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Post Mon Jan 19, 2004 11:10 pm
spfranz well done
well done

Posts: 615
Location: Minnesota

I noticed that there are a few people who are just getting started in the grilling/smoking/barbecuing arena and thought I'd offer a suggestion that helped me out a lot when I was getting started.

Keep a log book for every time you fire up. Keep track of the weather conditions, the wood you use, the recipe you use, and every single thing you do. If you adjust the damper, write down when and why and what temp the grill was when you did. Do this every time you make something.

Mine was made using Print Shop on half sheets of paper then 3 hole punched and put into a small binder. It allowed me to put an index on the front and add to it as necessary. I have 160 pages in my first one and have just started my second one. I'll keep doing this as long as I keep starting fires.

Once you've made something, take ribs for example, a whole bunch of times, you'll find what works best for you and your family. I made ribs probably somewhere in the area of 15 times or better before I finally found the combination of wood, temps, cooking times, and rub that we like. Once I got it to this point, I started another book and this book is MY recipe book. This is the same kind of half page binder but I used Word to make this one (it has a way to automatically keep a table of contents and print in book format). The pages in this one go into plastic sleeves.

I logged everything I made - pork butts, brisket, hamburgers (we like them smoked and then seared which is something that's easy to do on a Kamado), everything, Sometimes, you nail it right on the head after the first time. Happened to me with crown roast of pork. Couldn't see how to improve it (not that it will stop me from trying).

Anyway, keep notes on what you liked or didn't like. Needed more smoke, needed less smoke, not as tender as you wanted, not the right rub or flavor, etc. Change only one thing each time you make it again. Fix the amount of smoke first for example. Then concentrate on the rub. Eventually, you will have a recipe book of gold for the tastes of you and your family.

Just thought I'd share something that has been of great value to me on this journey.

Scott
I like vegetarians. Some of my favorite foods are vegetarians.

Post Mon Jan 19, 2004 11:56 pm
hickory pete well done
well done

Posts: 403
Scott,

Thanks for what I consider a brilliant idea. The information that is recorded can be very beneficial for a seasoned veteran (no pun intended), or a beginner. I know that each time I fire up the grill, something is different, and I couldn't tell you a month after, what it was. Your idea eliminates making the same mistake twice, or can be used to improve. What other good ideas do you have? Thanks..

Pete

Post Tue Jan 20, 2004 12:15 am
spfranz well done
well done

Posts: 615
Location: Minnesota

Well, there are two things (besides the log books) that really made a big difference for me. The first one is Steve's books. Read them. I mean really read them. Read the stuff at the beginning, and especially read the little side bars and stuff. Read them like there's going to be a test so you really understand what's happening and why.

The second is the alt.food.barbecue newsgroup. There you will find a whole lot of backyard barbecue guys from all different regions of the country and world who have been doing this for a long time. They know what they're talking about. If you don't have direct access, you can get there by going to http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&group=alt.food.barbecue. Read their posts, do some searches on things that interest you, and just lurk for a while until you get an understanding of this group of people. Most importantly, read the FAQ for this newsgroup. It is a wealth of information that I found to be invaluable. You can find it at http://www.eaglequest.com/~bbq/.

In addition, the alt.food.barbecue guys have taken over alt.binaries.food for posting pictures of their stuff. You can't get to that one through Google though.

Hope that helps,

Scott
I like vegetarians. Some of my favorite foods are vegetarians.

Post Tue Jan 20, 2004 8:10 am
Grand Scale BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 4272
Location: York, PA
Spfranz - When are you going to publish this cookbook of yours? I want one. I really like what you've got going on!

Keep Sharing!

