Saturday, September 23, 2006

Affordable BBQ RV

Thor Industries has made RV ownership affordable again. The AEROLITE ZOOM Z718QB is an ultra-lite RV and is capable of being towed by a mid-size SUV such as a Ford Escape.

Believe it or not, this RV comes with a queen size bed, toilet, shower/tub, stove, refrigerator, dining area, fresh water, grey water, and black water tanks, 6 gallon water heater (optional), 13,500 BTU A/C (optional), fold out awning, torsion axle suspension, and many more features you wouldn't expect in an entry level RV. It comes in lengths of 13, 16, and 18 feet and weighs in at about 2, 900 lbs. All for a very affordable price of about $13,900.

You can't load this RV down with 2,500 lbs. of equipment when you compete, but if you cook with lightweight equipment such as three or four Weber Smokey Mountains, a Caldera del Fuego or Caldera Tallboy, or even a single Cookshack pellet cooker that you can haul in your tow vehicle, you're set to go with the Zoom. (Maximum cargo capacity is 1,800 lbs.)

The Zoom offers everything you need to bbq in comfort and in style.

Jessica Simpson to Open "Daisy Dukes BBQ" Chain

According to a published report by, Jessica Simpson and father Joe are planning to open a new chain of bbq restaurants called "Daisy Dukes". Simpson played "Daisy" in the recent remake of the 1980's hit TV series "Dukes of Hazzard".

From the description in the article it sounds like the restaurant will be along the same lines as "Hooters", but with a bbq theme versus chicken wings.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Rachel Ray

Did you happen to catch the 20/20 segment featuring Rachel Ray? I'm a Rachel Ray fan and don't mind admitting it. There's something fascinating about an ordinary person that make it big based on a strong work ethic and plain old hard work. $40 a day is still one of my favorite Food Network programs.

She's a perfect example of someone that enjoys what she does and gets paid handsomely for it. Some may criticize her lack of formal training, but she readily admits that she's a cook and not a "chef".

A waitress, a retail sales clerk in a gourmet grocery store, a Food Network Star, a magazine, a talk show, and now 38 year-old Rachel Ray is a household name.

Rachel Ray is proof positive that there's hope for the average Joe after all. I enjoy her down-to-earth personality over the nose-in-the-air classicly French trained chef any day of the week.

The biggest lesson I've learned from the Rachel Ray phenomenon? Simple sells.

BBQ Class Curriculum

I received an e-mail today from the local community college asking if I'd like to discuss the possibility of providing a bbq course as part of the adult education curriculum. Most of the courses meet only one or two times and they're often on the weekend.

It sounds like an interesting excuse to cook some more bbq and help others learn to enjoy the thrill of learning bbq skills at the same time. What do you think?

If you were going to spend $75 at the local community college to take a bbq cooking class, what types of things would want to learn about?

Here's some thought I jotted down (feel free to add your own suggestions):

-Definition of bbq versus grilling
-Cooker selection
-Wood versus charcoal versus pellets
-Food safety
-Types of meats suitable for low-and-slow cooking
-Meat selection (chicken, ribs, brisket, butts)
-Meat preparation (rubs, brines, injections)
-Cooking techiques (hot and fast versus low and slow)
-Seasonings (commercial rubs, basic homemade rub recipes)
-Sauces (commercial sauces, basic homemade sauce recipes)
-Samples of bbq brisket, pork, ribs, chicken to enjoy at the end of class

One option is to go through the routine of preparing meats as we would at a contest and maybe cook the chicken as part of the class. I would prepare the other meats prior to the class meeting so it would be ready to eat when the class ended.

If I were plunking down my own money, I'd want to cook the meat in the class, but I don't think most folks (i.e. non bbq fanatics like me) would expect to spend 12 hours or more at a community college class in one setting.

Plymouth GTX Muscle Car

I know these aren't bbq pictures, but I wanted to share them anyway. I hope you don't mind.

This car was on display at the Plymouth Fall Festival here where we live in Plymouth, MI (interesting coincidence isn't it).

