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Mr. COBB & Tella the Harvey

In the beginning, mankind discovered fire, he guarded the sacred flame, right through to the 21st century. We have been led to believe that the sacred flame is the preserve of the mighty hunter, well folks now we have COBB. An ingenious cooking system that requires minimal fire tending, it is no fuss, no mess, it is lightweight, portable and it fits into a carry bag that you can sling over your shoulder. This multipurpose cooking system has a variety of accessories and cooking possibilities, a pizza stone/baking surface, a chicken roaster/beer can chicken, a barbecue rack, a griller for those beautiful grill marks, even a casserole dish, and more.

If you are old enough to remember the lyrics to the Roger’s and Hammerstein “The King and I”, I think they encapsulate my attitude to Mr. Cobb. “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.” Each time I use this wonderful little cooker I learn more and love it even more. I look forward to sharing tips, recipes and the fun and joy of the simplicity of using this ingenious system.

Being a handy-dandy kitchen person, I entered this relationship with some trepidation. It looked somewhat intimidating. Charcoal briquette cooking, hmm, a bit nervous as it has been a while since I cooked on charcoal. All the different cooking surfaces, a frying dish, a pizza stone, a griddle, even a chicken roasting stand, the fire grid, the fire chamber, the moat and the charcoal basket filled me with just a wee bit of hesitation. So, I must confess it sat for a long while, I read the blogs, then I unpacked all the parts. Then I played with them, then I read the recipe book, then I read the blogs again. Then I dived in!

I know that we were going to have a fabulous journey, me and my COBB, and my Harley Tri-glide. Not sure which is prettier, the beautifully finished, compact and portable COBB or my Sunfire Red Harley.

So please join me on our journeys of food and finding adventure, Pen, that’s me, Tella, that’s the Harley and Mr. COBB that’s this beautiful little portable multi-purpose fabulous cooker. We are about to head out for summer cooking adventures as Mr. COBB fits snuggly into the back compartment of Tella The Harley, plus some coconut husk briquettes and a cooler with the food and libations. So, me, Tella the Harley and Mr. COBB are off to have adventures.

Where to begin? Silly me, at the beginning of course. I read the manual, again. All of three pages found the different parts, checked the names against the instructions and voila I thought I was ready to cook. I just needed an occasion. Still a little hesitant, my first COBB cooking I decided to do at home, but soon the traveling COBB will be on the road.

I invited a girlfriend to lunch, the perfect opportunity to christen and show off this fabulously new cooking toy. Game on. Salmon, and some veg for lunch, plus I had a pack of breakfast sausage, a couple of chicken drumettes thawed in the fridge and a couple of corn on the cob, that needed to be cooked for les petite femmes who were coming for dinner. How appropriate corn on the cob cooked on my COBB – had not even thought of that! My plan was to make us lunch, then let the sausage, chicken and corn cook while we lunched, as I was certain there would be enough residual heat from the first course to take care of dinner for my three little munchkins.

The moat was attached, in went the fire chamber, then the fire grid nestled nicely with its 8 coconut husk briquettes, and oops, no firelighters. Darn, I was going to have to run out to the store. I called my Fairy COBB mother Cornelia, for some TLC she waved her magic wand and told me a cotton ball soaked in olive oil would do the job. Sure, it might be a little smokier initially, but in a pinch, it will do the job. What girl does not have a bag of cotton balls hanging around with her make-up? It felt kind of funny pouring a generous amount of olive oil onto the cotton balls, they looked like squashed left- over carnival cotton candy! It worked, yes, a tad bit smoky, but necessity being the mother of invention and instant gratification, I had smoke, I had flame and soon I had flame enveloping the coconut husk briquettes. With gratitude to Prometheus, for now fire is no longer the preserve of the Gods only! A nice red heat would soon emanate from the little fire basket. Coconut husk sounded like an eco-conscious choice for a first run and I was very pleased with the result. There was a neutral smell, not chemically definitely I am now a coconut husk convert as soon there was a steady burn and the coals were to reach their beautiful red glow.

While the coals were getting ready – 15-20 minutes I did my food prep.

Rinse and sliced a few baby potatoes cut into quarters, green and red peppers into generously wide slices, and onions a wee bit thinner so they would caramelize. A little dash of olive oil on the frying pan attachment and as soon a nice sizzle was on. Time for baby potatoes to do their thing crisping on each side. There was a nice sizzle, a little blessing of salt and on went the dome. The potatoes got a nice crispy side to them, a quick stir after a few minutes, onions and peppers joined the congregation.

