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Posts tagged “travel

A Study in Flame: Solo Stove Titan Review and Giveaway!

*To the readership. This is a rare event on PotP. Don’t miss your chance to enter to win a free Solo Stove Titan in our first ever giveaway. All you need to do is leave a comment below, then go to this link, Titan Giveaway – Patrons of the Pit, and it will guide you from there. Another way you can enter the giveaway is to like our Facebook page, and again, just go through the link above, and it will direct you to Facebook from there. If you can’t do either of those, an Email address will enter you into the contest also.  Regardless, use the link if you want to participate in the giveaway. Think of the link as a conduit for getting things done. The widget needs the attention so it can keep track of who has entered the giveaway. Oh, and if you have previously liked our Facebook page, sorry, those likes do not count in this giveaway. Anyways, now let’s get on with this review already!

img_1281Not too long ago, last week in point of fact, I was backpacking through the hinter regions of northern Minnesota. Was on one of my usual haunts there, afoot with a pack on my back, enjoying some of the swiftly vanishing perks of wilderness travel. Solitude. Clean rushing rivers. Pure air in which to breathe, ushered on a breeze that which murmurs like poetry through the long-standing pines. It was October, and the tamarack along the way were turning golden there, kissed in an autumnal sunbeam. It was just plain lovely. So much so and in fact, it rather demanded a spot of tea.

Solo Stove Titan – Larger Version of Original Solo Stove. Lightweight Wood Burning Stove. Compact Kit for Backpacking, Camping, Survival. Burns Twigs – No Batteries or Liquid Fuel Canisters Needed.

Enter The Titan

solo_titan_nocookingring__69207-1445351399-95-95I had along a new piece of gear this hike, one sponsored to us by the kindly folks at Solo Stove. It’s a backpacking stove, good for car camping too, that runs completely off wood, or what ever other forest debris, or bio fuel, you might find laying about. It’s pretty slick. And I don’t think I have ever had a more poetic, scientifically satisfying, trail-side cup of tea in my life, than I had with this ingeniously designed cooker. The Solo Stove Titan. The glory is in the flame. So grab yourself a cup of tea likewise, and let’s disect this thing, shall we.

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What???

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solo_titan_top__35990-1445351431-95-95Here’s how it works. You build your fire on the nichrome wire grate down in the stove. Air comes in through the holes at the bottom of the stove, feeding oxygen to the fire there. With me so far? Simple enough. Here is where it gets interesting tho. The stove is double walled, and so warm air also travels upwards, heating up as it goes, between in the inner wall and the outer one. Once it reaches the top of the stove, it is expelled through another set of slightly smaller holes there. The oxygen coming out these holes, as mentioned, has been preheated in its ascent, and when it dumps back into the firebox, a literal secondary combustion occurs. And that, my friends, is the magic of the Solo Stove.

So What Does It Mean?

What it means is efficiency. This additional act of combustion assists the fire in burning more complete, they say. In point of fact, when the fire is going at full tilt, there is very little smoke produced at all, because it is so efficient. In theory, the stove will cook the smoke right out of the wood. Least wise that’s what the flame wizards at Solo Stove say. The efficient burn also means you will use less wood to cook with, when compared to cooking over an open camp fire. Not only that, when the fuel burns out, there is nothing but a fine, powdery ash remaining. No glowing embers to deal with, courtesy of that efficient burn. Needless to say, I was intrigued. So let’s get after that cup of tea, shall we.

img_1275It comes with a nicely crafted pot support, that nests inside the stove for travel. Anyways, I had a fire quickly kindled in its steel bosom, and set my old, blackened kettle on to boil. Enough for two cups of tea, I should wager. I sat back and watched the river gurgle by and admired this piece of cooking technology before me. Occasionally I fed it a small twig or stick to keep it happy. As the fire established, I must say, I was smitten by the results.

Solo Stove Titan – Larger Version of Original Solo Stove. Lightweight Wood Burning Stove. Compact Kit for Backpacking, Camping, Survival. Burns Twigs – No Batteries or Liquid Fuel Canisters Needed.

