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ADVANCES IN OUTDOOR COOKING As the founder of Oklahoma Joe’s Smokers and the owner of Oklahoma Joe’s


chain of barbecue restaurants, Joe Davidson has expertise into what makes outdoor cooking so popular. “It’s an extension of your kitchen,” he says. “Smokers and grillers allow you to cook outdoors all year round in Oklahoma. It’s truly a great way to keep from messing up your indoor kitchen. Plus, everyone wants to eat barbecue.” Today, smokers are highly sophisticated, high-tech pieces of cooking gear. Davidson says Char-Broil, Sabre and TEC brands have made infrared technology available to the average consumer at prices ranging from $250 to $500. “This technology has been out of reach for the average consumer until now,” Davidson says. “It sears the meat so hot that it locks in the moisture of a steak. Any meat that is tender before you cook it should be cooked very rapidly.” This technology vaporizes the fatty part of meat and eliminates the scary flare-ups common in outdoor cooking. Davidson says outdoor cooking fans have multiple methods at their fingertips, including smoking, more a method of curing meat than cooking; the always-popular grilling over direct heat; and barbecuing, which cooks with indirect heat and smoke from wood, charcoal or wood pellets. “There are more options now for outdoor cooking than ever before,” Davidson says. “Plus, a lot of this new equipment is more user friendly so everyone can cook outdoors with safety and confidence.” Outdoor cooking can go much further than just a smoker or grill. Jeremy Dunn of Refined Living in Mounds has designed and built full outdoor kitchens that include nearly everything, including refrigerators, warming drawers and built-in sinks. One of the most common trends in outdoor cooking is a hot plate by Evo that allows people to use a flat surface on their grills instead of the traditional grates. “They’re pretty popular because the food can’t fall through,” Dunn says. “You can actually cook breakfast on there.” Dunn says his company always tries to set up projects so they’re usable on days with bad weather. That includes covering the kitchen area. He has a current project that uses a vent to clear smoke from a covered grill and has heaters installed for year-round use. Outdoor kitchens are popular for people who prefer sitting outside rather than inside, but they’re also helpful for people who like to entertain outdoors. Dunn said an outdoor kitchen helps keep everyone in the same place during gatherings where people may be in and out of a swimming pool, for instance. “It’s creating a whole new environment where you can have everything you need outside,” he says.




So, you’ve decided to establish a relationship with Mother Earth. Great! But before you start digging, it’s smart to create a plan. Size, soil quality and money are major considerations in creating a garden. It’s cash well spent to work with a landscape architect/ designer. Not possible? Study seed catalogs and garden books, visit local garden centers and watch garden shows on TV. Choose Proven Winners plants for performance and disease resistance. Your county extension office offers a wealth of knowledge and can test your soil to see what nutrients are lacking. Make friends with a master gardener to be your guru. Creating a garden is a reflection of your personality. If you like formality, you’ll love an English style, a symmetrical or geometric theme, requiring detailed care. Boxwood, shaped into elaborate forms, is often the centerpiece of formal gardens. Think old English estate gardens. If you’re more romantic, consider the cottage style. It’s less formal and often includes fragrant flowers that birds love. Picket fences usually line these gardens. Plus, with abundant plants, weeding will be minimal. A contemporary style suits a no-frills personality and often matches a modern-style home. Plants with texture, unusual grasses, cacti and water features often grace these gardens. An eclectic style lets you do whatever your passion pleases. These gardens are often whimsical and feature found objects, collectibles and old statuary. Veggies grow next to perennials. You can sing Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” while you plant this garden. Love to cook? A potager garden is perfect, especially if your space is small. Plant a variety of cool and warm weather vegetables. Add an herb garden and dwarf fruit trees, and grow grapes on an arbor to keep your kitchen stocked with fresh produce from spring to fall. A partere French style features plants shaped in artistic squares, circles or rectangles. These are all garden styles for novices to consider. Creating a garden is hard work but a pleasant addiction. Gertrude Jekyll, a noted English gardener, once said, “The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.”

Oklahoma Magazine March 2017  
Oklahoma Magazine March 2017