Tag Archives: gadgets

The Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen: It is That Fast

If you are heavily involved in the food or BBQ industry, you know of the Thermapen.  If you don’t know of it, you should.  And let me be the person to introduce the Thermapen to you.  I want to give a big thank you to Jesse Black from ThermoWorks for sending me a Thermapen to review.

But First, About Thermoworks…

ThermoWorks, the company behind the Thermapen, is located just south of Salt Lake City, Utah.  The company’s focus is all things thermal and temperature related.  Whether it’s thermometers, sensors, or even calibration equipment, you can find ThermoWorks as an industry leader.  You can find their equipment not only in the food service industry, but also in other sectors such as pharmaceuticals, plastics and rubber, and road construction and repair.

Thermapen Physical Specifications

  • Dimensions: 6.1 in. long, 1.85 in. wide, 0.75 in. wide
  • Weight: 4 oz.
  • Probe Length: 4.5 in. long
  • Uses 2 CR2032 lithium coin cell batteries (can be found at most retail department stores)
  • Estimated battery life: 1,500 hrs.

The Story Behind the Colors

Big Wayner, you ask, why are there so many different colors available?  Well, I can answer that from you (with help from the product page for the Thermapen).  Once upon a time, you could order any color Thermapen as long as it was gray. ThermoWorks then decided to add the following colors to correspond with color coding used by many in the food service industry to assist in preventing cross-contamination:

  • Red — Raw beef & pork
  • Blue — Raw seafood
  • Yellow — Raw poultry
  • Brown — Cooked meats
  • Green — Produce
  • White — Dairy/Bakery items

In 2006, ThermoWorks added black and orange as available colors.  Purple and pink came along sometime later, and that is how the color choices came to be what they are today.  (Picture below is courtesy of Thermoworks)

Available Thermapen colors

Impressions

Before I even start to tell about my experience using this tool, I have to say I was already impressed.  On the back part of the packaging that lists out the specifications, there was a hand-written section outlining that the particular unit I had was calibrated at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and 212 degrees Fahrenheit on September 29th.

This past weekend, I took the opportunity to cook up some chicken thighs to try out a few sauces in my arsenal.  As everyone knows, it’s very important to make sure that chicken is properly cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (as recommended by the USDA).  So this was the perfect opportunity to try out the Thermapen!

When I thought the chicken thighs were done, I pulled them off the grill, took them in, and decided to check the internal temperature using the Thermapen.  The first thing I immediately noticed: it was really fast!  I had an accurate reading of internal temperature in 2-3 seconds (much closer to 2).  In all things grilling and BBQ, this short amount of time usually means not drastically losing cooker temperature when on a tight schedule.

It was seriously easy to use — just flip open the probe to turn on the thermometer, and flip the probe closed to turn it off.

The only thing that I would suggest as an improvement for this tool is to make the LCD screen backlit for viewing temperatures in the dark.  And I’m not the only one to echo this sentiment.

Conclusions

I overwhelmingly endorse the Thermapen as the standard for measuring food temperatures.  The guys at ThermoWorks take their craft seriously, and it shows in the quality product they have here.  While you may be able to purchase other thermometers at a lower price, you will not find the same quality in those that you will find in a Thermapen.  It will make the perfect Christmas gift for the griller or BBQ pitmaster in your family!

If you are interested in finding out more about the Thermapen, you can go to its product page on the ThermoWorks website.  Right now ThermoWorks has prices reduced by $9 on the Thermapen, from $96 to $89.

And for the record, black is the fastest Thermapen…  😉

Checking out The SKrAPr GrILLr, Plus a Contest

Sometime back, I started hearing about this new BBQ & grill cleaning tool on Twitter.  Not too long after, Annette Penney — director of social media marketing for The SKrAPr — contacted me and asked if I would be interested in trying out this tool.  I’m always looking to try out new tools and gadgets, so how could I refuse?  So ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The SKrAPr GrILLr!

