Sunday, December 16, 2012

Excellent Sausage - Sunset Farm Foods out of Georgia

Southern Smoked Link Sausages from Sunset Farm Foods of Georgia

I'm a sausage fan as most of my readers know, and it's hard to find good sausages in the South. I buy a local bulk sausage (Frank Corriher) which I grill on a griddle or salt block, but it's hard to find anything other than very generic link sausages. I season and smoke them up, and they're really yummy. But, the meat really isn't center stage.

When Joy with Sunset Farm Foods out of Georgia offered to send samples of link sausage out of Georgia I wondered how those would taste. I said I'd give them a try. I didn't know if they would be much different from what I can get here, but I was hoping.

This semester I taught a freshman seminar class on barbecue. Since the class is only an hour and a half, I can't do actual barbecue in that time. So, I decided to surprise the class and do grilled sausages. That would be a good test for these Georgia sausages, becauce there are fifteen kids in the class.

Catawba College First Year Seminar Barbecue Class

I got up early and packed my tailgate O grill, grill wok, and sausages. I had a large bulk pack of IGA grocery sausages with a group this size and saved the Sunset Farm Foods sausages for last. The two flavors were cracked pepper and jalapeno. I did warn the students that the last batches would be spicy, and everyone in the class likes zippy foods so that was good.

Getting Sausages Ready to Grill

I told my students how to grill sausages. Basically, you just slice them up, put them in a zip lock bag with some seasoning (Dizzy Pig rub in this case), and then load them in the grill wok until they are hot and some crispy, since many people like the crispy outside.

Grilled Sausages from Sunset Farm Foods in a Grill Wok

My students took turns checking and turning the sausages. They caught on fast. This is a really easy grilled appetizer that tastes great. I told them that sausages are great for tailgating. They're done quick and are hard to mess up.

Yes. Those Sausages Rock.

The students devoured the sausages and really enjoyed them. It was universal that the Sunset Farm Foods sausages were better than the bulk grocery sausages (although the low priced sausages were tasty too).

Sunset Farm Foods has all natural sausages. Some readers may not care one way or the other on that. But, the taste is better too. I was glad I had these side by side, because it made for a good comparison. There was an extra pop to the sausages out of Georgia. Part of that was the pepper and jalapeno - but not all of it. The meat was just better. The texture on the Sunset Farm sausages was firmer too while the less expensive have kind of the bologna texture.

Grilled Sausages from Sunset Farm Foods

I had one package left of Sunset Farm Foods sausages after the school grill out, and I wanted all my family to get to try them. This was the mild package, and I used Tatonka Dust on them.

The guys ate the whole package, so you can be sure that they went over great at home too.

If you're looking for some really wonderful sausage, then Sunset Farm Foods has a very impressive product. The meat is wonderful. If you like spicy foods, then you'll find that the cracked pepper and jalapeno are excellent as well. Some of the meats with stuff added are not very good. In this case, the additions were balanced and went with the meat. If I had to pick, I'd say the cracked pepper were my favorite, but I'd take a plate of Sunset Farm sausages any day in any flavor.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

How to Help the Families of the Sandy Hook Newtown Connecticut Shooting Victim Families

I was shocked as the news came through yesterday about the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. I went and hugged my son. He's 22 years old. I can't even imagine my life without him and his brother who is on a trip and will be home today. So, my heart breaks as does those of our nation (and I would think the world) as the thought of little children gunned down at school weighs on my mind.

Along with so many others, I wondered how to help. Really, there is no help at the moment as families are shattered there in Connecticut. What could anyone say or do that would mean very much in the immediate aftermath? I'm sure the families and the whole community are simply in shock right now.

As the days pass, there will be needs.

I'm always concerned about organizations that profess to help communities and then appear to squander the money or pad the pockets of the top executives.

After much research and seeing a lot of sketchy looking places soliciting donations, I felt that Newtown Connecticut Familiy Services sounded like the best bet. They promise that all money does go to the families through a program called Caroline's Gift.

You can read up on the organization through the link above, and here is the mission statement.

"Newtown Youth and Family Services, Inc. is dedicated to helping children and families achieve their highest potential. Newtown Youth & Family Services’ vision is to become a recognized leader in providing mental health and support services."

The group offers free counseling which has previously been with children of divorce and other such traumas. We're not talking about a town where seeing your classmates shot dead would be expected. They are, however, working toward getting more counseling set up.

Can you add other groups that would be trustworthy?

If you know of other groups in the community that would be solid and good stewards of donations, please do add them. Be sure to double check though. I found several that I would not trust to do the right thing with donations. And, I found articles about the misuse of funds during other tragedies.

Help - Don't Hurt

Please do not use this post and blog to air political concerns. You will find many places to argue and flame about any number of issues. Honor this space for the children, adults, and their families of Newton, Connecticut.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dr. Phil, Robin, and Open Sky - Wrong on Many Levels

I'm just a regular person with a regular job and a little barbecue blog that I've worked on for eight or so years. I started the blog to help family and friends, and then others found Barbecue Master, and my numbers went up. This doesn't mean I got rich. It took four years I think to make the $100 pay out amount for Adsense, and a good month now (spelled summer with my topic) is when I do make pay out in a single month. Clearly, I'm not in it for the money.

Open Sky - We Have a Vision

Open Sky got in touch three or four years backs. I don't recall all the details on the dates. I'm better with information over dates and numbers.

The idea that was sold to bloggers they hunted up online was that we could share really good products with our readers and get (or sometimes even not) a few cents if someone clicked through and purchased. I link companies all the time for free (and no kick back), and this sounded kind of like Adsense. But, it included kind of a custom store - sort of like Amazon affiliates when you link (which you can't in my state).