Aside from being yellow, the car reminds me of the family car we had when I was in grade school. If I remember correctly it was almost the same model except for a few optional accessories.

This car has the 440 c.i. engine like ours did, but we had blue paint with an upgraded wheel package and blue vinyl seats. If I recall correctly the back rally stripe was on the bottom of our 1968 Plymouth GTX. It had a four barrel carb, 3-speed automatic on the console, and Dana posi-trac rear end pushing somewhere in the vicinity of 430 hp. Stock!

If my dad still had that car today, it would probably be worth somewhere in the vicinity of $25,000 - $30,000 easy.

I believe there were only about 1,100 of them produced in 1968 (just enough to meet the NASCAR requirements). This was a true ready-to-race factory race car capably of 150 mph + in stock condition.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Grand Rapids Turkey Cook-Off

I received the following e-mail today from the organizer of the Grand Rapids Turkey Cook-Off, raising funds for Toys for Tots:


The Michigan Apple Committee will be sponsoring a Michigan Apple Dessert Category with a first prize of $50! To enter, the recipe must include Michigan Apples and be created on site. We are very excited about this addition to the day's events and thank the Michigan Apple Committee for their support.


For the Junior Champion category (cooks 16 and under), our Junior Champion will go home with their very own grill! A folding charcoal grill has been donated to encourage our young cooks to keep the heat on.


Remember that if you enter before October 15, the entry fee is just $25. We are encouraging everyone to pre-register so that we have the proper number of turkeys available on the day of the contest. Michigan Turkey Producers has promised a free turkey to the first twenty teams to register. Entries postmarked after October 15 will need to include a $35 entry fee. entry fee enters all of the categories including Junior Champion and Michigan Apple Dessert.

Potential Sponsors...

If you are interested in sponsoring the GRTCO or in having either a vendor or informational booth at the Grand Rapids Turkey Cook-Off, please contact us so we can figure out how we can work together to make this a great event for everyone!

For more information, check the website. You can find information on being a judge there too!

Have a marvelous day!
Planning Committee
Grand Rapids Turkey Cook Off
Good Food, Good Friends, Good Fun...All for a Good Cause

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Turning Your Home Recipe Into a Business Venture

A bbq question I am asked about most is how to start selling bbq sauce.

To answer that question, I've done a little research this week. Here's a breakdown of the basic entry level expenses to develop a bbq sauce product and bring it to market.

Development of Test Batch with Co-Packing Company..$100
Minimum 45 case purchase.......................................$1,000
Product Labels*...........................................................$240
Nutrition Statement.....................................................$180
UPC Labels..................................................................$750

Total $2,270

*This does not count the artwork, design and printing for the label. The label cost might vary according the actual terms you negotiate with your printer.

Some of the typical minimum basic requirements to qualify for consideration with the co-packer company:

Articles of Incorporation
PH Level Testing
Liability Insurance Coverage
Tax I.D. #
Bank References
Food Industry References

...and a whole list of other minor requirements to be met before the co-packer will agree to bottle your sauce.

It's still pretty reasonable though when you consider the cost of starting some other types of businesses such a restaurant franchise or various retail establishements.

Purchase bbq rub

Copy Cat Recipes!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Pictures of Turn-in Boxes - Silver Lake Sand Dunes


Pulled Pork



Pictures from Silver Lake Sand Dunes Cook-off

Picture of our cooksite at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes cook-off

Offset smoker and a couple of Weber kettles

Mayberry BBQ's sharp looking concession trailer

Dr. Chuckies Weber Smokey Mountain cookers

Straight Meat BBQ Boys got a new Old Hickory rotisserie recently.

Linda getting things ready for The BBQ Guy

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Silver Lake Sand Dunes KCBS BBQ Cookoff Results

First of all I'd like to thank the Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce, who hosted this 1st year event. I've not spent much time in west-Michigan during my 2-years as a Michigan resident, but after the visit to the Mears area this weekend, I'm sure we'll return.

