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Old 09-18-2015, 06:16 PM   #21
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About the BGE, I only learned of it on this forum. The high temperature it produces makes for good grilling no doubt, but for casual and everyday use I like the convenience of my lowly propane grill.
I think the key factor here is that many people tend to confuse barbecuing and grilling in their minds without quite realizing it. Most seem to use them interchangeably, but they are quite different.

Grilling (what most of us do in the back yard) is cooking over direct heat, usually at hotter temperatures than barbecuing. Grilling is normally done using gas, charcoal, or wood as the heat source. Hot dogs, burgers, chicken parts, veggies. A quick process taking from 5 to 30 minutes.

Barbecue, OTOH, is meat that is slow cooked over wood or charcoal for a long period of time. Ribs, brisket, pork butt, etc. With this technique, the smoke produced by the wood/charcoal is of huge importance.

The advantage of the BGE for me is that I can do either or both technique, or even combine them.
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Old 09-18-2015, 06:23 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
I think the key factor here is that many people tend to confuse barbecuing and grilling in their minds without quite realizing it. Most seem to use them interchangeably, but they are quite different.

Grilling (what most of us do in the back yard) is cooking over direct heat, usually at hotter temperatures than barbecuing. Grilling is normally done using gas, charcoal, or wood as the heat source. Hot dogs, burgers, chicken parts, veggies. A quick process taking from 5 to 30 minutes.

Barbecue, OTOH, is meat that is slow cooked over wood or charcoal for a long period of time. Ribs, brisket, pork butt, etc. With this technique, the smoke produced by the wood/charcoal is of huge importance.

The advantage of the BGE for me is that I can do either or both technique, or even combine them.
I think we've dived off the OP's original question, but I will say that you can get very tasty 'q using a propane grill if you know how. As long as you can do indirect (leaving off some burners), have good temp control (digital probes/thermometer), and can get smoke on your meat (check out amazen pellet tube smoker), you can get really good ribs, pulled pork, smoked salmon, even brisket.

Hands down best 'q is with a traditional smoker - no doubt. But I've done 'q on a propane grill, low and slow, and friends and co-workers have rated my ribs as beating some places on Diners Drive-ins and Dives that they have been to.
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Old 09-18-2015, 07:39 PM   #23
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Thanks everyone for the many suggestions and recommendations. Now I have an idea on where I need to start focusing my attention.

This may sound odd, but how do you remember everything...like what "tweaks" you made to raise the taste level a notch, etc.?


omni
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Old 09-18-2015, 07:45 PM   #24
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Grilling (what most of us do in the back yard) is cooking over direct heat, usually at hotter temperatures than barbecuing. Grilling is normally done using gas, charcoal, or wood as the heat source. Hot dogs, burgers, chicken parts, veggies. A quick process taking from 5 to 30 minutes.

Barbecue, OTOH, is meat that is slow cooked over wood or charcoal for a long period of time. Ribs, brisket, pork butt, etc. With this technique, the smoke produced by the wood/charcoal is of huge importance.

The advantage of the BGE for me is that I can do either or both technique, or even combine them.
Yes.

The true BBQ'ing, I have not done, but would use a traditional smoker. I am too cheap to get a BGE.
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Old 09-18-2015, 08:22 PM   #25
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I've had a few foodie roommates along my road of life and picked up a desire to try new recipes from them. At first I'd just follow the recipe - then as I got more confident (due to practice) I started modifying the recipes - or just scanning recipes ahead of time and then winging it. The key thing is to practice.

I agree with the suggestion that fresh ingredients is a key starting point.

Every few months I challenge myself to "master" something new. It varies on what it is - a few years ago it was to learn to make a butter pie crust from scratch - lots of not-so-great pie crusts before I figured out and mastered the technique of not overworking the dough, not adding too much ice water, etc. Another challenge I gave myself was to learn to make more beans/rice/quinoa dishes from scratch... Playing around with spices etc... Now I know, without looking it up, how long to soak beans for, what spices my family likes, etc.

