Friday, May 31, 2013

Big Green Egg Stainless Steel Vent Cap - Big Improvement

BGE Stainless Steel Vent Cap - Looking Sharp and Working Better Than the Floor Model Vent Caps

The Big Green Egg smoker ceramic grill is a premium outdoor cooker. People who own them love the BGEs, and many who don't own one have the Big Green Egg on their ultimate "wish list."

One part of the BGE has always been a bit of an issue, and that's the vent cap. The green ceramic cap will fall off if you open the lid, and it (being ceramic) can break pretty easily falling from that distance. The cast iron cap which is used for actually smoking to adjust temperatures gets really hot, and if you open the lid, the weight of the cast iron metal vents will open or close them after they've been set where you want them to keep your heat steady.

Matthew Merritt noted the issues with the caps on the Big Green Egg and decided he'd come up with something that would work better. The result was his stainless steel BGE vent cap which fits the BGE (medium, large, and x-large) as well as other ceramic cookers like the Kamado Joe (classic and Big Joe), and Primo (Oval Jr. and Oval x-large).

Benefits of the Stainless Steel BGE Vent Cap
There are a number of benefits to adding the stainless steel vent cap starting with the weight. This cap is easier to carry around and work with than the heavier caps. This may not be a big deal for a big guy. For me, it's great to have a smoker vent cap that doesn't weigh so much.
The lighter weight also means that the settings hold. The vents do not slide due to the heavy weight of cast iron. You can lift the ceramic lid, and the vents there on the cap hold position. Those who smoke know that it takes work to get a steady temperature, and it's a pain to lose the perfect venting when checking out the food. On top of this, the stainless does not get so hot. Touch cast iron, and you are going to get burned. Unless you're at a really hot temperature, you don't have that problem with stainless steel.
The design of the vent with the side adjustments mean that rain (or snow) don't get in if you are smoking out from under a cover. There is nothing like rain dripping in your smoker to mess up the temperature (and make a mess in general). This takes care of that problem.
Another plus is that you can leave the vents open, since they are placed on the side. If you lock down a BGE, then you may open up the unit to a big old moldy mess. That is not a pleasant surprise. I'm from North Carolina where it's really humid, and it's a real pain to have to clean out mold (which I'm also allergic to). But, you sure don't want to grill or smoke up food with mold in the outdoor cooker. Now, that's gross as you all know.

I also think it's great that the vent cap can go in the dishwasher, although I do not have a dishwasher. Maybe one of these days . . . Anyway, it's not hard to wash the cap, since it's small enough to easily fit in the sink.
How Does the Stainless Steel Vent Cap Work?
It's super simple to add the stainless steel vent cap to your BGE or other ceramic smoker. All you have to do is put on the gasket as below. Wash the unit first, so it sticks well. Then peel off the paper and wrap it around. Cut off any excess. Then put on the vent which fits snug but can be lifted back off without any problems.
Big Green Egg Accessory Vent Top with Gasket Installed
Once you have the base on, you slide on the vent top. This again is super easy as you can see below.
Stainless Steel Accessory Ceramic Cooker Vent Cap

The fit is perfect, but it's still easy to slide the vent to get the right amount of air flow going and set your temperatures. Then, you're set, because the cap stays on, and the vents stay as placed.

What Are You Waiting For? This is a Great Product for Your BGE.

This accessory vent works like a charm, and it's attractive as well. It matches the lower vents on the BGE in terms of the metal, so it does not look like an add-on.

The Big Green Egg vent cap is sold by Eggware online. They sent me a sample. It was packed well and shipped out quick. I wasn't sure what I'd think of it, since I'm used to the cast iron topper, but I definitely like this vent cap better for all the reasons mentioned.

Mattew is working on a smoking pan and vegetable basket. If they are great as his BGE vent cap, then I can't wait to see those.

Good News if You Order Before June 15, 2013

You can save 15% off the vent cap if you order before Father's Day 2013 (June 15th). Just use the code: DAD. You can surprise Dad plus save money, or you can even treat yourself.

"All Fired Up" by Southern Living and Troy Black - Excellent BBQ & Grilling Book

All Fired Up: Smokin' Hot BBQ Secrets from the South's Best Pitmasters

I was really excited when Aimee emailed to see if I'd like a copy of the brand new barbecue book All Fired Up to review. First of all, my Mom has always subscribed to Southern Living, so I've been reading and loving the magazine for years. Then, I saw that Troy Black worked on the project, and he's one of my FaceBook friends.