A lot of the little bloggers out here thought we might help out with best picks. It did not appear that there would be much money, but people could get the best of the best we could suggest.

What Open Sky Did

Open Sky kept pulling in more and more bloggers and pushed for our contacts for good small products and pushed for us to spam link our blogs and pushed for us to backlink to Open Sky (which makes it rank higher on Google). The stress was great (if you listened to the emails and calls). I know one early Open Sky shop keeper (as they called us) committed suicide. I don't know why, but I'm sure extra stress did not help.

Most of the bloggers bailed on Open Sky when they tried to get us to push products we did not know, love, and trust. They put a Beer Pong table on my Open Sky page which is when I cut all ties. I teach, so there is no way I would have ever recommended a Beer Pong blow up table thing. Per the email . . . oops Open Sky was sorry about that.

Others (mostly new bloggers I think) stuck with this plan. Open Sky was very convincing.

Then . . . Open Sky canned all the little bloggers who did not have huge fan lists and sales. This little blogger model was what they sold to everyone, but they just got the backlinks and then dumped all the little ones - most who were honest and on the level.

You can Google around and find many stories about the early years of Open Sky.

Open Sky - The New Company SPLASH

I've seen a few articles just out about this new company Open Sky that is fab-u-lous. They make it sound like it's a few months old. That is not true.

Tonight Dr. Phil's wife ended his show with a pitch for Open Sky with her personal favorite products. You sign up, and you can buy what Mrs. Phil loves. She gets a cut of your money as well as Open Sky, and the companies sell more but priced up, of course, for such big endorsements.

What You Get at Open Sky

Some products at Open Sky are great. Some are not. That's life.

The short time I was active, one shop owner who was featured by Oprah was able to sell a ton of cereal bowls for $16 each. She was the darling of Open Sky back then (and others like her who had a TV audience etc). You could get bowls just like the ones on the darling's site for a couple of bucks at Target.

So, the bottom line is that you have two middle men when you shop Open Sky. That's fine if you want to pay for what stars tell you that you should buy. If you just Google the product, it's likely that you can find it for less, unless the actual company is new and desperate enough to take very little or no profit.

Note to Dr. Phil

You are good at business Dr. Phil. That's clear, or you would not be where you are. Good for you. I did, however, think that you had some heart, and I thought your wife did with her showing up at your tapings all the time.

I must say that I am disappointed that it appears that you did not do your research and did not know how many people Open Sky walked over (little bloggers, little companies, buyers) to suddenly be a new HIT. This is not a new company, and they did not build those backlinks. They used up people, and they tossed them in the trash. I'm just thankful I walked away.

Sure. Robin can have her little Open Sky shop to share what she love, love, loves, and make money, money, money. That was the idea (I guess), but the first idea was that the shops would be by real experts who really cared about the product areas. The topic experts with real blogs would not sell out, so that did not work out. Not enough money for the real deal.


I can't say what the impact will be with a small blogger sharing this information. I'm sure Dr. Phil could smash me like a bug. Heck, all the Open Sky big wheels have connections that could hurt me I'm sure. Just check the pedigrees.

As far as my readers, if you need or want something related to grilling, smoking, or barbecue, I will tell you what I use and love period. You can take that to the bank, and you do not need to pay Open Sky and a TV star to tell you what to buy.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Heinz 57 Tailgate Giveaway - Win a Great Free Prize (11-4-2012 drawing)

Heinz 57 Tailgate Prize Pack - Enter to Win

Stephanie emailed to see if I'd like to try out some new Heinz 57 products and if I thought my readers would enjoy a contest to win a Heinz tailgate prize.

I grew up with Heinz 57, and the steak sauce always makes me think of my childhood. I didn't realize they'd come out with some new sauces - one with honey and one with Lea & Perkins Worchestershire sauce. Yum. Good combinations to add some variety to a familiar and fun sauce line.

The prize pack includes the three Heinz 57 sauces as well as a tailgate blanket, grill tool set, drink huggie, and a cookbook with outdoor grilling recipes.

How Can You Enter to Win the Heinz Tailgate Giveaway?

I keep my contests very simple. You just enter (with no spam to follow). Then, I have a family member, friend, or neighbor draw a name from the slips I make with the entries.

To enter, just comment here on the blog and tell me why you'd like to win this fun prize pack. You can comment once per day through noon on November 4, 2012. I do have moderation on the blog, so you don't get naughty links (whew - a lot of people like to put those in comments sadly). I do check back often, so if you don't see your post immediately, know that I'll get it cleared quickly.

Some folks like to do extra entries, so if you Facebook the link or Tweet it, then I'll add an extra slip for doing either or two entries for both. Just be sure to leave a message here if you do the extras. I don't want to miss any of your entries.

Remember also to leave some way to get in touch. I don't collect or use your contact data, but I need some way to get in touch if you're the winner. Then, I send just the winning name in with a snail mail address so that the prize can be mailed to you from Heinz.

