6 Ways to Highlight Your Fireplace With Wallpaper!

Scott JacksonComment

Why use wallpaper to show off your fireplace?

There are almost endless wallpaper design options that can help you create a stunning room without taking up any floor space. But to ensure success, you’ll want to check that your fireplace has proper ventilation, choose a high-quality paper and work with a pro to install it correctly.

1. Wallpaper the facing. The immediate exterior walls surrounding your fireplace are the easiest place to start. When it comes to wallpaper, the cost can add up, which is why choosing to showcase a particular aspect of any room — a single wall, a nook or, in this case, the facing above a fireplace — makes a statement without having to deal with the cost of a wrapping the whole room in wallpaper.

2. Flank the fireplace. Consider your fireplace the art in the room and cover the walls on each side with wallpaper. By papering the walls on both sides of the chimney (but not the chimney itself), you make the entire fireplace wall stand out. In addition to the beauty of the wallpaper itself, you have the option of adding a paint color to the chimney to tie it together.

3. Use wallpaper panels. Keep the wallpaper confined to panels around the fireplace and the rest of the room. You can do this by papering sections of the wall and then separating them from one another with wooden moldings. This often will be a custom design, which allows you to frame your fireplace however you want. Panels are a good option if you feel that wallpapering your whole room might make your space look too busy.

4. Back the shelves. Using wallpaper in bookshelves is an idea you can use in any room, but it’s especially great to try around a fireplace. This option can elevate the shelving you already have without too much effort. 

5. Add a backdrop. If you have a freestanding fireplace, you can quickly make it stand out by giving it a backdrop. Besides looking terrific, this design addition also addresses the challenge of what to put around the fireplace to complete the design, since many of these types of fireplaces need to be separated from other objects and pieces of furniture.

6. Wrap the whole room. For those who aren’t afraid of going big with wallpaper, you can wrap the room, including the fireplace facing, in your favorite paper. Opting for a full-room wallpaper wrap doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to go bold. Monochromatic papers create a refined look that feels lush and luxurious while keeping an overall understated look in the space.

Installation considerations

If you move forward with wallpaper by the fireplace, it’s important to keep the following factors in mind to ensure that your paper doesn’t warp, bubble or come off the wall. 

  • Proper ventilation around your fireplace
  • The necessary cover or doors on your fireplace
  • Wipeable wallpaper, so soot can be removed with a damp cloth
  • Expert installation, since the wall prep and adhesive are particularly important in this area of your home

Paper selection

Every home and fireplace situation is different, but, in general, if you have proper venting around your fireplace, you shouldn’t have any issues using wallpaper nearby. That said, a fireplace often emits heat and smoke. Because of that, the most important things are to purchase a high-quality wipeable paper and to prep the wall properly. 



Shopping for Fireplaces and Wood Stoves

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Fireplaces and wood stoves do more than provide heat on a cold day — they anchor a gathering place at the heart of a home.

“They’re a great focal point for any family hangout spot. What brings people together? Either a really beautiful meal or a really warm fire.”  - Colin Brice, who founded the New York architecture firm Mapos with Caleb Mulvena.

For that reason, fireplaces take center stage in many of Mapos’s residential and hospitality projects, including the Lake House hotel in Lake Placid, N.Y., and the forthcoming hotel The Maker in Hudson, N.Y. 

There are various options for adding fire features to existing homes, Mr. Brice and Mr. Mulvena said, including wood stoves, gas fireplaces and models that burn ethanol. But there are important differences: Some, like wood stoves, can function as the main heat source for a room; others, like ethanol fireplaces, are more about ambiance.

“The big question is, What do you want your fireplace or stove to do?” Mr. Brice said.

• Where will it be installed? “We try to think about how a fireplace can be more than a thing in the wall,” Mr. Mulvena said. Positioned in the center of a room, “it can be an element that divides space.”

• Is there a way to vent it? “A lot of gas fireplaces are what is called ‘direct vent,’ where you don’t need the traditional vertical flue — you can vent out a wall,” Mr. Mulvena said, whereas fireplaces “that use ethanol can be ventless, because they don’t have toxic byproducts.”

• If the fireplace is the focus of a room, where should the TV go? “If a television must be in the same space, we always try to hide it,” Mr. Mulvena said. “Let the fireplace be the true center of the living space.”


3 Predictions for 2018: Trends in Grilling & Smoking

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Another New Year already?! It seems like just yesterday I was writing my blog on BBQ Trends for 2017. It’s time to dust off my crystal ball for the trends that will shape barbecue in 2018.

Fusion ’que: Call it globalization’s upside. Call it melting pot extreme. It’s what happens when traditional American barbecue meets authentic ethnic cuisine and it’s happening more and more across the country. Case in point: the brisket ramen (Japanese noodle soup) served at Kemuri Tatsuya in Austin, Texas. Or the brisket tacos dished up at The Pit Room in Houston. (Like many of the new wave barbecue joints, they make their tortillas from scratch here, using—what else?—brisket drippings.) Look for more East-West mash-ups in the coming year, and be sure to let us know via Facebook or Barbecue Board what cuisines are fusing in your region.

Philanthro-’que (food philanthropy): When Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Stan Hays and his Operation BBQ Relief roared in to provide hot meals to the thousands of people left homeless (and kitchen-less) by the storm. Since founding Operation BBQ Relief in 2011, the CNN Hero and his army of volunteers have served more than 1.7 million meals in 24 states to more than 40 communities that have suffered from devastating natural disasters. In a similar vein, the Spanish born super-chef, Jose Andres (whose restaurants include the amazing live fire chop house Bazaar Meat in Las Vegas) boarded one of the first planes to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. To date he’s served nearly 2 million people—dwarfing the efforts of FEMA. So what can you do? For starters, donate your time, barbecue rig, or cash to Operation BBQ, learn more here.

Veal is back: Remember veal? That mild, sweet meat so spectacular grilled in the form of a veal chop? After decades of pariah status (and chef boycotts) on account of the cruel confinement conditions under which factory farms raised calves, veal is finally returning to restaurant menus and meat markets. But this time you can eat it with a clean conscience thanks to a new generation of ranchers that are raising calves in herds on pasture grass outdoors. Lori Dunn of Strauss Meats (the veal purveyor I use) reports that veal sales soared more than 10 percent last year. So how do you know you’re getting humanely raised veal? Look for the words “pastured” or “group raised” on the label. For ideas on how to grill this terrific meat, click here


Should I install an electric fireplace?

