Friday, November 07, 2014

High Five Naturals Silicone Grill Gloves Review

High Five Naturals Silicone Grill Gloves

I'm always on the look out for the perfect grill gloves. I have found several I really love but tend to rotate around depending on what I'm grilling or have on the barbecue.

High Five Naturals contacted me to see if I'd like to try out their new silicone grill gloves in exchange for an honest review. I've been happy with some silicone cake pans I bought a while back, so I thought these looked promising. And, they do have the "cool factor" in looks.

Out of the box, these grilling gloves are flashy and feel study and well made. They are one size fits all. I used my hand above to give readers a feel for the size on the gloves. Do note that while my fingers are slim, my fingers are the length of most guys. I can palm a basketball.

Grilling with High Life BBQ Grill Gloves

The High Life Naturals are not as tactile as some grill gloves. The material is stiffer than the leather type. That makes it harder to use a brush to put on barbecue sauce (although you really do not need to wear gloves to do that).

The big plus with the silicone grill gloves is that you can touch the grilling food. This especially comes into play when you're doing large cuts like a pork shoulder or turkey (or even baked potatoes which are hard to catch on the grill). Those big cuts and round foods can be hard to turn with utensils (even the large grilling utensils). 

If you turn with cloth or leather gloves, then you risk contamination and get gloves awfully messy. I've had to toss some just due to dirtiness. I'm a clean freak when it comes to food.

I'm going thumbs up here for grill gloves that can be used on the actual grilled foods for turning and can then be cleaned. That is a huge plus and will save me a lot of money on grilling gloves. I'd also note that the price on these grill gloves is really good right now. It's hard to find good grill gloves at this price.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cricket Multi-lite - Greener Option for Starting Charcoal or Wood

Cricket Multi-lite - Refillable 

Cricket has come out with a refillable lighter, and I'm impressed. Not only does it light well (with a safety button to prevent accidental light ups), but it is not a toss away like lighters today.  This is a big deal for someone who lights up grills on a regular basis.

I remember well when my Granddaddy had a silver lighter and filled it with fuel when it ran out. He only had to invest in more fuel and did not have to throw out a lighter every time it stopped firing.

It's been years since I've seen people use anything but toss away lighters, and as an avid outdoor cook, I always feel a twinge of guilt when I toss out a perfectly good plastic casing.

Cricket contacted me with these new lighters and asked if I'd like samples. These long tipped lighters are the style I use, because it's so easy to get a finger burn with the small, standard cigarette lighters. I thought the refill idea was great. I did want to try out the Cricket lighters and pass the word if they worked well.

I mucked up my leg really bad and couldn't grill here for a while, but my son tested out the blue Cricket lighter at college. He said it was great and that I'd love it. I finally got back on the grill and used the black version. Those are the two current colors.

The Cricket lighter has a nice grip and is easy to start though does have two button start up controls for safety. It's similar to the start up on my small chain saw, so that was easy.

Included with the lighter is the refill cartridge below . . .

 Refills for the Cricket Lighter Reduce Waste

The lighter refill just slips right in the handle. It's packaged as above, so it's safe. You don't have to worry about handling possibly toxic chemicals. This is more of a concern with small kids. One of my sons drank some lighter fluid once. That was a trip to the ER.  I don't use lighter fluid at all now. A chimney starter works much better and is safer.

This is not a forever refillable device. I guess plastic wouldn't be safe for years and years like Granddaddy's silver lighter. Still, it means two less lighters for every one used which can be a lot for barbecue people. And, it's handier to have a refill than to carry the large full casings.

I say thumbs up to the Cricket Multi-lite for grilling and general home use. It's a quality lighter with the length to easily start my chimney starter to fire up the grill, and I love that Cricket shifted to refills.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Clever Hen - Great Gift Baskets for Your Barbecue Friends and Family

The Clever Hen Custom Barbecue Basket

The Clever Hen company got in touch to see if I'd like to try out their service. They'd send out a free basket if I'd write an honest review.

I often give BBQ gifts, since I have lots of friends interested in outdoor cooking. From experience, I know it can be hard to wrap up grilling or smoking presents and have them look pretty and special. I'd not thought of a basket, and I'm not that great on bows and getting such items looking nice like The Clever Hen did.

It was a nice surprise to come in and find this lovely basket waiting on me. It is, by the way, boxed well to mail. I opened the box to find all these nice barbecue products below.

The Jake's sauce and seasoning is their top seller, so they included those items. I mentioned that the cherry barbecue sauce looked interesting, so they included that. A surprise was a chili lime sauce (which sounds really good).

