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Is it just me, is is the new forum a step backwards? This seems to be more of a blog format than a forum format.

There is a lot of wasted screen real estate. On my screen, I can only see 4 topics before I have to scroll down. On the old forum, and other forums I'm on, I can see a good 15+ topics  before needing to scroll.

If you post on multiple forums, it is now much more work to post on this forum since the embedded bbcode image links no longer work.

Pictures in posts are much smaller.

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Andy I'm with you 100% I don't like this format at all. I can't find the search feature and find the layout cumbersome and annoying. Upon posting a question about locating the search feature (I'm lookin for Smokin'O's baked bean recipe), folks replied as to "3 little bars, magnifying glasses on the top left, top right, using a different browser, etc.  Bottom line, if you need a 15 minute refresher course to locate a recipe or find your way around this forum, folks are simply gonna walk away.

Stewart, this isn't serving your intended interests....IMHO



Hi Andy, hope all's well you these days. Thanks for the tip on Keri's beans...the recipe looks interesting...will definitely give them a try.

In another post, I mentioned finally finding the search feature, which was hidden behind a banner saying my time zone may not be correct. Silly, I know but it had me pulling my hair out for 15 minutes. I still prefer the old style forums we had but I suppose this has more eye candy/bling for the millennials.

I guess so far I'm ok with it. It does take some getting used to, but I don't think anything is hidden or especially hard to find, just different. I wish the replies to less-recent posts were more prominent to find, but it's just knowing where to look. I do like that I can see what posts and replies I have not yet read. I often wanted that before. I'll give it the benefit of more time and call out, if necessary, really stupid features, if I find them. I'm not so concerned about changes in the pic posting process, maybe because I haven't really tried it yet

I know for myself, the older I get the less I like change. Having said that, sometimes change is for the good and given enough time to get used to something new is all it takes. I actually found posting pictures to be easier than before and although I haven't explored all of the new and how to do a deep search for older posts, I think in the end all will be good and most if not all will be happy. I might be wrong, but I think I've seen a lot of new members join as well.  Just my $.02

Hey everyone. Our old forum platform (.eve) is no longer a forum host. We had no choice but to migrate to a new system. Our new platform ( is the most comparable forum host and allows us to make changes without writing HTML.

That being said, Christa and I are trying VERY HARD to make this forum as much like the old one as possible while still taking advantage of the new features has offered us (keep in mind, this is a new platform for us too, not just you). Below, you will see an image with some information on Forum Navigation and Profile/Settings Navigation. Maybe this will clear up a few questions/frustrations I'm seeing. 

Forum Navigation


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  • Forum Navigation: Navigate the Forum and Settings

Thanks for the quick tips. No disrespect to everyone at Cookshack. I know you guys & gals are learning a new platform. I guess my big beef is that the new platform is more like a blog, rather than a forum. Almost every forums I'm on makes maximum use of the amount of screen real estate. This new site looks more like a blog to me. 

The Cookshack "forum" shows me only four topics before I need to scroll.

Another popular forum I'm on shows me 16 topics before i need to scroll. 


Hopefully the new platform is customizable enough to be able to make it look like a forum again.


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I agree the old forum was good, but apparently CS decided to spend some $$ on a new platform and is now trying to see what mods are available/allowed with it. I'm guessing we users are stuck with this at least for a while pending CS's attempts to see what leeway they have in the software they bought. The survey results so far seem to be heading for a somewhat better format, but still constrained by the overall platform design.

On a side note: I wrote to CookShack and they responded quickly.  I now understand that they had no other option (but I still don't like it).

"Our old forum provider has technically not been in service for years but was still allowing companies to use the old platform through a different provider. That provider has phased out our old platform. "


It seems CS lacked enough detail and knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of what they signed up for. I wonder if the tech support they got setting it up really took the time to understand the needs of the users, and as you say, the vast resources easily available on the old platform. I can just hope there are unexplored capabilities on this new platform that can be utilized to improve the experience.

Agree.  Very awkward. I visited the hoopla site early on and convinced myself that they they know programming but do not know ease of use  and probably did not research other forum for style and ease of use. I am pretty much absent from this forum unless I get a notice like I did this morning. This format has to be hurting Cookshack sales.  If I was in the market for a new smoker, and this is the best they can come up with for a forum, I would be looking elsewhere.  Too bad.