Elizabeth ManuelComment

The fire can be so delightful, and all you need is an electrical outlet.

A fireplace improves the atmosphere of your home, but fireplace installation can be costly and require a great deal of maintenance. If you don’t have a chimney or simply want to avoid the hassle of a wood-burning or gas fireplace, electric fireplaces provide an alternative to traditional systems.

They come in many different styles, but generally, electric fireplaces use mirrors, Mylar and LED lights to mimic the look of flame. An electric fireplace log might be metal, wood or rock.


Electric fireplaces require much less hassle than traditional wood-burning or gas fireplace inserts. Since they need no gas lines, chimney or other infrastructure, you can install an electric fireplace anywhere you have a power outlet, and in homes where fireplaces are not an option.

Since they don’t emit harmful fumes such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, electric fireplaces require no chimney, venting or the monitors and maintenance involved in a ventless gas fireplace. They also produce no soot or ash, so they’re easy to clean and maintain.

Most homeowners can DIY electric fireplace installation — all you need is a power outlet, and it can be as easy as hanging it on a wall. With more complex home decorating ideas in mind, such as insetting it in a wall, you might need a carpenter or electrician to handle those details, but the fireplace element requires no professional expertise.

Because electric fireplaces don’t burn or use combustible fuel, they don’t corrode and wear out very slowly, allowing them to last many years longer than their fiery counterparts.


Don’t count on an electric fireplace heater to warm your home. Most electric fireplaces emit about as much heat as a few pilot lights — hardly enough to warm up even a small room.

Although recent technological advances have improved the aesthetics of electric fireplaces, their simulated fire still tends to look fake compared to authentic flames. Since they depend on a power source, electric fireplaces won’t light or heat your home in the event of a power outage or storm.

Also, electric fireplaces involve higher operational costs. On average, an electric fireplace uses $1.84 of electricity every eight hours.

How can an electric fireplace help home decorating?

Electric fireplaces come in a wide variety of designs, ranging from sleek and modern to a traditional wood look, making them ideal for a wide range of fireplace decorating ideas. Or you can forego modern fireplace design and install an electric fireplace insert in an existing brick or masonry fireplace opening to create a very traditional atmosphere. This creates all the charm of a brick fireplace mantel and even a spot to hang the stockings for Santa.


You can buy an electric fireplace at either a big-box store or a specialty fireplace hearth retailer. The big-box models usually tend to cost less, but specialty outlets often have a wider selection, more expertise to help you pick the best model for your needs and higher quality brand names.


Want to grill? These local guys say don't let the cold weather stop you.

Elizabeth ManuelComment

With colder weather creeping in , few people are thinking about cranking up the grill for a sleet-covered cookout.

Then there’s Rick Barrera.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stops this guy from firing it up. And it’s no wonder: When you’ve got a grill like Barrera’s, you want it to be smoking.

“Got it from a guy in North Carolina, 500 bucks,” he said this week, turning burgers over a grate built into the front end of a 1955 Chevey Apache pickup truck. Yep, his grill is right behind the grill. “He said the truck was beyond repair, but he didn’t want to get rid of it. So he chopped it up and turned it into a grill,” Barrera said. “He only sold it to me because the wife made him.”

The Aragona retiree isn’t the only outdoor cooking enthusiast who refuses to stop just because it’s cold. Hardcore grillers across Hampton Roads agree: With a few cold-weather techniques, grilling can be just as great in the winter as in the summer.

Propane supplier Blue Rhino is among the companies that offer tips. The gas acts differently when it’s cold, the company said, so depending on just how low the temperature dips, you can use up to 50 percent more propane while cooking. So make sure you have an extra tank .

Grill maker Weber warns that if you’re wearing a scarf or other loose-fitting clothes to keep you warm, make sure those items are tucked in. You wouldn’t want to ruin a good cookout by catching on fire. The company also suggests using a timer to keep an eye on how long food has been cooking. Every time you open the lid, heat escapes. And when it’s super cold, that will severely delay cooking time.

Like Barrera, Bill Dixon doesn’t understand why people would put away their grills for the winter. Cooking on a more-traditional, barrel-style smoker, Dixon said people are missing out when they stay inside.

They’re missing everything wonderful about grilling just because it’s cold outside,” the Back Bay resident said. “This is a great time to smoke turkeys and give them away as gifts.”

Dixon, who has a reputation of being one of the area’s top grill masters, also puts together cooking videos for his Pungo Prairie website. He’s preparing to do one soon on grilling on cedar planks.

“You soak the planks, and they can be cherry, hickory, anything you’d use for smoking, in white wine and water, then put fish or meat on them. The edges start to smoke and the smoke waifs over the meat. It’s a fantastic way to turn a regular grill into a smoker.” - Dixon

Dixon’s grilling endeavors take him all over the place as a part-time caterer. His love of grilling year-round stems from watching people enjoy his food.

For Barrera, it’s also about family.

“I tow the grill to the park or to where we go camping ... just about anywhere,” he said. “It’s an experience that we can all have together and everybody enjoys it.”

Grilling also has kept his family fed in a time of crisis. Barrera lived in New Jersey when Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012. “We were without power for 15 days, so I fired up the grill all the time. Day and night, cold rain, it didn’t matter,” he said. “I didn’t stop.”

He looks back at that time and wishes he would have had his truck grill, with its large capacity. “The guy I bought it from said I could put 150 chicken wings on it,” he said with a smile. “I try different things all the time. My favorite is ribs. But I’ll cook anything.

“I just love to grill.”


Hot Fireplace Design Ideas

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Brick Fireplace

The classic mirror-over-fireplace trick can reflect traditional or modern tastes, depending on which style of mirror you choose. 

Black Slate Fireplace

Get dramatic with a painted fireplace surround, glamorous black slate (not ceramic tile) and an elegant wood mantel.

Stone Fireplace

Forgo a mantel for the sleek look of stone, all the way up to the ceiling.

Mosaic Tile Fireplace

Iridescent glass mosaic tile makes your hearth the jewel of the home. 

