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  1. Ogopogo

    Too-Small Bits of Lump

    In this bag finding something the size of red mulch makes me feel like I've won a prize. :/
  2. I have a big bag of RO lump that seems to have been used as a punching bag. Lots of tiny bits, not really any big pieces to speak of. Anyone have any tips for getting value out of a smashed up bag of lump for cooking as opposed to gardening? It's been hellish trying to get decent airflow in the firebox and I always see glowing coals below the grate when I peek through the lower vent.
  3. Ogopogo

    First Whole Hog

    I wonder if you could use deflectors to put more heat on the hams on a propane since you can't pile more coals where you want. However this is awesome. Did you part it out afterwards or just shred the whole thing Carolina style?
  4. Ogopogo

    Keto Diet

    The thing you want to look up is ketoacidosis, which is where you go too far and stuff starts shutting down. Lots of people rave about keto like it's an amazing weight loss and lifestyle breakthrough, but really it's a side effect of an emergency survival process where you burn fats for energy because you have no carbs available. Keep in mind the Atkins diet was originally designed to control blood sugar levels in diabetics, but you lost weight while eating steak as a side effect and that's where the big infomercial money was. Still, there's plenty of people who do it and aren't dropping dead from kidney failure. Please talk to your doctor and learn to enjoy peeing on test strips if you're planning on going hardcore.
  5. Is this the one with the plastic or metal vent tube?
  6. Ogopogo

    Keto Diet

    I did this hardcore years ago for medical reasons (blood sugar). After two weeks my sugar levels went from dangerously high to dangerously low and I had to reintroduce small amounts of carbohydrates to normalize. That first tortilla tasted like a candy bar. I found it's like a lot of metabolism diets, they make you feel crappy for a bit, then they make you feel great when your body adjusts, then they can do some damage if they're not right for your particular body chemistry and activity level. I have to stay on a sort-of-keto diet pretty much all the time and find it works best if I eat plenty of vegetables; actually one of the best combinations I found was drinking tons of homemade green juice with low fruit content and eating occasional steaks. By the way steak au poivre was about all I ate during the hardcore phase, and it's really good and not difficult. I suppose you could make it on a kamado but there's no reason to; it's best in a steel saute pan. Heavily season a steak with hand crushed black peppercorns and kosher salt, sear both sides in butter, set it aside. Deglaze the pan with brandy and add heavy cream, stir until it's all nut-brown. Throw in broccoli florets (can use whatever vegetables you like, but broccoli is great for keto), cook them in the cream sauce. Re-add the steak briefly to coat. Let rest a couple of minutes and go to town.
  7. Ogopogo

