Well, First Smoke is done, and I have been baptized by fire and learned some important lessons. I appreciate the tips and tricks from this forum, and the advice from the Zen Master of SE Ohio smoked meats, roksmith, who granted me entrance to this alternate universe by selling me his old smoker cheap. So, I learned: that substituting the same volume of regular salt for kosher salt in brine results in salty meat (I found out afterwards that I should cut salt volume by 1/2 when substituting regular for kosher); that a large drip pan with the contents of several beers in the bottom of a New Braunfels smoker keeps the temp artificially low (like about 190) and the charcoal usage artificially high; that sprinkling herbs on salmon prevents good visual confirmation of completion; that local Kroger jalapenos are the very hottest kind, and from now on I might stick to mild banana peppers for ABTs; that I either was able to guess the correct time to pull the meat from a low-temp smoke (1-1/2 hrs on the salmon, 2-1/2 hrs on a beer can chicken, and the brisket after 9 hours when it peaked at 175 in the smoker) or that smoker is awfully forgiving, because everything turned out cooked just right in spite of the temperature problem (tho I foiled the brisket and stashed it in the oven at 200 overnight because I couldn't get it up to 185 in the smoker - turned out pretty good); that portabella mushrooms topped with smoked chorizo (fresh from the smoker itself) quartered lengthwise and covered with sharp cheddar and smoked for an hour or so in a pan makes one of the tastiest tidbits I've ever had, and is an awesome complement to a couple of fried eggs or an omelet with crushed garlic, chopped green onion and banana pepper (to heck with ABTs, no way they could be as good as that, even if they weren't too hot!); and finally, smoking meats ain't easy (tho I hope it gets easier) and is time-consuming to boot (duh!)! All in all, about what could be expected from a first smoke, and not bad in my opinion. Everything was edible, and except for the slightly salty meat and the super-hot jalapenos, actually pretty good. Can anyone tell me, can the jalapenos be rinsed after coring to help remove some of the heat? Would removing all remnants of the seed-holding ribs from the inside help remove some of the heat? Or is all the heat in the seeds? Can anything be done at all to tone down the heat of hot peppers?