolls on the BGE, grind up and cook the burgers on the BGE. Other than the cheese, everything will be made from scratch.

Joining the Cult:
I went to my local BGE dealer to kick the tires and see what the Egg and the Eggcessories I really needed would cost. I wasn’t planning to buy, just try. But several things happened. The first was I got a work-related check in the mail, for work which was by now 3-6 months old. So while I still figured I was going to get paid for the work, I wasn’t holding my breath expecting it. This check could be used for the Egg and I would cover the money with the Apple dividend check. The second thing that happened was my visit to the BGE dealer. When I saw the build quality of the Egg, and the wealth of Eggcessories I drank the KoolAid. I had them write me up a quote for what I needed. The build quality of the Egg was the final item that pushed me into the Egg camp. Many folks who bought the CG Kamado end up saying it is a great grill, but you will need to do some work on it yourself to get a better seal. The BGE was going to work out of the box and had a lifetime guarantee on the ceramic parts of the grill. So I had the quote written up and came back to complete the deal a day later after my “surprise” check had cleared. The Large Big Green Egg which I bought weighs about 170 pounds and I definitely wanted the dealer to deliver and assemble it. The owner of the Egg dealership had drifted in and out of the conversation and he evidently liked the fact I wasn’t trying to haggle and just was looking to get a quote and not waste their time. Even though I lived way outside their free delivery radius, the owner told my salesperson to give me free delivery. The delivery date was originally about 5 business days away. I mentioned to them that I had a 10‘x10’ Ez-Up and if a rainy day came along where they had to cancel a delivery because of rain, they could still come to my house. So a bit more quickly than I’d expected, I’d joined the cult!!

Eggcellerated Delivery:
The next morning I started writing this blog. At this point, I was expecting my new BGE in about a week’s time. Around 8:00AM, I went out to see if I could score some Wicked Good lump charcoal for use in my new Egg. A small general store in a small town about 15 miles away supposedly carried it. This made it the closest Wicked Good dealer to me. When I was checking out, the person ringing me up noted she hadn’t seen me in buying Wicked Good before and asked if I got a new grill. I started telling her about my new baby and pulled out my phone to show her a picture on the phone and the phone began ringing. It was the dealer saying they had a cancellation and asking if they could set up my grill in about an hour. I don’t think I need to tell you how I answered. So this blog entry was left unfinished (until today) and I raced home to meet the installer. The Egg was installed and I began a 10 day stretch where I cooked more food in less time than ever before. But that, and my new Egg will be the subject of future blogs.

SOME RELATED LINKS:
Here are some links to the series of blogs I am writing about my new Big Green Egg Kamado Cooker.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 1 - ASSEMBLY - My BGE came with free assembly. In this Blog I describe in a big picture fashion what is involved with assembly, so you can decide if you want to attempt it yourself.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 2 - 1ST COOK - What I chose to make for my first meal on my new BGE, why I chose it, my first impressions & how it turned out..
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 3 - MYTHS & LEGENDS - There are lots of things said about how good the BGE is. After using it for a while I use this Blog to address some of the popular claims about the BGE.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 4 - 1ST LOW & SLOW - The Big Green Egg may cost more up front, but it costs far less over time due to it's stingy use of charcoal.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 5 - TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP - The Big Green Egg may cost more up front, but it costs far less over time due to it's stingy use of charcoal.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 6 - BEST IN CLASS PIZZA - The Big Green Egg turns out the best grilled pizza I’ve ever had or made.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 7 - EGGCESSORIES - BIG PICTURE - My take on Big Green Egg accessories. Are they too expensive or should some come with the Egg?
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 8 - EGGCESSORIES - GENERAL - The grill related accessories I bought along with my BGE.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 9 - EGGCESSORIES - COOKING - The cooking related accessories I bought along with my BGE.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 10 - STEAK ON THE EGG - My first steak on the Egg had a little drama, but was my best steak ever.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 11 - GASKET REPLACEMENT - BIG PICTURE - The the background & what was involved doing my gasket replacement.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 12 - GASKET REPLACEMENT - BLOW BY BLOW - The actual story of how my gasket replacement experience went.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 13 - BIG GREEN EGG COOKBOOK - See why I consider the Big Green Egg Cookbook an essential tool for using a BGE.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 14 - IMPRESSIONS AFTER 90 DAYS - My impressions after 90 days using the Big Green Egg.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 15 - GRATE ACCESSORIES - GRIDDLE - Cast Iron Griddle Grate.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 16 - GRATE ACCESSORIES - RAISED GRID - Half Moon Raised Grid for indirect grilling.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 17 - STIR-FRYING ON THE BIG GREEN EGG - Getting set up for Stir-Frying with a Wok on the Big Green Egg.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 18 - FIRST STIR-FRY - My experiences on my first Stir-Fry using the Big Green Egg.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 19 - IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE - I know it may sound crazy, but the Big Green Egg will really change your life.

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