Monday, December 10, 2012

Looking Back at 2012

What a year we had. We celebrated our 5th year at COFaQue and also participated in a pair of KCBS events.  This was quite a set of accomplishments given the challenges associated with trying to align the schedules of our quite busy team members.

Bluemont BBQ Bash (Kirk, Dwayne, Michael, Eric). We had really nice weather on the mountain this year, and we enjoyed something that we didn't have in 2011: electricity.  The great part about having so many engineers on the team is that the guys did an excellent job of wiring up our cook site for lights, fans, music, etc.  The lighting in particular was first rate, but we had just one problem: bugs. There were probably at least a dozen different types of bugs that swarmed all over us and the meat we were trying to prepare in the middle of the night.  Some of the smaller bugs looked like the pepper in our pork rub, so we had to meticulously remove them from the meat.  It was a real pain in the ass, but we got the job done.  There were many more teams this year, which was the second annual event hosted by Great Country Farms. (photos)

COFaQue (Kirk, Luke, Dwayne, Michael, Eric). We always have a good time at COFaQue.  This year we did something we have never done at any competition: we flew without a plan.  Let's be clear, we worked from a very detailed list of meat, gear, and supplies; however, we did not have a preordained cooking schedule.  We simply worked out everything on site, and this low-key approach allowed us to have more fun at the event.  The highlight, of course, was seeing our own Luke Darnell on stage with his musical partner LeAnne who together form Sweet Tea Blues. (photos)

Pickin' in the Panhandle (Kirk, Luke, Dwayne). At the time that our team was profiled by a local news outlet, we thought we were going to have smooth sailing, but in reality this event presented several challenges.  For starters, we had only three team members.  While we had postulated that we could meet all of the competition obligations with only three guys, the real trick was getting all of our stuff into just three vehicles.  Guess what?  We did it, and we felt pretty good about it.  The other difficulty we faced was the weather, because on Saturday we had some winds and torrential rains that threatened to trash our camp.  We held down our canopies and survived with minimal damage.  The main thing was that we made all of our turn-in times despite the storm hitting us during our busiest period. (photos)

Even though our scores weren't that great, we accomplished our main mission this year, which was to get together as a team as often as possible and have fun preparing BBQ for ourselves, our friends, and the judges.  Our BBQ is not the best on the planet (although it is pretty damn tasty), but we always have a good time doing what we do, and that's all that counts.

Separately, one of the biggest changes this year was how we communicated information about our team.  This web site was not updated as frequently as it had been in prior seasons, and the main reason for this is the focus we placed on our Facebook page.  Facebook is simply more versatile for us when it comes to posting updates, sharing photos, and making general observations about the world of BBQ.  We'll try to do a better job of updating this site in 2013, but please keep in mind that Facebook is where to find the stream of real-time updates.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Getting Ready for the 2012 Season

The gang from Smoke Dreams BBQ is in prep mode for a competition season that will start in July and wrap up in October.

Events. Would you believe that there are nearly 30 KCBS events within a 220-mile radius of Ashburn? With so many competitions to choose from, we have the luxury of being selective based on event size, proximity, cook site dimensions, and a variety of other factors. Check out our upcoming events page for complete details.

Equipment. Our site plan calls for using a pair of 22½" WSMs and one 18½" WSM as our primary cookers. One of the big WSMs will handle our pork butts and spare ribs while the other will take care of a couple of briskets. We're going to use the smaller WSM for chicken thighs. An old 18½" Weber One-Touch will be on hand just to provide some higher heat for us to set our sauces on the ribs and chicken.

Cook Site. With another WSM 22.5 in the mix, we are able to go to an all-Weber line-up in 2012. This will streamline our cooking process and also make it easier for us to transport our gear. The overall configuration of the cook site feature improved traffic flow and better protection from the rain. There will be dedicated workstations for preparing food and assembling boxes, and washing our many utensils.

Recipes. This is where the magic is happening. We are completely overhauling our method for chicken, and our approach for ribs has undergone a slight modification. Our team uses three rubs in competition; the two that we use on pork and chicken will not be changing at all this year, but brisket rub is undergoing a little bit of an overhaul right now, primarily to refine the balance of the seasonings.

We hope to see you on the BBQ trail!!