Painted Brick Fireplace

Cover up dated brick with a fresh coat of white paint.

Ornate Fireplace Mantel

Visit salvage stores and antiques shops for one-of-a-kind mantels that can be transformed with stain and lacquer. 

Slate Fireplace

Make a cool, contemporary and powerful focal point in your room with a large-scale slate hearth.

Limestone Fireplace

For a classic look, surround your fireplace with buffed limestone tile and a contemporary wood mantel. 

Painted Fireplace

Create the look of adobe for your fireplace with plaster and a bold paint color.


Beyond fireplaces: Historic heating methods of the 19th century

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Thanks to modern heating systems, we can enjoy the cozy picturesqueness of a fireplace without depending on it to keep our homes warm. But that wasn’t the case in 18th- and early 19th-century America.

“Up through about 1800, the wood-burning fireplace—very popular with English settlers—was the primary means of heating a home. The problem was that winters in America can be much harsher than in England. The weather quickly exposed how inefficient fireplaces are at heating a room.”  -Sean Adams, professor of history at the University of Florida and author of Home Fires: How Americans Kept Warm in the Nineteenth Century

The majority of the heat in a fireplace goes up and out of the flue. What little heat does make its way into the room gets concentrated directly in front of the firebox, leaving the rest of the room quite cold.

In 1741, Benjamin Franklin sought to improve the efficiency of the fireplace. He introduced a cast-iron insert for the firebox—called the “Franklin Stove”—in The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, volume 2. While it didn’t fundamentally change the design of a fireplace, it addressed his theory about heat.

“Franklin believed heat to be like liquid—he was trying to keep the heat in the room as long as possible, or else it would rush out of the room,” explains Adams.

The Franklin Stove had a series of baffles, or channels, within the stove to direct the flow of air, to keep as much of the heat circulating in the firebox and flowing out into the room as possible. However, the design had problems.

“The stove had to be very tight,” explains Adams. “If there were any leaks, smoke leaked out into the room. Wind would also blow the smoke back into the room. It wasn’t considered a real success.”

Toward the end of the 19th century, the inventor Count Rumford devised a fireplace designed along a set of proportions so it could be built on a variety of scales.

"In the fireplaces I recommend the back [of the fireplace] is only about one third of the width of the opening of the fireplace in front, and consequently that the two sides or covings of the fireplaces...are inclined to [the front opening] at an angle of about 135 degrees." - Count Rumford writes in a 1796 essay,

The Rumford fireplace efficiently burned wood while its characteristically shallow firebox reflected as much heat as possible out into the room as possible. The handy design of the Rumford gained a strong following. Thomas Jefferson installed eight of them at his country house Monticello. Rumford fireplaces became so mainstream that Henry David Thoreau wrote about them in Walden as a basic quality of the home, alongside copper pipes, plaster walls, and Venetian blinds.

By the 1820s and 1830s, Adams explains, coal was quickly becoming a dominating fuel type. Stoves that could burn either wood or coal—the type being pushed was Anthracite, or “hard” coal—became popular. Iron stoves were not new technology. While English settlers brought fireplaces, German settlers had iron stoves that did a good job of heating a space. But what was new was the type of fuel: coal. Adams explains that since coal was so different from the familiar fuel type of wood, it took a little while to gain popularity.

“Coal was first marketed in a similar way to how some new technology is marketed today,” says Adams. “You needed early investors willing to take the risk. It was billed at ‘the fuel of the fashionable,’ which would revolutionize home heating.”

To match, coal stoves became highly decorative, featuring intricate ironwork and decorative finials to make them just as desirable as they were utilitarian. Coal became mainstream in post-Civil War America. Wealthier families might have burned coal in basement furnaces—with specific rooms dedicated for coal storage—while poorer families might have used little stoves in individual rooms in their home.

The architecture of the home also changed as heating technologies shifted. While Colonial houses of the 18th century needed big chimneys to support multiple fireplaces, houses built in the later half of the 19th century only needed ventilation space for stove pipes. That translated into skinnier chimneys. Inside, mantlepieces sometimes remained as a backdrop for the stoves. Even though they were technically no longer needed, they continued to act as a focal point in a room.

Also coming into play in the 19th century was steam heating, which first appeared in the 1850s but gained popularity in the 1880s. Adams explains that this is just another form of coal heating, as coal would be used to heat the water that turns into steam. Steam heating was first used in institutional buildings like hospitals but then moved to residences.

One of the most elaborate examples of a steam-heating network in the 19th century was at Biltmore Estate, the Vanderbilt-owned mansion in Asheville, North Carolina.Richard Morris Hunt, the architect of Biltmore, needed to heat roughly 2,300,000 cubic feet of space for the 175,000-square-foot house,” says Denise Kiernan, author of The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home.

Kiernan explains that the subbasement of Biltmore, which was completed in 1895, had three boilers capable of holding 20,000 gallons of water each. Those boilers created steam that circulated to radiators in a network of shafts around the house, a system that seems simple in theory but quickly intensifies when one realizes that the network had to heat 250 rooms. “Of course—this heating system had help from 65 fireplaces, some more utilitarian, others wildly elaborate,” Kiernan adds. Heating the largest private home in America was no small feat: In The Last Castle, Kiernan reports that 25 tons of coal were burned in two weeks during the winter of 1900. To prepare for the winter of 1904, the Vanderbilts placed a coal order for 500 tons to be shipped and ready.

Regardless of how elaborate or rudimentary the heating system of choice was in the 19th century, something that seemed to connect all methods, whether it be wood or coal, was a reliance on oneself to light the fire and supply the heat. Something that changes in the 20th century, when national grids of electricity and gas fundamentally changed how we heat our homes—but that’s a different story.

“The hearth becomes industrialized throughout the 1800s, but people still wanted to make the fire themselves. Now, we’re very comfortable with the idea that we can flip a switch to turn the heat on, but that wasn’t the case a century ago. They were close enough to that era of open, roaring fireplaces that people wanted to control their own heat!” - Adams


Recipes For Your Traeger

Elizabeth ManuelComment


A brisket worthy of any true Texan. This full packer is injected with Butcher’s prime, sprayed down with apple juice, rubbed with a prime rib and coffee rub mix, topped with black pepper and smoked over oak wood.



