February 2018



Fire for cooking

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In Part I, we covered scientific theories on how cooking with fire began approximately 2 million years ago.

Part II, we presented information on how our bodies developed from the introduction of cooking meat. THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART III, we delve into the early risks of cooking with fire and gender roles.the history of fire cooking part III

The History of Fire Cooking Part III- It May Not Have All Been Good

Although we’ve discussed the benefits of the discovery of fire for cooking, including the higher caloric content needed for survivability, there are other effects to fire cooking that aren’t so positive. This is a relatively new focus in research concerning fire cooking and human evolution.

A USA study suggests that a genetic mutation may be present in modern humans that allows certain toxins, including those found in smoke, to be metabolized at a safe rate. This genetic mutation was not found in other primates like the Neanderthals or hominins. Breathing toxins found in smoke can increase the risk of respiratory infections, suppress one’s immune system, and even cause disruption in the reproductive system. It is possible that by having this genetic mutation, the tolerance to smoke toxins was a needed adaption that gave early humans the ability to survive in this very toxic environment.

Closeness Brings Disease

We also know that fire allowed for not only cooking but warmth, light, and protection. To gain the positives of fire, early humans would gather together in close proximity to one another. A 2016 study suggests that with the advancement of fire’s uses, people remained in huddled groups for long periods of time, suffered persistent coughing resulting from the smoke toxins, and subsequently damaged the lungs. This may be what spurred the spread of tuberculosis which some scientists believe emerged 70,000 years ago. In fact, most scientists believe that fire was regularly used around 400,000 years ago, thus supporting the advent of tuberculosis.

Other scientists believe the use of controlled fire introduced additional airborne diseases. Plus, many opine that the early days of exposure to inhaling smoke from open fires stimulated our discovery of smoking tobacco. Without question, these believers feel that climate changes resulted from the ongoing burning of carbon. For them, biological and environmental changes co-mingle.

Gender Identities

It is amazing that in those early years of fire discovery the establishment of gender roles occurred and seems to have held in general theory. As tools developed and cooking with fire expanded, men did the hunting and women stayed with the fire, maintaining it and cooking previously hunted and foraged foods on/over it.

Although today both males and females hunt, the number of men still outweighs the woman. Despite the number of male chefs outnumbering the women, women still dominate as the primary cook in the home. Yet, males still barbecue and grill in a greater number.

It seems clear that there are other influences on the roles men and women play when it comes to fire cooking around the world. Finally, in Part IV of our series, we’ll explore the variations in method and technique from around the world. Finally, we hope you enjoyed THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART III blog.

History of woodfired Cooking PartIII

History of wood fired Cooking Part III

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Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More Related reading on "What Wood for Smoking" and other great smoking and grilling tips and techniques

More Related reading on “What Wood for Smoking” and other great smoking and grilling tips and techniques

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Dr Smoke- "Part III of our ongoing series on the history of fire cooking focuses on the early risks and how they shaped today's food practices."

Dr Smoke- “Part III of our ongoing series on the history of fire cooking focuses on the early risks and how they shaped today’s food cooking practices.”




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Alliance For Smiles began in 2004 with the mission to repair cleft palate and lip deformities in under-served areas of the world. In fact, over the years, various fund-raising concepts were instituted to offset the costs for highly expensive missions. Most missions are easily over the $300,000 level in donated surgical and treatment protocols.

Why Portville, NY

Chef Carl Vahl, Board of Directors member for Alliance For Smiles, brought attention to his local community of the efforts for this organization by presenting the Dining For Smiles event, an event which featured a six course gourmet dinner for 18 privileged guests. SmokinLicious® had the honor of preparing many of the components of the meal over a wood fire.

When hosting an intimate event like the Dining For Smiles dinner, organization and assignment of duties are key. As such, Chef Vahl utilized the full volunteer staff regardless if the members had experience in a kitchen or not. The event featured a wonderful six course dining experience with the following featured:

  • Tuna Crudo- Course One
  • Butternut Squash Soup- Course Two
  • Seasonal Salad- Course Three
  • Handmade Lobster Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce- Course Four
  • Wood Fired Lamb & Canadian Salmon served with Jasmine Rice and Wood Fired Brussels Sprouts- Course Five
  • Panna Cotta with Fresh Mango- Course Six

Additionally, wine pairings were presented with each course revealing an assortment of sparkling, rosé, red and white wines.

