Hello, and thank you all—Jeff in particular—for this wonderful resource.
I'm a middle-aged guy in Seattle, having moved here from the midwest 25 years ago. I'm an artisan distiller by trade.
I'm relatively new to smoking meat at home, having just started this summer. Prior experience in smoking came from working in a gourmet pizza kitchen in the early 90s, when I accidentally discovered that I could use the apple-wood-fired pizza oven for more than cooking pizza and calzones. Next thing I knew I was smoking oyster and chanterelle mushrooms, italian sausage, eggplant, and anything else I could think of for unique pizza ingredients. Then the other, regular kitchen in the restaurant started having me smoke off things for them during the slow hours.
I have cheap access to used oak barrels, and inspired by some of the builds I've seen here and on other sites, I built my own barrel smoker this last June. It works like a charm, but I have a lot of planned improvements in mind for later to give me more control over temp and airflow.
Most of what I've done at home so far is simple pulled pork, ribs, brisket, brats, and the occasional whole chicken. The first few tries were a bit dry and over-done, but I picked it up quickly after that, thanks in large part to the info I've read here over the months.
I'm especially interested in making sausages and cured meats. My current project is a small trial at belly bacon, based on the simple recipe I found here, in this thread. If it works out, I'll get a bigger slab of belly and go nuts. I'm also looking at some of the kielbasa recipes posted here.
Thanks again, it's good to be here.