Trim fat cap off the top of brisket and remove all silverskin. Trim off any brown areas such as on the side of the brisket. Make a long cut with the grain on the thin side (flat) of the brisket and a short cut again on the flat to show direction of cuts after cooking. Trim bottom fat cap to about 1/4 inch thickness. 

Combine butchers prime and water. Inject into the brisket with the grain in a checkerboard fashion. Combine both Traeger rubs and season brisket liberally. Season the top with the black pepper.

Rub entire brisket with canola oil then spritz with apple juice and let sit for 30 minutes. 

When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 180 degrees F and preheat, lid closed for 10-15 minutes. 

Place brisket directly on the grill grate and cook 8-12 hours fat side down. Spritz with apple juice every 30-45 minutes after the first 3 hours. After 8 hours begin taking the temperature by inserting about two-thirds of the way up into the thickest part. It should register between 150-160 degrees F. 

Once the brisket registers 160 degrees F, wrap with two sheets of aluminum foil leaving one end open. Pour in remaining brisket injection and seal foil packet.

Increase the temperature on the grill to 225 degrees F and place wrapped brisket directly on grill grate. Cook for another 3-4 hours until internal temperature registers 204 degrees F.

Remove from the grill and place in a cooler wrapped in a towel to rest for at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, cut slices about the thickness of a pencil against the grain.

If desired, separate cooking liquid from fat and pour juices over cut slices of brisket. Enjoy!


Wood-burning stove ban will not be enforced against householders

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Sadiq Khan’s proposed ban on wood-burning stoves in the most-polluted areas of London will not be enforced against householders and will only be in operation at certain times of the year. Under the mayor of London’s plans, the stoves would be occasionally banned from use in zones in the capital from 2025 and UK-wide laws blocking the sale of all but the newest, cleanest stoves from 2022 would be brought in earlier.

In an attempt to reassure the thousands of Londoners who bought the stoves in good faith, the focus will be on educating owners not to burn wood during bad air quality episodes. Authorities will reserve enforcement for commercial users such as hotels. There are about 1.5m stoves in the UK and 200,000 are sold annually, with the appliances often marketed as a green form of home heating. However, there has been growing concern over their environmental impact. Researchers at King’s College London have found that wood-burning in the capital accounts for up to 31% of the city’s particulate pollution, up from 10% in the past. The tiny particles, known as PM2.5, are the most harmful type of air pollution and exacerbate lung and heart conditions. Khan has called for greater powers from government to act on wood-burning after he discovered it contributed half of the pollution during a dirty air episode in January.

“Non-transport sources contribute half of the deadly emissions in London so we need a hard-hitting plan of action to combat them similar to moves I am taking to reduce pollution from road vehicles,” he said.

The Green party and campaigners said the mayor was right to tackle emissions from the stoves. ClientEarth, a group that has won court battles against the government on pollution, said the the stoves combined with diesel car emissions in winter to create a “toxic soup”.

“A lot of people don’t realise that wood-burning has an impact on air quality, particularly in urban areas,” said Alan Andrews, a lawyer at the firm.

However, there are questions over how practical it would be to enforce the proposed ban.

The government website on smoke control zones warns of a £1,000 fine for people using unauthorised stoves. However, the Guardian understands that not a single fine was issued in London over the past year.

“A big problem here is a lack of enforcement of the Clean Air Act,” said Dennis Milligan of the Stove Industry Alliance. He said that open fires, which the act prohibits in many towns and cities, were the real problem contributing to London’s dirty air.

“I totally disagree with him on banning stuff,” said Milligan, adding he had been trying to speak to Khan all year about his members’ support for cleaner stoves but Friday’s announcement was the first he had heard of plans for a ban. The mayor’s office did not deny the claim.

Khan has written to Michael Gove, the environment secretary, asking him to amend the Clean Air Act to give him the powers to create zones where the burning of solid fuels such as wood is banned.

The move could affect wood-burning stove owners beyond London, too. The mayor’s office said he supported the amendment being made in a way that such powers were given to all cities, not just the capital. Secondly, Khan is calling for new EU standards mandating cleaner, lower emission stoves to be brought in earlier than 2022, when they are planned to come into force. The Stove Industry Alliance said its members had begun selling “Ecodesign-ready” stoves in February.

Wood-burning has been increasing across the UK, with a 2015 government surveyfinding consumption in homes had been significantly underestimated. It is most popular in the south-east and south-west of the country.

Wood-burning – what you can and can’t do

• Most large towns and cities in the UK are covered by a smoke control zone, which prohibits the use of open fires

• However, certain stoves approved by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs can be used to burn wood in those zones

• From 2025 in zero emission zones created in London’s most polluted areas even approved stoves will be banned from use during certain times of year.



Six tips to buy the right pellet stove

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Glenn Robinson has been selling and installing pellet, wood and coal stoves in Pennsylvania for 11 years, and one of the biggest problems he faces is sizing the stove.

I became tired of false information from manufacturers about how many BTUs they claimed their stoves put out. Customers see these exaggerated BTU numbers from a small stove and think it will heat their home, but it won’t. The result is that the stove is undersized and there is premature wear and tear. One model from a big name brand would only last for 3 – 4 months before needing repair or even full replacement.
— Glenn Robinson

Glenn is not alone in identifying exaggerated BTU listings as one of the biggest problems consumers face in buying a stove.  Scott Williamson, a Massachusetts pellet installation and repair technician says that he sees stoves “all the time that are being run on high 24/7 and pellet stoves just aren’t designed to do that.”  Both installers say that under sizing of pellet stoves is one of the biggest problems, and urge customers to consider larger (higher BTU output) stoves if they live in average size homes in the northern half of the country and plan to use the stove a lot.

Here are six critical things for consumers to keep in mind when purchasing a pellet stove:

 1. Don’t undersize. If the stove is going to be your primary heat source you will likely need a medium or large pellet stove, even if a smaller unit advertises high BTU output.  Ignore BTU numbers on manufacturers websites and literature and check the EPA list.  The maximum output for pellet stoves is in the 30,000 – 50,000 range, enough to heat all or most of a small or medium house in most climates. “Don’t plan to run the stove all the time at its highest setting,” warns Scott Williamson “or you will be calling someone like me to fix it quicker than you think.”  When we tested six popular pellet stove models, we calculated an output of no more than 21,000 BTUs, far below what the EPA listed and even farther below what manufacturers claimed.


