Char Broil Big Easy Smoker

Today I can very happily announce that my nasty old grill has been put to the curb and I’m now the proud owner of a Char Broil Big Easy Smoker. I haven’t been this excited about grilling and also about blogging in a long time.

Char Broil Big Easy SmokerAre you familiar with the Char Broil Big Easy Smoker? If not then let me introduce it to you. I think the real name of it is the Char Broil The Big Easy Tru Infrared Smoker Roaster Grill. It’s looks like a smoker with that familiar bullet shape but it’s also a grill. There’s a removable circular grill on the top of it. It comes with a roasting/smoker cage that fits inside underneath the grill. I plan on filling that cage up with ribs, brisket, chicken and even a whole turkey.

There’s also a smoker box built into the side of it. Fill the smoker box with wood chips or pellets and you’re smoking. Leave it empty and you’re roasting. It’s easy to use and works great.

steak on the big easy
London Broil, peppers & onions on The Big Easy

That Tru Infrared feature of the Char Broil Big Easy Smoker is what makes it so easy to cook juicy meats. The way it works is that the burner is within a metal wall. So the flame is never near your food. The flame heats up the metal and the hot metal cooks your food with infrared heat. And this keeps the food from drying out. It also prevents flare ups that happen when the fats drip into the flame. These flames are safe behind the metal walls.

My parents have the Big Easy Smoker too. We’ve enjoyed a few Thanksgiving turkey dinners and Easter briskets at their house and that sold me. My mother saw it late one night on the Home Shopping Network and ordered it on it spot. I had a similar experience because I already saw it in person and after I binge watched all of the HSN videos on YouTube, I had to have it too.

I’m not kidding, watch the video I linked to below and you’ll want one too. These HSN hosts are highly skilled salespeople. But come on now. You show someone a bacon wrapped grilled cheese sandwich made on the Char Broil Big Easy Smoker and you’re going to sell a Char Broil Big Easy Smoker. But they don’t stop there. They make a clam bake, brisket, ribs, chickens and even Caesar Salad. This guy just keeps pulling amazing looking meals out of the char broil big easy smokers that he has lined up in the studio. Show me doughnuts on a grill and you’ll get a new customer.



So anyway, my new goal for the summer to is to start blogging about all the awesome things I can make in this smoker roaster grill.

So far I’ve gotten much more use out of the grill features than the smoker and I”ve made burgers, dogs, London Broil, chicken breast, pork chops, grilled vegetables and even a few pizzas.

Smoking meat is an art so I’m taking it slow and not trying to bite off more than I can chew but it was very easy to put a spiral ham in there. There’s ribs and brisket in my future.

Here’s an Amazon link if you’re interested. Enjoy the video!

Char Broil Big Easy on Home Shopping Network

Toro Electric Leaf Blower

Toro electric leaf blower picture

Toro electric leaf blower picture
Toro Electric Leaf Blower
I’ve decided that I’m going to stop waiting for the free time to work on my dream projects and start blogging about what I’m actually doing. And unless there’s snow on the ground, if it’s the weekend then I’m using my Toro Electric Leaf Blower.

And if I had a nickel for every hour that I’ve used the leaf blower, I’d have a lot of nickels. I’m serious, every weekend and sometimes during the week too, I’m using that damn leaf blower. I’d have a lot more blog posts and cool projects done if I didn’t spend all of my time cleaning up my yard. But it’s probably a good thing too because those cool projects I that I want to do usually involve my margarita machine. 

Now let me explain. I’m not cursed with constantly falling leaves like in some sort of eternal NJ autumn. No, but there’s always something to clean up in my suburban yard. Right now at this time of year the yard is covered with pollen and tree litter. So I break out the leaf blower. We have an oriental beech tree that is huge and makes a huge mess. The tree is a good hundred years old, that’s my uneducated guess but it’s too big to give it a hug. probably take 2 or 3 people to get their arms around it. This thing drops ridiculous amounts of these little stringy puff ball things. I can honestly fill a few garbage cans with all the puffs that fall to ground.

In the burbs, you have to keep a neat front yard or you’re labeled as “that neighbor”. And I’m the only fool in my neighborhood who doesn’t have a landscaping crew do a weekly clean up of my yard. Nope, I’m out there for hours and hours with my crew of me and the Toro Electric Leaf Blower. Why don’t I hire someone?  Hey buy one my cookbooks and tell your friends to buy one too and then maybe it’ll be in the budget.

This post is starting to sound like a griping session about how much of my life I’ve wasted on using the leaf blower. But I guess I can also review my leaf blower while I’m at it. It’s a Toro 51619 Ultra Blower/Vac and it’s works great. It’s one of those that comes with a bag and an extra tube so you can convert it to vacuum/mulching mode. I don’t use the vacuum mode all that often but it does work well. Even at age 48, it’s still a lot quicker for me to bend and pick up the piles of leaves than to use a leaf blower vacuum. Check back in with me when I’m 55 and I’ll probably be raving about the vacuum.