Good luck! I'll post the winner after noon on 11-4-2012.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Great Flavor with Pure Cane Sugar by Morena - Plus an Apple Pie Recipe

Zulka Pure Cane Sugar by Morena
Sugar is sugar. Right?
Actually - no.
Stephanie offered to send me some Zulka pure cane sugar which is made from freshly harvested sugar cane and is not processed like the sugar I buy around here. She said it is used just as my grocery store sugar and in the same amounts. I was curious and had never seen or used sugar that had not been pressed and processed.
The first thing I noticed was that the pure cane sugar granules were larger than my other bagged sugars. Plus, they had kind of a glow - sort of like rock candy but clearer.  
I do use some sugar in barbecue rubs but usually brown sugar. Plus, we'd just been to an Apple Festival and picked up a big bag of Yellow Delicious apples. So, our first project with the Morena sugar was an apple pie which was a good dish to make while waiting for a shoulder to smoke on the Weber.
My son offered to make the apple pie. He's developed an interest in learning to make food from scratch. He even made his crust from scratch - his first. Then, he used one of my favorite apple pie recipes that dates to when I was his age and learning how to bake.
Here is Caleb's first apple pie made with Morena sugar.
Crumble Top Apple Pie Recipe
First buy a pie crust (the roll out type taste better than the frozen pre-formed ones) or make your favorite pie crust recipe. You only need one crust for this apple pie recipe, since the top is a crumble style.
Do not bake the pie crust as you would for a custard style pie. Likewise, do not put holes in the crust, since the filling bakes along with the crust, and you do not want the gooey part to leak down under the crust.
Apple Pie Filling
  • enough apples to fill the crust slightly heaping as they shrink some when baked (6 to 8 apples usually)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (we used this delicious Morena natural sugar)
  • 1/4 cup water
Cut the apples up in slices and place in unbaked crust. Mix together the water and sugar. Stir. Pour evenly over the apples in the pie shell.
* At this point, you could add a top pie crust or a lattice weave top; however, we like crumble top which is super easy to make.
Apple Pie Crumble Topping
  • 1/2 cup butter (let it sit out a while but not until melty)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (Morena again used here)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
Mix together the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Then cut in the butter. It will look crumbly chunky kind of like Bisquick but a little chunkier. Pour this mixture over top of the apple filling in the crust and spread around pretty evenly.
Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes (to help set the crust and prevent it from being mushy) and then reduce heat to 350 degrees F until the top is browned (around 40 minutes).
 What Did We Think of the Morena Sugar in Our Crumble Top Apple Pie?
Wow. That's all I can say about the Morena sugar. It has a more complex flavor than processed sugar. It really pops. I would say it's sweeter than the sugar I generally use, but that may be because our regular table sugar has gone through more processing. I have found that I can use less of the Morena sugar, since it is bursting with sweet flavor.
I hope our local grocery stores will start carrying Morena natural sugar. I wasn't sure that it would taste much different until I tried it. I can't imagine who decided to process the heck out of our sugar, because it's better tasting and looking when they let it stand on its own.   

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

RiverPark Cooleemee Bullhole 10th Annual Catfish Fry 10-20-2012

Fried Catfish Lunch to Raise Funds for the Bull Hole RiverPark

One of my favorite places in the whole world is the Bull Hole. It's now officially RiverPark Cooleemee, North Carolina, but most locals still call it the Bullhole and say that long years ago a bull fell in a hole in the area and drowned. I can't vouch for that old story, but I have over a thirty year history with the natural sandy river beach on the county lines of Rowan and Davie.

RiverPark, Cooleemee (NC) - Bullhole

When I was in high school, students used to go out to Bull Hole on weekends. There's not much to do around here, so it was fun to slip over to the Yadkin River and play in the waterfall, slide on the rocks, and roast hot dogs.

It wasn't actually legal to go to the Bull Hole back then. The land was privately owned but never appeared to be used. It went on the block, and locals pulled together to buy the land and make the Bull Hole an official park for the area.

That's where the catfish fry comes in . . .

The first catfish fry helped secure the land, and the ones now help pay for employees to keep the park open, clean, and safe. This year (2012) is the 10th year.
Details on the Bull Hole Catfish Fry 2012

If you live anywhere close Salisbury, NC, then I'd encourage you to drive out for the fish and to support the beautiful RiverPark. You get on 801 and look for the turn signs near the big Yadkin Bridge on the Rowan County side of the line. The entrance is also on the Rowan side. If you get lost, just ask. People know the park and can get you pointed in the right direction.

You can buy tickets ahead or at the park on the day of the fish fry. The cost is $8, and you get a big plate of fried-on-the-spot fish (which is fabulous), fries, slaw, and hush puppies plus drinks. It's a really good deal for a really great meal.

The hours are 11 to 2, and I shoot for 12 at the latest. I'd hate for them to sell out before I got there.

In addition to the food and fellowship, they always have some local bluegrass bands on hand for entertainment. The music is always good, and bluegrass is just perfect for the natural feel of the park.

Enjoy Local Bluegrass Along with Fried Fish

Also note that they have a silent auction (funds also going to the park). They had a lot of neat prizes donated by local companies. I bid and won on gift certificates to several local restaurants that I'd not tried before. Mom got some pretty fall flowers potted. Another lady had bid too and lost, so Mom just gave her one of the plants. It's a friendly kind of gathering like that.

Oops - Can't Make it Saturday?

If you can't make the fish fry on Saturday, still think about visiting RiverPark Cooleemee at another time. It really is very pretty park. You can walk the trails or bring a grill and have a cook out or play  in the water when it's warm weather. For a bigger event, you can rent the shelter which is really nice with lots of space.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Kilimanjaro Seasoning and Jerk Sauce on Country Pork Ribs

Kimimanjaro Foods - Berbere Seasoning and Jerk Sauce

We enjoy experimenting with different flavors at my house, so when Rhonda from Kilimanjaro Foods asked if we'd like to try out some products that are American made but capture the flavor of Africa, that sounded like it would be interesting.