(It is possible to oversize the stove and that can be a problem, but is not nearly as common as under sizing.  “For example, the Harman P68 is notorious for being installed in small areas like mobile homes but they gunk up when they aren't allowed to get up to temperature for a bit before they shutdown,” says Scott Williamson.)

2. Beware of cheaper stoves. There are some good budget wood stoves on the market, but with pellet stoves, you are more likely to get what you pay for than with wood stoves.  “If you want a reliable stove that puts out a lot of heat, we urge customers to ignore pellet stoves under $2,500,” says Glenn Robinson.  Scott Williamson generally agrees but has seen some basic stoves like the Pel Pro and Englander hold up pretty well.

3. Check for range of heat output.  Most stoves can put out about 3.5 times more heat at their highest setting, compared to their lowest.  Some stoves have a tiny range, putting out only 1.5 times more heat at their highest setting.  If you live in a more moderate climate, in the early fall and late spring, you may want just a little heat, and still have the capacity for much greater heat output on the coldest days and nights of winter.  All other things being equal in a stove, you may want a stove with a larger range of heat output and you can check the range of all stoves on the EPA list of certified stoves. In our tests, we found that the Enviro M55 insert ran continuously for an impressive 49 hours on its lowest setting with a tested hopper size of 60 pounds and it ran for 22 hours on its higher setting.  However, with a 37-pound hopper, the Englander 25 PDVC only rain for 15 hours on its lower setting and 13 hours on its highest setting, indicating a very low turn down ratio.

4. Understand maintenance requirements. If you don’t clean your stove regularly and have it professionally serviced once a year, don’t expect high BTU output.  Most consumers get subpar performance from stoves and have to repair them more often because they are not maintaining their stoves according to the owner’s manual.  Pellet stoves are not like wood stoves: they have lots of moving parts and need cleaning of the burn pot and inside the stove on weekly, and depending on the stove, a daily basis.  Pellet stoves that are not cleaned regularly can lose 10% or more of their efficiency – and their heat output, and lead to costlier repairs. Understand the daily, weekly and annual maintenance requirements from the start and don’t put them off.  When we tested six popular pellet stoves, we found that the three more expensive ones (Harman, Quadra-Fire and Enviro) could go for a week or more without cleaning the burn pot.  However, the Englander, Ravelli and Piazzetta needed daily burn pot cleanings.

 5. Look for cleaner pellet stoves.  Pellet stoves are far cleanerthan wood stoves, even if they both have the same particulate matter in grams per hour.  Particulate matter is the tiny stuff that smoke is made out of and pellet stoves should not have any visible smoke after the 3-minute start up.   The average pellet stove used to put out about 2 grams of particulate per hour.  But since the new EPA regulations took effect in 2015, the average pellet stove emits about 1.3 grams per hour that makes pellet stoves more suitable in more densely populated suburban and even urban areas.  Choosing a cleaner pellet stove means a cleaner flue pipe and cleaner air around your and your neighbors’ homes.

 6. Beware of stoves without an efficiency on the EPA list. As with BTUs, manufacturers routinely exaggerate the efficiency of their stoves on their websites, so if efficiency and saving money is important to you, check the EPA list of stoves for efficiency ratings.  The problem is some companies still haven’t reported their efficiency to the EPA, so you may only want to purchase a stove that has an efficiency listing on the EPA list.  Pellet stoves with listed efficiencies range from 58 to 87% efficiency, but those not listed could be even lower, drastically increasing your heating costs.


The EPA list includes some slightly exaggerated efficiency numbers, but they are not nearly as exaggerated as manufacturer websites and literature. The EPA used to allow companies to calculate efficiency based on a default of 78% efficiency, even though most pellet stoves are below that, explains Ben Myren, who runs one of the stove test labs approved by the EPA. The result is a 5-10% exaggeration of some stoves on the EPA site, something that the EPA has not publicly acknowledged. (Some incentive and change out programs - Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon - require that the stove have an efficiency listed on the EPA list to get the full rebate.)



Appreciating these six factors are likely to help you make a better decision, but we also encourage consumers to rely on feedback from friends, neighbors and others who own pellet stoves. One site that can be helpful for research is hearth.com.  


Scott JacksonComment

You can’t quit winter, chilly temperatures may cause your nose to glow but don’t let a cold, yet faithful Traeger sidekick freeze you out of delicious and flavorful food in frigid weather.

At Traeger, we’ve conquered “grilling season.” With our 6-in-1 versatility, you can’t let a whole season go by without firing up delicious meals hot off the Traeger. If you don’t live in sunny Florida or the dry desert of Arizona, you may need to bundle. If you live in a region that reaches 35°F or colder, simply wrap up your rig with an insulation blanket and keep on cooking outdoors on your Traeger, year-round. Cooking under a thermal insulation blanket keeps your grill toasty warm while firing your favorite food, prevents the heat from escaping, and preserves pellets.

The heat resistant, insulated material of a Traeger insulation blanket acts as a buffer between the elements and your grill, allowing you to maintain consistent temperatures without burning through extra pellets. A Traeger grill insulation blanket slides over the top of the grill and attaches with straps underneath.

When the outside of your Traeger smoker grill gets cold, the inside of the grill isn’t thrilled. It is true that metal absorbs heat but it also absorbs cold, and it is easier to hold on to the cold vs. the heat. This can cause lower cooking temperatures when you’re trying to fire it up during winter months. To get the fire to escalate, the grill has to burn more pellets, and fueling the fire takes more wood. When you tiptoe out in the snow to check on your meal, then crack open the lid, cold air floods in. The hot air and interior inner-workings are riddled with cold oxygen. This causes the Digital Thermostat to send more handwood to the firepot to keep the fire going in its efforts to raise the grill temp back up to the set cooking temperature.

Let an insulated blanket safeguard the metal from the elements to keep the heat in and the barbecue flowing. Preparing your grill for a winter wonderland is two-fold in that it conserves pellets, and protects from the environment.