Thanks
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Post Tue Jan 20, 2004 10:43 am
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
Spfranz do you have the ability to post templates for the documents that you use to create your logs and recipe files? It would be helpful for the rest of us to have a simple way to start. A log is a wonderful tool for troubleshooting as well as duplicating successes. Thanks for the inspiration!
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Post Tue Jan 20, 2004 4:12 pm
spfranz well done
well done

Posts: 615
Location: Minnesota

The log book pages were done in Print Shop Ensemble III. The book was actually a gift from my wife who put it all together with nice little pictures and stuff. If anyone has that software, I can send you the file I use (it's not compatible with new versions of Print Shop from what I've been able to tell). There's really not much to it though and a regular notebook would probably work just as well. My log pages go something like this:

First line - date and weather
Second line - Name of cookbook (if I use one)
Third line - name of recipe
Fourth & fifth lines - repeat cookbook and recipe (for doing more than one)
Sixth line - wood (what kind and how much)
Seventh line - water pan (from before I got my Kamados - what kind of heat deflection I used and if I used any kind of liquid besides water)
Last half of the page - lines for notes. I use this to write in what to try changing next time.

I print these on half pages and they go into a small binder. I only print on the front so when it's laying open, the left side is blank (back side of the previous page). This blank page is where my whole time line gets written along with all of the details of what I do and when.

That's about it for the log book. Like I said, a notebook would work too. Just keep a standard format for what you write in.

As far as the recipe book goes, that's in a Word document and I'm happy to share it with anyone who wants it. I wrote it for me and my equipment though so you'll probably have to change a few things to suit you. There's only 8 things in it right now but if you want it, you can find it at http://www.spfranz.com/Q/Recipes.doc. If you're having a problem getting to it, let me know and I can e-mail it to you directly.

Scott
I like vegetarians. Some of my favorite foods are vegetarians.

Post Thu Jan 22, 2004 12:28 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
While lost online I stumbled across some downloadable cooking logs for barbecuing. I hope this adds to what spfranz suggested. I'm definitely starting a log!

http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/cookinglog.html
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Post Thu Jan 22, 2004 3:25 pm
chagan well done
well done

Posts: 1350
Location: Central NJ by way of NY
That's great Bob, thanks for the link!
Image

No, it ain't burnt- it's barbecue

Post Thu Jan 22, 2004 10:58 pm
hickory pete well done
well done

Posts: 403
Bob,
That log is excellent. It has all of the features that Scott was talking about. It looks like a keeper.

Scott,
See what your expertise has started. A log is a terrific idea.

Thanks to both of you..

Pete

Post Fri Jan 23, 2004 12:36 am
spfranz well done
well done

Posts: 615
Location: Minnesota

No problem Pete. Glad to be of help. Once you start keeping a log, it will change to suit your needs. I found that to be the case with mine anyway.

Scott
I like vegetarians. Some of my favorite foods are vegetarians.

Post Tue Feb 03, 2004 5:13 am
Vinsect well done
well done

Posts: 576
Location: Middle Tennessee
That's a great idea. I just downloaded the templates from [url] http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/cookinglog.html
Log entrys could also be good for sharing in posts for feedback, especially if several people in the group are keeping the same stats.
Another suggestion I might add is taking digital photos too. Include pics of the inside of the meat too to show doneness, smoke ring, etc. I'm not suggesting we break out the camera every time we grill a few hot dogs but if we're going to spend all day smoking a brisket there's time for a few pics.

"Grandpa, how come there's more pictures of barbecue in the family albulm than people?"
[/url]
If it aint broke, Break it!
Then rebuild it better.

Post Tue Feb 03, 2004 10:04 am
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
I took the Excel BBQ Log and added a few fields at the top. I felt that it should record the name of the recipe, as well as the source (book title and page number). My wife has grown accustom to the digital camera and doesn’t laugh near as hard as she used to. :lol:
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Post Tue Feb 03, 2004 9:41 pm
Vinsect well done
well done

Posts: 576
Location: Middle Tennessee
It occurred to me today as I was buying meat that the digital camera would also be a good tool for logging the raw meat conditions such as marbeling.
If it aint broke, Break it!
Then rebuild it better.

Post Fri Feb 06, 2004 4:34 am
Vinsect well done
well done

Posts: 576
Location: Middle Tennessee
For any of you watching this topic but not the secrect meat weapon topic. I just did a London Broil experiment. I used the aforementioned form to keep notes and took pics too.
You can see the pics at
http://photos.yahoo.com/v1nsect
If it aint broke, Break it!
Then rebuild it better.

Post Fri Feb 06, 2004 5:22 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
Vinsect the link works. Those are some awesome grill marks. 8) Extra credit for that "top view" presentation!
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