Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Let's try this again, shall we?

Well hello again!

I haven't looked at this blog since last June. Well, okay, maybe once or twice, but the fact is our 2012 season was derailed thanks to lymphoma. So that became our contest last year, and we won!

So Sunday, 2/17, we cooked our first competition since early June of last year, at the non-sanctioned Des Plaines, IL Winter Burnoff, a charity event designed to bring attention to, and raise money for NOAH - the national organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation. www.albinism.org

I packed up the truck most of Saturday, and got up about 4:30 Sunday morning to finish packing the last of it, our meats and perishables, so they wouldn't have frozen solid overnight.

We woke up to a dark and brisk (14 degrees) Chicagoland morning, and after getting ourselves together a bit, left the house around 6, making a stop at Dunkin' Donuts on the way to pick up a little breakfast and coffee, then hit the road for the (approximately) 30 minute drive to beautiful downtown Des Plaines, and the Rand-River Bowl, whose parking lot is the location of the contest.

We arrived, with the sun barely poking its head up, were pointed to our assigned space. I pulled a few things out of the truck to begin setting up, but it was cold enough that we both decided to go inside,  put on our cold weather gear and come back to finish set-up. So we got our gear all set, tarps up to keep the wind out, set up our 2 cookers, laid out our table, and set to work. Unfortunately, I realized toward the end of setting up that I'd left our chili, for the chili part of the contest at home on the counter, so wouldn't have a chance to defend my first place from last year.

Now, being that this contest is held in the middle of a mid western winner, they have a modified list of what meats get cooked, due to the limited time we have to cook it in. So, instead of KCBS categories of chicken, ribs, pork butt, and brisket, we do sausage, chicken, ribs, and pork loin or tenderloin.

Turn in times were
13:30 - Sausage
14:00 - Chicken
14:30 - Ribs
15:00 - Pork loin/tenderloin

I got my ribs started at about 09:30, cooks meeting was 10:30, by which time we'd settled in to about 30 or so degrees. Balmy by Chicago standards! (as I'm writing this on Tuesday afternoon, the temp is about 14!)

A total of 20 teams showed up, I didn't get to take too many photos, but Diane took the few here...

Below are our next door neighbors at the comp. They actually competed as the Chicago Pork Chop Offenders. One of their cooks owns Smoke Ringz bbq in St. Charles, IL...GREAT bbq joint!Our tent and smoker are just visible on the left of the photo


All in all, it was a great day, the charity raised a little over 2500.00, and a good time was had by all!
Given all we went through last year, we'd have been happy with just turning everything in on time, and not having anything be disqualified. But as it turned out, we took 6th overall of 20, our best finish to date in this event! And came home with a new trophy, for third place pork.
We loved the look of our sausage, but the taste was not to my liking, and it ended up tenth
and our ribs made top ten, more for taste and texture than appearance, I'm sure...

We have our first three events entries paid for this summer, the first is the Masters in May, to be held at the Fremont, WI Jellystone Park Campground in Fremont, WI on May 3rd and 4th. Fremont is just a short hop away from Appleton.

At any rate, we had a great day, got to see a lot of friends we hadn't seen in a long time, and are now really looking forward to the 2013 comp season!

Yours in smoke!

Dann, Diane, and Ember

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