Jason Deike is a busy guy.
As co-owner of Deike Implement in Waverly, he’s in charge of sales, a position that’s usually busy enough.
Then the pandemic threw additional challenges at him, both from the supply and demand side. Customers wanted more tractors and small utility vehicles, while parts and merchandise were limited.
Mismatch can be stressful.
But Deike has found a way to ease the pressure in his life.
“I love to cook,” she told Waverly Newspapers. “In the last three or four years I’ve found that cooking is a great stress reliever.”
Most of this cooking is done in a smoker. Deike estimates he started using a smoker about 15 years ago.
“I was bored of grilling,” he said. “I went to look for a hobby, and everyone likes to eat, right? I picked up a smoker one day, and that’s how I started.”
Now he has two smokers, a Traeger and an Egg, each about the size of a grill, in his front yard.
“The Traeger uses wood pellets and the Egg uses charcoal and wood,” he said. “They have their different tastes and they have their different techniques that you have to use with them.”
“The Traeger is easy,” he added. “The Traeger makes smoking simple. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a true smoker. You still get the smoky taste, but it’s not as thick and rich a smoky taste. If I’m smoking a thicker cut, or beef, it I’ll do the egg, because it has that spicier smoky taste.”
Deike’s smoking repertoire extends beyond the typical pork, beef, chicken or turkey.
He explained that the Traeger maintains a constant temperature and can be used as an oven, which really expands its options.
“Anything that goes in the oven can go in a Traeger,” he stated. “So, like a pot of tater tots? Put it in the Traeger. It’s awesome.”
But Deike doesn’t stop with savory dishes.
“You can smoke anything,” he observed. “I smoke a lot of desserts. They’re delicious, with just a hint of smokiness.”
For example, the smoker likes to make cookies.
“Smoky Snickerdoodles are amazing. Smoked Snickerdoodles have the perfect blend of sugar and cinnamon, and then it has this little smoky aftertaste, which is divine,” she said.
“My specialty is probably my triple chocolate brownies,” she noted. “Boys’ girlfriends, when they come over, that’s what they ask for.”
His list of other favorite dishes.
“The homemade bread in the smoker is to die for. Smoked chili is delicious.” She also likes smoked chicken noodle soup, smoked lasagna, and smoked eggs.
While almost anything that can be baked can be smoked successfully, Deike said, there are some exceptions.
“Angel food cake. Don’t do that,” he warned. “It tastes awful.”
He has a few tips for people interested in trying the smokers themselves.
First, he recommends pork as a good starting meat.
“You can’t go wrong with smoking pork,” he said. “Pork is the easiest thing to cook, the easiest thing ever.”
“Be patient with the meat,” he also advised. “Low and slow is always better. I very rarely go above 225 (degrees) when I’m smoking meat.”
Then, “The best thing to do is get yourself a digital thermometer with four probes,” he continued, “and keep an eye on the temperature of the meat.”
After reaching the target temperature, Deike wraps the meat in aluminum foil and leaves it in a refrigerator for three hours, saying that this helps the meat to be juicy.
As for cooking, “the most important thing is that you have to grease the pan.” He laughed. “If it says don’t grease the pan, grease the pan!”
And not just any fat will do, according to him.
“When you’re cooking outside, you have to use the original Crisco,” he said, laughing some more. “You can’t use Pam, no! You have to use Crisco.
Deike has used his smoking skills to cook not only for his family, but for larger groups of people.
“I cooked for a party of 50 several times,” he said. “I’ve done five, six pork knuckles at a time. I’ve done two spits at a time. You can feed a lot of people with two spits.”
He thought of other groups he had smoked for.
“One of my favorite moments is when I made pulled pork for a friend’s bachelor party. And then I made smoked cornbread and smoked corn casserole, and then I made smoked brownies, and there was nothing left”, he said, clearly satisfied.
Deike says he smokes food for his family all the time, year round.
“We hardly even use our kitchen oven,” he said. “It’s been an amazing stress reliever.”