Category Archives: Food and Drink

Experiments with Kamado Cooking

As has often happened with the desk project, a short “intermission” project in the workshop has intervened in progress.

My wonderful family got me a great combination birthday/father’s day gift…  A ceramic grill/smoker from Primo Grills and Smokers.    I have long enjoyed grilling, and as my wife says “The ceramic cooker should allow for many hours of your obsessive experimentation”….she knows me well.

From their website  “Ceramic Cooking has been practiced in Asian countries for over 3,000 years. It remains a popular cooking method. Ceramic allows food to cook evenly with minimal moisture loss.”    The image below is credited from the Primo website explaining how these cookers work.

This is also known as a “Kamado” cooker and I have been wanting to try one out for awhile.    The better known “Big Green Egg” brand ceramic cooker is of the same type as the Primo.  My wife chose the Primo for its larger size, and I think that she made a very good choice (she knows that bigger is usually better in my book!).  Both the Primo and “the Egg” get excellent reviews on-line and I do not think that she could have made a bad choice.

I have found the website “The Naked Whiz” , that provides a great deal of information on the Ceramic Cookers.   The Naked Whiz also provides an interesting review of lump hardwood charcoals. These seem to be hard to find in Pittsburgh, and will require some research.

Unfortunately,  due to demand this time of year and limited distribution, my Primo has still not arrived (they are made in small batches in the US).    But that’s OK, because it will give me time to build a work-stand/cart for the grill prior to its arrival.   Its always great when your hobbies can collide in this manner!

The grills come designed to be free-standing, but it seems that almost all owners either build or buy a stand to raise the grill to a convenient  height, and to allow for work surfaces  (again, see “the Whiz”).  The pre-made stand that Primo sells is made from Cypress, and I briefly considered building one out of Cypress also…..but  I decided to go with less-expensive and easier to find treated-lumber structural components with Trex-brand manufactured decking material as the work surfaces.

I know…..normally I would go with all wood also, but in this case I am being practical…strange but true.

I bought the material yesterday, and will begin construction shortly and post photos.  Once I start work on this, I expect to be able to finish the cart in one long afternoon.  An easy project.

Greene and Greene is good for wine too…

Those that read this website know that I am a fan of the Greene brothers’ style of architecture and furniture from the Arts and Crafts movement.

I’ve now found that one of the Greene’s California houses has become an outstanding winery!

The Casa Barranca winery has excellent organic wines, and the fact that it is a historic Greene and Greene property is only a bonus.

See their website at:  Greene and Greene Wine – Casa Barranca .  I’ve tried the 2004 Craftsman Red which is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot.   It is an EXCELLENT wine and I have now ordered a whole case.

From their website:

“Casa Barranca has long been
hailed as a triumph of the Arts and Crafts movement — incorporating
high principles that first evolved in Victorian Britain, in reaction to
the human misery and environmental blight caused by the Industrial
Today, we proudly carry on the Arts and Crafts values on which this
estate was founded. Fine craftsmanship, durability, sustainability,
simplicity of design and lifestyle, an intimate working relationship
with the land—Casa Barranca embraces and extends these time-honored

“Now the handcrafted wine we make here is offered to you.
The ethos of Open Mind, Open Heart, and Skilled Hand lives on at Casa

“Nowhere was this more true than in California, where the welcoming
climate and natural abundance seemed a promised land to Arts and Crafts
followers, including Charles and Henry Greene. For centuries, the homes
of the wealthy had been power statements—built to stand out from their
surroundings, visually reflecting domination over a tract of land. Arts
and Crafts architects sought a different kind of statement, one that
honored domesticity, the terrain, the region’s history, and indigenous
building traditions—an aesthetic of integration, rather than
subjugation. The brothers Greene took this design ethos to heart,
embodying it in a house like no other, a haven of simplicity and
natural richness that has endured nearly a century: Casa Barranca.”