Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Two Cowboys: Simple, Locally Made, Innovative and Durable BBQ Smoker From a BBQ Champion, Calgary, AB

BBQ Experience Counts

Bernie Kenny has spent enough hours, days, weekends and years cooking with fire so that he knows just what is needed to turn in championship quality BBQ and deliciously prepared charcoal cooked fare.

That is why he came up with an ingenious, simple and affordable device to do "everything" BBQ at once. Bernie is the inventor, perfector, and proprietor of the Smokinbox, which is incidentally also the name of his championship winning BBQ Team.


The Smokinbox is a BBQ grill and a smoker in one. It can even do it simultaneously. According to Bernie, it is easy to clean and very fuel efficient. It has a solution that allows you to cook vegetables, smoke chicken and grill a steak all at the same time, and fast enough so that you can do it after work, during weekdays.

The Smokinbox has been performing well in competitions where competitors use anything from a $150 Weber to the flagship Backwoods Smokers to compete. Amongst the competition, it took first place for ribs at North Battleford competition, in Saskatchewan, and a first and second with two different teams at the Calgary Stampede. It took a third place overall in Edmonton's Porkapalooza with 39 teams. Justifiably, the Smokinbox is turning heads in Canadian BBQ circles for a good reason.


Why are we so enthusiastic about the Bernie's Smokinbox?

We are interested because it is a product that is passion driven and locally Alberta-made. Bernie has spent his whole life contemplating the perfect BBQ cooking solution, refined it, got his friends involved, and now we have a simple, well-made product that stands out. As with all goods developed from a maker's passions, it is likely to last you your lifetime.

A further reason we are enthusiastic about the Smokinbox is that we BBQ eight out of the seven days of every week. We know the hassle that goes into using charcoal and wood instead of propane. We are aware of the mess, the frustration, the time it takes, the challenges with temperature control and the risks of too much smoke ruining a good piece of meat (or vegetable). Bernie thought of everything.

The single biggest factor for us that makes the Smokinbox a favorite is that we can charcoal cook at different temperatures in one device. It means we can do our vegetables at the warmer end. Our low and slow at the lower end, and still grill a steak right over the coals.

We don't take part in BBQ competitions. Pitching our experience against novices will be unfair. We are not excited about the Smokinbox because it can help us become BBQ champions. We like it, because, for us, every BBQ or Braai as we call it, needs to be perfect. With the Bernie's Smokinbox it becomes so much easier.

We like it so much that we asked Bernie if we can promote it for him. He agreed, so stay tuned for many more stories from our adventures using the Smokinbox for our meals and learning from Bernie how best to BBQ the Canadian Champion way. We hope to impart some "Boere Braai" wisdom as well along the way

Get your Smokinbox here.

Hendrik van Wyk
Braai a Cowboy

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Make Something


Champion Box

Clean Smokinbox

Monday, August 21, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: Early Morning Mustard at Exhibition Park Lethbridge Farmers' Market in Lethbridge, Alberta

Mustard World

If you go early, you get the freshest produce. If you go later, you can spend more time with friends at the market.

Everybody in Southern Alberta knows that Lethbridge's Farmers' Market is one of the best in the area. It is packed with fresh produce that sells out early. You can also find products like honey from Forever Bee, mead wine from Spirit Hills Meadery, nuts and even locally made mustard from Luco Farms. We also managed to get an excellent Flat White Coffee from Red Engine Coffee Roasters.


The market return every May to the Exhibition Park's indoors West Pavilion. The Saturday market opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes at 1:00 p.m. The last market of the season is on the last Saturday in October. There is no admission or parking fee. Over 3000 people attend the Saturday markets, so it is a busy place. Get there early.

Between fifty and a hundred exhibitors are at the market each market day. The Farmers’ Market is a member of the Alberta Farmers’ Market Association (AFMA). It aims to offer at least 80% of products to be locally made, baked or grown. This means you can find crafts, fresh fruit, vegetables, home-made baking, artwork, hand-made clothing, and much more made by people in the area.


The Lethbridge market has the right vendor mix and offers something for everyone. There is enough to taste, see and sample from local vendors so that it keeps you busy for the entire Saturday morning.

