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Big Green Egg Grills at the Fireplace Showcase

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, June 23, 2010

There is a Big Green Egg to fit everyone's outdoor cooking needs with five sizes ranging from Mini to Extra Large. You can use the EGG® year around in all climates, even in freezing temperatures or during pouring rain. You will find it more versatile than any outdoor cooking appliance on the market, whether comparing it to gas, electric or another charcoal grill, because the EGG is a smoker, a grill and an oven all rolled into one. Here are some of the reasons current owners love their EGG.

It's A Complete Outdoor Cooker

The Big Green Egg has unparalleled cooking flexibility. You can grill steaks and chops to the perfect degree of doneness, cooking at temperatures up to 750°F for steakhouse searing. But if fallin'-off-the-bone ribs or a tasty, juicy brisket is on your menu, the EGG will maintain a low temperature of 200° to 250°F for the low-and-slow smoke cooking that develops wonderful flavor while tenderizing the meat. Whether searing or slow cooking, prepare the entire meal on the grill by adding any of your favorite vegetables to the cooking grid. If you're longing for cornbread, biscuits, a freshly baked loaf of bread or even a warm pie or cobbler to complete your meal, the EGG bakes better than a brick oven. The simple secret to temperature control is the easily adjustable dampers that let you maintain accuracy within a few degrees. The exterior temperature gauge gives precise temperature readings of the cooker's internal temperature.

Charcoal Grills for the purists

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, June 15, 2010

There is a real school of thought out there with the hard-core grillers especially, that charcoal grills produce far better tasting food than gas grills. There simply is nothing better on a hot summer day, than sitting in the backyard grilling over charcoal. The charcoal itself gives the food a distinct flavor. And there are a few different smoke flavored charcoals to choose from. If you go into any home improvement store or grill supply store, you’ll find that there is a large array of charcoal to choose from. But the flavors and smells given off by real wood charcoal are hard to replace. This type of charcoal is my favorite because of the flavors and aromas they put off. But, cooking with wood charcoal can be difficult, so don’t give up yet. There are a couple of types of charcoal starters; lighter fluid, electric charcoal starter, and a charcoal chimney starter.

The electric starter is basically a metal loop that plugs into an electrical outlet. You bury it under the charcoal, while it’s heating it lights the charcoal. They are similar to the element on an electric stove burner. Obviously, you need an electrical outlet for this method, and it may take a bit longer to start, but it is very easy and doesn’t change the flavor of the smoke like lighter fluid.

The chimney starter is my favorite way to start charcoal and it can be used anywhere, no electricity needed. These can be found in any grill store or home improvement store and I recommend the largest one. You put charcoal in the top and a couple pieces of crumbled newspaper in the bottom. The chimney has air holes in it and it works as a chimney does; drawing the draft and the fire up to light the charcoal.

Many people find that the charcoal soaked in lighter fluid is the easiest charcoal to use. Simply drop a match and the coal is lit, no worries on using too much or too little lighter fluid. To me, this style has the least mouthwatering flavor. But it is a good charcoal for the novice charcoal griller to begin with.

As for the grill itself, there are many different sizes and styles, and what sets them apart is more than just the price. Some have only one grate, while others have two on different levels which allows for more space and more control over the speed of cooking. But put the myth away, charcoal grills are easy to use and easy to clean.

Do I Need to Have My Chimney Serviced

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 10, 2010

Do I Need to Have My Chimney Serviced?
       
Chimneys are an integral part of a home-heating system, and they require regular evaluation and maintenance. Most homeowners have little working knowledge of chimneys and venting systems. The fact that faults, damage, and problems are rarely visible to the casual observer further complicates the situation. The threat of chimney fires and unsafe indoor air quality can be greatly reduced, perhaps even eliminated, if homeowners only understood that chimneys require regular maintenance.
       
What is The Chimney Sweeper's Role?  The primary job of a chimney-service professional is to monitor your chimney, clean and maintain your chimney, and to advise of changes/service to improve its performance and safety.
       
What is a Safety Inspection?  The Chimney Sweep serviceman will check the condition of your firebox, damper, and flue to determine typical problems such as built up creosote, mortar deterioration, obstructions inside the flue, and malfunctioning damper parts. He will alert you to any problems that he finds and provide you with a written estimate for any needed repairs. You are under no obligation to contract us to do such repairs. However, it may not be safe to continue using your fireplace until those problems are addressed.
       