This forum was the reason I bought my FEC-100 almost six years ago.  I agree that the current lack of activity and crappy format will hurt Cookshack in the long run.  I'm active on the BBQ Brethren forum, and while several of the members there have FEC-100's, you rarely hear them talking about their cookers or Cookshack in general.  Other than Butcher BBQ you don't hear much about Cookshack in competition these days, and that also drives sales.

I am active on a couple of other forums as well, mostly Smoking meat Forums and Smokin-it but also Lets Talk BBQ.  I bought the Amerique 066 back in 2012 and the Cookshack forum had a lot to  do with it. Times change but not always for the better.  The person running this forum knows how I feel and I even sent info on the other forums and requested they look into changing companies.  I guess it was a no go.  Too bad. People buy what is popular; they want to be part of a family and cultivate friendships and share experiences in the world of Q.  Unfortunately this forum is not the place to do it. Too bad.  Cookshack is a great company with great products.

When I first joined this forum several years ago, I thought it was very clunky, cumbersome, and difficult to navigate. This new format is not much of an improvement, if any. But my point is that one can get comfortable with any format as long as the content is interesting, useful, and fun. But all that depends on the participants, who appear to be bailing out, or already have, because of frustration with the format. The logic is circular, and the spiral unfortunately points downward. I still believe a good CS forum is very much worth having. Just after the recent format change, some folks at CS were trying to make improvements, but that was apparently given up on, perhaps because the platform CS bought lacks flexibility. If CS values this forum, and I believe for the reasons given that they should, it would be nice to hear it from them, and have some discussion of what they believe can be done. If loss of forum participation is a leading indicator of sales loss for CS, and I believe it will prove to be so, I hope someone there starts to take notice.

Guys thanks for responding. I couldn’t agree more. When I bought my CS a few years ago it was quick and easy to look something up, get others opinions and/or results. And just to put it out there I love the smoker, that’s not the issue. It just takes so long to find anything it’s easier to go elsewhere. CS needs to address the forum issue soon or I too feel it is going to cost them sales/customers. As someone else mentioned if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Hopefully CS is reading this and makes a significant improvement, what was done here is definitely a downgrade not an upgrade. Happy smoking to all!!!

Agree with all the comments against the new forum.  I guess when they made the switch, I lost my daily digest that I used to read religiously so I was away from the forum for awhile.  When I saw the new format I couldn’t believe how bad it was.  Very hard to follow any discussion.  Hope they find a (better) solution.

BTW, is there a search function on this new format?  If there is I can’t find it.  That alone makes this format a showstopper. 

Last edited by qnorth

If one goes to any of the other bbq or smoking forums, and scroll to the bottom of the home page, you can see what company is responsible for the format of that forum.  Some are better organized than others but all are better than what CS ended up with.

As an aside, I contemplated getting another Amerique smoker and noticed that they did away with the large W shaped heating element  and large wood box and went to an elongated U, just like SmokinTex and Smokin-it.  I can only guess it was a matter of economics. Another change 

Followup to my post of 1/5/19. There has been no response from CS to members of this forum regarding their dissatisfaction, and certainly no response to me on my direct email to them regarding their need (IMO) to pay attention and do something if they want this forum to continue rather than die a slow death. I am at a loss to explain how a company with such a great customer service reputation can ignore what could be a vibrant, active, lucrative (for CS) Forum of committed, enthusiastic, friendly, helpful members, attracting new members and persuading potential CS buyers to make that choice (a description of the Forum as I remember it under the moderation of Smokin' Okie when I joined). I think and hope Smokin' is out there somewhere, and wish he would weigh in on this. How about it, Russ?  It seems all the great cooks who used to live here are leaving.

Not only did the forum change but the entire website.  The company that designed the forum format is gone and a new company, Hoopla was selected. While I like the layout of the website (everything that was on the old site is present in an improved format), I cannot say the same for the forum.  There are plenty of other forums, all lacking in information regarding the great products from Cook Shack so this is truly the only game in town.  Like it or not we are stuck with it and I am fairly sure that the folks at CS are not thrilled with the feedback and displeasure.  

I spent last night going through the forum and saw very little recent activity.  That is our fault.  We own it the members own it.  Today I am doing a small brisket.  I SHOULD be enthusiastically taking photos of prep, the smoker, and the results.  Yet I will not because old format or new, I have a tough time posting photos.   But beyond that, we seem to lack folks asking questions, how to questions which the seasoned among us can answer.  Maybe folks are not as helpless as in the past.  Maybe they are too busy smoking and just don't have time  or desire to sit and post comments on their exploits.  I don't know.