Rhonda sent a pack of Berbere seasoning and a jar of Jerk Sauce. We don't have these products here at the grocery or restaurants, but I've seen jerk chicken. I thought about doing jerk chicken, but the product information said these products were good on all types of meats and even vegetables.

The Berbere seasoning is an Ethiopian inspiration. It had a pretty color, clearly had pepper flakes, and it smelled good with quite a bit of heat. I decided to sprinkle that lightly on some country cut pork ribs (which are not actually ribs).

After the ribs had smoked close to done on a Traeger smoker, I lathered on some of the jerk sauce. I know that typically a jerk sauce is very spicy, but this one was billed and labeled as mild.

The ribs looked great - darker than with most traditional American barbecue products. The smell was really good as well. I posted a photo on Facebook, and my friends there were impressed with how the ribs looked.

The real test is the taste - of course.

The flavor of the Kilimanjaro products was excellent. They have a different flavor which made the grill smoked ribs very tasty. The Berbere was spicy just as it smelled. My heat eating family members were here, so that worked out great. I'd go easy on it to start with, because it does have a kick. The jerk sauce was mild as stated. I think it's a good introduction to jerk and would work for any family. It was flavorful with some kick but not really a hot kick.

Here are the country ribs, and they did turn out as yummy as they look.

Jerk Ribs with Kilimanjaro Products

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Goo Gone Passion Project - Do You Have What It Takes?

Goo Gone - Love the Grilling Version of Goo Gone

If you follow Barbecue Master or my Facebook page, then you may recall that I was part of the Goo Gone Passion Project. Now, you have a shot at being part of the Passion Project (really cool and fun - and details later).

Background on My Goo Gone Passion Experience

I think I was in the test group. I got an email asking if Goo Gone could send me something a little messed up. I'd just fix it up and blog about it.

Blogging is not my day job. I do that for fun. But, I try to work in people who take the time to send a personal email. In this case, I do know, use, and love the Goo Gone products. But, this is a grilling and barbecue blog. So, I said I'd help out IF it was barbecue related. I've not sold out, and I don't plan to. This blog is for the readers.

I was assured that the problem item would be in my passion area, so I said that I'd be OK with getting something of interest to my grilling and barbecue readers. I thought I'd be getting a sticky grill grate or pot - something like that. No problem. I like to help out when someone has a good product. I'm thinking a little something in a mailing bag. I often do small batch rubs or sauces just because I like to try new things and share.

Imagine my shock when a Weber Smokey Mountain Bullet (22.5 inch - the big one) was delivered to my back porch. I thought it must be a neighbor's order. But, no, my name was on there. The Goo Gone folks had smoked on the unit (sausages I think), and after I cleaned it up with Goo Gone, the premium Weber Bullet looked brand new - for real.

And, I can tell you that the smoker (our favorite now) gets a work out here. And, I can also say that Goo Gone Grill Spray really does make clean up so much easier.

So, What's Your Passion?

I wanted to update now, because Goo Gone is now taking entries for others who would like to work on a Passion Project. Maybe your passion is grilling, but you may be a weekend or holiday griller and have another passion. That's fine, because Goo Gone is not a barbecue project. It's about what you love and how Goo Gone might work for your area.

You can enter the Goo Gone Passion Project on Facebook. Again, it doesn't have to be grill or barbecue related, although I can tell you that you should try out the Goo Gone Grill Cleaner. It works great as I found out last year.

If you enter or if you are selected, let me know. I sure enjoyed being a part of the project and still can't believe they sent a smoker rather than a little grill tool or something. I also enjoyed reading the other Goo Gone Passion stories. They span all kinds of interest areas.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

A. Thomas Steaks Now Sold Through Sperry's of Nashville

A. Thomas Steaks - Now Available for Home Grillers

Natalie emailed to let me know that Sperry's of Nashville now offers their signature steaks from A. Thomas for delivery. We were down through Nashville this summer, and I wish I'd known about Sperry's then. It looks like a wonderful place to eat, and I have them on my list when I get back down that way. In the meantime, Natalie said that she could send out one of the new home packs if I'd like to try them and and let readers know honestly what I think.

Some people think all meat is created equal. This is not true and especially for cuts like steak. Of course, you've got a difference with round versus rib eye. But, there are quality differences in the same cut as well.

Sperry's used A. Thomas black Angus meats and partnered with the meat company and Mattingly Foods to offer these steaks for delivery purchase.

The gift pack I received was the A. Thomas Favorite which includes 6 center cut fillets and 4 center cut strips. The fillets run 4 ounces and the strips 6 ounces. No bones. Hardly any fat. Well marbled.

I had those steaks on my mind when they came in and I saw how pretty they were. The guys were out and about, so I had to wait a couple of days to fire up the barbecue grill - the PK grill in this case.

A. Thomas Steaks from Sperry's on the Portable Kitchen Grill

When everyone made it back home, I fired up the grill and put the strips on. They looked beautiful and smelled great.

It did not take long to grill the steaks off to a medium rare to medium. That's good, because the guys were starving as usual.

It was also getting dark, and I don't have good outside lights. So the sun was setting just as I pulled the strip steaks off the grill.

We sat down to enjoy our strip steaks, and WOW . . . this meat just melted. I can't say that I've ever had a better steak. It was obvious that this was premium meat. It just had that umph of flavor as well as being super tender.

Sperry's A. Thomas gift pack steaks are expensive, but they are a cut above. If you want a really special meal at home or want to treat your favorite home griller, this is certainly meat to remember.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Be the Grill Mayor and Go to NYC for a Great BBQ Blow Out Prize

You can be the Grill Mayor with the Food Network Contest: Grill Mayor of 2012.