They included a couple of snacks (nice while grilling). The small bag was cherries and nuts. They knew the cherry sauce caught my eye, and the dried cherries and nuts were yummy. The larger bag is a Hunter's Mix which is like a party mix but with some heat. Again, that was really good.

Jake's Barbecue Sauce and Seasoning/Rub

You can get a better look at the Jake's products here. I can see why they are a company favorite. I tried Jake's on several grills. Very nice flavors. I'll post later on what I grilled and more about Jake's.

Who Would Like The Clever Hen?

The Clever Hen is a clever idea and has baskets for anyone. They have various themes. I got the barbecue basket, because that's my area - grilling. But, they have baskets for indoor cooks and ones just for fun snacks for those who can't cook at all.

Another really great feature is that you can customize your gift basket. So, if you have a family member or friends who likes cherries like I do, then you can select from the product line and get favorite flavors.

If you're stuck for a gift idea for a barbecue griller/smoker or just want to get something nice that doesn't take forever to put together (or looks a mess if you do it yourself), then The Clever Hen is perfect.

I loved the pretty basket and all the products so far. I still need to try out the cherry and lime sauces. Looking forward to that and will get back on those flavors.

I don't see how you could go wrong with The Clever Hen. It's a thumbs up from me, and the boys are loving the food I'm making with the sauces/seasonings. They even have a chat, so if you need help on picking items for your basket, you've got help on that too.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

How to Have a Super Popular Personal Blog - Thanks to Barbecue Master Fans

I Went Over 2 Million Blog Viewers Last Night

I knew I had close 2 million visitors to Barbecue Master, but I was surprised when I crossed that big mile marker sometime last night.

First I want to thank everyone who has supported my grilling and smoking blog, because I would not have 2 million hits if people weren't coming to visit. I am humbled and thankful to have touched so many people and to have had so many of you reach out to me too.

My Blogging Story

Barbecue Master was first set up at the request of an online magazine owner who sold out. Trust me, I would not have named myself Barbecue Master, Barbecue Mistress would have sounded worse though. I had in mind something more girly like Grill Girl which I've used some, but Barbecue Master just stuck.

I had a blog that had a few posts to defunct online magazine links. I could have abandoned ship at that point, but I thought to myself: "Self. Family and friends ask you grilling questions, and your boys will grow up and want to know how to do some of these grill and smoker things."

It seemed a good idea to post my outdoor recipes, tips, and reviews. It would save having to type up emails every time. I could send over a link about "whatever" dealing with outdoor cooking. If someone asked a question not already answered or asked for a barbecue recipe not up, I could post it and then have it ready when needed.

So, this little (now big) blog had very modest roots.

When Did Barbecue Master Blog Take Off?

I honestly can't say when my blog went from having a few visitors now and then to a whole lot. It wasn't overnight. I just continued to write (and from the heart), and the blog numbers just continued to grow.

At some point years ago, I began to get companies asking if I'd review their products. Interesting. I'd not thought about that. I decided that could help small companies, but I had one rule: "I'm going to be honest." And, I have been.

Bigger companies began to contact me as well, and I'd check them out as well as long as they didn't expect a glowing PR piece. If the stuff is great, I'll say. If it's good, I'll say. If it's awful, I hate to, but I say. I don't want to ruin any readers dinner. So, I have to say what I think (although tastes do differ).

Yes. I Am a Writer.

I've been writing professionally for thirty years but just on the side. My work has been for newspapers, magazines, and businesses. This is good preparation for blogging, but blogging is a totally different world. I "voice" as needed for professional projects, but you hear my real voice - southern drawl and all here on Barbecue Master.

After several years of blogging with Barbecue Master, I began to get emails about professional barbecue writing. I wrote about the field and did top pick grills and smokers a couple of years, and I wrote a barbecue history piece for the North Carolina hotel travel book (one of my all-time favorite pieces). I have also guest blogged for some big names like K-mart, Sears, Arby's, and McCormick's.

Am I Rich from Blogging?

People often think or even ask if I'm rich.

That's a BIG no. I teach which people know is not a top paying job. I write but only a few projects as I won't take more work than I can do well with my teaching job.

I do have a very successful blog, but I'm not backed by any companies and don't sell anything. Blogging is maybe $70 to $80 per month (for those wondering) - and that's with big visit numbers. I'm not complaining. I just hate for anyone to jump into blogging thinking that they will get rich. A few do - but a very few.

Barbecue Master is still where I share with family, friends, and people online who enjoy my blog. I have more traffic, but the heart of Barbecue Master is still where it started. It's my hobby. It's where I let my hair down and relax.

Excuse My Brag Post

I'm really not one to brag, but I was excited and wanted to share my 2 million milestone but mostly to have a chance to thank everyone who made this moment happen.

