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Hello from Houston & Maui

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    Hello from Houston & Maui

    Greetings. I joined The Pit some time ago but haven't got around to introducing myself or posting anything. I think I've read the majority of pages on the site, learned a lot, and tried out a lot, so I thought it was worth it to support the site and its mission. Cheaper than buying a book on BBQing, and a lot more information.

    I'm a retired professor of electrical engineering, specializing in optics, lasers, and fiber optics. As an experimentalist I pretty much have to tinker with any piece of equipment I have. Our main home is in central Houston (anybody know a good local butcher?), but we have a second place, a condo on the ocean, in Maui. We spend about 40% of our time there. It's a tiny place, and all I have to work with is the property's gas grills; their conditions vary, and I can't really modify them permanently, so it's a challenge. But being 20 feet from the beach has its rewards.

    I do all the cooking in our house, including bread making. I've always fiddled with grilling, but never with much knowledge until reading this site. My equipment is modest: I've had various small grills, currently a square Aussie charcoal grill that I modified by putting in a raised grate for the charcoal to get it near the cooking grid. I haven't tried to set it up for 2-zone cooking, and probably won't. Based on this site, I bought a Pit Barrel Cooker, and I'm enjoying learning to use it; of course, I have modified it already. I'll post details later. I'm working on a Warp-15 searing setup. On its first run, after a few minutes, my IR heat gun went off range to "High". So I think it's working, but I need better instrumentation to avoid melting the GrillGrates (the supporting PBC grate was glowing bright red). Stay tuned.

    As an engineer, I'm big on measuring and recording, and I have an assortment of temperature probes from ThermoWorks and the ET-723 remote system. Pretty much the same in Maui, so I can monitor the grill from my unit. I finally managed to set up a 2-zone system on the Maui gas grill, but the "hot" side is not really that hot for searing. I may need to get some GrillGrates over there. The other problem in Maui is that the grill gas is only on from 9 to 9, so I sometimes have to finish a big pork shoulder inside (or bribe the resident manager with pulled pork). My learning curve is slow, because with only 2 of us, it takes a long time to finish up big pieces of meat. As a Texan, I need to do some brisket, but haven't yet. Maybe Jerod, the PBC Brisket King, can drive over and help out.

    That is probably more than anyone wants to know. Thanks for reading. Doc Hazard, aka Jim.

    Sounds fun and challenging, my wife is trying to get me to move back to the islands. If you have a place to do it, a charcoal chimney would help a great deal, fill it up with charcoal and put a grate on and sear away. I have actually put a few coals in, let it burn down and tossed on some wood to get some smoke flavor for a half hour or so.
    So lasers, know much about the workings of QED?


    • Doc Hazard
      Doc Hazard commented
      Editing a comment
      I might be able to manage a chimney; good idea. I know what QED stands for, but most lasers, thankfully, don't really depend on the details of QED, so I haven't delved into it.

    Welcome to the group. Looking forward to your PBC mods.


      Welcome Jim... I saw you PBC mods already... Awesome!


      Welcome aboard Doc. I'm betting that your machinations will lead to some great contributions to the site.


        Welcome Jim...good to have a fellow Texan here. I'm based in Austin. But I'll confess you may get me to come help you out in Maui faster! ;-)