The key is to try new recipes - and then experiment with changing them once you've got them down.
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Old 09-18-2015, 08:50 PM   #26
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Thanks everyone for the many suggestions and recommendations. Now I have an idea on where I need to start focusing my attention.

This may sound odd, but how do you remember everything...like what "tweaks" you made to raise the taste level a notch, etc.?

omni
Before making a new recipe, I usually review several different versions and follow the one with the clearest instructions. For example, there are many videos that show how to knead pizza dough. I particularly like the one from Susan's Cooking School. My first efforts didn't rise very well, but at least they made a good base for the toppings. I researched the reason why the dough might not rise and decided I had probably killed the yeast by using water that was too hot! So I did a little controlled experiment with yeast and water at different temperatures and identified the best temperature range to get foamy yeast. The next pizza was much better. It's a continuous improvement cycle. I like to take photos of the results with my iPhone and store them in the cloud with comments. I don't use a notebook because I would never look at it. YMMV.
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Old 09-18-2015, 10:09 PM   #27
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Thanks everyone for the many suggestions and recommendations. Now I have an idea on where I need to start focusing my attention.

This may sound odd, but how do you remember everything...like what "tweaks" you made to raise the taste level a notch, etc.?


omni
If there are cooking classes around you, take a couple. I took several and had a great time cooking then eating what we made. There are quite a few recipes that I still make from those classes.
Regarding "how do you remember everything", I make several copies of the recipe I'm going to alter and make notes on the copy. When I was entering baking contests I kept notes on taste, texture, quantity (too many nuts-not enough nuts), temperature, cook time, ingredient substitutions, which pan I used. You should have seen my notes when Pennsylvania had a contest for a vegetable quick bread. Couldn't be any of the usual veggie breads. They gave you a list of veggies you could use. I didn't win but some of my test quick breads were: tomato-walnut, Onion-pecan, spinach-walnut, spinach-cinnamon, spinach-cheese, carrot-cinnamon. All of them were okay and I did enter the Tomato-walnut. Oh, and never ask old people to be your taste testers. I made free form yeast bread and instead of judging the taste I was told it should be square because they couldn't make a sandwich, could I make it bigger so they could make paninis, no nuts or seeds because they got under their false teeth.
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Old 09-19-2015, 06:01 AM   #28
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I use one of these cause I'm cheap and I can leave it out in the rain

PK Classic Charcoal Grill and Smoker | Portable Kitchen
My father bought one of these in the mid 60s. Nice thick, heavy duty cast aluminum that opened along the long side. He used it for a couple of decades before moving when I inherited it. Eventually I took it to a vacation home in the mountains where I used it for 12 more years. 35+ years and a few cooking grates later I sold the home and imagine it is still there.

Cheers!
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Old 09-19-2015, 07:03 AM   #29
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This may sound odd, but how do you remember everything...like what "tweaks" you made to raise the taste level a notch, etc.?
I make recipes myself, or cut and paste recipes, or cut and paste portions of different recipes together like some kind of culinary Frankenstein, and keep them in a Google Drive folder. That way I can make notes easily, and either follow the recipes while cooking with my phone or laptop or print them out. If I print something out and find a better way, I'll make a note of it, then copy the note into the document later.

If it's a very hands on type of recipe, printing it out each time I want to use it makes it easy to go through it with food-covered hands and not worry about mucking up anything except a piece of paper.
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Old 09-19-2015, 07:21 AM   #30
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The only way IMHO to buy a Big Green Egg is at an EggFest.


EGGfests - Big Green Egg - The Ultimate Cooking Experience
Also check craigslist. I bought a brand new Large egg for exactly 50% off. The seller won it in a contest and never took it off the shipping pallet.
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Old 09-19-2015, 08:09 AM   #31
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Thanks everyone for the many suggestions and recommendations. Now I have an idea on where I need to start focusing my attention.

