Time For A Change And To Get More Social

Good Friday afternoon, everyone!   You’ll notice a change around here—and I’m hoping a change for the better.   As of today this blog site is currently self-hosted (something long overdue) and much more flexible than it ever has been.

When I first started out blogging I used a platform known as Typepad.   It’s still around these days, but I don’t know anyone serious about their effort who continues with that out-dated technology.   Then, back in 2010, I took the bold move and migrated this blog site to the WordPress platform as everyone told me it was the wave of the future.   And, to be perfectly honest, I believe they were right.   It’s awesome for building both blogs and websites.

Yet, over the past several years I felt like a school kid having to live by all these rules.   You see, prior to today the site was hosted at wordpress.com because frankly it was cheap, easy and during the beginning offered me what I thought I needed.

But no more…

As my online and web skills expanded I quickly realized long ago I was in desperate need of a change.   Well, that change came today in both the look and function.   You’ve probably recognized how things look a lot more “social” these days on the web.   Indeed, to stay current it requires not only blogging, but putting yourself out there where you can been found in many facets of the social media network.

During the coming weeks you will notice a few changes here and there.   But, the big change you may not notice is how this site has suddenly become more “responsive” to viewing in all formats.   Gone are the days blog readers primarily sit in front of desktop computers and read a blogger’s dialogue.   Today, they have smartphones, tablets, iPads and a whole host of other devices that your blog site better be enabled to handle.

So, I hope you enjoy the changes you are seeing.   I suspect there will be lots more changes in the weeks and months yet to come.   The bottom line is a blogger has to stay fresh and energized to be interesting…and to a large extent this happens to also be true with how the site is being viewed by the reader.

Have a great weekend, folks!

The Tool Every Sportsman Should Have In Their Kitchen

Can you believe one of my favorite tools as a sportsman isn’t a gun…or a knife…or a flashlight…or even a multi-tool of some sort.   Nope.   It’s a gadget, and quite honestly a device that should be found IN EVERY KITCHEN!   I’m talking about a trusty thermometer used specifically for cooking.

Now, let’s get something straight.   Most kitchen thermometers suck.   That’s right…if you have the old dial thermometer that takes 15–20 seconds to slowly react to the cooking temperature, that’s not good enough.   Let me put it to you this way…if you were shooting at a flock of geese and pulled the trigger with a long delay in firing would this situation please you?   More importantly, a gun with a long hang-fire time such as this scenario holds the potential for being a true safety hazard in the field.

Well, guess what…a slow thermometer not only slows you down as a cook.   But chances are quite good that it’s slow in reacting because it doesn’t incorporate the latest in thermocouple science.   This could mean it’s simply not accurate.

For the past couple years my go to device has been the Splash-Proof Super-Fast® Thermapen® produced by a company called ThermoWorks.   I wholeheartedly endorse this product and I can say this IS NOT A SPONSORED EVALUATION.   I can honestly say I spent the $96 plus freight to get the product just like you would.   In fact, I am so impressed with a whole host of this company’s products I have purchased several types of thermometers, timers, etc.   The entire product line appears to be top notch in quality.

It’s important to note you can’t purchase these products in stores or even on Amazon.   Well, technically you can buy it on Amazon, but it simply directs you to their corporate store.

So, why invest nearly $100 in a thermometer?   Good question.   My first response would be because the safety of your family deserves it.   If you’re cooking any type of perishable meat or fish attaining the correct minimum temperature is not something you should be guessing about.   In fact, see the graphic (below) and click on it to enlarge.   This gives you the minimum temperatures as established by The National Restaurant Association and provides a good guideline.

TemperaturesforFoodSafety

As you will see, in general if you are cooking any large muscle like a steak or a roast the minimum internal temperature should be 145 degrees Fahrenheit.   Ground meat which has had more surface area exposed to knives or cutters is more prone to bacteria growth and must attain a temperature of at least 155 degrees Fahrenheit.   Poultry and most any game birds are even more highly susceptible to nasty organisms and should be cooked to a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Just a few simple rules to observe for safety.   Also, one of the main benefits of using the Thermapen is the slender probe to easily penetrate muscle.   Yet, the main benefit in buying quality is this probe reads the temperature at the very tip of the probe.   Other cheaper types of devices use different measuring technology and the reading could be an inch or two higher along the probe shaft.   With the Thermapen there simply is no guessing as you know what the temperature is within a split second…not several seconds later.

