Category Archives: Culinary Creations


I decided to mix things up this week and try my hands at a pork loin. I don’t typically plan to do cooks on weekdays because of my work schedule, but I guess I was feeling particularly ballsy this week. That, and I knew the pork loin wasn’t going to be as big of a commitment in terms of cook time. This cook went extremely smooth. It was a relatively cool and clear night with minimal wind. I put this 8 pound pork loin on the cooker for roughly 8 hours before pulling it off. The loin was incredibly lean, so the next time I opt to smoke one, I will definitely brine it ahead of time. Either way, I managed to get great bark development with a decent smoke ring. That being said, the more research I’m doing on smoke rings, the more I’m starting to realize that it’s not the tell-tale sign of good BBQ. It’s kind of how people judge the quality of an espresso shot by looking at the crema only. Let’s just say that I’ve had a lot of subpar espresso with beautiful crema.

Let’s mix things up with a detailed list of parameters…

Meat: Pork Loin
Time: 8 Hours
Wood: Ash

Overall, I was pretty pleased with how this came out. Would definitely opt to smoke another pork loin in the future… I’d just brine it first.

OPERATION BBQ: Pork Shoulder #1

Once I finished building the smoker, I couldn’t wait to use it. I was like a little kid trying to go to sleep early on Christmas Eve to pass the time quicker. I finished assembling the smoker on Friday after work and was pleased with how all of my materials came together and called it a night. Saturday’s are long days for my wife and I at the coffee shop, so I don’t usually have an abundance of energy after work. Alas, my excitement to get this new smoker operational made up for my lack of energy.

I spent my Saturday evening building a roaring fire to season and burn out the smoker of all the impurities and bullshit that may or may not have any negative impact on my first cook.

While tending to the fire, I spent a lot of time contemplating what would be the first cook in this new smoker. After much deliberation, I opted to go with something familiar and purchased a 12 pound pork shoulder from my local butcher shop.

For this cook I opted to keep things extremely simple to get an idea as to how the cooker behaved. I didn’t brine, I didn’t use a water pan, I didn’t do much of anything in advance. I used a basic dry rub consisting of salt, pepper, and a bit of Louisiana Creole seasoning. I built up a 2″ coal bed and then I loaded the shoulder onto my freshly burned out grate, placed a new log onto the coals, and got to smoking. I opted to use Ash for this cook. I’ve been using ash a lot lately and although it’s not the wood of choice for most BBQ enthusiasts, it’s abundant in Indiana and I have enjoyed the mild and sweet smoke that it produces. The only drawback to Ash is that it burns with the quickness, so it takes a lot of wood to get through a long cook.

Anyway, that’s enough talk about the prep and setup, let’s focus on the results and what lessons can be taken away. I pulled this pork shoulder off after 10 uninterrupted hours on the cooker.

I was pretty pleased at the bark development and smoke permeation. This thing had supreme smoke flavor and was pretty tender, however, I think it would have come out better if I had incorporated a water pan and/or gave it a thorough spritzing of apple cider vinegar around the 8 hour mark. There’s definitely room for improvement, and I am looking forward to smoking another shoulder next Sunday. My plan is to continue cooking the same thing until I feel I’ve hit my peak before moving on to something else. I’m already psyched for Pork Shoulder Number 2!



So when I mentioned that I tend to go a bit off of the deep end on my projects, I wasn’t kidding. After making the initial decision to attempt to master BBQ, I realized that I would need the proper tools to accomplish my lofty goals. Yes, I’ve had lofty goals ever since I was a child.

Anyway, I spent a decent number of hours pouring over BBQ books and internet forums trying to see what all of the pros were using. I quickly realized that if I was going to proceed with any measure of success, using any sort of equipment that I could purchase outright, I would be spending thousands of dollars. Since I don’t have thousands of dollars sitting around, I did what I always do in these situations, I started trying to figure out how I could build a smoker that would perform at the same level for a fraction of the cost.