This is WAY more than just “bragging rights” where you impress your barbecue buddies with a cool title. The winner of this barbecue contest will feel like a rock star – no kidding.

The grand prize Grill Mayor wins a trip for two to New York City. If you are spouse-less and friend-less, then I’d be glad to fill your guest seat. Just kidding, but this is a terrific prize and one that I’d be thrilled to win as I know you guys would be too.

What does the grand prize to New York City include?

• 2 nights in the Big Apple in a first-class hotel
• $100 Food Network gift card
• Food Network grilling cookbook
• Omaha Steaks grilling kit
• Assorted Grill Mates products (I’ve been enjoying those all summer myself)
• Dinner at Food Network’s chef restaurant in NYC with your guest
• VIP access passes to a premiere New York City BBQ festival (along with your guest – of course)
• Tour of the Food Network kitchens in the Big Apple

See! I told you this is one massive trip to New York with all the trimmings and then some.

You do have to be a legal United States resident and 21 years or older to be eligible.

Now that I’ve got you dreaming of a fabulous getaway packed full of fun plus some terrific take home treasures, I’m sure you’re wondering how you can get your name in the pot. After all, you don’t win contests that you don’t enter (and this is one you barbecue guys and girls really don’t want to miss).

How to Enter to be the Grill Mayor 2012?

1. Complete the online entry form at Food Network.
2. Share a grilling tip or piece of advice along with a photo related to your tip (limit 100 words on the tip)

How easy is that? Share a tip and snap a photo, and you could be kicked back in luxury in New York City between special outings especially fun for barbecue folks.

If you aren't the contest type of person (gasp - that's cool though), then check out the McCormick Grillmates Facebook page. You don't have to do a thing other there than soak up great information about grilling and for free. You'll be surprised at how much grilling data they have at the site to get your grill cranking and your brain pumping with new ideas.

 The contest ends at 4:59 pm ET on July 31, 2012, so head over and sign up while it’s fresh on your mind.

Let me know if you win, because it’s great when my readers get something special like this.
Good luck all!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Buns - Taste Like Real Bread

Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Buns

Shaina offered to send me some gluten free breads and buns made by Kinnikinnick. My crowd doesn't eat gluten free or have any special food restrictions, but some other family members do. I thought it would be worth a try to see if I could find some specialty items that usually just get skipped here. After all, I do like for my guests to get to eat and things they can have.

We have actually tried some gluten free breads, but they did not have good texture or taste very good. I must say that I'd be hard pressed to make baked goods without gluten (wheat), so I know it's a challenge.

I didn't mention that these were gluten free burger buns before putting them out.

The Kinnikinnick buns aren't quite as thick and fluffy as the ones with wheat, but the texture was excellent and flavor very good. Good enough that no one had any problems with the buns. That is "passing with flying colors," because I have a tough crowd, and they do say what they think. I've always told them to do so, since I do this blog and don't want to stear folks wrong.

You'll pay more for gluten free in general, but you'll actually get very good bread and buns with Kimmikinnick. I'd have no problem with this as our daily bread but don't need to pay extra unless entertaining someone who needs gluten free. In that case, I'm glad to have found an option that actually is excellent.

I wasn't sure I'd ever find gluten free bread that I could serve to the bread eaters, but this one even passed that test. So, it's really stand out in the area of gluten free. That's a lot more than I can say for those healthy chicken patties I grilled which were pretty bad.

If you are looking for really good gluten free breads for lunch or buns for cook outs, then Kimmikinnick is where I finally found gluten free breads that pass the texture and taste test even for the regular bread eaters.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

McCormick Grillerhood - Best and True Rule for Grilling

 Barbecue Master Grilling on a Beautiful Summer Day
I’m heating up my grill this summer with McCormick and Grillerhood. You can too. It’s easy to sign up and be part of the “hood” and have a blast while getting new tips and ideas that will take your grilling from “just okay” to awesome.

Ready for the Grillerhood Challenge?

The challenge here at the height of the grilling season is to share and put together the “best ever” list of tips for grilling. Yes. That is a challenge, but you can win prizes for your ideas on grilling, and you can help create a pool of information that can pass down to others and share the grilling love.

McCormick asked me what I’d share as my top three grilling tips. I had to give that some serious thought. There are many tips that I could give, but when push came to shove, these were my top ones:

McCormick True Rules of Grilling from the Barbecue Master

1. Grilling is about fun. So, do it your way. Gas, charcoal, pellet, or electric . . . it’s all fine if it works for you and your crowd. You can grill great food no matter what method you decide is best at your home.

2. It doesn’t have to take all day to rock the grill. Smoked sausages in a grill wok with flavorful rubs and seasonings takes only minutes, and they wow the crowd. So, have some easy recipes in your grilling file, so you can grill on the fly and still impress.

3.  You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a grill out and your family and friends over. It doesn’t have to be steak or lobster. You can flavor up burgers or flank steak or even vegetables (very healthy) and have an amazing barbecue without taking out a loan.

Boiling it down to three top grilling tips was hard, and I know that there are lots of other great tips out there. You are likely just biting your tongue and wanting to say what you think makes grilling good and fun. Really, I am sitting here thinking of about a thousand other ideas. With every cook out we learn something new that will help the next person.

Don't Miss Out on All the Fun - You Can Be in the Grillerhood Too

 Share your tips and help me pick the very best one to share with the Grillerhood.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Schwan's Grill Pack - Excellent Quality and Yummy

Two Grill Wok Night with Schwan's BBQ Foods

Brandi contacted me on behalf of Schwan's Foods to see if I'd do a honest taste test and review. What she didn't know was that I graduated with a guy who drove a Schwan's truck and remebered that the company had some great foods. Of course, that was a LONG time back, so you just never know how a company fares over the years. In any case, I was game to try out Schwan's again to see.

