Just the Guys

Saturday, I thought it would be fun to get out of the house and have a day with just my sons. The first stop in our journey was practical since it is August and the boys needed new shoes for school. Kristi and I almost always buy Elijah and Noah shoes at Stride Rite because they don’t cost any more than other brands and hold up really well. So, without paying attention too much but prohibiting shoes with light and sounds, I let the boys have their pick. Elijah picked some Skechers. Then I laughed when I realized Noah picked the exact same Stride Rite shoes he wore into the store. Of course we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go to the Lego store without mom :) 

By the time the boys had picked out a Lego set, it was time for lunch.  With no real consensus on where to go, Noah wanted pizza and Elijah wanted a bread bowl; I overruled then both and went to Mutt’s Amazing Hot Dogs. The fried pickles and cheesy fries were a big hit.  

Tummies satisfied, we drove over to what I like to call “The Cheap Ghetto Theater” (aka $2 movies at Northpark 7 Starplex Cinema) to watch Tomorrowland. The message of the movie was lost on my 5 and 3 year old, but they loved all the rockets, jet packs and robots. 

After the movie was over, we headed off to the park since there was a breeze and it was under 95 degrees for the first time this week. They only lasted about 45 minutes before getting really hot and thirsty. It was a good day out and around OKC. 

Off to home to build those Legos!

Till next time…

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Liberty Fest and Fort Smith

It has been a great couple of weeks for the Hogan clan. Even though I worked on the Friday and Saturday of the July 4th weekend, we had a great time attending Edmond’s Liberty Fest events. Kristi took the boys to the morning parade while I was at work placing labor epidurals like they were going out of style. After I got off of work that evening, we drove to the UCO campus to get our parking spot and set out our chairs and blanket for the fireworks show. I’m always impressed how great the show is for a town no bigger than Edmond.

Elijah and Noah playing frisbee with a couple of kids while waiting for the fireworks show to start.

This past weekend, I packed up and made a trip to the Bordertown BBQ Bash in Fort Smith, AR and man it was a scorcher.  I almost had my first DQ in competition when I turned in my pork with 10 seconds left on the clock. In the end, Oklahoma Jayhawk was lucky enough to get a 7th place call in chicken and pull 15th in pork with a crowd of great teams. I committed my constant error of making my ribs too dark, but that doesn’t compare to how much they hated my brisket. Despite being so hot and my rather poor showing, it was a great contest that was reorganized and relocated on short notice after flooding – I hope my schedule allows me to come back.  Congrats to TNK on RGC and Clark Crew on another GC

Till next time…

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No Kids, Hog Wild BBQ & Helicopters

After finishing work Thursday, my wife and I went out to enjoy dinner and a movie without kids!  My mom wanted to take the boys up to Lyons for a long weekend and it left us to our own devices.  After eating at Teds, we went out to watch Jurassic Park. It was nice to be able to sit down to eat and stroll to the theatre without the drama of having two energetic boys. 

On Friday and Saturday, I joined the crowd of 28 KCBS teams that came out to Chandler, OK this past weekend. We enjoyed great weather and Oklahoma Jayhawk BBQ even got a spot in the shade this year – shade is important in July for OK teams that don’t have a trailer with AC. Since my sons were visiting grandma; so my wife came out to help me set up camp; then came back out Saturday to help me finish up the cook and box entries. I felt like my chicken was pretty good but not the best I had ever made. Managed to not completely ruin my ribs (read my last contest comments) and thought the texture was good. It went down hill from there with my pork butt lacking flavor and my brisket tightening up on me. I think my statement to other teams after turn-ins was “It started off pretty good with chicken and went down hill quickly from there.”  The judges slightly disagreed with me and gave us 5th in both chicken and ribs but quickly countered with 17th in both pork and brisket. In the end, we were 7th overall; our first time finishing in the 10 overall. Might have to make my wife come to more of these. Special thanks to Travis Clark for hooking me up with a discounted entry – he would probably also remind me that I got 7th overall when he and a few other really good OK BBQ teams were out of the state – Baby steps right?