 What I do know is that is that this forum is no longer the watering hole it used to be with an exchange of all manner of information from the exploits at the smoker or grill to a new rub or a Q road trip or a new piece of gear or the birth of a new offspring.  The "family" atmosphere is gone. We can bring it back, if we want to or we can continue to complain and whine.  It is up to each one of us.



I have been making bacon for about a year.  Don't get the store bought mixes, they tend to be on the salty side.  I use the Equilibrium curing method.  This cure is based on the weight of the meat in Grams.  I use the calculator at: .  Input the weight of the meat, and calculator will give you the weight of salt, curing salt (cure #1, Prague Powder #1, "Pink Salt"), and sugar.  I do a dry cure in vacuum sealed bags.  Don't pull a complete vacuum on the bag.  Buckboard bacon will take 14 days or more to cure.  The nice thing about this curing method is Once the meat comes to equilibrium, it will not absorb more salt, or liquids.  Use the percent of salt and sugar set in the calculator for your first attempt.  Don't forget to do a taste test once the meat comes out of the brine, and before it is smoked.  If it is too salty, soak the meat in cold water until the salt level comes down to an acceptable level.  Keep good notes as you go through this.  You can look back at your notes on the next bacon and adjust the percentage of salt and sugar.  Don't mess with the amount of cure.  You can use the method for any kind of bacon you want to make.  I currently have close to 40 pounds of bacon getting ready to come out of the cure.  This is belly bacon.  I have the straight cure, the cure with orange blossom honey and Bourbon, The cure with powdered Black Rifle Coffee, and the cure with sweet heat.  This was my last bacon.


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Not to be critical BUT!  If there is an ADMINISTRATOR, then the topic of making bacon belongs somewhere else other than the forum complaint section and the ADMINISTRATOR  should do the moving.  Maybe the bacon and ham forum section?

IDAHOMIKE - Maybe you could post this in another more appropriate section.  You have good info and I would hate to see people miss it.

Last edited by oldsarge

OldSarge:  It was tasty.  Took a couple of tries using the method, The 2% salt setting wasn't salty enough for use.  2.5% salt was too salty.  I hit the sweet spot at 2.25% salt.  Everyone's taste is different, and what I like may not be what you like.  This is why this method and calculator works for me.  Once you hit the sweet spot, you can repeat it over and over again.  Making bacon of any kind takes time for the curing process to work.  This isn't a " I bought a belly and have to provide bacon for some affair next week" type thing.  I figure on 25 to 30 days from when I put it in the eating fried bacon.  Is it worth it?  Oh heck yes. 

Oldsarge:  I doubt this will happen like it did with the old forum.  I didn't mean to highjack this page, I just saw that 2 people want to start making bacon. and hoped to save them from jumping through the hoops I did.  In the old forums, I would have been able to fix this, or Smokin Oakie , or one of the moderaters  would chastise me, and make the change

I sure hope I did not offend you.  I think that you should be able to copy your post and then paste it in the bacon and ham section, found under other topics or some such thing on the forum home page.  Actually, if there is a moderator or administrator I had hoped the bold caps would grab their attention and they would take care of things.  

Smokin' Okie retired as Forum moderator and took off touring the country in his RV with his lovely wife a few years ago. He left a void that CS has chosen not to fill, not even by asking current Forum members or frequent posters to volunteer (I wouldn't want that job). BOBBYHULL, you are not hijacking the thread but returning it to its focus. Thanks. Whatever else is wrong with this new Forum, it is still easy to post to a specific existing topic.

oldsarge posted:

BOBBYHULL - Smokin Oakie?  Russ Garrett?  He retired and left the forum sometime back.  He checked in a few times regaling us with his exploits.  Haven't seen anything recent. 

Last I saw on FB, he and Mrs Smokin are living in McAllen, TX down by Mexico way. Dunno if they still have the motor home but it sounds like they've settled in there.

Not many members posting recipes or pics of their latest achievements these days (I'm guilty too, but I hope to improve once the winter weather is done). Not many (sometimes secret) BBQ competition winners giving expert opinions on techniques anymore. Not many really excited CS newcomers asking technical questions about their new cookers anymore. Not many subject-matter experts (Mr. T for salmon, Chaplain Bill for pork and bacon, Tom for brisket (and cal of course, sorry cal), DLS for pastrami, PAGS for almost everything, etc). And not many ideas or questions that elicit "WOW, I wish I had thought of that!" responses anymore. Sarge, I agree with you. There used to be a feeling of solid BBQ professionalism here that both humbled and emboldened me. Those days, and I guess (most of) those people are gone. Pretty sad.