The SKrAPr GrILLr

The SKrAPr GrILLr

The BBQ tool is about 8 1/2 inches long from the handle to the farthest tip of the blade.  The blade itself is just over 2 inches long, and as you can see, each side of the blade is notched with one side of the blade coming to a hard point.  The package also came with a GrILLr Jr., a minature all-metal version of the tool that is sized to fit on a keychain.

I can hear some people asking, “Why should I replace my grill brush with this?”  And the answer is, you shouldn’t.  This tool is not meant to replace your grill brush.  It’s intended to complement the grill brush by giving you a durable blade to help remove that crud from your grill grates that is insanely hard to remove.  As you can see in the pictures below, the notched sides come in really handy when cleaning those tight spots.

Using the notches

Using the notch to clean

The result that I found in using this tool is that it’s a great supplement to a grill brush.  The notched edges really allowed me to get in the nooks and crannies of the grill.  One thing that I will note is that the tool is meant to be used on a cold grill.

The website for The SKrAPr line of products is http://www.theskrapr.com.  You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.  A huge thank you goes to Annette Penney for reaching out to me and asking me to try out this tool.

Like this product so far?  I have an extra GrILLr that I will be giving away!  Just leave me a comment below.  You can tell me why you deserve to win this prize, you can tell me a funny joke…  heck, you can even beg!  I’ll pick a winner at random.  Contest ends Saturday at 11:59pm EST.

App Review: GrillStar – BBQ Timer and Guide

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In addition to being a BBQ and grilling fanatic, I’m also a bit of a techno junkie.  It comes with the territory of working as a web and software developer during the day.  So when asked if I wanted to try out a grilling app, who am I to refuse?  So let’s dive in and take a look at GrillStar — BBQ Timer and Guide.  It’s available for 99 cents in the Apple App Store.

GrillStar Initial Screen

GrillStar Initial Screen (on the iPad)

The premise of GrillStar is to have the user emulate on the app exactly what he or she is doing on the grill, and GrillStar accomplishes this by presenting its primary interface as grill grates.  There are three different zones presented — a sear zone (denoted with a red background), a direct heat zone (yellow/orange background), and an indirect heat zone (black background).  These zones can be toggled on and off as well as be adjusted in size.

Adjustable heat zones

Adjustable heat zones

To add a meat to the grill, click the “Add” button at the bottom right corner of the app.  You’re then presented with a graphical interface to allow you to choose between traditional meats, seafood, and vegetables.  After making your selection, you can choose from various items to place on your virtual grill.  When you make your selection, you’ll be presented with the screen below.

Selected item screen

Selected item screen

From here, you can name the particular piece of meat you’re about to cook, set the flip timer (in minutes) and done timer (in minutes), and add it to the grill.  Not sure how long to set the timers?  That’s okay too.  Just click “Ask GrillStar”, and you will be given suggestions for flip and done times (as well as temperature at which to cook).  You can either accept the suggestions by the app or edit them for your food.

"Ask GrillStar" screen

"Ask GrillStar" screen

After adding items to your grill, just click and drag them onto the grill grates to start the timers for each item.  When it’s time to flip or to pull off the grill, you’ll get both visual and audio notification that time is up.  To flip an item, just double-tap on it and select “Flip item”.  To remove an item (or edit its settings), press and hold on the item until a context menu appears.

Here are five things that, in my opinion, make this app stand out from other apps:

  • Each item on the grill has its own timer, so multiple items can be timed at once.
  • The timers continue to run in the background even after closing the app.
  • There is a very good selection of meats and vegetables available in the area to choose your item to put on the grill.
  • You can “add a minute” or “add two minutes” to items already placed on the grill.
  • Even though the app is meant for the iPhone/iPod Touch, the app’s graphics upscale adequately for the iPad.
GrillStar (on iPad, upscaled graphics)

GrillStar (on iPad, upscaled graphics)

Here are two things that would add significant value (in my opinion) to the app if implemented:

  • Add the ability to take multiple items ready to be put on the grill and automatically schedule  when to place them on the grill so that everything comes off at the same time.
  • Add the ability for a user to add his or her own meats to the app to choose from.

