ShopTalk Sunday: Hot-rodding the BBQ, Life at Stardew

Ah, time of the year when the really important stuff goes on the menu:  Remember to pick up the catered turkey dinner.  Thaw out the monster Prime Rib in time for Thursday (doing turkey Wednesday).  And then?

Big decisions, too:  Glenfiddich or Glenlivet?  See why my head hurts?

What trip to Texas for our consigliere would be complete without the obligatory char broiled steak?

And that’s where the problem was this week. BBQ went lame.

BBQ Problem Solved

When the weather gets cold, and you still can’t get enough BBQ Beast, it’s time to figure out why – when it’s 38 F outside – why the BBQ after a 30-minute preheat was only getting up to 375 F.  Less than half what a steak requires!

Und zo... turns out it was the regulator.

However, before installing that, new burners went in.  Slipped over at the front of the grill and then seated in the back and clipped in place.

As long as I was at it, the new flame tunnels (so other burners can light) were installed, too:

But the biggest performance improvement was made by adding an adjustable regulator.

A Short Gas Regulator Rap

Propane BBQ regulators come in two types:  Fixed at the factory and their evil twin, the “Oh, God, don’t let George near it” adjustable sort.

Nothing wrong with fixed set points – after all, product liability insurance is a bitch, and we get that.  And we know someone has to write those cheques.  BUT once out of warranty, and once the little vent hole has gotten enough water in it, fixed regulators are about as reliable as a politician the day after an election.  In short, they may never work, again.

What comes to the rescue?  The adjustable (20 pounds max) output variety:

It’s that BIG RED KNOB that is the secret sauce to winter BBQ’ing in the Texas Outback, where beauty is common and steaks are rare.  (Sort of the opposite of most urban cesspools in ‘Merica, right?)

To install (and to the likely horror of the American Gas Association), we cut off the gas fittings so that we can just double-barb connector on, then DOUBLE CLAMP the new regulator to the old feed hose stub.  Like this:

Yess, that’s right!  Anyone who has ever lived on a boat knows that you keep the double-clamped hose clamps out of being in pure alignment in order to reduce risks.  (When you’ve lived on a sailboat for 10+ years, concepts like double clamping EVERYTHING becomes ingrained to your mien.

Before reassembling the grill after updating burners, turn the BBQ on high for a few minutes (flame tents in place) and turn the BBQ on high and adjust the gas so it’s just starting to sound sketchy.  Or, with flame tents off, the flame lifts away from the burner a half-inch, or so.  But you don’t want to go so far as to have fire leaping all over the place.  (OK, that’s fun, but uses a lot of fool…)

With the modified flame throwing done, our warmup has gone from 30+ minutes to get to 375 F to 12 minutes to 650 F plus (“…and you got the Elmwood Fire District number up on the phone, just in case?”)

Yes, when I wrote earlier this week that we wanted to be able to melt aluminum scrap when not cooking, we’re actually getting close.


Life (here in) Stardew Valley

Youngest daughter suggested we might like the video game Stardew Valley because it’s become very popular in her circle.  Very addictive video game which looks, for all the world, like the video game version of what we’ve been working through out here in the woods for a couple of decades in real life.

Seriously – go check it out.  Available for Steam as well as PC.  Takes 3-weeks to ship, but we have enough shit going on out here in the real farmerly woods that we have plenty to do before it shows up.

Wait, old man!  You say you’ve been living what has come out as a video game for 20-years with an ex bunny?” 

Wull, yeah, bubba, that’s about the size of it…

If you want to stay in town, have your plumbing checked, your guns grabbed, and eat processed foods all day, have at it.  Leaves more clean country air for the rest of us.

But listen to how close the “game” highlights fit reality out here:

  • Create the farm of your dreams: (check!)
  • Learn to live off the land: (check!)
  • Explore vast, mysterious caves: (Well, uh, no. )

But if you have a drum of diesel and an excavator on the tractor you can sink in a partially underground home which is equally cool, you know?


Walk with me.  To that slap-dash greenhouse lean-to we cobbled up last December (when G2 moved down here).

It got cold this week – down to freezing.  Yet the whole time, the Chineseum diesel parking heater has kept all the plants at a perfect 60F (or above for a while in the afternoons).

