Winter Vacation and Projects

Around October I thought it would be fun to take the family with me on a trip. I was needing continuing education credits and there was a meeting at Disney World the first week of December; so, we decided to just do it. It was a great time and the boys really liked it. They were too short for lots of the rides. But the ones they were tall enough for, they enjoyed immensely. The Seven Dwarfs Mine ride was a favorite; we may have two little roller coaster lovers (which will make their mom happy). Although the rides were fun, they are young enough that meeting the characters and going to the shows was more entertaining for them.

Here is a quick photo of me and my sons on our last night of Disney at the Fantasmic show.

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My shoulder has been bothering me off and on for about 6 months; lifting kiddos on/off rides and holding them up so they could see the fireworks/shows was the last little push it needed to really hurt. I’ve had joint pain before – this was different with pain shooting down my scapula while lifting any amount of weight. Luckily, McBride clinic got me in the next day. I know everyone complains about how much medical care costs these days, but I would have paid triple the price for the steroid injection. In less than a week my shoulder had basically quit hurting.

Never one to sit still for long, I decided to tinker a little bit. I altered my Weber smoker cart, made a holder for all my grates and a cart for my cooler. I’ve also made a switch to Duraflame Harwood Charcoal Briquets because multiple reviews have reported consistent burn times similar to Kingsford blue bag with significantly less ash production. I was interested in Wicked Good Charcoal briquets but they are out of production due to a manufacturing problem.

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Till next time…

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Ambitious 2015 Schedule

2015

After a few emails and searches through the KCBS events calendar and comparing it to my work schedule, I’ve have preliminarily nailed down this ambitious schedule for my second year in competition BBQ.  My plan is to enter into all of the 14 highlighted events (Blue = 3 RMBBQA Cup Events; Yellow = 7 OKBS ToY Events; Green = 4 KCBS events).

I hope to avoid the Top Gear motto of Ambitious But Rubbish, but we will see.

Till next time…

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Coming to the end of BBQ for 2014

It is hard to believe that it is already October. Technically, as the American Royal has come and gone for another year, qualifying for next year’s Royal and Jack invites has already begun. I am preparing for my last contest of 2014 – On October 24th and 25th, I will join 20+ other teams in Fort Gibson, OK. I feel like I have learned quite a bit this year and met some great people along the way.

Much to my surprise, I was sent an email invite by the RMBBQA to attend the annual awards banquet. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend. Not one to be patient, I let my curiosity get the better of me and checked out the RMBBQA website to find that I had placed 8th overall and 2nd in Brisket out of 24 teams for the Shot Glass competition. For those that don’t know, the RMBBQA has two points races each year (The Cup for teams that compete in 6 or more contests and the Shot Glass for teams that compete in 3 to 5 contests). Unfortunately, my rib, pork shoulder, and chicken scores were right down the middle – Always room for improvement, right?

Overall
Brisket

But in the meantime, the Hogan Clan is driving to Albuquerque for the annual balloon festival this weekend!

Till next time…

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Sky’s the Limit BBQ

It was a nice cool weekend in Garden City, Kansas. It started off with a little rain during setup, but stopped by Friday evening. The remaining days were perfect BBQ weather. After a lot of asking and support from my fellow BBQ teams, I agreed to cook the double header on Saturday and Sunday. A special thanks goes out to David and his wife of The American Dream and Travis of Clark Crew BBQ who quite literally bought my chicken, pork and brisket for the second day of the double header as I only packed for one day.

My father-in-law Larry came down from Scott City to help me with setting up my shelter/supplies, finishing my cooks for turn-ins, and stayed to help me pack it all up. My family came by to visit on Saturday. Here is a picture of my wife, father-in-law and myself in our team shirts.

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Saturday went fairly standard for me with most of my scores in the mid to low 160s until I got a call for 6th place brisket (finally cracking into the 170s with a 171). Saturday night was a bit brutal as I had to prep/trim all of my meats while dealing with all of the drunk people staggering out of the hotel’s bar. But after not much sleep, the cook went fairly well. I thought my brisket on Saturday was the best I had ever made, but the judges disagreed and gave me a 174 on Sunday. To my palate the brisket was a little more dry than Saturday but I got some tips from teams on how to make some changes for next time. My chicken is slowly improving and earned a 169. My pork shoulder and rib scores are just stagnant and I’m going to need to try something new.

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All in all it was a successful weekend as I earned just enough money to pay for my entry fees and learned a lot doing it back-to-back. Next stop is my last for 2014 – Fort Gibson, OK

Till next time…

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Updating and Upgrading the BBQ Fleet

My Smoke EZ Weber 26 suffered an injury after transporting it to Dodge City and back. The wood base started to crack; back to the drawing board. After browsing the internet and brainstorming, I settled on making a base using metal 3/4″ EMT tubing.