Then on Sunday, Kristi and I drove up to Rose Hill, KS to meet my parents at a work retreat being held by my stepdad’s employer LifeTeam. It was a good afternoon of swimming, helicopter rides, hot dogs/hamburgers, lemonade and sunshine. Our sons liked the helicopter rides but basically wanted to play in the pool with their cousins and grandparents the whole time. 

It was a great weekend – till next time…

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Grand Lake BBQ

Made a short journey out to Langley, OK this weekend for Grand Lake BBQ.  It was a nice short drive that landed me next to several great Oklahoma teams (Uncle BCs, Kosmos Q, Buffalos BBQ and Indian Territory Smoke) and just a few steps from some BBQ heavy-hitters (American Dream, Pellet Envy and Clark Crew BBQ).  I was almost instantly glad I had placed bigger casters on my Weber BBQ Cart.  The contest organizers placed some crushed rock over the grass for us but it was still really soft with all the rain we have gotten.  After a pretty easy setup (I feel like I am starting to get into a bit of a groove and have somewhat streamlined my process), I had a chance to chat with a few teams before the cook’s meeting.

After a little siesta, I woke up at 2 am and despite the forecast for lots of rain and strong winds during the competition, the weather was great for this spring.  I couldn’t have asked for a smoother performance from my Weber smokers and setup.  However, I have had my ribs turn out very, very, very (read almost completely black) dark at the last two contests where the humidity was high and we had a light rain.  I’m not really sure how to correct for this but will consider reducing the amount of time the ribs cook while wrapped next time it is really humid or raining.  I felt like my chicken came out of the smoker lacking some flavor and put quite a bit of EAT BBQ Zero to Hero Dust (EAT BBQ Zero to Hero Rub put thru a spice grinder until a fine powder – This stuff is BBQ GOLD) on the back of each thigh.  My ribs came out great on texture (but black as midnight at the bottom of the ocean).  Pork Shoulder has been my lowest scoring and hardest category for me and I have made so many changes in an attempt to get better scores – this was by far the best box I had ever put together (I even texted Kristi that it looked good when I turned it in).  My brisket had great texture but was completely under-seasoned as I had received comment cards that it was too salty.  On a side note, I have been putting so much focus on my pork shoulder that my brisket scores have suffered.

I have updated my BBQ Results page, but was very surprised and happy to receive two 7th place calls in Langley for Chicken and Pork Shoulder.  Congrats to American Dream for GC and Little Pig Town for RGC

Till next time…

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Bixby and Weber BBQ Cart Changes

This past weekend I made the trip to Bixby and was met by sunshine and a light breeze after a week with good amounts of rain.  Check-in was pretty smooth and I was quickly shown my spot with lots and lots of sun – my shade tree was shorter than me.  Almost immediately I was sad that my new casters for my Weber BBQ Cart had not arrived earlier in the week as my narrow, hard plastic casters sank into the soft soil.  Luckily, my BBQ neighbors helped me out and I got setup fairly quickly.

Prep and cook went smoothly. Only hiccough was my Weber EZ 26 (aka Big Boy) jumping up to 300-310 while I was wrapping my ribs. A little shutdown on the guru dampers and daisy wheel and it was back to 280 before the ribs went back on. I’m loving my new BBQ Guru Wifi but wish the screen was easier to read on the Guru.

My initial impressions were that: my chicken was fairly good; the ribs were okay but lacking a punch of flavor; pork shoulder money muscle tenderness was good for once but still lacking something in the flavor category; nailed my brisket point (it was perfectly juicy and cut great) but unforunately it was paired with slices that were a little dry.

I was hoping for a call around 7th-10th in chicken but did not get a call on Saturday.  When the dust settled, OkieQ claimed GC and Buffalo’s BBQ RGC.  MOOCHEWSOOEY came in a close 3rd place.  Kim and Joe were some of the first people I met when I started into competition BBQ and it was great to see them get multiple calls.  Joe recently switched to an FE from Cookshack and is loving it – obviously so are the judges.  Speaking of judges – WOW – the variance between tables was quite extreme this past weekend with a few judges consistently handing out 4s and 5s (which is very bad for those who don’t know) and average scores in the mid-20s (also very bad).  I was lucky enough to avoid a few of the REALLY BAD tables but found one with a few judges with very low average scores.  Unfornutaely, I also missed the two tables that were placing teams in the top 10 in Chicken, Ribs and Pork Shoulder.  Overall, I finished at a personally disappointing 29th out of 81 teams.