The Courses

The formal table is set for about to be pampered 18 guests!

As the 18 guests arrived and were seated at one of two tables, the first course is served – a Tuna Crudo featuring Sushi-grade tuna nestled in a Wasabi avocado cream, topped with pickled onion and finished with candied lemon peel. This course was served in a martini glass and accompanied by Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine considered the Italian champagne.

The second course of the Dining For Smiles dinner featured roasted organic butternut squash with the subtle flavor of White Gords was the serving bowl for the Butternut Squash Soup. The chef prepared the soup and the support team cut the tops on the gords. nutmeg and topped with a crisped sage leave and touch of maple syrup. My favorite part of this dish was its serving bowl – a charred mini white gourd. By retaining the top of the gourd, you can ensure that the soup stays hot until its placed in front of the guest. Each gourd was hand cut and charred to ensure no off flavors transferred from the gourd to the soup. Just a perfect vessel for this scrumptious soup.

Following the first two courses of Tuna Crudo and Butternut Squash Soup, the third course was the salad course featuring mixed greens of green and red leaf lettuce, spinach, and frisee; apple slices; candied walnuts; ember cooked red pepper slices; and a fresh vinaigrette. This course helped to balance the stomach in preparation for the upcoming courses that would be richer and more substantial. Paired with our salad course was a full-bodied chardonnay.

Chef prepared homemade lobster ravioli for the fourth course. This was a decadently rich dish featuring a brown butter sage sauce and fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top. This course was paired with a beautiful Rosé, with both items being well received. As a matter of fact, I don’t recall a plate coming back to the kitchen that wasn’t completely clean!


Halal leg of Lamb seasoned with garlic, rosemary, thyme and roasted over cherry wood for 2 hours then rested before slicing. Served medium rare Now, it’s time for the main course – course number five! First came the proteins. We produced a wood-fired leg of lamb and lamb rib loins cooked over charwood, ash, sugar maple, and wild cherry wood chunks. The wood-fired cooking offered a fabulous color to the meat.

Our Canadian salmon enjoyed cooking over charwood and sugar maple and wild cherry wood chunks. A combination of orange butter, olive oil, and smoke vapor produced that beautiful golden skin. After resting a while, the lamb and salmon were sliced in preparation for full plating.

We start with Jasmine rice topped with wood-fired brussels sprouts and carrot. Next to the plate, a slice of wood-fired lamb and a filet of salmon. Served with a custom mixed wine of Sangiovese and Syrah. Simply a perfect course!

Finally, we’ve reached the end of a fabulous meal – the final course – dessert. Panna cotta with fresh mango, served with a German Reisling,Chef Cal lay’ home made Panna Cotta (italian cooked cream) topped with macedoine fresh Mango the perfect end to a fantastic evening.




A Meal that Stays in Memory

Chef Vahl’s vision for a flavorful, entertaining evening proved to be a realty as these 18 guests can attest to. We are so thankful and honored to have been a part of it.

If you want to donate to the Alliance For Smiles mission, visit www.allianceforsmiles.org and view all the lives that have been touched by the commitment of so many. Always remember to help others in need in any way you or your company can, just as SmokinLicious® was able to do with this Dining For Smiles event!


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Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

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Dr Smoke- "This charity event was wonderful to do because it's such a great cause and makes a tremendous difference in people's lives around the world."

Dr Smoke- “This charity event was wonderful to do because it’s such a great cause and makes a tremendous difference in people’s lives around the world.”

The history of fire cooking part II

fire on the grill

the fire

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The history of fire cooking part II


In Part I, we covered the scientific theories on how cooking with fire began, including the scientific documentation that puts this method’s discovery approximately 2 million years ago. In The history of fire cooking part II, we will present additional information on how our bodies developed from the introduction of cooking meat as well as the evolution of the wood fire to the oven.