It never crossed my mind that I'd be able to (hopefully) help so many people and have the chance to try so many new grilling products (thanks also to the companies that trust me to try out their various products and say what I really think).

Tonight I'll go to sleep with a smile. It's been a rough year, but tonight is one I will cherish. I'm so glad I kept my Barbecue Master blog and kept true to my idea to help others with outdoor cooking (even the huge number of people I didn't know would need or want my help).

Thanks again and happy grilling, smoking, or barbecuing. Every single one of you who stopped by built this blog. Bless you.  


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Nonni's Biscotti Bites - Great Snack While You're Waiting for Foods to Grill or Smoke

Nonni's Biscotti Bites - An Old Favorite and Two New Flavors

I was excited when I opened the box above to find Nonni's Biscotti Bites. They are now my favorite biscotti cookies after an earlier sample. These too are free samples to see what I think of the retro Almond Dark Chocolate and two new flavors: Double Chocolate Salted Caramel and Very Berry Almond.

You may wonder what a barbecue blogger is doing with biscotti cookies. Well, it can take forever to finish up meat especially when it's slow smoked like a brisket or pork shoulder. I don't feel like cooking meals all day while making the main dinner or holiday meat.

Sure, I may grab a sandwich or some of Lance's nab crackers, but I always get a craving for something sweet. When playing with fire, candy bars, ice cream, and many other sweet treats get really messy. And, I get messy grilling anyway.

I find the biscotti especially in these great bite sizes just perfect for a little sweet pick-me-up as I man (woman) the grill or smoker. Huge flavor. No mess.

Some of you may know I had a blood clot earlier this year and also that I'm working this summer, so I'm been struggling to catch up on my blog foods and gear. I had to bump these up, because the box was on the table calling my name.

All three flavors were fabulous. Nonni's really does make the best biscotti I've ever had. While I adore chocolate and caramel, if I had to pick, I guess I'd go with the Very Berry Almond. I've always loved fruity sweet treats.

If you've never had biscotti, they are crisp cookies. Lots of people like them with coffee or milk. I'm not a dunker, so I like mine straight up.

These were really yummy to eat as I made Brunswick Stew the other night. That takes several hours. No. I did not eat all three bags. Each has five servings of around five cookies. That would be a pig to eat 15 cookie servings even though I could have.

I did have a couple after too. These make a good dessert. They are not too sweet, heavy, and rich for after a big barbecue throw down. Just a little treat to end a wonderful meal. 

If you've never had Nonni products, then I highly recommend them. I love the sweet crunch and every flavor I've tried so far has been great.

If you have problems finding some of the different foods like these (which are in many grocery stores), then you can get them through Amazon.

Monday, July 14, 2014

How to Make Brunswick Stew (mine is with smoked chicken)

Dinner Last Night - Homemade Brunswick Stew with Smoked Chicken
One of my co-workers invited me over for a Brunswick Stew party. I usually associate that with fall, but it was so yummy that I've had it on my mind all week and decided I needed to make up a pot.

Brunswick Stew is a an east coast (mostly southern) dish. There are a lot of different stories about how it got started. Most say that Brunswick Stew originally had squirrel and any other meat available and a hodge podge of vegetables tossed in (just depending on what was on hand). The stew was made in huge black pots over wood fires and stirred with big paddles.

Today the stew usually has chicken and/or pork butt or pork shoulder and often smoked meat. The common vegetables are tomatoes, corn, lima beans, and potatoes. There are, however, a lot of variations. I've never tasted two Brunswick Stews that tasted the same (or had exactly the same ingredients).

I decided to start my stew off with smoked chicken, since I have a new smoker that I've been playing with. I seasoned the chicken breasts with Jake's Righteous Rubs from the Clever Hen (a space that sells wonderful grilling gift baskets with your picks of items - and kitchen baskets too) and some butter (for extra moisture).

Getting the Chicken in the Smoker with My Super Glove

I loaded up the smoker (well not really loaded but enough chicken to make a big pot of stew) and set the electric smoker temperature and went to the store to pick up the other items I needed. The store is just a mile away, so this was not a long journey, although in a small town you can end up chatting for a good length of time. The chicken was on low and slow and took around three hours, so I had plenty of time.

After the chicken was done at 165 degrees - the recommended safe temperature for chicken, I began putting my Brunswick Stew together.

Pouring in the Ingredients for the Brunswick Stew

The stew can be done outside as in the old days or with a gas blower stool (whatever that thing is called). Since it was in the 90s outside, I decided to do my stew (other than the chicken) inside on the stove.