Toro electric leaf blower pictureI know the trend is for everything to be cordless but I don’t mind the electric power cord. I have a couple of hundred feet of extension cords in my garage. I’ve never tried one of those gas powered backpack models but I’m sure they probably smell like gas and get hot and they’re a lot louder. So I stick with my electric model. When I picked it out it said on the box that it blew 225 mph which was faster than the gas model. I’m not sure that believing everything that the marketing department is feeding you is a great way to gauge the power of these things but that’s what I did. It definitely has a lot of power. I can move leaves, sticks, stuff that falls out of the trees and sometimes I even use it to dry my car after I wash it. On a black car, water marks are the enemy and my leaf blower takes care of that.

Oh and those cordless rechargeable battery models probably work great in a small yard with a quick clean up. But let me refer you to the top of this article. I’m using this thing all the time. I even clean out my garage with it after I use my table saw.

Update

Looking at Amazon I see they made a few changes since I bought mine which was about 7 years ago. By the way, it is very reliable since I’ve been using it all the time for the past 7 years. It seems like the new version is red. Mine is black. But they’ve upped the ante and now it can blow 250 mph. Wow, that’s great. The metal impeller blade sounds like a good feature too. Probably works better at mulching now.

So take it from me, if you live in the suburbs and need a leaf blower, even if you hate how much you have to use it, go with the Toro Electric Leaf Blower. You won’t be disappointed.

Black Box Wine Review

Black Box Wine Merlot

Black Box Wine Review

Black Box WineThere was a time when wine that came in a box was considered uncouth. But times have changed and now it’s perfectly acceptable for a wine container to be square. And sometimes boxed wine is even the better option. Not all the time but there are circumstances that sometimes a box of wine is the better option. Let me explain while I review this new Black Box Wine Merlot.

Black Box Wine comes in a great looking black box. That box contains about 4 bottles worth of wine. And you know what costs less than a bottle? that’s right a box. And those savings are passed on to you. So a 3 liter box only cost about $20. Now that’s a good deal.

The Black Box Wine is not just a giant juice box. You see there’s a bladder inside the box that keeps the air out and the wine fresh. Air is the enemy of wine but this bag in a box solution seems to work really well. I’ve had a Black Box Wine Merlot for about 3 weeks and it still tastes the same as when it was first opened.

So how does it taste? Now remember that I’m not a wine snob and I can’t tell you that a certain wine has hints of vanilla and tea leaves but I know what tastes good. This wine taste’s good. It’s perfect to put in your home bar for a nice glass of wine during the week or even when an unexpected guest drops by. Would I use it for a special occasion? No. But as a day to day wine, it’s perfect. Use it for cooking too.

Black Box Wine MerlotLong term storage is the only issue. Drink it within a few months. This is not wine that will improve in your wine cellar. This is wine that you should drink. Which is a shame because the wine boxes stack so neatly. But I don’t consider having to drink the wine a negative so this really isn’t a big issue. If you’re looking for expensive wine to put in your wine cellar and never drink, they look else where.

Another good thing about not having a bottle is the carbon footprint. The box takes less energy to make and there’s less packing waste. You can recycle the box too.

So my review of Black Box Wine is positive. There’s a time for fancy wine and popping corks but there’s also room for boxed wine. The taste, the convenience and the cool package make this wine something that you should try.


Char Broil Infrared Grill

Char Broil Infrared Grill

This post brought to you by Char-Broil. The content and opinions expressed below are that of GoodStuffAtHome.

