Long Haul

Round trip of a little over 1600 miles to pick up my new toy. The truck and trailer held up well but the bridges at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers on Hwy 60 are old, sketchy and narrow.  My trailer was simultaneously hanging over the white line (inches from the cement/metal sides) and over my half of the double yellow line. This was fine until I saw an 18-wheeler coming the other way. 

On the way out, I went from Coffeyville to Chattanooga with stops for diesel and the Loveless Cafe.  The cafe is on the south side of Nashville. I got some country ham, fried eggs, hashbrown casserole, biscuits and turnip greens – everything was really good.  After a good nights rest, I headed out early for Deep Sout Smokers in Cumming, GA. Randall was quick to load up my new toy and I was off for my marathon home. The way back only saw stops for diesel. Unfortunately while checking my trailer, on my second stop, I was greeted with a deflated caster wheel on my new smoker. I racheted down the other three straps and carried on. 

The next morning, I spent awhile getting the caster wheel patched before I was able to move my Deep South RGC (nickname pending – you may recall I called my Weber smokers the Amigos).  Now to say Randall builds a solid pit is an understatement, because this is his smallest model and it is plenty heavy. It took a solid effort to move it up hill to the back patio. 

I loaded it up with one bag Stubb’s briqs and gave it a run to see: 1) how long it would take to get up to temp and 2) how long it would hold temp. It took 90 minutes from being lit to 275 degrees and held it for over 13 1/2 hours. I say over 13 1/2 hours because I shut it down at that point and went to bed. When I checked it the next morning, I found it used about 3/4-7/8 of one bag compared to the 3 1/2-4 bags I needed my Webers. 

In no particular arrangement, I placed all the pans I will use in a typical contest on the four racks.  Now to just order up some meat and do a few practice runs to play with arrangement and cooking times. 

Till next time…

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Quick Trip to KC

Kristi and I had been talking about wanting to go to a Chiefs game for awhile, and decided this Sunday was the time to get it done.   Kristi’s parents agreed to watch the boys Sunday and get them off to school Monday morning, so off we went Sunday morning. We made a pit-stop for brunch/lunch at The Farmhouse near Downtown KC. The food was pretty good, I especially liked the curried carrot soup with chili oil. If you are into hipster decor and good farm-to-table food, check them out. 

After filling our bellies with mamosa, bloody mary, and food, we headed to Arrowhead. Prepaid Gold parking thru Gate 5 is totally worth the $60  it costs if you go to a game. We were waived straight in and got parking in the third row. We got to Arrowhead a little early so we strolled around the Hall of Fame and grabbed some brews before heading to our seats. 

Section 120 in row 32 has a pretty good view. We had a few sprinkles during pregame but stayed dry for the game. The Chiefs rewarded our journey with defensive bonaza for the win.  Turnovers were awesome to watch but a kickoff team scoring on a fumbled return was spectacular. 

After making an easy exit from Arrowhead (Gold Parking Gate 5 people!), we headed to Power & Light to check in for our overnight stay at The Ambassador. Since we are old, we just chilled in our room and watced Sunday night football with room service. 

Tomorrow morning we are heading home to Coffeyville. Till next time…

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Updates & 2016 BBQ season over

Well… I had shoulder surgery this spring for a late start and am finishing the season early this year. In August I decided that I wanted to insulate the roof of my trailer and did so in the 110 degree heat.  My wife was especially excited because I needed her help to hold the sheeting up while I secured it to the ceiling. 

Since I was in the process of upgrading, I ordered a custom aluminum table from Pit Pal Products.  I asked them to make the table longer and taller than their standard large; they just said “No problem.”  After getting a quote and arranging payment; they had it completed and sent freight in 2 weeks. This table is solid and fits perfectly around the wheel well in my trailer. 

I also decided that this was the year to say adios the 3 Amigos.  I have used my Weber smokers and the cart I made since I started BBQ competition.  They still cook great but I didn’t want to have to break them down and reassemble them every time I transported the smokers. In the end I sold them to make way for my custom Deep South Smokers RGC model being built down in Cumming, GA. Randall Bowman was great to work with for a few custom options and was quick to answer any questions I had by phone or email.  Now to wait while it is being built. 

Till next time-

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Fun in July

The Hogan clan ended the month of July with vacation and BBQ.  I was able to get the last two weeks off of work, and we took advantage of the time to visit family.  My mom and stepdad moved to Texas about the same time we moved from Oklahoma to Kansas.  It was a bit of a drive but went fairly smoothly.

We spent a lot of our time just swimming in grandma and grandpa’s new pool with a couple of day trips.  It was so hot out that we limited most of our trips to the mornings or indoor sites.  Our day trips took us to: the Ft Worth Science Museum, Ft Worth Botanical Gardens, Reunion Tower and the Perot Museum.