You can try to position your grill in an alcove, corner of your patio, or side yard to keep the heat in, but never cook on a full-size smoker grill under an enclosed patio such as in an apartment building or garage. The smoker grill needs ventilation. Rather than spending time in the snow, rain, sleet, or arctic temps jerry-rigging a make-shift contraption to put around or over your wood-fired grill, fork out the chump-change to buy a Traeger insulation blanket, it’s worth it.

Old man winter is on his way, so wrap up your rig and beat frigid weather at its own game. You can have hot meals, even when the sun doesn’t shine. A Traeger insulation blanket will help counterbalance pellet consumption in temperatures that reach 35°F or lower. Bundle up your rig and settle in, grilling season is a year-round sport.



Scott JacksonComment

It's the only outdoor ceramic kamado style charcoal grill you will ever need ... or want!

The Ultimate Cooking Experience

Big Green Egg is the world’s largest producer and international distributor of the highest-quality ceramic kamado-style charcoal grill. When you buy an EGG, you know your investment is protected by a successful, experienced company with a worldwide reputation for best-in-class products and unmatched customer service. We provide you with confidence, knowing that we have been standing behind our products for over four decades!

As Big Green Egg has evolved over the years, significant changes have been made to keep it miles ahead of anything else on the market – state-of-the-art ceramics, a wide range of easily adjusted cooking temperatures, a stainless steel cooking grid and a permanent porcelain glaze to preserve our signature green color. A team of research and development specialists are continuously looking for new ways to make Big Green Egg even better.

From Founder Ed Fisher’s original model, the business has grown to include seven sizes of the EGG, and hundreds of accessories and related products designed to always make Big Green Egg a cooking experience that is fun and entertaining!


The Big Green Egg is a blend of ancient tradition, modern technology, and proprietary processes, resulting in a far superior product that is stronger, more durable and provides better heat insulation than any other outdoor cooker on the market. Thats how the Big Green Egg works so efficiently!

Simple to Start

The Big Green Egg reaches perfect cooking temperature and is ready to use in just minutes. Our 100% lump charcoal is made in the USA from only the best cuts of natural oak and hickory for superb performance and results. Lighting the charcoal is always quick and easy, as the design of the Big Green Egg allows air flow to circulate efficiently. Use our natural charcoal starter or an electric starter … and never buy lighter fluid again!

Precise Temperature Control

Grill, smoke and bake on your EGG at exact temperatures by easily adjusting the patented air flow systems. You have total control over temperature at your fingertips, maintaining accuracy within a few degrees! The Made in USA temperature gauge provides precise readings to 750°F/ 400°C. Many indoor ovens cannot match the accuracy of the EGG’s temperature control!


Recipes for Your Big Green Egg!

Scott JacksonComment

Honey Glazed Smoked Halibut



  • (4) 6 oz halibut filets
  • Meat Church Honey Hog or Deez Nuts Honey Pecan rub
  • 4 tbsp clover honey


Prepare your Cooker
Set your EGG for indirect cooking (with convEGGtor) to 275°F/135°C. We recommend lighter smoking wood for this smoke. Alder wood, fruit wood or pecan will pair nicely with a white fish while not being too overpowering.

Prepare the Brine
Mix all brine ingredients (listed below) in water and dissolve thoroughly. Pour the brine over the filets and let them sit for two hours. It’s ok if the fish floats.

Prepare the Halibut
After 2 hours remove the fish from the brine, rinse off and pat dry.

Season with Meat Church Honey Hog or Deez Nuts Honey Pecan rub on all sides.

This is optional, but if you prefer a bolder flavor profile, try adding some cracked pepper over the top of the halibut after you have seasoned with the rub.

Place the filets directly on the cooking grate skin side down. The skin will act as a barrier to the heat and come off easily after the cook. Smoke the fish until it reaches an internal temperature of 135°F/57°C degrees. This smoke will take around 30 minutes at 275°F/135°C.

Optional Glaze
Drizzle the filet with warm honey the last 10 minutes of the cook for nice and simple honey glaze. Honey can also be mixed 50/50 with miso to create a miso-honey glaze.

Remove the fish carefully with a spatula. Place it on a plate to rest for 10 minutes. Eat and enjoy!!

Brine Ingredients

  • 1/2 C kosher salt
  • 1 C sugar
  • 4 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp white pepper
  • 2 bay leaves crushed
  • 1/2 gallon water

One thought on “Honey Glazed Smoked Halibut”

  1. Hosting

    MARCH 6, 2017 AT 3:06 PM

    Smoking salmon is more about the preparation than the actual smoking process and if you get the brine and the seasoning right, the rest is a piece of cake.

Peach and Blueberry Summer Pie



  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp allspice
  • 4-5 peeled, sliced fresh peaches
  • 1½ cups blueberries
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 pie crusts, homemade or store bought
  • Extra sugar and cinnamon for topping


Set the EGG for indirect cooking with the convEGGtor at 400°F/204°C.

Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon and allspice together in a large bowl. Gently fold in blueberries and peaches.

Pour the filling into an uncooked pie crust. Cut the butter into small pieces and distribute evenly over the top of the filling.

Use the second pie crust to create a lattice and cover the pie. Lightly brush the lattice with one beaten egg. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over the pie.

Cook at 400°F for 30 minutes; reduce the heat to 375°F for an additional 25 minutes.

Let the pie set for about 4 hours before eating. Enjoy!

Tell Us What You Think


Seven things you should never burn in your fireplace—and why

Scott JacksonComment

The fireplace looks like a handy place to dispose of unwanted combustibles, but it’s safest to burn only dry, seasoned firewood.  Many items you might innocently pop into the fireplace create serious hazards.