I try not to make up my mind before I actually see something, but I couldn't imagine that this outdoor cookbook would be anything other than great, and I was not disappointed. It's a big, beautiful cookbook with amazing photos, lots of help and barbecue grilling tips, and the recipes are sure to impress no matter what you want to do on the grill or smoker.

Understanding Grilling and Smoking

All Fired Up starts out with some really great help guides. Often people fail at grilling or barbecue, because they don't understand the concepts behind the art. Troy is spot on with his guides, and I'd strongly recommend sitting down and reading the front sections before moving on to the recipes.

The Secret is in the Barbecue Sauce

Another often overlooked aspect of barbecue is the sauces. The sauce can really make or break the grilled dish, so I'm glad Troy gives a nod to sauces and the variety across the country. I'm a fan of all the various sauces, and learning how to make a mustard or mayonnaise based sauce means that you can use the same meats and have a totally different tasting product.

 Yum! I Love the Grilled Shrimp Recipe.

Of course, most people buy a cookbook for the recipes, and these are great. Maybe it's our Southern roots, but Troy grills many of the same dishes I've been doing that I don't see very often. He even has grilled nachos which are a family favorite here. And he does seafood which many people are afraid to tackle on the grill, but it's actually easier and quicker to do seafood than most other grilled favorites. The shrimp you see above are my favorite from the entire book, although I've not tried any recipes that disappointed in any way.

 Grilled Meals - From Start to Finish

I really love that All Fired Up has a range of dishes from appetizers to desserts. I'm waiting on the peaches to come in here, so I can try out Troy's grilled peaches you see above. My mouth starts watering just looking at the picture and thinking about peaches with a hint of smoke. That would have to be some good eatin'.

What Did Barbecue Master Think of This Barbecue Cookbook?

It's probably pretty obvious that I was impressed with this grilling smoking book. It's the kind of outdoor cookbook I'd put together if I was looking at writing a barbecue book. It covers the critical information needed to be successful and has easy to make recipes that are absolutely mouthwatering.

All Fired Up is definitely a thumbs up. It would be great to have on your shelf or to give as a gift. It is one of the best outdoor cookbooks I've reviewed.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Win a 6-pack of Garland Jack's Secret Six BBQ Sauces - ends 6-8-2013

Win - Garland Jack's Secret Six
If Your Favorite Part of BBQ Isn't Eating, You're Doing it Wrong!

It's been a while since I did a barbecue sauce giveaway contest, and I'm excited about this one - Garland Jack's Secret Six and a t-shirt to boot.

Garland Jack's uses only sugar in these rich barbecue sauces, and you really can taste the difference.

It's a cool collection with the Original flavor, Country Honey, Hickory Spice, Squealin’ Hot, Sweet Brown Sugar and Sweet n’ Sticky Molasses. Something for every barbecue lover. Gotta love the variety, and they are all included in the giveaway contest.

How to Enter to Win The Barbecue Sauce Collection and Shirt

As always, I keep my giveaway contests simple, and I NEVER spam you. I don't collect your data. I just contact the winner.

To enter, just leave a comment telling me which Garland Jack's barbecue sauce you think you and your crowd would love best and why. Check out Garland Jack's BBQ sauce site if you need more information to decide.

Some people like extra entry chances, so you can share the post on FB, Twitter, Google + or other social media outlets for extra entries. Stop back and let me know where you shared, so I can add the extra slip(s) in the draw bucket. Do a new post for each entry, although I'll read them all and add if someone forgets.

I will need some way to get in touch, so include something so that I can follow up on the winning slip. Usually this is an email, but if you're on any of my social media lists, you can leave a handle and where to look you up.

Contest Details for Free Barbecue Sauce

I'll take entries through June 8th (2013) at 10 pm EST and draw either late on Saturday or on Sunday.

I do make paper slips and put them in a hat or bucket, and a family member or neighbor (not connected to the blog in any way) draws.

I'll contact the winner, and Garland Jack's will send out the prize. It's a nice big box with the full line of sauces and a t-shirt. I'm hosting, but the company takes care of the prize. Thanks Garland Jack's.

I also got the six pack of sauces, but I'm not paid to do a contest. I just enjoy seeing readers get a chance to try out some of the great products I try out at home.

Get back by Tuesday June 11th (2013), or I'll need to draw another name. I've never had to do a second draw, but it makes sense to have a time on that.

