You probably don't care about our history and you are thinking right, it is very very boring! So, either click off this or read it in agony!!
I own a Coleman 3000 gas grill several years old. In the summer of 2009, I decided I wanted to try some smoking. So I bought a brisket, read the internet on how to cook it, made my own rub from a recipe, rubbed it up, turned on one side of the grill and checked the temp. I had to open the lid about 1.5 inches to keep the temp down. I put some wood chips in my basket and threw the brisket on and let her go!
I checked the temps every hour or so and things went great. I took it off, showed it to the family. It was beautiful. I cut into it and it was relatively tender but the rub was way too hot! Other than that it was ok, especially for the first time.
I did a butt next from Wal-Mart (enhanced). It was probably the best butt I have ever have done! I did some ribs next. They were pretty good.
I told my wife that I really needed a real smoker. She was ok with that so I began searching the internet. I wanted a combo so I could use either gas or charcoal. I found one from KCK for about $1000. I called and made arrangements to come pick it up on a Saturday. I rented a pickup truck, drove to Kansas City and picked it up. I cooked several things on it using gas then decided to try wood. Went to the hardware store and bought two small bags of wood chunks. I got them going after a while but couldn't keep the temp up. Bought a couple of more bags then decided that was getting really expensive so bought a couple of bags of Kingsford briquettes. Finally called the guy from KCK 'cause he told me to if I had trouble. He told me what I was doing wrong. Got the temp up, threw the meat on and smoked it. It was ok but not as tender as the first one.
Now this is where the problem comes in. By now it is September and I was at a square dance, I'm a caller, and a friend of mine said he was in our town yesterday at the BBQ competition. I didn't know he competed! Now I had a source so I asked a bunch of questions from then on every time I saw him. The product became better. I cooked all winter when I could. I was never just a summer griller, but spending that much time in the cold was a little more than I was used to. My granddaughter became interested also.
When the next year came, my 'friend' told me about the local BBQ society but I could never remember the night it was so I didn't make it until March I think. They tried to get me to start competing and I said no, I didn't want to do that. I just wanted to be a good backyard cook. They kept after me and I told them that maybe in August I would do it. Then the Lyons contest sent them a note saying they only had 15 cooks and was needing more. I thought that might be a good place to start since they only had 15 and I wouldn't be too embarrassed when I lost. So I signed up. By this time I had a new pickup (the wife liked the one I rented so much she made me go buy one). Since the granddaughter was still in high school, I got my grandson to go with me to help prepare the meats and set up then the wife was to bring the granddaugher up after school.
I'm glad I chose Lyons because they are very cooker friendly there. I was given a spot next to my friends which was right next to the entrance to the building the bathrooms were in. Therefore, everyone coming to the bathrooms, and believe me there were a bunch, stopped to talk and of course give advice! Not that I didn't appreciate the advice but I was kind of busy at times just figuring out what I was doing. Yes I had practiced a couple of times cooking all four at home, but this was different. I had bought a DigiQ and this was the first time using it. It worked great. The night time came and my granddaughter and I were going to sleep outside by the smoker so we could hear the DigiQ alarm. My wife and grandson slept in the back of her Durango. Unfortunately during the day the wind was blowing like crazy, remember this is Kansas, and when we were putting rub on it would blow up in our eyes. Then at night it got cold, down to 32. About 2:30 a.m. my granddaughter woke me and said to get in the truck with her because it was so cold I said no, I would stay out and keep the fire going. She insisted but I refused. About 30 minutes later my cell phone vibrated and it was her again insisting I get in the truck. I didn't. Then at the next charcoal load about 3:30, I decided to get in the truck. I set the alarm for two hours because that was about the charcoal load time. At 3:00, a friend knocked on the window and told me my temp was low. I got it going again and at 5:00 finally got up and put the ribs on.
Everything was going ok until I had the chicken on for a time and I opened up the cooker and got a hugh flare up! Of course some people were watching. I got it out. What was happening was the I was on an angle sloping toward the firebox and the grease was running toward it and ignited because of the heat there! My wife and I put some boards under that end and it was ok. In the meantime, my ribs weren't looking good. I had noticed they didn't have much meat on them and weren't pulling back. I had gotten them from Yoder Meats and just trusted them. That was a hugh mistake!!! I pulled them, rested them and cut them. They were pretty much charred! I turned them in anyway just to get some points.
We ended up in last place because of the ribs, otherwise we wouldn't have placed last. BTW, instead of 15 teams, there were 29. I didn't realize how slow cookers are at signing up!
We got home, unloaded and took a family vote as to whether to continue or not. The vote was 3 to 1 in favor of continuing. I was the 1.
Next cook was Anthony in July where the temp was 98. By this time we had purchased a trailer and had an AC installed. I had a lot of trouble keeping the trailer cool even though my grandson and I had it partially insulated. But it was better than the 98 degrees outside. We ended up with a 9th in brisket and no last places out of 29 again.
We did two more cooks in 2010 and didn't place but came close a couple of times. I guess we are in it for good now. The granddaughter left so now it is just the grandson and myself. My wife supports us from a distance and goes once in a while. We appreciate it when she does come along.
Right now we are working on getting the inside of the trailer fixed up with cabinets and running water. After that we will work on beds but it is just cots for now!