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.