If this contest is held again next year, we'll definitely compete in this event again.

Overall Results:

Grand Champion--All Day Smoke (596.0002)
Reserve Grand (592.0002)
3rd Place--Pork of the North (590.8566)
4th (588.5720)

1st Place (152.0000)
1st Place (154.2856)
1st Place Pork--Donnies BBQ (153.1430)
1st Place Brisket--All Day Smoke (154.2858)

Michigan Trifecta Final Standings:
(total cumalative score from all 3 Michigan bbq contests held in 2006)

1st Place--Down Home BBQ (1811.999)
2nd (1800.5706)
3rd Place--Pork of the North (1799.9986)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bluegrass and BBQ at Dollywood

This weekend at Dollywood near Gatlinburg, TN the Bluegrass and BBQ Festival gets underway with special guest Ricky Skaggs and others.

American Royal BBQ - Kansas City

According to an article posted in the Kansas City Business Journal the American Royal BBQ will award more than $110,000 in prize money at this years event. The contest spans from Oct. 5-7 this year.

If you've never visited the event, or at the very least watched espisodes about it on Food Network, and you're a dyed-in-the-wool bbq connisseour and/or backyard enthusiast; you owe it to yourself to make the pilgrimage to Kansas City this year to check it out.

BBQ Contest in Silver Lake, MI

Linda and I have the trailer all loaded up and we'll be leaving bright and early tomorrow for Silver Lake Sand Dunes in West Michigan. It will be our last KCBS event of 2006. If you're in the area drop by and say hello.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Fantasy Barbecue

Millions of football fans around the world have been waiting more than 6-months for this weekend to finally arrive. It's a chance to redeem themselves for last year's performance in their respective fantasy football leagues. I've been in a league with some current and former co-workers now going on the fifth year and it's a blast. We have 14 teams this year and a true international flavor with teams from Australia, Canada and United States.

If I had the programming knowledge to pull it off, I'd be the first on the Internet to offer a "fantasy bbq league" complete with a draft, playoffs, and "super bowl". (If anyone reads this and has the knowledge to make it happen, please contact me.)

A popular bbq discussion forum recently documented more than 80,000 visitors to check out the list of bbq competitors that qualified for and were selected to compete in the Jack Daniels World Championship BBQ Contest in Lynchburg, TN later this year, which is a testament to the popularity of the sport.

There's fantasy leagues for baseball, basketball, football and NASCAR, why not Fantasy BBQ?

Purchase bbq rub

Copy Cat Recipes!

Cooking a Whole Hog

This is the time of year that people traditionally begin to gather in groups to celebrate. Whether it's for fall weddings, reunions, football games, pep rally's, turkey shoots, hunting trips, and many, many more; nothing feeds a hungry group of people quite like a bbq whole hog.

I'm certainly no expert on whole hog cooking, but I've definitely eaten my fair share of it cooked by a Tennesseean that knew all the in's and out's of doing it right.

The scald, the scrape, the cook, the pull, and the eat! If you set out to cook a whole hog, set aside about 24 hours for the entire process. It helps to have lots of extra hands and moral support available if you're a first timer.

A quick Google search yielded the following results:

Going Whole Hog
Tools for Whole Hog Cooking
Pork People
3 Men
Meat Man
Shaboom's Kitchen
The Lexington Collection
The Other White Meat

Copy Cat Recipes!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Polder Dual Probe Cooking Thermometer

For cooking large cuts of meat like pork shoulder, pork picnics, pork butts, beef brisket, or even pork tenderloin, it's vital that you closely monitor the internal temperature of the meat as it cooks.

This Dual Probe Cooking Thermometer by Polder
make low and slow bbq a breeze.

Product Features:

-Two probes for monitoring two items simultaneously
-Two heat resistant silicon coated probes
-Extra large LCD display for easy reading
-Two timers can monitor two items at the same time
-Includes magnet and stand arm for varied positioning

Black & Decker EK700K Electric Carving Knife Kit

For those that cook bbq beef brisket, this handy electric knife from Black and Decker is a must have item for your personal bbq arsenal.