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It didn’t take the fire long at all to stabilize, and the initial plumes of smoke on start-up, to dissolve into distant memories. There is an opening on the pot support, or cooking ring, as you can see, in which to further feed the fire as needed. We had to do a little of that. I’d wager the amount of wood used for two cups of water was something like two large handful’s of sticks broken into finger length pieces. Thicker hardwoods, of course, burn better and longer than the soft balsam fir sticks that I used, but I had about one million square acres of forest and wood to play with, so it didn’t really matter. That’s another joy of a wood burning backpacking stove, I discovered. You will never run out of fuel. Leastwise in the north woods of Minnesota, you sure won’t.

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After a fashion, I also noticed the secondary combustion thing kicking in. It actually worked! Of course I failed to capture it in a photo for you, but if you were to peer down into the fire chamber a little more, you would see the fire seemingly coming out of that higher set of holes that we talked about earlier. Indeed, the main fire down on the grate was blazing away, but it was also shooting out of the holes up near the top. And the smoke was curiously absent, just like they said. I gotta say, I was impressed. Even my wife, who is not often impressed by scientific stuff, was suitably awed. We were sipping tea in no time, enjoying the warmth of a hot mug in our hands, and further admiring this little stove .

Later on in camp, we fired it up again.

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The inner pyromaniac in me couldn’t get enough play time with this stove. I discovered its engineering went other ways too. Subtle ways. For example, I discovered that even when the stove is fiercely hot, that I could still move it around if I had to by gripping it below the lowest set of holes. It wasn’t exactly cool down there, but not hot enough either that you couldn’t hang onto it for a while if you had to move it for some reason. The reason that impressed us was because if it’s not hot down there, then that means you could set it on a picnic table, perhaps, and not have to worry about burning a nice 5.1 inch circle into your table top. Always a nice thing.

Here are some specs on the Solo Stove Titan, if you’re curious

Specs for the Sole Stove Titan

Packed size: Height 5.6 inches, Width 5.1 inches
Assembled size: Height 7.9 inches, Width 5.1 inches
Weight: 16.5 oz
Materials: 304 stainless steel, nichrome wire
Fuel: sticks, twigs, pine cones and other biomass
Boil time: 4-6 mins (32 fl oz of water)
To read more on the Solo Stove Titan, do check out their website at:

Bonus Thoughts

It’s a lovely piece of kit. Just holding it in your hand, you’ll notice the quality and the craftsmanship are very nice. No moving parts, simple, and robust. The thing is built to last, and more over, do what it was designed to do. Burn wood. As old bush master, Horace Kephart once said, “A sourdough is known by the fitness and simplicity of his equipment“. Well, we think the solo stove passes the grade in that respect. It’s also rather nice to romp through the woodlands on a multi-day trip afield, and know that you can’t run out of fuel for your stove. That if you should get stuck out in the hinter lands for a few extra days, that at least you will have a way to boil water for as long as you need to. Say what you will, but there is a certain comfort in that.
But I hate camping! Roughing it to me is when my furnace dips below 70 degrees!“, some of you might croak. Well first of all, you’re kind of a wimp then, but even so, we still love you, and such a stove in your supplies could still prove useful someday. It is always well to be prepared, say, for power outages, off-grid work, natural disasters, or the inevitable zombie invasion. You never know. As long as you can find yourself a small pile of sticks, and you possess the primitive “know-how” to light a fire, well, then you can cook on this stove. I suppose you could even light up a few charcoal briquettes, if you had to, toss them into the stove, and manage to cook over it. The beauty tho is burning things you have lying around. We highly recommend starting with the political section.
What are the short comings of the stove?
Well, the biggest one is probably soot. Your cooking pot will no doubt get caked in the stuff after a couple of cooks. But this is how it is, and how it always has been when you cook over real fire. Your stuff gets sooty. It just does. If you can’t accept that, then I guess cooking over fire just isn’t for you. You can try the old bush trick of wiping your pots down in soap before each cook, if you want. That’s supposed to help. But I find it’s much simpler to just dedicate an old sack or bag for your cook pot, thus containing the soot at least to its own little quarantine of funk when in travel mode. The technique works fine, and of course, it’s simple. We adore simple.
We also found the Titan to be a little large for the backpacking we like to do. Now mind you, this isn’t the stove’s fault. It was designed to be able to cook for 2 to 4 people, and not necessarily be the size of the petite solo gas stoves I normally pack. But I wanted to try it backpacking anyhow, you know how it goes. Considering the savings in fuel bulk and weight, well, it sort of makes the size of the stove acceptable. If you’re a car camper, or a canoe camper or something along those lines, then the size of the Titan is of no issue at all. Off-hand, Solo Stove solved this problem anyways, as they have other sizes of stoves in their line up. The Solo Stove Lite, for example, is a good deal smaller than the Titan, and is designed with the backpacker in mind. Judging from how much fun I’ve been having with the Titan, I might have to put the smaller Solo Stove on my Christmas list.
The last knock we could give it is it’s kind of pricey at $90.00. Boy there are cheaper ways to fry your bacon. But again, from what we can tell of it, it looks like something that will last a long time. And best of all,  when you consider you’ll never need to buy fuel for the stove, like ever, well, then it’s only a matter of time before the Titan should pay for itself. And in the long run, be cheaper to operate than cheaper gas camping stoves which must always be refilled. The more you use it, the more affordable it gets! (Price doesn’t matter anyways if you win our free giveaway!)
Final Thoughts
Anyways, and in closing, we really enjoyed field testing this one. Not exactly a BBQ thing, but if you’ve been in our readership for long, you’ll know we do tend to take to the hither lands with some frequency, and further more, love to cook there. It all falls under the flag of outdoor cooking, a particular joy of which resides at the heart of this blog. So we were excited to do this review. Privileged in fact.  Anyways, if you’re in the market for a new camping stove, you may want to consider this wood burning alternative. Just come up with a system to deal with the soot and you’re good to go!
A kindly thanks also to the good people at Solo Stove for setting us up. Great folks. Wonderful gear. And lots of clever ideas circulating around over there. Do check them out some time if you’re into this sort of thing.
Or check them out on amazon.

Solo Stove Titan Giveaway!

 Sorry, you missed it!
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And finally, the part you’ve been waiting for. As mentioned, Solo Stove has offered to do a giveaway for one lucky subscriber of Patrons of the Pit. We’ve never done a giveaway before, but you guys deserve it, and well, it might be fun. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are three ways to enter.

Three Ways to Enter!

1. Leave us a comment below, then click on the Titan Giveaway link to finish the formalities.
Or
2. Click on the Titan Giveaway link and like our Facebook page from there.
Or
3.Click on the Titan Giveaway link and enter an Email address
Think of the link as a conduit to make things happen. The Giveaway lasts for 14 days from the time this post goes live. Then a program called Gleam will randomly select the winner, and Solo Stove themselves will ship the stove to your doorstep. Now you can’t beat that! And it really is an amazing little stove. You will like it! Good luck, people!!
 Blessings,
-PotP

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In Honor of Heroes: Memorial Day Pulled Pork

The Lilacs are blooming on Mt. Moriah. 

SAMSUNG CSCGreetings dear readership, and brethren of the smoke. We’ve been on vacation as of late, and I won’t deny it’s been a rather lovely sortie away from the digital trenches. A routine of which, if I am not careful on the matter,  I suspect that I could get quite used to. We’re talking life on the road here. Seeing new sights every day. Meeting interesting people. And that hallowed feeling of putting a great many miles between you and the home front. It’s nice, and a wee bit intoxicating to the spirit. But alas, we are home now, and well-traveled. We have some good vittles outback on the smoker, too, but before we get to that,  I’d fancy to show you something we discovered out way of the Black Hills. Something I thought it was kind of cool, and maybe you will too.

