by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL A beautiful Indian summer Saturday brought record attendance and participation at Rockford’s ACE Hardware Annual Antique Tractor Show. Arriving in record numbers, 40+ antique tractor owners from near and far were on hand to show off their pride and joy throwbacks to an earlier day. Lovingly cared for and mechanically maintained, they were a joy to behold especially for aficionados of antique tractors, which are legion. Rockford resident Chuck Newton, who has organized the local show for the past 15 years, was thrilled by the turnout and said, “This might well be the largest antique tractor show in Kent County. Pete Kruer has hosted this show since he moved ACE Hardware from downtown Rockford to his spacious grounds here on Northland Drive. Our group loves Pete, he takes good care of us just as he does of his own antique tractor and his famous red ’53 Chevy pick-up truck.” These annual events are juried competitions where six winners are chosen in various categories. This year’s winners were as follows: Best in Show – Eldie Ellenbaas with his 1937 John Deere D, Most Original – Edwin Rounds with his Farmall 1954 Super C, Oldest Tractor – Todd Simcoe with his 1936 John Deere BI, Honorable Mention – Don Snow with his 1950 Allis Chalmers WD, Honorable Mention/Equipment – Carl Walston with his 1953 John Deere AR pulling a 1947 John Deere K-model manure spreader, and last but not least from Farthest Away – Randy Linton, from Edmore, with his 1942 Farmall BN. All winners received plaques attesting to the care and longevity of their tractors and, oftentimes, of their very selves. A great and wonderful time was had by all. Pete Kruer – oftentimes generous to a fault – treated every antique tractor owner/entrant (and family members if present) to a sit-down BBQ Chicken dinner complete with homemade potato salad, baked beans, and rolls along with an ice-cold Coke all supplied by Cannonsburg’s famous Grist Mill owned by Don Kurlowicz. Others in attendance as spectators enjoyed free hot dogs, supplied by The Corner Bar, and sweet corn, supplied by Post Farms and steamed to perfection by the famous Dale Sonke himself! (The man never met a steam engine he didn’t love!) […]
Rockford Ace Hardware
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL “It was awesome”, said Rockford master plumber Blaine Kellermeier after the second of two summer grilling seminars, complete with sit-down dinners, which were hosted by Pete Kruer of Rockford’s ACE Hardware. “I consider myself a fairly accomplished backyard griller,” continued Kellermeier, “but I’ve managed to learn something new while attending each of these classes.” Last week’s second “ BBQ boot camp”, held in the beautiful ACE gardens adjacent to the hardware store, focused on pork butts and briskets. As with the first class, real BBQ experts were on hand to bring everyone in attendance to the next level. Presiding over the class were radio show hosts “Barbecue” Bob Nurmikko and Randy “Jop” Joppie, aka “The Grillin ’Guys”. Also instructing was Rob Russell of Kansas City’s Ace of Hearts Barbecue Specialties. Russell has a reputation of being the top expert on BBQ grilling in the nation. Highlighted during the evening, was pork butt and brisket preparation – especially trimming techniques to remove excess fat. Although one may, there is no reason to leave all of the fat on a brisket. Smoke and rubs will not penetrate it and it will take more time to fuel and cook the brisket with all of the fat intact. In the end, you are not going to eat the fat – you are going to cut it away and discard it. Classmates learned, especially when it comes to smoking, the necessity of placing meats that are as cold as possible on the grill. Meat will only take up smoke between 40 degrees F. and 140 degrees F. If you start with meat at room temperature, you will not end up with a desired perfect smoke ring. Much time was spent stressing the importance of using premium natural hardwood lump charcoal and maintaining proper temperatures during the entire process – before, during, and after. Tenderizing techniques and methods, which included marinades and a hand-tenderizing tool called a ‘Jaccard’ were discussed and demonstrated. Injection methods and ingredients were also touched on. As with any large roast, we were reminded it is important to let a brisket rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing so the juices inside have a chance to redistribute. We could go on […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL On a recent Monday evening, “Ace was the place” to be. Pete Kruer, of Rockford Ace Hardware, was hosting his first ever “BBQ Boot Camp” and everyone who had signed on for the evening was in hog heaven! Kruer had secured the services of Rob Russell, a real Kansas City BBQ expert, who conducts BBQ seminars around the country for Ace of Hearts BBQ Specialties of Kansas City, MO. With 15 years of championship competitive