If you've been using a standard "butcher" knife to slice your brisket (like I did for almost a year), then you'll love this Black & Decker EK700K Electric Carving Knife Kit .

Product Features:

-Includes: electric knife, 2 blades, carving fork, carry case
-Carry case dimensions 14 3/4" L x 5 3/4" W x 2 5/8" H -
-9" Stainless steel serrated blades
-Non-slip handle for firm and comfortable grip
-Safety lock prevents accidental starts

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Jack Daniel's 18th Annual Invitation Barbecue Championship

The organizers of the Jack Daniel's BBQ Championship Cook-off in Lynchburg, TN have drawn for this year's competitors for the world's most prestigious bbq cook-off. Contestants are limited to a maximum of 50, so many, many good teams will not be among the competitors. Here's the list of 2006 contestants: Click here

Some of our sentimental favorites include:

Smoke & Spice - Mark Rogers FL
Bill & The Dixie Chicks - Bill Schmitt FL

Schedule of Events

Friday - October 27, 2006

3:00 “I Know Jack … about grillin'!” contest begins @ Judges' Pavilion

4:30 “I Know Jack … about grillin'!” contest ends

5:30 Parade of Teams through Wiseman Park and around the Square

Saturday - October 28, 2006

10:00 Judges Check In – Judges' Pavilion
Barrel Raising Demonstration – near the tennis courts

10:30 Judges' Meeting – Judges' Pavilion
Rhythm Express Cloggers – Town Square

11:00 Butt Bowling (8-11 year olds) – Tennis Court
Sign-up for Country Dog Contest at the Softball Field

11:30 Country Dog Contest – Softball Field

11:45 “Homemade” Pie Auction @ Gazebo on the Square
Auctioneer: Jimmy Bedford, Jack Daniel's Master Distiller

12:00 JUDGING – “Jack Daniel's Sauce”

12:30 JUDGING – “Cook's Choice” (U.S. Teams)
JUDGING – “Home Cookin' from the Homeland” (International Teams)
Barrel Raising Demonstration – near the tennis courts
Butt Bowling (12-Adults) – Tennis Courts

1:00 JUDGING – Chicken
JUDGING – “Jack Daniel's Shade Tree Cook-off” – Chicken
Bung Toss (8-9 year olds) – Tennis Courts

1:30 JUDGING – Pork Ribs
JUDGING – “Jack Daniel's Shade Tree Cook-off” – Pork Ribs
Rhythm Express Cloggers – Town Square
Bung Toss (10-11 year olds) – Tennis Courts

2:00 JUDGING – Pork Shoulders/Butts
Bung Toss (12-Adults) - Tennis Courts
Barrel Raising Demonstration – near the tennis courts

2:30 JUDGING – Beef Brisket

3:00 JUDGING – Desserts
Rhythm Express Cloggers – Town Square

4:00 Barrel Raising Demonstration – near the tennis courts

5:00 AWARDS CEREMONY (Invitational contest) – Judges' Pavilion

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

BBQ Contests for Profit -- an editorial

I have read reports lately on various forums about bbq from competitors that profess to compete for profit. I applaud those that can do it profitably. I'm jealous in fact.

Based on my experience, it's next to impossible to earn a profit from bbq contests, unless 1) you have a lucrative sponsorship relationship with a company that serves the bbq industry such as a charcoal manufacturer, cooker manufacturer, meat packing company, etc.; or 2) you win grand champion or reserve grand champion at 50% or more of the contests you attend; or 3) you manufacture a bbq related product such as cookers, smokers, grills, woods, charcoal, etc., and sell a lot of it as a direct result of competing in bbq contests.

BBQ contests have not yet reached the point where the contest itself offers a substantial enough purse to be economically feasible for more than one or two of the competitors at each event. By the time you factor in expenses for meat, travel, lodging, entry fees, wear and tear on vehicles and equipment just for starters, you're in the hole already....unless you are fortunate to win the $1,500 or $800 (average amounts, some contests pay less), you're never going to come out on the positive end of things.

