July 4th: Continued healing

I hope that everyone had a chance to enjoy some level of July 4th festivities.  July 4th was a day of continued healing for me.  BBQ is a big part of my life and how I both express myself and release stress.  To me there is no release like smoking a pork shoulder for 14 hours or spending 4 hours to get the perfect ribs(which I never eat) or smoking anything else. While going through the ordeal with Aaron, I had not really had a proper release with some good Que.  The only time over the last few months that I really was able to get down the way I normally do was for Aaron’s post funeral gathering.  I spent the night before the funeral doing several racks of baby backs and pork shoulders.  It helped me get mentally ready for the next day.

Outside of that, I had not done anything and so I needed the fourth to be the next step in my healing.  So naturally, I had a few friends over and went to work and made a fresh batch of sauce and dry rub.  I ended up doing a shoulder and for the first time a beer can chicken.  I also slow cooked my burgers for the first time.  Instead of the usual high heat, I cooked them for an hour over a lower temperature.  I experimented on my guests and they seemed to enjoy it.  There was only one burger left that evening.

It was also the first time I had gathered with most of these friends since the funeral.  It was great to be around all my best friends in this area on a more positive note.  They all have helped me in the healing process and did so yet again.  Thanks to Dustin Chicurel-Bayard, Miriam Chicurel-Bayard, Ian Mance, Nicole Foster, and Cara Williams for being that kind of friend to me and my family. You all helped to make the 4th another step in the healing process.


Enjoy the pictures!


My Fallen Hero

As people fire up their grills and smokers to cook meats and have family and friends over, not only to kick off the unofficial start to summer, but to also celebrate our fallen service men and woman.  To me this has always been an undervalued holiday on our calendars.  The freedoms and lifestyle we enjoy in America came at a price and we should take seriously this day to honor those soldiers.

This year, this day has new meaning for me.  Despite having family members who have served, I never have one die in the line of duty.  I had also never had someone close to me I considered my hero to die either.  So while this day of memorial for our fallen heroes has always meant a lot to me, it never truly hit home. That all changed at 8:45 am on May 14th, when my son and hero’s heart beat for the last time.  His fight for survival in the 6 months he lived taught me so much about strength and courage. So for me, Memorial Day has a new meaning.  Now I have a fallen hero, that I can celebrate not just on Memorial Day, but every day.

Maybe if those of us who don’t personally know of a service member who has fallen, also think about our own personal heroes who have fallen this day will be more than a day of cookouts and the unofficial summer kick off, but truly be a day of honoring all of our fallen heroes.

New life brings joy and challenges

For people who regularly read this blog for BBQ and Politics information, you may have noticed a lack of recent posts.  I apologize for the lack of posts and want to update everyone on the reason for this.

On November 14 at 8:30 am, my wife and I welcomed our third child and first son into this world. This joyous occasion was also accompanied by a lot of grief and stress.  Aaron was born with a rare heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, basically this is when the left side of the heart never fully develops and does not work.  The right side of the heart has to do all the work and if left untreated would fail ending the baby’s life.  Many parents do not know of this diagnosis until after the baby is born and they see certain symptoms.  We were lucky enough to where our doctors discovered this condition back in June and so we were able to take months to prepare for everything, and the doctors could have a treatment plan in place.

To treat this condition, there is a series of 3 surgeries done over the first 18 months of the baby’s life.  These surgeries restructure the heart to take pressure off of the right side and allow the heart to function as close to normal as possible.  As with any open heart surgeries, there are risks.  These risks are heightened when operating on a beating heart the size of a strawberry.

When Aaron was first-born, he had to have an emergency procedure done to relieve some pressure from his lungs.  A complication of his condition, had caused some pressure on the lungs making them not be at 100% at the time of his birth.  Aaron has been progressing nicely, and could soon be out of the ICU.  He still has ways to go before coming home, but considering everything he is doing well.

So that is what I have been focusing my attention on over the last month and not work or BBQ or politics.  Today is my first day back at work, and I will slowly get back in the swing of things about what is happening with our country.  Slowly regular posts will begin to show up.  I will also post some updates on my lil man as well.

Will BBQ cost Rick Perry a shot at NC?

If Governor Rick Perry, stays on his current path as a GOP front runner, he is going to have to campaign in NC at least once.  Depending on how well he does, multiple times.  Something from his past may come back to bite him.  People in NC are passionate about their BBQ.  There are debates about whether eastern or western carolina has the best, Lexington who has a style of their own likes to make claim to theirs being the best.  One thing most everyone here can agree on is that any NC BBQ is better than no BBQ and definitely better than BBQ from somewhere else.

Apparently, Rick Perry doesn’t like NC BBQ.  Eastern NC BBQ to be more specific.  In fact he claims roadkill tastes better!  I have never eaten at the place who catered the meal, but after looking them up and their reviews, to prefer roadkill you have to just hate that style of BBQ.  I think I may have to make a trip and try it myself (when I do, I will report back).

The point is, we love our BBQ in NC no matter what side of the state you live.  Some of you may say that BBQ has nothing to do with the issues Perry is campaigning on.  That may be true, but when someone from a state who claims to have the best BBQ (false claim), and attacks our BBQ as lower than roadkill he will have an uphill battle to win support.  Maybe he will just avoid the Eastern Part of the state altogether and avoid the issue.  But no matter where he goes, he will have to answer for his comments.

