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A passion for roasting over a fire of coals

Pork Rub for pulled pork

Rub in the store 1

Father’s Day weekend our first product, Pork Rub – a seasoning pork rub for pulled pork, took its place on the shelf of our first retail partner, Today’s Outdoor Living – a patio and grill store, in South Charlotte, owned by Ron and Carole Sackowitz. [click to continue…]

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The Salt Lick

I added a new destination to my BBQ bucket list today, The Salt Lick in Driftwood, TX.

The Salt LickI ran across a video clip of the owner talking about their BBQ and the phrase that caught my attention was how his family moved to Texas in the 1800s from eastern Carolina and Georgia. Sounds like one rich Texas BBQ tradition may come from a little farther east.

What are some of the BBQ pits on your bucket list?




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Seared Scallops

Seared Scallops

After a week of ice, snow and unseasonably cold days for Charlotte with several mornings in the single digits, it was nice to get out a little on Saturday to take a walk through the indoor farmer’s market Atherton Mill and Market just a few miles from uptown. My wife Tammy and I browsed through the offerings of certified organic produce, grass feed beef, free-range poultry and an interesting coastal seafood fishmonger, Lucky Fish, that had some great looking large Massachusetts Scallops for sale, which I was eager to purchase to prepare Seared Scallops seasoned with Savory Spice Seafood seasoning.


Lucky Fish Email Newsletter


Scallops have a meaty soft white texture and a sweet flavor which make them a favorite of sea lovers and even a few traditionally non-seafood lovers alike. In addition, they pack a powerful punch of health benefits. FitDay.com notes that a 4-ounce serving contains only 100 calories, only 1 gram of fat per serving and a good dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Scallop meat is also a good source of an amino acid named cystine that helps form healthy skin, hair, bones and connective tissue. In addition, these shellfish have more protein per ounce than beef, pork or poultry with only a fraction of the fat.

My preparation was simple: I washed the scallops in cool water, placed them in a bowl, poured in two tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkled a teaspoon of Cheery Creek Seafood Seasoning from Savory Spice and tossed the Scallops in the oil and seasonings with a pair of tongs to lightly coat them.

Owners Amy and Scott MacCabe

Owners Amy and Scott MacCabe

Next, I seared them in a sauté pan on medium high heat for two minutes on each side. The soft texture of the Scallops were melt in your mouth delicious and very addictive.


The Sauce
Lately, I have been trying to invest a few minutes to make a simple and quick sauce with meals to increase both the flavor and health benefits. I picked up this tip from reading Conscious Cuisine: A New Style of Cooking from the Kitchens of Chef Cary Neff.

Chef Cary, a classical trained French chef, goes over the techniques he has used to transform his cooking to promote good health without losing the flavor most people associate with a high fat French style of cooking.

So, I made a simple ten-minute sauce with a small onion, ¼ of a carrot and three cloves of garlic chopped and sautéed together in a teaspoon of canola oil for five minutes before adding a cup of water because I was out of chicken or fish stock. Next, I brought the sautéed veggies with water to a boil for a minute or two before I dumped the mixture in a Vitamix with a half cup of cauliflower, which is a good source for vitamin C, B6, B12 and minerals like magnesium, copper and zinc.

Sauce Veggies

While the sauce cooked, I removed the scallops from their sear and put a few asparagus stalks in their place to round out the meal. Lastly, I added a little humus, my wife made, to the plates and put a few whole-wheat crackers on the table to add a little crunch to the meal.

Are you adding new items to meals lately to pump up the flavor or health benefits? Leave me a comment about it.

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Game Day BBQ


The competition heats up this week on and off the sports field as the country gears up for Super Bowl Sunday. Earlier this week, as the temperate dropped in Charlotte, the Boy Scouts of Sardis Presbyterian Church were burning down hickory wood in barrels to shovel fiery coals into their 32 concrete block BBQ pits for what may be one of the largest game day outdoor wood fired pork BBQ fundraisers left in the south.