    Temp Issues

    I've been fighting this all week. What finally worked for me was clearing the fire grate and building the core of the fire with big chunks of charcoal or wood, then surrounding that with the smaller pieces (get rid of the pebbles though). All my lump is smashed so I just used 4 big wood chunks. Also choking the top vent will kill an Akorn's fire so keep at least a sliver open past the half-moon openings. Be warned every time you open the hood your temps will shoot up for a while afterwards, so if you're paranoid about staying within a temperature range dial in initially toward the bottom of that range.
  8. Tenderness: awesome. Bark: pretty good. Flavor: very good, but could have used some more smoke from my perspective. Not much of a ring at all either, which is weird considering how much wood I had in the firepot. I also never cooked a prime brisket before and the thing was swimming in fat and the bark was tacky. I think next time I'm going to use a water pan to regulate temps and keep humidity up for the smoke ring (maybe with ACV in the pan and not spritz), cook fat side down, and try not wrapping at all. I also don't think the seasoned salt did much and will go back to SPOG or dalmatian rub. Still can't complain for a first brisket on a new smoker.
  9. Day 8: Raining in the morning and I slept late so I figured I wouldn't cook anything today, but decided to try building a fire with blocks of wood in the bottom to see what would happen. Put down 4 chunks of apple and hickory, placed the leftover coals around it in a way that seemed to make sense, dropped a starter between the blocks and lit it up. Because of the drizzle I opened up the vents and closed the lid with a little improvised rain hat (aluminum loaf pan). Dialed back at 150 to half vents, 180 to number 1 top and bottom, and at 200 went to a tiny opening (left side of the vent handle flush with the screw edge) on the bottom and left the top at 1, figuring I have to avoid killing the fire above all else. It held at 210 for an hour. Now I figured I had about 1/3 a load of coals in there, so the right thing to do was to snuff out the fire, rebuild it, see if I could do it again and plan to cook all day Sunday. So I did what any sensible person would do and opened a 12.5 lb prime packer brisket. I was a little dubious about this thing when I saw it, but when I trimmed there wasn't a whole lot to cut away (more melty fat than hard fat) and the point had a ribeye-style marbling. I decided to try out a John Lewis rub recipe that I'd never tried before, because of course I did: 9 parts mortar-ground pepper, 3 parts kosher, 2 parts season salt, 1 part granulated garlic, 1 part dehydrated onion flakes. I couldn't find granulated onion and my powder was a bit... powdery. Maybe I should have just done 2 garlic if I was so worried about the onions burning but I banked on kamado moistness. I didn't use a slather because (1) I didn't think I'd get as much smoke as I'm used to on there and didn't want to form a barrier, and (2) I forgot. Added a couple more wood chunks, replaced the lower grate/deflector/drip pan/CI grille and used some of the waste fat to rub down the iron. Waited for the gross smoke from the new wood to disappear, waited a few minutes longer until I liked the smell of the smoke, and put it on. Temps held around 210 for another hour, so I opened the top to 1.25. Temps came up to 220 and stabilized. Opened to 1.5 and temps went to 240, which is what I wanted, but this was a mistake. At about 4 hours I did a quick ACV with a little apple juice and a touch of honey spritz. Clearly not ready but about what I expected at this point. After closing the lid temps shot up to 265 and I realized my mistake. Took the top down to 1 again and temps started falling, but way too slowly. I think next time I'll be happy at 210 knowing every time I open the lid I'll gain 20 degrees for a long time. I'm missing a separate firebox about now. Sprayed again at 6 hours with the grate temp at 250. Took a second to tip some of the fat pool out, though I know this never actually helps. Temps jumped up to 270. At around 175 internal I thought it might be time to wrap. I see the problem with fat side up as you can see the rub sticking to the grate from the lean side. Might try it the other way next time depending on how this turns out. Anyway I did a crappy job of wrapping and put it back on, closed up, and temps went over 300. This worried me a bit but I figured it was already wrapped. Stall happened around 178-180, which was later than I expected. Checked for pulling around 201 internal. I promise I'll get better at wrapping. Probe test seemed okay and the meat was a little floppy in hand and did a little jello dance I could feel through the paper when I put it on a board. When I felt it under the paper I thought it wasn't as pliable as I thought it should be, and then realized I was pressing the flat. Left it out to about 170 internal, took it inside and got a quick look at the bark before wrapping with a towel and putting it in the cooler for a while since it didn't really get a proper rest. Everything seems right; guess I'll find out when I can't take waiting anymore. Thanks everyone for your advice.