The boys enjoyed the Ft Worth Science Museum and the planetarium show more than I thought they might. It had quite a bit of hands-on and interactive exhibits the boys really liked. The gift shop also gave us a little Jelly Bean game that was a cross between Russian Roulette and Bert’s Every Flavor Beans from Harry Potter. The box contained an assortment of different colored jelly beans and a spinner but the catch was that each color had two possible flavors. For example: coconut or spoiled milk; chocolate or dog food; etc – And wow did the flavors ever match their description. It was pretty funny to watch everyone’s reactions when they got one of the bad flavors.

We had considered taking the boys to Six Flags Over Texas but chickened out when the heat index was over 110 F.  Instead we took off in the morning and visited the Ft Worth Botanical Gardens which are almost entirely free.  We paid $6 to visit the tropical gardens area and the boys loved the huge leaves of some of the plants.  We walked the free areas and spotted quite a few colorful lizards among the beautiful plants before the boys started to get tired, hot, hungry and thirsty.  So we left before making it to the Japanese Gardens and headed to Reunion Tower in Dallas.  I thought it would be a novelty to eat a quick lunch at the revolving restaurant.  The food was okay but the boys really enjoyed the rotation and views.  After solving the hunger problem, we moved on to the Perot Museum.  We really should have allotted more time for this museum as every exhibit is interactive and they had an entire area of robotics and electronic experiments.  We ended the museum trip with a 3D National Parks movie before meeting grandma and grandpa in Ft Worth for dinner.

After returning home, I prepped and packed up for a local KCBS contest in Iola, KS.  It was nice only having to drive an hour.  The contest drew in some great teams.  Congrats to my friends from the American Dream on another GC.  I was lucky enough to get 10th place chicken and 10th overall.  Great contest that I hope to go back to next year.

Below are some pictures of swimming fun and from the observation deck of Reunion Tower.

Till next time…

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Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I decided to travel three weekends in a row the first time since starting competition BBQ. I honestly have no idea how some of the teams will do 6 out of 8 weekends in a two month span because this was exhausting. 

The first stop was Chandler, OK. This contest holds sentimental value as it was the first I ever competed in. I thought my chicken might catch fire it was so spicy but the judges disagreed. In the end I received: 6th place chicken, 4th place ribs, 8th place pork, and 5th overall. 

Next was a trip Hutchinson, KS. Only 30 minutes from my hometown of Lyons, Hutchinson was the “big town” to go shopping when I grew up. Mother Nature didn’t cooperate and sent us quite the storm. I was lucky to be on the relative high ground and stay out of the ankle deep water that some teams had to walk through. It was fun having some of my family make it out at various points during the contest. My cook earned me 4th place chicken and 9th place ribs for 10th overall. After the contest was over we spent time with my dad and his side of the family over the holiday weekend before coming home. 

The last stop was Fort Smith, AR. This contest is organized and rep’d by my favorite KCBS reps Ralph & Karen Williams. Unfortunately, my cook wasn’t up to the task. I thought my chicken and ribs were pretty consistent but my pork and brisket were honestly not that good this weekend. The judges rewarded me with no calls and the exact same score as last year, an abysmal 647. 

It was an experience but I don’t see anymore than two weekends in a row anytime in the near future. Next stop is Iola, KS

Till next time…

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Pecan Festival

Took a short trip down to Okmulgee, OK for a first year contest. Congrats to Travis Clark on GC and Donny Teel on RGC. The contest drew in 41 teams and only had a few hiccups. It was great to see more of my OK BBQ family!  They invited me to an awesome Friday night potluck (TNK BBQ) and hooked me up with some brown sugar since I forgot some (thanks KosmosQ!).

A few weeks ago, a KCBS judge approached me about fulfilling his cooking requirement to become a master judge. He wanted to cook with me because I use Weber products. So he joined me in Okmulgee to experience a KCBS contest from the other side. The 3 Amigos (the nickname I have given the Weber trio) held temp well but my cook just came up a short against the great cooks at Okmulgee. I didn’t manage any calls and only finished 16th out of 41. 

On the plus side, my portable ac unit kept it cooler inside than outside. I’m sure I will constantly find ways to improve or tweak my setup but it worked fairly well this weekend. Next stop of the year will be back in Chandler, OK (site of my first ever KCBS contest). 

Till next time…

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Branson Family Vacation

This past week we packed up the family and headed to Branson, MO with my in-laws to their timeshare.  We spent the whole week and dodged the rain for the most part. The boys had fun and were sad when we had to leave. 

We did quite a bit: stopped at Lambert’s because grandpa couldn’t miss throwed rolls; explored Dogwood Canyon; rented a pontoon boat and cruised the lake; went to the landing; wandered through  a small zoo where the boys fed everything from kangaroos to deer to emus; rode the rides at Silver Dollar City; played laser tag and raced go-carts; swam at the pool; and goofed with cousins. 

Here are a couple of pictures –

Till next time…

P.S. Since it rained for over 90 min at Silver Dollar City we got a raincheck for anytime in 2016

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