We were in the small Cowboy Hamlet better known as Deadwood, SD. Strolling up the main street there, which if there ever was a main street in this world that begs to be strolled, this perhaps was it. We made the usual token rounds: We saw the Celebrity Hotel where Brad Pitt’s slippers from Spy Games were on display. We went in the ice cream shop hoping for a double scoop of Rocky Road, but no one was around to harvest our currency. So we sidled out the door – scoopless. We also poked our head in the bar where Wild Bill Hickok was shot, thought about it for a while, then left. You know, the usual Deadwood flybys. Then, after the formalities were over, we found ourselves up on a hill, on Mt Moriah to be exact, in a cemetery there overlooking the town. It was a quaint place, by and by, that is if cemeteries can register as quaint. The lilacs were fragrant, and the grass was green. And it was up there that I saw the flag.

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The American flag hung limply on it’s pole, back-dropped by a blue, South Dakotan sky. I guess it wasn’t so much the flag, there, waving over Deadwood that captured my attention. It was more the plaque residing just below it, and the words it forever held there.

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Here is a flag, if you read the plaque, that is always up. Every day. Twenty and four hours a day. Never in our lifetime to see a half-mast. Never to forget our brave soldiers in battle, nor their selfless trials endured for the sake of our country. It’s been flapping in the sky over Deadwood for a long time now, since WWI it says,  as stalwart, and as true, as the veterans it honors. I don’t know about you folks, but I thought that was pretty cool. In a day and age where so many flags seem perpetually stuck half-way up the pole, here is one that at last resists. And that is no small thing amid the pine-scented breezes of Mt Moriah.

Anyways, that is what I wanted to show you. Something we saw in our travels afield. Now out to the pit!

The Joy of Bark

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It was Memorial Weekend, and as you can see we had some fine eating coming to maturity pit-side. A humble little pork shoulder, or butt if you must, one of which needed only 6 hours on the smoker, courtesy of it’s wee size. I think it was only 5 or 6 pounds, boneless, and nary fraction shy of utter succulence. This photo was snapped near the end of the cook, and my oh my, take a look at that bark. Glory be!

Bark. It’s what every pit jockey secretly strives for. That hallowed offspring of seasoning and smoke, and of heat and meat. The magical effects of bark cannot be understated, nor I think, adequately even explained. Just trust us when we say, you want bark. Yes, to the uninitiated, it might resemble something more of a meteorite that landed in your back yard. Likewise, lift the lid of the pit housing a well-barked butt, and the newbies about will at once moan your name in vain, declaring it a grievous loss. This is common place. You always have to reassure them that it’s alright. It’s just bark.

When you pull your pulled pork, which is usually appropriate anywhere from 195 to 203 internal, you always want to evenly distribute plenty of bark amongst the meat. The best pulled pork sandwiches have a little bark in every bite. And we have found if you foil your butts like many pit masters like to do, that the practice can sometimes lend to a lesser bark. So if you want a robust bark, let your pork shoulder ride “nekkid” the whole way. That’s just our opinion, but it seems to be the case.

Another tip for good bark is to use a mustard slather first thing, before you apply your rub. The mustard acts purely as an adhesive agent for your spices. The more rub you can get to stick, the better the bark. And no, the mustard flavor will not register on your tongue. I don’t know why, nor do I try to analyze it. It’s just one of the enduring mysteries of the BBQ Arts. Our rub we used this smoke, Maynards Memphis Rub, was from the kindly spice wizards at Miners Mix. We’ve used it on a lot of stuff now, and pork may be it’s strongest suit. Man! Very tasty! Oh, and our smoke wood this time was hickory and apple.

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After letting the meat rest, whilst tented in aluminum foil, we pulled the tender and most succulent pork muscles into savory tendrils of perfectly smoked pork. Mixing that all important bark in through-out the sandwich. This is authentic BBQ, people. The real thing. I’m sorry, but your all-beef wieners will just have to take a back seat today. That’s just how it goes.

Before We Devour

I try to give thanks to the Good Lord more at meals these days. Just because. Because it’s the right thing to do, I suppose. Thanks for family, and for health, and for good food, like slow-smoked, pulled pork sandwiches. Not to mention just the privilege of just getting to BBQ in the first place, in a country that is free to do such things. Indeed, much to be thankful for. And as I cast a glance out the patio door , and see the smoker out there still curling faint, blue, wisps of smoke, I cannot help to but to give thanks also for the military men and women who have served, and still serve our country. You will always be our heroes. And always have our respect. And I think of the American flag flying stoically atop Mt. Moriah, and the beautiful fragrance of the lilacs which bloom there. Amen.

