Greetings to you all.
I am a lover of smoked meats. Few things make me smile like the texture, bite and flavor of a well done rib (dry rubbed preferred). I grew up with a father that grilled often, but smoking was mainly for fish in my household (salmon mostly), but I knew the flavor smoke can give and the look of satisfaction of being able to give that to your family my father had. My husband is not much of a cook and grilling and/or smoking is not really something he enjoys. Struggling through sub-par purchased smoked meats from restaurants and such, only finding that distant memory at cook-offs and competitions I finally decided I needed to learn this mysterious smoke alchemy for myself.
We have a gas grill (because my husband will use that occasionally) but it is small enough that I deemed it unable to "second" as a smoker as any meat would be too close to the low flames to achieve the "low and slow" I wanted, even with wood chips added for smoke and an attempt at indirect heat. I began searching for smokers. In reading reviews online I found references to this forum. I stumbled in, peaking around the corner like an intruder... fearful I would somehow be sniffed out as the "hen in the roosterhouse" (I know, backwards)... but as I read the threads here I realized I really had much less to fear than I had thought. I found great information, a real lack of elitism or aggression towards "frequent/newbie questions" and a general welcoming feeling.
I have, through searching and reading here, decided that I needed the convienience of an electric smoker with my work schedule, and settled on a MES. The information for the generations and which models were most reliable I was able to find led me to my smoker of choice - a 30" with BT gen 2.5 from Home Depot. If I knew anyone with a Sam's Club membership and one were closer to me (They are not yet popular in the CA Bay Area where I live) I would have gone with the 40" for sale there... but with a small family of two at home and my extended family nearby as my test subjects, I mean audience, the 30" will likely be large enough even if I have to cut racks of ribs in half.
Today is the day - I will be heading to Home Depot to get, clean and season the new... somehow calling it just a smoker seems lack luster. Something with the power to transform raw meat into the joy that is good smoked meat... it really is a transformation to my mind. From sustenance to satiation. Perhaps I need to name it appropriately. What do they use in alchemy... how about crucibles? My smoker will be The Crucilble! Much more appropriate - especially as I work in a science industry.
All nerdy tenancies and flowery musings aside - Thank you to all of you who have worked to build up this wealth of information for people like myself to find. It is invaluable and really made this a much less steep hill to climb. I promise to search first before asking the same newbie questions you hear 100 times... but as I make my first steps you may hear a few from me.
The condensed version: (tl;dr)
I live in the CA Bay Area - new to smoking.
Getting my new smoker today - 30" MES w/ BT gen 2.5
Thank you to all of you for this amazing resource!