First, I was surprised at how many foods Schwan's has geared toward grillers now. They even include the directions for grilling. Before, you could, of course, put their foods on the grill, but you'd have to figure out frozen/unfrozen on the grill and times and things like that.

Schwan's sent a big box which came by UPS, so I don't think we have a truck out on our route now. I know I've not seen one here in years - since my high school friend opened up a landscaping business.

I called the boys in to see what they'd like to try out. The beefs tips caught their eyes, and the youngest loves asparagus (though usually the mushy canned type - go figure).

Schwan's Beef Tips for Kabobs

The Schwan's beef sirloin steak tips came boxed for kabobs including the kabob sticks and directions. I could have made some beautiful kabobs, but I must confess to finding it tedious to string kabobs and turn them all the time to ensure even grilling. My solution to that is what I call deconstructed kabobs. You can call me a genius or lazy - either works.

What I did was season the kabobs with some Steak Splash out of Canada (can use Italian dressing or any favorite marinade) and with lemon pepper as you can see below.

Schwan's Beef Tips - Seasoned Up

The meat looked beautiful. It was bright red and had some marbling but not any fat blobs. No trim up needed. These are just right out of the Schwan's box.

I sprayed a little non-stick spray in my wok grilling basket and poured in the beef tips. They made a nice sizzle and colored up well. After around 8 minutes, I added the onions and green peppers. Beef really needs more grill time than those vegetables, so I start the meat and then add when the meat is about 1/4 to 1/2 done (depending on the heat on my grill).

Beef Tips Sizzling Away on the Grill with Green Peppers and Onions

Then, it was time for the Schwan's asparagus spears, but again they are easier to handle in a grill wok. I got a second wok for Christmas, so I woked the asparagus right beside the meat and covered the entire PK grill.

The aspargus went in frozen (and my Facebook friends thought I had fresh asparagus - should I tell them it's frozen?). I brushed it with some Garlic Gold (olive oil - my favorite) and just grilled until it had some grilled color. This took around 10 minutes - a little less than on the box directions (but my fire was pretty hot by this time).

It All Comes Down to the Taste - How Did Schwan's Do?

I was very impressed with the Schwan's grilling foods (and we still have some to test out and share).

First, the food was packed well and looked good. Brownie points for that. But, I've had some products sent that did look great but did not taste that great.

The meat (and our fresh veggies) which I ate with a knife and fork and the boys made into wraps with burrito wraps was moist and very flavorful. Some tips are kind of tough and fatty. Not these. In fact, I'd say the Schwan's are as good of beef tips as I've grilled out. Tasted like good restaurant quality. No leftovers though. Bummer on that. The boys put a hurting on the beef. Thumbs up - for sure on the kabob pack (even if I did not kabob them).

As far as the asparagus, I lived on a farm with a fresh bed. So, I spent a couple of summers eating tons of asparagus but not anytime recently. It's kind of hard to find around here. I'd never thought to get frozen asparagus and wasn't sure what I'd think of that.

If I'd not grilled the asparagus myself, someone could have pulled these off on me as fresh. The color was perfect, and the flavor was spot on. As I said, my grilling friends on FB thought I'd picked up fresh asparagus. It's grilled the same, so either one is fine (as I found with this pack). I'd not hesitate to buy Schwan's asparagus again. It really was excellent.

If you live in a Schwan's area, ask your Schwan's guy or girl about the grilling products. They really are high quality, and the directions for success are right on the box if you need them, or you can think outside the box as I did here.

Great dinner and Schwan's goes on my recommend list.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Barbecue Master Road Trips to Missouri to Meet the Winter Grillers at Roaring River Resort

Roaring River Resort in Cassville, Misouri

Last week I went up to Roaring River Resort in Cassville, Missouri. The owners, Lon and Syndi, had invited the Winter Grillers up for a first annual gathering of the grillers – or the chance to meet our imaginary grilling buddies. We joked about that, because we’ve all been friends but online for several years.

Winter Grillin was a group at a web site, but the group branched off to a private space on Facebook Winter Grillin a while back for more features and options. I’m part of the early and tight group and was likely one of the first to sign up in 2009. One of the members left a message on my blog saying I might enjoy the space, and I sure have.

Winter Grillin does involve a lot of talk about grilling and barbecue, but we also grew to know each other on a personal level. The group was “there” when my son rescued a fellow teen from drowning, and I didn’t know if either boy made it out of the river for 20 minutes. They’ve seen my boys get Eagle Scout and graduate high school and now the oldest one graduating from college (and along on this journey to Missouri). I won’t share everyone else’s business, but we’ve all been there for the good and bad times for years now.

Syndi and Lon - Couldn't Ask for Nicer People

Lon has always been like the heartbeat of the group, coming up with fun ideas that helped us all bond. He set up a mailing trade off, and we mailed his pet penguin, Burr, around from member to member and included barbecue gifts and other fun things to the next person along the mailing trip.

Lon and Syndi came up for the idea to have a meet up, and they offered space to everyone at Roaring River Resort. That’s a long way from here, but I was determined to put that on my calendar. I first planned to fly, but my older son said he could drive out with me, so we decided to make it a road trip.