With a few minutes to spare, and not to be tempted to open the dome and gaze lovingly at the vegetables it was time for hydration. Time to open my New Zealand Marlborough region Sauvignon Blanc. This wine brings me a special pleasure, each time I get my first ‘nose’ of this fruity wine I am surrounded with heartwarming memories of my uncle who took me to the Seifried Estate in Nelson on the South Island of New Zealand. This is where I met Marlborough wines. Dear uncle Arch, our first stop at 10:00 a.m. for a wine tasting. Thank heavens I am a Jimmy Buffet Parrot Head – as it is always 5:00 o’clock somewhere. Deliciously crisp, with a hint of gooseberry, not too sweet, perfect for turning into spritzers with seltzer. Don’t judge it is wine, not a religion, and at midday with lunch, it goes down so well as a spritzer complimenting and allowing the salmon to take top billing. A large Reidel filled with ice and half seltzer and half of the delicious clear fragrant Seifried Sauvignon Blanc. This day is getting better and better!

While lunch vegetables were cooking I prepared two ears of corn, desilked sat them in a water bath while laying out the sausages and couple of little chicken wings on the Cobb BBQ tray, then fitted the corn cobs in with a sprinkling of some sliced peppers, just a painting of BBQ sauce on the chicken drumettes as les petite femmes were coming for dinner. Truly this would be a test of the COBB. Would it make me two meals thereby saving me time and energy? Time would tell.

When the potatoes were soft and crispy, they left the party briefly so the salmon could get its moment of glory in the frying pan. A little pat of butter just to welcome the salmon, skin side down onto the hot frying pan surface. Seven to ten minutes and bliss on a plate was soon to follow. Slice a lemon into wedges, in readiness for their fishy friend. As this is my first ever cooking on a COBB, I was hovering like a helicopter parent, smelling and wanting to do something that felt constructive. Lucky there was wine and good conversation.

The skin was crispy, time to flip for the other side to gently cook. After flipping I had to walk away, you know that watched kettle syndrome. Potatoes back on to warm, dome hat back on so Mr. COBB looked his formal best. In just a couple of minutes, lunch would be ready. Removing the frying pan attachment with the very cool handle, placing it on a trivet, on went the COBB BBQ tray with round two of cooking going on. Close it up and walk away as lunch is served. Al fresco cooking, alfresco dining, good friends, good wine, good food, all is well in my world. We took a leisurely lunch, my kiddy dinner munchies gently sizzled on Mr. COBB’s BBQ tray, COBB COOKING Lesson All my fears were baseless. All my trepidation was unnecessary.

This is a wonderful no mess, no fuss multi-purpose and very portable compact outdoor cooking system. Once we finished lunch, and round two had finished cooking the coals were nicely disintegrated and the basket almost cool to the touch. Disassembly is to fancy a word; the parts were barely warm to the touch. See the cool little handle that fits all the attachments, easy to carry each piece. A quick rub down to remove any bits and all parts except the outside frame went straight into the dishwasher. Yes, the frying pan, the roasting surface, the inner moat, I even wiped the fire chamber with a paper towel, and into the dishwasher too.

I love my COBB. Each time I use it I experiment and learn more. This will be fun to do, and fun to share. I learned it is easy, quick, economical and un-messy to cook with the COBB. It is portable, lightweight, easy to clean and store without taking up space. Next time I will try one of my cast iron pots for a stew or perhaps a small dessert to utilize the coals after my main course is cooked as there was a good hour of heat left in the coals.

Unreserved two thumbs up. This is so easy and so safe as the outside does not get hot. I have lots more to learn. Till next time.

Pen and Tella and Mr. COBB.

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COBB Portable Grill Fuel Advice

There really is nothing as exhilarating as lighting up your COBB! We’ve put together some of our best tips to guarantee full tummies and happy guests.

The COBB was designed to use charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal. Using quality hardwood or competition style briquettes are top of our list to ensure a blissful cooking experience.

Looking for something recycled, eco-friendly and 100% natural? Consider using COBB’s coconut shell briquettes available here. They burn hot and long, ensuring your food is not tainted with harmful chemicals. They don’t leave as much ash residue which is ideal for all COBB portable grills. Too much ash at the bottom of the COBB may block the flow of oxygen. Consistent heat during the cooking process guarantees excellent results.

COBB’s latest CobbleStones have a built-in firelighter for rapid ignition so you can start cooking within under 5 minutes. This video shows a comparison of the CobbleStones vs Charcoal briquettes.

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Sailing Solo

Having solo sailed my Challenger 32’ sailboat from San Francisco to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (with lots of stops along the way) it was time to bite the bullet and cross the wide Pacific to Hawaii.   Lots of preparation ensued. Food, water, fuel, some new rigging, wiring the solar panels, getting the bottom of the boat cleaned and figuring out how to cook whilst at sea.