To lick my wounds, I started off the week with a favorite activity of mine, tinkering/modifying my smokers.  I got out my new casters (which arrived Friday evening while I was sinking into the dirt in Bixby), some new Weber WSM legs I ordered using my serial numbers, and a nice 2′ x 6′ piece of 1/4″ aluminum plate that I had cut to size by Council Steel in OKC.  After a couple evenings of work/effort, moving my Weber EZ 26 Guru ports to the front and a few scraped knuckles, I am pleased with the results.

I like how the new cart looks – especially the OEM WSM legs on the Weber 26. My OCD nature also likes my logo magnet in the middle. The casters roll and rotate so much better than my old ones, and they are foam filled to prevent worries about flat tires.

On a side note, True Value stopped providing “ship to store” service for the Duraflame Hardwood Briquets I have been using and shipping costs to my home were insane. Luckily, one call to Duraflame solved my problem. Duraflame makes Stubb’s Natural Briquets – read here that these are the exact same product placed into a different bag. Since Stubb’s is available from Lowes, I will have no problem finding a bag and it is a lot closer.

Don’t forget to check out my Schedule and Results pages for updates. Next stop is Langley, OK.

Till next time…

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The WSM Water Pan Replacement

I know  a lot of WSM enthusiasts still go for putting water in the extremely lightweight, flimsy water pans from Weber. I’ve always preferred to run dry and have tried everything from the Piedmont pan to sand or clay saucers. The problems for me are lack of thermal mass and durabilty. The Piedmont pan is durable but lacks thermal mass and is hard to duplicate for the Weber 26 with Smoke EZ ring. The clay saucers work nice but crack every other contest (even when I put them in the car with me).

Enter Southwest Disk – the solution. I placed an order and asked them to custom bend the handles vertically for their 24″ disc. They promptly replied via email on Saturday! (How many companies do you know that do that?). With a few emails to make sure he knew what I wanted, it was at my door in 3 days. After receiving the discada and loving how solid it was, I called to see if it would be possible to have some cut to custom size to fit my WSMs. Southwest checked with the machine shop they worked with but ultimately made the cuts with a plasma cutter by hand. I think they turned out perfect and you will have to look close on the pictures to notice they were cut by hand.

If you are looking for a heat deflector for your WSM OR just want a great griddle/wok/paella pan for your large grill or Big Green Egg, be sure to check these guys out.

Till next time…


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Spring Break, BBQ and Good Luck

This past week was my son’s first official spring break, but since I had to work there were not any elaborate vacation plans. Instead, my wife and sons went to visit my in-laws. They had a blast but listening to them talk about it is funny. My eldest broke down at one point during the week telling my wife that he missed me – this resulted in my son having a teary eyed FaceTime chat with me. But after a week with grandma, it only took 30 seconds on the road to miss her. 

At the end of Spring Break, I rolled into  Miami, OK for a Two Day BBQ Shootout contest. It was my first time at this contest, but is on my list of don’t miss contests already. Meals provided, great KCBS reps, well organized and a rediculously talented field of competitors. Was lucky enough to be parked next to a great crew Hunka Hunka Burnin Rub. They were friendly, not too rowdy and got a call in Pork on the second day. 

Day one left me pleasantly surprised with a 3rd place finish in Chicken; which was a complete shock because I was sure it was way too spicy! The second day seemed to run a little smoother from a prep and cook standpoint but overall left me feeling underwhelmed by the product I made. I felt like my chicken wasn’t quite as neat/appealing but had an almost identical flavor profile. My ribs were not quite there on flavor or tenderness. My brisket felt spot on for cook but the flavor was lacking. And then pork shoulder (aka The Nemesis) … I don’t even know where to begin on that one. I cannot ever seem to get it quite right.  In the end, I missed the top 10 in ribs by less than 3/4 of a point.

On a side note, I have placed well both times my father-in-law has come to help me wrap, finish up cooks, make boxes and turn-in. I told him he is Good Luck and needs to come to more contests

Till next time…

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