  1.  Don’t burn colored paper.  The inks used in wrapping paper, newspaper inserts, and magazines contain metals that can give off toxic fumes when burned.  Paper burns very quickly, so there is also a danger that flames may enter the chimney and ignite the creosote deposits in the flue.  Balls of paper can ‘float’ up the chimney on the hot air that is rising through the chimney and ignite flammable materials outside the home.
  2. Never burn painted, stained, or treated wood or manufactured wood such as plywood and particle board.  Chemicals in ‘salt treated’ wood, paint, or stains can produce toxic fumes when burned.  Likewise, burning manufactured wood products produces toxins and carcinogens.
  3. Don’t use the fireplace as a household incinerator.  A toxic cocktail of fumes can result from burning items like pizza boxes printed with colored inks, Styrofoam cups, plastic wraps, and remnants of household products in “empty” containers.
  4. Never burn plastics or chemicals because, again, the fumes may be toxic.
  5. Never use accelerants like gasoline, kerosene, or barbecue lighter fluid to start a fire in your fireplace.  These highly flammable substances can produce unexpectedly large flare-ups.
  6. Don’t burn coal or charcoal in your fireplace.  These fuels burn much hotter than wood and may exceed the temperature levels that are safe for your fireplace and chimney.  They also produce much more carbon monoxide–a colorless, odorless gas that can kill—than wood does.
  7. Don’t burn the Christmas tree or other evergreen decorations.  Dry evergreens are loaded with resin that burns very quickly and ‘pops’ producing embers that can rise through the chimney and start chimney fires.

For safety’s sake, put the ashes from your fireplace in a metal container with a lid.  After your fire goes out, and the coals have cooled, use your shovel to put the ashes in a metal ash bucket with a lid—just in case there’s still a live coal among the ashes.


Gas Burning Maintenance

Scott JacksonComment

Gas fireplaces, stoves, and inserts are designed to safely provide years of comfort, warmth and relaxation. To ensure they can do their job, these products require proper installation, maintenance, and operation.

Gas Burning Maintenance Tips

Professional installation by a qualified technician is essential to the proper performance and safety of a hearth product and its venting system. Unlike a malfunctioning refrigerator, a hearth product that doesn’t do its job properly can have serious consequences. Many specialty retailers offer installation by factory-trained and/or nationally certified staff. To verify if an installer is certified, contact the National Fireplace Institute (NFI).

Gas fireplaces, stoves, and inserts also require routine maintenance and service to ensure their proper working order. The best person to perform the service is a specialty technician who is trained in the maintenance of gas fireplaces, and their venting, or chimney, systems. Before lighting the first fire of the season, there are a few important safety tips to remember.

  • Have a technician check the gas lines, clean the burner, control compartment, fan and related air circulation passages, as well as check for condensation annually.
  • Ensure the vents are unobstructed and able to do their job.
  • Check the batteries in the carbon monoxide detector.
  • Clean the glass and adjust the glowing embers and logs for best appearance.
  • Be alert for unusual odors or flames, which are often a sign that the fireplace is not operating properly.
  • Make family members and guests aware that the glass panel of a gas fireplace, stove, or insert can be very hot. Installing a safety screen or safety barrier is recommended to reduce the risk of serious burns by preventing direct contact with hot glass.


Woodburning Safety & Maintenance

Scott JacksonComment

Whether it’s the warm glow of the fire, the crackle of the wood or the deep penetrating warmth, burning wood has a way of making people feel relaxed and right at home. When heating with wood, there are three key elements to achieve optimal economy, environmental responsibility, and efficiency:

  1. The Woodstove, Fireplace or Fireplace Insert
  2. The Installation
  3. The Operation and Maintenance
  4. Seasoned Firewood

Once you’ve identified the right product for your home and had it installed properly, maintaining, operating, and fueling your appliance properly are the next steps. Prepare for the Burn…Maintain Your Fireplace, Stove, or Insert

  • Stock up the right fuel…seasoned wood, both hard and soft woods. 
  • Inspect gaskets, door seals, and the chimney annually. Clean the chimney as necessary, by a professional chimney sweep to ensure it’s clear of obstructions and creosote.
  • Install a cap at the top of the chimney to avoid the possibility that debris or animals can block the chimney.
  • Install both a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. (Make sure the batteries work.)
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
  • Clear the area around the fireplace of furniture, books, newspaper, and other potentially flammable materials. (Three feet away is a good rule.)

Build a Safe Fire

  • Clean out ashes from previous fires and open the damper before starting a new fire.
  • Prepare plenty of kindling. For fireplaces, use grate and cover it with kindling or a manufactured firestarter.
  • Close the firescreen and keep glass doors open while operating a fireplace (as appropriate).
  • Utilize fireplace tools to tend the fire.
  • Burn only dry, seasoned wood in pieces that aren’t too big for your fireplace or stove.
  • Follow any specific manufacturer guidelines for your product.

Use Common Sense

For all Appliances

  • Never use gasoline or any liquid accelerant to help start a fire.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Never overload the fireplace or stove to avoid burning wood or embers tumbling out.
  • Always store ashes in a non-combustible container with a tightly fitting lid and place it away from the house.

For Fireplaces

  • Never burn garbage, rolled newspaper, charcoal, plastic, or chemically-treated or painted wood in the fireplace. They all produce noxious fumes that are dangerous and highly polluting. Additionally, if you have a catalytic stove, the residue from burning certain plastics may ruin the catalytic converter.
  • Always make sure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Always keep small children and pets away from the fireplace.
  • Never close the damper on your open fireplaces until the embers have completely stopped burning.



Scott JacksonComment



The ole pellet swap. The pros do it, we do it, but do you? We’ve got some tips that’ll help you do it all the right way.

Two reasons to change up your pellets:

1. You want to change up pellet flavors for a different cook:

Each of our pellet flavors are truly different and bring unique flavor to whatever you’ve got cooking on your grill. Don’t be boring. Switch it up, your food and your taste buds will be happy you did.  

2. You won’t be grilling for another week:

Don’t forget, if you’re taking a break from grilling (we don’t recommend) for more than a week long, you’ll want to change out your pellets so they’re good as new when you get back.    


When your pellets aren’t fueling your fire and flavoring your food, give them a break. You want to remove pellets when you’re not grilling because moisture can reach them when left in the hopper for an extended period. If there’s anything you need to know about your hardwood, it’s that moisture is no bueno.

Depending on your location or how humid your home state is, pellets are prone to moisture even inside the grill. Check out our guide to protecting your wood and you won’t have a single worry. See the post here.


Here’s the sitch on the switch. Removing or changing out pellets is an easy process, here’s how it’s done: 

• For Pro Series or newer grills: Simply open the hopper clean out door, and pour out the pellets back to a container. It’s as easy as that.

• If you have an older model, you can easily scoop them out with a smaller container or scoop. Another option is to use a bucket vacuum head, but make sure the vacuum isn't extremely strong because these can break the pellets. 