Last edited by jay1924

The forum comments are what sold me on buying a CS. it seems CS provides the forum, but certainly doesn't drive viewers or posters here. This could be a huge marketing vehicle for them.  It could be a vibrant community that increased sales if they gave it some love and attention.  I agree, I used to check in daily.  Now its once every 2-4 weeks. I wouldn't have become the cook I am without all of you. We used to do BBQ exchanges twice per year. Now I don't think we would have enough of us regulars to make it work.  Perhaps its the new forum, perhaps everyone has migrated to FB. Not sure, but I will continue to hang out here, just not as often.

This is from an earlier posting of mine:

As for the forum, the old one was powered by Social Strata.  A link to an archived page showing this is below.  But if you look at the top of the page, you see /eve.  As you can see at the bottom of this page, the new forum is powered by Hoopla.  There is a very huge difference and not a lot of folks liked it. There are 82 comments on the new format. In the second link, it is about social strata.  And it takes you to their explanation that hoopla is their flagship.  How a company could change formats so drastically is beyond me.  But it is what it is. The third link takes you to the 82 comments.  The last link was about voting for the new format.

You may need to google 'Wayback Machine" and then punch in

Sometimes the link does not work.  But you can easily see the much loved former forum.

Last edited by oldsarge

As you've pointed out, Sarge, CS has stated they had no choice but to change platform. And as we've seen, the change was chosen and handled very badly and some of CS's employees who were really trying to help fix the disaster have disappeared. I wonder about their fate. Now the changes seem cast in stone, and no one at CS seems to think is is a problem for them, just us, the members. I still want to use the Forum and I still want people interested in all aspects of BBQ to be here and contribute, but if the really strong, experienced, and even professional contributors are gone, where's the draw? I really miss so many of the former regular contributors for their expertise, their humor, and their welcoming feeling.

I still think that if the people that do not like the new forum would call Customer Service and tell them what you think about the new forum, they might start looking into it.  There are some nice new high end pellet grills out there that fit right into the price range of the PG 500 and 1000.  These things are not selling themselves.  I wonder how many smokers and grills got sold because of the old forum?


Customer service is fully aware of the dislike of the new format. I have contacted them and emailed the the young lady who was initially trying to make a go of it. For all I know, CS may be locked into a contract.  I just don't know. The old forum was hoopla as well. I just think it is the format, how it is organized that is very off-putting to many. And the dislike is compounded if you are a member of other forums whose format closely resembles the old CS forum. But times do change. And with change, comfort and familiarity sometimes disappears.  I consider many of us as fathers and mothers, we are in that age group (I'm a grand father); we appreciate the quality of Made in America.  But younger folks like quality at bargain prices. They are also of a different mind set, one that I don't understand.  The last election with all the new and young faces as well as new ideas has me stymied and to a degree, upset.  This new forum format, as well as the results of the last election,  is what it is.  Bob Dylan may have said it best:

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.





Sarge, I really appreciate the nostalgia. I spent a lot of time listening to that song in the 60's. I've been a great fan of Dylan since the summer of 1965 when I heard "Like a Rolling Stone" about 40 times a day on the jukebox at the beach stand I hung out at.

However, I always found that particular song whose lyrics you posted to be a bit condescending in that it assumed "their" (the young "hippies") way was better. I thought there wasn't enough convincing logic or "homework" done by the insistent crowd, even at my young age.

Similarly, I haven't seen much evidence that CS did their "homework" before choosing a new platform. Many, many choices out there. Yeah, I'm a bit "stymied" too. But I'm trying hard not to be the "Get off my lawn!!" old guy.

Dara M posted:

Hey everyone. Our old forum platform (.eve) is no longer a forum host. We had no choice but to migrate to a new system. Our new platform ( is the most comparable forum host and allows us to make changes without writing HTML.

That being said, Christa and I are trying VERY HARD to make this forum as much like the old one as possible while still taking advantage of the new features has offered us (keep in mind, this is a new platform for us too, not just you). Below, you will see an image with some information on Forum Navigation and Profile/Settings Navigation. Maybe this will clear up a few questions/frustrations I'm seeing. 