For 99 cents, this app is a steal!  It has many features that make the app worth more.  If you are grilling multiple items and need to track when to flip each item, then this app is a must-have for your iDevice!

Makin’ Burgers with the Burger Pocket Press

My apologies for having been away for a while.  Real life tends to do that every now and then.  Since I actually got home from work tonight at a semi-reasonable hour (read: not after 11pm), I decided to fire up the grill for some burgers.  However, I did not intend to grill just any old plain burgers.  Oh no…  tonight was time to break out the Burger Pocket Press!

Burger Pocket Press Box

Burger Pocket Press Box

The Burger Pocket Press was invented by Michael Ajakie, a south Florida-based business owner, to solve the problem of inconsistent and fragile stuffed burgers.  It advertises the ability to create new burger recipes by sealing toppings on the inside in order to maximize flavor.

Burger Pocket Press Box Contents

Burger Pocket Press Box Contents

The Burger Pocket Press consists of four pieces — the bowl, the ring, the flat press, and the pocket press (all of which are dishwasher-safe).  Also included is a pamphlet that contains instructions for using the press along with a couple of recipes.  More recipes are available on the Burger Pocket Press website.

After washing the parts, it’s time to make some burgers!  I decided on a jalapeño cheddar burger using bacon cheddar cheese.  The directions to form a stuffed burger using the Burger Pocket Press are as follows:

  • Form the cap of the burger.
  • Form the burger pocket.
  • Add toppings to the burger pocket.
  • Seal the pocket.

I purchased 2 lbs of 80/20 ground beef for this experiment.  Let’s face it…  using lean ground beef for a burger is just blasphemous!  I made two 1/2 lb burgers tonight — one for me, and one for my wife.  Forming the cap was as simple as taking about 2  – 3 ounces of ground beef, placing it into the ring, and pressing it flat using the flat press.  To form the pocket, I took the remaining 5 – 6 ounces of ground beef allotted, placed it in the bowl, and pressed it using the pocket press.

Jalapeño and Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger in the Making

Jalapeño and Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger in the Making

One of the key points in the provided instructions is that you do not need to overstuff your burger.  Heeding that warning, I was a little conservative in the amount of goodies I put inside the pocket.  After I had put what I thought was a sufficient amount of stuff inside the pocket, I sealed off the top of the pocket with the patty I previously formed.  The seal was fairly well formed.  However, I did do some manual forming of the burger to ensure the seal was complete.  Doing so was not a big deal at all.  You can see the results below.

First burger is done!

First burger is done!

Looking good so far?  I thought so too.  For burger #2, I decided to go a little more liberal with the amount of stuffing.  As a result, the seal was not quite as complete, leaving a little bit of cheese exposed.

Both Burgers ready to go!

Both Burgers ready to go!

And off to the grill!

Burgers on the Grill

Burgers on the Grill

Burger Close-up Goodness!

Burger Close-up Goodness!

After approximately fifteen minutes over direct heat, I moved the burgers to indirect heat and basted the burgers with Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce.  After another 10-15 minutes on the grill (these were big burgers, after all), I pulled them off.

Finished Products

Finished Products

In the picture above, the burger on the left was the one I overstuffed, while the burger on the right was the more conservatively-stuffed burger.  You can see that the seal on the left was not as thorough as the one on the right, but there was still some instance of cheesy gooey-ness from both burgers.  When I saw what it looked like on the bun, I just had to dub it the “Hot-n-Nasty!”

Hot-n-Nasty Close-Up

Hot-n-Nasty Close-Up

It didn’t quite seal like I had hoped, but I’m attributing that to using too much filler.  But wow, it was tasty!  If I had to pick one thing that I wish the Burger Pocket Press did a little bit better, I would say that a little deeper pocket press would be nice.  Overall, though, I was very pleased with the product.

If you are interested in purchasing the Burger Pocket Press, you can do so by calling 888-533-3318 or visiting http://www.burgerpocketpress.com.  If you are interested, you can also find Burger Pocket Press on Facebook and Twitter.

(Full Disclosure: I was sent the Burger Pocket Press in exchange for a review.)