Took the Scenic Route - Glad We Gassed Up on the Highway
Goole maps sent us by the scenic route. I think we went five hours without seeing a motel . . . when we were looking for one (Well . . . we did see one with three police cars - which did not look safe at all). The map route also indicated 14 hours, and it was more like 17 or 18, so I think Google does not factor in bathroom, gas, and food breaks.

That’s okay though, because I got to spend a lot of time with my son who will likely move off to work and have a family, and a mother/son trip would not be likely to happen again anytime soon.

Barbecue Master and Son Road Trip - What Fun
We arrived at Roaring River Resort which reminded me of earlier days. The feel is small town friendly and retro in a good way. After chain motels where we were just a room key number, it was delightful to arrive at a place that felt like visiting relatives (the ones we like). Everything was super clean, and Lon and Syndi treated everyone like family rather than just faceless drones.

My son and I had a kitchenette room, so we could prep for grilling. They have standard rooms, the kitchenette rooms, cabins, and RV spaces. The prices are very reasonable. I had to look those up, but we sure paid more for generic motel rooms with basically just beds.

My Winter Grillin' Buddies - Even Better In Real Life Than Online

I didn’t know what it would be like meeting my Winter Grillin’ friends in person, but it was even better than I could have hoped for. They were like their personalities online – but even bigger, bolder, and warmer.

Grilled Trout - Cassville, Missouri

Lon, Syndi, Greg, and Debbie (Greg and Debbie live closer) rocked the grills the first night with fresh trout. This was after Lon had us put together grills in a speed contest. My son got stuck in last place, because I just had to take photos and was not much help. I don’t think he wants me for a partner if he goes again (-:

Raul Can Rock the Grill and the Music

After we ate, Raul entertained us. He’d brought his guitar. We all knew he played with Soul Driver, but we didn’t know how good he was in person. Very impressive. There’s nothing like live music after a great grilled meal.

The next day, Lon and Syndi took us all out on the pontoon boat. That was a blast, and I must say that the Ozarks are absolutely beautiful. Syndi taught me the dock trick (which I won’t explain). And, they showed us this great spot where you could climb up the cliff with a rope and jump in the lake.

Really Now. It Did Not Look This High From Down Below.

I thought cliff diving would be grand fun, so even though I’d not thought to wear my swimming suit, I jumped in, scaled the cliff by rope, and then chickened out when I saw how far it was to the water (looked like a mile from up high). Greg was glad I did not jump, so he made sure I got down the rope without killing myself.

Caleb Takes the Plunge Off the Cliff in the Ozark Mountains
My son, of course, did jump from the cliff. Ah. To be young.

Greg and Marv Getting the Smoked Ribs Ready to Hit the Plates
We had a rib off after the boat ride. Marv does competition barbecue, so he headed that up in Lon’s really cool pig shaped smoker. We had several rubs and some sauce on the ribs. I did my Dizzy Pig rub with Nephew’s Cherry Potle sauce.

Oh Yes - Chrystal Nailed Her Tri Tip
Chrystal grilled up a tri tip while the ribs were smoking. I’d never had that before, and I was hooked from the first bite. That was too tender and juicy to even describe. I also loved her Mom’s cowboy beans which was a recipe handed down in the family. Those were some fabulous beans. She emailed the recipe afterwards (thanks).

Chrystal's Mom's Cowboy Beans - Family Recipe
I took on appetizers, because I’m known for home grilling and easy recipes that taste great but don’t take a lot of time and work. Everyone seemed to enjoy the sausages in the wok and cheese grilled on the grates on my PK grill which I hauled from North Carolina. There were no leftovers, and Syndi hit the grilled cheese after I left, so I think that was a hit. I think she will need her very own grill now.

We all traded our barbecue secrets and carried in grilling gifts to share around. We ended up overloading Raul’s suitcase, since he flew in. I’m glad I drove even if it was a long haul, but I had to repack twice, since a pick up truck won’t hold as much as I thought.

Winter Grillin' Crew at Roaring River Resort in Missouri
That was my wild, wonderful summer adventure – a trip to Roaring River Resort to hang out with my online grilling and barbecue buddies. I was excited about going, and it turned out to be even more fun than I had even hoped. The Winter Grillers are the best  . . . online and in person.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Prescott Frost Grass Fed Beef on my Grill - Healthier and Tastier

Prescott Frost Steak Grilled - Grass Fed Organic Meat

Prescott Frost offered to send out some grass fed beef products to see what I thought. They had no way of knowing that I grew up eating a lot of grass fed beef, because my Poppaw would have a cow or two every year for meat for the year. Since my Poppaw has passed, I end up with grocery beef now, and I sure miss grass fed.

You may be wondering: What's the difference between big business beef and the smaller, organic produced meat?

The best comparison I can make would be with apples. If you've had different apple varieties rather than just the very few common ones at most stores, then you'll know that apples have a huge range of flavors. The same thing is true of beef. When cows are pastured naturally on a small farm, then the flavor is just a little different farm to farm.

I do find that grass fed has less fat (which I like), but it can still be marbled well enough to have a juicy steak. You can see the Prescott Frost steak I grilled for dinner above and that it is certainly not dry at all. It was juicy and just as flavorful and yummy as it looks.

Grass Fed Beef Meatballs Ready to Go on the Grill

In my sample pack, Prescott Farms included some ground beef. With all the talk about pink slime these day at the big chain grocery stores, it was nice to get real meat that came from a specific farm and not ground whatever from all over creation laced with pink slime.

The company notes that their grass fed ground beef has 10 x the beta-carotene versus mass produced beef and also 3 x the Vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids (good for reducing blood pressure and brain function). I'm not set up to test all that, but I like for my food to be healthy.