How Often Should My Chimney Be Cleaned? We recommend that you have your chimney cleaned about every two years, or for about every cord of wood burned. If you notice an odor or if your fireplace is not drafting properly, call us to inspect it before continuing to use it.
       
What Causes Creosote or "Soot"? Creosote or "soot" is caused by simply burning materials, such as wood, in your fireplace. There is no way to prevent the build up of creosote. Now you are probably asking, "What is creosote?" It is basically unburned fuel that gathers in the form of black powder, flakes, or a baked-on glaze, depending on the degree of buildup. This is one of the main causes of chimney fires. When there is an excess buildup of creosote in the chimney and temperatures rise, the soot is ignited and an actual fire is started inside your chimney, showering your roof with sparks.
       
What Causes Smoke Problems?  Smoke problems may be caused by:

  • A dirty flue / chimney preventing draft
  • A bigger or smaller flue than needed
  • Improper air pressure in the house
  • Obstruction in flue
  • Damper not opening properly

Wood Burning Stove buying tips

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 03, 2010
Wood Burning Stove buying tips

Interest in wood burning stoves has jumped recently due to their environmentally friendly reputation and for their “green” selling point for homes. In order to make the right buying decision, you have to do a bit of homework first. You will have to measure both the room in which the stove will be placed and where the stove itself will be located in that room; length, depth and height. There are many kilowatt calculators available on line you can use to determine how much heat output you need to heat the allotted space. This way you can look at only models with the correct output. Now the more aesthetic questions come into play. Will it be freestanding or inside a hearth? Do you want to see the fire? If so, you need to look for a model with a glass door. What color do you want? With the increased interest in wood burning stoves, the styles, materials used, and colors available have increased as well. They range from cast iron and stainless steel, to antique and modern. Do you want to use the stove with the doors open? Then look for one with a larger door opening. Do you want to use yours for cooking? Cook tops are available on many models.

When it comes to installing your new wood burning stove, this is best left to experts. Chimneys often need to be lined in order to avoid issues with soot and tar. Also, there needs to be enough clearance above and on the sides of the stove. Also, the flue needs to be the right size in order to allow for the safe elimination of smoke. When it comes to installation, the best tip is to call around to some experts and then let one of them install it.

Grill Topper is a must have Grill Tool

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, May 26, 2010
A grill topper is one of the newer tools available to outdoor chefs. It consists of a metal plated bottom with four slanted (45 degree +/-) sides. All sides contains 3/8 inch holes spaced approximately 1/2 inch apart. The surface is coated to help prevent sticking. The topper is used for grilling smaller portions of meat or vegetables. Think of it as a 'grilling wok'. The topper is placed directly over the heat and the food can be 'tossed' as if you were using a real wok.  You can line bottom with aluminum foil in order ot keep juices in when grilling vegetables.

Enjoy Your New Swing Set or Jungle Gym--SAFELY!

Joseph Coupal - Monday, May 17, 2010
With your purchase of a new Swing Set or Jungle Gym comes the comforting reassurance that your new equipment is built to exacting safety specifications.  We encourage all of you to give detailed attention to the "Safe Use" section of your owner's manual.  Refer to it early and often.  Also, strongly consider formalizing and enforcing (from day one) the playground safety rules that both your children and your guests are to follow.   

Good common sense playground safety considerations are provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's document:  "Is Your Home Playground  a Safe Place to Play"?  

Things to consider for Storage Sheds

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, May 11, 2010

There are many things to consider when purchasing a storage shed for your backyard. Vinyl or wood, size and style; what will you be using it for? Garden supplies, junk storage, bicycles and other seasonal toys for the kids? Every homeowner has a certain amount of tools and equipment to keep their lawn looking great, or toys to keep their children entertained, but keeping all of these things in your garage can take up too much room. A storage shed is a great option to keep all of these seasonal items organized and out of site.

When considering the size of the shed you need to purchase, it is always useful to consider what you are going to be storing in the shed. Take all the items out, lay them out on your lawn, and then measure around the items. This will give you a good idea of the dimensions you will need, and help you choose the ideal location in your yard. Also, this gives you a clear idea of other options you’ll need. For example, if you have a riding lawnmower, you may need a ramp to get in and out of the shed.

If you have decided that your shed is to be used for storage of larger equipment, such as snow blowers or yard machinery, then you will have to purchase a large, sturdy shed to withstand the wear and tear that is involved. At fireplace showcase we offer sheds in both wood and vinyl, with or without overhead doors, and many shapes, styles and sizes.