 

 


The Trouble With Gnomes: Hickory Tinted Garlic Chops

I’ve never been to Ireland but my gnome has. And I guess the worst part of it is that I didn’t even know he was gone. He was IMG_6863one of those little dudes in your life that you tend to take for granted, I guess, until he comes back to you. You see he tarries in the garden, where any self-respecting gnome ought to, and no, he doesn’t have a name. I’m not much of a gnome fellow, and I do not see what my wife sees in him, but none-the-less, he stands stalwart among the bean plants, like a gate-keeper to the greens. She picked him up on one of her many errands to the garden center, and nary ever bothered in turn to tell me why. Either you get gnomes or you don’t, I guess. Kind of like Neil Diamond. But I suppose he’s cute enough, by and by. And I’m talking about the gnome, thank you kindly.

Well one day not too long ago, and unbeknownst to us,  he was covertly and flagrantly gnome-napped. Taken hostage by two friends of the female variety, who stowed the little fellow into their travel satchel of assorted womanly sundries, and henceforth made way over the big pond in an aeroplane for Ireland. For ten days, our little gnome parlayed for mercy at the hands of his abductors, and for ten days he was forced to pose for photos in front of a variety of Irish land marks.  I did not know whether to be happy or sad for him, this mostly, again, because I didn’t even know he was gone. But he was. And that’s the great patheticness of it all.

Here is a photo of him let out to pee by the Irish Sea.

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And here is one of him bandied together with like-minded drinking buddies or the kin. I think they were making a break for it and were caught again by the female captures. Their faces say it all.

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I digress. This post was supposed to be about the art of grilling supper, and some how you got me going on gnomes. It’s just that whilst I was loitering by the pit here, the little gnome has done the very same in the pit-side garden. Him and I hang out like this a lot, don’t you know. Just watching the smoke curl into a beautiful Minnesota sky. Leastwise we do these days. Now that his ransom has been won, and he has thus been returned to my garden plot with his spoils intact. I don’t take him for granted as much as I once did. Anyways, about supper. Take a gander at these thick cut chops! For seasoning tonight, we went fairly simple. Salt, pepper, and garlic powder. That’s it. If it’s good pig, that’s all you need most days.

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For ninety seconds, we placed the chops over direct heat, to sear in the juices there. Then we flipped them for ninety seconds more on the other side. Gray clouds idles overhead. A Great Blue Heron swoops past the scene, it’s massive wings fanning through the summer air. The pork chops sizzle sensuously on the hot cast iron grate. If smells were music, then the heady aromas bantering about the pit were like a lovely dollops of Beethoven up your nose. Glory! We then tossed a chunk of hickory wood on the fire, and thus escorted the chops over to indirect heat, opposite the hot coals. And there they would ride the remainder of the path unto a hickory-tinted, highly edible succulence. And it didn’t take long either.

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We also prepped up some tin foil potatoes, one of our very favorite sides for the grill. Two potatoes and one onion, diced to uniformity, and seasoned in salt and pepper, along with a few globs of butter to keep things sporty whence foiled over direct heat. Tin foil potatoes are an easy victory, people. Twenty minutes or so over direct heat, flipping once at your pit master instincts. They are the perfect side to compliment any meat patron to the pit. Yum!

The Gnome Thieves 

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It is likely our civic duty to gnomes, and to lovers of gnomes, to post these mug shots in kind. They probably don’t want their identities revealed, and we won’t do that here, but suffice it this way – if you happen to spy these two ladies poking about your homestead, all I can say is grab your gnomes before they do! Grab them post-haste, people, and run!

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Hickory Smoked Thick-Cut Garlic Chops, sided with Tin Foil Potatoes. Man! The Land of Meat and Potatoes, people. Where good is good, and less is more than enough. Amen.