Puerto Vallarta on the southern Mexico coast to Hawaii it is said presents the longest open water passage in a circumnavigation of the globe.  Confidence in my ability to accomplish this 3600-mile solo sail was shown by the Vallarta Yacht Club. They were offering odds as to whether or not I would make it to Hilo, Hawaii. Thanks guys! Your faith in my sailing ability left me speechless.

On the Internet, I found an interesting BBQ system that intrigued me – the COBB Portable BBQ Grill.  But could all those glowing reports and videos on YouTube be true? Probably not but the concept looked good.   So again I bit the bullet and purchased my own COBB BBQ.

In their literature, the COBB people said it would require 5-6 briquettes of charcoal to cook a meal. I seriously doubt that statement.  Come on guys – everyone knows it would take more! Space on a 32-foot sailboat on such a long passage was very precious and bags of charcoal would take a lot of space.

After a boat bottom job and the obligatory visit to the store for a last ice cream bar (no refrigeration on my boat), it was time to say goodbye to Mexico.

The sun was shining and the winds were good on that May morning as I cast the boat’s mooring lines and headed west for Hawaii.  I took my obligation “sturgeon” pill (anti-motion sickness meds) and as they say “away we went”.

Bandarous Bay, where Puerto Vallarta is located, is huge and had favorable winds.  It took almost the entire morning to get to the open ocean and to set the sail trim just right so that the Monitor wind vane would hold Ussv Dharma (my boat) on course.

I was down in the galley preparing lunch when I heard a commotion on the port side of the boat. I went topside – and what a sight!  A school of diamond-shaped ray was swimming along with me. They were jumping up out of the water as to say “goodbye, have a good trip”.  I had heard that the rays did this but I had never actually seen it before. This was a good omen.

First day out I decided to celebrate my departure by cooking a steak and having a truly good dinner  My meat supply was in a cooler with ice. Out came the COBB BBQ. I put the required 5 briquettes of charcoal in the coal basket and lit them. Ten minutes later I checked how it was done by feeling the outside of the grill.  Something was wrong – it was cool to the touch! Had the coals gone out? I looked inside and everything was just fine. The coals were getting nicely ashed over. It was time to put on the steak. Perhaps what the COBB advertised was true!  Everything went smoothly from then on. Mushrooms, green beans in foil around the steak to complete the meal. And wow, was that steak good!

I had followed directions and filled the moat that surrounds the inside of the COBB fire chamber with half a beer.  You can use water, but what the heck, this was a celebration! True to the COBB literature, this resulted in an amazingly tasty steak and a tender one at that.

I could not believe how the COBB BBQ could cook a steak and the cooker remained so cool on the outside that I could have picked it up and put it on my lap while cooking was in progress. What a great safety feature!  This is an unbelievable plus when trying to grill on a boat as you can well imagine.

After dinner, I used a pair of pliers (I am squeamish and did not want to chance being burned) to pick up the charcoal basket and emptied the remaining coals over the side of the boat into the water.

Washing the COBB and putting it away in its own storage bag was no chore at all.  Since that first dinner, I have used my COBB BBQ to cook all kinds of things – even a chicken sitting on a beer can.

The YouTube videos I had seen about the COBB are true.  It is truly a fantastic outdoor cooking system. One that is good for tailgating at the game, cookouts in the backyard, or like me, dinner on a boat.

While in Hawaii, each evening I would BBQ some meat and serve it to the homeless people living in the marina. (Yes, Hawaii has a huge homeless population.)

Now let me say, I am not associated in any way with COBB. This has been my unsolicited testimony of a BBQ that should be on every boat.  I was so impressed that I bought a COBB for each of my five children for Christmas! Additionally, I have purchased four more to give to friends as gifts.

Things for boats are usually overpriced and expensive and even so, sometimes do not work as advertised.  Not so with the COBB. It is reasonable, efficient and does exactly what it was designed for. Safe grilling – not only at home but anywhere you wish to have a good meal.  Get one. You will be thrilled with how it performs. You can believe the YouTube videos about the amazing COBB.

I lived a full life. I was Skipper and owner of USSV Dharma, a Challenger 32.  I solo sailed all over the Pacific for 20 years. When I reached the age of 80 I figured it was time to move ashore and now live at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, Mississippi, USA.  Living only 200 yards from the Gulf of Mexico, I constantly dream of and remember the great sailing times. However, as the good book says, “and this too shall pass.” Most people never get to totally retire.  I did in 1995. Very, very few people get to live their life’s dream. I did for over 20 years. So, I should not complain. Of course, I sometimes do, but really have no reason to unless it is “getting so old so soon.”

I still love to cook on my COBB. Sometimes sharing a meal with others under the big trees at the Retirement Home or solo cooking on the beach. That is where you will find me on a sunny day.

Captain Sue

Msgt. Susan Meckley USA (Ret.)

W7KFI and AFZ4SM (Amateur Radio)

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