The History of Fire Cooking Part II- A Change in Anatomy

Our ancestors were chimp-like creatures and thought to be the most advanced animals on earth. These creatures had long arms, short legs, hand-like feet, large mouths and powerful jaws. Covered in fur, they slept in the trees. That is, until they discovered fire and learned to cook.

Once fire cooking was founded, these ape-like creatures became erect, their brains enlarged, and their jaws became smaller. Why? Because cooked foods provide a higher caloric value.

Research has shown that weight loss is guaranteed to people who consume raw-food diets only. In fact, the more raw food consumed, the more weight loss. The only problem with this diet is it takes a lot of raw food to generate a caloric level to sustain an active animal. Our primate ancestors had to graze all day to generate enough calories to keep going leaving time for nothing else.

With the discovery of fire and all its benefits, ape-men emerged. Originally covered in fur, a few thousand years following fire’s discovery, the fur disappeared. As a result, this helped to improve hunting skills as the weight of fur made ape-men faster. Also with the discovery of fire, these creatures had no need to escape to the trees at night as fire provided protection from predators. Without the climbing, long legs developed and feet that looked less like hands.

The Start of the Family Dynamic

Once animals were trapped and cooked within flames of forest fire and these creatures sampled cooked vegetation and meat; that changed everything. They began to develop skills at designing knives for hunting. This in turn developed some level of social skills and brain development, as the brain was being fed more nutrients. Flint was discovered and used to produce sparks when rubbed against rocks, allowing for control of fire.

Hunting became a daily event. The first gender structure was designed with males hunting and females cooking. It was cooking that forced early humans to live by cooperation. Both males and females relied on each other. This was the start of family, and more socialized and calmer tempers. With regular ingestion of cooked foods, the brain began to grow since cooked food takes less energy to digest, more energy defaulted to brain development. Learning to cook gave these developing humans more time which allowed for more food discoveries and time management.

The Oven

Once fire was discovered and harnessed for the betterment of life, it was a slow transition to bring cooking from the outdoors into the indoors. First, as mentioned in Part I of our series, it transitioned into cave dwellings. We know that in ancient times, the period of 60,000BC to 650AD, ancient Egyptians, Jews, and Romans all used some form of stone or brick oven cooking, fired with wood, to produce breads. In fact, that early design remains very much like the pizza/bread ovens of today.

Beehive-shaped brick ovens came about in Colonial America, the period of 1492 to 1763, and was the advent of learning to control the amount of wood to ash to regulate temperature. If you’ve ever heard of or used “the hand test” to measure temperature of a grill or outdoor cooking fire, then you know how Colonial Americans tested their ovens. Hold your hand about 5-inches from the cooking surface.

The number of seconds you can hold your hand there equals a temperature level:

High (450° to 550°F): 2 to 4 seconds

Medium (350° to 450°F): 5 to 7 seconds

Low (250° to 350°F): 8 to 10 seconds

Colonial Americans would add more wood to increase temperature or open the door to reduce it.

The invention of cast iron stoves began to replace wood hearth cooking in the 1700’s. In 1795, Count Rumford invented a version of the cast iron stove that was different from earlier versions in that it had a single fire source that could be regulated individually for different pots being used at the same time. Additionally, it could heat the entire room. Unfortunately, it was extremely large making it difficult for most kitchens to accommodate it.

With the discovery of electricity, man continued to find new uses for this source of energy. In fact, one of the keys was to incorporate it into the home and the electric stove was key to making home life easier. In 1892, an entire meal’s preparation was demonstrated at the Ottawa Windsor Hotel in Canada, paving the way for sale to future homes.

Continued Discovery in The History of Fire Cooking part II

These early discoveries are what formed our continued thirst for finding the best methods of cooking in the fastest yet most flavor means possible, while feeding our brains to keep us developing. Charcoal grills, brick and clay pizza ovens, gas grills, infrared grills, campfires were all shaped by the very first cooking event, even if the first event was by nature’s hand alone.. In conclusion, we hope you enjoyed the The History of Fire Cooking Part II. Finally, stay tuned for part III.