[click to continue…]

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Game Day Food Shrimp Avocado Bacon Skewers

Game Day Food Shrimp Avocado Bacon

Serves 4
Prep Time 12 minutes Cooking Time 8 to 10 minutes
This is a fast easy game day food starter for tailgating or couch gating that bring a lot of flavor to each bite and is my adaptation of the Tiger Shrimp, Bacon, And Avocado Kabobs recipe from Hilaire Walden’s book Grilling, 365 health and delicious recipes. I put these skewers on the grill with hopes that our home town team, the Carolina Panthers, could hold up against the Sea Hawks in the NFL play offs. However, it was not to be. Maybe next year, @Panthers #KeepPounding #GameDayFood
[click to continue…]

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What is real Carolina style whole pig BBQ?


On a warm sunny Carolina Friday afternoon, I loaded up the SUV with gear, packed my freshly mixed pork rub with coffee pepper, picked up a friend, hooked up a large wood burning pig cooker and headed to the east side of Fayetteville to cook what I thought would be my native BBQ, eastern Carolina style BBQ, in a whole pig cook-off in Vander, NC.

My friend, John, and I set up our cooker between two veteran teams, Smoke’n Ribs BBQ Pit & Catering out of Castle Hayne, NC and Big Hawg out of Clinton, NC.

[click to continue…]

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Coffee Pepper



In my never-ending pursuit for new BBQ ingredients, I may have stumbled onto a new weapon of flavor, Coffee Pepper. This ingredient blend, whole peppercorns coarsely ground together with Starbucks dark Italian roast coffee beans, is my new tool for building layers of flavor.

[click to continue…]

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Belgian White IPA Baby Back Ribs



This Labor Day weekend my wife and I did not opt for traveling as we have most years. No last trip to the beach before summer ends, no trip to the mountains, no bed and breakfast nor an out of town BBQ event of interest. Instead, we had a luxurious weekend of late mornings with freshly pressed coffee, an evening walk in uptown Charlotte to hear some live music and shared a meal of fire roasted baby backs with longtime friends accompanied by a few interesting Belgian style ales and IPAs.

Saturday morning, after making a few stops and walking through the oversized refrigerated selection of meat in one of my favorite hunting grounds, The Chef Store, I picked up a pack of baby back ribs to roast for lunch with friends Sunday.

A few rib recipes [click to continue…]

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Picking a Farmer

Produce boxes from Bush-N-Vine

Produce boxes from Bush-N-Vine

I always enjoy a trip to my local farmer’s market in Matthews, bringing to mind thoughts of helping my grandparents gather greens in a family garden. After reading through local farm web pages on Local Harvest.org, I picked an interesting farm, Bush-N-Vine , which offers a subscription for a weekly basket of produce delivered to an outdoor store in South Park area of Charlotte called Jesse Brown’s.

I look forward to making my first pick up in March.

Next, I am shopping for a local farm which offers a grass feed meat, Windy Hill Farms looks promising.

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Smoked Beef Brisket

I had lunch with a friend at Ri’ Ra’s Irish Pub in uptown Charlotte today. We had planned to go to one of my favorite farm to table restaurants Harvest Moon but they were closed for renovations so we walked across the street to Ri’ Ra’s. After looking over the menu for a few minutes the classic Irish Pub food like Bangers and Mash or a Ruben sounded good but a smoked beef brisket caught my eye.


Their version of smoked brisket was ok but nothing like a brisket I smoked over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Over the holiday I slow roasted a Texas Style Beef Brisket with [click to continue…]

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Farm to Table for the Hungry

I have been grilling chicken, smoking Texas style beef brisket and frying turkeys over the Thanks Giving and Christmas holidays and have several recipes to share. But, my thoughts lately have been on developing a simple community service project which both feeds the hungry with healthy fresh food from the farm and supports small family farms like the farmers I talk to at my local farmers market.