Char Broil Infrared GrillIf you’re in Northern NJ, you’ve probably seen me wandering around Lowes during my lunch break. I’m a professional Lowes browser. Someone on the staff always asks me if I would like some help, and I always say, no thanks, I’m just browsing. But this is actually time well spent. If you scout the store before you need to go shopping, you’ll know where everything is and that helps you get in and out quickly. This is especially useful when its more crowded on the weekends.
So when I was in the market for a new grill, it didn’t take me long to make a decision. I had already spent a lot of time checking out all the grills at Lowes and reading the spec sheets and even doing more research online.  I knew I wanted a Char-Broil Infrared grill.
The exact model that I got was the Char-Broil’s TRU-Infrared Commercial Series. There’s one with three burners but I got the one with four burners. And here’s some of the reasons why I picked this grill.
Here’s what I read on the Char-Broil website:
Almost 60 years after introducing the first charcoal grill, Char-Broil debuted another innovation every bit as monumental: the TRU-Infrared™ cooking system. It delivers even heat across the entire cooking surface (no more hot and cold spots), juicier food, higher temperatures without flare ups, for restaurant-quality results. All Char-Broil Commercial Series grills are equipped with the patented TRU-Infrared cooking system, which is unique to Char-Broil.
So what is this TRU-Infrared cooking system all about? Let me tell you. The way it works is that there’s these grates that sit between the fire and the cooking surface. The flames heat up this special cooking grates and they radiate the heat to the cooking surface. It’s a really smart idea because you get even heat distribution and no flare ups. Don’t worry you still get those awesome grill marks and flavor of cooking over the flames but these extra cooking grate makes BBQing almost fool proof.
Char Broil TRU Infrared Grill Plates Char-Broil Commercial Series Grills Your food also comes out juicier than a normal grill. There’s these little holes in the cooking grates that let less air through. So you’re cooking with radiant heat instead of an open flame which will dry out your food. It’s a pretty cool idea.
Also have you noticed that propane tanks are getting expensive. I have two tanks that I use. One is hooked up to the grill and the other is there for when I have people over and the first tank runs out of fuel. It always happens like that. Never runs out when I’m home alone and toss a couple of hot dogs on the grill for a quick lunch. Nope, the tanks always runs out when there’s hungry guests over. So this TRU-Infrared cooking system uses 30% less fuel. That’s a huge plus in my book. Plus there’s a gauge that measures the fuel level. Awesome!
And I like the idea of having no flare-ups. When I cook sausage I’m used to having to sit over the grill and constantly moving the links around to avoid burning during flare-ups. I don’t have to worry about that anymore. I can even let my son watch the grill if I need to run to kitchen for something.
My old grill never really got all that hot. So I wanted to be able to control the temperature better. When I want to sear meats and lock in the juices, I need high heat. But the Char Broil TRU-Infrared is perfect for searing. I heard that they’re even using infrared grills in high end steak houses now. It’s really the way to go when you want a restaurant quality steak.

Char-broil_commercial_series_3_burner

That temperature control is also very important. I also like to do low and slow cooking with things like pork. But the most important feature of the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared grill is that it looks great. It’s a nice addition to my backyard.

Learn more about Char-Broil’s infrared technology

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Ice Sphere Maker

Ice sphere maker

Ice Sphere Maker

One of the coolest things that I’ve gotten for my home bar lately are these Ice Sphere Makers. Yes, I used the word “coolest” to describe my new ice molds. Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

But seriously, you’ve probably heard of whiskey stones. They are these real stones that you chill in the freezer then you add them into your glass of whiskey. The cold from the stones makes your drink cold without watering it down. Well these ice sphere makers work very similar to whiskey stones. You use them to freeze up a big ball of ice to chill your drinks. The ice sphere has less surface area and more mass than regular ice cubes. The size and shape is important so that they melt slower. Perfect for someone who doesn’t want watered down whiskey but doesn’t want to worry about accidentally swallowing a rock. Hey it could happen, so why not play it safe. Rocks are for the yard, ice is for your drinks.




These silicon ice molds are 2.5 inches in diameter and make a nice sphere that will fit into your favorite drinking glasses. I’ve seen some reports that if you use distilled water that the ice will freeze completely transparent. That would make for a cool look in your glass. But I’ve also heard that you can to freeze the spheres upside down to force the air out as it freezes. Sounds like a lot of trouble for something that’s just going to eventually melt. I’m fine with regular translucent ice. But maybe I’ll do some experimenting and report back here in a future post.

ice sphereSince the Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds comes with 2 molds it’s perfect for an after work scotch. But if friends are coming over for a drink, two ice spheres aren’t going to cut it. But you can do what I do and freeze a few in advance and store them in a tupperware or pyrex container in the freezer. If you’re worried about them freezing together, you can place the spheres on top of the ice compartments of a regular ice cube tray. It obviously won’t be a perfect fit (round ice, square hole) but it’ll work. Also you might want to leave a package of baking soda in your fridge fight odors. Nothing worse that a big round ice ball going into your bourbon when it smells like the fishing trip that you just came back from. Yuck!



Beverage Dispenser with a Spigot

Beverage Dispenser with a Spigot
Beverage Dispenser with a Spigot
Beverage Dispenser with a Spigot

Beverage Dispenser with a Spigot

Let’s face it. People like fancy drinks now a days but when you’re having a house party, you don’t want to spend all of your time behind the bar making them. A punch bowl solved this problem in the past and will still do the trick today but even better is serving punch in a beverage dispenser with a spigot.

Now one means to do it but fingers always wind up in the punch. Or later in the night, people get lazy and stop using the laddle and scoop out the punch with their cup. Lets completely take that option away from people and put the punch in a beverage dispenser. You want punch, grab the spigot. No fingers, no cups, no mess.




The exact model that I have is called the Creativeware 3-Gallon Beverage Dispenserand I like it a lot. 3 gallons means that you probably won’t have to refill it during your party or get together. If you have friends that can go through 3 gallons of something, then maybe you should buy two of them. Plus it’s got a little compartment for ice underneath it.

Beverage Dispenser with a Spigot  Also with regular punch bowls you can get a floater now and then. Especially if you’re having an outdoor party you might wind up with a floating bug or something that falls out of the trees, a leaf, a puffy floating thing or a squirrel. Well maybe not the squireel but if you put that punch in a beverage dispenser then you’ll be okay.