Don’t mess with Texas, whatever.  When it comes to BBQ, don’t mess with NC!

Spicy Chicken BBQ Sandwich – Elmo’s Diner

This is a cross post from www.roadmaptobbq.com.

I have been a bit heavy on the policy here lately, so I wanted to bring in some Que conversation to lighten the mood a bit!


The other day we were sitting at work deciding where to go for lunch.  There was a spot in Durham, I had yet to eat and so it was decided that is where we would go, Elmo’s Diner.  It isn’t a BBQ joint so it that wasn’t even on my mind.  Yet to my surprise there was a Chicken BBQ Sandwich on the menu.  It is described on the menu as being NC Style Shredded BBQ so of course I had to try it.  I have eaten chicken like this and though it doesn’t taste like pulled pork, it gives me the same sensation.

The other good thing is that it was listed as spicy.  If anyone knows me, they know that spicy is good to me.  In fact, the spicier the better.  Of course I ordered the sandwich with came with fries and some slaw.  I was not a fan of the slaw, I am not saying it was bad but just wasn’t great.  I still put it on top if the chicken so I could taste is as they wanted.  On top of that I added the Spicy Sauce they served on the side.  It seemed like it was just a spicy version of an eastern style vinegar sauce.  It didn’t taste like hot sauce, but as if something else was added to it.  This extra spice helped the marriage between the Cole slaw and the chicken.  The sandwich was pretty good.  The only thing stopping it from being great was the Cole slaw.

Cole slaw is one of those things that varies based on your taste preference.  So to some people this Cole slaw would be really good, which would make the sandwich great to them.  Regardless if you are in Durham and are looking for a place to grab some lunch and want a Spicy Chicken BBQ Sandwich, Elmo’s Diner is the place to go.

Was Best in Smoke a Success

Thanks to the holiday and a busy beginning to the work week, I am a little behind with this post.  I still feel I need to get it out though.  I wanted to get people’s thoughts about the show and if they felt it was a success.  I rather enjoyed the show, but I went into it with an open mind.  I knew that since it was on the Food Network, that it was not going to be about traditional smoking.  I knew they were going to make it a cooking show and throw some twists in that would make the purist cringe.  Had I not gone into with this mindset, I think I would have been disappointed.

I really enjoyed how the show brought out the versatility of what you can do with a grill and a smoker.  I would have never considered a smoked salad, a dessert, or even tofu for that matter.  I think what it really showed was that smoking is just for us meat lovers.  No matter what your food preference is, there is a place for it on the grill and smoker.  I was hoping that the final showdown was going to feature Famous Dave, Brad Orrison, and Chris Lilly.  I greatly admire these guys when it comes to smoking meats.  Two of my three favorites made the finals, as did my dark horse Matt Lang.  When the show first aired I told my wife that he had a shot at winning, because this is the Food Network and they will throw some exotic challenges that fit him better than anyone.

I was not upset about the results of the show either.  All three of the finalists had ups and downs that episode and it was about being best that day.  I do think the light BBQ meal for the cast of Mama Mia and the Tofu dish helped push Matt over the edge.  I don’t consider his steamed Pork Shoulders as a smoke dish, though I would like to try it.  Plus, you simply don’t beat Chris Lilly at pork shoulders. I mean, he is a 9 time world champion in that category.  However, it was a cooking show and Matt simply cooked what was presented to him.   I wasn’t a fan of all the judges either.  The one judge I did like was Amy Mills.  She seemed, every episode, to keep the focus on the meat.  That is what the show was about.  So I appreciated her constant reminder of how the meat was the star.

I would be interested in hearing what other people thought about the show.  Leave some comments with how you thought the show went!

Guest Post: Cripple Creek Barbeque

Cross Posted from www.roadmaptobbq.com

This is a guest post from a friend in the Denver area, John Lynch, who is the Chef/Owner of Cripple Creek Barbeque. Enjoy!

Have you ever held your breath for 90 days straight?

That is what it was like for us from February to April. We decided to give Kickstarter a second go to see if we could raise money for our dream of a BBQ Food Truck.

A little back story.

I am John Lynch of Cripple Creek Barbeque, a little BBQ Sauce company with a dream of having our own restaurant. We have morphed and adjusted our dream to a food truck, to bring our food to the people as opposed to making them come to us. I am a trained chef that discovered the joy and love of all things slow. The way the food is raised to the way it is cooked. We live in a much too high paced world and need to get more community. We used Kickstarter to fund our dream.

Kickstarter is a way to raise funds online through Crowd Funding. It gives a project a chance to raise money through Social Networking “friends”. You raise money through a large group of people giving you small individual amounts.

We had tried, unsuccessfully, to use Kickstarter at the end of 2010 to raise money to extend our business. We felt that we weren’t focused enough for a successful project, so we went at it again with a plan.

We did reach our goal with the amazing help from many of our friends and family, who are ALL part of the CCB family. We reached our goal after a feverish push on the last 3 days where we raised over $3000! We were blown away by the love, support and belief in our dream.

We have since bought a 1994 Chevy Step Van which we will convert into a moving kitchen to serve great BBQ to the people of the Denver/ Boulder area. We are now shopping for kitchen equipment, plumbing equipment, food suppliers, and other little things to get this thing rolling! You can follow our progress at www.facebook.com/cripplecreekbbq or www.twitter.com/cripplecreekbbq

Take care of each other,