Good Luck! This is a really great prize and just in time for summer grilling season.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cub Scouts Enjoy Learning How to Grill Sausages

Grilling with Cub Scout Pack 320

My friend from work, Lori, invited me to visit with Cub Scout Pack 320 last week. The boys were working on the communication loop, and I thought they'd be interested in new technology like my blog. Since it's a grilling blog, it seemed like a good idea to break out the grill for some hands on fun.

Cub meetings only last an hour, so I needed something quick and easy. My grilled sausage appetizers take only a few minutes on the grill, so I knew that would work for a short meeting. I also knew that there were steps where the boys could help out which is more fun than just sitting there listening.

I was going to pick up everything, but Lori insisted on getting the supplies (thanks - that was really nice). Our local IGA grocery store has the best (and also inexpensive) bulk smoked sausages. They are pre-cooked, so that's what makes this a quick grilling project. Kielbasa or any pre-cooked sausage works.

It's Great to Have an Involved Audience

I sliced the sausages, since I didn't want to chance any Cubs getting cut, but the rub shaking part was perfect for this age group. The sausages go in zip lock bags with barbecue rub or seasoning, and then they just need to be shaken around until the sausages have a nice coating. I used one of my favorite rubs - Dizzy Pig. It's mild with a wonderful flavor, and my boys (actually young men now) love Dizzy Pig.

As you can see, I had no shortage of volunteers. That's one really fun part of working with Cub Scouts. They are excited about helping out. You never have to ask twice for volunteers.

Shaking the Sausages with Barbecue Rub

My son who is an Eagle Scout and headed off to graduate school at the end of the summer helped the boys get the sausages in the bag with the rub, and then they took turns shaking and tossing the bags. I had a few bags going at once so several boys could help out at the same time.

Stirring the Grilled Sausages

I used my grill wok (which is super handy), because I can do a lot of sausages at once and they can be stirred rather than turned. One of the Cubs sprayed down the wok with non-stick spray, and then others helped out on the stirring. This gave them a chance to work with grill tongs without having to worry about sausages rolling off the grill (which can be a challenge for adults too).

Yum! Grilled Sausages

Since the sausages are pre-cooked, they just need to be heated and for the rub to crisp up. This doesn't take long (just minutes), and then another batch can go on the grill. We were able to do the program, prep the sausages, and grill two batches in an hour.

 Cubs Love Grilled Food

The Cub Scouts were excited to dig in and eat the sausages. Food is always a hit with Scouts. I've been working with Cub and Boy Scouts for years now, I don't think you can ever have too much food.

Cub Scout Enjoying Sausages

As you can see, this little guy (armed with toothpicks) is thinking about a few more sausages. He and all his Pack buddies were gentlemen and made sure everyone had food before getting extras.

Cub Scout Pack 320 - Woodleaf, North Carolina

Visiting and working with the Cubs was great fun. I'd like to thank Pack 320 for the warm reception and a wonderful evening. I'd also like to thank Lori for inviting me and all the leaders and parents who helped out and are doing such a super job with these little guys.

I encourage everyone to spend some time with youth groups in your area. It's very rewarding to help (even in a small way), because these kids are our future. They are full of energy and excited about learning, and they need more of us to step up.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Aloha Hawaiian Lei Company - Real Flower Leis Shipped Fast

Aloha Hawaiian Lei

James emailed to ask if I'd like to check out an Aloha Hawaiian Lei company's lei. I'm guessing he'd seen my luau grill out for my son's graduation. We had leis but just the plastic kind that you can get at the Dollar Store. He said he'd send one out if I'd like to see one and give an honest review (as always).

I'm not sure if James was aware that I live on the east coast, and I wondered how a real flower lei would fare with that kind of trip. They have some of the pretty nut shell leis which would have been the safe way around that, but Aloha Hawaiian actually packed up a real flower lei and sent it to North Carolina.

My son was home when the lei came in, and he put the box in the refrigerator as the box said perishable and keep cool or something along those lines.

I carefully opened the box and lifted out the lei which was wrapped in soft paper and packed with an ice pack.

The lei, as you can see above, was magnificent. Absolutely perfect. It also was in one of my favorite colors - purple (which the company could not have known).

In addition to being beautiful, the Aloha lei smelled like flowers. I find that a lot of the fancy flowers these days do not smell like flowers or anything. This lei smelled like a flower garden.

These Aloha leis are pricey. With real flowers and shipping, you would expect as much. But, I would have to recommend Aloha Lei Company for a special occasion where you want real flower leis right from Hawaii. The leis are really special, and the company packs nicely and ships fast.

I was not so sure a real lei would arrive this far away looking great, but it did. And, I enjoyed getting to wear something so pretty out there at the PK grill.