This may sound odd, but how do you remember everything...like what "tweaks" you made to raise the taste level a notch, etc.?


omni
My family teases me to no end on this...I keep a log in excel for recipes where I keep notes.
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Old 09-19-2015, 09:55 AM   #32
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OK...as a singleton, suggestions as to how do I consume the many iterations (of which some are 'failures') that it takes to perfect a recipe? Or do I just sample and dispose and write those off as the cost of learning?

omni
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Old 09-19-2015, 09:57 AM   #33
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OK...as a singleton, suggestions as to how do I consume the many iterations (of which some are 'failures') that it takes to perfect a recipe? Or do I just sample and dispose and write those off as the cost of learning?

omni
Leftovers are delicious and you can freeze many of them. Have plenty of airtight containers and Ziplok bags. Besides, most of your creations will be edible. I suggest keeping it simple. If you have uncooked leftovers, make a soup or a stew with them (my $9 small slow cooker is wonderful and idiot proof!) or toss them in an omelet or frittata. BTW, learn how to make a good omelet. It's a beautiful thing.

These are great ways to clear out the fridge. I have very little food waste now. When I was w*rking, I would often come home at 8 pm to find wilted lettuce and mouldy cheese in the fridge. Out they would go. Not conducive to healthy eating. That doesn't happen anymore.

http://www.worldfooddayusa.org/food_waste_the_facts
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Old 09-19-2015, 10:02 AM   #34
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... At first I'd just follow the recipe - then as I got more confident (due to practice) I started modifying the recipes - or just scanning recipes ahead of time and then winging it. The key thing is to practice...

The key is to try new recipes - and then experiment with changing them once you've got them down.
+1

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OK...as a singleton, suggestions as to how do I consume the many iterations (of which some are 'failures') that it takes to perfect a recipe? Or do I just sample and dispose and write those off as the cost of learning?

omni
Well, make small portions at first, or you can make friends and invite them over for a party.

I recently learned to make pork meat and chicken liver pâté, and it took me about 4 iterations to get the spices right, plus inventing my own method for minimal mess (blanch the liver first!).
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Old 09-19-2015, 10:04 AM   #35
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Leftovers are delicious and you can freeze many of them.
+1. If you're on the fence about the health concerns of plastic tupperware, there's glass stuff that works great. All of my stuff is Anchor Hocking, bought at discount through Ross or Marshall's.
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Old 09-19-2015, 11:58 AM   #36
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Slow cooker makes cooking healthful and easy. I look for vegan slow cooker recipes since they don't use cream and other fatty ingredients. I make a large batch and freeze leftovers.
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Old 09-19-2015, 12:17 PM   #37
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Jacques Pepin's excellent series Fast Food My Way helped me get going with cooking. He teaches basic techniques as he cooks. He has another DVD set - I think it is Jacques Pepin's Essentials, that includes a lot of basic cooking techniques.

He has a new show starting soon. Check him out.
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Old 09-19-2015, 05:04 PM   #38
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Similarly, I've never taken anything off my Big Green Egg that wasn't wonderful.
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I wish I could afford one of those...
Made me look - Yow, those ARE pricey! At those prices it better cook well!

Big Green Egg Prices - The Big Green Eggic

I seriously wonder if I'd use it enough to justify the expense but I know some folks cook almost everything on the grill. For those it would make sense.
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Old 09-19-2015, 05:13 PM   #39
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A friend has a Green Egg. It cooks well, however, he has not been able to get it to smoke well. It traps the heat, slow cooks, but does not generate a lot of smoke. As he also has a smoker and a grill, I'm not sure what purpose the Green Egg serves other than a slow roaster.

As far as cooking gadgets go we have one of these. Does turkey, chicken and prime rib. OUTSTANDING! Highly recommended

http://www.amazon.com/Char-Broil-TRU...=oilless+fryer
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Old 09-19-2015, 05:17 PM   #40
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I'd start with the food in season at the time. Go to farmers markets & check your grocery stores for produce, meat and fish that is fresh and in season. Then google your food with the word "recipes". You will find what you are looking for. We are lucky here in So. Cal. We grow heirloom tomatoes, avocados, corn, beans, peas, strawberries, dragon fruit, persimmons and many different kinds of citrus (blood oranges are my favorite). You can always find interesting recipies, from simple to complex, once you have good fresh main ingredients.
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