BBQ experience, 20 years of catering and restaurant experience, Russell has a great way of bringing real BBQ to backyard hobbyists as well as professionals and competition cookers. Also on hand that evening was “Barbecue” Bob Nurmikko, host of Cumulus Broadcasting’s “The Grillin’ Guys” radio show heard across Michigan and locally in Grand Rapids on WJRW 1340 AM. “Barbecue” Bob acted as host and sidekick while, at times, interjecting humor by poking a little fun at the expense of his good friend Russell. The 40 participants of the sold-out evening were treated to three solid hours of BBQ grilling education in the beautiful Meijer Garden like setting of Ace’s Ray Kunst Gardens outdoor garden department. It didn’t matter how much you thought you already knew about BBQ grilling, what we learned that evening took us all to the next level. We were treated to expert tutorials covering different grill fuels – including varieties of charcoal (lump preferred), grilling techniques, smoking, creating marinades, brining, using seasonings and rubs, and the preparation of ribs and chicken. Russell also discussed and demonstrated in great depth food handling safety, as well as cooking and smoking temperatures to strive for. In short, the man was a veritable fount of backyard barbequing information. With “BBQ on the brain” Russell was definitely present to help us all become better cooks! Gordy Aulbach, the butcher from Cannonsburg’s Grist Mill, was also on hand to answer any and all questions about meat cuts and selection. Kruer had arranged for the Grist Mill to supply slabs of baby back pork ribs and yes, even beef ribs along with plump grilling chickens. During the grilling class we were afforded the opportunity to taste test everything that had been pre-prepared prior to the start of the BBQ […]
by PETE KRUER Rockford Ace Hardware Well, we learned more than we probably wanted about charcoal grilling. Ha! Ha! Now we are going to get into the fun stuff: cooking! Rob Russel from “The Good Ones” and “Three Little Pigs” has a meatloaf recipe that is a big hit at the barbeque circuit around the country. So, give it a try. It’s out of this world delicious! Rob’s Hickory Smoked Meatloaf 2 eggs 1/3 cup Three Little Pigs A/N Sweet 1 Tablespoon garlic salt 1 teaspoon Hickory Smoked Sea salt 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon celery salt 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 onion, chopped (optional) 1/2 cup crushed Saltine crackers 1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs 2 pounds lean ground beef 2 Tablespoons Three Little Pigs A/N Sweet Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl until smooth, then whisk in 1/3 cup barbeque sauce, garlic salt, Hickory Smoked Sea Salt, black pepper, celery salt, cumin and Worcestershire sauce until evenly smooth. Mix in the onion, crushed crackers, bread crumbs and ground beef with your hands until evenly blended. Pack the mixture into the prepared pan. Brush the top of the meatloaf with 2 more tablespoons of barbeque sauce. Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, about 1 hour. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 160 F (70 C). If you are going to smoke this, I suggest putting it in a pan to keep the juices to add flavor. Be sure to take the juices to make great gravy. If smoking in the Open Range, I would kick the temperature up to 300 F for 1-1/2 hours or until internal meat temperature reaches 160 F and no more. The “no more” is the secret.
Hearth Business LLC is proud to announce the date of the nationally famous “BBQ Boot Camp” to be hosted by Rockford Ace Hardware at 643 Northland Dr., Rockford. This Boot Camp is put on around the country by Rob Russell and Cumulus Broadcasting’s BBQ Bob. Russell is a real Kansas City BBQ expert who travels the country for Ace of Hearts BBQ Specialties of Kansas City, Mo. He has 15 years of competitive BBQ experience, 20 years of catering and restaurant experience and a great way of bringing real BBQ to the novice and competition BBQ enthusiast. BBQ Bob Nurmikko is the host of Cumulus Broadcasting’s “The Grillin’ Guys” radio show heard across Michigan on 107.3 WBBL and WJRW 1340 AM in Grand Rapids as well as nine other stations in Michigan. Nurmikko also serves as the manufacturer’s representative for Ace of Hearts Barbecue Specialties as well as the TEC Infrared Grill Company, and many other BBQ product manufacturers. This duo travels across America teaching authentic Kansas City style Pit BBQ to classes of backyard hobbyists as well as professionals and competition cookers. The two are scheduled to teach at Rockford Ace Hardware on Monday, June 4, from 5:30 until 8:30 p.m. There is a small fee for enrollment so call Rockford Ace for details. This is a “must see” for all BBQ enthusiasts. For reservations, call Rockford Ace Hardware at (616) 866-9155 or visit on the Web at www.rockfordhardware.net. These are sell-out venues on a first-come first-served basis only.