BOTTOM LINE: Take care of your pellets and your pellets will take care of not only you, but your stomach too. 

How are you changing your pellets? Comment below.



Scott JacksonComment


Brisket, the ULTIMATE cut in the BBQ world. If done right, you’ll find yourself with the most quintessential BBQ food out there. Most people find the cook to be daunting but lucky for you, we’re here to make it simple, easy, and forkin’ flavorful.



The goal for throwing down a badass brisket is creating ultimate flavor and texture. The cook process is the most crucial part in ensuring your brisket delivers on both. Because every animal is different, there’s no exact universal algorithm for every cut. Cook times are going to vary as the size of the brisket may as well. Because briskets can weigh between 12-22 pounds, times can range from 8-16 hours depending on size and cook temperature. Our general rule of thumb: plan on between 30-60 minutes per pound. For example, a 16 pound brisket cooked at 275 degrees will take between 10-12 hours. The entire process from trimming, injection, seasoning and cooking will take between 18-20 hours. If you give yourself enough time, you’ll give yourself some ridiculous brisket. This is a “good things come to those who wait” kind of deal, but let us assure you…you’ll be glad you did.  


Internal temperatures are what make or break low n’ slow BBQ. Getting that read is key for creating BBQ cuts worth dreaming about. The point and the flat make up what is called a “Full Packer” brisket. The point is more marbled with fat than the flat. The flat is used for slices and the point is used for burnt ends. To perfect both ends of your brisket, you will want to cook the flat until it’s as soft as butter (this usually happens between 200-205 degrees in the flat). Once your beef has reached that level, let the brisket rest for about 30 minutes and then separate the point and the flat.  


Once you’ve got that point removed, you’re ready to make some darn good burnt ends. You’ll first want to remove all outside fat and then cube 1”x1” squares. Once you’re done, throw those heavenly chunks into pan and douse them with BBQ sauce and give them a turbinado sugar kiss. While they’re all getting friendly in the pool, you’ll want to throw them back on the Traeger at 275 degrees for 1 hour. This process creates your burnt ends and allows the point the extra cook time it needs due to its marbling. Pull them out and you’ll have caramelized bite size BBQ deliciousness.  

See our exact burnt ends recipe.


The most important aspect of cooking brisket is making sure that you know when to take that bad boy off the heat. To tell if it’s done, simply insert that probe right into the brisket. The probe should insert into the cut like it would into room temperature butter. This usually happens between 200-205 degrees in the flat. If that happens when you insert your probe, you’re good to go.  


Brisket should always be sliced against the grain for the best mouthfeel and tenderness. If sliced with the grain, even a perfectly cooked brisket will be chewy.  



Scott JacksonComment

If you are looking for a great focal point to tie a room together, consider a decorative fireplace. You don’t have to hire a contractor to install an elegant and warmth-producing fireplace. You can enjoy the decorative appeal of a mantled fireplace for considerably less than installing a traditional one. All you need is an electrical outlet.

Nothing is quite as delightful as curling up in front of a crackling, warm fire on a crisp autumn night. It has timeless appeal and offers the promise of memories to come. Even in warmer months, a mantle offers decorating potential. It’s a great place to have ever-changing seasonal displays that make your space a delight to decorate.

The variety of available designs and styles of decorative fireplaces has been on the rise. Now you can perfectly match your personal taste with sleek, modern designs like wall-hung units framed in brushed steel and timeless classics with elegant, fluted columns and molded mantles.

A decorative fireplace also features realistic flames. You’ll get the look of flickering, dancing firelight and the sound of crackling logs with a radiant warmth that can help keep your spaces nice and cozy in cold months. The best models feature adjustable thermostats for temperature control, something you can’t get from a traditional fireplace, and a slow die-down when the unit goes off.

Other fantastic features you can get from a decorative fireplace include safety features you won’t find with traditional fireplaces. One common safety feature is a timer that ensures the unit turns itself off automatically if you forget to do so manually. In addition, the exterior remains cool to the touch, making it a safer alternative in a household with children and inquisitive pets.

A decorative fireplace is a perfect solution for renters as well. Not only can you add the delights of a fireplace in a home that doesn’t have one, but it’s also portable. When you move, take it with you to your next place. Enjoy a the visual appeal and warmth of a fire in rooms usually bereft of them. A fireplace casting a cheerful glow where you dine or a romantic dancing fire in your bedroom offers a lively, decorative touch. If you are have a large bathroom, you could even have a crackling fire to enjoy while you take a bath.



Scott JacksonComment

A flickering flame creates a comfortable, welcoming feeling in any room. With modern technology, we are able to enjoy that elegance without the fuss, mess, or even the heat at the touch of a button with a realistic electric fireplace. What smoke and mirrors are used in these convenient modern appliances to create such lively, flickering flames?


The first essential aspect of a working fireplace, electric or otherwise, is the generation of heat. While some modern electric fireplaces allow the heating element to be turned off entirely, they are all capable of producing extremely efficient warmth. This is created via a simple heating coil paired with a fan, which pushes warmed air into the room.


The delightful flames produced by electric fireplaces are enough to fool the eye into thinking they are real. The trick to getting the fluid, dynamic feel of real flames is surprisingly simple. Light from a light bulb, often an LED,  bounces off of a rotisserie-style silver refractor with three-dimensional patterns that create the illusion of a random flicker of flame. Some electric fireplaces even have a device which makes a crackling noise as the refractor spins, lending another level of realism to the fire.


Realistic electric fireplaces offer all the enjoyment of real fireplaces without all the hassle. They don’t need a fuel source and they don’t require any of the cleanup involved in utilizing wood, coal, or fuel. This leaves a great deal of freedom in styling how the flames appear fueled. Realistic looking logs, beds of coal, futuristic metal piping, river stones, and other materials can serve as the bed for the dancing firelight.

If you want to enjoy the comfort of a fire in any room, an electric fireplace is a great option. The blower system provides an energy efficient way to keep a room warm and comfortable, and during the summer the heating element can be shut off entirely so you can enjoy the flicker of a cozy fire without sweating the extra heat. The surface of these electrical units remains cool to the touch even while heating, making it a safer options for homes with small children and pets. With elegant, simple construction available in an array of designs, you’ll find an electrical fireplace perfect for any decor.