As you would expect, the produce from this part of the world, with its well-structured irrigation infrastructure, is outstanding. If you are not into farm-fresh food, there is even someone (Synergy Urban Farms) that makes a business out of cultivating vegetables in people's gardens in the city of Lethbridge. Call it "garden-fresh" produce. You can buy this also at the market. 

What we learned new, courtesy of Luco Farms, was that the area is also a primary producer of Mustard. Yet, as usual, we don't process it in Alberta as we should. Like some of our other highly prized agricultural assets, namely barley, we export most of it to the rest of the world without adding any value. Luco Farms is changing that with the traditional mustards they produce, with the hope to export it soon.

We love mustard on our BBQ pork and making the discovery that we can use our very own Alberta mustard is a revelation. The only challenge now is that we have to work in frequent visits to the Lethbridge Farmers' Market to stock up on this beautiful mustard. We'll see you there.

Hendrik van Wyk
Hot and Spicy Mustard Cowboy

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Great Sausages

Alberta Mustard!

Fresh Honey



Thursday, August 17, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: Testing the Water at Coulee Brewing Company in Lethbridge, AB - The Home of Alberta Pilsners

Must be the Water

Lethbridge has a brewing history.

Fritz Sick came to Lethbridge in 1901 with $8,000 and started the Alberta Brewery. The brewery had as its 1st brew, a lager called Alberta’s Pride. This “beer without a peer” was advertised as “concentrated liquid food” and families were encouraged to serve the beverage at meals to help maintain strong digestive organs and encourage the appetite.

In 1905, the brewery began to make malt beer and changed its name to Lethbridge Brewing and Malting Co. In 1918 the brewery became Lethbridge Breweries Limited. The Brewery survived Prohibition by making Near Beer or Temperance Beer, a beer with only 2% alcohol.


Old Style Pilsner was first brewed in 1926 by Fritz Sick at his Sick's Breweries Ltd. in Lethbridge, Alberta. Although Molson’s Breweries Limited bought the brewery in 1958, Molson’s continued to brew Lethbridge Pilsner and Lethbridge Lager Beer. The company continued brewing these brands to “suit local taste preferences with skills, modern techniques, and experience supplied by the entire country-wide organization.”

In 1989, Molson’s merged with Carling O’Keefe Operations and in 1990 operations ceased at the Lethbridge Brewery. In 1991, 90 years after Fritz Sick began brewing in Lethbridge, the brewery was knocked down.

As brewing and craft beer is experiencing a renaissance in Alberta, Coulee Brewing Co stepped in, in 2016, filling the Lethbridge brewing and beer hole left behind by the Lethbridge Brewery's departure. By doing it, they have the opportunity to reinstate the Pilsner and Lager legacy of Lethbridge Brewing and taking it a step further.

Coulee Brew Co.'s beer is now available at select bars, restaurants, and retailers throughout the area. It opened its doors to the public on Jan 16th, 2016.  It is the 3 ½ year vision of craft passionate, local entrepreneurs, Deborah Pallett and Scott Crighton.  Its creation was driven by their desire to restore the history of beer production in the local Lethbridge community while involving the community every step of the way.

Coulee Brew is a 16,000sq ft facility, with 2 separate brewing systems - yes it is big for a craft brewery! Lethbridgians must be a thirsty lot. A 7bbl pilot system, and a 4 vessel 30 bbl system. The tap house and grill is a full-service pub style restaurant with an open concept. Patrons can sit, eat and drink while viewing all things beer through walls of glass to the facilities production area. 


Coulee has quality beers, created with respect for the history of brewing in the community, a love of craft, and pride for all things Southern Alberta offers.

Cudos to Coulee Brewing Co.'s focus on the well-known Pilsner. This was our favorite when we visited. Maybe the water in Lethbridge adds a character to a Pilsner that is unique to that part of the world. The Bear's Hump Nut Brown (named after a famous landmark in Waterton National Park, not too far away, and a favorite summer spot for us) is also go-to comfort food when we visit the Park or the brewery. 

We were astonished at the size of the facility and the buzz of activity we encountered during our visit. What was even more impressive was their hospitality on the day we arrived, unannounced. This makes Coulee Brewing another local favorite for the Two Cowboys and a recommended Two Cowboys experience in Lethbridge.

Hendrik van Wyk
Pilsner Cowboy

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Long Term Commitment

Making Beer

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