August 30, 2009

A Hobby

Michael and Andy relaxing at the State Farmers Market
Raleigh, North Carolina March 2003

Hush Puppies
(Bits of fried corn bread)

Kristina trying sweet tea

Neighbor Ted and Andy smoking a turkey for Thanksgiving 2003. The finished product was edible and made great turkey noodle soup.

I guess it all started in November of 1999 when my wife and I bought our first house in Vacaville, CA. I received grilling tools as a housewarming gift and I didn't even own a grill. For my 30th birthday the following July, my wife bought me a three burner Weber gas grill. For the next couple of years I experimented with the normal fare…hamburgers, hot dogs, and the occasional burnt chicken pieces. Then in 2003 Kristina and I took a trip to North Carolina to visit some friends. The night we arrived my friend Michael grilled for us. I made the mistake of referring to what he was doing as BBQ. This began the great BBQ discussion. Michael made it clear that BBQ was a noun and grilling was a verb. If I were to say "BBQ" then it meant slow smoked pork (I later learned BBQ is regional and means different things depending upon where you live). I was totally clueless. We ended the trip with a visit to a local restaurant to experience North Carolina BBQ. I learned the BBQ sauce in the eastern part of the state was vinegar based while those living in the western portion of NC preferred tomato based sauce. Michael insisted we try hush puppies (fried corn bread bits). I think this trip served as a launching point for my exploration of BBQ and grilling. When we returned I started reading everything I could find. I purchased a small smoker with my neighbor Ted. We bought various types of wood chips and used them to flavor different types of meat. Our start was rocky and much of the finished product wasn't even edible but I refused to give up. I'm convinced my time with Michael in NC initiated a desire to understand the differences between BBQ and grilling as wells as master the different cooking techniques. I suppose I should send a thank you note to Michael for starting me on the journey which lead to my hobby. Without his help I would have never been able to create food so good it makes you want to "slap your mama." Thanks Michael!


  1. When are we going east again? We have more to learn...

  2. This was an awesome post, thanks for sharing! One Thanksgiving my family grilled a Turkey....we ended up eating hotdogs. :)