Catalytic Versus Non-Catalytic Heating Stoves

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Catalytic Versus Non-Catalytic Heating

When choosing appliances for your new home, you’ll ultimately ponder this question:  “Should we go with a Catalytic or Non-Catalytic stove”?   The answer of course is, “It depends”.  Let’s first give a high-level definition of both then discuss the advantages and disadvantages.

Catalytic Combustion In Stoves – Heat produced primarily from smoky exhaust gases that are passed through a catalyst-coated ceramic honeycomb buried deep inside the stove where they ignite and burn

Non-Catalytic Combustion In Stoves – Heat is not produced primarily by a catalyst, rather heat is produced in the main fire box.
The debate over which is better continues.  Catalysts produce comparatively long steady heat output.  They require a bit more attention during ignition (catalyst damper management), and are generally considered to be more expensive to maintain as the catalytic element degrades over time.  

The non-catalytic combustion does not use a catalyst, but instead creates a good environment for combustion right in the firebox.  “Non-cats” produce a more attractive look, however, the heat curve peaks and retards faster than that of a “Cat”.  
So which one is right for you?  The market currently favors non-cats, however, some of the most popular high-end stoves continue to use catalytic combustion.  Without doubt buy a catalytic combustion stove if your consumer decision buying decision is based 100% on head production and you have little to no interest in decorative effect.  Like most consumers, if you desire both, then a “Cat” is likely a better option.  

Regardless of your decision, celebrate and be comforted by the fact that both technologies burn up to 90 percent cleaner than older conventional stoves. 

Barbecuing at proper temperatures

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Grilling is quite a bit different from barbecuing. During the grilling process you are cooking at high temperatures, often in excess of 700 degrees, directly over the heat source. In barbecuing, the heat is not directly affecting the meat. The heat is raising the temperature in the cooking chamber where the meat resides. Proper barbecuing temperatures are 210 degrees to 225 degrees. This is the optimum temperature for prolonged barbecuing. It also produces the most tender meat due to the slow cooking resulting from indirect heat. 

Barbecue with Gas Grills or Charcoal Grills

Joseph Coupal - Saturday, April 24, 2010
The American tradition of barbecuing always seems to generate the age-old debate over which type of grill is the best ... a charcoal grill or a gas grill. Both types of grills have their advantages and disadvantages and you should choose a grill based on your own tastes and needs. When picking a grill, consider your budget, your planned grilling location, your taste preferences and even your schedule.

A charcoal grill is simply the more traditional of the two, and a lot of people love it for this reason alone. It involves the primal enjoyment of working with fire and working the heat source to properly cook the food. The heat source is hotter in general, but is more uneven, which requires the chef to pay attention to the grill and to know exactly what they’re doing; to be a “grill master”.  The charcoal grill is most loved because of the smoky or grilled flavor that it gives to the food, which the gas grill will not do. It takes longer to cook food with a charcoal grill, but in return for your hard work, you get a smokier, more traditional flavor in your food.  A charcoal grill is usually much cheaper to buy than a gas grill because it requires less assembly by the manufacturer. A gas grill can be quite expensive, so you should analyze your budget and get a grill you can afford. Also, a bag of charcoal costs slightly less than a comparable amount of propane, so even the upkeep of a charcoal grill is also cheaper.

A gas grill is much more convenient for cooking regular meals. It basically has a similar convenience as your oven. A gas grill requires only the flip of a switch to light and a few minutes to warm up. The food also cooks more quickly and more evenly than it does on a charcoal grill. These advantages can benefit a family that would like to cook regular dinners on their grill, a busy family with less time to cook, or a family that eats dinner later in the evening,. They don’t have to wait as long for their food as they would have to with a charcoal grill. A charcoal grill would be better for family picnics or vacations, times that are more relaxed and leisurely. Another advantage of the gas grill is that when it is operated properly, it is a lot safer. Unlike a charcoal grill, which requires an open flame for part of its operation, a gas grill can be put in much smaller spaces, including patios and decks and nearer to the house, because there is no exposed flame. And, with a gas grill, small children and pets are in no danger of an open flame. The amount of supervision is cut drastically from the necessary supervision with a charcoal grill. Consider the space you have for your grill and any safety issues specific to your family.  A gas grill is also much easier to clean. The surfaces get less carbon on them and are made to easily wipe clean. A charcoal grill gets heavy with carbon and requires a lot of scrubbing to get clean.

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