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Hello From Santa Cruz, CA

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
My first post and introduction... Apologies in advance if I get too long winded.

Way back when (as in early 1970s) one of my first jobs was running a wholesale bakery for my parent's restaurant so I have been around great cooks my whole life and exposed to a lot of foods from different cultures. Sometime back in the 1980s my grandfather gave me his "California Benson" bbq. He bought this thing new a few years before I was born and it supposedly was in a photo in a mid-1950s Sunset magazine on my grandparent's patio in Menlo Park, CA. At the time I was pretty good with a Weber kettle but I had to play with this beast. It is an old traditional open pit type of charcoal/wood grill, large with excellent construction and stainless steel wind breaks on the top, back, and sides. It also has a great rotisserie (more about that in a bit). I have now taken it apart and stripped it down for a full restoration twice, once in around 1990, and again around 10 years ago now.

Fast forward to the a more recent time. I have always loved the great apple wood smoked treats from the Corralitos Meat Market outside of Watsonville, CA. The sign on their smoke house reads "applewood commons" which totally fits (though I must say that nearby Freedom Meat Locker also does some fine smoked treats as well). My father in law has a small apple orchard and a few years back my wife and I started collecting all the trimmings from pruning season. I used three cookie sheets to somewhat close off the front of the Benson and began my foray into "grilling with smoke." A lot of smoke (the concept of TBS had not yet entered my mind, thankfully it is applewood and freeflowing enough not to deposit nasty things on the meat). Using my old "calibrated baker's hand" as a thermometer we crudely, but consistently, turned out some amazing que. A few years back we started doing big turkeys on the rotisserie for holidays, bathed in garlic butter and smothered with applewood smoke. Those who have partaken all have said it is the best turkey they have ever had.

For the past year plus I started getting the urge to learn more about low and slow bbq/smoking and started receiving Jeff's newsletters. The old Benson is in dire need of another restoration (this time it will only get used for special occasions most likely). A few weeks back we got an old used Silver Smoker cheap on Craigslist. Being an older one it is pretty solid and heavy, but of course not the holy grail 1/4" steel offset. So, I read up on technique, did a few mods to the smoker, and have turned out some amazing pulled pork, chicken, fatties, ABTs and smoked salmon. The scary part is after reading of horror stories, this silver smoker is doing a great job for me, but it is a big consumer of coal and wood. Along the way I realized that a Weber Smokey Mountain was something I really wanted to try. We let one slip away on Craigslist, but I knew I wanted one. So, thanks to two special women in my life, my wife and my mom, I now have a WSM as well. I look at it as increased capacity to complement the offset, not replace it.

The first two smokes on the WSM were this past weekend and it is an incredible smoker--I love it.

The apple wood I use is all small trimmings, but it has worked well for me for years and I have an almost unlimited supply. I have also been using some (purchased) hickory, alder, and cherry (chips and chunks) and using lump charcoal. I have already read tons of stuff in this great forum and can't wait to both learn, and eventually most likely even be able to contribute!

We are also getting into sourdough and dutch oven cooking, along with all kinds of other culinary adventures...fun stuff. Our kitchen includes an old monstrous Wolf range (as in 6 burners, 24" griddle with salamander broiler, two ovens (one huge one and one not so big one) that weighs around 900 pounds. Wish I had a nice big pit to match...someday maybe.

I am at the very bottom of the low and slow bbq learning curve and I am enjoying this new adventure very much! People seem to like my que so far so I must be doing something right, but I know I have a lot to learn.
post #2 of 11
Welcome to SMF. Glad you decided to join us. I'm looking forward to seeing some of your smokes.
post #3 of 11
Welcome to the SMF.
post #4 of 11
Welcome to the SMF!! I think you will like it hear!
post #5 of 11
Welcome to the forum. Sounds like you're pretty well outfitted to start some great smokes.
post #6 of 11
Welcome to SMF.
post #7 of 11
Welcome from Watsonville!!! I'm close by in Hollister. You should consider entering competitions..Check out www.gilroyrocknribs.com

I love Corralito's and Freedom Meat Locker's food!!!!!!!
I stop by both places at least once a month for sausages and skirt steak sandwich's from Freedom........Do you sell any apple wood?
post #8 of 11
Welcome to the SMF
post #9 of 11
Thanks for the great introduction, and welcome to the SMF. You'll find plenty of help here, we all like to share good times.
post #10 of 11
Welcome to the forum from the motherlode. Glad you found us, and can't wait to see some of your q-views of your adventure into the TBS!
aka Rocky
post #11 of 11
Welcome to SMF msvphoto....glad ya joined us!
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