This year we held the 5th Annual Midwest Bash at the Jellystone Park RV park in Lawrence, Kansas during the first weekend in November. This was our 4th year right here at this campground and I think that we'll be back for a long time :>). They have full hook-up RV spots or partial hook-ups, cabins for rent or you can pitch your tent here, too. And they have a big pavillion that we get free with 10 paid reservations - no problem getting ten with this crowd!
My wife and I left Des Moines around 9 am Friday and pulled into the campground at 3:30 that afternoon. The weather was great (for Kansas in November) and there were already about a dozen folks there before us. I dropped my 5th wheel trailer & headed over to the pavillion with my wife, Erma. Now, you've gotta understand that Erma's not a big fan of smoked meats and she's got rhumitiod (sp) arthritis, so she normally doesn't go with me to the comps that I judge. Most of the Brethren have never met my wife - in fact I've been told by a few of them that they doubt that I'm really married, they don't believe that any woman would put up with me for very long!
Any way, as we got down to the pavillion and I started to introduce Erma to the crowd, there were a few remarks like "Hey, there really is a Mrs,!!!" Vern (from Moo Cow BBQ) tried to get Erma to admit that I had hired her to say that she was my wife for the weekend. Boy, with friends like these .....
As the afternoon turned to evening people kept showing up some with travel trailers and some of the local KC folks just drove in for the evening. I was going to TRY to list those that were there, but with over 40 Brethren, plus wives, kids, friends, etc showing up there's no way that I can remember everyone. There was a couple of teams who did very well at the American Royal, a couple of teams who can and do teach cooking classes, a couple of teams who have their own brands of BBQ sauces, rubs and injections on the market and about a dozen judges! Talk about a mixed up cross section of the BBQ world :>).
Right away I started up my Ugly Cheese Bucket (aka the UCB) to smoke some unsalted butter. After it was smoked for about 45 minutes I started to clarify the butter and near the end of that step I tossed in some minced garlic so that I had clarified, smoked butter with a garlic infussion. Then I took the butter & injected it into
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(wait for it)
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CRAB LEGS!!! Ohhhh yeah! The steamer that I brought would only hold three clusters at a time and man, did those babies go fast! Hy-vee had crab legs on sale for 8 bucks a pound & I grabbed ten pounds to take to the Bash - if I would have bought 50 pounds I think that they would've dissapeared just as fast. All in all, I think that I smoked up about fifteen pounds of cheese plus some butter for others to take home (for popcorn, cornbread, etc.)
Vern and Shane brought out their big (about two feet across!) disc/wok and were frying up anything that they could put batter on - pickles, chunks of smoked cheese, jalapenos, shrimp - you name it & they fried it!
We had non-stop food from Friday evening untill Sunday morning and everything that I tried was great at the least. I think that one of the motto's of a Bash is that if there's too much food then there was just enough! No, wait - I stole that line from Bubbs Knapp, but it applies here, too.
A few of the "side" activities included a Scotch sampling and discussion group, a cigar smoke-in and the First Annual Spam Cook-Off (which was won by Steph (from theSlabs.com) with her Spam Oriental Potstickers.
I want to mention that this is a family-friendly Bash and a lot of people brought their kids with them, there must have been around a dozen or more of the little critters running all over the place. There was drinking but no one got out of hand and a good time was had by all - cooks and judges included! :>)