The history of fire cooking part II

The history of fire cooking part II we discuss the devlopment of fire and evolution of mankind




Purchase products:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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More Related reading on "What Wood for Smoking" and other great smoking and grilling tips and techniques

More Related reading on “What Wood for Smoking” and other great smoking and grilling tips and techniques






Bratwurst in the Orion Smoker Cooker nicely cooked plump and Juicy

Bratwurst in the Orion Smoker Cooker nicely cooked plump and juicy!



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I believe that wood fired foods can be enjoyed 365 days of the year regardless of the temperature/conditions outside. To ease the challenges of wood cooking outdoors when the conditions may not be optimal, I look to my equipment options and make a selection that ensures the cooking is quick and as easy as possible.

I want to have bratwurst party! Unfortunately, I’ve chosen a -2° day to do just that. No problem! I simply rely on my Orion Cooker to provide a fast, high heat method of cooking with my SmokinLicious® Minuto® Wood Chips.

Bratwurst in the Orion Smoker Cooker- There’s Nothing To It!

Preparing your bratwurst for the Orion Cooker couldn’t get any simpler than making a few cross cuts in the skins to ensure they don’t burst while cooking.

The reason bratwurst is so popular for entertaining and for summer days is just how quick it is to prepare. When you smoke a casing containing product, you want to ensure that the juices don’t cause a pressure build up and result in your brats exploding all over the smoker. I make 3 shallow knife cuts in each brat to ensure they can plump up without exploding out of their casing. These German brats are made with a combination of pork and veal and have an all-natural casing meaning the casing is made from the intestine of an animal. I specifically purchased brats that were on an uninterrupted casing line so I could hang my brats on the Orion Cooker rib hooks to ensure smoke vapor envelopes each link completely, just like commercial smokehouses do.

Before smoking my German bratwurst, I’ve prepared the Orion Cooker by adding SmokinLicious® Minuto® Wood Chips in Wild Cherry to inside of the cooker. The wood chips are placed in the space between the cooker’s wall and the drip pan. I’ve lite a chimney starter full of briquettes which when grayed over will be poured into the fuel pan. 12 briquettes are also lit in the smaller fuel pan at that top of the unit. I’ve loaded my strings of bratwurst to the rib hooks of the unit. Next, place the lid on and let these cook and smoke for 45 minutes untouched.


Here’s why I love cooking with the Orion Cooker. On a -2° winter day, I can still use the convection heat from the Orion Cooker to finish the German bratwurst in just 45 minutes. In fact, I don’t use a full fuel tray of briquettes for this smoke. Just one chimney starter full of coals plus about 15 unlit briquettes placed on top of the lit coals. Great smoke flavor is added using Minuto® Wood Chips in wild cherry from SmokinLicious®. I’ve hung over 24 brat links on the three rib hooks of this unit so I can feed plenty of hungry people.

Fix It Your Way

Now comes the best part! Fixing your bratwurst the way you love it. Put out a variety of toppings to stimulate creativity at the brat table. I’ve included raw chopped onion, sweet pickle relish, sauerkraut, hot Hungarian pepper rings, BBQ sauce, beer brat mustard, kimchi, horseradish sauce, just to name a few choices. Whether you slice your brat down the middle or leave it whole, anything goes. German bratwurst done over SmokinLicious® wild cherry wood chips and hung on the hooks of the Orion Cooker, for that old school, smokehouse flavor. Bratwurst in the Orion Smoker Cooker!

Purchase products:

Wood Chips- Minuto®

More Related reading on "What Wood for Smoking" and other great smoking and grilling tips and techniques

More Related reading on “What Wood for Smoking” and other great smoking and grilling tips and techniques

Additional reading:




Dr Smoke "If you're looking for something different to cook on your Orion, brats are perfect and yummy!"

Dr Smoke “If you’re looking for something different to cook on your Orion, brats are perfect and yummy!”