I have notice that several of these farmers have subscription based programs in which you pay a monthly subscription and receive weekly or bi-weekly boxes of produce or meat based on their seasonal harvest.

The thought came to me that these boxes could really be used by non-profits which prepare food and feed the hungry. I have helped serve food at a local men’s shelter in my community and the food is mostly prepackaged foods loaded with carbs and there is not a fresh vegetable to be seen, a lot of staples from food drives.

Now, how to locate  resources and connect small family farms and non-profits feeding the hungry? That is the question. Would a simple web store work where you could match a family farm to  a charity along with your donation work?

Please post our ideas. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Quadrupel Ale Chicken

I have been wanted to put some fire to wood lately and my local grocer had a few whole chickens that looked like they may be just the critters to throw on the fire. So, I picked up a pair of roasting hens.

I decided to grill/smoke with a beer can style setup to keep the chicken moist and tender while roasting over two sticks of cherry wood with a little lump charcoal dumped between them.

After racking the old ashes from the bottom of my grill, I laid a few sticks of cherry wood and started to pour out some lump charcoal when I remembered my electric charcoal starter had melted when I left it a little to long in the coals on a prior cook. So, the question at hand was how to start the fire?


So, I put an old veggie grilling metal sheet on the gas camping  stove, poured out some charcoal and fired it up. I made sure to have a water hose close by with a little water pressure on it just in case a few embers dropped to the leaves below during my startup.

After moving my burning coals to the grill, I rubbed a little olive oil on my chicken and dusted with a simple rub of salt and pepper before I looked for a little liquid to keep it moist while roasting.


I decided on a smooth Quadruplel Ale called Three Philosophers brewed in Cooperstown, NY.


I used about half the Ale in the roasting cup and the other half to baste the cook.



While looking through the refrigerator for veggies to go with the chicken I could hear a little land of lakes Indian maiden calling my name. So, I melted some butter to coat the bird for the last half hour of roasting.


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Coffee Pulled Pork

I have been trying a few new ideas with my Pulled Pork recipes by building more depth in the layers of flavor provided by the wood, the rub,the liquid injection blend and the final layer of flavor from a finishing sauce.

The fire of coals on this cook came from cowboy brand of lump charcoal with the addition of a small stick of hickory for my assorted wood pile.


On the rub, I went with the basic structure from Steven Raichlen’s classic book How to Grill with a just a few changes. The main addition was freshly grinding the whole spices with whole coffee beans. I could tell just from the rich smell, change to the texture of the touch and darker color in the rub that this would be a great batch of Que. On one of the roast I added ground dried apple to make it an apple coffee pulled pork.

Coffee Pulled Pork from www.FireOfCoals.com

Rating: 41

Cook Time: 12 hours


  • Dried Apples 1/4 C
  • Black Pepper corns 3 tbsp.
  • Brown Sugar 1/4 cup
  • Cayenne 1 tsp
  • Celery Seeds 2 tsp
  • Coffee 1 tbsp.
  • coriander 2 tsp
  • Cumin Seeds 2 tsp
  • Fennel Seeds 3 tsp
  • Garlic Powder 2 tsp
  • Dry Mustard 2 tsp
  • Onion Powder 2 tsp
  • Paprika 1/4 C
  • Salt 1/4 C
  • 1 to 4 Boston Butt Pork Roast


  1. Use whole spices when possible
  2. Toast whole pepper corns and other seeds
  3. Grind spices in a spice or coffee grinder
  4. Rub on meat and put in fridge over night if you have time
  5. A few sticks of hickory wood or chips for smoking
  6. A stick of cherry wood or wood chips for smoking




After about 12 hours of roasting and reaching about 192 degrees in temperature the color changed from light brownish red to a deep almost chocolate coffee mocha with an aroma which seem to float on a faint fog of hickory smoke through the neighborhood.


After letting the pork cool a little, I pulled it by hand and added 3/4 of a cup of Carolina style vinegar sauce to each roast before storing in zip lock bags in the freezer.

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