  10. I may in the future; I have some bad memories tucked away somewhere about the smell of burning starches that keep me away from briquettes. Still, there's some funky stuff that comes off lump at the beginning as well and that burns off pretty quickly. Day 7: Went out and bought a lot of stuff. Got back to the house pretty late but still emptied out the burn chamber and saw exactly how much of my charcoal was tiny clogmakers. A lot. Actually I didn't see anything I would consider "large," and when I fished around for new coals in the HD bag I came up pretty empty. I think maybe HD uses bags of Royal Oak as heavy bags in a gym somewhere before they stack the bags up. Set up with about a 3/4 basketful and some chunks spread around and lit it up again. I'm starting to wonder if starting a very small fire in the middle is a problem; I wanted to avoid a huge coal bed because I know how fast the Akorn can run away, but I also have a problem with the fire snuffing itself out. Started dialing back at 150 (half open), 180 (set to 1 on both), and 200 (set the bottom very tight, left edge in the middle of the screw, and the top on half-moons). Temps went up to about 240, then dropped about a degree per minute. Opened it back up when it dipped to 215 and saw the fire was out. Restacked, relit, and this time only choked to the edge of the screw on the right edge on the bottom and about 3/4 on the top. Ignored it for a while so it wouldn't drive me crazy and checked it after an hour; 325. Argh... I can only hope a substantial mass of meat helps keep grate temps down. I'm also missing gas boxes, sadly enough. I think I'm going to have to go with some sort of sealant on the bottom, since I've heard that helps dialing in for low temps. I'm also getting very annoyed with the design of the handle on the bottom vent; it makes it really difficult to gauge how open the vent is, and there's a very fine line between running away and putting out the fire. I'm also annoyed at the size of my available lump; I did get a little better airflow this time but keeping enough oxygen flowing through the basket while keeping the temps under 275 seems way too hard, and it's harder when I can't keep an open air channel. I think next time I'm going to use big chunks of wood to form the base chimney and see how it goes. However, I might also just plow ahead. One of the things I bought was a big cut I shouldn't be using on this thing yet but I think I have to get it out of my system.
  11. It held about an hour then slowly dipped; pretty sure the fire choked out somewhere there, but I think once I dump out the firebox and get some better sized lump in there that should stop. Little steps.
  12. Day 6: No cooking until I can figure out this temp problem. Inspected the lid gasket and found 2 anchoring pins that had come loose from their holes. Got them back in and pinched up the gasket. Re-sorted the charcoal as per @mca90guitar though I had to go into the bag to find some bigger chunks. Definitely need to look into getting some charcoal with a more reliable size, although from memory I think the small bag of RO I got from Menards seemed to have much larger pieces and recognizable branch cutoffs than the large bag I got from Home Despot. Maybe I'll get lucky and find something worthwhile next time I make the death march to Costco. Lit a fire, put in my planter dish/deflector for some thermal mass and diffusion, and started aggressively tuning back both dampers as I got close to 200, winding up with lower vent on the screw (about 3/4 to 1) and the top vent on half-moons. Held at 210 for 45 mins, then started dropping; fire snuffed out. Re-lit, let it go a little harder this time and ended with dials at 1 and 1. Ignored the grill for an hour and temps went up to 280. This time I left the lower vent at 1 and choked the top to the half moons; I think I might have killed the fire again (it's at 234). I remember reading somewhere about Akorns running with the bottom damper closed and the top damper variably open and if you kill the top damper you snuff the fire quickly. Not sure if it's true but next time I think I'll try choking the bottom vent as far as I can manage and opening up the top a little. I also need to dump out my firebox and get rid of all the little crumbs I somehow wound up with in this bag of RO. Still frustrating but at least I'm glad I found the leak problem and haven't had to mess around with silicone. Edit: Went outside and I could still see heat waves a smell some clear (good) smoke coming out the top vent; temp holding at 233. Might be onto something, so I'm just gonna let this ride until I have to shut it down.
  13. Thanks; it's just frustrating tracking down where all the variables are playing. I figure I'm going to track down the leaks and work on sealing them up before trying anything fancier. I don't think I can really figure out the problems in my charcoal management until I eliminate leaking problems. I know it's possible since I've seen plenty of vids of people doing overnighters with minor fluctuations and no modding to speak of. I think it's rooted in quality control issues; some of them leak, some of them don't. At least mine wasn't outright broken out of the box! I'm considering water/no water once I seal it up. There's so little flow in an Akorn even compared to a gas cabinet that I think my problem is going to be more about sufficient wood combustion than moisture.
  14. I'll try this as soon as I figure out what to do about this gasket problem and get somewhere to sort my lump. I don't have a lot of space (or tarps). Always filled to the tabs. I think there are probably a lot of crumbs down near the bottom by now so I'm gonna have to clean and sort. Yeah I'm going to try and fix the top gasket without adding or modding first. I have a tube of RTV and some nomex gasket on standby, though I think the gasket might be a tad thin for the bottom edge.
  15. Very nice. I take it you don't wrap or use water in the drip pan at all? That's gonna take some getting used to.