Last KCBS contest of the year

After a short drive to Sand Springs, OK, I found myself at the last KCBS contest of the year for Oklahoma Jayhawk BBQ.  With nice cool weather, the teams setup at River Park.  I was treated to a brisket chili dinner by Moo Chew Sooey and Backwoods Pecan Pie Moonshine (seriously the best shine) by Three Hog Nights.  After trying a few new things this cook (changed to cooking everything in pans and used new rubs on everything except chicken, I found myself with an unimpressive overall score of 660.  However, this was all overshadowed by my first 1st place call that was also a 180 in ribs.  It made for a great way to end the BBQ season.

Looking back over the year, I notice that I managed to score above 170 in every category at least once, but could never manage to do it at the same time.  My average scores for chicken, ribs and pork all went up; whereas my average brisket score actually went down.  Two guesses what I will be practicing the most this winter.

Till next time…

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A Crazy 5 Weeks

Sometimes it is hard to know where to begin but perhaps grateful is the most appropriate. The last five weeks have been filled with adventure and reunification. It all started when I let my wife Kristi pick which anesthesia seminar trip would would go on this year. As it turned out, she selected a Mediterranean cruise. From there it expanded to include Paris and Munich; resulting in a 21 day, 7 country travel whirlwind.  We were lucky enough that our parents agreed to stay with our sons while we traveled.

We started off with a red-eye Delta flight from Oklahoma City to Paris via Atlanta.  After a little bit of sleep and a lot of jet lag, we hit the ground running in Paris. Following  a lengthy line through customs, we hopped a train to dowtown Paris to our hotel. It cost a bit more, but it was great to be just steps away from the Louvre, Tuileries Garden, the Seine, Notre Dame, Musee d’Orsay and a metro ride away from so much more.

From Paris we had a short flight to Barcelona to board our Holland America ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam. The ship then ferried us to St Tropez, Monte Carlo, Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Rome, Naples, Sicily, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Montenegro and Venice. After Venice, we rode the train to Munich for Oktoberfest. Each stop offered us new cultures and excursions.   My wife’s blog does a great job of highlighting each day/destination.  I have provided a montage of selfies and photos at the end. 

Even after our journey half way across the world, I ventured up to Kansas City to visit the Oklahoma teams at the American Royal contest and have some drinks with a couple of former anesthesia classmates. The next morning I met my brother Keenan and his wife Merideth for brunch in Lawrence on the way home. It amazes me how I still feel at home walking downtown in Lawrence. 

After a short work week, it was back to my hobby of competition bbq for my last contest of the year in Sand Springs, OK. Hopefully, not too rusty after a month off…

It has been a month of adventure, travel, new experiences, old friends and some time away with my wife. I truly feel blessed by all of it

Till next time 


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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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