Check out most cooking shows on TV and you will see how many professional cooks tend to gravitate to the Thermapen because of the superb quality.   But what prompted me to write this post today is something new ThermoWorks is offering.   Check out the new ThermoPop at almost 1/4 the price ($24 introductory price) of the Thermopen.

ThermoPop

Sure, you sacrifice a bit of speed(this probe states a reading in 5-6 seconds), but the quality of this device very likely is second to none you will find in any store near you.   I’ll be getting several of these to test out in upcoming weeks to come.

In closing, we all know about the importance of food safety when it comes to cooking and checking temps.   But there is another important quality factor involved in the cooking process.   To be a consistent cook it requires taking the guess work out of where things are at during the cooking process.

As many of you know, I come from the world of competition BBQ and often times when a piece of smoked muscle attains a specific temperature it gets pulled from the smoker to rest.   Even a 5 degree variance can spell the difference between food that is outstanding and food that is simply just good.

And when you are constantly checking temps you want to do things fast.   As the saying goes, “when you are looking, you’re not cooking.”   Hence the need to open door, insert probe, get the reading and shut that oven door quickly once again.

As a sportsman, you should take as much pride in how you present things at the dinning room table as you do in the field or the waters where the food is obtained.   If you’re one who downplays the importance of a good meat thermometer, than you’re missing out on an important element of enjoying the total sportsman experience.   In other words, why sacrifice good food to a $3 piece of junk when you’ve already likely spent several thousand dollars to bring that meat into your home.

©2014 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Random Thoughts Following The 2014 SHOT Show

The 2014 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade(SHOT) Show wrapped up last Friday and by all accounts the industry appears very upbeat and poised for another good sales year.   In fact, if statistics prove anything, the 2014 show was a record breaker with over 5,000 more attendees than last year—totalling over 67,000 people representing over 100 different countries.

The hallways filing into and out of the SHOT Show were often quite busy with people.

All numbers aside, for me the show didn’t offer up anything revolutionary when it comes to new outdoors or shooting products.   Oh, sure, just about every product manufacturer has something new as part of their marketing hype.   They have to.   This is where the new sales season begins.   But more so than other years where folks would clamor to a handful of booths to touch and feel some fantastic new product offerings, it seemed the marketing hysteria was pretty evenly spread throughout the show in 2014.

And that’s a good thing.   Everyone was receiving attention.   Well, almost everyone.   I still shake my head at seeing one exhibitor who came to the show sporting a new line of wrist rockets.   Yup, that’s right…nothing more than a souped up slingshot capable of taking out a neighbor’s window from 200 yards away.   As I walked by the booth I couldn’t help but shake my head wondering how many beers were consumed prior to the decision of “let’s take this concept to the SHOT Show.”

Can’t seem to find .22LR in the stores, but at SHOT there was plenty on hand to excite the buyers.

Oh, there was the other booth that sold, among other things, a camouflaged pen.   Yes, who walking out of the show wouldn’t want a ballpoint pen decked out in some digital camo pattern?   Better add a camo notebook to that order.   As I picked the pen up to observe its manufacture quality I asked the fella behind the booth…”A camo pen?”   He looked at me with no response, but apparently untrusting that I might take the pen.   I set it back down and walked away.   Again, shaking my head wondering deeper about the marketing potential of this item and product line.

Yet, SHOT 2014 was certainly not all about the oddball.   You’re bound to get that when you have 1,600+ vendors showcasing their products.   Instead, this year’s SHOT felt more like a celebration of what we all enjoy.   In particular, it is encouraging to see how new shooters and women are being welcomed into the mix with new product offerings.   And why not, this growing segment of outdoors enthusiasts represents one of the fastest growing demographics within our shooting and hunting ranks.   My guess is they are also some of the highest spenders as they are the ones needing new equipment.

Almost everywhere a person looks you can find guns at SHOT, but over the years this industry buyer show has evolved into something much more than just guns.

I’ve said it before if you want the hard hitting SHOT product coverage this is not the blog to follow.   I suggest you follow my friends over at AmmoLand.com for that sort of hoopla.   In fact, while you’re at it sign-up for their Daily Digest to keep you up on all the news of the industry almost as quickly as it happens.   They do awesome work and my buddy, Fredy Riehl, who edits it is a great guy to boot!

In conclusion, I came home from SHOT having only made one product purchase.   The product that intrigued me?   None other than a game camera made by Cuddeback.   It wasn’t so much how the camera has outstanding new capabilities or any unique feature.   I bought it because I got to put the order on my buddy’s credit card.   That’s right…it’s always more fun to spend someone else’s money when buying new products for yourself.

©2014 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.