I really appreciate this site. Every time I come up with a new idea, this site is all "been there, done that." Plus the friendliness and courtesy really sets it apart.
Less than a year ago, I had maybe two or three things that I could cook. My wife was the cook. She is an attorney, and I became a stay-at-home dad. She never had time to cook, and, well, I sucked at it. My daughter and I ate at a lot of restaurants. Not only was the food lackluster, but it was unhealthy. I had high cholesterol, but I had to go through stress tests and an angiogram to determine that I had no serious heart disease.
I grew up in Texas, so I knew that food could taste good. (I now live in Maryland.) What I didn't know was that food could taste good AND be healthy. The heart scare motivated me to learn to cook, and I started cooking various chile dishes. Soon I was making food that was better than anything I had had, even in Texas. Not only that, but my cholesterol dropped 70 points in about a month, and was well within normal range.
One day, after spending $40 for 2 lbs of so-so restaurant smoked brisket, I decided to start smoking my own foods. I had confidence given my experience with learning to cook chile-based foods. I bought an Outdoor Leisure propane smoker. Now, not only are my smoked foods much better than anything I can buy around here, but also I can smoke things I have never had: smoked fish, smoked potatoes, smoked Italian pasta sauce, smoked onions (yum!), etc. Healthy, yet intense flavor. Best yet, my 3.5 year-old daughter loves smoked food. Tonight I smoked artic char, and when I went back for seconds, she said, "Don't eat it all. I want more!" My goal is to discover a dish to smoke that no one has thought of on this board (seems unlikely). My wife suggested smoked s'mores. I'll have to search later! Still, her idea, not mine.
Lately, I have been unsatisfied with my propane smoker. It does not have the right fuel to air mixture, so it burns too yellow. The company has promised that a new control panel will solve the problem. I think the current problem affects the smoke because it melts the aluminum to the smoker box in the middle. To set temperatures lower than 275, I have to cheat by pretending that I am going to turn it off and stop just before it does. It's very sensitive: A nudge one way will send the smoker to 200, and a nudge the other way sends it to 275. I like to be 100% in charge, so I ordered a WSM today that should arrive Tuesday. It will be the first time I have ever used real charcoals. I have an ABC fire extinguisher ready and waiting! I don't want to be too negative on the propane smoker because I have been able to make some good food with it.
Anyway, I really appreciate this site. Amazing stuff. Wonderful contributors! My next big project is to make a fattie like those I've seen here, but I will need to eat nothing but chickpeas for a week or two before!
Thanks for reading.