Choosing Pellet Flavors for Grilling or Smoking Meats

All pellets or wood chunks will infuse barbecue flavor into your grilling and/or smoking ventures, but there are specific woods (flavors) that compliment certain foods better than others. Here are some recommendations from experts at Cabela’s.

  • Alder – Good for beef, wild boar/domestic pork; Better for upland birds, sheep/lamb, turkey; Best for fish
  • Apple – Good for upland game birds, venison; Better for turkey; Best for wild boar/domestic pork
  • Cherry – Good for beef, upland game birds, turkey; Better for wild boar/domestic pork
  • Hickory – Good for upland game birds, fish, turkey; Better for beef, wild boar/domestic pork; Best for venison
  • Mesquite – Good for fish, turkey; Better for upland game birds, venison; Best for beef
  • Pecan – Good for beef, wild boar/domestic pork; Better for upland birds, turkey
  • Rosemary & Thyme – Good for wild boar/domestic pork; Better for turkey, venison; Best for upland game birds, sheep/lamb
  • Whiskey Infused – Good for wild boar/domestic pork, upland game birds; Better for venison; Best for Beef
  • Roasted Garlic & Beer – Good for wild boar/domestic pork, venison; Better for beef; Best for upland game birds, turkey
  • Competition Bland – Good for turkey; Better for wild boar/domestic pork, upland game birds, venison; Best for beef
  • Peach Pecan – Good for fish; Better for upland game birds, turkey;¬†Best for wild boar/domestic pork
  • Hickory, Bourbon & Brown Sugar – Good for wild boar/domestic pork; Better for beef, upland game birds, turkey; Best for venison

Keep your fork


Pork Butt vs Pork Shoulder

You probably have seen both pork butt and pork shoulder advertised in grocery ads and may have wondered “Aren’t they the same?” or “What’s the difference?” Let me shed some light on the subject.

Often confused and misleadingly named, both the pork butt and pork shoulder come from the shoulder (foreleg) of the pig. Pork butt comes from the upper portion of the leg while the pork shoulder is the lower portion of the leg. Both of these cuts of meat are somewhat tough and fatty, and benefit from long, slow cooking such as roasting, stewing or braising.

The pork butt, often called the boston butt is well-marbled with intra muscular fat. It is rectangular and uniform in shape and is often sold with the fat cap intact. It is typically sold without the skin and can be either sold as bone-in or boneless.

The pork shoulder, often called a picnic shoulder or picnic roast tends to have less intramuscular fat and marbling than the pork butt. It is a tapered, triangular-shaped cut of meat that typically is sold with the skin on. If it is sold as a boneless cut, it generally is enclosed in netting. When you remove the netting, the meat unfolds into an uneven layer unlike the same thickness throughout exhibited with the pork butt.

If you prefer a cut of meat that has a more uniform shape with better marbling, the pork butt is what you want.

Keep your fork

Our First Cat

We were living in Coulter, a small town in Iowa, at the time we got our first cat. Pickle Queen is not a cat person and was a little on the surly side when I came home with Tom, a fine specimen of a cat, upon returning from a farm visit with one of my students. If you are a cat person, you know what a tom cat is like.

One afternoon a concerned neighbor and friend knocked on our door and said, “Your cat is scurrying all over the neighborhood, down the allies, up the fire escapes, down stairways and hurrying into cellars as if he were mad.”

“I know,” I replied. “We just had him ‘fixed’ and he’s running around canceling appointments.”

Keep your fork

Vote Carefully This Fall

To help support the family, my mother, Mildred, was in the business of selling fertilized chicken eggs. She had several hundred young pullets and ten roosters to fertilize the eggs.

She kept records and any rooster that was not performing went into the soup kettle and was replaced with another promising rooster.

This took a lot of time, so she obtained some tiny bells and attached them around the necks of her roosters. Each bell had a different tone, so she could tell which rooster was performing. Now, she could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report by just listening to the bells. Mildred’s favorite rooster, old Butch, was a fine specimen but, one morning old Butch’s bell hadn’t rung at all! When she went to investigate, she saw the other roosters were busy chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing, but the pullets hearing the roosters coming would run for cover.

To Mildred’s amazement, old Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn’t ring. He’d sneak up on a pullet, do his job, and walk off to the next one.

Mildred was so proud of old Butch, she entered him in a show at the Iowa State Fair and he became an overnight sensation among the judges. The result was the judges not only awarded old Butch the “No Bell Piece Prize” they also awarded him the “Pulletsuprise” as well.

Clearly old Butch was a politician in the making. Who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most coveted awards on our planet by being the best at sneaking up on the unsuspecting populance and screwing them when they weren’t paying attention?

Vote carefully this fall. You can’t always hear the bell.

Keep your fork

Haying Time

Luray bills itself as the ‘Cabin Capital’ of Virginia because of all the cabins we have around to help house the tourists that frequent the area. Not to long ago some tourists from the Boston area were driving through our area when they noticed a field full of cows and a local farmer who was taking all the round bales of hay, loading them onto a wagon and hauling them away. Not knowing that it’s a common practice around here to cut and bale pasture land, they stopped and asked the farmer about it.

“Well,” he said, “the county agent came by and told me to pick ’em all up. He said the cows weren’t getting a square meal!”

Keep your fork

Free Range Chicken Solution

On the road into Luray we pass a place where free range chickens have a bad habit of jumping the fence, which is nothing like ‘jumping the broom’. Seeing them roam free reminds me of an experience I had while living in South Dakota.

A neighbor of ours was having trouble keeping his chickens fenced in. He kept talking about chickens being great creatures created by God, and as such, they had the right to go wherever they wanted.

Being tired of stepping in chicken ‘scat’ everyday when I came home from school, I finally thought of the perfect solution to fixing the problem of having to clean my shoes before entering my own home. On the way home from school one Friday afternoon I made a stop at the corner grocery where I bought a dozen eggs. That night I snuck out and placed the eggs throughout our yard.

The next morning, being a Saturday, I was sure the neighbor was watching his chickens enjoy being free. I went out and wandered around our yard gathering the eggs. After that, we never had problems with finding his chickens in our yard. That problem solved.

Two days ago we were privileged to see what we call the ‘trifecta’. Without leaving the house, we observed turkeys, deer and a black bear, all within 20 yards of the house. Now, I could have harvested those free range chickens many years ago, but I didn’t. I don’t have any turkey eggs, and I’m pretty sure that deer and bear don’t lay eggs, so planting eggs won’t solve anything. I wonder how I’ll solve this problem!

Keep your fork

Egg Size

We’ve all probably noticed the various sizes of eggs available in the grocery store. You have Jumbo, Extra large, Large, Medium and Small. You can purchase¬†them by the half-dozen, dozen, dozen and a half, a flat, two flats and more ways if you look at all the liquid options. We buy very few eggs anymore as a neighbor’s daughter has a ‘farm flock’ that produces more eggs than they know what to do with. One of the advantages of getting our eggs this way is that we have a wide selection of egg sizes in every carton. I tell you these things as a build up to a conversation I was privileged to hear at a Kroger store recently.

A young housewife was complaining to the grocer restocking the meat, dairy and egg refrigerated cases. “These eggs are very small,” she told the grocer.

“They come straight from the farm this morning, madam, ” the grocer replied.

“That’s the trouble with these farmers,” she continued.

“How’s that?” the grocer asked.

“They’re so anxious to get their eggs sold they take them off the nest too soon,” she replied.

Keep your fork