Yum – fresh greenhouse Romaine for turkey day!

Here’s the impressive part:  We not only have peppers coming in…

But we also have (gimme a hallelujah now) BLOOMS meaning more are on the way.

Later today, Ure himself (himself and herself being the only pronouns used in rural Texas) will be putting up stainless steel cables because I finally broke through the “proof of concept” part (Earthship Ure’s solar, rain harvesting, and burning just enough diesel to keep our right-wing memberships active) greenhouse, that I’ve loaded up on more grow lights.  (Whew! Was that a run-on sentence, or what?)

On that note, off to see if the Stardew Valley people are going to borrow concept from some of the other ranches out this way.

I mean, there’s one good-sized spread down Farm-to-Market 315 called “Dead Cat Ranch.  Which is not only an awesome ranch name, it just screams to be the next crossover video urban/farm RPG (game).

Imagine a cross between Stardew Valley, Castle Wolfenstein, COD, a Stephen King novel, and a heavy metal tour video… yeah, that’d be a hit.  Maybe opening with an action scene from GTA…and a side of Mario barrels at the equipment barn!  Hell yeah…for PS4 and X-Box.  Shipping Christmas 2023?

Now, don’t bother me, kid.  I gotta go see if the trademark holder on Stardew Valley has thought to include a real farm in their claims…  Uretopia Ranch might be, um, ripe for rebranding, get it? (We don’t want to infringe, of course!)

Instead of dying eventually, maybe we could merge into the video game?  Stardone Valley?

Write when you get rich,

P.S. Don’t you dare beat me to Leisure Suit Larry – Down on the Farm!

16 thoughts on “ShopTalk Sunday: Hot-rodding the BBQ, Life at Stardew”

  1. Yep pretty neat joint you have set up george . Love all the vege growing . Peppers look great . Still remember that photo like yesterday with the garden surrounded by wire fence and the chickens eating the insects . We’re did those years go . Don’t know if you got that photo still could be 10 or 15 years old

  2. “However, before installing that, new burners went in. ”

    get the twelve year Glenfiddich… Keep a watchfull eye on aluminum foil.. or better yet aluminum dust.. I had a little grease some rust and aluminum foil that had broken down at the bottom of my favorite grill..the burners had gotten worn out so I put in new burners and valves etc. all ready for the spring season…. it wasn’t much mind you at the bottom of the grill..but it was the perfect amount that the combination made a crude thermite.. dam if I didn’t have a grease fire from hell.Kicked my butt for not power washing it out and grinding the rust off… thought it was going to burn right through the concrete.. Needless to say as much as I loved that old grill.. (one side was a smoker.. and charcoal the other side gas grill.. great setup nice looking..) I tossed it out.. now I only buy either stainless.. or.. aluminum box grill..
    talk about getting stuff ready.. the girls figured fifty pounds of potatoes.. ..we have never used more than twenty pounds.. but if it comes out that way I will freeze dry the left overs and then package it up for instant .. the same with sweet potatoes.. ..
    tuesday I make my drop.. three families that I know cannot make a trip for a free meal.. don’t have enough .. one mentioned that they were having mac and cheese.. ( a nice side dish.. the boss makes the best mac and cheese.. reall cheesy) all they have is two totino pizzas in their freezer and cannot afford meat.. so I will drop a five pound bag of both white and sweet potatoes off.. a turkey breast and some bake and serve dinner buns.. and a few roasts to get them by.. they have the turkey breasts on sale.. so why not.. won’t cost much I have a couple of bucks in my bilfold that says hey thanksgiving is the day that the indians and the settlers shared what they had and gave thanks for what we have…. then on tuesday I have to run to the clinic I will swing by their houses and hang a gift bag on the door knob..One young college girl can’t afford to go home for thanksgiving.. I told her to wander by food enough for everyone and we have open door here..if your hungry stop on by you won’t be when you leave.. but if you are it is your own dam fault.. but I don’t think she can afford the gas to venture into the outback so I ordered her a meal at the grocery store all cooked and ready to go along with my two vegitable and fruit trays…. she just has to pick it up wednesday..

