Thoughts

Grilled Tacos on the STOK Drum Grill

My buddy Brad grilled tacos on his Weber kettle grill about a week and a half ago. The pictures made me pretty hungry, and I knew I had to try it. Tacos might be Dana’s favorite food, which is a plus. I love feeding people, so having the chance to throw something on the grill (as outdoor cookin’ is something I seem to have an affinity for) that is a favorite food of somebody I love is a plus.

I can’t say it enough: I love my charcoal chimney starter.

Those taco shells tasted wonderful after taking on the grilled flavor.

My lighting with food pictures needs work, but it was more beautiful than this.

Old El Paso is a highly used seasoning. Whenever I smell it, it has a blast of cumin, a scent that is well used in the southwestern region of the United States. My girlfriend and I wasted a Chili’s gift card earlier this year; I should have ordered the “Big Mouth Bites” (sliders), but I got some southwestern brisket bowl, which was plain putrid. I say that, because it tasted like all they did was throw a smidgen of an avocado, some onions and other vegetables in there and drenched it in Old El Paso seasoning… hence why I say it’s a highly used seasoning!

Anyway, that’s what I used on my ground beef yesterday when I browned it on my STOK drum grill. After draining the majority of the fat, I added a whole big onion diced fine. I added two packets of Old El Paso sauce as well as a tiny jar of medium Taco Bell sauce I had in the closet. This was my mistake. It wasn’t a mistake to mix the sauces; it was a mistake because I didn’t use enough sauce. I didn’t have enough sauce on hand to make saucy tacos. I typically use Pace picante sauce. I love that stuff and it’s a favorite in my household, but I didn’t have on hand.

The tacos were delicious in spite of what I wrote in the above paragraph, but they could have been better, which is why I say that I’m definitely going to try this again in the future but with a big, whole jar of Pace picante sauce.

Happy grillin’. Have you ever cooked tacos on the grill? What was your method? Comment below!

Building Connections and a Network on Social Media

My family occasionally likes to poke fun at me for posting food on social media (Facebook and Instagram), but I enjoy it. I’ve delved more into Instagram than I ever have in the last few months. Ever since I finally joined the smartphone foray, I’ve occasionally posted pictures of miscellaneous stuff like VPX Bang energy drinks on there. It’s an easy way to keep up to date with news of what’s going on with VPX products (particularly their Bang line).

Their cooking, grilling and barbecue community is pretty damn cool, though.

I’ve made quite a few connections with people in the ‘Q community on Instagram since May. It’s been a fun experience. While I’ve been practicing on my picture taking skills with food, I’ve had fun browsing others’ culinary creations.

Kurt Halls from Caribeque has been nothing short of spectacular towards me on Instagram, whether it’s reposting a couple of my photos or talking it up about his kickass products through DMs/comments. He’s even inquired about the VPX Bang energy drinks.

I just decided to try out a brand new rub, as of today: Reload Rub & Seasoning’s “Fully Loaded”. The company is based out of Knoxville, TN and they just released this brand new product today. I see on Instagram that quite a few folks received early versions to test it. There’s been unanimous praise. I like to support kickass people and kickass products, so I figured I’d do something quasi-kickass myself and get some.

I’ve enjoyed making these connections over on Instagram, because it’s genuine. I’m not following or liking people’s pages and posts in an attempt to bait them into liking my posts or following me. I appreciate what they have to share, and as a food fiend, it’s pure food porn.

It’s like one big family. But nobody argues. Everybody is celebrating the taste of delicious foods and the process of cooking them in whatever method it may be. That’s the kind of movement and community I can get behind.

Happy Independence Day!

It’s the fourth of July, and today we celebrate the birthday of America and our independence from Great Britain.

Is there anything more patriotic in the realm of clothing that isn’t over the top than wearing a Grunt Style shirt? (I love their tees; they fit better than any other that I have, so much so that I have zero desire to order from another veteran owned/supporting company for fear of the shirts not fitting as good as Grunt Style’s; my only complaint about Grunt Style is that too many of their shirts are black… I have way too many black shirts.)

I don’t think so.

This was taken yesterday evening after shooting some basketball outside with Dana; she said the sweat stain on my shirt looked like a weird Batman logo!

I have more posts coming in the next few days. I was lucky to have spent the weekend with family (including hers, which is pretty much mine by default). We grilled burgers, sausages along with peppers and onions on Saturday and we smoked on Sunday.

The best part about it all was being together and enjoying each other’s company.

That is lost on many these days. As somebody who has been through more loss than most people through 26 years of life, I understand that it’s easy to become either cynical or lost on the fact that times are not timeless and that nobody is going to be here forever. However, living in the moment, laughing and having a good time with each other, with our loved ones… I don’t think anything is better. I’m happy to have done that this past weekend, and I’m grateful to live in a country like America, one that has afforded me the freedom to have made memories over the weekend.

To everybody reading, I hope you have a great, safe Fourth of July.

The Charcoal Chimney is the Number One, Most Essential Grilling Accessory

The Weber charcoal chimney on my STOK drum grill.

Outside of a top notch thermometer, invest in a Weber charcoal chimney.

A lot of people who switch to gas grilling say that one of the reasons why is because charcoal takes too darn long to heat up, and they don’t feel like investing so much time in the evening to lighting and waiting on charcoal to be ready.