Assume you receive a 3rd place at a larger than average event. It's possible that you will not receive any monetary rewards at all for your cooking effort, even though you outperformed all but two other competitors at the event. Most contests only pay prize money to 5th place and recently I've seen a trend that organizers are cutting back to 3rd place at some events, or rewarding non-monetary prizes in place of cash.

I think the bbq contest sanctioning bodies and contest organizers could take hint from NASCAR and the BASS Masters fishing tour in this regard. NASCAR has Nextel and BASS Masters has had various relationships through the years with prominent manufacturers such as Ranger Boats and others.

For barbecue to progress to a point of being profitable for the folks that provide the main attraction at the events--the cooks themselves--it's going to take a large push toward high level and high dollar corporate sponsorship. This will require professionalism at every level of the event--from organizers, judges, contest reps, and competitors--to attract the money that NASCAR and BASS Masters have enjoyed for decades now.

In my opinion, ultimately it's the sanctioning body that bears most responsibility for taking the sport the next level and no single person or sanctioning body can do it alone. The board of directors, organizers, contest reps and contestants must work in unison--pulling and pushing in the same direction and abandoning some of the in-fighting that I've witnessed first hand to progress.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Monitoring BBQ Temperatures

A key to obtaining consistent bbq results from your efforts is how closely you monitor temperatures. You need to have the capability to monitor cooker temperature and internal meat temperature effectively during the cooking process.

Some cookers have built-in temperature gauges and others don't. A word of caution regarding manufacturer installed temperature gauges....depending on the location within the cooking chamber they may be misleading and your bbq results may suffer.

You need to monitor cooking temperatures in your cooker at, or very near, the cooking grate location. If the manufacturer installed the gauge more than a few inches above the cooking grate, the temperature you cook at may not necessarily be the temperature you are hoping for.

Temperatures in a cooker usually will be higher when taken at higher levels within the cooking chamber. Try to monitor temperatures on the cooking grate, or as near meat level as possible.

In my Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) smoker I use a 12-inch stem thermometer from a turkey fryer to monitor temperatures very near the cooking grate. It's cheap and it's easy, but most of all...I didn't have to drill holes in the cooker dome and risk cracking the coating on the cooker to install a gauge mounted in the dome lid. And for those that know me well, you can understand how painful it would be for me to "crack" the lid or "scratch" the finish.

From experience and prior measurement with a Taylor oven thermometer I know that the temperature on the bottom grate in this cooker averages about 20 degrees less than the temperatures on the top grate when I use the water pan, so if I'm cooking on both grates during a cook, I usually rotate the meat top to bottom about 1/2 way through the cooking process. This ensure that both cuts of meat finish at close to the same time. If using sand in the water pan, or if I leave the water pan empty altogether, the temperature might actually be hotter on the bottom grate than the top grate. It can vary from cooker to cooker and depends on a lot of factors, thus the importance of monitoring the temperatures closely.

It's also important that you monitor the internal meat temperature during the cooking process. As you can see in the picture above I use a digital unit purchased from a kitchen store. I have several of them made by various manufactuers including Polder, Taylor and Maverick.

As an aside, and in the spirit of shameless self-promotion, there are some nice digital thermometers advertised in the margin on the right hand side of this page if you'd like to help support my efforts here on the bbq blog. There are others advertised on my sister web site located at . For those of you that have purchased from me using the links in the past, please allow me to extend a heartfelt 'thank you'.

BBQ Secrets, Click Here!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Simulated BBQ Game

Ray Basso, creator of The BBQ Forum, has developed a computer simulation game for bbq.

It's a pretty cool game that you can play online to simulate the bbq experience on your computer. It's complete with smoker, wood pile, refrigerator, bbq rub, matches, charcoal, meat and it even makes you do the dishes.

There are some hazards included in the game including birds, a dog, and periodic rain storms.