As it turns out, there are hundreds of videos, tutorials, forums, and blogs dedicated to DIY cinder block smokers and designs. These communities are all centered around cost and performance and proved to be a valuable resource for my initial design research. There were a number of different initial designs to choose from, each design comes with it’s own pros and cons. For the most part, all of these designs seem to stem from a traditional rectangular Texas-style BBQ pit in which the fire, cooking, and smoking are all done in the same chamber. However, that initial design has been meticulously improved upon over the years in a number of ways and I made sure to take note of each modification and the pros and cons associated. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to build a Reverse-Flow Cinder Block Smoker with a separate firebox. I wanted something that would allow me to have a steady temperature and a constant natural draw for good airflow.

While the majority of my design utilizes standard cinderblocks available at any hardware store, I also had a couple of stainless steel pieces custom-made from a local shop. I opted for stainless because this thing is going to be out in the elements and I didn’t want it to instantly rust. I opted not to pour a concrete slab for my build. I thought that leveling the ground would be easier/cheaper. While it proved to be way cheaper, it was not easier. If you have the option, pour a slab. When I do this again, that’s what I’m going to do. If you look below, you will see a few pictures of my build without the lid. I will be using cement board as a lid to buy me time until I have a steel lid manufactured. So yeah, here’s my prototype, I’m looking forward to putting it to use!

Below you can check out some pictures of my build. Pay no attention to all of the crabgrass. I know it’s there and will be addressing it after the smoker is up and running. Priorities.

Operation BBQ: Mission Statement

So, it’s been a while since I’ve made an effort to actively blog on a regular basis. What can I say… I’ve been a little pre-occupied as of late. The coffee shop tends to take up a lot of my time these days and at times it can be a little difficult to squeeze in any sort of auxiliary activity. Lately I’ve been spending what little spare time I have making music and mastering the craft of traditional BBQ. Weird, right? I guess… But this whole venture seems to fall in line with my whole philosophy that if I don’t have something readily available in my geographic vicinity, I will just figure out how to do it myself. And that’s exactly what I plan to do. If I can’t make a trip to Texas to enjoy a world-class brisket, than I’m going to figure out how to make it in Muncie.



As with most things that I get into, I tend to go a bit off of the deep end in terms of research, experimentation, and execution. I figure that documenting this journey via my blog would be a good way to share my delicious progress with the masses. I’m bound to make some mistakes, and I’ll be sure to write about those as well. After all, I’m only human and am just as prone to distraction as the next.

This initial blog post is nothing more than a heads up that you will probably be seeing a number of BBQ related posts in the future. Don’t be alarmed. I will keep most of these blogs labeled as “Operation BBQ,” so that if you’re looking to avoid the delicious temptation, you can do so.

Carry on…

Tagalong Doppio


Tagalong Doppio

Tagalong Doppio

Spent some time this morning doing some experimenting at The Caffeinery. Jordan’s sweet mother had dropped off a couple boxes of girl scout cookies to share with his fellow baristas and I took it upon myself to get a little creative with a tagalong. It turned out to be a lot more awesome than I had anticipated. The espresso melted the chocolate and separated the peanut butter from the cookie base and created a very interesting double shot.

Broccoli, Mushrooms, and Cashews w/ Sweet Potato Noodles

Sweet Potato Noodles

Tonight I made a Broccoli, Mushroom, and Cashew stir fry and served it alongside sweet potato, zucchini, and daikon noodles that I created using my spiralizer. I cooked the broccoli, mushrooms, and cashews in a wok over high heat with a bit of peanut oil, minced garlic, and diced chili peppers. Once the broccoli was tender I moved it to a plate to cool whilst adding the veggie noodles to the wok. I seasoned them with a bit of grated ginger, soy sauce, and a touch of the red rooster. Once they started to become softer I added a splash of vegetable stock to work in some steam. Once they were finished I plated them side by side for this picture and then proceeded to scarf it down.