  3. “Youngest daughter suggested we might like the video game Stardew Valley because it’s become very popular in her circle. ”

    the boss loves that game as much as she did the zoo…It becomes addicting..
    which reminds me of second life.. LOL I have a nephew living in NYC his wife is a social worker for the state of NY.. and they make more money in a shop they have on second life.. than they do working at their careers.. just making cartoon tree’s and bushes.. for their cartoon houses..
    the grandkids love a guy on youtube that mostly screams and throws jello etc.. lately he has been giving away money and cars houses etc.. I thought how in the heck can he do that.. then I read he makes close to twelve million a month on youtube screaming and doing crazy crap.. and putting up a new video a week.. boy did I make a wrong career choice LOL LOL LOL here have some lime jello scream scream scream its a food fight LOL that is almost as good as the story of the guy in the seventies that posted an ad in the WSJ saying last chance to send you tax deductible donation … LOL LOL LOL hit second page of section A LOL LOL

  4. Grow lights are considered a nuisance light pollution to neighbors of commercial greenhouses. The newer purple led are becoming more common. The glow at night is truly amazing.
    “Bright colored lights — from greenhouses near Leamington and Kingsville, Ontario, southeast of Windsor — can be seen in the night sky across Lake St. Clair as far away as Grosse Pointe, according to some sky watchers, including Dr. Paul Burgoyne.”

  5. “Big decisions, too: Glenfiddich or Glenlivet? See why my head hurts?”
    Jaegermeister (the Maggi of the Alps ;-)). Bon appetite!!

  6. When you screw with propane (and propane accessories), just be sure you know (ask G2 if it doubt) about what a “BLEVE” p)ronounced Blevvy) is. (Boiling Liquid, Expanding Vapor Explosion.)
    They can be Truly awesome.

    — 73 —

    • LOL yep – another fine reason behind double clamping everything from the regulators – don’t know why the industry doesn’t do that. Oh, wait…cost!

      • Rocket stove …no mess w/ .. gas Spitfire Rocket Stove Patrol, Camping Rocket Stove Wood Burning Portable Stove w/ Travel Case, Collapsible Backpacking Wood Stove, Rocket Camp Stove, Outdoor cooking stove

      • I’ve never seen any worm clamps used by the compressed gas industry – though plenty have been used by us regular rednecks. Worm clamps don’t clamp with equal pressure all around, unlike some other clamps. Using two of them offset from each other compensates for that to a degree. I prefer a 90 degree offset, but we’re only talking about a few PSI and it probably doesn’t matter that much. Of course, the second clamp adds redundancy too. Hoses do get old and rot, so checking it every year is probably a good idea.

  7. Re; long sentence apology, which I appreciate when the flow is smooth. Cormac McCarthy novel “Blood Meridian or Evening Redness in the West” yes, two titles and best book read since “Atlas Shrugged”.
    I remember page 9(Guess) one an one half pages, one sentence. Flowed like a stream.
    Belly up to the BBQ

  8. Stardew Valley is a simulation role-playing video game developed by Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone. Players take the role of a character who takes over their deceased grandfather’s dilapidated farm in a place known as Stardew Valley. The game was released for Windows in February 2016

  9. “Big decisions, too: Glenfiddich or Glenlivet? See why my head hurts?”

    Whichever is currently cheaper for the 16-year flavor — if neither, then go with The Glenlivet 12…

    “Anyone who has ever lived on a boat knows that you keep the double-clamped hose clamps out of being in pure alignment in order to reduce risks.”

    It also facilitates removal and makes it possible to tighten with a nutdriver or quarter inch ratchet + socket, by ensuring one screw doesn’t get in the way of trying to put the socket on the other…

    “Don’t you dare beat me to Leisure Suit Larry – Down on the Farm!”

    As many flavors of LSL as were made, I’d be kinda surprised if there isn’t already a Farmer Larry. I can see him now, a’horseback, riding double with a gal holding on tight to the, er, pommel…

  10. Everybody doing Elliot stuff with bobby pretzel . All aboard short short . $$$$$ . Short gold 2 . Zig hal

  11. This is the one bobby pretzel Elon musk broke !!!!!!!!! Then you short hard . Don’t loose 14 grand on stories george

  12. Look at that usd !!! Yankee Farken sheet . Losers conmen carnival barkers as roubini says . Hope nothing bad happens to yas

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