Forum Navigation

Very helpful, searched for several minutes to find a "search" function


For the most part, forums in general are dying off as a means of creating a dialogue.  Facebook is filled with groups for all brands of smokers - pellet, stick burners, etc, as well as for specific brands.  Surprisingly Cookshack has very little presence there.  I'm sure there are far more Cookshack owners posting on the Facebook groups than here or the various BBQ forums still alive.

I recognize that plenty of people are reluctant to set up Facebook or Instagram accounts but that's where the action is these days. 

Last edited by kengolden

Hey oldsarge, good to see you back - thought you'd deserted us. I'm with you - never have, never will do "social media." It is really basically anti-social and I hate what it has done to children in this country. So many one-handed kids staring into screens oblivious to anything around them. IMO, Facebook is a monstrous scam and nothing but a vehicle for propaganda for many different fringe organizations. Just my $.02. Now, back to BBQ!

Hello Jay!  I stay pretty busy on a couple of other forums.  I do check in fairly regularly but don't like the whining about prices and the like.  Or a probe was cheap and failed after a couple of years, or the folks at CS don't listen etc.   This site had always been about sharing our passion for good Q as well as asking and giving advice; maybe celebrating a birthday or sympathy when a member or family member passed.  It was just a watering hole for techniques, photos, recipes, and the inevitable failure.  Call it family. I honestly cannot remember any negative postings on the old forum.  People and times change. Sometimes not for the better.

Like anything, social sites started off rather benign and a quick way to stay in touch with family and friends. It quickly became a way to reveal ones innermost secrets to be held in confidence (but not for long when a 'friend' wanted revenge; and it got ugly with bullying between kids and some parents getting involved; and far too much unproductive time at work.  It became a way for hate to spread and terrorism.  I could go on but my blood pressure is rising.  As is Zuckerbergs wealth.  'nuff said. 

Smoking and BBQ sites remain friendly, free of politics and hate.  And are rather informative and politically sterile.  cooking/food sites like Chowhound.  And for internet security, programs from AdGuard and MalwareBytes are the ones I use and they have dedicated forums. 

Dagnabbit! My soapbox just fell apart!  

Oldsarge - I've looked at a couple of other BBQ forums but they seem so huge it is difficult to know where to begin. To be truthful, I love BBQ and I get my AQ out several times a month, but it is not the consuming hobby in my life. Cooking in general might be that, but I agree that the old Forum (and of course, the old Forum members who seem to have gone, but surprisingly pop up at a good thread!) were the heart of this CS forum. Anyway, good to hear from you and keep all us "newbies" honest here!

While I don't do any competing these days, and have dialed back on smoking in general, I do, and always have enjoyed this forum. It's always been a fairly tight group of guys and gals, eager to exchange ideas and never afraid of asking for help. God knows, we've been lucky enough to have some well seasoned pros on board. The Facebook groups I've peeked in at tend to be loaded with drama, if not knockdown brawls. 

Now that I've had a bit of experience navigating the new landscape, it's not quite as foreign as it was. 

I raise a glass of holiday cheer and toast you all with best wishes for a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a healthy New Year!

maxq - Chris 

maxq posted:

While I don't do any competing these days, and have dialed back on smoking in general, I do, and always have enjoyed this forum. It's always been a fairly tight group of guys and gals, eager to exchange ideas and never afraid of asking for help. God knows, we've been lucky enough to have some well seasoned pros on board. The Facebook groups I've peeked in at tend to be loaded with drama, if not knockdown brawls. 

Now that I've had a bit of experience navigating the new landscape, it's not quite as foreign as it was. 

I raise a glass of holiday cheer and toast you all with best wishes for a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a healthy New Year!

maxq - Chris 

Hoping all had a good year and many more to come.  Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.

I knew it. Still some of the venerable old timers (sorry, I can say that , I'm old) here! I'm very happy to see that. I really like this forum, and I try to stay engaged. I wish CS had a more robust way of dealing with the spam posts, and their customer service response here seems a bit slow, but it is better than no CS Forum at all, by far.

For all the old timer regulars with all the decades of BBQ experience, I give thanks, and for all the relative newbies like me, I say thanks and lets keep this going! Merry Christmas, or happy Holiday, whichever one you celebrate! I hope everyone's new year is better than the last, not that the last was all that bad!


Last edited by jay1924

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