It takes a little getting used to, but it's a welcome addition to my regular bbq rituals.

With a little common sense and patience to learn the controls, this game should provide you hours of enjoyment. I think it's a good way to introduce kids to the sport of bbq as well.

Hemi BBQ Grill on Yahoo's "The 9"

I hope the folks at "The 9" don't mind, but I just love this picture. We missed it last year when it was on display at the Chrsyler museum. The grill sports a real Chrysler Hemi and is revving up America's passion for barbecue.

BBQ Secrets Revealed, Click Here!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Used BBQ Trailer for Sale

I'm always looking around for ideas to incorporate something new into my competition bbq trailer and this a.m. I ran across a nice looking unit. They've done something with this trailer that I haven't seen before. They installed the concession service window in the tail gate. I think that's a great idea.
I'm not 100% sure if this bbq trailer is still for sale or not, but for someone wanting a bbq concession trailer, or top of the line competition set-up, it might be worth a call to the sellers.

Trailer Features Include:

96"x216"x74" custom trailer
1 True under counter sandwich prep refrigerator
1 True under counter work top refrigerator
1 Duke 3 well steam table
1 Star 2 burner stove
3 compartment stainless steel sink with 2 drain-boards, removable stainless steel cover to convert it to usable counter space
1 hand sink
1 self contained water system with water heater, pump, removable fresh/waste tanks
1 fold down rear ramp door
2 personnel doors
2 serving windows with screens and pass-throughs
All stainless steel interior
Aluminum tread plate floor
1 Southern Pride BBQ smoker with ventilation system
1 complete electrical system
1 complete LP system with 2 30# tanks
fluorescent lighting
roof vents
I'm not affiliated with the seller. I just ran across it today and thought if sounded like a good deal for someone in the market and without the time, skills, or desire to build their own trailer.

Beef Brisket

Linda picked up a whole brisket for a practice cook this weekend. It's been marinating overnight in the refrigerator and I'm going to put it on soon.

Here's the strategy I'll be using:

1. Cook fat side up to start.

2. Spritz with apple juice after 2 hours, which helps with bark formation.

3. Flip to meat side up after 3 hours.

4. Spritz with apple juice again on the meat side up as an aid to bark formation.

5. Wrap in aluminum foil after 5 1/2 hours or 170 degrees, whichever comes first.

6. Cook to 193 degrees.

7. Let meat rest in an ice cooler for three hours prior to slicing.

8. Sauce each slice lightly prior to serving.

9. Serve while still hot.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Michigan State Fair Pictures

We took a trip to the Michigan State Fair today. Although the only barbecue concession stand we saw was not open for business, we did get an up close look at a Southern Yankee rotisserie cooker and catering/concession trailer. The rig was set-up on what appeared to be about a 22 - 24 foot utility trailer with the whole rig screened in to meet the health department regulations. Unfortunately we didn't get a picture of the bbq trailer, but we snapped a couple pictures in the livestock barn of these show pigs.

I see some definite potential for some bbq in these.

There weren't many heritage breeds there, which would yield some better tasting bbq than these long and lean hogs, but heritage breeds aren't viable commercially these days. A lot of small niche producers are beginning to raise them again, so who knows, maybe in another 10 years we'll be seeing them in the grocery stores again. I'm told the meat from a heritage breed, such as a Berkshire, is much more favorful that what the large scale producers are bringing to market these days with the Yorkshires and Hampshires and various crosses between the two.

Athens Coney Island Diner -- Royal Oak, MI

Linda and I stopped by this nice looking diner today on Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak, MI. The diner opened in 1964 and originally seated 15 patrons. I'm not sure when the update was completed, but the owners remodeled the restaurant several years ago to add seating for up to 100 diners. We ordered cheeseburgers and french fries and were in an out in 30 minutes.

They did a nice job in the remodeling job to maintain the overall appearance and style of a traditional diner. Seating is a mixture of booths, tables, and high-counter stools.

I bet this place is really hopping during the annual Woodward Dream Cruise.