Since I was already in modification mode, my birthday is coming, and I had seen them online, I decided to put lid hinges on my smokers. The hinges are the creation of a Florida BBQ Competition team Unknown BBQ

Before
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Dodge City Days BBQ

Finished my first KCBS contest with all four categories turned in. Pulled into a blazing hot Dodge City, KS at 2pm on Friday and was lucky enough to find a spot with some shade next to a really great team Grillin Beavers. It was also nice to see some teams out of the 30 in the contest that I met in Chandler. I’m still admittedly intimidated when I see teams like Butcher BBQ and Buffalo’s BBQ pull their trailers into the comp site, but decided to set my goal as finishing in the top half in every category (a bit ambitious). I decided not to enter a sirloin roast for lack of practice, cost, and desire to focus on the main four categories.

After cooking and handing off the boxes, I came up just a hair short of my goal in Ribs

Chicken 10th – My 1st Top 10 call!
Ribs 18th
Pork Shoulder 14th
Brisket 14

Although I didn’t meet my goals, I’m still pleased with my performance overall. To add to the surprise of hearing my name called, they called out Perfect 180 scores in both ribs and sirloin roast.

I’ve decided to withdraw from the Liberal contest and go to Fort Gibson later in the year instead. Next stop Garden City, KS.

Pictures to follow -

Till next time…

 

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Hog Wild BBQ

My first competition is under my belt (well… 1st half of an competition since I only turned in chicken and ribs). This weekend I went to Chandler, OK for their annual Hog Wild BBQ and Chrome Fest. It was a good time to put some of my practice to work while also learning a lot about the process and getting to know some of my fellow competitors from around the state. To tell you the truth if I was intimidated when I saw the names of some of the teams competing in Chandler – Fast Eddy, Butcher BBQ (I buy some of their products), Clark Crew BBQ (Travis cooked at the class I went to, took Reserve Grand Champion, and is one of the leading teams on the KCBS circuit in average score per contest), Caveman Cuisine (who ended up being the Grand Champion), and several teams sponsored by name brands you would recognize. Luckily, I set my goals lows: make both of my turn-in times for chicken and ribs & NOT FINISH DEAD LAST :)

First thing was to get organized and realize what I had forgotten.  After hearing horror stories about pop-up shelter tents flying away, I used a trick I read on BBQBrethren and simply filled 5 gallon water buckets on each corner (For those who don’t know 1 gallon of water weighs about 8 pounds).  The nice thing about this trick is, I don’t have to haul sand around and I can just dump the water out when I am done.  Now for the things I forgot… You will probably notice that my cooking site has no chair, that would be because I left it in the garage.  So, I just used my cooler as a seat.  As far as physical supplies that I meant to bring, it was an obvious oversight but nothing that would be unrecoverable.  I did however forget my honey to put on my ribs, but as it would happen, I have recently started using Kosmos Honey Powder on my chicken thighs.  As for things that I didn’t even think of and wished I had: a fan (I know but I didn’t think of it), bleach wipes, and a tent – although that camper next to me did look awfully nice.  I have no idea why I didn’t think of a fan for a late June contest in Oklahoma.  I just planned on sleeping in the back of the Acadia, which I knew would be hot but it was that or the bugs and I hate mosquitos.

Here is my site about 90 minutes after arriving and unpacking.  A couple of things to notice is the rookie (AKA Me) parking his SUV on the opposite side of the shelter from the road and the little pink ribbon.  My parking became an issue when I realized I had made it very difficult for me to go out and get any last minute supplies I may have needed.  The little pink ribbon is how this contest mark each team for meat inspection.  In KCBS competition, the event reps must insure that each team has brought fresh meats that have not yet been seasoned or marinated.  AND no chair, can you tell I missed my chair?20140629-214957-78597374.jpg

Here is the site at 5 am with my chimney starter lit to get my WSM up to temp.  At this point, all the intimidation of the other teams was gone and I was focused on nailing my temps and techniques.20140629-214957-78597159.jpg

Here is the 6 chicken thighs I selected for my turn in at noon.  I was extremely pleased with my chicken and felt the moisture and taste were good and the skin was bite through!  However, as you will see later, the judges were less impressed.  Always room to improve, right?20140629-214956-78596924.jpg

Here are my pork ribs I turned in.  Honestly, I was a little disappointed with them but I wasn’t about to not turn something in.  For the record, the top left and bottom right two were what I was looking for on color, but they were not cooperating with me on cutting.  Look and you will see that my cuts are nowhere near straight!20140629-214956-78596723.jpg

So, here are the results.  Out of 37 teams, I was 30th in chicken and 13th in ribs.  13th!!!  I was only 3 places away from getting a call and a very small check.  As I am told “That is how it goes in BBQ” when your results don’t agree with how you felt about what you turned in.  I sat through the entire awards ceremony waiting to see my results with my sons going nuts from sitting still for an hour and was crazy happy that I finished higher than over half of the teams in ribs!20140629-215035-78635004.jpg

To celebrate, we went and took a little helicopter ride over Chandler, OK before going back to Edmond to eat some Hideaway Pizza.

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Till next time…

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