Monday, May 29, 2017

Smoking A Brisket on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

Today was the third smoking using the Weber Smokey Mountain smoker!  It was my first time smoking brisket!

The brisket was only about 4-5 lbs. I used Kingston Original charcoal and positioned the briquettes using the Minion method of putting hot coals in the middle surrounded by unlit coals.  Because the meat was not a full brisket, the cook time was a lot less time than what some experts need for a full brisket. The rub was applied about a day and half in advance only because I didn't get a chance to cook it yesterday! I used Costco's Rib Rub and smoked with Apple wood.  Initial cook time was 2 hours and I sprayed the brisket after the first hour with apple juice and also at the second hour when the brisket reached 195 degrees.  I took it off the smoker at this point and put it in aluminum foil and let it rest for 1/2 hour inside of a cooler.  After putting the brisket back on the smoker, it stayed there for a total of two more hours.  From start to finish, the time was 4.5 hours.

The pit temp was ranging between 225 degrees and 325 degrees!  Since there was direct sunlight on the smoker, the temp rose as high as 325 degrees, but I was always able to bring that temperature down by closing down the lower air vents.  I tried to keep it as close to 250 to 275 degrees.  I can't wait for my new ThermoWorks Smoke thermometer / alarm to arrive.  With it, I will know when temperatures of both the pit and also the meat go above or below preset temperature levels.  The remote will allow me to stay indoors and still monitor the temperatures.

I took the brisket off the smoker and opened up the aluminum foil and let the meat rest for at least 1/2 hour.  My nephew Frank and his family came over and he sliced the brisket.  Frank has been smoking meat for quite a while now and has successfully used his Traeger pellet smoker for many family occasions.  He said the brisket wasn't bad for a first attempt!  However, I believe I could have left the brisket on for perhaps another hour if I wanted it more tender.  There was plenty of juice in the meat to have kept it going.

Many barbecue fans say that doing a good brisket is the test of the skill of the cook.  I can see that we'll be doing this more often!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Second Smoking on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker - Chicken Drumsticks

I was planning on smoking brisket today for my second use of my new smoker, but too many other things got in the way. So instead, I decided to smoke chicken drumsticks since they were on sale for $0.39 / lb!

This is the second smoking on the Weber Smokey Mountain smoker! Smoke time was 2.75 hours. There is another rack of drumsticks below the rack of drumsticks you see in the photos. You can see a ThermoWorks RT600C Pocket Thermometer sticking into the side of the smoker through the rubber gasket to check internal temp of the smoker.  I am doing this until my new ThermoWorks Smoke remote thermometer/alarm comes in this coming week.

Chicken was cooked to 165 degree internal temperature.  Smoker temp was 225 degrees.  Once again, I used Costco's Rib Rub & Seasoning with three chunks of Apple wood for the smoke.  Kingsford's Original briquettes were used for the fuel.

I had some used briquettes left over from the cook of the country ribs from two days ago so I decided to use them in addition to some new ones.  I found that the used briquettes burned off a lot quicker and after the 2.75 hours, the burn was already diminishing.  Luckily, the chicken did not need more than 2.75 hours, so it all worked out.  But I think if I am going to smoke something like brisket that requires really long cook times, the only way to go is brand new, fresh briquettes!

Home Depot (along with other retailers) had two bags of 18.6 lb Kingsford Original briquettes for only $9.88 for the Memorial Day weekend.  I purchased 14 bags (7 packs), so I have plenty of fuel for the summer!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker - 18.5 inch

After much research and agonizing over which smoker would be best for my family, I decided on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker smoker - 18.5 inch version!

I was debating to get either a Traeger pellet smoker or perhaps a Masterbuilt electric smoker, but decided that to get that real smoke flavor, I needed to go to charcoal smoking with wood chunks added.

My nephew has a Traeger and the quality of his food is top notch!  But I also read that some of the Traegers had issues with the auger not pushing the pellets consistently and that it could clog.  Also, some Traegers were running heat way above the settings on the electronics and causing all sorts of problems.  While this has not happened to those whom I know have one, it has happened to others.

The electric smokers to me seemed more like an outdoor electric oven more than anything else and that the small wood chips used just would not be enough to get that barbecue flavor that we all want.