How to Make Brunswick Stew

1. Cook, grill, or smoke your meat. I used five quite large chicken breasts. Then, I let it cool and shredded the chicken.

2. Put about 4 to 6 cups of broth or water or a combination in a large pot. I think mine was a 12 quart pot, and it was about half full. I used water, because I forget to get broth. If you cook the chicken inside, you can use the broth where you boil the chicken. Just skim off some of the fat.

3. I peeled and cut up six medium sized potatoes in bite sized chunks and put those in the water.

4. Next I added two can of petite cut tomatoes. The size was around 14 ounces per can. Then I topped that off with a little can of tomato soup (5 ounces) just because I had it and don't ever eat tomato soup. One of the boys must have stuck that in my cabinet.

5. After that I added 3 cans of small lima beans and 2 cans of corn (the dry kind in kernals). These cans were all standard in that 14 ounce range. The IGA here does not carry bigger cans.

6. The last thing I did was season. I added salt, pepper, black sea salt, Lowry's seasoning salt, and a bay leaf. I also splashed in a few drops of Cholula hot sauce. I probably went a teaspoon or less on the sprinkle seasonings, and my son said I could have gone heavier on the seasonings. People can always add those at the table though. If food is over-seasoned, there's not much you can do about that.

I set the temperature between low and medium. Stoves vary. You just want a slow simmer and no boiling or the foods kind of turn to mush.

The pot of stew was on for around three hours - long enough for me to be starving with smelling that wonderful smell of Brunswick Stew.

Oh Boy. The Brunswick Stew is Ready to Eat.

I had a bowl of the stew which you can see at the top of the post and then put it away for the evening. Today, I packed up stew for my mom and Harry and for my son, Eli.

Couldn't Find my Bowls with Tops but CoverMate Stretch Covers Had Me (or Really the Stew) Covered

Where my containers go, I do not know. Probably the same place my tools go. I think I'm down to just a screwdriver and a hammer.

Fortunately I remembered that I had CoverMates in the drawer. They stretch and bend to fit most any size or shape bowl. They can be used in the microwave and can also be washed and used again.

I packed up the Brunswick Stew with these handy bowl covers and made my deliveries. Of course, I still have stew left, so I'm set for a couple of days on dinners.

If you decide to make Brunswick Stew, remember that this is a very forgiving and versatile recipe. You can use various meats and vegetables. I'm sure you could scale down the amounts as well, although I've never in my life seen a small batch of Brunswick Stew. It's just too yummy to make a tiny little pot of it. 

Here are the gloves that I'm using with the smoker. They are really nice. I use them indoors and also outdoors. They will take heat up to 662 degrees F.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Robert Rothschild Farm Barbecue Sauces on Grilled Pork Chops

Part of the Gourmet BBQ Sauce Collection of Robert Rothschild Farm

Robert Rothschild's Farm got in touch to see if I'd like to try out samples and let readers know what my family thinks. When they say sample, boy, they mean it. These are 40 ounce bottles. The box was so heavy I couldn't imagine what might be inside.

The hot sauces caught my eye, but my younger son was here, and he is not a heat eater. I told him to pick, and he went with Anna Mae's Smokey Sweet Sauce. I tend to avoid anything that says smoky, because I had to get a big mouth full of liquid smoke (not to worry here - none of that fake flavor).

Boneless Pork Chops on the O Grill with Anna Mae's Smokey Sweet Sauce

Boneless pork chops are usually thin and grill fast, so I sauced these beforehand. Most meats, I wait until the last 10 or 15 minutes. These smaller chops hardly take that long to grill from start to finish. If you need help with the chops which can dry out if you don't do it right, then see my post on grilling boneless pork chops. I've had several emails thanking me for these easy directions. Do the same thing but use BBQ sauce rather than marinade in this case.

This little gas grill grills hot and fast, so I stood out with the barbecue chops and watched close. As I was waiting I noticed the smell was really nice. I was getting hungry. My son could not wait and got a little taste and said it was delicious barbecue sauce. He was glad to have a sweet one with no heat for a change.

Grilled Pork Chop with Robert Rothschild Farm BBQ Sauce - Anna Mae's

Although I do love heat in sauce, this was a wonderful sweet barbecue sauce. I would recommend it for anyone. It's sweet but not too sweet. Just a nice smooth flavor. It tastes homemade which means, of course, I really liked it a lot.

I look forward to trying the spicy ones. My older son is my hot son. He'll be home in a few weeks, and we'll have a spicy meal. I still have plenty of the sweet sauce left with the generous sizes, so I can do part of the meal sweet and part hot.

I like this company's products and would definitely recommend the sweet and will get back on the spicy. I would imagine they would be really tasty too.