          Hi Jim welcome to the Pit. Having read your introduction I think when you have gone through your grilling, smoking learning curve... You will end up as a ceramic's fan. Mostly because you say you like to bake bread. Probably not in Hawaii because most Condo facilities do not allow charcoal burning grills. Ceramic cooking devices allow you to grill, smoke, bake and wok. You can low and slow cook at 200/225 degrees. You can bake at 325/425. You can bake bread at 450/550 degrees. You can bake pizza or wok Chinese food at 800 degrees. There are digital devices that control all of those temps for you. There is really no need to clutter your patio with lots of different cooking devices. In my humble opinion... A ceramic and a hasty bake grill is probably the best choice of a backyard setup a guy could possibly own. The Hasty Bake is really GREAT for just a couple of steaks. You can set it up for 2-zone cooking AND... You can move the coals up and down for a really great reverse sear but it can be a good smoker too. Ceramics are the best for low and slow cooks because they can cook for 20 or more hours without adding any lump coal... If you put you lump in properly. My setup and process for baking bread in the large Big Green Egg... Process... I cook both sourdough and ciabatta at 500 degrees while it is under the stainless steel mixing bowl. Half way through the estimated time of the cook... 15 minutes for ciabatta bread, 30 minutes for sourdough bread, I take the mixing bowl off, rotate the loaf 180 degrees and turn the heat down to 465 degrees. The back side of your BGE is the hot spot so I might rotate the loaf once more to get even cooking/browning.  My rig...  https://www.flickr.com/photos/food_pictures/8723959438/ Pizza stone elevated above the felt line using BGE's GX grill extender... https://www.flickr.com/photos/food_pictures/8858490960/ Being higher in the dome allows for maximum air flow. Airflow... Is why an out door pizza and bread ovens are superior to your kitchen oven. Your kitchen oven has very little air flow.  Stainless steel mixing bowl to trap the steam from the water you spray onto your loaf right before it goes on to your stone. The steam keeps your dough moist during the first part of the cook and allows you loaf to attain the maximum oven spring.   https://www.flickr.com/photos/food_pictures/8858491734/ No daisy wheel, plate setter in,  so you get maximum air flow and so you can see your bread browning... Without losing heat. https://www.flickr.com/photos/food_pictures/8858470747/ My final steps before starting the baking process for bread, sourdough and ciabatta. https://www.flickr.com/photos/food_pictures/8858492390/ A water misting bottle, my lame (scoring knife), a heat resistant glove, a fish spatula (because it is very thin) to lift the stainless steel mixing bowl that has been preheated to 500 degrees, parchment paper, my final shaped and final proofed loaf in its proofing basket, a small light brush... To dust off the seminole flour from the top of the loaf that it picked off of the bottom of the proofing basket for my sourdough loaves and a pizza peel. Pizza peel not shown.  Some of my bread cooks... Look at the rise of this loaf... I added a bigger stainless steel mixing bowl. https://www.flickr.com/photos/food_pictures/8941887392/ crumb...https://www.flickr.com/photos/food_pictures/8942264745/ A good day of baking sourdough bread... Look at the color and those blisters https://www.flickr.com/photos/food_p...s/15415271743/ I prefer my bread a little darker than you can buy at Safeway. I found the hardest thing to learn and perfect in my sourdough learning curve was... Scoring the loaf to get really good decorative patterns on your loaf... Http://www.flickr.com/photos/food_pictures/15848868629/ If you don't score your dough at the perfect angle and depth your loaf will come out flat... No ear's.  Ciabatta bread. Large loaves and hoagie size rolls... https://www.flickr.com/photos/food_p...s/16127976148/


          • Doc Hazard
            Doc Hazard commented
            Editing a comment
            That's a lot of information, and some very impressive baking. At first I didn't know what you meant by "ceramic", but I've got the picture. I know that the egg has a lot of fans. Nice big holes in the bread; you must use a very slack or wet dough. And I'm impressed by the size of what you call a "hoagie roll." The inverted bowl is an interesting take on the fairly common practice of baking round loaves in a pre-heated cast iron or ceramic pot, covered initially to trap moisture, then uncovered to brown the crust. Lots of reasons for using big brick-stone ovens no matter the fuel, inside or out. Thermal mass is the big thing; maybe airflow (but covering your loaf negates that), and the nice ones have steam injectors. I've been thinking about how to do that safely. For now, I spray, and use a small steam generator inside the oven. I've made sour dough but generally now use a poolish: equal parts flour & water, like 4 oz, plus a pinch of yeast. After 10-14 hours it looks and smells and acts just like a starter, but no regular feeding or upkeep. Yes, slashing the loaf is tricky. I think a lot depends on having the right tight elastic surface. I've tried double edged razor blade lames, old style barber razors, etc. So far I prefer a thin very sharp fillet knife. I don't think the pattern is functionally important, but you want it to look nice. The function is to provide a weak point so the bread will expand up in the oven instead of blowing out the sides. Your bread looks great, but maybe this discussion is not quite on BBQ topic. ---Doc.

          Welcome Jim! We're glad you're here. Now get to talking more! Two posts since August... You're on the wrong side of the record books Sir.


          • Doc Hazard
            Doc Hazard commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks. I'm not a big poster, but I'll try. It's always hard to believe anyone would care, or learn much from me. But I read a lot. I have info and pictures of most of my cooks I can share. I'm not sure whether to post here in the Pit or under the recipe pages, e.g. under Bacon, or Pastram, or PBCi. I welcome guidance. ---Doc.

          • David Parrish
            David Parrish commented
            Editing a comment
            Doc it's up to you. We really love it when you post here in The Pit, though. Check out the recipes section and add your cooks where they're relevant (chicken in the chicken channel as example). You can also just post a quick pic in the "What are you cookin?" thread: http://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/for...updated/page67

            However you do it, the more pics the better =)

          Aloha Doc, You are going to like it here bro. I look forward to your posts and pics. More better DaKine yea you!!




              Welcome Doc/Jim! I really enjoyed reading your intro post here. Glad to have you here, you're living the dream baby! No cold and snow in your foreseeable future, only sun and waves. Color me jealous. But...9-9 gas time? That's new to me.

              So far our "Know a Good Butcher? > Texas" channel has only a couple contributions, neither of which are Houston. But if you're willing to drive a few hrs, Lewiston & San Anton' are listed, ha ha.

              Since this is one of your first posts, please check out our homework assignment post for new members, it contains a few how-tos and please-dos. It looks like you may already have though.

              Hope to hear & see more from you!


                Welcome Jim and thanks for your support.



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