I have been a lurker on this site for a few years and finally decided to "man-up" and register. I have been cooking since I was 9 years old and lived on a dairy farm in California.....yes they did have small dairy farms back then. Fast forward to the present time 61 years later, and I am still cooking. I do all the cooking and even bake when the mood strikes me. I bought my first BBQ grill, a Weber round charcoal grill, back in the 1960s when I was in the USAF. I used, moved, and often stored that grill as I worked in many places in the USA as well as countries overseas. I left the USAF after 8 years of service in 1969, but then went to work for Honeywell in one of their Field Support groups. In 1978 I left Honeywell to become a supplier for two of their divisions. It was time to break out the old Weber....but alas, it had been lost or tossed during one of my many moves.
I was now living in Minnesota in 1977 and wanting to grill year round. Enter my first Weber gas grill...nothing fancy, but easy to get going after shoveling snow off the grill in the winter. I would put on my snow suit, shovel a path from the kitchen sliding door to the grill on the deck. Shovel the the grill and light it, moving back to a chair in the kitchen for a smoke break and to sip on my libations while the grill thawed. Repeat this trudge to grill, smoke, sip and cook until dinner was ready. In 1984 I moved to 10 acres in the country, still in MN, and up to the top of the line Weber with 3 burners, a side burner and wood removable panels. Since then that grill has followed me on my continuing moves from MN to IL to TX and now to "Dolliver Mountain" in the very SW corner of NC. The grates were replace with stainless replacements, the burners have been replaced, and the falling-apart wood panels have been replaced with salvaged 3/4" oak flooring strips. I have also added the side wood smoking accessory and still use it for quick cooking.
While living in Texas in 2005, Ace Hardware had an end of the season price on the Brinkman "Smoke'n Pit" and free delivery to the local store, so I sprung for the $170 price and was now in the stick-smoking business. I still use that old stick burner to do my Briskets, Ribs, Boston Butts, Fish, Chicken.....and life was good. But just as in life, nothing stays the same forever, it was time to RETIRE and move. In 2011 we bought ~10 acres of old growth hardwood forest on a mountain in NC that included and existing home and 30 mile views to the mountains of GA. I retired 1 Jan 2012 and life was AWESOME! Then the "dreaded Smoking Bug" struck me and here I am today.
Not content with my Weber gas grill and the trusty "Smoke'n Pit", plus getting wrapped up in the local mountain lore and smoking of food I started the construction of my "REAL" wood smoke house, built from reused cement form lumber. The smoke house was set on a course of cement blocks with a self draining cement floor and attached with foundation bolts to survive the black bear visits we have from time to time. The design is mine, and it is 3'D X 4'W X 6'H. It has a metal roof and a adjustable smoke outlet at the front above the door. I also built a barrel stove that connects to the rear of the smokehouse wall to provide the heat needed when I am hot-smoking some of the meats. I usually do cold-smoking after brining for almost all my projects. But my bacon's, both Canadian and American style require hot smoking. When cold-smoking I use three 5x8 A-Maze-n Pellet Smokers connected in series to give me ~30+ hours of continuous smoke. Today I am starting the brining of 2 pork bellies for American bacon, and tomorrow will start the country ham curing process of aa 24# ham. Since the warm weather is on it's way, I have a fridge in my shop to put the curing/aging meat in this spring. Later this year I will be building a "cool-house" for aging and storage my meats. Cool-House project updates will follow.
The old NC Moonshiner!