By Lynn Harlan
Last month I promised green grass. The green up is slow coming, as is barbeque season. I came across a little something the other day, which still has me chuckling.
Looking forward to summertime, a woman comprised a list of events which take place when a man volunteers to do the grilling. Basically, the woman does the before-meal prep: Buying the food, making the sides and preparing the meat for the grill. She delivers the meat to the man, who is standing by the grill visiting with his friends – beer in hand.
The man places the meat on the grill, and the woman goes back inside to organize the plates, salads and vegetables. The woman returns outside to tell the man the meat is looking good and hands him another beer.
When the meat is done, the man takes it off the grill and hands it to the woman. The woman brings the food to the table, along with napkins, bread, sauces and utensils.
After the meal, the woman clears the table and does the dishes. But, not before everyone praises the man and thanks him for his cooking efforts.
The man asks the woman how she enjoyed “her night off,” and upon seeing her annoyance, concludes there’s just no pleasing some women. I know there are men out there who do cook and help with the dishes, and I would like to meet these men.
We grill all year-round. We have a gas grill right out the kitchen door which we use at least once or twice a week in the winter – it’s one less pan to wash.
We go through gas grills about every eight years or so, as they just don’t hold up to the high fire we’re usually cooking on. I noticed the other day the house wall is blackened behind the grill. I suppose barbeque season is also house-painting season.
I like using a gas grill, as it gets a good sear on meat. This does require standing by with a glass of water to douse the flames. Many folks have gone to the wood pellet smoker-type grill. These grills do a good job and have fewer flare-ups.
I also have an ageless cast iron cooker. This cooks well, but requires charcoal and a little more preparation. I also have a rotisserie attachment, which cooks a leg of lamb to perfection.
This brings me to the age-old question: Charcoal versus gas. There are pros and cons to each.
Someone can get into charcoal cooking fairly inexpensively – a little cooker won’t cost much compared to a gas grill. The charcoal briquettes give off a smoky flavor, but they take time to start and get to hot.
A good, hot bed of charcoal coals will get hotter than the gas grill. It’s also easier to transport a charcoal cooker than a gas one with a big propane bottle.
Our family has invested in four of the Weber Q-type small, portable gas grills. My son had the first one – I was aghast the first time he cooked and put the food on the foldout side tables. He keeps them fairly clean, and out in the open air, we don’t seem to mind. Bob and Kate each have one, and we use them to cook or heat up lunch during shearing and at brandings.
I bought a cute red grill for my horse trailer. The enamel grates get good and hot, and the grill doesn’t flare up much. One can use the little green propane bottles, but we’re so used to hauling and filling bottles of propane, because we use them.
For cooking a quick steak, lamb chops, hamburger or hot dog, heat up the gas grill and throw them on. If I’m preparing a pile of chicken quarters, a butterflied leg of lamb or pork ribs, I’ll start the charcoal on my cast iron pot, put the grate up high and let it cook. If we’re on the trail or camping, we’ll use a small charcoal cooker or the portable Weber propane grill.
Speaking of camping, there is another way to prepare food I haven’t touched on – Dutch oven cooking. The Dutch oven is a heavy cast iron pot with a tight fitting lid.
Charcoal briquettes or wood coals are spread in the fire pit, the pot is set on top and then more briquettes or coals are set on the lid. The Dutch oven is a versatile tool and can be used for frying, roasting and baking desserts.
For families spending time around the campfire it’s a fun way to rustle up a meal.
Last summer, a few friends stacked up some Dutch ovens, and I think they may have been going for the Guinness World Record. Unfortunately, after this photo was taken, the upper ovens toppled, spilling the desserts and the cornbread. But, they had fun!