I can speak to how the grass fed meat grilled up and the flavor.

First, I thought about grilling traditional burgers, but the ground beef looked so nice that I wanted to do something a little fancier. I rolled the ground beef into meatballs and put them in a mini muffin pan and then added a light apricot sauce on top.

 Meatballs on the Grill with Prescott Farms Grass Fed Beef

The meatballs grilled up beautifully and tasted just as great as they looked too. I just popped them out of the pan with a slotted spoon and served them with salad, potatoes, and bread. Really delicious meal.

Prescott Frost also has healthy hot dogs. They don't have gluten or nitrates. No chemicals, hormones, or preseratives. That's hard to find in a hot dog. They are the crisp snap type that just taste better than the floppy ones that often taste more like bologna.

An interesting note I'd make is that Prescott Frost is the great grandson of the famous poet Robert Frost. His farm is a family farm, and he supports sustainable farming that is good for animals, people, and the planet. His products taste great as well (and reminds me of Poppaw's beef), so this gets a thumbs up.  

Win Grilling Gear and McCormick Grill Mates Prize Pack - Ends 6-25-2012

Win This Neat Grill Mates Prize Pack Provided By McCormick

I'm part of the Grillerhood this summer, and you can join the fun on Facebook where all the coolest grillers are hanging out and sharing grilling tips, recipes, and secrets. Just click over and see what the buzz is about at FB Grillerhood.

I could tell you about all the great information you'll find and about the HUGE prize one lucky person will win at the end of the summer compliments of McCormick . . . but it's more fun to explore.

As an added bonus, you can win the prize pack you see above. Just visit and "like" the Grillerhood and then leave me a comment telling me something cool you found on your visit. Also, give me some way to get in touch if you're the lucky winner of the McCormick grill apron, gear, and seasoning prize. (I don't keep or collect your data. I just send the winning entry over, so the prize can be mailed out.)

This grilling prize contest runs through June 25, 2012, so be sure to enter while you're thinking about it. And, you can enter once per day too. Just share something new each time you visit.

All entries get a slip in the hat, and one of my sons will draw the winning name on the 26th of June.

Yes. Simple as that! And, you will be sizzling on the grill this summer like I am with my snazzy new apron, tools, and new seasonings which I'm using to whip up some great grilled recipes.

Cyndi Smoking Up Some Good Grub with McCormick Gear and Grill Mates

Friday, June 08, 2012

Barbecue Master Joins McCormick Grillerhood - And You Can Too!

Join the Fun with McCormick Grillerhood Summer Grill Mates
Want to join the cool grilling crowd this summer? Then, you need to hook up with the McCormick Grilllerhood. Yes. You might not be on my block, but we all break bad no matter where we fire up our grills. So, let’s make it official. High five (and don’t forget the grill glove).

I’ve been using McCormick seasoning for years. Really, who hasn’t? Now, they are out of the gate with Grill Mates. They must be mind readers. Their products have always been great for grilling if not designed with that in mind. You would not be able to count the number of steaks that have come off my grills with McCormick’s lemon pepper. Now, McCormick has products just with all the grilling crowd in mind, so that, of course, caught my eye down at the local grocery store.

I caught McCormick’s eye too, and they contacted me about being a member of the Grillerhood. I’ll chalk that up to all my fans and readers. Thanks for putting me up high on Goggle with all the visits and comments. In any case, I’m an official griller with McCormick this summer and get a stipend and the apron, chef hat, and glove along with some samples (that will be in a giveaway coming up soon – so look for that and win some great summer grilling gear and seasoning).

Be Watching for My Upcoming Giveaway (June 2012). You Could Win This Apron Stuffed Full of McCormick Goodies.

First, go check out all the great grilling products they have at McCormickYes. They came out of the gate with all cylinders firing. You’re sure to find something here that you’ll love.

Then, you can join in the fun at Facebook where McCormick has a Grill Mates FB page that is already hopping. You can sign up for the Grillerhood and even compete to be the mayor of the hood with a barbecue trip to New York City for the winner. You know that would be a blast, and I’d love to be in on that. I’ll be waiting to hear all the details from the mayor – when he or she is named.

The name of the game is fun and sharing, so what are you waiting for?

OK. I’ll share a tip here. You don’t have to make burgers just for the bun. You can use a muffin pan (either a dedicated pan that you don’t mind getting smoked up or the throwaway kind) and make what I’ll call meatballs or mini meatloaves. If you can’t have bread or are cutting the calories or can’t have gluten, then these may be just what you want to toss on your grill. We love them, and this crowd can eat anything (not toxic).

Grilled Grill Mates Mini Meatloaf Recipe
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (since you’re using a pan and don’t want the meat real greasy)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon McCormick Grill Mates Molasses Bacon seasoning
  • A few splashes of Worcestershire sauce (around ½ teaspoon)
  • Ketchup or Barbecue Sauce (your favorite type - just enough to slather a bit on top of each McCormick's meatballs)
Join the Grillerhood Outside the Bun with Grill Mates Meatloaf on The Grill 

Directions: Just mix all of the ingredients together. It’s better to do it by hand, so the meat does not get packed too tightly. Divide into 6 equal sized balls for a regular sized muffin pan or 12 for the minis. Slather a little ketchup or barbecue sauce on top of each meatball. Place in grill on low medium meat for around 40 minutes for large meatloaves and 20 minutes for the minis. Grill temperatures vary, so do check on the time.

YUM! Eating Good in the Grillerhood This Evening. See why you need to join up and learn to rock the grill this summer with McCormick and all the friends, fans, and family sharing ideas, tips, and recipes.