Well, the charcoal chimney takes a 35-40 minute wait into a 10-15 minute wait.

I like to use old newspapers or old charcoal bag fodder to start my fires, but a lot of people don’t, because it does produce a ton of ash. Have no fear, because there’s another alternative that doesn’t produce ash:

I don’t know about your part of the country, but here in southwest Virginia, at Walmart you can get a pack of the Weber lighter cubes for $3. They are down from the original price of $3.92. I keep these around, because they kick ass. They are probably the best way to start your charcoal. Simply place two on your charcoal grate, light them up, place your charcoal chimney full of coals on top and they’ll ignite.

Don’t bother with any other brand for a charcoal chimney. The Weber one is the best. I’ve read negative reviews about the other one not having sufficient airflow or they’ll fall apart. This Weber charcoal chimney is damn sturdy. As the saying goes, “buy the best and only cry once”.

I might sound like I’m thumping the Weber company name, but really, they are a top notch grilling company. The customer service is fantastic, and I personally stand by their products. Like I said in a previous post, I only endorse what I believe in. If I didn’t believe in it, I wouldn’t endorse it! And no, I’m not getting paid to shout the company name! Believe me, I’d love to, but that isn’t the case.

The reason the Weber charcoal chimney is so damn efficient is due to the holes in the side that allow a maximum amount of oxygen to come through and feed the fire. Be sure to wear gloves and maybe some eye protection when you use the chimney. I didn’t use any gloves during my Father’s Day cook, but the handle was pretty damn hot. I did wear sunglasses, however, because I didn’t want ashes flying up into my eyes. Also, title the chimney sideways when you pour out the hot coals; you don’t want to turn it straight over, in front of you, or else the fire could come back up and be in your face.

Happy grillin’!

T-Town Wings (Talladega, Alabama) Review

A few weeks ago, I was in Alabama with my girlfriend, visiting her family and enjoying each other’s company. I love her family to death. They’ve showed nothing but love for me. My little lady and I met online, and I met all of her family at once in May 2015 when I drove to ‘Bama and stayed a few days. I’m grateful to have been taken in and accepted by a family who loves me. While my little lady and I aren’t married, there are a lot of people out there who have struggling relationships with their in-laws. To not deal with this is a relief. There’s a sense of security about being quasi-‘adopted’ by your little lady’s parents. Oh, and they also introduced me to outdoor cookin’, like smokin’ meats.

I’ve had this shirt for years and only wore it for the first time here.

Hole-in-the-wall type restaurants tend to deliver the best food in many cases, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because of a small team of close-knit employees working together in a concentrated way that makes the food taste so damn good, because it’s not some processed garbage being warmed up in a microwave or oven in mass quantities. That’s not to deign T-Town Wings, to call it a hole-in-the-wall place; it’s just to categorize it how it seems to be from the eye of the beholder.

T-Town Wings is a tiny place. There’s maybe about three or four (I can’t remember now) tables in there. They have a pretty damn big menu. I wish I would have taken a picture of it. You can order a whole Boston Butt for $28! But we weren’t there for pork shoulder. We were there for what the name implied. The little lady’s family ordered over 150-some wings. As a wing lover (I’m fatass-minded; I love just about all foods), it was like being in heaven.

The wings were placed in styrofoam boxes. We had to stop by Wal-Mart on the way home to eat ’em, to stop and get drinks. I had only ate at Jack’s (fast food restaurant that’s all over the upper bits of Alabama; so damn good) that day, chicken tenders and fries, and we’d spent the said day at the zoo, so I was famished. As a big eater, I wanted to tell them, “To hell with the drinks! Let’s go eat!” but I had to pretend to be civilized.

We’d ordered barbecue (I’m already going to say this: not my favorite, but I don’t like barbecue sauces on wings, anyway), sweet heat, Cajun (dry rub), hot, atomic (or fire… can’t remember what their ‘hottest’ flavor was) and lemon pepper. I figured the wings would be soggy since they were inside styrofoam boxes for a good bit, since we had to stop at Wally World.

The aftermath of at least 50 wings down yours truly’s ol’ hatch.

That was not the case (they were not soggy at all; very crispy!). I ate at least fifty wings. As stated earlier, I didn’t care for the barbecue albeit I ate a few. The sweet heat wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. I mean, hell yeah, it was good, but not my favorite. Lemon pepper isn’t my jam, either, even though it’s a favorite of my little lady’s… it just seems like the pepper is super strong in it, but I’ve never cared much for the flavor.

The atomic/fire or whatever the hottest flavor was, wasn’t as hot as I’d hoped it would be. It had an OK flavor, but it’s not something I’d care to get again.

The hot and Cajun dry rub flavors were easily my favorite. They had a nice flavor profile to them, and I enjoyed them immensely. I’d love to go back and get some more of the hot and Cajun. I could eat those daily and risk obesity.

I give T-Town Wings a thumbs up. I don’t know if the restaurant is family owned or not, but the man working was pretty damn nice to everybody. I assume he was the manager; he was getting everybody to work in synchrony, efficiently. Seemed, on the forefront, to be a damn good leader of those working in the kitchen. He was also respectful and courteous to all guests.

If, for whatever reason, you are in Talladega, check out T-Town Wings. You won’t be disappointed. I hope to make another return trip there next time I’m in ol’ ‘Bam’er.