In the end, after researching the various charcoal smokers out there, the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker smoker made the most sense to me.  Flare ups are controlled by the water pan that separates the coals from the food and maintaining a constant 225 to 250 degree temperature seemed rather easy to do with the three vents on the bottom of the cooker.  In addition, I didn't see any negative reviews from those who owned this smoker compared to the numerous negative reviews I had read about other smokers.

After picking up the smoker at Home Depot, I built the unit (very fast and easy... it's just attaching the legs and the internal rack holders and the top handle) and got to smoking country ribs.  I used a Weber chimney starter to get the briquettes going and within about 45 minutes, I was up and running with a decent temperature in the smoker.  I used the "minion style" of charcoal positioning to guarantee a longer burn if needed.

In the end, the country ribs achieved a nice smoke ring and flavor from the Costco rub and also apple wood chunks (three) on the Kingsford briquettes.

I'm very happy with the flavor and results.  Next?  Brisket!!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Doyle Dykes at Cream City Music - Brookfield Wisconsin

Spent yesterday with my friend Jerry at a Doyle Dykes concert in Brookfield, Wisconsin! Doyle is an internationally renown guitarist currently sponsored by Godin Guitars. He could not go out with us for dinner yesterday like we usually do after his concerts, but we’ve been spending this morning texting back and forth and sharing photos with each other.

Anyway, here's a photo of him taken with my Nikon D4 and Nikon 24-70 f2.8 lens. Guitarists always close their eyes when they play!

Doyle hired me to photograph his daughter Holli's wedding many years ago. Flew me out to Chatenooga Tennessee to shoot it! The most intimate wedding I have ever shot with only 18 people (including me) at it. Family only!! I was honored to do it and finally got to meet his whole family. We are all Facebook friends today!  Click here to see some photos of the wedding!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Field Trip to The Chicago Botanic

Today's field trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden was great!  The temperature was around 62 degrees and we had nice blue skies with some nice clouds.  Students got to practice HDR, shallow depth of field shooting, setting up custom white balance and taking photos of a waterfall.  Couldn't ask for a better day!

Images taken with a Lumix DMC-LX5 camera.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

Ribs on the barbecue, getting ready for a bunch of relatives to stop by for dinner tonight!  I'll be frying up egg rolls on the wok and also frying up tofu!  The rest of the food is up to everyone else.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Three Racks of Barbecue Ribs!

Using the secret recipe of my fishing buddy, I barbecued three racks of ribs for tonight's dinner on my Weber Spirit E-310 grill! Photos are the ribs before starting the barbecue process (marinated overnight)... and the finished product! Perhaps the best ribs I've barbecued to date! 3 hours and 15 minutes grill time!

Images taken with an Apple iPhone 6s+

Dinosaurs - Milwaukee Public Museum

It's tough to be a dinosaur!  From this year's Milwaukee Public Museum field trip.  Image taken with a Lumix DMC-LX5 four thirds image sensor camera.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Backyard Umbrella Installed!

Installed an umbrella in the back yard! The black bag in front of the grill is covering a portable propane wok burner. Four 30 lb concrete slabs hold down the base of the umbrella. Two 70 lb tube sand bags reinforce the concrete slabs. That umbrella is not going anywhere!  
Now it won't be so hot when grilling or using the outdoor wok!

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

First Catch of the New Fishing Season - Kenosha Wisconsin

My fishing partner and I went to Kenosha Harbor today to try our luck at fishing again.  Last time we went, it hailed on us!  So today, we decided to arrive later in the day at 8 AM instead of our usual 5:30 AM!

Jim caught a 3 lb Brown Trout just moments after we got there.  Nice!  But I didn't get anything at all until the very last moment.

I had just said, "Hey Jim... time to go home now..." and then I followed up immediately with, "right after I catch this fish!"  Lo and behold, I had a 28" pike on my line!  Both Jim and another fisherman there were laughing that at the very moment of announcing we should leave, the fish hooked up on my line!

I released the pike because I thought the fish was not big enough.  But after checking the Wisconsin Fishing Regulations, a keeper size would be 26 inches.  Mine was 28 inches so it was legal to keep.  Oh well.  Jim kept the Brown Trout since there's no size limit on those fish.  Great day!